Category: Science & Technology

Snowden’s Memoir Reignites Controversy Over Gov. Surveillance

Six years ago, Edward Snowden shocked the world when he revealed the U.S. government was secretly implementing a plan to collect and monitor every phone call, text message, and email. Now, he’s telling how he helped create this system of mass surveillance and why he chose to expose it in his memoir, Permanent Record. 

 

Image via Amazon.com

 

The book’s release is not without its controversies, though. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit Tuesday, Sep. 18, alleging that the whistleblower’s memoir violates a non-disclosure agreement he signed while working for the CIA and NSA. Strangely, the lawsuit does not seek to prevent distribution of the Permanent Record. Rather, the DOJ asks the court to seize the financial proceeds from the book. G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement:

 

Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit.

 

 

Typically, government employees with access to sensitive information have to submit any published work to their agency for review. Permanent Record contains no secrets that haven’t already been published by other news organizations. Snowden did not submit the book to the government for review prior to publication, preferring to publish his uncensored story. Ben Wizner, an attorney for Mr. Snowden who runs the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech, privacy and technology project commented on the circumstances of the lawsuit:

 

Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review. But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified.

 

 

It’s understandable why the U.S. government might want to stifle Permanent Record‘s release seizing its profits. The story he leaked in 2013—of the government’s vast surveillance network capable of monitoring the activity of every person on the Internet—is still shocking today. In a section of the book describing the XKEYSCORE system which is “perhaps best understood as a search engine that lets an analyst search through the records of your life,” Snowden writes:

 

It was, simply put, the closest thing to science fiction I’ve ever seen in science fact.

 

But perhaps the lawsuit will have the opposite effect, driving more attention to it than it originally attracted. Anyway, Permanent Record is set to be one of the most important political books of the year. Still living in exile in Russia, this is Snowden’s chance to tell his story truthfully.

 

 

Featured image via Getty Images, Justin Sullivan 

7 Literary Characters That Desperately Need to Go Back to School

With the start of September comes a new semester of school. Not the most exciting time of the year, unless you’re Hermione Granger. Good on you if you’ve made the leap to educate yourself. It is indeed something many people desire to one extent or another, but for some, it is an absolute necessity due to a severe lack of intellect. To speak in layman’s terms, for those of you who don’t understand, some people are pretty dumb.

In honor of the start of school, we are counting seven literary characters who are very much in need of a good education.

 

 

1. Crabbe & Goyle from The Harry Potter Series

 

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Image via DeviantArt

 

Without question, Malfoy’s lackeys are in desperate need of schooling, together. The two would surely have to go to classes together as they are so lacking in intelligence separately they’d have to combine their minds, either figuratively or literally via magic, to pass any of their classes.

 

2. Captain Ahab from Moby Dick

 

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Image via DeviantArt

 

The man had goals, but not the wits to catch one particular whale. With a little more to learn, Ahab could greatly benefit from learning more about whales in Biology. That or he could go for his teaching license in Whaling. You know what they say, “if you can’t do, teach.”

 

 

3. Ariel from The Little Mermaid

 

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Image via Tenor

 

Finding your place in the world is a huge part of school, especially in high school and college. At the very least with education being the central focus, it’ll prevent you from making undersea deals with strange old hags and running away from home for some pretty boy—or so we hope. Ariel could certainly learn about stranger danger if she enrolls now.

 

 

 

4. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum From Through The Looking Glass

 

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Image via Giphy

 

With an inclination toward mischief and violence, the twins would give any teacher a hard time. However, if separated and placed in the right classes, their bad habits could be turned around. Have them involved in a sport like football or volleyball, and on the side, fostering their apparent interest in poetry could help them to express themselves in more productive ways. Then again, going back to the chaos of Wonderland it would take much longer to find progress, unless they dorm that is.

 

 

5. Ophelia from Hamlet

 

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Image via Wikipedia

 

School could have literally saved Ophelia’s life in Hamlet. When you’re with a really great teacher, you can be tested to think for yourself. Granted, in Medieval Times women were expected to follow the men, Ophelia being swayed left and right is a tragedy in itself. If she was given an education, then maybe she’d be more logical in thinking with her heartbreak over Hamlet. At the very least she could have benefited from swimming classes.

