How I Threw My First Punch

When I was 40, I raised my fists and did not run away from a fight for the first time since sixth grade.

It happened in a gym straight out of a Rocky movie. I was spending that year working in a rented office on the second floor of a three-story walk-up in Rome, Georgia. I filled my time staring out the office window, tapping gloomily at my keyboard on a failing project. One day, I heard banging.

Fire-escape stairs led to a newly cleared third floor. “A gym,” an intense, wiry man said. And sure enough: heavy bags, speed bags, weights. Along one brick wall: a ring, canvas duct-taped directly to the wood floor. Plaster hung in patches; the bags hung directly from exposed roof joists.The wiry man was Lee Fortune, onetime holder of the World Boxing Council’s Continental Americas middleweight title. Did I want to learn to box? Lee, a cop, planned to work the gym around his schedule. It would be $25 a month for limitless time and coaching, several afternoons a week. “Not kickboxing,” he said. “Real boxing. Sparring. You’ll wear headgear.” I said sure.

“A man you’ve never met before said for $25 he will hit you in the head,” a friend summarized. What else did I have going on?

Source: How I Threw My First Punch

How is HD Radio doing in Canada? It depends | Globalnews.ca

Back in 1999, a man in a van pulled up. “Wanna hear something cool?” Inside was a Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) receiver, demonstrating the fidelity of digital signals from an experimental transmitter in Toronto, including programming from my station, 102.1 the Edge/Toronto. It sounded great. Better than great, in fact.

Born out of a European research project in 1995, DAB promised static-free, CD-quality, better-than-FM audio. And it did. The new technology was also far more efficient, cramming more radio signals into the same bandwidth, something that was appealing to markets with AM and FM dials at maximum capacity. Its successor, DAB+, uses substantially less electricity than power-hungry AM and FM transmitters. The prediction was that it was just a matter of time before DAB replaced analogue AM and FM broadcasts. “Soon,” we were told. And then … nothing. At least in North America.

Source: How is HD Radio doing in Canada? It depends | Globalnews.ca

Elon Musk Weighs in on the Encryption Wars Between Telegram and Signal

The encryption wars brewing between the messaging apps Telegram and Signal have attracted the commentary of a high-profile critic: Elon Musk.

Musk, who previously championed Signal for its user privacy protections, now appears to have changed his tune, amplifying criticisms of the app and its leadership and saying there are unspecified “known vulnerabilities” within Signal that have gone unaddressed by the company’s leadership.

Given his influence in the tech sphere, Musk’s remarkable reversal on Signal has become central to the current conversation on encryption — and, according to one cryptography expert, is pushing users toward less secure alternatives.

Source: Elon Musk Weighs in on the Encryption Wars Between Telegram and Signal

Faced with RTO mandates, some top tech talent left instead – The Washington Post

Return-to-office mandates at some of the most powerful tech companies — Apple, Microsoft and SpaceX — were followed by a spike in departures among the most senior, tough-to-replace talent, according to a case study published last week by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan.

Researchers drew on resume data from People Data Labs to understand the impact that forced returns to offices had on employee tenure, and the movement of workers between companies. What they found was a strong correlation between senior-level employees departing directly after a mandate was implemented, suggesting these policies “had a negative effect on the tenure and seniority of their respective workforce.” High-ranking employees stayed several months less than they might have without the mandate, the research suggests — and in many cases, they went to work for direct competitors.

At Microsoft, the share of senior employees as a portion of the company’s overall workforce declined more than 5 percentage points after the return-to-office mandate took effect, the researchers found. At Apple, the decline was 4 percentage points, while at SpaceX — the only company of the three to require workers to be fully in-person — the share of senior employees dropped 15 percentage points.

Source: Faced with RTO mandates, some top tech talent left instead – The Washington Post

Opinion: Russia can lose this war

On Thursday Russia will celebrate Victory Day, its commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Domestically, this is nostalgia. In the 1970s, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev created a cult of victory. Russia under Putin has continued the tradition.Abroad, this is intimidation. We are meant to think that Russia cannot lose.

And far too many of us, during Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, have believed that. In February 2022, when Russia undertook its full-scale invasion of its neighbor, the consensus was that Ukraine would fall within days.

