Tuesday, December 24, 2019

business card linux computer

thirtythreeforty.net | My Business Card Runs Linux

I'm an embedded systems engineer. I spend a lot of my free time looking for things I could use in future designs, or things that tickle one of my fancies.

One of those things is cheap Linux-capable computers, the cheaper the better. So I started diving into the very deep rabbit hole of obscure processors.

I thought to myself, “These processors are nearly cheap enough to give away.” After a while I hit upon the idea of making a barebones Linux board in a business card form factor.

As soon as I had the idea I thought it would be pretty cool to do. I have seen electronic business cards before, with various fun features including emulating USB flash drives, blinkenlights, or even wireless transceivers. I have never seen one running Linux, however.

So I built one.

Monday, December 23, 2019

japanese children refuse public school

bbc news | Why so many Japanese children refuse to go to school

In Japan, more and more children are refusing to go to school, a phenomenon called "futoko". As the numbers keep rising, people are asking if it's a reflection of the school system, rather than a problem with the pupils themselves.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

ebola vaccine

ABC News | Ebola vaccine approved by FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has for the first time approved a vaccine for the prevention of the deadly Ebola virus disease.

The agency announced the approval of Ervebo, a single-dose, injectable vaccine manufactured by American pharmaceutical company Merck. The announcement, made Thursday, comes a month after the European Union and the World Health Organization, the global health arm of the United Nations, both approved the Ebola vaccine.

Ebola cases are very rare in the United States. Those that have occurred have been the result of people getting infected in other countries and then travelling to the United States, or health workers falling ill after treating Ebola patients.

Monday, October 28, 2019

digital computers =/=> consciousness

MIT News | Nature can help solve optimization problems

A low-cost analog circuit based on synchronizing oscillators could scale up quickly and cheaply to beat out digital computers.

Friday, October 25, 2019

with that much lead time, i could take my zinc supplements

Nextgov | Military Algorithm Can Predict Illness 48 Hours Before Symptoms Show

The program lead says future troops might be deployed with wearables like watches or chest straps that will know when they are getting sick and how long it will take them to get better.

uh, yes and yes?

Wired | Trying to Plant a Trillion Trees Won't Solve Anything

We’re not going to stop climate change with just seedlings and fancy agriculture. We also need to reduce emissions.

still not economical

Green Car Congress | New process produces high-octane synthetic fuel from low-octane Fischer-Tropsch gasoline

In recent years, interest in the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis has increased significantly and thus it makes possible to produce synthetic motor fuels by using alternative energy resources as raw materials such as natural gas, coal, and biomass. The resulting product, which is commonly called synthetic crude oil, is a mixture of light and medium distillates with a boiling point of up to 350–360 °C. To obtain commercial gasoline from synthetic crude oil requires costly and multi-stage refining in the processes of hydrogenation, isomerization and reforming, which greatly complicates the entire chain of production of commercial gasoline. In addition, the industrial technology of upgrading the Fischer-Tropsch gasoline fraction (reducing the amount of olefinic hydrocarbons, as well as increasing detonation resistance) is a multistage process that exceeds the processing of straight-run gasoline obtained from petroleum feedstock in the number of stages.

In this regard, a significant resource base is unclaimed for economic reasons. The development of a fundamentally new technology for upgrading gasoline Fischer-Tropsch will ensure energy security and diversification of raw materials for the production of motor gasoline.

sometimes we forget how vulnerable we are to the little things

MIT News | New process could make hydrogen peroxide available in remote places

Hydrogen peroxide, a useful all-purpose disinfectant, is found in most medicine cabinets in the developed world. But in remote villages in developing countries, where it could play an important role in health and sanitation, it can be hard to come by.

Now, a process developed at MIT could lead to a simple, inexpensive, portable device that could produce hydrogen peroxide continuously from just air, water, and electricity, providing a way to sterilize wounds, food-preparation surfaces, and even water supplies.

light in the dark

Joule | Generating Light from Darkness

A large fraction of the world’s population still lacks access to electricity, particularly at night when photovoltaic systems no longer operate. The ability to generate electricity at night could be a fundamentally enabling capability for a wide range of applications, including lighting and low-power sensors. Here, we demonstrate a low-cost strategy to harness the cold of space through radiative cooling to generate electricity with an off-the-shelf thermoelectric generator. Unlike traditional thermoelectric generators, our device couples the cold side of the thermoelectric module to a sky-facing surface that radiates heat to the cold of space and has its warm side heated by the surrounding air, enabling electricity generation at night. We experimentally demonstrate 25 mW/m 2 of power generation and validate a model that accurately captures the device’s performance. Further, we show that the device can directly power a light emitting diode, thereby generating light from the darkness of space itself.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

g.o.d. smart materials

MIT NewsUsing CRISPR to program gels with new functions

The CRISPR genome-editing system is best-known for its potential to correct disease-causing mutations and add new genes into living cells. Now, a team from MIT and Harvard University has deployed CRISPR for a completely different purpose: creating novel materials, such as gels, that can change their properties when they encounter specific DNA sequences.

