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NSA Metadata Collection Gets 90-Day Extension

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Beware the 'Metadata' straw man (73 comments)

[$2000] you have no idea what you are talking about

Yeah I did pick that out of my backside, could have added a couple of zeroes. But hmm...

If every one of the 700 million currently assigned numbers in North America makes 3 calls an hour on average, that's ~1.5 trillion call records per month. Plus duration and a bit of geolocation data if available, we're only interested in unique number queries (not ranges) so keys are hashable, no strings, write once read forever... this is really a best case database.

Yup, need to add a zero to buy the disk space. $20,000. Add another zero for a cloudlike platform with several years' data that's not down a third of the time for record maintenance.

4 days ago
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DARPA Funds Harvard's Soft Exoskeletal Suit

TheRealHocusLocus This has been tried before... (29 comments)

But nature always finds a way. Teeth become stronger and sharper to pierce the hide directly, armored gullets and crops evolve to subject swallowed prey to slow grinding until the hide is pierced and the juices leak out. Suction arms pin the prey to rock as a horny beak drills through the exoskeleton. Birds lift the prey into the sky and let gravity do the hard work, gathering the yummy bits from the wreckage.

The military should be focusing its research on making soldiers better at hiding, smelling and tasting really bad.

5 days ago
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NSA Metadata Collection Gets 90-Day Extension

TheRealHocusLocus Beware the 'Metadata' straw man (73 comments)

Fuck you and fuck no!

That's the spirit. Things have got to change, But first, you gotta get mad!

All of this furor is over call and subscriber data being sent to the NSA directly on a regular basis. If I wanted to build a computer platform capable of storing and doing queries on this information for the whole United States I could probably assemble one off the shelf for a couple grand.

I would not need a water-cooled data center in Utah, centrally located so you can lease dark fiber to carry multiple terabit streams into it. Among other data centers in other parts of the country which are in planning, already constructed, or just manage to stay under the radar because they were built from the black ops budget. I would not need secret agreements (negotiated voluntarily or by threat) with service providers to tap and split optic cables.

This issue of NSA bulk metadata collection is a straw man, a distraction to divert attention from NSA's full content backbone tapping capability. It is a little duck set loose for Congress to shoot down, so they can hold up the dead duck as they pose for a group photo, leaning on their rifles.

The horrifying truth is -- if and when, possibly now -- NSA has enough backbone taps in place, they would already have access to this data that is being sent to them. In the modern world there are but a few major telecoms and their call data converges at central billing and collection points. The telecoms would gladly keep these links unencrypted or leave the keys in the mailbox for a nudge nudge wink wink absolving them of public ire.

Even the judges are stalking this duck and believe me, they are relieved when the topic of conversation fixes on call data rather than bulk content interception. That is because there is legal precedent for law enforcement collection of so-called 'pen trace data' without warrants, and they have a leg to stand on.

I'll serious money that if YOU were to ask any member of Congress a very specific and impeccably worded question about bulk content collection and backbone taps, you would get a clumsy response about call metadata. And move on to the next question. It is that insidious.

NSA has crossed the line. It needs to be completely disbanded, its secret assets colocated at Tier 1 and Tier 2 exchanges completely disconnected, dismantled and sold at auction. Its employees sent home. Or we're all fucked.

LYNCHPIN of warrantless spying: Hepting v. AT&T
Clap on! Clap off! Clapper's PRISM DISINFO Gambit
RAISE CONGRESS, while you still can!
A fable: NSA and the Desolation of Smaug

5 days ago
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The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Who would have thunk (194 comments)

A. A railroad crossing without signals
B. A roundabout
C. Construction work
D. "Some specific turns"

As it approached the railroad crossing the Google Car coasted almost to a halt, at ~1% of full power. This was due to an excess 'poisoning' of Xenon-135, a persistent condition that was generally understood but specifics directly relating to operational safety at low power had not been addressed. At this point conditions for the driving test were inherently unfavorable and dangerous. Tuptunov sensed this, but he lacked the knowledge, vocabulary and resolve to communicate this to Dyatlov -- who ordered the car to be driven manually over the crossing.

This led them into the roundabout, where a single path to the destination exists but the Google Car was not configured to confidently know how and when to exit. The automated systems drove the car in circles for several minutes in low gear at high RPM. The car was still in a state of equilibrium and would eventually have allowed the excess Xenon to absorb neutrons and decay to Xenon-136, which has a much smaller cross-section. But again Dyatlov was impatient for the test to complete and he was getting dizzy, so he ordered to withdraw all but six of the control rods and manually lurch the car into the turnoff.

At this point the car was screaming at full RPM in low gear as it approached the Construction Zone, lurching and swaying. The operators knew they were in some sort of trouble, but the Google Car jerked forward automatically until it spotted the red cones and barricades. It disengaged to manual control and Tuptunov slapped the vehicle into its lowest possible gear. Under normal conditions this engine-assisted braking procedure was the best possible course of action. But the pistons and rods were tipped with graphite which causes a temporary neutron flux when inserted, which escalated power and deformed the rods.

