2021-01-01 06:28:29 ..
2021-01-09 07:46:10 UTC
2021-01-10 02:15:38 UTC --martyb
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The NRA [National Rifle Association] filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it planned to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability corporation, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC made a separate bankruptcy filing Friday, listing fewer than $100,000 in liabilities.
In its filing, the NRA said its longtime leader, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with a "special litigation committee" comprising three NRA officials that was formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA board voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre's employment agreement, giving him the power to "reorganize or restructure the affairs" of the organization.
"The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA's continued success as the nation's leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York," the NRA said in a statement.
[...] Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to "evade accountability" or oversight. Her office's lawsuit last year highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years— from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.
[...] The gun-rights group boasts about 5 million members. Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee will study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere.
[...] chaotic systems [...] are notable for exhibiting behavior that is predictable at first, but grows increasingly random with time.
[...] In the latest issue of Science Advances, [Caltech's Lihong] Wang describes how he has used an ultrafast camera of his own design that recorded video at one billion frames per second to observe the movement of laser light in a chamber specially designed to induce chaotic reflections.
"Some cavities are non-chaotic, so the path the light takes is predictable," Wang says. But in the current work, he and his colleagues have used that ultrafast camera as a tool to study a chaotic cavity, "in which the light takes a different path every time we repeat the experiment."
The camera makes use of a technology called compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), which Wang has demonstrated in other research to be capable of speeds as fast as 70 trillion frames per second. The speed at which a CUP camera takes video makes it capable of seeing light—the fastest thing in the universe—as it travels.
But CUP cameras have another feature that make them uniquely suited for studying chaotic systems. Unlike a traditional camera that shoots one frame of video at a time, a CUP camera essentially shoots all of its frames at once. This allows the camera to capture the entirety of a laser beam's chaotic path through the chamber all in one go.
Linran Fan, Xiaodong Yan, Han Wang, et al. Real-time observation and control of optical chaos [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc8448)
At last someone recognizes that it matters what you do on a screen.
"It is really hard to quantify time now. Technology is fully embedded in our lives. But what's more important is what's happening on those screens, the quality of the interaction," she told Goldman.
For example, one hour of pornography for a 14-year-old is "highly toxic, whereas two hours of FaceTime with your grandparents is healthy."
Dr. Kang admitted that parents can be "overwhelmed" at the thought of reining in their kids' screen use.
She said an easy guideline is to compare tech to nutrition: consume healthy tech, limit junk tech, and completely eliminate toxic tech.
[...] Healthy tech, according to Dr. Kang, is tech that is actually good for you. That includes any tech that releases endorphins or oxytocin (exercise and meditation apps) or creates a meaningful connection (video conferencing with friends) or leads to creativity and learning (coding, robotics, art or music).
Junk tech releases dopamine and includes "mindless scrolling, mindless zoning out video gaming. It's like eating a bag of chips. Once in a while is OK, but it's empty calories. So limit and monitor the junk tech," said Dr. Kang.
And avoid toxic tech altogether "just like we avoid toxic foods like aspartame and spoiled milk," she said. "Toxic tech causes your child's stress and is linked to the release of cortisol...The negativity, the hate, the cyberbullying, but also things like prolonged sitting, sleep deprivation and also FOMO or fear of missing out."
Finally someone online knows the difference between "rein" and "reign".
[Ed. note: This story lacks supporting research, but the hypothesis presented seems plausible and reasonable. So, I decided to take a chance and put this story before the community. What has your experience been during the pandemic? How well does your experience match up with the story's premise? How much, if any, do you ration your child's (and your own) screen time? --martyb]
Schools of fish exhibit complex, synchronized behaviors that help them find food, migrate and evade predators. No one fish or team of fish coordinates these movements nor do fish communicate with each other about what to do next. Rather, these collective behaviors emerge from so-called implicit coordination — individual fish making decisions based on what they see their neighbors doing.
