Doomsday and archiving human knowledge

Doomsday vault:

In the side of a mountain atop the frigid wastelands of the Norway’s Svalbard archipelago sits the Arctic ‘doomsday vault’ – an ominous facility that’s locked away close to a million seed samples from almost every country on Earth.

Designed to keep the seeds safe from nuclear war or some other global catastrophe, the Svalbard Global Seed Bank just got a new neighbour, with a second doomsday vault opening up nearby. But instead of storing seeds, this vast library has been built to ensure the survival of the world’s most important books, documents, and data….

Oddly enough, instead of taking advantage of the most advanced data security systems available, researchers at Piql have opted for a more analogue approach – they store everything on photosensitive film, which they say is a far safer option than anything digitised.

“It’s digital data preserved, written onto photosensitive film,” Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand told Live Science. 

“So we write data as basically big QR codes on films.”

The idea is that while digital data is stored on our computers as codes of 1s and 0s, analogue data is physically etched into reels of film, and can be ‘read’ like the bumps on a vinyl record.

As Bjerkestrand observes, it’s like having your data “carved in stone.”

Hopefully this technology will keep the material more accessible than the multimedia version of the English Domesday Book which had its problems with technology, even though the original from 11th century is still readable. The BBC Domesday Project was the multimedia edition of Domesday which was compiled between 1984 and 1986 and published in 1986 but within 15-years it was showing its age.

In 2002, there were great fears that the discs would become unreadable as computers capable of reading the format had become rare and drives capable of accessing the discs even rarer. Aside from the difficulty of emulating the original code, a major issue was that the still images had been stored on the laserdisc as single-frame analogue video, which were overlaid by the computer system’s graphical interface. The project had begun years before JPEG image compression and before truecolour computer video cards had become widely available….

The deputy editor of the Domesday Project, Mike Tibbets, has criticized the UK’s National Data Archive to which the archive material was originally entrusted, arguing that the creators knew that the technology would be short-lived but that the archivists had failed to preserve the material effectively.

Streetlight effect and US political leaks

Given the extent of information that is being leaked these days by public employees in the US, one can safely state that a good chunk of NYT and WaPo writes itself but it is strange how nobody is caught for these flagrant violations; unless of course you are not aligned with the Democrats. Behold the Streetlight effect in the following case.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker resigned on Tuesday as he disclosed his role in the leak of confidential information about the policy options that the Fed was considering in 2012.

Lacker said during a phone conversation with an analyst from Medley Global Advisors in October 2012 that she brought up an “important non-public detail” about Fed policy makers’ discussions before a meeting, according to a statement emailed by law firm McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday. Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the information, Lacker said he should have declined to comment or immediately ended the call….

The Medley report led to an internal Fed investigation, and Lacker said he failed to provide a full account about his conversation with the analyst in a questionnaire and interview with the Fed’s general counsel in December 2012.The Justice Department and FBI joined the inquiry in 2015 amid pressure from Congress for details about the leak. Lacker said that during that year, he disclosed the breach to law enforcement officials in an interview during their investigation. “In the subsequent 2015 interview with law enforcement officials, I did disclose that the analyst was in possession of confidential information during my October 2, 2012 conversation with her,” Lacker said.

Notice how the Fed, Justice Department, FBI and Congress descended on this leak?

US media (once again) caught doing Obama’s bidding

The latest on Russia -Trump “scandal” is the news that Susan Rice, a National Security Advisor in the Obama administration who is more famous as the Benghazi-fabulist, was central to unmasking the identities of individuals in the Trump transition team. Some background on how this story unfolded from The American Spectator.

How did we find out about Susan Rice’s role in Obamagate? Not from the mainstream media at first, but from a pro-Trump blogger named Mike Cernovich, who says he found out about the Rice story from a disgruntled staffer at a publication unwilling to publish it. In other words, he pulled a Matt Drudge. On Sunday night, Cernovich wrote that he had “been informed that Maggie Haberman has had this story about Susan Rice for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of former President Barack Obama.”….

