Vermont Law Enforcement Funding, Chain Letters, Twitch, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, July 4, 2020


WCAX: UVM researchers look at police funding across Vermont. “As funding for police departments is under scrutiny across the country, a new database compiled in collaboration with UVM researchers is comparing police budgets from more than half of Vermont cities and towns.”

New-to-me, from Smithsonian: Before Chain Letters Swept the Internet, They Raised Funds for Orphans and Sent Messages From God. “The 900-plus chain letters in folklorist Daniel VanArsdale’s digital archive range from the conventional—an 1896 fundraiser for a Louisville orphanage and a 1982 note urging recipients to relay the contents onward or suffer devastating consequences—to the unexpected, including a 1917 missive detailing how potential draftees could obtain conscientious objector status, a 1940 postcard calling for those addressed to ship handkerchiefs to strangers, and a 1986 petition advocating the boycott of Proctor and Gamble products adorned in ‘satanic symbol[s].'”


TechCrunch: Twitch breaks records again in Q2, topping 5B total hours watched. “Twitch had already broken viewership records in the first quarter of 2020 amid coronavirus lockdowns, surpassing 3 billion total hours watched in a single quarter for the first time. In the second quarter, it appears that Twitch has broken that record and several others once again.”


The Verge: How to file and pay your 2019 taxes online. “Back in March, when it was recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold in the US, the IRS extended the filing deadline and the deadline for federal tax payments so that those of us who suddenly had to figure out how to work at home or handle homeschooling would get a break from dealing with taxes. The vacation is over. The new deadline for filing your 2019 taxes is July 15th, and it is fast approaching. Whether you’re a full-time worker dealing with a single 1040 or a freelancer / gig worker getting a series of 1099s, the fastest way to pay the piper these days is to do it online.”

MakeUseOf: The Best Free Family Tree Templates for Microsoft Word and Excel. “There are websites available that can help you research your ancestors. So if you’d like to create your own family tree, with the details you already have, that you can build on with your research, these templates are ideal. Here are several terrific family tree templates for Microsoft Word and Excel for both adults and kids.”


CNET: Memes toss first half of 2020 into the blazing dumpster where it belongs. “Goodbye and good riddance, first six months of 2020. You were a dumpster fire of a half-year, with your global pandemic and your murder hornets, and the second half of the year better not be taking cues from you. July 2 marks the midpoint of most calendar years, since there are generally 182 days behind it and 182 days after it. (Since this is a leap year, there are 183 days behind us now.) As we turn the cursed calendar page to July, the internet was quick to try to find some laughs in the debacle that was January through June, and to envision what July through December might have in store for an already exhausted world.”

Business Insider: Russian influencers and bloggers say they were offered as much as $100,000 to support Putin’s bid to extend his term to 2036. “Russian influencers claim they were offered as much as $100,000 to write posts calling on fellow citizens to vote in the country’s national referendum, which could see President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power tighten for more than a decade.”

BBC: TikTok’s Boogaloo extremism problem. “The song is catchy – a classic country and western. A gentle southern twang croons out a chorus. Like many TikTok clips, the user has added music and effects to their video. This is not a normal TikTok vid though. First of all, the username clearly contains a homophobic reference. Second, the man is holding a massive assault rifle.”


Techdirt: Research Libraries Tell Publishers To Drop Their Awful Lawsuit Against The Internet Archive. “I’ve seen a lot of people — including those who are supporting the publishers’ legal attack on the Internet Archive — insist that they ‘support libraries,’ but that the Internet Archive’s Open Library and National Emergency Library are ‘not libraries.’ First off, they’re wrong. But, more importantly, it’s good to see actual librarians now coming out in support of the Internet Archive as well. The Association of Research Libraries has put out a statement asking publishers to drop this counter productive lawsuit, especially since the Internet Archive has shut down the National Emergency Library.”

New Indian Express: Jammu and Kashmir government employee arrested for ‘seditious’, ‘provocative’ social media posts. “An employee of the education department has been arrested for allegedly spreading ‘false propaganda’ on social media against the Jammu and Kashmir government, police said on Friday.”

ZDNet: Hacker ransoms 23k MongoDB databases and threatens to contact GDPR authorities. “A hacker has uploaded ransom notes on 22,900 MongoDB databases left exposed online without a password, a number that accounts for roughly 47% of all MongoDB databases accessible online, ZDNet has learned today. The hacker is using an automated script to scan for misconfigured MongoDB databases, wiping their content, and leaving a ransom note behind asking for a 0.015 bitcoin (~$140) payment.”


Foreign Affairs: Facebook’s Flawed Plan to End Antiquities Trafficking. “As scholars who have spent years tracking the illicit trade in Middle Eastern artifacts and studying its role in financing terrorism, we welcome Facebook’s decision as an indication that it is beginning to acknowledge the scale of this dangerous problem. But we have grave concerns about the company’s planned approach to combating antiquities trafficking. Facebook’s new policy, while more proactive than its previous one, fails to acknowledge that because antiquities trafficking is a war crime under international humanitarian law, the company should therefore preserve as evidence—and not simply destroy—the material it removes from its site.” Good morning, Internet…

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