myliit May 29, 2020 4:24 PM

“Tech’s First Big Plan to Tackle Covid-19 Stumbles: ‘An App Is Not Going to Fix This’

Effort to join Silicon Valley tech giants including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon with the White House to fight the coronavirus is faltering

‘Public health authorities, developers and tech companies are working on apps to help us keep track of who we came in contact with and where we’ve been to aid in Covid-19 contact-tracing efforts. WSJ’s Joanna Stern explains the technologies using an 8-bit video game.’

SAN FRANCISCO—A heralded effort to bring together Silicon Valley tech giants, investors and the White House on tools to fight the new coronavirus is fizzling.

In March, a cohort of influential technology leaders formed a task force to devise tech solutions for the pandemic, a signal that the nation’s innovation engine was kicking into gear. Employees of Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Microsoft Corp. and Inc. were involved, along with the White House and famed venture investors.


Food for thought about Minneapolis:

lurker May 29, 2020 6:50 PM


“As New Zealand Eliminates COVID, Epidemiologist Says “We Look at Trump’s Behavior & We’re Horrified””

Possible correction: “As New Zealand Eliminates Active Cases of COVID…”

Dr Chris Smith, clinical virologist from Oxford discussed the lurking or hidden reservoir of virus that causes a second wave. Dr. Smith has had a regular Saturday morning slot on NZ National Radio during the pandemic, you’ll be abe to find it from the link in my other post.

Mr. Peed Off May 29, 2020 10:05 PM

Bombshell-The Hedy Lamar Story on PBS
A story I suspect some will find interesting.
Beauty, Brains, and patent theft.
Security context-Frequency hopping.

myliit May 29, 2020 11:07 PM

“What does SF’s new ‘30-foot-rule’ mean? In short, always carry a mask

… That’s where the new “30-foot-rule” comes into play, which has perhaps been one of the biggest sources of confusion about the city’s mask policy.

The rule states that you must slip on a face covering if you get within 30 feet — 10 yards — from another person. The rule is meant to provide an interval of time and space for people to slip on their masks before a close encounter with another person — the 30-foot gap can diminish rapidly, especially if people are running or biking.

With most indoor retail set to resume on June 15, shoppers will also have to wear a mask if they expect to enter stores. Business owners will be required to post signs telling customers they won’t be served if they’re not covered up. Riding public transportation still requires a mask, as does any job that involves interacting with other people. …”

SpaceLifeForm May 30, 2020 2:30 AM

Hoping Trevor Bedford and his team
can get this genomic data and see if it fits,
and if it makes sense.

Here, there are arguments that it did not really start in Wuhan. Wuhan may have been the catalyst (large groups, no distancing), and that it really started in September 2019, possibly in Shanghai. Read the concurring and dissenting comments.

SpaceLifeForm May 30, 2020 2:42 AM

In conspiracy theory, it’s Ferguson writ large.

There are people stirring the pot, traveling into cities and committing crimes, hiding under the cover of protest.

Stay Home.

If you stay home, you will not be providing cover.

Clive Robinson May 30, 2020 3:05 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

It’s reasonable to propose that SARS-CoV-2 did not originate in the wet market.

Also it’s reasonable to say we may never know where it started.

What it is also reasonable to say is that the wet market is a point that many of those who were originaly recognised as having a new disease had contact with.

The more we learn about this disease the more dificult it becomes to actually trace it back.

That is of those early patients that apparently had no contact with the wet market, they may have had contact with a “silent spreader” who did. Or conversly those who apparently had a commonality of the wet market may not have caught it there, they may have had contact with a “silent spreader” else where.

I suspect the actual infection started well away from the wet market in some rural location where humans come into contact with wild creatures. Some hunter possibly quite young caught the disease and was not visably effected nor were most around them. The few who were got noticed got diagnosed with some other disease or death. And as it was a rural area the number of deaths would have been low and like as not the Drs just put it down to random events. Like other diseases it then traveled up the supply chain mainly going unnoticed for the same reasons. It was only on reaching a highly populated place that the number of odd illnesses and deaths got sufficient to cause a Dr to realise it was something new… By which time, as we now know from Italy and Spain, it was probably into “community spread”.

Anon Techie May 30, 2020 5:36 AM


In the present situation, this saying is quite apt: If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.

JonKnowsNothing May 30, 2020 11:33 AM

@Rj @Ismar @All


COVID19, Tuberculosis, Mystery Death, Sewer Sweep, and soon to be dead Sheep.

MSM reports:

In Australia the cruise ship Ruby Princess was the source of a major outbreak there (about 10% of cases). There is an on going investigation about why the boat was allowed to dock in Sydney on 19 March, 2020 and why people were let off the boat. Lots of finger pointing.

The same problem has reoccurred several more times, where boats were allowed to dock and off load crew or travelers infected with COVID19. One of the latest is a live-sheep transporter with 20 crew confirmed COVID19 positive, the ship intended to haul 56,000 live sheep to the middle east (something about live slaughter vs frozen carcasses). Not only is the crew sick, but after June 1 live transport of sheep is against the law due to extreme heat, causing many sheep to die from heat and suffocation due to the way the ship holding pens are designed. There is an ongoing request to grant an exception as the crew recovers or they find other crew willing to work on the infected boat.

To make matters a bit more tense, passengers on the Ruby Princess are now being informed they have been exposed to an active case of tuberculosis.

Somewhat overshadowed in the report, is the fatal COVID19 case of a 30 year old man who had no known contacts with anyone with COVID19 and had not left his town since Feb 2020. They don’t know how he got it and that area of Australia has had no new cases and 6 active ones.

Authorities are planning on a sewage sweep of the town to check for unknown or undetected COVID19 cases.

In parallel to DomCumm260, another person with COVID19 made a 400km round trip visit to watch the sunset in the town, and it is suspected that this person maybe the source.

COVID19 and TB cannot be a good combo.

ht tps://

ht tps://

ht tps://

Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body

Tuberculosis is spread from one person to the next through the air when people who have active TB in their lungs cough, spit, speak, or sneeze.

In 2018, there were more than 10 million cases of active TB which resulted in 1.5 million deaths.

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

vas pup May 30, 2020 2:34 PM

‘Scorching-hot hacked computer burned my hand’:

“He reached down and looked inside his computer, which he liked to leave open and on display in his bedroom.

Instinctively he touched one of the components, cursed and pulled his hand back. The graphics card was so hot it had burned his fingers.

The 18-year-old from Sheffield hadn’t realized it yet, but this minor injury was caused by crypto-jacking.

Crypto-jacking is the unauthorized and illegal use of someone’s computer to collect Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies.

In a crypto-jacking operation, hackers fool victims into downloading a malicious file that surreptitiously forces their computers to mine for this money and send it back to the criminals who can spend it on crypto-currency marketplaces or turn it into mainstream cash.

Crypto-jacking attacks increase a victim’s electricity bill and can not only slow down infected computers but potentially cause irreparable damage to hardware.

Last week, at least a dozen supercomputers across Europe had to be shut down after hackers targeted them with crypto-jacking attacks.

Abdelrhman Badr has no idea how hackers got into his system. He thinks he must have accidentally downloaded the malware three weeks before he burned his hand, when he started noticing strange things happening to his computer.

======>>>”Whenever I put my PC to sleep the screens would go blank but I could still hear the fans running and when I came back to it, it would just open up to the main desktop with none of the usual login page or anything,” he says. “My computer wasn’t actually going to sleep at all.”

======>>>”I was shocked and also a bit embarrassed as I take pride in keeping my PC safe. It’s really frustrating to know that there could be a program running without me knowing and some guy secretly mining crypto, destroying my hardware and stealing my electricity.”

There could be hundreds, or even thousands of victims like Abdelrhman, who are unwittingly lining the digital wallet of this hacker or hackers.

“Cyber-criminals look for as many victims’ systems as possible. The more systems, whether it be PCs, servers, cloud services, mobile and other smart devices the better, as more mining can be achieved in a relatively benign and unobtrusive manner.”

My take: I am very suspicious about how my cable box (Xfinity) is behaving in similar manner. E.g., I put it on by supposed to be kill switch, but in the morning I found out it is actually warm on the top (like when your cell phone is off, but hacked for camera and audio input without your slightest knowledge, but you do notice it is becoming warmer – battery is still on running that hack), and I hear fan running as person in the article above.

So, who and for what purpose could do the same with cable box for Bitcoin or other crypto currency mining?

@Clive: Dear Clive, Could you please advice how to attach voltmeter to cable box so I could actually monitor electricity consumption when box should be off by kill switch? Thank you.

JonKnowsNothing May 30, 2020 3:06 PM

@vas pup

re: kill switch, battery and power

Monitoring power is kewl. Getting rid of the bad ware, bloat ware, malware is a PITA and often impossible as described on many posts, articles.

My favorite kill switch is:

  1. face the router
  2. consider and savor the next step
  3. reach behind the router and yank the power cord out of the receptacle
  4. watch the thing die
  5. enjoy the thought of all the upstream devices screaming “disconnect!!!”

For batteries:

  1. face the laptop
  2. consider and savor the next steps
  3. reach behind the laptop and yank the power cord out of the receptacle
  4. reach behind the laptop and remove the internet/network cable from the socket (if you are pure wifi skip this step)
  5. place laptop in a drawer for N-Hours
  6. enjoy the thoughts of all the malware fighting over the diminishing state of battery charge
  7. After N-Hours, flip the laptop over
  8. enjoy the thought of all the upstream devices screaming “disconnect!!!”
  9. remove the battery

For non-removable batteries

  1. consider and savor the next steps
  2. remove the recharging cord from the phone
  3. place phone in a drawer or better yet garage or garden shed for N-Hours
  4. enjoy the thoughts of all the malware fighting over the diminishing state of battery charge
  5. After N-Hours, retrieve the phone from the remote location
  6. enjoy the thought of all the upstream devices screaming “disconnect!!!”
  7. enjoy the thought of all the upstream LEOs screaming “disconnect!!!”
  8. enjoy the thought of all the upstream apps screaming “disconnect!!!”
  9. consider the happy day when you can put it under a steam roller
  10. store in a draw until the happy day arrives

Turning on power isn’t half as much fun.

ht tps://

A zombie cookie is an HTTP cookie that is recreated after deletion. The term was created by Attorney Joseph H. Malley who initiated the Super-Cookie Class Actions in 2010. Cookies are recreated from backups stored outside the web browser’s dedicated cookie storage. It may be stored online or directly onto the visitor’s computer, in a breach of browser security. This makes them very difficult to remove. These cookies may be installed on a web browser that has opted to not receive cookies since they do not completely rely on traditional cookies.