At this point things in general took "some specific turns" for the worse.

about a week ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Obviously. (291 comments)

If, 150 years ago, the average life expectancy was 30-40 years, but the average human level of general health in those 30-40 years was better than the same in the first 30-40 years of modern humans's lives, then you could say that something we did back 150 years ago was better and we were healthier and living well on whatever we were doing.

I believe that 150 years ago you were 'healthier'... IF:

1. you didn't live in a big city, OR were upriver. This in the time before water distribution networks with chlorine treatment and build-out of sanitary sewer projects, sewage treatment to help the poor folk downriver to avoid cholera. This is not strictly geographic. Thanks to some awesome engineering New York City is now 'upriver' because of their aqueducts.

2. you did not succumb as a child to smallpox or malaria. Vaccine and antibiotics kick ass here. I would also like to give a shout-out to my bud dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane a.k.a. DDT who cleared malaria out of the southern US states. Completely. The ongoing tragedy of malaria-affected children today is being marginalized by folks who parrot ddtcancerbad but fail to apply historic perspective to the (irresponsibly) massive amount that was used for agriculture and the (small) amount required for effective mosquito control.

For example, chlorine kills, but 1-3 parts per million of it placed in your drinking water... so long as the treatment plant properly filters organic material to discourage formation of trihalomethanes... just saved your life.

3. your teeth were ok through adulthood and when they became diseased you yanked 'em out quick. Gingivitis and its slow poisoning is a true killer. I think there are many people in a poorer general state of health today because their dentists are trying to "save" their teeth.

4. you did not have one of the (far fewer then) occupations that allowed you to sit more than half the day. These days a good percent sits while awake, working or Internet or television. I think this, more then obesity, is a death sentence. We were not evolved to sit! You don't have to pump iron or run Marathons. Just don't sit down!

There, some Significant Factors that do not include salt or fat or blood pressure or food quality.

about a week ago
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Restoring Salmon To Their Original Habitat -- With a Cannon

TheRealHocusLocus the feet of a duck (147 comments)

I suspended the feet of a duck in an aquarium

From these humblest origins of freight -- where the simple brain of a duck determines terminus loci -- human kind has leveraged the Duck Foot Apparatus into a vast global network with computer-optimized logistics management. Producers and shippers of commodities no longer need to wait until they are stepped on or eaten by a duck. This confers numerous advantages for cargo weight and scheduling and the ability to choose destination.

Early inventors believed you merely needed to graft duck feet onto Medieval torture devices to harness the abilities of ducks. In the Wright Brothers' first aircraft design running duck feet gathered the seeds of grass and mosses during takeoff. The goose neck trailer arose from early attempts to shove large volumes of freight down the neck of a beheaded goose, until it was discovered that large swinging doors in back facilitate deeper penetration and ease of loading.

Anyway, "the rest is history", and what the hell does that mean?? From milligrams to mega tonnes, the modern network of Things That Do Duck Things though they no longer resemble ducks carries invasive species to every "corner" of the globe. And what the hell does that mean??

Ocean shipping networks carry so much freight you can see their routes arching and sagging on this map. This is partially offset by the buoyant effect of air cargo.

To those of us old enough to remember air travel in the bowels of fowls, what a marvel modern transportation is indeed.

about two weeks ago
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First US Appeals Court Hears Arguments To Shut Down NSA Database

TheRealHocusLocus Re:NSA and the Desolation of Smaug (199 comments)

They used FLOWERS???
Or did you mean germanium?

OOPS yeah thanks. Only Elvish tech uses certain flowers and essential oils because the scents stir their shared cultural memory, traverse the elf blood brain barrier easily and allow them to perceive history as one glorious song. Selective cultivation over eons has allowed elves to tailor flower DNA to store their herd memory in complex organic molecules. Either that or the tales were written into flowers all along and the elves adopted that story as their own, who can say.

Other hominids lack these specific receptors so it can come across as a dull throbbing headache, low rushing sound or whispering voices. If you hear voices in elevators and hallways it is likely that elvish tech is used in the building. Elvetech should always be used with adequate ventilation.

about two weeks ago
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New HTML Picture Element To Make Future Web Faster

TheRealHocusLocus While we're at it... CLIP 'n FLIP? (161 comments)

Where one can specify a X1Y1+WIDTHHEIGHT region of the image and that, not the full image, becomes what is actually rendered or stretched by the element.

And if either the X and/or Y have a MINUS sign, then the same absolute coordinates are used -- but also the presence of the sign causes the browser to FLIP the image horizontally, vertically or both. This deals with the case of mirror elements.

Modern web pages are full of small design elements such as bits of custom corners, tiles that are stretched horizontally and vertically and small recurring icons and pieces that are common to many pages. There can be dozens of these unique elements all told.

