Clive Robinson February 1, 2019 6:53 PM

@ Alex B,

Should the US look into implementing a similar program?

Long answer short, “Yes but they won’t”.

Long answer, over something like five decades the US has run various programs to see if the lives at the bottom of society can be improved, and importantly in the process save tax payers money.

By and large the programs made significant inmprovments and in some cases had a savings rate that for every dollar spent on the scheme it would save the tax payer two thousand or more dollars. Something I would expect US tax payers to be very interested in.

Interestingly however such successes were never implemented. Instead short termism politics took over and funding cuts to not just such schemes but even public education followed. With a short sighted repeatability that would astound anyone who thought a little more long term, thus could see them as “penny wise, pound poor” political policies.

These cuts are like a mantra to certain politicians and they also have another mantra about being hard on crime. By which they mean the same people they are disadvantaging by cutting the funding to their education. The result an expanding under class for whom crime is effectively the only way to put food on the table.

Now I know politicians can be unbelievably stupid from time to time, but this is very clearly an on going and well resourced long term campaign, very much practiced by all the main stream politicians and well supported by the US MSM.

Thus the question is not just Why? but by Who? and What do they gain from it?

It would be easy to point the finger at the current private prison industry, after all they have been caught bribing decision makers in both the judiciary and law enforcment. However this campaign started much longer ago than the current mob of “fleece the tax payer” private prison corps.

Have a look at the history of Chicago and it’s almost “black ops” illegal detention center where people were effectively not just stripped of their legal rights they were mentally and physically abused for days and nights, by many of the “techniques” that shocked people when they found out they were being used in Iraq on civilian prisoners. You won’t find much about it in the US MSM but other countries MSM have published it.

As long as there are people at the top of the pile pushing money at politicians to fund this campaign to create a sub-class of citizens at the bottom of the pile. Then I can not see a “snow ball in hells chance”, of any likely to be successful, social policies being implemented in the US.

However I do fully expect the prison population to keep rising even though in real terms crimes are falling… And the people profitably filling the maw of private prisons will be uneducated people “from across the tracks”, seen by many not as disadvantaged people but “a verminous nuisance to be removed from public sight”, oh and “put to use in endentured labour” importantly “without say or right of redress”, effectively as a hidden slave labour force…

Knowing this it might in part explain the extrodinary rise in the US prison population, which is radically different to other western nations…

justinacolmena February 1, 2019 10:48 PM

@Alex B

“Often they do not see the consequences of their actions; sometimes they do not even realize that they have committed an offense”, the police said in a statement. For example, this involves teenagers who hack into a system just to see if they can. “That a company then has to spend a lot of money, for example to inform all customers that there has been a hack, they do not realize.”

A lot of money? The kids can get in that easy? The company is at fault, not the kids, for wanton and reckless, if not willful and intentional failure to secure their customers’ data.

We have been preaching this since the dawn of the computer age, and the cops and major IT shops still do not “get it.”

Mach-T Veil February 1, 2019 10:58 PM

I am of the continued opinion that recipes for squid is hugely inhumane and disadvantageous. It is not wise and not appropriate.

In other {news|gossip} you can take or leave…

0) April Fool’s Day coincided with Easter during the recent cycle.

1) Bruce Schneier is not locally available any longer; he and John McAffee are both currently beyond the Earth’s stratosphere and have been for some time now. Both of them were interested in distant space travel and likely left during the great misdirection event of 2001, when most eyes were on New York state, elsewhere at a different latitude and longitude, both of them were safely piloted off-site from Earth to a previously-experimental space station not publicly documented.

Their current “personas” are maintained legally and effectively by their separate estates and estate maintainers. Both of them are likely still alive and their current activities are unknown. To be fair, it is still unclear as to how many personas each of them actually have, and exactly how many actual Bruces and Johns there really are. There are no guarantees that each of them is merely a single individual person, hence the term “persona”.

Not much else can effectively be commented about this.

Mach-T Veil

Tom February 1, 2019 11:47 PM

The situation you describe is the descent of the U. S. into a now clearly recognizable form of fascism.

Unequal enforcement of laws. Lots of punishment for various out-group individuals. And, since W. Bush, camps, secret and known, and non-judicial death penalties bragged about in a State of the Union address.

The current inhabitant of the White House will here be unremarked upon.

Clive Robinson February 2, 2019 4:50 AM

@ Tom,

… the descent of the U. S. into a now clearly recognizable form of fascism.

I’m not sure it is “fascism” in the traditional sense, that was in part characterised by leadership and party. Old style early to mid 20th century fascism was about a demigod charismatic leader who was / became a de facto dictator and a one party state based on bringing society into a military style hierarchy prepared for perpetual war. Fascism in Europe certainly went through various changes after WWII.

What we see in the US are interchangable leaders doing the biding of a “directing mind” that uses a “hidden hand”[1], their parties likewise. The difference between the parties being on their political colouration[3] not their actions, which are almost entirely interchangable when it comes to those who control the majority of the US wealth/assets.

Thus no charismatic dictator or a single party state, by and large a meaningless political process used as a distraction or as was once observed about another fading power structure being “an opiate of the people”[4].

But also there is a very major difference that our host @Bruce tries to get across which is also the subject of his current post on “Public-Interest,

That is the use to which the state choses to employ technology that is agnostic to it’s use, just the same as the hidden hand, thus very much dependent on the choices of the directing mind or intermediary “tools”.

Traditional fascism relies on the people betraying the people to the party and also being in a quasi-militaristic state to be the reserves to a large standing army.

The US for various “bad publicity”, economic and scalability reasons are moving away from real people as it’s standing army. Instead they are turning to technology either at arms length, semi-autonomously or if things carry on the way they are fully autonomously to prosecute war remotely. Likewise the West in general and the UK in particular are using technology to betray individuals to the state by the likes of a plethora of CCTV and similar public surveillance, and the various government entities such as GCHQ, MI5 and Metropolitan Police performing mass surveillance on peoples private lives. Originally all done in the name of finding virtually non-existent terrorists. Now people are questioning the surveillance policy a small number of criminals that are seen to pull the “think of the childern” or similar chain including drug suppliers, padded out by street gangs and smugglars are now being held up as surveillance successes. In effect diverting attention away from the implications of mass surveillance on society and the ordinary citizens that form it.

Importantly this move to technology rather than people cuts off one of the few escape routes out of being in a social underclass that has been kept uneducated. Whilst helpfully for the very few, –by diverting very large amounts of tax money into their pockets, so increasing the social imbalance– it is very harmfull to society and citizens in general.

So whilst at the core it appears to be fascism and certainly feels like it technology has enabled a new hidden hand to cherry pick from various political ideologies to create what is in effect a Syndicracy of directing minds using the hidden hand to be fronted by a Kleptocracy. Even though it that hates anything like democracy, it will happily use democracy as a meaningless puppet front. But importantly the front is also in reality a very strong shield to remain behind for self protection with public ire focussed on the kleptocracy not the syndicracy.

The reason for this kleptocracy shield becomes obvious when you remember demigod fasciest leaders have almost always died in unpleasant ways long before they would collect a pension, whilst the financiers, economists and businessmen that backed them slipped away either because of their anonymity or by doing deals, thus reappear in power again at a later date[5].

Call it neo-fascism with a face lift or some such but at it’s surface it has a markedly changed face, that is a front for those who wield power like others play postal chess.

But also remember that in Europe during the 70’s and 80’s neo-facists committed “terrorist atrocities” as “false flag operations” to incite a more favourable political climate. Which should be of some concern in the US with the likes of the FBI using amongst other things agent provocateurs to create faux terrorist attacks, that they could then play hero by stopping. There has been debate as to if it was just a “fund-raiser” or an attempt at a deeper grab for more intrusive powers. Later uses of obscure legislation to attack Apple to get favourable case law to markedly increase attacks on privacy suggest the later. Unsprisingly some are asking questions about the FBI’s political leanings with noticible right-wing shifts not just in the senior entities but the agency investigatory focus (see recent revelations about surveillance as “terrorists” on anti-KKK group after the KKK attacked group members with knives. ).

It is all, as normal, like trying to see the bottom of a muddy pond. If people want another different view point on this, late last year a “Yale Philosopher” was interviewd,

In essence the story is the same “old fascism with a new face” but not touching on the technology or looking behind the hidden hand to where the real power of the directing mind now exists.