This type of decentralized, autonomous self-organization and coordination has long fascinated scientists, especially in the field of robotics.
Now, a team of researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed fish-inspired robots that can synchronize their movements like a real school of fish, without any external control. It is the first time researchers have demonstrated complex 3D collective behaviors with implicit coordination in underwater robots.
[...] "Our results with Blueswarm represent a significant milestone in the investigation of underwater self-organized collective behaviors," said [study co-author Radhika] Nagpal. "Insights from this research will help us develop future miniature underwater swarms that can perform environmental monitoring and search in visually-rich but fragile environments like coral reefs. This research also paves a way to better understand fish schools, by synthetically recreating their behavior."
Related Video: Robotic swarm swims like a school of fish (YouTube)
Florian Berlinger, Melvin Gauci, Radhika Nagpal. Implicit coordination for 3D underwater collective behaviors in a fish-inspired robot swarm [$], Science Robotics (DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abd8668)
AAAS[*], which publishes the Science family of journals, announced today it will offer its authors a free way to comply with a mandate issued by some funders that publications resulting from research they fund be immediately free to read. Under the new open-access policy, authors may deposit near-final, peer-reviewed versions of papers accepted by paywalled Science titles in publicly accessible online repositories.
For now, Science's approach, known as green open access, will only apply to authors of papers funded by Coalition S, a group of mostly European funders and foundations behind an open-access mandate that takes effect this month. The funders say immediate access will accelerate scientific discovery by disseminating new findings faster. Up to 31% of research papers in the flagship journal Science and four other Science titles have cited funding from Coalition S, said Bill Moran, the journals' publisher. Until now, these papers had been available immediately only to journal subscribers, although the paywalled Science journals do make all papers free 12 months after publication.
Articles made public under the new policy will carry an open-access license, and authors will retain copyright, another of Coalition S's conditions.
AAAS said it will pilot the new policy for 1 year, allowing it to judge whether the policy causes revenues to suffer.
Also at: Nature
Google's senior VP of Hardware, Rick Osterloh, announced Thursday that Google has closed its acquisition of Fitbit. The $2.1 billion deal was announced back in November 2019 and kicked off a regulatory review process from governments around the world concerned about Google's influence over the Internet and the data it can collect on users.
Normally, Osterloh announcing that "Google has completed its acquisition of Fitbit, and I want to personally welcome this talented team to Google" would mean Google has cleared its worldwide regulatory gauntlet. Google's announcement today is highly unusual since the Department of Justice has not yet cleared the deal. As the DOJ told New York Times reporter Cecilia Kang, "The Antitrust Division's investigation of Google's acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing." Australian regulators also haven't announced a final decision on the merger. It seems particularly provocative for Google to do something like this while it is also dealing with a DOJ antitrust investigation.
When asked about the status of the DOJ's merger investigation, a Google spokesperson told Ars, "We complied with the DOJ's extensive review for the past 14 months, and the agreed-upon waiting period expired without their objection. We continue to be in touch with them and we're committed to answering any additional questions. We are confident this deal will increase competition in the highly crowded wearables market, and we've made commitments that we plan to implement globally."
However the legal issues work out, the announcement doesn't give away a lot about Google's future plans for Fitbit. Osterloh starts by praising Fitbit's existing lineup, calling out the Fitbit Sense smartwatch, the Inspire 2 tracker, and various Fitbit health metrics. Google doesn't make cheap fitness trackers, but the company's Google Fit app has a lot of overlap here in both smartwatches and health metrics. Google says it wants to "make health and wellness more accessible to more people" and "we're confident the combination of Fitbit's leading technology, product expertise and health and wellness innovation with the best of Google's AI, software and hardware will drive more competition in wearables and make the next generation of devices better and more affordable."
Google researchers have detailed a sophisticated hacking operation that exploited vulnerabilities in Chrome and Windows to install malware on Android and Windows devices.
