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Submission + - Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America? (latimes.com) 1

schwit1 writes: The generous spending has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some states — principally Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia — initiated welfare reform, as did the federal government under President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Tied together by a common thread of strong work requirements, these overhauls were a big success: Welfare rolls plummeted and millions of former aid recipients entered the labor force.

The state and local bureaucracies that implement California’s antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

Submission + - Soy Wiring Coming Back to Bite Import Car Manufacturers (hackaday.com) 4

An anonymous reader writes: Over at Hackaday, there's an interesting article about a little-known problem plaguing many newer vehicles from the likes of Honda, Toyota, and Kia. The car makers used soy-insulated wiring to cut costs and "Go Green", but owners in rural areas are finding the local wildlife finds the wiring irresistible; thousands of dollars in damage has been done by rats and other critters eating wiring harnesses.

The author asks the Hackaday community to brainstorm solutions to this unique problem, as owners of effected vehicles have had to resort to sprinkling their driveway with coyote urine and putting rat traps on the wheels.

Submission + - SpaceX and Boeing Slated for Manned Space Missions By Year's End (fortune.com)

schwit1 writes: SpaceX’s crewed test flight is slated for December, after an uncrewed flight in August. Boeing will also be demonstrating its CST-100 Starliner capsule, with a crewed flight in November following an uncrewed flight in August.

NASA’s goal is to launch crews to the ISS from U.S. soil, a task that has fallen to Russia’s space program since the retirement of the U.S. Space Shuttle program in 2011. NASA began looking for private launch companies to take over starting in 2010, and contracted both SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to pursue crewed launches. The push to restore America’s crewed spaceflight capacity has been delayed in part, according to a detailed survey by Ars Technica, by Congress redirecting funds in subsequent years.

The test flights could determine whether Boeing or SpaceX conducts the first U.S. commercial space launch to the ISS. Whichever company gets that honor may also claim a symbolic U.S. flag stuck to a hatch on the space station. Sources speaking to Ars describe the race between the two companies as too close to call, and say that a push to early 2019 is entirely possible. But in an apparent vote of confidence, NASA has already begun naming astronauts to helm the flights.

Submission + - Armed US Agents Enter Warehouse in Puerto Rico, Seize Hoarded Electric Equipment (theintercept.com)

schwit1 writes: On Saturday, A day after becoming aware of a massive store of rebuilding materials being held by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the U.S. federal government — the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with their security detail — entered a Palo Seco warehouse owned by the public utility to claim and distribute the equipment, according to a spokesperson for the Corps.

Rumors of a tense standoff had been circulating on the island, but the encounter was confirmed to The Intercept in a statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Asked if the federal officers were armed when they entered the warehouse, USACE spokesperson Luciano Vera said they were indeed accompanied by security detail and quickly began distributing the material after seizing it. Vera declined to say whether there was a confrontation at the entrance, saying only that PREPA officials ultimately toured the warehouse along with the feds:

The federal government “began distributing [supplies] to contractors,” Vera said, including hard-to-find full-tension steel sleeves, critical to rebuilding. “We obtained several hundred of these sleeves on Saturday,” Vera added.

The armed encounter comes as around half of Puerto Ricans still remain without electricity well over 100 days after Hurricane Maria. As PREPA hoards crucial resources that could help remedy the island’s dire situation, the Puerto Rican government is attempting to annihilate the power provider’s only regulator.

Submission + - Music Science: Has Popmusic Recently Become Louder, Simpler And More Repetitive? (bbc.co.uk) 2

dryriver writes: The BBC has posted a very interesting article investigating whether people claiming all over the internet that "Pop music just isn't what it used to be" are simply growing old, or if there actually is objective science capable of backing this claim of a "steady decline in music quality". The findings of 5 studies are quoted, and the finding of study 4 in particular is striking. 1. Pop music has become slower — in tempo — in recent years and also "sadder" and less "fun" to listen to. 2. Pop has become melodically less complex, using fewer chord changes, and pop recordings are mastered to sound consistently louder (and therefore less dynamic) at a rate of around one decibel every eight years. 3. There has been a significant increase in the use of the first-person word "I" in pop song lyrics, and a decline in words that emphasize society or community. Lyrics also contain more words that can be associated with anger or anti-social sentiments. 4. 42% of people polled on "what decade has produced the worst pop music" since the 1970s voted for the 2010s. These people were not from a particular "ageing demographic" at all — all age groups polled, including 18 — 29 year olds appear to feel unanimously that the 2010s are when "pop music became worst". This may explain a rising trend of young Millenials, for example, digging around for now 15 — 30 year old music on Youtube frequently. Its not just the older people who listen to the 1980s and 1990s on Youtube and other streaming services it seems — much younger people do it too. 5. A researcher put 15,000 Billboard Hot 100 songs' lyrics through the well known Lev-Zimpel data compression algorithm, which is good at finding repetitions in data. He found that songs have steadily become more repetitive over the years, and that song lyrics from today compress 22% better on average than less repetitive song lyrics from the 1960s. The most repetitive year in song lyrics was 2014 in this study. Conclusion: There is some scientific evidence backing the widely voiced complaint — on the internet in particular — that "Pop music is getting worse and worse in the 2000s and the 2010s". The music is slower, melodically simpler, louder, with more repetitive lyrics, more "I" focus (first-person focus), more anger and anti-social sentiments, and the 2010s got by far the most "music quality downvotes" with 42% from people polled on which decade has produced the worst music since the 1970s.

