Friday Squid Blogging: Underwater Robot Uses Squid-Like Propulsion

This is neat:

By generating powerful streams of water, UCSD’s squid-like robot can swim untethered. The “squidbot” carries its own power source, and has the room to hold more, including a sensor or camera for underwater exploration.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Posted on November 13, 2020 at 4:09 PM127 Comments


Cassandra November 13, 2020 4:31 PM


Apparently, the most recent macOs, Big Sur, sends the following information, unencrypted, to Apple:

Date, Time, Computer, ISP, City, State, Application Hash

for each application you start on ‘your’ machine.

The above blog entry makes for interesting, if depressing reading.

Like others, I wonder how it squares with the GDPR.


vas pup November 13, 2020 4:40 PM

Is there a way to stop jihadis in Europe?

“‘Cult of death’

Speaking to DW, Roy referred to it as a “cult of death.” When ==>these young men kill, he said, “They expect to be killed… It’s not so much an ideology [as] a personal trajectory. They have a goal: To go to paradise, to die as a martyr.”

Frankfurt-based sociologist Felix Rossmeissl, who is part of a research project investigating the topic of jihad, prefers to describe it as a “probation dynamic.” Young men and women, he said, want to prove they can fulfill expectations, and this is how they are coerced into committing acts of violence.

In his analysis, “It represents an alternative to conventional probation dynamics, which in our society are linked primarily to professional work and academic success.” Rossmeissl says this is ==>why young people who are having difficulty making the transition to adult life are particularly susceptible to jihadi propaganda.

Limits of deradicalization

Thomas Mücke knows people like this. He works with them. Mücke, a qualified teacher and psychologist, is the managing director of the Violence Prevention Network (VPN), which works on deradicalizing violent extremists.

==>”We know, of course, that people who are unstable or who are currently going through a crisis can be recruited very quickly by people on the extremist scene,” Mücke told DW.

When VPN employees work in prisons with people who are likely to pose a threat, with IS returnees, or with violent Islamists, =>their top priority is “to make it possible for these people to ask questions again, to be allowed to start thinking for themselves again,” he said.

“In the Islamist scene, the way it works is that you have to obey, you have to subordinate yourself. And they lose the ability to ask questions and think for themselves.” [as my math teacher in high school used to say: “Think with Your Own head! – vp]

‘No chains of command’

What makes the situation so dangerous — and so difficult for the ===>security services to maintain an overview — is that Islamist terrorism doesn’t need an organization in the classical sense, with secret cells and hidden headquarters.
===>Loose networks are enough, as is the potential of radicalized people, which can be tapped through propaganda, or indeed through other attacks.

VPN head Mücke cites the Vienna attack as an example. IS has claimed responsibility, but he notes: “There are absolutely no clear chains of command.

!!!!!!”Instead, the narratives are fed into the networks: ‘Now you have to do something.’ And then there are the people who take action — without anyone actually issuing an order for them to do so,” said Mücke.”

@Moderator: for sure some folks of our top LEAs are reading this blog on regular basis. I hope they not only read, but utilize some fruitful ideas from this article before you delete this post. Thank you!

hammar-n-nails November 13, 2020 6:39 PM

“Advocate speaks on San Diego’s regulations on surveillance technology”

“San Diego City Council unanimously approved two ordinances this week aimed at protecting people’s privacy from surveillance technology, including smart street lights that were once being used around the city.”

Clive Robinson November 13, 2020 8:41 PM

@ vas pup,

With regards,

“In the Islamist scene, the way it works is that you have to obey, you have to subordinate yourself. And they lose the ability to ask questions and think for themselves.”

I’ve be pointing out the “Lack of Moral Compass” problem due to the “overly heavy Patriarchal Muslim” system form before 9/11. It’s a significant issue in higher education from the mid 1980’s to my knowledge.

Young muslim men were easy pickings for older men who encoraged them into behaviours that were both criminal and exploitative.

But it was not “Politically Correct” to say such things. Even after 9/11 “the experts” did not want to hear this, and ignored it, and I continued to point it out untill my involvment with higher education ceased. I have however since rather pointedly made refrence to it when talking to people in the national security domain. But as is normal it fell on deaf ears, even though I knew Universities were pointing it out as well, a certain Home Office Minister had certain fixed views that she pushed downwards through the likesvof ACPO. As she also held the purse strings to Police Funding, you can imagine how deaf their ears were…

Thus whilst I agree with the findings outlined, I suspect we will still be talking about it for the next decade or two.

I guess part of the problem is how do you remove the detrimental effects of a strongly paternalistic society without destroying the society?

I have my views, but I’m not going to make them public here as although they are highly relevant to some areas of security, it’s not the sort of security this blog has covered in the past, and almost certainly would prove contentious to put it mildly.

