W.J. Hennigan wrote a pretty nice piece for the Los Angeles Times about the use of smartphone and tablet technology by the U.S. military:
Frustrated that he had to flip through dozens of maps stuffed inside his chopper, Carlson, 31, loaded the documents onto his personal iPad, enabling him to zoom in, zoom out and quickly move from one map to another.
Carlson’s brainstorm shortened the time it took to pinpoint a location from “three minutes to about 30 seconds,” he recalled recently, and it soon helped change the way the military is thinking about warfare. The Marines now have more than 30 iPads in cockpits across their fleet of helicopters and fighter jets.
The Army is using iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys in mock wartime situations in New Mexico and Texas.
Such devices are coming in handy in simulated security raids and checkpoint stops to take pictures of Arabic writing and gather biometric data, such as fingerprints and iris scans, McCarthy said.
'Ili and I have been watching Gerry Anderson's Space Precincton Netflix Watch Instantly the past few days.1 We’re two episodes in and I’m not 100% sure how to describe it. Wikipedia:
American broadcasters were uncertain what to make of this series that looked on the surface to be aimed at children, yet actually featured adult-oriented storylines and was usually played straight despite the bizarre storylines and make-up.
Maybe comparing it to other shows will be instructive: The makeup and creature FX remind me a lot of Farscape. The photography and costumes are reminiscent of Babylon 5. It has the scifi sensibilities of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
That doesn’t quite capture it somehow, though. Perhaps I already nailed it on Twitter:
Watching “Space Precinct” with ¥CHz. I really don’t know how to describe this show but “every cop show trope, but in space” is a good start.
But I still don’t think that’s the whole story. Perhaps, in the end, the best summary is that I’m looking forward to episode 3.
The first episode was directed by infamous James Bond director John Glen. (Seriously this dude directed some of the worst Bond movies, all in a row). When I saw his name come up on the titles, I quite literally said “Oh nooooo” out loud. Thankfully, my worst fears were not confirmed. ↩
Have you ever watched a movie and been disappointed that no one throws a man in a bear suit into space? After watching Luigi Cozzi’s "Hercules," I realized that I’ll forever be disappointed in movies that don’t include a man in a bear suit being thrown into space. It’s rare that a movie embodies the mercurial beauty of “So Bad It’s Good” cinema the way Cozzi’s "Hercules" does. Cozzi is a director whose career is studded with knock-off films: "Starcrash" is his "Star Wars,""Contamination" is his "Alien," and this movie is his "Clash of the Titans." What sets Cozzi’s knock-offs apart is the fact that they are crammed to bursting with STUFF HAPPENING—you may be baffled by what’s on screen, but you are guaranteed to never, ever be bored. Cozzi’s muse is all hopped up on sugar cereal and sparkles with gloriously absurd ideas, every one of which the director is dedicated to capturing on film, always punctuated with an exclamation point.
"Hercules" starts off by disorienting its audience with a melange of repurposed alchemical mysticism, patchwork Greek mythology, and dicey astronomy that attempts to explain the creation of the universe. To sum up: the fire of chaos created four elements (day, night, air and matter) which in turn created Pandora’s Jar which exploded and then that created the planets—all of which is presided over by the space-deities Zeus, Athena and Hera. In order to fight the evils that have been unleashed by the breaking of the jar, the gods create Hercules and then proceed to fuck with him for pretty much no reason at all until he can prove he’s really a hero.
I just watched this with Colin, and I’m pleased to report that it really was every bit as terrible as I was hoping it would be.
And yes, someone throws a man in a bear suit into outer space.
Every now and then a treasure-trove of seemingly “lost” literature is discovered. The latest such find is a collection of stories by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Seuss scholars and collectors have known about these stories for a while, but fans will have the chance to read them in a new book to be released by Random House next fall[, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories].
These are stories that have already been published. Dr. Charles Cohen, a Massachusetts dentist with a passion for all things Dr. Seuss, simply managed to collect them all in one place.
"They came out in the ’50s in magazines," Cohen explains. "And then when the next month’s magazine would come in, people would throw away the old one. And those stories were forgotten. And literally it’s been 60 years for some of these stories and very few people have seen them."
The book came out today. Grab it at Amazon.com or whatever other retailer you find appropriate.
We also offer training to on-air staff so they can work on their delivery. There’s even a book called Sound Reporting, by longtime NPR producer Jonathan Kern, that talks about on-air delivery, including how reporters and hosts make notations on paper copies of their scripts to specify when they want to emphasize a word or syllable, pause for a beat, etc.
Don’t miss the comments too, where Carvin talks about how they work on pronouncing foreign names correctly and consistently.
