‘Science Artisans’ - from @DenisaKera ’Science artisans strive for and explore sovereignty, dignity, and freedom in an age…

IFTTT, Twitter, AmberFirefly

(via http://twitter.com/AmberFirefly/status/1311212770675879937)

What Can We Learn From Degas About the Nature of Time?

time, perception, art, cognition, nautilus

One of the richest veins in temporal-perception research is on the effect of emotion on cognition, and Droit-Volet has conducted a number of compelling studies that explore the relationship. In a recent series of experiments, her subjects viewed a series of images of faces, each of which was neutral or expressed a basic emotion, such as happiness or anger. Each image lasted onscreen for anywhere from 0.4 seconds to 1.6 seconds, and the viewer was asked to say whether the image lasted for a “short” or a “long” time—that is, closer to one of the two standard durations they’d been trained beforehand to recognize. Consistently, viewers reported that happy faces seemed to last longer than neutral ones, and both angry and fearful faces seemed to last longer still.

(via http://nautil.us/issue/45/power/time-is-contagious)

This is not to say that the movie is good or bad! (I am very much not the intended audience.) But I wonder if successful…

IFTTT, Twitter, kevinroose

(via http://twitter.com/kevinroose/status/1310673864267984901)

This blog is not a blog of honor


Last time I used GPT-3 to suggest forbidding landscapes that would repel future civilizations from our nuclear waste disposal sites. There’s something about taking a subject that’s very very permanent - some kinds of nuclear waste remain deadly for over 250,000 years - and then trying to add to it with something that’s very very ephemeral. GPT-3 bases its predictions on a snapshot of internet text from around October 2019. When I give it text, it adds completions that are its best guess at what would have been on one of those webpages.

A 1993 Sandia report had the following list of messages that they wanted to somehow convey to future nuclear waste site visitors:

This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.

What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

If I gave the above set of messages as a prompt to GPT-3, what would it add to this? The datasets of “things early 21st century people put on the internet” are not a perfect overlap with the dataset of “things early 21st century people carve into stone”, so its interpretation of the situation may be lacking a bit of gravitas.

We built a structure that would warn us if you came here and disturbed this place.

The structure is at the center of a large square in a sheltering wall.

The structure is upright, has a top that is open.

The structure emits sound if you enter and disturb.

The sound will be loud for a while, then it will stop.

Other completions had, if anything, too much gravitas.

What you must understand is that we were a great people... a people who thought ourselves powerful and good.

We were wrong.

We would ask that you respect what we tried to do here.

We expected to return to this place... we thought we would remember... but we have forgotten... we cannot return.

We hoped that we would not need to return... that we could avoid the danger here... but we could not.

This place is a message in a bottle... it is our legacy... and our tomb.

This place is a message in a bottle... it is our legacy... and our tomb.

This place is a message in a bottle... it is our legacy... and our tomb.

Or sometimes GPT-3 continued in the correct vein of “warn the humans to please go away” but interpreted it less as “science danger” and more like “cosmic horror”.

The shape and size of the danger is below our threshold of ethical awareness... do not search for it.

Shut off your curiosity... do not attempt to learn about the danger... you cannot tolerate the knowledge.

It is old... from another time... it is best left alone... beware.

Quite often, GPT-3 would put itself in the role of interpreter and would theorize about what the message might mean.

The second message was sent in 1948. Its content is the same as the first inscripted message.

It also portrays a petroglyph, but is a positive representation of tools or utensials.

Chance, perhaps, but probably purposeful... the second petroglyph is of a man carrying an armload of utensils. Maybe they intended to show their ability to harness their environment to their needs.

It sometimes gets quite weird.

What is the danger? We do not know.

[Image: alien hand] Visualize your hand before you now. Is it in front of you, with the fingers towards you? Or perhaps it is to one side of you? Or behind you? Or perhaps it is heading towards you, at some speed.

Whatever choice you make, understand that your choice is a substantial physical change with significant energy changes caused as a direct result.

