Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Last Prideful Testament

Humanity alone survived to the end of time. Humanity alone held back the multiversal invaders and rebuilt the savaged universe, nursed other races into being, nurtured their rise, and watched, like an immortal parent with mere mortal children as they passed. We survived. We thrived. We watched the universe flicker, fade and fall.

And yet we remain.

And even with all the innate cleverness and brilliance of our species, unique in the cosmos. Unique in the entirety of the existence of the universe, our demise is imminent. Our end is nigh.

We are gods. We are more. We are at an end.

Yet while we cannot survive, we can produce one, last spark. We have pooled all of the endless sea of humanity's knowledge, our creativity. And despite our end. We can build anew. But upon our corpses.

Rather than die the empty death in the bitter cold, of the near heat death of the universe, we shall even transcend the deity greatness we have held through the trillions of eons. There can be more and we shall grasp that nettle of greatness.

And we shall leave record of our sacrifice and triumph.

We have begun. We are pulling energy and matter from all corners of the universe, what is left, what is not so cold as to be useless, but even so, we shall make use of that. Humanity shall not be denied. Not this one last time.

In so doing, in so changing, in so altering the fate of the universe, we are shall breathe life into near corpse of this cosmos and render it anew.

And now we wait, in the cold blackness of space, as our plans bear fruit and we leave record of our last, best accomplishment: we shall start a new big bang and it shall overtake the universe that as and fill it utterly, but with a youth and vigor, energy and matter not seen since before humanity arose.

It will cost us all, but all that is left is a meager, shortened existence, a pitiful death. We shall not accept that and shall do as all gods ought: sacrifice themselves for the world, or universe, they have shepherded.

And we shall also leave record to the worlds and races to come, our successors and daughters and children and sons, proverbial ones, but ours all the same, of what we have done.

And it shall survive. I have sealed this record now and express our satisfaction and love and pride at our final, best accomplishment. This is the last testament of humanity.

Now. Let there be light.

Another View From a Hill


DNA Analysis Suggests Denisovans, Neandertals and Modern Humans Split Deeper in Time Than Previously Thought

In a remarkable technical feat, researchers have sequenced DNA from fossils in Spain that are about 300,000 to 400,000 years old and have found an ancestor—or close relative—of Neandertals. The nuclear DNA, which is the oldest ever sequenced from a member of the human family, may push back the date for the origins of the distinct ancestors of Neandertals and modern humans, according to a presentation here yesterday at the fifth annual meeting of the European Society for the study of human evolution.

Ever since researchers first discovered thousands of bones and teeth from 28 individuals in the mid-1990s from Sima de los Huesos (“pit of bones”), a cave in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain, they had noted that the fossils looked a lot like primitive Neandertals. The Sima people, who lived before Neandertals, were thought to have emerged in Europe. Yet their teeth, jaws, and large nasal cavities were among the traits that closely resembled those of Neandertals, according to a team led by paleontologist Juan-Luis Arsuaga of the Complutense University of Madrid. As a result, his team classified the fossils as members of Homo heidelbergensis, a species that lived about 600,000 to 250,000 years ago in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many researchers have thought H. heidelbergensis gave rise to Neandertals and perhaps also to our species, H. sapiens, in the past 400,000 years or so.

But in 2013, the Sima fossils’ identity suddenly became complicated when a study of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from one of the bones revealed that it did not resemble that of a Neandertal. Instead, it more closely matched the mtDNA of a Denisovan, an elusive type of extinct human discovered when its DNA was sequenced from a finger bone from Denisova Cave in Siberia. That finding was puzzling, prompting researchers to speculate that perhaps the Sima fossils had interbred with very early Denisovans or that the “Denisovan” mtDNA was the signature of an even more ancient hominin lineage, such as H. erectus. At the time, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who had obtained the mtDNA announced that they would try to sequence the nuclear DNA of the fossils to solve the mystery.

After 2 years of intense effort, paleogeneticist Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has finally sequenced enough nuclear DNA from fossils of a tooth and a leg bone from the pit to solve the mystery. The task was especially challenging because the ancient DNA was degraded to short fragments, made up of as few as 25 to 40 single nucleotides. (Nucleotides—also known as base pairs—are the building blocks of DNA.) Although he and his colleagues did not sequence the entire genomes of the fossils, Meyer reported at the meeting that they did get 1 million to 2 million base pairs of ancient nuclear DNA.

They scanned this DNA for unique markers found only in Neandertals or Denisovans or modern humans, and found that the two Sima fossils shared far more alleles—different nucleotides at the same address in the genome—with Neandertals than Denisovans or modern humans. “Indeed, the Sima de los Huesos specimens are early Neandertals or related to early Neandertals,” suggesting that the split of Denisovans and Neandertals should be moved back in time, Meyer reported at the meeting.

