ReHacked #183: Japan WWII poison gas agents still scarring people today, Norvig's Law, Browsers with built-in VPNs and more

Any technology that surpasses 50% penetration will never double again. --Peter Norvig

ReHacked #183: Japan WWII poison gas agents still scarring people today, Norvig's Law, Browsers with built-in VPNs and more
Eight rods of plutonium within inches — had a few more rods been placed nearby it would have triggered a disaster. LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY/U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

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Japan WWII poison gas agents still scarring people today - The Mainichi #history

Japan and China recently marked the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations, but traces of around 7.46 million poison gas weapons produced mainly during their war from 1937 to 1945 remain in both countries.

Some of the weapons abandoned or disposed of at the end of the Sino-Japanese War are still taking a toll on lives and livelihoods.

A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America's arsenal | Science | AAAS #science #history

Technicians at the government's Los Alamos National Laboratory settled on what seemed like a surefire way to win praise from their bosses in August 2011: In a hi-tech testing and manufacturing building pivotal to sustaining America's nuclear arsenal, they gathered eight rods painstakingly crafted out of plutonium, and positioned them side-by-side on a table to photograph how nice they looked.

At many jobs, this would be innocent bragging. But plutonium is the unstable, radioactive, man-made fuel of a nuclear explosion, and it isn't amenable to showboating. When too much is put in one place, it becomes "critical" and begins to fission uncontrollably, spontaneously sparking a nuclear chain reaction, which releases energy and generates a deadly burst of radiation.

The resulting blue glow — known as Cherenkov radiation — has accidentally and abruptly flashed at least 60 times since the dawn of the nuclear age, signaling an instantaneous nuclear charge and causing a total of 21 agonizing deaths. So keeping bits of plutonium far apart is one of the bedrock rules that those working on the nuclear arsenal are supposed to follow to prevent workplace accidents.

Fictitious vol. 17: 3000 things to read
Hello! Happy to have you here, no matter if you’re a veteran reader or a recent subscriber. In this issue, I’m talking about a reading challenge I’m taking, introducing a little piece I wrote about music that fuels my work, and sharing some stuff about language.
What you’ve got to do from this night forward is stuff your head with more different things from various fields . . . I’ll give you a program to follow every night, very simple program. For the next thousand nights, before you go to bed every night, read one short story. That’ll take you ten minutes, 15 minutes.

Okay, then read one poem a night from the vast history of poetry. Stay away from most modern poems. It’s crap. It’s not poetry! It’s not poetry. Now if you want to kid yourself and write lines that look like poems, go ahead and do it, but you’ll go nowhere. Read the great poets, go back and read Shakespeare, read Alexander Pope, read Robert Frost.

But one poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights. From various fields: archaeology, zoology, biology, all the great philosophers of time, comparing them. Read the essays of Aldous Huxley, read Lauren Eisley, great anthropologist. . . I want you to read essays in every field. On politics, analyzing literature, pick your own.

But that means that every night then, before you go to bed, you’re stuffing your head with one poem, one short story, one essay—at the end of a thousand nights, Jesus God, you’ll be full of stuff, won’t you?

Ray Bradbury - from “Telling the Truth,” the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University, 2001

Norvig's Law #fun

LSD-Like Molecules Counter Depression Without the Trip | UC San Francisco #health #science

Scientists have designed compounds that hit the same key receptor that LSD activates without causing hallucinations. A single dose produced powerful antidepressant and antianxiety effects in mice that lasted up to two weeks.

The study, appearing Sept. 28, 2022, in Nature, may offer a way to develop new kinds of antidepressants that are more effective and have fewer side effects than current medications, which don’t work for many patients and must be taken every day. It represents the culmination of half a dozen years of work by a team that began at UC San Francisco, UNC-Chapel Hill and Yale, and later expanded to Duke and Stanford universities.

Bertrand Meyer's technology+ blog » Blog Archive Introduction to the Theory of Programming Languages: full book now freely available (1991) - Bertrand Meyer's technology+ blog #software

The book is a survey of methods for language description, particularly semantics (operational, translational, denotational, axiomatic, complementary) and also serves as an introduction to formal methods. Obviously it would be written differently today but it may still have its use.

House Democrats debut new bill to limit US police use of facial recognition | TechCrunch #privacy

A group of House Democrats has unveiled a new bill that aims to put limits on the use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement agencies across the United States.

Dubbed the Facial Recognition Act, the bill would compel law enforcement to obtain a judge-authorized warrant before using facial recognition. By adding the warrant requirement, law enforcement would first have to show a court it has probable cause that a person has committed a serious crime, rather than allowing largely unrestricted use of facial recognition under the existing legal regime.

Browsers with built-in VPNs — the new normal? Microsoft bakes a VPN into Edge and turns it on #software

Microsoft has followed a small group of its competitors in building a VPN service directly into its own browser. The VPN feature, known as “Microsoft Edge Secure Network,” has rolled out to a limited selection of users in the latest Edge Canary version.

While Microsoft has yet to announce its launch, early testers have already got the first glimpse of what the new privacy tool looks like and how it is designed to work. In Canary, the new VPN feature could be found under Settings > Privacy, search and services.

