Shared posts

28 Feb 15:56

No-one’s fault

by CommitStrip

29 Mar 17:00

Genius or stupid?

by CommitStrip

09 Mar 17:57

Math Magic

by Vsauce

Links to sources, more math magic, and other cool things below!
My Twitter:
My Instagram:

Thanks to Vanessa from BrainCraft! Check out her channel:

Matt Parker's standupmaths channel:

Matt's video I mention:

STEMMathsMagic channel:

The STEMMathsMagic video I reference:

STEMMathsMagic website (check out the manual!):

mismag is amazing. He introduced me to MANY self-working mathematical tricks. Please check him out!

MUSIC in this episode is from:

Jake Chudnow:
zach mccoy:

Shakespeare and Psalm 46:

Paper about which cards people think of most frequently (and more):

52 factorial explained by Scott Czepiel:

Some good math magic articles:
14 Oct 23:39

Guide To Candy Trading

by zefrank1

An oldie... but necessary for your post Halloween trading activities
15 Aug 18:08

Live / Play

by League of Legends

Live / Play is a documentary that tells the stories of five different players from around the world, woven together by one unifying passion: League of Legends.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mariana transforms into Mafia Jinx during one of the country’s biggest cosplay competition, while over 10,000 kilometers away, Eyjo battles across Summoner’s Rift on a boat drifting off the coast of Stykkishólmur, Iceland.

In Cairo, Egypt, Amin connects with other cultures through League just as Braeden, a pro League player known as PorpoisePops, hones his skills, practicing up to 12 hours a day, in Los Angeles, USA. Across the globe, robotics hobbyist Yong-Seung displays his latest creation, a massive remote controlled Baron Nashor, at Maker’s Faire in Seoul, South Korea.

Closed captioning is under English (United States)
09 Mar 17:06

ISIS is the unholy muslim lovechild of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush

by Grung_e_Gene
A recent picture meme going around Facebook showed an image of Ronnie Raygun with the block letters
"If I was President ISIS would be called WASWAS"
And thus we have another hilarious incident of conservative ignorance.

Of course, this is active stupidity on the part of Conservatives because when faced with Muslim Terror Attacks in Lebanon, Ronald Reagan disarmed the Marine Corps Gate Guards and let hundreds of US Service Members and Diplomatic Employees get blown apart in two seperate Truck Bomb Attacks which used the same tactics.

After Ronald Reagan cut-and-run in the face of danger, he gave birth to Al Qaeda. Today's ISIS is the current incarnation of Reagan's explicit creation of Al Qaeda grown, nutured and trained by the George W. Bush and his Iraqi Adventure.

But, you can't expect Conservatives to know this history. Sarah Palin and other right-wing luminaries are paid to tell Conservatives that these Muslim Extremists were created ex nihlo. But, the rise of 20th Century Muslim Terrorism lays directly at the feet of the United States and the two worst Presidents to ever besmirch the White House; Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Post World War 2, the House of Saud was given a 40 year free reign to spread Wahabism throughout the Muslim World, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan many young Saudis Wahabist fanatics deployed to Afghanistan to kill godless Soviet Soldiers.

Of course, the Soviet Union was already on it's last legs, but the guerilla warfare of the Mujaheddin, armed with U.S. made Stinger missles and trained by the CIA and U. S. Special Forces helped hasten their demise. But, after their victory, Reagan's Muslim Extremists would not quietly slip back into their Madrassas. Thus, once the USSR sulked out of Afghanistan they went back to their texts but, kept their Kalishnakovs oiled and ready.

At the same time, Reagan's Muslim Fanatics were killing commies, Donald Rumsefled had been dispatched to provide aid to Saddam Hussein and his very secular Iraqi Regime to combat the Ayatollah and his Iranian Extremists. Of course, the Ayatollah and the Fanatics in Iran had come into existence in 1979 because the United States had overthrown the Iranian Government and placed the Shah into Power in 1953. The Shah was a brutal dictator but, much like Saddam Hussein in the 1980's he was our Dictator.

So, a million people died during the Iran-Iraq War but, Saddam Hussein felt he paid his dues to the United States, was now our newest Middle East Dictator,and was free to reclaim the Iraqi Province of Kuwait, which the British had created in 1919 as a port for British Petroleum.

