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Merry Sky

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with Dark Sky shuttered, here's a clean alternative built on Pirate Weather, a free and open compatible API #
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kryptothesuperdog
22 days ago
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London, UK
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jhamill
23 days ago
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Neat
California

The wisdom of Bono

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I ended up as an activist in a very different place from where I started. I thought that if we just redistributed resources, then we could solve every problem. I now know that’s not true. There’s a funny moment when you realize that as an activist: The off-ramp out of extreme poverty is, ugh, commerce, it’s entrepreneurial capitalism. I spend a lot of time in countries all over Africa, and they’re like, Eh, we wouldn’t mind a little more globalization actually.

And:

Isn’t citing Thomas Piketty a little dicey for you, given what he says about fairer taxation?

Yes, he has a system of progressive taxation and I get it, but the question that I’m compelled to answer is: How are things going for the bottom billion? Be careful to placard the poorest of the poor on politics when they are fighting for their lives. It’s very easy to become patronizing. Capitalism is a wild beast. We need to tame it. But globalization has brought more people out of poverty than any other -ism. If somebody comes to me with a better idea, I’ll sign up. I didn’t grow up to like the idea that we’ve made heroes out of businesspeople, but if you’re bringing jobs to a community and treating people well, then you are a hero. That’s where I’ve ended up. God spare us from lyricists who quote themselves, but if I wrote only one lyric that was any good, it might have been: Choose your enemies carefully because they will define you. Turning the establishment into the enemy — it’s a little easy, isn’t it?

Here is the full NYT interview.

The post The wisdom of Bono appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
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kryptothesuperdog
97 days ago
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Apple clarifies security update policy: Only the latest OSes are fully patched

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The default wallpaper for macOS 11 Big Sur.

Enlarge / The default wallpaper for macOS 11 Big Sur. (credit: Apple)

Earlier this week, Apple released a document clarifying its terminology and policies around software upgrades and updates. Most of the information in the document isn't new, but the company did provide one clarification about its update policy that it hadn't made explicit before: Despite providing security updates for multiple versions of macOS and iOS at any given time, Apple says that only devices running the most recent major operating system versions should expect to be fully protected.

Throughout the document, Apple uses "upgrade" to refer to major OS releases that can add big new features and user interface changes and "update" to refer to smaller but more frequently released patches that mostly fix bugs and address security problems (though these can occasionally enable minor feature additions or improvements as well). So updating from iOS 15 to iOS 16 or macOS 12 to macOS 13 is an upgrade. Updating from iOS 16.0 to 16.1 or macOS 12.5 to 12.6 or 12.6.1 is an update.

"Because of dependency on architecture and system changes to any current version of macOS (for example, macOS 13)," the document reads, "not all known security issues are addressed in previous versions (for example, macOS 12)."

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kryptothesuperdog
97 days ago
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London, UK
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The Big Bang should have made cracks in spacetime—why haven’t we found them?

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A computer-generated simulation of cosmic strings.

Enlarge / A computer-generated simulation of cosmic strings. (credit: Chris Ringeval)

Remember that time in the Lord of the Rings lore when the dwarves of Moria dug too greedily and too deep, unearthing the Balrog, an ancient horror not meant to roam free in the modern age?

Cosmic strings are kind of like that but for physics. They are hypothetical leftovers from the momentous transformations experienced by our Universe when it was less than a second old. They are defects, flaws in space itself. They’re no wider than a proton, but they may potentially stretch across the observable volume of the Universe. They have unspeakable powers—the ability to warp space so much that circles around them never complete, and they carry enough energy to unleash planet-destroying levels of gravitational waves. They’re also the path into some of the most exotic physics known (and unknown) to science.

But perhaps the greatest power cosmic strings possess is their capacity to confound physicists. According to our best understanding of the early Universe, our cosmos should be riddled with cosmic strings. And yet not a single search has found any evidence for them. Figuring out where the cosmic strings are hiding, or why they shouldn’t exist after all, will help push our understanding of cosmology and fundamental physics to new heights.

