In the past few decades, partly in an effort to project its influence abroad, China has dramatically expanded its distant-water fishing fleet. Chinese firms now own or operate terminals in ninety-five foreign ports. China estimates that it has twenty-seven hundred distant-water fishing ships, though this figure does not include vessels in contested waters; public records and satellite imaging suggest that the fleet may be closer to sixty-five hundred ships. (The U.S. and the E.U., by contrast, have fewer than three hundred distant-water fishing vessels each.) Some ships that appear to be fishing vessels press territorial claims in contested waters, including in the South China Sea and around Taiwan. “This may look like a fishing fleet, but, in certain places, it’s also serving military purposes,” Ian Ralby, who runs I.R. Consilium, a maritime-security firm, told me. China’s preëminence at sea has come at a cost. The country is largely unresponsive to international laws, and its fleet is the worst perpetrator of illegal fishing in the world, helping drive species to the brink of extinction. Its ships are also rife with labor trafficking, debt bondage, violence, criminal neglect, and death. “The human-rights abuses on these ships are happening on an industrial and global scale,” Steve Trent, the C.E.O. of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said.
Offsetting has been hailed as a fix for runaway emissions and climate change—but the market’s largest firm sold millions of credits for carbon reductions that weren’t real. […]
On July 9th, Muench sent an e-mail to Heuberger and other executives, with the subject line “Red Flag.” He reported that, after a long investigation, he could only conclude that most of the funds for the Kariba project had gone astray. In private, he says, he urged Heuberger to admit the problems: “We need to come public before it is in the press.” Heuberger was disinclined to listen to Muench. “He’s very driven—the mind-set is totally on impact,” Heuberger told me. “For him, there’s only good and bad.” South Pole removed Muench from the inquiry into Wentzel’s finances, after which “the relationship and flow of information proved to be more productive again,” the company said. To Heuberger’s mind, the Kariba project was as good as it needed to be: “Is it perfect? Is the guy a hundred per cent? Every dollar always a hundred per cent?” He shrugged. “You have to navigate your way around.” […]
“This looks really bad, because you’re just sending money here, there, and everywhere, but, on the receiving side, I can show where we’ve got it,” he told me. “Well, I can show you the bundles of cash on the floor.” When payments arrived, he said, he would “grab the money and run with it,” distributing it among the stakeholders in the project. “For any kind of European or American, that’s not comprehensible,” he said. “How many Western people have carried half a million dollars of cash in their hand?”
Wentzel’s demeanor seemed to lighten as he unburdened himself, and he began to stage a mock interrogation. “Can I see the swift?” he boomed, referring to the code that banks use for international payments. “The money got there swiftly, but I can’t tell you what the swift was.” Suddenly his waggish smile gave way to a frown. “I don’t know what you’re going to report on this, and I hope to God it’s not all of it, because I probably will go to jail,” he said. Then he reassured himself. “I’ll go to jail for the right reasons,” he said. “Savior or villain? I’m right in the damned middle. And I’m happy to be that way.”
They Cracked the Code to a Locked USB Drive Worth $235 Million in Bitcoin. Then It Got Weird | Wired
Stefan Thomas lost the password to an encrypted USB drive holding 7,002 bitcoins. One team of hackers believes they can unlock it—if they can get Thomas to let them.
Aviation is a poster child for economic stagnation. Yes, airline travel has gotten cheaper and safer—great. But every other aspect of aviation has struggled or even regressed. As I’ve noted many times, we had supersonic travel across the Atlantic from 1976 to 2003. Today, not even the world’s richest travelers can fly that fast.
Another part of aviation that has suffered over the last half-century is general aviation, particularly its low-end segment, personal aviation, in which people fly themselves to their destinations instead of hiring a private pilot to do it. Aviation is simply not practical personal transportation today. Where, one might ask, is my flying car?