[1] By “hidden hand” I mean not a speciffic individual or group of individuals but as with market processes. That is where the process is not what it appears to one side “fair and unbiased”, when in fact it is rigged in some way to give producers an unfair advantage over consumers covered by faux information. That is the process is the “hidden hand” and it is controled by a usually hiden “Directing mind”. In the US political system where it takes over a billion dollars to attempt to become President and the political message people get to see is controled by the MSM it’s not hard to see a number of not so well hidden hands. But in essence they are the visable tools held in the hand of the anonymous looking craftsman, who is being paid by the hidden directing mind[2].

[2] When you look at say the three families fighting to control the direction of the GOP, on the surface it looks like what it is a rather nasty feud for control. But dig under that and look for the resources needed to fight their ongoing war. The figures don’t add up, either the three families are totaly dishonest or there is another source of funding they have access to. You see similar goings on over the other side of the divide as well… The question is where is that hidden source of finance comming from and what does the directing mind gain from it. The short answer to the gain is destracting turmoil which weakens the normal dynamics of a market. A process that has been seen in the finance markets used to make a controling interest move, such as a hostile take over, or push in new full vote board members etc.

[3] Take a car as an example, give it not just a different paint job, but body work and a change in power of the engine and maybe a different seat style and finish, maybe made by a different company as well. But underneath it’s a vehicle that seats a family gets them from A to B runs on the same fuel and appart from “surface differences” is in practice interchangeable for the majority of people. In essence just “status style” over “functional utility”.

[4] The full quote is from Karl Marx, and is often shortened from it’s translated form of,

    Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of their soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Some use “powerless” instead of “oppressed” and one or two other minor variations such as “masses” for “people”, to try to also translate the sentiment not just the words.

[5] As others have pointed out on this blog before, the current EU economic stratagy is just a very short distance from that formulated by first Italian and then later German economists after WWI and through upto the end of WWII. It’s purpose is to centralize wealth and control close to an axis formed by Germany and France and the “industrial coal and iron ore”. With the aim of turning the South of Europe into food producing vasal states of the industrial north. A similar effect can be seen in the US.

Clive Robinson February 2, 2019 8:43 AM

@ Bruce and others with “privacy” interests,

Most people on this blog have probably heard of Cambridge Analytica. Their behaviour has caused a number of ITSec ructions and they have because of the publicity etc shut shop and claimed insolvancy (which is probably not strictly true).

But why did the publicity get to the point others were claiming it would bring down a sitting US President and get one of the more repugnant Silicon Valley big five Internet name organisation owners into much conflict with the US politicians.

In part it was down to one man, who just would not go away and was not prepared to take “no” as an answer. His international story makes interesting reading,

Clive Robinson February 2, 2019 9:03 AM

Speaking of “Privacy” stolen,

Wired has two stories on Facebook, the first is downright creepy anduld only have been thought up and approved by a sociopath,

Yup children as young as 13 being payed… There was me thinking that Facebooks noise about over 18’s only registering to use the site might have had some basis of “blind eye turning” but paying minors, is most definitely not ignoring the wrong, it’s actively embracing it…

Which brings us to another slightly older Facebook story,

This is a subject that has already come up, but it is another viewpoint.

JG4 February 2, 2019 10:40 AM

@Clive – I didn’t mean to imply that beryllium dust shouldn’t be carefully regulated, nor that we should throw the most susceptible few percent of people under the bus. It’s clear to me that humans need to do a better job of lifecycle management in everything from personal data to computer security to plastics. I might be coming around to the view of our host, who advocates a regulatory framework.

A kindred spirit

“They’re Watching You”

Links 2/2/19
Posted on February 2, 2019 by Yves Smith

The Most Magical ‘Little Free Library’ Is Built Right Into a Tree Stump Atlas Obscura (martha r)

Right To Repair Advocates Are Hosting YouTube Town Halls To Show You How To Get Involved In the Movement Motherboard

New Net Neutrality Bill Headed To Congress The Verge

Canada’s Telco Bell Tried To Have VPNs Banned During NAFTA Negotiations TechDirt

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Newsguard Turns to EU to Push Controversial Ratings System on Tech Companies, Smears MintPress as “Secretly Supported” by Russia MintPress. Kevin W: “That Newsguard plug-in is also apparently spyware by design.”

Apple Is Fighting a Good Fight Against Facebook and Google Medium (martha r)

Major DNA Testing Company Sharing Genetic Data With the FBI Bloomberg (Kevin W). Original story: One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Working With The FBI BuzzFeed. Brian C: “Anyone surprised?”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why America can’t win wars Asia Times

If America Stopped Destroying The World, The Bad Guys Might Win Caitlin Johnstone

[dark matter from the hearts of dying stars]
Feds secretly ship plutonium to Nevada to meet South Carolina court order ars technica (Chuck L). Some Nevada readers have e-mailed expressing their outrage.

Tech giants are the new gatekeepers Axioss (martha r). They act like this is news?

Apple Removes Siri Team Lead As Part of AI Strategy Shift AppleInsider

Sherman Jerrold February 2, 2019 12:29 PM

Just started reading this ref. to a new book. Very disquieting and very approp. to this blog.

ht tps://

url spaced for security reasons

"On the internet, nobody knows you're a squid" February 2, 2019 12:56 PM

I always do a double take when I get a squid recipe in my email. I realize animals are not everyone’s priority, and I’m appreciative of Bruce’s work, but I don’t see the need to showcase gratuitous cruelty from time to time — especially so when some of the other squid posts highlight the intelligence and complex behaviors of squids.

Clive Robinson February 2, 2019 1:17 PM

New 3G-5G vulnerability

Just in time for IMSI-Catcher manufactures, a new vulnerability that effects the all important Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA) protocol in 3/4/5G mobile phones and smart devices.

From the ZDnet article,

    Researchers have described this new flaw as more severe than any of the previous vulnerabilities that affected the 3G and 4G standards.
    Further, besides 5G, this new vulnerability also impacts the older 3G and 4G protocols, providing surveillance tech vendors with a new flaw they can abuse to create next-gen IMSI-catchers that work across all modern telephony protocols.

As it’s name suggests the Authentication and Key Agreement protocol authenticates a users device to the network. It was upgraded in the 5G protocols (5G-AKA) by 3GPP who claimed it would prevent IMSI-Catchers “doing their thing”. Which is to downgrade the user device down to a vulnerable protocol like 2G, or likewise downgrade the encryption between the user device and the network.

The vulnerability in 5G-AKA, was discovered by academic researchers at SINTEF Digital Norway, ETH Zurich, and the Technical University in Berlin. The researchers tested the vulnerability on an upgraded 4G network. The say the vulnerability is more severe than previous vulneradilities as it allows vendors of surveillance technolog to develop a new class of IMSI-catchers. Unlike the current attacks that realy only get “current meta-data” this new vulnerability alows an attacker to get the user device “activity status” such as the “Who When and What” of previous user device activity. So even if the user device goes out of range of the IMSI-Catcher, when it comes back into range any missed user device activity can easily be ascertained. Thus this 5G-AKA vulnerability extends the “Traffic Analysis” capabilities of backend systems using the IMSI-Catcher grabed previous user device activity data. Worse it also enables an attacker to determin which SIM was used at the time of any given user device activity.

But as the ZDnet article says,

    This research, while describing the most severe vulnerability impacting the upcoming 5G protocol, isn’t the only one touching on 5G’s problematic security issues.

All of this will no doubt bring up the US politicaly inspired banning of Huawei and potentially the NSA relationship to 3GPP.

That said Huawei do own the majority share of 5G patents and they are very clearly not “stolen technology” from US companies[1].

The trouble with the US indictments that were recently anounced, is mainly there is nothing in them that can yet be independintly investigated it’s nearly all “he said she said” also from ex-employees making apparently otherwise unsupported claims. Oh and apparently a decade or more old, some of it even goes back to the 80’s before Huawei even existed…

Looks like one of those increasingly familiar FBI “throw it in the air and see what stays up long enough for a shake down” efforts… Especially as the investigation is more than a decade on the clock (which begs all sorts of questions).

As for the stealing of technology it’s apparently a rehash of a court case in Seattle that has already been long over and the court found,

    “neither damage, unjust enrichment nor wilful and malicious conduct by Huawei”

It also did not relate to telecommunications equipment design or software algorithms etc as some have implied.

Apparently all that FBI swagger is over a small part of a piece of automated test equipment called Tappy that T-Mobile had produced for in house testing….

