# Do You Mind? : Soma cubes, at 90

I’m sure most reading this have played with a Rubik’s Cube.  But how many here are familiar with Soma Cubes?  Soma was the Rubik’s Cube of its era.  (*)

The word soma originates from the Greek word for body.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus:

soma (noun: soma; plural noun: somas)

1. (Biology) the parts of an organism other than the reproductive cells.

2. the body as distinct from the soul, mind, or psyche.

In 1933, Danish polymath Piet Hein was watching a lecture on quantum mechanics conducted by Werner Heisenberg when he invented Soma: a 3x3x3 cube of 27 cubes in total, made up of seven pieces.  One is a three cube piece in a V shape, the others are six of the seven possible combinations of four cubes.  There are knockoff versions of Soma that include the square (yellow in the above image), leaving out one of the mirrored grey pieces.

The main goal of Soma is to form a cube from the seven pieces.  John Conway and Michael Guy proved mathematically that there are only 240 possible cube solutions, excluding mirrored or rotated solutions.  As seen in the picture below, there are other shapes which can be made using the Soma pieces.  The Soma Cube I had when I was younger contained a book listing other things to make, such as two different castles.  There are also shapes containing 27 cubes which have been proven impossible without substituting pieces from another cube (the Gordian Knot, and the Skyscraper).

Thorleif’s SOMA page has a huge trove of puzzles, links, PDFs, including Martin Gardner’s 1958 Scientific American Column, and many others.  This youtube link demonstrates (spoilers!) how to form the cube and many of its other constructions seen below.

If you know someone obsessed with the Rubik’s Cube, introduce them to Soma.

(*  And Rubik’s Cube was the Tetris of its era.  What is it with us that we like block shaped toys and games?  Interestingly, the Rubik’s Cube reaches its 50th anniversary next year, invented in 1974 by Hungarian mathematician Ernő Rubik.  Another well known and older puzzle is the Tangram, though other than its 18th century origins in China, not much can be said about its history.  And the Lego company was founded in 1934, though its ubiquitous plastic blocks didn’t come until years later.)

# You May Observe: A new Solar Calendar unearthed in the Netherlands

The last time I checked, everywhere on Earth you can see the sun and the moon.  The question is less whether there are more solar calendars around the world, but which ones have not yet been uncovered?  IFLScience lives up to the name again.

Huge 4,000-Year-Old Solar Calendar Sanctuary Unearthed In Netherlands

A 4,000-year-old solar calendar sanctuary has been unearthed by archaeologists in the Netherlands who have described it as the first of its kind. The size of four football pitches, this vast religious site appears to have been constructed so the sun shines straight through certain passages on the main burial mounds on the winter and summer solstice.

The site is located near the town of Tiel at the construction site of an industrial park. Archaeologists have been working here since 2016 in a series of digs, but this colossal open-air sanctuary was only recently found in an excavation this year.

[…]

Among the site, archaeologists have yielded over 1 million objects dating from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Age, and Middle Ages. The parts of the site dating to the early Bronze Age include around 25,000 bone remains, 32,000 bone shards, 170,000 clay fragments, 58,000 natural stones, and 10,000 flints.

One particularly interesting discovery at the site is a green glass bead found among one of the central graves. Remarkably, analysis has shown that it originated in Mesopotamia – present-day Iraq – some 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) away, as the crow flies. This indicates that these two vastly different cultures, separated by thousands of miles of land, were somehow in contact with one another up to 4,000 years ago.

# Music Rules, part 1: Happy 75th anniversary to LP records

It was 75 years ago, on June 21, 1948, that Columbia Records released the first LP record.  RCA Victor created the competing 45/7″ format in 1949, another anniversary to look forward to.  I think I’ve linked to it before, a video by Techmoan (aka Matt Taylor) from three years ago, where he talks about the 1949 vinyl format war as a war that everybody won – good for music listeners, and good for the the producers.

