Tag Archives: North Korea

The Apocalypticon ~ Data, security, storms, bombs … and saving us from climate change


New Zealand’s Neoliberal drift — In New Zealand, neoliberal reforms have widened inequality and undermined the country’s self-image as an egalitarian paradise. So while Bill English keeps crowing about New Zealand’s ‘rock star economy’, why are there more homeless, more beggars, more hungry kids? I agree with the above blog’s assertions. People say you can’t sum up neoloberalism, as it covers many things, but I have made a study of it and feel I can: the basic core of neoliberalism is allowing markets to solve all issues including cultural and social. Which is as patently stupid as it appears at first glance. It also involves ‘othering’ and victimising those who can’t progress competitively and therefore shares similarities with classic Nazism. Remember that? World War Two responsible for 40-50 million deaths? The Holocaust?
Yeah. 

Data — 143 million Americans may have had their Social Security Numbers stolen (along with other sensitive personal information), so security experts are pressing for a fundamental reassessment in how, and why, we identify ourselves. Meanwhile, a Chinese man has been given a nine-month jail sentence for helping people evade government controls on where they can go online.

Security — And Russian election hacking in the US is the story that keeps on growing.  A lot of registered voters in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Arizona didn’t even get to vote on election day last year because their names weren’t in the electronic poll books because, theoretically, Russian hackers had infiltrated the servers of VR Systems, a company that provides the software for polling equipment. However, anonymous sources from the intelligence community told the New York Times that at least two other election software companies were also hacked. And if you’re worried about that pro-Russian shock-gadfly Julian Assange’s Wikileaks site getting hacked, that was a DNS reroute.

Storms — While the massive hurricane Irma is about to hit Florida after laying waste through the Caribbean, Houstonians in Texas were left without shelter and facing the daunting task of rebuilding their lives. The staggering damage includes 40,000 homes lost, but another number also deserves close scrutiny: the flooding destroyed as many as a million cars in the Houston metro area. A job for FEMA, which over the last seven decades has evolved from building a top-secret series of bunkers designed to protect US officials in case of a nuclear attack to a sprawling bureaucratic agency tasked with mobilizing help in disasters.
And while it’s storming’ here on Earth, it’s also storming’ out in space. The Space Weather Prediction Center has upgraded a geomagnetic storm watch for September 6 and 7 to a level only occasionally seen, but scientists say it’s nothing to be too alarmed about – at least we’re getting some cool atmospheric aurora effects.

Bombs —  Sensors in South Korea, China, and the US indicated that whatever the Hermit Kingdom exploded underground recently was more powerful than the atomic weapons the US used during World War II—a benchmark North Korea had not definitively topped before. But hoorah! Because America has way more powerful bombs still.
Large sections of central Frankfurt, Germany were evacuated in preparation for authorities to defuse a World War II-era, 1.4-ton ‘Blockbuster’ HC 4000 air mine. At least 60,000 people were asked to leave the area while the bomb defusal operation proceeds. The bomb was successfully defused, but still needs to be removed from the area with utmost caution. Now there’s a perfect task for a driverless truck!

Climate change — According to Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, we’re barely staving off climate disaster. Your Tesla might be cool, but it’s not helping much. The pessimistic professor has been studying sea icefor nearly 50 years. “Reducing our emissions is not going to be enough to prevent catastrophic consequences,” he says. In his scorching new book, A Farewell to Ice, Wadhams presents some radical, and sometimes theoretical, ways to save civilisation. [‘Head in the sand’ isn’t one of them.]
The terrible weather isn’t our only worry. Research published by Orb Media, a nonprofit journalism group, has revealed that microplastics have contaminated high proportions of tap drinking water and bottled water. Samples from the United States tested positive in 94% of instances, while Europe’s contamination averages around 72%. Tests were undertaken at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, with lead researcher Dr Anne Marie Mahon noting the risk of plastics carrying bacteria.
But at least you’re probably not gluten intolerant. [I ways like to end with some good news.]

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The Apocalypticon ~ Fury and ‘frankly power’, Satan’s heat, Russian NSA hacks, Lesser Cocking, Silicon wasters, victimising women, Thiel spies, life-saving Apple, airline hate


Trump offers North Korea fire and fury. [Oh, you thought I was joking with this blog?] The oh-so-really-really eloquent one said “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” said Trump. “They will be met with fire, fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.”
[I bet Trump was a real a-hole even at kindergarten.] One has to wonder, when will we finally die out? Futurists, anthropologists, science fiction authors and others have been asked this question by Gizmodo.