Wouldn't it be nice if only ONE image that has been carefully crafted to contain these rectangular regions, is loaded to the client, thus keeping all these bits and pieces from spamming the world's server logs and keepalive sessions?

Yes one can do something like this active scripting and with layers and canvas, but putting clip'n'flip into a newly designed PICTURE tag would achieve what I've been suggesting since... 1995. It would give me personal closure. It would make me feel needed.

about two weeks ago
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First US Appeals Court Hears Arguments To Shut Down NSA Database

TheRealHocusLocus NSA and the Desolation of Smaug (199 comments)

~repost~

And over time the men of Dale had become complacent on privacy, liberty and freedom of association, and yet they prospered. No longer content with the wealth of accumulation, they valued innovation and the free exchange of information. To this end they did help to build the greatest communications network that had ever been. Through it all their wealth flowed like a river --- real wealth --- not the dusty treasure hordes of kings locked in windowless rooms.

The fortune and fate of Dale is bound with that of the dwarves, for it is they who had built it. "Long ago in my grandfather Thror's time our family was driven out of the far North, and came back with all their wealth and their tools to this Mountain on the map." They were especially skilled in working gold, copper and silver into thin filaments which they strung far across the land. Where ever dwarves settled dial tone was sure to follow. But their skill was even greater with jewels and crystals, from which they built magical devices of geranium and silicon to carry voices and information in the aether. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the. fun of it, not to speak of the most marvelous and magical toys [...] and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North."

But of all the wonders of that age the most precious was perhaps the least visible, hidden deep under the Mountain itself. "Discovered by my far ancestor, Thrain the Old, now they mined and they tunneled and they made huger halls and greater workshops." The Mountain they had built is actually many mountains and there is one in your own city. I refer to the telecommunications exchange points of Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks such as MAE-EAST and MAE-WEST, where rivers of voice and data converge into brilliant points of light, then spread out again.

The dwarves had not valued privacy per se, they had just built it for maximum throughput with minimum delay. Their vision was broad and down-to-earth and the data it carried was of practical use for the greatest number. "We use our own devices and just enough magic to make them go. Devices such as the palantir are of no interest to us, the Elves of Valinor can keep their silly patents. The palantir does work for distance communication but it is incredibly expensive and uses a lot of bandwidth. It is also dangerous. If you wish to talk to family and friend, or close a simple deal, why would you wish to link minds, wrestle in thought or lock souls with the other party? The dwarves deliver only voices and runes and stay clear of elvish mind-fuck. Besides, the palantir uses a proprietary network and has no user-servicable parts. Like the Blackberry."

But the dwarves' cleverness though inspired by wisdom was also their folly. While great wealth flowed through their network they were driven to perfect it, and that meant concentrating the flows of many through but a few interconnect points.

"Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons burrow themselves into networks to steal information you know, wherever they can find it; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are outed by Congressional hearing), and --- if you would believe them --- they do it for only noble purposes and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of information from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; so despite noble aims of vigilant protection, their omnificent awareness inevitably leads to dull and stupid ends that rend the fabric of society. Insider trading, scheming false flag operations and a 'selective failure' to divulge clear warning of terrorism if it would serve their own ends, a dragon is easily turned to the dark side by its very nature." As the dwarves tell it we would be better off without these dragons altogether, and if you do not agree then perhaps you had better give it some more thought.

Smaug has infiltrated the dwarves' great network in many secret stages worldwide, such as the USUK [fas.org] and Room 641A [wikipedia.org] and countless other interconnection points within your own country listening to your own citizens too. The dwarves' dark fiber has been lit to carry these intercepted riches to his many lairs. You might learn of them if you could convince Congress to ask Smaug directly.

But Smaug has but one weakness, and that is the rule of law that has been established by the Constitution. There is no question that Smaug has violated us, and if left unchecked he will betray us in the end. A mighty witch-king will arise and the dragons will tell your secrets to them, and none will be safe in the end. And do not blame the dwarves, their folly is also your own.

Will the mighty bow of Bard sing in our own time? There is but one black arrow left.

Your move.

about two weeks ago
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Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

TheRealHocusLocus Re:A more efficient grid would do wonders... (245 comments)

No, HVDC is good enough. You don't need 99% efficiency at 10x the cost of 90% efficiency. It's just not worth it. Besides, I doubt the efficiency of superconductors with their associated refrigeration would be competitive with HVDC anyway, or why else is it that HVDC is the market leader for long haul transmission right now?

I agree, HVDC can be made to work above or (preferably) below ground with a suitable amount of aluminum cross section and/or heat sink. There are some interesting calculations for 5-288GW transmission lines in this paper Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security which I use as a reference for raw capacity and conductor size. But Faulkner's 1-4 million VDC dream is unlikely in an age where practical Voltage Source Converters operate at ~345kV.