JonKnowsNothing November 13, 2020 10:06 PM

@hammar-n-nails @All

re: San Diego Street Light Security Systems”

iirc(badly) a week or so ago, an article described how the City Council of San Diego wanted to remove the surveillance cameras from the infrastructure after they discovered local LEAs were taping the images at-will.

The company that provided the streetlights formerly a GE company, said they could not turn off the cameras because the “off” was tied to the light fixture and so there would be no “lights on the street”.

The company arranged to have the auto-upload feed cut to their servers and the archive left on the local machines for @5-7days prior to auto-delete.

So, you cannot stop taking pictures if you want a night-light and you cannot stop the film-at-11 aspect at all.

There seemed to be a pretty simple solution to stopping the cameras that didn’t get implemented:
  * Just Put A Bag Over It.
or failing the Bag Test
  * Hire the Local AAA-Club (baseball) to have a Pitching Contest to see how many cameras they can break, funds going to COVID-19 relief efforts.

The veracity of the company about not being able to turn off the cameras is clearly in doubt.

JonKnowsNothing November 13, 2020 10:18 PM

@vas pup @Clive Robinson

re: Extremism on the Internet

MSM Article about similar extremist recruiting by a different group in the USA

“Tech companies under pressure to ban far-right forum used for militia organizing”… more pressure on internet companies that control the infrastructure supporting [xxx], including GoDaddy and Cloudflare to ban the platform from their services.
[xxx] had at least 20,000 users organizing more than 530 militia groups in the US, according to a report from Vice. It’s also becoming more popular. The site totaled 69,461 visits in October 2020, up 322.6% from October 2019 at 16,437,

The problem is the world doesn’t look the same to all people. There are a lot of people more than willing to make you change your view to match theirs.

note: not linking the article

Mine November 14, 2020 1:14 AM

@Cassandra That’s the problem with apple. It’s theirs!! Own your device – Use Linux.. If you can you use Mac it won’t be difficult switching. People stuck on windows are a different story.

SpaceLifeForm November 14, 2020 2:13 AM

@ Clive, Anders. Lurker

ICO fines Ticketmaster. GDPR, Javascript.


Key to the criminals’ success was Ticketmaster’s decision to deploy a Javascript-powered chatbot on its website payment pages, giving criminals an easy way in by compromising the third party’s JS – something the ICO held against Ticketmaster in its decision to award the fine.


3.15 On 6 May 2018, an individual user on Twitter tweeted a picture of an error message on the Ticketmaster New Zealand website. The tweet stated: ” … Inbenta’s website serves two different files … hosted on two different servers one of them has the infected line in it and the other one doesn’t.” This tweet should have been reasonably understood to refer to malicious code.

3.16 On 9 May 2018, the same Twitter user followed up that tweet. Ticketmaster responded directly to the tweet saying “this is not a virus, it’s the help widget that is found on our home page”.

3.17 On the same day, the Twitter user responded to Ticketmaster, stating: “it has an extra line in it submitting information to a website hosted by an External person in the UAE and none of the other inbenta.js files used by other sites have this -this single one has been compromised.”

Anders November 14, 2020 4:30 AM

@vas pup

Regarding Germany and jihad read this.


Cassandra November 14, 2020 4:38 AM


Unfortunately, using Linux does not guarantee that you own a device you have paid for. The major manufacturers of CPUs incorporate hardware and software into their CPUs that you, the buyer, do not control – details are in the Wikipedia article:


The point about this Apple choice is that it is further normalizing intrusive surveillance. The idea that people can be trusted by governments to have private lives is increasingly outdated.

Anonymous November 14, 2020 4:57 AM

@Clive Robinson

You are fighting against cultural relativism: the idea that differing values that stem from differing cultures are equally valid and worthy of respect. Unfortunately, such a liberal worldview is all to easily subverted by people who behave in way consistent with a belief in moral absolutes. You end up having to choose some moral absolutes to fight for, or rejecting the validity of moral absolutes completely, which is an uncomfortable step for many. Choosing to reject moral absolutism puts you at odds with the vast majority of the world’s population. Practical moral philosophy is hard. Many very intelligent people have thought deeply about it and still have not come up with a clear, simple, practical method of allowing people to live peaceably with each other.

rrd November 14, 2020 9:17 AM

@ vas pup

“In the Islamist scene, the way it works is that you have to obey, you have to subordinate yourself. And they lose the ability to ask questions and think for themselves.”

Such destructive false-religious ignoramuses are a pox upon humanity. They are not Sufis, for we recognize the validity of all paths of religion, and respect the free wills of people who have not yet chosen to undertake the Path of Love. It is our duty to demonstrate this love to others in order that they choose to learn how we are different.

The problem with all such groups — who are no different to our destructive false-Christian Trumpers in America — is that education is the only solution yet their refusal to be educated is their human right, just as the Germans’ Nazis had the human right to believe their evil, destructive, and divisive hatreds. (Note that they did NOT have the right to do all the evil shite they did.)

