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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    In an interview with the Portland Press Herald, Maine U.S. senator Angus King, an independent elected in 2012, says the United States is at risk to cyberattack. The warning comes just days after hackers disabled 30,000 computers in South Korea.

    King is a member of both the Intelligence and Armed Services committees. Prior to going to Washington, D.C., he was a popular two-term governor.

    “Every hearing I've been in this spring, the top national security people have said that the next Pearl Harbor is going to be cyber,” he told the paper's editorial board. “That's the most serious and immediate threat we face and it's happening now.”

    The senator continued, saying a cyberattack could affect gas pipelines, power grids, and banking systems. These worries, along with threats from North Korea, are the things that keeps him awake at night, he told the paper.

    While a cyberattack in the United States may still be a far-off concept to some, its a very real worry in South Korea. On March 20, a major cyberattack paralyzed the computer systems of three major banks and two of the largest broadcasters. Unfortunately for South Korea, cybercrimes have become an annual issue. The country suffers from one every year since 2009. The government is even considering creating a new Cyber Security Secretary position to fight such attacks.

    As of early April, it was still too early to know exactly where the attack came from, although some believed North Korea was behind it. Initial results from an official investigation say that originating IP address came from within South Korea.

    Photo viaAngus King/Facebook


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    Say you got a letter from an advertiser, congratulating you on turning 30. It's unnerving: You've never heard of the company, nor where to even begin tracking down how they know your name, your address, and your birthday.

    A proposed California law aims to change that.

    Enter the Right to Know Act, which would give Californians the right to demand companies share what information they have on individuals and which companies they've shared that data with.

    In theory, that would allow you to trace how you got that letter. You'd learn you put your birthday into Facebook, then authorized a third-party app to view that info without even realizing it.

    That app maker's company then sold your name and birthday to a data mining company, which paired it with your likely address from an online retailer that shipped you goods, and sold that packaged deal to an advertiser.

    Boom. Instant creeptown.

    Authored by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), the bill is fairly straightforward, requiring "any business that has a customer’s personal information" to:

    provide at no charge, within 30 days of the customer’s specified request, a copy of that information to the customer as well as the names and contact information for all 3rd parties with which the business has shared the information during the previous 12 months, regardless of any business relationship with the customer

    The bill is being hailed by groups like the ACLU and EFF, which notes, "Californians do not want their personal information to be collected, bought or sold without their knowledge and consent."

    If you are one of those Californians, the EFF has created an easy widget to contact your representatives.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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    Our technology grows smarter and better every day, so it’s only a matter of time before our robots all rise up and overthrow their human overlords.  But a new Tumblr might postpone that evil day, by shaming robots into proper human-serving behavior: the aptly named Robot Shaming, whose mission statement is “There are a lot of bad robots in the world(s). We try to keep them in line.”

    “Shaming” blogs are nothing new; last summer, dog owners fed up with poor canine behavior contributed to Dogshaming, in hopes of embarrassing their pets away from such behaviors as “I poop in my mom and dad’s bed” or “I jumped on the table, ate a whole stick of butter, and then proceeded to puke it up all over my owners.”

    Bad as this is, the robot misbehavior seen on Robot Shaming is often worse. The first post went up on April 2, presumably because if it started a day earlier, people might’ve mistaken it for an April Fool’s prank. It shows the glowing red lens of HAL 9000, with the shameful caption, “I Neglected My Crew.”

    Most of the robots will be recognizable to anyone familiar with science fiction or science fact; this one shows NASA’s plucky little Voyager 1 spacecraft, all alone against the blackness of space.

    (In case you didn’t get the joke: reports that Voyager officially left the solar system and entered interstellar space date back to at least 2004, when it passed the point where the solar wind slows down. It left the solar system again in 2010, when it reached the point where the solar wind vanished altogether. In 2011 came reports that Voyager might leave the solar system “any day now,” followed by claims in 2012 that Voyager had just left the solar system because it reached what scientists call a “magnetic highway” in space. And last month, NASA issued a statement denying Voyager ever left the solar system at all and dubbing all such claims “premature.”)

    Other posts shame the Huygens space probe for losing important data from its Titan mission, the Sojourner probe for head-butting a rock on Mars, industrial robots for making bad products and (in a slight variation of theme) a recalcitrant pickup truck that refuses to accelerate on an incline.

    If you wish to shame any ill-behaved robot in your life, Robot Shaming is actively seeking submissions here (but keep them clean and obscenity-free).

    Photo via Robot Shaming


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    A copyright troll has come up with a genius, terrifying way to use the Copyright Alert System (CAS) system against Americans.

    Porn company Malibu Media has threatened to sue thousands of users by alleging they've downloaded their product, a practice one judge has called"essentially an extortion scheme."

    And it's evolving. As a subpoena against Verizon shows, Malibu intends to co-opt the CAS into its playbook by making Internet service providers reveal who's been flagged.

