Posts filed under ‘Technology’
Wow, this is an amazing story (I’ve shortened it a lot; go to the original for all the gory details). It’s essentially the back story to Pakistan and North Korea having nuclear bombs and Iran having a “nuclear program.”
Richard Barlow was driving his 13-year-old motorhome through a mountain state’s blizzard the week before Thanksgiving when news broke of the Iran nuclear deal.
Bad memories flooded his mind, not that they’re ever far away. For more than 25 years, ever since he testified behind closed doors on Capitol Hill that the CIA had “scores” of “absolutely reliable” reports on Pakistan’s clandestine efforts to obtain nuclear bomb technology – technology it later gave to Iran – his life has been tumbling through one trapdoor after another.
Barlow’s testimony in 1987 shocked several panel members of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, in part because Army General David Einsel, assigned to the CIA as a top intelligence official, had just told the committee that – despite the recent arrest of a Pakistani caught red-handed buying prohibited nuclear materials – the evidence that Islamabad was pursuing a bomb was inconclusive. The hearing erupted in shouts when Barlow told them differently. “They went through the roof,” he recalled from the road this week. By the time he got back to CIA headquarters, “the phones were ringing off the hook.”
Top Reagan administration officials were in “a panic,” he said, because Pakistan was the crucial player in the CIA operation funneling weapons to Islamic “holy warriors” fighting the Soviet Red Army next door in Afghanistan. If it became known that Pakistan was secretly building a bomb, a law passed by Congress would require a cut-off of military aid.
Obsessed with communism, the administration made a choice: It would turn a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear program in order to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan.
And that meant Barlow, 33 at the time, had to be destroyed.
“If they had busted those [Pakistani] networks,” [Barlow] said last week, “Iran would have no nuclear program, North Korea wouldn’t have a uranium bomb, and Pakistan wouldn’t have over a hundred nuclear weapons they are driving around in vans to hide from us.”
Thanks for the memories Ronnie.
I don’t think of myself as someone who’s good at science and tech stuff at all but I took the Pew
and I scored a 12, “better than 85% of the public.” I’m shocked.
Republicans at work, killing stuff, which they’re so good at:
Usually when energy development moves into deeper waters to harness marine energy resources, coastal residents have nightmares of risky technology and oil spills.
But not when that development means floating wind turbines.
Statoil, the Norwegian-based oil and gas company, received approval from the United Kingdom’s Crown Estate to build five floating wind turbines in 100 meters of water off the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Combined, they will generate 30 megawatts of energy, and the planned hub will be the largest in Europe.
Offshore wind is big in Europe, but turbines are limited to shallow waters (around 60 meters) because the pylons that support them have to be blasted into the seabed. Floating turbines, however, just require a few cables to keep the floating shaft in one spot, and they can be installed in water as deep at 700 meters.
Statoil successfully demonstrated the world’s first floating turbine off the coast of Norway in 2009. In October, Statoil pulled the plug on a $120 million project off the coast of Maine due to regulatory uncertainty. Republican Governor Paul LePage had long opposed the project, which would have made his state a center of global offshore wind innovation, and pushed a law through the legislature that forced a delay in the negotiations over Statoil’s contract.
Wow. Astonishingly shortsighted on LePage’s part but of course he’s got to be loyal to his oil energy masters. Not only that, I’m sure this project would have created a lot, lot, lot of jobs and isn’t that what Republicans are always squawking about?
See 34:56 minutes of gripping video as to why no one should ever text and drive. Three heartbreaking but powerful stories that will hopefully convince you never to do it again.
My Tweet of the Day:
My Tweet of the Day on a day when it is revealed that Barack Obama spies on more people than any president, ever, in the history of the United States:
Yesiree, we now have bipartisan agreement in Washington that it’s okay for the government to spy on millions of Americans, en masse:
The top two senators on the Intelligence Committee on Thursday defended the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records after it was reported in The Guardian.
“It is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress,” Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told reporters at an impromptu news conference in the Capitol. “This is just meta data. There is no content involved. In other words, no content of a communication. … The records can only be accessed under heightened standards.”
“I read intelligence carefully. And I know that people are trying to get to us,” Feinstein said. “This is the reason we keep TSA doing what it’s doing. This the reason the FBI now has 10,000 people doing intelligence on counter-terrorism. This is the reason for the national counter-terrorism center that’s been set up in the time we’ve been active.”
Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) backed up Feinstein, saying, “This is nothing particularly new. This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”
“It has proved meritorious because we have gathered significant information on bad guys, but only on bad guys, over the years,” Chambliss said.
I have a few friends who are just now signing on to Twitter and who have asked me for suggestions as to who to follow. I’ve made some suggestions and this morning, when I came across Time‘s The 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013 I though I’d send a link so they could pick and choose from that list too.