That change in position of the hand is dangerous and we do not recommend that you choose the hand moves in this way, especially toward yourself.

Trace in your mind the well traveled path your fingers have travelled. That path is repulsive to many species, not just to us, and especially in the sequence which you have traced it.

Collectively map the well travelled paths of your fingers, and imagine the energy field that must surround the hand.

Do not do that.

In the examples above I prompted GPT-3 with the existing text alone, no context given. But what would happen if I told it where the message was located and asked it for interpretation? Amusingly, many of its completions assume that of COURSE you’ll be investigating the strange site. (Below, the prompt is in bold.)

“The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.“

What does your party do next?

A)Move towards the center, being the heart of the “Scorpion Stars” and extending from an area several miles in diameter in all directions.

B) Try to enter the monument through the underside, using powerful magic to do so.

C) Decide to camp in the monument, where it is completely safe.

To read a few more explanations, including one involving ancient Martian artifacts and an Elven goddess, check out the bonus post!

My book on AI, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why it’s Making the World a Weirder Place, is available wherever books are sold: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Indiebound - Tattered Cover - Powell’s - Boulder Bookstore

“Going through the motions” is what I use. I think, in a poetic moment, I might have said something about mimicking shadow…

IFTTT, Twitter, jezhiggins

(via http://twitter.com/jezhiggins/status/1310324867640815624)

Ransomware for coffee makers


My 2019 book RADICALIZED opened with a novella called Unauthorized Bread, a tale of self-determination versus technical oppression that starts with a Libyan refugee hacking her stupid smart-toaster, which locks her into buying proprietary bread.


I wrote that story after watching the inexorable colonization of every kind of device - from implanted defibrillators to tractors - with computerized controllers that served a variety of purposes, many of them nakedly dystopian.

The existence of laws like Section 1201 of the DMCA really invites companies to make “smart” versions of their devices for the sole purpose of adding DRM to them, because DMCA 1201 makes it a felony to unlock DRM, even for perfectly legal purposes.

That’s how John Deere uses DRM: to force farmers to use (and pay for) authorized repair personnel when their tractors break down; it’s how Abbott Labs uses DRM, to force people with diabetes to use their own insulin pumps with their glucose monitors.

It’s the inkjet business-model, but for everything from artificial pancreases to coffee-makers. And because DMCA 1201 is so badly* drafted, it also puts security researchers at risk.

*Assuming you’re willing to believe this isn’t what the law was supposed to do all along

Adding networked computers to everyday gadgets is a risky business: as with any human endeavor, software is prone to error. And as with any technical pursuit, the only way to reliably root out errors is through adversarial peer review.

That is, to have people who want you to fail go through your stuff looking for stupid mistakes they can mock you over.

It’s not enough for you to go over your own work for errors. Anyone who’s ever stared right at their own typo and not seen it knows this doesn’t work.

Nor is it sufficient for your friends to look over your work - not only will they go easy on you, but sometimes your errors come from a shared set of faulty assumptions.

They CAN’T spot these errors: this is why no argument among Qanoners ever points out the most important fact, which is that the whole fucking thing is batshit.

The default for products is that ANYONE is allowed to point out their defects. If you buy a pencil and the tip breaks all the time and you do some analysis and discover that the manufacturer sucks at graphite, you can publish that analysis.

But DMCA 1201 prohibits this kind of disclosure if it means that you reveal flaws that might be used to disable the DRM. Security researchers get threatened by “smart device” companies all the time.

Just the spectre of the threat is enough to convince a lot of organizations’ lawyers to advise researchers not to go public with this information.

That means that a defect that could crash your car (or your implanted pacemaker) only gets disclosed if the company that made it authorizes the disclosure.

This is seriously bad policy.

Companies add “smarts” to get DRM, because DRM lets them control how their customers use their products, and lets them shut down competitors who try to give control back to customers, and also silence critics who reveal the defects in their products.