Faulkner is a hero of mine, we seem to share a feeling of urgency about re-structuring the grid to HVDC. His firm is desperately trying to make trench-friendly passively cooled HVDC 'elpipe' a reality, which sadly, is not gaining traction. In the supposed richest and cleverest country on Earth it grieves me to read this,

  • [from his website] " How do we acquire customers? This is the hard part. Though I am convinced that high capacity underground power transmission is absolutely required for us to move to a clean energy future, there is zero chance that a utility in North America or Europe will be a first adopter. We are looking to several places that need to innovate, and are less risk averse than the US (Brazil, India, China for example). There is no chance of a quick success, nor is there any other viable option that can deliver high transmission capacity underground, passively cooled; this will be a long term investment. But I see no other viable alternative for building a supergrid. Why do I continue to pursue such a difficult area as Long Distance Power Transmission? If not me, then who? The utilities believe in change that is so incremental that it cannot possibly deliver the degree of innovation that is needed to address global warming. They continue to build primarily high voltage AC lines, and point-to-point HVDC lines, when what is clearly needed is a change to multi-terminal HVDC systems (like the Atlantic Wind Connection), but arranged in loops to be self-redundant. The major suppliers to the utilities are nearly as risk averse as the utilities themselves. Utility mantras include such things as "underground is ten times as expensive as overhead lines" which is not true. Change will come, and it will be disruptive. Must we accept the self-fulfilling prophesies that keep us stuck?"

Forgive me... but will someone please give this man some fucking money?

There is a proposal afoot to build an HVDC submarine ring around the UK. A ring structure is the way to go -- with several overlapping rings across North America. They provide fault tolerance and (I've read recently somewhere) it would simplify load management if sources would design for and 'push' towards loads in a particular direction. Ring HVDC also optimizes plant design.

Tres Amigas SuperStation aims to bridge the North American East/West/Texas interconnects with superconducting HVDC at 5GW (scalable to 30GW). Their business model seems ENRONian with the twist they they'd actually own some unique infrastructure and not just leech-suck from others'. But is this project just a proving ground for superconductors? I wonder how the non-superconductor options would work out.

___
Please see Thorium Remix and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about two weeks ago
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New Computer Model Predicts Impact of Yellowstone Volcano Eruption

TheRealHocusLocus BBC Supervolcano model (121 comments)

I loved the neat 3D simulator the BBC fabricated for their docudrama Supervolcano. After the run one of the geologists (played by Gary Lewis) says, "[laughing] That's great... and if frogs had wings they wouldn't bump their little green asses hoppin' around, eh? [...] You're letting yourself be spooked by a video game!"

Great TEOTWAWKI drama, decent science, I recommend it: Supervolcano Ep1, Supervolcano Ep2, and the companion factual documentary Supervolcano.The Truth About Yellowstone which re-uses CGI footage made for the drama between interviews.

about three weeks ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

TheRealHocusLocus TIL: It Has Already Left The Station !! (258 comments)

I love the Slashdot headline "Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go". A most provocative issue of nuclear energy, stir in a bit of Fed-Fumbling with the idea of a ghost train and you have the perfect movie plot and Internet meme.

Drawing on most recent experience with politics in America, the way illegal immigration is being "handled" -- I conclude this announcement means that the Nuclear Ghost Train has Already Left The Station.

It is currently circumnavigating the continent. Soon it will pass through Your Town.

Folks like me who live near the tracks know of ones like it, those trains that pass through in the dead of night and (creepily) did not blow their horns, for you awaken to the low rumble of wheels that seems to go on forever. Yeah, those.

Every night the Ghost Train pulls onto a siding somewhere and dark figures with flashlights roll up and couple another boxcar. By 2015 the Train will be pulling more than half of all spent nuclear fuel in North America, and nuclear plant operators will sleep that much easier at night, since relieving them of this awful responsibility is the ONE thing the Federal Government promised to deliver all along.

It's going through Tennessee tonight. Listen for it. Pleasant dreams. Is this so farfetched? Could some one come up with any other examples of government action just as ludicrous? I see a lot of hands raised here.

I see a few others have brought up radioactive train movies, some of them with plots blatantly obvious and goofy. After all we're talking about a system of containment so secure that even a head-on with another train would roll the casks off the train and dint them slightly, as they wait to be picked up again. Cue up video of protesters dressed like skeletons with nuclear death symbols who caught a whiff of nuclear transport and scream "Not in our town!" as thin-skinned railroad tanker cars of chlorine gas, sodium hydroxide and cresol pass by.

If you're protesting, do not step out in front of the Nuclear Ghost Train. It has been instructed not to stop under any circumstances. Cleanup crews are on standby in all major cities and your bodies will never be found.

The Nuclear Ghost train does exist in a movie, but it's not a goofy disaster movie. It is a Argentinian film entitled Moebius [1996] made by Gustavo Mosquera. "Recent stories, fears and oblivion seen through a metaphor. A 30-passenger convoy vanishes in the closed circuit of the Buenos Aires underground system. Research will be initiated towards finding the cause of this dematerialization. A young topologist (surfaces mathematician) leads the investigation based on some lost maps and technical data sheets. He cannot find the whereabouts of the old scientist who designed the intricate weft of the subway web, until the unexpected aid from a young girl will ease the obtention of the first clues. Everything seems to be futile, but a random event that will risk his life gets him into an impossible train, were he will face up the amazing final revelation." This is an amazing movie though you may need to resort to [extreme] [methods] to see it.

