Thursday, December 31, 2020

Oil tanker ran aground because its crew was looking for a stronger mobile phone signal


One of Japan’s largest shipping companies has admitted that the industry’s worst environmental accident this year was the result of the crew of the bulk carrier MV Wakashio sailing too close to shore as they attempted to pick up mobile phone signals.

The 300-metre ship ran aground on pristine coral reefs just off southern Mauritius on July 25, spilling more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel...

The report, released by the Wakashio’s operator Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) on Friday, confirmed that it was meant to be 22 nautical miles off Mauritius during its passage, but that had been narrowed to just two nautical miles “to enter an area within the communication range of mobile phones”.


The EU EQUASIS database also identified nearly 100 safety deficiencies with the Wakashio, several of which were very serious. 


The conduct of the shipowners and operators involved with the Wakashio disaster highlight just why the shipping laws that use offshore ‘Flags of Convenience’ registrations need to be reformed, to bring more transparency and safety into the sector.

Huge numbers of Israelis have started visiting Dubai


The dizzying pace of normalization has stunned even the skeptics. Despite the countries’ long-secret ties, the UAE had considered Israel a political pariah over the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The modest expat Jewish community in the federation of seven sheikhdoms kept a low profile and prayed in an unmarked villa.

But the arrival of 70,000 Israeli tourists, according to travel agents’ estimates, on 15 nonstop daily flights in December changed everything. A 12-foot (3.5-meter) Hanukkah candelabra appeared under the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, where Jews gathered to light the candles and take selfies as festive Hebrew songs blared across the massive fountain downtown.

The Jewish community’s furtive Friday night Shabbat meal has transformed into celebrations at two cavernous banquet halls with spillover seating for Israeli visitors. “Made in Israel” signs have popped up in Dubai’s chain grocery and liquor stores


Despite initial worries about Iranian threats and diplomatic fallout from misbehaving tourists, travel agents say there have been only minor hiccups. A few Israeli tourists got stuck in sand dunes while racing on quad bikes, prompting an elaborate rescue mission by a government helicopter

A long list of recommended animal live cams and Youtube walking videos

First, a thread recommending several youtube accounts that post walking videos:

Second, a thread recommending animal live cams:

The Milwaukee pharmacist that allegedly intentionally destroyed the vials of Covid19 vaccine has been arrested

In addition to the hundreds of doses destroyed, the belief is that 57 people received useless, but harmless vaccine doses.

Meanwhile in Canada:

"Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced the resignation of his finance minister who took a trip to the Caribbean while the province remained under lockdown"

Today's funny posts

All Tiktoks today. Mostly dogs: 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ticktmaster agreed to pay $12 million to avoid prosecution for hacking a competitor

The Verge:

Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million for breaking into a competitors’ network. The company and its parent Live Nation admitted to hiring a former employee from rival ticket seller CrowdSurge, then using his knowledge — including old usernames and passwords — to learn CrowdSurge’s inner workings and “cut [the company] off at the knees.”

“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly — and illegally — accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said  [the acting US attorney]. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers.”

A Wisconsin hospital employee reportedly intentionally sabotaged 500 doses of a Covid19 vaccine


The person who left 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine out of a pharmacy refrigerator at Aurora Medical Center- Grafton, did so intentionally, Advocate Aurora Health said. ... [I]t was first believed to be human error.

West Point's cheating scandal involved two dozen members of the football team, and they'll be allowed to play in the upcoming bowl game

USA Today:

The majority of the cadets involved in the worst academic cheating scandal at West Point in 45 years are athletes, including 24 members of the football team that is scheduled to play in a bowl game on Thursday, according to West Point officials.


Some of those players could dress and play in the Liberty Bowl on Thursday, according to ... a West Point spokesman.

They're allowed to play because West Point's superintendent in October suspended a policy that limited or prevented cadets found in violation of the academy's honor code from representing the academy in public, including athletes at sports events. 


"We didn’t cancel the punishment," [the spokesman] said. "We delayed it until final adjudication."

Here is a good essay about Susanna Clarke's new novel "Piranesi"

(I liked the book a lot. It's a much faster and easier read than Jonathan Strange. And devoid of footnotes.)

From Ewan Wilson's essay, discussing Piranesi, the video game Echo, and other works of art with similar settings: 

In C. S. Lewis’ children’s fantasy novel The Magician’s Nephew, there’s a sequence where the two young protagonists portal through to a ruined world where a cold, dying sun dominates the sky. They find themselves in a grand but crumbling palace where everything is inhumanly proportioned. Like Dark Souls’ Anor Londo, it’s a city built for giants. On this apocalyptic planet, in a city named “Charn,” the children travel through a ceaseless series of courtyards, up massive flights of stairs and through a maze of vast rooms and halls until they’re “dizzy with the mere size of the place.” Everytime the characters feel as though they might be close to an exit, or catch a glimpse of an outside, they simply enter into another, identical-looking courtyard — a perpetual in-between space like in one of Italo Calvino’s “Continuous Cities.”

