Welcome. This is the web site of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist musician. It is a mirror (minus the WordPress.com ads) of Xeno’s current blog plus original articles. Note: Items in a dotted line box are quoted excerpts. Click the link to view the original article. Password protected posts are available to the super rich for an annual fee of $250,000.
The price of the crypto-currency tumbled nearly 21 percent on Friday to $877.46 on trading site Mt. Gox and has fallen more than 29 percent since closing at a record high of $1,237.96 on Wednesday, according to Bitcoin data tracker BitcoinCharts.com. (Story continues after chart, courtesy of bitcoin.clarkmoody.com.)
Much of Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in the past few months has been due to speculative trading in China, the Wall Street Journal pointed out earlier this week…
China’s central bank shot a gigantic hole in that trade on Thursday by telling Chinese banks they couldn’t use the untraceable digital currency, calling it “not a currency in the real meaning of the word.”
That doesn’t mean Chinese investors can’t keep speculating in Bitcoin, but it is a blow to the credibility of the four-year-old currency. Created by an unknown hacker or hackers known as Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin has the potential to be a long-lasting digital alternative to national currencies like the U.S. dollar and the Chinese yuan. But it has also become favored for illicit uses such as money laundering and drug-dealing, raising concerns about whether policy makers will ever embrace it fully.
Regardless of Bitcoin’s long-term potential, there is little doubt its price has jumped too far too quickly: It traded for less than $100 just six months ago.
An official for Bitcoin exchange BTC China, where a growing percentage of Bitcoin trading takes place these days, told the WSJ that most Chinese investors are just hoping prices will keep rising long enough for them to sell and turn a profit. The People’s Bank of China, in its statement on Thursday, reminded traders that might not be the soundest approach to investment, according to the New York Times:
“The price can be easily controlled by speculators, creating severe turbulence and huge risks,” the PBOC reportedly said. “Ordinary investors who blindly follow the crowd can easily suffer major losses.”
Right now 1 Bitcoin = $870.00. I’d buy 1 Bitcoin for $50… Just to say I own one… But any more than that seems like too much to spend on a currency that is not widely accepted. Too unstable. Sell, sell, sell!! Bitcoin is crashing! Sell!
Joseph Ali says onlookers thought he was drunk when he dove into the nighttime waters around a Southern California pier. But he came away with a monster of a lobster and the catch of a lifetime.
Ali tells the Orange County Register he was closing his father’s business, Zack’s Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, Monday when he saw the ocean was calm and decided to dive for dinner. He was down about 15 feet going after a smaller lobster when he saw the giant. He says it was too big to grab properly but it latched onto him and he wrestled it to shore.It weighed nearly 18 pounds — even a 5-pounder is considered trophy-sized — and was likely at least 30 years old.
After reading a slew of threads on gearslutz.com and then testing a bunch of microphones myself I’ve decided that I want a Neumann U87 mic and a pair of Neve 1084 preamps. The mic alone costs $3,500 new, so I’ve been trying to find one used to stretch my savings.
This weekend, after driving an hour, I was beaten to one in a pawnshop in Oakland by just minutes. They sold a working U87 for an absurd $1,499, a deal of a lifetime! I was quite put out. “Perhaps there is a good reason,” I kept telling myself… after my fiancé told me to keep telling myself that.
Sure enough, the next day I had an offer for the same model of mic, albeit for about $600 more, but this one had been used to record members of the legendary band Kiss (as well as Spongebob)! Well, I was a huge Kiss fan as a kid.
So, there I was, Kiss songs running through my head, very excited about the purchase of a lifetime, ready to take a day off and drive 6 hours to LA to do the deal. Then I got an email with those dreaded four little words…
“Dude, I sold it.”
My god, I don’t know if I can take it. The Gene Simmons mic!!! Almost mine… Now gone.
You may recall that I previously posted about renting a U87 mic from a friend. That mic had been owned by Pat Benatar and had been used to record Frank Sinatra. I don’t just want a great mic, I want a great mic with a great story!
For new readers, I’m a singer songwriter. My uncle was the bass player for the band Steppenwolf (that got me interested in music at an early age). I usually don’t like my singing voice but I do have some songs that are surprisingly interesting and I’ve played 100′s of shows. I even played several shows with the amazing Jason Mraz right before he became world famous.
Anyway, the only thing that could make me feel better now after losing two U87s in a row would be to score a microphone used by … Jeff Lynne of ELO. Well, that would be a tie with a microphone used by David Bowie, with whom Elvis Presley and I share a birthday (January 8).
So, you hundreds of new followers and 5,000+ daily lurkers, if any of you can make my Neumann or Neve Christmas wishes come true, let me know: Xeno735@yahoo.com
Who knows, if I had the right mic, I might record a song that saves the planet from aliens or human stupidity, whichever comes first.
