ReHacked vol. 217: War Is A Racket : Major General Smedley Butler (1935), Just Calm Down About GPT-4 Already, Churchill’s Bengal Famine and more

“What the large language models are good at is saying what an answer should sound like, which is different from what an answer should be”. --Rodney Brooks

ReHacked vol. 217: War Is A Racket : Major General Smedley Butler (1935), Just Calm Down About GPT-4 Already, Churchill’s Bengal Famine and more
From left are: Sun-Times reporters William Recktenwald, better Government Ass. Investigator, Pamela Zekman, Zay Smith and Jeff Allen, who posed as the Mirage’s owner. (C)

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War Is A Racket : Major General Smedley Butler : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive (1935) #history #warfare #longread

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Just Calm Down About GPT-4 Already #ai #futurism

“It gives an answer with complete confidence, and I sort of believe it. And half the time, it’s completely wrong.”
—Rodney Brooks, Robust.AI

Churchill’s Bengal Famine - Open The Magazine #history

IN 1943, OVER three million people in Bengal died of starvation. Was Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill complicit in one of the most devastating famines in India’s recorded history?

The BBC and other Western media have tiptoed around the Great Bengal Famine of 1943. Madhusree Mukerjee’s book Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II laid bare the events that led to the tragedy.

Examining Mukerjee’s account is important now that Britain’s King Charles III has ordered an inquiry into the British royal family’s direct involvement in slavery and other imperial crimes.

Churchill regarded the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 as a local issue, a necessary collateral of war. Mukerjee is brutal in her findings. She writes: “Field Marshal Wavell observed in his diary on July 27, 1943, after witnessing an outburst in the War Cabinet. ‘Winston drew a harrowing picture of British workmen in rags struggling to pay rich Indian mill-owners; it became clear during the August 4 meeting on famine relief that the sterling debt was still embedded in the lion’s paw. Instead of sending relief, the War Cabinet recommended ‘forceful propaganda’ and curbs on inflation as measures against famine.

Reflections on Ten Years Past The Snowden Revelations #privacy #longread

On June 6th, 2013, an article appeared in The Guardian [guard2013] that was the beginning of a series of what have come to be known as revelations about the activities of the United States National Security Agency (NSA). These activities included, amongst others, secret court orders, secret agreements for the receipt of so-called "meta-information" that includes source, destination, and timing of communications, tapping of communications lines, and other activities. The breathtaking scope of the operations shocked the Internet technical community, and led to a sea change within the IETF, IAB, and many parts of the private sector.Now that some years have past, it seems appropriate to reflect on that period of time, what effect the community's actions had, where security has improved, how the threat surface has evolved, what areas haven't improved, and where the community might invest future efforts.Bruce Schneier begins this compendium of individual essays by bringing us back to 2013, recalling how it was for him and others to report what was happening, and the mindset of those involved. Next, Stephen Farrell reviews the technical community's reactions, technical advances, and where threats remain. Then Farzaneh Badii discusses the impact of those advances – or lack thereof – on human rights. Finally Steven M. Bellovin puts the Snowden revelations into an ever-evolving historical context of secrets and secret stealing that spans centuries, closing with some suggestions for IETF.Readers are invited to reflect for themselves on what impact we as a community have had – or not had, and what positive contribution the technical community can and should make to address security and privacy of citizens of the world.-- Eliot Lear, Independent Submissions Editor for the RFC Series

Inner workings revealed for “Predator,” the Android malware that exploited 5 0-days | Ars Technica #software #security #android

Smartphone malware sold to governments around the world can surreptitiously record voice calls and nearby audio, collect data from apps such as Signal and WhatsApp, and hide apps or prevent them from running upon device reboots, researchers from Cisco’s Talos security team have found.

An analysis Talos published on Thursday provides the most detailed look yet at Predator, a piece of advanced spyware that can be used against Android and iOS mobile devices. Predator is developed by Cytrox, a company that Citizen Lab has said is part of an alliance called Intellexa, “a marketing label for a range of mercenary surveillance vendors that emerged in 2019.” Other companies belonging to the consortium include Nexa Technologies (formerly Amesys), WiSpear/Passitora Ltd., and Senpai.