The Saudis didn't like having Secular Saddam Hussein running around with his big military so they invited the United States into Saudi Arabia for protection and the lapdog of the House of Saud George H.W. Bush happily obliged. The House of Bush is a vassal client to the House of Saud and accepted the U.S. would be a Suzerain of Saudi Arabia long ago.

Unfortunately, the presence of American Armed Forces in the Islamic Holy Land angered Osama Bin Laden and his CIA -backed, Reagan-created Muslim Extremists. So, they focused their new Jihad on the United States.

Meanwhile, GHW Bush launched Desert Storm, which routed Saddam's Army because it was a Paper Tiger despite all the US Propaganda about it being the World's 4th Largest Military. But, Saddam remained in power as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld encouraged the Shite Marsh Arabs to rise up and do the work of overthrowing Saddam.

The Marsh Arabs rise and are crushed by Saddam's Forces who realise U.S. A-10's aren't demolishing their tank columns. Saddam Hussein spends the next 10 years slowly erasing the Marshes and eliminating the Shite Arabs.

Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden strikes at US interests across the Globe while Muslim Fanatics continue to train in Saudi created and Saudi petro-dollar funded religious schools. These later Muslim Extremists move into Afghanistan and create an Islamic State.

George W. Bush lost the 2000 Presidential Election but, was made President anyway. W, will be a Calvin Coolidge like figure dutifully helping Business gain power at the expense of the working class in the United States while pretending to be a Compassion Conservative.

Now, George W. Bush isn't interested in doing Presidential things but in the regalia of being President, so he ignores the August 6th memo warnings about the Reagan-created Muslim Fanatics and their Plan to Strike in America.

And thus the United States is attacked on 9/11 (15 of the 19 hijackers are Saudi) while blithering idiots Rudy Giuliani and W(orst President in History) do nothing.

So, despite vowing to bring the evil-doers to Justice (a vow he never fulfilled), George W. Bush allows Osama Bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora in 2001 when Dick Cheney orders the SEAL mission canceled, and spends the next 2 years lying about Saddam Hussein, because W's liege lord the King of Saudi Arabia demands the United States attack Iraq.

So, based on "smoking gun, mushroom cloud" sized lies and a fabricated  connection between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden , W(orst President Ever) begins Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL).

The Iraqi War is declared won by Republicans and Conservatives many times over during Bush's Presidency from Mission Accomplished on May 1, 2003 to Victory in Iraq Day Nov. 22, 2008 this despite a constant flow of U.S. casaulities.

And throughout the Massive Failure, Bush smirks and jokes about missing WMDs, while US Troops are killed and hundreds of thousands are wounded; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and morally.

But, what does the Iraqi War succeed at spectacularly? The creation of a new generation of battle -hardened Muslim Extremists. Because, while Saddam was in power in Iraq the fanatics did not have a base of Operations but now thanks to the complete destabilizing of the region ISIS fanatics have training, experience, weaponry and recruits aplenty.

So, that's ISIS, the unholy love child of Ronald Reagan and W(orst President Ever) and if conservatives want to the United States to re-invade and fight them? Well, there are local recruiting offices throughout the country.
22 Feb 13:34

The South Korean tell-all that told too much

Has the former South Korean president gone too far with his memoir?
20 Feb 15:38

Utah Court Says Woman Can Sue Herself

by Kevin

You might not consider Utah the most progressive state, but it has become the first to grant its citizens a controversial right that many have long been denied, proving that the law does evolve. Utah has now become the first state to officially allow its citizens to sue themselves.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reports (thanks, Mark), a unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals ruled on February 15 that Utah law allows a decedent's heir and the personal representative of his estate to sue the driver who allegedly caused the accident that killed him. That wouldn't be unusual except that in Bagley v. Bagley, those are all the same people.

The two plaintiffs in this case—the decedent's heir and the personal representative of his estate—brought a wrongful-death claim and a survival action against the driver alleged to have caused the accident. Bagley finds herself on both sides of this dispute because not only is she her husband's heir and the personal representative of his estate, she is also the defendant driver whose negligence allegedly caused the accident.

