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chromium - An open-source project to help move the web forward.


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2 461 shares, 38 trendiness, 87 words and 1 minutes reading time

A 60 Minute Blitz — PyTorch Tutorials 1.3.0 documentation

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3 433 shares, 60 trendiness, 299 words and 3 minutes reading time

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4 379 shares, 48 trendiness, 441 words and 4 minutes reading time

Microsoft's LinkedIn loses appeal over access to user profiles

(Reuters) - A fed­eral ap­peals court on Monday re­jected LinkedIn’s ef­fort to stop a San Francisco com­pany from us­ing in­for­ma­tion that users of the pro­fes­sional net­work­ing web­site have deemed pub­lic.

The 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an August 2017 pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion that re­quired LinkedIn, a Microsoft Corp unit with more than 645 mil­lion mem­bers, to give hiQ Labs Inc ac­cess to pub­licly avail­able mem­ber pro­files.

The 3-0 de­ci­sion by the San Francisco ap­peals court sets back Silicon Valley’s bat­tle against data scrap­ing,” or ex­tract­ing in­for­ma­tion from so­cial me­dia ac­counts or web­sites, which crit­ics say can equate to theft or vi­o­late users’ pri­vacy.

Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon said hiQ, which makes soft­ware to help em­ploy­ers de­ter­mine whether em­ploy­ees will stay or quit, showed it faced ir­repara­ble harm ab­sent an in­junc­tion be­cause it might go out of busi­ness with­out ac­cess.

She also said giv­ing com­pa­nies such as LinkedIn free rein” over who can use pub­lic user data risked cre­at­ing information mo­nop­o­lies” that harm the pub­lic in­ter­est.

LinkedIn has no pro­tected prop­erty in­ter­est in the data con­tributed by its users, as the users re­tain own­er­ship over their pro­files,” Berzon wrote. And as to the pub­licly avail­able pro­files, the users quite ev­i­dently in­tend them to be ac­cessed by oth­ers,” in­clud­ing prospec­tive em­ploy­ers.

In a state­ment, LinkedIn said it was dis­ap­pointed with the de­ci­sion and eval­u­at­ing its op­tions, and will fight to pro­tect our mem­bers and the in­for­ma­tion they en­trust” to it.

Lawyers for hiQ did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. The case was re­turned to U. S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco, who is­sued the in­junc­tion.

Craigslist, the clas­si­fied ad web­site, had sup­ported LinkedIn’s ap­peal, warn­ing that the in­junc­tion could have a dangerous im­pact” by mak­ing it eas­ier for bad ac­tors” to find tar­gets for un­wanted email, text or phone-based mar­ket­ing.

Berzon said, how­ever, hiQ had raised se­ri­ous ques­tions about LinkedIn’s con­duct, in­clud­ing whether it could in­voke a fed­eral law tar­get­ing com­puter fraud and abuse to block free rid­ers” from ac­cess­ing user data.

Of course, LinkedIn could sat­isfy its free rid­er’ con­cern by elim­i­nat­ing the pub­lic ac­cess op­tion, al­beit at a cost to the pref­er­ences of many users and, pos­si­bly, to its own bot­tom line,” she wrote.

Gregory Garre, a for­mer U. S. so­lic­i­tor gen­eral un­der President George W. Bush rep­re­sent­ing craigslist, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Donald Verrilli, a so­lic­i­tor gen­eral un­der President Barack Obama, rep­re­sented LinkedIn. Harvard Law School pro­fes­sor Laurence Tribe was one of hiQ’s lawyers.

The case is hiQ Labs Inc v LinkedIn Corp, 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-16783.


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5 343 shares, 31 trendiness, 610 words and 7 minutes reading time

