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Carl Hiaasen's "Skink No Surrender"

Boing Boing -

Carl Hiaasen's novels are treasures of hilarity, violence, comeuppance and ardent love for Florida wilderness. The very best of them feature "Skink," a wild man of the woods with a fantastic history and a twisted sense of justice. With Skink No Surrender, Hiaasen brings his greatest character to a new generation by transforming the violent, profane anti-hero into the star of a young adult novel. Read the rest

Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public

Slashdot -

zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet. The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future. With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Never mined: Italian worker plays hooky for 35 years, receives full pension

RT -

Coalminer Carlo Cani, 60, regaled the Italian daily La Nuvo Sardegna with the details of his 35-year-long adventure of absenteeism, which saw him use every trick under the sun to keep from going underground.

Hailing from the Sardinian city of Cagliari, Cani suffered from the worst possible condition for anyone in the mining business; claustrophobia. But rather than brave the depths day in and day out, (or find another job for that matter), Cani decided to it was better to game the system than change his profession.

“I invented everything – amnesia, pains, hemorrhoids, I used to stagger around as if I was drunk. I banged my thumb on a wall and obviously you can’t work with a swollen thumb,” he told the paper on Tuesday.

He also described how he would rub coal dust in his eyes to fake an infection, anything to avoid taking a trip down the tunnel. What’s more, a sympathetic doctor helped him hoodwink his employers.

He also managed to milk Italy’s generous labor system, which keeps works on the payroll even when companies are floundering economically. For example, when production at Carbosulcis, the mine he worked for, dropped, he volunteered to be “laid off” for reduced pay. For the next five years, he would go on to indulge his real passions, like playing at jazz festivals under the stage name Charlie Dog.

After 35 years of lying low, he retired in 2006 at the ripe old age of 52, receiving a full pension for his troubles.

“I reached the pensionable age while hardly ever working. I hated being underground,” he told the daily. Saying his father was a “real miner”, Carlo admitted he was simply cut from another cloth.

“I just didn’t like the work – being a miner was not the job for me.”

He also has “respect” for his fellow miners who broke their backs over the years to pull in a pension rather than take his slacker’s path. He even recounted one day fateful day when he actually showed up to work, only to recover the body of a colleague of 28 years who had been crushed by a boulder.

Recounting the strangeness that he ever became a miner in the first place, he said that has stayed “printed in my mind.”

The strange case of Carlo Cani has caused outrage in a country with an official unemployment rate of 12.3 percent. With four in 10 young people unable to find work, previous generations continue to benefit from a generous retirement system.

A similar case made waves in August, when a Sicilian doctor admitted to working just nine days in 15 years.

Activists say no to horror Halloween in Russia

RT -

The head of the Aspect Center think tank and member of the Public Chamber, Georgiy Fyodorov, wrote a letter to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinskiy asking for Russian clubs, restaurants and other recreational establishment be prevented from capitalizing on the upcoming holiday.

In the message quoted by the Izvestia daily on Wednesday the activist wants the minister to issue an official recommendation for businessmen to abstain from Halloween celebrations. He also suggests a system of benefits for companies that do not celebrate Halloween.

Fyodorov claimed the step was prompted by numerous complaint letters from Russian regions. The writers talked of drunken youngsters dressed as corpses and monsters scaring children and others. Also horror-themed parties in night clubs can induce lowly feelings and turn into full-scale orgies, the letters claimed.

The activist added that the only good thing coming from Halloween is profit, and the holiday is “ideologically and culturally alien to the Russian way of life.” Fyodorov also claims extremists can use such holidays for criminal purposes.

The Culture Ministry said the minister has not yet received Fyodorov’s letter, and that there were no plans to celebrate Halloween in any of the establishments supervised by the ministry.

MP Yaroslav Nilov of the populist nationalist party LDPR suggested in comments to the press that official bans would be ineffective in such cases but urged Russian officials to promote national holidays and celebrations instead of “imported” ones.