    It's important to note two things about the CAS. First, while it's too early for any evidence of misuse to have surfaced, there's plenty of fear that the CAS will falsely flag users it mistakenly thinks are pirating files. And users who have been flagged once or twice might not even know it; they might only be informed through their rarely-used Internet service provider email account, for instance.

    Second, the CAS is not intended to be used in courts. It's meant to be entirely extrajudicial, a way for its partner members—just the major movie and music companies—to warn people who are using peer-to-peer software to share specific files, hoping to scare them straight. Warner Brothers, for instance, might want the system to flag people who upload The Dark Knight Rises. Porn companies are not CAS members, and can't choose how the system works.

    But that doesn't matter to Malibu. It just wants to know if anyone it wants to sue has been flagged, so it can use that information in court as evidence that one of its accused "pirates" has a history of infringement, and therefore is more likely to be guilty.

    In other words: a copyright troll can accuse you of pirating porn, then try to obtain evidence of you being flagged by the CAS to bolster its case against you, even if you've done neither.

    To be fair, Verizon is trying to avoid providing that information, as TorrentFreak noted. It's unclear if that'll work, though; on Monday, Malibu filed a motion to force Verizon to comply.

    The head of the CAS, Jill Lesser, didn't respond to the Daily Dot's request for immediate comment. Her assistant, however, did stress that neither Malibu nor any porn company are CAS partners.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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    What do you get when you dress a plus-sized woman in gray?

    A manatee--or so one egregiously named Target listing seems to be implying.

    Earlier this week, the Daily Dot took you inside the world of WTFPlus, a Tumblr designed to highlight the many inanities of plus-sized fashion--like the fact that sometimes, variously sized dresses that are identical in every way cost significantly more when they're plus-sized.

    But that's not all that can happen to plus-sized shoppers who are looking for dresses otherwise identical to those of their thinner counterparts.

    Here are two identical Mossimo kimono-style dresses, one for regular sizes, and one for plus sizes. All is well, until you look closer at the colors available for each size.

    For sizes XS through XXL, the colors all have banal names, like "lemon zest" and "dark heather gray."

    But for Target's plus-sized shoppers, one of the color labels has been slightly altered:


    That's right; the plus-sized shopper can choose from a delightful "manatee gray."

    Target is often praised for the durability and versatility of its plus-sized clothing line, which is one of the more affordable options for plus-sized buyers. This plus-sized dress is even a few dollars less than its smaller counterpart, something fairly rare in plus-sized fashion. And given that all of the other colors are the same across both plus-sized lines, you might guess that this is most likely a simple mistake in product labeling, and probably not some Target minion's idea of a cruel joke.

    But you'd be wrong, however. When Twitter user Susan Clemens ran across the color discrepancy yesterday, she sounded the alarm, only to have it pointed out to her that "manatee gray" is actually a standard Target color for otherproducts as well.

    The discrepancy was enough to land on Reddit's WTF? forum earlier today, where it garnered a few baffled responses, and speculation about "the minimum karma [Reddit upvotes] this has to get for some marketing person at Target HQ to to get chewed out."

    But Target took the attention in stride, with representative Joshua Thomas stating to Forbes today that it was simply "an unfortunate oversight" that the company was working to correct.

    Perhaps in the future, Target will leave the animal-inspired color names to the bath and household products—and they could do away with the overabundance of hideous animal prints for plus-sized fashion while they're at it.  

    That would definitely put the lemon zest back in my kimono.

    Illustration by bobert-rob via wishermadeawishfall/deviantART


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    You're seeing this correctly. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook and most famous Web innovator since Al Gore, once had an Angelfire. Just like you and your sister and all of your little teenaged friends.

    (Well, probably that Mark Zuckerberg. It could be another Mark Zuckerberg from Westchester, New York, born in 1984, with an early flair for programming.)

    Thanks to the vigilantes at Hacker News, the world can now once again be privy to the wonders that are a future tech legend's most primitive Web developments, an Angelfire site reiterating to the world just how geeky Mark Zuckerberg actually was. 

    "Hi, my name is… Slim Shady," the site's About Me page reads. "No, really, my name is Slim Shady."

    Wait, Slim Shady? Eminem? Mark, please tell me you're joking.

    Just kidding, my name is Mark Zuckerberg (for those of you that don't know me) and I live in a small town near the massive city of New York. I am currently 15 years old and I just finished my freshman year in high school. I have remodeled this website in an attempt that perhaps some search engine will recognize it. I am trying o promote my new AOL Program, The Vader Fader, which you can download elsewhere on this site.

    Hey Mark, not sure that Vader Fader "program" worked out so well. Might want to try another site—one that, you know, focuses on chairs and making the world a more open place. 

    In actuality, this Angelfire site may have already been a precursor to the Facebook beast he launched from his Harvard dorm room in 2004. He writes in a section called The Web that he envisions a world in which people can actually make friends and contact each other and do all sorts of other things—like poke strangers and scroll through endless streams of cute girls' photos. 

