Mark Turner : How did Kim Jong Un get his Mercedes-Benzes? – CNN Style

July 16, 2019 06:40 PM

On June 14, 2018, two armored Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard vehicles were shipped from the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, heading out on a journey that would take months and see the cars transported thousands of miles through six countries, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS).

After stops in China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, the two cars — each worth about $500,000 — are believed to have been flown to their final destination, Pyongyang. And in the North Korean capital, there’s only one customer who likely requires this type of ride.

The origin and journey of the two Mercedes luxury vehicles were exposed in the C4ADS report. CNN has not independently verified C4ADS’ reporting.

Source: How did Kim Jong Un get his Mercedes-Benzes? – CNN Style

Mark Turner : How a Flock of Birds Can Fly and Move Together | Audubon

July 16, 2019 06:36 PM

Many birds flock, of course. But only a relative handful really fly together, creating what University of Rhode Island biologist Frank Heppner, in the 1970s, proposed calling “flight flocks”: namely, highly organized lines or clusters. Pelicans, geese, and other waterfowl form lines and Vs, presumably to take advantage of aerodynamic factors that save energy. But the most impressive flockers are arguably those that form large, irregularly shaped masses, such as starlings, shorebirds, and blackbirds. They often fly at speeds of 40 miles or more per hour, and in a dense group the space between them may be only a bit more than their body length. Yet they can make astonishingly sharp turns that appear, to the unaided eye, to be conducted entirely in unison. Imagine doing unrehearsed evasive maneuvers in concert with all the other fast-moving drivers around you on an expressway, and you get an idea of the difficulty involved.

No wonder observers have been left groping for an explanation. When Heppner, now semi-retired, began studying pigeon flocks more than 30 years ago, he suggested that they communicate through some sort of neurologically based “biological radio.”

Source: How a Flock of Birds Can Fly and Move Together | Audubon

Mark Turner : New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

July 04, 2019 01:28 AM

Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin.Later this month the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners is expected to approve a 25-year contract that will serve 7 percent of the city’s electricity demand at 1.997¢/kwh for solar energy and 1.3¢ for power from batteries.

“This is the lowest solar-photovoltaic price in the United States,” said James Barner, the agency’s manager for strategic initiatives, “and it is the largest and lowest-cost solar and high-capacity battery-storage project in the U.S. and we believe in the world today. So this is, I believe, truly revolutionary in the industry.”

Source: New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Mark Turner : Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April | Ars Technica

July 04, 2019 01:23 AM

A remarkable thing happened in the US in April. For the first time ever, renewable electricity generation beat out coal-fired electricity generation on a national level, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). While renewable energy—including hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass—constituted 23 percent of the nation’s power supply, coal-fired electricity only contributed 20 percent of our power supply.

Source: Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April | Ars Technica

Mark Turner : The Navy Says UFOs Are Real. UFO Hunters Are Thrilled – VICE

July 04, 2019 01:21 AM

With the Navy’s recent revelation that its pilots have been regularly spotting unidentified flying objects, some of those in the UFO community who were once thought crazy now have some concrete evidence to point to. And the regular spate of mainstream news stories about UFO sightings has inspired a new generation of UFO hunters and researchers.

I’m regularly asked why I, a 32-year-old man with a good job and a young family spent six years researching the UFO subculture. Simply put, I find the culture and the people fascinating.

Ufology has always been a counter-cultural movement. Faced with decades of ridicule, the UFO community has always been the underdog. I like underdogs. But unidentified flying objects have made a cultural comeback, and the last two years have seen a huge growth in popular media coverage of this curious phenomenon and the people who explore it. It seems that UFOs have become all the rage, and this popular resurgence is inspiring a young new breed of UFO researchers and hunters.

Source: The Navy Says UFOs Are Real. UFO Hunters Are Thrilled – VICE

Mark Turner : June was hottest ever recorded on Earth, European satellite agency announces | The Independent

July 04, 2019 01:01 AM

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded, the EU‘s satellite agency has announced.Data provided by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the EU, showed that the global average temperature for June 2019 was the highest on record for the month.

Source: June was hottest ever recorded on Earth, European satellite agency announces | The Independent

Mark Turner : Florida sewage pipes feed fish and pollute beaches.

July 04, 2019 12:45 AM

Ten feet before us, a sewer pipe made out of limestone spews yellow-brownish insults into the reef ecosystem. The pipe’s mouth is barely visible through the cluster of baitfish and foragers, a silver mass of twitch and glide binging on nutrients long processed and evacuated by Broward County taxpayers. A goliath grouper bullies its way through and enters the pipe to feed. I’m told to watch out for fishing lines—an entanglement hazard for the sub’s thrusters. The Hollywood outfall pipe serves as a popular fishing spot, toilet to table.

Source: Florida sewage pipes feed fish and pollute beaches.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 4

June 29, 2019 02:24 PM

The next to the last day of Dev-Jam was pretty much like the one before it, except now it was quite clear that Dev-Jam was coming to a close (sniff).

I actually managed to get some of the work done that I wanted to do this week, namely to start working on the next version of my OpenNMS 101 video series. A lot changed in Horizon 24 and now the videos are a little off (especially when it comes to alarms) and I want to fix that soon.

2019 Dev-Jam: Group of People Hacking Away

I did make one bad decision when I purchased take-away sushi from the Union, but I was lucky that I got over it quickly (grin)

2019 Dev-Jam: Jesse Talking About ALEC

It’s so nice to be able to break out into little groups and share what is going on in OpenNMS. Jesse gave an in-depth talk on ALEC (and I’ll be presenting it at this year’s All Things Open conference).

It wasn’t all work, though.

2019 Dev-Jam: Table with Snacks and Ulf

A group of people had gone to the Mall of America on Sunday, and Markus bought a Rick and Morty card game that seemed pretty popular. Parasites!

For dinner I ordered some delicious pizza from Punch as many people wanted to stay in and finish up their projects in time for tomorrow’s “Show and Tell”.

It’s hard to believe Dev-Jam is almost over.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 3

June 27, 2019 04:52 PM

Not much to add on Day 3 of Dev-Jam. By now the group has settled into a routine and there’s lots of hacking on OpenNMS.

As part of my role as “cruise director” Mike and I ran out for more snacks.

2019 Dev-Jam: Table with Snacks and Ulf

On the way we stopped by the Science Museum of Minnesota to pick up a hoodie for Dustin. As fans of Stranger Things we thought we should get our Dustin the same hoodie worn by Dustin in the show. The one in the show was apparently an actual hoodie sold by the museum in the 1980s, but it was so popular they brought it back.

2019 Dev-Jam: Dustin and Dustin in Brontosaurus Hoodie

While not exactly the “Upside Down” in the evening the gang descended on Up-Down, a barcade located a few miles away. Jessica organized the trip and folks seemed to have a great time.

2019 Dev-Jam: Selfie of Folks at Up-Down.

The combination bar and arcade features vintage video games

2019 Dev-Jam: People Playing Video Games at Up-Down.

as well as pinball machines

2019 Dev-Jam: Selfie of Folks at Up-Down.

Of course, there was also a bar

2019 Dev-Jam: People at the Bar at Up-Down.

Good times.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 2

June 26, 2019 01:54 PM

While the OpenNMS team does a pretty good job working remotely, it is so nice to be able to work together on occasion. Here is an example.

I wanted to explore the current status of the OpenNMS Selenium monitor. My conclusion was that while this monitor can probably be made to work, it needs to be deprecated and probably shouldn’t be used.

I started off on the wiki page, and when I didn’t really understand it I just looked at the page’s history. I saw that it was last updated in 2017 by Marcel, and Marcel happened to be just across the room from me. After talking to him for awhile, I understood things much better and then made the decision to deprecate it.

The idea was that one could take the Selenium IDE, record a session and then export that to a JUnit test. Then that output would be minimally modified and added to OpenNMS so that it could periodically run the test.

The main issue is that the raw Selenium test *requires* Firefox, and Firefox requires an entire graphics stack, i.e. Xorg. Most servers don’t have that for a number of good reasons, and if you are trying to run Selenium tests on a large number of sites the memory resources could become prohibitive.

An attempt to address this was made using PhantomJS, another Javascript library that did not require a graphical interface. Unfortunately, it is no longer being maintained since March of 2018.

We’ve made a note of this with an internal OpenNMS issue. Moving forward the option looks like to use “headless Chrome” but neither OpenNMS nor Selenium support that at the moment.

We still have the Page Sequence Monitor. This is very efficient but can be difficult to set up.

Playing with that took up most of my morning. It was hard staying inside because it was a beautiful day in Minneapolis.

2019 Dev-Jam: Picture of Downtown Minneapolis from UMN

Most of my afternoon was spent working with OpenNMS customers (work doesn’t stop just because it is Dev-Jam) but I did wander around to see what other folks were doing.

2019 Dev-Jam: Jesse White with VR headset

Jesse was playing with a VR headset. The OpenNMS AI/Machine Learning module ALEC can create a visualization of the network, and he wrote a tool that lets you move through it in virtual reality (along with other people using other VR headsets). Not sure how useful it would be on a day to day basis, but it is pretty cool.

That evening most of us walked down the street to a pretty amazing Chinese restaurant. I always like bonding over food and we had discovered this place last year and were eager to return. I think the “bonding” continued after the meal at a bar across the street, but I ended up calling it a day.

2019 Dev-Jam: People at a table at a Chinese restaurant

2019 Dev-Jam: People at a table at a Chinese restaurant

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 1

June 25, 2019 03:08 PM

Dev-Jam officially got started Monday morning at 10:00.