Never mind those too-obvious disaster films. Moebius [1996] is the perfect one to take in while you ponder the meaning of the Perpetually Moving Nuclear Ghost Train.

Which has already left the station.

about three weeks ago
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Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

TheRealHocusLocus Obstacles Score -1 Offtopic (289 comments)

Gather 'round kids, I'll tell you of the time when Google Self-Driving Cars were just around the corner. It was considered to be one of the 'last' frontiers in artificial intelligence, because AIs had already been tried -- and proved successful -- in other venues. A great many people, our smartest people, were concentrating on this and similar problems. AI was not a transformational experience.

In fact, this fixation with AI turned out to be a big mistake. You'd love to hear about some great struggle between man and machine, how we were brought low by our own cleverness. Here's the real why.

These AIs were not smarter or capable by any means. People just re-arranged their environment to make these machines comfortable, much as you would clean house and rearrange the furniture to better accommodate a handicapped guest. In manufacturing, specialized robots proved very adept for the most tedious and repetitive tasks of assembly but general object manipulation such as unpacking, but in sorting and placing parts the clumsiest of humans excelled. So the world became a place of conveyor belts and hoppers and jigs. Humans loaded the jigs, verified the proper operation of conveyors with a deft glance, and reigned supreme in the packing and shipping department. Once everything was in place and arrived at the proper moment, intelligent robots were able to construct incredible devices in seconds, where there once had been hundreds of steps spanning several days. So far so good.

If cleverer and more intricate devices were all it took to survive, the wheels of progress would still be turning.

No emergent intelligence, no revolution. The only machines that turned on their masters, turns out, were those specifically instructed to do so. Runaway killer drones suffering from software bugs, malfunctioning friend-or-foe systems, some hacked by dysfunctional or suicidal humans into becoming killing machines. But it was in the end quite impersonal, even boring. The machines did not seek to overrun Earth or join forces any more than a nail gun goes off in search of human wrists once its safety catch is removed. Except for that little skirmish where one million people were murdered in cold blood, but the machines doing it were too busy to notice the Corrective Forces moving in, they lacked the cleverness to hide or disguise themselves and... problem solved. A bit late for that One Million as they are called now but far less dangerous than say, a pandemic.

So Humans Need Not Apply . The automation of everything progressed. Clever humans do not need a reason to be clever because cleverness is its own reward -- something to do with endorphins and the "Ah Ha!" moment which we won't get into here -- we were clever. The most fascinating problems to solve were those which, when solved, put more people out of work. This happened gradually and mostly to other people, and no one shed a tear over it because it was easy to imagine liberated humans enjoying a life of leisure somewhere. A half-remembered snippet of an old film or Utopian anime was enough to do the trick.

So when it came to self-driving cars our best and brightest were right there. It is a sexy problem, successful negotiation of a task that even the dullest of humans seem to manage pretty well. And they were making progress, and predictably as in all these dystopian outcomes, the laziest among them would say, we are so close. But we'd be even closer if we could just get the humans off the roads.

They were screwed because there were more humans all over the roads then ever before, more than anyone could remember. These were people displaced by technology, the jobless seeking jobs, the homeless moving from place to place. While they had been busy making cell phones smaller and web apps more numerous, some of the 'true' engineers among them shaving a few more humans off the company payroll here and there, automating industries, more jobs gone overseas, their country had changed.

They would watch those quaint videos of Google test car drives from 2014 and see a world that once was, where streets could be digitally analyzed and their autonomous vehicles used other friendly drivers and cleanly painted lines to navigate. But one look out the window and they saw, well, something like Jakarta.

So undeterred, while enjoying the personal wealth that flows around those on the leading edge of technological pursuits, they changed their strategy a bit. A practical Google car would have to be a bit more aggressive, even mean at times, like those taxi and scooter drivers in the picture. At that point the problem became even more interesting.

Thus, all the brightest minds of the age were commuting from their gated communities or now working from home -- intent on solving all these fascinating problems and (the day job) displacing a few more people here and there -- when the lights went out.

Game over.

Infrastructure was interesting and sexy once. There had been a time when infrastructure was exciting to everyone and it was built out in grand scale with surplus energy for no good reason, because it was understood that energy meant clean water and better life. Then ironically during the late 20th century -- just when we should have been applying our minds to solving the energy problem once and for all -- the best and brightest became distracted by information technology.

Those involved in Energy became distracted by something they called 'sustainability' which, due to the sexy chosen alternative energy sources, was unworkable. It was actually energy poverty they were working towards, something few either realized or would admit.