The first thing that pops up when you visit the website of the San Francisco restaurant Fleur de Lys is a nearly full-screen animation of celebrity chef Hubert Keller’s autograph. That makes sense—when I’m choosing a restaurant, the first thing I want to know is, Can the chef sign his name?
When, in early-1986, Disney executives decided to change the title of their upcoming animated feature from ‘Basil of Baker Street’ to the less ambiguous ‘The Great Mouse Detective’, its production team were less than pleased. One animator in particular, Ed Gombert, harnessed his displeasure to comical effect by creating, and circulating, the following: a fake memo purportedly from then-head of department, Peter Schneider, in which he announced the retroactive renaming of Disney’s entire back catalogue, bar The Aristocats, in a similarly bland style.
This is the funniest thing I’ve read on Letters of Note in a while.
The physics world is abuzz with news that a group of European physicists plans to announce Friday that it has clocked a burst of subatomic particles known as neutrinos breaking the cosmic speed limit — the speed of light — that was set by Albert Einstein in 1905.
If true, it is a result that would change the world. But that “if” is enormous.
Even before the European physicists had presented their results — in a paper that appeared on the physics Web site arXiv.org on Thursday night and in a seminar at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, on Friday — a chorus of physicists had risen up on blogs and elsewhere arguing that it was way too soon to give up on Einstein and that there was probably some experimental error. Incredible claims require incredible evidence.
Incredible. I love the unflappable attitude of this scientist:
John Learned, a neutrino astronomer at the University of Hawaii, said that if the results of the Opera researchers turned out to be true, it could be the first hint that neutrinos can take a shortcut through space, through extra dimensions. Joe Lykken of Fermilab said, “Special relativity only holds in flat space, so if there is a warped fifth dimension, it is possible that on other slices of it, the speed of light is different.”
"Oh, one of the basic tenants of the last 100 years of physics might be wrong? Well… what if we invert the polarity… it just might work!"
Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.
As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.
On December 28, 2004, Mike Brown and his team discovered Haumea on images they had taken with the 1.3 m SMARTS Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in the United States on May 6, 2004, while looking for what he hoped would be the tenth planet. … However, it was clearly too small to be a planet as it was significantly smaller than Pluto, and Brown did not announce the discovery. Instead he kept it under wraps, along with several other large trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), until through additional observation he could better determine their natures. …
At around that time, Pablo Santos Sanz, a student of José Luis Ortiz Moreno at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía at Sierra Nevada Observatory in southern Spain, examined the backlog of photos that the Ortiz team had started taking in December 2002. He says that he found Haumea in late July on images taken on March 7, 9, and 10, 2003. In checking whether this was a known object, the team came across Brown’s internet summary, describing a bright TNO much like the one they had just found. Googling the reference number K40506A on the morning of July 26, they found the Caltech observation logs of Haumea, but according to their account, those logs contained too little information for Ortiz to tell if they were the same object. The Ortiz team also checked with the Minor Planet Center (MPC), which had no record of this object. Wanting to establish priority, they emailed the MPC with their discovery on the night of July 27, 2005, titled “Big TNO discovery, urgent”, without making any mention of the Caltech logs. The next morning they again accessed the Caltech logs, including observations from several additional nights. They then asked Reiner Stoss at the amateur Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca for further observations. Stoss found precovery images of Haumea in digitized Palomar Observatory slides from 1955, and located Haumea with his own telescope that night, July 28. Within an hour, the Ortiz team submitted a second report to the MPC that included this new data. Again, no mention was made of having accessed the Caltech logs. The data was published by the MPC on July 29.
This happened six years ago, how do I not remember any of this?
Fucked up news out of Mexico from E. Eduardo Castillo of the AP:
Masked gunmen blocked traffic on a busy avenue in a Gulf of Mexico coastal city Tuesday and dumped the bodies of 35 slaying victims as horrified motorists watched, authorities said.
Veracruz state Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez said the bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground of an underpass near a shopping mall in the city of Boca del Rio.
Police had identified seven of the victims so far and all had criminal records for murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and extortion and were linked to organized crime, Escobar said. He didn’t say to what group the victims belonged to.
The key points of the plan read like a mirror image of the priorities espoused by House Republicans. The president proposed raising taxes by $1.5 trillion, mostly on the wealthy, while making only modest cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and walling off Social Security from any changes. The plan also would reduce military spending by more than $1 trillion. […]
“This is not class warfare,” Mr. Obama countered Monday in his Rose Garden remarks. “It is math. The money is going to have to come from someplace.”
I’m happy about this. Glad to see Obama trying a different strategy for dealing with the harsh realities of governing our divided country.
Oh this is classic Nullary Sources fare — exactly the kind of content that prompted us to start this blog.1 I present excerpts from Expert Judgement on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.2 From the conclusion:
To design a marker system that, left alone, will survive for 10,000 years is not a difficult engineering task.