Health officials delayed report linking fluoride to brain harm | #health

Last May, the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a federal research agency, was set to release its eagerly awaited report into the cognitive and neurodevelopmental impacts on humans from fluoride exposure.

The report was anticipated for several reasons, including its review of studies linking fluoridated water to cognitive harm in children. Water fluoridation is the long-established public policy of adding fluoride to drinking water to fight tooth decay. The report was also set to play a key role in an ongoing lawsuit, filed by government accountability nonprofit Food & Water Watch, to get the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate water fluoridation because of fluoride's possible neurotoxic harm. More than two years ago, the judge put the case on hold in expectation of the NTP report's public release.

YouTube removed dislike counts, so this guy made Rotten Tomatoes for YouTube videos #internet

Near the end of 2021, YouTube made the controversial decision to make dislike counts private across the entire service. You can still dislike YouTube videos with the thumbs down button, but the only people who will ever see those dislikes are the channel’s owners. At the time, YouTube explained that the goal was to protect creators from harassment and dislike attacks, but it also removed a potentially valuable metric that viewers could use to evaluate a video.

Pros and cons aside, dislike counts probably aren’t coming back soon (if ever), but there are a few alternatives. One is a browser extension, such as Return YouTube Dislike, which effectively restores the feature on Another is a site being hailed as “the Rotten Tomatoes of YouTube,” where users can review their favorite (or least favorite) channels.

Earlier this week, one user disappointed with the removal of YouTube’s dislike counts took to Reddit to promote their new site Favoree. Rather than simply giving a channel a thumbs up or thumbs down, you can give it a rating out of five stars and even write a review. That way, you can actually see why people like or dislike a given channel.

Lawyer cites fake cases invented by ChatGPT, judge is not amused #ai #law

A lawyer asked ChatGPT for examples of cases that supported an argument they were trying to make.

ChatGPT, as it often does, hallucinated wildly—it invented several supporting cases out of thin air.

When the lawyer was asked to provide copies of the cases in question, they turned to ChatGPT for help again—and it invented full details of those cases, which they duly screenshotted and copied into their legal filings.

At some point, they asked ChatGPT to confirm that the cases were real... and ChatGPT said that they were. They included screenshots of this in another filing.

The judge is furious. Many of the parties involved are about to have a very bad time.

Gravitational-wave detector LIGO is back — and can now spot more colliding black holes than ever #science #nature #space

After a three-year hiatus made longer by pandemic troubles, the search for gravitational waves — ripples in space-time that are the hallmarks of colliding black holes and other cosmic cataclysms — has resumed.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which has two massive detectors in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, is now restarting with improved sensitivity after a multimillion-dollar upgrade. The improvements should allow the facility to pick up signals from colliding black holes every two to three days, compared with once a week or so during its previous run in 2019–20.

Fold 'N Fly » Paper Airplane Folding Instructions #fun

A database of paper airplanes with easy to follow folding instructions, video tutorials and printable folding plans. Find the best paper airplanes that fly the furthest and stay aloft the longest. Learn how to make paper airplanes that will impress your friends.

Amazon Gives up Shipment Zero, a Key Part of Its Climate Pledge #economy #bigcorp

Often, it can feel like big corporations choose their bottom line when it comes to hard choices over profit versus the environment. Amazon is giving off that vibe this week.

The ecommerce giant recently backed out of a commitment to make 50% of its shipments net-zero carbon by 2030. Amazon said in a statement that it would roll this goal into a broader Climate Pledge to reach net-zero carbon across all its operations by 2040. That's a decade later than the 50% goal, which was called "Shipment Zero" at the time.

"As we examined our work toward The Climate Pledge, we realized that it no longer made sense to have a separate and more narrow Shipment Zero goal that applied to only one part of our business, so we've decided to eliminate it," Amazon wrote in the statement.

Neanderthal flute - NMS #history #nature

The oldest musical instrument in the world, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute is a treasure of global significance. It was discovered in Divje babe cave near Cerkno and has been declared by experts to have been made by Neanderthals.

It is made from the left thighbone of a young cave bear and has four pierced holes. Musical experiments confirmed findings of archaeological research that the size and the position of the holes cannot be accidental – they were made with the intention of musical expression.

