Enslavement of workers occurs in many areas of work, and the methods used and patterns of mistreatment are surprisingly similar.

Posted Mon Apr 20 12:00:00 2015 Tags:

Thugs in Minneapolis stopped two Arab-Americans in a car and handcuffed them, then threatened to break their legs.

The thugs say they thought the two men were thieves, but they have not demonstrated any basis for that suspicion (the car was not stolen). they needed a basis to justify making the men prisoner.

But even if they had had a reason to handcuff those men, that couldn't justify threatening to maim them.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

Wall Street has been unable to figure out that destroying the environment means stocks will lose lots of value.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

PISSI is massacring the 15000 or so Palestinians that remain in Yarmouk refugee camp after two years of siege by Assad's army.

With Syria being fought over between Assad's forces and jihadis, both sides are horrible, so what should the world do? I don't see any answer, except to defend the Kurds.

I blame this state of affairs on the rich Arab countries that stirred up the violent jihadism when Syrians were doing peaceful protests for democracy. As I recall, they were Saudi Arabia and Qatar. But the US is also to blame, for supporting them (which it continues to do).

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

Ancestry.com has government contracts to digitize old census records and other public records. Often it does the job by throwing the records away.

The article supposes that contracting services is typically cheaper than doing them in-house, but that is often false.

Meanwhile, they usually screw the public or their workers, because the profit must come out of something.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

The White House's New Executive Order On Cyber Crime is (Unfortunately) No Joke.

It empowers officials to designate anyone as guilty of materially providing support for "cyber-attacks", without a trial.

This fits the pattern of letting officials ban organizations without a trial and letting thugs take people's property without a trial.

It is obviously unconstitutional, but we can't count on the US Supreme Court to defend constitutional rights — except for non-human "persons" and religious nuts.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

It turns out that Iraq had some old chemical weapons in 2003; but Saddam Hussein was not hiding them.

Some were too dangerous even to dispose of, and international inspectors had sealed them off. Some had been lost.

Either way, they were no justification for war.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

Malaysia has augmented its law that makes sedition a crime.

There is nothing in such a law other than an attack on human rights.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

The extractive US system of fees and fines has been applied to pets too. Sometimes the result is to kill poor people's dogs.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:

US citizens: call on Congress to pass mandatory labeling of GMOs.

Posted Mon Apr 20 10:42:27 2015 Tags:
Screenshot of an old CDK-based
JChemPaint, from the first CDK paper.
CC-BY :)
Already a while ago, the American Chemical Society (ACS) decided to allow the Creative Commons Attribution license (version 4.0) to be used on their papers, via their Author Choice program. ACS members pay $1500, which is low for a traditional publisher. While I even rather seem them move to a gold Open Access journal, it is a very welcome option! For the ACS business model it means a guaranteed sell of some 40 copies of this paper (at about $35 dollar each), because it will not immediately affect the sale of the full journal (much). Some papers may sell more than that had the paper remained closed access, but many for papers that sounds like a smart move money wise. Of course, they also buy themselves some goodwill and green Open Access is just around the corner anyway.

Better, perhaps, is that you can also use this option to make a past paper Open Access under a CC-BY license! And that is exactly what Christoph Steinbeck did with five of his papers, including two on which I am co-author. And these are not the least papers either. The first is the first CDK paper from 2003 (doi:10.1021/ci050400b), which featured a screenshot of JChemPaint shown above. Note that in those days, the print journal was still the target, so the screenshot is in gray scale :) BTW, given that this paper is cited 329 times (according to ImpactStory), maybe the ACS could have sold more than 40 copies. But for me, it means that finally people can read this paper about Open Science in chemistry, even after so many years. BTW, there is little chance the second CDK paper will be freed in a similar way.