Some of the exploits were zero-days, meaning they targeted vulnerabilities that at the time were unknown to Google, Microsoft, and most outside researchers (both companies have since patched the security flaws). The hackers delivered the exploits through watering-hole attacks, which compromise sites frequented by the targets of interest and lace the sites with code that installs malware on visitors' devices. The boobytrapped sites made use of two exploit servers, one for Windows users and the other for users of Android.
[...] In all, Project Zero published six installments detailing the exploits and post-exploit payloads the researchers found. Other parts outline a Chrome infinity bug, the Chrome exploits, the Android exploits, the post-Android exploitation payloads, and the Windows exploits.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
DNS over HTTPS is a new protocol that protects domain-lookup traffic from eavesdropping and manipulation by malicious parties. Rather than an end-user device communicating with a DNS server over a plaintext channel—as DNS has done for more than three decades—DoH, as DNS over HTTPS is known, encrypts requests and responses using the same encryption websites rely on to send and receive HTTPS traffic.
Using DoH or a similar protocol known as DoT—short for DNS over TLS—is a no brainer in 2021, since DNS traffic can be every bit as sensitive as any other data sent over the Internet. On Thursday, however, the National Security Agency said in some cases Fortune 500 companies, large government agencies, and other enterprise users are better off not using it. The reason: the same encryption that thwarts malicious third parties can hamper engineers’ efforts to secure their networks.
“DoH provides the benefit of encrypted DNS transactions, but it can also bring issues to enterprises, including a false sense of security, bypassing of DNS monitoring and protections, concerns for internal network configurations and information, and exploitation of upstream DNS traffic,” NSA officials wrote in published recommendations. “In some cases, individual client applications may enable DoH using external resolvers, causing some of these issues automatically.”
[...] The answer, Thursday’s recommendations said, are for enterprises wanting DoH to rely on their own DoH-enabled resolvers, which besides decrypting the request and returning an answer also provide inspection, logging, and other protections.
The recommendations go on to say that enterprises should configure network security devices to block all known external DoH servers. Blocking outgoing DoT traffic is more straightforward, since it always travels on port 853, which enterprises can block wholesale. That option isn’t available for curbing outgoing DoH traffic because it uses port 443, which can’t be blocked.
AMD has launched Zen 3-based "Cezanne" Ryzen 5000 mobile APUs at 15W, 35W, 45W, and 45W+ (overclockable Ryzen 9 5980HX and Ryzen 9 5900HX) TDPs. Compared to the previous-generation Zen 2 "Renoir" APUs, Cezanne has 19% higher instructions per clock. L3 cache is doubled (to 16 MB) and accessible by any core. Integrated graphics performance ("Vega"-based) has not improved aside from slightly higher clock speeds. All of the Cezanne models announced so far have 6 or 8 cores, with 2 threads per core. In addition to Cezanne, there are three Zen 2-based "Lucienne" models (5300U, 5500U, and 5700U) that are refreshes/rebadges of 15W Renoir APUs.
AMD also launched two OEM-only Zen 3 desktop CPUs: the 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 5800 and 12-core Ryzen 9 5900. These are rated at 65 Watt TDPs, instead of the 105 Watt TDPs of their 'X' counterparts.
AMD's exclusivity deal with Lenovo for Threadripper Pro CPUs (Threadripper with 8 memory channels and 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes) has ended, and manufacturers are preparing new sWRX8 motherboards. 64-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3995WX, 32-core 3975WX, and 16-core 3955WX should be available to consumers around March. There's no word yet on Zen 3-based Threadrippers, but AMD will be launching Zen 3-based "Milan" Epyc CPUs later in Q1.