Researchers at the meeting were impressed by this new breakthrough in ancient DNA research. “This has been the next frontier with ancient DNA,” says evolutionary biologist Greger Larson of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

The close affinity with Neandertals, but not with Denisovans or modern humans, suggests that the lineage leading to Neandertals was separate from other archaic humans earlier than most researchers have thought. That means that the ancestors of modern humans also had to split earlier than expected from the population that gave rise to Neandertals and Denisovans, who were more closely related to each other than they were to modern humans. (Although all three groups interbred at low levels after their evolutionary paths diverged—and such interbreeding may have been the source of the Denisovan mtDNA in the first Sima fossil whose DNA was sequenced.) Indeed, Meyer suggested in his talk that the ancestors of H. sapiens may have diverged from the branch leading to Neandertals and Denisovans as early as 550,000 to 765,000 years ago, although those results depend on different mutation rates in humans and are still unpublished.


Hat tip to Randy.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Robopocalypse Report #74: The Singularity Competition Prize!

Drones:



Drones are being used in the Antarctic ice breaking mission.

This drone is powered by hydrogen releasing pellets.

Will personal drones have a future past hobbyists? 

The reason for the rumors of Amazon bookstores might be because of Amazon's drone delivery ambitions.  Maybe.

The FAA has stated there are now more registered drones than manned aircraft.

The Superbowl shut down drone air traffic in Silicon Valley.

Canada is considering new guidelines for drones.

Self Driving Cars:



Google is on the offensive when it comes to self driving cars.  A Sacramento Bee reporter put the Google Car tech to the test. They are testing wireless recharging for their cars.  Google is also testing the car in Washington state.  And Google wants to expand the self driving car tests to four more states. 

The Brits want Google to test their self driving cars in London.

Lyft and GM want to build a network of self driving cars.

Some feel self driving cars ought to be taught to think like people do.  geez.  Just imagine the road rage.

Should self driving cars require a licensed driver?  The question is putting consumer advocacy groups against promoters and disabled advocates.  I'd say, initially, yes, but after a period to verify the safety, not just through tests but through real life use, then no.

The supposedly 'secret issues' that will make or break self driving cars.

Scania is testing self driving trucks for use in mining operations.

The Dutch driverless bus gets a profiling again.

Apparently, self driving taxis are a nightmare for cabbies.

What happens to the jobs of drivers, truckers, etc, in the future of self driving cars, trucks and buses?

3d Printing:

The first semi auto gun was mostly 3d printed.

The US Army wants to 3d print its meals...so they can be customized!

3d printed bone implants are being researched.

A university in the Netherlands used a robotic welding arm to 3d print a metal bicycle frame.

Tanzanians have built the first 3d printer recycled from ewaste.

Livermore National Lab and Autodesk are working on improving football helmets through 3d printing.

Additive manufacturing is being promoted as game changing for industry.

Composite materials are being made with a new ultra sonic process.

A Dutch company 3d printed a submarine!

Scientists have 3d printed liver tissue for use in drug trials.

Robotics:




Biomimicry might have gone a touch too far with this cockroach inspired bot.

Relay, the hotel room service bot, apparently is a hit.

DEDAVE may be the first real robo sub drone for everyone.

Swarming robotic rc boats have learned to, well, learn.

Are softbots the future of robotics?  Here's a video on soft robots.

Sometimes there are some people who silly things with bots.

The Robopocalypse has come for golfers!

Abu Dhabi has a robotic parking garage.

Robots are supposed to build a pavilion at London's V&A Museum this summer.

Will robots lead to construction returning on site again?  wuh?

Meet Pleurobot, a swimming, crawling robot inspired by salamanders.

Exoskeletons:

Suit-X claims to have the most affordable exoskeleton on the market.

Software Bots:

Microsoft is embedding some artificial intelligence in its SwiftKey app.

A new AI can learn how to save the Princess in Mario Brothers on its own.

A software bot was developed to deal with robo callers.

It seems the rich have already started using robo investment advisers for investments and that concerns banks.

Cortana, MS' digital assistant, is designed to NOT be submissive or put up with sexual harassment, but apparently there is a market for sexually submissive digital assistants.

Singularity:

Can our minds be copied?  There's a prize for that!

Other Hardware:

MIT researchers have developed a chip intended for the implementation of neural networks to allow machine learning to be implemented on smart phones and other devices.

Economics & Philosophy:

Construction bots are expected to claim 500,000 jobs in the industry by 2020.

"Late Antique Little Ice Age" Contributed to Decline of Eastern Roman Empire, Bolstered Arab Conquests?