That is why all such in-groups bent on the destruction of their delusionally-determined “enemies” must be treated as Nazis: watch them carefully and strip them of all power to harm others once they have demonstrated their destructiveness.

As always, the Law and Its Messengers hang upon the Great Command(ment) and Its Next:

To love God with all one’s being, and then to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

It doesn’t matter how they pray (or if they don’t), any such group of self-righteous destroyers must be treated as the vermin that they are. Note that this also directly follows from the Great Command(ment) and Its Next, for we must love with justice, and our love for the oppressed must outweigh our love for the oppressors. There is a time for mercy and tolerance and a time for more vigorous action.

It takes a well-developed and self-developed moral compass tuned to the Divine Will to know when and how fighting is required, which always must be minimized but not descend into pacifism in the face of such hateful groups.

As for “Think with Your Own head!”, that is also a cornerstone command of religion, but that head’s thinking processes must be tempered with a heart filled with love that can only be developed by first looking inward and fixing one’s self’s vices of the heart, preferably with the help of the Divine Will.

And, remember, the (perhaps vast) majority of supposedly religious folks are just pack humanimals who think they’re better than everyone else and, therefore — by their own terribly incorrect logic — get to treat out-groups as poorly as they choose. Such willful, hateful, violent ignorance is absolutely literally as old as mankind, for we all have such selfish impulses that we must consciously overcome. Only by fighting first within our own hearts and minds can we develop the discernment necessary to manifest justice on this Earth.

rrd November 14, 2020 9:58 AM

@ Clive

You said, up above:

I’ve be pointing out the “Lack of Moral Compass” problem

You also said, in :

Oh one thing that is clear is someone has still not looked in the mirror…

Irony is dead.

“No one , no one is blinder ,, than he , who will not see.”
— U2 “I Threw a Brick Through a Window”

I have never seen you apologize for anything here (while you most certainly have seen me do so, on multiple occasions), which, when considering how you’ve treated multiple people around here (the worst being myself), you most certainly should. Your failure to even consider that you may be wrong — much less actually apologizing for your oft bad attitude — places you squarely in both of the groups your quotes reference above.

That entire post is really a testament to your utter ignorance and self-righteousness, but you also said (I assume about myself) :

Rather than what they actually deserve which is to be looked down upon

I look down upon no one, and my love for one and all means I can see them truthfully for what they are, for I only want them to experience lasting peace and happiness, much as their own attitudes and behaviors oft result in their karmic misery. And you, you actually promote looking down upon others (and other ugliness).

That entire post of yours needs a bidet, but I love that you told the truth about yourself so clearly and belligerently, and as eternally as Bruce keeps that thread around.

You also said, up above:

I have my views, but I’m not going to make them public here

That’s a fine start.


What I’m saying here is don’t listen to Clive about anything related to morality, for the entirety of his morality is based upon his entire culture’s belief that they are superior to all others, which is only different to jihadists in technique and belief system, but not, in any way, attitude.

Their source is the same: selfish, utterly un-self-aware destructive self-superiority. That’s why they feel they can treat out-groups with hateful, lying, and often violent contempt.

Remember, selfishness is the ONLY REASON EVER ANYONE EVER has a security problem. Selfishness for our self and our in-groups is the only cause of strife and destruction in this world. That is why this derivation from the Great Command(ment) and Its Next is so essential:

The greatest among you shall be the servant of all.

JG4 November 14, 2020 10:13 AM

File under “Further facets of the understanding that surpasses all peace.” I’m too lazy to look up the link to Murder Is A Relatively Recent Evolutionary Strategy. I was skeptical then and I am skeptical now. Self-defense certainly isn’t novel. I don’t think that political violence is either.

Have been busy solving interesting problems or you’d hear from me sooner and more often. The supernova article is interesting.

“Me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, me, my brother and my cousin against the infidel.”

My guess is that the metabolic burden of the massive Neanderthal strength dramatically shortened their lives relative to modern humans. They were unable to create and pass on the complex technologies that eventually wiped them out. It will be ironic if the complex technologies wipe out modern humans too.

Neanderthals And Humans Were at War For Over 100,000 Years, Evidence Shows Science Alert (Chuck L)
Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. One group stayed in Africa, evolving into us. The other struck out overland, into Asia, then Europe, becoming Homo neanderthalensis – the Neanderthals. They weren’t our ancestors, but a sister species, evolving in parallel.

Biology and palaeontology paint a darker picture. Far from peaceful, Neanderthals were likely skilled fighters and dangerous warriors, rivalled only by modern humans.

Top predators
Predatory land mammals are territorial, especially pack-hunters. Like lions, wolves and Homo sapiens, Neanderthals were cooperative big-game hunters. These predators, sitting atop the food chain, have few predators of their own, so overpopulation drives conflict over hunting grounds. Neanderthals faced the same problem; if other species didn’t control their numbers, conflict would have.