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kryptothesuperdog
134 days ago
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London, UK
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Court Says Bees Are Fish

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Though this headline is short, some may still believe it is, to some extent, an exaggeration for comic effect. Without conceding that is true, or indeed that I have ever done such a thing, if I were doing it here the exaggeration would be minimal:

The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish….

Almond Alliance of Cal. v. Fish & Game Commission, No. C093542, 2022 WL 1742458 (Cal. Ct. App. May 31, 2022).

That was the issue, and the court held that it does.

Let me try to explain WTF was going on here, and maybe more importantly who’s to blame for the completely insane result.

The dispute in this case was whether the California Fish and Game Commission had the authority to designate four bumblebee species as candidates for the endangered-species list. The opinion does not discuss the consequences of such a designation or why it was disputed, but I am guessing that either it would limit the property rights of California almond growers in some manner or there is a group of people named “Almond” in California who really *#&%ing hate bees. Possibly both. But the only issue the opinion discusses is whether the Commission had statutory authority to do this.

For that to be true, the bumblebees had to fit within the definitions of “endangered species” or “threatened species” found in the California Fish and Game Code. And that means they would have to be “native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant.” Cal. Fish & Game Code §§ 2062, 2067, 2068. Well, bumblebees, like all other bees, are insects. This means they are not birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, or plants. The end.

No?

This opinion is somehow 35 pages long?

Yes.

To understand why, we apparently must go back many decades and start with the California Legislature’s original definition of “fish.” (Don’t worry, this won’t make any sense eventually, either.) Back then, the Code defined “fish” as “wild fish, mollusks, or crustaceans, including any part, spawn, or ova thereof.” Are mollusks fish? Nope. Are crustaceans fish? Nope. So is there already a problem? Yep.

In 1969, the Legislature decided to expand the Commission’s authority to include amphibians. Did it do so by narrowing the “fish” definition to fish and then adding one for amphibians? Nope. It just stuck them in with the fish. And then in 1984, it wanted to add “invertebrates.” Did it take this opportunity to straighten things out? Nope. In they went. And this is how we got the statute that the Court of Appeal was interpreting in the Almond Alliance case. It now says this:

“Fish” means a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals.

Cal. Fish & Game Code § 45.

So the definition of “fish” now includes even more things that aren’t fish, including entire categories of things that aren’t even vertebrates like fish are, in addition to the mollusks and crustaceans that are also invertebrates but for some reason are still listed separately unlike all other invertebrates. But it doesn’t include insects.

Or does it?

See, insects are invertebrates. Specifically, they’re in the category of “invertebrates that aren’t mollusks or crustaceans,” which is not to say that’s a category recognized by anyone but the California Legislature, because it isn’t. But insects are definitely in that category, and that means bees are in it.

Or maybe they’re not.

Because what we now have to figure out is whether the California Legislature intended to include invertebrates that don’t live in water in the definition of “fish.” As you may have noticed, everything else in the list is something that lives in water, at least if you don’t think too hard about amphibians. This of course would make sense because this is, after all, a definition of “fish,” which definitely live in water all the time (except when they are jumping unless they are lungfish, which walk or at least creep a little). So, DOES THE CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE THINK NONAQUATIC INVERTEBRATES ARE “FISH” IS THE REAL QUESTION HERE, and also possibly the reason you just tore up your law school application, for which I commend you.

To answer this question, the court had to go back through decades of legislative history in an effort to figure out what the hell the Legislature was thinking. And while it was mostly thinking about water-based critters, this was not always true. In 1980, the Commission decided certain butterflies should be on the endangered list, and also the “Trinity bristle snail,” which is, the court notes, “a terrestrial gastropod that is both a mollusk and an invertebrate.” (I forgot about snails when writing the paragraph above, but I’m not going back.) But someone objected, for what seems like a pretty darn good reason: “Mr. Livingston contended that insects are not fish[.]” The Commission did not necessarily agree with this outlandish position, it seems, but the butterflies came off the list. Since then, there has apparently been an ongoing debate about whether insects are fish in California.