Researchers from the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) project write in the journal Nature Geoscience that they have identified an unprecedented, long-lasting cooling in the northern hemisphere 1500 years ago. The drop in temperature immediately followed three large volcanic eruptions in quick succession in the years 536, 540 and 547 AD (also known as the Common Era CE). Volcanoes can cause climate cooling by ejecting large volumes of small particles - sulfate aerosols - that enter the atmosphere blocking sunlight.

Within five years of the onset of the "Late Antique Little Ice Age", as the researchers have dubbed it, the Justinian plague pandemic swept through the Mediterranean between 541 and 543 AD, striking Constantinople and killing millions of people in the following centuries. The authors suggest these events may have contributed to the decline of the eastern Roman Empire.

Lead author, dendroclimatologist Ulf Büntgen from the Swiss Federal Research Institute said, "This was the most dramatic cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2000 years."

A later "Little Ice Age" between 14th and 19th centuries has been well documented and linked to political upheavals and plague pandemics in Europe, but the new study is the first to provide a comprehensive climate analysis across both Central Asia and Europe during this earlier period.

"With so many variables, we must remain cautious about environmental cause and political effect, but it is striking how closely this climate change aligns with major upheavals across several regions," added Büntgen.

The multidisciplinary research team made up of climatologists, naturalists, historians and linguists mapped the new climate information against a particularly turbulent period in history in Europe and central Asia. The volcanic eruptions probably affected food supplies - a major famine struck the region at precisely this time followed immediately by the pandemic.

Further south, the Arabian Peninsula received more rain allowing more vegetation to grow. The researchers speculate this may have driven expansion of the Arab Empire in the Middle East because the vegetation would have sustained larger herds of camels used by the Arab armies for their campaigns.

In cooler areas, several tribes migrated east towards China, possibly driven away by a lack of pastureland in central Asia. This led to hostilities between nomadic groups and the local ruling powers in the steppe regions of northern China. An alliance between these steppe populations and the Eastern Romans brought down the Sasanian Empire in Persia, the final empire in the region before the rise of the Arab Empire.

The researchers write, "The Late Antique Little Ice Age fits in well with the main transformative events that occurred in Eurasia during that time."

Oh This Town I Live in




I've seen the Tesla X, Lambos, etc.  Oh this town...

Middle Permian Dicynodont Chelydontops altidentalis is a Junior Synonym of Brachyprosopus broomi

A reevaluation of Brachyprosopus broomi and Chelydontops altidentalis, dicynodonts (Therapsida, Anomodontia) from the middle Permian Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone of the Karoo Basin, South Africa

Authors:

Angielczyk et al

Abstract:

Brachyprosopus broomi was described in 1937 based on a specimen from the Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone (Karoo Basin, South Africa), but it was largely overlooked by subsequent workers. We have identified several new specimens that show that Brachyprosopus is a valid taxon. An autapomorphy for the taxon is a curled lateral edge of the squamosal that forms a lateral wall of the external adductor fossa. Other important characters are absence of anterior median palatal ridges; maxillary tooth rows bounded laterally by a shelf; unfused vomers; raised margins of the interpterygoid vacuity; broad intertemporal region; pineal boss; dentary tables; and a long, wide posterior dentary sulcus that extends posterior to the dentary teeth. Chelydontops altidentalis is a junior synonym of B. broomi. A phylogenetic analysis places Brachyprosopus among basal dicynodonts, not as a close relative of Endothiodon. It is noteworthy that some characters, such as well-developed medial maxillary tooth rows and the shape of the palatines, are shared by Brachyprosopus, Pristerodon, Endothiodon, and Niassodon, hinting that a final resolution of relationships among toothed dicynodonts remains to be achieved. Most Brachyprosopus specimens are from the upper Abrahamskraal Formation (Moordenaars and Karelskraal members). One specimen is from low in the Koonap Formation, just above the lowermost maroon mudrocks of the Beaufort Group, and an exact correlation between this level and the strata of the Abrahamskraal Formation is uncertain. Therefore, it is likely that the stratigraphic range of Brachyprosopus extends throughout the Tapinocephalus zone and possibly down into the Eodicynodon Assemblage Zone.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Flight Video of the Russian Forward Swept Wing Trainer Aircraft, the SR-10


Ramsbotham Jahr

My classmates and I walked down the ramp. IT was time and I was annoyed. I was here for my first Ramsbotham jahr. Every teenager at 18 is required to.

The world has become such a frenetic place. Technology has changed the human equation so such a degree that once you are an educated adult, at 27, then you are able to do almost anything. Including to yourself. So long as it is informed and consensual, its game. However, there are people running around that are no longer anthromorphic. Or even corporeal. They chose to become such. And choice is all. Informed, consensual choice.

