ReHacked vol. 213: Why Are Lithium Prices Collapsing, 40 Years of KOYAANISQATSI, Why Don’t More People Support Whistleblowers, and more

“If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.” --Prophets singing in "Koyaanisqatsi"

ReHacked vol. 213: Why Are Lithium Prices Collapsing, 40 Years of KOYAANISQATSI, Why Don’t More People Support Whistleblowers, and more
Cuba nuclear power station near Juragua. (C) The Bohemian Blog.

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Why Are Lithium Prices Collapsing? #economy

… a combination of key market factors has led to a major turnaround in the trajectory of the benchmark price of lithium carbonate, which is used to produce the lithium hydroxide contained in electric-vehicle (EV) batteries. Prices have collapsed from all-time highs reached in mid-November 2022 of CNY 597,500 per tonne to CNY 319,500 per tonne by the week ending March 17—a near-47-percent drop that has seen prices return to levels last seen in January 2022.

On the demand side, this crash can be explained by the decidedly less bullish sentiment for EVs transpiring in China, with the expiry of a more than decade-long programme of subsidies for EV purchases (alongside the end of tax cuts on combustion-engine cars) in addition to the unusually extended Lunar New Year celebrations this year eroding sales of new cars in January. “There has been persistent weakness in China,” according to Jordan Roberts, a lithium analyst at Fastmarkets. “The market is waiting to see the impact from the reduced new energy vehicle subsidies and is concerned by low household confidence, which is tied to the country’s property crisis.”

This Intricate Wooden Car With Working V8 Engine and Gearbox Was Built by a Crazy-Smart Teen from Lithuania #interesting #engineering

Building an intricate mechanical model is one thing, but trust me when I say designing one from scratch is an entirely different can of worms. It takes days of work that nobody will ever truly appreciate, but for some people, that effort is worth it. Simas Snežko falls into that category—and he's a teenager, by the way.

Snežko built a truly incredible mechanical model of a car out of wood, carefully demonstrated on this video on his YouTube channel, and the details of the build are amazing. It's not just some pistons moving up and down in a drilled-out block of wood—the model has a working transmission, differential, clutch, and also other details that are usually left out of such builds, like working gauges.

The Rise and Fall of the High-Top Sneaker #interestign

Kobe Bryant is mostly responsible for the fall of high top basketball sneakers. Raised in Italy, Kobe noticed that soccer players play in a fairly similar way to basketball player. Kobe told Nike point-blank, 'I want the lowest, lightest-weight basketball shoe ever’.

40 Years of KOYAANISQATSI - review - The Curb #cinema #art #history

It is 1972. Godfrey Reggio, an experimental film director who founded the Institute for Regional Education in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is working on an advertising campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union involving invasions of privacy and the use of technology to control behaviour. Reggio works with cinematographer Ron Fricke to create advertising spots for radio, newspapers, billboards, and most importantly television. The campaign was popular enough to remove Ritalin from being used in New Mexico schools, but the ACLU withdrew sponsorship for IRE, leaving the Institute with $40,000 in their budget. Fricke suggests to Reggio that this be used to produce a film called Koyaanisqatsi, taken from the Hopi language meaning “life out of balance”.

It is 1975. Reggio and Fricke begin shooting unscripted footage in hopes of editing it together and finding a film within the edit. They shoot on 16mm film due to budget constraints. They shoot “whatever would look good on film”, including the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri. The footage during this time exhausts the $40,000 budget with two cases of film, is screened in Santa Fe, but disregarded as being “boring” and not looking very good. IRE closes the production.

Whistleblowers Are the Conscience of Society, Yet Suffer Gravely For Trying to Hold the Rich and Powerful Accountable For Their Sins | CovertAction Magazine #security #society #longread

[Author’s Note: I blew the whistle and was met with an experience so destructive that I did not have the words to describe what happened to me. I set out to learn if what happened to me is a known phenomenon and, if so, whether there are language and concepts to explain the experience. I found it is well studied. This article focuses on experiences like mine, where a still-employed whistleblower takes disclosures of systemic issues public due to inaction or cover-ups by the institution. This article does not intend to discount the other varieties of whistleblower experiences; instead, it seeks to explain, expose and validate the turmoil many whistleblowers in similar positions are often forced to endure alone. You are not alone.]

Internet in a Box - Mandela's Library of Alexandria #society #emergingcountries

Internet-in-a-Box “learning hotspots” are used in dozens of countries, to give everyone a chance, e.g. in remote mountain villages in India.

It works without internet — like a community fountain, but for the mind — wirelessly serving anyone nearby with a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants - C82: Works of Nicholas Rougeux #nature #history

This complete reproduction of Elizabeth Twining’s two-volume catalog from 1868, Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants was reproduced in its entirety and enhanced with interactive descriptions, diagrams, and posters.

