Category Archives: Apocalypse

The Apocalypticon ~ CIA snack-scam, Russian demands, cyber attacks, future-blind, Afghan camo, sexless Rubbermen, fighting Stalkerware


A crew of CIA contractors crafted a scheme to steal thousands of dollars worth of snacks from the agency’s snack machines. And they pulled it off – and then they got fired, of course.
This was no petty heist – the contractors apparently made off with over $US3000 of vending machine treats in a period stretching from the spring of 2012 to the autumn of 2013.
~ Diabolical! Wow, that really puts the Russians in their place, right? Now I really feel safe. OK, maybe not …

Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found. Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country. The requests, which have increased since 2014, are ostensibly done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any “backdoors” that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems. But those inspections also provide the Russians an opportunity to find vulnerabilities in the products’ source code – instructions that control the basic operations of computer equipment – current and former US officials and security experts said. IBM, Cisco and Germany’s SAP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co and McAfee have also allowed Russia to conduct source code reviews of their products.

President Barack Obama reportedly approved the use of cyberweapons targeting sensitive Russian computer systems following the Kremlin-directed cyberattacks that upended the Democratic Party last summer, according to a new report from the Washington Post – one of the most comprehensive so far to describe the administration’s response to Kremlin cyber-aggression.

Unwillingness to foresee the future … Back in 2006, when the iPhone was a mere rumour, Palm CEO Ed Colligan was asked if he was worried: “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” He was asked ‘what if Steve Jobs’ company did bring an iPod phone to market?’ Well, it would probably use WiFi technology and could be distributed through the Apple stores and not the carriers like Verizon or Cingular, Colligan theorised.
The point being, if you don’t understand a company’s goals, how can you know what their strategies and tactics will be?

The US government wasted millions of dollars dressing the Afghan Army in proprietary camouflage: the price tag for the never-ending, but occasionally paused, war in Afghanistan is well north of a trillion dollars by now. Nearly $US100 million ($132 million) of that is attributable to America’s generous decision to buy uniforms for the struggling Afghan National Army — and a newly released inspector general report says that as much as $US28 million ($37 million) of that cost was tacked on to pay for a proprietary camouflage pattern (above) that Afghanistan’s then-minister of defence thought looked cool.
~ I actually think it would be pretty effective … if they were fighting in Minecraft. 

After nearly four years, David Lewandowski has created a new entry in his highly successful rubbermen videos. Now they’re hungry. In 2011, Lewandowski scored a hit with a short video titled Going to the Store, in which one impossibly flexible, sexless computerised humanoid traipsed through real world footage. Now there is an army.

As if there aren’t enough tech security threats to worry about, you also need to be on your guard against so-called ‘stalkerware’ — those invasive types of programs installed by suspicious spouses, jealous exes or controlling parents without your knowledge. Here are the warning signs to look out for, and what you can do about them.

the Apocalypticon ~ Facebook bug, 3D ID, CIA hacks, Russian election infiltration, Trump heat, Apple answers


Facebook leaks to terrorists — Facebook first posted a detailed explanation of its counter-terrorism program, defending itself from criticism by European leaders in the wake of recent terror attacks in Britain and France and stating there is “no place on Facebook for terrorism.” But any goodwill earned by that post seems to have lasted less than a day, as a report revealed that a “bug” affecting more than 1000 Facebook content moderators inadvertently exposed some of their identities to suspected terrorists.
~ Tick’Dislike’

A French artist says he received a national ID Card using a computer-generated headshot — With a stunt that will probably see France initiating changes to its National ID card program, an artist named Raphaël Fabre submitted a photorealistic computer-generated image of himself – and he says it was approved without question. Fabre told Gizmodo that he modelled it by hand using 3D software, instead of digitising his head using a laser scanner.
~ If 3D models could have voted in the US, I doubt we’d have ended up with Trump. 

CIA hacking routers — In the latest instalment of its Vault 7 series of leaks, WikiLeaks has disclosed an alleged CIA program known as CherryBlossom. Its purpose is to replace a router’s firmware with a CIA-modified version known as FlyTrap. In some cases, WikiLeaks says, physical access to the device may not even be necessary.