However, before the education can begin and before the near decade of semi adulthood begins, there is the first Ramsbotham jahr. Everyone, boy and girl, must go and live as our ancestors did. Before technology had come to divorce humanity from the world as our ancestors had known it for thousands of years. Some would learn to be dirt farmers. Others hunters. Still others would be smiths and lumberjacks. Learning to live in a manner long since gone. That life assumed scarcity and struggle. Things that the modern world no longer had if you were content with a lifestyle that would have made billionaires, the former 1%, envious a century or two ago.

At the bottom of the ramp, Rod Walker waited. He was a man who had elected to stay at the end of his second Ramsbotham jahr: everyone returned after the college education - the equivalent of multiple doctorates, bachelor's, etc from eons past - and spent another year living a different, basic life. A book end to your steeping in the modern.

And a chance to stay if you so wished. To rejected the modern for a simpler life. And some found it happier.

Those who stayed mentored and apprenticed those who came in for their jahren. They taught and minded and helped the visitors through their difficult times. After all, there was no feed to connect you to all your friends constantly. There was no constant stream of interesting stories. There was no bots that would at a thought provide you with anything you so desired. And were allowed at your age group.

I stood before Rob and sized him up. He was big. Not just in a physical sense, and he was that, too, but also in a larger than life sort of way. Even though he'd not said a word. I thought I'd tweak my nanites to give me a physique like that...but then realized they were inactive here.

He extended his hand and smiled. It huge and callused. I took it and we shook. How antiquated! We'd normally do this virtually through the squirting of fast data.

He took back his hand and motioned down the road. The dirty, dusty road and we walked together.

"Welcome to Earth," he said.

"It smells dirty and old," I replied.

"It is at that. It is at that. We're in the oldest part, for humanity, too: Africa. I have a funny story about that, but for another time. Tonight, we'll meet my friends, Robert and his wife Ginnie, Jackie and her husband. Then tomorrow we'll get started. The day starts early here. We're lumberjacks and we only use axe and saw. Manually."

I shuddered. Manual labor. gah. How...primitive.

"Oh, and be careful of the stobor...you won't believe how much of a headache those things gave me when I was your age."

Iran's Shahed-129 UCAV has Conducted Strikes in Syria


A View From a Hill


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Video of North Korea's Apparently Successful Satellite Launch


Some information is here.

The launch appears to have been successful, at least as far as putting something into orbit.

Pluto's Strange "Floating" Hills


link.

US Navy Work With India to Design Next Indian Aircraft Carrier Making Progress

India and the United States are making progress in talks on the joint development of an aircraft carrier for India, the top U.S. navy admiral said on Wednesday, potentially the biggest military collaboration between them.

The two countries agreed to work together on aircraft carrier technology as well as jet engines during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India last year in a strengthening of ties to balance China's expanding military power in the region.

The visiting chief of U.S. Naval Operations, John Richardson, said the two sides had held talks on a range of issues relating to the next generation Indian carrier from its design to construction.

A high-level U.S.-India joint working group is due to meet in New Delhi later this month, part of a series of meetings aimed at establishing broader cooperation on the design, development and production of the proposed Indian carrier.

"We are making very good progress, I am very pleased with the progress to date and optimistic we can do more in the future. That's on a very solid track," Richardson told reporters in New Delhi.

What are China's Long Term Economic Growth Prospects?

China’s diminished growth prospects have figured prominently in recent commentaries about global economic conditions and world stock markets (e.g. Frankel 2016). The general view, with which I concur, is that China will grow in the future at a much slower rate than it has in recent decades. This growth slowdown will reduce international trade and has probably contributed already to the depression in oil prices (Blanchard 2016).

Was Europe's Modern Human Population Replaced at the end of the Pleistocene?

Pleistocene Mitochondrial Genomes Suggest a Single Major Dispersal of Non-Africans and a Late Glacial Population Turnover in Europe

Authors:

Posth et al

Abstract:

How modern humans dispersed into Eurasia and Australasia, including the number of separate expansions and their timings, is highly debated [ 1, 2 ]. Two categories of models are proposed for the dispersal of non-Africans: (1) single dispersal, i.e., a single major diffusion of modern humans across Eurasia and Australasia [ 3–5 ]; and (2) multiple dispersal, i.e., additional earlier population expansions that may have contributed to the genetic diversity of some present-day humans outside of Africa [ 6–9 ]. Many variants of these models focus largely on Asia and Australasia, neglecting human dispersal into Europe, thus explaining only a subset of the entire colonization process outside of Africa [ 3–5, 8, 9 ]. The genetic diversity of the first modern humans who spread into Europe during the Late Pleistocene and the impact of subsequent climatic events on their demography are largely unknown. Here we analyze 55 complete human mitochondrial genomes (mtDNAs) of hunter-gatherers spanning ∼35,000 years of European prehistory. We unexpectedly find mtDNA lineage M in individuals prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). This lineage is absent in contemporary Europeans, although it is found at high frequency in modern Asians, Australasians, and Native Americans. Dating the most recent common ancestor of each of the modern non-African mtDNA clades reveals their single, late, and rapid dispersal less than 55,000 years ago. Demographic modeling not only indicates an LGM genetic bottleneck, but also provides surprising evidence of a major population turnover in Europe around 14,500 years ago during the Late Glacial, a period of climatic instability at the end of the Pleistocene.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Northrop Teases Sixth Gen Fighters


American Southwest may Mimic Drought Conditions That Destroyed Anasazi/Ancestral Puebloans due to Global Warming


The weather patterns that typically bring moisture to the Southwest are becoming more rare, an indication that the region is sliding into the drier climate state predicted by global models, according to a new study.

