Tuesday November 13th, 2018

Visibility a little better

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Visibility a little better

Protect your liver

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Jesuit missions and a legacy of education

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It ended in 1767, yet this experiment is still linked to higher incomes and education levels today:

Jesuits arrived late to the Guarani people’s homeland where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. But their missions thrived until 1767, when King Charles III of Spain expelled all Jesuits from the Spanish Empire.

Yet even 250 years later, people living near the ruins of Jesuit missions complete 10 to 15 percent more years of education and earn 10 percent more than residents of equivalent towns without missions, according to a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

The Internet is written by insane people

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Reddit: Most of What You Read on the Internet is Written by Insane People:

Edit: I guess my tone-projection is off. A lot of people seem to be put-off by my usage of the word "insane." I intended that as tongue-in-cheek and did not mean to imply that any of them literally have diagnosable mental illnesses. I have a lot of respect for all of the individuals I listed and they seem like nice people, I was just trying to make a point about how unusual their behavior is.

And it's gotten worse again

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And it's gotten worse again

Remote wipe of iPhone

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Police: Woman remotely wipes phone in evidence after shooting

Police believe Juelle L. Grant, 24, of Willow Avenue [Schenectady, NY], may have been the driver of a vehicle involved in an Oct. 23 drive-by shooting on Van Vranken Avenue, near Lang Street, so they obtained her phone, according to police allegations filed in court. No one was injured in the shooting.

After police took her iPhone X, telling her it was considered evidence, "she did remotely wipe" the device, according to police.

On the one hand, this is pretty clearly destruction of evidence. On the other hand, what if this was triggered by some sort of deadman switch... If the phone gets wiped because you didn't stop the wipe process, does that count?

Still breathing smoke

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Still breathing smoke...

Monday November 12th, 2018

Armed bouncer shot by police

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Good guy with a gun shot by police: Officer shoots, kills armed security guard outside south suburban bar

After security asked a group of drunken men to leave Manny’s Blue Room Bar around 4 a.m. Sunday, witnesses said someone came back with a gun and opened fire. Security returned fire, and according to witnesses, 26-year-old armed security guard Jemel Roberson apprehended one of the men involved outside.

"He had somebody on the ground with his knee in back, with his gun in his back like, 'Don’t move,'" witness Adam Harris said.

No points for guessing the color of the security guard's skin.

Saturday November 10th, 2018

WiFi snooping

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Mapping & Elections

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VentureBeat: Mapping tech adds truth to election debate. Some ramblings from Eric Gundersen, founder of MapBox.

VirtualBox exploit

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Exploit developer discovers security vulnerability in VirtualBox and publishes a full guide to exploiting it.

Zelenyuk has published full details of the exploit on GitHub, and says that the vulnerability affects VirtualBox 5.2.20 and earlier. The only requirements to take advantage of the vulnerability are that the network card is an Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop (82540EM), and that VirtualBox is set to NAT mode.

Seems pretty specific, but careful...


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LA band Threatin faked a fanbase to land a European tour that no one attended:

To do it, the band’s frontman and leader, Jered Threatin, posed as a nonexistent booking agent / promoter to land the gigs, used faked live footage of allegedly packed shows in L.A., bought Facebook likes, event RSVPs and YouTube views and lied about ticket sales numbers to swindle venue owners and talent buyers into taking on the shows.

And then, of course, nobody showed up, because their Facebook followers were all fake accounts from Brazil, and ...

Jupyter Notebooks of Climate Data

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Jupyter Notebooks of all sorts of climate data! http://openclimatedata.net/

Friday November 9th, 2018

Damn it, Apple, what coordinate space are you using for the origin of NSDraggingImageComonent.frame?

Assert Yourself

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Assert yourself - some notes on programming defensively and hiding bugs. Some good stuff to think about, especially as we're moving into a world of high failure probablistic systems (eg: distributed and networked)

Can't see across the valley now

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Can't see across the valley now.

Thursday November 8th, 2018

looked Latino

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SPLC lawsuit: Family detained, searched in Mississippi because they ‘looked’ Latino

Remember all of those Belisarius Productions and Glen A. Larson TV shows back in the '80s where an out of control Southern sheriff was the villain? Those were not supposed to be aspirational.

Man Without Pants

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Man without pants falls through Waffle House ceiling

A Man Without Pants Fell Through the Roof of a Waffle House During a Botched Burglary, Police Say

"Man Without Pants" is going to be the name of my cover band, but we're gonna have to update the lyrics to "Safety Dance".

Could've sworn I'd linked this previously, but if so it bears repeating: Ken Cheng @kenchengcomedy:

terrorism is one of the only areas where white people do most of the work and get none of the credit

Shooting in Thousand Oaks

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12 dead in the worst shooting in the United States in two weeks (Actually, I guess 12 deaths makes it worse than the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting). Including a good guy with a gun. A sheriff’s deputy was about to retire. Instead, ‘he died a hero’ in Thousand Oaks.

