Thursday, July 01, 2021

If We Shadows Have Offended ...

Sad to report, dear blog readers, this blogger remains Facebook-deprived after the events described in such detail in the last From The North bloggerisationisms update. Despite four e-mails to two different e-mail addresses (both of which are alleged to be current contact sources for the Facebook Help Centre) and several other attempts to contact someone (anyone) who would be able and willing to assist this blogger with his hacking-related problems, no contact has been established at the time of writing. It's ironic, really, in the very week that Facebook has taken great pleasure in announcing to the world that the stock market value of their company has topped one trillion bucks, their employees appear to enjoy actively avoiding engaging with their customers, particularly if that customer happens to have a problem which requires their urgent attention.
So, on the trillion-to-one chance that trillionaire despot Mark Zuckerberg happens to be one of From The North's very occasional dear blog readers, here is a short - and sincere - plea. Hi Mark, how you doing? Good, Keith Telly Topping hopes. This blogger wonders if you could do him a geet excellent favour. Could you, if you're not too busy counting the trillions you've made of your social network, ask (politely) one of your, I'm guessing considerably less well-off, minions to drop this blogger a quick e-mail on the From The North e-mail address alluded to in the previous bloggerisationisms update. This blogger has always been a satisfied customer of and vocal supporter of Facebook and has never described its creator as a money-grabbing, tax-avoiding scumbag. Not even once. And, Facebook was always jolly keen, it seemed, to inform this blogger of how he was a 'valued' customer of the company. So, Mark, now would be an excellent time for you guys to, you know, prove it. Over to you, Mark. That's if you're reading this. Which you almost certainly are not. So, that was all a colossal waste of time and energy, wasn't it?
This lack of contact with this blogger's many dear Facbook fiends has been, of course really annoying, as one is sure you can all appreciate. This week of all weeks. After all it's not often that you get a day like Tuesday where not only do this blogger's beloved England cricket team give Sri Lanka a right good hiding in an One Day International at Chester-Le-Street, a mere ten miles away from the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House but, also, this blogger's beloved England football team won a game a socher-ball. Against Germany. For the first time in any international match since 2016. For the first time in a competitive match since 2001. For the first time in the finals of one of the two major international socher-ball competitions since 2000. And, for the first time in a knock out tie in the finals of one of the two major international socher-ball competitions since 1966 and all that. So, you know, that was a moment which this blogger would rather have enjoyed talking about with his dear (former) Facebook fiends. Current hacking-related right-shite states of affair notwithstanding.
Sadly, dear blog reader, it was not to be. Why, this very blogger couldn't even share with his dear Facebook fiends how much he really deserved this here curry salt and chilli pepper king prawn with steamed rice malarkey which was a necessary emergency purchase from the local takeaway on Wednesday evening. He'd liked to have shared that, dear blog reader, really he would. Cos it was geet lush.
England's previously mentioned two-nil victory over Ze Chermans at Euro 2020(ish) on Tuesday attracted a peak live TV audience of 20.6 million to BBC1, with an eighty per cent share of the available. What the other twenty per cent were watching, we can only speculate. Although, there was a rather good episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries on the Drama Channel at the same time. Apparently. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane were the highlights of a tense and memorable last-sixteen tie at Wembley. The match also pulled in six-and-a-half live streams across BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website combined - making it the most watched Euro 2020(ish) match so far. The iPlayer set a new live viewing record with 5.6 million streams. England's quarter-final against Ukraine in Rome will be live on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer on Saturday. And now watch, having done the hard part of getting this far, what's the betting Gareth's young lions go and lose that one?