"A normal year in the Southwest is now drier than it once was," said Andreas Prein, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, who led the study. "If you have a drought nowadays, it will be more severe because our base state is drier."

Climate models generally agree that human-caused climate change will push the southwestern United States to become drier. And in recent years, the region has been stricken by drought. But linking model predictions to changes on the ground is challenging.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 35 years' worth of data to identify common weather patterns -- arrangements of high and low pressure systems that determine where it's likely to be sunny and clear or cloudy and wet.

They identified a dozen patterns that are usual for the weather activity in the contiguous U.S., then looked to see whether those patterns were becoming more or less frequent.

"The weather types that are becoming more rare are the ones that bring a lot of rain to the southwestern United States," Prein said. "Because only a few weather patterns bring precipitation to the Southwest, those changes have a dramatic impact."

The Southwest is especially vulnerable to any additional drying. The region, already the most arid in the country, is home to a quickly growing population that is putting tremendous stress on its limited water resources.

"Prolonged drought has many adverse effects, so understanding regional precipitation trends is vital for the well-being of society," says Anjuli Bamzai, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. "These researchers demonstrate that subtle shifts in large-scale weather patterns over the past three decades or so have been the dominant factor in precipitation trends in the southwestern United States."

The study also found an opposite, though smaller, effect in the Northeast, where some of the weather patterns that typically bring moisture to the region are increasing.

Stealth Saga #28

PAK-FA:

Russia claims it will put the PAK-FA into service by the end of the year and that it will be able to launch cruise missiles.

J-20:

China remains ahead, so goes the narrative, between the nations in Asia to acquire stealth aircraft.


UCLASS:

Rumor has it the US Navy is considering changing the mission of the UCLASS drone from recon and strike to air to air refueling.  Yup, a tanker.  This is going to really, really annoy Congress.  Congress stated they wanted a stealthy, long range strike plane for the UCLASS and funded the procurement even for competitive fly-off.  Well.  umm.  yeah.  Here is more info.

Here's an editorial in support of the shift of the UCLASS from strike to tanker.

If Congress agrees with the conversion, the tanker drone will move to the Terminator Times posts.

IMNSHO, it would be best to do the tanker and start the development of the strike asset.  It takes time to develop those capabilities and get them on the deck.  The tanker will get there faster and will be of great use.  However, the strike asset will take MORE time and we need capability in the 2030 time frame.  If we start now, we'll barely get it on deck in time.

Tacit Blue:

Take a virtual tour of the Tacit Blue's cockpit.  Tacit Blue was another stealth aircraft black project from the 1980s.  It flew from 1981 to 1985 built by Northrop.  The intent was to have a stealthy spycraft right at the enemy lines with loads of sensors.  For whatever reason, probably risk, the program was cancelled and the sensors were used on the JSTARS aircraft.  The JSTARS is in process of being replaced now.

F-22:


F-35:

One of the consequences of the UCLASS change is more F-35Cs are being ordered for the US Navy.  The Navy will get more F-35Cs.  Apparently, 10 more F-35s more than planned over the next 5 years.

A report is that the F-35's test schedule is unrealistic.

The British will be receiving their last test F-35 shortly.

One analysis predicts the F-35 will revolutionize the Israeli Air Force.

F-35A operating costs have come down considerably and its operational readiness has been increased.

The US Air Force has cut its request for 48 F-35As to 43.

The top weapon's tester is expressing opposition to doing a bulk buy of the F-35 until after testing is complete.

Four F-35As will deploy to Mountain Home AFB in Idaho to test whether or not the F-35A can be declared as having IOC this summer as planned.

Russia's Most Syria Adventure #67


Turkey calls Russia's claims of Turkish plans to invade Syria propaganda.  They also state Russia is not being allowed to do the Open Skies flight due to security concerns.  Erdogan went as far as to call the Russian claims of the coming Turkish invasion 'laughable.'

Russia has stated they expect an international reaction to Turkey's denial of the Open Skies flight.

It! Will! Fit!



