2020-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-10-22 12:45:32 (SPIDs: [1408..1449])
2020-10-23 12:26:21 UTC --martyb
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Google contractors who recently unionized say their jobs are being slowly shipped to Poland. On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint laying out the allegations against HCL America, an engineering and IT contractor that works with Google in Pittsburgh.
Obtained by Motherboard, the complaint argues the jobs are being outsourced in retaliation for legitimate union activity. In particular, the NLRB says the conduct took place "because employees formed, joined and assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities."
[Ed Note: Have any of you who work in the IT field been involved with or heard discussions about unionizing?]
What happened to the hominins that came before Homo sapiens?
[...] Until now, most hominin research has focused on when and where the earliest human species emerged, as well as how they dispersed out of Africa. And more attention has been paid to the disappearance of the dinosaurs than the demise of our earliest human relatives, researchers say.
[...] The models showed, with surprising consistency, that extinct hominin species lost large swaths of their climatic niche just prior extinction.
If not the main driver of Homo extinctions, the findings suggest climate change played a sizable role in the disappearance of our earliest human relatives.
[...] "The message is that we'd be better off taking extreme measures against the global change effects," [Lead study author Pasquale Raia, associate professor of paleobiology at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy] said. "If even the most mentally powerful species on Earth couldn't find a way to resist climate change, how could we expect the modern biota will fare better?"
"I don't believe we Homo sapiens risk extinction by climate change, but we're giving ourselves a miserable future, acting like greedy idiots," Raia said.
Pasquale Raia. Past Extinctions of Homo Species Coincided with Increased Vulnerability to Climatic Change, One Earth (DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2020.09.007)
When COVID-19 hit the United States, small towns near ski areas such as Park City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho, experienced some of the highest per capita cases; people from around the world had brought the virus along with their skis. As the coronavirus spread, gateway communities—communities near scenic public lands, national parks, and other outdoor recreational amenities—felt acute economic pressure as the virus forced them to shut down tourist activities.
Now, many gateway communities are facing an entirely new problem: a flood of remote workers fleeing big cities to ride out the pandemic, perhaps permanently. Like oil discovery led to western boomtowns, the pandemic has led to the rise of "Zoom Towns"—and with this so-called amenity migration comes a variety of challenges.
"This trend was already happening, but amenity migration into these communities has been expedited and it can have destructive consequences if not planned for and managed. Many of these places are, as some people say, at risk of being loved to death," said Danya Rumore, director of the Environmental Dispute Resolution Program and research assistant professor in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah.
Rumore, who is from the gateway community of Sandpoint, Idaho, leads a team of researchers at University of Utah and University of Arizona who study planning and development challenges in western gateway communities. In a new paper in the Journal of the American Planning Association, the team published the results of a 2018 study involving a survey with public officials in more than 1200 western gateway communities and in-depth interviews with officials from 25 communities. In an eerie foreshadowing, a town manager from a developed gateway community said, "We don't have the staff capacity to deal with major crises."
Philip Stoker, Danya Rumore , Lindsey Romaniello, Zacharia Levine.Planning and Development Challenges in Western Gateway Communities, Journal of the American Planning Association (DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2020.1791728)
The oxygen supply system has failed in a module on the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) but the crew is in no danger, Russian space agency Roscosmos said Thursday.
The oxygen supply system on the Zvezda module on the orbital lab failed late on Wednesday but a second system on the American segment is operating normally, a Roscosmos spokesperson told AFP.
"Nothing threatens the security of the crew and the ISS," said the spokesperson, adding this repair work to fix the issue would be carried out on Thursday.
The issue arose after three new crew—two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut—reached the ISS on Wednesday to bring the number of current crew on board to six.
We had an outage this morning -- "Internal Server Error" would appear when trying to load the main site.
I noticed this at about 0945 UTC from my mobile phone and immediately TXTed a message to "The Mighty Buzzard" (aka TMB) alerting him of the situation. Of course, it being 0545 EDT, he was sound asleep like any sane person would be.