See also: AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su: Interview on 2021 Demand, Supply, Tariffs, Xilinx, and EPYC
AMD Demos 3rd Gen EPYC Milan 32 Core CPUs, Up To 68% Faster Than Comparable Intel Xeon Gold Platform
AMD's Ryzen Threadripper Pro CPUs & WRX80 Motherboards Coming To Consumer Segment in March 2021 – 64 Cores, 128 PCIe Lanes & 8-Channel Memory
America's going back to the moon. It's been over 50 years since the Apollo missions, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon in 1969. Both NASA and the current administration have decided it's high time people walked on the moon again—this time, importantly, those people won't just be men.
[...] In April 2020, the agency awarded a total of $967 million in contracts to three different private companies, giving them less than a year to come up with a lander design. Now the time has almost come to pick one of those three. Here are the contenders.
Blue Origin [...] The vertical crew cabin would require astronauts to descend to the moon's surface on a long ladder, which could be seen as an advantage because the crew is safer being high up.
Dynetics [...] Dynetics' is a single module with thrusters and propellant tanks on either side. It's specifically designed to be reusable for repeated exploration of the moon, and it's the only one of the three contenders with a horizontal crew cabin. [...]
SpaceX [...] the biggest and flashiest lunar lander. It's so tall, in fact, that astronauts would use an elevator to get from the crew cabin down to the moon's surface.
[...] NASA's Artemis program will be the core of its spaceflight and exploration endeavors for the next decade, covering low-Earth orbit, the moon, and Mars. In Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo, for whom the first moon missions were named; NASA chose the name Artemis as a gesture of inclusion, intending to land the first woman on the moon.
Incoming President Joe Biden has a lot on his plate[.] [...] The space program may end up being low on his priority list, especially in the near term. But the wheels have already been set in motion for another American journey to the moon—and we'll soon have a way to land on it.
Craft-beer aficionados relish the endless flavor variations that can be achieved by mixing and matching different varieties of hops, whether one favors refreshing citrus or fruity notes or something a bit more earthy or pine-scented. But some of the chemical compounds that contribute to those flavors are present in such trace amounts that it's difficult for brewers to measure and track them during the brewing process. Now German scientists have devised an automated, efficient method for doing just that, according to a recent paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
As we've previously reported, all beer contains hops, a key flavoring agent that also imparts useful antimicrobial properties. (Without them, beer spoils quickly.) Brewers mash and steep grain in hot water, which converts all that starch into sugars. This is traditionally the stage when hops are added to the liquid extract (wort) and boiled to give the beer that hint of bitterness. During the boiling process, a certain portion of the resins (alpha acids) in hops isomerize into iso-alpha acids. That chemical rearrangement of the molecules is what produces bitterness. Yeast is then added to trigger fermentation, turning the sugars into alcohol.
But a little hops goes a long way. Add too many hops, and the beer will be so bitter as to be undrinkable.
[...] Rettberg and his co-authors noted that thiols also contribute to the distinct aromas of wines like Sauvignon Blanc, and they were able to draw on a rich array of prior research in viticulture and oenology. Specifically, they adapted a method for measuring wine thiols involving coated polymers placed into the air above a wine sample, thereby converting any aerosolized wine thiols into compounds that can be more easily measured. The method was still insufficient to detect the trace amounts of thiols in beer, so Rettberg et al. combined it with gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to reach the necessary sensitivity.
1.) Johanna Dennenlöhr, Sarah Thörner, Nils Rettberg. Analysis of Hop-Derived Thiols in Beer Using On-Fiber Derivatization in Combination with HS-SPME and GC-MS/MS, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c06305)
2.) Juha‐Matti Pihlava, Tuula Kurtelius, Timo Hurme. Total hordatine content in different types of beers, Journal of the Institute of Brewing (DOI: 10.1002/jib.311)
Here's to all the plucky machines that have tangled with Mars and ultimately lost. Goodbye, Opportunity. Godspeed, Beagle 2. We hardly knew you, Schiaparelli. And now we must bid farewell to the "mole" part of NASA's InSight lander mission.
The lander itself is fine and healthy and still studying marsquakes, but the mole's efforts to dig into the red planet have been stymied every step of the way. On Thursday, NASA announced the end of the mole's journey.