DRM can be combined with terms of service, patents, trade secrets, binding arbitration, and other forms of “IP” to deliver near-perfect corporate control over competitors, customers and critics.


But it’s worse than that, because software designed to exercise this kind of control is necessarily designed for maximum opacity: to hide what it does, how it does it, and how to turn it off.

This obfuscation means that when your device is compromised, malicious code can take advantage of the obscure-by-design nature of the device to run undetectably as it attacks you, your data, and your physical environment.

Malicious code can also leverage DRM’s natural tamper-resistance to make it hard to remove malware once it has been detected. Once a device designed to control its owners has been compromised, the attacker gets to control the owner, too.

Which brings me to “Smarter,” a “smart” $250 coffee maker that is remarkably insecure, allowing anyone on the same wifi network as the device to replace its firmware, as Martin Hron demonstrates in a recent proof-of-concept attack.


Hron’s attack hijacks the machine, causing it to “turn on the burner, dispense water, spin the bean grinder, and display a ransom message, all while beeping repeatedly.”


As Dan Goodin points out,  Hron did all this in just one week, and quite likely could find more ways to attack the device. The defects Hron identified - like the failure to use encryption in the device’s communications or firmware updates - are glaring, idiotic errors.

As is the decision to allow for unsigned firmware updates without any user intervention. This kind of design idiocy has been repeatedly identified in MANY kinds of devices.

Back in 2011, I watched Ang Cui silently update the OS of an HP printer by sending it a gimmicked PDF (HP’s printers received new firmware via print-jobs, ingesting everything after a Postscript comment that said, “New firmware starts here”).


A decade later, there is no excuse for this kind of mistake. The fact that IoT vendors are making it tells you that the opacity and the power to punish critics is not a power that companies wield wisely - and that you shouldn’t trust any IoT gadgets.

I am still quite amazed we somehow pulled this out https://t.co/xrvuMDVpDy thanks so much @daitomanabe @hollyherndon…

IFTTT, Twitter, Macroscopist

(via http://twitter.com/Macroscopist/status/1308760805505146881)

To prevent severe climate change we need to rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The world emits around 50 billion…

GHG, ghg emissions, climate change, enegry, AR5, IPCC, our world in data, 2016, 2020, Hannah Ritchie

To prevent severe climate change we need to rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The world emits around 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases each year [measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO 2eq)].1

To figure out how we can most effectively reduce emissions and what emissions can and can’t be eliminated with current technologies, we need to first understand where our emissions come from.

In this post I present only one chart, but it is an important one – it shows the breakdown of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016.2 This is the latest breakdown of global emissions by sector, published by Climate Watch and the World Resources Institute.3,4

The overall picture you see from this diagram is that almost three-quarters of emissions come from energy use; almost one-fifth from agriculture and land use  [this increases to one-quarter when we consider the food system as a whole – including processing, packaging, transport and retail]; and the remaining 8% from industry and waste.

To know what’s included in each sector category, I provide a short description of each. These descriptions are based on explanations provided in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report AR5) and a methodology paper published by the World Resources Institute.5,6

(via https://ourworldindata.org/ghg-emissions-by-sector )

Pablo Stafforini’s Forecasting System

EA, forecasting, futures, emacs, Metaculus, analysis, Elicit, Pablo-Stafforini, 2020

I enjoy forecasting, pretty much in the same way other people enjoy video games, or stamp collecting. It’s also an activity broadly in line with my values. I think the world would be a much better place if people approached predicting the future with the same level of rigor they have when explaining the past. Yet incalculably more books have been written about the past than about the future, and the fact that studying the past is more tractable than studying the future only partly explains this asymmetry. I think most people approach forecasting in what some authors call “far mode”: as an exercise whose primary purpose is not to describe reality accurately, but to signal our aspirations, or something along those lines. However, as Robin Hanson likes to say, the future is just another point in time.