But, remember, four years after the butterfly crisis, the Legislature added “invertebrates” to the definition. Insects are invertebrates. And this didn’t seem to be limited to aquatic beasts, the court held, because of that goddamn snail, which is terrestrial. Nobody had ever complained about it being on the list. If the Legislature cared about the aquaticness of invertebrates, the court seems to have reasoned, it would have done something about this, but it didn’t. Therefore, nonaquatic invertebrates can be on the list, and that’s what bumblebees are.

This is why, at least for purposes of California’s section 45, bees are fish.

If you want more, there’s a wonderful discussion of worms on page 34 of the opinion, but I need a drink.

        
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kryptothesuperdog
214 days ago
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It's magic: Using an IR camera and Raspberry Pi to scan an invisibly marked card deck during a magic performance

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Card tricks would be a lot easier if the magician knew the location of every card. Paul Nettle created a Github project, 'The Nettle Magic Project,' that uses special markings and a camera to identify and locate every card in a deck.

Each card in the deck is marked with a unique barcode. Of course, if the cards were marked in traditional ink, that would disrupt the illusion, so the cards are marked with ink only visible under specific IR conditions. Nettle and Van Goey designed a Raspberry Pi device with a NoIR camera to see the marked cards.

The device runs a scanning server, and it's connected to an iOS client application, Abra, that shows what the server's camera sees and the decoded deck. With the technology, magicians can know the ordered list of every card in the deck, which card(s) are missing, and even which cards are face-up in the deck. The device can be run while performing as it can scan/decode a 1080p image to an ordered deck in 'as little as 4ms.'

The testbed applications provided are written for macOS and iOS, although there's also support for Linux and the Raspberry Pi platform. There currently aren't Windows or Android versions. The full documentation outlines the testbed application in detail.

There's also a high-level overview of how the device works. While speed is important, correct results are critical. An error during a live performance is problematic. While scanning results can be incorrect, it's very unlikely. Performance is improved by scanning several video frames rather than a single frame. The results of multiple frames are analyzed and combined. However, efficiency concerns are important, as the device will likely be hidden on a magician's person and can't become too hot or run out of power.

High-level overview of the Nettle Magic Project system and its steps

There's an input video frame augmented by configuration parameters and a deck definition. The deck is searched, decoded, resolved and analyzed before a report is generated for the user. Each of these primary steps includes secondary and even tertiary processes, which are extensively outlined here.

Each playing card is about 0.3mm thick, and they're scanned under low-light conditions using a narrow-band IR camera. Further, cards become worn, and some cards are held in someone's hands, so the scanning process isn't perfect. However, it's 'generally' reliable. The 'analyze' phase tries to overcome a lack of confidence by combining results from scans that are 'mostly' correct with scans that 'may actually be' correct to generate a single 'confident' result.

The Abra client shows the full results of the scan. We can see that this scan generated a high confidence value (98).

Different scenarios produce failures, including the deck not being in the frame or too small, the readability check failing because the scanned video isn't sharp, there being too few cards or just some other more generalized failure. There are also different success conditions, including low and high confidence results. Once all steps are complete, the final result is sent to the Abra client.

One of these decks is marked. Can you tell which one?

The documentation also shows how to generate marks using a Sharpie or a custom-printed stamp. The section on UV reactive inks isn't complete yet, but there are some interesting details about creating a marked deck that looks normal to the naked eye.

If you like card tricks, you can try the Nettle Magic Project for yourself. All packages, tools and documentation are available on Github.


Image credits: Nettle Magic Project / Paul Nettle and Jeroen Van Goey / Github

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kryptothesuperdog
215 days ago
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