The researchers showed they could use CRISPR to control electronic circuits and microfluidic devices, and to release drugs, proteins, or living cells from gels. Such materials could be used to create diagnostic devices for diseases such as Ebola, or to deliver treatments for diseases such as irritable bowel disease.

Friday, August 9, 2019

this is curious... Bank Forgives Debt - armageddon is nigh!

CBC'It's crazy': Chase Bank forgiving all debt owed by its Canadian credit card customers

Finally, a good-news story about credit card debt.

U.S.-based Chase Bank is forgiving all outstanding debt owed by users of its two Canadian credit cards: the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. The bank retired both cards last year and said it's wiping out cardholders' debt to complete its exit from the Canadian credit card market.

Affected customers can't believe their luck.

"I was sort of over the moon all last night, with a smile on my face," said Douglas Turner of Coe Hill, Ont., after learning he's off the hook for the $6,157 still owing on his now-defunct Amazon Visa. "I couldn't believe it."

After 13 years in the Canadian market, Chase decided to fold its two Visa cards in March 2018.

The bank — which is part of global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. — wouldn't say how many Canadians had signed up for the cards or how much debt was outstanding.

But it is likely that many cardholders were still paying down their debt, including Turner.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

accidental biological weapons release

Roll CallHouse orders Pentagon to say if it weaponized ticks and released them

The House quietly voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm — either accidentally or on purpose.

The unusual proposal took the form of an amendment that was adopted by voice vote July 11 during House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which lawmakers passed the following day.

resistance is futile

c|net | Elon Musk's Neuralink will detail progress in computer-brain interface

Neuralink, Elon Musk's fourth and least visible company, will become a bit less secretive Tuesday with a livestreamed presentation about its technology to connect computers directly to human brains. Neuralink accepted applications from some folks to attend the San Francisco event to hear "a bit about what we've been working on the last two years," but the rest of us can tune in online at 8 p.m. PT Tuesday.

"Livestream details will be available on our website shortly before event start," Neuralink tweeted Sunday.

Neuralink, founded in 2016, is working on a way to let human brains communicate directly with computers. Goals include fast transfer rates and quick responses, but just establishing a connection and figuring out how to exchange useful information presents immense challenges.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

what surprises lay hidden in the moon?

CBS NewsScientists discover previously unidentified mass beneath moon's surface

A previously unknown deposit of an unidentified physical substance larger than the size of Hawaii has been discovered beneath the surface of the moon. Scientists at Baylor University published a study detailing their findings of this "anomaly" beneath the moon's largest crater, at its South Pole. They believe the mass may contain metal carried over from an earlier asteroid crash.

According to the study — "Deep Structure of the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin" — which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in April, the large mass of material was discovered beneath the South Pole-Aitken crater, an oval-shaped crater that is 2,000 kilometers (about 1,243 miles) wide and roughly 4 billion years old. According to Baylor University, the unidentified mass was discovered "hundreds of miles" beneath the basin and is "weighing the basin floor downward by more than half a mile."

"Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected," said lead author Peter B. James, Ph.D., assistant professor of planetary geophysics in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

best get on it apple

BloombergApple’s U.S. iPhones Can All Be Made Outside of China If Needed

Apple Inc. has a backup plan if the U.S.-China trade war gets out of hand.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s primary manufacturing partner has enough capacity to make all iPhones bound for the U.S. outside of China if necessary, according to a senior executive at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer now makes most of the smartphones in the Chinese mainland.


ScienceType A blood converted to universal donor blood with help from bacterial enzymes

On any given day, hospitals across the United States burn through some 16,500 liters (35,000 pints) of donated blood for emergency surgeries, scheduled operations, and routine transfusions. But recipients can’t take just any blood: For a transfusion to be successful, the patient and donor blood types must be compatible. Now, researchers analyzing bacteria in the human gut have discovered that microbes there produce two enzymes that can convert the common type A into a more universally accepted type. If the process pans out, blood specialists suggest it could revolutionize blood donation and transfusion.

“This is a first, and if these data can be replicated, it is certainly a major advance,” says Harvey Klein, a blood transfusion expert at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved with the work.

People typically have one of four blood types—A, B, AB, or O—defined by unusual sugar molecules on the surfaces of their red blood cells. If a person with type A receives type B blood, or vice versa, these molecules, called blood antigens, can cause the immune system to mount a deadly attack on the red blood cells. But type O cells lack these antigens, making it possible to transfuse that blood type into anyone. That makes this “universal” blood especially important in emergency rooms, where nurses and doctors may not have time to determine an accident victim’s blood type.

wired daily posts 2019-06-18

nano-bio hybrid

EurakAlert!Light-powered nano-organisms consume CO2, create eco-friendly plastics and fuels

University of Colorado Boulder researchers have developed nanobio-hybrid organisms capable of using airborne carbon dioxide and nitrogen to produce a variety of plastics and fuels, a promising first step toward low-cost carbon sequestration and eco-friendly manufacturing for chemicals.

By using light-activated quantum dots to fire particular enzymes within microbial cells, the researchers were able to create "living factories" that eat harmful CO2 and convert it into useful products such as biodegradable plastic, gasoline, ammonia and biodiesel.

better get on it pentagon

ReutersExclusive: Pentagon eyes rare earth supplies in Africa in push away from China

CHICAGO/LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Defense has held talks with Malawi’s Mkango Resources Ltd and other rare earth miners across the globe about their supplies of strategic minerals, part of a plan to find diversified reserves outside of China, a department official said on Wednesday.