Lately I have become obsessed with the Federal Aviation Administration’s new MOSAIC rulemaking on light-sport aircraft. The agency’s proposed rule is smart, counterintuitive, and potentially transformative. If not literal flying cars, it could make personal aviation in general much more viable. It’s an action that deserves both applause and careful study.
In World War II, the story goes, the British invented a new kind of onboard radar that allowed its pilots to shoot down German planes at night.
They didn't want the Germans to know about this technology, but they had to give an explanation for their new, improbable powers.
So they invented a propaganda campaign that claimed their pilots had developed exceptional eyesight by eating "an excess of carrots."
If you're going to trick people into doing something pointless, eating excessive carrots seems like one of the better ones. Still, there's an issue: people who believed the propaganda and tried to get super-sight would be spending time and effort on something that wasn't going to work.
I'll call this a Carrot Problem.
Once you look for Carrot Problems, you see them everywhere. Essentially, any time someone achieves success in a way they don't want to admit publicly, they have to come up with an excuse for their abilities. And that means misleading a bunch of people into (potentially) wasting their time, or worse.
People who take steroids don't generally admit to taking steroids, so they come up with various explanations for their new physiques. But anyone who follows that advice will be disappointed; without the steroids, they just won't get the same results.
Many companies basically distribute their jobs to friends and insiders, but don't want to admit that publicly. So they set up public application processes, which cause outsiders to waste time and effort applying through a channel that has 0 chance of landing them the job.
Various companies make a lot of money by implementing "dark patterns", such as getting customers onto subscriptions and then making it hard for them to cancel. They can't admit that this is why their revenue went up, so they make a bunch of claims about how their success comes out of [various beneficent strategies], but anyone who tries to replicate the success by using those lovely strategies is liable to go broke.
A simple and beautiful listing of the World’s Writing Systems. You can sort by time (proto-cuneiform to Toto), region, name (Adlam to Zou), and whether the scripts are living or historical.
Nearly one in four people worldwide -- which translates into more than a billion people -- feel very or fairly lonely, according to a recent Meta-Gallup survey of more than 140 countries.
Semaglutide works by mimicking the hormone GLP-1, which has digestion-related effects on multiple organs. It slows the emptying of the stomach, and so discourages eating by making you feel more full. In the pancreas, it encourages production of insulin; I’m not diabetic, but this is why it’s also used to treat diabetes. And it sends a message of satiety to the brain — essentially, it turns off the “eat eat eat” voice.
I’ve lost five pounds already. The weight loss didn’t surprise me; what has surprised me is that losing this weight has been easy so far, and I haven’t needed to count anything. I just eat less. I haven’t forgotten to eat lunch, as such, but on a couple of days I have chosen not to. One day, I went to a cafeteria where none of the options looked very good, so I just had a cup of tomato soup. Another day, all I had for lunch was a banana. These aren’t choices I would have made previously, and if I had, I would have spent the afternoon miserable and hungry in the aftermath. But I wasn’t.
To understand why, you need to know a little about how batteries work. The guts of most lithium-ion batteries, like the ones in smartphones, laptops, and electric cars, are made of two layers: one made of lithium cobalt oxide and the other of graphite. Energy is released when lithium ions move from the graphite layer to the lithium cobalt oxide layer. When you charge up a battery, you’re simply shifting those lithium ions back the other way—out of the lithium cobalt oxide layer and back to the graphite.
This is where we get to the problem with battery life and charge cycles. Shift too many of those lithium ions out of the lithium cobalt oxide layer, and the whole structure of the layer messes up. “The atomic structure of the material actually falls apart if you remove all that lithium,” says Kent Griffith, an assistant professor specializing in energy storage at the UC San Diego.
So while it is possible to charge a battery beyond 100 per cent, the only way to do that is to pull out more of those crucial lithium ions. “It’d be like pulling all of the supports out of the floor of a building,” Griffith says. You could get the lithium ions out, but good luck putting them back once you’ve messed up that internal structure.