Worse, from what has been said there was no “secret technology” or even anything particularly original about Tappy (some childrens toys are very similar mechanically). Also Tappy is just one of many hundreds of test robots produced in house by companies for product testing to specifications ie factory acceptance tests or FATs. In many cases the specifications of such test equipment are freely available and even legaly required to be. But for some reason T-Mobile decided not to for reasons unknown. But T-Mobile fairly freely alowed Huawei staff access to it. Which was why one of the Huawei staff managed to put the robot arm in a laptop bag and walk out with it without being stopped, then measure it with a ruler and take external photographs with the ruler and return the arm the following day… What was the robot used for, well apparently testing touch screens on mobile phones that T-Mobile were considering selling to their customers. What was the Huawei emoloyee interested in doing, running tests at Huawei to ensure they met T-Mobiles specifications… Something that was usually a quite open process when I was designing phones. In fact in some cases the people I dealt with –including Bruce’s previous employer– happily loaned out test kit because it was of benifit to both sides…

Something tells me that the whole thing has been concoted, in part by John R. Bolton an ex diplomat, who it transpires has been less than honest with his boss, or even timely with important information.

[1] Apparently from industry whispers there is increasing evidence US companies have been actively involved in trying to steal not just Huawei’s communications technology but other Chinese business IP and financial data etc. What the Chinese government decides to do over it will be interesting, if they use it as they have done, it will be diplomatically, but that could change.

Clive Robinson February 2, 2019 3:04 PM

@ JG4,

I didn’t mean to imply that beryllium dust shouldn’t be carefully regulated, nor that we should throw the most susceptible few percent of people under the bus.

I didn’t think you did.

I can be overly cautious at times. The actuall problem is “scientific evidence” it gets twisted and distorted by those with vested interests. Whilst there are probably no regular readers BeO is likely to effect, it’s the likes of legal vultures ambulance chasing that concerns me they will search for ever to find something to use as a lever, and I have no wish to be part of that these days, because it’s a fairly sordid and demeaning process.

To give you an example of what can happen. I actually did some consulting work for a company that mucked up the design of it’s tooling normally this is not a health and safety concern and normally not an issue I’d be aware of let alone involved with. However the proposed solution by the production manager was rather than a potentially expensive and delaying re-tool, they would just get an employee to “Dremel” a part of an RF Power devices heatsinking mechanism off. They only told me because they wanted to know if it would effect the design such that it might take it out of spec or make it less reliable (yes to both). I ill advisadly pointed out that doing so was potentially hazardous because the Dremel was a hand held grinding tool and it would be perilously easy for it to slip and start grinding the BeO into dust, and the work bench they planed to do it at did not have any extractors let alone the nessecary safety working equipment. The production managers reply was “Well they had better be careful”…

It’s not the sort of thing you want to hear, because you know a decision has been made and it’s not likely to be changed even though it was wrong, very wrong…

My choice would have been a minimal re-tool of the metal casting the device was going to be bolted to. A quick mill and polish by a CNC machine was all that was actually required. Not just fairly quick but more importantly not hazardous. I pointed this out in a letter including the details of a local company that could do the work on a quick turn around and beat a hasty retreat before they started doing anything. Atleast the cheque cleared, but from then on I was always “too busy” to work with them again.

Just one of many horror stories I can tell you about the various industries and places I’ve worked in.

One of which was a chicken processing plant that wanted parts of it’s “ladder logic” replaced with computer control. Live birds in frozen birds out, each gaining around 5% in weight in the process despite loosing all feathers, neck, feet and innards… Oh and all those mising bits ended up in other food products, nearly doubling the value of the chicken. It’s where I first heard about the “Chorlywood Bread Process” (CBP) and an addative “L-Cysteine” that is made from amongst other things human hair, feathers, cow horns, pig and hog bristles. CBP is used almost everywhere in the world where processed/sliced bread is manufactured and acounts for around two thirds of all bread sold and consumed… You might want to look L-Cysteine (E920) up if you are a vegitarian it pops up all over the place but… Is not often on the ingredient list. Whilst I call it an “addative” –that legally should be listed– many industrial bread makers call it a “processing agent” that like the silicon oil baking pan “release agent” and an extract from pigs liver does not have to be listed as an ingredient… Welcome to my world of “Now you know Horrors” :-S

gordo February 2, 2019 4:21 PM

Best case, I’d like to think that these new, high-profile hires at Facebook were brought in because Facebook expects a truly significant fine from the US FTC. Let’s hope so on both counts and that these folks and their public interest privacy creds are in the right place at the right time. Worst case, just another revolving door.


Privacy advocates have so far struck a note of cautious optimism. “Nate, Robyn, and Nathan know the challenges, and they wouldn’t go to Facebook unless they saw a real opportunity to make a meaningful difference. They are all going to try to move fast and break things—to benefit privacy,” said privacy expert and ACLU attorney Jennifer Granick in an email to WIRED. “Whether they’ll be able to be effective inside what’s become a big bureaucracy that makes money off of knowing a ton about us remains to be seen.”

That the US FTC will do something, but who knows what:

Facebook privacy background or lack thereof:

Facebook US stock market info:

Lastly, I agree with each of the principles in the below document. This quote is from the fourth of 4 principles presented:

Public Interest Privacy Legislation Principles

In recognition of the many ways in which privacy violations are and can be harmful, legislation should avoid requiring a showing of a monetary loss or other tangible harm and should make clear that the invasion of privacy itself is a concrete and individualized injury.[see pdf]

Note to immediately previous quote:

“a person need not have sustained actual damage beyond violation of his or her rights under the Act.”

Sed Contra February 2, 2019 5:00 PM

re the chairmen of the people’s dystopias of tech

Why have they not taken steps to copyright everything that passes through their labyrinths, so that they could DMCA-wise sue into oblivion anyone who complains e.g. about privacy ? Aren’t they missing an opportunity ? Good revolutions need good laws.

Clive Robinson February 2, 2019 5:04 PM

Complexity declines with age

    A large and growing body of research suggests that biological complexity diminishes with aging, as various tissues and organs, and their communication pathways, gradually break down. The fractal-like networks of tissue in our brains, bones, kidneys, and skin all lose structural complexity as we age. This loss impairs their capacity to adapt to stress, and may eventually lead to disease or disability.

It’s an interesting thought with some slightly odd looking conclusions (think wrinkles).

What a fact! February 2, 2019 9:41 PM

“By and large the programs made significant inmprovments and in some cases had a savings rate that for every dollar spent on the scheme it would save the tax payer two thousand or more dollars. Something I would expect US tax payers to be very interested in.”

Citation required.

Clive Robinson February 3, 2019 2:52 AM

Forging DNA evidence

Whilst I’ve got a copy of this paper,

    Authentication of forensic DNA samples

The link unfortunately leads to a paywalled version,

With the abstract giving the problem overview. Likewise there is a nicely sufficient overview at,

The authors Dan Frumkin, Adam Wasserstrom, Ariane Davidson, Arnon Grafit, are saying that an extra step “Methylation analysis” is required in the standard DNA testing method to ensure that it’s real DNA not fabricated DNA replicated by PCR etc.

Whilst this sounds good in theory and they actually have a solution as a product it does have issues, thus there are reasons not to use what is an expensive extra test…

Thus when looking to make cost reductions to remain competative one thing that usually happens in a commercial environment is the removal of “unneeded expense”[1]. It’s also something that tax payer funded organisations do when on fixed or decreasing budgets. Such things make arguments that extra expense steps are “unneeded” therefore should not be made in oh so many interesting ways.

There are many varieties of the classical “circular reasoning” argument, that when you remove the obscuring steps in the middle becomes,

    “We have never found X… …so there is no need to look for X”.

Especially when you know that X is not just possible to do, it is also something an undergraduate could do at home with a little “borrowed” equipment etc.

The point is as a general rule, at some point somebody slightly smarter than average will do something for the first time. It’s what happens in any society when the cost drops and the idea becomes more familiar to that society.

So you would expect the same in the illegal activities fraternities (crime, police, espionage), they are after all very competative occupations both by those carrying out illegal activities and those trying to catch them doing those illegal activities. Thus both sides of that game have incentive to take advantage of new “game changing” opportunities…

But knowledge and technology moves on, and this extra test of looking for “DNA Methylation” will certainly have weaknesses, all tests do (ask a metrologist if you doubt this). And as longer term readers of this blog should know by now, that is just another way of saying it has “potential explotation vectors”. Which boils down to a resource cost equation to exploit them, with technology costs dropping in real terms fairly consistantly[2].