Singapore to be first in banning ads on sugary drinks

Singapore to be­come first coun­try ban­ning ads on sug­ary drinksChat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s hap­pen­ing in the world as it un­folds. What the sugar in­dus­try does­n’t want you to knowWhat the sugar in­dus­try does­n’t want you to know Singapore is set to be­come the first coun­try in the world to ban ads for un­healthy drinks with high sugar con­tent in what it says is the lat­est move in its on­go­ing war on di­a­betes.“The ban, which will ap­ply to the least healthy” sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages, will cover all me­dia plat­forms in­clud­ing print, broad­cast and on­line, said Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for the city-state’s Ministry of Health. He told re­porters at a press con­fer­ence on Thursday that the de­ci­sion was made af­ter a public con­sul­ta­tion” in the form of a sur­vey. Soft drinks, juices, yo­gurt drinks and in­stant cof­fee would all be af­fected by the new reg­u­la­tion, the min­istry said in a press re­lease. The min­istry also says it will con­tinue to gather con­sumer and in­dus­try feed­back in the next few months, be­fore an­nounc­ing fur­ther de­tails on its im­ple­men­ta­tion next year.Ad­ver­tise­ments of high sug­ary prod­ucts, such as soft drinks, will be banned un­der the new reg­u­la­tion.In ad­di­tion to an ad ban, the min­istry an­nounced that sug­ary drinks would also be re­quired to dis­play a color-coded, front-of-pack nu­tri­tion la­bel to list nu­tri­tional qual­ity and sugar con­tent.Tong said the two mea­sures were only the first steps in the city-state’s ef­forts to com­bat di­a­betes. Two other pro­pos­als, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of in­tro­duc­ing an ex­cise duty or even an out­right ban on high-sugar drinks, are still on the agenda.“”We in­tend to study them more care­fully,” he added. We want to find mea­sures that are sus­tain­able in the long-term, that shape not just mar­ket con­sump­tion be­hav­ior but also on the sup­ply side to drive re­for­mu­la­tion.“High con­sump­tion of sug­ary drinks is as­so­ci­ated with obe­sity and greater risks of de­vel­op­ing chronic dis­eases like di­a­betes and heart dis­eases. According to the World Health Organization, peo­ple who reg­u­larly con­sume one to two cans of sug­ary drinks a day are 26% more likely to de­velop Type 2 di­a­betes than those who rarely drink them. Furthermore, it is es­ti­mated that the world­wide preva­lence of obe­sity has nearly tripled since 1975.A lead­ing in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cen­ter, Singapore has been faced with a grow­ing ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, which has prompted the gov­ern­ment to ex­plore ways to re­duce its health care bur­den. The city-state’s obe­sity rate has been on the rise since the 1990s, and ac­cord­ing to the International Diabetes Foundation, close to 1 in 7 adults in its pop­u­la­tion had di­a­betes in 2017.High con­sump­tion of sug­ary prod­ucts has been linked with greater risks of de­vel­op­ing chronic dis­eases, such as di­a­betes.Be­fore an­nounc­ing the new reg­u­la­tions, the Health Ministry launched a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on re­duc­ing the con­sump­tion of sug­ary bev­er­ages late last year. Over 70% of its re­spon­dents sup­ported set­ting up ad­ver­tis­ing reg­u­la­tions to in­flu­ence con­sumer choices.The min­istry also urged drinks man­u­fac­tur­ers to re­for­mu­late their prod­ucts to pro­vide health­ier choices, while re­tain­ing the taste.In a state­ment to CNN, the Singaporean arm of Coca-Cola said it wel­comed the new mea­sures to help re­duce sugar in­take, and said it ex­pected them to have minimal im­pact on our port­fo­lio.“”We have been in­no­vat­ing to launch new lower-sugar and no-sugar drinks,” it read. Because while sugar in mod­er­a­tion is fine, we agree that too much of it is not good for any­one.“CNN has reached out to PepsiCo and to the Singapore Food and Beverage Management Association for com­ment.


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6 327 shares, 17 trendiness, 1049 words and 9 minutes reading time

HOWTO make Linux run blazing fast (again) on Intel CPUs

Jump to nav­i­ga­tion­Jump to search It’s just been one se­cu­rity dis­as­ter af­ter an­other for Intel the last few years. Meltdown, Spectre vari­ant af­ter vari­ant and this week the Microarchitectural Data Sampling” aka Zombieload at­tack have all re­quired per­for­mance-de­grad­ing fixes and workarounds. There is no way around turn­ing hy­per­thread­ing off to be safe from MDS/Zombieload and this is a rather high per­for­mance-price to pay. So what if you don’t want to?

Disabling SMT/HyperThreading to get full pro­tec­tion against MDS/Zombieload on top of the mit­i­ga­tion code for meltdown”, sev­eral spectre” vari­ants and other se­cu­rity-is­sues dis­cov­ered on Intel CPUs is a high price to pay for se­cu­rity on Intel CPUs. The to­tal per­for­mance-penalty in many work­loads is adding up. Unfortunately there is no safe and se­cure way around the per­for­mance-penal­ties - so you may want to..

If you’re not into cur­rency trad­ing or high fi­nance or mil­i­tary con­tract­ing or any­thing of that na­ture and you’d just like to get max­i­mum per­for­mance for your Steam games then adding this is sim­ple switch to your ker­nel pa­ra­me­ters will leave you wide open to all the se­cu­rity risks for max­i­mum ex­cite­ment and squeeze back every bit of per­for­mance you used to get from your Intel CPU:

If you are us­ing a ker­nel older than 5.1.13 then you should use this rather long one-liner in­stead:

Add ei­ther mit­i­ga­tions=off or that long one-liner to your /etc/sysconfig/grub and re-gen­er­ate grub’s con­fig­u­ra­tion file with grub2-mk­con­fig (your dis­tri­b­u­tions pro­ce­dure will vary) and you’re all set. Do note that the lat­est edi­tions of sta­ble branch ker­nels (4.14.x, 4.19.x) do have a mit­i­ga­tions= pa­ra­me­ter so that alone is enough on ker­nels newer than 5.1.13 and later ver­sions of sta­ble branch ker­nels such as 4.19.60+.