Meanwhile, out-sourced manufacturing, a myopic fixation with small technology and exotically parasitic pursuits such as speculative financial instruments swallowed the can-and-will-do capital that once built and helped to improve the Big Things.

So Big Things such as the grid were now restricted to the most desperate of financial support, the end of long term financing in favor of short term gains and one-generation thinking, 'emergency' repairs.

Among the best and brightest, everyone thought that someone else would handle that boring Energy stuff, and someone else might some day realize that wind and solar would not work, really.

Now kids, welcome to really. We have plenty of time to devote to it. But off to bed now, you must yoke the Oxen first thing in the morning.

___
Please see Thorium Remix and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate
Also of interest, Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security

about three weeks ago
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HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

TheRealHocusLocus Same folks who made my LED flashlight? (137 comments)

A little 8-white-LED key chain flashlight, it's cheap and what a miracle it is. Anyone old enough to remember strapping on 2 lb lantern batteries for a couple of hours' light knows. Really bright, runs cool with and extremely low current draw. All Glory to the Human Race. And Hypnotoad.

1. flickered on the first day when I tapped it against something. Probably shelf life corrosion patina, took out batteries, cleaned them, ok.

2. flickering again. spring on screw end not made of spring steel, weak. stretched out spring.

3. flickering again. top contact in flashlight tube is flat bent strip of copper or brass, no spring behind it. installed tiny ball of foil on top of battery.

4. flickering again. top contact now recessed into soft plastic and contact is unreliable even with foil or spring shim. flashlight goes into drawer.

5. need for tiny always-on light. take hacksaw to cut off aluminum battery tube, to reach and solder wire from 1.5V adapter to top contact. drill small hole to attach screw for wire (cannot solder, too much heat dissipation). Works today. Light always on.

6. flickering again. this time it is failing spring on push button. place small clamp around button squeezing it down tight.

7. flickering again. this time it is two of the eight individual LEDs around the circle going out when tapped. clearly the fabrication method involved little or no solder.

8. at this point 'fixing' this little light would involve rendering it down to part level and rebuilding it. Had enough. I decide to leave the light as it is and change my life instead. I have joined an Amish community.

8. flickering again. this time it is a light murmuring breeze on leaves in a glade of dappled sunlight. tie off branches and sew leaves together with thread.

9. flickering again. this time it is my campfire. A rhinoceros appears and stamps the fire out.

about three weeks ago
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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Howl's Moving Castle and other dreams (216 comments)

"Not a political map"? yes it is.
the Howard Javis inspired 'tax foundation' that ignores the 40% effective net taxes paid by the bottom 50% of citizens is PURE politics, and false at that.

Thanks for the reply. "Proposition 13" Jarvis? Wow, it is fascinating to see how his influence has gelled and morphed in the generation since. I'm curious how any slice of economic sleight-of-hand applied across the board such as ignoring the 40%/50% might become a pure political issue. Is it one of those "Because ___ people tend to be ___" type of things? (I really am clueless here).

Since it was posted original map which averages by state has been updated with a more detailed one that averages by county. No doubt a mob of Upstate New Yorkers threatened to burn the website down for letting New York City turn their whole state blue=bad, costly. And the scoundrels reversed the color scheme too so the state/county maps are visually incompatible.

So I changed the colors back. Here is an animated GIF I made with corrected colors which flips between their State and County map. In it we see that duh, their "purchasing power" is a function of rural versus metropolis.

Regarding your cry of "politics"... I was struck with the similarity of the their State average map to another: here is a GIF showing their State averages and electoral 2012 results. Aside from a few states their $100 purchasing power distribution has an uncanny resemblance to the Presidential race. Is some of this not strictly party politics after all... rather, a glimpse of the battle line between city-states and rural-folk who are hanging on by an electoral thread? Or is it wealthy versus not?

I do sense that the city vs. rural divide is becoming a real battle, a country-wide struggle to secure resources and clout as the Water Wars divided California. In this Slashdot musing I lay out what I deem as a front line, the move by city-folk to abolish the electoral college. What think?

about three weeks ago
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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

TheRealHocusLocus Howl's Moving Castle and other dreams (216 comments)

Wouldn't it be keen if Diablo Canyon and the other operating nucleaar plants could rise up on giant clawed feet and saunter over to a state that actually wants a clean source of emissions-free energy.

It would also be cool if nuclear electricity was shaped a bit differently, perhaps a little series of dips in the sinusoid like tumblers in a lock... that way the grid could reconfigure itself to gather carbon free energy and pool it for use in states that are not driven by anti-nuclear hysterics.

Then the minions of Enron could come out of retirement, and just as the kind gentleman did for the Yellow Bellied Sneetches, they could install an Apparatus that smooths the sinusoid making the energy appear to have come from Solar or Wind -- for a good price, so the Californians could have Stars Upon Thars.

I recognize that this assessment of Diablo Canyon comes from the NRC, not California. But cue the hysteria as the San Onorfe haters gather their torches and march on to battle evil. Leaving in its wake peace and natural gas for all.

