DNA Lounge: Wherein there's more dazzle, more coffee, and more photos.

The dazzle room is getting closer to completion! They painted the inside of the bar alcove this week.

New feature for the early mornings: we're now rolling a coffee-service cart out to the street so we can facilitate your mad rush to caffeinate on your way to work. Come check it out.

Photos since last time:

The Agonist
Battle of the Bands
Death Guild
Trap & Bass

Creepy Kids

Dina Lynnyk & Roma Pashkovskiy

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Six Hundred Series had ludicrous tits. We spotted them easy.

"First ever interactive robotic 60cm doll"? (West of the Mississippi? In a serious screenplay?)

The design of Smart Doll is about 70% complete - then comes the development of the software which not only controls all 24 servomotors, but also get feedback from the multiple sensors which include touch, ultrasound, visual, acoustic and location sensors.

Speech will be required to work with sensors which detect movement so that the Smart Doll can say things like "welcome back home!" Eyes and mouth will not move! Only cute head motions.

Also plan to have her let you know about Twitter and Facebook notifications too via movement.

Mirai is not designed to walk but she will be able to balance and shift her hips left n right, back n forth.

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Everything is terrible.

It's been a great week for the relentless march toward dystopia!

U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post. [...]

Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: "Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple."

PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush's secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority. [...]

Government officials and the document itself made clear that the NSA regarded the identities of its private partners as PRISM's most sensitive secret, fearing that they would withdraw from the program if exposed. "98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft; we need to make sure we don't harm these sources," the briefing's author wrote in his speaker's notes.

Everyone denies it, but:

Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation says that these denials may not be very significant.

"Whether they know the code name PRISM, they probably don't," he told Ars. "[Code names are] not routinely shared outside the agency. Saying they've never heard of PRISM doesn't mean much. Generally what we've seen when there have been revelations is something like: 'we can't comment on matters of national security.' The tech companies responses are unusual in that they're not saying 'we can't comment.' They're designed to give the impression that they're not participating in this."

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk -- regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

NSA phone sweeping has been going on since 2007

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday said senators were informed of the administration's sweeping surveillance practices, which they said have been going on since 2007.

"Everyone's been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

DHS on border laptop searches: we can't tell you why this is legal, and we won't limit searches to reasonable suspicion

The DHS has responded to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU asking when and how it decides whose laptop to search at the border. It explained its legal rationale for conducting these searches with a blank page:

On Page 18 of the 52-page document under the section entitled "First Amendment," several paragraphs are completely blacked out. They simply end with the sentence: "The laptop border searches in the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and [Customs and Border Protection] do not violate travelers' First Amendment rights as defined by the courts."

More excellence from "the most transparent administration in American history." Also, the DHS rejected claims that it should limit searches to situations where it had reasonable grounds for suspicion, because then they would have to explain their suspicion:

First, commonplace decisions to search electronic devices might be opened to litigation challenging the reasons for the search. In addition to interfering with a carefully constructed border security system, the litigation could directly undermine national security by requiring the government to produce sensitive investigative and national security information to justify some of the most critical searches. Even a policy change entirely unenforceable by courts might be problematic; we have been presented with some noteworthy CBP and ICE success stories based on hard-to-articulate intuitions or hunches based on officer experience and judgment. Under a reasonable suspicion requirement, officers might hesitate to search an individual's device without the presence of articulable factors capable of being formally defended, despite having an intuition or hunch based on experience that justified a search.

A Junk Decision on Warrantless DNA Collection

You lost some important Fourth Amendment protection when the Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Maryland v. King that the police can take a DNA sample from an arrestee without a search warrant for purposes of general law enforcement rummaging. [...]

Ultimately, in Maryland v. King, the Supreme Court effectively killed Fourth Amendment protections for the most vulnerable members of society. King's DNA could have been collected after his conviction on the assault charge, as every state and the federal government also collects DNA from convicted felons. But by authorizing warrantless DNA collection from arrestees, as Justice Scalia noted the majority managed to "to burden uniquely the sole group for whom the Fourth Amendment's protections ought to be most jealously guarded: people who are innocent of the State's accusations."