In the last From The North bloggerisationisms update, this blogger mentioned that he'd just about reached the end of series five of his current complete rewtach of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - the Star Trek series that got good the quickest and stayed good the longest. Sadly, his Facebook experiences should've told this blogger that plans can fall through as so often they do. As Morrissey once said before - importantly - he turned into an odious, bigoted right-wing apologist. The recently purchased second-hand series six DVD box-set which this blogger was totally looking forward to watching a few episodes of during the lead-up to Tuesday's Wembley clash only went and turned out to be a dud, didn't it? Just three episodes into The Dominion War arc the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House DVD player started to suffer all manner of discombobulations as the first three discs of the set all featured at least one episode which wouldn't play at all, or stuttered through a couple of minutes before grinding to a less-than-dignified halt. They say misfortunes come in three so this blogger can't wait to find out what the third part of his current misery-trilogy is. Fortunately, Amazon via whom this blogger had purchased this crock of shat, unlike Facebook do answer e-mails sent to them complaining about their goods and service. A refund and/or replacement was offered (the latter is currently on its way to the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House as we speak) and, in the meantime, this blogger was able to dig out his videotapes - yes, he still has loads of them - of many of the affected episodes and watch them that way (having first managed to hook up the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House bedroom tellybox to one of the two surviving Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House VCRs. And, they actually played. Which was nice. Especially given that the run of episodes we're talking about included a handful of this blogger's favourite DS9 stories - Sons & Daughters, Behind The Lines, Sacrifice Of Angels, The Magnificent Ferengi (yes, 'the one with Iggy Pop'), Waltz and Far Beyond The Stars not least amongst them.
From the North favourite Elvis Costello has defended pop singer Olivia Rodrigo after she was accused of lifting one of his guitar riffs. 'Brutal', a song on Rodrigo's CD, is based around a chord sequence which also featured in Costello's 1978 hit 'Pump It Up'. But when some trouble-making shat-for-brains on Twitter said Rodrigo's song was 'pretty much a direct lift' from 'Pump It Up', Costello replied: 'This is fine by me. It's how rock & roll works,' Declan said. 'You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy.' He added: 'That's what I did.' The veteran singer-songwriter also included hashtags referencing Bob Dylan's 1965 classic 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', which inspired 'Pump It Up' and Chuck Berry's 1956 single 'Too Much Monkey Business', which in turn had influenced the Dylan song. Costello's refreshingly relaxed reaction comes despite a surge in music copyright cases in recent years. Perhaps the most infamous case was over the hit song 'Blurred Lines' - in which the family of the late Marvin Gaye accused Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams of plagiarising Gaye's song 'Got To Give It Up'. The jury's controversial verdict found that Thicke and Williams had copied the 'vibe' of Gaye's 1977 hit - rather than lifting a melody or chord sequence, which is usual bar for plagiarism. Since then, artists like over-rated ginger strummer Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Childish Gambino have all been sued for millions over similarities between their songs and earlier hits. Although, they haven't all lost. Others have taken the precaution of crediting writers who 'might' have a claim, even a tangential one, to protect themselves against legal action. Notably, Taylor Swift (she's a popular beat combo, yer honour) gave Right Said Fred a share of her song 'Look What You Made Me Do' because her chorus melody followed a similar rhythmic pattern to their 1990s hit 'I'm Too Sexy'. Rodrigo and her co-writer Daniel Nigro have not done the same for 'Brutal' - but it seems Elvis is honoured, rather than annoyed, by the hat-tip. As you'd expect from a true gentleman like he. Costello previously gave permission for 'Pump It Up's riff to be sampled in Rogue Trader's 2005 dance hit 'Voodoo Child'.
The former actress Allison Mack has been sentenced to three years in The Joint for her role in the Nxivm sex cult. The thirty eight-year-old admitted racketeering and conspiracy charges in April 2019 related to her efforts to recruit women. Last year, cult leader Keith Raniere was handed one hundred and twenty years in The Slammer for multiple crimes, including forcing women to be his sexual 'slaves.' In a letter before sentencing, Mack begged forgiveness from her victims. The letter addressed to 'those who have been harmed by my actions' was filed to the court by her lawyers, who requested that she face no prison time for her crimes. But, that was never really an option. 'I threw myself into the teachings of Keith Raniere with everything I had,' she wrote. 'I believed, whole-heartedly, that his mentorship was leading me to a better, more enlightened version of myself ... This was the biggest mistake and regret of my life,' Mack continued. And given that includes an appearance in Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves! we can probably believe her. 'I am sorry to those of you that I brought into Nxivm. I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man,' she added. Mack, best known for her role on the television series Smallville, fled to Mexico with the group's leader as authorities began closing in on them in 2018. Since her return to the US and her arrest she has been living in her California family home while taking university courses and working in catering, her lawyers claim. 