    "As of now the web is pretty small," he writes. "Hopefully, it will grow into a larger web.

    "If your name is already on The Web because someone else has chosen to be linked to you, then you may choose two additional people to be linked with. Otherwise, if you see someone who you know and would like to be linked with but your name is not already on The Web, then you can contact me and I will link that person to you and put you on The Web. If you do not know anyone on The Web, contact me anyway and I will put you on it."

    Sounds like Facebook, save for that part about Zuckerberg actually responding to emails. 

    Other fun components of this primitive website include The Pong Game (now defunct), a bit about Magnetic Poetry, and an "informal page" called The Best, in which Zuck riffs on his favorite things in the world. 

    Among them, Quesadillas and telling people to "Suck it!" Love that about you, Zuck. Love your Angelfire page. YOU'RE the best, buddy. You are.

    Photo via Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook


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    Maggie Rita's co-owner Santiago Moreno once said that women don't come to his Houston area restaurant because of the food. They come for the margaritas—and the wait staff's bitchy attitudes.

    The Tex-Mex cantina has long possessed a bit of an attitude problem. It was just one year ago that Moreno told Eater Houston"our clients are old Taco Bell clients who grew up with Taco Bell as Mexican food. Their palates don't appreciate what we grew up with as Mexican food."

    That revelation alienated a lot of Moreno's clientele, who eventually stopped eating there.

    After learning that the restaurant's franchise on downtown's Shepherd Drive was closing this month, Amanda Newman posted to Facebook that she was happy to hear the news.

    "Insulting Houston before we tried your food was kinda 'dee-de-dee' of you," she wrote. "We hope they all close soon."

    An employee at Maggie Rita's fired back: "I thought fat people were supposed to be jolly!"

    Newman, whose profile picture shows a closeup of her face with braided pigtails and a cowboy hat, responded by telling the restaurant that its employees "hurl insults like a third grader."

    "How sad."

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Maggie Rita's.

    A call into the restaurant has been unreturned.

    H/T Houston Press, Photo via Maggie Rita's/Facebook


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    Google has finally used its Street View cars for good instead of evil

    In the wake of 2011’s Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan, the Fukushimi Daichi Nuclear Power Plant experienced severe meltdowns in three reactors. This left areas surrounding it, including the city of Namie-machi, barren, according to the town’s mayor.

    Writing on the Google Blog, Tamotsu Baba recounted how all 21,000 residents of his town were forced to relocate and, given the radioactivity, have in the subsequent two years, never been allowed to so much as visit their erstwhile homes, or what's left of them.

    “Many of the displaced townspeople have asked to see the current state of their city,” wrote Baba, “and there are surely many people around the world who want a better sense of how the nuclear incident affected surrounding communities.”

    Google worked with the mayor and other townspeople to drive Google Street View cars through the abandoned city, photographing the desolate streets and buildings. It's like something out of a sci-fi film.

    The 360-degree imagery is available on Google Maps and on a site called “Memories for the Future.”

    “Ever since the March disaster,” the mayor said, “the rest of the world has been moving forward, and many places in Japan have started recovering. But in Namie-machi time stands still. With the lingering nuclear hazard, we have only been able to do cursory work for two whole years. We would greatly appreciate it if you viewed this Street View imagery to understand the current state of Namie-machi and the tremendous gravity of the situation.”

    H/T Google Blog | Photos via Memories for the Future


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    Little is known, and nothing has taken place of yet, but a tweet sent from site owner Craig Brittain's account tells the tale as well as any: As of today, revenge porn site IsAnybodyDown.com is no more. 

    It's safe to say only one person will miss it. 

    The controversial site, which posted anonymously submitted nude photos featuring individuals who had not consented to having their pictures posted online, has waged a war against dozens of detractors since November 2012. That's when news first broke that a Massachusetts first amendment attorney named Marc Randazza was trying to take down the site on the grounds that Brittain was extorting his victims. 

    That extortion came through the practice of removing photos and information. On his site, Brittain advertised that an attorney named David Blade was the only individual who could properly help get victims' photos removed from the site. But that removal came at a cost of $250, and Blade, who Brittain claimed lived in New York, was impossible to find online, and was not registered as a member of the New York bar. 

    Brittain remained steadfast in his argument that IsAnybodyDown was "entertainment," telling Colorado Springs' CBS4 that "There are plenty of websites of this type" and that "We realized that we could make changes and modifications to [the site] that would make it more neutral, more acceptable, more fair. We would be representing the people and their interests."

    Still, the site had its critics. Last week, an anonymous hacktivist known on Twitter as "Funny Bear" ran an IP address locator test to prove that Blade and Brittain were the same person—or at least operated out of the same location, Brittain's Colorado Springs, Colo. address.

    "It MUST be the same person reviewing both submissions and takedown requests," Funny Bear wrote to the Daily Dot after demonstrating the accuracy of that same IP locator test on one of our email addresses. "There is no denying Craig is the Takedown Hammer."