Justice Scalia and the Genetic Panopticon

The majority reasoned that the state has a significant interest in positively identifying suspects and the intrusion required, "a gentle rub along the inside of the cheek," is minimal. Basically, the majority held, this is no different than photographing or fingerprinting subjects.

Which is nonsense, because DNA has the potential to reveal far more about a person than his or her identity. According to the majority, though, the particular test at issue can't do that, or at least that is "open to dispute." Plus, it continued, the officers are not using it for that purpose, and there is even a state law saying they can't. "The Court need not speculate about the risks posed" by a system that doesn't have such protections, said the majority. Right, because information, once gathered, is never illegally misused. Hey, Justice Kennedy, how about the risks posed by a system that does have such protections but in which those protections are continually ignored or maybe pushed aside by constant invocations of "national security"? Could you speculate about that?

Justice Scalia, joined by the liberals except for Breyer, who surprisingly voted with the conservative majority, was willing to "speculate" about the risks involved:

Today's judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the "identity" of the flying public), applies for a driver's license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection. I therefore dissent, and hope that today's incursion upon the Fourth Amendment, like an earlier one,6 will some day be repudiated.

He was talking about the "all-seeing" aspect of the Panopticon there, of course, but we should also remember that the "essence" of the idea, according to Bentham, was not just the watching but that the watched population would control itself in the first instance because of the fear of being watched by an invisible keeper.

Texas Says It's OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won't Have Sex With You

A jury in Bexar County, Texas just acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of charges that he murdered a 23-year-old Craigslist escort -- agreeing that because he was attempting to retrieve the $150 he'd paid to Lenora Ivie Frago, who wouldn't have sex with him, his actions were justified.

Gilbert had admitted to shooting Frago in the neck on Christmas Eve 2009, when she accepted $150 from Gilbert and left his home without having sex with him. Frago, who was paralyzed by the shooting, died several months later.

Gilbert's defense argued that the shooting wasn't meant to kill, and that Gilbert's actions were justified, because he believed that sex was included as part of the fee. Texas law allows people "to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft."

The 30-year-old hugged his defense attorneys after the "not guilty" verdict was read by the judge. If convicted, he could have faced life in prison. He thanked God, his lawyers, and the jury for being able to "see what wasn't the truth."

New York Senate makes it a felony to annoy a police officer

The New York Senate has passed a bill making it illegal to "harass" a police officer by "any type of physical action" -- even action that does not otherwise constitute interference, obstruction or assault. Given that "obstruction" and "interference" are famously broad, it's hard to imagine what conduct the police and the NY Senate believe they need to control by statute, though there's a clue in the statutory language, which makes it a felony to "harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty."

In other words, if you cause any physical contact with a police officer, even unintentionally, even if the contact does not rise to the level of assault or obstruction or interference, you can be convicted of a felony and imprisoned if the officer can show that your conduct "annoyed" him. This is the kind of statute that seems calculated to allow the police and prosecutors to put people in jail for very long stretches (remember that 97% of people indicted for felonies in the USA plead guilty under threat of decades of prison should they fight and lose) just because they don't like them very much.

I'm reminded of Toronto's notorious "Officer Bubbles", Adam Josephs, who told a G20 protester that if any soap bubbles were to touch him, he could consider it assault (and who violently arrested the protester on that basis). The world laughed (albeit with some weary cynicism) at the idea that a large, armed man could call incidental contact with a soap-bubble "assault." But the New York Senate has effectively given police the power to literally treat mere annoyances as felonious conduct.

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A better visualization of The Mountains of Madness



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Larry Ellison: Epic Douchebag

Who could possibly have seen this coming, except absolutely everybody?

Aaron Peskin, a former member of the city's Board of Supervisors who has started an online campaign to pressure Mr. Ellison to personally cover the city's operating costs, offered a different explanation.