The classified intel Trump leaked — President Trump spilled highly classified intelligence to Russian officials in the Oval Office. We now have a report on what kind of intelligence Trump shared. The extremely sensitive info was about ISIS plans to hide bombs in consumer electronics. And it came from Israeli cyber specialists who infiltrated a group of bombmakers in Syria.
~ Clearly, the man is a genius. 

Russia’s US election infiltration — If you had any doubt that Russian hackers attempted to meddle with the United States electoral system, a new report from Bloomberg states that not only did Russia go after a voting software supplier in one state (as previously reported by The Intercept), Putin’s cyber army reportedly targeted systems in 39 states. The hackers attempted to manipulate voter databases, the voter registration process, and voting machine software.
~ That’s in four out of five US states … Meanwhile, Trump’s defenders say his opposition will do anything to bring them down, without bothering to wonder why that might be. 

Here’s all the people Trump has blocked on Twitter — Trump loves Twitter because any brain spasm he has can be instantly translated into a thoughtless missive launched into the ether. Unfortunately, in addition to Trump’s loyal armies of patriots and trolls, Twitter also hosts both liberals and members of the lying liberal media – people who do not show President Trump the respect he believes (fervently) that he deserves. And for that, they must be blocked.
Trump has recently trained his sights on higher-profile targets. On the morning of June 13, Trump blocked the account for VoteVets.org, a group representing over 500,000 veterans, family members and civilian supporters. Not long after, Trump also blocked Simpsons extra and occasional novelist Stephen King.

Is it so bad the world gets a little hotter? Actually, yes — Many of us have at least a dim apprehension that the world is flying out of control, that the center cannot hold. Raging wildfires, once-in-1000-year storms, and lethal heat waves have become fixtures of the evening news—and all this after the planet has warmed by less than 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial temperatures.
But here’s where it gets really scary. If humanity burns through all its fossil fuel reserves, there is the potential to warm the planet by perhaps more than 10 degrees Celsius and raise sea levels by hundreds of metres. This is a warming spike comparable in magnitude to that so far measured for the End-Permian mass extinction. If the worst-case scenarios come to pass, today’s modestly menacing ocean-climate system will seem quaint. Even warming to half of that amount would create a planet that would have nothing to do with the one on which humans evolved, or on which civilisation has been built. The last time it was 4 degrees warmer there was no ice at either pole and the sea level was hundreds of metres higher than it is today.
But I always like to end with at least a little hope …

According to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, wind and solar produced 10 percent of the electricity generated in the US for the first time in March — The Hill reports: The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) monthly power report for March found that wind produced 8 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. that month, with solar producing 2 percent. The two sources combined to have their best month ever in terms of percentage of overall electricity production, EIA said. The agency expects the two sources topped 10 percent again in April but forecasts that their generation will fall below that mark during the summer months.

Apple issued a Green Bond after Trump edited the Paris Climate Agreement — Apple offered a $1 billion bond dedicated to financing clean energy and environmental projects, the first corporate green bond offered since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement. The offering comes over a year after Apple issued its first green bond of $1.5 billion – the largest issued by a US corporation – as a response to the 2015 Paris agreement. Apple said its second green bond is meant to show that businesses are still committed to the goals of the 194-nation accord.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who feels he has had to work with Trump, defended this be stating “I feel a great responsibility as an American, as a CEO, to try to influence things in areas where we have a level of expertise. I’ve pushed hard on immigration. We clearly have a very different view on things in that area. I’ve pushed on climate. We have a different view there. There are clearly areas where we’re not nearly on the same page. We’re dramatically different. I hope there’s some areas where we’re not. His focus on jobs is good. So we’ll see. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord was very disappointing.”
In fact, some people have decided Cook’s stance is almost presidential …
~ But gosh, who would Samsung-using PC fans vote for? 