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Sherman Jay May 30, 2020 6:41 PM

Your instructions are great fun. I love your sense of humor. I wonder if some white hat hacker could create a way to hi-jack the crypto=currency mining and give it to the computer owner?

One thing that could be done for phones and tablets is to put them in a plastic bag, wrap that tightly in aluminum foil and cover that with another plastic bag. (or if you want to be really sure, multiple layers of plastic and seamless foil) That effectively puts it into a faraday cage that prevents wifi signals from reaching it. (however, even though it is still rare, I don’t know about the penetration by higher frequencies of true ‘5G’.)

Also, there are a number of articles on the ‘forever cookie’ or ‘zombie cookie’. (PLEASE search using duckduckgo, not the spyware G00GLE.) I still haven’t found any that talk definitively about whether Bleachbit or other AntiVirus products get rid of them.

I am finding that more and more sites put more and more pieces of tracking spyware on your computer through the browser (firefox). Some clever Schneier commenters are using ‘lynx’ or other browsers that are much less likely to allow crap to load.

Remember, we are not paranoid, they really are after us.

SpaceLifeForm May 30, 2020 7:12 PM

@ Clive

“I suspect the actual infection started well away from the wet market in some rural location where humans come into contact with wild creatures.”


I suspect that it went from a sick rabid bat (already a carrier of ncov2019 virus) that a civet ate on a civet farm, that was then illegally marketed (live in a cage, excrementing the virus).

The civit farm handler(s) were silent spreaders. As were the live civits themselves.

China supposely outlawed civit marketing after SARS, but old traditions die hard, so the authorities looked the other way.

It was not until Wuhan, that the authorties went into the seafood market, and killed the live caged civits.

That is when they connected the dots.

Clive Robinson May 31, 2020 12:03 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

The civit farm handler(s) were silent spreaders. As were the live civits themselves.

The problem is we know one end of the chain is a bat, and the other end is a human it’s the missing link(s) that we don’t know.

For various reasons it might well be civits the’ve been implicated befor with SARS-CoV-1 and certain types of flu.

However just a few months back it was thought to be the defenseless pangolin that is one of the most trafficed animalls in the world.

Back then Australias 60 Minutes did a half hour news item on live animal markets in several assian countries,

You will see the use of digital thermometers on people who want to enter shops and restaurants, as well as protective screens etc.

But as shown through out the live animal markets continue in other places with often horrendous conditions for the animals.

They also interview one of the worlds leading experts on SARS who makes the point that the high levels of stress in the animals make them especially vulnerable to disease.

But interestingly he makes some other points. One of which is the lower the real death rate, the higher the number of infectious people in the community thus the spread.

He also points out that for those that are older those over 65 have a 20times greater risk of dying than those under 65. The thing to remember about this is that the death rate against age is actually a slope so your risk starts to rise noticably from around 45years onwards and by the time you are 85 your survival chances are realy quite small, and probably not determinable due to the law of small numbers.

But as he also points out, that is for the lucky ones living in the first world where health care is fairly well funded and resourced. That is the healthcare systen is not subject to pernicious politicians and insurance markets who’s policies will cut off your access to supportive healthcare before you have a chance to get well. The important point to note though is no amount of money you have as an individual will by you safety in a pandemic especially with a sufficiently opportunistic and infectious pathogen.

It’s the healtcare system that has to be well funded and over a significant period of time. Such that well educated and experienced staff at sufficient levels are available in a system with sufficient capacity in terms of beds, wards, equipment and importantly oxygen and drugs.

We’ve seen with Germany their initial figures looked the best in Europe but steadily declined. This was because of their better healthcare provision and it more slowely becoming saturated. The US healthcare system is known to be under resourced in terms of staff and beds as a deliberate policy, and that it gets “front loaded” with diagnostic equipment to try and increase throughput in the under resourced treatment facilities. Diagnostic equipment won’t help you with out an effective drug treatment regime… only beds, qualified personnel and the appropriate life support equipment will. As the news has indicated parts of the US healthcare system are now saturated in places like Alabama, so their fatality rate will rise in proportion to those not receiving treatment and is likely to be atleast five times worse for those not getting access to the life support equipment and resources.

Now think of the healthcare systems in Africa and South America… This will as happened in Europe cause “healthcare migration” putting more strain on other nations healthcare systems. With the only way to stop it is to effectively “close the borders” to human to human contact and properly disinfected fomites (objects that can carry disease). The big problem for the West is “food” not only will it be going to start becoming scarce but the likes of “frozen food” can not be effectively disinfected.

When you consider this his estimates of upto 60% infected with a 1.5% death rate sounds not just possible but likely.

What is not covered is the likelyhood of how many waves of this virus there will be. Which is actually not that supprising when you realise it’s actually down to politicians and their political outlook and who lobbies them rather than anyone else.

Clive Robinson May 31, 2020 12:16 AM

@ vas pup,

Could you please advice how to attach voltmeter to cable box so I could actually monitor electricity consumption


You want a “power meter” rather than a “voltmeter”.

Electronics engineers go quite a long way out of their way to try and ensure that the voltage on power supplies remains constant to very small fractions of a volt irrespective of the power being consumed.

You can buy “digital power meters” relatively cheaply from a large number of places. Some are to be connected between the AC wall socket and the device mains lead, others are designed to be connected between a DC Power source such as a battery and the load device. These DC power meters often have an “input voltage range” specified so you need to check that before aquiring one.

Some are realy fancy and have Bluetooth interfaces to speak to power monitoring apps on your phone.

Beyond what I’ve said above it’s difficult to say anything else without going into actual indepth details of the devices and power supplies.

SpaceLifeForm May 31, 2020 2:35 AM

@ Clive, ALL

“One of which is the lower the real death rate, the higher the number of infectious people in the community thus the spread.”

What he said.

As some may know, I’ve always followed D/(D+R)

Deaths/(Deaths plus Recovered)

In the olden daze, (2 months ago), the ratio was about .20 and had been fairly stable. That was based upon confirmed cases. Serious cases, to hospital in the main.

I expected it to drop. Slowly.

But, now, it is about .12 which is a much larger decline than I expected. I was thinking a .01 drop per month (optimistic).

So, I don’t believe we should have any faith in the stats anymore. They are being gamed too much. Example is counting a positive antibody test as a case, and therefor a recovered case.

And the tests, well, they suck. Front and back.

I should open up a antibody test lab.

Send me your sample with some money.

Yep, you were positive!

Congrats. You can go back to work!

Too late for that scam.

Someone probably has a patent on that already.

MarkH May 31, 2020 6:14 AM


First, I think we can agree that ALL of the available statistics have large percentage uncertainties, and there are big differences in criteria and methods between different places.

I’m sure this isn’t special to the present pandemic: public health statistics are generally prone to this kind of fuzziness, which is one reason I have thought armchair epidemiology a foolish pursuit: the actual professionals are experienced in (a) interpreting highly uncertain data, and (b) the patterns according to which such data have evolved in previous epidemics from their date of first emergence.

Every kind of measurement has a host of problems. As you mentioned, in the U.S. there has been some conflation of active virus tests with antibody tests. Ugh!

We’ve discussed a number of ways in which cases and deaths can be undercounted, sometimes by very large margins. Some of the numbers bandied about in the U.S. are test result totals, which may have an overcount bias (the undercounting is surely greater in magnitude, it’s just an example of what a pig’s breakfast these “data” are). If some local agency reports “there were n PCR tests with m positive results,” those might include multiple tests on a single patient during the course of hospital treatment, so 7 positives might come from a single case.

Of all the numbers — I expect you remember my saying this — recovered case counts have to be the absolute worst, so I thought D/(D+R) to be, basically, garbage.

However, I work hard to keep an open mind. A few weeks ago, I thought “the least useless R values will come from the most mature outbreak evolutions” (i.e., those which have already damped down some time ago) because R is a super-lagging indicator, and total crap during while it’s early days, or new cases are still numerous.

So, I found six examples of “stabilized” data (I actually spent a fair amount of time on this), including five countries and the ship Diamond Princess.

It might interest you, that the D/(D+R) values ranged from .028 (max) to .006 (min). The countries were Iceland, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a record of the date on which I obtained the numbers (from worldometer), but I guess it was about a month back.

Meanwhile, as I predicted, Sweden is now only days away from overtaking France as the country with the world’s fifth worst death rate (excluding two tiny states with less than 100 deaths between them).

I think it was mentioned here that a fairly careful antibody survey in Sweden suggests they’re only about one-tenth to the way to the herd immunity threshold — IF having antibodies means you’re really immune for more than a few months.

By reasonable extrapolation, before reaching herd immunity Sweden would have at least two to three times the death rate of the worst countries today.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s next-door neighbor Denmark is doing a pretty good job of case control, and has a death rate less than 1/4 of Sweden’s. Denmark’s D/(D+R) looks to be about .05 at present.

myliit May 31, 2020 7:05 AM

New Zealand Has Just One [Known] Remaining Case of Coronavirus

It’s one of only a few countries pondering the possible extinction of the pathogen within its borders

New Zealand is down to its last known coronavirus case, approaching a milestone beyond reach in most countries: the elimination of the virus within its borders.

It has been nine days as of Sunday since the last new Covid-19 case was confirmed. The only active case is an Auckland woman in her 50s who was diagnosed May 1. The last recorded death was a week ago and more than 1,100 people have recovered.


Clive Robinson May 31, 2020 7:23 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

I should open up a antibody test lab.

The scam you describe is one that the UK government appear to keep finding with both their PPE (from Turkey) and anti-body tests (from China).

However you and one or two others may remember the discussion over a side effect of “Vampire antiaging” transfusion. The “good stuff” as it were is actually in the serum, where all the antibodies for disease are found.

Well there are a number of places near Silicon Valley which do these transfusions for certain well paid or well invested persons who want to be “forever young”…

Thus it’s only a tiny step from “high tech vampire anti-aging” to giving people short term immunity, or… Enable them to falsely pass an antibody test to get a “passport to work”, thus actually significantly endangering others.