Here is what the above ker­nel com­mand op­tions did in ear­lier ker­nels, one by one:

noibrs - We don’t need no re­stricted in­di­rect branch spec­u­la­tion

noibpb - We don’t need no in­di­rect branch pre­dic­tion bar­rier ei­ther

nospec­tre_v1 and nospec­tre_v2: Don’t care if some pro­gram can get data from some other pro­gram when it should­n’t

l1tf=off - Why would we be flush­ing the L1 cache, we might need that data. So what if any­one can get at it.

nospec_­s­tore_by­pass_dis­able - Of course we want to use, not by­pass, the stored data

no_stf_bar­rier - We don’t need no bar­ri­ers be­tween soft­ware, they could be friends

mit­i­ga­tions=off - Of course we don’t want no mit­i­ga­tions

You are (probably) an adult. You can and should wisely de­cide just how much risk you are will­ing to take. Do or don’t try this at home. You do not want to try this at work.

Note: The pa­ra­me­ters cov­ered by mit­i­ga­tions=off vary by ker­nel ver­sions. The above switches were ap­plic­a­ble prior to ker­nel 5.1.13 and while they are use­ful for ker­nels re­leased prior to the mit­i­ga­tions=off switch they are not cur­rent.

You can look at the file Documentation/admin-guide/kernel-parameters.txt in the ker­nel source for the ker­nel you are us­ing to see what pa­ra­me­ters are ac­tu­ally avail­able on the ker­nel you are us­ing.

Intel CPUs are not alone in hav­ing some se­cu­rity is­sues. There are prob­lems with other CPUs too. The mit­i­ga­tions=off can be used on any CPU but what it does, if any­thing, will de­pend on what CPU you are us­ing. It can be used to slightly in­crease per­for­mance on Intel, AMD, ARM and even PowerPC ar­chi­tec­tures.

The se­cu­rity pa­ra­me­ters cov­ered by mit­i­ga­tions=off in ker­nel 5.3.6 are:

nopti [X86,PPC] - Control Page Table Isolation of user and ker­nel ad­dress spaces. Disabling this fea­ture re­moves hard­en­ing, but im­proves per­for­mance of sys­tem calls and in­ter­rupts.

nobp=0 [S390] - Undocumented. Does some­thing on S390 sys­tems, no­body knows what.

nospec­tre_v1 [X86,PPC] - Disable mit­i­ga­tions for Spectre Variant 1 (bounds check by­pass). With this op­tion data leaks are pos­si­ble in the sys­tem.

nospec­tre_v2 [X86,PPC,S390,ARM64] - Disable all mit­i­ga­tions for the Spectre vari­ant 2 (indirect branch pre­dic­tion) vul­ner­a­bil­ity. System may al­low data leaks with this op­tion.

l1tf=off [X86] - Control mit­i­ga­tion of the L1TF vul­ner­a­bil­ity on af­fected CPUs

The per­for­mance gained by dis­abling workarounds for the mostly Intel CPU se­cu­rity flaws are not all that im­pres­sive in all work­loads. The rea­son is that the most per­for­mance-ham­per­ing mea­sure re­quired to safely use a Intel CPU is to dis­able SMT (HyperThreading). Doing so crushes per­for­mance in a re­ally no­tice­able way, so much so that the Linux ker­nel de­vel­op­ers de­cided to leave SMT en­abled by de­fault (unlike some *BSD vari­ants who do dis­able SMT). Newer Linux ker­nels will by de­fault use mds=full and not the safer mds=full,nosmt pa­ra­me­ter which banks and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions should be us­ing. There is a dif­fer­ent be­tween de­fault per­for­mance and per­for­mance with mit­i­ga­tions=off but it is nowhere near as large as the dif­fer­ence be­tween mit­i­ga­tions=off and mds=full,nosmt.

As the above charts show: The ef­fect of de­fault pa­ra­me­ters vs mit­i­ga­tions=off is mea­sur­able but not hugely im­pres­sive. The ef­fect of dis­abling SMT, which is re­quired to safely use Intel CPUs, is re­ally no­tice­able and very mea­sur­able. It is re­quired to be sure Intel CPU bugs can not be ex­ploited but the price is high. Choose wisely.

Intels up­com­ing i3 CPUs raise the bar for en­try-level CPUs to four cores and four threads­Free Software Enthusiasts are The Worst when it comes to AdBlockingFacebook’s dig­i­tal cur­rency Libra ap­pears to be falling apart as ma­jor play­ers leave be­fore com­mit­ment dead­line­New sta­ble ker­nels: 5.3.6, 4.19.79 and 4.14.149 are now avail­able­Fire­fox 69.0.3 with noth­ing new for free soft­ware users­G­NOME Internet Radio Locator v2.0.8 is now avail­ableG­NOME 3.34.1 is now avail­ableThe Free Software Foundation is work­ing to gain a shared un­der­stand­ing” with the GNU Project

See the more archive for news head­lines

Learn to com­press and de­com­press archives with tar­Learn how to con­vert video files with ffm­pe­gLearn to lists the ports a sys­tem is lis­ten­ing onXfce is the best desk­topsee a Game’s Frames Per Per Second and other data in an over­laysu into root on Debian and Ubuntu sys­tem­suse the nu­meric key­board keys as mouse in XOrg


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7 317 shares, 93 trendiness, 978 words and 11 minutes reading time

Flash Is Responsible for the Internet's Most Creative Era

These days, our web browsers—whether on mo­bile or desk­top—are highly func­tional and can do all sorts of things that we could only dream of a decade prior.