California is becoming more BLUE as time goes on. Hint: Take a peek -- that is not a political map.

about three weeks ago
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Among Gamers, Adult Women Vastly Outnumber Teenage Boys

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Amazing (276 comments)

I think marketing just sullied the word "gamer" by including people who play casual mobile games.

Well now. When Slashdot revealed shockingly that Whales Are Ecosystem Engineers ... which should have shook the very foundation of nerddom to create a backlash of indignation ... as a handful of researchers casually marginalized the hard work and extreme mental discipline required to obtain a degree in Engineering to some act of mammalian gut instinct... what did we get, ~60 comments?

But tamper with gamer and we come out in force.

It's all fun and GAMES until someone loses their social EYEdentity.

</smile>

about a month ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

TheRealHocusLocus Tales of ~150,000ms access time (193 comments)

Okay, so we need disc 101 from tray 1010101 and the robot arm is busy, three other fetches already in the queue. After 30,000ms client Javascript times out and substitutes a "retrieving data, re-try for a few minutes" place holder, sets a longer camp-on timeout and releases the request.

The reason the robotic arm is busy is that despite random assignment to storage pools with some localized album grouping, web crawler activity for public albums, and bulk pre-fetch requests for semi-private albums by browser plugins run by logged-in users (which became more popular as access time increased) ... the lukewarm storage facilities are running hot and queues are full most of the time.

Despite the polished and smoothly functioning presentation that encourages the users to "just wait a bit" ... a dark rumor grows deep in the hearts of many that the data is not merely delayed, they must brush off dust and cobwebs, or root for it because it had been haphazardly tossed into a pile of rubbish somewhere, relegated to the digital Basement. Facebook does not think your photograph is of sufficient merit. Grandmother has long passed and you had not wished to look at her last week, so... why should you be interested now?

The effects are complex, but the cause is clear: the Internet is perverse. It re-routes around any attempt to take immediate access data off-line by degrees, accomplishing this through a series of countermeasures such as unwelcome crawlers depleting your cache, hitting your 'public' cold data systematically and regularly, then finally bankrupting your company as users migrate to another service whose superior performance does not arise from superior engineering -- merely the fact that fewer users are using it.

So the moral of the story is, if you are Facebook and wish to remain so, you will either strive to find a way to keep the random access time for everything down below 2000ms -- or die.

And also, Facebook would be wise to heed the following:

once / forgotten by tourists / a bicycle joined a herd of mountain goats /// with its splendidly turned horns / it became / their leader /// with its bell / it warned them / of danger /// with them / it partook / in romps / on the snow covered / glade /// the bicycle / gazed from above / on people walking; / with the goats /// it fought / over a goat, / with a bearded buck /// it reared up at eagles / enraged / on its back wheel /// it was happy / though it never / nibbled at grass /// or drank from a stream /// until once / a poacher / shot it /// tempted / by the silver trophy / of its horns /// and then / above the Tatras was seen / against the sparkling / January sky /// the angel of death erect / slowly / riding to heaven / holding the bicycle's / dead horns //////~Jerzy Harasymowicz

about a month ago
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Western US Drought Has Made Earth's Crust Rise

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Tectonics (90 comments)

%22feed%22%3A%227day_m25%22%2C%22search%22%3Anull%2C%22sort%22%3A%22newest%22%2C%22basemap%22%3A%22grayscale%22%2C%22autoUpdate%22%3Atrue%2C%22restrictListToMap%22%3Atrue%2C%22timeZone%22%3A%22local%22%2C%22mapposition%22%3A[[30.221101852485987%2C-131.30859375]%2C[43.229195113965005%2C-106.69921875]]%2C%22overlays%22%3A{%22plates%22%3Atrue}%2C%22viewModes%22%3A{%22map%22%3Atrue%2C%22list%22%3Afalse%2C%22settings%22%3Atrue%2C%22help%22%3Afalse

You really shouldn't try to type during an earthquake.

about a month ago
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Google's Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

TheRealHocusLocus Re:A limit is a limit (475 comments)

If someone stoops to classic, even dramatically ridiculous errors in logic,
yet you totally 'get' what their point is,
and 'get' where they are coming from
(seeing the view and the person behind the view)
is there a Latin phrase for that?
Just simply understanding people?

Blood in the streets!

you actually achieved a slippery slope argument.

Ergo, San Francisco.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Death to the Trapezoid.. Small aggravations and big 'fails'

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 9 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told-- just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?"
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The Dismantling of POTS: bold move or grave error?