There could be a lot of money in such “pass the anti-body” transfusions…

myliit May 31, 2020 10:21 AM

“The curious case of the SF doctor who’s been coronavirus-positive nearly 90 days and counting ..

“I belong to the very small club of persistent positives,” said Kivlahan, who is executive medical director for all primary care at UC San Francisco. She has seen some 60 UCSF colleagues come down with the coronavirus, almost all going through a miserable few weeks and then test negative and be allowed to return to work. …”

That Guy May 31, 2020 10:39 AM

I don’t trust the NZ numbers at all. I know of someone that early on that had all the sings of the infection, Normally a very active and health person, was completely out of it for 3+ weeks. Contacted the health service. He even had contact with one of the of the early cases in NZ. They didn’t test, told him to just go home and treat it like a bad cold/flu.

For that matter I don’t trust most of the the numbers. Having an EMS person in the family they have noted that since March in their service area there have not been any of the deaths for stroke, cardiod issues, flu, etc. If anyone dies and is over 60, it is listed as the virus with no testing.

Local senior centers are required to weekly report the number of cases on site, how can it be 40 people one week and zero the next?

I’m afraid all the numbers from all over the US and other countries is just garbage. Any analysis based on the numbers is useless.

JonKnowsNothing May 31, 2020 11:49 AM

@That Guy

all the numbers from all over the US and other countries is just garbage. Any analysis based on the numbers is useless.

It’s a cat and mouse game. It also depends on how OCD you are about tracking and documenting the numbers. It’s one thing to look at them daily, another to copy down and keep them in a file for future reference. It’s also about how much you can correlate between the presented numbers and “common sense”.

The other factor is scope. If you live in an area with thousands of cases/deaths the scope is really beyond one person and a crappy old PC.

I live in a smaller community where I can copy over and save data and compare over time (note: I did post about some wobbly numbers). Somethings add up and somethings don’t.

In the global aspect the numbers where I am don’t amount to a pile big enough to find on your floor but locally they are big and represent family, friends, and community.

They aren’t just numbers, they are people.

And by gosh, I’m not going to let a dude with a Rogaine Blow Dry bury them without some acknowledgement that they existed and they mattered.

Take your pulse. If it’s still beating, look around at what you can salvage for those that survive us.

Other than that:
  The numbers are crap and even if they tried to make them look better, it doesn’t help.
  ’Cause they sure aren’t going to make them look worse.

lurker May 31, 2020 12:11 PM

@That Guy:
The first death from Covid19 in New Zealand had been initially diagnosed as flu at a small country hospital, and tested for Covid after not responding to flu treatment, but by then too late.

Early on NZ was in the same situation as many countries with not enough testing materials or labs geared up to do it, so only the highly probable cases were tested, and only at clinics higher up the medical pecking order. Now they have the luxury of random testing of susceptible populations, and GPs are inviting any little sniffle to be tested.

Early numbers from NZ included cases suspected but not yet proven. When WHO said they didn’t want those numbers, there was a sudden drop of about 300 in the reports. Sudden drops in on-site cases at Elderly Care Homes likely come from seversl reported mass shipouts of cases to nearby hospitals for better management of infected and non-infected persons.

Deaths from flu, stroke, cardioid issues are now being tested, and if positive, counted as Covid. This will cause a downward blip in the numbers of “natural” deaths from those causes, but the statisticians can work that out when the smoke clears. I trust the NZ numbers more than I trust numbers from places where testing is controlled by your wallet, or some local politician. The problem coming will be complacency when the population think it’s over, but around half of infected people show no symptoms. That’s where NZ’s management of its testing regime and local lockdowns will be an advantage.

That Guy May 31, 2020 12:46 PM


“controlled by your wallet, or some local politician”

Well you just summed up about all of the US.

MarkH May 31, 2020 1:48 PM

A couple of thoughts on the origin of SARS-CoV-2 (discussed in a few comments above):

  1. I agree with Clive, that it might never be possible to trace the virus back to its starting point. It’s very interesting, however, to see how increasingly sophisticated genetic analysis has expanded the scope of such detective work.
  2. Although scientists are very confident that the virus came from bats, it is not (so far as I have learned) necessarily living in bats: it’s possible that the pandemic virus is a mutation (possibly very slight) of a bat coronavirus which by bad luck is better adapted for human transmission.

Studies of bat viruses (which of course have greatly increased in urgency) will perhaps answer whether SARS-CoV-2 is a functionally modified variant, or essentially the same as a virus endemic in bats.

MarkH May 31, 2020 2:05 PM

The Future of Section 230

This now-famous provision of a U.S. federal law has, for good or for ill, made possible the enormous growth and power of “social media” countries, as well as many other internet activities (including the comments section of Bruce’s blog).

Essentially, § 230 protects people and businesses from certain kinds of liability when they transmit content from others (like this comment!) via the public internet.

This enables operations like social media sites, in which virtually all content comes from participants; and it allows publishers like news media, or our kind host Mr Schneier, to pass on reader comments without being responsible for such falsehoods, libels, etc. as commenters may write.

A consequence of this is that any such site may choose its own moderation policies.

Most readers will already be aware that POTUS has made an executive order intended to weaken § 230, and is calling for its repeal. The president claims to be a victim of Twitter censorship, even though (so far) none of his content has, to my knowledge, been censored.

I don’t know how much difference his order will make, or whether it can stand up to legal challenges. Neither do I know how likely Congress is, to change the statute.

But it’s interesting to reflect that if § 230 were simply deleted — which Mr Trump seems to want — then internet companies would find it legally vital to censor any content which might expose them to liability.

It seems practically certain, that a great many of the president’s tweets would be censored …

Sancho_P May 31, 2020 5:08 PM

Re Greta-19 death rate:
The recovered are just estimates based on total cases, death and the known active (hospitalized) cases, even in Germany (the world champs in counting).

To see the overload (or not) of the health system,
why not simply calculate death rate (%) = death/total*100 ?
(worldometer: Always use “Yesterday”)

Take care what to compare!
Extremely big and extremely small numbers should be ignored.
If a country / region is below 2.000 cases/1M pop the pandemic wasn’t yet there.
Spain: 6.124 cases/Mpop == 9,5 %
USA: 5.492 == 5,8 %
UK: 4.021 == 14,7 %
Italy: 3.848 == 14,3 %
Sweden: 3.677 == 11,8 %
Germany: 2188 == 4,7 %
Denmark: 2.009 == 4,9 %
World: 789 == 6 %, the pandemic wasn’t yet there, but makes a sense of average

JonKnowsNothing May 31, 2020 6:51 PM


re: Social Media, Big Internet Bros and Section 230 (USA)

All the big internet companies are that: companies. They are not part of the “public sphere” and “free speech” does not exist there. Tolerated speech exists as does moderated and non-moderated speech.

Free Speech is standing on the steps of the Supreme Court shouting your preference. Free speech doesn’t exist outside of that. We have our assumption of free speech on the internet but that’s all it is: a belief.

Section 230 was designed to get Big Internet Bros off the hook for hosting, distributing, promoting and monetizing content that was either illegal per jurisdiction, stolen, violated copyright content (per jurisdiction) or had any unsavory, salacious, or dubious content. It was crafted as a one-size-fits-all get-out-of-jail free card.

That card has been getting pretty ragged.

The Big Tech Bros have a problem that is looming across many jurisdictions and their collective behavior isn’t helping them to repair their robber-baron image.

Big Tech Bros already operate under a private mantel of As-If-No-Section-230, their goal is to maintain the lucrative aspects of Flame Wars, Nuked Tweets, Comment-Bots that drive more people to their services for data harvesting via “Hey did you see… Nudge”. They won’t be surprised if it goes away but to delay it they have added moderators.

The ones most likely to be surprised are those that use the services most. Once Section 230 goes in the bin, there will be another scramble to put it back but with more immunities for the Tech Bros.

LEOs cannot function without the data trawl.

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In the branch of linguistics known as pragmatics, a presupposition (or PSP) is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse.

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A Get Out of Jail Free card is an element of the board game Monopoly which has become a popular metaphor for something that will get one out of an undesired situation

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“Robber baron” is a derogatory metaphor of social criticism originally applied to certain late 19th-century American businessmen who were accused of using unscrupulous methods to get rich, or expand their wealth.

The term was based on an analogy to the German robber barons, local feudal lords or bandits in Germany who waylaid travellers through their ostensible territory, claiming some tax or fine was owed.

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JonKnowsNothing May 31, 2020 9:24 PM

re: Current Events: George Floyd and Other

As the MSM reports flow along the internet paths it will be very interesting to see exactly which techs are used in the aftermath and to what purpose.

Reports of specific drone flights over cities may surprise some but we already know that USA LEOs fly DirtBox flights many times a day over a great number of cities harvesting smartphone data. Most of those flights are on small “private planes” that crisscross the city and harvest pretty much every phone in their flight paths.

Social Media has been an important calling for LEOs and cross referencing CCTV and other video capture systems.

MSM report:
 Minnesota State Patrol said in a tweet…
 traffic cameras appear to show the truck …

Face recognition will certainly be in use although those wearing masks might avoid direct ID as tech reports that masks bork the Recog AI.

It’s not hard to imagine the entire arsenal of LEO-tech being brought to the front. Looking more and more like a Mad Max movie.

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A dirtbox (or DRT box) is a cell site simulator, a phone device mimicking a cell phone tower, that creates a signal strong enough to cause nearby dormant mobile phones to switch to it. Mounted on aircraft, it is used by the United States Marshals Service to locate and collect information from cell phones believed to be connected with criminal activity. It can also be used to jam phones.

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myliit June 1, 2020 6:21 AM


“2. Although scientists are very confident that the virus came from bats, it is not (so far as I have learned) necessarily living in bats: it’s possible that the pandemic virus is a mutation (possibly very slight) of a bat coronavirus which by bad luck is better adapted for human transmission.”

Reference please. It’s been years since I studied basic biology, but are you suggesting the virus may have mutated in a dead bat?

Oh, on second reading, are you implying, a bat may have infected something else, and something else, with a further mutated virus, infected a human?

In the future I predict a book may exist called “How to lie with Genetics”, which may help our president with his dastardly deeds.

myliit June 1, 2020 6:41 AM

“ re: Current Events: George Floyd [ the guy with a knee on his neck ] Other”

+1 for your post

If AG Barr, local law enforcement, etc., quash inconvenient data, we may never know what was going on.[1]

How good were the demonstrators, looters, etc., or agent provocateurs with their opsec. Maybe I’ll head to @thegrugq and see if he’s posted on this.