Vinyl is (ugh) made from petroleum, unlike 10″ 78 records which were made from shellac, the secretions of the lac bug.  Vinyl was adopted because it was far more durable and produced much higher sound quality, allowing more music on a single record.  A 10″ record played only three minutes per side.  12″ vinyl LPs at 33RPM were designed to hold entire classical music pieces, up to twenty minutes per side, and 7″ 45s could hold up to four minutes.  Record companies were looking for new and higher quality music formats in the late 1930s, but a little thing called World War II interfered with their plans.

From Making Vinyl.com:

Columbia Records Makes History with the Release of the First Vinyl LP Record

Columbia Records made history on June 21, 1948, by releasing the first vinyl long-playing (LP) record. The invention of the LP marked a significant milestone in the history of music technology, as it allowed for longer and higher-quality recordings to be played on turntables.

The man behind this revolutionary technology was Peter Goldmark, a Hungarian-American inventor working for Columbia Records. Goldmark spent years developing and perfecting the LP, which held up to an hour of music on a single disc. Before this, most records could only hold about four minutes of music.

The LP quickly gained popularity among music fans, and by the 1950s, it had become the dominant format for recorded music. It remained the standard for decades until the rise of digital music in the late 20th century.

Today, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the LP, it’s clear that Goldmark’s invention had a lasting impact on the music industry. Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, with many music fans seeking out the warm, analog sound of the LP.

So here’s to Peter Goldmark and the LP – a true game-changer in the music world.

For fun, below the fold are a few songs that reference vinyl records.

# Cars Suck: Desert edition (or should I say, desertification)

And people suck, too.  Something I was reminded of today, disaster from 1973:

Last Tree of Ténéré

The Ténéré wastelands of northeastern Niger were once populated by a forest of trees. By the 20th century, desertification had wiped out all but one solitary acacia.

The Tree of Ténéré, as it came to be called, had no companions for 400 kilometers in every direction. Its roots reached nearly 40 meters deep into the sand.

The tree had become a sacred object among the nomadic Tuareg people that would pass by it on their journeys, never using it for firewood, or allowing their camels to graze on it. As more desert explorers came across the shockingly hardy plant, it became quite well known and was even included as a landmark on European military maps of the otherwise desolate expanse during the 1930s. When Michel Lesourd of the Central Service of Saharan Affairs first came upon the tree in 1939, he wrote:

“One must see the Tree to believe its existence. What is its secret? How can it still be living in spite of the multitudes of camels which trample at its sides? How at each azalai does not a lost camel eat its leaves and thorns? Why don’t the numerous Touareg leading the salt caravans cut its branches to make fires to brew their tea? The only answer is that the tree is taboo and considered as such by the caravaniers. There is a kind of superstition, a tribal order which is always respected. Each year the azalai gather round the Tree before facing the crossing of the Ténéré. The Acacia has become a living lighthouse; it is the first or the last landmark for the azalai leaving Agadez for Bilma, or returning.”

# I Need To Backtrack: Regarding Ted Cruz and his “commission”

Hypotheticals aren’t the best thing to post, but….

Back in April 2023, audio surfaced of a phone call between Ted “Crud” Cruz and Mario “Bad Moon” Bartiromo”, talking about a “commission” that would oversee the fight between the legitimate election results and the republican attempt to overthrow it.

Most thought that the audio showed Cruz was taking Cheetolini’s side to overthrow the election.  But it’s what he didn’t say that raised my eyebrow.

Bartiromo: Who’s deciding who would get inaugurated?

Cruz: It would be the results of that commission and what they find and if they found credible evidence of fraud that undermines confidence in the electoral results in any given state they would report on that.

He never mentioned Cheetolini as “being the winner”.  Is that because he was “trying to sound impartial”?  Yeah, right.  More likely, Cruz would try to make himself head of that commission.  Not just “lead it”, but direct it.