The flute from Divje babe is the only one that was definitely made by Neanderthals. It is about 20,000 years older than other known flutes, made by anatomically modern humans. This discovery confirms that the Neanderthals were, like us, fully developed spiritual beings capable of sophisticated artistic expression.

The Chicago Sun Times Buy a Bar - Undercover Journalists | Topic #history #interesting

Journalists will go far for a story and they’ll go far for a drink—but would they buy a bar? In Chicago, that’s exactly what a newspaper did. An oral history of an incredible experiment.

Britain is writing the playbook for dictators #privacy

The Online Safety Bill is a model for stripping citizens of their privacy. We won’t go along with it

Electric cars prove we need to rethink brake lights - YouTube #automotive #safety

Germany falls into recession as consumers in Europe's biggest economy spend less | CNN Business #economy

Germany has slipped into recession as last year’s energy price shock takes its toll on consumer spending.

Output in Europe’s largest economy dropped 0.3% in the first three months of the year, following a 0.5% contraction at the end of 2022, official data showed Thursday.

The Federal Statistical Office downgraded its previous estimate of zero growth in gross domestic product (GDP) compared with the previous quarter. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of declining output.

“The persistence of high price increases continued to be a burden on the German economy at the start of the year,” the office said. “This was particularly reflected in household final consumption expenditure, which was down 1.2% in the first quarter of 2023.”

Kissinger’s Killing Fields #history #warcrimes

Interviews with more than 75 witnesses and survivors of U.S. military attacks and an exclusive archive of documents show that Henry Kissinger is responsible for even more civilian deaths in Cambodia than was previously known.

Tesla Autopilot Data Received By German News Site #teslaleaks

A German news outlet sifted through over 23,000 of Tesla’s internal files and found a disturbing trend of brushing off customers complaining about dangerous Autopilot glitches while covering the company’s ass.

The publication Handelsblatt got its hands on the data through an unnamed informant. Handelsblatt confirmed the data’s authenticity with Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology, which found no evidence of doctoring or fabrication in the files. Tesla attempted to stop the publication from using this data in its reporting and even threatened legal action against Handelsblatt. The publication, however, decided this was one of the extraordinary circumstances when reporting on such a data breach would be legal under European Union law.

France bans short-haul flights to cut carbon emissions - BBC News #politics #nature #ecology #economy

France has banned domestic short-haul flights where train alternatives exist, in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

The law came into force two years after lawmakers had voted to end routes where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours.

The ban all but rules out air travel between Paris and cities including Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux, while connecting flights are unaffected.

Critics have described the latest measures as "symbolic bans".

Laurent Donceel, interim head of industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E), told the AFP news agency that "banning these trips will only have minimal effects" on CO2 output.

Hypersonic Missiles are Just Misunderstood | by Tory Bruno | May, 2023 | Medium #politics #security #warfare

It’s hard to go anywhere without hearing about the new threat of hypersonic missiles. China and Russia have them, the United States does not! Even the news has been breathlessly announcing that “Russia used hypersonic missiles against Ukraine” — alarming! The average member of the public, as well as many policymakers, now understand that these things are dangerous because they are just too fast to shoot down. Clearly something needs to be done…

There’s just one problem; about half of that is just plain wrong. Like an angsty teenager, “hypersonic missiles” aren’t bad, they’re just misunderstood.

You see, hypersonic missiles are not new. We have had them since the 1950s. In fact, pretty much every ballistic missile in the medium (>1000 Km) range class is hypersonic. All intercontinental ballistic missiles (>5,500 Km) are hypersonic. The longer the range of a missile, the greater its velocity and the velocity of its warhead. That’s the intuitively obvious physics of ballistic missiles.

European Commission Calls for Pirate Site Blocking Around the Globe * TorrentFreak #copyrights

The European Commission has published its biannual list of foreign countries with problematic copyright policies. One of the highlighted issues is a lack of pirate site blocking, which is seen as an effective enforcement measure. Interestingly, the EU doesn't mention the United States, which is arguably the most significant country yet to implement an effective site-blocking regime.

EU CopyrightIn recent years, website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.

ISPs in several dozen countries prevent subscribers from accessing a variety of ‘pirate’ sites, either through court processes or as part of government-backed administrative blocking regimes.

Tina Turner dead: ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’ singer dies aged 83 | The Independent #promemoria

Tina Turner, the queen of rock’n’roll behind hits such as “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, has died aged 83.