This territoriality has deep roots in humans. Territorial conflicts are also intense in our closest relatives, chimpanzees. Male chimps routinely gang up to attack and kill males from rival bands, a behaviour strikingly like human warfare.

This implies that cooperative aggression evolved in the common ancestor of chimps [, Neanderthals,] and ourselves, 7 million years ago. If so, Neanderthals will have inherited these same tendencies towards cooperative aggression.

Prehistoric warfare leaves telltale signs. A club to the head is an efficient way to kill – clubs are fast, powerful, precise weapons – so prehistoric Homo sapiens frequently show trauma to the skull. So too do Neanderthals.

The best evidence that Neanderthals not only fought but excelled at war, is that they met us and weren’t immediately overrun. Instead, for around 100,000 years, Neanderthals resisted modern human expansion.

In battle, their massive, muscular builds must have made them devastating fighters in close-quarters combat. Their huge eyes likely gave Neanderthals superior low-light vision, letting them manoeuvre in the dark for ambushes and dawn raids.

Finally, the stalemate broke, and the tide shifted. We don’t know why.

rrd November 14, 2020 10:14 AM

@ Cassandra

You said:

Unfortunately, using Linux does not guarantee that you own a device you have paid for.

You are absolutely correct, yet the reality is that Linux/*BSD is the best option we currently have (AFAIK). There are projects that crop up on HackerNews, more and more, recently, that are addressing the need for a completely open source hardware base — for both “computers” and “phones”, not that they’re very distinguishable anymore, of course.

rrd November 14, 2020 10:47 AM

@ JG4

You are correct about the mammalian origins of human warfare, for our bodies are very clearly mammalian, and that physicality informs our attitudes and behaviors, and — MOST IMPORTANTLY — is the default state we come into this world with.

What differentiates us from the rest of the animals here is that we have a sense of morality (our conscience) and a mind that can choose between selfishness and selflessness. The foundation of selflessness is loving compassion.

When humanity learns to take the compassion that (usually) comes naturally for one’s family and extends it to our entire human family, we will then begin to solve the myriad problems we face, each and every problem being the result of our mammalian urges to {compete, hate, oppress, treat meanly, seek short-term gain, …) as opposed to our human potentials to {cooperate, love, uplift, treat kindly, take a long-term view of our effects, …).

We can each choose to embrace these positive healing attitudes and behaviors at any time of our lives, but the vast majority of our societies do not teach or embrace anything but mammalian competitiveness.

Once again, all these choices boil down to selfishness verses selflessness both individually and in our groups. The ideas of “turning the other cheek”, “loving one’s enemy”, and “becoming the servant of all” all go against our competitive mammalian survival instincts encoded in our truly ancient DNA.

Only we human beings have the ability to overcome these tendencies through learning, force of will and — ABOVE ALL — continuously self-evolving our moral compass by humbly seeking to be better, each and every one of us.

God’s Will for us is to live in peace and harmony with each other across all our differences, but our free wills are sacrosanct and we are free to keep embracing our predominant selfishly destructive attitudes and behaviors. It is up to each of us to “go within” as Rumi and others suggest, make contact with the Divine Mystery, and begin the journey to complete absorption into universal love, selfless service to all, and working to create a better world for Earth’s future generations.

We each have that choice, and the inertia of groups of like choices has shown to be very powerful, indeed. Unfortunately, such groups usually choose to reinforce the mammalian over the humanitarian. But that doesn’t mean that change isn’t coming (IT MOST CERTAINLY IS!!!); it just means that we must work ever more diligently in the face of the ever more desperate measures taken by the selfishly powerful.

lurker November 14, 2020 12:07 PM

thanks for the headsup, but I’m too old and lazy to fight the scammers and touts with their bots to to queue-push Ticketmaster, then auction the tickets at up to five times face value. If I did want to attend somesuch event we can still in most cases pay cash for a paper ticket

Cassandra November 14, 2020 12:32 PM


There are plenty of small projects that address parts of the problem, but it actually needs (fairly large) nation state resources to solve. You need a fab and a set of tools (both software and hardware) that can be demonstrated to be backdoor free; and some fairly tight security on the production process.

There are a lot of interests dedicated to preventing the development of open hardware (and software) because the powers that be find it very useful to have backdoors. As Lord Acton ( hxxps://,_1st_Baron_Acton ) said, power tends to corrupt.

rrd November 14, 2020 1:12 PM

@ Cassandra

You said:

but it actually needs (fairly large) nation state resources to solve

I think you are underestimating the power of the people to organize and put their resources towards such worthy endeavors. After all, nation states are nothing but groups of (semi-)like-minded citizens. All we have to do is combine our efforts and we, too, will be able to take advantage of economies of scale.

There are a lot of interests dedicated to preventing the development of open hardware (and software) because the powers that be find it very useful to have backdoors.