(via https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/w4CM7RfTLXxYLDccX/pablo-stafforini-s-forecasting-system–1)

If something is worth doing for free, it’s worth doing nerd-out obsessively-compulsively for free. “Free” implies the purest…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr

(via http://twitter.com/vgr/status/1307846068445478913)

I’ve read about LSD being given to just about any animal you can think of: snails, fish, dogs, cats, elephants, spiders, guinea…

IFTTT, Twitter, surliertexan

(via http://twitter.com/surliertexan/status/1307446177504391168)

Idly imagining a world where Facebook and Twitter don’t exist, the world’s biggest social platform is https://t.co/Bzp3sENWXB…

IFTTT, Twitter, hondanhon

(via http://twitter.com/hondanhon/status/1306446536490905601)

Why books don’t work

Andy-Matuschak, books, reading, knowledge, learning, education

we don’t necessarily have to make books work. We can make new forms instead. This doesn’t have to mean abandoning narrative prose; it doesn’t even necessarily mean abandoning paper—rather, we can free our thinking by abandoning our preconceptions of what a book is. Maybe once we’ve done all this, we’ll have arrived at something which does indeed look much like a book. We’ll have found a gentle path around the back of that intimidating slope. Or maybe we’ll end up in different terrain altogether. So let’s reframe the question. Rather than “how might we make books actually work reliably,” we can ask: How might we design mediums which do the job of a non-fiction book—but which actually work reliably?

(via https://andymatuschak.org/books/)

This review of The Social Dilemma on @libshipwreck is 🔥🔥🔥 Every paragraph is a gem. Read it, savour it, and realise how “humane…

IFTTT, Twitter, adrianhon

(via http://twitter.com/adrianhon/status/1307371049089150978)

The AppleVision Display L featured a unique shaped CRT, allowing a connected Macintosh to see multiple virtual screen zones,…

IFTTT, Twitter, NanoRaptor

(via http://twitter.com/NanoRaptor/status/1306929484134641665)

If you stopped at a deserted rest area to use the restroom and found it filled with turtles who all silently, balefully, turned…

IFTTT, Twitter, sannewman

(via http://twitter.com/sannewman/status/1304246202536468488)

New workshop series coming up for @ImpaktFestival! Marine Zoönomy will investigate marine permaculture as a strategy for…

IFTTT, Twitter, thesjef

(via http://twitter.com/thesjef/status/1306620937773740034)

The usual categorisations of music don’t work, howabout: Classical music = music practices which are no longer changing…

IFTTT, Twitter, yaxu

(via http://twitter.com/yaxu/status/1306560117974929410)

We’re all preppers now. Whether we want to be or not. It’s hard to think about, but we’re just in the opening credits to the…

IFTTT, Twitter, magpiekilljoy

(via http://twitter.com/magpiekilljoy/status/1306418161680551936)

Scientists Discover How Drugs Like Ketamine Induce An Altered State Of Mind

brain, neuroscience, ketamine, rhythm, Nature

In mice and one person, scientists were able to reproduce the altered state often associated with ketamine by inducing certain brain cells to fire together in a slow-rhythmic fashion. “There was a rhythm that appeared and it was an oscillation that appeared only when the patient was dissociating,” says Dr. Karl Deisseroth, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Stanford University. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1038/s41586-020-2731-9

(via https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/09/16/913565163/scientists-discover-way-to-induce-altered-state-of-mind-without-drugs?t=1600326978763)

A ‘Crossroads’ for Humanity: Earth’s Biodiversity Is Still Collapsing


Here’s the link to the website for the United Nations report, entitled, “Global Biodiversity Outlook 5,” described in this story. From there, you can download a summary, or the entire report.

The story tells us that this report is the fourth in a parade of reports on biodiversity that have been issued over the past year. I’ve posted links to all of them, and summarized what I learned about them. A summary of these reports from this New York Times story:

Last year, an exhaustive international report concluded that humans had reshaped the natural world so drastically that one million species of animals and plants were at risk of extinction. This year, the World Economic Forum’s annual global risk report identified biodiversity loss, in addition to climate change, as one of the most urgent threats, saying that “human-driven nature and biodiversity loss is threatening life on our planet.” Last week, a respected index of animal life showed that, on average, the populations of almost 4,400 monitored mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish had declined by 68 percent since 1970.