Geez. This is like a list out of the 1%-er cloud.
Time really should get out more.
I admit it: I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. I have friends who are fans (addicts might be a better word) and I even have a few friends who I don’t communicate with all that much anymore because, well, I don’t use Facebook, but they do. They’re on it All. The. Time.
Here’s to quitting Facebook and actually getting in touch with people — wait for it — over the phone or hey, novel idea, in person!
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrates how astronauts on the International Space Station clean up everything from water spills to toxic waste. Pay attention to the microphone. So funny.
From my local newspaper:
How Two Boulder 16-Year-Olds Garnered 16,000 Downloads for 99 Cent iPhone App
In the crowded smartphone app marketplace, getting noticed is about as important as developing a solid program. If that attention comes from Apple, it’s like winning the app lottery.
That’s what happened to a pair of 16-year-old Boulder High School juniors last month after they released an app called Finish to help with a problem most kids deal with: procrastination.
“I came up with the idea during finals week of 10th grade, a little over a year ago,” said Ryan Orbuch, who developed Finish with his buddy, Michael Hansen.
Hansen coded the program, and Orbuch worked on the user interface and user experience, essentially the design and marketing side. The stand-out feature in the app is its sliding timeframe system, which allows users to assign near-term, mid-term and long-term dates to tasks.
Short term is up to three days, mid-term is four days to one week and long term is anything beyond that. When a task creeps up, the app automatically notifies the user.
Apple threw its marketing weight behind Finish, promoting it in the productivity section of the App Store and reaching out to journalists about Orbuch’s and Hansen’s story.
How significant is the recognition? There are more than 1 million apps in the Apple App Store, and research firm Canalys estimates that two-thirds receive fewer than 1,000 downloads in the first year.
Orbuch said the app has received 16,000 downloads as of Monday.
Isn’t that neat?
It still blows my mind when I read about 16-year-olds who are so comfortable with computers they “coded” the program and worked on the “user interface.” When I was their age, nobody would have had any idea what that meant.
Over the last several weeks I’ve seen a ton of articles about 3D printing. I read a few of them but I was like, what? I still didn’t get it. Actually, I take that back. I get it if everything’s made out of plastic or a polymer, i.e., something that could be shot out of a print nozzle but fighter jets? Are we talking a 100% plastic fighter jet?
Then I came across this video which helped me understand the process a bit better:
But this morning I read this — China’s 3D Printing: Not a Revolution – Yet — which includes these tidbits:
Theoretically, this type of system could be used to build a plane, car or even a human organ. Some forecasters predict 3D printers will be making home-cooked meals by 2020.
One of the company’s systems has shown remarkable potential. “It’s even produced a small piece of meat,” he said.
Now I’m back to square one. How is it possible a printer could produce a piece of meat?
Aye yie yie.
H/t to NancyB for alerting me to this “toy:”
I’m old enough to remember when no one had ever heard of bottled water and when people would have laughed at the thought. I’m old enough to remember when carrying around a bottle of water — as an accessory — was unheard of. I’m old enough to remember when we humans didn’t toss millions of plastic bottles into landfills. So imho, this is good. Very, very good:
Water, water everywhere — just not in plastic bottles, says a town in the US state of Massachusetts.
A law passed by the town of Concord went into effect with the New Year, making single-serving bottles of water illegal.
The ban is intended to encourage use of tap water and curb the worldwide problem of plastic pollution.
The bottled water corporatocracy has created a “need” in us for this product but the bottled water industry is the only winner and we’re fools to go along with it.
Here’s more info about the ridiculous use of disposable plastic water bottles here:
According to a report of the World Wide Fund for Nature, approximately 1.5 million tons of plastic are used in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year.
Again, I’m old enough to remember when this was unheard of.
Don’t do it!
Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West.
If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S. Some Key West residents worry, though, that not enough research has been done to determine the risks that releasing genetically modified mosquitoes might pose to the Keys’ fragile ecosystem.
The trial planned by mosquito control officials and the British company Oxitec would release non-biting male mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to pass along a birth defect that kill their progeny before reaching maturity.
Oh great. The males “pass along a birth defect…” What could possibly go wrong?
There’s a saying that goes something like: Republicans fear their base, Democrats ignore it.
Obama ignored his base today (not to mention this):
The Obama administration has decided to allow Shell to drill in Arctic waters off the Alaska coast, saying that for the time being the company must not go so deep as to hit actual oil because its troubled oil spill containment barge isn’t ready.
Continuing with Obama’s announcement:
Thursday’s decision to allow preparatory drilling represents a huge step in Shell’s controversial effort to explore in the Chukchi Sea. It shows the Obama administration, while not yet giving the green light for Shell to drill into oil-bearing geologic formations, is taking steps to help the company do so if possible this summer.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Shell will get a permit allowing it to drill about 1,500 feet into the seafloor.
