The EL Faro disaster and lessons learned

In the April 2018 edition of Vanity Fair, there is an excellent article by William Langewiesche called “THE CLOCK IS TICKING”: INSIDE THE WORST U.S. MARITIME DISASTER IN DECADES.  It is the best article I have yet read about the loss of the SS El Faro on October 1, 2015, after the ship sailed into Hurricane Joaquin.  It was the worst American loss at sea since the 1983 sinking of the SS Marine Electric, which I wrote about here.  Thirty-three people died, including 8 crew members from New England and five Polish shipyard workers.

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An identifying video still from the US Navy showing the stern of the El Faro after the wreck was found some three miles underwater.

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Japan has a false alarm too

Good Lord, what is going on with the world?

After Hawaii just suffered through a scary false alarm of a ballistic missile attack, now Japan has also had a false alarm, this one sent out by Japanese broadcaster NHK by mistake.

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The two different kinds of apocalyptic fiction

The first is the kind that I read and/or watch.  Stuff like The Walking Dead comics, or Mira Grant’s awesome Newsflesh trilogy of novels, or movies like Deep Impactand even video games like Left4Dead 2 and Fallout 3.  I guess the thing I find most interesting is seeing how people adapt. It’s compelling drama.  And while I find it entertaining, it does have a certain amount of practical value if it makes emergency preparedness a little less dull, as even the CDC has discovered.

Then there’s the other kind.  The kind that makes seemingly ordinary people lose their minds, because they think it’s real.

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Snowpocalypseageddon 2: Winter Strikes Back

Well, after we had the original Snowpocalypseageddon event two years ago, I figured since that was so epic it might be a while before we have anything like that again.  But I was wrong, apparently.  Looks like we are in for quite a doozy tomorrow night.  And to make matters worse, winds will be blowing so hard that we may actually meet the official criteria for this to be a blizzard.

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Don’t call up Bruce Willis yet, but…

a fairly sizable asteroid has been spotted on a trajectory that gives it a fairly decent chance (about 1 in 4,000)  of striking the Earth.   That is actually better odds than the chance you will get killed in a traffic accident any time you get in a car (1 in 6,700).  At one point the odds were actually being calculated at 1 in 300.  So this particular object has raised a few eyebrows, to put it mildly.    Enough that some people think it would be time to call the drilling crew together.   Or something.

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When suburban uniformity and reality collide

It is difficult to overstate the importance of water for life. It’s one of the reasons why so many human cities and human civilizations sprung up in places next to rivers or lakes where fresh water was plentiful. And in many places the bringing in of fresh water is one of the first public utilities to appear. Even here in Boston, a public water system was available by the end of the 18th century.
So how is it that in the 21st century, we have so many places, not just in the developing world but right here in the United States, that are struggling just to provide potable water for their population?
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IT redundancy really is your friend

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I have managed to rebuild our server into a better machine than it was.  But for some reason the hard drive from the old server was giving me fits, trying to move data.  Perhaps it was damaged somehow.  I am not sure.

But I do know this: a backup of the backups saved our data.

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Our home server has had some issues

Years ago, I decided to build my own server.  Part of it was wanting to have the experience of building and running my own server, because I had shockingly little server experience of any kind.  Part of it was knowing how such a machine could help me manage the home network I was also building.  So in 2010 our home server came into existence.

And then two weeks ago, it went out of existence.

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Surviving the Apocalypse

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I am somewhat obsessed with emergency preparedness and safety in general.  Mind you, not to the point of having a bunker and hoarding gold coins and such, but I do take that sort of thing seriously when it comes to normal Red Cross-type preparation.

Well, this past week I got to hear Annalee Newitz, one of the founders of io9, give a reading from her new book: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember:
How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction
.  And it was quite illuminating, and a lot of fun to boot.  Count on the Harvard Bookstore to always bring in cool authors.

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