The Sizzle

Issue 397 - Monday, 22nd May 2017


Julian Assange is no longer under investigation for rape
The reason Julian Assange (well the main reason, who knows what's going on inside his head) is holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London is because he's afraid of Swedish authorities extraditing him to the USA, if he was to go to Sweden and meet with investigators there over rape allegations. Over the weekend, Swedish police dropped that investigation. So, he can leave the embassy right? He can come back home to Australia or flee to Ecuador if they're still in the mood for providing him asylum? Kinda - London police reckon he's skipped bail during his 7 year stint in Ecuador's embassy, so they could arrest him on that, then send him to the USA, if the USA wants that to happen.

Leaked docs reveal how Facebook determines what to delete
The Guardian managed to get its hands on documents used by Facebook to train the poor bastards responsible for moderating content on the world's largest social network. In what it calls "The Facebook Files", over 100+ pages of instruction outline what the humans who read the reported posts should do with them. The article explains it properly, but I'll cut to the chase: Facebook won't delete "videos of violent deaths" because they "help create awareness" and will allow "handmade" porn but not digitally made porn. Abortion vids - sweet. Live streaming self-harm, no probs, that also creates awareness. Direct threats towards Trump? No go, he's a head of state and is protected. Thank fuck I'm not the one who has to decide what is good or bad on Facebook. Talk about poison chalice.

Wikipedia wants a fair use provision in Australian copyright law
Wikipedia is targeting Australians in an attempt to influence copyright reform, by showing them banners similar to their donation requests, highlighting how arse backwards our copyright laws are. Australia does not have a fair use provision in our copyright laws. For example, you want to chuck a company logo in a book - stiff shit, the owner of that logo can sue you to remove it. If there was a fair use provision, you could argue that the use of the logo is not bothering the owner, so it is "fair" to use it. Or something, I'm not a lawyer. I also don't know why Wikipedia is giving a shit about us, but I agree with their stance.

One Bitcoin is worth AU$2868, a new record high
Bitcoin has soared in value, crossing the USD$2000 threshold. As of 3:26pm, a solitary Bitcoin is worth AUD$2868.30. There's no silver bullet as to why Bitcoin has gone nuts lately, but Forbes reckons there's three reasons. 1 - people really want cryptocurrency, not just BTC, but Ethereum and Litecoin, and Bitcoin is the easiest way to buy them. 2 - China's regulators have softened their stance on Bitcoin so the Chinese are back into it and 3 - old fashioned hype. Everyone wants to buy and sell before a bubble. I had 13.4 Bitcoin back in November 2013 that I sold off for around $12,000. That would be worth ~$38,500 now. Fuck.

The Electric Vehicle Council is ready to lobby Australian politicians
Australia finally has an electric car lobby group! The Electric Vehicle Council consists of "ActewAGL, AGL Energy, Synergy and TransGrid; car makers Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Tesla and Volkswagen Group; infrastructure and fleet businesses JET Charge and Lennock Fleet; not-for-profit ClimateWorks Australia; project engineering firm ITP Renewables and motoring club Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV)." They received a $390,000 grant from ARENA to fund their politician and media harassment. Normally lobby groups are filthy slugs, but when they're lobbying for things I want they're great. I think the car manufacturers need to lift their game and actually release some goddamn electric cars here, but if they can get government to throw early adopters a bone, I won't complain.


UK Conservative's "digital manifesto" means bad shit for the internet
You'd think the UK government doing stupid shit to their internet users wouldn't really matter to us in Australia - but you're wrong. Our government loves following the UK's lead when it comes to doing stupid shit, so the latest story about these two pages in the Conservative Party's new manifesto should worry us, as well as our British friends. It contains phrases like, "some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet, we disagree" and "our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline", as well as "take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy" and that there's no "safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online". A fascinating insight into how normal people view the internet.

Podcasts I like
People often ask me what my favourite podcasts are. I don't really listen to as many as I should (exercising regularly would fix this, plus the impending heart attack that's gonna kill me any day now) but these 5 usually get a listen:

50 Things That Made The Modern Economy - each ep only goes for a few minutes, but they're wonderful insights into these seemingly normal things that if they never happened, we'd be digging holes to shit in and the concept of a daily email newsletter sent over fibre optic cables would be fucking insane.

Planet Money - economics might be boring and dull to some people, but Planet Money makes it fascinating. All those things you hear in the news or read about banks or government budgets and how the economy impacts our daily lives are explained so well by Planet Money.

Background Briefing - it's 4 Corners, in-depth reporting on a topic, but in audio format. A couple of my favourite episodes are No Shelter At The Showground, The Death of VET FEE HELP and Why Is CSIRO Losing Its Brightest Stars. But they're all good really, proper journalism folks.

Motley Fool Money Australia - these guy's day job is to tell you which shares to buy, but I like to listen to it as they often reveal bits of info on how various ASX listed companies operate and how they make money. The hosts are pretty affable too. Extremely weird that it's on Triple M.

Decrypted - the only tech podcast I listen to is made by Bloomberg (and I like the name). Sometimes the topics are insufferable Silicon Valley garbage, but I listen anyways to remind myself how awful that whole scene is. Sometimes the topics are things I know very little about (there was one recently about eSports that schooled me on the topic)


Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers. Know someone who could use a bit of Sizzle in their life? Buy them a gift subscription!