I Guess I Know What Ukraine is Getting for Xrismanukamas!🎄🎅🏿🕎

“This rugged, sustainable platform will operate in permissive environments and austere conditions around the world to safeguard our Special Operations Forces on the ground,” USSOCOM Commander Gen. Richard Clarke said in an emailed statement.

Not for nothing, but “permissive environments” sure as heck sounds like Ukraine.

Just for context, I’m a lifelong Michigander (incidentally descended from Jews who fled Ukraine back in the 1920s). Cropdusters are still fairly common here in Michigan (and the terrain, I’m told, is quite Ukraine-ish).

My wife grew up in blueberry country, and there are still plenty of fields around her folks’ place, and folks spray them from cropdusters.  It is absurd and terrifying how nimble these planes are. Average Joe flyers regularly bring them in below the tree line to dust a field, and then pop back out to dive into the adjacent field. In other words, they can come in over the horizon too low to detect–likely too low to see–and be on top of you before you can bring a turret around.

Given the performance we saw of Russian tanks early in the war in Ukraine, planes like these would fucking mow them down like a goddamned scythe.

“This Place is Best Shunned” 😱⛪️🦑

My latest dark tale, “This Place is Best Shunned,” is free to read on Tor.com RIGHT NOW!!!

Allie and Rooster are heading down to Asheville for Rooster’s new gig, a cushy stint as artist-in-residence at UNC. Rooster is more of a con artist than maker of art, but Allie doesn’t mind, because he’s good-looking, charming, and values what she is: a girl with a keen eye for abandoned places and a knack for getting into them. But when they stumble upon an old backcountry church—the perfect backdrop for Rooster’s latest project—they discover that some “abandoned” places have a knack for keeping themselves occupied.

(Amazing cover art is by David Palumbo!!!)

There’s a Hexagonal Storm Larger than the Earth Rotating at Saturn’s North Pole ‽

…AND NONE OF YOU TOLD ME!!!

natural color animation of hexagonal storm on Saturn (via Wikipedia)
natural color animation of hexagonal storm on Saturn (via Wikipedia)
  • NASA’s page on this weather phenomenon (with some stunning images and animations):  
  • Good overview of the science behind this over on Wikipedia

This weather feature has lasted decades, if not centuries. YOU HAD AMPLE TIME TO MENTION IT!!!

How do we sleep with the roiling eye of an angry God staring at us?

(via NASA) https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/cassini/science/saturn/hexagon-in-motion/
(via NASA)

See also:

"Saturn Devouring His Son" by Francisco Goya
“Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya

“CHANGE PASSWORD.”

https://twitter.com/JosephPolitano/status/1503131005389099011

[2022.03.17] Oops: Instead of telling you when it’s safe to cross the street, the walk signs in Crystal City, VA are just repeating ‘CHANGE PASSWORD.’ Something’s gone terribly wrong here.

EDITED TO ADD (4/13): Details of what happened.

via Bruce Schneier’s long-running “Cryptogram” newsletter.

Breathalyzers: Uh Oh.

The Unforeseen Dangers of a Device That Curbs Drunken Driving” (Published 2019, Updated 2021):

“Those checks, known in the industry as rolling retests, occur at random. They require the driver to lift a hand off the wheel, pick up the device and blow — hard — into its mouthpiece for several seconds.”

So we take someone who’s a demonstrably shitty driver and purposely distract them behind the wheel‽ o_O How could that turn out poorly?

But more importantly: is this solution the best approach? We love technological solutions to social problems, because then we get to avoid conflict (“It isn’t me, man; the machine says you must be punished.” 🤷‍♂️ )

“The legislatures themselves have made this instruments God.  Any time you put all your faith in technology, there’s a chance you’re gonna get burned.”

John Fusco, former president of the breath-test manufacturer National Patent

5 Reasons to Question Alcohol Breath Tests” (Published 2019)

Important to remember that cops aren’t scientists, and lawyers aren’t scientists, and judges aren’t scientists, and juries are rarely full of scientists.  Putting a “scientific tool” in their hands doesn’t make them scientists, and doesn’t guarantee precise, accurate, or “scientific” results. Even the best tool in fallible hands will fail (at least occasionally).

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?”

All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth …, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum Address, January 27, 1838