That's right. She's all three parties on both sides of the case.

The court's opinion is pretty mindbending, as you might expect. I mean, how do you even discuss a case in which there's only one party who is two plaintiffs suing herself as a defendant? Well, the court sets it all up this way:

Barbara Bagley, acting in different capacities, appears as both the appellants and the appellee in this case.

Okay, hold up. Just to be clear, Bagley is the two plaintiffs and Bagley is the defendant that she (the two plaintiffs) is suing. The trial court ruled against Bagley the two plaintiffs and in favor of Bagley the defendant. So on appeal, Bagley the two plaintiffs is also Bagley the two appellants, and Bagley the defendant is also Bagley the appellee. Bagley is all the parties. So you could just as well say that Bagley is actually six people in this case (two plaintiffs, two appellants, one defendant, and an appellee), or that she is four people on one side and two on the other, and how many people she is depends on which court the case is in. Got it? Back to the court:

Barbara Bagley, acting in different capacities, appears as both the appellants and the appellee in this case. Bagley represents the estate of Bradley M. Vom Baur [who, confusingly, was not named "Bagley."] She also appears on her own behalf as Vom Baur's heir. We refer to these two roles collectively as Plaintiffs. Bagley is also the defendant and alleged tortfeasor ([and we will refer to that role as] Defendant). Defendant's interests in this case are represented by her insurance carrier.

Aha, insurance carrier. So here's what's going on: Bagley the personal representative of her husband's estate is suing Bagley the defendant who allegedly caused the accident. Bagley the heir of her husband has also joined as a plaintiff because she has an interest in the proceeds if Bagley the estate representative collects. Because Bagley the defendant has insurance, Bagley's insurer is representing her because it would have to pay the judgment to the husband's estate if Bagley (again the defendant) is found liable.

For killing the husband.

The legal issue is this: Utah's wrongful-death statute says a person's heir or personal representative can sue whoever caused the person's death when the death "is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another." The defendant(s) argued, and the trial court agreed, that this means "of someone other than the heir or personal representative." That is, the heir or representative can sue as long as they didn't cause the death. But the plaintiff(s) argued that it means "of someone other than the decedent." That is, the heirs can sue as long as the decedent didn't kill himself. The Court of Appeals has now agreed with that.

After wrestling with this for a while (too long, really), I think the Court of Appeals is right. Seems like the statute can be read either way, but this way is closer to the plain language. The real problem, I think, is not the statute but the procedure.

There are two separate actions here, or should be. The first one is a contract action, because Bagley had an insurance policy that pays off if she accidentally kills someone while driving. (Intentional killings are an entirely different situation, as you would expect.) She did that. Pay up. The second one is an action by the husband's estate against the person who caused his death. Also not controversial. But here the two separate actions have been unnaturally joined in carnival-freak-show fashion by somebody's decision to make Bagley herself the estate representative. And that is where all the brain-hurtingness comes from. Appoint somebody else and I think most of the problems disappear, one way or another.

I notice that in footnote 4 of the opinion, the court states tersely that "The decision to appoint Bagley as personal representative of [the] estate is not before us on appeal." I have a feeling the judges wish it had been, or that they could get hold of whoever made that decision, at least.

Note: some of you may not know that "Autolitigation" in the category tags below refers to this sort of case—that is, not "auto[mobile] litigation" but a case where somebody sued or tried to sue himself or herself, intentionally or not. If you thought this was the first time somebody had tried it, (1) you misunderestimate the human race and (2) you might want to take a look at that section.

20 Feb 14:12

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

by CommitStrip

19 Feb 20:07

4gifs:You are at a 9 and I need you at a 1. [video]


You are at a 9 and I need you at a 1. [video]

19 Feb 20:07

Learn From Snail

by Reza


18 Feb 16:46

Linux has 2,000 new developers and gets 10,000 patches for each version

by Jon Brodkin

Nearly 2,000 developers started contributing to Linux in the past 15 months, making up nearly half of all developers writing code for the open source operating system kernel.

The new developers are helping fuel an ever-bigger Linux community, according to the latest Linux Kernel Development report, which will be released today by the Linux Foundation. The report is expected to be available at this link.