[1] we may need whistleblowers in law enforcement to help get to what’s going on

Clive Robinson June 1, 2020 10:59 AM

@ myliit, MarkH


blockquote>Reference please.

I read it to mean that @MarkH had not seen evidence that bats were a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir species (which I’ve not seen either). Unlike evidence that domestic cats and some rodents appear to be capable of being not just infected but with minimal symptoms as well.

For instance we have eradicated ebola several times from the human population, but it comes back because one or more wild species act as disease reservoirs and occasionaly zoonotic transfer occures, thus ebola in an original or varient strain comes back into humans every few years. But ebola is unlikely to become endemic because it is just way to lethal and without modern transportation/communications would kill faster than it could spread so would in earlier times have been self limiting.

If you have a reservoir species in which a virus mutates and you get zoonotic transfer, then to eradicate the virus you have not only to deprive it of human hosts you have to deprive it of the reservoir species hosts as well.

One of the ways a pathogen becomes endemic is through reservoir spiecies where it can mutate without killing that host spiecies. Thus opportunisticaly get to another spiecies by zoonotic transfer chain prior to humans.

It’s believed but not proved that SARS-CoV-2 originated as a different corona virus in bats that have a much much faster immune system than many creatures. Then into a mammal and then on to humans. Originaly it was hypothesized that this intermediate host was the heavily traded and increasingly endangered spieces the pangolin. This has apparently been now depreciated in the thinking and others are looking at felines or rodents or both.

The problem as I indicated is that both felines and rodents are “domestic pets” and felines frequently come into contact with wild rodents such as rats and mice that invade domestic dwellings, especially where they cohabit with other livestock such as porcines and fowl that account for about one third of the worlds protien foods for humans.

Such environments are almost as optimum for interspecies viral transfer[1]. Which is why a lot of flu or cold virus mutations are from avian or porcine roots.

Oddly if you step back a couple of steps SARS-Cov-2 with it’s very high rate of asymptomatic infection in humans would tend to make us a reservoir spiecies…

That is without modern medicine those above child bearing age and nolonger capable of hunting/farming such as men in their late fourties would get eradicated. The fact that women are less than half as likely to succumb as men also reinforces the point, in that older women in hunter-gatherer and rural farming communities are needed to look after children whilst the younger women carry out gathering and food preperation as well as harvesting.

In such societies women are considerably more valuable than men in terms of survival of the spiecies. The fact that women are capable of producing a child every 18-36months from early teens onwards for a quater of a century or so, means that a sufficient supply of new hosts would be born every year to ensure that SARS-CoV-2 remained endemic as a background almost invisable infection.

Whilst we do not yet know I suspect that human immunity to SARS-Cov-2 is going to be measured in a handfull of years not decades. As we already know SARS-CoV-2 is a mutation from an earlier virus it is probable that it will mutate again, it only being a question of when not if.

All of which makes us a quite respectable reservoir spiecies…

[1] What we do know is that corona viruses that are very common in wild animals where they infect the GI tract not the respiritory tract rarely infect humans. SARS-CoV-2 however uses the ACE2 receptors found in the respirotory tract in some creatures as it’s entry point into cells. Interestingly the number of ACE2 receptors people have is related to PM2.5 or smaller particles strongly associated with both smoking and polution. That is the less PM2.5 or smaller particles that you have got in your lungs the less inflamation related ACE2 receptors you have and the lower your chance of infection by SARS-CoV-2.

MarkH June 1, 2020 11:56 AM


If I understand correctly:

  1. The HIV strains (viruses causing AIDS) are very similar to SIV (a family of viruses found in some non-human primates).
  2. HIV isn’t found in those primates.
  3. SIV infections aren’t very dangerous to people.
  4. Scientists hypothesize that HIV strains arose from mutations of SIV in human hosts.

So, you can get HIV from a human, but not from a wild animal. I’m quite the n00b on this, so please fact check!

At the opposite end of zoonoses, rabies is almost never transmitted between people, but rather is contracted from other animal species.

Whether SARS-CoV-2 is stably reproducing in non-human animals, seems to be an open question.

JonKnowsNothing June 1, 2020 12:02 PM

@Clive @myliit @MarkH

re: a reservoir species or long term depot

While the duration of COVID19 on surfaces and the environment have been found to be “not that long”, it might be useful to consider other virus that can infect long after the primary host is dead.

African Swine Fever Virus is currently very active and will kill a huge number of pigs (future protein supply). Other than direct pig to pig transmission it is vectored by soft ticks. It remains active in soil 11 days, transmitted by contaminated pork food, body fluids and can last months or years in other pork products.

There are current outbreaks in China and Eastern Europe. A recent article indicated that Belgium had cleared their pig and wild pig outbreak until “someone tosses a dead pig over the fence.”

Dengue is vectored by mosquitoes and ticks.

Ticks are a big reservoir for a lot of diseases.

If COVID19 gets a tick vector things could get worse.

We cannot eradicate either rats or ticks so vaccination protocols becomes more important.

In early years of the West and East Nile Virus outbreaks in the USA, horse vaccinations were 2 shots 2 weeks apart and a booster at 6 months.

It’s not desirable economically and due to geographic-demographics, but humans may need to use the same booster strategy for a long time.

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The virus causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs; some isolates can cause death of animals as quickly as a week after infection

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Classical swine fever (CSF) or hog cholera is a highly contagious disease of swine (Old World and New World pigs).It is mentioned as a potential bioweapon.

Swine fever causes fever, skin lesions, convulsions, Splenic Infarctions and usually (particularly in young animals) death within 15 days.

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January 14, 2019 France will cull all wild boar in a zone along the Belgian border to try and avoid an outbreak of a deadly swine disease after new cases were discovered nearby in Belgium

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Dengue fever virus is an RNA virus. Other members of the same genus include yellow fever virus, West Nile virus, Zika virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, tick-borne encephalitis virus, Kyasanur forest disease virus, and Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus. Most are transmitted by arthropods (mosquitos or ticks)

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Tick-borne diseases, which afflict humans and other animals, are caused by infectious agents transmitted by tick bites. They are caused by infection with a variety of pathogens, including rickettsia and other types of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Because individual ticks can harbor more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time, compounding the difficulty in diagnosis and treatment. 16 tick-borne diseases of humans are known, of which four have been discovered since 2013

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Clive Robinson June 1, 2020 1:40 PM

@ vas pup,

@JonKnowsNothing and @Clive:
Thank you very much for your input.

I can not say for Jon, but from my point of view, a lack of information leads to speculation which can be not just be bad but potentially dangerous to others…

In science speculation tends to be good because generaly it is treated as a hypothesis, thus bounded by what is known and established, then tested etc untill sufficient evidence verifies or rejects the hypothesis. Thus science moves forward a step.

However in other areas of life speculation often is unbounded, lacks evidence and even contradicts the laws of nature. Thus is not good at all, and people have been burned at stakes etc for such speculation.

As just one recent example “COVID-19 blaimed on 5G”, where radio masts and even power pylons have been burned and engineers threatened with similar… Could fairly be described as a modern day witch hunt.

Such unreasoned behaviour rarely gets going on it’s own, it requires “organisation” and “funding” even in this Internet age. One thing that is becoming more noticable is that people with both money and political agendas tend not to find it too difficult to find what might charitably be called “cranks” and give them a platform and prestige.

When you follow the money back as the UK police did with Cambridge Analytica, suddenly those with political agendas and money get nervous and investigations mysteriously get called off, and other politicians raise questions about it…

So hopefully by supplying information that reduces speculation, you effectively spike the guns not only of the cranks but those who chose to use them as at the very least “usefull idiots” for a political agenda. One or two who have been seen poping up on this site with their “faux news facts”.

Clive Robinson June 1, 2020 2:51 PM

@ David Australia,

Three Australian media outlets have lost an appeal about a key ruling holding them responsible for the alleged defamation on Facebook..

I’ve no knowledge of the case, and the article does not appear to be at all sympathetic to the person who has been defamed, which suggests perhaps unsupprisingly they being media are more sympathetic to other media (birds of a feather principle).

However from the little said in the article it would appear the judges take the view that Rupert “the bear faced lier” Murdoch[1] and friends whilst not actively committing defamation thrmselves, quite deliberately stage set things to incite defamatory comments then with quite deliberatly forethought turned a “blind eye” to it for the reasons of a profitable business model.

Thus as they had provided a “publishing platform” and acting in their capacity as “publishers” not in a capacity they did not have as “common carriers” they actually published the defamation.

No doubt the media defendents would have argued in effect that the platform they used did have “common carrier” status, but that is actually irrelevant. The platform as a common carrier has a duty not to discriminate, thus legaly could loose their common carrier status if they removed the defamatory statments. Thus the media would try and claim that as it was not their platform and the defamatory statments had not gone through them they had not “published”. The judges for good reason have decided to look beyond this and have effectively taken a “collective work” stance. That is the media set up the page to deliberatly invite comment as part of their oppinion piece and the business model behind it. Thus the opinion piece and all the comments would form a “collective work” which the media would claim copyright on thus in effect all rights, privileges, and profits from. Thus the judges have rationaly decided where a profit may be made on such a collected work so also may a loss be incured, thus the price of the rights, privileges, and profits also carries the full losses of liabilities as well.

Thus unless the media companies challenge yet again, the next step is for a court to decide if a defamation has actually occured and what level of harm if any has been caused. My opinion based on seeing similar media tricks is that they are guilty as hell and should get commensuratly roasted. Unfortunatly Australian legal process is if I remember correctly is based on the English legal process, thus any damages have to be comensurate with the harm and not as they should be in a case like this commensurate with the peofit the business model brings the media companies.

The thing this case raises is the thorny issue of what constitutes a published “work”. Under the usual rules what you say, do, or create is covered by your copyright, unless you have in some way “signed it away”. With a multicontributor work things get commensurately complicated. Obviously our host claims copyright on his “work” when it is more than simply pointing to a work by another. Likewise each commenter unless otherwise claimed retains the rights to their individual works within the collectivized whole. But that leaves the question of who owns the copyright on that collectivized whole?