The second paper that was liberated this way, is the first Blue Obelisk paper (doi:10.1021/ci050400b), which was cited 276 times (see ImpactStory):

This screenshot nicely shows how readers can see the CC-BY license for this paper. Note that it also lists that the copyright is with the ACS, which is correct, because in those days you commonly gave away your copyright to the publisher (I have stopped doing this, bar some unfortunate recent exceptions).

So, head over to your email client and email support@services.acs.org and let them know you also want your JCICS/JCIM paper available under a CC-BY license! No excuse anymore to make your seminal work in cheminformatics not available as gold Open Access!

Of course, submitting your new work to the Journal of Cheminformatics is cheaper and has the advantage that all papers are Open Access!
Posted Sat Apr 18 10:11:00 2015 Tags:
In 1978, the CIA was caught up in a BDSM Cold War affair.

A potential Soviet asset had fallen for a professional dominatrix who made decent money peeing on entertainment lawyers. Also in play was Mary Tyler Moore's landscaper, merely because he was sweet on the dominatrix and her record collection.

The most actionable intelligence from these black leather ops would not be obtained by the Agency, but by the landscaper himself, Stuart Argabright. Under the alias Dominatrix, Argabright recorded "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight," a New York club hit released in 1984. [...]

This all started like so many high-school dreams: with no wheels and dumb luck. In 1977, Argabright was picked up while hitchhiking back home on the Key Bridge crossing the Potomac from Washington, D.C. He was 18, wearing a Tubes T-shirt and had just won tickets to see the Stooges. He was six years away from borrowing Iggy Pop's swim trunks in West Berlin, and seven from Dominatrix turning Iggy and Bowie's "Play It Safe" into a post-punk seizure.

The woman driving was older, and her red Corvette Stingray smelled of spy perfume. [...] They began seeing each other, spending nights at her East Side apartment, getting high and listening to Bowie records. After Argabright noticed the bull whips and manacles hanging in the closet, it became apparent that his friend's occupation entailed visiting all manner of welt and contusion upon the no-account hides of wealthy degenerates.

They soon compared clientele: He had Dylan, Paul Simon and Rock Hudson. She had music executives and a Russian official in D.C., who apparently had been beaten senseless enough to fall in love, with ambitions of defection and marriage. ("But a dominatrix doesn't often entertain marriage thoughts," says Argabright.) Always game for defection, the CIA contacted the dominatrix and encouraged her to "play ball." She reluctantly agreed while continuing to make the landscaper late for his mulching appointments on the Upper West Side. [...]

"The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight" was recorded in the studio of Tangerine Dream's Peter Bauman, with vocalist Claudia Summers, Ken Lockie of Public Image, Ltd., and Bow Wow Wow remixer Ivan Ivan. [...] One imagines the boys at Langley picking up this 12-inch and adding it to the Argabright-Argabright folder, somewhere between "weeded Paul Simon's periwinkle bed" and "shared stage with Klaus Nomi." Not to mention those gigs with Rammellzee, G.G. Allin, and good lord, Max Headroom. Best keep that tab open.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Fri Apr 17 18:51:51 2015 Tags:

Virtual Free Range™

Eliminating the need for the physical space required for free-range livestock our Virtual Free Range™ gives livestock the experience of Free Range life while in the safe confines of our facility.

Free Range life, though providing a diverse diet, exercise, and socialization, is inherently stressful to the animals. It can also result in a high loss for the producer due to injuries and predation.

Virtual Free Range™ combines the physical and psychological benefits of free range life with the safety and security of conventional agriculture. Chickens are free to roam, socialize and "eat" virtual food, which appears in the virtual world where their real food trays are located.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Fri Apr 17 17:36:19 2015 Tags:

Back in 2012, Poul-Henning-Kamp wrote a disgruntled article in ACM Queue, A Generation Lost in the Bazaar.

It did not occur to me to respond in public at the time, but someone else’s comment on a G+ thread about the article revived the thread. Rereading my reaction, I think it is still worth sharing for the fundamental point about scaling and chaos.