In a statement shared on Wednesday, a representative for the “Proud Mary” singer announced that she had died at her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland.

“Tina Turner, the ‘queen of rock’n’roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,” their statement read.

Microtiming in a Riff from Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” – Metal In Theory #music #art #history

Metallica’s song “Master of Puppets” has extremely powerful and driving momentum, which is especially impressive given that it is riddled with meter changes and thrashes on for almost nine minutes. The 1985 album of the same name, on which the song was released, was praised by all sorts of critics, and is commonly described as one of the best metal albums ever released. The title song in particular is a fan favorite, and is a staple of the band’s live sets. “Master of Puppets” is also one of Metallica’s most popular songs among aspiring guitarists, and the number of home-made transcriptions of this song available online is simply staggering — for example, has at least 45 separate tabs of this song alone, not including tabs of the whole album.

How to cook onions: Why recipe writers lie and lie about how long they take to caramelize. #culinary #food

Here, telling the truth about how to prepare onions for French onion soup, is Julia Child: “[C]ook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.” Ten minutes plus 25 to 30 minutes equals 35 to 40 minutes. That is how long it takes to caramelize onions.

Telling the truth about caramelized onions would turn a lot of dinner-in-half-an-hour recipes into dinner-in-a-little-over-an-hour recipes.

Black holes might be defects in spacetime #nature

Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts the existence of black holes, formed when giant stars collapse. But that same theory predicts that their centers are singularities, which are points of infinite density. Since we know that infinite densities cannot actually happen in the universe, we take this as a sign that Einstein's theory is incomplete. But after nearly a century of searching for extensions, we have not yet confirmed a better theory of gravity.

But we do have candidates, including string theory. In string theory all the particles of the universe are actually microscopic vibrating loops of string. In order to support the wide variety of particles and forces that we observe in the universe, these strings can't just vibrate in our three spatial dimensions. Instead, there have to be extra spatial dimensions that are curled up on themselves into manifolds so small that they escape everyday notice and experimentation.

SR-71 pilot, photographer and storyteller Brian Shul dies at 75 #history #promemoria

The aviation world has lost one of its brightest luminaries. Major Brian Shul was an incredible survivor and a top gun pilot – but also a gifted photographer and storyteller with the ultimate access pass. His brilliant tales of flying the extraordinary SR-71 Blackbird – the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft in history – will live forever.

What a life would've flashed before this man's eyes. Born in Quantico, Virginia in 1948, Shul earned a history degree at East Carolina University before signing up to the US Air Force. He was sent to Vietnam, where he flew 212 air support missions before his T-28 Trojan light attack plane was shot down near the Cambodian border. Unable to eject, Shul took a terrifying gravity ride to the ground, crashing into the jungle deep in enemy territory.

UK police to 'embed' facial recog but oversight is at risk • The Register #privacy

Biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson has warned that independent oversight of facial recognition is at risk just as the policing minister plans to "embed" it into the force.

He said this week that the widely slated use of facial recognition at the recent crowning of Charles III was "a glimpse into the future of policing," but noted that new data protection measures being looked at in Parliament could scrap both his role and the rules governing the use of public space surveillance systems by police and local authorities.

Sampson's job, if you were wondering, is to encourage "compliance with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice" – the only legal instrument that addresses police use of live facial recognition directly. His office is independent of the government.

'More Than 600,000 Students and Teachers Use Z-Library' * TorrentFreak #copyrights

Pirate eBook repository Z-Library has shared some interesting data concluding that more than 600,000 students and scholars use the site. This is likely an underestimation, as the findings are based on email addresses. The United States is excluded from the analysis, Z-Library notes, due to the criminal prosecution of two alleged operators of the site

Z-Library has become the go-to site for many readers in recent years by providing access to millions of books, without charging a penny.

The site’s continued ability to do so was put to the test late last year when U.S. law enforcement seized over 200 domain names connected to the site. Two alleged Z-Library operators were arrested as part of a criminal investigation.

Despite being in the crosshairs of law enforcement, Z-Library has no intention of throwing in the towel. The site remained accessible through the dark web and later made a full comeback. When the U.S. authorities seized more domains earlier this month, it still didn’t budge.

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