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 10 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "The FCC is drafting rules to formalize the process of transition of "last-mile" subscriber circuits to digital IP-based data streams. The move is lauded by AT&T Chairman Tom Wheeler who claims that significant resources are spent to maintain 'legacy' POTS service, though some 100 million still use it. POTS, or 'Plain Old Telephone Service' is the analog standard that allows the use of simple unpowered phone devices on the wire, with the phone company supplying ring and talk voltage. I cannot fault progress, in fact I'm part of the problem: I gave up my dial tone a couple years ago because I needed cell and could not afford to keep both. But what concerns me is, are we poised to dismantle systems that are capable of standing alone to keep communities and regions 'in-touch' with each other, in favor of systems that rely on centralized (and distant) points of failure? Despite its analog limitations POTS switches have enforced the use of hard-coded local exchanges and equipment that will faithfully complete local calls even if its network connections are down. But do these IP phones deliver the same promise? For that matter, is any single local cell tower isolated from its parent network of use to anyone at all? I have had a difficult time finding answers to this question, and would love savvy /. folks to weigh in: In a disaster that isolates the community from outside or partitions the country's connectivity — aside from local Plain Old Telephone Service, how many IP and cell phones would continue to function? Are we setting ourselves up for a 'fail'?"
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If ONLY Compact Flourescernt Bulbs are lighting this room, right now...

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "POLL IDEA

* They better for me AND I want to threaten everyone to use them with a stick
* Illumination is BETTER than incandescent bulbs
* No difference, who cares
* Illumination is WORSE than incandescent bulbs
* Worse for me AND I want to break them all with a stick
* Naver mind this bulb business, I just want to use the stick
* Disqualified: I have an incandescent desk lamp, I am blind or all my bulbs have burned out"
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Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 40-Year Old Technology

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Paul Rosenberg has uncovered some surprising new evidence that manned space travel is not only possible, it has actually been achieved using decades-old technology. Some 40 years in the making, a tale too amazing to remain untold. With a few quaint photographs he asks, could we build this? The answer is no. Or is it? It is uplifting to read that "Productive humans have been delegated to mute observance as their hard-earned surplus is syphoned off to capital cities, where it is sanctimoniously poured down a sewer of cultured dependencies and endless wars..." for it must take something really compelling to prevent us from reaching the stars, and he has nailed it. This essay makes the case that the headliner of 2052 may well be: Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 80-Year Old Technology. I can hardly wait! Down with robots."
Link to Original Source
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The future of energy must be crowdsourced, needs your help

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "It wants to power our grid — completely. It wants to eat our existing nuclear waste, all of it. It does not want to explode or release radioactivity via steam or overpressure. Oil companies are trying to make you fear it (duh). The Big Nuclear Industry will not touch it because it eats anything, and they cannot lock you in to a solid fuel contract. Environmentalists are still confusing it with 'traditional' melt boom irradiate nuclear power technology. Kirk Sorensen wants to tell you about it. TFA is two hours long but there is not a idle moment in here, it's a mini physics course in itself. This is all about keeping the lights on, surviving the Winter, keeping our technological lead."
Link to Original Source
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How 'hackable' is EAS? This just in: Zombie acopalypse in Montanna

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Perhaps uncoincidentally with the Walking Dead's return on AMC, unknown persons have managed to inject a fake EAS (Emergency Alert System) message into the stream of KRTV in Great Falls, Montana. From CONELRAD [1951-1963] to EBS [1963-1997] to modern EAS, the US has had infrastructure in place for an attention signal to alert a hierarchical network of broadcast stations. In 1979 I conducted weekly EBS tests at a small FM station which always required direct operator action. But now so many stations run unattended, it is surprising incidents like this do not happen more often. But this begs the age old question: how could you secure such a network without introducing excessive complexity, reducing reliability?"
Link to Original Source
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Only two real challenges face us today, besides restraint (for comment)

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "There are only two real challenges to face in this world.

There is only only one doomsday scenario that requires us to come together and take action to ensure our survival: to deploy technology that can identify, then divert or destroy asteroids on a course to impact our planet.

There is only one actual piece of social engineering that needs to occur to ensure our survival: to marginalize the opposition to nuclear energy and to build and scale up efficient and safe modern designs to completely power our electric grids with enough surplus energy for electric ground transportation, trains, cars and trucks. To gather and store the nuclear waste responsibly until breeder technology matures. The developing world wants electric grids (not our charity dollars), in the developed world the grids are the only thing between us and the dark ages. Coal, oil and gas harm the environment and their depletion curves yield a perpetual resource war and eventual doom. Disaster-hardened underground nuclear reactors hold the ONLY real promise we have for continued existence in the style to which we are accustomed.

That's it. Only two challenges. All the rest are matters that may be solved with restraint.

This practice of taking issues such as violence and war or drug abuse or overpopulation, and treating them as 'disasters' and not issues of restraint — worries me. It is a grave mental disorder to portray them as anything more than they are, simple issues of personal restraint.

John Galt's motor does not exist. Fusion even if it proves possible will not be scalable soon enough. Hydrogen is a great fuel for transportation but it requires energy for harvest. Nuclear fission is the *only* energy source that could keep us alive through a long dark winter so it must be pursued — until it is perfected, to the exclusion of everything else.

In other words, GROW UP humanity, this little recess from technological innovation while we burn off the oil and turn away from danger in the sky, is over. It's time to get back to work."

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