There are quite a lot of defects in the argument of this piece. One is that Kemp (rightly) complains about autoconf, but then leaps from that to a condemnation of the bazaar model without establishing that one implies the other.

I think, also, that when Kamp elevates control by a single person as a necessary way to get quality he is fooling himself about what is even possible at the scale of operating systems like today’s *BSD or Linux, which are far larger than the successful cathedrals of programming legend.

No single person can be responsible at today’s scale; the planning problem is too hard. It isn’t even really possible to “create architecture” because the attempt would exceed human cognitive capacity; the best we can do is make sure that the components of plannable size are clean, hope we get good emergent behavior from the whole system, and try to nudge it towards good outcomes as it evolves.

What this piece speaks of to me is a kind of nostalgia, and a hankering for the control (or just the illusion of control) that we had when our software systems were orders of magnitude smaller. We don’t have the choice that Kamp wants to take anymore, and it may be we only fooled ourselves into thinking we ever had it

Our choices are all chaos – either chaos harnessed by a transparent, self-correcting social process, or chaos hidden and denied and eating at the roots of our software.

Posted Fri Apr 17 00:57:55 2015 Tags:
Cow Milk Without the Cow Is Coming to Change Food Forever

They're trying to make cow's milk cheese without the cow. Using mail-order DNA, they're tricking yeast cells into producing a substance that's molecularly identical to milk. And if successful, they'll turn this milk into cheese. Real cheese. But vegan cheese. Real vegan cheese.

That's the name of the project: Real Vegan Cheese. These hackers want cheese that tastes like the real thing, but they don't want it coming from an animal. Abandoning real cheese is one of the hardest sacrifices vegans must make, says one member of the group, Benjamin Rupert, a chemist by training and a vegan for the past decade. With Real Vegan Cheese, they won't have to. "What we're making is identical to the animal protein," he says. "You're not giving anything up, really."

This is what we call "burying the lead":

The possibilities include not just vegan cow cheese, but, well, vegan human cheese. The same basic process for synthesizing cow's milk applies to milk from any other mammal. You just need different genes. Cheese made from engineered human breast milk may not sound like a top seller at the deli counter. But the team says it can serve a practical purpose: Human milk cheese could offer an option to people who have allergies to non-human dairy products. (Chavez said the group has put its experiments with human milk on hold due to Food and Drug Administration concerns about possible autoimmune reactions.)

They also hope to engineer cheese based on the milk of the narwhal, the most outlandish mammal they could imagine. They hear the milk has the consistency of toothpaste.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Thu Apr 16 02:10:50 2015 Tags:
Posted Thu Apr 16 01:56:45 2015 Tags:
In case some readers of this blog would be interested in working with Open Source software and VoIP technologies, Be IP (http://www.beip.be) is hiring a developer. Please see http://www.beip.be/BeIP-Job-Offer.pdf for the job description. You can contact me directly.
Posted Wed Apr 15 09:58:06 2015 Tags:
Reverse Engineering WipEout

With all the work that went into this project, handling the WebGL drawing with three.js turned out to be one of the simplest parts.

The finished WipEout Model Viewer loads all the original data files and does all the binary file reading, unpacking and scene creation in JavaScript.

All in all, I wrote about 800 lines of JavaScript to load and draw 3D scenes for a 20 year old game. I wonder how big the original WipEout sorurce is. It's quite sad that probably nobody will ever see it again, considering that it now belongs to Sony.

Having a hard time accepting what I see my web browser doing right now!

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Tue Apr 14 23:12:42 2015 Tags:
These guys are digging a trench in a road that was poured literally two days ago. Prior to two days ago, this road was an open dirt hole covered with movable steel plates for close to two years.

Meanwhile, a hundred feet away, another crew are jackhammering up a sidewalk that they poured two weeks ago.

Who is in charge of this Mickey Mouse operation and how do they still have a job??

Posted Mon Apr 13 21:51:44 2015 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.