    On Thursday, Brittain took to Twitter to state that his decision to end IsAnybodyDown was "a personal decision."

    "A number of reasons contributed to my decision to end IsAnybodyDown," he wrote. "Mostly my personal feelings. The realization that my life is empty without love and friendship is really the biggest motivating factor behind the change. It isn't so much that I had a change of heart. 

    "I'm not like Hunter Moore who struggles with guilt or regret," he continued, alluding to the unofficial godfather of revenge porn, the creator of IsAnyoneUp. "I'm just lonely. Very, very lonely. I was bullied as a child. You can read about it on my personal website, which I won't be shutting down."

    He closed by saying that he's working on an autobiography as well as a book co-authored by IAD co-creator Chance Trahan. 

    The latter will detail "the in-depth events of the past ten years of our lives working in [information technology] (long before IAD)."

    Brittain did not respond to the Daily Dot's request for comment. 

    Photo via IsAnybodyDown


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    On the Internet, political ideologues live within echo chambers of their own making. Conservative blogs link to other conservative blogs, liberal blogs link to other liberal blogs. Reddit's r/ronpaul upvotes libertarian opinions, and punishes socialists who poke their heads in with a storm of downvotes. But there's at least one place on the Internet that doesn't deteriorate into ideological, warring fiefdoms.

    On Wikipedia, users aren't afraid to talk to their political enemies. And perhaps most intriguingly, according to a new study, they care as much about being "Wikipedian" as they do about being a Republican or a Democrat. 

    Welcome to the nation state of Wikipedia.

    The study, published by a team of researchers from the University of Southern California and Barcelona Media, looked at the behavior patterns of self-identified Republican or Democratic Wikipedia users. There's a box you can show on your public user page that will advertise your party allegiance. Wikipedians who reveal their political leanings are a lot more likely to edit articles on politics, the researchers found. But when they discuss those articles they don't shy away from ideological opponents. In other words, unlike everywhere else on the Internet, they don't seek out people they agree with and shun people they disagree with. Instead, both sides are highly engaged in the debate.

     

    There's also a box you can check that will publicly identify you as a "Wikipedian." Perhaps predictably, a lot more users check that box than any party affiliation box.

    "The results indicate that the social identities of being a member of a political party and of being a Wikipedian may be equally important," the researchers concluded.

    They added:

    "The results of our analysis show that despite the increasing political division of the US, there are still areas in which political dialogue is possible and happens."

    That conclusion actually correlates with another recent story. Earlier this year, researches  examined more than Wikipedia 70,000 articles using an analytical technique intended to discover bias in newspaper articles. They discovered that Wikipedia articles have become less and less biased over time. Whereas the encyclopedia once leaned Democratic, it now leans neutral. The researchers concluded that's because the userbase has become a lot more diverse than it was in the early days. But maybe its also because conservative and liberal Wikipedians aren't afraid of actually talking to each other.

    H/T DNA | Photo by Daquella Manera/Flickr


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    Beloved and popular film critic Roger Ebert passed away today, at the age of 70, after battling with cancer for more than a decade.

    In addition to being a prolific film critic—he penned more than 10,000 reviews in his four-decade career—he became an avid Twitter user after losing his lower jaw in 2006. Like his reviews, Ebert's tweets were insightful, blunt, and funny.

    He wasn't always right—his views on video games strike me as short-sighted—but he was always entertaining and fun to read. 

    He had a knack for picking on or making fun of celebrities in the news. A favorite target of his was former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, which isn't surprising given his outspoken, left-leaning politics.

    Ebert also skewered—brilliantly, I might add—golfer Tiger Woods's philandering:

    There was also that time he called out singer-guitarist John Mayer for saying that his junk was a "white supremacist."

    Perhaps his biggest—and least popular—dig at a celebrity was the following tweet he made following the death of former Jackass star Ryan Dunn.

    Not all of his tweets targeted specific famous people. Some of them called out douchebags in general.

    Ebert also used the social media platform to constantly rail against what he thought was a scourge on the film industry.

    He also knew how to make fun of himself, as evidenced by this tweet that refers to the loss of his jaw to cancer.

    And then there were the types of tweets I like to call "Ebertisms," clever and astute observations made by a man who's been around enough to know what's what.

    But if I had to pick my favorite Roger Ebert tweet, it'd be the following.

    Indeed it could have.

    Photo via Roger Ebert/Twitter


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    Pro wrestling might be scripted, but the pain is real. Just ask Scott Hall.

    The ‘90s icon, better known as Razor Ramon, can barely walk due to arthritis. He’s in dire need of hip replacement but he’s unable to pay for the surgery since he doesn't have health insurance.

    Thanks to an Indiegogo campaign orchestrated by longtime wrestling pals Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Sean Waltman, Hall's set to undergo the procedure next week.

    Page, who's become a noted yoga instructor since retiring from the ring, has made it his mission to help his fellow wrestling veterans become healthy. Both Roberts and Hall live with him in Georgia, and he's helped them become sober and leaner.