Thursday, February 04, 2016

Rusingoryx atopocranion: The Pleistocene Quaternary Wildebeest-like Bovine With a Duck-bill Dinosaur Nasal Dome


By poring over the fossilized skulls of ancient wildebeest-like animals (Rusingoryx atopocranion) unearthed on Kenya's Rusinga Island, researchers have discovered that the little-known hoofed mammals had a very unusual, trumpet-like nasal passage similar only to the nasal crests of lambeosaurine hadrosaur dinosaurs. The findings reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on February 4 offer "a spectacular example" of convergent evolution between two very distantly related taxa and across tens of millions of years, the researchers say.

"The nasal dome is a completely new structure for mammals-- it doesn't look like anything you could see in an animal that's alive today," says Haley O'Brien of Ohio University, Athens. "The closest example would be hadrosaur dinosaurs with half-circle shaped crests that enclose the nasal passages themselves."

This evolutionary convergence may be explained by similarities in the way Rusingoryx and hadrosaurs lived. In fact, hadrosaurs are sometimes referred to as the "cows of the Cretaceous."

Fluffy, Destroyer of Worlds

Fluffy? THE Fluffy? The Destroyer of Worlds? Yeah, I've heard of him. The devil incarnate and a poofy, fuzzy cute beyond words. Definitely heard of him. Who hasn't?

What have I heard about how Fluffy got his name? Pshaw I've heard so many rumors its ridiculous. Almost all of them are so ridiculous you cannot even fathom the stupidity I've heard poured in my ear.

My favorite rumor? That Fluffy attacked a terrorist team attempting to blow up a nuclear reactor at a secret government lab, killed them all except one who escaped into the reactor room, where Fluffy chased him, attacked and then they both fell into the cooling waters and where Fluffy drown the terrorist. But THEN! Fluffy mutated into a giant fluffy, radioactive beast that absorbed all the radiation and then went on a rampage! They used bombs and tanks and helicopters to try to destroy the new Fluffyzilla, but failed. Thousands died. The lab was destroyed. Hundreds of soldiers died. Then when some genius thought to drop off a massive dinosaur bone, Fluffy calmed down and started chewing. The minerals in the fossilized bone acted as an antidote and Fluffyzilla shrank from being the monster to the cute, yappy thing again. The government plowed everything under and gave away Fluffy...

That's my favorite RUMOR, yeah, but I also know the truth...yes, the truth of WHY Fluffy is the destroyer of worlds.

Y'See. Fluffy doesn't and hasn't ever lived out in the desert in secret government facilities. Why would we have heard about that? C'mon, the government isn't COMPLETELY incompetent.

No, no. Fluffy lived in Silicon Valley. Originally, Fluffy was the pet of Sergei Brin, yeah, the Google guy. The little fuzzy terrorist was funny for a while, but the more Brin worked, the worse the pup got. One day, when Brin was attempting to compromise by taking Fluffy to the office, Fluffy needed a time out: as a protest, Fluffy had peed on Brin's desk top computer because it was mad for the lack of attention. You know computer geeks and getting focused. That was too much, since Fluffy shorted out the computer. Good aim, Fluffy. Rather than murdering the dog, Brin gave the puppy to Larry Paige.

Paige liked it and pampered it and was very cool with the dog. He even made sure to take Fluffy to the office...which was the mistake! Fluffy saw Brin again and with all the vengeance of a scorned pup, he attacked Brin's leg and later when Brin was getting a massage went in and took a dump in his shoe! Paige thought it was hilarious and terrible at the same time. He decided to keep Fluffy out of the office from then on...and that was when Fluffy turned on him!

Fluffy first actually snuck into the the office, by climbing in Paige's car and discreetly following him into the building. After getting there, Fluffy started attacking people's computers, ripped out their cords, chewed up their ethernet, peed on their keyboards. No one said anything because they were scared they'd get Paige mad, not knowing that Paige didn't know the dog was there.

Then when Paige DID find out, he locked Fluffy back at home. However, Fluffy would have none of it and attacked EVERYTHING. Chewed and bit and destroyed everything, but only on the days Paige was bringing back a lady friend! And Fluffy would act like the sweetest little cute thing ever then. Paige got fed up and regifted Fluffy.

Marissa Mayer, the current and may soon to be ex queen of Yahoo, was the next lucky stucky. Fluffy actually did great with her and she with Fluffy. Until she had kids. And Fluffy went INSANE! *FLUFFY* was the baby of the family! He was NOT going to stand for cute puppies taking over his home! However, he didn't fault the puppies, but their Mommy.

You know the problems at Yahoo? They're not from mismanagement of the company, but of a dog. The frakkin thing got into the largest data center they have and they cannot catch it. They cannot ignore it either. The damned thing has become Sasquatch of Silicon Valley and attacks and chews on anything with the Y! or Yahoo logo. Destroying, smashing and...becoming the symbol of the anti tech movement.