Of course this covetous toy pursuit is not the soul of the season. My real joy is helping people in need, of which there are billions. I’ll be doing my part with donations of both time and money this year.
What do you do to get yourself into the spirit of peace and good will?
Most Florida state colleges had been trying to limit the availability of firearms on campus by barring students from keeping the weapons in cars parked at school. But Alexandria Lainez, a student at the University of North Florida, said that infringed on her right to carry a gun between her home and the school’s Jacksonville campus.
An appellate court agreed, because the state’s constitution forbids any constraints on gun ownership and carry that aren’t approved by the conservative-controlled Legislature. “There are certain places where firearms can be legally prohibited,” the court’s decision stated. “But the Legislature has recognized that a citizen who is going to be in one of these places should be able to keep a firearm securely encased within his or her vehicle.”
Only time will tell if more guns around makes a campus more safe…. You know, like more nukes have made the world a safer place… So far.
A report appearing in the pro-regime China Times brags that China’s launch of the Long March-3B rocket earlier this week is part of a long term plan to turn the moon into a Star Wars-style “death star” from which the PLA could launch missiles against any target on Earth.
It all sounds like something straight out of The Onion, but upon checking the sources it appears that this is indeed what Communist Party officials have been discussing this week following China’s flagship launch of a lunar rover, which is Beijing’s first spacecraft to land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
The article appears on the Want China Times website, the English-language outlet of the The China Times Group, which is based in Taiwan and considered to be pro-unification and pro-Beijing. The article cites the Beijing Times, which is affiliated with the People’s Daily, as the source for the original report.
Under the headline PLA dreams of turning moon into Death Star, says expert, the report cites “experts in China” who are wargaming how the moon, “Can be transformed into a deadly weapon. Like the Death Star in Star Wars, the moon could hypothetically be used as a military battle station and ballistic missiles could be launched against any military target on Earth.”
“Various weapons testing sites could also be established on the moon,” the article adds, noting that the launch of the Long March-3B rocket is the start of “a more ambitious program.”
This report again reminds us that some of Beijing’s most jingoistic and aggressive rhetoric is often hidden in plain view, with Chinese military planners perfectly willing to go on the record and brag about their agenda to turn China into a forceful military superpower.
Last month, Chinese state-run media released a map showing the locations of major U.S. cities and how they would be impacted by a nuclear attack launched from the PLA’s strategic submarine force.
Top Chinese generals have also occasionally threatened America with nuclear strikes if the U.S. becomes embroiled in any future conflict involving Taiwan.
Tensions between the United States and China are currently running high after Beijing imposed an “air defense zone” over the disputed Senkaku Islands and hinted that it may shoot down any foreign aircraft entering the area. The U.S., Japan and South Korea quickly rendered this threat toothless by performing several overflights of the area without notifying Chinese authorities.
According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the escalating crisis represents a “watershed moment for the world,” could signal the start of a new cold war, and means “Asia is on the cusp of a full-blown arms race.”
China has acted with increasing military aggression in recent months, first by sending warships to the coast of Syria to in September to “observe” the actions of U.S. and Russian vessels in the region and then by sailing a surveillance ship through Hawaiian waters for the very first time in an unprecedented move which was described as a provocative retaliation to America’s naval presence in the East China Sea.
Well, they will have to be careful not to trip on all of the German, Soviet, US bases already up there. Odds are they will have some accidents or encounter some “aliens” if they try to set up some of their own doomsday missile launchers this late in the game.
If you have ambitions of being one of the first people on Mars, listen up: A Dutch company says it is moving along with its plan to send four lucky Earthlings to colonize the Red Planet. The catch: They won’t ever come back.
The Mars One foundation announced Tuesday that it has secured lead suppliers for an unmanned mission launching in 2018, which involves a robotic lander and a communications satellite. Lockheed Martin has been contracted to study building the lander, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. will develop a concept study for the satellite, Mars One said.
This first mission will demonstrate technology that would be involved in a permanent human settlement on Mars. If all goes well — and that’s still very much an “if” — the first pioneers could land on Mars in 2025.
Enthusiasm has been growing since the project’s first big announcement in April. More than 200,000 people have signed up to be prospective astronauts, Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp said in Washington on Tuesday.
Apparently, they’re OK with living out the rest of their lives on Mars. The technology for a return flight doesn’t exist — there’s no Kennedy Space Center launch pad over there! — and having a one-way trip greatly reduces costs, the company has said.
The application period is now closed, and by the end of this year, the company plans to notify those special folk who made it to Round 2.
The unmanned mission is the “most important and most difficult step of actually getting humans to Mars,” Lansdorp said.
It would also be the first privately funded planetary exploration mission.
“The opportunity to participate in that is just really exciting,” said Ed Sedivy, a chief engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Lansdorp expects that the majority of funding for the unmanned missions will come from sponsors and partners, not public contributions.
