Stephen Hiltner trudges miles through beautiful moors and mountains to get to the next bothy [New York Times].
But bothy culture, some longtime proponents fear, is imperiled by a generation unaccustomed to shrewdly guarded secrets. Map coordinates for the often hard-to-find dwellings, once dispersed only among hiking insiders, are now available openly on the internet. Popular hashtags have helped create something of a buzz on Instagram, where bothies are sometimes presented, misguidedly, as an alternative to Airbnb rentals. (The bothy code unequivocally prohibits the use of bothies for commercial purposes, and discourages their use by large groups.) A hugely popular and impressively researched guide, “The Scottish Bothy Bible,” published in 2017, lines shelves in stores throughout the U.K., the first of many bothy guides to achieve a kind of mainstream success. It, too, has increased foot traffic.
Some you could walk right by without noticing. (Photo crop: Stephen Hiltner/The New York Times) Read the rest
It’s raining military secrets!
Earlier this week, it was revealed that a group of hackers got their meathooks on an operator manual for the United States military’s MQ-9 Reaper UAV. The manual was fair game: a U.S. Air Force captain had it stashed away on his under-protected home network—you know, as one does with sensitive documents that could fuck with national security. My guess is that the captain wasn’t aware of the case against military contractor Jared Sparks. The company Sparks was employed by was developing an underwater drone for the U.S. Navy. While he was drawing a paycheck from them Sparks decided it’d be cool to upload scads of documents that detailed trade secrets to his personal Dropbox account.
The Navy, Sparks’ former employers and the U.S. Department of Justice? They weren’t really comfortable with that. Today, the Department of Justice announced that a federal jury has found Sparks guilty of multiple counts of the theft and of uploading of trade secrets, with each count carrying a penalty that could land Sparks in the clink for a decade.
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Sparks used to work for LBI Inc., a Connecticut-based defense contractor that makes underwater drones for the U.S. Navy, as well as weather data-gathering buoys for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While at that company, he collaborated with Charles River Analytics (CRA), a company that made software for the LBI drones. Sparks was eventually hired by CRA in January 2012, but before he switched jobs, he saved sensitive company and military information—including renderings and design photos of LBI drones and buoys—onto the cloud-storage service Dropbox, according to DOJ.
The Cutting Room Floor is a wiki collecting programming secrets from old games: messages hidden in the code, levels and characters that never show up in-game, and anything else unused or left on the editing room floor. Unused Zelda cutscenes. An impossible-to-find spell in Planescape: Torment. Some too-secret levels in Bionic Commando. The unusued Duke Nukem 3D sample "DUKE_PASSWIND". Read the rest
Private Snafu was the US Army's series of instructional cartoons from World War II, written and/or directed by the likes of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, Chuck Jones, and PD Eastman. The voice of Private Snafu is performed by Mel Blanc (Buggs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.). In this episode, written by Dr. Seuss and titled "Spies," Private Snafu learns a military secret but he can't seem to keep his lips sealed. Note the grossly racist depiction of an Asian man, sadly typical of the era.
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"How To Hide Anything" is Michael Connor's 1984 book about rigging secret hiding places for your contraband and even yourself. Download the book for free here at Archive.org or purchase a hardcopy from Amazon. Connor is also the author of other well-intentioned self-help books like "Sneak It Through: Smuggling Made Easier" and "The Power of Positive Revenge: A Winner's Guide to Exacting Vengeance."
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Amateur Radio Club visited the border of Area 51 and noticed some new "no drone" signage added to the classic warnings signs around the infamous US Air Force facility. I assume that policy also applies to extraterrestrial spacecraft and Alien Reproduction Vehicles. Yours anyway.
(Foxtrot Alpha via Mysterious Universe)
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Thousands of National Security Letters are sent annually, don't need a judge's signoff, and it's illegal to tell anyone you got one. What do they demand? Web browsing history, the IP addresses of everyone corresponded with, all online purchases, and more.
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Custom furniture maker Craig Thibodeau created this showpiece "Automaton Table" to illustrate all the different ways that he can hide secret compartments in the pieces he builds. Read the rest
Ordinarily, the folks over at Family Handyman Magazine are a straight-laced bunch, but their slideshow 20 Secret Hiding Places shows that their practical creativity might be hiding something, such as fat stacks of cash. Read the rest
Without Cryptome.org, there would have been no Wikileaks, though the two organizations' history and methods of operation couldn't be more different. I'm pretty sure it's the oldest continuously-running website devoted to the public exposure of secret documents for the public good, and has weathered constant attack and intimidation by entities who would rather that websites like Cryptome not exist.
The website run by John Young and Deborah Natsios has a kickstarter campaign, and it's worth considering kicking in if radical transparency is something you support. Read the rest
"Unused pieces of text, never intended to be seen during gameplay ... because developers have voices too." [tcrf.net] Read the rest
Sean Ragan says: "I’ve rounded up a pseudorandom smattering of some of my favorite secret-hiding-place posts from MAKE's online archives."
Seventeen Sneaky Secret Hides Read the rest
Even when your eyeballs look still, they aren't still. Every time your heart beats, it creates almost imperceptible changes in your skin tone as blood moves through your body. Tall buildings and construction cranes wobble slightly in the wind, even though our eyes can't usually catch them at it. Now, a team at MIT has figured out how to spot these small movements using a computer program that goes through video frame-by-frame and pixel-by-pixel, amplifying minute changes in color and motion and making them visible to us. The New York Times' Bits blog has a video with some awesome demonstrations of the system. Read the rest
In the late 1950s, American scientists very publicly readied a crew of monkeys for a series of trips into Earth orbit and back. As far as the researchers knew, Project Discoverer was an actual, honest-to-Ike peaceful scientific program. Naturally, they were wrong about that. In reality, their work was part of an elaborate cover-up masking a spy satellite program. At The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson reports on some fascinating space history. Read the rest
For once, "shadow of the atom" is not just a poetic metaphor for the nuclear age. The black dot at the center of this image is, literally, the shadow cast by a single atom of ytterbium, magnified 6500 times.
Via Discover magazine Read the rest
In this video for Science Friday, bat biologist Nickolay Hristov takes a thermal camera inside Carlsbad Caverns to see what bats do in the dark when nobody's watching.
In his footage, a blazing yellow blob on the cave ceiling—which the video's narrator likens to a pool of lava—is actually a mass of bats, packed closely together and hanging upside down. Here, Hristov can see, in person, the very social world of bats, playing out as though he weren't even there.
It's a great video, and well worth watching.
Via Science Friday
EDIT: Video embed is fixed and should work now.
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It sure seems like a completed structure at first glance. But look closer. Specifically, look at the piles of stone blocks stacked on top of the columns.
Those blocks were hauled up there during construction—around the turn of the 20th century. They were supposed to be carved into sculptures representing "Music", "Architecture", "Painting" and, ironically, "Sculpture". Instead, the stone has sat there for 110 years, through two major renovations, un-carved and largely ignored.
The Daytonian in Manhattan blog has the full story on this.
Via Amy Vernon Read the rest