What if Cruz managed to “prove both Cheetolini AND Biden lost”?  Who would replace Biden as rightful president if that happened?  I don’t believe it’s a stretch to see Cruz positioning himself for and organizing his own coup d’etat for the presidency, especially as another was going on.  He wasn’t the most senior senate republican or cabinet secretary, but he wasn’t that far down the list in order of succession.

From Newsweek, April 2023:

Ted Cruz Tapes To Be Handed Over to Jack Smith’s DOJ Probe

A lawyer for Fox News whistleblower Abby Grossberg—the former producer on Tucker Carlson Tonight who’s suing the host and other executives at the network—has confirmed that the DOJ’s Special Counsel Jack Smith has requested access to some of the recordings in her possession.

The lawyer confirmed Smith’s request on MSNBC on Tuesday, saying that he had “been contacted by several law enforcement authorities.” When asked by news anchor Ari Melber if the DOJ was “one of those entities,” the lawyer replied “yes.” He then confirmed, after being prompted by Melber, that it was the special counsel—Jack Smith—who got in touch.

While the lawyer didn’t specify exactly which tapes Smith asked for—Grossberg said she has about 90 unaired recordings from inside Fox News—MSNBC aired a part of the Ted Cruz tapes where the Texas senator discusses overthrowing the election with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo.

# Driving Tests: My patience, definitely

If anyone needs a good argument for computer simulation before student drivers are allowed behind the wheel, here’s one.  There should also be dual controls in the car, so the instructor has a wheel and a brake pedal to prevent things like this.  But better still, no private cars and better public transit.

No learner drivers were hurt in the making of the video.

.

# What Did You Expect?: Cop dogs can’t be trusted either

The only thing shocking about this story and lawsuit is that it didn’t happen before.  Likely because cops cover up for each other, they hide and destroy evidence.

Also not shocking is that it took a white man filing suit for this to be taken seriously.  How many people, especially Black people, were railroaded into false convictions, their property stolen (not “seized”) by cops?  From NPR:

Courts have long seen K-9 dogs as impartial. Now police bodycams hold them accountable

For decades, American courts have had to take it on faith that drug-sniffing dogs were impartial. Testimony by a dog’s handler, along with training records and credentialing by a local K-9 organization, were usually enough. But the recent spread of body cameras now threatens to upend that faith.

A newly filed federal lawsuit in Texas shows cameras’ potential to undermine K-9 unit legitimacy. Houston resident Alek Schott accuses Bexar County Sheriff’s deputy Joel Babb of pulling him over on Interstate 35 on false pretenses, and then, when he refused to give permission to search his pickup truck, he says K-9 unit deputy Martin A. Molina III prompted his dog to “alert” to the scent of drugs.

Historically, that claim would have been nearly impossible to prove. But in this case, Schott requested and received the officers’ body camera footage, giving him almost the same view the K-9 handler had — including the moment the handler’s right hand made a gesture toward the attentive dog, which then jumped up on the pickup’s door.

“It’s clear to me that he’s telling the dog to alert,” Schott says. “I thought, ‘These guys are trying to destroy my life.’ “

This suit should bring into question EVERY prosecution based on “dogs reacting”.  How many were cases of dogs coached or commanded to react?

# Compare, Contrast, And Contradict: The media still doesn’t get it

Remember in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine, how the media reported on Ukrainian refugees?  From ReliefWeb (a United Nations agency):

How US and European media language used to describe the Ukrainian crisis reflects deeply rooted racism against non-European refugees

Communities across Europe opened their doors to welcome over four million refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine which started on the 24th of February, 2022. While solidarity with Ukrainians fleeing the violence has been inspiring, the language used by US and European journalists against non-European refugees fleeing the country is concerning. The terms used to describe non-European refugees reflect a racist European and American policy that only extends human rights protections to certain groups of people to the exclusion of others, making the death and suffering of Middle-Eastern, African and Asian refugees more expected and therefore tolerated.