It’s not the first time Russian officials and activists have set their sights on Halloween. In 2013 a leading representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vsevolod Chaplin, called such practices dangerous. "At first, people play with the evil spirit as a joke, but then they begin to play seriously with these things. This leads to serious problems: sickness, sadness, and despair," Chaplin was quoted as saying by the popular news site Lifenews.

In the same year the authorities in the Siberian city of Omsk banned a Halloween themed event, claiming that celebrations relating to the cult of death and its personification can have devastating consequences for the psychological and moral well-being of students.

Microsoft PowerPoint Vulnerable to Zero-Day Attack

The Hacker News -

It seems that there is no end to the Windows zero-days, as recently Microsoft patched three zero-day vulnerabilities in Windows which were actively exploited in the wild by hackers, and now a new Zero-day vulnerability has been disclosed affecting all supported releases of Windows operating system, excluding Windows Server 2003. Microsoft has issued a temporary security fix for the flaw

Rugged carrier serves rugged COM Express modules

LXer -

MEN Micro announced a rugged, industrial temperature “XC15? carrier board for its Linux-ready Rugged COM Express modules, including a Core-i7 CB70C COM. For years, MEN Micro, which offers a wide variety of embedded systems and components, focused its computer-on-module efforts on its Linux-ready “Embedded System Module” (ESM) form-factor. The company still sells several dozen ESM, ESMini, and ESMexpress variants, but more recently has launched a new line of COM Express modules it dubs Rugged COM Express. Now, the company has a carrier board that is just as tough as its new modules.

Taxi firm offers ‘ethnically white’ drivers after UK child sex scandal

RT -

The firm, which now offers “local” drivers, took over the rival Eagle Taxis in 2009, which had employed the drivers involved in a scandal.

Stephen Campbell, manager of Car 2000, said the demand for white taxi drivers was a direct consequence of the scandal.

“We have had quite a lot of customers requesting what they call a ‘local’ driver. A bit insane if you consider that most of the [Asian] lads were born in Rochdale,” said Campbell.

He further pointed out that “it’s a business,” and said “we have got a duty to do what the customer asks us to. I don’t think we can discriminate against the customer in the same way. It is a business at the end of the day. We have a large bank loan to pay back.”

According to Mark Widdup, director for Economy and Environment at Rochdale Borough Council, the policy of offering white drivers is perfectly legal and does not breach the minicab firm’s license.

“This is the first the council has heard of this company’s policy. However, this appears to be a decision made by the company and there is currently nothing in the conditions of their license which states that they cannot operate such a policy, just as some firms choose to offer customers only female drivers,” Widdup said.

The majority of drivers for Car 2000 are of Asian origin, but the company reportedly has up to 60 calls per week asking for ‘local’ drivers.

Campbell said that the Asian drivers were in “a terrible position” after their treatment by customers. He praised the drivers for being harder-working than their British counterparts, claiming “[the Asian drivers] do what they are asked and they don’t complain about it. They have a much better work ethic.”

READ MORE: MPs investigate police failure in Rotherham child abuse scandal

This disclosure comes amid growing racial tensions in Rochdale and neighboring Heywood. Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, said the effects of the affair were “extremely worrying” and expressed concern at the level of hostility toward Asian minorities.

Heywood was at the center of the grooming scandal, which saw a sex trafficking gang of mainly Pakistani origin prey on at least 47 girls. Two of the nine men jailed were taxi drivers with Eagle Taxis.

Mohammed Amin, 45, of Fallinge, who was a driver for the firm for 14 years, was given a five-year jail sentence for sexual assault. Abdul Aziz, from Rochdale, and also a driver for Eagle Taxis, received a nine-year term for trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Heywood and Rochdale police and social services were condemned for “shocking” failures in protecting victims.

Speaking to RT, Nick Ryan, advisor to the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, said: “It’s very sad that tensions still exist following the ‘grooming’ scandals and tragedy of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.”

Ryan believes more work needs to be done to build the relationships in areas affected by the grooming scandal.

“There will be all too many on the political extremes looking to exploit this situation for purely political ends - or to stir up further hatreds”

The scandal has provoked further political ramifications. In the Heywood and Middleton by election of October 9, the UK Independence Party, which takes a harder stance on immigration restriction, polled 617 votes short of the incumbent Labour Party.