I then booted up my computer and accessed "#Soylent" on IRC; discovered others were already aware. It appears to have been first noted at 05:42:57 UTC by "SoyCow8732". That was followed not long after by "c0lo" and "lld". Soon after, "chromas" was on the scene and tried bouncing the front ends, but no joy. He sleuthed around and concluded it was likely a mysql error, but our configuration is... interesting and it was non-obvious on how to restart things.
My hands were mostly tied as only a few days ago I managed to mess up Windows on my main system and would get a BSOD whenver I tried to boot it. I looked on from a system booted from a Ubuntu Live CD (well actually, a USB stick).
Eventually, TMB appeared, took stock of the situation, and was able to get things running again in pretty short order. Thanks Buzz!
Synopsis (AIUI) our installation of Mysql is setup so that there are redundant copies of the DB running on two different servers. The intent is to provide redundancy so that if one instance goes down, the other can take over and carry things along until the failing system is recovered. That's great in theory, but not so good in practice. Thankfully, it does [mostly] work. We are continuing to monitor the situation. Be assured this is working its way of the priority queue! I mean, who likes to wake up and debug server issues before their first cup of coffee?
So, that's my take on it. I'll leave it to TMB to add details/corrections should he deem it necessary.
Hey, would you look at that: A tech company actually followed through on a promise to respect its customers' privacy.
Zoom announced Wednesday that, starting next week, it will finally make end-to-end encryption available for all users — both paid and free. This is a huge step toward securing its users' calls, and brings Zoom more in line with end-to-end encrypted competitors like FaceTime and Signal. Of course, there's a rather large catch: You have to turn the feature on yourself.
[...] It's also worth noting that everyone on the call has to have end-to-end encryption turned on or they won't be able to join the meeting. Also, you won't be able to call into an end-to-end encrypted meeting via phone.
[...] Perhaps, just maybe, Zoom would consider making end-to-end encryption the default for all its calls? After all, prophylactics only work if you use them.
For the first time that we know of, a COVID-19 patient has died after recovering from the coronavirus once and then catching it again.
The 89-year-old woman initially recovered from COVID after spending a few days in the hospital. Two months later, she tested positive again and her condition rapidly deteriorated before she ultimately died, CNN reports. That makes her the first confirmed death of a patient who caught COVID-19 two separate times, and one of just a few confirmed reinfections overall.
[...] In both instances, doctors confirmed that the patients caught the coronavirus twice — rather than having it temporarily go dormant — because they both had genetically different strains across infections.
Marlies Mulder, Dewi S J M van der Vegt, Bas B Oude Munnink, et al. Reinfection of SARS-CoV-2 in an immunocompromised patient: a case report, Clinical Infectious Diseases (DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1538)
Glitter is used in a variety of decorative ways, including on clothing, in arts and crafts, and in cosmetics and body paint. Traditional glitter is a form of microplastic consisting of a plastic core made of polyester PET film, which is coated with aluminium and then covered with another thin plastic layer.
Along with other forms of single use microplastics, such as microbeads, there have been efforts to phase out PET glitter with the introduction of more biodegradable alternatives.
One version has a core of modified regenerated cellulose (MRC), sourced mainly from eucalyptus trees, but this is still coated with aluminium for reflectivity and then topped with a thin plastic layer. Another form is mica glitter, which is increasingly used in cosmetics.
However, this new study found that the effects of MRC and mica glitters on root length and chlorophyll levels were almost identical to those of traditional glitter.
Curse Oprah and her movie, A Wrinkle in Time!
Dannielle Senga Green, Megan Jefferson, Bas Boots, et al. All that glitters is litter? Ecological impacts of conventional versus biodegradable glitter in a freshwater habitat, Journal of Hazardous Materials (DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124070)
There are reports of an unidentified person flying in a jetpack near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) - the second such incident in two months.
A China Airlines crew said it saw what appeared to be someone in a jetpack on Wednesday at 6,000ft (1,829m), seven miles (11km) north-west of LAX, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The FBI is investigating the incident, as well as a similar one in September.