The racist language used by journalists is only the tip of the iceberg of discrimination. Reports by Euro-Med Monitor’s team and other human rights agencies show that Black, Asian, and Middle Eastern refugees are treated very differently when they arrive at the border in European countries. While Ukrainian refugees receive immediate help and fast processing to cross the border in Poland, refugees of African origin are asked to wait and are sometimes forced to use more dangerous routes to make the trip.

Emphasis in the text is mine.  You would think after a public dressing down and worldwide condemnation of racist, patriarchal and patronizing language that they would learn not to do it again.  But you would have thought wrong.

South Africa is suffering severe blackouts in recent weeks due to their energy system failing.  They are still heavily dependent on coal, and the planned move to renewable or other sources never happened.

How is the media reporting this?  Solely as an issue of corruption and lack of investment, with no accountability for the apartheid regime that ruled for nearly a century.  It reeks of the racist trope that “Black people can’t govern themselves,” inferring that the sole responsibility for the current situation lies with the Black majority government of the past 30 years.  In a single item, Bloomberg praises the apartheid regime for “being forward thinking” about South Africa’s energy needs while simultaneously blaming the ANC for the entirety of SA’s current problems.  This despite both governments overseeing the same energy system.

I don’t know enough to comment on the details of how the country operates or its problems, but I would like to ask Bloomberg one question:

When apartheid ruled South Africa, didn’t that “sufficient energy supply” go almost entirely to the 10% white population, while Black South Africans mostly lived in poverty, in townships, and didn’t have electricity?

That hardly sounds like the apartheid regime “planned ahead”, unless you meant “planned to fail” when they turned over the reins of power.  It sounds to me like the ANC tried to give people more access to electricity and better quality of life.

# Lying Tracks: Anti-rail propaganda

Today, I saw this pathetic piece of so-called “news” – from PBS, to boot – whining about long freight trains and long breakdowns “dividing towns”. This is not just third rate “journalism”, it’s anti-rail propaganda.

NO mention or poor or failing train infrastructure.

NO mention of failure to build bridges or underpasses for cars or pedestrians.

NO mention of inadequate government regulation (except to call for meaningless fines).

NO call to regulate railroads the same way the airline industry is regulated.

They are as useless at reporting issues as the US government is at addressing the problem.  The only thing the mouthpieces in the story call for is minor fines for rail companies instead of addressing the actual issue: Trains are getting longer because it’s more profitable for the rail companies.  Fewer trains equals fewer employees, and with no meaningful consequences (like regulation), they will do nothing.  Especially when they have a pal like Biden protecting them, signing “laws” that force rail employees back to work, denying the right to strike.

The fake news in the video goes on about “children having to crawl between cars on a stopped train to get to school!”, as if safety were the concern.  According to the University of North Carolina, pedestrian overpasses cost up to US\$250 per square foot.  To safely build over a single track of rail would take a footbridge six metres high and six metres across, plus stairs up and down on each side of the rail.  Safe pedestrian overpasses could be built quickly for less than \$100,000 each, which would alleviate the problem short term and remain there as a long term safe crossing. These mouthpieces pretend to care about children’s safety but refuse to address solutions that work.

The US has a little less than 260,000km of track, and Europe has about 220,000km.  If the standard of regulation were the same, one would think the rates of derailments would be roughly a 5:4 ratio.  Except they aren’t.

According to the Imperial College of London, between 1980 and 2019 (PDF), Europe had less then 300 derailments.  In forty years.  The US averages 1700 per year.

# More Anniversaries To Note: PDF turns 30, Ethernet turns 50

Two separate items from Computerphile this week, both from the University of Nottingham.

First up, Dr. Steve Bagley talks about the 50th anniversary of Ethernet, which was developed (where else?) at Xerox PARC.  It was originally intended for a local Xerox network, but undoubtedly its superiority to other connections led to its adoption.

Dr. David Brailsford talks about the history of PDF, of which he was involvement in its development.  There are several other videos where he talks about PDF, its capabilities, and how it came to be.