It is quite another matter to design a marker system that will for the next 400 generations resist attempts by individuals, organized groups, and societies to destroy or remove the markers. While this report discusses some strategies to discourage vandalism and recycling of materials, we cannot anticipate what people, groups, societies may do with the markers many millenia from now.
A marker system should be chosen that instills awe, pride, and admiration, as it is these feelings that motivate people to maintain ancient markers, monuments, and buildings.
The whole page is fascinating, and by the end of it you’ll be left both with a sense of your own ultimate irrelevance — compared to the task of protecting 400 generations of humans from unleashing radiation buried in the ground, of what import is a blog? — but also the near futility of the whole project.
We have all become very marker-prone, but shouldn’t we nevertheless admit that, in the end, despite all we try to do, the most effective “marker” for any intruders will be a relatively limited amount of sickness and death caused by the radioactive waste? In other words, it is largely a self-correcting process if anyone intrudes without appropriate precautions, and it seems unlikely that intrusion on such buried waste would lead to large-scale disasters.
That said, this is an amazing document and totally worth reading.
OK, we wanted to make fun of YouTube videos too. ↩
Apparently compiled for Anthropology 101 at Vanderbilt Univeristy, circa 2007, ↩
The Metropolitan police are seeking a court order under the Official Secrets Act to make Guardian reporters disclose their confidential sources about the phone-hacking scandal.
In an unprecedented legal attack on journalists’ sources, Scotland Yard officers claim the act, which has special powers usually aimed at espionage, could have been breached in July when reporters Amelia Hill and Nick Davies revealed the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone. They are demanding source information be handed over.
This article on TPM’s IdeaLab blog (which is relatively new and has been doing a great job covering tech and science news) is mostly about how the ISS is doing after an August crash of an unmanned Soyuz rocket. But this caught my eye. Carl Franzen:
In any case, the decision is great news for the private spaceflight company SpaceX, which planned to make history by docking its Dragon capsule with the space station on November 30, the first such commercial spacecraft visit of its kind. Following the Aug. 24 Soyuz crash, the company had worried that its mission would be delayed, as there wouldn’t be any astronauts aboard the station to receive the craft, but according to NASA’s current launch schedule, its still a go for November 30.
I hadn’t heard about this, and didn’t realize SpaceX was this far along. Bad. Ass. I remember when the ISS was nothing more than an idea, much less something visited by commercial spacecraft.
Peter Svensson of the AP on the slow move toward EMV credit card technology (probably more commonly known as chip and PIN) in the U.S.:
The U.S.’s status as a holdout has also started to cause problems for travelers. While most European stores and restaurants still accept magnetic-stripe cards, Americans are finding that their credit cards don’t work in European automated kiosks, like the ones that sell tickets for the Paris Metro. Some U.S. banks, like Wells Fargo, have started issuing smart cards to customers who travel abroad.
Next year, Visa will start dangling this carrot in front of store owners: If they replace most of their terminals with ones that accept smart cards, they will no longer need to have their payment-system security checked every year. U.S. stores spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year for these audits, according to the NRF.
In an even more momentous shift, in 2015 Visa is shifting the liability for a certain kind of fraud from the banks to stores.
EMV is definitely not perfect either, and there have been a few successful attacks demonstrated in the U.K., but it is certainly more secure than what we have now.
”I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee”/”I can arrange that… You could use a good kiss!” wasn’t the original parting-shot in Han and Leia’s Echo Base lovers’ quarrel. In an early cut of the film, their squabble lasted much longer, and while that never-before-glimpsed deleted scene will be included on the Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray (out Sept. 16), EW’s got it for you first.
The video is an exclusive so you’ll have to click through and watch it there. I’ll just say that the final version is a vast improvement.
MSNBC.com, with contributions from Reuters and the AP:
Passengers on the aging, crowded boat headed for one of Tanzania’s top tourist destinations said they realized something was wrong when the overnight ferry began to list from side to side.
Then water rushed through and killed the engines, sending the M.V. Spice Islanders upside down and pitching hundreds of people into the deep sea early Saturday morning. A witness counted nearly 200 bodies, and the president of the nearby island of Zanzibar said more than 570 people were rescued, suggesting the boat was overloaded. Some survivors said the boat’s capacity was about 600.
Those lucky enough to find something to cling to floated in the dark waters for at least three hours until the strong currents began to wash them up on the white sandy shores of Zanzibar.
The new chief executive of MediaNews Group, publisher of the Denver Post and 50 other newspapers, said it was “a dumb idea” for the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain to sign up with copyright troll Righthaven.
The Denver-based publisher’s year-long copyright infringement litigation deal with Righthaven is terminating at month’s end, said John Paton, who replaced Dean Singleton to lead the company on Wednesday.