It is not clear if either incident posed any danger to aircraft.
Alberto Santos-Dumont's great-great grandson?
Previous Incident: Inquiry into 'guy in jetpack' flying at LA airport
The Los Angeles basin is often thought of as a dry, smoggy, overdeveloped landscape. But a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the manicured lawns, emerald golf courses and trees of America's second-largest city have a surprisingly large influence on the city's carbon dioxide emissions. The carbon dioxide fluctuations driven by L.A.'s greenery are about one-third the level created by the burning of fossil fuels.
[...] Lead study author John Miller, a carbon cycle scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Global Monitoring Laboratory, said that when researchers disentangled the carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels from the naturally occurring carbon dioxide, they found that L.A.'s vegetated landscape contributed substantially to the levels of carbon dioxide around the city.
"This is arguably the most significant finding to date from the project: That policy makers interested in reducing the carbon footprints of cities need to pay attention to CO2 emissions and removals from urban green spaces, not just fossil fuel emissions," said study co-author Duren
The vegetation emits large amounts of carbon dioxide when it goes dormant during the dry season.
John B. Miller, Scott J. Lehman, Kristal R. Verhulst, et al. Large and seasonally varying biospheric CO2 fluxes in the Los Angeles megacity revealed by atmospheric radiocarbon [$], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2005253117)
Pacific Gas & Electric began turning off power to more than 50,000 Northern California customers Wednesday evening as dry, windy conditions renewed the threat of fire in a season already marked by deadly, devastating blazes.
The utility announced that it had begun cutting power to up to 33,000 customers, with about another 20,000 to follow in a few hours.
The shutoffs will affect portions of nearly two dozen counties, mostly in the Sierras and San Francisco Bay Area, and could last 48 hours.
Time will tell if the subsequent headline reads, "Facing New Power Cut Threat, Tens of Thousands of PG&E Customers Install Solar and Become Former PG&E Customers..."
The notion of being "spaghettified" after falling into a black hole was popularized in Stephen Hawking's 1988 best-selling book, A Brief History of Time. Hawking envisioned an unfortunate astronaut who passed beyond the event horizon and would find themselves subject to the intense gravitational gradient of the black hole. (The gravitational gradient is the difference in strength of gravity's pull depending on an object's orientation.)
If the astronaut fell in feet first, for example, the pull would be stronger on the feet than the head. The astronaut would be stretched vertically and compressed horizontally by the black hole's tidal forces until they resembled a strand of spaghetti. [...] At least it would be quick; the whole process would occur in less than a second.
[...] these powerful bursts of light are often shrouded behind a curtain of interstellar dust and debris, making it difficult for astronomers to study them in greater detail. This latest event (dubbed AT 2019qiz) was discovered shortly after the star had been shredded last year, making it easier to study in detail, before that curtain of dust and debris had fully formed. Astronomers conducted follow-up observations across the electromagnetic spectrum over the next six months, using multiple telescopes around the world, including the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array and the New Technology Telescope (NTT), both located in Chile.
"Because we caught it early, we could actually see the curtain of dust and debris being drawn up as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocities up to 10,000 km/s," said co-author Kate Alexander of Northwestern University. "This is a unique 'peek behind the curtain' that provided the first opportunity to pinpoint the origin of the obscuring material and follow in real time how it engulfs the black hole."
According to Berger, these observations provide the first direct evidence that outflowing gas during disruption and accretion produces the powerful optical and radio emissions previously observed. "Until now, the nature of these emissions has been heavily debated, but here we see that the two regimes are connected through a single process," he said.
YouTube video depicting a star being "eaten" by a black hole.
Nicholl, M, Wevers, T, Oates, S R, et al. outflow powers the optical rise of the nearby, fast-evolving tidal disruption event AT2019qiz, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa2824)
SpaceX is one of the 386 entities that have qualified to bid in a federal auction for rural-broadband funding.
