[Plura-list] Neighbors treated to socially isolated buildingside screening, Philips quadruples ventilator costs, Kansas GOP nukes ban on large Easter gatherings, Kickpunch's Disney comics/horror movie mashups

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu Apr 9 10:29:37 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Neighbors treated to socially isolated buildingside screening: Scott
Duggan treated his terrace to "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

* Philips quadruples ventilator costs: They reneged on their HHS deal
and will get $646.7m for their trouble.

* Kansas GOP nukes ban on large Easter gatherings: What's wrong with Kansas?

* Kickpunch's Disney comics/horror movie mashups: Daniel Björk's
terrifying poster children for fair use.

* Plastic-eating enzyme: Leaf-branch compost cutinase to the rescue.

* Cold brew coffee chemistry: Making the black stuff reproducible.

* Tails adds Secureboot support: Evil chambermaids, beware!

* Crisis makes heroes of IT workers: When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.

* Automating fake PDF signatures: Make it look like you printed, signed
and scanned.

* Pocket Art Director: Your high-handed boss in D20 form.

* This day in history: 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


👹 Neighbors treated to socially isolated buildingside screening

Scott Duggan is the tech manager of the Cyclone Rep theater in Cork.
He's on lockdown, along with his neighbours on his terrace. So he set up
a screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the gable-end house, with
audio transmitted over low-power FM


He used the cinema's projector and solicited donations for Age Action.
The neighbourhood all watched from socially distant locations — patios,
gardens, etc.



👹 Philips quadruples ventilator costs

13 years ago, HHS signed a contract with Newport Medical Instruments to
produce low-cost ventilators against a future pandemic. Covidien (now
Medtronic) bought Newport and killed the project. They make a ventilator
that costs 333% more than Newport's.


Years later, HHS offered the same deal to Philips, who failed to produce
a single respirator in time for the coronavirus pandemic, despite
absorbing millions in federal spending for the project.

Now, Philips has done a deal to sell the US government ventilators at
*four times* the price that they were contracted for — more than $15,000
each (Covidien's overpriced ventilators only cost $10k each).


Philips stands to make $646.7m on the deal, through which they will
provide 2,500 Trilogy EV300 ventilators rather than the 10,000 $3,280
ventilators they'd agreed to provide for HHS's national stockpile.
Philips was already paid $13.8m to develop the low-cost ventilators.


👹 Kansas GOP nukes ban on large Easter gatherings

Kansas's Democratic Gov Laura Kelly issued an executive order limiting
Easter and Passover gatherings to ten people. The GOP legislature
overturned it.


It's another reminder that the right's claim that it is the party of
rational long-termism rather than squishy bleeding-heart reflex is just

Koch has the foresight to buy coal tech with 20-year amortization, but
not to spare the lives of the GOP's voting base.

There's literally nothing more politically short-term than dooming your
core voters to die gasping deaths in a month because you're afraid
they'll be angry at you on Easter Sunday. Angry voters might not vote
for you. Dead voters can't.

The Saudis have banned the Hajj, the Pope has cancelled Easter services,
but we're still seeing mass gatherings, primarily among evangelicals — a
reliable source of turkey-votes for Christmas, and the key to GOP
political dominance.


👹 Kickpunch's Disney comics/horror movie mashups

Daniel "Kickpunch" Björk created an incredible set of Disney
Comic/horror movie mashups.


There are 18 in the series (so far) and you can get 'em as tees or art
prints. Be sure to check out his whole portfolio — he's a font of
parodical, grotesque and wonderful pop-culture remix illustrations.



👹 Plastic-eating enzyme

Researchers at Carbios and the the University of Toulouse have created a
"mutant" variant of leaf-branch compost cutinase that can break the
bonds in PET plastics.


The new enzyme is 10,000x more efficient at breaking up PET, and remains
intact at temperatures above 72' C, which is PET's softening point
(softer plastics are easier to break down, but enzymes also break down
at higher temps).


The breakdown is so efficient that it produces recylced plastic that is
as strong as virgin plastic, and the enzyme naturally separates out
pigments used to make color plastics so the end-product is clear.