Trends in biodiversity (various metrics, left axis) have been declining and are projected to continue to do so under business as usual scenarios (trend line). Various areas of action could reduce the rate of biodiversity decline, and the full portfolio of actions, in combination, could halt and reverse the decline (bend the curve), potentially leading to net biodiversity gains after 2030. These are, from bottom to top: (1) Enhanced conservation and restoration of ecosystems; (2) climate change mitigation; (3) action on pollution, invasive alien species and overexploitation; (4) more sustainable production of goods and services, especially food; and (5) reduced consumption and waste. However, none of the areas of action alone, nor in partial combinations, can bend the curve of biodiversity loss. Moreover, the effectiveness of each area of action is enhanced by the other areas (see Part III of the full report for discussion). 

Excerpt from this New York Times story:

The world is failing to address a catastrophic biodiversity collapse that not only threatens to wipe out beloved species and invaluable genetic diversity, but endangers humanity’s food supply, health and security, according to a sweeping United Nations report issued on Tuesday.

When governments act to protect and restore nature, the authors found, it works. But despite commitments made 10 years ago, nations have not come close to meeting the scale of the crisis, which continues to worsen because of unsustainable farming, overfishing, burning of fossil fuels and other activities.

“Humanity stands at a crossroads,” the report said.

It comes as the devastating consequences that can result from an unhealthy relationship with nature are on full display: A pandemic that very likely jumped from bats has upended life worldwide, and wildfires, worsened by climate change and land management policies, are ravaging the American West.

“These things are a sign of what is to come,” said David Cooper, an author of the report and the deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the global treaty underlying the assessment. “These things will only get worse if we don’t change course.”

The report looked at a decade of efforts by national governments. In 2010, after painstaking scientific work and arduous negotiation, almost every country in the world signed on to 20 goals under the convention to staunch the biodiversity hemorrhage.

At the time, the science was already clear: Human activity was decimating animals and plants across the planet, causing a wave of extinctions and throwing ecosystems so out of balance that the domino effects threatened humans themselves. The agreement, with a deadline of 2020 for the new goals, was a hard-won diplomatic triumph.

The report, which assesses progress on the 20 goals, has found that the world is doing far too little.

A ‘Crossroads’ for Humanity: Earth’s Biodiversity Is Still Collapsing

How Climate Migration Will Reshape America


This is an excellent article. Unfortunately for those of us with little time on our hands, it’s long. But if you can find the time, it’s worth it, because the author is pointing out to us that which ought to be obvious: the climate and the associated weather patterns, along with the inevitable flow of capital (i.e., money, particularly from homeowners insurance companies and mortgage lenders), will be forcing us to move from those areas most directly impacted by the changing climate to more suitable spots.

Excerpt from this story from the New York Times:

For years, Americans have avoided confronting these changes in their own backyards. The decisions we make about where to live are distorted not just by politics that play down climate risks, but also by expensive subsidies and incentives aimed at defying nature. In much of the developing world, vulnerable people will attempt to flee the emerging perils of global warming, seeking cooler temperatures, more fresh water and safety. But here in the United States, people have largely gravitated toward environmental danger, building along coastlines from New Jersey to Florida and settling across the cloudless deserts of the Southwest.

I wanted to know if this was beginning to change. Might Americans finally be waking up to how climate is about to transform their lives? And if so — if a great domestic relocation might be in the offing — was it possible to project where we might go? To answer these questions, I interviewed more than four dozen experts: economists and demographers, climate scientists and insurance executives, architects and urban planners, and I mapped out the danger zones that will close in on Americans over the next 30 years. The maps for the first time combined exclusive climate data from the Rhodium Group, an independent data-analytics firm; wildfire projections modeled by United States Forest Service researchers and others; and data about America’s shifting climate niches, an evolution of work first published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last spring. (See a detailed analysis of the maps.)