I usually kick off the week with a welcome and some housekeeping information, and then I turn it over to Jesse White, our project CTO. We do a roundtable introduction and then folks break off into groups and start working on the projects they find interesting.

This year we did something a little different. The development team scheduled a series of talks about the various things that have been added since the last Dev-Jam, and I spent most of the day listening to them and learning a lot of details about the amazing platform that is OpenNMS. While we had some technical difficulties, most of these presentations were recorded and I’ll add links to the videos once they are available.

2019 Dev-Jam: Graph of Main Projects Over the Last Year

Jesse started with an overview of the main development projects over the last year. Sentinel is a project to use the Kafka messaging bus to distribute OpenNMS functionality over multiple instances. While only implemented for telemetry data at the moment (flows and metrics) the goal is to enable the ability to distribute all of the functionality, such as service assurance polling and data collection, across multiple machines for virtually unlimited scalability.

After the Sentinel work, focus was on both the OpenNMS Integration API (OIA) and the Architecture for Learning Enabled Correlation (ALEC).

The OIA is a Java API to make it easier to add functionality to OpenNMS. While it is used internally, the goal is to make it easier for third parties to integrate with the platform. ALEC is a framework for adding AI and machine learning functions to OpenNMS. It currently supports two methods for the correlation of alarms into situations: DBScan and TensorFlow, but is designed to allow for others to be added.

The current development focus is on the next version of Drift. Drift is the feature that does flow collection, and there are a number of improvements being worked on for “version 2”.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the Contributing to OpenNMS talk

Markus von Rüden gave the next talk on contributing to OpenNMS. He covered a number of topics including dealing with our git repository, pull requests, test driven development and our continuous integration systems.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the Karaf/OSGi talk

Matt Brooks presented an overview on how to leverage Karaf to add functionality to OpenNMS. Karaf is the OSGi container used by OpenNMS to manage features, and Matt used a simple example to show the process for adding functionality to the platform.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the OIA talk

Extending on this was a talk by Chandra Gorantla about using the OIA with an example of creating a trouble ticketing integration. OpenNMS has had a ticketing API for some time but this talk leveraged the improvements added by the new API to make the process easier.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the ALEC talk

Following this was a talk by David Smith on ALEC. He demonstrated how to add a simple time-based correlation to OpenNMS which covered a lot of the different pieces implemented by the architecture, including things like feedback.

That ended the development overview part of the presentation but there were two more talks on Docker and Kubernetes.

2019 Dev-Jam: Slide showing Useful Docker Commands for OpenNMS

Ronny Trommer gave a short overview of running OpenNMS in Docker, covering a lot of information about how to deal with the non-immutable (mutable?) aspects of the platform such as configuration.

2019 Dev-Jam: Kubernetes Diagram

This was followed by an in-depth talk by Alejandro Galue on Kubernetes, running OpenNMS using Kubernetes and how OpenNMS can be used to monitor services running in Kubernetes. While Prometheus is the main application people implement for monitoring Kubernetes, it is very temporal and OpenNMS can augment a lot of that information, especially at the services level.

These presentations took up most of the day. Since it is hard to find places where 30 people can eat together, we have a tradition of getting catering from Brasa, and we did that for Monday night’s meal.

2019 Dev-Jam: Table Filled with Food from Brasa

Jessica Hustace, who did the majority of the planning for Dev-Jam, handed out this year’s main swag gift: OpenNMS jackets.

2019 Dev-Jam: OpenNMS logo jacket

Yup, I make this look good.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 0

June 24, 2019 02:13 PM

For the fourteenth time in fifteen years, a group of core community members and power users are getting together for our annual OpenNMS Developers Conference: Dev-Jam.

This is one of my favorite times of the year, probably second only to Thanksgiving. While we do a good job of working as a distributed team, there is nothing like getting together face-to-face once in awhile.

We’ve tried a number of venues including my house, Georgia Tech and Concordia University in Montréal, but we keep coming back to Yudof Hall on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. It just works out really well for us and after coming here so many times the whole process is pretty comfortable.

My role in Dev-Jam is pretty much just the “cruise director”. As is normal, other people do all the heavy lifting. I did go on a food and drink run which included getting “Hello Kitty” seaweed snacks.

2019 Dev-Jam: Hello Kitty Seaweed Snacks

Yudof Hall is a dorm. The rooms are pretty nice for dorm rooms and include a small refrigerator, two burner stove, furniture and a sink. You share a bathroom with one other person from the conference. On the ground floor there is a large room called the Club Room. On one side is a kitchen with tables and chairs. On the other side is a large TV/monitor and couches, and in the middle we set up tables. There is a large brick patio that overlooks the Mississippi River.

2019 Dev-Jam: Yudof Hall Club Room

The network access tends to be stellar, and with the Student Union just across the street people can easily take a break to get food.

We tend to eat dinner as a group, and traditionally the kickoff meal is held at Town Hall Brewery across the river.

2019 Dev-Jam: UMN Bridge Over the River

It was a pretty rainy day but it stopped enough for most of us to walk over the bridge to the restaurant. You could feel the excitement for the week start to build as old friends reunited and new friends were made.

2019 Dev-Jam: Town Hall Brewery

When we were setting up the Club Room tables, we found a whiteboard which is sure to be useful. I liked the fact that someone had written “Welcome Home” on it. Although I don’t live here, getting together with these people sure feels coming home.

2019 Dev-Jam: Welcome Home on Whiteboard

Mark Turner : Recordings by Elton John, Nirvana and Thousands More Lost in Fire – The New York Times

June 13, 2019 09:58 PM

This is astonishing. As an IT guy, I have been responsible for backups. How Universal could be so careless with priceless audio tapes just boggles my mind.

Eleven years ago this month, a fire ripped through a part of Universal Studios Hollywood.

At the time, the company said that the blaze had destroyed the theme park’s “King Kong” attraction and a video vault that contained only copies of old works.

But, according to an article published on Tuesday by The New York Times Magazine, the fire also tore through an archive housing treasured audio recordings, amounting to what the piece described as “the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.”

Source: Recordings by Elton John, Nirvana and Thousands More Lost in Fire – The New York Times

Mark Turner : Don’t Panic about Rare Earth Elements – Scientific American

June 13, 2019 09:55 PM

As trade tensions rise between the U.S. and China, rare earth minerals are once again in the political spotlight. Today Chinese mines and processing facilities provide most of the world’s supply, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has hinted about using this as political leverage in trade negotiations with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. But in the long run, many experts say the global market involving these materials would likely survive even if China completely stopped exporting them.

Source: Don’t Panic about Rare Earth Elements – Scientific American

Mark Turner : Cheap Thoughts: flash magnetism

May 21, 2019 02:42 PM

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could “flash magnetize” ferrous metal? Put a current or magnetic field into something, magnetize it, remove power/field and STILL have it be magnetic? And more importantly, demagnetize it instantly. Passive electromagnetism. I know you can impart magnetism into certain things but how strongly can this be done?

This may all be simple stuff to others, I don’t know. It’s been a while since I’ve played with magnets and motors so I’ve forgotten a lot. Seems useful to have an electromagnet which only uses electricity to change its state.

Update: This is exactly what I need: an Electropermanent magnet. Interesting!

Mark Turner : New teeth – invisible aligners

May 20, 2019 02:56 PM

For the past few years I’ve been getting a chip in my front tooth patched by my dentist. This patch will last anywhere between 8 months to as short as one hour before it pops off and I have to get it done again. I’m not a fan of the look of this chipped tooth but I can’t keep getting it patched, either. My dentist, recommended I get orthodontics to help keep my teeth from smacking together and dislodging the patch.

The orthodontist recommended by my dentist put a hefty price tag on moving my teeth and I just couldn’t justify the cost. I put that on hold before I checked out Smile Direct Club (SDC). SDC would use the same invisible aligners (InvisAlign) that the orthodontist would use but the cost would be less than two-thirds the price. The downside is I wouldn’t receive personal care from an orthodontist. I decided to go for it, since I have had three years of orthodontics experience as a teenager and know what to expect.

So far, it’s been so good. I put in my first aligners a week ago Saturday and began my second one this past Saturday. My teeth ached a bit for most of the first week but by that Wednesday I felt comfortable enough wearing them that I didn’t mind them anymore. There’s no question that my teeth have shifted in the 9 days I’ve worn the aligners, so I have no doubt that they’re working. And I’ve become a bit obsessed with wearing them.

The only downsides are that sometimes the edges of my aligners feel a bit sharp to my tongue. I have to make sure I keep my tongue as still as possible to keep from rubbing it raw. There’s also the mild ache I feel from my shifting teeth. I cannot eat anything or drink anything but water while I’m wearing them. Finally, I have to brush my teeth each time I remove the aligners. Overall, not too difficult to manage.

I had wondered at the start of this if I’d have the discipline to deal with aligners. It turns out I do. I think I’ll be looking back on this in October and feel like it was worth the cost and effort.

I’ll keep y’all posted on how it goes.

Mark Turner : Cat-tastrophe averted

May 14, 2019 09:28 PM

Jupiter came wandering back up to the house around 4 PM today like nothing had happened. I suppose he went on a bender last night and was sleeping it off somewhere. Glad to have our kitty back!

Mark Turner : I fear for my cat

May 14, 2019 05:21 PM

Update 5:28 PM: Jupiter has wandered back home. Yay!

Early this morning I was awakened from a deep sleep by a repetitive noise outside the house. A moment’s reflection in my foggy mind identified the noise as a screaming raccoon. I put on my clothes, grabbed a flashlight, and stepped onto the front porch as quietly as I could.