Meanwhile, just moments after that announcement can the revelation that some members of now extremely former President Mister Rump's grubby spawn could be soon(ish) to join Allison Mack for a spell in The Big House ending each day slopping out the pail. Rump's company and its finance chief are expected to be charged with alleged tax-related crimes, according to US media reports. The Manhattan District Attorney's office will bring charges against the Rump Organisation and Allen Weisselberg on Thursday, outlets said. It is not thought that Rump himself will be implicated personally, they reported. New York City has already cut business ties with the twice-impeached former president. The Rump Organisation is a family holding company that owns hotels, golf clubs and other properties. Any criminal charges brought against it would mark the first in long-running investigations on alleged fraud by both the Manhattan district attorney and the state attorney general. Charges by District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Thursday are expected to focus on whether Weisselberg and other company executives - including Rump family members - received benefits such as apartment rentals or leased cars without reporting them properly on their tax returns, according to the reports, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Rump has previously suggested that the investigations are politically-motivated. And, to paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davies, 'well, he would, wouldn't he?' In a statement earlier this week, Rup claimed that the case was looking at 'things that are standard practice throughout the US business community, and in no way a crime.' One or two people even believed him. If the company were found guilty, however, certain business partners might draw a line under their relationship with the Rump Organisation, as well as facing fines and possible jail time. New York City, for example, has already announced it will terminate contracts with the firm to run skating rinks, a carousel and a golf course, in the aftermath of the US Capitol riots. The investigations will also take into account eight years of Rump's personal and corporate tax returns, obtained by prosecutors after a long legal battle, which ended in the Supreme Court in February. Rump, who inherited money from his father and went on to become a property developer, was the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s not to have made his tax returns public. Despite facing a number of investigations, the now extremely former president has denied any wrongdoing personally or in his business. Mandy, you're on again.
A man has reportedly been arrested in Kuwait and banged up in The Joint after he posted a video on TikTok complaining about the country's bad weather. In the footage uploaded to the social media app the man who is said to be Egyptain but who has not been identified, can be heard complaining about a sandstorm which had engulfed the country in the previous few days. 'I'm inside a dust storm right now, I literally can't see anything in front of me,' the man says, showing the dust coating the highway like a thick fog. 'Fine, Kuwait, fine,' he adds, with an expletive in Arabic. Kuwait's Ministry Of Interior & Brutalising Dissent, said on Sunday that the person behind the 'offensive' video was extremely arrested after being 'referred' to authorities (for which read 'snitched up like a good'un by some Copper's Nark') and that they would 'take the necessary legal action against him.' The Gulf Arab state has an outspoken parliament and relatively vibrant civic life, but authorities have been known to use cybercrime laws to prosecute dissidents and police speech. Rumours that the British government is also having a crackdown on people whinging about the weather have been dismissed since, apparently, we don't have enough jails to hold all sixty five million of us.
Scientists have detected two collisions between a neutron star and a black hole in the space of ten days. Researchers predicted that such collisions would occur, but did not know how often. The observations could mean that some ideas of how stars and galaxies form may need to be revised. Professor Vivien Raymond, from Cardiff University, told BBC News that the surprising results were 'fantastic. We have to go back to the drawing board and rewrite our theories,' he said. 'We have learned a bit of a lesson again. When we assume something we tend to be proved wrong after a while. So we have to keep our minds open and see what the Universe is telling us.' Black holes are astronomical objects that have such strong gravity, not even light can escape. Neutron stars are dead stars that are incredibly dense. A teaspoonful of material from a neutron star is estimated to weigh around four billion tonnes. Both objects are cosmological monsters, but black holes are considerably more massive than neutron stars. In the first collision, which was detected on 5 January 2020, a black hole six-and-a-half times the mass of our Sun crashed into a neutron star that was one-and-a-half times more massive than our parent star. In the second collision, picked up just ten days later, a black hole of ten solar masses merged with a neutron star of two solar masses. When objects as massive as these collide they create ripples in the fabric of space called gravitational waves. And it is these ripples that the researchers have detected. The researchers looked back at earlier observations with fresh eyes and many of them are likely to to have been similar mismatched collisions. Researchers have previously detected two black holes colliding, as well as two neutron stars but this is the first time they have detected a neutron star crashing into a black hole.