[1] We have seen this hit DNA testing in forensics before. There is a reason why swabs that are “sterile” are less expensive than those that are “DNA free” even though they both look the same…

[2] This is fairly well known and sometimes taken advantge of. When the human genome project was first thought up, the US Government knew in 1984 when they started planning that with the then current technology available there was no way it would be finished in their life times. However they also knew the price of DNA analysers was not just dropping their capabilities were fairly rapidly increasing and that also availability was increasing as a result. Thus the human genome project actually started mapping in 1990 and was finished in 2003.

Phaete February 3, 2019 6:31 AM


I don’t believe you represent any significant part of this blogs commenters.
Although i regularly disagree with Clive Robinson, his comments are mostly well thought out and elaborated.
I find the brain stimulation on that level fitting to the complexity of the topics covered here.
I would find it a sad day if he would stop posting here.

VinnyG February 3, 2019 11:08 AM

@Phaete re:CR – +1 on your conclusion, but I fear you may be feeding a large, misshapen humanoid lurking under a bridge…

bttb February 3, 2019 11:31 AM

Does anybody know the denominator of Trump’s accurate statements for the ratio of
(Trump’s falsehoods/lies) / (Trump’s accurate statements)?

From (22 Jan 2019):

“Trump told more than 8,000 falsehoods in 2 years, fact checker says

The most common subject areas where Mr Trump either said lies or made false statements are regarding his tax cuts, the US trade deficit, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Russian election interference


Furthermore, approximately 6,000 of the 8,158 false statements were made in 2018.


Mr Trump then uses the disinformation “to rile up his base and whip up votes”…”

JG4 February 3, 2019 11:58 AM

Some fascinating stuff up in the usual morning news compendium. I’m short of time, but I’ll post some comments on it later. @Clive – Any ideas as to why Brexit is stirring The Troubles? I might speculate that the embers of tribalism and nationalism always are available for exploitation by the psychopaths and sociopaths.

I recently stumbled into the first trace of something that I posted in 2015. Enjoy.

From: JG4
Date: Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 1:23 PM
Subject: an awesome surveillance concept that probably already is in
widespread use
To: The Usual Suspects

[redacted]With the advent of gallium arsenide transistors, FMC and FPGA boards, these sorts of tools are within the grasp of the common man. There are some very nice modular microwave amplifiers and oscillators for not many hundreds of dollars.

Speaking of robots, [redacted] had some intellectual property for a robot
that would [redacted].

We should be using robust encryption so that the assholes don’t steal any commercially valuable ideas with their surveillance programs. All arbitrary powers are abused.

My description of the topic in the subject line follows. The allusion to construction tools should be understood to include using transducers in arrays to acoustically measure rooms. It may be more efficient to use lasers for that. I don’t necessarily want to do any of these things, unless someone paid me handsomely, but they are a result of mental exercises.

This can be done with a single cell phone, but it is much easier and more powerful with multiple ones.

The subject area is system identification and it is the process of measuring the acoustic transfer function of the environs of a cell phone or a collection of cell phones. The acoustic transfer function includes the phase and amplitude of coupling between the room and the other phones. System identification is a broadly useful concept that can be used as a name for any type of input/output measurement, although it generally is understood to be an abstraction of [at least some] of the essential features of a system.

If you have a gathering of people, all of their cell phones can be switched on surreptitiously. If you know the secret passwords for the secret backdoors.

Then, one by one, each can be caused to emit an ultrasonic signal, which is picked up by nearby cell phones. This also can be done simultaneously, using random signals of bandwidth restricted to be out of the range of hearing, or with subaudible signals within the range of hearing. The coding has to be different for each so that demodulation will measure the desired information of interphone distances and distances to the walls and shape of the room. These things can be simultaneously while the phones are recording all sounds. The composite signal can be extracted to suppress noise and amplify each speaker in turn by beamforming. Thus, the location of each speaker relative to the microphone array can be continuously updated.

The time delays uniquely identify the arrangement of people in the room, i.e., who is closest to who and what all of the distances are between them and the walls. The signals also uniquely identify the shape and size of the room by the echoes from the walls and ceiling. Even with a single cell phone, although it helps to have someone walk it around for you.

I’m surprised that we haven’t seen more tools in the building trade that use ultrasound to map rooms or at least measure dimensions.

You can bet your last dollar that the spooks are all over this. If they have prevailed on the phone manufacturers to build in capabilities beyond the audio range that would be the natural bounds of a product spec, that is a readily identifiable signature or calling card of Big Brother. In case you had any doubts as to the actual nature of reality.

They (being the sociopath contingent led by the psycopath contingent) would gladly kill you for a nickel and they consider it their duty to learn everything that they can about you to make it easier and more profitable to do it. If they were electrical engineers or control engineers, they’d call it system identification.

bttb February 3, 2019 12:14 PM

From :


readerOfTeaLeaves says:
February 1, 2019 at 5:08 pm

So…. we have NYT overlooking the fact that Trump was possibly in a deal to make $300,000,000 [USD] for putting up zero money?!!

Did I read that wrong?!


Apparently, the NYT needs to call in their biz reporters and crime reporters to back up Maggie and Peter. And also, maybe get someone from the Tax Justice Network to clarify the processes of money laundering, tax havens, and tax dodging. Just for sh!ts and giggles. But also to educate the public.

Rayne says:
February 1, 2019 at 5:13 pm

I think you’ve just offered an immensely concise summary of Marcy’s post. LOL

    readerOfTeaLeaves says:
    February 2, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Rayne and all – am only now listening to a NYT podcast of 2/1/19, [The Daily]: The President and the Publisher. ..."

“Clicks for free” made me think of: Dire Straits – Money For Nothing, about 4 minutes ; lyrics ; MTV was popular, I think, in the 1980s

OT Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hey Joe Live, about 4 minutes

Faustus February 3, 2019 12:35 PM

@ Gordo @ all

I do not feel relieved that Facebook is hiring its critics. Do people really need to be paid by Facebook to review their policies? I would trust an EFF employee more. A captive “critic” is effectively silenced.

We don’t want technicians inside organizations where they are under all sorts of constraints. If Facebook or Congress really intended to listen to criticism they should do just that, not coopt the critics.

bttb February 3, 2019 12:39 PM

From :

“Roger Stone [political dirty trickster/rat-fvcker] to Associate: “Prepare to Die”
The radio host [Randy Credico] who claims Stone used him as a false alibi says Stone threatened him.”

iirc Stone said that in a text or email that may be in a Mueller [Russia Investigation] filing, or was that about a threat regarding Credico’s therapy dog, or something else … This Russia stuff, obviously, is complicated. Especially with so many professionally trained liars or dissemblers, from many countries, in the mix.

SpaceLifeForm February 3, 2019 3:47 PM

In re LIFX

Note that they did not address the main underlying problem, which is that the bulb can dump your wifi creds to the cloud in most home lan scenatios.

And probably the MAC of your android phone.

Clive Robinson February 3, 2019 6:56 PM

@ bttb,

With regards President Trump’s tweets and other statments, I doubt anybody could realy say what is true or false.

Let me explain why by firstly going through the Independent articles step by step,

In the independent piece you link to they give just one example and out of any context,

    Trump falsely claims Mexico is the ‘number one most dangerous country’

Is that true or false, well actually it’s neither, it’s ambiguous.

It depends on the context, he was talking about,

1, “in the world”, is probably not true, but it is in places very violent and virtually lawless. You would need both sources to see how they were rated, as well as the source material they were using, how and for what factors and coverage.

2, “on US borders” is probably true, based on various media reports.

3, “to US National security?” is probably true if talking about drugs, criminals or illegal immigrants, illegal money laundering etc.

4, “to US citizens” depends very much in what context, there are way to many main catagorise to start listing, let alone sub catagories.

So which contexts are being used is important for several reasons, not just when Donald Trump actually said it, or in the context of the actuall conversation of the time.

After all what was on his mind at the time, and who was his intended audience?

If he was talking about US citizens as those at risk and drugs / terrorism as the measures then he was probably correct.

But there’s another issue, has he been quoted fairly or even accurately?

Well certainly not accurately in that article, if the other independent article it links to is telling the truth because there it says Donald Trump said,

    “Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria.”

OK so it’s different to the first supposed quote. That makes the Independent an unreliable reporter…

However again no real context given all they say is immediately befor the quote,

    In an ostensible effort to justify why the US needed to build a wall along its southern border, Mr Trump last year made the claim on Twitter that

In other words they do not know which context Donald Trump was thinking let alone the sub context or what report he had got the details from…

Which is possibly why the Independent immediatly try to hedge their bets with,

    “Drug trade is largely the cause,” he tweeted in June. “We will BUILD THE WALL!”