The Apocalypticon ~ Mystery red in the White House, Putin’s hints, climate, ‘iPad’, Windows 10, terror tactics, Android, spring cleaning for security


Mystery red light flickering in the White House — Internet-fuelled conspiracy theories have plagued US politics over the last year and made voters on both sides of the aisle appear to be reactionary maniacs. But conspiracy theories can also be fun. And the entirely benign saga of red lights flashing in the windows of the second-floor residence of the White House (below) is about as fun as these things get.
~ It’s flashing SOS …

Putin hints at Russian hacking of the US election — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year to help the presidential campaign of Donald J Trump. Putin continued to deny any state role, but his comments to reporters in Saint Petersburg were a departure from the Kremlin’s previous position: that Russia had played no role whatsoever in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and that, after Mr. Trump’s victory, the country had become the victim of anti-Russia hysteria among crestfallen Democrats.
~ Which hints to me that Putin has realised that investigators will soon prove links. 

Australian scientists react to more Trump narrow-minded idiocy — Climate experts at The Australian National University have weighed in on what the potential global fallout would be if Trump does pull the pin. For example, Associate Professor Nerilie Abram from ANU Research School of Earth Sciences: “There is no doubt in the science. The greenhouse gases that we are putting into Earth’s atmosphere are changing our climate.”
~ Ah, what do scientists know? 

North Korea creates ‘iPad’ — Ryonghung, a North Korean technology company, recently announced a new tablet. It looks a lot like the weird, firewalled computers the country has produced in the past, with the addition of one curious new feature: The name. It’s called… the iPad.

Windows 10 tracks “too much” — Are we surprised?

Android unleashed — As an engineer at the Apple spinoff General Magic, he built some of the world’s first internet-connected portable devices. As CEO at Danger, he created the Sidekick, a smartphone that defined the category before anyone had invented the term. And then, of course, Rubin created Android, the operating system found in more than two billion phones, televisions, cars, and watches. And he has new plans … and should you want to ditch your secure, powerful iPhone for a bug-ridden, mixed-up, non-standardised and insecure platform of wannabe copyism, here’s your guide.

Tech-created inequality can be solved … by tech — The inequality of badly-run or corrupt states is boosted by the power of technology, but it’s also easier than ever to destabilise these states, thanks to technology. The question is: which future will prevail?” As technology – specifically, networked technology – makes it easier for opposition movements to form and mobilize, even under conditions of surveillance, and to topple badly run, corrupt states.

Private security company used counter-terrorist tactics against Standing Rock — A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, reports The Intercept, decrying “the fusion of public and private intelligence operations.”

Finally, something positive: how to spring clean to make your devices less vulnerable — This is from Wired.

The Apocalypticon ~ NZ penguins, more Trump idiocy, seed vault floods, dumping Google, passwords, Dark Age medical


Our Yellow Eyed Penguin is perilously close to extinction — The adorable New Zealand bird, which even graces the currency, is dangerously close to extinction going by at least at one well-monitored mainland breeding ground.
And it’s (probably) all our fault. Meanwhile, Trump plans to increase defence funding while slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget while wars are killing hardly any Americans while environmental problems kill 200,000 a year

According to Politico, Trump’s staff regularly prints articles from the internet and hands them to the president. Sometimes, they hand him internet hoaxes they believe are real, which explains so much.
~ Well it doesn’t, because what kind of idiot operates like this? Oh, wait. Guess what?

The info Trump gleefully handed over to the Russians was classified even higher than ‘Top Secret’. According to the Washington Post, the information Trump shared with the Russians is what’s called Code Word classified, which is higher than the classification known as Top Secret. Meanwhile, Gizmodo tested Trump’s Florida security and found it eminently hackable.

Norwegian seed vault floods — Trump, of course, denies that climate is changing. Designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever, the Global Seed Vault, which recently took a new tranche of NZ plant species, is buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle. But it has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel. And scientists (what do they know?) have worked out tat 10-to-20 centimeter (four-to-eight inch) jump in the global ocean watermark by 2050, which is considered a conservative forecast, would double flood risk in high-latitude regions.

Dumping Google — Google trades your data, that’s what’s made it rich, which is why I’m no fan of Android smartphones or even Gmail accounts, for that matter. If you’ve had enough of Google meddling in your affairs, here’s how to make sure it’s a clean and uncomplicated break.

Group fights having to hand over passwords — The human rights group Cage is preparing to mount a legal challenge to UK anti-terrorism legislation over a refusal to hand over mobile and laptop passwords to border control officials at air terminals, ports and international rail stations… This even happens at Auckland airport, btw, with Homeland Security officers taking aside passengers ‘at random’ from flights heading to, or even transiting, the States.
And then … 560 million passwords have been discovered on an online database.