But I wasn’t quiet enough. The screaming stopped; I was noticed. I wasn’t able to pinpoint where the raccoon was or what was happening. What I do know is that there was no sign of my porch cat, Jupiter. What I also know is that Jupiter would’ve most certainly reacted to the sound of the front door opening, which may have possibly doomed him if he were facing off against a raccoon.

I walked down the street shining my flashlight carefully into backyards, trying not to light up my neighbors’ windows while looking in the bushes for the tell-tale glow of animal eyes. After a few minutes of seeing and hearing nothing, I crawled back into bed.

Just as I did, I heard the faint sound of a meow. Or did I imagine it?

This morning, I would’ve expected his furry face to be glued to the front window, demanding his breakfast. On occasional nights I’ve made a point of putting his food away to keep from attracting raccoons. Last night was one of those nights. The kitter should’ve been famished and yet he was nowhere to be found.

There are other signs from the universe that he may no longer be around, such as Elton John’s “Circle Of Life” popping up unexpectedly on yesterday’s playlist. And my pondering yesterday of the freedom that I’ve always given him: he has always been free to come and go as he pleases. I can’t let him be free to come without also letting him be free to go or it isn’t really freedom.

I hope to see his striped tail hanging off his food table tonight but I am not optimistic. It’s going to be a tense next few days.

Mark Turner : New York Times story focused on Raleigh gentrification | Raleigh News & Observer

May 09, 2019 02:43 PM

Ned Barnett’s opinion piece last week, downplaying the damaging effects of gentrification, was incredibly tone-deaf.

Indeed the Times story called attention to the implication that there is something wrong with downtown neighborhoods gaining new homes and more value as white flight reverses.

Well, yes, yes there is. There is something wrong with it, Ned. Surging property values are great for owners, unless those owners are unable to pay the soaring property taxes. Surging property values aren’t too fun for the renters who get pushed out by skyrocketing rents or by the flipping of homes.

We can improve neighborhoods without pushing out the long-time residents – the people who actually contribute to the character of any neighborhood. The question we should be asking is: how can everyone benefit from prosperity?

Raleigh is now almost blase about being cited in the national media as a city on the rise, but a New York Times report last week cast that growth in a less flattering light. It used Raleigh as exhibit No. 1 of how well-off whites are moving into traditionally black neighborhoods near urban centers and converting longtime nonwhite areas into white enclaves.

The story stressed that Raleigh’s pattern is part of a national trend, but its focus in photos, videos and quotes was on North Carolina’s capital. The theme was that poorer blacks are being pushed out and those who remain feel their neighborhood is being usurped.

The coverage put a spotlight on an issue Raleigh’s leaders know about but have not directly addressed: How much should growth be allowed to displace residents and transform neighborhoods?

Source: New York Times story focused on Raleigh gentrification | Raleigh News & Observer

Mark Turner : Something in the blood – ME/CFS Research Review

May 01, 2019 12:13 AM

Fluge and Mella used an expensive bit of kit called the Seahorse analyser, which measures glycolysis through the lactate production and mitochondrial activity through changes in oxygen levels.

They tested normal healthy muscle cells that had been grown in the lab. But they added to those cells serum taken from either ME/CFS patients or healthy controls. Serum is the fluid left over after blood has clotted and it contains small molecules and other soluble substances.

They have data for 12 people with ME/CFS and 12 healthy controls, a relatively small sample.What they found was, surprisingly, that the muscle cells produced more lactate and burned more oxygen when they were incubated with ME/CFS serum than when incubated in serum from healthy controls. And the effect was particularly strong when the cells were made to work hard.

Source: Something in the blood – ME/CFS Research Review

Mark Turner : The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White. – The New York Times

April 28, 2019 02:24 PM

A sobering read on gentrification of downtown Raleigh from the New York Times.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In the African-American neighborhoods near downtown Raleigh, the playfully painted doors signal what’s coming. Colored in crimson, in coral, in seafoam, the doors accent newly renovated craftsman cottages and boxy modern homes that have replaced vacant lots.

To longtime residents, the doors mean higher home prices ahead, more investors knocking, more white neighbors.

Here, and in the center of cities across the United States, a kind of demographic change most often associated with gentrifying parts of New York and Washington has been accelerating. White residents are increasingly moving into nonwhite neighborhoods, largely African-American ones.

Source: The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White. – The New York Times

Mark Turner : The Final Secret of the USS Scorpion | HistoryNet

April 23, 2019 12:43 PM

The article doesn’t say it but I will: fuck John Walker, Jr.

In 1968 one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines went missing in the Atlantic. Now, 50 years later, the full story of its disappearance can finally be told.RADIOMEN 2ND CLASS MIKE HANNON WALKED TO WORK WITH A PALPABLE SENSE OF UNEASE on the morning of May 23, 1968. As a communications specialist at Submarine Force Atlantic Headquarters, he was responsible for processing dozens of messages each day from submarines at sea, ranging from routine announcements to top-secret operational dispatches. But hours earlier, when his eight-hour shift had ended at midnight, Hannon feared that one of the submarines on his watch might be in trouble—or worse.

The Norfolk-based USS Scorpion, one of the Atlantic Fleet’s 19 nuclear attack submarines, had been scheduled to transmit a four-word “Check Report”—encrypted to prevent the Soviets from intercepting it—that meant, in essence, “Situation normal, proceeding as planned.” In this instance, the Skipjack-class submarine was returning to Norfolk after a three-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. Its standing orders called for a burst transmission every 24 hours that, when decrypted, read: “Check 24. Submarine Scorpion.” But the previous day no message had come clattering out of the secure teletypewriter that Hannon used. As he prepared to leave for the night, Hannon had briefed Radioman 2nd Class Ken Larbes, the petty officer coming on duty, about the overdue message. He then tapped on his supervisor’s office door and asked whether any late word had come in from the Scorpion. Warrant Officer John A. Walker Jr. silently shook his head no. Was this the first hint of an emergency, Hannon wondered, or merely a delayed transmission caused by mechanical problems or stormy weather conditions?

Source: The Final Secret of the USS Scorpion | HistoryNet

Mark Turner : Trump’s Orders Are Routinely Disregarded by His Staff – The Atlantic

April 22, 2019 01:22 AM

It’s been another dizzying few days in Washington, starting with yet another border controversy, as President Donald Trump threatened to bus unauthorized immigrants to sanctuary cities, and ending with the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which turned out to be far more damning than advertised by Trump’s attorney general.

These two very different stories have more in common than meets the eye. In each case, there’s a central tension between the president and aides who refuse to execute orders from him that they believe are illegal or foolish. Mueller’s report is packed with incidents in which White House staff not only didn’t do things Trump said, but never had any intention of doing them. In the case of the border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff rebuffed Trump’s plan to bus migrants on legal grounds; meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan refused to turn away migrants seeking asylum, concluding that it was illegal. (Nielsen was sacked soon after, while McAleenan is now her acting replacement.)

Source: Trump’s Orders Are Routinely Disregarded by His Staff – The Atlantic

Mark Turner : Utility CEO: new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal plants by the early 2020s – Vox

April 13, 2019 12:18 PM

It is difficult to exaggerate just what a sea change has taken place in the discussion of renewable energy in recent years.

Oldsters like me remember when the idea that (unsubsidized) renewable energy would be able to compete directly with fossil fuels was downright utopian. As late as the early 2000s, people were debating whether it would happen this century, or at all.

But the extraordinary progress of renewables in the past two decades has moved that hoped-for future closer and closer. And now, unbelievably, it is right on our doorstep.

It’s one thing for advocates or energy analysts to say that, of course. It’s something else to hear it coming out of the mouths of energy executives. But these days, residents of the C-suite are discussing renewable energy in terms that would have made hippies blush a decade ago.

Source: Utility CEO: new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal plants by the early 2020s – Vox

Mark Turner : Julian Assange Got What He Deserved – The Atlantic

April 13, 2019 12:17 PM


In the end, the man who reportedly smeared feces on the walls of his lodgings, mistreated his kitten, and variously blamed the ills of the world on feminists and bespectacled Jewish writers was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked straight from his spider hole. The only camera crew to record this pivotal event belonged to Ruptly, a Berlin-based streaming-online-video service, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of RT, the Russian government’s English-language news channel and the former distributor of Julian Assange’s short-lived chat show.

RT’s tagline is “Question more,” and indeed, one might inquire how it came to pass that the spin-off of a Kremlin propaganda organ and now registered foreign agent in the United States first arrived on the scene. Its camera recorded a team of London’s Metropolitan Police dragging Assange from his Knightsbridge cupboard as he burbled about resistance and toted a worn copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State.

Source: Julian Assange Got What He Deserved – The Atlantic

Mark Turner : The healthiest people in the world don’t go to the gym — Quartzy

April 13, 2019 01:13 AM

More evidence that our reliance on cars is killing us.

If you want to be as healthy as possible, there are no treadmills or weight machines required. Don’t just take my word for it—look to the longest-lived people in the world for proof.

People in the world’s Blue Zones—the places around the world with the highest life expectancy—don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms.

Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without even thinking about it. This means that they grow gardens, walk throughout the day, and minimize mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.

In fact, Blue Zones researchers determined that routine natural movement is one of the most impactful ways to increase your life span, and a common habit among the world’s longest-lived populations.

Source: The healthiest people in the world don’t go to the gym — Quartzy

Mark Turner : Will Uber Survive the Next Decade?

April 09, 2019 10:52 PM

By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?

Source: Will Uber Survive the Next Decade?