[...] "We've given it everything we've got, but Mars and our heroic mole remain incompatible," said HP3 principal investigator, Tilman Spohn of the DLR. "Fortunately, we've learned a lot that will benefit future missions that attempt to dig into the subsurface."
It is "no longer acceptable" for social media giants to take key decisions on online content removals alone, following the high profile takedowns of US President Trump's accounts on Facebook and Twitter, the European Commission has said.
Trump's accounts have been suspended by the two platforms for inciting calls to violence ahead of the violent riots that hit Washington's Capitol Hill last week.
Speaking to lawmakers on Monday (11 January), Prabhat Agarwal, an official who heads up the eCommerce unit at the European Commission's DG Connect, noted how the EU executive's Digital Services Act attempts to realign the balance between effective content removal and preserving freedom of expression online.
"It is no longer acceptable in our view that platforms take some key decisions by themselves alone without any supervision, without any accountability, and without any sort of dialogue or transparency for the kind of decisions that they're taking," Agarwal said.
"Freedom of expression is really a key value in this," he told the European Parliament's internal market committee.
The comments came following concerns raised by some lawmakers in the European Parliament following the suspension of Trump's social media accounts. In doing so, platforms giants had demonstrated that they yield a disproportionate degree of power over the freedom of speech online.
"The fact that platforms like Twitter and Facebook decide who can speak freely is dangerous," Green MEP Kim van Sparrentak said.
To achieve full occupancy, hotels used to rely exclusively on experience, concentration and human abilities. Then came online booking, which made the reservation collection process faster, but did not solve the risk of turning down long stays because of rooms previously booked for short stays.
To avoid overbooking (accepting more reservations than there is room for) in some cases online sales are blocked before hotels are completely booked. The solution that the University of Trento has just discovered could change the life of hotels by increasing the number of occupied rooms and, therefore, in the revenue of hotel owners.
[...] "The intuition of the RoomTetris algorithm—[Roberto Battiti] says—derives from the Tetris game, which is well-known among scientists and video game enthusiasts around the world. Colored tiles of different shapes fall in the playing field and players must place them so that they do not build up, therefore they have to fit the blocks in the best way possible in the free cells".
He continues: "If the average profit of a hotel is 10-15% of the turnover, the increased room availability generated by the algorithm in the high season can increase it by a further 5-10% (depending on the average occupancy rate and the duration of the stay). With little effort (which is actually made by powerful computers in the cloud) there are certainly cases where the profitability can even double. I bet that within a few years almost all hotels will use our optimal algorithm, and that many hotel management habits will therefore change radically".
In practice, with RoomTetris hotels will no longer allocate rooms at the time of booking, but when guests arrive at the hotel, providing the optimal solution for a higher occupancy rate and increased profitability.
"The success of RoomTetris, which is the first optimal room allocation algorithm for the hotel industry, suggests that the room allocation process can be managed by this algorithm at check-in, ensuring the best possible performance, at global level," concludes Battiti.
The graphic in the linked story helps to make the Tetris connection much clearer.
I'm wondering how well this will hold up versus people making reservations who have always had room xyz since their honeymoon?
Roberto Battiti, Mauro Brunato, Filippo Battiti. RoomTetris: an optimal procedure for committing rooms to reservations in hotels, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology (DOI: 10.1108/JHTT-08-2019-0108)
NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 5 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 16, for the hot fire test of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Live coverage will begin at 4:20 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency's website, followed by a post-test briefing approximately two hours after the test concludes.
Media may submit questions during the post-test briefing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hot fire is the eighth and final test of the Green Run series to ensure the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready to launch Artemis missions to the Moon, beginning with Artemis I. The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, and the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the "brains" of the rocket. During the test, engineers will power up all the core stage systems, load more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or supercold, propellant into the tanks, and fire all four engines at the same time to simulate the stage's operation during launch, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust.
The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024.
Will it go BOOM?