    Hall, 54, gained fame as a then-WWF Intercontinental Champion and as part of infamous bad-guy group the New World Order in WCW. In a campaign video, he talks about how Twitter helped him realize he still has a lot of fans out there and how his life has changed since moving in with DDP earlier this year.

    The top comment on that YouTube video is reflective of many left on the IndieGoGo page and those sent to Page on Twitter:

    "DDP was a great Pro Wrestler, but more importantly he's a better human being," Celtic Bhoyie wrote. "God bless you, DDP."

    With three days left to run on the campaign, Page and friends have raised $102,879, far more than the $80,000 goal. More than 3,400 backers have chipped in to help "The Bad Guy" beat the 10 count and get back to health.

    The success of the Hall campaign follows on from a similar Page-led Indiegogo bid to raise funds for Roberts's shoulder surgery. Fans exceeded the $9,200 goal for that campaign, raising almost $30,000 by the time it was all said and done.

    While Kickstarter's focus is on funding creative projects, Indiegogo can be used for just about anything. Last year, for example, users raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for bullied bus monitor Karen Klein.

    That fans recognize the sacrifices men and women make to their bodies for the sake of entertainment and are willing to get behind those people when they need help is a testament to their passion for the art of sports entertainment.

    Here's the highlights from perhaps Hall's most famous bout, a ladder match against Shawn Michaels in 1994, set to a terrible rock song.

    Photo via Diamond Dallas Page/YouTube


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    The same website that spawns smut scandals, petty arguing, and mysterious, unlocked safes can also help shape the minds of the next generation.

    While Reddit may seem like the last place on Earth to seek out education tips, in reality, there exist a number of subreddits devoted exclusively to the industry. If you are in—or plan to join—the teaching profession, the following subreddits may be just what you need to become an exceptional leader in the classroom.

    1) r/teaching
    5,900+ subscribers

    If Reddit were run exclusively by teachers, it may look like r/teaching. The subreddit is home to both standard and controversial news and reflections on teaching. Teachers will also share everything from teaching methods to day-to-day tips to even interview suggestions. Finally, if you need a safe place to vent about the many frustrations that come with the profession—or simply to share funny stories—r/teaching is your virtual bar.

    2) r/teachers
    7,900+ subscribers

    While r/teachers may seem virtually identical to r/teaching, it is actually a lot more discussion-oriented than its counterpart. Subscribers to r/teachers tend to focus much more on such aspects as classroom management, resource sharing, and professional development than on education news or anecdotes.

    The r/teachers subreddit will also point redditors to a series of subreddits designed for specific subjects and areas of study, such as r/scienceteachers and r/highereducation.

    3) r/education
    24,200+ subscribers

    Unlike the teaching-specific subreddits available, the rather popular r/education collects a wealth of information on the news and politics of the teaching profession both in the United States and throughout the world. Subscribers who gather in r/education swap articles and discussion posts that cover everything from the plight of poorer schools to the effectiveness of online education.

    4) r/teachingresources
    230 subscribers

    Slightly less populated—and submitted to—than r/teachers and r/teaching, r/teachingresources is nevertheless an interesting source of strictly that: teaching resources. Teachers will post content such as links to engaging YouTube videos for students and other external sites designed to aid in student development and progression. What's more, the content is helpfully arranged through a series of colorful tags for quicker browsing.

    5) r/HomeworkHelp
    7,300+ subscribers

    Who says you can't occasionally cheat, teachers?

    While r/HomeworkHelp is renowned throughout the younger Reddit community as a place to solicit assistance—and perhaps answers—with assignments, it can also be an effective tool for teachers. Browsing through the many submissions posted to r/HomeworkHelp, it is relatively easy to unearth challenging assignment ideas for the classroom.

    6) r/EdTech
    253 subscribers

    Let's face it: the classroom you enter as a teacher is not the same classroom you entered as a student. With more and more students possessing a basic understanding of advanced technology as early as kindergarten, teachers of course need to keep up.

    In r/EdTech, teachers can read up on the latest trends and advancements in teaching-related technology, as well as stories detailing how technology affects the classroom environment.

    7) r/AskAcademia
    7,200+ subscribers

    Like r/HomeweorkHelp, r/AskAcademia is geared more toward the student body than toward teachers and professionals. Nevertheless, the subreddit serves as a key source in highlighting the thoughts, hopes, and fears of today's student as well as discussions on pertinent education issues of the day.

    8) r/DataIsBeautiful
    67,200+ subscribers

    It's no secret that all people, be they students or not, learn better through visualizations. The popular subreddit r/dataisbeautiful firmly grasped the reins of this notion and ran with it at top speeds. Truly stunning displays of data on everything from the circulation of paper money throughout the United States to the number of asteroids found since 1980 abound in the subreddit. In accessing r/dataisbeautiful, teachers can easily find a subject—or even series of subjects—that will visually engage their students and help them grasp concepts more effectively.