# Un-Intel-ligent Design: They didn’t learn the first time

In the 1990s, Intel created a new processor platform, the Itanium, with the vision of their multicore processor chips dominating the server market while “less powerful” personal PCs interacted or were replaced with Itaniums.  But it didn’t work out that way.  It was overly ambitious, not well planned, didn’t live up to expectations, and met with market resistance.  In short, it flopped.  From CNet:

Itanium: A cautionary tale

The wonderchip that wasn’t serves as a lesson about how complex development plans can go awry in a fast-moving industry.

On June 8, 1994, Hewlett-Packard and Intel announced a bold collaboration to build a next-generation processor called Itanium, intended to remake the computing industry.

Eleven years and billions of dollars later, Itanium serves instead as a cautionary tale of how complex, long-term development plans can go drastically wrong in a fast-moving industry.

Despite years of marketing and product partnerships, Itanium remains a relative rarity among servers. In the third quarter of this year, 7,845 Itanium servers were sold, according to research by Gartner. That compares with 62,776 machines with Sun Microsystems’ UltraSparc, 31,648 with IBM’s Power, and 9,147 with HP’s PA-RISC.

But perhaps most significant, it compares with 1.7 million servers with x86 chips, based on an architecture Itanium was intended to replace.

“At the original launch, the claims from HP and Intel were essentially saying, ‘If you’re not with us, you’re going to die. We’re going to be the chip that runs everything,'” said Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice. “It so happens that promise has largely been achieved, but with x86.”

Prior to 2000, Intel dominated the microprocessor industry with AMD and Cyrix a distant second and third, copying and reverse engineering to barely keep pace with Intel’s innovations.  But Intel’s massive blunder (combined with the brains and resource of Cyrix, which it acquired) allowed AMD to match Intel for market sales and processor capability (video from the Wall Street Journal).  Intel’s massive edge turned into an equal fight.

AMD vs Intel: Which CPUs Are Better in 2023?

If you’re looking for the best CPUs for gaming or the best workstation CPU, or just one of the best budget CPUs, there are only two choices: AMD and Intel. That fact has spawned an almost religious following for both camps, and the resulting AMD vs Intel flamewars make it tricky to get unbiased advice about the best choice for your next processor. But in many cases, the answer is actually very clear: Intel’s chips win for most users looking for the best balance of performance in both gaming and productivity at a more accessible price point. However, AMD’s lineup of specialized X3D CPUs wins for PCs focused on gaming.

This article covers the never-ending argument of AMD vs Intel desktop CPUs (we’re not covering laptop or server chips). We judge the chips on seven criteria based on what you plan to do with your PC, pricing, performance, driver support, power consumption, and security, giving us a clear view of the state of the competition. We’ll also discuss the process nodes and architectures that influence the moving goalposts. However, each brand has its strengths and weaknesses, so which CPU brand you should buy depends mostly on what blend of features, price, and performance are important to you.

One sign of AMD’s gains it how Linux distributions are packaged.  They are listed as “for AMD (will also work on Intel)”.

The Itanium debacle was less than twenty years ago, with many in Intel’s current management having lived through this mistake.  Which makes it utterly flabbergasting that the company seems intent on repeating it.

Intel has announced plans to produce 64bit only processors, the “X86-S” (S for “simplified”), to drop all legacy support for 8bit, 16bit, and 32bit software.  Their argument is “efficiency, optimized code, reduced design and redundancy”. From Hackaday:

Intel Suggests Dropping Everything But 64-Bit From X86 With Its X86-S Proposal

In a move that has a significant part of the internet flashing back to the innocent days of 2001 when Intel launched its Itanium architecture as a replacement for the then 32-bit only x86 architecture – before it getting bludgeoned by AMD’s competing x86_64 architecture – Intel has now released a whitepaper with associated X86-S specification that seeks to probe the community’s thoughts on it essentially removing all pre-x86_64 features out of x86 CPUs.