Certainly. The irony is that DARPA funded the creation of the internet. I don’t remember who said it, but someone said that if those DARPA folks had any idea the problems that allowing the peasantry to connect would cause, they would have smothered it in the crib. Alas, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

As Lord Acton ( hxxps://,_1st_Baron_Acton ) said, power tends to corrupt.

Ahh, I like the “tends” part, because it is almost always the case, but not ALWAYS so. A crucial step for our world is for the citizenries to figure out how to choose truly honorable, selfless servants of the people to be their leaders. Alas, however, an ignorant populace chooses leaders that say one thing and do another; worse yet, the populace tends to not even ever realize the harm that has been done to them by the poor leaders they, themselves, chose. As always, no one can learn a lesson they refuse to even entertain as a possibility.

Our deplorable leaders are also the result of systems that tend to reward the duplicitous, self-serving power-mongers. And yet, even though the vast majority of our systems were created by oppressors to enable their continued oppressions (especially the abstract but very real reality of economic slavery), we do indeed have great hope because many people are educating themselves, sharing ideas, and learning how to move in unison.

The old aristocrats’ ability to hide or deny the people’s power shrinks by the day, while our power only grows.

SpaceLifeForm November 14, 2020 2:47 PM


In 2020, Trees march in protest over Climate Chamge.


vas pup November 14, 2020 3:20 PM

Thank you for input. Let me clarify something:
1. When I post something from the source with link provided I always put it in quotes in order to appreciate the source, but my own thoughts are either in brackets inside the text or just at the end of the post. If I did not provide my own input I just want all respected bloggers to familiarize with that directly related to the blog subject (security)information and start thinking before just bouncing back like in Ping-Pong.
2. I do not like when any religion or ethic group claims exceptional self-rightness and wants to impose on all other folks their own believes by violence, labeling or intimidation. I respect religion believes/ethnicity of any person under the condition that person does the same for my believes/ethnicity. RECIPROCITY is the key for peaceful coexistence – no double standards negative or positive. Period.
3. I want that Christians/Jews have the same protection in any Muslim dominated country as Muslim currently enjoy in Western States.
Otherwise – it is all just hypocrisy.
4. Regarding terrorists – no sympathy on my side. The best terrorist is dead terrorist. May be God forgive them, but LEAs should make their meeting as soon as possible. Kill, then forgive.

==>I prefer Confucius: when he was asked should we return good for evil, he answered – we should return good for good, for evil we should return Justice.

If you want to know what justice means, then ask not legal scholars, but rather relatives of terrorist victims. You may get better answer.

Nothing personal. Respectfully, VP.

Jon November 14, 2020 4:55 PM

@JonKnowsNothing, @hammar-n-nails

On ‘inability to disable cameras on streetlights’:

I’m afraid the ‘bag’ would bag the entire light – so would the pitching contest. The light itself is a much bigger target than the camera…

Of course, another solution would be a man with a bucket truck and a can of black spraypaint. Maybe a piece of cardboard with a hole in it to keep the spray off the light itself.

A rather more permanent solution, imho – right now, all they have to do is claim some sort of emergency, and they can turn them right back on. Having to scrape paint off the camera lenses will discourage that idea.


JonKnowsNothing November 14, 2020 8:42 PM

@Jon @hammar-n-nails

re:How to disable the camera in the street lights and not the lights themselves

The appropriate black-out would depend on the model and type of light and system.

I like your idea of a plain box with a pinhole to let the light out.

In my end of burnt western USA, our street side surveillance cameras are black domed baubles bolted on to the poles, as well as the classic CCTV cameras with sun-glare hoods. Putting a bag over either of them wouldn’t interfere with the lights on these models since the lights are not anywhere near the camera part.

Disabling the audio feed might not be possible. Some info-poles collect cellphone data as well as audio conversations.

A while back, pre-COVID-era, the local city hosted a “free shredding day” where you could “safely dispose of old records”. The “free” part was they took the records, the no-payment-payment was doing a tail-back through a narrow access road, where you could see the extension mast and camera of the local police department’s tactical command trailer. No doubt they were using it and the rest of their gear to collect “all clear data” since it was a “public event”.

Today one might be able to use a small drone and drop a plastic hood over the camera part.

There are drones that have tactical-paint-ball launchers; folks could pick holiday colors of paint and splat the units like a swarm of sea gulls.

Cyclopes have one eye…

ht tps://

Three groups of Cyclopes can be distinguished. In Hesiod’s Theogony, they are the brothers Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, who provided Zeus with his weapon the thunderbolt.In Homer’s Odyssey, they are an uncivilized group of shepherds, the brethren of Polyphemus encountered by Odysseus. Cyclopes were also famous as the builders of the Cyclopean walls of Mycenae and Tiryns.

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

rrd November 14, 2020 9:32 PM

@ vas pup

And thank you for your thoughtful and insightful reply.

