Numlock News: May 10, 2023 • Stinknet, Something Awful, Manga
By Walt Hickey
Iconic internet forum Something Awful is scrambling to deal with the announcement that Imgur, the image-hosting site, would begin the process of deleting images from old and inactive accounts, as well as eliminating pornography. The choice of the image-hosting site to stop hosting images by May 15 means that an entire ecosystem of websites that relied on it are screwed, one among them Something Awful, where images of its 25 years of history often were hosted on Imgur and sites not unlike it. Naturally, if we lose all photographs of Groverhaus, it’ll be like a burning of a shoddily-constructed Library of Alexandria, so the users moved into action. The so-called Imgur Download Caper scraped the whole of Something Awful — a process that I think can best be visualized as “that scene in Avengers 2 where Ultron sees the whole internet and immediately decides to destroy humanity” — found all the Imgur links, and then mass-downloaded them, so that they can be backed up on Something Awful image servers. Archive Team, a rogue archivist community, is backing up Imgur links at the rate of 600 submissions per second, hundreds of millions of downloads.
A new study published in Frontiers of Marine Science described how researchers were able to use two 250-kilometer fiber-optic cables off the coast of Svalbard to find and track fin whales for hours through a 1,800-square-kilometer area. The process, Distributed Acoustic Sensing, turns the fiber-optic cables into hydrophones. An earlier study saw the researchers collecting 40 days of such recordings, 250 terabytes of data, with the end result of identifying over 800 whale songs and calls. This more recent study is even cooler, because they were able to track the four fin whales in question to an accuracy of 100 meters. They hope the research could be put to use in reducing the risk of ship strikes.
The price of olive oil has shot up following a drought in the Mediterranean, with the global price of oil hitting $6,000 per metric ton, the highest level since 1997. Last year the same metric ton of olive oil could be had for a little north of $4,000, so it’s a significant squeeze. Spain typically produces over a million tons of olive oil a year, but this year produced half that, while Italy’s in the worst drought in 70 years and saw its production decline 37 percent to 208,000 tons. Turkey and Greece are each attempting to increase production — Turkey produced 400,000 tons last year, up from 228,000 tons the year prior — but those of us who live in Greek neighborhoods of Queens can feel the panic in the air.
The Justice Department announced they seized the domains of 13 illicit service platforms that sell for-hire Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which are used to overwhelm a targeted website with an ocean of fake requests to knock them offline or make them difficult to use. This follows a huge action in December where 48 so-called booter services were taken offline, with 10 of the 13 seized domains in this latest action serving as new shingles for the criminal groups. The Justice Department also announced that four of the defendants charged in December had pleaded guilty.
Viz Media, the American publisher of Japanese manga, is launching a new app and $1.99 subscription service that aims to compete with the primary way that English-speaking fans consume new manga: namely, wildcat fan-made scanlation sites where fans translate — to varying degrees of success — ongoing manga in the time period between when the chapters are released in Japan and when the official translated volumes are released in the United States. Viz Manga has digital releases for 10,000 chapters of manga, with 15 series to be released to English-speaking readers on the very same day as the release in Japan. Combined with their Shonen Jump subscription, which currently has 35 million monthly reads on average, that’s 25,000 chapters of manga.
The methane leaks from two fossil fuel fields in Turkmenistan were responsible for 4.4 million tonnes of methane leaking into the atmosphere in 2022, the equivalent of emitting 366 million tonnes of CO2. That’s more emissions than the United Kingdom, which is the 17th-largest emitting country in the world. The emissions were found as a result of satellite imagery, and research suggests that Turkmenistan switching from flaring, which burns unwanted gas into CO2, to venting, which just released it into the atmosphere directly, is less easy to catch but far worse for the climate. Turkmenistan is responsible for more individual super-emitting events over the 2019 to 2022 period than any other country.
The desert of the American West is infested with an invasive plant called stinknet, an unpleasant herb that besides emitting an odor when it blooms also fuels wildfires which, in fact, spread the stinknet even further. It was first identified in California in 1981, and now it’s a massive issue as far as Vegas, Arizona, and north Mexico. Once it popped up in Arizona in 1997, scientists began to warn that if not controlled the state could be awash in it, but they were ignored and here we are. A program sponsored by Maricopa County and the Arizona Conservation Alliance called Desert Defenders removed invasive plants in 21 events in seven state parks this year. Of the 1.5 million plants removed, 92 percent were stinknet.
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