Water Pirates

As drought grips most of California, water thefts have increased to record levels. Thieves tap into hydrants, pump water from rivers and break into remote water stations and tanks.

Water thieves -- likely working for illicit marijuana operations -- had pulled water from remote filling stations and tapped into fire hydrants, improperly shutting off valves and triggering a chain reaction that threatened the water supply of nearly 300 homes.

Bandits in water trucks are backing up to rivers and lakes and pumping free water they sell on a burgeoning black market. Others, under cover of darkness, plug into city hydrants and top up. Thieves also steal water from homes, farms and private wells, and some even created an elaborate system of dams, reservoirs and pipelines during the last drought. Others are MacGyvering break-ins directly into pressurized water mains, a dangerous and destructive approach known as hot-tapping. [...]

But, again, the thieves are a step ahead. When it became clear that law enforcement was on the lookout for suspicious water tankers, thieves shifted to putting 275-gallon water cubes in the back of their pickups or on trailers. More recently, they have taken to renting U-Haul vans to hide their cargo. Any conveyance with space to carry is put to work: Bostwick said someone in the area is driving around an old fire truck, and another guy is using what appears to be a converted airline fuel tanker.

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Today in Murder Offsets

Bootleg Fire is burning up carbon offsets

Oregon's largest wildfire so far this season, the Bootleg Fire, has burned nearly 400,000 acres spreading approximately four square miles a day across the southern parts of the state. At the time of this report, the flames spread through one fifth of forests set aside for carbon offsets in the immediate area. [...]

A carbon offset can take many forms, but the large majority in the United States are created under the designation: Improved Forest Management. To be considered as this type of offset, the landowner must show that their forest performs above average as a carbon reducer when compared with other forests. Once approved, they earn a credit for every ton of CO2 their forests absorb. Those credits can be sold to a company looking to compensate for their own emissions, allowing them to claim carbon neutrality. The company can then hold or trade the credits until they are submitted to the government for compliance purposes. Credits aren't like traditional currency; once it's submitted, it is considered "retired" and cannot be used again. [...]

When wildfires burn up carbon offsets, it's not the responsibility of the landowner, the buyer of the credit, or the seller of the credit to evaluate whether that carbon credit still represents a metric ton of CO2 absorbed by trees. In reality, those trees represented by the credit may have burned up in the Bootleg Fire or the Chuweah Creek and Summit Trail fires burning on the Eastern Washington offset.

And if in only one or two seasons of wildfires, these wildfires strip away at the offset buffer pool, climate change will likely collect more of these carbon credits than CARB is prepared for.

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Facebook is Killing People

Coronavirus Likes This:

Before the weekend the White House took a stand against Facebook's role in creating, maintaining, and protecting America's deadly anti-vax cultures and their spread of misinformation in a strongly worded press conference. This was followed by President Biden stating to press that Facebook is "killing people" (true); Biden walked back and softened that sentiment the next day. It's beyond disappointing.

Facebook countered with a brag about a tiny percentage of Americans having seen pro-vaccine material on the site, and a post by the founder of Facebook's VPN app that was later revealed to be spyware that paid kids for their data: former Israeli cyberspy Guy Rosen's post chided the Biden admin and basically said everyone should thank Facebook for what little it has done.

NYT dutifully reported Facebook PR's whitewash, saying that the company has a "blind spot" and doesn't know the data, which is, of course, literally impossible. Fire those reporters. Former Facebook VP Brian Boland went on CNN to say yeah, Facebook totally has the data and knows everything about how many people they're killing.

juliacarriew: "One thing to try to resist w/ the Biden v Facebook anti-vaxx debate is Facebook's concerted efforts to keep everyone's memory incredibly short. Facebook was actively promoting anti-vaxxer groups to people searching for vaccine information in 2019"

Guardian: "How Facebook groups bring people closer together – neo-Nazis included!"

Former Israeli spy Guy Rosen is quite a piece of work:

Facebook has named the Fox as the VP of Chicken Welfare:

Facebook's "VP of Integrity" is the co-founder of the company that built the spyware for teenagers (remember when Facebook lost access to all their iOS apps because they broke their contract so they could steal data from users?).

Israeli Cyber Unit Veterans Help Facebook Destroy Competition: "Onavo was founded in 2011 by Guy Rosen and Roi Tiger, both veterans of the Israel Defense Forces secret cyber intel Unit 8200."

Unit 8200, you say? Yousef Munayyer:

The focus of the story around NSO now raises questions about this corporation, its surveillance technology being solid to abusive regimes and the fact that the Israeli government licenses these sales. But the involvement in the Israeli state in these practices and outcomes is not limited to licensing of a private corporation's sales. Rather, it plays a central role in the development, testing, and perfecting of this technology.