There are now due to various “open” movments a number of licences that attempt to address these issues, but not everybody uses them. Even when they do, the problem is few such licences have been tested under law. That is whilst legaly trained minds have drawn up or revised such licences, judges have not as such tested them point by point in courts of law.

Any way the level of honesty in the Murdoch family, has been questioned publically a number of times with people blatently saying in print that they have made thrmselves “unavailable” to questioning under oath about some very questionable if not illegal activities going on in their empire. Hopefully the judges will see through their machinations and clip their wings in one way or another. Then hopefully the Australian Government will take action against the Murdoch interests and force them to be broken up in Australia one way or another…

[1] See UK transcripts of his testimony over the “Phone hacking Scandal” for clear evidence he is either a lier or mentally unfit to be a director of a business or both.

JonKnowsNothing June 1, 2020 3:51 PM


06 01 2020 COVID19, Tuberculosis, Mystery Death…

The MSM report of the 30 year old man who died mysteriously of COVID19 now reports he did not die from COVID19 and that the test returned negative. They have not determined the cause of death.

The healthcare worker who did a DomCumm260 sight seeing trip to the town, is still in trouble for breaking lockdown rules.

It seems they did do the sewage sweep test; details were not included.

Hundreds of Blackwater locals were tested and Queensland Health even had the town’s sewage tested to try and determine the source of his Covid-19 infection.

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JonKnowsNothing June 1, 2020 4:21 PM

@Clive @vas pup @All

a lack of information leads to speculation which can be not just be bad but potentially dangerous to others…

A lack of information leads to misallocated or poorly allocated resources and behaviors. Speculation when aimed at driving behavior patterns is highly dangerous. Plenty of examples of the latter in the last few days.

Finding better or newer information to support ideas, hypothesis or interests reduces the amount of skew but only if one accepts that some aspects may not align with previous views.

The deeper problem is “credibility” and how much you can “trust” what you read, see and hear and what you think.

Personally, I Know Nothing. I attempt to put most views in context with some sources because that’s all I have to contribute: basic research.

@Clive has huge credibility with me, not blindly so, but because he is able to explain views, technology, physics and a huge array of topics from the position of personal, scientific and a lifetime of experience. Plus if you check out any of his explanations they all line up with past, present and future findings.

It’s unwavering adherence to under-supported views that is a generalized problem. One of the many aspects of “security” in postings. Gaining information that can help re-align some folks views is a huge benefit here.

Gaining better information, is not the end in itself. People believe all sorts of things, sometimes knowledge helps and sometimes it makes no difference.

Real Life Example:

Today I got a food drop, and my friend told me it is perfectly safe for me to go out and about. It was safe for me to go to the market and go out shopping.

I said it is not safe. It is not safe for ME.

Yes it is…

I hope my friend stays well, but the odds are piling up against that, belief is not something negotiable as Joseph Campbell once explained.

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SpaceLifeForm June 1, 2020 6:19 PM


SpaceLifeForm June 1, 2020 6:47 PM

@ David Australia, Clive



David Australia June 1, 2020 7:16 PM


Grateful for your response. appreciated. a host of regional weekly newspapers across Australia, owned by Murdochs News Corp are closing down at the end of June, which locals have mixed feelings about. It’s bittersweet.
Murdochs TV media conglomerate in Australia are in very serious trouble financially

this can be filed under S for Security

a creative application of old ideas to protect wildlife hit by traffic.
virtual fencing triggered by a car headlights warns off wildlife without otherwise restricting their natural movement.

Maybe this is the Wall Mexico is looking for, to keep the Northerners out?

I’m reminded tangentially of the lasers used to create geo fencing around villages in African countries, that discriminate specific brreeds of mosquito carrying malaria, based on their flight or wing speed, and disable them.

MarkH June 2, 2020 6:57 AM

Hundreds of Millions of People Probably Think the Danger is Over

Just above, JonKnowsNothing wrote an anecdote about his friend, which brings up a nagging fear of mine …

Bruce has emphasized how poorly typical patterns of cognition function in risk assessment. We’re probably best adapted to sizing up the kind of risks our ancestors faced in the savannas and rain forests of Africa.

For several weeks I’ve been imagining this:

Now that a couple of months have passed, and masses of people have given up quite a lot in order to reduce pandemic spread, many will (quite unconsciously, in most cases) suppose that the risk has passed.

I’m already seeing evidence of this happening. For example (as Clive and SLF are keenly aware) an airliner is a particularly high-risk environment. One set of guidelines summarized as the “three Cs” advises to avoid:

• Confined environments
• Close spacing
• Contact

Airliners might as well be “custom made” for transmission of Covid-19.

But now I’m hearing from people who are getting ready to fly.

The crisis is past, right?

Using the U.S. as an example, new case detection is at the same level as it was in late March, when some parts of the country were just beginning shelter-in-place and others were less than 2 weeks into it.

New case detection is at least 60% as great as it was in the worst week so far.

When New York is subtracted (New York having passed its dreadful first peak), the rest of the country shows steady, undiminished Covid transmission.

Getting on a plane is approximately as dangerous as it was 2 weeks, or 4 weeks, or 6 weeks ago (excepting those flights which were nearly empty … I don’t think we’ll being seeing such moving foward).

Throughout this period, the great majority of adolescents I’ve seen socializing had no masks.

The U.S. will be lucky not to see steeply increasing death rates by the end of June.

There are several countries which have done very thorough work at suppressing spread, yielding conditions which are objectively fairly safe. But probably most of Europe (and perhaps numerous countries in other regions) are on trajectories not very different from that of the U.S.

In such countries, the combination of continuing transmission and relaxation of precautions mean that the actual danger for many is worse than at any previous time … but much of the populace won’t understand this 🙁

Those who dream of feasting, may wake to lamentation and sorrow

Freezing_in_Brazil June 2, 2020 10:38 AM

Interesting thoughts on Coronavirus contagion risk assessment.

TL;DR It may be that risks follow a power law. The simple act of chatting in close proximity, for example, could be more risky than one thinks, while touching surfaces might not be that risky at all.


JonKnowsNothing June 2, 2020 10:49 AM


Hundreds of Millions of People Probably Think the Danger is Over
Those who dream of feasting, may wake to lamentation and sorrow

In my small area, where I have been keeping track of published data, I am afraid you are correct.

  • The CFR (Case Fatality Rate) is 6.21%
  • The Total Case counts raising at 10-11% every few days
  • The Current Case Load counts raising at 23% every few days
  • The last week’s death count is up 36%
  • The monthly hospital case count is up 46%

Our hospitals are still OK afaik. Their ICU vs Ward number are still OK from what I am able to tell about our local hospital capacity numbers. Hospitals here seem to be keeping people on wards and out of ICU.

I expect our local death count to rise 160-200% in the next few weeks.

And we are not hardly big enough to show a blip on the charts or for you to find on a map.

Disclaimer: I Know Nothing, information is not guaranteed to be accurate or correct. YMMV

Clive Robinson June 2, 2020 10:52 AM

@ MarkH, ALL,

But now I’m hearing from people who are getting ready to fly.

On the radio news in the UK this morning courtesy of Murdoch’s Sky, a UK Minister was quoted as saying that those flying into the UK would be subject to a fourteen day voluntary quarantine at a known location. But he went on to state that this was a temporary measure untill “air bridges” had been established…

This idea of “air bridges” is another bumb ass political idea dreamed up to make vested interests happy at the expense of every one elses health and life and economic well being of the country.

The idea is passengers traveling from certain “desegnated countries” would not be subject to 14day quarantine… Whilst passengers traveling from other countries would be.

As with all such ideas it places trust in the hands of people who by definition should not be trusted (other countries over which you have no hold over).

Put simply there is no way to make sure that passengers from a desegnated country have actually been their safely for more than 14 days. Thus there is no control or prevention a host nation has at the end of an “air bridge”.

People will “cheat the system” because it is in their interest to do so. Even if individuals do not have the information required to “cheat the system” effectively, there will be more than enough “People Traffickers” who do, who will slip people past for a few thousand US dollars etc.

Thus the “air bridge” idea is just another bit of politically inspired nonsense, that will lead to increased infection rate spreding and a very high likely hood of starting a second pandemic wave arising and all the subsequent missery and grief.

MarkH June 2, 2020 1:37 PM

@Freezing, JonKnowsNothing, Clive:

Another expression of the same anxiety …

Again, personal (to the author) and anecdotal. A couple of quotes:

There was the Starbucks barista in a flimsy mask who ventured beyond the Plexiglas divider and leaned in to bring me my drink, our faces inches apart. Fantastic service, ordinarily, but would she have done the same if we weren’t both wearing a mask?

Note: The guideline is simple face coverings plus 2 meters separation.

Are these signs that people are becoming so comfortable wearing face masks that they feel invincible? Or is it more a function of human nature that warm weather and loosening restrictions make the invisible threat of serious disease somehow less urgent? Or maybe it’s this: vigilance is exhausting.

I italicized the last sentence, because it aligns so clearly with the concept emphasized by Mr Schneier about human capacity for risk assessment. We’re probably best adapted to maintain heightened levels of precaution for a few minutes to a few hours (for example, while we know a predatory animal is lurking nearby).


If we had enormous virus testing capacity, a great number of useful possibilities would arise, which we can only dream of at present.

Suppose, for example, that all fliers were required to get negative PCR tests 4 days before departure, 2 days before departure, and on the date of departure. This would not, of course, eliminate the risk of transmission in the aircraft cabin, but might reduce it by a factor or ten or more.

Until this happens — or an effective vaccine is widely available, and flying is limited to certified passengers — I don’t see myself boarding an airliner.


I looked at the linked article, which makes a number of worthwhile observations — especially the ones you highlighted.

Perhaps the most important thing he wrote, is that the one or two times we slip in high-risk situations, are vastly more dangerous than chronic neglect of much lower risks (such as transmission via surface contact, which appears to be quite rare).

I think his politically-based comments are mostly wrong, and a distraction from the value of the other things he has to say.

Also, while he’s conceptually correct about the herd immunity percentage being lower than the number resulting from the simple equation*, I’m doubtful that the difference is as great as he suggests.

  • The “herd immunity formula” — that the required proportion of population with immunity is 1 – 1/R0 — is based on the assumption that exposure and immunity are uniformly distributed through the population, or more precisely that they are uncorrelated.

Because in practice exposure and immunity may be significantly correlated, the herd immunity effect might be attainable at a lower proportion of immunity.