Eventually the children pass through a set of golden doors and enter into the long “Hall of Images,” where rows of chairs line up on either side. In the centre of the room is a square table with a little bell, which when rung, echoes continuously, rising in pitch until finally the entire palace begins to collapse and the infamous Queen from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is awoken.

There are echoes of Charn’s palace in one of this year’s most anticipated novels too.

Today's funny posts

*More funny posts.

Mia Farrow plays Myst VR; Liminal spaces in gaming; Kermit added to GTA

Kermit mod for GTA:

The Red Steeds of Sidhe; Dial H for Hero art by Joe Quinones and Jordan Gibson; Someone write a script about the Mohawks recruited by the British to fight the Mahdi

(Another depiction.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A police officer's cinematic escape from Belarus

A Belarusian officer resigned to protest the recent election results, fled to Russia, and was arrested and driven back to the border:

"They gave me back my things and told me to walk along the road. I saw some [Belarusian] KGB agents approaching so I didn't hang about, I ran into the forest," says Andrei. "They chased me but they couldn't keep up, so I managed to escape."

Dressed in no more than his jeans, trainers and a T-shirt, Andrei sought refuge among thick forests of pine and birch, lakes and treacherous marshes. He immediately threw away his three mobile phones, to avoid being traced. He had no food apart from some chocolate bars and a bottle of water. Once he slipped into a swamp up to his waist and couldn't move his legs. Fortunately he was able to reach some thick reeds, but it took all his strength to haul himself out.

Then there was a close encounter with a wild boar - "a huge beast with tusks", he says. "I managed to dazzle it with my torch and it ran off but it was very scary being alone at night in the forest."

After 10 days of wandering in circles and getting hopelessly lost, Andrei eventually reached Poland, where he applied for asylum.

An apparent intentional attack on gas service lines in Aspen, Colorado, left thousands without heat


Work crews are scrambling to restore gas service, and local authorities handed out electric space heaters to residents still without heat Tuesday, as a storm is forecast to bring up to 8 inches of snow in the Rocky Mountains region this week. Temperatures are forecast to fall to 2 degrees in Aspen on Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Aspen police said the apparently coordinated acts of vandalism occurred Saturday night at three separate Black Hills Energy gas line sites, one in Aspen and two elsewhere in Pitkin County.


there were no security cameras at the three locations that were hit.


the police department was handing out about 6,000 portable space heaters to residents.

Aspen Times:

A total of three locations were vandalized, one in the city and two in the county, Linn said. At two locations, the gas valves were not located in buildings, while the third was housed inside a building that was burglarized, he said. All had “security measures” in place that were tampered with.

“Locks were defeated,” Linn said.

Hawaii’s beaches are disappearing because the wealthy keep building seawalls to protect their homes

Pro Publica:
Hawaii’s beaches are owned by the public, and the government is required to preserve them. So years ago, officials adopted a “no tolerance” policy toward new seawalls, which scientists say are the primary cause of coastal erosion.

But over the past two decades, oceanfront property owners across the state have used an array of loopholes in state and county laws to get around that policy, armoring their own properties at the expense of the environment and public shoreline access. 
Over time, though, waves hitting the barriers pull the sand away from the shore and carry it out to sea. As a result, the government approvals have fueled beach loss and perpetuated the redevelopment of private properties along treasured and environmentally sensitive coastlines — all at a time when scientists have been warning of the dire need to push development inland.

Today's funny posts (Japanese construction workers are known for their baggy "nikkapokka" pants)

*More funny posts.

Old Man Rex custom action figure; Radar brand eraser-themed watch; Warner Bros. making shifting claims about how much money its movies are making this year?

(Sept 25, 2020 vs. this week.)

My favorite poem is the Beaufort wind scale; Book covers for the adventures of Rey and Ben; Illustrating a descent

("Sea like a mirror. Many white horses are formed. The air is filled with foam and spray.")

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sophia Petrillo as a Warhammer 40K warrior

Next up is Rose:

*See more expertly painted miniatures.

It looks like they're climbing a giant dinosaur bone

These other photos show the full shape:

Snapchat filters work great on guinea pigs (Today's funny posts)

*More funny posts.

Watch the creation of this LaMelo sculpture; Creating a TARDIS entry for a child's room; The pulp novel that inspired Gymkata

Doom-inspired monsters; Celebrex promotional mouse; The significance of Achilles' shorned hair in Hades

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Gingerbread guillotine; Christmas sweater based on a child's drawing; Nice try, but your tree is not safe from your cats

Today's funny posts

*More funny posts.