Sources: Nintendo to launch SNES mini this year

Sources: Nintendo to launch SNES mini this year

Tom Phillips writes at Eurogamer:

The reality of a SNES mini is certainly exciting – while the NES was unique for being Nintendo’s first home console, the SNES arguably boasts the better software line-up, and a catalogue of classics far more advanced than their NES forebears. Compare The Legend of Zelda on NES to A Link to the Past, for example, or Donkey Kong to Donkey Kong Country.

Other top SNES games from Nintendo include Super Metroid, Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World, as well as Earthbound, Star Fox and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. The console also had some of the best RPGs of the era, including Square’s Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana.

Many people use emulation software of questionable legality (not that I have ever done anything even remotely like that, like, at all, ever) but soon there may no longer be a need for emulation. This is exciting and I’ll absolutely be buying one of these.

Alex Jones’ rock and hard place: Authentic lunatic or performance artist and fit parent?

In Travis County custody case, jury will search for real Alex Jones

Jonathan Tilove reports this story for American-Statesman:

Beginning Monday, a jury will be selected at the Travis County Courthouse that in the next two weeks will be asked to sort out whether there is a difference between the public and private Alex Jones, and whether, when it comes to his fitness as a parent, it matters.

Kelly Jones’ attorney, Bobby Newman, is engaged in some quality tactical litigation:

[Judge] Naranjo, meanwhile, said she had never seen or heard Jones on Infowars until Wednesday’s hearing, when Kelly Jones’ legal team started previewing Infowars videos it would like to play for the jury.

The first was a clip from a July 2015 broadcast in which Jones had his son, then 12, on to play the latest of some 15 or 20 videos he had made with the help of members of the Infowars team who, Jones said, had “taken him under their wing” during summer days spent at the South Austin studio between stints at tennis and Christian camps.

“He is undoubtedly cut out for this, and I intend for him to eclipse what I’ve done. He’s a way greater person than I was at 12,” said Jones, turning to his son. “I love you so much, and I didn’t mean to get you up here, sweetheart, and tell people how much I love you, but you’re so handsome, and you’re a good little knight who’s going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy.”

“So far this looks like good stuff,” [Alex Jones’ Attorney Randall] Wilhite said. Naranjo OK’d it for viewing by the jury.

But Bobby Newman, the attorney for Kelly Jones guiding the court through the Infowars clips, was laying the groundwork for the argument that there is no separation between Alex Jones, father, and Alex Jones, Infowarrior.

It’s a solid argument, and Alex Jones is in a bit of a bind here, forced to choose between maintaining the authenticity of a lunatic his inexplicably massive fanbase worships and sacrificing that authenticity in an attempt to hang onto custody of his young children.

Unenforceable ban on atheists holding public office still on the books in 8 states

Unenforceable ban on atheists holding public office still on the books in 8 states

This is an old story but after reading an article about a study [PDF] suggesting there are many atheists who don’t want to admit they’re atheists, I remembered reading about how a country which prides itself as a world leader in personal freedom still has laws banning atheists from public service.

My memory was correct, and that country is the United States. Oyez, which publishes Supreme Court resources including audio of oral arguments, has a great page on the 1960 case which declared such laws unconstitutional (as if anyone should have needed the Supreme Court to tell them that…).

In Torcaso v. Watkins, the Court held unanimously that, quoting Oyez:

such a requirement places the state of Maryland firmly on the side of those people who believe in God and are willing to state their belief. With this requirement, Maryland effectively aids religions that profess a belief in God at the expense of any other form of belief or disbelief. The First Amendment expressly prohibits a state from taking this position. Although the candidate has the option of not pursuing public office rather than declaring a belief in God, the test is an unconstitutional encroachment on the freedom of religion.

So these laws aren’t enforceable, but the fact that they’re still on the books is an affront to the Constitution and should embarrass any lawmaker who claims to respect that Constitution.

The magnificent stupidity of the “nuclear option”

The magnificent stupidity of the “nuclear option”

It’s a trainwreck. Republicans undoubtedly stole the nomination from Merrick Garland, which makes calls by the GOP for Democrats to stop being obstructionist rich in hypocrisy.