"The rate of Linux development is unmatched," the foundation said in an announcement accompanying the report. "In fact, Linux kernel 3.15 was the busiest development cycle in the kernel’s history. This rate of change continues to increase, as does the number of developers and companies involved in the process. The average number of changes accepted into the kernel per hour is 7.71, which translates to 185 changes every day and nearly 1,300 per week. The average days of development per release decreased from 70 days to 66 days."

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

30 Jan 15:35

Super Bowl

My hobby: Pretending to miss the sarcasm when people show off their lack of interest in football by talking about 'sportsball' and acting excited to find someone else who's interested, then acting confused when they try to clarify.
12 Jan 23:44

The right tool for the right job

by CommitStrip

12 Jan 21:58

Stable climate demands most fossil fuels stay in the ground, but whose?

by Scott K. Johnson

In the abstract, moving away from fossil fuels sounds relatively straightforward. But the closer you look, the more complex the challenge appears. How quickly do we have to kick the fossil fuel habit? Should developing nations forego the artery-clogging feast of dirty energy that other nations used to fuel their development? And how much coal, oil, and gas will each nation have to leave in the ground—potential profits notwithstanding?

In a new study, University College London researchers Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins examine that last question. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report concluded that between 2011 and 2050, we can only emit around 1,000 gigatons of CO2 if we want to limit warming to 2°C above preindustrial temperatures, which governments have pledged to do. Current fossil fuel reserves—the known amount of fossil fuels that can be produced at a reasonable profit today—equal almost 3,000 gigatons of CO2. Adding in the fossil fuels that are not economically viable today but probably could be eventually brings that number up in the neighborhood of 11,000 gigatons.

That means a whole lot of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. The researchers ran simulations with economic models to find the mix of fossil fuels that maximizes the economic benefit to each country while still staying below 1,000 gigatons of CO2. They took into account the costs of producing various types of coal, natural gas, and oil as well as the cost of bringing it to market in each region. In the end, they produced estimates of how much of each region's reserves should be considered “unburnable” in this economically optimized scenario.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

14 Nov 17:20

[BEST OF] Scumbag Windows

by CommitStrip

14 Nov 17:11

welele: Un algoritmo que crea personajes en 8 bits en el...


Un algoritmo que crea personajes en 8 bits en el Tetris

Mu jarcor nene

10 Nov 17:18

Obama: Treat broadband—including mobile—as a utility

by Jon Brodkin
Government IT we can't believe in.

President Obama today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify broadband service as a utility and to impose rules that prevent Internet service providers from blocking and throttling traffic or prioritizing Web services in exchange for payment. Obama also said utility rules should apply both to home Internet service and mobile broadband.

In short, Obama is siding with consumer advocates who have lobbied for months in favor of reclassification while the telecommunications industry lobbied against it.

In a plan released today, Obama said, “The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance [as the traditional telephone system] and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act—while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone—not just one or two companies.”

President Obama's Statement on Keeping the Internet Open and Free.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

31 Oct 00:27

How MERS jumped from bats to humans—and whether other viruses might, too

by Ars Staff
A coronavirus, thanks to proteins studding its surface, latches on to a cell.

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness that is caused by the coronavirus MERS-CoV, and it currently has a 36 percent fatality rate in humans. Research suggests that MERS-CoV most likely originated in bats and was then transmitted to humans.

Bats are hosts to a number of coronaviruses, and other such coronaviruses could also pose a risk to human health if transmitted across species boundaries. To predict the potential of these coronaviruses to infect humans requires an understanding of how they managed to jump species-barriers, adapting to human cells and becoming infectious. In this regard, MERS-CoV could provide valuable information.

Viruses infect cells by binding to their surfaces and inserting their genetic material into them; the genetic material then hijacks the host cell to make new copies of the virus. In the case of MERS-CoV, spiked proteins on the envelope of the virus are necessary for entry into cells. The spiked proteins are thought to bind a human protein called dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4); bats have their own version called bDPP4. A recent investigation has explored how MERS-CoV and other bat coronaviruses interact with DPP4.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

14 Oct 16:54

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind

by but does it float
The Bus by Paul Kirchner Title: J.G. Ballard Atley
07 Oct 19:33

October 07, 2014

Woop! Sorry for the late update. Server issues.
03 Oct 19:42


by xkcd


What if everything was antimatter, EXCEPT Earth?