Even today, when Ukraine has held its own for more than two years, the prevailing view among Russia’s friends in Congress and in the Senate is that Russia must eventually win. Moscow’s success is not on the battlefield, but in our minds.Russia can lose. And it should lose, for the sake of the world — and for its own sake.

Source: Opinion: Russia can lose this war

Top senators believe the US secretly recovered UFOs | The Hill

Has the U.S. government secretly retrieved exotic craft of “non-human” origin? Newly declassified documents, along with extraordinary legislation, illustrate how two successive Democratic Senate majority leaders appear to have believed so.

Notably, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the late Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) were not alone in their focus on UFOs. The Democratic heavyweights received critical support and encouragement from a bipartisan group of high-profile senators over the years, including former fighter pilot and famed astronaut John Glenn (D-Ohio); Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who observed a UFO as a World War II pilot; Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), then-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense; 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.); Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).

In late 2011, for example, the top scientist at the Department of Homeland Security met with Lieberman, then chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Reid to discuss the establishment of an ultra-secret UFO program.

Source: Top senators believe the US secretly recovered UFOs | The Hill

The Problem with Music | Steve Albini

I read this piece from Steve Albini years ago and it still resonates today. Steve died suddenly of a heart attack on Tuesday. The famed recording engineer (cough, producer) was sixty-one.

Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.

Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says, “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim it again, please. Backstroke.”

And he does, of course.

Source: The Problem with Music | Steve Albini

US AC-130J Ghostrider Destroys Chinese ‘Fishing Boat’ In Rare Military Drills Targeting Notorious Vessels

The US used its legendary AC-130J Ghostrider gunship in an exercise that involved firing its left-side guns on targets simulating China’s notorious fishing boats. This was during Exercise Balikatan 24 with the Philippine military. The AC-130J, used by the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), is a unique plane with a 30-mm and a 105-mm cannon on its left (port-side) lower fuselage.

The plane circles overhead while providing direct fire support to ground troops. It can also carry air-to-ground weapons like the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, GBU-69 Small Glide Munition, AGM-114 Hellfire missile, and AGM-176 Griffin missile.

The aircraft is a C-130 Hercules transport plane. The plane’s target of a small fishing boat, too, assumes significance since China’s use of large swarms of fishing vessels to assert its maritime rights has often vexed military experts.

Source: US AC-130J Ghostrider Destroys Chinese ‘Fishing Boat’ In Rare Military Drills Targeting Notorious Vessels

The Pentagon is lying about UFOs | The Hill

According to Gaetz, fighter pilots tracked four unknown objects flying in a “clear diamond formation.” Notably, the incident occurred on a training range typically conspicuously free of any airborne clutter.

In a case resolution report published last week, the Pentagon’s UFO analysis office concluded with “moderate” confidence that the object observed by the pilot was a balloon, likely “a large commercial lighting balloon.”

This so-called explanation insults the intelligence of any reader who takes a few moments to review the details of the incident. It did not convince the world’s most prominent UFO skeptic. The pilot’s sketch of the object, described as akin to an “Apollo spacecraft,” bears no plausible resemblance to the design of any known industrial lighting balloon.

Source: The Pentagon is lying about UFOs | The Hill

With ATACMS In Hand, Ukraine Looks To Neutralize Putin’s Fortress In Crimea

There is now no place in Russian-occupied Crimea that isn’t safe from attacks from Ukraine. Let’s go.

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, his armed forces have pounded Ukraine with missiles and drones fired from the relatively safe confines of Crimea.

Following his occupation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula in 2014, the Kremlin leader poured billions of dollars into militarizing Crimea, expanding bases and constructing depots and other infrastructure.Now fortress Crimea faces a significant new threat that could neutralize its crucial role in the 26-month-old war: U.S. long-range ATACMS, or Army Tactical Missile Systems. After nearly two years of hesitation, the United States earlier this month delivered versions of the powerful ballistic missiles that can travel 300 kilometers — essentially reaching any of the more than 100 military targets on the peninsula.

“The delivery of ATACMS is a big breakthrough. It could basically make Crimea militarily worthless,” Philip Karber, a Washington-based military analyst who focuses on Ukraine, told RFE/RL.

Source: With ATACMS In Hand, Ukraine Looks To Neutralize Putin’s Fortress In Crimea