    9) r/AskReddit
    3,200,000+ subscribers

    Yes, we all know that default subreddit AskReddit is, more often than not, overflowing with utter garbage and hypothetical nonsense. That being said, the subreddit, which sees hundreds of submissions each and every day, does occasionally produce a gem in the form of a truly thought-provoking, or at least engaging, query. Search r/AskReddit for keywords related to your subject or lesson and leave with an interesting, and hopefully discussion-inspiring, question.

    Photo via www.audio-luci-store.it/Flickr


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    A Georgia high school has racially segregated proms. In 2013. And its students are using the Internet to push their high school into the 20th century.

    As happens every year, students at Wilcox County High School in Rochelle will be funneled into either the white prom or the "integrated prom." That is, unless, four students succeed in their plan to hold their own fully integrated prom with the help of Facebook.

    It's the local community which is responsible for allowing the segregated proms. They're private parties, rather than official school events. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said they are "organized by parents and students and reflect historic and lingering racial divides." Last year, a biracial student tried to attend the while prom and was turned away by police. 

    As The Week reported, Wilcox County families started running independent proms decades ago when schools were integrated.

    While some area schools tried to host an official prom to avoid segregation, those events did not gain enough support among students. Indeed, at Wilcox County High School, students are ripping down posters for what Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace, and Keela Bloodworth are calling the Integrated Prom.

    The four girls have no choice but to raise cash themselves for the event. Their planned bash will not receive school sponsorship.

    "We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change," the quartet wrote on Facebook. "Well, as a group of adamant high school seniors, we want to make a difference in our community. For the first time in the history of our county, we plan to have an integrated prom."

    Calling the segregation "embarrassing," they set up the Facebook page Wednesday and have already soared above 12,000 Likes. 

    They have a donate button on the page allowing people from around the world to help make their idea a reality. They're also holding a Barbecue Chicken Plate Sale Fundraiser.

    It's not quite clear how much money they've raised so far. They do have the backing of their county school superintendent along with dozens of people who've left comments on their Facebook page. 

    If only parents and students in Wilcox County were as supportive.

    Screenshot via WSAV


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    The Twitter gold rush is long over. The short, snappy, memorable handles were snapped up eons ago, and you'll be lucky to find a good name that doesn't require adding a number to it.

    But just like I was too slow to grab @kris, many countries weren't able to get their own names registered. Too late. A squatter nabbed it, and he'll sit on it until he's paid off.

    Quick aside here: Of course, not every country will want to promote itself using the English-language version of its name as its handle. Alas, @Deutchland (Germany) was snapped up, as was @nippon (Japan). There are other reasons country handles might not be available: 36 were suspended as of November.

    But it's not the end of the line if you failed to grab your proper handle in time. Australia's tourism board recently took over@australia, while one good Samaritan returned @canada and @japan to their rightful owners. 

    But not before Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper was sent the saddest tweet ever:

    Here's a look at some of the country handles that don't belong to the nations in question.

    Sorry, America

    Both @UnitedStates and @USA are under rebel rule. The former is a travel company, the latter shares "news, facts, history & general opinion" and must have a really annoying mentions stream.

    German inefficiency 

    Germany, uncharacteristically, failed to be organized in time to grab @germany and @deutschland. From a branding perspective, that's a terrible move.

    Small nations, small follower numbers

    On Twitter, East Timor is ruled by an Australian lawyer. Liechtenstein is governed a Spanish-speaking Queens Park Rangers soccer and Community fan. Madagascar, meanwhile, belongs to DreamWorks Animation, which made a series of films under that land's name. Those poor nations.

    Not-so-Great Britain

    @GreatBritain is government-run. Shame Her Majesty's Parliament couldn't get a handle on the accounts for Blighty's constituent countries.

    Yep, you guessed it, the Welsh name for Wales is taken up by a squatter too.

    Same name, different handles

    There are a few countries in the world whose names double up as the names of actual people. Sure enough, those were snapped up by people with the matching names.

    This is the original Jordan, sans numbers.

    That golf connection

    @Kenya has an interest in what golfer Paul Azinger has to say. Yeah, we don't know either.

    NOT EGYPT THE COUNTRY. OK?

    "J," you have our interest.

    The protestor

    @Bahrain appears to belong to someone involved in protests against the Bahraini regime.

    "The ID is not for sell"

    An Indian man living in China, @India is happy to share photos. He has no intention of handing over his sought-after handle to anyone else.

    There are many others, such as @Nepal, @Oman, and @SriLanka, that belong to individuals rather than governments. Many are news feeds related to their respective countries, and dozens are dormant, Twiplomacy found.

    Of all the tweets from all the people with random country names as their handles, this is probably the best:

    Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr


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    Dylan D. wanted to love San Quentin State Prison, the site of Johnny Cash's famous live album. 

    He'd heard that the kitchen cooked food harvested on local farms and that the longstanding state penitentiary "put great thought in to their seasonally changing menu." 

    "The service," he understood, "was not exactly friendly." But it was "efficient."