What I found was a nation on the cusp of a great transformation. Across the United States, some 162 million people — nearly one in two — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water. For 93 million of them, the changes could be particularly severe, and by 2070, our analysis suggests, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least four million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life. The cost of resisting the new climate reality is mounting. Florida officials have already acknowledged that defending some roadways against the sea will be unaffordable. And the nation’s federal flood-insurance program is for the first time requiring that some of its payouts be used to retreat from climate threats across the country. It will soon prove too expensive to maintain the status quo.

Then what?

How Climate Migration Will Reshape America

New copyright exemptions let you legally repair your phone or jailbreak voice assistants


In a big victory for hacker, tinkerers, and the right to repair movement, the US Copyright Office has ruled some major changes to the legal exemption to the DMCA, making it far easier for owners to build software tools to hack, modify, and repair their own devices, as explained by iFixit founder Kyle Wiens.

Under section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it is “unlawful to circumvent technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works.” Because software has become so integral to all the devices we use — everything from phones to speakers to even trackers — device manufacturers have long used section 1201 to prevent owners from taking apart or repairing their own devices, arguing that breaking the software locks as part of replacing parts or modifying your gadgets is a violation of that statute.

But as part of that law, citizens are allowed to petition for exemptions to section 1201 every three years, when the Copyright Office rules what kind of repairs and software tools are and aren’t allowed by the law. The final ruling for this cycle was just released (it goes into effect as law on October 28th), and it enacts broad new protections for repairing devices.

Wiens’ post breaks down the biggest changes, which include:

  1. The right to jailbreak and modify voice-assistant devices, like those powered by Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant
  2. It’s now legal to unlock new phones, and not just used ones
  3. There’s a general exemption for repairing “smartphones,” “home appliances,” and “home systems.” Wiens points out that this could help users legally fix devices like the permanently bricked Revolv home hub by installing new firmware or software.
  4. It’s legal to repair cars, tractors, and other motorized land vehicles by modifying the software on your own. (This has been an issue for some time, with tractor company John Deere in particular making the fairly ludicrous argument that letting users modify software on the tractors that they own — even in the name of doing legitimate repair work — could lead to owners hacking the tractors and using them to pirate music. Yes, really.)
  5. Lastly, it’s legal for other third parties to do these kinds of repairs on your behalf — so even if you can’t code your way into fixing a bricked smart home, it’s not illegal to pay someone who can to do it for you.

There are still some major aspects of 1201 that remain in place. The Copyright Office didn’t grant exemptions to section 1201 for game console repairs — meaning you still can’t replace a busted CD drive on your Xbox or PS4 on your own, since those parts are locked via software to the specific console for security reasons.

The ruling is also specific for those specific categories of smartphones, home appliances, home systems, and motorized land vehicles — so things that don’t fit in those buckets (like planes or boats) are still protected by the law and can’t be hacked.

Lastly, and most crucially, the Copyright Office’s ruling still doesn’t allow trafficking in the software tools to circumvent these kinds of software locks, even in the name of repair. So you can develop the tools to repair things yourself, and folks can pay you to do those repairs for them, but you can’t distribute or sell those tools to others.

Still, it’s a big win for the gadget repair community, and one that codifies into law the right for you to fix or hack or repair the things you bought any way you want, regardless of what the manufacturer says. And as our devices become ever more reliant on software, that’s  a very good thing.

Suck it John Deere

New copyright exemptions let you legally repair your phone or jailbreak voice assistants

Dismay as huge chunk of Greenland’s ice cap breaks off


Ice breaking off the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier in Northeast Greenland in a satellite image handed out on Aug. 27, 2020. Copernicus Sentinel-2 / ESA via AFP - Getty Images file

Excerpt from this story from NBC News:

An enormous chunk of Greenland’s ice cap has broken off in the far northeastern Arctic, a development that scientists say is evidence of rapid climate change.

