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Bonnie Tyler is going to sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' during Monday's eclipse

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Singer Bonnie Tyler will perform her 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on Royal Caribbean's Total Eclipse Cruise, a cruise ship that will be in the path of the total solar eclipse come Monday. Tyler will take time off her world tour to belt out the power ballad -- just as the moon crosses the sun -- on the ship, Oasis of the Seas.

Tyler told TIME, ""The eclipse of the sun lasts 2 minutes and 40 minutes, I’m told. Unlike my song. It had to be chopped about, because it was so long." https://youtu.be/lcOxhH8N3Bo

Bonnie Tyler Will Sing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ During the Actual Eclipse [TIME]

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Manzabar
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Woman loses engagement ring, finds it 13 years later wrapped around a carrot

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A woman from Alberta lost her diamond engagement ring while gardening 13 years ago, but her grandaughter found it in the middle of a carrot growing on the family farm.

When days of searching proved fruitless, she decided not to tell her husband. “I didn’t tell him, even, because I thought for sure he’d give me heck or something,” she said. “Then I finally went to the jeweller and bought a cheap ring. I only told my son, I didn’t tell nobody else.”

Her husband – who died five years ago, shortly after the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary – never noticed the swap, said Grams.

The missing ring remained a secret until earlier this week, when her granddaughter brought over a freshly-picked carrot that had an ornate ring encircling it. “I recognised it right away,” said Grams. “They found it yesterday when my daughter-in-law was digging carrots for supper.”

Colleen Daley said she hadn’t noticed the ring around the carrot when she picked it. She had briefly contemplated feeding the malformed carrot to her dog, but decided against it, only to later notice the ring as she was washing the carrot. “It was pretty weird-looking,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

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Manzabar
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FCC Begins Weakening The Definition Of Quality Broadband Deployment To Aid Lazy, Uncompetitive ISPs

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You may be shocked to learn this, but like most U.S. regulatory agencies, the FCC's top Commissioner spots are occassionally staffed by individuals that spend a bit too much time focused on protecting the interests of giant, incumbent, legacy companies (usually before they move on to think tanks, consultant gigs, or law firm policy work financed and steered by those same companies). In the telecom market these folks usually share some fairly consistent, telltale characteristics. One, they're usually comically incapable of admitting that there's a lack of competition in the broadband market.

Two, they go to great, sophisticated lengths -- usually via the help of economists hired for this precise purpose -- to obfuscate, modify, and twist data until it shows that broadband competition is everywhere and the market is functioning perfectly. After all, if the data shows that there's no longer a problem -- you can justify your complete and total apathy toward doing anything about it.

We've seen this cycle play out time and time again, and it's a major reason most of us have shitty broadband. Under former FCC boss Michael Powell (now shockingly the head lobbyist for the entire cable industry), the FCC repeatedly proclaimed that the broadband industry was so competitive, we didn't need rules, regulations, or consumer protections governing their behavior. And when anyone provided evidence that existing providers like Comcast were little more than walking shitshows, Powell would consistently insist that these complaints were utterly hallucinated.

This sort of behavior continued for a while under Obama-era FCC boss Julius Genachowski. But his successor, Tom Wheeler shocked a few people by actually acknowledging the industry wasn't competitive. Wheeler went so far as to raise the base definition of broadband to a more modern 25 Mbps, a decision the industry whined incessantly over. Why? By raising the bar, Wheeler was able to highlight how two-thirds of the country only have the choice of one broadband provider at current generation speeds.

But with Ajit Pai now in charge at the FCC, we've once again returned to the regulatory policy of burying your head firmly in the sand to the express benefit of Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. In addition to Pai's frontal assault on net neutrality, erosion of broadband programs for the poor, protection of prison phone monopolies, derailing of consumer broadband privacy standards and his protection of the cable industry's set top box monopoly , Pai has begun taking steps to lower the bar when it comes to determining whether or not the country is being adequately connected.