Meanwhile, North Korea has secret plans to attack Guam. We know this, because North Korea stated “The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA [Korean People’s Army] will cross the sky above Shimani, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures of Japan,” the statement said. “They will fly for 3356.7 km for 1065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40km away from Guam.” [Oh my God, how will we work out what North Korea is planning? Fiendish!!]

Meanwhile, Europe is already suffering the heat of Satan. At least two people have died over the course of the heat wave, which caused temperatures to spike as high as 44°C (111 degrees Fahrenheit) in southern Spain and 40°C in the French Riviera. Temperatures were forecast as high as slightly over 42°C in mainland Greece. It’s almost enough to make one wonder if this heat wave could be correlated with all those other heat waves across the world, or the inexplicable trend of the planet breaking global heat records on a regular basis. [Nope, You’re just being silly, Gizmodo.]
Talking about Satan … Monsanto has been editing its own ‘independent’ product reports.

But wait! A global investment firm has also warned of an almost unheard-of phenomenon called Global Climate Change. A leading British global investment firm has a warning for its clients: if we keep consuming oil and gas at current rates, our planet is on course to experience a rise in global average temperatures of nearly 8°C (14°F) by the end of the century. This would make Earth basically uninhabitable for humans. [Whereas I thought investment firms were uninhabitable by humans. You see? Delusion is hardly exclusive.] And hey, now there’s a game for that. [This will be As Much Fun as TV3’s The Project.]

Russian hotel hackers use NSA tool — A Russian espionage campaign has used Wi-Fi networks to spy on high-value hotel guests [that’s me safe then], and recently started using a leaked NSA hacking tool to upgrade their attacks. But maybe it’s not the Russians we should be fearing so much, at least with election fraud?

AI and Lesser Cocking Vestibulaton … Artificial intelligence networks have already come to the rescue of craft brewers, metal bands and guinea pig owners who are looking for wacky new names. Now, digital consultant Dan Hon wants to use those same neural networks to help Britain come up with even more amusing place names. This from the country that’s already come up with locales such as Papplewick, Blubberhouses and Picklescott and which called a river The Piddle. [I’m still reeling from the ‘Buttcombe Ale’ I spotted on tap in a Birmingham pub a few years back.]

Coasters are millionaire Silicon Valleyites who do virtually [get it?] nothing for loads of money. Yes it’s a thing. Aspirational?

And while we’re talking about rich a-holes, Peter Thiel, who recently got special citizenship in that citadel of freedom, New Zealand, on the special circumstances that he was a rich a-hole, apparently [this is always guaranteed to super-impress National politicians] has been selling Palantir data storage, analysis, and collaboration software to police departments throughout the US. Most of Palintir’s business, though, is with the military. [Doesn’t that just make you feel all safe and snuggly? And yes, LoTR fans, you’re right about the implications of the system’s name.]

An image site victimises countless women, and almost nothing can be done about it. No, this isn’t fake news, unfortunately, being spread by ‘social’ bots.

Apple refuses to enable tech that would ‘save lives’ — Apple is still ignoring requests to enable a feature called Advanced Mobile Location (AML) in iOS. Enabling AML would give emergency services extremely accurate locations of emergency calls made from iPhones, dramatically decreasing response time. Google’s successful implementation of AML for Android is ‘already saving lives’. [And also, of course, enable you to be tracked with pinpoint accuracy by Agents of Despond like Peter Thiel.]

And you know I always like to end on a positive note: there’s a new way to tell airlines you hate them. Two airlines have dipped their wings into the waters of two-way texting. Hawaiian Holdings’s Hawaiian Airlines is adding the feature while JetBlue Airways took a stake in a software startup that will allow its call centre staff to start texting customers in the coming months. And they’re inviting you to ask questions, and maybe even complain. [Maybe?!]

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.]

Yosemite, developer money, Super Cookies, North Korea, RAM disk


Apple Mac OS 10.10 'Yosemite' is available now for free – choose Software Update in the Apple Menu.
Apple Mac OS 10.10 ‘Yosemite’ has the fastest OS adoption rate so far.

About half of all macs are now running OS X Yosemite, making it the fastest growing OS X yet — OS X Yosemite is now installed on approximately 50 percent of Internet-connected Macs, according to data from both GoSquared and Net Applications (via Computerworld). The free operating system reached the 50% adoption mark faster than any previous version of OS X.

Apple has seeded OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 beta with focus on Wi-Fi, Mail and VoiceOver — Apple on Wednesday issued a new beta build of its upcoming OS X 10.10.2 maintenance update, once again asking developers to focus on Wi-Fi, Mail and VoiceOver alongside general system compatibility testing.