SpaceX has so far overcome the Federal Communications Commission's doubts about whether Starlink, its low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite service, can provide latency of less than 100ms and thus qualify for the auction's low-latency tier. With the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) set to distribute up to $16 billion to ISPs, the FCC initially placed SpaceX on the "incomplete application" list, which includes ISPs that had not shown they were qualified to bid in their desired performance and latency tiers. The FCC also said that LEO providers "will face a substantial challenge" obtaining approval to bid in the low-latency tier because they must "demonstrat[e] to Commission staff that their networks can deliver real-world performance to consumers below the Commission's 100ms low-latency threshold."
[...] SpaceX's Starlink service is in a limited beta and appears to be providing latencies well under the 100ms threshold. SpaceX still isn't guaranteed to get FCC funding. After the auction, winning bidders will have to submit "long-form" applications with more detail on how they will meet deployment requirements in order to get the final approval for funding.
The $16 billion available in the auction will be distributed to ISPs over ten years, paying all winning bidders combined up to $1.6 billion a year to deploy broadband in specified areas. SpaceX satellite service could theoretically be made available anywhere and doesn't require wiring up individual homes, so this funding won't necessarily expand the areas of availability for Starlink. But satellite operators can use FCC funding as subsidies allowing them to charge lower prices in areas that lack modern broadband access.
[...] The $16 billion in funding will be directed to census blocks where no provider reports offering home-Internet speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream. The list of approved census blocks contains 5.3 million unserved homes and businesses.
Previously: Ajit Pai Caves to SpaceX but is Still Skeptical of Musk's Latency Claims
SpaceX Starlink Speeds Revealed as Beta Users Get Downloads of 11 to 60Mbps
SpaceX Seeks FCC Broadband Funds, Must Prove It Can Deliver Sub-100ms Latency
In patients with congenital defects or who have suffered accidental injuries, the jawbone is nearly impossible to replace. Curved and complex, the bone ends with a joint covered with a layer of cartilage. Both parts must withstand enormous pressures as people chew.
"It is one of the most loaded bones in the human body," said Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a professor of biomedical engineering, medicine and dental medicine at Columbia University in New York.
In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine [DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abb6683] [DX] on Wednesday, she and her colleagues reported a surprising success: They managed to grow replacement bones, along with their joints, from the stem cells of pigs. A clinical trial will soon begin in patients with severe birth defects.
The researchers say they hope the same sort of technique can someday be used to grow other replacement bones and joints, including knees. Even if the strategy works, however, it will be years before those who need new jawbones or joints can have them engineered from their own cells.
David Chen, Josephine Y. Wu, Kelsey M. Kennedy, et al. Tissue engineered autologous cartilage-bone grafts for temporomandibular joint regeneration [$], Science Translational Medicine (DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abb6683)
NASA is awarding 14 companies over $370 million to develop space and lunar exploration technologies. The bulk of the awards concern in-orbit refueling:
With these awards, the space agency is leaning heavily into technologies related to the collection, storage, and transfer of cryogenic propellants in space. Four of the awards, totaling more than $250 million, will go to companies specifically for "cryogenic fluid management" tech demonstrations:
- Eta Space of Merritt Island, Florida, $27 million. Small-scale flight demonstration of a complete cryogenic oxygen fluid management system. System will be the primary payload on a Rocket Lab Photon satellite and collect critical cryogenic fluid management data in orbit for nine months.
- Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $89.7 million. In-space demonstration mission using liquid hydrogen to test more than a dozen cryogenic fluid management technologies, positioning them for infusion into future space systems.
- SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, $53.2 million. Large-scale flight demonstration to transfer 10 metric tons of cryogenic propellant, specifically liquid oxygen, between tanks on a Starship vehicle.
- United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Centennial, Colorado, $86.2 million. Demonstration of a smart propulsion cryogenic system, using liquid oxygen and hydrogen, on a Vulcan Centaur upper stage. The system will test precise tank-pressure control, tank-to-tank transfer, and multiweek propellant storage.
Also at Teslarati.