Each of the 160 illustrations was restored from the original scans to be as colorful as the plants they depict, which involved carefully adjusting the colors and cleaning up spotting and other other markings on the scans to produce clean images without altering the underlying original illustrations. After restoration, every plant that was referenced in the original illustrations’ legends was carefully outlined to create hotspots that correspond with the accompanying descriptions. This process alone took one to four hours per image and the entire project took four months to complete. Posters were designed as a tribute to Elizabeth Twining’s dedicated efforts to illustrate the natural orders of plants in ways that invite exploration.

DOJ Detected SolarWinds Breach Months Before Public Disclosure | WIRED #security

THE US DEPARTMENT of Justice, Mandiant, and Microsoft stumbled upon the SolarWinds breach six months earlier than previously reported, WIRED has learned, but were unaware of the significance of what they had found.

The breach, publicly announced in December 2020, involved Russian hackers compromising the software maker SolarWinds and inserting a backdoor into software served to about 18,000 of its customers. That tainted software went on to infect at least nine US federal agencies, among them the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the Treasury Department, as well as top tech and security firms including Microsoft, Mandiant, Intel, Cisco, and Palo Alto Networks. The hackers had been in these various networks for between four and nine months before the campaign was exposed by Mandiant.

NASA Power Hack Extends 45-Year Voyager 2 Mission Even Longer #space #engineering

At 12 billion miles (20 billion kilometers) from Earth, Voyager 2 is so far that it takes more than 22 hours for NASA’s signals to reach the probe. With its power gradually diminishing, mission planners thought they might have to shut down one of its five scientific instruments next year, but a newly implemented plan has resulted in a welcomed delay.

A recent adjustment, in which the probe redirects a tiny amount of power meant for an onboard safety system, means all five scientific instruments aboard Voyager 2 can stay active until 2026, according to a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab press release. There’s a modicum of risk involved, as the affected system protects Voyager 2 from voltage irregularities, but NASA says the probe can now keep its science instruments turned on for a while longer.

The unintentional dystopian beauty of oil rigs #photography

Steven Spielberg: ‘No film should be revised’ based on modern sensitivity | Steven Spielberg | The Guardian #art #culture

Steven Spielberg has criticised the idea that older films should be re-edited to appease modern sensibilities.

Speaking at Time’s 100 Summit in New York City, the 76-year-old film-maker expressed regret over taking out guns from a later release of his 1982 sci-fi blockbuster ET: The Extra Terrestrial. In the 20th anniversary edition, agents saw their firearms replaced with walkie-talkies.

“That was a mistake,” he said on stage. “I never should have done that. ET is a product of its era. No film should be revised based on the lenses we now are, either voluntarily, or being forced to peer through.”

In 2011, Spielberg had already explained that the guns would be returning for the 30th anniversary release, explaining that he was “disappointed” in himself.

This week he added: “I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend anyone do that. All our movies are a kind of a signpost of where we were when we made them, what the world was like and what the world was receiving when we got those stories out there. So I really regret having that out there.”

Exploring the Tantalizing World of Kinbaku | Tokyo Weekender #subculture #shibari

Kinbaku, or Japanese rope bondage, is a form of consensual, sensual play that involves the meticulous binding of the body. It ranges from intimate floor techniques to full-body suspensions. At first glance, it appears as though it is a form of restraint. Quite often enthusiasts will refer to kinbaku as a form of interplay, which has a wide range of interpretations depending on the practitioner, called nawashi or bakushi, and their partner. For some, it is stimulating and titillating, while others find it relaxing and meditative.

Within the Japanese cultural context, shibari exists as a form of erotic play spawning from the country’s long history and multi-layered relationship with rope.

How prosthetic penises in shows like HBO's 'Minx' reinforce existing stereotypes and taboos #art #cinema #sexuality

Entertainment Weekly recently published an interview with actor Taylor Zakhar Perez, teasing the piece with a headline about Perez “baring it all” as a nude model for a 1970s magazine centerfold in the first episode in HBO Max’s “scandalous” new show, “Minx.”

The real scandal, in my view, is not the promised nudity but the way it’s misrepresented. Perez never actually appears fully nude in that episode. He wears a prosthetic penis.

As prosthetic penises have become more common in film and on TV, I’ve watched publications eagerly document the trend with cheeky headlines: “The power of the dong: The year the penis was unleashed in Hollywood,” “How the Sausage Gets Made: Inside Hollywood’s Prosthetic Penis Craze” and “Welcome to the year of the cock.”