Mark Turner : San Francisco’s Decline: Failed Government Policies and Cultural Paralysis | National Review

April 09, 2019 09:29 PM

A thought-provoking piece on what’s killing San Francisco.

It’s not what celebrants want to hear when the champagne is exploding out of shaken bottles of Dom, the confetti is falling, and their stock is up 8.7 percent at the market’s close, but I have an announcement to make: San Francisco is past its prime and the fires of creation have abated.

With all the millionaires newly minted by Lyft’s IPO, and with those set to be minted by Uber’s and Palantir’s and AirBnB’s, you might expect this enclave to become the next Babylon of American capitalism. While our moralists in the media — Nellie Bowles, Emily Chang, et al. — busily tsk-tsk the greed and the lust and the hypocrisy and the hubris, there is a story here they miss: The city’s current concentration of wealth likely doesn’t represent the beginning of a golden-if-sinful era, but the end.

Source: San Francisco’s Decline: Failed Government Policies and Cultural Paralysis | National Review

Mark Turner : The Water Hawk: in-your-face water stats

March 22, 2019 01:27 AM

The Water Hawk.

Teenagers like to take long showers. They can easily spend 20 minutes in there, idling away their time as well as the family’s hot water. I’d done a few rounds of knocking on the bathroom door. I’d even taped photos of baby Arctic seals on the door to remind the kids of the consequences. Didn’t seem to get the point across.

When one night came where one of the kids drained the hot water from our tank I knew desperate measures were needed. I threatened to switch out the nice Delta showerhead with a miserly spray one, guaranteed to save water at the price of a miserable shower experience. Certainly that would get the point across but I knew I’d soon have to swap it out. You know, the Geneva Convention and all.

I began to ponder how a proper geek might solve the problem. I am a Site Reliability Engineer in my day job and I love gathering metrics on the computers I wrangle. What if there were a way to track my kids’ use of water? Wouldn’t it be great to show them how much water their showers actually use? I began to dream up a product I could create that would do just that but then some clever Googling showed me one was already out there: the Water Hawk.

The Water Hawk is a showerhead with a self-powered display that shows you not only how many gallons have been used but also the temperature of the water. A tiny water-powered generator provides the electricity to light up the display so it needs no batteries. It keeps track of a shower’s usage up to ten minutes after the shower has ended. While I would like some remote way of reading its values, I know I can flip the water on afterwards and get the numbers if I want them.

The cool thing is, though, that since I put in the Water Hawk I haven’t had to get the numbers. My kids have miraculously returned their showers to civil levels – all by themselves! I never had to say a word – they just did it.

The first time my son showered with the Water Hark I was so stunned at how quickly he shut off the water that I thought something must be wrong. Maybe he’s turning off the water to lather up or something, I thought. But no, he was in and out. A shower that used to take 20 minutes was done now in 5. It was the same for my daughter, whose was done in a teenager-respectable time of under 8 minutes. Mission accomplished!

I think that when people know what their habits or activities actually cost, when numbers can be applied to quantify something, it spurs a shift in behavior. I first saw this when we got an eGauge power meter along with our solar panels. The eGauge itself, costing a fraction of the solar panels, was enough to spur better energy conservation in our household, all because we could now see our energy habits as they happened in real time. Water Hawk does the same but with showers.

Now I’ve got the best of both worlds: water conservation and pleasant showers. No longer do I have to bang on the door to tell the kids they’re using too much water – the Water Hawk does that subconsciously. I couldn’t imagine a better solution to my teens’ long shower habits.

Jesse Morgan : proxmox PCI passthrough with windows, Geforce 1070, Ryzen, and B450 Tomahawk

March 21, 2019 12:27 AM

I set up my first Proxmox implementation on my rebuilt gaming PC.  The goal was to run proxmox on bare metal, then run a windows VM with hardware passthrough so I could play Elite Dangerous in windows with only a 1-3% performance loss. This would also give me a platform to work on automation tools and containerization.

So how did I go about doing it? Well, I started by reading this article:

That did most of the heavy lifting, but it was specific to intel processors. Here’s what my final changes looked like:


I needed to enable 3 main things:

  • WHQL for windows 10
  • UEFI Bios
  • enable virtualization under the Overclocking-> CPU Features panel



/etc/default/grub needs to have the following DEFAULT line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet amd_iommu=on iommu=pt video=efifb:off”


Modprobe blacklist

/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf needs the following entry:

blacklist radeon
blacklist nouveau
blacklist nvidia
blacklist amdgpu


QEMU Host config



agent: 1 
bios: ovmf 
bootdisk: scsi0 
cores: 8 
cpu: host,hidden=1
hostpci0: 1c:00.0,x-vga=on,pcie=1 
hostpci1: 1c:00.1 
hostpci2: 1d:00.3 
hostpci3: 1e:00.3,pcie=1 
ide2: local:iso/virtio-win-0.1.141.iso,media=cdrom,size=309208K 
machine: q35 
memory: 12000 
name: gamey 
net0: e1000=DE:F7:85:97:FF:22,bridge=vmbr0 
numa: 1 
onboot: 1 
ostype: win10 
scsi0: local-lvm:vm-101-disk-0,size=100G 
scsihw: virtio-scsi-pci 
smbios1: uuid=d0e62ae5-0939-4544-aa2e-7e92f872cc39 
sockets: 1 
usb0: host=1-2 
usb1: host=0c45:7605 
usb2: host=046d:c332 
virtio2: /dev/disk/by-id/ata-CT500MX500SSD1_1817E1395213-part1,size=476937M 
vmgenid: fa74f2e1-46d1-444b-963a-1f0417d18fd0


options vfio-pci ids=10de:1b81,0de:10f0


I apologize that this is super rough and poorly formatted, but I figured that was better than nothing.

Mark Turner : Rivendell in the cloud

March 17, 2019 07:48 PM

I joined up with a Facebook group called Rivendell Open Source Radio Automation Users as a place to trade tips on using Rivendell. A question that comes up frequently is how Rivendell can be run in the cloud. Since I’ve been doing this for eight years or so I have a pretty good understanding of the challenges. I’ve mentioned some of it before but thought I’d go into more detail of my current setup.

I’m running Rivendell 2.19.2, the current version, and presently I’m not actually running it in the cloud though I could easily change this in a few moments. The magic that makes this happen is containerization. I have created my own Docker instance which installs everything I need. This container can be fired up virtually anywhere and it will just work.

Here’s a summery of my setup. In my container, I install CentOS 7. Then I pull in Rivendell from Paravel’s repos with a “yum install rivendell” command. Rivendell needs the JACK audio subsystem to run so I install Jack2 from the CentOS repos, too. To this I add darkice as an encoder, JackEQ for some graphical faders/mixers, a LADSPA-based amplifier module to boost gain, and of course Icecast2 to send the stream to the world.

Now, one of the problems with a CentOS-based setup is that CentOS tends to have fewer of the cool audio tools than distributions like Debian and Ubuntu have. These Debian-based distros are not officially supported with Paravel packages so you either have to hunt for your own Rivendell dpkgs or you build your own. I’ve found a few of these dpkgs mentioned on the Rivendell Developer’s mailing list but I’ve not had the time to make sure they’re up to date and meet my personal needs. Thus, for my personal setup you’ll find a few parts which I have compiled myself, rather than install from a package. A project for me to take on in my Copious Free Time is to create an entirely repo-based Docker container but I’m not there yet.

Rivendell needs a MySQL/MariaDB database to store its data. I rely on a non-containerized instance of MariaDB in my setup because I already use the database for other projects and didn’t want to create an instance solely for Rivendell.

So here’s how it all works.

Once Rivendell and JACK packages are installed, you’ll need to get Jack running first. Here’s the command line I use in my container for running jack:
/usr/bin/jackd -r -t2000 -ddummy -r48000 -p1024

For ease of connecting, you should run all audio parts under the same Linux user. I usually create an “rduser” user under Linux to take this role. Do not use the root user for this as anyone exploiting any flaws in Rivendell would have total control of your system! Good UNIX philosophy calls for only giving processes the minimum permissions needed to carry out their tasks.

IF you’ve started JACK as the rduser user, log into a terminal as that user and perform the “jack_lsp” command. This will show you the JACK channels that are available. Starting Rivendell using the “service rivendell start” or “systemctl start rivendell” should populate the JACK channel listing with the Rivendell channels. Make sure you edit the Rivendell config file at /etc/rd.conf to get Rivendell to start under the rduser user so that Rivendell and JACK can talk to each other.

Once you see Rivendell’s talking to JACK, you need to connect these virtual JACK channels so that your audio gets somewhere useful. In my case, I want to take the following path: Rivendell -> JACK -> JackEQ (with amp plugin) -> JACK -> darkice -> Icecast2 -> cloud-hosted Icecast2 on my VPS.

I connect Rivendell output channels to JackEQ’s inputs:

You should see the VU meter in JackEQ’s channel 1 light up with audio from Rivendell. JackEQ’s master channel should also light up with audio. You can raise the levels here in JackEQ and your audio gain should be boosted. While you could theoretically pipe the Rivendell output straight to darkice through JACK, I’ve found in a virtual or dummy sound card Rivendell setup that the levels are too low and need a boost. If you try this and find that you need to boost it even further, check out the “Jack Rack” set of audio plugins for Linux. Several plugins are available to create a very professional sound. I highly recommend it.

So now that we’ve got the audio in JackEQ and nicely boosted, we need to connect it using JACK to our encoder, Darkice. I looked at many encoders when I was first getting started but few seemed to be as flexible and efficient as Darkice. As far as I know, no ready-built packages exist for Darkice. Fortunately it’s not difficult to compile once you have rounded up all the audio libraries needed for your particular setup. I use Ogg Vorbis and AAC+ streams for my stations and Darkice supports them well.