"Other well-to-do, philanthropic individuals and organizations aren't really interested in donating to the hobby of the third-richest person in the United States who's down to his last $40 billion," Mr. Peskin said. [...]

Mr. Ellison's Event Authority last year also backed out of an original plan to spend more than $100 million to build boathouses and repair piers that the city and a succession of private businesses had failed to develop in the past two decades. In return, the Event Authority would have gained long-term rent credits and development rights to the refurbished waterfront. Instead, the city itself is now paying for about $22 million in waterfront upgrades.

What's more, the America's Cup Organizing Committee, a civic group created to raise money to offset the city's extra operating costs for the event, has struggled to meet its goals, leading Mayor Edwin M. Lee to campaign personally. The committee has raised $15 million -- of which $5 million are loans from the Event Authority -- out of its initial goal of $32 million, though the city's operating costs are now expected to go down with the size of the event, Ms. Sullivan said.

Mr. Ellison declined through a spokeswoman to comment for this article.

Your tax dollars at work: enabling the transfer of public property to private, for-profit companies because your elected pinheads were bribed into supporting a story about how it would bring "economic benefits".

That fucking eyesore of a basketball stadium is going to be exactly the same story. Though I'll bet Lee makes out like a bandit on it, somehow.


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Breaking: Billionaire Douchebag is a douchebag.

New Government Documents Show the Sean Parker Wedding Is the Perfect Parable for Silicon Valley Excess

Hey, if a billionaire couple wants to spend $10 million on their wedding, it's neither all that surprising nor interesting, as far as I'm concerned. So, when news and statistics started to trickle out about Sean Parker's wedding here in California -- namely that it'd cost millions of dollars to create Kardashian-level over-the-topness -- I was ready to chalk it up to the standard excesses of crazy rich people.

But that was before I read the California Coastal Commission's report on the Parker wedding's destructive, unpermitted buildout in a redwood grove in Big Sur. Parker and Neraida, the LLC he created to run his wedding, ended up paying $2.5 million in penalties for ignoring regulations. (Move fast. Break things.)


I'm not a purist: Landscapes can get more beautiful with human intervention sometimes. Most landscapes we know have already been immeasurably altered by human behavior over the centuries. What's rough about this particular situation is how wantonly Parker steamrolled structures, human and not human, legal and aesthetic.

To his credit, Parker paid up for the damage and said in a statement that he and his wife "always dreamed of getting married in Big Sur, one of the most magical places on Earth." And weddings are great and I'm sure it was a good party.

But, of course, that's also part of the new Silicon Valley parable: dream big, privatize the previously public, pay no attention to the rules, build recklessly, enjoy shamelessly, invoke magic, and then pay everybody off.

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Kneecapping HDCP

Dear Lazyweb,

I have a projector that has DVI-D input and I want to feed it HDMI from PS3 and Mac. That means, I think, I need to convert HDMI to DVI-D with forged HDCP credentials.

I seem to recall seeing such devices for sale at some point. Do they exist? Have you actually used one?

The projector also has SVGA and Component inputs, but I'm trying to avoid an analog phase.

I have determined that plugging a PS3 into it via a passive HDMI→DVI-D converter results in a black screen (a Mac input works, though, which indicts HDCP.)

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Current Music: Chvrches -- Gun ♬

Love Will Tear Us Apart: The Video Game

"She's Lost Controller"

Game creator Gordon Calleja presents Will Love Tear Us Apart?, a free-to-play browser-game about "relationships on the brink of breaking up." The game is an experiment in adapting a song -- in this case Joy Division classic 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' -- into a video game; Calleja visualized each verse as a game level, "rendered in his mind's eye as Dürer woodcuts."

From that impetus, the game focuses on "mis-communication, emotional impasse and the sadness of separation... Solace may be found in the brief moment of lightness that comes over us when we come to terms with the reality of an irreconcilable relationship."

This should be just as much fun as that I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream video game!

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