Without indicating in any way if or how the tweets are related (so several “lies of omission”?).

They then go on to say,

    The British think tank, which produces an annual armed conflict survey, said that in 2016, Mexico’s “intentional homicide total” of 23,000 deaths was “second only to Syria”.

Befor saying other things…

So a report based on the equivalent of “murder” figures, not drugs, terrorism or the Wall.

The further trouble is there is no real time line given, and not just the article is undated there is no date indication in the URL and year dates when given are in any order. So it’s not at all clear reading either article just when things were said.

Which is important because the first of those other things is,

    But the authors later withdrew the report, admitting to “a methodological flaw.”

There are many reasons reports especially academic ones get withdrawn, often it does not make their findings incorrect just arived at insufficiently rigorously to meet certain very high standards, or it becomes clear that a primary or secondary source is somehow tainted after the work has been carried out.

Not attempting to explain that to the readers is shall we say not indicative of reliable journalism.

But worse how much later was “later” there is no date given?

Before or after Donald Trump made a tweet and if so which one?

This is not what I would call good journalism, certainly not even a country mile close to what the Independent used to report. It’s not just shambolic it’s also written as if to deliberatly confuse[*].

Much of what is written about Donald Trump is written in a very far from objective or evidence based way, mostly it’s the “sensationalistic” way which used to be called “yellow journalism”. As for the US TV media, that is at best a circus where the clowns are not funny and well you get the impression that the “auto cue” also has a mirror in it for them to watch themselves in[1].

But then I ask myself a question “What of previous Presidents and sound bytes?” well this century all the US Presidents have made repeated false statments, spun sound bites, commited serious fact evasion and made empty or meaningless statments dressed up to look important all of which should not have been made. From memory those at the end of the last century were not much better either.

Thus I trust not a single word that comes out of the mouths of the Executive, legislative, DoJ, FBI and one or two others. In fact I rather more trust what the NSA say and I know they very deliberately manipulate when they do say anything which is rarely (I have a similar attitude to their equivalents else where in other nations including the UK).

I could give a whole list of possible reasons why Donald Trump is getting the media bums rush, not least because he’s an outsider to the usual “crooks on the hill” (which is a very very target rich environment for the Muller Investigation).

But the reasons are irrelevant –other than excuses– when compared to the potential effects. I suspect to many Americans they see this media circus nonsense, misdirection and lack of objectivity from the media and other politicians as low by even US Political standards. Thus the MSM have done themselves no favours in many American citizens eyes and people will have that little voice in the back of their heads asking “What is Trump doing right that’s got these guys panties in such a wad?”

The clock is counting down on those clowns as 2020 preperation has already started to get tainted by the fall out. But it’s also ticking down for the Muller investigation, how long has it been running? What has it realy achived? People were running round giving the old “it will be over by Christmass” line even befor Trump had sat in the chair. Firstly over the Steel report, they very improbably claimed Trump would be out in weeks on Treason etc but for three Christmass so far they have been wrong… Each and every step of the way I hear excuse after excuse, now we have the same for Muller to explain why he has not yet done what these people claimed he was going to do…

I pointed out way back that Trump would still be in office with his feet under the table for Christmas after the mid terms, many many voices told me I was wrong, where are they now? Can you here anything from where they stood? How about the sound of tumbleweed through a long deserted town…

There are only two valid reasons why the Muller Investigation is running as it is,

1, The remit is overly broad.
2, He is being meticulously thorough.

The first leads to the second, and I suspect the first was a quite deliberate “Poisoned Chalice”. That is the investigation had to happen, so it was set up to fail.

I suspect most can see the implications of that, it’s also why I mention “nothingburgers”. Look at it this way, what is the actual power of such an investigation over a sitting President. Actually not much it boils down to a report that gets handed to politicians who then decide what they are going to do…

Not being nasty but two things effect that and both are political,

1, Trump is a usefull idiot.
2, Turkey’s don’t vote for Xmas.

But there is also the issue of what is / would be “Compelling Evidence” or lack there of. The standards the evidence / exhibits have to meet whilst Trump is in the Chair are not the same as you will find in either a US civil or criminal court. It’s the politicians that will set the burden of proof the Muller Investigation has to meet. And trust me as things are the level of doubt they will set is going to be well well beyond what many would consider reasonable. I suspect even the DNA proof of a Putin-Trump “love child” would not be enough for some of them 😉

I get the feeling that people in the US haven’t realy realised how the game is played or why, or that “it is more crooked than a yard of cork screw”.

Just remember what ever Trump says or does the press leaping all over it like a buch of squealing cats just further polarises or hardens the oppinions of the US voters. Thus Trumps supporters are so far in his direction and Clinton’s in the other you’ld need more than a couple of nuclear devices to blast them back to “situation normal”.

You’ve probably heard of the “Pink Vote” what if I called it the “Clinton Sisterhood Vote”? I suspect that a good many of the “new girls” got boosted by anti-Trump fealings from women[2]. But ask yourself are they realy going to last once Trump is gone? Time will tell but sympathy votes are notoriously fickle. Personaly I hope they do last, US Politics at the best of times is “Stale White And Male” (SWAM) and needs a good shake up.

But time is runing out for Robert Muller, he has untill August to deliver what “the people want”[3], and honestly there is yet to be any signs that he can or even could all things considered.

There is the possability that Trump might get a second term. Yup I know it seems unlikely, but there is so much in fighting in the GOP with the three billionaire familes fighting for control, Trump might end up being the only candidate they can all agree on fielding. He can also blackmail them yet again and run as an independent if he does not get the nod, and he almost certainly will steal enough votes to make GOP defeate almost guarenteed. Possibly he could get back in on a revenge vote from those in the middle. Further the more money he burns on campaigning the less he has to potentially loose later, if at all. If he does stand as a sitting President he has quite a few advantages in that respect. But there is also the chance that like any sitting President an emergancy arises that can be used to keep him in office. And no it does not need to be a war with a super-power or even a conventional war at all.

As for the current VP anyone remember anything he’s said other than for “rallying the troops” for the midterms? There is a difference between biding your time and looking like an empty vessel. Any way VP to President in successive terms is not exactly common, in fact in more recent times VP has been at best the “runners up prize” before life in “civilian practice” wilderness.

But it’s not just the GOP that has disarray problems, the other side are quite factionalised and distrustful of each other after the “Clinton/Saunders” revelations. The polarization that has caused is a very long blade that will cut very very deeply if wielded. But already what is it thats being said about one potential contender “lazy judge” even “hanging judge” with the “i word” implied in large flashing lights. I can’t say if she is incompetent or not or anything else about her. But in all honesty is the US actually ready for a woman President? People will look at the UK where we’ve had “Mad Maggie” and “Theresa dis-May”[4] neither is exactly an inspiring example…

If the Democrats don’t get it together and all push in the same direction behind a single –probably moderate– candidate then history is likely to repeat it’s self…

The one thing that is certain is that those that form the electoral collage are going to be very nervous come 2020…

[*] Disclosure, I used to read the Independent because I could trust what I was reading. Then there were changes with “cost savings” ousting those who understood trust. Thus it’s trustworthiness in print “fell off of a cliff”, but was then still better than it’s On-Line reporting.

[1] In fact US TV news reporting style, certainly that associated with Rupert Murdoch, is actively used in UK comedy programs. They use US TV News reporting style as the basis of gags portraying ludicrous, pompus and vacuous camp narcissism in anchors as well as other equally repellant stereotypes for talking heads etc (to be fair they do the same with UK news readers and journalists as well). But Murdoch’s empire is targetted for a couple of reasons, firstly the phone tapping scandle, secondly he styles himself as a “King Maker” who politicians should court for his favour. Much of the US MSM mess may well be down to him. The US could do it’s self a favour and review “Press Baron” legislation.

[2] Lets be honest it would hardly be surprising. Trump tries to come across as a “man’s man” as much as a “man of the people” thinking he will get the same advantage Bill Clinton got. Where the Star investigation actually increased Bill’s popularity with women that were interviewed because he came across as “sensitive” (yup that sure supprised me to).

[3] To be honest I have not a clue what the US citizens want, that’s the real mess caused by “attacking an outsider”. The “old guard” and the vested interests of the US MSM have fanned the flames so much and caused so much polarization to the sides creating a large block in the middle that frankly hate both sides of the political divide. It is like having a large barrel of gunpowder and lighting fires on either side. You don’t know what’s going to happen but the odds are it’s going to be messy very messy with major damage. Which may just be what certain people are planning for, you’ve still got time to buy a house around “The last bus stop to the South Pole” but they are now getting quite pricey.