Medicine heading for the Dark Ages — Without real action of the over-prescribing of antibiotics, we’re heading for new medical Dark Ages.

The Apocalypticon ~ Data surpasses oil, family spyware, Android malware, Trump soul-crusher punishing women, giant ice crack 2,


An oil refinery is an industrial cathedral, a place of power, drama and dark recesses: ornate cracking towers are its gothic pinnacles, flaring gas its stained glass, the stench of hydrocarbons its heady incense.
Data centres, in contrast, offer a less obvious spectacle: windowless grey buildings that boast no height or ornament, they seem to stretch to infinity. Yet the two have much in common
A new commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data – the oil of the digital era.

Over half of US-UK people think family spyware is OK — A new study showed 53% of people believe it’s legal to install a program on a family member’s phone to snoop on their activity. The survey of more than 2,000 people in the US and UK by software comparison service Comparitech.com also finds 57% would consider spying on their children’s phone conversations and messages.
~ Please note, all you wannabe data vigilantes, it is generally illegal to install an app on another person’s phone without their knowledge.

New instance of Android malware discovered every ten seconds — Security firm G Data says that a new piece of Android malware is discovered every 10 seconds. At this rate, the company is predicting there will be 3,500,000 new malicious Android files by the end of the year. The firm said that the risk was heightened by the fact that only a small minority of users are on the latest version of Android.
~ OK, I’m not saying anything … nooo, I can’t resist! ‘How to abandon Android and switch to iOS‘.

Defeat by Trump ‘soul crushing’ —Since Hilary Clinton’s defeat in November, John Podesta, the Democratic Party campaign chairman for Hilary Clinton, has focused on his work and granted few interviews. He sat down for one with Der Spiegel during his visit to Germany six months after the election, in which he discussed the night of his candidate’s defeat, the mistakes made on the trail and Donald Trump, who he says is “unfit and unqualified” to serve as president.

Republican Health Care bill punishes women — For many women and non-binary people, seeing the bill move onto the Senate means the state of their health – and their lives – rests in the hands of people who seem to have forgotten their humanity. It’s more than a disappointment—the deeply misogynistic implications of the bill feel like a punishment for existing as anything other than a man. Under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, it was illegal to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. But the MacArthur Amendment would allow states to repeal this restriction among others, giving them the power to choose who has to pay more for healthcare.

Second Antarctic giant ice crack — A 130km-long crack along Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf has remained stable since February, but scientists have now detected a new branch, one that’s extending about 10km from the main rift. It seems like only a matter of time before the 5000 square kilometre ice shelf plunges into the sea.

America’s obscene wealth pictured — Lauren Greenfield enjoyed a privileged background. Her parents taught at UCLA. She grew up in Venice and attended a private high school in Santa Monica. And yet she felt poor when her friends received BMWs, Porsches, and Volvos for their sixteenths and she didn’t. “Even though I had everything I needed, I still felt like I didn’t have enough,” Greenfield says. “I still wanted more and felt less-than compared to the wealthy consumption I was seeing at school.”
That desire for more, for the trappings of affluence, became an overarching theme of her career as a photographer. Greenfield has spent the past 25 years documenting people of all ages and backgrounds striving to convey great wealth.
She recently compiled 650 images in Generation Wealth, an insightful study of materialism and vanity.

The Apocalypticon ~ lone accident killer, tech housing expensive, hacking through grief, Aussie police ‘lapse’, Chump, Yahoo failure gets massive payout, NSA concession


If only accidents could kill you, how long would you live? Imagine a world in which the only possible way to die was through a sudden accident, such as a car crash, falling down the stairs, or getting struck by lighting. How long could we expect to live in such a world? According to an eye-opening simulation, a very, very, long time, indeed.

Tech made houses too expensive — “You live your comfortable lives,” read a flyer that protesters handed out to passengers, “surrounded by poverty, homelessness, and death, seemingly oblivious to everything around you, lost in the big bucks and success.” This is what protestors told tech commuters in Oakland, California. That moment of backlash was an outgrowth of what I call the New Urban Crisis: the decline of middle-class neighborhoods, the gentrification of the downtowns of certain cities, and the reshaping of America’s metropolitan regions into islands of advantage surrounded by larger swaths of disadvantage.