While today you can essentially still install your copy of MSDOS 6.11 on a brand-new Intel Core i7 system, with some caveats, it’s undeniable that to most users of PCs the removal of 16 and 32-bit mode would likely go by unnoticed, as well as the suggested removal of rings 1 and 2, as well as range of other low-level (I/O) features. Rather than the boot process going from real-mode 16-bit to protected mode, and from 32- to 64-bit mode, the system would boot straight into the 64-bit mode which Intel figures is what everyone uses anyway.

Where things get a bit hazy is that on this theoretical X86-S you cannot just install and boot your current 64-bit operating systems, as they have no concept of this new boot procedure, or the other low-level features that got dropped. This is where the Itanium comparison seems most apt, as it was Intel’s attempt at a clean cut with its x86 legacy, only for literally everything about the concept (VLIW) and ‘legacy software’ support to go horribly wrong.

If this included talk of retaining parallel processing, it might not be such a bad idea.  Intel already has 16/32bit technology and could cheaply produce a parallel second chip for legacy software.  But are they willing?  In reality, this sounds more like a plan to force consumers to buy new PCs.

Some might respond, “What’s wrong with this?  Who uses 32bit software anymore?”  The answer is everyone.  Booting systems on PCs today still run off 16bits.  The entirety of system BIOSes and operating systems would have to change.  But even if boot systems and OSes are rewritten, that only addresses the system level.

Tens or even hundreds of millions of people use legacy software.  Many people still use 32bit applications because they work, and because they paid for them.  Being forced onto a 64bit-only platform means being forced to buy new versions of some software, or paying for replacements because there is no 64bit version of their preferred program (i.e. it’s no longer made, company was acquired or went out of business).

And what about thousands of businesses that run in-house software developed years or decades ago, like accounting or billing systems?  As with multiple events in the last 20 years (Y2K, COVID-19 and taxes) when the shortage of COBOL programmers became an issue, many of the programmers who build propriety programs have retired, or there may be no 64bit version of the compilers to rebuild them.  Redeveloping software could be prohibitively expensive and force small businesses to go under or use old hardware.

Keeping existing hardware this time isn’t about retrocomputing, it’s about not losing the sunk costs and expending greater costs to replace what still works.

# It Just Goes To Show: Anyone can fake patriotism

Robert Hanssen died on Tuesday (April 18, 1944 – June 5, 2023), reportedly of natural causes.  From the FBI’s own site:

On January 12, 1976, Robert Philip Hanssen swore an oath to enforce the law and protect the nation as a newly minted FBI special agent. Instead, he ultimately became the most damaging spy in Bureau history.

On February 18, 2001, Hanssen was arrested and charged with committing espionage on behalf of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Hanssen—using the alias “Ramon Garcia” with his Russian handlers—had provided highly classified national security information to the Russians in exchange for more than \$1.4 million in cash, bank funds, and diamonds.

Hanssen’s espionage activities began in 1985. Since he held key counterintelligence positions, he had authorized access to classified information. He used encrypted communications, “dead drops,” and other clandestine methods to provide information to the KGB and its successor agency, the SVR. The information he delivered compromised numerous human sources, counterintelligence techniques, investigations, dozens of classified U.S. government documents, and technical operations of extraordinary importance and value.

Because of his experience and training as a counterintelligence agent, Hanssen went undetected for years, although some of his unusual activities had aroused suspicion from time to time. Still, he was not identified as a spy.

Hanssen and Aldrich Ames are two of the biggest spy scandals in US history, and both were of the same calibre: arrogant men who thought they were smarter than everyone else.  They were playing a dangerous game of egos, similar to serial killers that taunt law enforcement and society.

But most important of all, they were rabid flag wavers, church going christians, pin wearing “patriots” that could spew a “pledge of allegiance” without believing a single word of it.  They proved that anyone can fake patriotism.

Robert Hanssen: The fake job that snared FBI agent who spied for Moscow

In December 2000, FBI agent Richard Garcia had a curious visit from a colleague overseeing the Russia desk.

“He asked, ‘Do you know a guy named Robert Hanssen?'” Mr Garcia recalled. “I said, ‘No’.”

