Pluralistic: 09 Jul 2020

Today's links

Muppet Hamilton (permalink)

Sometimes you hear about a piece of online comedy and think, "Well, that's a one-note gag. Sounds OK, but there's no way I'll sit through the whole thing."

That's how I felt about Ricky Downes III's "Hamilton Act 1 but it's Muppets."

Then I listened to it.

It turns out that really committing to the bit is the difference between a one-note joke and a jaw-dropping 1:12:27 of absolutely stunning, freakishly good, howl-with-laughterness.

If you doubt it, I challenge you to listen to the Swedish Chef as Samuel Seabury in "Farmer Refuted." At first, you'll be like, "No, he doesn't just go bork-bork-bork the whole time, does he?" and then it's like, "O. M. F. G. He actually did it.";=1029s


Alexander Hamilton – Kermit the Frog
Aaron Burr – The Great Gonzo
Eliza Schuyler – Miss Piggy
Marquis de LaFozette – Fozzie Bear
George Washington – Sam the Eagle
Angelica Schuyler – Camilla the Chicken
John Laurens – Beaker
Hercules Mulligan – Rowlf the Dog
King George III – Animal
Peggy Schuyler – Janice
Samuel Seabury – The Swedish Chef
Charles Lee – Elmo
Congressional Delegates – Floyd and Zoot
Crazy Patriot – Crazy Harry
Statler and Waldorf – Themselves

Downes has promised to release Act II on Jul 31 to coincide with the Muppets debut on Disney+.

EFF celebrates its 30th (!) birthday with a full day of livestreams (permalink)

It's incredible to think that EFF is now 30 years old (likewise incredible to think that I've been to the 15th, 20th, and 25th birthday parties!).

Normally, we'd be having a blowout, maybe at the DNA Lounge, but of course, it's a livestream instead, this Friday from 3-10PM Pacific.

In some ways, that's only fitting – after all, this is the year when we went from having debates over whether everything we do involves the internet to the rock-solid, terrifying certainty that everything we do REQUIRES the internet.

There's never been a moment when EFF's work was more urgent, and there's never been a time when the org was better prepared to do the work. When I first got involved, EFF was 6 people working from home after getting evicted during the dotcom bubble (I gave 'em office space!).

Now we're up to nearly 100 people, and we bought our building (thanks, Humble Bundle!) and will never face eviction again.

We've really grown and grown up, and this Friday's blowout is a real showcase.

It kicks off at 3PM with "the premiere of a year-long series of interactive Fireside Chats about the past, present and future of online rights… special guests including digital freedom luminaries, figures from EFF history, and even the pets that make up the net's backbone."

From 6PM on, it's "a special virtual edition of our annual Tech Trivia where you can play along with a panel of special guests as we explore the fascinating minutiae of digital security, online rights, and Internet culture" (I'll be on this one!).;=1

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley (permalink)

Graphic novelist Lucy Knisley's memoirs are classics of the field – drawn with the straightforward lines and character designs of Raina Telgemeier, told with the wrenching pathos, nuance, comedy and complexity of Lynda Barry.

In Stepping Stones, her first foray into YA literature, Knisley fictionalizes her own girlhood, when, following her parents' divorce, she and her mother moved from NYC to a remote farm, accompanied by her mother's tone-deaf, bossy boyfriend.

Jen – the protagonist – is struggling with all of this: the divorce, the dislocation, farm life, interpersonal struggles with her mom's boyfriend. Then, to top it off, her mom's boyfriends' two daughters start visiting on weekends, forcing her to deal with stepsisters, too.

But for all the humiliation, bitter fight, and alienation, there is tenderness, friendship, accomplishment, beauty and wonder – adversity met and overcome, triumphs seized, and, in the end, a wonderful, warm resolution.

I read this in four nights to my 12 year old and fought with her about it – first because she didn't want me to stop, then because she sneakily read the whole thing the next morning and insisted she didn't need to hear it, and then because she didn't want me to stop again.

I was delighted to discover that this is the first volume in a planned series. I can't wait for future volumes.

Cops are buying breach data (permalink)

Nominally, Spycloud is in the business of helping businesses and individuals prevent account takeovers, but the company has a side-hustle: they collect huge amounts of stolen data that hackers have obtained and sell it to cops.

This isn't just breach data that floats around on the public internet – Spycloud boasts that it uses "sock puppets, alternate personas" to infiltrate private hacker forums and obtain data, and what's more, it uses cracking tools to turn encrypted hashes back into plaintext.

What do cops need breach data for? Well, if they want to do something like associating an IP address with an identity, they would normally have to get a warrant and request the data from an ISP.

But by buying stolen data from Spycloud, cops can violate this oversight mechanism and act outside the law, with impunity, in the shadows, so that wrongdoing, overreach, malicious activity and corruption can go undetected.

(Image: Skyfox11, CC BY, modified)

Rock dust vs climate change (permalink)

Do you need some good news? Me too.

Here's some good news! A paper in Nature claims that spreading basalt dust on fields will both rejuvenate degraded soil AND suck billions of tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.


This day in history (permalink)

#5yrsago A segway/strandbeest that's powered by a hand-drill

#5yrsago Pirate MEP's copyright reforms voted in by Europarl with "Right of Panorama" intact

#5yrsago RIP, Caspar Bowden, tireless, brilliant, effective UK privacy warrior

#5yrsago What horrible things did we learn about Hacking Team today?

#1yrago There's a particle accelerator in the Louvre's basement

#1yrago Podcast: Steering with the Windshield Wipers

#1yrago AI is like a magic trick: amazing until it goes wrong, then revealed as a cheap and brittle effect

#1yrago Zoom has slow-walked a fix for a bug that allows randos to take over your Mac's camera

#1yrago Hong Kong's beleaguered chief exec says the extradition bill is "dead" but won't make it official

#1yrago Judge rules that EFF's DRM lawsuit can proceed!

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Metafilter (, Slashdot (, House of Secrets (

Currently writing:

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Currently reading: Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

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