[4] I’ve heard a new derogatory name for PM May, she has a reputation for being a “Spiteful and prideful Witch” at the best of times (but then what leader doesn’t have such a reputation like “backstabber” etc). Well with her Brexit plan thoroughly rejected by Parliment and in many other ways being an utter mess and in tatters, somebody has decided she has cursed the process so baddly that “Hex-it” is appropriate to nail on her political grave.

Jon February 4, 2019 2:57 AM

@ Clive R.

“2, “on US borders” is probably true, based on various media reports.”

Given that the USA has land borders with only two other countries, and one of them is Canada, that’s not saying much, really. J.

Thoth February 4, 2019 4:26 AM

A Chinese New Year greetings:

Happy New Year (above)

Best of luck for the Year of Pig (2019 – Chinese pig zodiac year)

Clive Robinson February 4, 2019 6:52 AM

@ Jon,


blockquote>Given that the USA has land borders with only two other countries, and one of them is Canada, that’s not saying much, really.

No it’s not, but that’s the way “spin” works. It’s also “shock horror” how a lot of some sorts of everyday business gets done as well.

I personally don’t like that sort of deceptive though not lying way of going about life, I spot it almost everywhere to some extent. People realy only think it’s dishonest when it’s pointed out to them, they don’t see it normally. But if they take the effort to look and question then as they dig in a little they discover even their favourite shopping place is doing the same sort of dishonesty in one way or another. They just go through life not seeing it unless someone bursts their little bubble by pointing it out to them.

We used to call it “window dressing”, but if you look at what certain “silicon valley” types are upto these days it’s way way way more deceptive, and even though people have been told, have they actually done anything about it? Well actually not realy they’ve found other reasons to get upset that they have been spoon fed by the MSM. Thus they carry on being “data raped” as they were before. If you push them to find out why they’ve not changed you will get down to the “peer preasure” argument of “everybodies doing it”…

There is an approximation about society and the normal distribution curve. You have what are called “High functioning XXX”[1] to the left who’s emotional communication skills are non existent to poor, and end up being the “build it and fixit guys”, the sort of “Geek Squad” types being what most would think of them as. However they are the engineers architects and others you don’t realy see effectively keeping society running or atleast the technology society now exists and is totally dependent on in cities and urban and other areas in the supposed “First or Western world”. They tend not to “drink or smoke” or only in moderation[2] and are generally not aggressive even when provoked, only when cornered and “fight or flight” finally kicks in.

But at the other end to the right there are what you might call the “exploiters” those with psychopathic traits who manipulate others to their own advantage. Look at your bosses boss or those who prowl the C-corridor and board rooms. They see no wrong unless it is done to them or their plans. Violence both mental and physical are their stock in trade even if by proxie. When people talk of “Hawks and Doves” these are the hawks.

In the middle you have what are sometimes insultingly called “the Neuro Typicals” or NTs. People just simply getting on with life, in a lot of cases they don’t even realise that what they do for a living is “Makework” with little purpose other than to keep them occupied. But they also practice deciet “Nothing wrong with a little white lie”, “What they don’t know can’t harm them”, “It’ll do them good”, “I’know what’s good for them” and other paternalistic nonsense used to establish “a pecking order”.

Some talk of the “rule of 12th’s” or “rule of 6th’s” where around 1/6th is at the left, 1/6th to the right and the remaining 2/3rds in the middle, or fat tails and thin tails etc. The point is there are degrees with those on the right effectively seeing those to the left of them as prey to be exploited in some way, even if it’s just the “make yourself feel better” by thinking “there are people worse off than me”. Which some find a way to exploit to their benifit thus “Who is the prey?” question arises.

How the hawks maintain their position is almost always by some form of deceit or social dishonesty. The smart ones “Knowing how to lie without lying”. Or as they would say “setting the scene”, “painting the picture”, “colouring the view” and other “Marketing Managment Speak”.

George Orwell would probably be surprised that his “warning” books were used almost as “training” manuals…

It’s the world we live in, where honesty especially that which is called “Brutal Honesty” has no wanted place in society apparently “everybody” wants to be lied to, but not to much… Because the “everybody” in the middle want their egos stroked by “social grease” of some form. As has been said “flattery will get you every where”. But in politics flattery is not “Oh how wonderful you look” or “no your bum does not look big in…” it’s the faux explotative “I feel your pain”, “think of the children” or other nonsense to get your vote to further their career, with the attendent “fring benifits” of lobbying in all it’s forms. I guess the old saw of “Power corupts, absolute power corrupts absolutly” should be mentioned.

So yes President Trump is dishonest, so what, that’s the norm for by far the majority of the more successful politicians and businessmen, most people though don’t take the time to look. Likewise the MSM are dishonest to a point that is way way beyond “unregulated marketing”. Are both sides lying, yes but not in a way you can take to court.

It’s all about perception and pushing boundaries, stand back and take the 20,000ft view and be flattered, because they are both doing it for you to sway your judgment their way. Just like “Vegie-Mylk Marketing” where the game is to not just “sell you a quat of water for ten bucks” but give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside that makes you feel “you are giving the world a hug”…

What realy surprises me is the number of people who buy into the nonsense or “razzmatazz” almost like children eyeing up the candy at the circus stall. But rationality never was a human strong suit, it’s probably why we are in the mess we are…

[1] Where XXX used to be some form of socio/emotional communications disorder/disease labled all sorts of things. More recently they are called “Spectrums” with one renowned expert saying “Everyone is a little bit autistic?” (as a title question, not statment which others have since converted it to for their own “spin” reasons).

[2] There is “epigenetic” research that has been latched onto by the Forensics community about a greater than 90% effect in certain methylation of DNA from tabbaco, alcohol and other drugs and corespondence with violence and crime. Which is disturbing because epigenetic changes can take several generations to be removed,

Hence there may be some truth in “Like father like son”.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2019 7:24 AM

@ Thoth,

Best of luck for the Year of Pig

And you to.

I’d forgoton it is early this year, my birthday falls in the swing period, so some Chinrse years I don’t get a birthday 😉

I should have remembered, I was working out the Luna orbit earlier this year to see if EME was going to be viable at weekends and by how much. I guess @Wael might likewise have known it is early, he takes an interest in the heavens and celestial bodies.

Wael February 4, 2019 10:27 AM

@Clive Robinson, @Thoth,

year to see if EME was going to be viable at …

Earth-Moon-Earth? I don’t own any ham radio stations. My only interest was in the technology — and not the social aspects of it.

Best of luck for the Year of Pig

Anticipate police officers to have a fantastic year, then!

Faustus February 4, 2019 10:53 AM

@ Clive

I am really beginning to think we have to find a way to make our decisions more based on processes and giving people space than on supposed facts.

The only facts that we have access to are those of our direct experience. The rest of the information we get is filtered through various interested parties that are trying to manipulate a specific reaction from their audience.

Look at the issue with the school kid in the MAGA hat face to face with the American Indian drummer. At first it looked like one thing, but when the perspective was widened it turned out to be something else. Not that people who are so wed to one view of things will even accept any new information that this was not what it appeared.

Media whips up crises and scandals because media desperately needs you to look at it and the message “It’s a disaster!” grabs much more attention than “Things are basically ok”. Media also plays on people’s natural tendencies to feeling like victims and our ambivalence towards everything that we do and everything that happens to us.

Everybody thinks that their ideas are obviously the truth. They aren’t. We are all being fed unremediated garbage from every news outlet, every politician, every corporation, every school curriculum and every activist. They are all manipulating us and we need to become immune if we don’t want to live in misery in a world that is more plentiful than any previous time in history.

Don’t compare the world with your idea of the perfect world. Ideas aren’t real. And nobody is perfect. Compare the world with previous versions of the world to get a better idea of where we are headed.

We have challenges to address certainly, but I can only conclude that from multiple directions we have a better life than we have ever had. Less poverty, more acceptance of LGBTQ, more race & gender equality, larger middle class, amazing technology and amazing options to learn, travel and create.

Don’t let some professional manipulator convince you that the world is horrible. This is your life, with endless possibilities. Choose what interests you or speaks to your heart and follow it.

If you see something you disagree with, stop supporting it. Create an alternative. If education seems poor, volunteer as a mentor or tutor. Give scholarships. Don’t waste your time in divisive bickering that has no product but dissension.