“We believe that there is no oil in that area. We have confidence in that conclusion, otherwise we would not be allowing this limited exploratory effort to move forward,” Salazar said Thursday.
Interior Department officials said the drilling will allow for the later installation of a blowout preventer.
Royal Dutch Shell’s profits rose 15.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, netting $7.3 billion. Shell’s CEO Peter Voser attributed the increase in part to “strong oil prices,” which rose to over $100 a barrel this quarter.
In 2011, Shell’s profits soared 54 percent to $3.5 million every hour, despite producing 3 percent less oil. This time, it produced 4 percent more than Q1 in 2011.
Again: The hope and change Obama I voted for would say no to this. He would say we’re going to invest in wind and solar. Period.
This is fascinating:
If the internet is a global phenomenon, it’s because there are fiber-optic cables underneath the ocean. Light goes in on one shore and comes out the other, making these tubes the fundamental conduit of information throughout the global village. To make the light travel enormous distances, thousands of volts of electricity are sent through the cable’s copper sleeve to power repeaters, each the size and roughly the shape of a 600-pound bluefin tuna. Once a cable reaches a coast, it enters a building known as a “landing station” that receives and transmits the flashes of light sent across the water. The fiber-optic lines then connect to key hubs, known as “Internet exchange points,” which, for the most part, follow geography and population.
More info and photos here.
I am still learning about CISPA but what I know thus far, in a nutshell, is this:
CISPA could allow any private company to share vast amounts of sensitive, private data about its customers with the government.
CISPA would override all other federal and state privacy laws, and allow a private company to share nearly anything—from the contents of private emails and Internet browsing history to medical, educational and financial records—as long as it “directly pertains to” a “cyber threat,” which is broadly defined.
CISPA would give Internet Service Providers free rein to monitor the private communications and activities of users on their networks. ISPs would have wide latitude to do anything that can be construed as part of a “cybersecurity system,” regardless of any other privacy or telecommunications law.
CISPA would empower the military and the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect information about domestic Internet users. Other information sharing bills would direct private information from domestic sources to civilian agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security. CISPA contains no such limitation. Instead, the Department of Defense and the NSA could solicit and receive information directly from American companies, about users and systems inside the United States.
What could go wrong right? So this is good news but we’ve got to hold him to it:
The White House today escalated its opposition to a cybersecurity-related surveillance bill with a formal veto threat.
In a new statement, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said that the CISPA bill endangered Americans’ privacy and inappropriately shielded private companies from liability.
The statement suggests that CISPA — also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — goes too far by giving the National Security Agency too much power.
Ah yes, the world moves on into the future. This happened in India while the United States spent its time taking rights away from women and talking about how many members of the communist party are in the House of Representatives.
Just 14 months ago, the Indian state of Gujarat announced that it was building a $2.3-billion solar park — the largest photovoltaic power station the world has seen so far.
Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, revealed this Thursday via Twitter than the solar park had been switched on.
(Look closely at the upper left hand corner of the photo. I think that’s a gigantic wind turbine.)
So, again, while we were taking ourselves back to the 1950s, India was building the largest solar farm on the planet.
USA! USA! USA!
It’s so cute, isn’t it, that NBC/MSNBC greens its logo right about now what with Earth Day coming up on Sunday?
Dig a little deeper and the “news” isn’t so green: Climate Coverage Plummets 80% On Broadcast Networks From 2009 To 2011. As a matter of fact, it isn’t green at all:
Nice try NBC/MSNBC. I think I know what kind of green you’re aiming for.
Hey, I think I like Steve Wozniak:
It has become a tradition to find Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak waiting first in line for the next big Apple product. Tonight, was no different as Wozniak checked in on Foursquare at the Westfield Mall in Century City, California. The new tablet is available for pre-order and in stores at 8 am Friday, March 16.
We decided to head to the mall for an impromptu video interview with Wozniak where he shared his thoughts on the new iPad, his continued excitement over Apple products and his reaction to the projects that Apple will possibly grow to a trillion dollar tech company. Woz also touches on Steve Jobs passing and the legacy of his products.
“My wife was the first, I was the second. We came at about noon. We’re used to Northern California where the stores lines start early.”
On the tradition of waiting in line at Apple stores:
“It’s become a ritual almost because I’ve done it so many times. It’s not something that I have to do. Nobody need to wait in line. You can pre-order… But I’d rather be there genuine like the real people. I want to be one of the people lined up and wait all night. Apple’s just that important to so many of us. You don’t live forever and I’m pushing it.”
For more and to see video of the interview, go here.
