Friday, August 11, 2017

Siemens publishes e-book on cyberattacks to power stations in Washington Post


Siemens Energy (from Germany) has authored a little e-book that demonstrates how cyber attacker can shut down power stations.  The Washington Post has published the e-book pdf here.  Call it “Power Grid Systems Shutdown”.

This pamphlet would fit well into Ted Koppel’s 2015 book “Lights Out”. 


The potential capacity of a hostile rogue state to hack into a corporate utility internal network, much of it not connected to the Internet, is shocking.

Hackers (insiders) use a device called a “PlugBot”.


Donald Trump has said “No computer is safe.” 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Interesting forum on self-publishing at 2017 Outwrite LGBT Book Festival in Washington DC


Today I visited the 2017 Outwrite LGBT Book Festival in the DC Center office space and surrounding atrium at 14th and U Streets in Washington DC.

This year I did not have my own table;  I’ll get into this elsewhere.

The most interesting part of the visit was a presentation in DC Center’s largest room (on 14th Street ground level) from LGBT book publishers and literary agents.

There was a discussion of what an author goes through if he/she wants to control the process.  It’s usually necessary to hire a copyeditor and a typesetter (who is often the same).  It’s necessary to find a book manufacturer, and prices can vary a lot (many companies exist in the Shenandoah Valley and down in the North Carolina Piedmont).  It seems that Milo Yianopoulos has controlled the production of his book “Dangerous” after Simon and Schuster dropped him after a controversy.

There was discussion of “guerrilla marketing”, and of the tendency recently for trade publishers not to offer advances, which typically have to be recovered from book sales. 

There was mention of the use of pseudonyms and pen names, and that in a real world some authors really need to keep their identities secret, usually for reasons other than just being  LGBT, like workplace conflicts or possible security concerns for themselves or others around them.  This is rather alarming.


There was discussion of “sea turtle authors”, often introverts, who do not like to be pressed to sell aggressively, and are perfectly content to let their “eggs” lie dormant.
  

I asked about print-on-demand publishers, like Author Solutions.  The group did not think well of this business model, and referred to it as a “shadow industry”  They felt money should go to authors directly,, but that only works if the author owns the publishing entity.  I did refer to the fact that POD companies have been pressing authors harder to buy copies of books and build their own stores and credit card operations, rather than depend on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

I did mention the SESPA bill from the Senate and the implicit threat to web speech, including eventually author websites. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Popular Science: "Are We Alone: Searching for Life in Space"


Popular Science (part of Time) is offering a supermarket glossy booklet “Are We Alone? Searching for Life in Space”. 96 pages.

There are some highlights not seen before in other booklets like this.  One is an examination of the seven earth-like planets around the Trappist M-star 39 light years away, with planet E having the best chance for Earth-like temperatures, and an artist’s rendition of the surface of a moderately cold Planet F.

There is some discussion of the earth-like planet around Proxima B. an M-star and the closest to Earth at 4.2 light years.


There is a lot of attention to Europa and its subsurface ocean and likelihood of life, as well as Encedalus.  But Titan gets mentioned only in passing with the possibility of silicon-and-methane based life.  Ironically, my own Science Honor Society project in 1960  had speculated about silicon-based life, but I was hardly as accomplished as Jack Andraka (who came 53 years later, however, and that matters).  I had tried some experiments in my father’s workshop with an acetylene torch that I recall very little about now.

There is also an article about the idea of aliens eating electricity, which has been the subject of horror movies before (“Kronos”).

There is mention of the possibility of a Dyson Sphere around Tabby’s Star, as well as other theories, and a nice drawing of what it could look like.
 

There’s also an essay about keeping Mars biologically clean. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Nanci Danison's "Backwards" series on the afterlife: I read her first book on Kindle


Author: Nanci Danison

Title: “Backwards: Running to our Source for Answers

Publication: 2007, AP Lee, 314 pages, hardcover and Kindle (free), ISBN  1934482005

This is the first of a series of several books in a series about the afterlife.  The most recent appears to be “Answers from the Afterlife”.  I will probably order that book later and review it in more detail on Wordpress.

Danison says she experienced an NDE while having a breast examination, from a sudden drop in blood pressure or an allergic reaction.  She describes the experience in the last section of the book.