NSO was founded and is likely largely staffed by individuals who came through the Israeli Military's Unit 8200 which is responsible for intelligence collection and surveillance through signals intel, i.e. cyber espionage. Who do you think they are using these methods on?

Israel's surveillance of Palestinians is extensive and it treats Palestinians as a laboratory where its technology can be tested and perfected. What makes the Palestinian population unique is that as a non-citizen population ruled by the state, there are far fewer (almost none) limitations on violating their privacy.

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I totally forgot that Elon Musk is a Goa'uld

I guess Space Karen's apartheid emerald mine was a cover story for naquadah all along.

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Identify this battery

Is this battery a mass market thing that I can buy somewhere, or was it some custom job?

It's for the bike lights that I have been using for many years, but today the USB charging port snapped off, and there's no way I'm going to be able to solder this surface-mount piece of shit back on. The company went out of business several years ago, and even their domain has been squatted, so I can't ask them. (So their "lifetime guarantee" turns out to have meant "three years".) I would rather buy a new battery than switch to a new model of bike light.

(By "battery" I obviously do not mean the battery part, but the whole assembly.)

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nginx hls shenanigans

Dear Lazyweb, is it possible to configure nginx so that when my RTMP source has disconnected, HLS clients continue to get video (e.g., looping colorbars) instead of 404?

The goal here is so that when there's a network glitch, the user doesn't have to hit reload, it will just come back to life eventually. (I have tried accomplishing this on the client-side with various Javascript tricks, but the browsers' autoplay restrictions and the general shittiness of the <VIDEO> element conspire to make that mostly impossible.)

Phase 1 might be to convert a 404 on "/live.m3u8" to an internal redirect to a static HLS directory of colorbars. Maybe "try_files" could do this. But phase 2 would be to make the video loop, and a static m3u8 file can't do that. So something would have to fake up an m3u8 with new timestamps on the old TS files, I guess?

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Flip-digit fluids

These are glorious. Sound on!

Motus Art:


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Vampire bats 'French kiss with blood' to form lasting bonds

Vampire bats establish friendships by sharing regurgitated blood with their neighbours in a "kind of horrifying French kiss", a new study says.

It found that when the vampire bats became isolated in a roost, pairs unfamiliar with one another - but in close proximity - would begin grooming, then "mouth-licking" before swapping food.

"We go from bats starting as strangers from different colonies to groupmates that act to save each other's life," said Prof Gerald Carter, author of the study and behavioural ecologist at Ohio State University.

"They have this 'boom and bust' foraging experience, so they either hit it big and get a large blood meal or they're starved for that night.

"Food sharing in vampire bats is like how a lot of birds regurgitate food for their offspring. But what's special with vampire bats is they do this for other adults," Prof Carter said.

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Nacho Vidal

Spanish porn star Nacho Vidal, who likes to advertise his aromatic candles shaped like male genitalia on Twitter, has been arrested on manslaughter charges following a man's death during a mystic ritual in which he inhaled psychedelic toad venom.

The toad, a rare species which is native to the Sonoran Desert, stretching from northern Mexico into California and Arizona, secretes venom containing a very powerful natural psychedelic substance known as 5-MeO-DMT.

Local press said the ceremony took place in the country residence of Vidal, a media-savvy porn star in his mid-40s whose Twitter feed is full of ads for his 25-centimetre aromatic candles of the male genitalia, available in black, white or cerise.

This important news was overshadowed by current events for more than a year, but better late than never.

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GPIO noise

The payphone regularly gets GPIO events that are not real. I have four switches attached to GPIO pins, as well as a MAX7219 LED 128x32 display, and I get ghost open/closed events on the switches several times a day. There is no chance that the switches themselves are triggering. And these aren't intermittent bounces: it will register a switch closing, and then it opens again ~20 seconds later. The wires to the various switches are under a foot long.

Also, there's a USB keyboard attached (the keypad) and I regularly read impossible characters from it when it's not even being touched: NULLs and low-numbered control characters. Note, this is not a serial port, these are making it all the way up the USB stack.

So I'm guessing there's some systemic grounding shit going wrong, or something. Any suggestions?

In other payphone news, it only took a month for one of the savages we call customers to completely destroy the rebuilt payphone handset. So that's great. I guess I have to re-build that from scratch now, since it's impossible to get the end caps off once you've screwed them on. Or, just toss the whole phone in the dumpster, because you people don't deserve to have nice things.

Previously.

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