The official responded: “Good. Because you’re about to.”

A few months later, in part thanks to Mr Garcia’s covert work, the whole country would as well. Hanssen’s arrest in February 2001 sent shockwaves through the intelligence community and the extent of his double life burst on to the front pages.

More than two decades later, on Monday this week, authorities announced that he had been found unresponsive in his cell at the maximum-security prison in Colorado where he was serving a life sentence. He was 79 and is thought to have died from natural causes.

Mr Garcia, now 70 and retired from the FBI, reacted tersely to the news. “Good riddance,” he said.

Compare this with Ana Belén Montes who was released from prison in January 2023 after 20 years.  I suspect the leniency in her sentencing was related to her motivations, protecting the human rights of Cubans.  Or maybe because it was Cuba she was spying for, not the Soviet Union.

Her actions (who she worked for, the material she gave away) were similar to Ames and Hanssen, but she received a much lighter sentence (25 years plus five on probation) than they did (multiple life sentences without parole).  Interestingly, she was released on January 6, 2023.  Philip Agee, ex-CIA spook who wrote CIA Diary and exposed all the CIA’s dirty secrets across Latin America, but never comitted treason against the US, died on January 7, 2008, almost exactly fifteen years before Montes’s release.  CIA Diary is available for download (PDF) from the Internet Archive.

Ana Montes: Former top spy says she will live in Puerto Rico

Ana Montes, a long-time Cuba spy recently released from prison in the US, has landed in her native Puerto Rico.

In a statement, Montes said she is now focused on leading a private life.

She has also called attention to difficulties facing people in Puerto Rico and the ongoing US embargo on Cuba.

Montes spent 20 years in custody after she was found to have been spying for Cuba for two decades.

The 65-year-old was called one of “the most damaging spies” by a US official.

Her spying, conducted during her time as an employee at the Defence Intelligence Agency, is said to have significantly exposed US intelligence operations in Cuba.

During her time at the agency, her colleagues, who did not know about her spying, dubbed her “the Queen of Cuba” because of her expertise in the region.

She was arrested in 2001 by the FBI, just 10 days after the attacks of 9/11.

On Friday, Montes was freed from a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ames is 82, still alive and probably regretting every day of it.

# The Inevitable Happens: Rabid ideologues get dragged out of court

A republican judge appointed by Cheetolini (the same one that first put a stay on the Tennessee “law” which criminalize not being cisgender and heterosexual) has ruled such bans are vague and unconstitutional.  Beau of the Fifth Column seems to think this will repeat itself elsewhere.

The part I don’t like about Parker’s decision is that the cis hetero male judge seems to falsely conflate being Trans or doing drag shows with being sexually explicit.  It’s only sexual if sex is involved.  Cheerleader routines at football and basketball games are more sexual than most drag shows.

Federal judge rejects Tennessee drag show ban as unconstitutional

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) – A federal judge has ruled that Tennessee’s law restricting drag performances in public or where children were present was unconstitutional, striking a blow to efforts in U.S. states to regulate LGBTQ conduct.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in February had signed the bill passed by the state’s assembly that aimed to restrict drag performances, putting the state at the forefront of a Republican-led effort to limit drag in at least 15 states in recent months.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, ruled late on Friday that the law was “both unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.” The First Amendment to the Constitution commands that laws infringing on freedom of speech must be narrow and well defined, Parker said in the 70-page ruling.

“Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,” Parker said in the ruling.

[…]

Ahead of the 2024 elections, Republican lawmakers across the country have introduced more than 500 bills this year regulating the conduct of gay and transgender people, ranging from what can be taught in schools to bathroom use and medical care. At least 48 of those have passed, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group.

Parker had temporarily blocked the law on March 31, just before it was set to go into effect, siding with Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBTQ theater group that filed suit against the state.

So far so good.  But “unconstitutional” isn’t enough.  The judges hearing these and other cases should be demanding the phony “laws” be subjected to medical and scientific approval.