But de­spite that, one could ar­gue that the web has ac­tu­ally got­ten less cre­ative over time, not more. This in­ter­pre­ta­tion of events is a key un­der­pin­ning of Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990-Today (Taschen, $50), a new vi­sual-heavy book from au­thor Rob Ford and ed­i­tor Julius Wiedemann that does some­thing that has­n’t been done on the broader in­ter­net in quite a long time: It praises the use of Flash as a cre­ative tool, rather than a bloated mal­ware ves­sel, and laments the ways that vi­sual con­ven­tion, tech­ni­cal shifts, and walled gar­dens have started to rein in much of this un­var­nished cre­ativ­ity.

This is a realm where small agen­cies sup­port­ing big brands, cre­ative ex­per­i­menters with noth­ing to lose, and teenage hob­by­ists could stand out sim­ply by be­ing will­ing to try some­thing risky. It was a can­vas with a built-in dis­tri­b­u­tion model. What was­n’t to like, be­sides a whole host of mal­ware?

The 640-page book, full of pic­tures of in­ter­ac­tive web­sites from prior eras, ben­e­fits from tak­ing a wide view of the vi­sual cul­ture of the past: Starting at the em­bry­onic stages of the World Wide Web, it fol­lows the art of web de­sign through pe­ri­ods of ex­treme ex­per­i­men­ta­tion on the way to the con­ven­tion-dri­ven scaf­fold­ing we have to­day. The book makes a com­pelling case through its gen­eral struc­ture that the sweet spot of cre­ative web de­sign came dur­ing the late 1990s through the mid-2000s—pe­ri­ods in which ma­jor brands were will­ing to in­vest a whole lot of money in a web­site in­tended for show, not just tell.

Ford, who is known for run­ning the long-run­ning Favourite Web Awards (FWA), is very much in the show” cat­e­gory. In an email in­ter­view, Ford listed off a dizzy­ing ar­ray of iconic web­sites, pages that once wowed the broader in­ter­net and helped un­cover key de­sign mech­a­nisms—for ex­am­ple, Ford says 1998’s EYE4U, an early in­flu­ence on many Flash de­vel­op­ers, showed us re­spon­sive de­sign 15 years be­fore the term was coined,” while sites like 2002’s Who’s We Studios and 2003’s toky­oplas­tic brought per­son­al­ity to the equa­tion.

There was a lot of it be­cause of the artis­tic in­flu­ences these cre­ators brought forth. It’s worth not­ing how many su­per-cre­ative tal­ents have a background‘ in rave and club cul­ture, whether that be as pun­ters or pro­mot­ers,” Ford said.

These sites, re­liant on an­i­ma­tion and Flash’s un­der­ly­ing ActionScript lan­guage, were the kind that ex­cited cre­atives, ready to em­brace an artis­tic medium, but frus­trated us­abil­ity ex­perts, who would rail against the way the sites flouted ba­sic con­ven­tion.

If any one web­site sort of hits these two ten­sions per­fectly, it’s Subservient Chicken, the pop­u­lar Burger King-produced web in­ter­ac­tive which hits right in the mid­dle of the nearly three-decade pe­riod cov­ered in this book. At the time of its cre­ation, it was widely dis­cussed and dis­sected by ad­ver­tis­ers who re­al­ized that its com­bi­na­tion of vi­su­als and ELIZA-style text com­mands rep­re­sented some­thing new. Given the move to­wards chat­bots and memetic videos in the years since, it feels down­right pre­dic­tive.

Subservient Chicken gave us some­thing we had­n’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore, that was real time (even though it ac­tu­ally was­n’t real time, it faked it very well) in­ter­ac­tion but, more im­por­tantly, an emo­tional live’ per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence,” Ford notes, adding that it also pre­dicted voice as­sis­tants that work in sim­i­lar ways.

But the ag­gres­sive cre­ativ­ity of­fered by Flash even­tu­ally would prove im­pos­si­ble to bring to the mo­bile era in quite the same way, as porta­bil­ity and im­proved HTML ren­der­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties made it ob­so­lete. Around the time of Steve Jobs’ fa­mous open let­ter to Adobe, Ford noted that many of the Flash er­a’s cre­ators completely moved away from the web and used their tal­ents else­where.” There were still some no­table HTML5-based cre­ations dur­ing this pe­riod—in­clud­ing the Arcade Fire’s Google Chrome experiment” The Wilderness Downtown,” which Ford calls the biggest, most in­flu­en­tial web­site in over a decade.” But the so­cial era—par­tic­u­larly Facebook Pages—proved a fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for web de­sign,” he noted.

But all those wild ideas had to go some­where, and many of them did­n’t ap­pear in the App Store. Ford says that while the mod­ern web has largely es­chewed the cre­ative risks of the Flash era, it can be found in phys­i­cal medi­ums and aug­mented re­al­ity, places where many of the cre­ative ex­plo­sions that web tools like Flash and HTML5 ini­tially al­lowed can be fur­thered and built upon—with many of the same cre­ators be­hind the ini­tial rise re­spon­si­ble for much of the mod­ern ex­cite­ment.