And high-tech cities will be lonely anyway — The prospect of cities becoming sentient is “fast becoming the new reality,” according to one paper. In Tel Aviv, everyone over the age of 13 can receive personalised data, such as traffic information, and can access free municipal Wi-Fi in 80 public zones. But in a future where robots sound and objects look increasingly sentient, we might be less inclined to seek out behaviors to abate our loneliness. Indeed, one recent study found that exposure to or interaction with anthropomorphic products partially satisfy our social needs, which means the human-like robots of tomorrow could kill our dwindling urge to be around other humans.

Sheryl Sandberg grieved when her husband died suddenly, then wanted the data — Very much in the Silicon Valley-esque spirit of problem-solving, a the Facebook Chief Operating Officer grasped for answers, she reached out to a business school professor Adam Grant, a Wharton School expert on organizational psychology. She knew he would have insight into her situation grounded in data … think Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking meets business case studies.
~ Yikes! And we’re afraid of the possibility robo-chums?

The Australian Federal Police access the metadata of a journalist — And they did this without properly complying with Australia’s new metadata retention laws, AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin has revealed. The vast majority of us would be killed in car crashes (0.011 per cent of all causes of death).

Chump aims to kill the Energy Star program — Because he’s such an idiot who impresses nobody more than himself, the 25-year-old Energy Star program appears to be targeted by Trump simply because it’s run by the federal government. It’s one of 50 EPA programs that will be axed under Trump’s budget plan, which would shrink the agency’s funding by more than 30%. Critics of Energy Star say the government should get involved in the marketplace only when absolutely necessary.

Marissa Mayer ruins company, gets US$247 million payout for her efforts — When poor people fail, they just fail. But when rich people fail, the poor pay them.  Despite Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s veritable failure to rescue the company from a pile of its own rot, and after numerous setbacks including two massive security breaches and dwindling ad revenue, Mayer is set to make about $US186 million ($247 million) as a result of the company’s sale to Verizon, new SEC documents show. This sum does not include Mayer’s salary or bonuses over the past five years, which reportedly add up to more than $US200 million …
~ This even touched New Zealand, where Spark very inadvisedly let Yahoo run its email services. 

Finally, a glimmer of good news — One controversial feature of the NSA rules has for years allowed it to vacuum up communications that aren’t “to” or “from” a foreign target, but merely “about” one, no matter who sends or receives it. Now the NSA says it will end that practice. And in doing so, it concedes a significant win to the privacy advocates who have fought it for years.

The Apocalypticon ~ Asteroid killers, aliens don’t care, NASA on ice, sinking a carrier, right-wing meme militias, VR holocaust and Olympian f-wit


NASA has been surveying our ice caps …

The ways large asteroids could kill us — Large asteroids definitely present one of the most colourful and chaotic possible apocalypses. Such an impact would cause quite a cinematic conclusion, combining a plague of wind, tsunamis, heat, and other terrors into a horrible death-fest.

Aliens don’t seem to really care about us — Well, nor do our ‘leaders’, but in the largest survey of its kind, astronomers scanned 5600 stars in search of these optical signals — and they found… absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Here’s what that means to SETI and the ongoing hunt for alien intelligence.

NASA on the ice — Tama, a Getty photographer, spent a week last month with a NASA crew during Operation IceBridge, the agency’s campaign to measure changes in the planet’s ice sheets and glaciers. NASA spends 10 weeks each spring in the Arctic and six weeks each fall in the Antarctic when ice levels are the highest. The Arctic crew used a pair of laser altimeters to measure the elevation of the ice, and three radars to measure the snow (one of them can reach 300 feet down to bedrock). Last month, the NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Arctic and Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest point ever in 38 years.

Sinking a US carrier — Sinking an aircraft carrier is difficult, but not impossible. The key is what it’s used for, and who it’s used against. But if you wanted to sink one, here’s what you’d have to do, and what you’d be up against.