A prototype flying car has completed a thirty five-minute flight between international airports in Nitra and Bratislava, Slovakia. The hybrid car-aircraft, AirCar, is equipped with a BMW engine and runs on regular petrol-pump fuel. Its creator, Professor Stefan Klein, said it could fly about six hundred miles, at a height of eight thousand feet and had clocked up forty hours in the air so far. It takes two minutes and fifteen seconds to transform from car into aircraft. The narrow wings fold down along the sides of the car. Professor Klein drove it straight off the runway and into town upon arrival, watched by invited reporters. He described the experience as 'normal' and 'very pleasant.' The vehicle can carry two people, with a combined weight limit of two hundred kilograms. But unlike drone-taxi prototypes, it cannot take off and land vertically and requires a runway. There are high expectations for the nascent market in flying cars, which have long been heralded in popular culture as a visionary landmark of the future. In 2019, consultant company Morgan Stanley predicted the sector could be worth one-and-a-half trillion bucks by 2040. So, by that time, Mark Zuckerberg should be in a position to buy it. At an industry event on Tuesday, Hyundai Motors Europe chief executive Michael Cole called the concept 'part of our future.' It is considered a potential solution to the strain on existing transport infrastructures. The company behind AirCar, Klein Vision, says the prototype has taken two years to develop and cost 'less than two million Euros' in investment. Anton Zajac, an adviser and investor in Klein Vision, said if the company could attract even a small percentage of global airline or taxi sales, it would be 'hugely successful. There are about forty thousand orders of aircraft in the United States alone,' he said. 'And if we convert five per cent of those, to change the aircraft for the flying car - we have a huge market.' Doctor Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as 'the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172.' He did not think the vehicle would be particularly loud or uneconomical in terms of fuel costs, compared with other aircraft. 'I have to admit that this looks really cool - but I've got a hundred questions about certification,' Doctor Wright added. 'Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident. I can't wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.'
French police say they have extremely arrested a naughty woman suspected of causing a huge crash during the Tour De France on Saturday by waving a sign in the riders' path. The peloton was twenty eight miles from the end of the first stage, when her carelessly waved sign hit the German rider Tony Martin. He fell to the ground and caused dozens of other riders behind him to follow suit, in what was one of the Tour De France's worst ever crashes. French authorities say that the woman, who is French, is currently in custody in Landerneau. Video footage of the incident has been shared widely online. The woman can be seen holding a sign with 'granny and granddad' written in a combination of French and German and grinning like a loon. Until she caused the crash. Then he expression changed a bit. She was looking away from the peloton coming towards her and did not see them approach, while holding her sign into the road. As a result of the crash, one rider - Jasha Sutterlin - had to pull out of the Tour completely and another eight riders, including Martin, were treated for injuries. The crash held up the race, which was between between Brest and Landerneau in North-West France, for five minutes, while bikes and riders were untangled and cleared from the road. Following the incident, Tour De France Deputy Director Pierre-Yves Thouault was incandescent with rage and said the tour would take legal action against the foolish woman. 'We are suing this woman who behaved so badly. We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone,' he told AFP news agency.