Danison describes “God” (so to speak) as “Source” which divides itself infinitely into “Light Beings”.  Somehow a Light Being maps to a soul, which seems to be the granularity of individual identity. The soul then maps to a physical person at conception in the womb. It is possible to theorize that the microtubules in the brain cells are connected to the soul.


Her idea of higher connectedness to others does not seem to depend on blood lineage. But some religions (like LDS) do maintain that. Furthermore, other animals (ranging from social insects to possibly dolphins) seem to exhibit distributed consciousness which would seem to require genetic allele transfer of information.  But if a soul can find a prospective infant to join in the womb very shortly after conception, there is a moral argument not only against abortion but even deliberate childlessness. 

She does describe going through a “Core” or black void before coming to Light (like Eben Alexander).  But the afterlife is not a “place” in some geography.  It’s not like the First Dominion in Clive Barker’s “Imajica”. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Activist in Washington DC wants to open bookstore in underserved neighborhood to honor a slain journalist


An activist in Washington DC wants to set up a bookstore in an underprivileged area of the SE section, to be called the Charnice Milton Community Bookstore, in honor of a journalist slain by a stray bullet from gun violence in the City, Perry Stein has a story from Friday, July 14, 2017 in the Washington Post Metro Section, here.

The store would be in the basement of We Act Radio. The owner would need to raise $180,000 for the project.

In the voting district of the store, 19% of adults lack the literacy to read a newspaper.

Back in 1972 when I had moved to northern New Jersey, I remember that the candidate from the “People’s Party of New Jersey” opened a “Make Up Your Mind Bookstore” in Madison N.J. 
  
As I drive around rural towns, I see a more small bookstores (along with antiques) than you would expect. 

Update: Aug. 4

The Facebook page for the new store is here.  I can't find a direct site. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"The Uninhabitable Earth", by David Wallace-Wells, long piece in New York Mag


David Wallace-Wells has a long article in New York Magazine July 9, 2017, “The Uninhabitable Earth”.

 The subtitles are “Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak, sooner than you think”, and “When will the planet be too hot for humans?  Much, much sooner than you think”.

The author thinks that today’s teenagers will see the catastrophic collapse.

One of the biggest dangers is sudden release of methane from permafrost.

In some parts of the world, it will not be possible for humans to survive outside.  Their bodies just can cool fast enough.

There’s also the astonishing statement that the spurt in standard of living in the West really occurred only once, with the industrial revolution.



The author notes that it may be common throughout the Milky Way for civilizations to rise and fall.  They don’t survive long enough to have a good statistical chance of finding one another across light years.   In the video above, Harvard professor David Kipping notes that methane degrades quickly and says that Wallace could be overstating the methane risk.
 
It may have been possible for Venus to host life more than a billion years ago, before a sudden catastrophe led to runaway greenhouse effects.  Both Venus and Mars may be sites of tragedies and we don’t know it yet.

Nev Schulman ("Catflish") shared this in his Facebook feed tonight.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Milo's earlier article "An Establishment Conservative's Guide to the Alt-Right"


I have started reading “Dangerous” by Milo Yiannopoulos on Kindle ($2.99) since this first self-published printing sold out so quickly.  I note also that the Washington DC Metro refused to carry ads for Milo’s book.  (I don’t have the scale to advertise mine on the Metro).

I have to note already that Milo's definition of "intersectionalism" is interesting.

Milo refers to a preview essay that he and Allum Bohkari wrote on March 29, 2016 on Breitbart, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right”, which I thought I would pass along here.
Milo seems to distinguish modern GOP republicans (who would allow a strip mall to replace a historic building if it made enough money) with “natural conservatives”, who prefer “homogeneity over diversity”, etc.  Living in a large tribe or culture involves sharing common risks.  It’s a lot easier to do what you have to do, even at a personal, intimate level, if you have confidence all your peers have the sane impulse to do it, and that “norms” have some kind of cultural meaning mapped on to virtue.



All of this, however, does not clearly separate out the populist right.

The article refers to a National Review article, March 28, 2016 in National Review by Kevin Williamson, “The Father Fuhrer” – Trump indeed, even well before the GOP convention last year.
Milo says that the alt-right is about western supremacy, not white supremacy.