Sean Gallagher

This one doesn't end well for us. But—unlike most scenarios involving the word "antimatter"—the end is surprisingly slow and drawn-out.

The whole universe is matter, as far as we can tell. No one is sure why there's more matter than antimatter, since the laws of physics are pretty symmetrical, and so there's no reason to expect there to be more of one than the other.[1]Although when it comes down to it, there's no reason to expect anything at all.

It's possible that galaxies are made of antimatter, and we just haven't noticed because we haven't tried to touch them. This is a cool idea, but if there are zones of matter and zones of antimatter, we should see a telltale gamma-ray glow from the boundary between the zones. So far, we haven't seen that, although another telescope might help.

If the rest of the universe were swapped out for antimatter, we'd be in trouble. Outer space isn't really "space";[2]As far as I know, it really is "outer", for what that's worth. it's full of a thin gas.[3]Technically, plasma.​[4]Technically, there's also a substantial quantity of solid grains of dust.​[5]Look, there's a bunch of little bits that are hard to see, ok?.​[6]Ok, they're not always hard to see.

The Earth's magnetic field protects us from the solar wind, and would protect us from an anti-solar wind, too. A tiny fraction of the particles from the Sun do reach the Earth, funneled down by our magnetic field, and create the aurora. In this scenario, the aurora would get a lot brighter, but most of the time not bright enough to really cause problems.

Meteorites would be the real problem.

The Earth sweeps up space dust as it travels around its orbit.[7]Unfortunately for us, antimatter is probably attracted to matter by gravity. About 100 tons of dust per day enters the atmosphere in the form of tiny grains, most weighing about 10^-5 grams. An additional similar average per-day amount arrives in giant clumps all at once.

This inflow of antimatter dust would collide with the top of our atmosphere and be annihilated. The interactions between the nuclei and antinuclei and protons and antiprotons would be complex,[8]A lot of the energy would be carried away by neutrinos. but the end result would be a lot of gamma rays, which would turn into a lot of heat. This steady flow of material would be worst around dawn, when your house was facing in the direction of Earth's motion.

The heat and light added by the antimatter would most likely be enough to tip the Earth into a "runaway greenhouse" scenario, turning the Earth into something resembling Venus.

But the big asteroids would get us first. Even a relatively small object like the Chelyabinsk meteor would deliver as much energy as the meteor that killed the dinosaurs.[9]Although it would deliver it to the top of the atmosphere, so in some ways it wouldn't be as bad. Fairly large asteroids enter the atmosphere every few months—mostly unnoticed. If they were all antimatter, each one would trigger a tremendous pulse of energy in the sky and ignite a massive firestorm.[10]If an antimatter meteor is large enough, encountering a cloud could launch some of it backward without completely destroying it. However, it's hard to come up with a practical scenario in which a meteor would exhibit this effect in Earth's atmosphere—unless it were so large that it would have basically destroyed the planet anyway.

Right now, it's still an open question whether any significant percentage of the stuff in the sky is made of antimatter. It's probably not, but we'd need to build another orbiting gamma-ray telescope to really be sure.

However, it's easy to use a telescope to rule out one possibility: That everything in the sky is antimatter.

If you have a telescope, maybe you can get that result published.

20 Jun 14:44

Plastic Dinosaurs

by xkcd

Plastic Dinosaurs

As plastic is made from oil and oil is made from dead dinosaurs, how much actual real dinosaur is there in a plastic dinosaur?

Steve Lydford

I don't know.

Coal and oil are called "fossil fuels" because they formed over millions of years from the remains of dead organisms buried underground. The standard answer to "what kind of dead stuff does the oil in the ground come from?" is "marine plankton and algae." In other words, there are no dinosaur fossils in those fossil fuels.

Except that's not quite right.

Most of us only see oil in its refined forms—kerosene, plastics, and the stuff that comes out of gas pumps—so it's easy to imagine the source as some uniform black bubbly material.