From the owned-by-the-oil-and-gas-industry file:
Plans to spur the conversion of heavy trucking fleets to natural gas with billions of dollars in tax credits fell short in the Senate on Tuesday despite backing from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and energy magnate T. Boone Pickens.
Senators voted 51-47 on an amendment by Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to sweeping transportation legislation, but it required 60 votes for passage.
The vote signals the tough road ahead for the plan despite support for natural-gas vehicle incentives among many Democrats, Republicans and President Obama, who in North Carolina touted his own proposals for boosting alternative-energy vehicles last week.
The Senate rejected the plan that Reid, Menendez and Burr introduced as a separate bill in late 2011. Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) is the lead sponsor of House natural-gas vehicles legislation.
The plans aim to curb oil demand by greatly expanding use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, including in the oil-thirsty heavy trucking industry.
Nice to know we’re being lead by ahem, visionaries planning for our future.
Here’s a heads up regarding Grover Norquist’s new project. (Was I asleep when he was elected president of everything?)
Sorry for the lack of a snipet. I’ve had it up to here with dictators today.
Read his craziness at the link above. He thinks building wind turbines and installing solar energy panels on homes across the country will kill jobs.
Ugh. There are no words…
This is our Tweet of the Day and yes, it’s gross alright:
One can only imaging how long it will take for the use of drones to expand beyond the original, as-advertised intention (spotting “runaway criminals”):
The Federal Aviation Administration plans to propose new rules for the use of small drones in January, a first step toward clearing the way for police departments, farmers and others to employ the technology.
Drone aircraft, best known for their role in hunting and destroying terrorist hide-outs in Afghanistan, may soon be coming to the skies near you.
Police agencies want drones for air support to spot runaway criminals. Utility companies believe they can help monitor oil, gas and water pipelines. Farmers think drones could aid in spraying their crops with pesticides.
“It’s going to happen,” said Dan Elwell, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Assn. “Now it’s about figuring out how to safely assimilate the technology into national airspace.”
That’s the job of the Federal Aviation Administration, which plans to propose new rules for the use of small drones in January, a first step toward integrating robotic aircraft into the nation’s skyways.
Imagine a drone looking in as it hovers outside your kitchen window. Would the police need a warrant for that? And man oh man, is the FAA in the pocket of the Aerospace Industries Association or what? Imagine the money (our tax dollars) to be made here.
This is just sad. Hope and change = smoke and mirrors:
Solyndra, a renewable energy firm that became the darling of the Obama Administration, shut the doors to its California headquarters today, raising fresh questions from the administration’s critics about political favoritism in the federal loan program.
The manufacturer of rooftop solar panels opened in 2005 and in 2009 became the Obama administration’s first recipient of an energy loan guarantee — a $535 million federal commitment that helped minimize the risk to venture capital firms that were backing the solar start-up. Obama made a personal visit to the factory last year to herald its bright future.
ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News first reported on questions about the choice of Solyndra for the loan in May after the Department of Energy disclosed it was being forced to restructure its loan package for the company, which was showing early signs of financial distress. One of Solyndra’s major investors was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama during the 2008 election.
This is just sad and it bodes so poorly for our country that science teachers are being made to tell their students that the existence of climate change is “controversial.”
I tell you, the money the energy companies have spent propagandizing about the alleged doubts about climate change has really paid off (for them, not for us):
An informal survey this spring of 800 members of the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) found that climate change was second only to evolution in triggering protests from parents and school administrators. Online message boards for science teachers tell similar tales. Unlike biology teachers defending the teaching of evolution, however, earth science teachers don’t have the protection of the First Amendment’s language about religion. But the teachers feel their arguments are equally compelling: Science courses should reflect the best scientific knowledge of the day, and offering opposing views amounts to teaching poor science. Most science teachers don’t relish having to engage this latest threat to their profession and resent devoting precious classroom time to a discussion of an alleged “controversy.” And they believe that politics has no place in a science classroom. Even so, some are being dragged against their will into a conflict they fear could turn ugly.
Geezus. Sometimes I feel like the United States has reverted back to the Dark Ages.
Geez. This is not good:
The Defense Department lost 24,000 files to “foreign intruders” in the spring in what appears to be one of the most damaging cyberattacks to date on the U.S. military, a top Pentagon official acknowledged Thursday.
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, who disclosed the March breach during a speech to roll out the Pentagon’s new cyber strategy, said the files were taken from a defense contractor. He did not say who was believed to be behind the attack or describe the nature of the files that were stolen.
But Lynn said that, over the past few years, all manner of data has been stolen, some of it mundane, some of it concerning “our most sensitive systems, including aircraft avionics, surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems, and network security protocols.”
Given the gazillions we spend on defense, if the Pentagon can’t protect its stuff, who can?