"Carbios is building a demonstration plant that is expected to recycle
hundreds of tons of PET per year." The process is more expensive than
making new plastics, but because we allow plastics manufacturers to
impose the external costs of their process on society.


👹 Cold brew coffee chemistry

Niny Rao and colleagues from Thomas Jefferson University have been
studying the chemical composition of cold brew coffee, a subject very
near and dear to my heart. They just posted a "virtual poster session"
at the American Chemical Society's site.


They tested roasts of varying darkness, and found that with darker
roasts, there were significant differences in the solids extracted with
and without heat.

They conclude that cold brew improves when brewed at room temp (not in
the fridge).


They also advise multiple rounds of filtering (through multiple layers
of filter) to remove unwanted solids and halt the extraction process,
and a ten hour (e.g. overnight) extraction.

I'm going to try it. I've tinkered with lots of ways of making cold
brew, including some expensive (and beautiful – love my Kyoto dripper)
apparatus, but ultimately went back to the easy, low-mess "grinds in a
mesh bag, bag in a water jug, wait, squeeze, discard" method.


👹 Tails adds Secureboot support

Secureboot foils malware that targets firmware by checking BIOS before
it loads, using a secure coprocessor on the motherboard to verify
cryptographic signatures to detect tampering.


The Tails project – makers of the fantastically secure bootable
OS-on-a-stick – have added Secureboot support in their latest version,
after a six year development cycle.


This means that Tails users no longer have to disable UEFI Secureboot,
making using Tails both easier and more secure!


👹 Crisis makes heroes of IT workers

IT workers are typically undervalued and heaped with abuse in a
Morlocks-vs-Eloi dynamic that has been shattered by the pandemic, which
has made IT (even more) utterly central to firms.


The IT trap of wanting to control your users and wanting to empower them
is on full display, as IT departments pull all-nighters and multi-day
marathons to set their coworkers up for remote work and provision their
systems to handle the new workflows.

Now they're station-keeping, supporting users far from the office, and
expressing weary IT laments: "Kelly's team was flooded by calls from
employees who'd forgotten their computer password and guessed wrong too
many times."

"He's also hoping people learn to use the "reply-all" button on group
emails more sparingly."

It's not quite When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, but it's getting there.



👹 Automating fake PDF signatures

The modern era has many tiny hypocrisies, but none quite so common as
the mutual pretense by which you ask me to print, sign and scan a PDF
and I pretend that I didn't just paste my signatures into it.

But some firms shatter this tacit social contract and demand that you
really engage in the ridiculous ritual of actually printing, signing and

Enter Falsiscan, a tool to automate convincing forgeries of this procedure.


Falsiscan takes in 27 variants of your signature and then feed these
sigs and your PDF to it, with the (x,y) for each signature blank as
arguments, and it will produce a slightly off-center, slightly degraded
new PDF that looks like you actually signed it.


👹 Pocket Art Director

Pretend Store have released a sequel to their Art Director D20, the
all-new Art Director II, a $17 substitute for your socially distant,
relentlessly negative boss, who, I'm sure, you really, really miss.



👹 This day in history

#1yrago Today, Michigan regulators vote on conservative education
"reform" plan to purge the word "democracy" from curriculum

#1yrago Public Sans: a free/open font from the United States Web Design
System https://public-sans.digital.gov/

#1yrago How to Do Nothing: Jenny Odell's case for resisting "The
Attention Economy"

#1yrago The Chinafication of the internet continues as the UK proposes
blocking any service that hosts "illegal" or "harmful" material


👹 Colophon

Today's top sources: Slashdot (https://slashdot.org/, Naked Capitalism
(https://nakedcapitalism.com/), Geekologie (https://geekologie.com),
Four Short Links (https://www.oreilly.com/feed/four-short-links), Super
Punch (https://superpunch.net/).

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation

Currently reading: I'm getting really into Anna Weiner's memoir about
tech, "Uncanny Valley" and Jo Walton's forthcoming novel "Or What You Will."

Latest podcast: The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots

Upcoming appearances:

* Apr 22, Flatten The Curve Summit https://flattenthecurve.tech/

* Apr 23, Canada Reads Q&A

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book
about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies
and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the
monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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