12 people killed, including sheriff’s deputy, in ‘horrific’ California bar shooting

The Marine Corps said Long served between August 2008 and March 2013. He served as a machine gunner in Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011 and became a corporal two months later. Dean said Long lived in Newbury Park, Calif., a town near Thousand Oaks. Police have had “several contacts” with Long over the years, Dean said, most of them for minor events including traffic accidents.

In April, deputies were called to Long’s home for a disturbance call, Dean said.

White male with mental illness problems and a history of domestic violence, then.

Sneak Attack

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Pretty much sums up the caravan: The Nib — Sneak Attack

Markov chains are weird

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Markov chains are weird.

Wednesday November 7th, 2018

Motel 6 settles data privacy suit

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BGP Hijack of the moment

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Your regular reminder that BGP hijacking is still a thing and you should be using end-to-end encryption for everything because you never know where your Internet traffic is going to go...

Strange snafu misroutes domestic US Internet traffic through China Telecom

Local Politics & the meta game

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This weekend I went to North Bay Python. It's a great tech conference, walking distance from home, but was essentially away for the weekend. I came home on Sunday evening, Charlene was doing something, the phone was ringing, I went to pick it up and she shook her head and said "Don't answer it, it's been like this all weekend."

(Let the record show I did answer it. My bad.) One of the calls that Petalumans were getting showered with was a nasty attack against D'Lynda Fischer, one of the council candidates. The attack was presumed to have come from the Michael Regan campaign, because there were 3 candidates viable for the 3rd council slot, and his politics are the most orthogonal to the other two. And he's generally been associated with the folks who tend toward such things.

We were at an election night party last night, and somewhere around 8:30 mashed reload on the Sonoma County Registrar of voters web site, and with about 12k absentee ballots counted the results showed Michael Regan in 3rd place (for 3 slots), with D'Lynda and Dennis pretty much tied at 4th. This morning, with a little over 17k total ballots counted (in a city whose total population is 58k) D'Lynda has a roughly 100 count lead, 14.1% to Regan's 13.9%.

My guess is that the nasty politics backfired and motivated late voters. Seems like we might be entering into a new era of politics in the meta-game.

Facebook scammer SMS thread

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Got a message from 413-829-0127, SMS thread in the comments...

Tuesday November 6th, 2018

Secession for Cheesecake Factory

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The Strangest Form of White Flight — The wealthy residents of Eagle's Landing are voting Tuesday on whether to secede from the metro Atlanta city of Stockbridge, just after a black mayor and an all-black city council took office. So much weirdness about this story.

“I serve on the Henry County zoning board,” said Consiglio, “and so I kept seeing all of these places like Bojangle’s, Waffle Houses, dollar stores, and all this going up in our county. And I was like, why can’t we get a Cheesecake Factory, or a P.F. Chang’s or a Houston’s? We have areas that have high incomes, so what’s the deal?”

Now he's for Obamacare

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Donald Trump: "The Democrat plan would obliterate Obamacare." (Twitter video).

Related: Eric Trump: Obama has a ‘personal problem’ with my dad

The president's son also complained that Obama was "taking credit for a lot of my father's accomplishments."

SSD "encryption"

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Solid state of fear: Euro boffins bust open SSD, Bitlocker encryption (it's really, really dumb) — Security experts frantically facepalming at stupid design

A paper [PDF] drawn up by researchers Carlo Meijer and Bernard van Gastel at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and made public today, describes these critical weaknesses. The bottom line is: the drives require a password to encrypt and decrypt their contents, however this password can be bypassed, allowing crooks and snoops to access ciphered data.

Seems to impact several models of Crucial and Samsung SSDs, and Bitlocker.

There's also the more general problem that architecture should allow unencrypted data on as few external buses as possible, so any solution which puts the encryption in the disk hardware is a bad idea. But this is pretty much dong nothing.

My Health Record

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So Australia put together a "My Health Record" thing that sounds like it was really poorly thought-out: My Health Record: The Case For Opting Out.

Uptake as opt-in was slow, so they went opt-out. My Health Record system crashes as Australians rush to opt out.

Monday November 5th, 2018

Motor Vehicle pollution and Childhood Obesity

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Childhood obesity linked to air pollution from vehicles '

Longitudinal associations of in utero and early life near-roadway air pollution with trajectories of childhood body mass index

A two-standard deviation difference in first year of life near-road freeway NOx exposure was associated with a 0.1 kg/m2 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.03, 0.2) faster increase in BMI growth per year and a 0.5 kg/m2 (95% CI: 0.02, 0.9) higher attained BMI at age 10 years.


