Underground Man
@UndergroundMan

Man from the Underground.

Joined September 2020
Underground
Owner of @gemini
Administers @decentralized

U.S. officials suspect that a notorious Russian spy agency may be behind alleged attacks that are causing mysterious health issues among U.S. government personnel across the world, according to three current and former officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Officials do not have a smoking gun linking Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU, to the suspected directed-energy incidents, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. The intelligence community has not reached a consensus or made a formal determination. However, officials have told lawmakers that they have intensified their investigation in recent weeks to include all 18 federal intelligence agencies, and that it is focused on the GRU’s potential involvement, according to a congressional official briefed on the matter.

Read More

Scientists in Europe have experimentally created a new class of light waves that can pass through opaque materials as if they were not there. These “scattering-invariant modes of light” create the same light pattern whether they travel through a complex scattering structure or a homogenous medium, such as air. According to the researchers, the mathematical formula used to calculate the optimal waveform for the disordered environment could also be applied to other types of waves, such as acoustics.

Read More

In 2017, somewhere between getting my office and my website off-the-grid, I decided not to buy any more new laptops. Instead, I switched to a 2006 second-hand machine that I purchased online for 50 euros and which does everything that I want and need. Including a new battery and a simple hardware upgrade, I invested less than 150 euros.

If my 2006 laptop lasts as long as my other machines – if it runs for another 1.7 years – it will have cost me only 26 euros per year. That’s more than 10 times less than the cost of my previous laptops. In this article, I explain my motivations for not buying new laptops, and how you could do the same.

Read More

One of the most challenging topics in the C / C++ programming language is how to handle endianness properly. There’s a surprising amount of depth here. I’ve been programming in C for a while and I feel like I keep learning about this subject, even when I thought I’d seen it all.

Big-brained mammals are typically considered intelligent – but a study has found that the body size of a species could have evolved smaller to adapt to environmental changes, making the brain appear proportionally bigger. In other words, relative brain size may have nothing to do with being clever after all.

By examining data underpinning the brain and body size of 1,400 living and extinct mammal species over the last 150m years, a cohort of researchers set out to investigate whether it is possible to predict how big a mammal’s brain will be based on its body size.

Read More

Earth’s surface is constantly sprinkled with space dust. Extraterrestrial material has rained down on our planet throughout its multi-billion-year history—and the celestial shower continues each passing day. Sizable chunks of rock and metal are the most dramatic examples, appearing as brilliant shooting stars during their fiery passage through the upper atmosphere and occasionally reaching the ground to become meteorites. But most of the space stuff that falls to Earth is quite small, submillimeter in size.

Read More

When Google and Apple introduced their COVID-19 contact tracing framework in April 2020, the companies aimed to reassure people worried about sharing private health information with major corporations.

Google and Apple provided assurances that the data generated through the apps—people’s movements, who they might have come in contact with, and whether they reported testing positive for COVID-19—would be anonymized and would never be shared with anyone other than public health agencies.

Or, “how not to GIS”.

For the impatient, there’s a github repository for the maptrace program documented here, and it comes complete with example inputs and outputs for quick perusal.

Picture the keypad of a telephone and calculator side by side. Can you see the subtle difference between the two without resorting to your smartphone? Don’t worry if you can’t recall the design. Most of us are so used to accepting the common interfaces that we tend to overlook the calculator’s inverted key sequence. A calculator has the 7–8–9 buttons at the top whereas a phone uses the 1–2–3 format.

The LLVM project is a modular set of tools that make designing and implementing a compiler significantly easier. The most well known part of LLVM is their intermediate representation; IR for short. LLVM’s IR is an extremely powerful tool, designed to make optimization and targeting many architectures as easy as possible. Many tools use LLVM IR; the Clang C++ compiler and the Rust compiler (rustc) are both notable examples. However, despite this unified architecture, code generation can still vary wildly between implementations and how the IR is used. Some time ago, I stumbled upon this tweet discussing Rust’s implementation of clamping compared to C++…

Read More

Klaus Schwab is the founder and current chairman of the World Economic Forum and author, with economist Thierry Malleret, of 2020’s enormously controversial book Covid-19: The Great Reset. The World Economic Forum sponsors an annual conference in Switzerland, popularly known as Davos, an invitation-only event attended by industrial and governmental leaders from around the world. In the words of political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, the attendees of this forum are “Davos Men,” a wealthy global elite who “have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations.”

Now, Huntington was a Harvard Man and no right-wing conspiracy theorist, but this description is not far removed from the conclusions of a popular conspiracy fantasy that asserts—among many, many things—that the world is being taken over by global elites toiling against our interests under the banner of Schwab’s Great Reset. The claims get woollier from there: the Great Reset has also let loose Covid-19 in order to create conditions that would allow them to take control of world politics and economics, replace national currencies with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, instate a communist dictatorship (aka the New World Order), and mandate a Covid vaccine containing a GPS tracker designed to provide universal police surveillance. In some versions of this theory, Donald Trump is the only leader keeping all this from happening.

Read More

The thing about big plans is that they require people to carry them out. The problem of personnel particularly plagued Peter the Great. Convinced by his European advisers that his country was backward and stuck in a medieval mindset, he spent much of his reign on a series of modernizing initiatives intended to get Russia “caught up” with the West. To implement his reforms—which included establishing a navy, imposing a tax on beards, and eventually drafting half a million serfs to build a city (named after himself) on nothing but marshland—he needed a robust bureaucracy and a standing military that could manage the demands of his new, spruced-up empire. Peter thus made service—civil or military—compulsory for the Russian nobility, and he implemented a new class system, the Table of Ranks, under which one could be promoted according to how long and how well one served.

Read More

On the morning of April 26, 1973, plainclothes agents of the Czechoslovak secret police (StB) were following “an unknown man, about 40 years old, 175cm tall, slender, with an elongated face, black thinning hair, light-rimmed glasses … carrying a paper board with a map of Prague …” The man was tailed for the remainder of the morning. At approximately 11:35 a.m., he left an exhibition of socialist realist art, dallied a bit, took some notes in the street, and hopped on a tram heading in the direction of the Castle. The agents, who didn’t engage, later discovered the man’s identity after he was checked by a public security patrol: It was the American writer Philip Roth, who was staying in Prague at the Yalta Hotel with a companion named Barbara Sproul.

Read More

The Greek historian Herodotus defined the Nile as “a gift” to the Egyptians. And Egypt has historically adopted a strong approach to protect this gift. That changed in 1959 when Cairo agreed to share the Nile with its neighbor Sudan, awarding them a percentage of the total river flow. The agreement established that around 66% of its waters would go to Egypt, and 22% to Sudan, while the rest was considered to be lost due to evaporation. In 1929, Egypt had already signed another treaty with Great Britain, which gave Cairo the right to veto any projects related to the river, including building dams that could control its natural flow. None of these agreements took into consideration the needs of other Nile basin countries.

Read More

Powerful solar storms can hammer Earth, causing major technology glitches. One of the best-remembered events is the Quebec power grid failure of 1989, a 12-hour blackout in which millions of people found themselves in dark office buildings, stalled elevators, and underground pedestrian tunnels. Going farther back, there’s the famous Carrington Event of 1859, which fried telegraph wires. Scientists agree it’s only a matter of time until the next powerful solar storm affects earthly technologies. Next time, we might expect steeper consequences, since today’s world relies so heavily on technology. But, with few events to go on, no one knows when the next powerful Earth-directed event will erupt on the sun. That’s one reason researchers were happy to announce in March 2021 that they’ve unearthed new eyewitness accounts from a 1582 solar storm that startled skywatchers across the globe.

Read More