The push comes as China threatens to curb exports to the United States of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used in a plethora of military equipment and high-tech consumer electronics.

Although China contains only a third of the world’s rare earth reserves, it accounts for 80% of U.S. imports of minerals because it controls nearly all of the facilities to process the material, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

“We are looking for any source of supply outside China. We want diversity. We don’t want a single-source producer,” Jason Nie, a material engineer with the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, said on the sidelines of the Argus U.S. Specialty Metals conference in Chicago.

peak water

BloombergTowing an Iceberg: One Captain’s Plan to Bring Drinking Water to 4 Million People

Nicholas Sloane doesn’t mind discomfort. The 56-year-old South African marine-salvage master has survived two helicopter crashes and spent thousands of hours aboard ships that are burning, sinking, breaking apart, or leaking oil, chemicals, or cargo into the ocean. Often, he gets calls in the middle of the night asking him to pack his bags and fly immediately to a disaster zone across the world, anywhere from Yemen to Papua New Guinea. Twice, he’s fought off armed pirates using water cannons, sound cannons, and strobe lights.

Usually, Sloane rooms on location, bunking in makeshift beds aboard singed or waterlogged ships he’s working to rescue. He once lived for three months with a family on Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote inhabited archipelago, orchestrating the logistics of catching and washing thousands of rockhopper penguins drenched in bunker fuel from a shipwreck. More recently, he spent 2½ years overseeing the almost $1 billion refloating of the Costa Concordia, the infamous Italian cruise ship that capsized inside a marine sanctuary off the coast of Tuscany, killing 32 passengers.

But at some point early last year, Sloane really wanted to take a bath and couldn’t. He was home with his family in Cape Town, which had recently declared an emergency: After three years of severe drought, the city of 4 million was at risk of becoming one of the first in the world to run out of municipal water. To forestall a shutoff, each household was permitted only 50 liters—about 13 gallons—per day per person to cover drinking, cooking, washing, and showers. “That’s enough to fill less than half a tub,” says Sloane, a soft-spoken man with graying hair, ruddy skin, and a deep crease between his green eyes. “My wife used to take a bath every night and a shower every morning. She told me, ‘You’d better do something.’ ”

More than a year later, disaster has been averted, thanks to badly needed rainfall and drastic reduction in water use. But conditions in Cape Town remain far from normal. The daily-use limit has been raised, but only to 70 liters, and people still take speed showers, collecting the runoff to use for toilet flushing. Some hotels have removed stoppers from bathtubs to keep profligate tourists in line. And farmers throughout the country are reeling. More than 30,000 seasonal jobs have been lost in the Western Cape, and crop production has declined by about 20%. During the height of the drought, hundreds of farmers in the Northern Cape killed off most of their livestock rather than truck in costly feed. “Everyone has cut back their flocks of sheep to the bare minimum needed to start again when it rains,” one farmer told Bloomberg News in 2017.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

industrial society power-down

Edinburgh LiveCracks found in nuclear reactor that could lead to the full evacuation of Edinburgh and Glasgow

The two reactors at Hunterston B nuclear power plant near Ardrossan are 43 years old - the oldest in Europe.

They're already well beyond their operating lifetimes, which have twice been extended by EDF Energy, and they're scheduled to close down for good in 2023.

However, there's a serious safety fault in the reactors. The fault is known as keyway root-cracking: where the graphite moderator cores in the reactors develop cracks leading to instabilities that could lead to a major nuclear accident: which would lead to a large swathe of Scotland's central belt having to be evacuated. 

wired daily posts 2019-06-08

Thursday, June 6, 2019

peer to peer dns

Technology ReviewThe ambitious plan to reinvent how websites get their names

The next time you type the name of a website into your browser, pause for a second to think about what happens after you press “enter.”

What happens is that your browser sends that name—technologyreview.com, say—to a network of computers called the Domain Name System. The DNS is often called the internet’s phone book, and it converts (or in internet parlance, “resolves”) website names into IP addresses—in this case, These numbers are what allow your browser to find the right server on the internet and connect to it.

We use the DNS because most humans are bad at keeping track of long numbers. It doesn’t get much attention; you don’t normally have to think about what the DNS is doing in the background. But you do have to trust it, which means trusting a handful of organizations that have been charged with keeping the DNS working and secure.

To people like Steven McKie, a developer for and investor in an open-source project called the Handshake Network, this centralized power over internet naming makes the internet vulnerable to both censorship and cyberattacks. Handshake wants to decentralize it by creating an alternative naming system that nobody controls. In doing so, it could help protect us from hackers trying to exploit the DNS’s security weaknesses, and from governments hoping to use it to block free expression.

if a small brain can do this, what is the use of a big brain?

Phys.orgBees can link symbols to numbers, study finds

We've learned bees can understand zero and do basic math, and now a new study shows their tiny insect brains may be capable of connecting symbols to numbers.

