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Electrospaces use public photographs to analyze the secure communication tools used by government, with occasional tangents into other SIGINT and COMSEC topics.

I first found the blog when they published an analysis of DNI James Clapper’s hardware. Other highlights include: a review of the historical hotline between Washington and Bonn, the Korean hotline, a look at the equipment aboard the EP-3E reconnaissance plane, and an overview of Obama’s communication equipment. Most of what they publish ends up in my archive. I’m intrigued by these technologies, and Electrospaces provides wonderfully detailed glimpses into this obscure world.

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Recently I was sent a link to a Twitter thread.

Apparently this is a phenomena wherein the twatter submits a series of short tweets, each preceded by a sequence number, which when run strung together resembles something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a paragraph, and nearly manages to communicate a complete thought. It is unclear whether users demonstrating this symptom are unaware that there are places on the internet without arbitrary character limits, or if their identity is so heavily invested in a third-party platform that they are simply unable to communicate outside of it. Needless to say, I retreated to saner shores.

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Three hundred and fourty nine days ago I went under the laser for photorefractive keratectomy.

PRK is a similar procedure to the more popular LASIK. In LASIK a flap is cut in the cornea and set aside, the correction is performed underneath, and the flap is then placed back over the insulted area, providing a natural bandage. The scar from the flap never entirely heals, which is not a problem for most people most of the time. It is a concern if you get punched in the face. I box, which is to say I get punched in the face. In PRK the epithelium is abraded away, the correction performed, and then you just sort of hang out for a few weeks or a few months waiting for the epithelium to regenerate and shed and regenerate a few times – after which point there is no residual effects and you can go back to getting punched in the face, with no more concern than getting punched in the face normally warrants. LASIK was only approved by NASA in 2007, and is still frowned upon at SF HALO and SCUBA schools. The message is clear: if you want to keep the space marine option available, opt for PRK.

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Void Star is one of my favorite novels of recent years.

I have at times described it as being as if China Miéville had written a book in the Bridge trilogy, with plot devices contributed by Neal Stephenson. Other times I’ve just described it as my favorite William Gibson novel this millenium. Both of which I think communicate the tone of the book and the high regard in which I hold it. With Void Star, Zachary Mason created a sort of ethereal cultural exploration, very Gibsonian in nature, and you won’t like it if you’re reading it for the plot.

The audiobook is also very good. I say this as someone who dislikes audiobooks. Neither audio books nor podcasts fit into my life, and I can count the number of audiobooks I have ever listened to on two hands. But the actors who perform the three main characters of Void Star – especially the woman who voices Irena, who I wish would perform Pattern Recognition – are all perfect in their roles and somehow manage to capture how I imagined the characters when I read the book, which is a thing that I think rarely happens in any adaptation of a book into a different medium. Zachary Mason imbues the prose of his novel with a sort of poetry and rhythm that the actors all capture perfectly. I read the book a second time months after listening to the audiobook and found myself reading it in their voice, emulating their pacing.

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My Bogotas were confiscated in Bogotá.

I flew through El Dorado International Airport four times last month. On the final trip security was none too pleased when they spotted the Bogota Pi toolset in my pack. The normal Bogota Titans in my wallet were either missed or deemed not problematic. I found the experience ironic.

Bogota Pi & Friends

The Sparrows Mini Jim met with suspicion, but I just did my smile-nod-no-hablo-español routine and they put it back. One could make a convincing argument that Super Mica Shims are more appropriate for travel.

The rain has begun, and I'm treating myself to new tires with fresh tread.

I first began to use the Schwalbe Marathon Supremes six years ago. Since then I have tried a few other tires, but within a couple months I invariably end up coming back to the Marathon Supremes. They ride well, only get maybe one or two flats per year, and I appreciate the visibility of the reflective sidewall. I tend to replace them after somewhere around a year of use – I think the set I removed today were in service for 15 months. I don’t track miles, so I don’t know what sort of distance the tires get me, but it’s up there. They aren’t cheap, but they’re worth it for the contribution they make to my everyday mobility.

Maintenance Day

I try to structure my life to optimize sleep.

Piotr Wozniak, the author of spaced repetition software SuperMemo, has a lengthy treatise on sleep, based on his long running research regarding memory and learning. His disk and RAM metaphor is a useful way to think about the relationship between knowledge and sleep.

A metaphor can help understand the role of sleep and why alarm clocks are bad. We can compare the brain and its NREM-REM sleep cycles to an ordinary PC. During the day, while learning and experiencing new things, you store your new data in RAM memory. During the night, while first in NREM, you write the data down to the hard disk. During REM, which follows NREM in the night, you do the disk defragmentation, i.e. you organize data, sort them, build new connections, etc. Overnight, you repeat the write-and-defragment cycle until all RAM data is neatly written to the disk (for long-term use), and your RAM is clear and ready for a new day of learning. Upon waking up, you reboot the computer. If you reboot early with the use of an alarm clock, you often leave your disk fragmented. Your data access is slow, and your thinking is confused. Even worse, some of the data may not even get written to the disk. It is as if you have never stored it in RAM in the first place. In conclusion, if you use an alarm clock, you endanger your data.

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The Atlantic uses the opening scene of Blade Runner 2049 as inspiration for an exploration of the near-future rural countryside.

The author weaves together scenes of death and catastrophe with iconic imagery of humanity’s attempts to keep the dystopia at bay: fields of heliostat mirrors, a green wall across the breadth of the Sahara, cloud-seeding chambers high in the Himalaya, and Almería’s tapestry of plastic greenhouses.

With climate change, humans are beginning to appreciate that cities are not separate from the environment. They are environments. We should also recognize that the rural is, at least in part, man-made. Cities approaching the changes already in motion with a sense of the Earth as a biological network, rather than adopting psychological siege positions, will be essential for survival. Technology and engineering will need to be deployed in what is currently regarded as wilderness. In turn, what seems rural will have to be deployed in cities: rooftop and vertical gardens, wetland buffer zones, greenery as a sponge for rising waters, and towers that channel polluted air into greenhouses…

via Sentiers

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