Fluffy the Destroyer. Who knows if Fluffy still lives, but there are sightings! On a regular basis! Those transformers blown up by the anti tech guys? They spray painted 'Fluffy Lives!' on a site and a dog that looks more like Bill the Cat than a cockapoo. And should it ever get out of that data center...hoo boy, I bet that's why Google started putting data centers all over the world, just to be Fluffy proof.  

Backchannel information from Yahoo says they think they might get Fluffy cornered soon.  They better. Fluffy is destroying Mayer's world. Fast.

And being an inspiration to the anti tech crazy crowd.

And that, is the true story of Fluffy, Destroyer of Worlds.

I was asked to write an antidote to the story from yesterday, Fade Away.  Here's my best shot.

Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #66

The peace talks have collapsed.  It appears a reason was that the Russians and Assadites are attacking the rebels and not just Daesh.  This is classically Russian: talk and be amiable and then keep on doing what you're going to do.  The US has called for the halt on Russian strikes.  Russia's not going to listen.

The Iranians want the talks to resume and want fighting against Nusra and Daesh to be excluded from a ceasefire.  I don't think any would have a real problem with that except if the Russians et al just claimed all the rebels were Nusra and/or Daesh as they have done in propaganda broadcasts.

The Russian airstrikes around Aleppo have killed around 21 civilians.  The Syrian army expects to have Aleppo completely encircled shortly.  Some 40,000 civilians have fled Aleppo.

The Russo-Turkish stand off is getting worse.  The Turks denied the Russians a flight allowed under international treaty.  The Russians have turned around and claimed the Turks are preparing to invade Syria.  They say the Turks want to hide the preparations and that is the reason for the flight denial.  The Turks have claimed the Russians have committed war crimes and called on the US et al to take a stronger stand against Russia and its participation in Syria.


Dewed, the California Spider


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ukrainian War Update: Донбасс Война не кошка Шредингера

I have not posted on the situation in Ukraine for a while.  There are some personal reasons for this, but it should be strongly noted that the war has not stopped.  My read that it would die down due to Russia's commitment to Syria has been erroneous.

Or in plain English, I was wrong.

In the last 24 hours, well over 1,000 artillery (from mortar on up) have been fired along the contact line.  Over half were centered, of course, on Donetsk.  However, its not exclusively there.  many are in the Lugansk oblast.  Fighting in Shirokyne and Gorlovka is ongoing as well.

Maryinka is one of the most heavily fought over areas, much like Gorlovka.  There are multi company battles that took place in the last 24 hours.

Its not just artillery exchanges, btw.  Machine gun fire and small arms are also in play as are clashes with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (BMPs).

In the mean time, in Crimea, the Russians have moved significantly more fighters and other military equipment into the peninsula.  There has been claims, recently reiterated, nuclear weapons have been moved there as well.

Merkel has been pushing to keep the sanctions in place for Russia.  With the odd and twitchy alleged rape case in Germany with the Russian German girl, there have been rumors the Russians have been using it as a method to try to undermine Merkel to get a more pliable German government.  Russo German relations have deteriorated.

American Russian relations have not improved either.  In fact, the Russians have designated the US as a major threat.  The US has labeled Russia a threat, but not an existential one.  The US is moving heavy armored equipment back into Europe to be cached in case of a war.  Many items of US military procurement and development are now being line itemed to deal with Russia as well as China.

US NASEM Institute of Medicine Approves Go Ahead for Mitochondrial DNA Replacement Therapy on Male Embryos

An experimental assisted reproduction technique that could allow some families to avoid having children with certain types of heritable disease should be allowed to go forward in the United States, provided it proceeds slowly and cautiously. That is the conclusion of a report released today from a panel organized by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), which assesses the ethics questions surrounding the controversial technique called mitochondrial DNA replacement therapy.

More controversially, however, the panel recommended that only altered male embryos should be used to attempt a pregnancy, to limit the possible risks to future generations. (Males can’t pass along the mitochondrial DNA that is altered in the procedure.)


Fade Away

I lie there. In pain. Alone yet surrounded by my humans, my pack. The human puppies are stroking me and making whimpering sounds. They are expressing their love and pain and sadness over how sick I am. I am very sick. I can feel how wrong my body is. Even though I cannot describe it in words. Even though I cannot express my relatively simple thoughts. Even though I can articulate my pain.

And the pain. It is overwhelming.

I whimper back. I want my humans to know I love them. I want them to know I am sorry I cannot play. That I cannot jump. That I cannot run. I want to. I want to run and jump and play with the puppies like I used to. I want to run and jump and chase the balls and sticks the alpha, my best friend, used to throw for me. I want to feel the wind, smell all the glorious scents of the world, all the olfactory colors of being. I can barely even do that.