Here’s what my JackEQ – Darkice links look like in JACK (via the “jack_lsp -c” command):


Here’s an edited version of my darkice.cfg file:

# sample DarkIce configuration file, edit for your needs before using
# see the darkice.cfg man page for details

# this section describes general aspects of the live streaming session
duration = 0 # duration of encoding, in seconds. 0 means forever
bufferSecs = 5 # size of internal slip buffer, in seconds
reconnect = yes # reconnect to the server(s) if disconnected

# this section describes the audio input that will be streamed
device = jack # OSS DSP soundcard device for the audio input
sampleRate = 48000 # sample rate in Hz. try 11025, 22050 or 44100
bitsPerSample = 16 # bits per sample. try 16
channel = 2 # channels. 1 = mono, 2 = stereo

# this section describes a streaming connection to an IceCast2 server
# there may be up to 8 of these sections, named [icecast2-0] … [icecast2-7]
# these can be mixed with [icecast-x] and [shoutcast-x] sections
bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
format = vorbis # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
bitrate = 96 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
server = <my_icecast_server>
# host name of the server
port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
name = Neuse Radio OGG 96Kbps
# name of the stream
description = Let the music flow!
# description of the stream
url = http://<my_webserver>
# URL related to the stream
genre = Alternative # genre of the stream
public = yes # advertise this stream?
#localDumpFile = /tmp/dump.ogg # local dump file

# aacp low stream
## aac high stream
#bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
#format = aac # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
#bitrate = 64 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
#server = <my_icecast_server>
# # host name of the server
#port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
#name = Neuse Radio – AAC
# # name of the stream
#description = Let the music flow!
# # description of the stream
#url = http://<my_webserver>
# # URL related to the stream
#genre = alternative # genre of the stream
#public = yes # advertise this stream?

## mp3 low stream
#bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
#format = mp3 # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
#bitrate = 64 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
#server = <my_icecast_server>
# # host name of the server
#port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
#name = Neuse Radio medium mp3
# # name of the stream
#description = Let the music flow!
# # description of the stream
#url = http://<my_webserver>
# # URL related to the stream
#genre = alternative # genre of the stream
#public = no # advertise this stream?
##localDumpFile = /tmp/dump.mp3 # local dump file

## mp3 hi stream
#bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
#format = mp3 # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
#bitrate = 128 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
#server = <my_icecast_server>
# # host name of the server
#port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
#name = Neuse Radio – Alternative MP3
# # name of the stream
#description = Let the music flow!
# # description of the stream
#url = http://<my_webserver>
# # URL related to the stream
#genre = Alternative # genre of the stream
#public = yes # advertise this stream?
##localDumpFile = /tmp/dump-high.mp3 # local dump file

As you can see, you can define as many encoded streams as you wish. Just increment the name of the Icecast2-x sections as you go.

Now that you’ve got darkice configured, you’ll need to set up Icecast2 to distribute the stream darkice creates. Put your Icecast address and service password in your /etc/darkice.cfg file. I tried sending darkice connections from my local computer to an Icecast server on my hosted server but I found that darkice is really finicky about latency. If for some reason your Icecast server hiccups and darkice can’t send out the packets is creates then darkice begins to act really squirrely and eventually will crash. The best workaround for this is to run darkice and Icecast on the same machine, then have Icecast do the sending! If Icecast is set up to relay to a hosted Icecast instance you will avoid any latency issues with darkice.

After hosting my Rivendell in the cloud for a few years I opted to host it on a home server instead. I wanted to listen to my stream while I’m around the house but only send packets over my Internet connection when I have to. Thus, I have my hosted Icecast instance set up to pull a steam from my home Icecast server only upon demand. Here’s a snippet from my hosted Icecast server which shows how relaying is configured:


My Docker container has no display of its own and any server in the cloud won’t have one, either. So how do you manage Rivendell when it’s headless? You create a virtual display in the form of VNC. I install a lightweight display manager called ICEWM, the Ice Window Manager. It’s not fancy but it works well for a virtual environment. You could now access your desktop by installing something like the tigervncserver but I prefer for security reasons only to run VNC when I need it. Thus, I ssh into my container and run the “x11vnc” command from the command line. I then port-forward my ssh session so that it connects with x11vnc on my container using the localhost:5900 port. Now I can manipulate Rivendell remotely! It’s nearly as good as running it locally but any latency you have between you and your hosted server will make audio editing challenging at best and impossible at worst.

How do you import audio? I use scp to copy my audio files to a folder on my hosted system. Then I open an ssh session there and run “rdimport” from there. Then I delete the uploaded audio once it’s imported.

How do you get around the latency issue so you can edit audio? This is best done by running a local Rivendell instance and setting up both instances to share the same /var/snd directory and the same MariaDB database. You can use NFS or SAMBA to share the /var/snd directory ,or if you are feeling extra geeky, you can make S3 buckets look like a filesystem using the fuse-s3 package. As for the database, you can either connect to the same database instance for both Rivendell instances or you can set up database servers on either end and configure them to replicate. Setting up MariaDB for replication is beyond the scope of this article but there are several good resources on the Internet that show how to do this.

How to connect between your home and your hosted server? I use a one-way VPN to get to my hosted server. WireGuard is my VPN of choice at the moment.

So there you go. Below is the Dockerfile I’m using. Note that you’ll have to supply your own binaries for the parts not already packaged, like the LADSPA plugin and JackEQ. Hopefully this is enough to get you going! I’ll refine this process further and post a followup someday. Enjoy!

FROM centos:7
ENV container docker
RUN (cd /lib/systemd/system/; for i in *; do [ $i == \
systemd-tmpfiles-setup.service ] || rm -f $i; done); \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*;\
rm -f /etc/systemd/system/*.wants/*;\
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*; \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*udev*; \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*initctl*; \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*;\
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*;
VOLUME [ “/sys/fs/cgroup” ]
CMD [“/usr/sbin/init”]

# Create rduser (password is rduser)
RUN adduser –create-home –groups wheel,audio rduser ; \
echo “rduser:rduser” | chpasswd ;\
mkdir -m 0750 /etc/sudoers.d && \
echo “rduser ALL=(root) NOPASSWD:ALL” >/etc/sudoers.d/rduser && \
chmod 0440 /etc/sudoers.d/rduser

# locale-gen en

# Install EPEL repos
RUN yum install -y epel-release; \
yum-config-manager –enable epel-testing

# Get repo GPG keys
RUN rpm –import

# Install rivendell stuffs
RUN yum-config-manager –add-repo ; \
yum install -y rivendell sudo lame faac libaacplus twolame libmad id3lib icewm jackd x11vnc openssh-server tigervnc-server-minimal tigervnc-server supervisor cronie ghostscript-fonts less; \

#COPY rdmysql.conf /etc/mysql/conf.d/rdmysql.cnf
#COPY rd.icecast.conf /etc/rd.icecast.conf
COPY rd.conf /etc/rd.conf
COPY supervisord.conf /etc/supervisord.d/supervisord.conf

# copy darkice binary and config
COPY darkice /usr/local/bin
COPY darkice.cfg /etc
COPY rlm_icecast2.conf /etc

USER rduser
COPY /home/rduser/
COPY icewm /home/rduser/.icewm
COPY xstartup /home/rduser/.vnc/xstartup

RUN sudo chown -R rduser.rduser /home/rduser ; \
echo ‘rduser’ | vncpasswd -f > /home/rduser/.vnc/passwd ; \
chmod 700 /home/rduser/.vnc ; \
chmod 600 /home/rduser/.vnc/passwd ; \
chmod +x /home/rduser/ /home/rduser/.vnc/xstartup
USER root

COPY start /start
RUN chmod +x /start

#set proper timezone
RUN sudo rm /etc/localtime && sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime

# Expose ssh, vnc
# Set boot command
CMD /start

# Set permissions on /var/snd
RUN chown rduser /var/snd

# Add fftw-3.3.3* and libaacplus*.rpm to get darkice running (and cfg file, too)
#RUN mkdir /usr/local/src/rpms; chown rduser /var/snd
#COPY rpms/libaacplus-2.0.2-1.el7.centos.x86_64.rpm rpms/fftw*.rpm /usr/local/src/rpms/
#RUN sudo yum install -y /usr/local/src/rpms/*.x86_64.rpm
RUN mkdir /usr/local/src/rpms
COPY rpms/*.x86_64.rpm /usr/local/src/rpms/
RUN sudo yum install -y /usr/local/src/rpms/*.rpm && rm -rf /usr/local/src/rpms/*.x86_64.rpm

# add cron job to generate logs
COPY cron.rduser /var/spool/cron
RUN mv /var/spool/cron/cron.rduser /var/spool/cron/rduser && chown rduser.rduser /var/spool/cron/rduser && chmod 600 /var/spool/cron/rduser

# copy jackeq bin, oggimport and library
COPY jackeq /usr/local/bin/jackeq
COPY oggimport /usr/local/bin/oggimport
COPY /usr/local/lib/ladspa/

#Copy asound.conf for using alsa apps (linphone) with JACK
COPY asound.conf /etc/

# mount music dir
RUN mkdir /mnt/music

Ben Reed : About San Juan…

March 16, 2019 02:09 PM

So now we’re back on land and I want to talk about an epic thing that happened on JoCoCruise. Of course, epic things happen routinely on the nerd boat but this one, especially, got me.