Meme armies turning into militias — As political discourse in the US has become more polarized and contentious, so too has its symbology. Pepe the Frog and Expendables posters have given way to images of actual violence that political extremists spread and celebrate: 4chan, trading on a popular videogame meme, refers to Damigo as ‘The Falcon Punch at Berkeley.’ Much of it resembles military propaganda. The meme warriors, it seems, have become a militia.

The urgent power of remembering the holocaust in VR — Pinchas Gutter has returned to Majdanek at least a dozen times, but this trip is his final one to the onetime Nazi concentration camp. His first was one he was 11, when he was taken to Majdanek; now he’s 85 years old, and this is the last time he’ll come here to tell people what the Nazis did to his family. As he rides up to the shuttered camp in the backseat of a chauffeured sedan, he talks about why he’s told his story so many times. His trip to Majdanek, and the horrific experiences he recounts in the camp’s barracks and crematorium, are being preserved with virtual reality thanks to the USC Shoah Foundation.

Olympian f__kwit declares dystopian states like North Korea are the best at avoiding obesity … yes, thanks to mass starvation — James Cracknell is a British athlete and two-time gold medal Olympian. But now he has his sights set on politics. His pet issue? Tackling obesity. But wait until you hear what he believes are model countries for battling the obesity epidemic. [God help us.]

The Apocalypticon ~ Pruitt protection, outing inner racists, 1967 Nazis, MOAB, spork hide knife,


Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt needs protection, apparently — Pruitt wants to ensure the US doesn’t invest a single dollar in protecting humanity from climate change, nonetheless wants to use the agency’s limited funds to protect himself from other humans.
~ The EPA to become the PPA. 

AirBnB host thanks Trump for releasing her inner racist — Dyne Suh, a 25-year-old law student from Riverside, California, wanted to enjoy a relaxing Presidents’ Day weekend with her fiancé and a couple of friends in nearby Big Bear Lake. What she was not expecting was for her Airbnb host to abruptly cancel on her because of her race, which she then thanked Trump for.
~ Just as Hitler released people to enjoy their latent anti-semitism. 

1967 classroom experiment proved how easy it was for Americans to become Nazis — In 1967, Ron Jones, a 25-year-old social studies teacher in Palo Alto, California, set out to teach his 10th grade students about the events leading up to the Holocaust, but found that many of them couldn’t get over the question of how ordinary Germans had been coerced into complicity with the regime. So he decided the best way to teach students how easily people can be swayed by fearsome leaders or swept up by ideology was to demonstrate it. Which he did, in terrifyingly short order.
~ Which should really be no surprise now, right? And where are those students today?

Mother of All Bombs — The US military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Afghanistan. Nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs, reports indicate that it killed 36 ISIS fighters with no civilian casualties. The military has now released actual footage of the strike.
~ And the real lesson is ‘Look out Russia and North Korea, because we can do all this damage even without nukes’. 

Spork hides knife — A ‘tactical spork’ designed for camping has a hidden knife that uses the spork handle as a sheath, for just US$7.
~ Grab some for the apocalypse. 

How to remain outraged without losing your mind — Yes, this is a real concern.

The Apocalypticon ~ Surviving pandemic, hackers’ old doorway, Chumped, deaf, Norwegian doomsday vault, ancient cannibals


Let’s start with some advice — how to survive the next catastrophic pandemic. Experts say it’s not a matter of if, but when a global scale pandemic will wipe out millions of people. And we are grossly unprepared for the next major outbreak. But in the event of a devastating pandemic – whether it be triggered by a mutated strain of an existing virus or a bioengineered terror weapon – there are some practical things you can do, both before and during the outbreak, to increase your odds of survival.
~ Phew. But good luck finding space for all the supplies you’ll need. 

Russian hackers still using the same old route — About a year ago, the two-decade-old trail of a group of Russian hackers led Thomas Rid to a house in the quiet southern English village of Hartley Wintney. Rid, a cybersecurity-focused political science professor and historian, wrote a long-shot email to David Hedges, a 69-year-old retired IT consultant who lived there.
Rid wanted to know if Hedges might somehow still possess a very specific, very old chunk of data: the logs of a computer Hedges had used to run a website for one of his clients in 1998. He did, and researchers accordingly now say they’ve found a piece of vintage malicious code in that trove that survives today, as part of the arsenal of a modern-day team of Russian hackers, known as Turla, who are believed to have Kremlin ties.