But then again, there’s plenty of hypocrisy in Democratic criticisms of today’s use of the “nuclear option.” After all, they made a similar move in 2013, explicitly eliminating the filibuster for all nominations except the Supreme Court.

It was a stupid thing for Democrats to do in 2013 and it’s a stupid thing for Republicans to do in 2017. Why? Because these rules apply to everyone going forward, no matter which party is in power.

The lack of foresight and critical thinking the nuclear option displays when any party uses it are staggering, and illustrative of Congress’ toxic tendency to put pettiness and blind party loyalty before the best interests of their constituents.

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Modern Law.

DOJ internal watchdog to investigate FBI’s Clinton inquiry

Justice Dept. internal watchdog to investigate FBI’s Clinton inquiry

The inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general, likely to keep open the wounds of the bitter 2016 presidential race, will focus on whether “policies or procedures were not followed” by the FBI and Justice Department.

Of particular focus will be the letter sent by Comey to Congress just 11 days before the Nov. 8 election that disclosed that his agents were reviewing newly discovered emails possibly pertinent to the then-closed investigation on Clinton’s handling of classified material while serving as secretary of State.

At first I was heartened by this news, but if the review is limited only to whether “policies and procedures were not followed” there will be no investigation into the Hatch Act1 implications of Comey’s election-week disclosure.


  1. “The Hatch Act of 1939, officially An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials of that branch, from engaging in some forms of political activity. The law was named for Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico. It was most recently amended in 2012.” — via Wikipedia 

Wells Fargo claims customers agreed to arbitration… for accounts they never asked for

Wells Fargo Killing Sham Account Suits by Using Arbitration

[Jennifer] Zeleny, a lawyer who lives outside Salt Lake City and opened a Wells Fargo account when she started a new law practice, said it would be impossible for her to agree to arbitrate her dispute over an account that she had never signed up for in the first place.

The bank’s counterargument: The arbitration clauses included in the legitimate contracts customers signed to open bank accounts also cover disputes related to the false ones set up in their names.

Arbitration is reasonable on a case-by-case basis but it’s a hard concept to defend:

  1. Ideologically, when a corporation is responsible for the deliberate mass-deception of its customers
  2. Contractually, when the affected customers never agreed to anything at all with regard to the accounts at issue

If Wells Fargo has any intellect in the board room or in the C-suites they’re taking this tough stance in public but working quietly on negotiating a mass settlement fund.

Of course, any intellect in the board room or the C-suites would likely prevent the type of sales environment which catalyzed this large-scale fraud and identity theft operation.

Poultry Fraud

‘Dark Meat’ by Gabriel Thompson

Failing to record injuries is one strategy to create the illusion of a safe workplace. Another is to fail to refer workers to doctors for proper tests and diagnoses. Each time an injury causes an employee to miss a day of work or to receive medical treatment beyond first aid, the company is required to record it in an OSHA log book. This data is reported each year to the Department of Labor and is used to identify industries with high injury rates—whose facilities will then face increased inspections. An industry that reports low injury rates is less likely to receive scrutiny from OSHA’s overstretched investigators.

If employers can self-report why can’t employees?

The argument against employee reports would be:

Well, employees will inflate injury rates!

Let’s think about this: employers are already fraudulently minimizing the rates. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for employees to do it, too. It isn’t okay for anyone to massage the numbers in their own favor. But they do, and they will, because self-interest is a helluva drug.

So my thought is that having an inflated employee-reported rate to compare with minimized employer-reported rates may help regulators find the truth, somewhere between the two numbers.

Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials

Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials

Kate Conger, reporting at TechCrunch:

Dropbox disclosed in 2012 that an employee’s password was acquired and used to access a document with email addresses, but did not disclose that passwords were also acquired in the theft. Because Dropbox stores its user passwords hashed and salted, that’s technically accurate — it seems that hackers were only able to obtain hashed files of Dropbox user passwords and were unable to crack them. But it does appear that more information was taken from Dropbox than was previously let on, and it’s strange that it’s taken this long for the breach to surface.

Don’t reuse passwords folks. Find a password manager and learn to love it. There’s 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane and many others. That means there’s no excuse for you to keep using your dog’s name combined with your college graduation year or whatever terrible password you’re using for everything.