The UK-based space start-up OneWeb has received a cash injection of five hundred million dollars from Indian firm Bharti Global. The deal means Bharti will now take a thirty nine per cent stake, making it the biggest shareholder in the satellite provider. The UK government is also a major shareholder after it and Bharti put in a billion bucks to buy OneWeb out of bankruptcy last year. The new investment will help OneWeb launch more commercial satellites into space later this year. OneWeb is building a network of low Earth orbit satellites to deliver broadband connections around the world. The deal is expected to complete in the second half of this year. 'In just a year and during a global pandemic, together we have transformed OneWeb, bringing the operation back to full-scale. With this round of financing, we complete the funding requirements,' Bharti Global's Managing Director Shravin Mittal said in a statement. In total, the company has secured 2.4 billion dollars of funding to deliver on its ambitions. Paris-based Eutelsat took a stake in OneWeb with a five hundredand fifty million investment in April. Japanese technology giant SoftBank is also a major investor. Under the deal, the UK government, Eutelsat and SoftBank will each own nineteen per cent of the firm. UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the deal is 'a vote of confidence' in the company: 'It's clear that investors see a strong future for this incredible, cutting-edge company and a robust commercial case for investment.' The British government had been criticised for using UK taxpayer money to rescue a bankrupt company at the time of the bailout. Earlier this week, OneWeb signed a deal with BT to explore ways to provide broadband internet to remote parts of the UK and people at sea. The two companies said they will look at how to improve the speed that people can access data in remote areas, and how to improve the signal people can get on their phone, including how to stop it cutting out so much. The UK government has also launched Project Gigabit, which aims to improve rural broadband coverage across the country. OneWeb competes with providers such as Jeff Bezos' Project Kuiper as well as Elon Musk's Starlink, which was recently granted a license by the UK regulator to operate. Starlink began a UK trial of its services in January after Ofcom granted it a licence in November. OneWeb says it currently has two hundred and eighteen satellites and is due to launch a further thirty six on Thursday.
Covid is common in pet cats and dogs whose owners have the disease, research suggests. Swabs were taken from three hundred and ten pets in one hundredand ninety six households where a human infection had been detected. Six kitties and seven dogs returned a positive PCR result, while fifty four animals tested positive for virus antibodies. 'If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people,' Doctor Els Broens, from Utrecht University, said. 'The main concern is not the animals' health but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population.' The authors of the study said that no evidence of pet-to-owner transmission had been recorded to date but it would be difficult to detect while the virus was still spreading easily between humans. Most infected pets tend to be asymptomatic or display mild Covid symptoms. Researchers from Utrecht sent a mobile veterinary clinic to households in the Netherlands that had tested positive for Covid at some point in the past two hundred days. Swabs were taken from their pet cats and dogs to test for evidence of a current infection, while blood samples were also tested for antibodies suggesting a past exposure to Covid. The results were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Four per cent showed evidence of a current infection. Seventeen per cent tested positive for antibodies. Follow-up tests showed all the polymerase chain reaction-positive animals cleared the infection and went on to develop antibodies. The researchers say the most likely route of virus transmission is from human to animal, rather than the other way round. 'We can't say there is a zero per cent risk of owners catching Covid from their pets,' Veterinary Microbiological Diagnostic Centre Doctor Broens said. 'At the moment, the pandemic is still being driven by human-to-human infections, so we just wouldn't detect it.' Vets in Russia have started vaccinating some animals against the disease. But Doctor Broens said: 'I don't see the scientific evidence for that now. It seems unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic.' A separate study run by the University of Guelph in Ontario found cats that slept on their owner's bed seemed to be at particular risk of infection. A total of forty eight cats and fifty four dogs from seventy seven households were tested for Covid antibodies and their owners asked about their interaction with their pets. About sixty seven per cent of the owned cats and forty three per cent of the owned dogs tested positive, compared with nine per cent of dogs and cats from an animal shelter and three per cent of stray cats in the area. A quarter of the pets displayed a symptom of the disease, from loss of appetite to difficulty breathing. And although most cases were mild, three were severe. The study's authors said cats' biology may make them more susceptible to Covid. Cats are also more likely to sleep near their owner's face than dogs, increasing their exposure to any infection.