Carmakers like VW are bringing back buttons because drivers loathe all the touchscreens. #safety #automotive

Happily, there is one area where we are making at least marginal progress: A growing number of automakers are backpedaling away from the huge, complex touchscreens that have infested dashboard design over the past 15 years. Buttons and knobs are coming back.

The touchscreen pullback is the result of consumer backlash, not the enactment of overdue regulations or an awakening of corporate responsibility. Many drivers want buttons, not screens, and they’ve given carmakers an earful about it. Auto executives have long brushed aside safety concerns about their complex displays—and all signs suggest they would have happily kept doing so. But their customers are revolting, which has forced them to pay attention.

Google has just updated its 2FA Authenticator app and added a much-needed feature: the ability to sync secrets across devices. #privacy

TL;DR: Don't turn it on.

The new update allows users to sign in with their Google Account and sync 2FA secrets across their iOS and Android devices.

Ispace: Japanese lunar lander presumed lost after historic moon landing attempt | CNN #space #engineering

A Japanese lunar lander, carrying a rover developed in the United Arab Emirates, attempted to find its footing on the moon’s surface Tuesday — and potentially mark the world’s first lunar landing for a commercially developed spacecraft. But flight controllers on the ground were not immediately able to regain contact, prompting the company to presume the spacecraft was lost.

The lander, built by Japanese firm Ispace, launched atop a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 11. The spacecraft then made a three-month trek to enter orbit around the moon, which lies about 239,000 miles (383,000 kilometers) from Earth, using a low-energy trajectory. Overall, the journey took the lander about 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) through space.

Use of antibiotics in farming ‘endangering human immune system’ | Antibiotics | The Guardian #health

The blanket use of antibiotics in farming has led to the emergence of bacteria that are more resistant to the human immune system, scientists have warned.

The research suggests that the antimicrobial colistin, which was used for decades as a growth promoter on pig and chicken farms in China, resulted in the emergence of E coli strains that are more likely to evade our immune system’s first line of defence.

Although colistin is now banned as a livestock food additive in China and many other countries, the findings sound an alarm over a new and significant threat posed by the overuse of antibiotic drugs.

“This is potentially much more dangerous than resistance to antibiotics,” said Prof Craig MacLean, who led the research at the University of Oxford. “It highlights the danger of indiscriminate use of antimicrobials in agriculture. We’ve accidentally ended up compromising our own immune system to get fatter chickens.”

Microsoft Edge is leaking the sites you visit to Bing - The Verge #privacy

Microsoft’s Edge browser appears to be sending URLs you visit to its Bing API website. Reddit users first spotted the privacy issues with Edge last week, noticing that the latest version of Microsoft Edge sends a request to with the full URL of nearly every page you navigate to. Microsoft tells The Verge it’s investigating the reports.

“Searching for references to this URL give very few results, no documentation on this feature at all,” said hackermchackface, the Reddit user who first discovered the issue. While Reddit users weren’t able to uncover why Microsoft Edge is sending the URLs you visit to its Bing API site, we asked Rafael Rivera, a software engineer and one of the developers behind EarTrumpet, to investigate, and he discovered it’s part of a poorly implemented new feature in Edge.

The EU Suppressed a 300-Page Study That Found Piracy Doesn’t Harm Sales #copyrights

The European Commission paid €360,000 (about $428,000) for a study on how piracy impacts the sales of copyrighted music, books, video games, and movies. But the EU never shared the report—possibly because it determined that there is no evidence that piracy is a major problem.

The Dutch firm Ecory was commissioned to research the impact of piracy for several months, eventually submitting a 304-page report to the EU in May 2015. The report concluded that: “In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.”

The technology, management, and culture of water in ancient Iran from prehistoric times to the Islamic Golden Age | Nature #history #toechnology #culture #longread

Despite Iran’s longstanding reputation for sustainable water management, the country currently faces mounting water-related challenges caused by population growth, industrial development, urban sprawl, lifestyle changes, climate change, territorial conflicts, poor management, and insufficient public participation. Since past and present water-related challenges share similar origins and patterns, addressing the past is imperative. After gathering, contextualizing, verifying, clustering, coding, and corroborating sources, we conducted a historical study to examine the relationship between water and Iranians from prehistoric times to the Islamic Golden Age (1219 AD). According to the findings, in prehistoric Iran, drought, flooding, river course changes, and the absence of a central government severely impacted water development. Despite doubts about the qanat’s origin, archaeological investigations indicate in the proto-historical period, qanat systems existed in Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. In 550 BC, the Achaemenids initiated a fundamental transformation in Iran’s water history by building dams, qanats, and water canals under a centralized administration. After a slump during the Seleucids (312–63 BC) and the Parthians (247 BC–224 AD), Iranians practiced water governance reborn under the Sassanids (224–651 AD). The Sassanids, like the Achaemenids, formed a powerful statement of unity, cooperation, and support among people for implementing their major water-related plans after enhancing institutions, laws, and communications. Chaotic Iran, however, endured severe water-related weaknesses in the Late Sassanids. Throughout the Islamic Golden Age, Iranians successfully traded water knowledge with other nations. As seen today in Iran, the Iranians have been unable to thrive on their resources since the Mongol invasion due to weak water governance, political tensions, and poor public support. The water sectors face more severe challenges when ancient water systems are ignored, applied without enhancement, or blindly adopted from other nations. Therefore, before current problems worsen, it is essential to integrate traditional and modern water cultures, technology, and management techniques.

