Four travelers named Michael, Victor, Shannon, and Soichi rode a rocket
from from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station last weekend. They are now enjoying the luxury facilities of the space station, along with three others who were already there. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the four astronauts in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule from launch pad 39a.
Crew Dragon launch
This is the same launch pad used by most of the Saturn V rockets on Apollo missions, and most of the space shuttle launches.
Apollo 11 launch
SpaceX is delivering people to the space station (and back, with luck) for the low, low price of $55 million per person
. This is not as high as it seems, because it is a direct flight, and includes in-flight meal service and luggage at no extra charge.
From 2011 until earlier this year, Russia has been the only option for transportation of humans to and from the space station. They charge $86 million per person. When it's successfully tested and certified
, Boeing will charge around $90 million per person on the CST-100 Starliner
. SpaceX is $35 million per person cheaper than Boeing, but the government will still use Boeing part of the time, just to have a second provider. Campaign contributions have nothing to do with it.
The United States landed humans on the moon six times in 1969, 1971, and 1972.
The Apollo 11 lander, "Eagle", descending to the moon's surface
Apollo 11 moon walk
Lunar transportation for later Apollo missions.
The Soviet Union made several uncrewed landings on the moon from 1966 to 1976.
Nobody else landed on the moon for the next 37 years, until China made an uncrewed soft landing in 2013. China landed on the moon again earlier this year, the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon.
Israel attempted to land
a privately funded spacecraft on the moon in February of this year. It shared a SpaceX Falcon 9 payload with an Indonesian communications satellite and a small U.S. military satellite. Contact was lost shortly before landing.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) made an attempt to land on the moon
on September 7. Contact with this spacecraft was also lost shortly before landing
And the United States? Donald Trump thinks the Continental Army occupied airports
during the Revolutionary War, or at least he did on the 4th of July, 2019. He might not fully comprehend the reality of a moon landing. Biden is pretty old, but there's a slight possibility his memory goes back all the way to the latter Apollo years when he became a U.S. Senator.
Actually, Trump and Biden both are behind NASA's Artemis project
. NASA plans to launch a space platform into orbit around the moon, and conduct moon landings from there.
SpaceX and NASA
are planning to land an uncrewed spacecraft near the south pole of the moon in 2022, and humans two years later in 2024.
Intel or AMD?
After several years of trailing Intel in CPU performance, AMD CPUs are now competitive with Intel's, and quite a bit better at the top end. Intel's are a little bit better at gaming, but AMD has a definite advantage in most desktop applications.
Intel 80287 math coprocessor, vintage 1984
Apple is Watching?
Last Thursday, Apple released a new operating system. This caused Apple servers to slow to a crawl. This caused Macs everywhere to slow down. The reason, it turns out, is that every time you open an application on a Mac, it transmits that information
to Apple. This caused a lot of people to get wound up in fear that Apple is spying
on them. That's actually not much of a problem
, it turns out, but it can apparently be a performance bottleneck. Unsurprisingly, Apple said it is not a privacy problem and it won't happen again.
The Boeing 737 max will fly again! After being grounded for close to two years, the 737 max is being recertified. It should be in commercial operation by the end of the year. Now if there were only some passengers...
Not And Memory
First, a quick refresher on George Boole
. He was an English mathematician in the 1800's, and developed what is now known as Boolean Algebra, which is where the Boolean data type comes from in programming languages.
Boolean algebra has some operators, such as AND and OR. They operate on true or false values. So, True AND True = True, True AND False = False, True OR False = True. The NAND operator stands for Not And, so True NAND True = False.
Fast forward 180 years, and we have nonvolatile memory cards using NAND Flash
technology. This kind of flash memory is used in phones, cameras, thumb drives, and cars.
One of the limitations of flash memory is the number of times it can be read or written. The earlier model Teslas had a problem with this. The "dashboard" in a Tesla is primarily a big screen. The flash memory used by the screen in earlier models can "wear out" before the car does. About 12,523 of them
have been replaced in the Model S and Model X. Now there may be a general recall to upgrade the memory on those models.
The Tesla public relations department has absolutely nothing to say about the problem. This might be related to the fact that Tesla dissolved its entire PR department
in October. That seems pretty stupid to me, but Tesla is the one successful enough to be included in the S&P 500
Sunday, Elon Musk tested positive for Covid-19, twice. And negative, twice. But the tests were "rapid antigen" tests, so he's almost certainly got Covid-19. Those tests rarely have a false positive, but false negatives are the tradeoff for speed. Musk tweeted about "bogus" tests, and caught a lot of flack
over it for being a tech genius without a clue. I think he may be more of an organizational or motivational genius than a tech genius. Anybody can come up with an idea, but Musk seems to be able to execute the plan when others fail.
The coronavirus arrived in Europe
in September of last year, a lot earlier than I thought.
Missouri lawmakers postponed a special session on the coronavirus crisis Monday because too many of the lawmakers and their staffers have the Covid-19. Coincidentally, the Missouri state senate's Republican majority held a retreat at a Branson resort last week.
I thought this was odd because Donald Trump said we'd never hear about Covid-19 after the election. But to be fair, he doesn't think the election is over yet. Or maybe he accidentally said "Covid" when he was thinking "TikTok"
More than 900 Mayo Clinic staff members have tested positive
for Covid-19 in the past two weeks. Most (93%) caught it outside work.