For the last few years we now have an entire boat for our group/themed cruise. There was a lot of concern when we got big enough that we would no longer fit in a single cruise ship auditorium for the main stage shows, and a fear that the inside jokes and “feel” would be lost. One concession to this is that on one of our stops, we had a giant festival concert where everyone could attend together. While things would never be the same, this was an awesome experience that once again showed how hard The Home Office works to make things great every year.

This year, that concert was to be in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with headliner They Might Be Giants. In true JoCo Cruise fashion, the cruise raised $80,000 for relief efforts in PR on top of all the OTHER logistical stuff that goes into running a full week themed cruise AND a concert festival. It is mind-boggling.

There was no rain in the forecast, but a sprinkling here or there happened as each of the acts played. Then we got a bigger dump of rain that backed off again pretty quickly. Jonathan Coulton did his set and things were pretty OK but starting to pick up.

Then the deluge began.

They delayed as long as they could, but sometime after 10:00 they announced they would not be allowed to turn anything on the stage back on and would have to give up hope.


They said they were working with TMBG to get them on the boat to attempt to do a quick, stripped-down show on the main stage for anyone that could get to it. We were all disappointed but understood and started walking back — soaked — from the festival grounds to the boat.

We had every right to be angry, frustrated, sad, the whole gamut. A bunch of newcomers to the cruise this year literally signed up specifically because TMBG was going to be performing.

And yet…

The magic of the culture this crazy cruise experiment we’ve built was that everyone was laughing, telling stories, talking about how crazy it is, talking about how they’ll tell this story, SINGING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS, and generally just amusing ourselves as Holland America had to process almost 2000 wet sea monkeys all at once. People jumped in to help move equipment back to the boat double-time, as they set off the fireworks that were supposed to be at the end of the show because hey, why not?

We got on the boat, went to our rooms to hang up our wet clothes and then heard the announcement. If you can get there, go to the main stage right now! TMBG will be playing until the last possible minute. They also arranged to have the show broadcast to the in-room TVs and other locations around the ship.

Holland America allowed John Linnell onto the ship as a visitor (since he did not sail with the rest of the band) and he had to get off BEFORE MIDNIGHT because the visitor pass runs out and we needed to leave the dock by 1am.

They Might Be Giants played an amazing frantic electrifying 50-ish minute set that blew us away, and then got the hell out of there in time for us to get back out to sea.

The logistics involved in putting an emergency concert together in about an hour are beyond comprehension, but they made it work. The thing that gets me, though, is that I did not hear a single complaint about a short set, or them not doing the “real” show at the outdoor venue. All I heard was thanks to The Home Office for making it possible, and an energy that can’t be replicated for all of us being a part of it.

The next day we went to a get-together for folks who have done the JoCo Cruise a lot, and the folks involved in running it were beside themselves with emotion at how everyone came together to make it happen and to support them, when it would have been so easy to let everything fall apart and be awful and wallow in the failure.

*That* is JoCo Cruise, to me, in a nutshell.

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Tarus Balog : Meeting Owl

March 14, 2019 06:54 PM

One of the cool things I get to do working at OpenNMS is to visit customer sites. It is always fun to visit our clients and to work with them to get the most out of the application.

But over the last year I’ve seen a decline in requests for on-site work. This is odd because general interest in OpenNMS is way up, and it finally dawned on me why – fewer and fewer people work in an office.

For example, we work with a large bank in Chicago. However, their monitoring guy moved to Seattle. Rather than lose a great employee, they let him work from home. When I went out for a few days of consulting, we ended up finding a co-working space in which to meet.

Even within our own organization we are distributed. There is the main office in Apex, NC, our Canadian branch in Ottawa, Ontario, our IT guy in Connecticut and our team in Europe (spread out across Germany, Italy and the UK). We tend to communicate via some form of video chat, but that can be a pain if a lot of people are in one room on one end of the conference.

When I was visiting our partner in Australia, R-Group, I got to use this really cool setup they have using Polycom equipment. Video consisted of two cameras. One didn’t move and was focused on the whole room, but the other would move and zoom in on whoever was talking. The view would switch depending on the situation. It really improved the video conferencing experience.

I checked into it when I got back to the United States, and unfortunately it looked real expensive, way more than I could afford to pay. However, in my research I came across something called a Meeting Owl. We bought one for the Apex office and it worked out so well we got another one for Ottawa.

The Meeting Owl consists of a cylindrical speaker topped with a 360° camera. It attaches to any device that can accept a USB camera input. The picture displays a band across the top that shows the whole panorama, but then software “zooms” in on the person talking. The bottom of the screen will split to show up to three people (the last three people who have spoken).

It’s a great solution at a good price, but it had one problem. In the usual setup, the Owl is placed in the center of the conference table, and usually there is a monitor on one side. When the people at the table are listening to someone remote (either via their camera or another Owl), the people seated along the sides end up looking at the large monitor. This means the Owl is pretty much showing everyone’s ear.

It bothers me.

Now, the perfect solution would be to augment the Owl to project a picture as a hologram above the unit so that people could both see the remote person as well as look at the Owl’s camera at the same time.

Barring that, I decided to come up with another solution.

Looking on Amazon I found an inexpensive HDMI signal splitter. This unit will take one HDMI input and split it into four duplicate outputs. I then bought three small 1080p monitors (I wanted the resolution to match the 1080p main screen we already had) which I could then place around the Owl. I set the Owl on the splitter to give it a little height.

Meeting Owl with Three Monitors

Now when someone remote, such as Antonio, is talking, we can look at the small monitors on the table instead of the big one on the side wall. I found that three does a pretty good job of giving everyone a decent view, and if someone is presenting their screen everyone can look at the big monitor in order to make out detail.

Meeting Owl in Call

We tried it this morning and it worked out great. Just thought I’d share in case anyone else is looking for a similar solution.

Mark Turner : Choosing Trade School Over College – The Atlantic

March 09, 2019 01:48 PM

My plumber has a beach house. Just saying.

Toren Reesman knew from a young age that he and his brothers were expected to attend college and obtain a high level degree. As the children of a radiologist—a profession that requires 12 years of schooling—his father made clear what he wanted for his boys: “Keep your grades up, get into a good college, get a good degree,” as Reesman recalls it. Of the four Reesman children, one brother has followed this path so far, going to school for dentistry. Reesman attempted to meet this expectation as well. He enrolled in college after graduating high school. With his good grades, he got into West Virginia University—but he began his freshman year with dread. He had spent his summers in high school working for his pastor at a custom cabinetry company. He looked forward each year to honing his woodworking skills and took joy in creating beautiful things. Schooling did not excite him in the same way. After his first year of college he decided not to return.

He says pursuing custom woodworking as his lifelong trade was disappointing to his father, but Reesman stood firm in his decision, and became a cabinetmaker. He says his father is now proud and supportive, but breaking with family expectations in order to pursue his passion was a difficult choice for Reesman—one that many young people are facing in the changing job market.

Source: Choosing Trade School Over College – The Atlantic

Mark Turner : Russia’s passive-aggressive reaction to SpaceX may mask a deeper truth | Ars Technica

March 09, 2019 01:41 PM

Interesting analysis of Russian reaction to SpaceX’s successful docking and return of it’s CrewDragon spacecraft.

One of the big questions surrounding the first launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft was how the Russians would react. They have held considerable sway in the International Space Station partnership by controlling access to the orbiting laboratory since the 2011 retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle. So far, the Russian response has been one of throwing small bits of shade here and there but trying not to be too obvious about it.

On Sunday, when SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station, the Russian space corporation sequestered cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko in the Russian segment of the station. This was, Roscosmos said, so that Kononenko could take emergency action in case the Dragon became uncontrollable and crashed into the space station.

After the successful docking, Roscosmos tweeted a Russian language congratulation to NASA, but underscored the fact “that flight safety must be above reproach.” An hour later it published a rare tweet in English, sending “its sincere compliments to the colleagues from NASA,” but without the emphasis on vehicle safety. Neither tweet mentioned SpaceX. (Later, Roscosmos said NASA ordered the ship and, therefore, deserved the congratulations.)

Source: Russia’s passive-aggressive reaction to SpaceX may mask a deeper truth | Ars Technica

Mark Turner : What Happens Now That China Won’t Take U.S. Recycling – The Atlantic

March 09, 2019 01:39 PM

China’s refusal to accept American recycling could lead to a drastic change in consumer habits. Perhaps we will finally have a discussion about our throwaway society.

For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.

Source: What Happens Now That China Won’t Take U.S. Recycling – The Atlantic

Mark Turner : How to revive stale bread

March 09, 2019 01:37 PM

I was pondering the chemistry of stale bread the other day when I decided to see what science I could find on it. This excellent article popped up.

A fresh-baked loaf of bread is one of life’s great pleasures. The soft interior is open and airy, each bite yielding with just a touch of resistance. The exterior is all crust, a crisp and crackly delight contrasting in both texture and flavor. This balance is fleeting, though. Straight from the oven it’s at its best, but with every minute that passes, that loaf moves one step further toward crouton, hard-tack, and hockey puck. Why must nature be so cruel? Why does all bread go stale?

It’s tempting to believe that stale bread is simply dry bread and that efforts to keep it moist can stave off this sad fate. The real culprit, though, is a subtle chemical change that alters the food’s structure on a molecular level. This process—called starch retrogradation—turns bread’s texture leathery and gritty, and it makes the loaf taste dry (whether the moisture has really evaporated or not). Though this can’t be stopped completely, it can sometimes be slowed or reversed. Let’s look a little deeper.