    Turns out that Dylan D. could not have been more wrong. 

    Like any review-obsessed American citizen who'd just returned from time spent within an establishment that's ripe for reviewing, Dylan D. could not wait to hop online and offer his thoughts on San Quentin. 

    He logged onto Yelp when he got up out the clink, looked up San Quentin State Prison's company page, and started clicking away at the keyboard.

    "Boy was I wrong," he wrote. The food at San Quentin State Prison, a maximum security prison housing more than 3,000 inmates, he quickly learned, was terrible.

    "I understand that this is buffet style so my service expectations were quite low," Dylan D. wrote, "but COME ON. That doesn't give you the right to be rude and not take in to consideration the different portion sizes that everyone gets. The gentlemen before me got a WAY bigger pile of beans and his brisket looked like it was less undercooked than mine. Did the server think I simply wouldn't notice the difference?"

    No, Dylan. No he did not. 

    Dylan D. is part of a growing trend of Yelpers who—be they legitimate inmates or not—have turned to the social reviews site to offer up their takes on prison conditions in the recent years. 

    There are sites for all sorts of maximum state penitentiaries, from the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas to New York's Rikers Island Correctional Facility. Some of the review are obviously fake—"No booze, but there's always free food—3 squares a day," writes Albert W. of Rikers Island—while others, like Michael S.'s 5-star take on Lew Sterrett, seem munch more plausible.

    So which of the three aforementioned penitentiaries is most desirable? According to inmates on Yelp, it's Rikers Island. (Take that, Kool G Rap!) The Queens correctional facility, home to 14,000, received an average of three stars from its six reviewers, narrowly edging out Southern California's San Quentin, whose 35 reviewers have agreed to give it 2.5 stars.

    Lew Sterrett's six reviewers reached a consensus on just two stars. Sounds terrible!

    H/T Businessweek | Photo via Les geeckz/Facebook


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    Cosplayer Elizabeth Schweizer had long been planning a project exploring cosplay and sexism. After a member of the media harassed Lara Croft cosplayers at a convention two weeks ago, she decided the moment had come.

    In full superhero mode, Schweizer swung into action at last weekend’s WonderCon, launching CONsent: The Importance of Treating Cosplayers with Respect," a photo initiative featuring cosplayers of all types and fandoms.

    The Lara Croft offender at PAX East had allegedly muttered that the girls whom he questioned inappropriately deserved his treatment because of what they were wearing. Writing about how she decided to advance the timeline on her own project, Schweizer, a.k.a. Sushi girl, said that the response of event organizer Meagan Marie to the incident, as well as recent online discussions like #INeedFeminismbecause, had pushed her to take action.

    While she was at WonderCon, Schweizer handed cosplayers a whiteboard reading “Cosplay =/= Consent” and asked them to tell her about their experiences with harassment at conventions. Con harassment has been an ongoing subject of debatewithin the geek community for a while, from the need for anti-harassment policies to the importance of actually implementing them. One of the biggest arguments against the formation of anti-harassment policies is that claims of harassment are often exaggerated or even fabricated; but the cosplayers Schweizer talked to had plenty of experience to attest otherwise:

    I was not surprised to hear many horrible stories from women and men alike. These can be as seemingly harmless and annoying as not asking for permission before taking a picture or bothering them for a picture or interview while they were taking a water or food break. But the majority of the stories were more serious and ranged from threats of violence to inappropriate touching, and from lewd facebook messages to stalking... The consensus is that it isn’t safe to be a woman in cosplay.

    Partly inspired by movements like SlutWalk, which can often make consent issues starkly visible (NSFW),  CONsent draws upon the outfits of its participants to remind con attendees and the general public that choosing to cosplay or wear revealing outfits is not an unspoken invitation for harassment.

    Photo via 16bitsirens/Flickr

    “Lots of guys have used asking for my photo as a segue to asking for my number,” one cosplayer told Schweizer. “When I turn them down, they always call me a bitch or something much worse.”

    Photo via 16-bit Sirens

    Although Schweitzer intended to grow her collection of photo essays as she went, enthusiasm for the project has already spread wildly. The Tumblr post she made featuring examples of the project and inviting others to participate has garnered over 36,000 notes on Tumblr in less than 24 hours.

    Of course, not all of the response has been positive. “Attention whores,” noted one Tumblr user. “Complaining about what kind of attention you attract when you seek attention?” Some cosplayers took to Facebook to complain. “Dress like a whore, get treated like a whore,” wrote one.

    Many women, however, are already taking the project into their own con spaces. “I'm going to a Con in Toronto today and I asked the photographer to please make a point of finding me so I can participate!” one cosplayer, scifrey, told Schweizer.

    This isn’t the first time projects like this have been done at cons. But in a geek culture where many conventions still take a hands-off approach to the topic, it might finally be the moment for the discussion around con harassment to sway in the right direction—especially if all it takes is a writeboard, a Flickr account, and a convention full of fed-up cosplayers.