Under the Telecommunications Act, the FCC is required by law to track broadband deployment and competition and -- if things aren't up to snuff -- the agency is mandated to "take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such capability by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market." But if you fiddle with how precisely broadband penetration and competition is measured, you can avoid having to do, you know, work to improve things. Enter Ajit Pai, whose agency this week quietly began fiddling with these determinations to the benefit of industry:

"But with Republican Ajit Pai now in charge, the FCC seems poised to change that policy by declaring that mobile broadband with speeds of 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream is all one needs. In doing so, the FCC could conclude that broadband is already being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, and thus the commission could take fewer steps to promote deployment and competition.

Of course determining that an area has healthy and competitive broadband if a wireless provider can offer 10 Mbps is a major gift to incumbent ISPs. AT&T and Verizon have been working tirelessly to gut rules requiring they continue to provide cheaper, more reliable fixed-line broadband to rural areas and many less affluent cities, while also wiggling out of fiber upgrade obligations in countless markets. But wireless connections are significantly more expensive and less reliable, and in many smaller and more rural cities won't be a suitable fixed line replacement for a decade or more.

And while AT&T and Verizon's own data will insist that they provide 10 Mbps wireless to pretty much everywhere already, if you've ever driven across the nation with work to do you can probably attest to the fact this uniform coverage isn't real. And because the FCC is more concerned about pleasing incumbent broadband providers than actually beefing up competition for consumers, they're not going to be running out anytime soon to do field tests and fact check wireless carrier data proclaiming 10 Mbps is sprouting up everywhere like weeds.

No, the FCC's goal here is to technically lower the standard definition of quality broadband from 25 Mbps down, 4 Mbps to, to 10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up. By doing this, Pai and friends can simply declare the broadband industry ultra-competitive, justifying their failure to actually do anything about the obvious fact that's simply not true. Of course it's not being explained that way in the agency's related notice of inquiry (pdf), the proposal couched under the pretense that we're simply modernizing the way the FCC operates -- or imposing new baseline wireless standards.

If you haven't carefully watched these ISPs and revolving regulators work tirelessly at protecting their uncompetitive empire for two decades, you might be inclined to believe that line of bullshit. But what the FCC's actually doing here is really quite simple: they're fucking with the math and lowering the bar to ankle height as a gift to the nation's lumbering, uncompetitive duopolies -- who'd like it very much if we left the existing, embarrassing status quo well enough alone.



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Manzabar
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Stories Claiming DNC Hack Was 'Inside Job' Rely Heavily On A Stupid Conversion Error No 'Forensic Expert' Would Make

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While we wait for the Mueller investigation to clearly illustrate if and how Russia meddled in the last election, there's no shortage of opinions regarding how deep this particular rabbit hole goes. While it's pretty obvious that Putin used social media and media propaganda to pour some napalm on our existing bonfires of dysfunction, just how much of an impact these efforts had on the election won't be clear until a full postmortem is done. Similarly, while Russian hackers certainly had fun probing our voting systems and may have hacked both political parties, clearly proving state involvement is something else entirely.

Quite fairly, many folks have pushed for caution in terms of waiting for hard evidence to emerge, highlighting the danger in trusting leaks from an intelligence sector with a dismal track record of integrity and honesty. There's also the obvious concern of ramping up tension escalation between two nuclear powers. But last week, many of those same individuals were quick to highlight several new stories that claimed to "completely debunk" Russia's involvement in hacking the DNC ahead of last year's election. The problem? These reports were about as flimsy -- if not flimsier -- than the Russian hacking theories they supposedly supplanted.

In fact, these reports took things one step further by claiming that the hack of the DNC was something committed solely by someone within the DNC itself. This particularly overlong, meandering piece by The Nation, for example, claimed to cite numerous anonymous intelligence sources who have supposedly grown increasingly skeptical over the "Russian hacking narrative." Quite correctly, the report starts out by noting that while there's oodles and oodles of smoke regarding Putin's involvement in the election hacks, the fire (hard evidence) has been hard to come by so far:

"Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it. It is tiresome to note, but none has been made available. Instead, we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception. These officials profess “high confidence” in their “assessment” as to what happened in the spring and summer of last year—this standing as their authoritative judgment.

But it's then that's where things get a little weird. The report repeatedly proclaims that a laundry list of anonymous "forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed" have been hard at work "producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year." But one of the key conclusions by these experts -- and a key cornerstone for of all of these stories -- makes absolutely no sense.

