Indy Digest: Oct. 4, 2021
Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are slowly coming back online as of this writing—after one of the longest and most-significant social-media outages ever.
If you’ve been following the detailed news reports about the outage today, you know that the technical details of what happened are both 1) utterly hilarious, and 2) a horrifying case study on how messed up things can get when technology that depends on the internet goes down.
DNS—short for Domain Name System—is the service that translates human-readable hostnames (like arstechnica.com) to raw, numeric IP addresses (like 184.108.40.206). Without working DNS, your computer doesn’t know how to get to the servers that host the website you’re looking for.
The problem goes deeper than Facebook’s obvious DNS failures, though. … A bit later, Cloudflare VP Dane Knecht reported that all BGP routes for Facebook had been pulled. (BGP—short for Border Gateway Protocol—is the system by which one network figures out the best route to a different network.)
With no BGP routes into Facebook’s network, Facebook’s own DNS servers would be unreachable—as would the missing application servers for Facebook-owned Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR.
The fact that Facebook’s BGP routes were basically erased from the internet—apparently by Facebook itself—caused massive problems for Facebook that went well beyond its social-network platforms being down. ZDNet explains:
There are reports that Facebook employees can’t enter their buildings because their “smart” badges and doors were also disabled by this network failure. If true, Facebook’s people literally can’t enter the building to fix things.
In the meantime, Reddit user u/ramenporn, who claimed to be a Facebook employee working on bringing the social network back from the dead, reported, before he deleted his account and his messages, that “DNS for FB services has been affected and this is likely a symptom of the actual issue, and that’s that BGP peering with Facebook peering routers has gone down, very likely due to a configuration change that went into effect shortly before the outages happened (started roughly 1540 UTC).”
He continued, “There are people now trying to gain access to the peering routers to implement fixes, but the people with physical access is separate from the people with knowledge of how to actually authenticate to the systems and people who know what to actually do, so there is now a logistical challenge with getting all that knowledge unified. Part of this is also due to lower staffing in data centers due to pandemic measures.”
Wow. Just … wow.
The fact that this massive outage happened the day after 60 Minutes aired a blockbuster interview with former Facebook employee Frances Haugen—the whistleblower who took documents to The Wall Street Journal showing, among other things, that “Facebook’s own research shows that it amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest”—is also quite the coincidence.
It’s been a bad couple days for Facebook. Let’s hope the pain the company suffered leads to some meaningful changes … but I, for one, won’t be holding my figurative breath.
From the Independent
Surveilling the Virus: Indio’s Valley Sanitary District Collected Valuable Data After It Started Testing Wastewater for COVID-19—but It Needs Funding to Continue
October 4, 2021
A federally funded pilot project that tested wastewater for the virus that causes COVID-19 has ended—and Indio’s Valley Sanitary District needs funding help to keep doing the valuable testing.
By Bob Grimm
October 4, 2021
With The Many Saints of Newark, creator David Chase and company try to tell a bunch of Sopranos backstories in two hours, and something about the whole enterprise feels wrong.
Frightful Festivities: Halloween Hullabaloo Brings a Day of—Cliché Alert—Fun for the Whole Family to the Palm Springs Cultural Center
By Matt King
October 4, 2021
Halloween Hullabaloo ia an all-day series of ticketed events at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, including various spooky activities like movie screenings, a zombie cocktail party and a “Jazzville Creepy Cocktail Party.”
By Jimmy Boegle
October 1, 2021
When you think of crepes, you probably think of thin little things, usually sweet. Gabino’s Creperie is here to change your way of thinking.
• Some big news may be about to break about Sheriff Chad Bianco. The Independent hasn’t been able to independently verify this news, so take what we’re about to say with a requisite grain of salt. OK? OK! Here we go.
Over the weekend, USA Today published a story identifying a number of law enforcement officers around the country who are apparently members of the Oath Keepers, according to data hacked from the Oath Keepers website. Following the publication, one of the story’s reporters, Will Carless, asked via Twitter for suggestions of other law enforcement officers who people suspected could also be on the Oath Keepers’ list.