In Mayes County, in Oklahoma, in the United States, and in the World, the number of new cases of Covid-19 have been at record highs over the past week. Death rates and hospitalizations are up, too. A quarter of a million United States citizens have died from Covid-19 since March.
But there's no need to wear a mask
, according to the president of the United States. A guy named Scott, who happens to be a White House coronavirus advisor, has said explicitly
, on multiple occasions
, that masks don't work
. His plan
is to let the coronavirus spread until enough people have had it that it won't spread any more. This would, or course, result in millions more dead in the U.S. (tens of millions if people won't take the vaccine), but that's OK. Most people who die will be old or overweight.
In other news, Scott said people in Michigan should "rise up
" and oppose public measures against the coronavirus. Some people got bent out of shape over this bent logic, possibly because not long ago some Trump supporters
tried to kidnap and murder the governor of Michigan over public coronavirus restrictions.
Trump blamed the governor. A few hours after the plot was announced, he said the governor had done a terrible job, and Trump had expected her to thank him for the FBI uncovering the plot. More the once, before and after the plot on her life, Trump has encouraged Michigan crowds to chant, "Lock her up!
I intended to avoid the coronavirus and politics in this Junkmail, but the thing about the Missouri senators was too funny to leave out. Then I descended into the maelstrom
Once I went to the area of the maelstrom
Poe wrote about, in a boat. The water wasn't rough that day, but it was cold.
is a social media service launched a couple of years ago. They call themselves "a non-biased, free speech social media focused on protecting user's rights". It's intended to be a right-wing replacement for Twitter and Facebook.
Parler has gotten pretty popular in the past few weeks, so I decided to check it out.
In fact, it doesn't seem that popular to me. A lot of the message traffic seems to be generated by the platform's own bots, used to make it look busy. A lot of the other traffic is illicit spam, from brain drugs to pornography. I did not find any coherent conversations on Parler. I checked one of the links to a blogspot site, but instead it sent me to what appeared to be a malware site, but I didn't analyze it to make sure.
All this makes it flaky and maybe a little dangerous, but still potentially useful or fun if you're looking for a right-wing echo chamber with bot-generated content. The thing that is really questionable is Parler's information gathering.
In order to access the site, I had to give them a cell phone number and have it verified with a text message. Why do they want my phone number, anyway? Why would I need to disclose my cell phone number for a web site I'm not using a phone to access? This is a red flag. Luckily, I happen to have a spare phone not affiliated with me.
Next, I noticed I could become a "Parler Citizen" in order to use the full features of Parler. I wondered what I was missing, so I read on.
It's crazy! They require you to send them an image of the front and back of a photo ID, a driver license, passport, or something similar. Then
they require a "selfie" so they can make sure your current photo matches the one on the ID.
Parler claims to be a site for free speech and privacy. If I am concerned about privacy, why would I give someone on the web a copy of my ID, its ID number, with
a photo of myself, with
my phone number, and with
my signature on the ID? I have to assume they'll bring a reasonable price on the Russian darknet.
And the free speech and expression? Parler permanently bans people who troll, post liberal propaganda, etc. I guess spammers are not banned because they pay Parler a percentage.
I've said for years that I should develop a business to take advantage of the politically gullible. It looks like they beat me to it.
All in all, this looks like one of the shadiest operations I've seen recently on the internet. My guess is that nothing too bad will happen, at least on a large scale, as long as Parler does not get strapped for cash. If they do, there may be a lot of people with identity theft problems.
Parler is being funded by the Mercer family, the same family who funded a bunch of pro-Trump projects, such as Cambridge Analytica, Breitbart, and coincidentally, a sizable portion of Trump's presidential campaign. Rebekah Mercer
, who has a leadership position at Cambridge Analytica, is the co-founder of Parler along with CEO John Matze.
had some problems when they got caught distributing personal information of Facebook users, with the involvement of some Russian folks. They were doing this for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as other elections globally. In view of their stellar reputation
, I would expect any information I give to Parler to be distributed to hackers worldwide, or even worse, to politicians.
What's the Password?
is an app for password management. I've never used it, so I don't know whether to recommend it, but I can recommend their password list.
The people at Nordpass gathered up and counted about 275 million passwords released in 2020 data breaches. Here are the top 200, in order of common occurrence. "123456" was used by 2.5 million people.
"Picture1" was new this year. I'm not sure how it made it up to number three -- it's not that obvious. Same for "senha". Maybe they were artificially promoted by some poorly done documentation on resetting a password, or maybe some botnets are using those passwords from thousands of computers. Several of the passwords in this list look like they don't belong. But this is not a list of the most commonly used passwords. It's a list of the passwords occurring most often in data breaches. There is a large potential for oddities.
These are passwords that are stored in cleartext, unencrypted. Most modern sites and all secure sites store passwords in encrypted form only. This means that the passwords here are the ones used on sites where security is less important. (Whether security should
be important on the sites is another question entirely.)
It's OK to use simple passwords like these, but only for accounts you wouldn't mind sharing with a hacker, such as Facebook or IRS.gov. The first thing a password cracking app does is go through and test a few hundred thousand common passwords. If you use one of these, expect exposure.
Pictures of Today!
Sandoval County, NM
San Juan County, NM
San Juan County, NM
A thistle and a bee.
South Republican State Wildlife Area, Colorado
South Republican State Wildlife Area, Colorado
Giant robber fly (Promachus hinei
Alamosa County, CO
Pope County, AR
Three-toed box turtle, one of two native terrapins in Oklahoma.
A crab spider. And some aphids. And some flowers.