TEPCO removing protective Fukushima canopy for most dangerous op yet

RT -

The canopy was installed by TEPCO, the plant’s operator, in 2011 to mitigate the damage done to the plant in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which led to one of the worst nuclear disasters in human history.

On October 22 it started to take the construction apart using a crane-mounted drill to make 30sq cm holes in one of the structure’s six panels, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

After the holes were drilled, the workers coated the inside of the building with special anti-scattering resin to ensure that radioactive materials still lingering after reactor meltdown would not be agitated.

The inside of the building contains a significant amount of debris left after a hydrogen explosion following the disasters. The operation will therefore require the installation of cameras inside to survey the area.

The dangerous next step in the decommissioning process comes in 2016-2017, when the workers will proceed to remove the rubble and garbage, followed by an extremely delicate process for the removal of spent nuclear fuel rods from cooling pools.

Watch our brief explanation below of what this entails.

READ MORE: Fukushima operator says “sorry” as workers erect protective cap

TEPCO can’t complete some of its objectives at this time, as it has other more pressing matters to deal with – the erection of frozen soil walls under and around Reactor 1 to keep the escaping radioactive water from seeping into the Pacific Ocean.

The plant was plagued by numerous faults, both natural and man-made, which led to a number of leaks and consequent structural damage, releasing massive amounts of radiation into the water.

One such incident was in August 2013 and involved Reactor 3, where the removal of debris led to contamination of workers as far as 500 meters away.

TEPCO has also faced a massive backlash from the government, foreign observers and Japanese citizens for its unsatisfactory handling of the crisis resulting out of the 2011 tragedy.

As though human error weren’t enough, it turned out in early October that the level of radioactivity in water around the plant has risen to record highs, following a typhoon that passed through the Japanese coastline.

READ MORE: Radiation levels at Fukushima rise to record highs after typhoon

Specifically, levels of the radioactive isotope cesium are now at 251,000 becquerels per liter, three times higher than previously recorded levels.

Cesium, which is highly soluble and can spread easily, is known to be capable of causing cancer.

The scary part about the escaping radioactive material all this time later is that no one truly knows the scope of the problem and how best to approach it. Some other measures apart from constructing frozen soil walls involved pumping off groundwater. They all had varying levels of success.

Off the rails: Mystery man steals, crashes Moscow train

RT -

The incident happened in the town of Lobnya on Tuesday night, the press service of Moscow Railways told the local media.

“An unidentified man penetrated into the train driver’s cab at Lobnya Railway Depot, started driving the train and then disappeared,” the company’s statement said.

The hijacker then lost control of the train and the moving vehicle crashed into another train, according to a preliminary investigation.

Ночная вечеринка в депо Лобня. Одни говорят, что хотели угнать, а другие - что это просто хулиганство. pic.twitter.com/6HdiGqtETS

— Александр Марьянович (@Sanya6213) October 21, 2014

The first carriage of the hijacked train was badly damaged and the train which was ‘rammed’ was derailed and slightly damaged.

“The person then disappeared from the crime scene,” added Moscow Railways.

Nobody was killed or injured in the incident, which didn’t affect train operations.

Transport police are currently searching for the ‘train driver’ with police dogs.

On January 1, 2013, a 30-year-old man decided to hijack a train while intoxicated in the city of Mytishchi, Moscow Region. He crashed into another train carting gasoline. The damage bill ran to more than 2 million rubles ($48 837).

Неужели правда? "@Roman_Yhnovec: Неизвестный пытался УГНАТЬ ЭЛЕКТРИЧКУ со станции Лобня pic.twitter.com/mn0lsuVlGe "

— Elena Mikhailova (@ElenaMikhailova) October 21, 2014

#Долгопрудный публикует пресс-релиз МЖД о происшествии в депо #Лобняhttp://t.co/oisEvkW3eZ pic.twitter.com/zJWvTPs2Ap

— Долгопрудный (@InfoDolgoprudny) October 22, 2014


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