MarkH June 2, 2020 1:54 PM


If you are in the U.S. “hinterland”, then the outlook is probably gloomy.

Clive has referred many times to understanding (or not) of the mathematics of exponential increase, and has seemed perhaps optimistic as to how many might grasp it. Most folks are too deficient in quantitative reasoning.

I was recently reminded of a good illustration: the growth of algae on the surface of a pond. Suppose that they double in 24 hours; the first microscopic appearance is on June 1, and by June 30 the pond is completely covered.

To most people, it’s startling that the date on which the pond is 50% covered is June 29.

Perhaps even more startling that on June 23, the pond has less than 1% coverage.

If you look at the map of U.S. Covid-19 case distribution, it is extremely uneven: very large numbers of cases detected in compact regions, and vast expanses with few or no case detections.

What most people in those “clear spaces” can’t understand, is that for their neighborhood it might be May 31 (first Covid case arriving tomorrow), or June 15, or June 23 …

They’re thinking, “there’s no epidemic here, why the hell do we have to do anything?”

May God bless us all.

Clive Robinson June 2, 2020 6:15 PM

@ All,

It might supprise people as to why there has not been either a randomized, or double blind test on the efficacy of mask wearing?

Well first off when you think about it, such trials would be unethical, secondly the background levels are way to variable.

However an observational study based on a large cohort across six continents suggests that,

At the WHO recomended 1m seperation your risk of becoming infected is ~13% increase that to 2m and it goes down to ~3%, and halves for aproximately each meter out to about 8m (26ft) where the risk is to small to measure.

However at 1m your risk with a mask drops to ~3% and drops rapidly there after.

If an infected and non infected people both wear masks at 1m the risk is down below 1% and is down in the too small to reliably measure at 2m distance.

Thus I would based on those findings suggest,

1, Minimum of 2m seperation.
2, All people should wear masks.
3, If only one person has a mask get out to 4m seperation.
4, If neither have masks get out too 8m seperation.

The above are in effect based on “outdoors still air” conditions or indoors well ventilated. Indoors without real ventilation is an issue due to “exhaled humid cloud hanging” for upto a half hour or so in enclosed environments that are cool and sufficiently humid, such as public transport in higher latitudes.


A, Always wear gloves outside of home or other personal environment

B, Always wear eye protection outside of home or other personal environment.

Oh and remember there is a “Catch 22” in that whilst the SARS-CoV-2 does not appear to be seasonaly effected, the human immune system is. Thus many decreasing signs in the Northern Hemisphere could be down to just peoples immune system function improving due to sunlight and spending more time in ventilated or open environments.

But the real kicker is where the majority of cases came from in the UK, and the answer from genetic studies says “Italy and Spain” not “China”. That is with thousands coming back to the UK after a “Continental Ski Break” or similar by aircraft becoming infected and with such individuals going into the community at large…

If the UK Gov had done in the early days what many had suggested which was stop air travel, rather than listen to vested interests in the travel and aviation industries then the UK would not have the very very bad figures it does when normalised to population size…

JonKnowsNothing June 2, 2020 7:11 PM


re: Triage and COVID19 deaths

Early on, which seems not that long ago and it wasn’t, when the prospect of overflowing hospitals and morgues and piled high coffins were just imaginary or a common theme in dystopian novels, there were mutterings about Triage Care for COVID19 patients. Mostly muttered with vague airy-fairy wands.

During that period, it was indicated:

  • For some patients, no treatment was to be offered.
  • If a patient was taking up a place, and that patient was not getting better fast enough, treatment would be withdrawn.
  • If another patient with better survival ratings (younger) than a current ICU patient, treatment would be withdrawn and the younger patient would take their place.

Depending on where on the globe you live, some of this did not happen. In some places no treatment remains the Policy of Choice or Circumstance.

In some countries, those with more wealth or more options, hospitals and healthcare workers sacrificed their own lives so it did not or reduced the occurances. In parts of the world people bang-pots in appreciation.

There are more dribs and drabs of reports that patients can take months in hospital and ICU to recover.

Report of the death of MD Weifeng a colleague of MD Li Wenliang, stated he had been in hospital for 4 months of treatment. Noting:

Hu’s condition became a national concern after Chinese media showed images of him with his skin turned black due to liver damage.

A MD in San Francisco California, has been positive for COVID19 for more than 90 days without illness.

…it had been at least 85 days that she has been infected with the coronavirus and 62 days since she first tested positive. That she is both alive and still has symptoms may be some kind of record for longevity for suffering the disease without hospitalization.

In my own area a nurse became ill with COVID19, a contributing factor being the lack of PPE in her area which deemed “safe/no PPE needed or allowed” by hospital management, died after 2 months in ICU.

Then there is this from today:

  • [An] outbreak infected 62 of the 82 residents [in a care home]
  • 24 people have died
  • [The care home] offers nursing, palliative care and dementia care and accepted patients with Covid-19 who were discharged from hospital.
  • Four of the people who died were those who were sent from hospital after supposedly having recovered from the virus

The reports of long term recovery do not always indicate which of the many health issues are present or on going. Some reports are that the person tests negative to COVID19 but the illness has destabilized some other aspect of their health.

4 patients died from COVID19 after being cleared at hospital


  1. If they were truly cleared by the hospital then this is a confirmed second re-infection of 4 people.
  2. If they were not actually cleared and sent to a care home, 20 other people became infected and died and 58 people became ill.

Which would you prefer?

ht tps://

The death of MD Weifeng a colleague of MD Li Wenliang who died shortly after exposing and revealing the existence of COVID19.

ht tps://

Coronavirus outbreak at Melbury Court in Durham infected 62 of the 82 residents

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Rachel June 3, 2020 1:09 AM


‘May God Bless us All’

I thought you didn’t believe in conspiracy theories 😉

Clive Robinson June 3, 2020 3:47 AM

@ Rachel, MarkH,

I thought you didn’t believe in conspiracy theories 😉

On the less leg pulling side “formal salutations” even in very recent times, historically have an awkward side, including getting murdered for supposadly “Offending God” if you did not give them correctly…

It might be why the Irish comedian Dave Allan who was popular during “The Troubles” used to say at the end of his shows,

    May your God go with you.

Thus it matters not what I believe, when passing on a blessing[1][2], it’s what the person receiving my blessing thinks or believes they have an entitlement to.

From my point of view if people wish to believe in “deities”, “Mythical Stories” or even “low flying meatballs”, etc, that is their choice not mine thus their responsability to carry. And like having “an embarrassing boil on the bum” is something I might feel sorry for them if I knew of their predicament, but realy wish they would keep it to themselves, and most definately not put on public display 😉

That said I’ve often wished that people would spend a little more time believing in what mankind can do to benift not just man but the fragile environment we currently have no choice but to live in, so our childrens children etc have a better existance than we do.

[1] In times past “blessings” were a form of “formal etiquette” much as we still use “Dear Sir,” and “Yours faithfully” at the begining and end of letters to a “post holder” such as “To the company secretary”. Thus not giving them was a breach in an established social contract, that these days we’ve watered down to just “being polite”…

[2] Due to a technicality I’m entitled to hand out more “theological blessings”. Not that I would, I got a DD via one of those postal colleges that used to be common in the US, but have since been cracked down upon for good reason. I won’t go into why I got the DD but needless to say it was not for belief or theological reasons, rather more to make a point (yes my hooves are bigger than that of a donkey, and I can stick them in even harder 😉

MarkH June 3, 2020 6:34 AM


The Abrahamic religions which have long been prevalent in European and Middle Eastern cultures are, at their root, monotheistic — though Christianity managed to rather muddle that point.

Monotheism is the precise opposite of a conspiracy hypothesis: Jahweh, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whichever Supreme Being acted alone — nobody was on the Grassy Knoll!

A popular modern hypothesis is, of course, that actually nobody did it1. There’s an anecdote which seems almost too delicious to be true, but I want to believe it 🙂 Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have asked Pierre-Simon Laplace why his book on Celestial Mechanics made no mention of God, to which Laplace replied “I had no need of that hypothesis.”


The Reverend Doctor Clive Robinson ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Oh. My. God.

Heavens above …

Good Lord!

As to your footnote [2], I can’t imagine comparing you in any respect to an ass 😉

1 A nice explanation for use by unbelievers, when challenged by the faithful. “Hundreds of gods (if not thousands) have been claimed or identified by various cultures in recorded history. You believe in only one of them. The difference between us, is that I disbelieve in one more god than you do.”

Freezing_in_Brazil June 3, 2020 11:13 AM

@ MarkH

To most people, it’s startling that the date on which the pond is 50% covered is June 29.
Perhaps even more startling that on June 23, the pond has less than 1% coverage.

Always fun to play with the power of exponentials, and somewhat frightening to know that most people aren’t able grasp it.


Sherman Jay June 3, 2020 3:42 PM

And now for something completely different,
File under: privacy? what privacy?

I read this and, sadly, I wasn’t surprised at all = =
ht tps://

“There’s good reason to believe the DEA’s access to Stingrays used to track cell phone location escapes the close scrutiny of other agencies. As Kim Zetter noted on Twitter, that may include Dirtboxes, plane-based Stingray technology.
But the FBI and, especially, the US Marshals also have that technology.”

People are reporting seeing and hearing u.s. government helicopters and drones everywhere at all hours in all the big cities during the protests.

Insomniagreetsworld June 3, 2020 7:15 PM

Rubber/latex gloves don’t help shoppers protect against covid, being porose and turning into breeding grounds for germs too rapidly for even a short shopping trip. Best be wary of those employees wearing them touching your groceries, meat, etc, too. You’re better off with washable textile / work gloves as protection or not touching your face until after washing your hands thoroughly.

JonKnowsNothing June 3, 2020 10:08 PM


re: Drones, Planes, Dirtboxes

In many places, including where I live such over-flights happen every day.

The Dirtboxes capture 100,000+ phones every over flight.

Most folks hardly noticed as the planes blended in with all the normal air plane/air port/helicopter (police usually sometime forestry) that noise-polluted the environment.

Like many things, what could they possibly do with the data for 100K or 1Mill phones per day from just one city or area?

We know there are huge command centers will wall banks of monitors set up in same way military war command centers are set up, the from rare photos usually scraped off brochures handed out at these vendor conferences.

We know they have been doing these flights for a long time over all major cities daily and other cities in rotation.