Eartler today, Carless posted this:
As of this writing, there has been no update from Carless. However, this was also tweeted earlier today, by J.J. Macnab, a fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism:
To repeat: The Independent has not been able to verify these claims about Bianco. But given the credibility of these sources … don’t be surprised if the news breaks soon—if it hasn’t already by the time you read this.
• Sort-of related to the story in the “From the Independent” section above about wastewater testing in Indio for COVID-19: The latest Palm Springs wastewater testing report, from samples taken Sept. 27 and 28, shows that the amount of SARS-CoV-2 continues to decline. This is encouraging news, indeed.
• Related: Are we on the tail end of the final large COVID-19 wave? As cases decline in much of the country, some experts think that we might be. The New York Times says: “Eventually, immunity will become widespread enough that another wave as large and damaging as the Delta wave will not be possible. ‘Barring something unexpected,’ Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former F.D.A. commissioner and the author of ‘Uncontrolled Spread,’ a new book on COVID, told (reporter David Leonhardt, ‘I’m of the opinion that this is the last major wave of infection.’” Fingers crossed he’s right.
• Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced a vaccine mandate for all public school students 12 and older. California is the first state to have such a mandate. Our partners at CalMatters report: “The mandate would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations, which includes mumps, measles and rubella. Newsom issued this order in the aftermath of similar mandates from the state’s largest districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified. ‘Vaccines work,’ Newsom said. ‘It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.’”
• A terrible oil spill occurred off the shores of Orange County over the weekend. Our partners at CalMatters report: “Orange County was hit with its largest oil spill in three decades when at least 126,000 gallons of crude oil spewed from a leaking pipeline connected to an offshore platform. The oil slick — which was first reported Saturday and grew large enough to cover the city of Santa Monica and then some — infiltrated Talbert Marsh, a critical stopover for migrating birds..” Ugh.
• A second Palm Springs City Councilmember has announced a run for higher office. From the news release: “Today, neighborhood leader, longtime public servant and Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton officially entered the race for California’s 28th State Senate District with the powerful support of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and former United States Senator Barbara Boxer. Middleton, who made history in 2017 by becoming the first transgender person in California history elected to a non-judicial position, currently serves as Palm Springs’ Mayor Pro Tem. She would be the first openly transgender State Legislator in California’s history. SD-28, an open seat that went for Joe Biden in 2020, currently has a two-point Democratic registration advantage.” The seat is currently held by Republican Melissa Melendez.
• The Desert Business Association today announced some fantastic news for LGBTQ+-owned and LGBTQ+-ally-owned restaurants. From the announcement: “The Desert Business Association, the LGBTQ Chamber of the Coachella Valley, is proud to partner with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Grubhub on the NGLCC/Grubhub Community Impact Grant Program. We are one of over 30 NGLCC Affiliate Chambers across America helping to amplify this grant opportunity to support LGBTQ and allied restaurants across the country, including right here in the Coachella Valley, an area hit hardest by the pandemic. Together we will award over $1.5 million in grants ranging from $5,000 up to $100,000. Restaurants wishing to apply for grants should visit www.nglcc.org/ghgrant. Applications close Oct. 12, 2021!”
• And finally … Buzzfeed over the weekend published a listacle that is alternately horrifying and fascinating: “People Are Sharing The Dark Effects Of The Pandemic That Are Rarely Talked About And It’s Truly Eye-Opening.” Normally, I loathe “listacles,” as they’re almost always worthless and lame, but this one is an exception. A taste: “Many guide dogs forgot how to be a guide during the pandemic because they didn’t need to guide their owner anywhere. A YouTuber called Molly Burke has had to retire her guide dog early because of it. It’s something I don’t think a lot of us would take into account but many with guide dogs have suffered from it.””
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