Source: How to revive stale bread

Mark Turner : This Is Silicon Valley – OneZero

March 09, 2019 01:35 PM

Interesting commentary on Silicon Valley. I was there for a week earlier this winter and it’s kind of a weird place with a touch of Disneyland-like detachment.

I am privileged to live in Silicon Valley. I was born here, I grew up here, and now I work here as a product manager at Google. The weather is lovely, the crime rate is low, and the schools are well funded. The adults have cushy jobs and the kids have endless resources. People feast on $15 sushirritos and $6 Blue Bottle coffees. The streets are filled with Teslas and self-driving cars.

It’s a place of opportunity. Many new graduates, myself included, are making six-figure salaries straight out of college, plus equity, bonuses, and benefits on top of that. I get unlimited free food at work?—?three full meals a day and as many snacks as I want in between. There’s a place to do laundry and get a haircut. There’s even a bowling alley and a bouldering wall.

This is Silicon Valley. Who wouldn’t want to live here?

Source: This Is Silicon Valley – OneZero

Mark Turner : The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America – The Verge

March 08, 2019 06:24 PM

You couldn’t pay me enough to do this job.

For this portion of her education, Chloe will have to moderate a Facebook post in front of her fellow trainees. When it’s her turn, she walks to the front of the room, where a monitor displays a video that has been posted to the world’s largest social network. None of the trainees have seen it before, Chloe included. She presses play.

The video depicts a man being murdered. Someone is stabbing him, dozens of times, while he screams and begs for his life. Chloe’s job is to tell the room whether this post should be removed. She knows that section 13 of the Facebook community standards prohibits videos that depict the murder of one or more people. When Chloe explains this to the class, she hears her voice shaking.

Returning to her seat, Chloe feels an overpowering urge to sob. Another trainee has gone up to review the next post, but Chloe cannot concentrate. She leaves the room, and begins to cry so hard that she has trouble breathing.No one tries to comfort her. This is the job she was hired to do. And for the 1,000 people like Chloe moderating content for Facebook at the Phoenix site, and for 15,000 content reviewers around the world, today is just another day at the office.

Source: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America – The Verge

Mark Turner : At 28, my brain was already fizzling out

March 06, 2019 01:32 AM

I was searching for stuff on my computer tonight when I came across a diary entry I created back on my 28th birthday, 21 Jan 1997. I had started journaling then mainly because I had started having trouble with my memory. It is also why I began this blog, as I’ve said before.

This entry is from a time when I was young, single, fit, and supposedly at the top of my game, yet I was deeply concerned about my future. I post it today to remind myself of just how long I’ve been dealing with Gulf War Illness.

It has been three decades of pain and frustration but I am still here.

Looking at the old clock on the wall I see that I’ve just turned 28 years old. Here I am sitting at my keyboard on my 28th birthday, all alone save for a lazy cat. I didn’t feel like staying at the party because I’m feeling down, so I guess I really didn’t have to be alone. I can’t talk to those guys about what’s bothering me because they couldn’t relate. There are very few people who could. But the party was getting my down because I couldn’t seem to jump-start myself into the conversation, and I became alarmed at this inability to speak.

I had been reading the email from the Gulf War mailing list and the stories from vets with similar problems as I have really began to scare me. That list has provided me with more information than I could ever expect to gain from traditional news sources. I thank God for the Internet. If you’ve got a problem, you can use the Net to find another schmuck with the same problem and commiserate together. The Internet was born from the concept of
Misery Loves Company, whether it be lonely computer geeks or sick veterans who are feeling their consciousness slip slowly away.

The thought that this illness may turn me into a permanent wallflower scared me so much that I was actually on the verge of bursting into tears at Jeff’s place tonight. Boy, would I have some explaining to do! I wasn’t the one who got fired today and I’m the one who’d bawl. Sheesh. I’ve always been shy but always took for granted that I could speak up when I had to. Now I can’t muster the will or ability to do that even among my longtime friends. It kills me. It really does. The frustration is unbearable.

I really blame the lack of short-term memory. I’ve become convinced that that goddamn PB pill I was forced to take has really fucked up my brain. I never thought one fucking little pill could cause years or potentially a lifetime of misery. I never doubted the decision I made to serve my country until this winter, when all the news stories caught the Pentagon in its lie. They knew all fucking along that we were on our way to vegetable-land. I love my country as much as I ever did. But I have grown to despise those cowards in Washington who are covering their asses as fast as they can.

Goddamn it! Be a fucking man and admit you were wrong and let’s get on with it! I will never take anything said by any government or military official at face value ever again. I put my trust in them and they don’t give a shit. Some fucking leadership. Powell, Schwarzkopf and the rest of them, back-pedaling as fast as the can. So fucking easy to call the shots when you’re manning a desk back in the U.S. of A. Smile for those cameras, Generals!

Today I noticed that damn rash appearing on my arms again. It turned out to be mild this time. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be anywhere other than on my forearms this time. As I look at it now I can barely see it. Just a few patches on my inner forearm now. I still don’t really have a guess how or what causes it. I have ruled out a contact allergy (overruling my dermatologist in fact. But I’ll stand my ground until he can provide some evidence of what I am allergic to).

Mark Turner : Behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Masterful Interrogation Of Michael Cohen | HuffPost

March 02, 2019 03:48 PM

This may be the most striking thing I’ve seen in national politics over the last few years (emphasis mine):

Ocasio-Cortez’s star power has undoubtedly contributed to the exposure her committee exchanges have gotten. At age 29, she is the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress, and as a democratic socialist who unseated one of the House’s most powerful Democrats, the congresswoman is an object of extraordinary fascination for the media.

One advantage Ocasio-Cortez has over some colleagues is that she consistently attends even the most mundane committee hearings, since she does not spend any of her day calling donors for money. Her online presence is strong enough that she has chosen to rely on it exclusively to raise contributions in smaller increments.

I’ve long wondered how fulfilling it might be to serve in public office, particularly at the Federal level. The horror stories of “call time” really turn me off on the process – the trade-offs are ugly.

But imagine if every member of Congress were freed from the burden of constantly raising money. Imagine how much more effective our representation would be. What AOC does isn’t magic; she just has the kind of following that allows her to bypass the D.C. money game.

It’s possible that bypassing the big media (and big money) game and going to the people via social media is the answer. Other representatives, willing to put themselves out there, might also achieve this level of independence. Or if we as a people were willing to front the cost through public financing of campaigns – expanding the public funding of presidential campaigns to cover all elections to federal office.

Quite possibly ideas like this could save our democracy.

Source: Behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Masterful Interrogation Of Michael Cohen | HuffPost

Mark Turner : PG&E Details Damage to Power Lines in Area Where Camp Fire Began | The California Report | KQED News

March 02, 2019 02:13 PM

I went down the rabbit hole this morning, finding all about the origins of last year’s Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in California’s history. The cause has been traced to faulty equipment on a high-voltage transmission tower. Being a geek, I wanted to learn more about the technical aspects of this part, so I dug up some informative articles.

First, here’s the start of an informative story on the disaster itself:

PG&E has released new details of damage to its electrical equipment in the area where Butte County’s catastrophic Camp Fire began last month — including a broken power pole “with bullets and bullet holes at the break point.”

The new information is included in a letter updating the California Public Utilities Commission on a pair of electrical incidents that occurred Nov. 8 about the same time the fire started and began to race toward the town of Paradise.

One of the incidents occurred at 6:15 a.m. on a major electrical transmission line suspended on a series of high steel towers on a steep slope above the North Fork of the Feather River. PG&E’s new letter suggests that a large steel hook connecting high-voltage equipment to a tower near the utility’s Poe Dam failed, causing the equipment to arc.

Source: PG&E Details Damage to Power Lines in Area Where Camp Fire Began | The California Report | KQED News

Next, there’s this ArsTechnica story that got me going:

“Although the cause of the 2018 Camp Fire is still under investigation, based on the information currently known to the company and reported to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other agencies, the company believes it is probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire,” PG&E told investors.

The utility goes on to state that its Caribou-Palermo 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line deenergized approximately 15 minutes before a PG&E employee observed a fire in the vicinity of a tower on the line. In addition, “a suspension insulator supporting a transposition jumper had separated from an arm” on the tower in question.

Here’s a link to a lawsuit against PG&E [PDF] which includes photographs of the damaged equipment.

Here’s a fantastic look from at the insulators used with high-voltage power lines:

Suspension insulators
As it is already mentioned above, pin insulators become too bulky an uneconomical beyond 33 kV. So, for voltages higher than 33 kV, suspension insulators are used. A suspension insulator consists of a number of porcelain discs connected to each other with metal links in the form of a string. Line conductor is suspended at the bottom end of the suspension string which is secured to cross-arm of the tower. Each disc in a suspension insulator string is designed for a low voltage, say 11 kV. The number of discs in a string depends on the working voltage. Suspension insulators are preferred for transmission lines.

The San Jose Mercury News has a fantastic, fact-filled story on the failure of the tower:

Now a month after the blaze first roared to life along the North Fork of the Feather River, near the resort town of Pulga, sources familiar with a Cal Fire probe say investigators are zeroing in on this “transpositional” tower that helps switch power among transmission lines on the Caribou-Palermo circuit, originally built in 1919. The focus is on whether a tiny O-ring that holds up rows of disc-shaped insulators, or possibly fatigued steel from one of the tower’s arms, caused the accident.

Caribou-Palermo Transpositional tower. The red arrows point to the remnants of “jumper cables,” which transfer power from line to another. (photo by Dario de Ghetaldi)

“It’s there that the likely (O-ring) connection failed,” said Dario de Ghetaldi, an attorney suing PG&E on behalf of dozens of residents who lost their homes in the Camp Fire. “It could also be corrosion on the support extension. This is high in the mountains, you get very strong winds and they had extreme winds that night.”