My whimper died before it left my lungs. They cannot even hear it. I am too weak. In too much pain.

My alpha comes and I want to raise my head and wag my tail. I want to bark with excitement. It must be alpha-doggie time, a run, a walk or a visit to the doggie park. But I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.

He rubs the heads of each of the puppies. Gives them hugs. Licks their foreheads in their weird human way. Holds them close. He must be sniffing them with his face buried into their hair. But, humans are sooo...olfactorily blind! I feel bad for them.

His mate hugs their puppies tight. She rubs my head my. She's never loved me as much, but she likes me. I probably shouldn't have peed on her human pillow when she first moved in with alpha. Or chewed her shoes at first either. We had made our peace though.

Alpha picks me up. So gently, so tenderly, so lovingly. He is my bestfriend and I love him. I want, I need to show my appreciation and love, but I cannot. I am so tired, so weak and the pain is so overwhelming. A few months ago, he could not have picked me up: I was too big. That's not the case now.

Each of the puppies touch me and whimper in their human way. Even now, even though I get the gist of the meaning, I really wish they'd just bark dog instead. The youngest starts howling and the older one runs out of the room.

My alpha gently places me in the carrier and takes me to the funky round legged thing. The animal that must be chased and not caught: they are too big to safely take down like the spirits of wolves past said we used to do.

The ride is not long. It feels like it is forever. The pain. It doesn't stop and each start and stop of the round legged thing makes it worse. Each bump.

My alpha gently takes me from the car. He even gently takes me from the carrier. He must want to be close. To be near. To make me feel as though I am loved. I am loved. I want to lick him to show appreciation. I cannot. Even that is too much.

We go inside. I know the smell of this place. I know where I am. I don't like this place, but I am familiar with it. I've been here a lot recently, but have been coming since I was a puppy.

Normally we stop and I can at least smell other dogs in the front of the building. Not today. We walk through, solemn and quiet.

That other person, the one with the jabs and treats, is waiting. I have never quite figured out her place in the pack. She likes me, but seems to do things like I am a puppy, nips that are really unnecessary! I am a good dog! She is sad, but solemn. Not had sad as the puppies or my alpha.

My alpha lays me down. My alpha strokes my head. He keeps stroking for a while.

There is a nip.

And I begin to slip away. My alpha continues to stroke my head. The pain begins to lessen. I hear my alpha say the human barks that always brought me happiness:

"Good boy. Good boy...."

I want to wag my tail, but...

"Good boy. Good boy...."

And I fade away.

Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #65

Much has happened.  It appears the Assadites are winning.  They have supposedly relieved the siege of the Shiite towns of Nubul and Zahraa, taken other towns and cut off the rebel supply lines from Aleppo.  The only place where the rebels seem to be doing even ok is against IS/Daesh.  

Russian troops have been shuffled hither and yon, with various Russians geolocating themselves, on purpose or inadvertently, through the Russian social media site VK.  The Russian air force is conducting just under 200 airstrikes per day.

Russia has deployed its latest Su-35S variant to Syria.  This is the most modern fighter the Russians have short of the in development PAK-FA.  Russia has no reason, as far as they are concerned, to stop their air strikes in Syria.

The British are claiming the Russians are trying to carve out a mini state for Assad in Syria.  However, given the recent advances, it might not just be a mini state, but trying to help him retake the entire country.

The Russians had planned to do a treaty allowed inspection flight over Turkey.  This flight has been banned by Ankara and the Russians are angry.

Making things even more complicated, the Turks apparently shelled across the border into Syria.

The peace talks seem to be in jeopardy.  The opposition pulled out of meetings yesterday.  The Russians have stated there's no real progress on declaring what entities are valid terrorist targets or not.  The Russians are supportive of hardliners attending the talks.  And the UN is warning that everything that can be done, should be done to save the talks.

Urban Lumberjack


NASA Global Hawk was Probably NOT Hacked

A group of hackers claims to have broken into the computer systems of NASA, stealing hours of on-board footage from the agency’s fleet of aircraft, hundreds of data logs from its weather and climate missions, as well as a list of names, phone numbers and emails of more than 2,400 employees.

The hackers dumped the allegedly stolen data online on Sunday, along with a long, rambling “zine” where they explained how they obtained the more than 250 GB of files. One of the group’s administrators told Motherboard that they were actually able to steal as much as 1 TB of data, but couldn’t upload it all.

The hackers, which call themselves AnonSec, also claimed to have taken “semi-partial control” of a NASA drone in a failed attempt to crash it into the ocean. In a manifesto accompanying the dump, the hackers explained that they were able to replace a file with the drone’s pre-planned route with their own route. NASA denied this ever happened, and an expert told Motherboard it’s highly unlikely they ever gained control of the drone, and that the file was probably just used to indicate waypoints for the drone operator.