(you, not amazon) building the all seeing eye of sauron for him

c|netAmazon's helping police build a surveillance network with Ring doorbells

If you're walking in Bloomfield, New Jersey, there's a good chance you're being recorded. But it's not a corporate office or warehouse security camera capturing the footage -- it's likely a Ring doorbell made by Amazon. 

While residential neighborhoods aren't usually lined with security cameras, the smart doorbell's popularity has essentially created private surveillance networks powered by Amazon and promoted by police departments.

Police departments across the country, from major cities like Houston to towns with fewer than 30,000 people, have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon's products. While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested.

wired daily posts 2019-06-06

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

and what happens when there's no more money to clean this up

LA TimesNation’s most ambitious project to clean up nuclear weapons waste has stalled at Hanford

The Energy Department’s most environmentally important and technically ambitious project to clean up Cold War nuclear weapons waste has stalled, putting at jeopardy an already long-delayed effort to protect the Columbia River in central Washington.

In a terse letter last week, state officials said the environmental project is at risk of violating key federal court orders that established deadlines after past ones were repeatedly missed.

Two multibillion-dollar industrial facilities intended to turn highly radioactive sludge into solid glass at the Hanford nuclear site have been essentially mothballed. Construction was halted in 2012 because of design flaws and Energy Department managers have foundered in finding alternatives, according to the letter that threatens new litigation.

The department has stored 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge left over from the production of plutonium in 177 leaky underground tanks on a desert plateau a few miles from the Columbia River, raising concerns that the material has migrated into groundwater and eventually will reach the largest river in the West.


KTLANumber of Homeless People Jumps 12% Across L.A. County to Nearly 59,000

The number of homeless people counted across Los Angeles County jumped 12% over the past year to nearly 59,000, with more young and old residents and families on the streets, officials said Tuesday.

The majority of the homeless were found within the city of Los Angeles, which saw a 16% increase to 36,300, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said in presenting January's annual count to the county Board of Supervisors.

The increase was registered a year after the previous tally found a slight decrease in the county's homeless population.

wired daily posts 2019-06-05

Monday, June 3, 2019

start looking after your own personal resilience

Low-tech MagazineReinventing the Small Wind Turbine

Many commercially available small wind turbines with plastic blades and steel towers are infamous for their low reliability, high embodied energy, and limited power output.

Building them out of wood can addresses these issues. Because of their aesthetic appeal, and thanks to the ability to produce them locally, small wooden wind turbines can also improve the public acceptance of wind power.

Furthermore, innovation in tower design facilitates the installation of small wind turbines, reducing the need for concrete foundations and heavy machinery.

best get on replacing those rare earth minerals before china stops selling them to us

BNL NewsroomScientists Design Organic Cathode for High Performance Batteries

The new, sulfur-based material is more energy-dense, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly than traditional cathodes in lithium batteries

UPTON, NY—Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have designed a new, organic cathode material for lithium batteries. With sulfur at its core, the material is more energy-dense, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly than traditional cathode materials in lithium batteries. The research was published in Advanced Energy Materials on April 10, 2019.

From smartphones to electric vehicles, the technologies that have become central to everyday life run on lithium batteries. And as the demand for these products continues to rise, scientists are investigating how to optimize cathode materials to improve the overall performance of lithium battery systems.  

“Commercialized lithium-ion batteries are used in small electronic devices; however, to accommodate long driving ranges for electric vehicles, their energy density needs to be higher,” said Zulipiya Shadike, a research associate in Brookhaven’s Chemistry Division and the lead author of the research. “We are trying to develop new battery systems with a high energy density and stable performance.”

In addition to solving the energy challenges of battery systems, researchers at Brookhaven are looking into more sustainable battery material designs. In search of a sustainable cathode material that could also provide a high energy density, the researchers chose sulfur, a safe and abundant element [ed: emphasis mine].

i don't see any unintended consequences falling out of this...

OilPrice.comUS Forces Blow Up Three Oil Tankers In Syria Enforcing Oil Embargo

US-led forces have blown up three oil tankers in Syria as the United States increases its pressure on Syria by thwarting the oil trade between the PKK/YPG and the Assad regime, according to local sources quoted by several media sources.

The strike was carried about by coalition planes, which hit three oil tankers, leaving four dead. The coalition has not yet made a statement about the attack. In the area controlled by Assad, oil consumption stands at around 136,000 bpd. Production, meanwhile, is only 24,000 barrels per day. This means that the regime must import significant volumes of crude oil at an estimated expense of more than $2 billion per year.

feel poor? you're not just imagining it

The HillNet worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has dropped 34 percent since 1996: study

The net worth of the average 18- to 35-year-old has plummeted 34 percent since 1996, according to new study from accounting group Deloitte.

Despite stereotypes that millennials overspend on entertainment and dining out, the Deloitte study found that the generation is paying more for education, food, transportation and other basic needs, while their incomes have stayed steady.

The group's average net worth is now below $8,000, putting today's millennials in a worse financial position than previous generations.

Deloitte researchers told The Washington Post that the study's findings “debunk many conventional wisdoms about the new-age consumer.”

huh. google is just another arm of the deep state.