Sorry, but we had to get to Chump sooner or later. Is he finally upsetting his alt-right bedrock? Despite plummeting approval ratings (recently down to 35%) and a GOP rapidly distancing itself from his unhinged policy proposals, Trump’s most ardent supporters remained steadfast buoyed by anonymous imageboards, Twitter eCelebrities, a healthy dose of faked fervour from botnets, and a dedicated subreddit which bans dissenting views. They spun positive narratives out of a cabinet which has habitually lied to the public, and a president who has followed through on none of his campaign promises.
But with the recent  airstrike on Assad’s forces in Syria, which some already speculate will lead to a full-scale war, even these zealots who believe they memed the man into the world’s most powerful office can’t find a speck of good news buried under the rubble.
~ It is bizarre – Trump cozied up to Russia while denying links, next minute he’s attacking the corrupt regime Russia has been propping up. Ouch, is this the end of the Putin/Trump bromance?

US 5-billion dollar agency can’t hire a deaf interpreter. That’s because despite being in charge of keeping an eye on the entire planet with the most advanced imaging technology in the world, and with an estimated annual budget of at least $5 billion, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a position for a sign language interpreter but they’re not allowed to fill it because Donald Trump imposed a federal hiring freeze, arbitrarily leaving thousands of job vacancies across the US government.
~ Ah, that genius the alt right voted for, again. Let’s hope none of them are deaf. OK, I’ll leave that up to you. 

Just in time for doomsday, Norway’s ‘Doomsday Vault’ is getting an expansion. Officially known as the World Arctic Archive, the new vault opened this week and has already taken submissions from two countries. This time, instead of storing seeds that will survive the apocalypse, the vault is archiving data using specially developed film.

Ancient people didn’t eat other people for the calories. I’m not sure if this is good news or not, but a new, slightly morbid study based on the calorie counts of average humans suggests that man-eating was mostly ritualistic, not dietary, in nature among hominins including Homo erectus, H. antecessor, Neandertals, and early modern humans. On average, an adult male human contains 125,822 calories of fat and protein. When compared with other animals widely available to ancient man like mammoths (3,600,000 calories), wooly rhinoceroses (1,260,000 calories), and aurochs (979,200 calories), it hardly seems worthwhile to hunt hominins that are just as wily and dangerous as the hunters, the researchers conclude.
~ So maybe it was more like an ancient form of Scrabble: Hard Scrabble.

The Apocalypticon ~ crowd killdozer, poison back, prep for space war, online self-defence, volcano no longer dormant


Crowd control ‘killdozer’ — Slovenian company Bozena has created an all-new RIOT system, a crowd-control killdozer for all your protest-suppressing needs. The vehicle’s shield has launching ports designed for guns or other projectile launchers and the trailer is capable of displacing the water/foam or its mixtures (available additives: pepper or painting substances) under the high pressure into the distance of several dozen meters. Yay.

Chumpian overturns pesticide ban  — Government scientists at the EPA concluded that a pesticide sprayed on crops was toxic. A few months later, Scott Pruitt comes into the agency as Trump’s appointee, looks at the agency’s petition to ban the substance, and denies it. He decided that, although the substance is proven to be poisonous, he’d rather keep spraying crops with it.
America, America …

The US ‘should’ prepare for a space war — Coz, well, why the hell not? Recently, two US military officials said that America should be getting ready for a war in space. Their advice was seemingly bolstered by a Hill article penned by two US national security experts this week, which reminded Americans that North Korea could in theory use a satellite weapon to send an electromagnetic pulse over the United States, triggering widespread blackouts and ultimately, societal collapse.
~ Should we be giving them credit for imagination?

Feeling assailed? You can defend yourself online — Congress has just dismantled a set of Obama-era internet privacy rules. In effect, the Republicans just gave big telecom companies unfettered access to people’s browsing history and will even let ISPs sell that data for profit. Here’s how to keep your data from snooping ISPs, and how not to protect your privacy online.

Volcano erupts after centuries of dormancy — Just in case this has all been too cheerful for all you Aucklanders, who famously live in a city dotted with dozens of inactive volcanoes, one in Russia just erupted after at least 250 years of not doing anything. Sorry.