Apple’s App Store paid out more than $10 billion to developers in 2014 — Apple has released 2014 numbers for the company’s App Store, revealing that more than $10 billion in revenue was paid out to developers during the year, a record that brings the cumulative total to $25 billion since the store’s launch in 2008. Also, the company revealed that 2015 is already off to a good start, with New Year’s Day taking the single-day App Store sales record.

‘Super cookies’ can track you even in private browsing mode, researcher says — If there’s one thing websites love to do it’s track their users. Now, it looks like some browsers can even be tracked when they’re in private or incognito mode. Sam Greenhalgh of UK-based RadicalResearch recently published a blog post with a proof-of-concept called “HSTS Super Cookies.” Greenhalgh shows how a crafty website could still track users online even if they’ve enabled a privacy-cloaking setting.

Don’t Download this OS X Themed North Korean Operating System  North Korea has a custom Linux-based operating system that’s been skinned to look just like OS X, and now you can download and install it yourself. Don’t! [Surely that’s a no-brainer?]

Speed up a New Mac Pro by more than 5x with a RAM Disk — Jim Tanous has revisited the use of a RAM disk on two new Macs, a 2013 Mac Pro and a 2014 MacBook Pro. He reports “The 2013 Mac Pro features extremely fast PCIe-based flash storage, but it’s no competition for the speed of a 32GB RAM Disk. The internal flash storage hits around 1200MB/s reads and just shy of 800MB/s writes, but the RAM Disk peaks at 4800MB/s reads and 5100MB/s writes. 5.1 Gigabytes per second. Nice.” Of course, the RAM disk eats into the available RAM so it’s geared for specialized applications that can really use the boost. But it’s also volatile, so reboot or lose power and it goes poof. Even so, check out TekRevue’s tantalizing tutorial and amazing benchmark tests. [Seems so retro!]

 

Futurology 03 ~ North Korea’s futures buildings, advances, new data


North Korea's view of the future
North Korea’s view of the future

North Korea’s view of the architectural future — North Korea’s architecture is truly fascinating, influenced by the need to rebuild Pyongyang in the wake of the Korean War and the nation’s relative isolation. What happens when an architect who has never been outside North Korea designs futuristic buildings to accommodate tourists visiting their country? This (and above).
~ Kinda cutesy though. 

The experimental ebola serum is being grown inside tobacco plants — For years, scientists have been looking for cheaper and faster ways to make vaccines, including tinkering with what sounds like an unlikely source: tobacco plants. In fact, the highly experimental serum given to the two American Ebola patients was created using this novel technique. Here’s how it works.
~ ‘Smoking drugs’! Finally a good use for tobacco.

Simply layering solar cells could make them as cheap as natural gas — Usually the focus is exotic solutions to making solar power more efficient: new materials, complex tracking systems or unusual physical phenomena. But what about just stacking them on top of each other? A startup called Semprius is doing just that, figuring it could make solar as cost-effective as natural gas.
~ Experimental units are already nearly twice as efficient. 

IBM’s new brain-like chip squeezes one million neurons onto a stamp —Big Blue has married neuroscience and supercomputing to create a new computer chip that’s the size of a postage stamp but boasts one million neurons and uses as little electricity as a hearing aid (about 70 milliwatts). It’s called TrueNorth.
~ SuperClever.

A second Caribbean to Pacific canal — A Chinese telecom billionaire has joined forces with Nicaragua’s famously anti-American president to construct a waterway between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean to rival the Panama Canal. The massive engineering undertaking would literally slice through Nicaragua and be large enough to accommodate the supertankers that are the hallmark of fleets around the world today.
~ But what will the hat look like?

Software adds 3D to 2D photos — A group of students from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Berkeley have developed free software which uses regular 2D images and combines them with free 3D models of objects to create unbelievable video results. The group of four students created the software (currently for Mac OS X only, and freely downloadable) that allows users to perform 3D manipulations, such as rotations, translations, scaling, deformation, and 3D copy-paste, to objects in photographs.
~ Pretty cool. 

3D printed falcons protect airports — A Dutch company has created 3D-printed robot birds of prey that can soar and swoop like the real thing, scaring away pesky real birds away from airports and fields.
~ And who wouldn’t want one?

Our ancestors may have left Africa even earlier than previously believed — The prevailing view maintains modern humans left the continent 60,000 years ago, but fossils recovered in Asia have given rise to the theory that a human exodus may have reached China as early as 100,000 years ago.
~ Genetics suggests earlier migrations.