But fossil fuels bear fingerprints of their creation. The various characteristics of these fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—depend on the organisms that went into it and what happened to them. It depends on where they lived, how they died, where their bodies ended up, and what kinds of temperature and pressure they experienced.

The dead matter carries its story—altered and jumbled in various ways—for millions of years. After we dig it up, we spend a lot of effort stripping the evidence of this story away, refining the complex hydrocarbons into uniform fuels. When we burn the fuels, their story is finally erased, and the Jurassic sunlight that was bound up in them is released to power our cars.[1]Through photosynthesis, organisms used sunlight to bind carbon dioxide and water into complex molecules. When we burn their oil, we finally return that CO2 and water to the atmosphere—liberating millions of years worth of stored carbon dioxide all at once. This has some consequences.

The story carried by rocks is a complicated one. Sometimes pieces are missing, discarded, or transformed in a way that misleads us. Geologists—both in academia and the oil industry—work patiently to reconstruct different aspects of these stories and understand what the evidence is telling us.[2]My favorite book about Earth science, Walter Alvarez's T. rex and the Crater of Doom, is a firsthand account of the research that determined what killed the dinosaurs. The story is told not as a contest between rival academic theories, but as the unraveling of a mystery through detective work.

Most oil comes from ocean life buried on the seabed. But the poetic idea that our fuels contain dinosaur ghosts is in some ways true as well. There are a few things required for oil to form, including quick burial of large amounts of hydrogen-rich organic matter in a low-oxygen environment.[3]Because, in a sense, oxygen will cause the fuel to burn.

These conditions are most often met in shallow seas near continental shelves, where periodic nutrient-rich upwellings from the deep sea cause blooms of plankton and algae. These temporary blooms soon burn themselves out, dying and falling to the oxygen-poor seabed as marine snow. If they're quickly buried, they may eventually form oil or gas. Land life, on the other hand, is more likely to form peat and eventually coal.

This paints a picture like this:

But hydrocarbon formation is a multi-step process[4]You can read more about it here. and lots of things can affect it. A huge amount of organic material washes into the ocean, and while most of it doesn't end up in oil-producing sediments, some of it does.[5]If you want to spend a day reading a bunch of articles on hydrocarbons and ocean sedimentation, you can check out a few here, here, here (paywall), here, and here. If you get tired halfway through, like I did, and want a change of pace, you can instead read an insane conspiracy theory website claiming that oil is not dead organic matter and that there's actually an infinite supply of it. This fact is apparently concealed from us by the New World Order and/or the Illuminati. Some oil fields—like Australia's—seem to have a lot of terrestrial sources. Most of this is plants, but some is certainly animals.[6]And it's worth noting that there were some aquatic dinosaurs—like Spinosaurus.

No matter where it came from, only a small fraction of the oil in your plastic dinosaur could be directly from real dinosaur corpses. If it came from a Mesozoic-era oil field fed heavily by land matter, it might contain a slightly larger share of dinosaurs; if it came from a pre-Mesozoic field sealed beneath caprock, it might contain no dinosaur at all. There's no way to know without painstakingly tracing every step of the manufacturing process of your particular toy.

In a broader sense, all water in the ocean has at some point been part of a dinosaur. When this water is used in photosynthesis, bits of it are used to build the fats and carbohydrates in the food chain—but a lot more of that water is in your body right now.

In other words, your plastic toys contain a lot less dinosaur than you do.

09 Jun 13:36

4.5 Degrees

The good news is that according to the latest IPCC report, if we enact aggressive emissions limits now, we could hold the warming to 2°C. That's only HALF an ice age unit, which is probably no big deal.
29 May 22:26

Bombshell TrueCrypt advisory: Backdoor? Hack? Hoax? None of the above?

by Dan Goodin

Wednesday's bombshell advisory declaring TrueCrypt unsafe to use touched off a tsunami of comments on Ars, Twitter, and elsewhere. At times, the armchair pundits sounded like characters in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK, as they speculated wildly—and contradictorily—about what was behind a notice that left so many more questions than answers. Here are some of the more common theories, along with facts that either support or challenge their accuracy.

