WTF Weekly

my thoughts on the week that was

11 Feb 2020

WTF Weekly for Feb 11, 2020

Last week I spent most of WTF going on about Coronavirus, and while that’s still very much a thing and while China’s dear leaders are still very much making things worse for all of us, I suspect you’d agree a change of pace would be nice.

Here’s one:

The Secret History of Facial Recognition

This is neither news, nor especially new (although the research and the article are recent), but it is a fascinating story. It might not surprise anyone to find that one of the pioneers of facial recognition was wildly optimistic about technology even while witnessing horrible things being done with it.1

Long read? Check. Wild, mesmerizing story worth every second? Check.

Osaka airport set to become Japan’s 1st airport with toilet for dogs

Ever get stuck in a buys airport fighting crowds of people trying desperately to find a restroom? Imagine how your dog must feel.

A regional airport in Osaka apparently has imagined just that, and they’ve got just the solution to make sure all of their visitors’ dogs can be good boys and girls and avoid soiling the carpet or unloading in a shiny metal tube in the sky.

EXCLUSIVE: The cyber attack the UN tried to keep under wraps

Even worse than dog poop at airports that isn’t kept under wraps is the UN trying to keep security breaches that could significantly impact the personal safety of a lot of people under wraps when they should be letting it out of the doggie bag.

Ok,that analogy stinks, but you get the drift. The UN has a lot of sensitive information about a lot of people whose safety could conceivably be compromised were anyone who wanted access to have it. And yet, rather than notify affected parties that they’ve been breached, they just completely clammed up.

Although it is unclear what documents and data the hackers obtained in the 2019 incident, the report seen by TNH implies that internal documents, databases, emails, commercial information, and personal data may have been available to the intruders – sensitive data that could have far-reaching repercussions for staff, individuals, and organisations communicating with and doing business with the UN.

Not cool, UN. Not cool.

New York Times Journalist Targeted by Saudi-linked Pegasus Spyware Operator

Also not cool: the Saudi freaking government.

I love how they call the Pegasus operator “Kingdom”. Gee, I wonder who they might have in mind? Considering journalists and dissidents are being targeted, it doesn’t take a security expert to figure it out.

Chinese Vlogger Detailing Life – and Death — Amid Coronavirus Outbreak in Wuhan Disappears, Allegedly ‘Forcibly Quarantined’

I promised no more Coronavirus, but I lied, because I spotted this, and holy 💩, it must be a madhouse inside Wuhan right now.

I hope these guys who disappeared really were quarantined for examination rather than just actually disappeared for good.

I’ve seen a lot of “we can defy reality if we shout our own version hard enough” behavior in my time, but the Chinese are taking to 11 by trying to characterize necessary assessments of the situation as punishable rumor-mongering. They’ve got to quit trying to save face and denying what’s happening and deal with the problem, otherwise the whole world might pay for their stubborn refusal to acknowledge what everyone on the planet already knows.

Hit me up on Twitter to yell at me about typos or to talk about anything I’ve included here.

You can find more of my thoughts on tech and other projects on my personal site at scottwillsey.com


  1. Like nuking the shit out of Enewetak Atoll, for one. ↩︎