Regarding your numbered points:

  1. Got it, but I don’t generally follow the links. I personally would prefer the poster to spell out the points they find interesting, but now that I understand how you work, I’ll try to keep that in mind.
  2. That is nothing less than the Sufi Way. Our understanding is that any form of religion that claims to be “the only one” is no form of religion at all, because tolerance and acceptance that other paths can lead the follower to God’s Love, Justice and Harmony is an essential by-product of a person’s heartfelt seeking to become a better person with the help of God. “There is no compulsion in religion” is an absolute law, for we all have the free will to choose any attitude and behavior (except oppression of other human beings), and, furthermore, we each come to religion in our own time and place and within whatever form we, ourselves, choose; anyone who oppresses someone for religious reasons has zero religion whatsoever, no matter what they practice or what they say. It really is that simple, yet does have one caveat for oppressors, in that religion does, indeed, require us to “oppress the oppressor” in order to prevent their oppression of innocents.
  3. Absolutely. That is a deep, deep understanding. We must also afford such freedom to the atheists and agnostics who haven’t yet (and may never) felt the desire to seek any kind of religious path. The only people whose free wills we can intercede in are those who oppress other human beings, regardless of their reasons. Our job as persons who seek to manifest God’s Will on Earth is to teach others by our attitudes and actions, not by haranging them. All of any religion (that hasn’t been perverted by bad actors, whose poison has been mixed into the cure) is based upon practical ideas that help us improve ourselves and our communities, where diversity is not only accepted but happily welcomed. As always, however, we cannot passively tolerate the intolerant when they actually cause strife and misery in others.
  4. Yes. That is the perspective of God’s Justice, but you MUST be very, very careful that they are actual terrorists that have either already committed a crime or are actually plotting to commit a crime. Until we have such proof, we cannot harm them or we, ourselves, would then take on the role of oppressor, and that would be very, very bad indeed. That said, it behooves us to learn what they are teaching their followers and then carefully watch them if their teachings are in any way indicative of terrorist intent. All-in-all, God’s Justice is always situational in that It always seeks the least harm and most mercy, when at all possible; this is for the simple reason that we should not harm our own karmic tally by self-righteously persecuting those who don’t actually deserve it.

I prefer Confucius: when he was asked should we return good for evil, he answered – we should return good for good, for evil we should return Justice.

While not encountering His teachings in anything other than random snippets over the years, I have long understood Confucius to be another Sufi Messenger of Harmony; thank you for adding such a powerful quote to my understanding. The depth of that quote reflects my mention in my previous paragraph of “God’s Justice is always situational”, as there are times for mercy and times for punishment. Only by submitting our free wills to the Divine Will can we have the proper discernment to manifest the proper treatment of others at the proper time, such that it leads to the betterment of the entire society. It is a tricky business, indeed, for those of us who have not yet beheld the Godhead and thus are not yet “pure of heart”. Until the person has reached such a level, I shall always counsel caution on meting out justice.

Nothing personal. Respectfully, VP.

I cannot be offended, so I take nothing personally 😉 This is about sharing ideas that can help shape the societies that we will help evolve with our attitudes and behaviors. You are my Sufi brother/sister/non-binary, and no minor differences in how we approach the world could possibly override the fundamental and crucial understandings you have presented here, and which I fully agree with. You obviously seek a tolerant, peaceful and harmonious, yet diverse, society of co-equals working for the common good but with a watchful eye looking out for bad actors. That sounds just like “On Earth as it is in Heaven” to me, and what else is there for us to work towards in these troubled times?

My respect for you is great, as is my love for you.

Clive Robinson November 15, 2020 3:56 AM

@ Anonymous,

You are fighting against cultural relativism

Not just cultural but ideological as well.

I was going to discuss it further but things appear to have blown up again, as you can probably see.

Anonymous November 15, 2020 4:37 AM

@Clive Robinson

I agree.

And yes, it is difficult to have a sane conversation about such matters. I generally keep my counsel to myself. I fully respect lack of further discussion. No reply necessary.

rrd November 15, 2020 6:40 AM

@ Clive

You said:

I was going to discuss it further but things appear to have blown up again, as you can probably see.

Well, we know how you like to pretend (and only pretend) you have any kind of moral understanding, so, yes, it is indeed best for you to stick to technical matters, where we all value your perspective.

Or would you like to discuss your vile post in the “COVID and Acedia” post?

Or how you treated the Dutch security researcher, Dirk Rijmenants?

Or how you made a comment that espoused some vague aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous when you obviously believe any religion with a belief in God is idiotic, when the very foundation of AA (the most successful such program ever) is that we must tap into that Higher Power to help us overcome such addictions?

It is obvious to me that you do not care for the tone you set here in Bruce’s blog, as your religion is to just treat whomever you like however you like whenever you like, which is very much a microcosm of the English’s treatment of the world during its thankfully-defunct empire years.

