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Stilgherrian’s links for 30 September 2009 through 13 October 2009, gathered automatically but then left to languish for two weeks before publication.

There’s so many of these links this time that I’ll publish them over the fold. I think I need to get over my fear of the link being published automatically without my checking them first, and my concern that my website won’t look nice if the first post is just a list of links.

Maybe I should just stick these Delicious-generated links in a sidebar? Or do you like having them in the main stream and RSS feed?

Read the rest of this entry »

Stilgherrian’s links for 24 July 2009 through 26 July 2009, collected together for a Suitable Sunday of reading:

  • Online Ad Rates Picking Up | The Business Insider: Based on a review of data from 6000 web publishers, it appears that online advertising is up 35% since its low-point of December 2008. Rates climbed 15% between May and June.
  • Love is Old-Fashioned, Sex Less So | A Stubborn Mule’s Perspective: Comparing the music in the Triple J Hottest 100 and The Guardian’s recent list of 1000 songs to hear before you die, the Mule comes up with the view that love is out of fashion. Also, chart pr0n.
  • Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule | Paul Graham: This essay really speaks to me. If you’re a manager, then your schedule consists of those 1-hour blocks to beloved of scheduling software. But it you’re a maker, or someone creative, one hour is barely time to get started. A good discussion of how these two different working styles can be resolved.
  • Too much networking? | msnbc.com: A network expert argues that less social networking would produce more radical innovation on the Internet. “An overabundance of connections over which information can travel too cheaply can reduce diversity, foster groupthink, and keep radical ideas from taking hold,” Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, director of the Information + Innovation Policy Research Center at the National University of Singapore, writes in this week’s issue of the journal Science.
  • Electropulse weapon fear spreads to UK politicos | The Register: A campaign by US right wingers, designed to raise fears of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack they allege could cripple Western nations and lead to chaos, is targeting British politicians, with some success.
  • God is not your bitch / This just in: It is hugely unlikely God cares much about your sex life | Mark Morford: A glorious rant about politicians and others exploit God to explain how they’re really, really going to change this time — amongst many other things.
  • Best RSS feeds for information graphics | nicolasrapp.com: A collection of feeds which represents a nice mix of information graphics and data visualisations. (Is there a difference between those two terms?)
  • Rebooting The News: A weekly podcast on news and technology with Jay Rosen and Dave Winer.
  • The atmosphere in the control room gets tense … | Twitpic: This photograph is an overview of the control room as ABC TV’s Insiders is about to be broadcast last Sunday. Even with the combination of roles and reduction of control room staffing levels, broadcast TV is still a complicated beast!
  • The Great American Bubble Machine | Rolling Stone: An astoundingly harsh critique of the US economy and, in particular, Goldman Sachs. The piece begins: The worlds most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.”
  • Why cops should trust the wisdom of the crowds | New Scientist: The “unruly mob” concept is usually taken as read and used as the basis for crowd control measures and evacuation procedures across the world. Yet it is almost entirely a myth.

Stilgherrian’s links for 09 May 2009 through 17 May 2009, gathered intermittently and jumbled together at random:

Stilgherrian’s links for 20 April 2009 through 21 April 2009:

  • A criminally stupid war on drugs in the US | FT.com: Clive Crook pulls no punches, calling the US “War on Drugs” immoral, brainless and, yes, “criminally stupid”.
  • Twitter Telepathy: Researchers Turn Thoughts Into Tweets | Wired.com: What's interesting about this is not that a message was generated from a person’s brain via EEG, ‘cos that’s been in use for a while, but that the researchers linked that to a remote messaging system. Using Twitter is a bit of a gimmick IMHO, since any text system would work similarly, but then it did get them the media attention.
  • How the 3Rs empower Telstra staff online — Social Media Guardrails | nowwearetalking: Released this week: Telstra’s 6-page social media policy. Billed as the first by a major Australian company (which I doubt), I daresay it’ll be analysed to death.
  • Blogging from a Corporate Perspective | www.nickhodge.com: Microsoft’s blogging policy, on the other hand, it just nine brief bullet points. If only governments could get to the point so quickly.
  • Circular 2008/8: Interim protocols for online media participation | Australian Public Service Commission: The Australian government’s guidelines for public servants using social media. Of course it’s written in bureaucratic language, but it covers some good territory.
  • World’s Biggest Submarine [with pics] | English Russia: The Typhoon was the biggest submarine in the world, and one of Russian’s deepest Cold War secrets. Now it’s a minor tourist attraction, and very rusty.
  • Five menu items at Silver Spoon Thai that could also be the name of an unsuccessful sex worker | 5ives: What it says.
  • Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable | Clay Shirky: A must-read article. “When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to. There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.”
  • NEO Living: The website for a new apartment block to be built on Enmore Road, Newtown. Some wonderfully creative PR bullshit about how wonderful the area is. For some reason, the website completely fails to mention that the development is sited on a busy and rather noisy Enmore Road, and is directly under the flight path leading to Sydney Airport’s runway 16L.
  • Debate: Hugh White and Australian defence policy | The Interpreter: Rory Medcalf kicks of a debate of Hugh White’s paper at the Lowy Institute’s blog.
  • A focused force: Australia’s defence priorities in the Asian Century | Lowy Institute: Professor Hugh White calls for Australia to abandon the “Balanced Force’ concept and refocus its military on managing strategic risks related to the rise of China. Professor White argues that Chinese power will challenge US primacy, undercutting the basic assumptions of Australian defence policy. This paper, with its controversial force-structure recommendations, is a major contribution to the Australian security debate on the eve of the 2009 Defence White Paper.
  • NavyNorthernTrident (navytrident09) on Twitter: An innovative use of Twitter? Tweets from two Royal Australian Navy ships embarking on a 6-month deployment taking them to 13 countries.
  • Ashton Kutcher Punks Twitter: A Giant Million Follower PR Stunt | NowPublic News Coverage: I wasn’t going to write anything about the supposed race to a million Twitter followers, and now I don’t have to because this article says it all: “This is not a story of the ‘little man’ beating out ‘big media’ — this is the story of a major Hollywood celebrity orchestrating a massive, social media publicity campaign that was specifically designed to promote himself, Twitter and, by extension, Ted Turner and CNN.” Once more, this will have triggered thousands into joining Twitter, and once more they’ll imagine its main purpose is for them to passively absorb the message of the “famous”. Such a wasted opportunity. P.S. Who’s Ashton Kutcher?
  • Disturbing Strokes | YouTube: MontyPropps takes the opening credits from the TV series Diff’rent Strokes and, by replacing the original jaunty music, creates something far more sinister. A demonstration of the power of music to set the mood.