“The issues about copyright are real,” Paton told Wired.com in a telephone interview. “But the idea that you would hire someone on an — essentially — success fee to run around and sue people at will who may or may not have infringed as a way of protecting yourself … does not reflect how news is created and disseminated in the modern world.”
If you’re not familiar with Righthaven, it’s a company that exists solely to license copyrights for news articles and then sue bloggers for posting parts from them, splitting the damages awards with the licensing newspaper. Really a delightful business model.
Here’s a feel-good story about 8/11/01 that I’d never heard before. Rob Gillies, AP:
To hear something nice about 9/11, talk to “the plane people,” the passengers who wound up on the island of Newfoundland that day because U.S. airspace was shut.
Of the hundreds of flights blocked that day, more than 200 were diverted to Canada, with no warning, recalls David Collenette, transport minister.
"They shut down U.S. airspace, period, and we had to pick up the pieces. I don’t fault them for that. It was an absolute tragedy," Collenette told The Associated Press. "There was no request. We were informed that the United States had closed its airspace to all incoming traffic, all planes were grounded in the United States, and that any planes flying into the U.S. airspace would be shot down. Frankly it was as brutal as that."
The Canadians shunted the traffic away from Toronto and Montreal to the eastern seaboard, and obscure, little used Gander got to relive its glory days as a stopover point for trans-Atlantic aviation before long-distance flights became possible. Built in 1938 in anticipation of the coming world war, it had the world’s longest runway, and on 9/11 it was the second busiest, taking in 38 flights to Halifax, Nova Scotia’s 47.
Flight crews quickly filled Gander’s hotels, so passengers were taken to schools, fire stations, church halls. The Canadian military flew in 5,000 cots. Stores donated blankets, coffee machines, barbecue grills. Unable to retrieve their luggage, passengers became dependent on the kindness of strangers, and it came in the shape of clothes, showers, toys, banks of phones to call home free of charge, an arena that became a giant walk-in fridge full of donated food.
Once all the planes had landed or turned back to Europe, Gander’s air traffic controllers switched to cooking meals in the building nonstop for three days.
It’s impossible not to d’awwwww while reading this. I really just wanted to quote the whole damn thing here. I mean, check this out:
One of the Americans coming back is Shirley Brooks-Jones. She was so overwhelmed by the experience of 2001 that as her plane left Gander, she told her fellow passengers over the cabin address system that she wanted to set up a scholarship fund for students in Lewisporte, where they stayed.
The Lewisporte area Flight 15 scholarship fund is now worth close to $1.5 million and has put 134 students through school. Brooks-Jones has been back 20 times, to present the scholarships every June and to attend each anniversary.
Jo Adetunji for The Guardian, with contributions from news agencies:
A man and a woman are facing 30-year prison terms in Mexico for allegedly using Twitter to spread panic over a series of child kidnappings.
Gilberto Martinez Vera, 48, a private school teacher, and Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola, a radio presenter, were accused of spreading false reports that gunmen were attacking schools in the south-eastern city of Veracruz.
The resulting panic caused dozens of car crashes after parents rushed to save their children from schools across the city and jammed emergency telephone lines, which “totally collapsed” under the pressure.
The prosecution was possibly overzealous (terrorism?), and lawyers for both people argued that they were just repeating rumors and didn’t start them, but this whole thing is still fucked up. Twenty-six car accidents.
A Phoenix man says Steven Seagal is responsible for the death of his dog, who was shot and killed after the “Under Siege” actor drove a tank into the man’s home while filming a scene in the reality show “Steven Seagal: Lawman.”
Jesus Sanchez Llovera was the subject of a raid filmed for the show, an A&E series that chonicles days in the life of Segal as a volunteer reserve deputy sherrif. Llovera’s home was raided on suspicion he was running an illegal cockfighting ring.
Llovera alleges that one of the sherrif’s deputities who participated in the destructive raid (not Seagal himself) shot and killed his dog, and has filed a $25,000 claim against the sheriff’s office for humiliation, emotional distress and property damage. He has also demanded a written apology from the actor.
Jaclyn O’Malley for the Reno Gazette-Journal, with contributions from the AP:
In July, a 35-year-old man allegedly pillaged Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery in Reno and stole more than 150 bronze vases that were meant to hold flowers for the deceased, Reno police said. Brett Taylor Allen, who has been charged with burglary and possession of stolen property, told investigators during an interview that he was “ashamed” of his grave-robbing, according to a report. He was released on bail Aug. 16.
Cemetery operations manager Sophia Mitchell said a staff member in July noticed that flowers were thrown on a sidewalk instead of resting in their bronze vases. Mitchell discovered that about 150 of the vases were missing, while flowers remained in the bronze ring that formerly held the vases.