Yahoo! / AFP | US preparing antitrust probe of Google: report

San Francisco (AFP) - The US Department of Justice is preparing an antitrust investigation of Internet titan Google, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The Journal cited unnamed sources close to the matter as saying the department would look into Google practices related to web search and other businesses.

Justice department officials share antitrust oversight with the Federal Trade Commission, which conducted a wide-ranging investigation of its own into Alphabet-owned Google that ended in 2013 with no action taken.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

dopamine hegemony, in a nutshell

Quillette | How ‘Limbic Capitalism’ Preys on Our Addicted Brains

One summer day in 2010, a Swedish graduate student named Daniel Berg approached me after a talk I gave at Christ’s College, Cambridge. During the talk, I had casually mentioned internet addiction. Berg told me that I had spoken a truth larger than I knew. Many of his male friends at Stockholm University had dropped out of school and were living in crash pads, compulsively playing World of Warcraft. They spoke an argot more English than Swedish. It was all raiding, all the time.

“How do they feel about their circumstances?” I asked. “They feel angst,” Berg said.

“But they keep playing?” “They keep playing.”

This sort of behavior does seem like an addiction, in the sense of a compulsive, regret-filled pursuit of transient pleasures that are harmful to both the individual and society. For gaming, the personal cost was highest for Swedish men. “I am,” Berg reported, “now the only male in my graduate program in economic history.”

Back home in Florida, I noticed digital distractions exacting a more even academic toll. The smartphones that dotted the lecture halls were as often wielded by women as by men. But when I told Berg’s tale to my students, they instantly recognized the type. One admitted that he had lost a year to compulsive gaming. He said that he was in recovery—precariously, to judge by his grades. Another student knew gamers who kept cans by their computers. They used them to avoid having to take bathroom breaks.

The can by the computer became for me a symbol of the shifting meaning of addiction. As late as the 1970s, the word seldom referred to anything other than compulsive drug use. Over the next forty years, however, the concept of addiction broadened. Memoirists confessed to addictions to gambling, sex, shopping and carbs. German sex therapists called internet porn a “gateway drug” that ensnared the young. A New York Times op-ed declared sugar to be addictive, “literally, in the same way as drugs.” A toothless young New Zealand mother drank up to ten liters of Coke a day, then splashed the headlines when she died of coronary arrhythmia. A nineteen-year-old truant in Jiangsu Province made the news when he hacked off his left hand to cure his internet addiction. Chinese officials judged as many as 14 percent of his peers to be similarly hooked, and set up internet addiction rehabilitation camps. South Korea and Japan followed suit. Taiwanese legislators voted to fine parents who let their children spend too much time online, updating a law forbidding minors’ smoking, drinking, drug-taking and betel-chewing. Only the last habit failed to appeal to Americans, 47 percent of whom showed signs of at least one behavioral or substance addiction disorder in any given year in the early 2000s.

ufos - limited hangout

Wikipedia | Limited Hangout

A limited hangout or partial hangout is, according to former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Victor Marchetti, "spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further."

MotherboardThe Navy Says UFOs Are Real. UFO Hunters Are Thrilled

With the Navy's recent revelation that its pilots have been regularly spotting unidentified flying objects, some of those in the UFO community who were once thought crazy now have some concrete evidence to point to. And the regular spate of mainstream news stories about UFO sightings has inspired a new generation of UFO hunters and researchers.

I'm regularly asked why I, a 32-year-old man with a good job and a young family spent six years researching the UFO subculture. Simply put, I find the culture and the people fascinating.

Ufology has always been a counter-cultural movement. Faced with decades of ridicule, the UFO community has always been the underdog. I like underdogs. But unidentified flying objects have made a cultural comeback, and the last two years have seen a huge growth in popular media coverage of this curious phenomenon and the people who explore it. It seems that UFOs have become all the rage, and this popular resurgence is inspiring a young new breed of UFO researchers and hunters.

These last few months have seen a surge in media outlets covering the UFO phenomenon. [ed: emphasis mine] This week, the New York Times ran a story about two Navy fighter pilots who had multiple encounters with strange objects which seemed to perform impossible maneuvers. In one dramatic case, the pilots recounted a story of an object that looked like a “sphere encasing a cube” that flew in-between two fighter jets cruising in tandem just 100 feet apart.


ONE OF THE first images in the opening episode of the new History Channel show “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation” is a 2017 headline from the New York Times projected on a flickering screen: “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program.”

It’s the story that launched Luis Elizondo into the public eye, the article that “shocked the world,” the narrator of “Unidentified” declares, before continuing, “A clandestine U.S. government program had been investigating UFOs. For eight years, the secret program was run by this man, Lue Elizondo.” The camera then pans to a visual of the former military intelligence case officer in a darkened house peering out warily through half-drawn window shades.

It’s an odd scene. Is Elizondo on the lookout for aliens or a bad guy from his old spook life? Either way, the History Channel show, which premiered on Friday and is being promoted as “groundbreaking nonfiction,” goes on to follow Elizondo as he re-investigates strange UFO incidents he says he learned of when he was at the Pentagon running the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, known as AATIP. It’s as if Agent Mulder had handed off his X-Files to another paranoid government agent, this one with a pug face and billy-goat beard. In the screener I saw for “Unidentified,” the narrator says that Elizondo quit the Pentagon because he was “frustrated by what he says was a cover-up.”