Submission + - The Poor Man's Air Force? Rebel Drones Attack Russia's Airbase in Syria (bellingcat.com)

0x2A writes: Bellingcat reports on drone attacks on a Russian airbase in Syria: On the night of the 6 January 2018, the Russian airbase at Khmeimim was reportedly attacked. Videos and rumours from the airbase claimed that this attack may have included drones, although there were also reports the base coming under attack by rockets.
Russia has all but accused the U.S. military of being behind the improvised drone attack on its air base in Syria last week, claiming the aircraft could have only come from a major military power like the United States

Submission + - 'This Is Not a Drill.' Hawaii Mistakenly Sent Out Incoming Missile Alert (time.com)

schwit1 writes: It must have been awfully disconcerting to have this pop up on people's phones, and it took nearly 40 minutes to send out the message that it was a mistake.

Sounds like the planned FCC reboot of the wireless alert system can't come too soon.

Minor conspiracy theory: It was a hack but will be played off as an error by emergency warning services

Major conspiracy theory: There was a missile, we shot it down, and now it’s all being played off as a false alarm

Submission + - Scientists Think They've Discovered Lava Tubes Leading to The Moon's Polar Ice (sciencealert.com)

schwit1 writes: Small pits in a large crater on the Moon's North Pole could be "skylights" leading down to an underground network of lava tubes – tubes holding hidden water on Earth's nearest neighbour, according to new research.

There's no lava in them now of course, though that's originally how the tubes formed in the Moon's fiery past. But they could indicate easy access to a water source if we ever decide to develop a Moon base sometime in the future.

Despite the Moon's dry and dusty appearance, scientists think it contains a lot of water trapped as frozen ice. What these new observations carried out by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show is that it might be much more accessible than we thought.

Submission + - Bitcoin Could End Up Using More Power Than Electric Cars (bloomberg.com) 1

LynnwoodRooster writes: Bitcoin mining is a highly power intensive activity, and the computational (and thus power) requirements are exponential over time. According to Morgan Stanley analysts, "Miners of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could require up to 140 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2018, about 0.6 percent of the global total... That’s more than expected power demand from electric vehicles in 2025."

Submission + - Your personal computer vs Meltdown, Spectre and patches

rastos1 writes: Considering the stream of news about Meltdown, Spectre, IME, buggy fixes, press releases by Intel, CPU, Microsoft etc etc. I'd like to suggest a poll (Is there a better place to submit a poll suggestion?) You —
  • Did not apply any fixes. Do not care
  • Did not apply any fixes. Waiting for the dust to settle down and then going to upgrade HW/update SW
  • Applied the fixes, got burned, could not roll back
  • Applied the fixes, got burned, but was able to roll back
  • Applied the fixes and it works, but there is performance penalty
  • Applied the fixes and it works without noticeable performance degradation
  • Switched or going to switch to a different architecture

Submission + - Cities With Fastest Growth In STEM Jobs Are Far From Silicon Valley (forbes.com)

schwit1 writes: The conventional wisdom sees tech concentrating in a handful of places, many dense urban cores that offer the best jobs and draw talented young people. These places are seen as so powerful that, as The New York Times recently put it, they have little need to relate to other, less fashionable cities.

To a considerable extent, that was true – until it wasn’t. The most recent data on STEM jobs – in science, technology, engineering or mathematics – suggests that tech jobs, with some exceptions, are shifting to smaller, generally more affordable places.

What we may be witnessing, in fact, is a third turning in the tech world. The initial phase, in the 1950s, was mostly suburban – dominated by the still-powerful Bay Area, Boston and Southern California – and was heavily tied to aerospace and defense. The second phase, now coming to a close, refocused tech growth in two hot spots, the Bay Area and Washington’s Puget Sound, and largely involved social media, search and digital applications for business services.

The third tech turning, now in its infancy, promises greater dispersion to other markets, some with strong tech backgrounds, some with far less. In the last two years, according to numbers for the country’s 53 largest metros compiled by Praxis Strategy Group’s Mark Schill based on federal data and EMSI’s fourth-quarter 2017 data set, the STEM growth leader has been Orlando, at 8%, three times the national average. Next are San Francisco and Charlotte (each at 7%); Grand Rapids, Michigan (6%); and then Salt Lake City, Tampa, Seattle, Raleigh, Miami and Las Vegas (5%). . . .

From 2006 to 2016, the Valley saw a remarkable 33% growth rate in STEM jobs – roughly 3% per year. But in the last two years, that rate has fallen to 2% annually. In some recent months in parts of the Bay Area, The San Jose Mercury reports, the tech job count has actually declined.

One limiting factor could be high housing costs.

Submission + - Adult Themed VR Game Leaks Data on Thousands (securityledger.com) 2

chicksdaddy writes: Somebody deserves a spanking after personal information on thousands of users of an adult virtual reality game were exposed to security researchers in the UK by a balky application.

Researchers at the firm Digital Interruption on Tuesday warned (https://www.digitalinterruption.com/single-post/2018/01/09/Attention-SinVR-users) that an adult-themed virtual reality application, SinVR, exposes the names, email and other personal information via an insecure desktop application – a potentially embarrassing security lapse. The company decided to go public with the information after being frustrated in multiple efforts to responsibly disclose the vulnerability to parent company inVR, Inc., Digital Interruption researcher and founder Jahmel Harris told The Security Ledger. (https://securityledger.com/2018/01/adult-vr-application-spills-data-on-thousands/)

Jahmel estimated that more than 19,000 records were leaked by the application, but did not have an exact count.

SinVR is a sex-themed virtual reality game that allows players to navigate in various adult-themed environments and interact with virtual characters in common pornographic themes including BDSM, cosplay, naughty teacher, and so on.

The company discovered the data after reverse-engineering the SinVR desktop application and noticing a function named “downloadallcustomers“. That function called a web service that returned thousands of SinVR customer records including email addresses, user names, computer PC names and so on. Passwords and credit card details were not part of the data dump, Harris said.

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