UK Threatens End-to-End Encryption - Schneier on Security #privacy

In an open letter, seven secure messaging apps—including Signal and WhatsApp—point out that the UK’s Online Safety Bill could destroy end-to-end encryption:

As currently drafted, the Bill could break end-to-end encryption,opening the door to routine, general and indiscriminate surveillance of personal messages of friends, family members, employees, executives, journalists, human rights activists and even politicians themselves, which would fundamentally undermine everyone’s ability to communicate securely.

Global Encryption Coalition Steering Committee Statement on EU-US Cooperation on Turning Public Opinion Against Encryption – Global Encryption Coalition #privacy

Encryption keeps information confidential, preventing unauthorised third parties from accessing private content. It is now deployed on over 90% of web traffic, on most of the commonly used messaging applications, and it protects user data in all prominent operating systems. Encryption also protects information in cellular networks, business and government communications, financial transactions, and a limitless list of other use cases that are fundamental to modern commerce and a digital society.

The Soviet Legacy: Inside Cuba's Unfinished Nuclear Power Station - Ex Utopia #history

Construction began in 1983, as the foundations were lain for the two reactors along with a sizeable turbine hall at a site close to the Caribbean. The Cubans even built a new city to house the site’s workers, “Ciudad Nuclear”, which to this day stands largely empty and unfinished (more about that soon…).

The United States, however, opposed Cuba’s nuclear program from the get-go. The Juragua site lays just 180 miles south of Florida’s Key West; and the US was less than enthusiastic about having two 440-megawatt Soviet-built nuclear power reactors at their back door, citing the potential for an accident as a “threat to its national security”. One can only imagine their growing horror then, when in 1986, another Soviet reactor went into critical meltdown at the Chernobyl facility in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the Cuban-Soviet team pushed on with the construction. Progress was slow, owing to the fact that inexperienced Cuban engineers had to be supervised by Russia’s own nuclear experts… and by 1992, Moscow was tentatively suggesting a 1995-6 completion date for the first reactor.

Why do studios use Roman numerals in the copyright notice in the end credits? - Movies & TV Stack Exchange #interesting

Movies are mostly produced on reels of film (few are digital). Physical film can degrade over time making it difficult to read numeric values. Some numbers will look exactly the same, for example the number 6 will become 5 when the film becomes old. Where as, roman numerals are easier to read when the film degrades. A lot of television shows are also shot with film.

Gamers 50-Plus Are a Growing Force in the Tech Market #society #entertainment

Gamers 50-plus are now 52.4 million strong, and they’re embracing gaming because they feel it’s time well spent, according to a 2023 AARP Research study.

The representative national survey examined how much 50-plus gamers spend, what devices they use, how often they play, their overall satisfaction with gaming, and the range of diversity in their motivations and styles of play.

Gamers 50-plus credit gaming with being beneficial to their lives. It helps them have fun and relax while also staying mentally sharp and being challenged. Older gamers invest both their time and money — on average, 12 hours of play per week and $49 within a six-month time frame — on their gaming.  In 2023, older adults’ continued interest in gaming could lead to $2.5 billion in biannual spending on digital and physical game content (in-app purchases, virtual items, customization features), accessories (headsets, controllers, microphones), and hardware (gaming consoles, handheld devices).

Ponzi 2.0: The wild story of an investment into an Estonian startup that doesn’t exist - #economy #crime

According to its website, Hedonova began in 2019. It claims to have offices globally, including in Tallinn, Paris, Zurich, Latvia, London, and California.

At the time of writing, the funding is listed on Crunchbase with a valuation of $38.5 million. The company has a profile in Pitchbook and Wikipedia, and  Trust Pilot.

In a now-deleted Forbes India  advertorial profile, Hedonova claims it has:

"... amassed over $400 million assets under management from various investors, some storied names like Oman's Royal Family, the sovereign wealth fund of France and Microsoft Innovation Fund while on the other end of the investor spectrum are everyday retail investors."

To be clear, some of its earnings may be entirely above board. But let's take a look at its startup investing.

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