The reports lean heavily on anonymous cybersecurity experts calling themselves "Forensicator" and "Adam Carter," who purportedly took a closer look at the metadata attached to the stolen files. Said metadata, we're breathlessly informed, indisputably proves that the data had to have been transferred from inside of the DNC network and not over the internet, since the internet isn't supposedly capable of such transfer speeds:

"Forensicator’s first decisive findings, made public in the paper dated July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate—the time a remote hack would require. The metadata established several facts in this regard with granular precision: On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.

These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds."

That reads like a semi-cogent paragraph, but it's largely nonsense. 22.7 megabytes per second (MB/s) sounds impossibly fast if you don't know any better. But if you do the simple conversion from megabytes per second to megabits per second necessary to determine the actual speed of the connection used, you get a fairly reasonable 180 megabits per second (Mbps). While the report proclaims that "no internet service provider" can provide such speeds, ISPs around the world routinely offer speeds far, far faster -- from 500 Mbps to even 1 Gbps.

And despite the report oddly pooh pooh'ing Romanian broadband's "delivery overheads," many Romanian cities actually have faster internet connectivity than either Russia or in the States (check out Akamai's global broadband rankings). Bernie Sanders learned this last year when he unintentionally pissed off many Romanians when trying to highlight the dismal state of U.S. connectivity. Even then, the hacker in question could have used any number of tricks to hide his or her location and real identity from a high-bandwidth vantage point, so the claim that the hacker couldn't achieve 180 Mbps through a VPN is simply nonsense.

Obviously this raises some questions about what kind of cyber-sleuths we're talking about when they can't do basic conversions or look at some fairly obvious broadband speed availability charts. And it also raises some questions about why reporters thought flimsy anonymous experts were the perfect remedy to the other flimsy anonymous leaks they hoped to debunk. While The Nation couldn't even be bothered to do the simple calculation to determine the speed of the connection used by the hacker was relatively ordinary, in a story titled "Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don't Buy the Russia Story," Bloomberg actually did the conversion to get the 180 Mbps speed, and still somehow told readers that such speeds were impossible:

"The VIPS theory relies on forensic findings by independent researchers who go by the pseudonyms "Forensicator" and "Adam Carter." The former found that 1,976 MB of Guccifer's files were copied from a DNC server on July 5 in just 87 seconds, implying a transfer rate of 22.6 megabytes per second -- or, converted to a measure most people use, about 180 megabits per second, a speed not commonly available from U.S. internet providers. Downloading such files this quickly over the internet, especially over a VPN (most hackers would use one), would have been all but impossible because the network infrastructure through which the traffic would have to pass would further slow the traffic."

Yes, all but impossible! Provided you ignore that DOCSIS 3.1 cable upgrades and fiber connections deliver speeds consistently faster than that all around the world every day -- including Romania. False claims and sloppy math aside, after the Bloomberg column ran, several actual, identifiable intelligence experts also came forward doubting the legitimacy of the supposed intelligence sources for these stories altogether:

Surrounded by raised eyebrows, The Nation is now apparently reviewing its story for accuracy after numerous people highlighted that a major cornerstone of the report was little more than fluff and nonsense. Bloomberg has so far failed to follow suit.

So again, there's certainly every reason to not escalate hostility between the United States and Russia with many details still obfuscated and investigations incomplete. And there's also every reason to view reports leaning heavily on anonymous intelligence insiders skeptically after generations of distortions and falsehoods from those same agencies. That said, if you want to debunk the anonymous claims of a growing number of intelligence insiders who claim Russia played pinball with our electoral process, perhaps running into the arms of even more unreliable, anonymous intelligence sources -- without checking your math -- isn't your best path toward the truth.



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Manzabar
2 days ago
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Bubbles To The Rescue

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Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.

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Manzabar
3 days ago
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rascalking
3 days ago
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Sending this to the ALL LIVES MATTER folks.
Wakefield, MA

We are Not a Monolith: Portraits of Muslim women by Tasneem, photographer who's also a Muslim woman

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Brown Girl Magazine recently featured the work of my friend Tasneem Nanji, whose photographs of Muslim women in London and New York illuminate the lives of individuals consistently portrayed as one-dimensional "others" in media.

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