The pro­gres­sive in­ter­ac­tion and vi­sual cre­ativ­ity is hap­pen­ing out­side of the web browser now,” he ex­plained. The rise in in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tions, AR, and ex­pe­ri­en­tial in gen­eral is where the ex­cite­ment of the early days is fi­nally hap­pen­ing again.”

This book, which hits next month, comes just at a time when Flash—a tool first de­vel­oped by FutureWave, then im­proved upon by Macromedia and ex­ploited on a mass scale by Adobe—is about to meet its maker, and the in­ter­net has moved past it for per­fectly sen­si­ble rea­sons. (Seriously, Flash is hacked all to hell and you prob­a­bly should avoid it in most cir­cum­stances.)

While a book may be sta­tic rather than in­ter­ac­tive, this feels like a fit­ting coda for a kind of dig­i­tal cre­ativ­ity that—like Geocities and MySpace pages, mul­ti­me­dia CD-ROMs, and Prodigy graph­i­cal in­ter­faces be­fore it—has faded in promi­nence. But when it was there, we needed it, be­cause of all the cre­ative folks it in­spired.

Without the rebels we’d still be look­ing at sta­tic web­sites with gray text and blue hy­per­links,” Ford said.


Read the original on www.vice.com »

8 253 shares, 34 trendiness, 1082 words and 10 minutes reading time

Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere

Scientists have mea­sured big in­creases in the amount of methane, the pow­er­ful global warm­ing gas, en­ter­ing the at­mos­phere over the last decade. Cows or wet­lands have been fin­gered as pos­si­ble sources, but new re­search points to methane emis­sions from fos­sil fuel pro­duc­tion—mainly from shale gas op­er­a­tions in the United States and Canada—as the cul­prit.

The massive” in­crease in methane emis­sions oc­curred at the same time as the use of frack­ing for shale gas took off in the U. S., says Robert Howarth, an ecol­o­gist at Cornell University and au­thor of the study pub­lished Aug 14 in the jour­nal Biogeosciences.

We know the in­crease is largely due to fos­sil fuel pro­duc­tion and this re­search sug­gests over half is from shale gas op­er­a­tions,” Howarth says in an in­ter­view.

This big methane in­crease mat­ters be­cause methane heats up the cli­mate over 80 times more than an equiv­a­lent amount of car­bon diox­ide (CO) in the first 20 years af­ter it is re­leased into the at­mos­phere, ac­cord­ing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. After 20 years most of the methane be­comes CO, which can last for hun­dreds of years.

Methane re­leased from shale gas pro­duc­tion has a slightly dif­fer­ent chem­i­cal fin­ger­print com­pared to methane from cow burps (not farts as com­monly be­lieved) and wet­lands. Previous stud­ies show that shale gas gen­er­ally has less car­bon-13 rel­a­tive to car­bon-12 (denoting the weight of the car­bon atom at the cen­ter of the methane mol­e­cule) than does methane from con­ven­tional nat­ural gas and other fos­sil fu­els such as coal, Howarth said.

The study took pre­vi­ous data on the chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion of methane in the at­mos­phere and ap­plied a se­ries of equa­tions to parse out how much of this lighter form of methane could be at­trib­uted to shale gas. That lighter form of methane re­leased dur­ing frack­ing is a sub­stan­tial com­po­nent of the over­all methane rise since 2008.

However, he ac­knowl­edges that the chem­i­cal fin­ger­print of shale gas can vary de­pend­ing on the lo­cale and how the chem­i­cal analy­sis is done. While the study is­n’t a smoking gun,” it has found a link be­tween re­cent in­creases in methane in the at­mos­phere and shale gas pro­duc­tion.

It’s fuzzy, but the fin­ger­print is there,” Howarth says.

Natural gas is mainly methane. Fracking in­volves drilling an oil or gas well ver­ti­cally and then hor­i­zon­tally into a shale for­ma­tion. A mix­ture of highly pres­sur­ized wa­ter, chem­i­cals, and sand is in­jected to cre­ate and prop open fis­sures, or path­ways for the gas to flow. Nearly all of the world’s frack­ing op­er­a­tions are in the U.S. and Canada. About two-thirds of all new gas pro­duc­tion glob­ally over the last decade has been shale gas pro­duced in the U.S. and Canada us­ing frack­ing, Howarth’s study found.

The amount of methane added to the at­mos­phere in the past decade also cor­re­sponds to stud­ies that show frack­ing op­er­a­tions leak, vent, or flare be­tween 2 and 6 per­cent of the gas pro­duced, Howarth said.

The cli­mate is cer­tainly chang­ing. But what is caus­ing this change? And how does the ris­ing tem­per­a­ture af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment, and our lives?

A 2015 study es­ti­mated that North Texas’ Barnett Shale re­gion leaked 544,000 tons of methane a year us­ing a con­ser­v­a­tive leak­age rate of 1.5 per­cent. That’s equiv­a­lent to 46 mil­lion tons of CO2, more than some states such as Nevada or Connecticut.

