Wednesday News: Another Pratchett tribute, new tech habits in Snowden’s wake, DC pulls “Batgirl” art, and cocoa quarantine
Web servers enrolled in Pratchett tribute – As various online tributes to Terry Pratchett continue, a thread on reddit gave rise to a particularly appropriate way to memorialize Pratchett’s name and work, through sharing a code that is not generally visible when you click on the site. The origins of the tribute are below, and instructions for how to plant it in any number of web servers can be found in this reddit thread.
In the Discworld novel Going Postal, Sir Terry, who died aged 66 on Thursday, wrote about the way that the murder of an operator of a semaphore tower, John Dearheart, was marked by his colleagues.
His name was included in admin messages (known as overhead) sent around the semaphore or “clacks”, network prefixed with three control characters, GNU, that kept it circulating forever.
In a similar way, many net server and website administrators are adding the text “X-Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett” to the headers their machines share with every computer that requests web pages from them. –BBC
How People are Changing Their Own Behavior – Although this is not such surprising information, it is interesting to see how the post-Snowden technological reality is changing (some) technology user’s habits. The numbers aren’t enormous, and they tend to positively correlate with the breadth and depth of knowledge about Snowden and about government surveillance, but that just suggests the need to make more people aware of the risks of participating in our information economy.
The respondents to this survey who knew about the government monitoring programs were asked if they had changed the way they used a variety of communications and information tools since they had learned about the government’s programs.
18% of the Americans who are aware of the surveillance programs say they have changed the way they use their email accounts “somewhat” or a “great deal.”
17% say they have changed the way they use search engines.
15% say they have changed the way they use social media.
15% say they have changed the way they use their cell phones.
13% say they have changed the way they use mobile apps.
13% say they have changed the way they use text messages.
9% say they have changed the way they use their landline phone. –Pew Internet
DC COMICS CANCELS “BATGIRL” JOKER VARIANT COVER AT ARTIST’S REQUEST – American Vampire artist Rafael Abuquerque’s alternative cover image for an upcoming edition of Batgirl, after critics of the image apparently faced “threats of violence and harassment.” The art is definitely dark (its origin story is below), and I haven’t seen any of these threats myself, but I completely understand the artist’s request to have the cover art withdrawn. Still, so much for actual discussion and debate.
The image was released Friday, as one of 25 Joker-themed variant covers scheduled for release in June. Albuquerque’s “Batgirl” variant took inspiration from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s famous 1988 story “Batman: The Killing Joke,” in which Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was shot and paralyzed by the Joker. It has been commonly interpreted, though not definitively established within the story, that the character was also sexually assaulted.
The “Batgirl” #41 variant quickly received criticism for highlighting a dark period in the character’s history, especially when juxtaposed with the current youthful, more optimistic direction of the series under the creative team of co-writers Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. Multiple websites ran editorials critical of the image, and the hashtag #changethecover drew dozens of posts on Twitter and Tumblr asking DC to not release the variant. –Comic Book Resources
The Fate Of The World’s Chocolate Depends On This Spot In Rural England – So there’s this secret greenhouse at the University of Reading (why didn’t I know about this when I attended a conference there?!) where cocoa plants that are resistant to various diseases and other maladies can be safely cultivated. Cocoa, it turns out, is very delicate, and the 400 varieties of cocoa in this quarantined environment will hopefully keep the world in chocolate. Why England, you may ask? Apparently the weather is just “dreary” enough to keep any number of these diseases and fungi from gaining traction outside the greenhouse.
Every plant in these greenhouses has some kind of special power. One might be resistant to a fungus. Another might produce lots of fruit. Cocoa producers all over the world want and need these plants. But, there are those potential threats.
Cocoa is unusually susceptible to disease. Every year, a third of the crop is destroyed by fungi and pests with names like “Witches’ Broom,” “Frosty Pod Rot” and “Vascular-streak dieback.” . . .
Now imagine that a farm in Ghana produces a super-plant, with pods that contain twice as many beans as a normal cocoa tree. Every chocolate producer in the world would want a cutting. But, if those cuttings contained a fungus or pest currently found only in Ghana, the entire chocolate industry could come crashing down.
That’s where the International Quarantine Centre in rural England comes in. –NPR
Yup, we can help with all your ‘dreary weather’ needs here.
The threats against those who complained about the art were done gamergate style. Now these same people dont believe it was taken down at the artist/writers request.
The XClacksOverhead is the perfect way to remember Terry Pratchett. “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.”
It is indeed lovely, but while people can read his wonderful books, his name will be forever spoken.