Whatever the truth about otherworldly UFOs (cue a collective eye-roll from scientists), there is one crucial detail missing from “Unidentified,” as well as from all the many stories that have quoted Elizondo since he outed himself nearly two years ago to a wide-eyed news media: There is no discernible evidence that he ever worked for a government UFO program, much less led one.

"that's just mean, MEAN, i tell ya!"

ScienceIEEE, a major science publisher, bans Huawei scientists from reviewing papers

A major scientific society has banned employees of Huawei, the Chinese communications giant, from reviewing submissions to its journals because of U.S. government sanctions against the company.

The New York City–based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) told editors of its roughly 200 journals yesterday that it feared “severe legal implications” from continuing to use Huawei scientists as reviewers in vetting technical papers. They can continue to serve on IEEE editorial boards, according to the memo, but “cannot handle any papers” until the sanctions are lifted.

On 15 May, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its affiliates to a list of companies for which a license is required before U.S. technology can be sold or transferred. The department can refuse to grant such a license, issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), if it deems that any sales or transfers would harm U.S. national security interests. U.S. officials have alleged that the Chinese government could use equipment manufactured by Huawei, which is a global supplier of cell phones and wireless data networks, to spy on users or disrupt critical infrastructure.

perils of immersing in this society

Washington PostTech giant brings software to a gun fight

SAN FRANCISCO — On its website, Salesforce.com touts retailer Camping World as a leading customer of its business software, highlighting its use of products to help sales staff move product. A Camping World executive is even quoted calling Salesforce’s software “magic.”

But behind the scenes in recent weeks, the Silicon Valley tech giant has delivered a different message to gun-selling retailers such as Camping World: Stop selling military-style rifles, or stop using our software.

The pressure Salesforce is exerting on those retailers — barring them from using its technology to market products, manage customer service operations and fulfill orders — puts them in a difficult position. Camping World, for example, spends more than $1 million a year on Salesforce’s e-commerce software, according to one analyst estimate. Switching to another provider now could cost the company double that to migrate data, reconfigure systems and retrain employees.

The change in Salesforce’s acceptable-use policy shows how a technology giant that is mostly unknown to the public is trying to influence what retailers in America sell and alter the dynamics of a charged social issue. While Salesforce is hardly a household name, it is a dominant provider of software and services that help businesses manage their customers. With roughly 40,000 employees and a market value of nearly $120 billion, it has become a behemoth in San Francisco. Its branded skyscraper also towers over the city as the tallest building and a major landmark.

why would the afp disappear this article?? (or, why the us is really targeting huawei in the trade war)

webcache.googleusercontent.com - AFPHuawei a key beneficiary of China subsidies that US wants ended

A replica of the Palace of Versailles, medieval turrets, and spires rise across Huawei's new campus in southern China, a monument to the telecom giant's growing fortune -- and the benefits of state aid.

The fairytale-like facilities rest on land that was sold by the local government at cut-rate prices to woo and bolster a strategic, high-tech company like Huawei.

It is the kind of government largesse that has fanned US frustrations at China's industrial policies -- subsidies are a sticking point in protracted trade talks between the world's top two economies.

Huawei has become a major flashpoint in the trade war, with President Donald Trump taking steps to block the company's dealings with US companies, threatening its global ambitions.

With the dispute shining a spotlight on China's technological shortcomings, the subsidies are a window into the kind of measures Beijing may step up as trade negotiations founder.

Huawei's annual reports and public records show that it has received hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, heavily subsidised land to build facilities and apartments for loyal employees, bonuses for top engineers, and massive state loans to international customers to fund purchases of Huawei products.

two birds with one stone

ReutersTrump vows rapid, high tariffs on Mexico unless illegal immigration ends

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, responding to a surge of illegal immigrants across the southern border, vowed on Thursday to impose a tariff on all goods coming from Mexico, starting at 5% and ratcheting much higher until the flow of people ceases.

Trump’s move dramatically escalates his battle to control a wave of tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including many Central American families fleeing poverty and violence, that has swelled alongside his promises to make it harder to get U.S. refuge and his efforts to build a wall on the Mexican border.

The announcement rattled investors who feared that worsening trade friction could hurt the global economy. The Mexican peso, U.S. stock index futures and Asian stock markets tumbled on the news, including the shares of Japanese automakers who ship cars from Mexico to the United States.

The president’s decision, announced on Twitter and in a subsequent statement, was a direct challenge to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and took the Mexican government by surprise on a day when it had started a formal process to ratify a trade deal with the United States and Canada (USMCA).

again, this is just now a problem? who else could this be used against? surely there are no american companies doing this!

BuzzFeed NewsUS Universities And Retirees Are Funding The Technology Behind China’s Surveillance State

HONG KONG — Princeton University and the US’s largest public pension plan are among a number of stateside organizations funding technology behind the Chinese government’s unprecedented surveillance of some 11 million people of Muslim ethnic minorities.