I would say that your tone remains good when you stick to purely technical matters, but your treatment of Dirk Rijmenants put paid to that hopeful notion.

So, there are four ways you can deal with the truth I explain here:

  1. Fess up (as we say in the States, meaning “confess”) by admitting your shortcomings, apologize and begin the path to being an even better contributor to not only this blog but to humanity, itself.
  2. Ignore what I say here and move on to other less difficult subjects.
  3. Attempt to defend yourself in the face of the indefensible.
  4. Try to deflect attention from your shortcomings by accusing me of some bullsh_t problems you pull out of your keister.

If I was a betting man, I’d lean toward #2, but both #3 and #4 are certainly in your wheelhouse. Regardless, I know that you are capable of #1, and I remain hopeful that you will choose to turn the corner.

Apologies are not important for the person that was wronged — they are important for the person in-the-wrong because they mark the beginning of their genuine attempts at change.

As MarkH — who appears to have some training in overcoming problems — can probably tell you but likely won’t: the first step in defeating a personal problem is to admit you have one.

Clive, do you know why Bruce and his Moderator friend left this comment of mine up? :

I do. It’s because it’s the sad-ass truth, and this blog would be a much better place if it wasn’t the case.

As with all things human, the choice is yours. My choice is to genuinely wish you nothing but lasting peace and happiness, but I am under compulsion to tell the truth as best as I perceive and understand it. In a blog such as this, our words speak for themselves.


It is obvious to me that Clive has no one in his life to tell him these difficult truths, but my morality is such that when I see an opportunity to help someone, I usually try my best to do so. Regardless, my intent is not just to benefit Clive’s belated personal growth but for this valued community of Bruce’s to reach its full potential.

I have said for many years now that there are — when you have a booger in your nose — two kinds of friends: a) the type of friend that is too embarrassed to tell you, and b) the type that will tell you straight away because they wouldn’t want to be walking around in such a state. I am definitely the latter, but I do try to be as gentle as possible in the telling.

So, I know what I know, what I’m trying to be and what I want this world to be, so let’s see how this all plays out.

There is no security without personal morality, for a member of the defenders without morality is a liability, and an attacker is only that because they are immoral. Of course, this situation assumes the defender has the moral high ground, as it is immoral to allow, for example, Nazis to have secure communications. But I am speaking for Bruce’s intentions here that I’m quite sure are to defend nonviolent people from fascists.

JonKnowsNothing November 15, 2020 7:04 AM

@Clive @SpaceLifeForm @MarkH @All

re:Genome sequencing of Mink-COVID19-Human in Denmark

Some information is beginning to make its way onto publicly accessible systems about the outbreak of Mink-COVID19 infection of Humans.

note: This is pretty deep diving and there may be some aspects that are not well explained. ymmv
note: the WYSIWYG may not be WYSIWYG when this posts. gremlins at work.

recap: There is an outbreak of Mink-COVID19 in Denmark. They were not able to control the outbreak and discovered that a number of individuals had Mink-COVID19. The Danish government ordered full cull of 15MILL mink. There was a kerfuffle about compensation, which may still be on going, but the mink cull is in progress. The government had offered a bonus if the cull is completed by 11 16 2020. There will be a ban on mink farming in Denmark until 2022.

There is a concern because the last reported mink-human infection was during an outbreak in the Netherlands. That cross-over was not widely reported or minimized because the cull made the particular variant extinct. The Dutch government ordered a full cull of their mink farms at that time. The Dutch have banned all future mink farming.

Mink are highly susceptible to COVID-19. Minks, ferrets etc have similar lung structures as humans. Ferrets are often used in labs. Minks get COVID-19 from their handlers, from cross contamination and close cage conditions.

Synopsis of Genome Findings

SSI = Statens Serum Institut in Denmark (aka Denmark CDC) has released some information about the genomes in question in the Human-Mink-Human infections.

There are 5 clusters of mutations: CLUSTER 1 – CLUSTER 5

Only Cluster 1 and Cluster 5 were reviewed. Cluster 5 is the one of concern.

  * Cluster 1 453F spike mutation (F-spike or F)
  * Cluster 5 69-70deltaHV, 453F, 692V, and 1229I (ΔFVI-spike)

The mutation 453F (Y453F) is the same mutation that was in the Netherlands outbreak.

This mutation affects how COVID-19 attaches to the ACE2 receptor. The attachment location is slightly different between mink and humans. Y453F is an adaptation to mink ACE2. It also increases affinity for human ACE2.

Cluster 5 (ΔFVI-spike) also has the 453F mutation. This is the variant that has infected 12 humans. (1)

During testing with convalescent plasma, Cluster 5 (ΔFVI-spike) showed that in 7 out of 9 tests the antibodies did not affect the ΔFVI-spike variant effectively.

  * Tests with High Levels of antibodies are effective.
  * Tests with Low and Medium levels of antibodies were not effective.