A 2015 study led by John Worden of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that methane lev­els were un­changed for years, but in­creased sharply af­ter 2006, grow­ing by 25 mil­lion tons a year. Using satel­lites and other mea­sures they con­cluded that fos­sil fu­els were re­spon­si­ble for be­tween 12 and 19 mil­lion tons of this ad­di­tional methane and the rest was likely bi­o­log­i­cal sources.

The Howarth study adds an­other piece to the ex­tremely com­pli­cated methane puz­zle, Worden said in an email, de­clin­ing to elab­o­rate.

It’s un­likely that the sharp rise in global methane lev­els at the same time as shale oil and gas op­er­a­tions in­creased dra­mat­i­cally is just co­in­ci­dence, said Anthony Ingraffea, a Professor of Engineering at Cornell University and a col­league of Howarth’s. The pa­per sug­gests shale gas’s chem­i­cal fin­ger­print of­fers ev­i­dence of a di­rect link, said Ingraffea, who re­viewed an early ver­sion of the pa­per.

Isotopic analy­sis of gas sam­ples at well­heads across a num­ber of frack­ing op­er­a­tions could eas­ily prove or dis­prove Howarth’s hy­poth­e­sis,” he says. If Howarth is right then we know shale gas op­er­a­tions are mak­ing global warm­ing worse, and up­end­ing ef­forts to stay well be­low 2C.”

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, every coun­try in the world agreed to keep global tem­per­a­tures well be­low 2 de­grees Celsius (3.6 de­grees Fahrenheit), while low-ly­ing is­land states and oth­ers lob­bied for 1.5 Celsius.

Although of­ten for­got­ten in cli­mate dis­cus­sions, methane in­creases have added to the cur­rent warm­ing and will con­tinue to do so with­out ac­tion to cap them.

The at­mos­phere re­sponds quickly to changes in methane emis­sions. Reducing methane now can pro­vide an in­stant way to slow global warm­ing,” Ingraffea says.

Ingraffea’s own re­search has found that a small per­cent­age of wells are re­spon­si­ble for the bulk of methane emis­sions ei­ther through leaks or de­lib­er­ate vent­ing. Retrofits and cap­tur­ing the gas in­stead of vent­ing could dra­mat­i­cally re­duce emis­sions but would add to costs.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to ramp up shale pro­duc­tion by re­vers­ing rules for frack­ing op­er­a­tions on pub­lic lands. Those rules re­quired com­pa­nies to dis­close the chem­i­cals used in frack­ing, as well as more strin­gent stan­dards on the con­struc­tion of frack­ing wells and waste­water man­age­ment. In ad­di­tion, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is auc­tion­ing off mil­lions of acres of drilling rights to oil and gas de­vel­op­ers.

Environmental and health con­cerns have led France and Germany to ban frack­ing. New York State, Maryland, and Vermont also have bans. A 2018 study in Pennsylvania found that chil­dren born within a mile or two of a fracked well were likely to be smaller and less healthy.

In Arkansas re­searchers found wa­ter lev­els in 51 per­cent of its streams dan­ger­ously de­pleted due to wa­ter with­drawals for frack­ing op­er­a­tions. Fracking and the deep-well in­jec­tion of its waste wa­ters have been widely linked to earth­quakes.


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9 247 shares, 24 trendiness, 58 words and 1 minutes reading time

Computer Files Are Going Extinct

love files. I love re­nam­ing them, mov­ing them, sort­ing them, chang­ing how they’re dis­played in a folder, back­ing them up, up­load­ing them to the in­ter­net, restor­ing them, copy­ing them, and hey, even de­frag­ging them. As a metaphor for a way of stor­ing a piece of in­for­ma­tion, I think they’re great. I like the file as a…


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10 204 shares, 15 trendiness, 1784 words and 15 minutes reading time

What Japan can teach us about cleanliness

The stu­dents sit with their satchels on their desks, ea­ger to get home af­ter an­other long day of seven 50-minute classes. They lis­ten pa­tiently as their teacher makes a few an­nounce­ments about to­mor­row’s timetable. Then, as every day, the teacher’s fi­nal words: OK every­body, to­day’s clean­ing ros­ter. Lines one and two will clean the class­room. Lines three and four, the cor­ri­dor and stairs. And line five will clean the toi­lets.”

A few groans arise from line five, but the chil­dren stand up, grab the mops, cloths and buck­ets from the broom cup­board at the back of the class­room, and trot off to the toi­lets. Similar scenes are hap­pen­ing at schools across the coun­try.

Most first-time vis­i­tors to Japan are struck by how clean the coun­try is. Then they no­tice the ab­sence of lit­ter bins. And street sweep­ers. So they’re left with the ques­tion: how does Japan stay so clean?