Amazon to split HQ

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ꓘamerka — Build interactive map of cameras from Shodan


Script creates map with cameras based on your geolocation or exact address. It uses Shodan API to find cameras, Geopy to find address and measure distance, and Folium to draw a map.


Academia is a Cult

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Andrew Marzoni in the Washington Post: Academia is a cult:

But I had to climb only so far up the ivory tower to recognize patterns of abuse that I thought — in my new, secular life — I had left behind. Because academia, I slowly realized, is also a cult.

Migrants on the Southwest Border

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Anti-news, but just putting this someplace handy so I can find it: NPR FACT CHECK: Migrants Are Not Overwhelming The Southwest Border

False Accusations

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Novato police: School shooter claim was bogus

“Weaponizing the police with false allegations such as those in this case was not only a travesty for the accused boy but a gross waste of scarce resources that unnecessarily put our community on edge,” police Chief Adam McGill said in a statement released by the department.

A lot of outlets are making hay over Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley referring Judy Munro-Leighton for prosecution after she admitted fabricating her complaints against now-Justice Kavanaugh:

Sen. Chuck Grassley tells the Justice Department that Judy Munro-Leighton contacted his committee in October and claimed she wrote the letter, which arose during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. The Iowa Republican says that under questioning from the committee, she said she never met Kavanaugh and didn’t write the letter.

Grassley previously asked for a criminal investigation of Julie Swetnick, and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, I haven't seen additional information on that.

Cello & Julliard

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Since I'm working on my voice, I thought this was interesting about music practice: What it's like to audition at juilliard when you'e 11. But I thought the successor article about being a young dedicated cello player was interesting when thinking about privilege and opportunity and support...

The standard for square dance amplifiers is Hilton Audio. They make a basic bomb-proof amplifier that has 4 mic inputs (though the impedance on them is kinda weird, so they work better if you use their mic cables, which provide an on-mic volume control and a mute switch).

But I use powered speakers (QSC K-8s), and find the sound from the Hilton amps is optimized for voice, which makes things sound kinda like a long-distance phone call. Great for "dancers have to hear my calls", but I aspire to better musical sound at my events (to the point that I've built collapsible frames with moving blankets to try to create some echo dampening that we put up in boomier venues).

So I've been fantasizing about building my own multi-input mixer.

I also occasionally call at venues with built-in speakers, and need an amp to drive those.

In the "encouraging bad life choices" department, IEEE Spectrum: Build Your Own Professional-Grade Audio Amp on the Sort of Cheap links to building your own class-D power amplifier, but then points out that the Texas Instruments TPA3250 power amp can be gotten assembled on a eTPA3250-2CH-50W val board from 3e Audio.

Pair it with an Xkitz XAPS-500W power supply fed by a transformer or a switching power supply (several examples in the article), and a few connectors and a little solder later you've got a total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD) < 0.0025% at 20 watts into a 4 Ohm load at 1KHz.

I mean, sure, it won't drive the 200W sustained of the Hilton, more like 130W peak, but if I need that much power I'll drag out my own speakers anyway...

Duck Prosciutto

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I may have to run down to Thistle Meats... Nonelvis posted a recipe for duck prosciutto

Ordering Salad WIth Emacs

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I ducked out of this year's North Bay Python early yesterday evening, but everyone said that this was a talk worth watching: Better Web Scraping Through Reverse Engineering AJAX API calls (YouTube), but could be characterized as "ordering salad with Emacs".

Saving RAM in Python

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Saving 9 GB of RAM with Python’s _slots_[Wiki].

Interesting: Python normally keeps an objects attributes in a hash map, this forces it to use a less dynamic structure, but if you have lots of small objects it saves a lot of RAM.

Mostly, though, this North Bay Python has been a reminder that you should probably be starting that project in a real language, just in case it grows into something useful...

Sunday November 4th, 2018

Miracle Cure

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Jury Orders 'Miracle Cure Doctor' to Pay $105 Million to Cancer Patient

A former patient testified that she paid thousands of dollars for massages, colonic therapy and baking soda infusions at Young's "Miracle Retreat Center"

Good dog with a gun

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Saturday November 3rd, 2018

Immigration & Crime

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As everyone's up in arms over 10 days worth of asylum seekers traveling in one group still over a thousand miles from the border, your reminder that undocumented immigrants in Texas are convicted for murders at roughly 3/4 the rate of native born citizens (6.4% of the population, 5.4% of murder convictions vs 83% of the population and 93% of murder convictions), and documented immigrants are even safer (10.4% of the population, 1.6% of murder convictions).

Wanna make Texas safer? Bring in more immigrants.

Cato Institute: Criminal Immigrants in Texas: Illegal Immigrant Conviction and Arrest Rates for Homicide, Sex Crimes, Larceny, and Other Crimes