    Photo via 16bitsirens/Flickr


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    Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth is in a bit of hot water after blasting anyone who doesn't have a reliable Internet connection, as well as offending gamers who live in rural areas.

    Orth took to Twitter yesterday to dismiss anyone who complained about the rumors that the next generation of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console might be an "always-on" device, meaning that it will require a constant Internet connection to work, even if you’re not playing online.

    Don't like it? Deal with it, Orth suggested on Twitter. The message set off a firestorm of replies from gamers who follow him.

    When Orth’s friend, BioWare developer Manveer Heir, countered with valid claims, Orth was equally dismissive.

    Orth then doubled down on his online disdain with the following sequence of tweets.

    He then concluded his Twitter exchange with what he probably thought was a clever usage of an Obama meme.


    To his credit, Orth did eventually apologize— sort of— claiming that his comments were "just trolling [Heir] personally."

    The Microsoft Studios director proceeded to make his Twitter account private, but by that point it was too late. The above tweets were screengrabbed and posted on video game forum NeoGAF by user shinobi602.

    Unsurprisingly, the Internet has refused to accept Orth's lackluster apology. Orth's tone-deaf comments inspired a series of memes on Reddit that make fun of him and his employer.

    As if the ridiculing macros weren't enough, Orth also managed to piss off popular video game vlogger Francis, who did not react to the incident kindly. He posted one of his trademark angry rants on the subject to YouTube, where it’s approaching 100,000 views.

    The Verge reported that Microsoft has distanced itself from its employee. They issued the following statement.

    "We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter."

     

    While the company addressed Orth’s behavior, Microsoft is still playing coy about the rumor that started all of this, refusing to confirm or deny that the next-gen Xbox will need an always-on Internet connection.

     

    Photo via Quickmeme

     


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    It's like the 1990s sitcom Sister, Sister but in real life.

    On Feb. 21, 2013, Samantha Futerman, an up-and-coming actress living in Los Angeles, received a strange message on Facebook from a woman in France named Anaïs Bordier.

     

    Bordier, a 25-year-old French fashion design student living in London, explained in her initial message that a friend of hers had seen a video that featured Futerman on YouTube and noticed a striking resemblance between the two. After some brief stalking on Google, Bordier found another video where Futerman talks about being adopted.

    "I was wondering where you were born?" Bordier asked, noting that not only had she also been adopted but that they shared the same birthday.

    "Let me know ... don't freak out ... Lots of love," she concluded.

    Futerman didn't freak out. Quite the contrary. 

    "[I] knew I was about to embark on a journey that no one else had ventured before," she said. "Through just a few brief-yet-super-effing-loaded, Facebook induced, interactions, I was positive that this girl was in fact my biological twin sister."

    Now that the two have found each other, they're looking to make a documentary about themselves—including their soon-to-be first encounter—and have taken to Kickstarter to make it possible.

    According to their project page, the film—cleverly titled Twinsters—will show the two potential siblings as they travel across the United States and Europe, and will feature a series of video diaries and Skype conversations. Most importantly, Twinsters will also be there when the two take a DNA test to see whether they're actually related.

    Thanks to media exposure—they were featured on Good Morning America's website and YouTube's official Twitter account tweeted a link to their pitch video—Futerman and Bordier have already surpassed their initial goal of $30,000, raising $37,091 from 938 backers as of this posting.

    Futerman and Bordier join a lengthy list of long-lost family members who have reunited thanks to the Internet. In 2013 alone, two siblings who had been separated by more than 65 years were brought together by an 8-year old, war-torn sisters found each other using Facebook, and a daughter tracked down her father on the same social network.

    Photo via Samantha Futerman/YouTube


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    Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to become British Prime Minister, died Monday at age 87.

    Thatcher was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, where she promoted denationalization of state-owned industry, presiding over the sales of British Airways and British Gas, among others. She also attacked trade unionists and championed market deregulation. Thatcher brought in tax reforms related to local governments, which led to widespread rioting and protests in 1990. 

    Needless to say, her popularity among the working class was particularly low.

    On Facebook, some users are planning to celebrate Thatcher's death by holding parties. Users in Galway, Ireland; Nottingham, England; and the Isle of Man are among those pledging to mark her passing with a soireé.

    Take a look at the comments on one page, titled "I wiill have the biggest party ever when M. thatcher dies :)," and which hasn't shared updates since June last year.

    The most popular such page appears to be We're having a party when Thatcher dies, which has more than 5,100 likes. Since March 2010, it's largely subsisted on negative news about Thatcher and her legacy, along with some graphic illustrations and image macros

    The parties were noted by the site Is Thatcher Dead Yet?, which is encouraging others to mark Thatcher's death in jubilation. (Incidentally, that site's Facebook page has more than 38,000 likes.)

    That same site urged people to share their feelings on Twitter using the hashtag #nowthatchersdead. However, some Twitter users took that tag to read "now that Cher's dead." There's just a slight difference between those two women.

    Photo by huffstutterrobertl/Flickr


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