View im­age of Most first-time vis­i­tors to Japan are struck by how clean the coun­try is (Credit: Credit: Ian Dagnall/Alamy)

The easy an­swer is that res­i­dents them­selves keep it that way. For 12 years of school life, from el­e­men­tary school to high school, clean­ing time is part of stu­dents’ daily sched­ule,” said Maiko Awane, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Hiroshima Prefectural Government’s Tokyo of­fice. In our home life as well, par­ents teach us that it’s bad for us not to keep our things and our space clean.”

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Including this el­e­ment of so­cial con­scious­ness in the school cur­ricu­lum helps the chil­dren de­velop an aware­ness of, and pride in, their sur­round­ings. Who wants to dirty or de­face a school that they have to clean up them­selves?

I some­times did­n’t want to clean the school,” re­called free­lance trans­la­tor Chika Hayashi, but I ac­cepted it be­cause it was part of our rou­tine. I think hav­ing to clean the school is a very good thing be­cause we learn that it’s im­por­tant for us to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for clean­ing the things and places that we use.”

On ar­riv­ing at school, stu­dents leave their shoes in lock­ers and change into train­ers. At home, too, peo­ple leave their street shoes at the en­trance. Even work­men com­ing to your house will re­move their shoes and pad around in their socks. And as the school­child­ren grow, their con­cept of what con­sti­tutes their space ex­tends be­yond the class­room to in­clude their neigh­bour­hood, their city and their coun­try.

View im­age of At Japanese schools, clean­ing is part of stu­dents’ every­day rou­tine (Credit: Credit: Chris Willson/Alamy)

Some ex­am­ples of ex­treme Japanese clean­li­ness have gone vi­ral, like the seven-minute Shinkansen train-clean­ing rit­ual that has be­come a tourist at­trac­tion in its own right.

Even Japan’s foot­ball sup­port­ers are clean­li­ness-con­scious. In World Cup foot­ball tour­na­ments in Brazil (2014) and Russia (2018), the na­tional team’s fans amazed the world by stay­ing be­hind to pick up rub­bish from the sta­dium. The play­ers also left their dress­ing room in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion. What an ex­am­ple for all teams!” tweeted FIFAs gen­eral co­or­di­na­tor Priscilla Janssens.

We Japanese are very sen­si­tive about our rep­u­ta­tion in oth­ers’ eyes,” Awane said. We don’t want oth­ers to think we are bad peo­ple who don’t have enough ed­u­ca­tion or up­bring­ing to clean things up.”

Similar scenes un­fold at Japanese mu­sic fes­ti­vals. At the Fuji Rock fes­ti­val, Japan’s biggest and old­est fes­ti­val, fans keep their rub­bish with them un­til they find a bin. Smokers are in­structed to bring a portable ash­tray and to refrain from smok­ing where your smoke can af­fect other peo­ple’, ac­cord­ing to the fes­ti­val web­site. How dif­fer­ent to 1969’s Woodstock fes­ti­val, where Jimi Hendrix played to a hand­ful of peo­ple amid a vast morass of trash.

We don’t want oth­ers to think we are bad peo­ple who don’t have enough ed­u­ca­tion or up­bring­ing to clean things up

Examples of so­cial aware­ness abound in daily life too. Around 08:00, for in­stance, of­fice work­ers and shop staff clean the streets around their place of work. Children vol­un­teer for the monthly com­mu­nity clean, pick­ing up rub­bish from the streets near their school. Neighbourhoods, too, hold reg­u­lar street-clean­ing events. Not that there’s much to clean, be­cause peo­ple take their lit­ter home.

Even ban­knotes emerge from ATMs as crisp and clean as a freshly starched shirt. Nevertheless, money gets dirty, which is why you never put it di­rectly into some­one’s hand. In shops, ho­tels and even in taxis, you’ll see a lit­tle tray to place the money. The other per­son then picks it up.

Invisible dirt — germs and bac­te­ria — are an­other source of con­cern. When peo­ple catch colds or flu, they wear sur­gi­cal masks to avoid in­fect­ing other peo­ple. This sim­ple act of con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers re­duces the spread of viruses, thereby sav­ing a for­tune in lost work days and med­ical ex­penses.

View im­age of From a young age, the Japanese de­velop an aware­ness of, and pride in, their sur­round­ings (Credit: Credit: Angeles Marin Cabello)

So how did the Japanese be­come so clean-con­scious?

It cer­tainly is­n’t a new thing, as mariner Will Adams found when he an­chored here in 1600, thus be­com­ing the first Englishman to set foot in Japan. In his bi­og­ra­phy of Adams, Samurai William, Giles Milton notes the no­bil­ity were scrupu­lously clean’, en­joy­ing pristine sew­ers and la­tri­nes’ and steam baths of scented wood at a time when the streets of England often over­flowed with ex­cre­ment’. The Japanese were ap­palled’ by the Europeans’ dis­re­gard for per­sonal clean­li­ness.

In part, this pre­oc­cu­pa­tion is born of prac­ti­cal con­cerns. In a hot, hu­mid en­vi­ron­ment like Japan’s, food goes off quickly. Bacteria flour­ish. Bug life abounds. So good hy­giene means good health.