 

 

6. Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein

 

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Image via Giphy

 

In spite of how smart of a scientist he was before his grave-robbing began, Dr. Frankenstein realized only at the end how much of a fool he was to try and play God. Even then, he still did not understand that he is no hero in this tale of horror.

Victor may not need to go back to the basics of Science, but he ought to register in several classes on Ethics as soon as he can.

 

 

7. Dr. John Watson from The Sherlock Holmes Series

 

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Image via Giphy

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Watson is a Doctor, he’s already gone through years of school. Not enough when he keeps being schooled by Sherlock. Maybe Dr. Watson should go back to Elementary.

 

So good on you for making the smart choice of an education! *Cough* Hope it’s not a waste of money. *Cough*

As for this bunch, they definitely need to be making the choice to go to school. It’s still not too late for them to apply, but they’re probably too stupid to know that.

 

 

Featured Image via cornel1801

5 Best Book Lights for Reading Anytime/Anywhere

Whether you’re being considerate of your partner by reading with the lights off, trapped with a book during a blackout, or simply trying to save your what’s left of your eyesight, a portable book light might be something to consider. Here are some recommended book lights to suit your (lit)erary needs.

 

Wireless Reading Light Panel

 

 

Not everyone wants to read on their iPads and consume more of that notorious blue light than necessary. This light panel has much less of it, looks cool, and looks like something straight out of Star Wars. However, unlike a lightsaber, this light panel won’t burn the pages of your book.

 

 

LED Reading Light For Kindle/e-Book Readers

 

 

Kindles have a pleasing aesthetic because they don’t have an obnoxious amount of light radiating from their screens. The only downside is that they don’t have a whole lot of light radiating from their screens. If your Kindle needs a boost in light during the nighttime hours, then be sure to do a good deed for your eyes with this purchase.

 

 

Led Book Light Mini Clip

 

 

You already know how good it feels to finish an entire book during a vacation or trip. The first couple of days are spent being jet lagged, you find yourself waking up at awkward hours of the night, and then you open that book you didn’t quite finish on the plane. This handy reading lamp is easy to pack, easy to use, and all around convenient.

 

 

Mini USB LED Book Light

 

 

USB ports are everywhereon the bus, on the street, in a Starbucks, on a plane, and even on the portable charger you carry around just in case your phone decides to die. The point is that you will always have an opportunity to plug in this book light and read away no matter where you go.

 

 

Potter Reading Light Glasses

 

 

Last week, we celebrated the birthday of Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived will forever be a legend, but even his glasses weren’t magical enough to light upbut yours will. You can show off these glasses to your fellow Harry Potter fans or treasure them in the privacy of your own Harry Potter shrine (it’s okay to admit it). They’ll be there for when you re-read your favorite Harry Potter book during those tranquil evenings.

 

 

Featured Image via DHgate

 

 

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Macmillan Reconsiders its Library E-Book Policy

Some book publishers are rethinking the way they distribute their e-books to public libraries. Thanks to the convention of digital-book borrowing apps, many readers are able to read new titles on their tablets without having to wait for a physical book to be returned. This is especially relevant when big releases such as Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty are in popular demand. Readers flocked to these books the second that they hit the shelves, so digital book-borrowing apps became extremely convenient for those that wanted to rent the book without having to wait.

However, Macmillan, who published both Wolff and Comey’s books, are not as thrilled. With such widespread access to their most popular books, the company believes that they’re losing potential sales.

“Library reads are currently 45% of our total digital book reads in the U.S. and growing,” Macmillan Chief Executive John Sargent told The Wall Street Journal. “They are cannibalizing our digital sales.”

 

 

It is for this reason that Macmillan plans to limit each library system’s access to one digital copy of each new book it publishes in the first eight weeks of the book’s release. The action is set to take place on November 1st, and the hope is that more people will be inclined to purchase new books, instead of easily renting them.

 

Image via Google Play

 

Steve Potash, chief executive of Rakuten OverDrive, a digital distributor of e-books, replied to Macmillan’s move: “It will create a backlash against Macmillan books and their authors. Libraries encourage and showcase authors to readers. Now libraries will have a hard time doing that for Macmillan.”

Whether the decision to rubberneck e-book copies is fruitful or not is yet to be seen. However, for those of you digital-book borrowers out there, be prepared to wait for Macmillan’s new releasesor at least be prepared to fork over the money to buy a copy for yourself.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Engadget