The Big Think

February 4, 2015

Whitelist

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:45 pm

Over 300 businesses now whitelisted on AdBlock Plus, 10% pay to play | Ars Technica: “Since 2011, AdBlock Plus, a popular browser plugin that blocks online ads, has kept a ‘whitelist’ of websites that are allowed to serve ads despite the presence of the AdBlock Plus plugin. In an e-mail to Ars, AdBlock Plus Communications Manager Ben Williams wrote that currently, the browser extension has granted a pass to ‘over 300 sites/entities’ out of ‘over 1,500 applicants’ to the company’s whitelist. That’s up from October 2013, when AdBlock Plus allowed the ads of 78 sites or entities out of 777 applicants.”

If I had the resource I would introduce a $5/year “real” adblock that nuked ALL ads. Then retire a rich man.

Students with autism learn social skills with R2-D2

Filed under: The R2 Project — jasony @ 9:36 pm

Students with autism learn social skills with R2-D2: “AUSTIN — Fifth-grade students at Blazier Elementary School in Southeast Austin are learning social skills through technology.

The students are part of the school’s SCORES program, which stands for Social Communication and Resource services, for children with autism. Over the past few months, they created a fully operational R2-D2 replica robot thanks to their teacher, Caleb Zammit.

‘The main focus was just learning to work as a group, and how to get along and use their manners when working on a big project all together,’ said Zammit.

They are also learning about motors, batteries, measurements, power tools and metal.

‘The best part of my day is having fun with my friends and building R2-D2,’ said Mathew Fan, a student at Blazier Elementary.”

That’s pretty fantastic. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most about finishing R2 is being able to take him to a local children’s hospital (or the like). That’ll be really rewarding.

The Police No Longer Work For You

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:40 am

The Police No Longer Work For You:

“To the casual observer it appears that Virginia is run by violent psychopaths. That’s the takeaway from the recent report of an anti-poker SWAT team raid in Fairfax County, in which eight assault rifle-sporting police officers moved against ten card-playing civilians. The police possibly seized more than $200,000 from the game, of which 40 percent they eventually kept.

There was no indication that any of the players was armed. As a matter of fact, it appears that a gambler is more likely to be shot without provocation by the Fairfax Police than the other way around. The heavy firepower at the Fairfax raid was apparently motivated by the fact that ‘at times, illegal weapons are present’ at such poker games, and that ‘Asian gangs’ have allegedly targeted such events in the past. This is, then, a novel approach to law enforcement: as a matter of policy, Fairfax police now attempt to rob and steal from people before street gangs get around to doing it.

It is a mystery why we put up with this obscene police behavior. Gambling itself is not illegal in Virginia; it is simply controlled by the state. So the Fairfax police department did not bust these hapless poker players with guns drawn for doing something truly immoral and fully outlawed, merely for doing something in a way not approved by the state legislature. Were gambling actually forbidden in Virginia, then a crackdown could at least be understood, if not condoned in so paramilitary a fashion. Yet Virginia’s stance on the matter is not to treat gambling as malum in se, but rather as an instrumentum regni: our government prefers to funnel gambling money into its own coffers for its own ends, outlaw the same thing when it’s done outside of the state’s jurisdiction, and then steal the money of the poor fellows who happen to get caught….

…Governments control gambling not to legitimize and sanitize the practice, but to extract as much money from the citizenry as they possibly can. In the state’s eyes, the fault of the poker players in Fairfax lay not in betting money on a card game, but in not pouring money into the state’s bank account while they were doing so.”

Because Public Safety.

Tweet of the week: Tweet of the week: Tweet of the Week

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:37 am

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Burn!

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