Eli Lake, the columnist for Bloomberg who reported on the Rice revelation (Cernovich says that Bloomberg also sat on the story until he broke it),…..

CBC and the Trump travel ban

Anybody recall this headline from CBC about an aggrieved party affected by the Trump travel ban?

Trump travel ban has Iranian scientists looking for new places to do research

Today WaPo shared some facts.

The biggest beneficiary of the system, by far, is India, which produces a steady pipeline of workers trained in math, engineering and science. Seventy one percent of H-1B visa recipients came from India in 2015, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. China comes in second, accounting for nearly 10 percent of H-1B visa recipients.

Notice that these stats are from 2015, i.e. before Darth Trump manifested himself, and that Iranians are not even in the top-10.

#ObamaGate, couple of thoughts to ponder

Fact: NYT, Jan 19, 2017

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

With visceral hatred for Trump emanating from the Deep State and open collusion between the MSM and law enforcement & intelligence agencies, why is it that we haven’t heard anything more than “oh, this Trump guy met the Russian ambassador”? Is that the best that Democrats can do?

Fact: Whitewater investigation ended with a blue dress

Where will this investigation end up?

Fighting the ctrl-left in Canada

From Rebel Media.

Last night, approximately 750 Canadians from all walks of life came to the Rebel’s Freedom Rally to protest M103, the Liberal motion to oppose “Islamophobia” — that is, the criticism of Islam.

Speakers included Faith Goldy, Pierre Lemieux, Chris Alexander, Kellie Leitch, Brad Trost, Charles McVety, and Rebel Commander Ezra Levant.

Some of those at the event had been born in the Middle East and were distressed to see de facto blasphemy laws on the verge of coming to their adopted country.

Wrong White privilege pin colour!

This month the students at Elizabethtown College in US “are wearing white pins in the shape of puzzle pieces to remind them of their white privilege.”

The campaign was launched over the weekend by the Elizabethtown College Democrats, who say it aims to make students at the small and private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania more introspective about issues of race, especially in their predominantly white region of Lancaster County.

“Discussions about race are often perceived as being only open to people of color, but I think it is just as important for white people to partake in conversations about race,” Aileen Ida, president of the College Democrats, told The College Fix via email.

Obviously these students have right to pay $56,200 in tuition and fees to make a fool of themselves but at the very least they should get the colour of the pin consistent with history. The appropriate colour for the pin should be blue for the following reason.

The Pact of Umar, an apocryphal treaty between the Muslims and the Christians, that later gained a canonical status in Islamic jurisprudence states the following.

Obligation to identify non-Muslims as such by clipping the heads’ forelocks and by always dressing in the same manner, wherever they go, with binding the zunar (a kind of belt) around the waists. Christians to wear blue belts or turbans, Jews to wear yellow belts or turbans, Zoroastrians to wear black belts or turbans, and Samaritans to wear red belts or turbans.

Given that most of the White students are Christians, the appropriate colour for the pin should be blue. Using white as the pin colour leaves them aligned with the Ku Klux Klan. Is that really the message these students want to send? Even the Nazis got it right historically, when they specified yellow as the colour for the star that Jews had to wear as a badge.

Of course this left the Taliban in Afghanistan in a quandary, when they specified, during their  rule from 1996 to late 2001, that the Hindus had to wear badges in public to identify themselves. With no precedence for Hindus in the Islamic jurisprudence, they selected yellow as the colour of choice for these badges, thus staying within the confines of the Pact of Umar.

Michael Flynn’s political assassination by the Deep State

US continues its march toward a Banana Republic status with an out of control intelligence community in tow. The Week opines.

The United States is much better off without Michael Flynn serving as national security adviser. But no one should be cheering the way he was brought down.

The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America’s democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn’s ouster was a soft coup (or political assassination) engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats. The results might be salutary, but this isn’t the way a liberal democracy is supposed to function.

Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result. “Finally,” they say, “someone took a stand to expose collusion between the Russians and a senior aide to the president!” It is indeed important that someone took such a stand. But it matters greatly who that someone is and how they take their stand. Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously.

Bloomberg notes.