While one may not have direct ID of all of the above, I pretty much can tell something wonky happened when as the small piper cub-type plane flies overhead, my phone cell signal drops to 0 and then punches up to 5 bars and then drops to 0 again and resets at the normal crappy number of bars my service provider supports.

Living in the hinterlands makes things a bit easier to notice.

Living in the Age of COVID19 when quiet is the new norm, means more people are becoming aware.

disclaimer: I Know Nothing. YMMV.

Sherman Jay June 4, 2020 2:21 PM

I know you are careful and correct in your reporting and don’t doubt you one bit. However, what we read is not reassuring. To know our privacy is like a little fish in a gold fish bowl on a table in the middle of a mall is rather unnerving. And there is this:

ht tps://

“The US military is monitoring protests in at least seven states, according to Defense Department documents obtained exclusively by The Nation.

Another document . . . titled “MNNG Civil Disturbance Response Storybook,” is also marked FOUO and is dated May 29. It states that National Guard members have been authorized for “weapon status red,” meaning magazines loaded but safety on.

The National Guard is a branch of the military and crowd control isn’t a directive it’s had a lot of practice exercising. The few times that it has, it hasn’t exactly been applauded for its restraint. ht tps:// “

Clive Robinson June 4, 2020 3:47 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

We had a little chat about where the debt was going a little while back…

Well this is a partial answer,

If the reporting is correct there arr going to be a lot of people hurt on what appears to be a “Pump and Dump” of high tech stocks etc by just one organisation (blackrock). When the bubble bursts as they all do eventually the knock on effect is going to be a shocker for lots of people.

JonKnowsNothing June 4, 2020 4:26 PM

@Clive @All

re: Hydroxychloroquine studies

What I understand (which is not much)

  1. USA current President Trump makes statement Hydroxychloroquine is super cure
  2. Others state Hydroxychloroquine is pure death
  3. A person takes Hydroxychloroquine used in fish tanks and dies
  4. Studies are ordered
  5. Off label uses are allowed
  6. More Studies are ordered
  7. Some Studies end early
  8. Some Studies indicate little or no benefit
  9. Some Studies continued
  10. Some Studies are pre-published (before full review)
  11. Some Studies canceled
  12. Then some researchers get interested in the data set
  13. Then more researchers get interested in the data set
  14. The data set appears to be a)faulty or b)to not exist
  15. Then some studies resume

OK, Please, someone please explain what happened here?

SpaceLifeForm June 4, 2020 5:23 PM

@ Clive

Tanks for the link, M1-Abrams

Wondering about about best faraday cage design for whitehouse.

Helo safe.

Lonesome Bias June 4, 2020 8:06 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing

Hydroxychloroquine studies

As my friend Mr. Portacaval Shunt started saying in fhe 1960s, no large scale randomized controlled study, no conclusion.

The doctor treating the patient is the more prudent course until those large studies are done. Those doctors strongly support the use of HCQ.

SpaceLifeForm June 5, 2020 1:00 AM

@ Clive

Apparently, there is now a Change Order.

The Faraday Cage project over the Whitehouse, has been expanded. The taxpayers have already tossed in the money to make the perimeter nearly 1.7 miles in length.

So, that makes the cage design a little more complex.

I believe we can put in a 9-hole golf course surrounding the Ellipse, and the Ellipse could be a combination driving range, par-3 course.

The fence will need to be higher (probably can get that from the Mexico border), and tighter to prevent golf balls from flying onto the streets, where someone may get injured.

SpaceLifeForm June 5, 2020 1:49 AM

@ Myliit, ALL

“Where have you been?”

Good question Jimmie.
Good question.


[First they come for the …]

Wesley Parish June 5, 2020 5:05 AM


with (dis)respect to #1, US Federal Secretary of Silly Tweets Donald Trump (He’s been promoted: President is nowhere near good enough for him) also commented about the possible health benefits of injecting or ingesting bleach to prevent or cure COVID-19, and the bleach manufacturers promptly informed customers that they advised against anyone either injecting or ingesting bleach, for any purpose. You can verify this the next time you visit the Lysol web site: the Chlorox web site is a bit more circumspect in this regard.

One urgently wishes to ask him if he has followed his own prescription, and to what effect …

MarkH June 5, 2020 6:06 AM


what happened here?

Much of what you enumerated can be explained by the scientific process playing out.

First, I’d like to push back on items 1 and 2. Though Trump is habitually hyperbolic, I’m not aware that he said “super cure.” As to the opposite claim of “pure death,” I’m not aware of anyone saying that, much less a medical authority.

In my superficial understanding, HCQ is pretty safe in the low doses prescribed for protection against malaria. The much larger doses proposed for treatment of Covid-19 can (pretty clearly, I think) cause cardiac rhythm problems which might be dangerous.

So, to the scientific process:

The part about preprints (unreviewed papers appearing online) is simply how science is done these days, like it or not. Those would be harmless, except that some people (NOT the scientists) irresponsibly publicize them without explaining how provisional and error-prone they are likely to be. As far as I have seen, most such irresponsible publicity about preprints has been done by persons with political axes to grind (and zero understanding of science).

As of a few weeks ago, numerous controlled studies were planned or even initiated. These generally take time, up to a year. Based on precedent, I expect that if any controlled study reveals either a strong positive effect, or a strong negative effect, such a result will be made public promptly.

I haven’t been following this; if there’s any early controlled study results, I don’t know. The more time elapses without such public announcements, the more likely it is that observed effects are either small or zero.

So in the meantime, while the controlled studies are slowly grinding away, quick studies or analyses are coming out. The ones I’ve seen have been retrospective analyses of case outcomes with respect to sets of variables, without scientific controls.

The news today with respect to a particular dataset isn’t as dramatic as it may seem at first. My understanding is that the data exists, and there’s no particular reason to doubt its validity. However, the private company which collected it won’t make it available to scientific auditors (at least, in the form they need). Because it can’t be audited, at least one paper based on this dataset is retracted.

The analyses had concluded that HCQ was contributing to harmful outcomes, and at least one controlled study was accordingly halted. Now that the dataset is “under a cloud”, WHO decided to resume a study it had halted.

Hope this helps a little!

Clive Robinson June 5, 2020 9:36 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, MarkH,

The problem is that a set of data was used with “good faith” from a comercial organisation (not named). Whilst the data appeared satisfactory for use in a paper other scientists want the data in other forms and more depth without having to pay for it.

Now how people might wish to interpret that now is upto them, but there appears to have been no reason for the original study not to have used the data as supplied.

So unless either incorrect data, incorrect data interpretation or some form of bad faith can be shown it leaves the paper in limbo, which might be exactly what some other scientists might wish to happen to it (ie studies that were being fubded got cannceled on that papers findings).

When it comes to science the infighting is way more than “Publish or Perish” there are reputations to be made and destroyed, and with those political power and quite large sums of money. So be carefull of peoples motives. The history of the behavious of corporate interests in food, tobacco, fuel additives and many other areas of significant profit have been known to be responsible for significant numbers of deaths.

But there is another issue with the drugs in question,

1, Prophylactic (prevention).
2, Effective treatment (cure).

The reports so far are about treatment for those “known to be infected” by both symptoms and subsequent tests shortly (48hours or less) before treatment was the drug was given.

The results indicate that half as many again on the drugs had a poor outcome as those who were not on the drugs.

What has not been tested or reported on is the prophylactic use of the drugs in the currently healthy to prevent or reduce infection. Not only would this be difficult to test for ethically, there is the “First do no harm” ethic. The side effects of these drugs are not minimal in the effect they have on individuals taking them, but they are also not minimal in the number of people they have these effects on.

Look at it this way 10% of a nations population being effected (100k/million) versus 10% of the 5% of the population hospitalized with COVID-19 (5k/million).

MarkH June 5, 2020 12:41 PM

@JonKnowsNothing, Clive:

Now that I’ve done a little more reading, the mysterious dataset seems very likely to be fraudulent. A good rundown here:

The name of the private company — based in the U.S. — is Surgisphere, and it claims to have collected medical data from hundreds of hospitals worldwide. From the Guardian article:

… five hospitals in Melbourne and two in Sydney, whose cooperation would have been essential for the Australian patient numbers in the database … denied any role in such a database, and said they had never heard of Surgisphere.


The company’s LinkedIn page has fewer than 100 followers and last week listed just six employees. This was changed to three employees as of Wednesday.

An employee listed as a science editor appears to be a science fiction author and fantasy artist whose professional profile suggests writing is her fulltime job. Another employee listed as a marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess, who also acts in videos for organisations.

Note that “adult model” does not mean a model who happens to be an adult.

The background of the company’s chief, Sapan Desai, is at least as sketchy.

The emergence of this claimed dataset raised a lot of questions among real medical people, along the lines of: how did they gather this? Where did it come from? How can it be that we never heard of it before?

Sapan Desai is listed as one of four authors in the now retracted Lancet paper. Here is the delicate language of the retraction notice (my italics added):

After publication of our Lancet Article, several concerns were raised with respect to the veracity of the data and analyses conducted by Surgisphere Corporation and its founder and our co-author, Sapan Desai, in our publication. We launched an independent third-party peer review of Surgisphere with the consent of Sapan Desai to evaluate the origination of the database elements, to confirm the completeness of the database, and to replicate the analyses presented in the paper.

Our independent peer reviewers informed us that Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis as such transfer would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements. As such, our reviewers were not able to conduct an independent and private peer review and therefore notified us of their withdrawal from the peer-review process.

Note that the refusal to provide information was made by Surgisphere — in other words, by co-author Desai.

I don’t see any way to read this other than fraud.

That fraudsters are out there is no surprise. The interesting investigation will be, how did one of the most respected medical journals allow itself to get swindled by these clowns?

It has happened before, and I suspect that the answer won’t be all that simple. It might be, for example, that others among the co-authors have a good reputation (or at least, had a good reputation before this Lancet paper).

Quite plausibly, eagerness to learn about Covid-19 and to get results out to the world, resulted in some short-cut to the evaluation process.

The WHO study controlled study is evaluating several candidate drugs. In response to the Lancet paper, WHO stopped the HCQ arm of their study. Now that this paper has gone up in smoke, WHO looked at their own data, and concluded that they see no sign that HCQ is making people sick; accordingly that arm of the study is now resumed.

