LK-99 Ain't it
If you haven't seen about LK-99 yet, congratulations: nothing has changed.
LK-99 was a material that a Korean lab synthesized and published a paper claiming it could act as a room temperature superconductor. If that were the case, LK-99 could revolutionize basically everything in our world and would turn our economy on its head.
This is only really a story because of the social media storm that LK-99 kicked up. Researchers in the field were skeptical from the drop while commentators began spreading the paper like wildfire given the lofty possibilities it could bring. Notably, the paper was only published to arXiv, a publishing server for scientific papers. Papers published to arXiv are pre-print and are not the same as a peer-reviewed study being published by a journal.
I recommend in general just ignoring anything published only to arXiv. If someone links you to a source for something that sounds unbelievable and the source is arXiv, that is a hard pass. Wait for peer-reviewed studies to come out. Otherwise, its just blindly trusting a single group saying "we pinky swear this is real."
A Day in Hell
The historic city of Lahaina in Maui has burned to the ground after wildfire tore through buildings fueled to hellish levels by hurricane winds. The fire began in vegetation but quickly blew over into the city center itself, leaving devastation in its wake. Fires in Hawaii are still burning rapidly in disparate patches.
Although people evacuated, there have been dozens of reported deaths and many more people missing as rescue crews continue to search both land and coast for people who tried to escape the blaze.
Below are a few options for donating to support relief for those affected in Maui:
Let Us Read Your Texts to Save the Children
The technology minister in the UK is pushing to loosen encryption strength (or totally undermine it) yet again to SAVE THE CHILDREN, because saving children is always a convenient argument to use for why we should roll back our own privacy.
Quoting Michelle Donelan, the minister in question,
Technology is in development to enable you to have encryption as well as to be able to access this particular information and the safety mechanism that we have is very explicit that this can only be used for child exploitation and abuse
This is… not true. I dunno how else to put it. I'm sure one could frame a specific hash-based detection system to be what is being discussed here, but like, no.
A common way to identify malicious content is to use an algorithm that can convert something like an image or video into a short string of letters and numbers, then checking a central database to see if it is a known piece of abuse material. This requires having knowledge of the data being passed between people, which in turn means uh, non-private communication.
So while we've got KOSA here in Free Country USA (and a long history of similar bills), the UK has their own push to undermine privacy and anonymity online.
End to end encryption is a huge pain in the ass for surveillance because it works. That is why you're constantly seeing attacks on it.
Africa's Future is in the Balance
As the coup in Niger continues, western countries are increasingly unsure of what will happen next. Reportedly, things are not going the way that the US/France would much prefer them to go, as the leaders of the coup are continuing down their own path and pushing back on external influence.
This is going to be an ongoing debacle for a while. The west is losing a handle on what was essentially one step away from a modern day colony. Whereas just a month or so ago, Niger was exporting huge amounts of natural resources to western states, now the country has stopped that entirely while kicking out French politicians and ignoring US requests outright.
We may see conflict escalate in the region as surrounding countries are divided about a path forward. We're at a point where the future of the continent is really up in the air. The historic operating state has been one of myriad proxies. Maybe its time to let African countries be African Countries, instead.
On This day…
This day in 3114 BCE (per the Gregorian calendar) is the beginning/anchor day of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, also known as the "Maya Long Count calendar" or sometimes just "The Mayan Calendar". You know that whole "The world is gonna end in 2012 because the Mayan calendar says so" thing? Well despite being a horrifically insensitive and borderline intentionally malicious misinterpretation of the counting system, it was due to a "Long Count" phase ending around that time, with a new one beginning.
According to historians, it would have been a helluva party, rather than the end of the world.
Here's the Weather
- Dianne Feinstein is back home after another hospitalization, this time from a fall
- Lawyers are now reviewing several more lawsuits brought against Lizzo alleging sexual harassment
- Disney is investigating ways to cut down on password sharing, and its their turn to increase pricing on streaming services
- The subreddit r/MaleFashionAdvice has imploded after Reddit forced out the original moderation staff
- Keith David will be stepping in to replace the late Lance Reddick as the voice actor for the character Zavala in Destiny 2
- WeWork may be on the brink of destruction