There is another component to this story as well — as Trump himself just tweeted. It’s very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush’s first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

All this was not an isolated event as WaPo notes.

Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

More disturbing is the release of SIGNIT related to this case.

President Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was forced to resign on Monday night as a result of getting caught lying about whether he discussed sanctions in a December telephone call with a Russian diplomat. The only reason the public learned about Flynn’s lie is because someone inside the U.S. government violated the criminal law by leaking the contents of Flynn’s intercepted communications.

In the spectrum of crimes involving the leaking of classified information, publicly revealing the contents of SIGINT — signals intelligence — is one of the most serious felonies. Journalists (and all other nongovernmental citizens) can be prosecuted under federal law for disclosing classified information only under the narrowest circumstances; reflecting how serious SIGINT is considered to be, one of those circumstances includes leaking the contents of intercepted communications, as defined this way by 18 § 798 of the U.S. Code:

The key will be to watch if there is any follow through on this.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.

“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”

Given Trump’s propensity to never back down from a fight, this angle might lead to interesting results if the investigation proceeds in that direction.

The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

Cliodynamics and projection of political instability

Peter Urchin is a scientist, author and founder of a new transdisciplinary field of Cliodynamics (from Clio, the muse of history, and dynamics, the study of why things change with time), which uses the tools of complexity science and cultural evolution to study the dynamics of historical empires and modern nation-states. It is the “area of research at the intersection of historical macrosociology, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.”

In 2010 he stated the following:

Quantitative historical analysis reveals that complex human societies are affected by recurrent — and predictable — waves of political instability (P. Turchin and S. A. Nefedov Secular Cycles Princeton Univ. Press; 2009). In the United States, we have stagnating or declining real wages, a growing gap between rich and poor, overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees, and exploding public debt. These seemingly disparate social indicators are actually related to each other dynamically. They all experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of looming political instability.

Very long ‘secular cycles’ interact with shorter-term processes. In the United States, 50-year instability spikes occurred around 1870, 1920 and 1970, so another could be due around 2020. We are also entering a dip in the so-called Kondratiev wave, which traces 40-60-year economic-growth cycles. This could mean that future recessions will be severe. In addition, the next decade will see a rapid growth in the number of people in their twenties, like the youth bulge that accompanied the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s. All these cycles look set to peak in the years around 2020.

He has since updated his views.

My research showed that about 40 seemingly disparate (but, according to cliodynamics, related) social indicators experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of political turmoil. My model indicated that social instability and political violence would peak in the 2020s…

My model tracks a number of factors. Some reflect the developments that have been noticed and extensively discussed: growing income and wealth inequality, stagnating and even declining well-being of most Americans, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction (see Return of the Oppressed). But most social scientists and political commentators tend to focus on a particular slice of the problem. It’s not broadly appreciated that these developments are all interconnected. Our society is a system in which different parts affect each other, often in unexpected ways.

Furthermore, there is another important development that has been missed by most commentators: the key role of “elite overproduction” in driving waves of political violence, both in historical societies and in our own (see Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays). As I wrote three years ago, “Increasing inequality leads not only to the growth of top fortunes; it also results in greater numbers of wealth-holders. The ‘1 percent’ becomes ‘2 percent.’ Or even more. … from 1983 to 2010 the number of American households worth at least $10 million grew to 350,000 from 66,000. Rich Americans tend to be more politically active than the rest of the population. … In technical terms, such a situation is known as ‘elite overproduction.’ … Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class. This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.”

Craft Whisky

Now that every young hip urban metrosexual is drinking “craft beer” made by a “hobbyist” with distinctly anti-Trump views in a “microbrewery”, you don’t have to be left behind if you are older and wiser. Beckon the rise of “craft whisky”! In particular, Balcones from Texas.

After a tumultuous two years between the founders and the money, their new operation in Waco is up to speed producing great whisky and a bourbon with Texas corn. The old single malt that won all the awards, is what is being shipped now and it was made under the railroad trestle at the old location. The new production, in their historic warehouse property, will start shipping sometime in the summer.