The cost of the lander and satellite will be something that the contracted companies will study, although Mars One has a ballpark figure in mind, Lansdorp said.
What they want to send in 2018
The lander will be based on the successful NASA Phoenix mission, Lansdorp said. The Mars One probe will feature a robotic arm carrying a camera that will shoot continuous video, as well as a water experiment that will demonstrate the production of liquid water on the surface of Mars.
“The highest priority is to actually have liquid water on Mars,” he said.
This unmanned mission will also carry the winning projects from an experiment contest. There will be a worldwide university challenge giving teams the chance to propose tests to carry out on Mars.
These could be science experiments, of course, but Mars One is also interested in “fun” experiments. One of Lansdorp’s visions, for instance, is a balloon with a camera attached to it that would film Mars from an altitude of 200 to 500 meters, which has never been done.
The communications satellite will provide live video feed from surface of Mars to Earth, representing the first Mars synchronous communications satellite, Lansdorp said.
Now I had an undamaged example I could study.
As I sealed the tick into a tube and put it in the freezer, I reflected on how it had come to stow itself away undetected. It must have been waiting in ambush on the forest floor as I passed, then made its way right up my body. Discovering it in my nose had been alarming enough, but thinking about it crawling across my face to get there was truly disturbing.
Once I got the genetics report back from the lab, though, my unease turned to excitement. The DNA sequence of the tick could not be matched with any existing database. At the very least, my specimen was a member of a species that had never been genetically tested before, but it could well be of a type previously unknown to science.
A colleague who’d been studying high-resolution photographs of the chimps I’d been researching found that many of them had ticks of the same type up their noses. No evidence of this phenomenon had been found before, and I now believe these particular ticks have evolved specifically to hide inside the nostril cavities of chimps, where they can feast in safety, away from their host’s habitual grooming regimes.
It could well be that the Ugandan nostril ticks have yet to spread beyond the particular park where we conducted our research. We now have to return and set traps to catch more, so we can do further study. It’s a tremendously exciting project for me, and could prove vitally important: we know my tick managed to latch on to me undetected, and we need to ensure others don’t stow away on international flights and establish colonies in other countries, where they could potentially spread exotic diseases.
A biologist can spend a whole career hoping to make such a breakthrough, and there’s a special kudos attached to being able to carry out a study on a subject of which you have personal experience. The discomfort and revulsion I went through is a very reasonable trade-off. I feel genuinely grateful to the tick for choosing me as its host.
“More than 1/3 of Americans believe in UFO’s and one in 10 Americans believe that they have seen a UFO according to a study by National Geographic Channel. UFO sightings are reported all over the planet by thousands of people. The real question is whether UFO’s are interstellar vehicles visiting Earth? Most UFO sightings can be classified as misidentified aircraft, planets or other aerial phenomena, but not all of them. There is a small percentage of UFO sightings that can’t be explained by any known aircraft or natural phenomena. It is this small percentage of UFO sightings that create an exciting possibility. Over the years real UFO sightings have reported simultaneous electromagnetic disturbances. The UFO Detector is designed to sense these electromagnetic disturbances and signal their detection flashing 16 LED’s simultaneously and beeping. The elegantly designed transparent plastic case is a handsome sculptured conversation piece that’s allows one to see the electronics inside the case. Suitable for display on a desk, shelf or bedroom dresser.”
Amazon seems to be doing quite well with the product since there are currently more than a hundred reviews on the site with an overall rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars. And, most are about what would be expected:
“I am very satisfied with this product and will recommend it to all of the human race” writes James O’Brien.
R. J. Reid reports: “This little gizmo is a bargain at twice the price and much more accurate than the voices in my head.”
And “This amazing device gives ample warning and is HIGHLY ACCURATE. I had a pretty good idea of when there was abnormal activity in my area. BUT NOW, DAMN. Every time that I notice distorted sensory emissions, bang, the detector is going off! WOOT WOOT WOOT!” says They Are Everywhere.
But, as with just about any mass produced product these days, it’s not all raves. Cyphis complains that “I don’t know if this is a scam or if mine was broken, but it doesn’t work and I am still getting abducted by UFO’s on a regular basis.” …
The annual Kennedy Center Honors reception isn’t normally a place to break news, but President Obama opted Sunday to publicly mention Area 51 — the installation where the government is supposedly storing UFOs and alien life, the inspiration for innumerable conspiracy theories.
The reason: Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine and her claims to have seen UFOs and extraterrestrial beings.
“Now, when you first become president, one of the questions that people ask you is, ‘What’s really going on in Area 51?’” Obama said to chuckles at the White House event.
“When I wanted to know, I’d call Shirley MacLaine.”