Warrant or National Security Letter canary

Theory: Borrowing a page from the Lavabit crypto service that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden used, Wednesday's advisory was what legal practitioners call a "canary," intended to signal receipt of a confidential demand from a law-enforcement or national security entity. Since National Security Letters (NSLs) can impose draconian penalties on those who make the demands known, this theory goes, the TrueCrypt developers issued a thinly veiled warning to users that they should no longer count on the program to prevent snooping by the US government.

Pros: Several elements of the advisory left many readers with the vague sense that the writers' tongues were planted firmly in their cheeks. Most obviously was the advice that TrueCrypt fans—a mish-mash of privacy-loving Linux, Mac, and Windows users—should abandon the cross-platform app for BitLocker, Microsoft's proprietary encryption program that runs only on selected versions of Windows. With much less prominent mention of FileVault or LUKS—the rough Mac and Linux equivalents of BitLocker, respectively—some people regarded the advice as so absurd as to be a wink and nudge signaling something much more serious was going on.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

23 May 14:36


about - archive - cast - comments - sexy exciting merchandise - messageboard - search - reader art - links

previous April 19th 2006 next

April 19th 2006
The Dinosaur Comics books have come in and they are 1000 books of beauty. Pre-orders are being shipped and you can order your own copy by clicking on the link and paying some money!

The comics include some text beneath each comic that is hidden on the website, so there is ONE MORE REASON to order the book! If you'd like to get your comic store to carry the book, that would be sweet. You can give them the book's ISBN number, which is 0-7560-0518-3.

I also updated the Webcomic Tattoos page with a new Achewood tattoo!

14 May 15:46


by Christopher Hastings


27p51 is a post from: The Adventures of Dr. McNinja Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.

27p51 is a post from: The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.
12 Mar 17:45

Paint the Earth

by xkcd

Paint the Earth

Has humanity produced enough paint to cover the entire land area of the Earth?

—Josh (Bolton, MA)

This answer is pretty straightforward. We can look up the size of the world's paint industry, extrapolate backward to figure out the total amount of paint produced. We'd also need to make some assumptions about how we're painting the ground. Note: When we get to the Sahara desert, I recommend not using a brush.

But first, let's think about different ways we might come up with a guess for what the answer will be. In this kind of thinking—often called Fermi estimation—all that matters is getting in the right ballpark; that is, the answer should have about the right number of digits. In Fermi estimation, you can round[1]Using the formula \(\text{Fermi}(x) = 10^{\text{round}(log_{10}x)}\), meaning that 3 rounds to 1 and 4 rounds to 10. all your answers to the nearest order of magnitude:

Let's suppose that, on average, everyone in the world is responsible for the existence of two rooms, and they're both painted. My living room has about 50 square meters of paintable area, and two of those would be 100 square meters. 7.15 billion people times 100 square meters per person is a little under a trillion square meters—an area smaller than Egypt.

Let's make a wild guess that, on average, one person out of every thousand spends their working life painting things. If I assume it would take me three hours to paint the room I'm in,[2]This is probably optimistic, especially if there's an internet connection in the room. and 100 billion people have ever lived, and each of them spent 30 years painting things for 8 hours a day, we come up with 150 trillion square meters ... just about exactly the land area of the Earth.

How much paint does it take to paint a house? I'm not enough of an adult to have any idea, so let's take another Fermi guess.

Based on my impressions from walking down the aisles, home improvement stores stock about as many light bulbs as cans of paint. A normal house might have about 20 light bulbs, so let's assume a house needs about 20 gallons of paint.[3]These are very rough estimates. Sure, that sounds about right.

The average US home costs about \$200,000. Assuming each gallon of paint covers about 300 square feet, that's a square meter of paint per \$300 of real estate. I vaguely remember that the world's real estate has a combined value of something like \$100 trillion,[4]Citation: This really boring dream I had once. which suggests there's about 300 billion square meters of paint on the world's real estate. That's about one New Mexico.