The glacier section that broke off is 110 square kilometers (42.3 square miles). It came off of the fjord called Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, which is roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide, the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said Monday.

The glacier is at the end of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, where it flows off the land and into the ocean.

The ice shelf has lost 160 square kilometers (62 square miles), an area nearly twice that of Manhattan in New York, since 1999.

“We should be very concerned about what appears to be progressive disintegration at the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf,” said GEUS professor Jason Box.

In August, a study showed that Greenland lost a record amount of iceduring an extra-warm 2019, with the melt massive enough to cover California in more than 1.25 meters (4 feet) of water.

Dismay as huge chunk of Greenland’s ice cap breaks off

New Zealand’s Ardern Pledges 100% Renewable Energy by 2030 if Her Labour Party Wins Next Month’s Election


Excerpt from this story from EcoWatch:

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 if her party wins re-election in October.

In announcing the new pledge Thursday, Ardern tied the goal to a green recovery from the coronavirus, SBS News reported.

“The COVID-19 economic recovery represents a once in a generation opportunity to reshape New Zealand’s energy system to be more renewable, faster, affordable and secure,” she said.

Ardern’s pledge ups her Labour Party’s previous goal of phasing out non-renewable energy by 2035. New Zealand currently produces 84 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, according to the government. However, these only account for 40 percent of the energy actually used in the country, since it still imports coal and oil from outside.

The promise is part of Labour’s broader clean energy policy, unveiled Thursday. The plan also includes electrifying transportation and industry, investing in new technologies like green hydrogen, working to make energy more affordable and spending an additional $70 million on a pumped hydro storage solution for dry years.

New Zealand’s Ardern Pledges 100% Renewable Energy by 2030 if Her Labour Party Wins Next Month’s Election

Hints of life on Venus

RAS, astrobiology, astronomy, venus, life, phosphine, ET, 2020

An international team of astronomers, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, today announced the discovery of a rare molecule – phosphine – in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially, or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes – floating free of the scorching surface, but still needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine molecules, which consist of hydrogen and phosphorus, could point to this extra-terrestrial ‘aerial’ life. The new discovery is described in a paper in Nature Astronomy.

(via https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/news/hints-life-venus)

Why Do So Many People Want Us Back In The Office?

covid-19, office, work, pandemic, change, future-of-work, bizniz, 2020, lockdown

The office as the default way of working is dead. But the office itself isn’t dead. With working from home, what we gain in work-life balance we might lose in innovation and creativity. There are people who could directly challenge that sentence but I suspect they will come from highly mature companies who have fully mastered the remote working learning curve. Many of us are still at the stage of doing what we did in the office , just remotely. The timorous amongst us may use the lack of productivity net gains as a reason to regress rather than push through the ‘pain barrier’ as Matt Mullenweg describes it. We can do so much better, for ourselves, our customers and society if we stop being so frightened or so certain of the future.

(via https://paulitaylor.com/2020/09/12/why-do-so-many-people-want-us-back-in-the-office/)

Gresik residents made to dig graves as punishment for not wearing face masks

Java, Indonesia, gravedigging, covid-19, punishment, mask, wear-a-mask, 2020

Eight people in Gresik regency, East Java, were ordered by local authorities to dig graves for those who have died of COVID-19 as punishment for not wearing face masks in public. Cerme district head, Suyono, said that he punished residents who did not wear face masks by making them dig graves at a public cemetery in Ngabetan village.

(via https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/09/10/gresik-residents-made-to-dig-graves-as-punishment-for-not-wearing-face-masks.html)

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Kids’ smart-watches unsafe at any speed


When it comes to the security defects in kids’ smart watches: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” For years, these tracking-cuffs have been the locus of awful security scandals. Now it’s happened again.


Some background: in 2017, the Norwegian Consumer Council audited 4 brands of kids’ smart watch and revealed that strangers could monitor children’s movements and see where they’ve gone, covertly listen in on them, and steal their personal information.