Usually in science there is an inherent tension between quick results and dependable results. This conflict is particularly strong in medical research.

In a few months, there will be real data on HCQ. My personal bet is that it will not prove to be useful; I’ll be delighted if I was wrong about that.

vas pup June 5, 2020 4:19 PM

“The US Air Force will pit an advanced autonomous aircraft against a piloted plane in a challenge set for July 2021.

The project could eventually lead to unpiloted fighter aircraft that use artificial intelligence (AI).

Lt Gen Jack Shanahan, head of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, called the test a “bold, bold idea”.

Read the whole article in interested in the subject

Chris June 5, 2020 6:05 PM


Datahejsan som är en pool av randomness
som sedan används i “moderna” krypton
Så antar att det är relativt viktigt
att denna del görs så rätt som det går att göra !!! !!! (Brukar inte göra utropstecken)

Hi i would like to touch about something that is very important that is embedded into encryption.

I talked with some encryption guys to explain why its important and it has to do with the making of the keys.
Especially today when we are using virtual computers this gets very complicated.

Or .. lets say it gets less complicated
which makes it a lot more complicated
to try to get a somewhat random pool of randomness

The more virtual computers the bigger issue we have.

Why is this important ?
Long story short it is and it isnt
Its only importat when we need to do encryption, since the algorithms have a factor somehwere calling the randmomness
and if you are using a virtual machine the
random pool is very much nothing but random.
And thats where the entropy comes to play.

So.. modern encryptions needs randomness
and modern machines lacks entrop that creates randomess… that smells like a rat.

How can we make it better.
Well in windows i dont know
In linux we have many “third parties” that can boost the entropy such as below

So simple stuff then…


apt-get install haveged
systemctl enable haveged
systemctl start haveged
pico /etc/default/haveged
ändra 1024 > minst 4096
systemctl restart haveged

The problem is that my documentation is bad
and i cant find where i read it
but i read not long time ago a white paper
where a mix between a simple timer and haveged entropyt was giving much better results. Any ideas ?

TEST Entropy:

cat /dev/random | rngtest -c 1000

cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail


SpaceLifeForm June 6, 2020 1:48 AM

@ Chris

I would mix up 1,2, and 3 from link below.

Use your imagination.

Timer entropy. Multiple daemons (min: logical cores + 1), feeding, crossfeeding, with random delay (ha! – But don’t confuse this with systemd, it’s not that complicated) thru hashing daemons, thru whitening daemons, to at least a few meg of storage for usage post boot.

I’m sure I could write this in shell code given the effort, but better in C. Still will need root in order to write to /dev/random. Don’t use /dev/urandom.

Clive Robinson June 6, 2020 2:39 AM

@ Chris,

So.. modern encryptions needs randomness
and modern machines lacks entrop that creates randomess… that smells like a rat.

One of the original and perhaps most famous comments on this[1] aspect was made by John von Neumann in the early 1950’s,

    Any one who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin. For, as has been pointed out several times, there is no such thing as a random number – there are only methods to produce random numbers, and a strict arithmetic procedure of course is not such a method.”

These days we refer not to “arithmetic methods” but “Determanistic Methods” when talking of generating entropy which for cryptography of the highest levels of security should be “Truly Random” that is “Have no determanism”, because “Determinism of any form eventually reveals it’s self”.

I’ve made comment on this blog several times about the problems of generating random numbers on “network devices” and the more general class of “embedded systems” that all Internet of Things (IoT) devices fall in. And importantly practical ways to solve them.

Likewise I’ve mentioned the “perversion” of “magic pixie dust thinking”[2] and the likes of Intel CPU’s and it applies especially to the way they generate random numbers. The up shot of which is put simply “As you can not test the source directly it should never be used” because you as an observer can not tell if the available RNG output is from a true random source, or a counter encrypted with a whitened version of the CPU serial number because you will not live long enough to test it and with the general quality issues of Intel CPU’s used in NAS boxes and the like the chip will malfunction or die long before you will…

Which is one of the reasons on reading the TechRepublic article from the link you provide alarm bells started ringing when I saw,

    “The haveged service seeds a system’s random source by executing a loop repeatedly and using the differences in the processor’s time stamp counter–this gains entropy without having to use a mouse or a keyboard.”

All CPU’s are by definition “fully determanistic” otherwise we would not use them after all if you use do “2*2” you want to get “4” all the time every time. As part of this CPU’s use a central clock source for all the processing logic and various techniques[3] to keep all the internal states to the correct values.

As I indicated long ago this central clock is derived from a quartz crystal that is usually AT-Cut which defines it’s characteristics in terms of frequency stability with respect to temprature, in “Parts Per Million” (ppm) over an operating temprature range. The cut also effects the “aging time” that is quartz crystals frequencies change over time the longer they are used.

But these changes effect all the processing logic as they are synchronised to it. Whilst there are tricks you can pull with “time delay elements” to pull out the “Delta F” or very short term frequency change, these are generally very unwise to do. Because the central limit theorm acts against you (the time delay acts as a low pass filter, the output of which “follows” the input).

People often confuse the use of a delay line with the “Waggon Wheel effect” where in movies the coach waggon wheels appear to turn slowly or even backwards due to the “Strobascopic effect” of the way the individual still frames are “gated” (sampled). A varient is known as the “roulette wheel effect”. The difference between the delay line and the sampling methods is that there is only one frequency source in the delay line and very importantly “two independent” frequency sources in the sampling method.

Thus without a lot of further information I would advise treating the “haveged service” method with deep suspicion.

But even if it is producing “True Randomness” it is going to be in very very small amounts over significant periods of time. That is I would not expect to get a true random bit in anything less than 5-10 seconds due to thermal latency of the quartz crystal and it’s housing. You will however get a lot of faux entropy[4] that is then biased.

[1] From “Various techniques used in connection with random digits” by John von Neumann in “Monte Carlo Method” edited by A.S. Householder, G.E. Forsythe and H.H. Germond, 1951.

[2] Magic Pixie Dust thinking is a form of delusion. The idea is that by taking a signal with little or no entropy in it, puting it through an encryption function some how “magicaly” gives it entropy is not understanding what the difference is between entropy and a mathmatical method that is fully determanistic but gives the illusion of randomness. To see this think of encrypting a text message made of ten thousand characters, if the characters are all “A” then most would agree the text has little or no entropy if the message is a book then most would agree there is some entropy, however with a good encryption algorithm and mode as an observer of the output of the process you would not be able to tell the difference between the two messages unless you knew what algorithms were used the keys and any Initialisation Vectors (IVs)

[3] It would take to long to go into but all sequential logic especially certain logic circuits such as flip flops and latches have “metastability” issues that can cause indeterminacy at the output or “soft latch ups” thus various techniques are used to reduce this issue to near zero occurrence in human time scales. See these lecture slides for more info,

[4] All physical entropy sources have a lot of issues when it comes to true entropy. Primarilly they have a significant “signal to noise” issue in both the time and frequency domains. What you want is the “true entropy” signal that is in a great deal of noise. The noise can be considered to be that which is easily predictable and that which is not as easily predictable. The latter is “faux entropy”. There is a fairly easy demonstration of this with “sampling” a clock signal with another clock signal of different frequency using a D-Type latch. If you look at the Q output of the latch with an oscilloscope close in the changes look atleast chaotic if not random. However as you adjust the oscilloscope such that the time base is about the same as two cycles of the difference frequency between the two clocks at the latch inputs you can see the output is quite determanistic because what you have is a sampled sinwave of the difference frequency. The only potential entropy is in the “jitter” on the zero crossing points of the difference frequency. That jitter consists of the true entropy you are looking for and mainly determanistic “system noise” that modulated the clock signals either in the oscilator, amplifier, sampling process, or following logic. To see how dificult it is to see the true entropy you are looking for use just one oscillator and divide it down using two frequency dividers (counter followed by a divide two latch) where the counts are mainly prime. The signal looks almost the same as that of the signal using two independent oscillators of approximately the same frequency. That very slight difference which you probably can not see without careful filtering is your “true entropy signal” hidden in that “faux entropy noise”.

JonKnowsNothing June 6, 2020 12:38 PM

@Clive @All

re: Random Numbers

A small confession of embarrassment:

I play MMORPG games. These video graphic games are combat style and are computerized variations on Dungeons & Dragons. Instead of dice throws the computer/server throws the dice for you and does all the calculations and returns the appropriate graphics and game states in more or less real time + some latency.

One of the “fun aspects” beyond the simple graphic feed back of victory with the dead bear at your feet or the ignoble defeat and resurrection at the RezCircle, is to drill down into how the Developers programmed the various calculations and percentages. Much of which is incredibly boring to reverse-engineer but there are people who enjoy doing it.

Many years before Snowden, and many years before I was even that interested in the topic, there were absolute flame wars over the “Random Number Generator” used not only to do combat calculations but other aspects of the game that needed a randomized number. My fingers are still singed from the discussion.

So, after much All vs One on line verbal combat, I learned that the One was correct about the actual workings of the RNG, and I now refer to it as a Pseudo Random Number Generator (PRNG).

While RNG/PRNG might be important for RL things, in gaming it is really important because it affects the loot table drop. Good stuff doesn’t drop often, and you have to re-run difficult sequences many times to have a chance to get the drop. Additionally you might be buddied up with 3,6,12 or more folks all looking for the same drop and if its only a one-drop-per-run it means you are going to be running that sequence often, which is called Loot Farming.

Of course, a game company does not want a true RNG because they cannot control the outcome of any event. They want some variation and of course challenge but these are scripted events (PVE) and the results are within a given set of parameters.

PRNG flame wars are often followed by eruptions over “critical outcomes” in a single event vs over time. When crafting advanced armour that has a small chance of getting a better set of stats (PRNG) it follows as:

I used a scroll that granted an improved critical outcome,
I did it 10 times,
I didn’t get a single critical improvement

A computer is not a dice.

ht tps://

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Wesley Parish June 8, 2020 2:08 AM

@MarkH, Rachel, Clive Robinson re: Theological Salutations

You could do worse than the poor pastor in one of my short short stories, A Terminology Dispute:

I stood to give him the blessing for his departure: I realized I’d made a mistake instantly, though I didn’t know where: “The Loro Goo bless you, and keep you; the Loro Goo make His face shine on you, and be gracious unto you; the Loro Goo lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

(It’s a Tyops joke.)

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