Of course, both of the building-related guesses could be overestimates (lots of buildings are not painted) or underestimates (lots of things that are not buildings[5]EXAMPLES OF THINGS THAT ARE NOT BUILDINGS: Ducks, M&Ms, cars, the Sun, cuttlefish, microchips, Macklemore, lightning, goat blood, zeppelins, tapeworms, pickle jars, those sticks you use to toast marshmallows, alligators, tuning forks, minotaurs, Perseid meteors, ballots, crude oil, sponsored tweets, and catapults that throw handfuls of engagement rings. are painted) But from these wild Fermi estimates, my guess would be that there probably isn't enough paint to cover all the land.

So, how did Fermi do?

According to the report The State of the Global Coatings Industry, the world produced 34 billion liters of paints and coatings in 2012.

There's a neat trick that can help us here. If some quantity—say, the world economy—has been growing for a while at an annual rate of n—say, 3% (0.03)—then the most recent year's share of the whole total so far is \(1-\tfrac{1}{1+n}\), and the whole total so far is the most recent year's amount times \(1+\tfrac{1}{n}\).

If we assume paint production has, in recent decades, followed the economy and grown at about 3% per year, that means the total amount of paint produced equals the current yearly production times 34.[6]\((1+\tfrac{1}{0.03})\) That comes out to a little over a trillion liters of paint. At 30 square meters per gallon,[7]"Square meters per gallon" is a pretty obnoxious unit, but I think it's not quite as bad as acre-foot (a foot by a chain by a furlong), which is an actual unit used in technical papers I was trying to read this week. that's enough to cover 9 trillion square meters—about the area of the United States.

So the answer is no; there's not enough paint to cover the Earth's land, and—at this rate—probably won't be enough until the year 2100.

Score one for Fermi estimation.

11 Mar 23:14

Neighbors React to Bill that Would Affect Bicyclists - WHSV

Neighbors React to Bill that Would Affect Bicyclists
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Bikers in Virginia could soon have more distance between themselves and a car, thanks to a bill that passed in the General Assembly. Martin Rhodes, who lives in Harrisonburg, rides his bike along with his family in ...

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02 Mar 00:55

Premium Accounts FAQ

We’d like to give a quick status on the new Premium plans and thank you all for the support.  It’s been a little over a week since we introduced the new paid accounts and the support from our community has been terrific.  That said, we still have a ways to go to meet our goals and are working diligently to address as much of your input as possible.

Here are answers to many of the frequent questions that we’ve been receiving over the past week.

Q: Why no Paypal?

A: We just released Paypal payments. You can now use either secure credit card payments through Stripe, or checkout using Paypal.

Q: Why didn’t you do ads?

A: As we mentioned in our previous posts, we’re heavily committed to the open web and feel that ads put our neutrality in jeopardy.  We haven’t completely ruled out future advertising for non-premium accounts, but we will do everything possible to avoid that decision.

Q: What happens when my grace period or trial expires and I’m over the free feed limit?

A: If you’re over the limit and your trial is expired, then your feeds will stop updating. We won’t ever lock you out of The Old Reader, and you’ll always be able to see what your friends are sharing, and you’ll always be able to export your subscriptions to OPML.

Q: Does “6 months of post storage” extend to shared items and comments?

A: We keep shared items and comments forever. Those are never removed. The only posts that will ever be removed are the read and unread posts that you haven’t shared, liked, or starred.

Q: If feed refreshes are shared, how do the tiered feed refresh speeds work?

A: We do our best to store and fetch only unique feeds, so we fetch new posts for a feed once, and deliver the new posts for each user who is subscribed to that feed.

So, if one of the users who is subscribed to that feed decides to become a premium user, all of the feeds that user is subscribed to will begin updating faster. Any free users subscribed to the same feeds will get the faster refresh time as well.

Q: What is the Instapaper and Readability integration?

A: Instapaper and Readability integration is setup, so that if you go into settings and authorize those services, any time you Star a post, it will be shared to to those services. You don’t need to click “Sent to” and be redirected off to the other site. Just click Star and it all happens in the background.

Q: Where’s the bookmarklet?

A: The bookmarklet is a high priority feature for us. We think it’s a very valuable feature to be able to take any article you come across and put it into The Old Reader for later reading. It’s a bit of a big change, since now we don’t have the concept of a post without a feed, but we’re on it and it will be available soon.

Thanks for using The Old Reader!