Mark Turner : Vacant Position – how can I resist?

February 19, 2019 08:18 PM

Got this great job opportunity through CareerBuilder today. This is what a scam looks like. Little to no detail on the company or work.

Dear Mark Turner!

Our HR Department has found your resume on CareerBuilder. Our company is an innovative company working in exploration of gas and oil. We are looking for a responsible Assistant Manager to assist a higher-level manager. Your work will be critical in ensuring the team meets its goals of efficiency and customer satisfaction. Interpersonal and mediation skills will be very useful, since you’ll often be acting as a point of contact between manager, employees and customers. The goal is to secure the effective operation of our business and the satisfaction of our clients.

Vacancy: Assistant Manager
Type of position: Permanent
Salary: $3050 per month during the trial period; $4450 per month (after trial)
Timetable: Mon-Fri, 9 AM – 5 PM, full time (with paid breaks)
Qualifying period: 3 weeks of paid training and qualifying

– Assist the manager in organizing, planning and implementing strategy
– Communicate with clients and evaluate their needs and specifications
– Create reports
– Monitor operating costs, budgets and resources
– Ensure schedules and objectives are met
– Participation in meetings
– Process data entry with high level accuracy
– Maintain a positive representation of the company

– Must have great attention to detail
– Must be a team player
– Must have strong communications skills
– Must be personable and comfortable interacting with customers daily
– Desire to participate in professional development and take on new responsibilities
– Self-motivated and comfortable working both independently and as part of a team
– Ability to perform at a high level in a fast paced environment

Our coworkers also enjoy a total rewards package that includes:
– Competitive wages
– Merit based advancement
– Uncapped bonuses & incentive plan
– Paid sick/personal days
– 401 (k) plan

Our internal training and certification programs help expand your skills and income earning potential. We are looking for hardworking team player who is looking for a career.
We expect that you’ll take this job offer and look forward to welcoming you at our company. Should you be interested in this job offer, please provide your contact details, such as phone and e-mail.

IMPORTANT: This information should/will not be disclosed to third parties.

With best regards,
HR Department

Mark Turner : Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Counting Carbon | International Council on Clean Transportation

February 19, 2019 02:51 PM

A good analysis on which mode of transportation is the greenest.

One question we’ve fielded lately with the release of our US airline efficiency ranking is how the fuel efficiency, and therefore carbon intensity, of aircraft compare to other modes of transportation. Vehicles meet a variety of transport needs, in terms of what is transported (people vs. goods), distance traveled (short intercity trips vs. transoceanic transport), and speed (12 mph on a bike vs. Mach 0.85 in a long-haul aircraft). Typically, travelers choose between different transport modes based upon a variety of criteria—cost, speed, comfort, even safety—with carbon footprint generally only a secondary consideration. But, for those relative few who would consider planning a trip with carbon dioxide emissions in mind, here are some preliminary thoughts.

Source: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Counting Carbon | International Council on Clean Transportation

Mark Turner : Incredible Footage of Rage Against the Machine Performing at Berkeley Square in November 1992

February 19, 2019 02:33 PM

On November 7, 1992, a really passionate Rage Against the Machine performed an incredible show at Berkeley Square in Berkeley, California. This powerful set included some of their now iconic songs such as “Bombtrack”, “Fistful Of Steel”, “Wake Up”, “Settle For Nothing” , “Killing In The Name”, “Bullet In The Head” and “Freedom”.

Commenter Mike4Metal was at this show and shared his excitement about seeing the band that night.

I was there that night!! The organization opened up that night, no one knew who rage was at this time, their debut was not out yet!! They surprised us all that night!!! I feel lucky to have witnessed their first Bay Area gig!!! Now they are legendary!!!

Earlier that year, the band performed an equally incredible show at Zed Records in Long Beach.

via reddit

Source: Incredible Footage of Rage Against the Machine Performing at Berkeley Square in November 1992

Mark Turner : Insects are dying off — alarmingly fast – Vox

February 14, 2019 05:06 PM

Insects are the most abundant animals on planet Earth. If you were to put them all together into one creepy-crawly mass, they’d outweigh all humanity by a factor of 17.

Insects outweigh all the fish in the oceans and all the livestock munching grass on land. Their abundance, variety (there could be as many as 30 million species), and ubiquity mean insects play a foundational role in food webs and ecosystems: from the bees that pollinate the flowers of food crops like almonds to the termites that recycle dead trees in forests.

Insects are also superlative for another, disturbing reason: They’re vanishing at a rate faster than mammals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

“The pace of modern insect extinctions surpasses that of vertebrates by a large margin,” write the authors of an alarming new review in Biological Conservation of the scientific literature on insect populations published in the past 40 years. The state of insect biodiversity, they write, is “dreadful.” And their biomass — the estimated weight of all insects on Earth combined — is dropping by an estimated 2.5 percent every year.

In all, the researchers conclude that as much as 40 percent of all insect species may be endangered over the next several decades. (Caveat: Most of the data was obtained from studies conducted in Europe and North America.) And around 41 percent of all insect species on record have seen population declines in the past decade.

“We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline … to be twice as high as that of vertebrates, and the pace of local species extinction … eight times higher,” the authors write. “It is evident that we are witnessing the largest [insect] extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods.”

Source: Insects are dying off — alarmingly fast – Vox

Mark Turner : The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit » Nieman Journalism Lab

February 14, 2019 05:01 PM

How many things are you subscribed to right now?

How many news organizations or writers or blogs or podcasts do you pay for every month?

How many do you plan on being subscribed to at this time next year?

The growth of the subscription model has been one of the biggest developments in online journalism in the past few years. In the sports world, where my research is situated, this is most clearly seen by the growth of The Athletic, the subscription-only site that’s expanded into every major pro market in the U.S. and in November received $40 million in venture capital funding.But in 2019, it feels like there’s a bit of a reckoning coming. There’s a subscription-pocalypse looming. And newspapers are going to get hit by it.

Source: The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit » Nieman Journalism Lab

Mark Turner : Apple’s new deal for journalism should send publishers running – The Verge

February 14, 2019 05:00 PM

Social networks influence democracy in part because they occupy a large portion of our shared information sphere. Which voices bubble up there — and which are smothered — affect the discussions we have, and the actions that we take as a result. But a tech giant doesn’t need to have a social network to alter our information environment. If Apple is to have its way, all it may need is the iPhone.


It’s easy to see why Apple favors the scheme. It gets a windfall of new revenue at a time when the decline in iPhone sales has made selling additional services a high priority. It gets to bring more high-quality publishers onto its platform, burnishing its reputation as a premium brand. And it gets to talk loudly about how much it loves journalism, as Apple vice president Eddy Cue did when announcing Apple’s acquisition of the subscription news app Texture last year. “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users,” he said at the time.

Source: Apple’s new deal for journalism should send publishers running – The Verge

Mark Turner : Who is Richard Burr, Really? Why the public can’t trust his voice in the Russia probe | Just Security

February 14, 2019 04:55 PM

On the same day that Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) officially joined the Trump campaign as a senior national security advisor, the U.S. intelligence community released a statement that the Kremlin was trying to interfere in the election. But the Senator already knew those facts, and much more. Burr had been fully briefed in secret by the U.S. intelligence community a few weeks earlier. Senior U.S. officials told Burr that Russia’s interference was designed to support Donald Trump’s electoral chances. Burr decided to team up with the Trump campaign anyway, and hitch his own electoral fate in North Carolina to Trump’s political fortunes.

More than two years later, Burr now leads the Senate’s flagship investigation into whether fellow members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia’s efforts. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr’s work with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) on the investigation is heading toward its final stage. The committee is expected to issue its major findings in the coming months.

Burr has received remarkably favorable press coverage for his stewardship of the investigation. Many mainstream commentators have heralded his committee as a bipartisan effort to follow the facts and tell the American public what it finds. Closer observation, however, raises serious questions whether that’s how this chapter in the 2016 election saga will end.

What’s largely escaped scrutiny is the case of Burr’s own words and deeds during the 2016 campaign. It was impossible to put the pieces together back then. We now have a much clearer picture due to news reports, court filings by the special counsel, and congressional testimony by former administration officials. We have learned a lot about what Russia was doing, what the U.S. intelligence community knew, and what Burr was told. The picture that emerges is neither favorable for Burr personally, nor for what truths Americans can expect to receive from his stewardship of the committee in the months ahead.

Source: Who is Richard Burr, Really? Why the public can’t trust his voice in the Russia probe | Just Security

Mark Turner : Mark Galeotti: ‘We should laugh at Russia more’ | Books | The Guardian

February 11, 2019 10:19 PM

Here’s a great intro to what the West is doing wrong with regards to Vladimir Putin: building him up. Mark Galeotti says we should “laugh at Russia more,” and I agree.

Mark Galeotti is an expert on Russian politics and crime. He is a Jean Monnet fellow at the European University Institute, a non-resident fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. He has published extensively on Russia. Galeotti’s latest book, We Need to Talk About Putin, argues that the Russian leader is widely misunderstood.

What is the biggest popular misconception about Vladimir Putin?I think it is precisely that he runs everything. There is still this notion that he is some kind of James Bond super-villain. First, that’s just not the way the world is; also, he could be considered something of a lazy autocrat who sits back and lets others come up with all kinds of plans and stratagems of their own.

Source: Mark Galeotti: ‘We should laugh at Russia more’ | Books | The Guardian