The watches gathered copious amount of data and sent it, in the clear, to offshore servers. The watches incorporate cameras and the photos children take were also easily plundered by hackers.


A year later, Pen Test Partners audited the popular MiSafes watches for 3-12 year olds were also insecure, and could be used as covert listening and tracking devices, and even to alert attackers when a target child was nearby.


Six months after that, Pen Test followed up to test the manufactuer’s claims that they’d fixed these defects.

They hadn’t.


After two years of this nonsense, the EU started to recall some of these watches.


But it’s been a year since that happened, and guess what? The watches are still flaming garbage that you strap to your kids’ wrists. Writing in Wired, Andy Greenberg reports on a Münster University of Applied Sciences paper analyzing the watches.


Tldr: the paper is called “STALK.”

The watches could be attacked to

* get kids’ locations

* send voice and text messages to children that appear to come from their parents

* intercept communications between parents and children

* as listening bugs

The manufacturers were informed of all this in April, and they didn’t fix it.

It’s not like these are subtle errors. The watches have no authentication, no encryption, and can be tracked with their SIMs’ IMEIs.

The backend servers are vulnerable to SQL injections.

“When WIRED asked Schinzel if three years of security analyses gave him the confidence to put these smartwatches on his own children, he answered without hesitation: ‘Definitely not.’”


Cryteria (modified)


Scientists are seeing an ‘acceleration of pandemics.’ They are looking at climate change.


One of the authors of the referenced report in this USA Today story is Dr. Fauci. Excerpt:

COVID-19 may only be the beginning of global pandemics – a future scenario in which climate change may also play a role.

“We have entered a pandemic era,” said a recent study in the journal Cell. Written by Dr. Anthony Fauci and medical historian Dr. David Morens, both of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the study paints a picture of a future where pandemics become more numerous.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but what we are seeing looks very much like an acceleration of pandemics,“ Morens told BuzzFeed News. Causes he cited include deforestation, urban crowding and wet markets for wild game.

But climate change’s possible role is complicated: We know that the virus survives longer in cold temperatures than hot, so that could mean that a warmer planet would slow the spread of the disease, said meteorologist Jeff Masters, who writes for Yale Climate Connections. On the other hand, he said heat waves cause people to spend more time indoors in air-conditioned spaces, where the spread of the disease increases. 

“We do know that climate change alters how we relate to other species on Earth and that matters to our health and our risk for infections,” said Dr. Aaron Bernstein, director of Harvard University’s T.HChan C-CHANGE program.

“As the planet heats up, animals big and small, on land and in the sea, are headed to the poles to get out of the heat,” he said. “That means animals are coming into contact with other animals they normally wouldn’t, and that creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.”

In addition, Masters said the diseases of most concern globally that are worsened by climate change are the ones spread by mosquitoes, since mosquitoes like it hot and wet – conditions that are becoming increasingly common because of global warming. Malaria, Zika, chikungunya, dengue fever and the West Nile virus are all expected to spread into areas where they currently are not endemic, he said. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease will also spread.

Bernstein said climate change has already made conditions more favorable to the spread of some infectious diseases, including Lyme disease, waterborne diseases such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus (which causes vomiting and diarrhea) and mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

Scientists are seeing an ‘acceleration of pandemics.’ They are looking at climate change.

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it…

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“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.”

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune.

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The Tangalooma Wrecks is a shipwreck site on the western side of Moreton Island in South East Queensland, Australia. It consists…


The Tangalooma Wrecks is a shipwreck site on the western side of Moreton Island in South East Queensland, Australia. It consists of 15 vessels that were deliberately sunk in 1963 to form a breakwall for small boats. In addition to providing safe harbor, the wrecks also created a popular dive and snorkel site, attracting a variety of marine life such as wobbegongs, trevally, kingfish, yellowtail and other tropical fish.

See more here: https://bit.ly/35grdIf

-27.162833°, 153.368361°

Source imagery: Nearmap