50-year-old BART: How clever mechanics use Windows 98 and eBay #engineering #history

Fifty years of BART

  • 2,302,680: Average mileage for BART’s 1970s train cars
  • 89: Number of train cars that operated in 1972 and are still in use today
  • “It will never work” — Margaret Thatcher, in 1969 after touring BART
  • $2.6 billion: Cost of BART’s 775 new “Fleet of the Future” trains
  • 70 mph: BART’s maximum speed

Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum #art #nature

View the Wildlife Photographer of the Year images from the current and previous years' competitions. These images were awarded for their artistic composition, technical innovation and truthful interpretation of the natural world.

Collecting Vernacular Photography #history #art

There are many different types of collectors of found photos. The most popular type of photograph collected is probably the standard black and white snapshot — paper photographs, many casually made, oftentimes by Americans, mostly in the 1920s-1960s. Many of these are now part of serious museum and gallery collections.

Certain types of snapshots are more valuable than others and highly collectible. Photographs of African Americans, gay interest, disaster photography, vintage Las Vegas, New York, or San Francisco all seem to sell at a premium. Additionally many collectors focus on certain types of photographs or subjects in photographs — hand tinted photographs, polaroids, photographs of three women (three graces), photographs of people in Easter bunny costumes or rabbits, photos from vintage photobooths, photos of bicycles or tricycles or women and cars, photos of airplanes and many more categories define individual interest.

Modern art was CIA 'weapon' | The Independent | The Independent #history #politics #art

Alternative link if you can’t see

For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.

The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art - President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: "If that's art, then I'm a Hottentot." As for the artists themselves, many were ex- communists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.

Google is shutting down Stadia in January 2023 - The Verge #internet #software #hardware

Google is shutting down Stadia, its cloud gaming service. The service will remain live for players until January 18th, 2023. Google will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchased through the Google Store as well as all the games and add-on content purchased from the Stadia store. Google expects those refunds will be completed in mid-January.

Why Are Sex Workers Forced to Wear a Financial Scarlet Letter? | The Walrus #internet #society

Exasperation with these challenges is what appears to have pushed OnlyFans to propose the porn ban. When it reversed its decision, the company claimed it had “secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community.” But, as the New York Times reported, OnlyFans was really responding to bad PR and “the backlash of creators” against the platform’s betrayal. Fighting financial bias is now a full-time job for those involved in porn, and chargebacks are one of the many ways they are discriminated against. Merely existing as a sex worker can impact any and all personal transactions. Indeed, if you’ve been flagged on suspicion of sex work, even something as innocuous as renting a holiday Airbnb can lead the home-sharing site to cancel your bookings or account.

“You can never not be a sex worker once you’ve been identified as one,” agrees Katy Churchill, a webcam model and fetish-clip producer based in Vancouver. “They can functionally make it harder for me to get by,” she says, referring to the financial community. Platforms like PayPal and Venmo have also come under fire for freezing the assets of sex workers without warning or due process.

When the Push Button Was New, People Were Freaked - JSTOR Daily #history

“Some believed that users should creatively interrogate these objects and learn how they worked as part of a broader electrical education,” Plotnick explains. “Others…suggested that pushing buttons could help users to avoid complicated and laborious technological experiences. These approaches reflected different groups’ attempts at managing fears of electricity.”

Gas leak in the Baltic Sea #world #nature #politics

Following the three gas leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, prohibition zones have been established around the leaks for the sake of the safety of ship and air traffic.

Nord Stream 1 has two leaks northeast of Bornholm, Nord Stream 2 has one leak south of Dueodde. The leaks were discovered by the Danish Defence F-16 interceptor response unit.

The defense is supporting in connection with the authorities' efforts regarding the leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. The frigate Absalon and the pollution control vessel ship Gunnar Thorson are on their way to carry out water monitoring at the exclusion zones, and the Danish Defence are also supporting with a helicopter capacity. In addition, the patrol ship Rota was in the area last night.

Ask The Headhunter® - How can I change careers mid-stream? #career

To change careers, don’t just change jobs

When you “apply for what seems to be available,” you’re essentially begging for a job. But, when you study specific businesses to figure out how you can help them, your task is very different — it’s to solve a company’s problems.

I pity the poor jerk who thinks career change is about finding a job. Companies don’t give out jobs. They hire people who can help them make more money — and they’re willing to pay for that. If you approach career change any other way, you will fail.

So, when you approach a company, you must explain how you fit to them. Believe me: they will not get it on their own. You need to create the equivalent of a business plan, mapping your skills to their needs.

50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat : The Two-Way : NPR (2016) #health

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat, according to a newly published article in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The article draws on internal documents to show that an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to "refute" concerns about sugar's possible role in heart disease. The SRF then sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that. The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding.

The sugar-funded project in question was a literature review, examining a variety of studies and experiments. It suggested there were major problems with all the studies that implicated sugar, and concluded that cutting fat out of American diets was the best way to address coronary heart disease.

Stop others from tracking your car | NOTMYPLATE.COM #privacy

With nearly 4,000 affected locations across Western Europe and more than a million trackable parking spots in 10 different countries, it is getting increasingly harder to travel across Europe without the risk of exposing your location. During our tests, we were able to locate a target parking their vehicle more than 1,100km from their home, near the Spanish border.

While a driver may choose to avoid ANPR-based parking garages, it can be more difficult to completely avoid toll roads over longer distances. In Sweden and Norway Epass24 already automatically charges tolls to accounts with a user-supplied license plate, along with Ireland’s M50 and England’s M6.

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