Since 2017, Chinese authorities have detained more than a million Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in political reeducation camps in the country’s northwest region of Xinjiang, identifying them, in part, with facial recognition software created by two companies: SenseTime, based in Hong Kong, and Beijing’s Megvii. A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that US universities, private foundations, and retirement funds entrusted their money to investors that, in turn, plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into these two startups over the last three years. Using that capital, SenseTime and Megvii have grown into billion-dollar industry leaders, partnering with government agencies and other private companies to develop tools for the Communist Party’s social control of its citizens.

lowering the barrier to entry - music

Venture BeatJoseph Gordon-Levitt: HitRecord is 'GitHub for creativity'

HitRecord is a production company transitioning into a tech platform. We caught up with cofounders Jared Geller and Joseph Gordon-Levitt at Collision 2019 in Toronto last week to understand what HitRecord was, is, and wants to be.

HitRecord is a collaborative media platform that lets anyone work together on creative projects. If a project earns money, contributors are paid based on any work that makes it into the final product. In June, HitRecord will have paid out some $375,000 over the past year, totaling over $3 million contributor payments since 2010. CEO Gordon-Levitt works 20-30 hours per week, while president Geller is full time. The site has 750,000 users interested in collaborating on content together.

Earlier this year, HitRecord raised $6.4 million to pull off its platform evolution. With the cash infusion, the company has grown from 18 employees to 34 employees today.

“It’s like GitHub for creativity,” Gordon-Levitt told VentureBeat. “I got to speak at Open Source Summit and I spoke to Linus, the creator of Linux, and a number of folks from that movement. They’ve been really great to talk to because there really are a lot of parallels between the open source coder culture and what we’re trying to bring to our creativity [platform].”

wired posts for the weekend 2019-06-03

Thursday, May 30, 2019

humility is our best quality

ars technicaUS Department of Energy is now referring to fossil fuels as “freedom gas”

Call it a rebranding of "energy dominance."

In a press release published on Tuesday, two Department of Energy officials used the terms "freedom gas" and "molecules of US freedom" to replace your average, everyday term "natural gas."

The press release was fairly standard, announcing the expansion of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at the Freeport facility on Quintana Island, Texas. It would have gone unnoticed had an E&E News reporter not noted the unique metonymy "molecules of US freedom."

DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg is quoted as saying, "With the US in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world.”

the empire, er, huawei, strikes back!

engadgetHuawei asks court to declare US government ban unconstitutional

Huawei is stepping up its fight against American bans. The tech giant has motioned for a summary judgment in its lawsuit to invalidate Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, arguing that it violates the "Bill of Attainder, Due Process and Vesting" clauses of the US Constitution. The law explicitly bans Huawei by name despite "no evidence" of a security risk, Huawei's Song Liuping said, and bans third-party contractors who buy from Huawei even when there's no link to the US government.

The company also preemptively tried to dismiss claims that there are facts up for dispute. This is a simple "matter of law," according to lead counsel Glen Nager.

A hearing on the motion is due September 19th.

This won't get Huawei off the Commerce Department's Entities List, which forced US companies to stop doing business with the Chinese firm. It would alleviate some of the pressure on the company, though, and would theoretically provide a route back to doing more business in the US if it's ever removed from the Entities List. It could also push the US to provide evidence (if there is any) to support the measure. If nothing else, it signals that Huawei won't take bans lying down.

wired daily posts 2019-05-30

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

this couldn't possibly have been a problem BEFORE the trade war

npr'We're Not Being Paranoid': U.S. Warns Of Spy Dangers Of Chinese-Made Drones

Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for industry and government.

Electric utilities use them to inspect transmission lines. Oil companies fly them over pipelines. The Interior Department even deployed them to track lava flows at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen.

The department sent out an alert on the subject on May 20, and a video on its website notes that drones in general pose multiple threats, including "their potential use for terrorism, mass casualty incidents, interference with air traffic, as well as corporate espionage and invasions of privacy."

We could pull information down and upload information on a flying drone. You could also hijack the drone."

Lanier Watkins, cyber-research scientist at Johns Hopkins University

"We're not being paranoid," the video's narrator adds.

Most drones bought in the U.S. are manufactured in China, with most of those drones made by one company, DJI Technology. Lanier Watkins, a cyber-research scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Information Security Institute, said his team discovered vulnerabilities in DJI's drones.

'tis but a scratch

Nikkei Asian ReviewUndersea cables -- Huawei's ace in the hole

Huawei is said to be involved in some 30 undersea cable projects at the moment.

TOKYO -- While the U.S. is pressuring allies to help keep Huawei Technologies out of 5G cellular networks, the Chinese giant is quietly advancing in the global market for one of the most critical components of telecom infrastructure: undersea cables.

Virtually all of the world's data transmissions go through cables on the bottom of the oceans. Communications satellites are also used, but their share of the data amounts to just 1%. The U.S., Europe and Japan look like they have the cable market locked down, but their dominance may not be as secure as it seems.

Huawei put the industry on notice late last year, when it completed a cable between South America and Africa.