Obama added: “I think I just became the first president to ever publicly mention Area 51. How’s that, Shirley?”
The other Kennedy Center honorees were musicians Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, and opera star Martina Arroyo.
NEWS: Kennedy Center honorees saluted
As for MacLaine and Area 51, Time magazine noted:
“The president couldn’t resist the opportunity to joke about the decades of conspiracy theories surrounding mysterious lights and aliens at the Nevada installation. …
“The official use for the Nevada Test and Training Range and Groom Lake — the formal name for the facility commonly known as Area 51 — is far less otherworldly. It’s been the testing ground for government programs, including the U-2 spy plane and various stealth aircraft.”
On Monday, the world’s leading technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, published an open letter to President Obama and Congress demanding reform of U.S. privacy laws to restore the public’s “trust in the Internet.”
This comes after what seems like an endless series of revelations about government surveillance from the secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Let’s start with the latest: American and British spies have gone into online fantasy games to snoop on players, and to see if any militants are communicating with each other dressed as elves or gnomes. Last week, the Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency is “collecting billions of records a day to track the location of mobile phone users around the world.” And we learned recently that the NSA hacked fiber-optic cables and infected 50,000 networks with malware.
Big Brother spying is happening at a scale we could never have imagined.
This new awareness has prompted people — even those with nothing to hide and who support broad surveillance for national security reasons — to try to regain some control over their online privacy.
According to a fall Pew report, 86% of people “have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints.” Another study concluded that 64% of Internet users concerned about privacy have taken action to protect themselves in direct response to the NSA PRISM program. Revelations of NSA spying even contributed to President Obama’s approval rating sinking to a new low.
Americans are very worried that they’ve lost control of their personal data. In this atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust, people are adopting privacy solutions in unprecedented numbers.
For example, Silent Circle, a global encrypted communications company that provides secure phone and text solutions, has experienced explosive 400% growth. My company, Disconnect, anonymized more than three million search queries in the first 30 days after launch. And sites like Prism Break are becoming popular destinations to learn about ways to protect your online privacy.
It’s hard not to feel that we’ve lost too much control when secret laws and new technologies empower governments and a handful of giant companies to secretly track, analyze and record virtually every detail about any of our lives (even leaders of world superpowers). Without suspicion, it appears that untold millions of us have or will be subject to unconstitutional searches and seizures of our most personal information. No wonder many people believe that the NSA’s actions violate our privacy.
What’s even scarier is that government spy programs are rapidly expanding. For example, significant progress is being made to improve the use and capabilities of video surveillance. Law enforcement agencies are partnering with technology firms to create video surveillance systems capable of facial recognition, scanning license plates and detecting radiation levels emitted by cars.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited a joint NYPD-Microsoft project and suggested that within five years there will be 24/7 video surveillance of the entire city. On Big Brother, Bloomberg said, “Get used to it!”
The government is also upgrading its ability to process and store the enormous amount of data it is acquiring. During the summer when Snowden’s disclosures were sending shock waves around the world, U.S. taxpayers paid for a brand new $1.2 billion data farm that will serve as the NSA’s external hard drive, designed specifically to improve “data acquisition, storage and processing effort.”
Meanwhile, consumer trust that companies can or will protect their personal information has been dealt a major blow as evidence emerged that the NSA collects information “at will” from Google’s and Yahoo’s data hubs without those companies’ knowledge and that nine leading Internet companies provided the government access directly to user information as part of the PRISM program.
So it comes as no surprise that 58% of people don’t trust Internet companies to protect privacy. Tech leaders have even publicly acknowledged that news about PRISM has hurt their brand trust to a far greater extent than any previous uproar over privacy violations.
We can’t assume any company can protect us from government snooping. So until existing laws change, we have to focus on controlling what we can. It’s possible that over time, consumers will increasingly avoid or limit sharing personal information. Companies that collect huge silos of personal data may be viewed as unattractive — as sources of intel the government can easily and secretly tap into.
Ironically, the companies known as the biggest online privacy offenders who’ve created business models that rely on monetizing user data are now calling for limits on surveillance. Though, really, what these companies seek has nothing to do with making their collection and use of our data more transparent.
Still, their point is well taken. The government must change surveillance laws to avoid destroying our trust and the current Internet economy.
Those familiar with the entire cache of Snowden’s leaked documents insist that the most shocking and significant revelations are yet to come. And there’s a lot we’ll never know. According to the U.S. government, Snowden, a low-level contract engineer, had very limited access and no knowledge about the “crown jewels” of the NSA’s surveillance program.
What could those “crown jewels” be? …
One crown jewel would be the darknet. There are many things called the darknet but what I mean is all data that you think was never transmitted over the Internet. Access could be obtained by multiple back doors in operating systems and in hardware to bypass encryption. Another would be if they’ve cracked encryption.