I no longer believe that I know what should happen in Syria or which politician is lying less. I don’t know the moral status of abortion or Islamic gender customs. But I don’t have to, at least until these questions enter my day to day world.

We don’t know enough to boss other people around. There is a real truth in the idea of a post truth world. The world is so complex and can be seen from so many perspectives. Our choice is
– to give each other space (sort of like we do in the blog) or
– to make believe our view is absolute truth and make an unyielding authoritarianism to enforce it.

Am I promulgating a false duality? I hope so. Can we believe in our view wholeheartedly and still allow the existence of people with diametrically opposed views? This kind of tolerance seems to me to be waning, but I’d love to be wrong.

asdf February 4, 2019 11:24 AM

@Clive Robinson

…the US prison population, which is radically different to other western nations..

You use the word ‘nation’ too loosely. America is not a ‘nation’ the same way that the nations of Europe are. It probably never has been, but it certainly hasn’t been for the last 150 years. America is a state, or a country. Nothing more.

Regardless of what the white papers say, it’s pretty obvious among people living in the real world that socialist, progressive policies work better in a culturally homogeneous society. i.e. the more “diversity,” the less social capital.

Hence America’s predicament, which it is not going to solve. Transnational statism will result in tyranny, not utopia. The forced integration will become more and more expensive to maintain. I predict eventual partition.

Sherman Jerrold February 4, 2019 11:27 AM

Dear @Clive Robinson, @ bttb, et al,

I live in the u.s. (a very mixed blessing). I try very hard to avoid being one of the ‘kool-aid slurping sheople’ by researching all political/social events using multiple sources and using critical analytical thinking. In spite of my own personal biases, I try to be as objective as possible. I also value hearing the words right out of the horse’s-ass’s mouth to prevent distortion and misinformation. Using multiple sources I am fully aware that almost all of our politicians and virtually all of the Main Stream Media are both lying their assets off and are fully ‘owned’ by abusive corporations. There is almost no true ‘classic journalism’ in the MSM, it is all about spewing their corporate owners’ biases.

We live in insecure times in soooo many ways.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2019 3:43 PM

@ Faustus,

I’m sorry, but there apprars to be a stochastic source spewing random noise on the line, making a real mess of the place.

No doubt it will be cleaned up but untill the loose nut is screwed down again, it will no doubt keep reappearing to make more unhelpful random mess on the line.

Till then I’ll hold off on discussing your interesting observations.

gordo February 4, 2019 9:09 PM

undocumented chatter*

The catalyst for internet balkanization is 5G.

Digital feudalism or what we know as Social Media, in all its various flavors, FAANG, etc., is IoT’s formative precursor.

IoT’s value will dwarf that of its precursor.

5G and everything it connects runs on software.

If code is law then culture is software-defined.

*The evidence is everywhere. No citations needed.

Clive Robinson February 5, 2019 7:42 AM

@ gordo,

5G and everything it connects runs on software.

That’s not the only problem with the “balkanisation” that is 5G.

With 2/3/4/4G-LTE the “RF Band” was shared amongst all Service Providers.

Whilst that will remain 5G has many different bands, each band belonging to a different operator, and the 5G devices will be locked down to specific bands, so swaping SIMs and other freedoms will in effect be lost as each 5G device gets locked to an individual service provider…

To be honest, there is no real “consumer benifit” in switching to 5G just “the call of endenturment”.

I guess the question should be who came up with this particular aspect of 5G… I’m reasonably certain that full and honest answers will not be forthcoming from the likes of 3GPP[1] such standards bodies have been long prone to “finessing” by SigInt and IC interests…

But it’s not just that we should be concerned with. In essence the idea is to cease being a “phone service + data service” to being entirely an “IP based service” based on IETF standards step by step[2].

Which in effect means whilst the rarely seen Signaling System Seven (SS7) attacks will still be possible, they will now be augmented by all the Internet Protocol attack vectors as soon as they appear as syandard and protocol “zero days”. Put don’t forget the other nasties caused by BGP and restrictions such as the various “Children of the Great Firewall of China”.

For instance one major UK mobile phone operator has decided that none of their customers should be alowed to view the “way back machine” or use certain services. So rather than pop up their “adult only” message they just fire of a Great Firewall style rst causing the phone to display a false diagnostic about unreachable sites.



bttb February 5, 2019 9:15 AM

@Clive Robinson, Jon, Faustus, Sherman Jerrold

I enjoyed reading your comments above

With a fire hose of information streaming at us human beings it is, of course, a challenge to find facts. It seems that skeptical thinking or critical thinking is hampered by ambient noise, too.

Regarding the Mueller Russian investigation possibly winding down:

1) On 4 January 2019 it was reported that the Mueller Grand Jury was extended (iirc for up to six months).

and 2) from :

“By last May, it was clear that part of Mueller’s investigation covered how Russians laundered money to Trump and his associates via his inauguration fund.


This investigation may explain why SDNY [Southern District of New York] alum Guy Petrillo dropped Michael Cohen in recent weeks: since Cohen refused to cooperate with SDNY on what would have been this investigation, he’s likely to face further criminal exposure for his efforts to get rich off the big party.

My guess is that SDNY is only now getting around to digging into what is surely a vast swamp of corruption because Mueller asked them to wait until his inauguration related equities were done. Which may be consistent with reports that his investigation is coming to a head, perhaps pending just the Mystery Appellant, Andrew Miller, and William Barr’s confirmation. Which may mean that after the results in Mueller’s Russian investigation soften Trump up, this investigation will just be ripening, possibly even at a time where Trump can be indicted.”


Clive Robinson February 5, 2019 9:22 AM

@ Bruce and the usual suspects,

I think most are aware of the Forensic issues with DNA, they have been discussed on the odd occasion.

However whist “DNA” is “Genetics” the study of “DNA Methylation”[1] is effectively “Epigenetics”[2] (which is heritable but only for a few generations).

DNA Methylation is now becoming of interest to the Forensics fraternity,

And to be honest it is realy quite scarry.

If you look in the report under smoking / dringing and other substance abuse it is reflected in your epigenetics and has correlation with violance and crime. Whilst the report is quite happy to say that it has not mentioned that it is argued from a corelation at the effect, not from correlation ay the cause side of the equation.

That is when crime scene DNA is analysed it shows many have the equivalent of a substance adiction. What it does not show is how many people in the normal population have a substance addiction but don’t commit crime[3].

Thus as appears sufficiently often to be a serious concern Forensics often argue back from effect to cause, which is not the scientific method. Science tries to argue from effect to cause, not only because it is more logical but because it alows repeatability as well as testability, especially if you want justice not arm waving.

Interestingly, so far the existing “DNA only” protocols have not been updated, thus there is no reason for Forensic labs under the FBI and other protocols to look for signs that DNA has been fabricated (as methylation does not show up when it is).



[3] As some once said an alcoholic is some one who can aford the indulgance, a drunkard however is someone who can not.

Clive Robinson February 5, 2019 10:14 AM

@ Wael,

Earth-Moon-Earth? I don’t own any ham radio stations.

Yup looking for signals not from LGM but Herf-men reflected.

You don’t need to be a licenced Ham in most places you can be the UHF/Microwave equivalent of a “shortwave listener”. And send signals reports back via the Internet.

A lot of interest is now being focused on 10Ghz(3cm) X-Band and 2.4Ghz(13cm) because of the easy availability and very low cost of SatTV / marine radar and ISM band WiFi and equivalent equipment (including microwave ovens as transmitters).

Further with new data coding methods giving an aditional 20-30dB on the link budget great big antennas realy are not needed. So much so some people are trying to receive EME whilst “portable” in out of the way “quiet RF” spots, much like some astronomy enthusiasts disappear into dark valleys miles from cities to in some cases just “lay back and watch the start go round”…

Anoyingly you find a good quiet EME site, just to find some Amature radio astronomer turning up with a hundred foot of chicken wire or some such and muttering about “bl@@dy amateurs” as if we were defiling some sacred site 😉

Most however you swap stories about equipment, and occasionaly animals wild or agricultural doing strange things. It’s the “bl@@dy wooly jumpers” and “udder draggers” that do the most harm 😉

Some people have managed to combine two hobbies in one. You have the SOTA (summits on the air) folks combining hill/fell walking and Ham radio, with some doing serious mountaineering with all the kit to get an activation others like IOTA (islands) find little rocky protrusions out of oceans through to puddles to send signals SOTA tend to be QRP at around 5watts whilst others can be booming out with the full legal plus curtain array antennas, after all if it’s your “two weeks in the sun” and you’ve spent three or four days puking your way from island to island you do want people to hear you. I have a friend who keeps talking only half jokingly about COTA (caves) that is pot-holing and Ham Radio combined, as I’ve pointed out to them I stopped making out like the worlds largest dwarf thirty odd years ago, I’m much to portly and creaky these days to get around the bends… Mind you I used combine canoeing and amature radio when I was younger and I was always supprised at the number of QSOs I got.