Right now, the world's attention is focused on Washington's drive to ban Huawei equipment from fifth-generation infrastructure, which will offer much faster wireless service than the current fourth-generation technology. Japan and Australia have essentially closed ranks with the U.S., and the Donald Trump administration is pressuring Britain, Germany and France to do the same -- reportedly going so far as to threaten to withhold important security information if they refuse.

Huawei, for its part, is showing no signs of backing down. The smartphone maker is gearing up for fresh sales drives in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. So the stage is set for a drawn-out fight between the U.S. and China over telecom technology and control of data.

In the fog of this battle, the cable issue has yet to draw much public attention. But security policymakers in the U.S., Japan and Australia are increasingly alarmed.

wired posts 2019-05-29

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

translation: apple, this trade war will go badly for you

ReutersHuawei founder says he would oppose Chinese retaliation against Apple: Bloomberg

Huawei Technologies' founder and Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei told Bloomberg bloom.bg/2HT7DUY that retaliation by Beijing against Apple Inc was unlikely and that he would oppose any such move from China against the iPhone maker.

When asked about calls from some in China to retaliate against Apple, Ren said that he would “protest” against any such step if it were to be taken by Beijing.

how to build a better battery

Cornell ChronicleEngineered bacteria could be missing link in energy storage

Natural photosynthesis already offers an example for storing solar energy at a huge scale, and turning it into biofuels in a closed carbon loop. It captures about six times as much solar energy in a year as all civilization uses over the same time. But, photosynthesis is really inefficient at harvesting sunlight, absorbing less than one percent of the energy that hits photosynthesizing cells.

Electroactive microbes let us replace biological light harvesting with photovoltaics. These microbes can absorb electricity into their metabolism and use this energy to convert CO2 to biofuels. The approach shows a lot of promise for making biofuels at higher efficiencies.

Electroactive microbes also allow for the use of other types of renewable electricity, not just solar electricity, to power these conversions. Also, some species of engineered microbes may create bioplastics that could be buried, thereby removing carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) from the air and sequestering it in the ground. Bacteria could be engineered to reverse the process, by converting a bioplastic or biofuel back to electricity. These interactions can all occur at room temperature and pressure, which is important for efficiency.

shots fired back

Oil Price.comRare Earth Metals: China’s ‘Nuclear Option’ In The Trade War

A simple visit to an obscure factory by Chinese President Xi on Monday [ed: emphasis mine] is all it took to raise the specter that China could be contemplating cutting off supply of critical materials to the U.S. and potentially crippling large swathes of its industries. Also, fueled by political innuendo in Xi’s recent call for a new “Long March” in reference to a key founding tenet of the Chinese Communist Party, speculators are growing increasingly wary of Chinese export restrictions to the U.S., including rare earth minerals.

As the world’s largest producer, the Middle Kingdom has a vice-like grip on rare earths supply.

Rare earth minerals, also known as the “vitamins of chemistry”, are a group of elements used in the manufacture of a wide range of equipment in small doses to produce powerful salutary effects. These minerals are extensively used in smartphones, batteries, turbines, lasers, electromagnetic guns, missiles, advanced weapon sensors, stealth technology and jamming technology. For instance, lanthanum is used in lighting equipment and camera lenses; neodymium in hybrid vehicles; praseodymium in aircraft engines; europium in nuclear reactors and gadolinium in MRIs and X-rays. Oil refiners also use rare earth catalysts to process crude oil into gasoline and jet fuel.

China produced more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of these critical elements over the past decade, though its share was lower at 71.42 percent last year.

In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey identified 35 minerals critical to the country’s economy and national security. America is heavily dependent on imports of these minerals, producing less than a tenth of the world’s supplies and importing half of what it consumes. It clearly highlights the U.S.’ soft underbelly.

Not surprisingly, rare earth minerals are some of the few products that escaped Trump’s latest tariffs.

foreign entities are gonna need boots on the ground

npr'American Soil' Is Increasingly Foreign Owned

American soil.

Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can't be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.

When the stock market tanked during the past recession, foreign investors began buying up big swaths of U.S. farmland. And because there are no federal restrictions on the amount of land that can be foreign owned, it's been left up to individual states to decide on any limitations.

It's likely that even more American land will end up in foreign hands, especially in states with no restrictions on ownership. With the median age of U.S. farmers at 55, many face retirement with no prospect of family members willing to take over. The National Young Farmers Coalition anticipates that two-thirds of the nation's farmland will change hands in the next few decades.

"Texas is kind of a free-for-all, so they don't have a limit on how much land can be owned," say's Ohio Farm Bureau's Ty Higgins. "You look at Iowa and they restrict it — no land in Iowa is owned by a foreign entity."

Ohio, like Texas, also has no restrictions, and nearly half a million acres of prime farmland are held by foreign-owned entities. In the northwestern corner of the state, below Toledo, companies from the Netherlands alone have purchased 64,000 acres for wind farms.

There are two counties in this region with the highest concentration of foreign-owned farmland — more than 41,000 acres each. One of those is Paulding County, where three wind farms straddle the Ohio-Indiana line.

Higgins says that this kind of consumption of farmland by foreign entities is starting to cause concern. "One of the main reasons that we're watching this ... is because once a foreign entity buys up however many acres they want, Americans might never be able to secure that land again. So, once we lose it, we may lose it for good."