View im­age of Cleanliness is a cen­tral part of Buddhism (Credit: Credit: Angeles Marin Cabello)

But it goes deeper than that. Cleanliness is a cen­tral part of Buddhism, which ar­rived from China and Korea be­tween the 6th and 8th Centuries. In fact, in the Zen ver­sion of Buddhism, which came to Japan from China in the 12th and 13th Centuries, daily tasks like clean­ing and cook­ing are con­sid­ered spir­i­tual ex­er­cises, no dif­fer­ent from med­i­tat­ing.

In Zen, all daily life ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing hav­ing meals and clean­ing the space, must be re­garded as an op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice Buddhism. Washing off the dirt both phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally plays an im­por­tant role in the daily prac­tice,” said Eriko Kuwagaki of Shinshoji Temple in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture.

Washing off the dirt both phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally plays an im­por­tant role in the daily prac­tice

In Okakura Kakuro’s The Book of Tea, his clas­sic book about the tea cer­e­mony and the Zen phi­los­o­phy that in­fuses it, he writes that, in the room where the tea cer­e­mony is held …everything is ab­solutely clean. Not a par­ti­cle of dust will be found in the dark­est cor­ner, for if any ex­ists the host is not a tea mas­ter.”

Okakura wrote those words in 1906, but they still hold true to­day. Prior to a tea cer­e­mony at the Seifukan tea house in Hiroshima’s Shukkeien Garden, you’ll see the tea mas­ter’s ki­mono-clad as­sis­tant on her hands and knees dab­bing the tatami floor with a roll of sticky brown-pa­per tape, pick­ing up every speck of dust.

View im­age of In Zen Buddhism, daily tasks like clean­ing and cook­ing are con­sid­ered spir­i­tual ex­er­cises (Credit: Credit: Photo Japan/Alamy)

So why aren’t all Buddhist na­tions as zeal­ously clean as Japan? Well, long be­fore the ar­rival of Buddhism, Japan al­ready had its own in­dige­nous re­li­gion: Shinto (meaning The Way of The Gods’), said to en­shrine the very soul of the Japanese iden­tity. And clean­li­ness lies at the heart of Shinto. In the West, we are taught that clean­li­ness is next to god­li­ness. In Shinto, clean­li­ness is god­li­ness. So Buddhism’s em­pha­sis on clean­li­ness merely re­in­forced what the Japanese al­ready prac­ticed.

A key con­cept in Shinto is kegare (impurity or dirt), the op­po­site of pu­rity. Examples of kegare range from death and dis­ease to vir­tu­ally any­thing un­pleas­ant. Frequent pu­rifi­ca­tion rit­u­als are nec­es­sary to ward off kegare.

If an in­di­vid­ual is af­flicted by kegare, it can bring harm to so­ci­ety as a whole,” ex­plained Noriaki Ikeda, as­sis­tant Shinto priest at Hiroshima’s Kanda Shrine. So it is vi­tal to prac­tice clean­li­ness. This pu­ri­fies you and helps avoid bring­ing calami­ties to so­ci­ety. That is why Japan is a very clean coun­try.”

View im­age of Before en­ter­ing a Shinto shrine, wor­ship­pers rinse their hands and mouth in a stone wa­ter basin at the en­trance (Credit: Credit: Angeles Marin Cabello)

This con­cern for oth­ers is un­der­stand­able in the case of, say, in­fec­tious dis­eases. But it also works on more pro­saic lev­els, like pick­ing up your own rub­bish. As Awane put it: We Japanese be­lieve we should­n’t bother oth­ers by be­ing lazy and ne­glect­ing the trash we’ve made.”

Examples of rit­ual pu­rifi­ca­tion abound in every­day life. Before en­ter­ing a Shinto shrine, wor­ship­pers rinse their hands and mouth in a stone wa­ter basin at the en­trance. Many Japanese take their new car to the shrine to be pu­ri­fied by the priest, who uses a feather duster-like wand called onusa that he waves around the car. He then opens the doors, bon­net and boot to pu­rify the in­te­rior. The priest also pu­ri­fies peo­ple by wav­ing the onusa from side to side over them. He will even use it to pu­rify land on which new build­ing is about to com­mence.

If you live in Japan, you soon find your­self adopt­ing the clean lifestyle. You stop blow­ing your nose in pub­lic, make use of the hand san­i­tiz­ers pro­vided for cus­tomers in shops and of­fices, and learn to sort your house­hold rub­bish into 10 dif­fer­ent types to fa­cil­i­tate re­cy­cling.

View im­age of Many Japanese take their new car to a Shinto shrine to be pu­ri­fied by the priest (Credit: Credit: Angeles Marin Cabello)

And, like Will Adams and his cast­away crew back in 1600, you find your qual­ity of life im­proves.

Then, when you re­turn to your home­land, you’re shocked by bar­bar­ians who sneeze and cough in your face. Or stomp into your house in dirty shoes. Unthinkable in Japan.

But there’s still hope. After all, it also took a while for Pokémon, sushi and cam­era phones to sweep the world.

Why We Are What We Are is a BBC Travel se­ries ex­am­in­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a coun­try and in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether they are true.

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