Stilgherrian’s links for 08 April 2009 through 19 April 2009. Yes, I really do need to find a way to vet these and get them online more quickly. Still, here’s some Sunday reading for you.

Here are the web links I’ve found for 08 March 2009 through 10 March 2009, posted with a thin layer of grease for protection against corrosion.

  • Who is Fake Stephen Conroy? Full list of Suspects. | Amnesia Blog: Speculation about who Fake Stephen Conroy really is. Are they getting warm?
  • How the US forgot how to make Trident missiles | The Sunday Herald: Plans to refurbish Trident nuclear weapons had to be put on hold because US scientists forgot how to manufacture a component of the warhead. Complex manufacturing process do need to be maintained.
  • Historically Bad Ideas in Software | Bex Huff: A great conversation-starter. Just because something sounds good in theory, in isolation, doesn’t mean it’ll be good value in the long run.
  • Privacy in the Age of Persistence | Schneier on Security: “Data is the pollution of the information age. It’s a natural byproduct of every computer-mediated interaction. It stays around forever, unless it’s disposed of. It is valuable when reused, but it must be done carefully. Otherwise, its after effects are toxic. And just as 100 years ago people ignored pollution in our rush to build the Industrial Age, today we’re ignoring data in our rush to build the Information Age.” Bruce Schneier has written about this before, but this is one of the tightest explanations I’ve seen.
  • How to Twitter | WSJ.com: One journalist’s first cut at explaining Twitter to a non-Twitter audience. I’m amused by the observation that you’ll get more followers if you actually say something. Well, yes.
  • Okay, this is going to hurt… | Winnipeg Free Press: One journalist’s take on the “controversy” following political blogger Policy Frog’s decision to do commentary in the “mainstream media”.
  • The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds | YouTube: Exactly what it says. Personally, I’d have presented it with images rather than words. Maybe that’s a project for me for another time.

Screenshot from the movie Threads

A strange treat last night: I stumbled across a complete upload of the very fine 1984 docudrama Threads, which depicts the aftermath of a nuclear strike on Sheffield (and elsewhere). I’d seen it before, but it was still as powerful. Today, using The Power of Wikipedia, I discover that the scenario was based on the UK government exercise Square Leg, and that the Protect and Survive informational films it features are quite real.

03 March 2008 by Stilgherrian | 3 comments

Screenshot of fake nuclear explosion on Czech TVSix members of the Czech art group Ztohoven, based in Prague have been charged with “spreading false information” and face up to three years in jail for hacking a TV broadcast and inserting images of a nuclear explosion.

The hack took place on 17 June 2007, when viewers watching webcam shots of Czech mountain resorts saw an explosion in the Krkonose or Giant Mountains.

Even though they’re being charged with a crime, the group was also awarded the NG 333 prize for young artists by Prague’s National Gallery together with a cash prize of 333,000 koruna (around AUD$21,000).

Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Following news a month ago that it’s easy to hack into nuclear reactors, news that another experimental attack caused a generator to self-destruct. The US government and the power industry fear what might happen if such an attack were carried out on a larger scale. Thanks to Jan Whitaker for the pointer.

28 September 2007 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Photograph of nuclear submarine propeller

Apparently this photograph from Microsoft’s Virtual Earth is exposing some big dark secret — the shape of the propeller on a US Navy Ohio-class nuclear submarine. I reckon it’s a big “So what?”

Now the Sydney Morning Herald article is correct: the propeller design is an integral part of a submarine’s ability to remain undetected. The specific shape of the tips helps prevent noisy “cavitation”, the formation of tiny bubbles, which can reveal the sub’s location.

But let’s be real. This is one, grainy frame from a commercial satellite. The crucial propeller tip is about 4 pixels across.

The Russians, the Chinese and perhaps other people have military reconnaissance satellites with much, much higher resolution cameras — and they’d specifically target nuclear submarine bases trying to take photos. The 18 Ohio-class subs are so old they were going to be retired in 2002 — although a few are being kept on for other duties now that Destroying The World has gone out of fashion. Between them, those two facts lead me to believe that “They” already have plenty of good, clear pictures of those propellers.

And that’s assuming one of the many, many workers involved in the design, building and maintenance of the subs wasn’t persuaded to take a few happy snaps in exchange for a hand with his mortgage payments.

No, I don’t think this is revealing a deep, dark secret. I reckon it means the US Navy doesn’t care any more. But it will give the military geeks without access to classified data the chance to have a tug.

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