But all jokes and fun asside such hobby combinations have a serious side when it comes to situations where everyday “first responders” realy don’t have the skill sets. I’m in no way saying they are no good, but there are only so many hours in a day for them to learn and train as well as respond, thus they rightly have their priorities.

Clive Robinson February 5, 2019 10:44 AM

@ bttb,

With regards the EmptyWheel article,

    My guess is that SDNY is only now getting around to digging into what is surely a vast swamp of corruption

Is a fairly good description not just about the Whitehouse and it’s environs but the Hill as well.

How do I put it, stand where ever you like around there and throw a stone as hard as you like in any direction and it is going to land in that swamp.

I’m fairly certain a lot of politicians at all levels, and those that are around them are glad that broad as the Muller Investigation remit is, it’s not broad enough to get close to them…

And that’s part of the problem, it’s such a target rich environment that you could spend a hundred lifetimes trying to drain that swamp and get nowhere even close.

Due to one thing or another I suspect that if Donald Trump gets to court, then it will not be the FBI’s paperwork he’ll get handed.

But to be quite honest not much will happen as long as his backside is in the chair, and even when he’s out of it there are ways he can avoid many things.

The point is most of this started because he’s a political outsider thus seen as “not one of us” or more simply “expendable”. But some of the insiders are starting to wake upto the fact that he could take certain actions, that would mean fundemental changes need to be made, and that such changes could have a very significant effect on the insiders cosy little arrangments…

Whilst it has a certain amusement value/factor for someone who has the limited protection a couple of thousand miles of ocean gives, I suspect the negative impacts are going to be significant issues in a way greater radius.

CallMeLateForSupper February 5, 2019 12:27 PM


Here for your consideration is yet another “rent seeker” story (I know they chafe you).

“This week [31 Jan 2019], IBM was awarded U.S. Patent No. 10,191,462, describing a ‘Vehicle electronic receptionist’.


“Essentially, IBM has described a futuristic car computer system that will analyze the driving conditions and the context of an incoming text or call, then use some unspecified type of AI to decide what to do about the communication. The specification is filled with empty platitudes typical of software patents, like ‘[t]he computer system may be described in the general context of computer system executable instructions, such as program modules, being executed by a computer system.’ Aside from hand-waving like this, the patent has essentially no information about how one would actually create the claimed system.”

This immediately got my attention:
“IBM collected more than 9,000 patents in 2017 alone. It uses that massive storehouse of IP to fuel a licensing business that earns more than $1 billion per year.”

Clive Robinson February 5, 2019 1:37 PM

@ CallMeLate…

    IBM collected more than 9,000 patents in 2017 alone.

I’m not surprised that got your attention it’s outrageous, 9000 in a year that’s thays less than 35 per working day, what are they upto in their patent department they realy are getting lazy…

Richard Feynman in one of his bookstalks about a Dollar a patent for Uncle Sam or what he called candy money. Apparently he got nuclear cars, boats and planes as somebody else already had submarines… He tells of walking into an office where some officer was sitting gave his name and just reeled them of, and then the officers staff fleshed them out…

It would have appealed to my sense of humour if he had managed to get a submarine patent on a submarine, practical jokes wise it would be very hard to beat.

bttb February 5, 2019 2:26 PM

More on the Trump Moscow project from :

“These Secret Files [ ] Show How The Trump Moscow Talks Unfolded While Trump Heaped Praise On Putin

Ahead of Michael Cohen’s testimony, read the original paper trail behind the campaign to build Europe’s tallest tower in Moscow — and how it played out alongside Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

As a candidate, Donald Trump had a lot of praise for Vladimir Putin — and no business, he kept insisting, in Russia. These documents tell a different story.

When Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and longtime fixer, testifies before Congress this week, one topic that is likely to be front and center is his work on Trump Moscow, the over-the-top luxury real estate venture he helped spearhead leading up to the election…”


bttb February 5, 2019 2:43 PM

@Clive Robinson wrote

“The point is most of this started because he’s [Trump is] a political outsider thus seen as “not one of us” or more simply “expendable”. But some of the insiders are starting to wake upto the fact that he could take certain actions, that would mean fundemental changes need to be made, and that such changes could have a very significant effect on the insiders cosy little arrangments…

Whilst it has a certain amusement value/factor for someone who has the limited protection a couple of thousand miles of ocean gives, I suspect the negative impacts are going to be significant issues in a way greater radius.”

I speculated earlier today that there might be a 50-50 chance (my scientific wild-assed guess) that Trump declares emergency measures tonight during the State of the Union Address.

Trump, presumably, could throw this country, and perhaps the world, into greater chaos.

I hope that relevant actors, if they choose to resist being jammed by Trump, resist successfully.

Clive Robinson February 5, 2019 5:00 PM

@ bttb,

On a more colorful note

All but one look realy good, that just happens to be the Dr Who blob outside the old county hall building in London…

Why do we Londoners make a pigs ear/breakfast out of every thing…

We had maybe a centimeter of snow in London for a few hours over night last week, if you’d have listened to the weatherfarcast it was this warning and that warning etc etc you’ld have thought the world was about to end, train companies were saying that rolling stock would be in the wrong place as points would get frozen…

Honestly not only could you not make it up, it actually happens almost every year and it’s panic stations…

After hearing a “we’re doomed” type weather forcast the last item in the news that followed it, I hear a single line about one or two spots in the US had around six foot of snow… I remember thinking, now that’s something you can get your shovel into…

Any way if any readers had the misfortune to get a man sized lump of snow land on them I hope it’s all under control and all is well.

CallMeLateForSupper February 6, 2019 8:53 AM

@Clive @all

It occurred to me, only after hitting the Submit button, that it is the run-of-the-mill employee, “struck with insight”(1), who kicks off the process that ends in rent seeking. The corporate legal eagles who write the patent application are just a necessary link in the chain. The former is encouraged by the company to make patent applications, and she is rewarded if a patent is awarded: one atta-boy in her record, and bragging rights. The company gets not only ownership of the patent but also any and all moneys that flow from it. “Nice work if you can get it.”

I know you know all this, Clive. I lay it out for the edification of any readers who don’t.

(1) With all of 10 months experience as a junior engineer, I was assigned the task of reviewing two such flashes of insight. Both were very lame. Before committing my appraisals to paper, I “bounced them off” my boss, ultimately asking why anyone would try to puff up lame ideas. He explained the atta-boy, bragging rights, and points-toward-promotion things.

bttb February 7, 2019 12:25 PM

From :

“The Barr/Cheney/Bush Turning Point for CIA Notifications to the Senate

There is no wonder that CIA Director Gina Haspel has the leeway to fail to appear before Congress to provide full detail on her, and her agency’s, conclusions regarding the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Turkish consulate at Istanbul. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush laid the groundwork for this in the wake of the Iran-Contra Affair. Same thing for the CIA keeping secret the details of its torture and black site programs during the George W. Bush administration. These kinds of information and notification issues are at the heart of congressional overseers’ ability to monitor the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The Executive—the White House, the CIA, other federal agencies—gained much of that leeway at an unlikely time, at the height of the Iran-Contra Affair from 1986 to 1992, when the CIA was clearly in breach of agreed procedures and reforms were patently necessary. The way this took place involves several of today’s key Washington figures, including William P. Barr, Dick Cheney, John R. Bolton, and the first President Bush…”

Sherman Jerrold February 8, 2019 4:35 PM

Believing it is important and is being completely ignored by the Corporate MSM, I will re-post this on the Friday Squid Blog of 09 feb, too.

Regarding personal information security:
There are 10’s (maybe hundreds) of thousands of little devices in people’s homes that can easily (and likely) be listening in on everything, invading their privacy. They were the ‘creation’ of J. Bezos.

Mr.(and I use the term loosely) Bezos has been exposed as an adulterer and is now whining to the world that his privacy and personal security has been violated by the National Inquirer (I believe).

Does anyone see the hypocrisy and irony in this??

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