If the ΔFVI-spike becomes a dominant form, then there may be issues with any vaccine or treatment relying on antibodies as a base or for treatment.

The ΔFVI-spike variant is not more infectious and not more dangerous to humans. It is hazardous to vaccine development and treatments.

The UK is setting up special areas to treat those who may have ΔFVI-spike variants.

1, The number of people infected with Cluster 1-Cluster 5 vary by reports (200+). Cluster 5 has a confirmed 12 infections.

JonKnowNothing November 15, 2020 7:19 AM

@rrd @Someothers

The only thing that would enhance this blog is an auto-ignore option. You would be the first on my list…

You need to get your Auto-Authoring-AI-ML-deep-fake-datasets re-cleaned for bias. There are a couple of other posters who need to do the same thing too.

Poaching stuff from Wikipedia and passing it off as your own grand thoughts, won’t get you that piece of paper on the wall you want. Gibberish won’t help you on that point either.

Anders November 15, 2020 7:49 AM

Vulnerability is like celebrity – they all must have their
own web page 🙂


vas pup November 15, 2020 5:41 PM

Austria wants ethical rules on battlefield killer robots

“The Austrian government is calling for a system of international ethics on the use of killer robots and drones in combat. ===>Vienna says it wants humans, and not algorithms, to decide on matters of life and death.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said similar standards should be adopted as those established for landmines and cluster weapons.

“We have to create rules before killer robots reach the battlefield of this Earth,” Schallenberg told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

He said the Austrian government was planning a conference in Vienna in 2021 “to usher in a process “to initiate a process that will hopefully lead to an ===>international convention on the use of artificial intelligence on battlefields.”

Outlining the need for a framework, Schallenberg said the types of decisions made in combat scenarios should not be left to artificial intelligence.

“The decision on life and death should ultimately be made by a person with his ==>entire moral-ethical understanding and not an algorithm of zeros and ones,” said the minister.

Pioneering countries in the field of autonomous weapons systems — Russia, the United States, and Israel — reject a binding ban under international law. These military heavyweights face a group of states that are demanding binding legislation as part of the NGO-led Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

A total of 30 countries want a full ban on the use of killer robots as part of the campaign, as well as the European Parliament.”

SpaceLifeForm November 15, 2020 11:31 PM

@ Clive, Cassandra

Graphics card issue?


JokingInTuva November 16, 2020 1:11 AM

Interesting “Jewel”, even if it seems still more researching that actual applicable engineering.
Seems mainly oriented to “Program Obfuscation”, but could also be used as base for:
– Homomorphic Encryption
– Primitive function for other regular crypto schemes

The article also points to some efforts looking for a Post Quantum Crypto version.

Curious November 16, 2020 3:12 AM

Danish news media DR or Danmarks Radio, has a new article of 15. November, again on the US/Danish cooperation, in which NSA’s Xkeyscore program was said to be given to the Danish military for a novel surveillance setup inside Denmark.

This other recent article seem to be about unnamed sources to the newspaper, which claims that finance, foreign and defence matters were US targets in Denmark, in addition to private businesses.

According to the article specifically one whistleblower in the Danish military intelligence org. ‘FE’ made reports (maybe two reports) in 2015 that concluded that the cooperation effort was spying on ministries and private businesses in Denmark. The reports is said to have warned the FE management of possible illegalities in this cooperative effort between US and Denmark. Supposedly several people have insight into the reports, which sounds like the original reports within the Danish military intelligence org. The other sources also claim foreign countries in the region were targeted for surveillance, Sweden, norway, Germany, Holland, and France.

A paragraphs reads “It was not possible for DR news to ascertain if Danish mil. int. acted on the basis of the whistleblower reporting”. I don’t quite understand what that is supposed to mean. Perhaps referring to a recent report iirc produced by a Danish government oversight org/committe or something, who iirc handed their report to the Danish government some time in August this year.

Apparently NSA is to have spied on a Danish firm that is making components for the F-35 jet. Apparently using search queries for specific email addresses and phone numbers belonging to the business using Xkeyscore software. Article points out that this software would allow insight into email correspondence, internet browser history, chat messages, or who is calling others by phone. It is also claimed that US queried for information re. Swedish and Euro jet projects like Saab Gripen and Eurofighter, but also that the newspaper doesn’t know what information they were searching for.

The article ends with listing those parties that has not returned correspondence about this case, including US’ NSA. (article in Danish)

JonKnowsNothing November 16, 2020 9:28 AM


re:Analysis of the sequence of document manipulation

On Marcy Wheeler’s site, there is an interesting post regarding a series of documents supplied as evidence in a complex set of trials.

It was noticed by the court and others, that the documents supplied had been altered. That these are not the original versions and there are redactions on top of redactions and alterations. The analysis is about the order in which these alterations took place and how the intermediate documents were used to obfuscate the original source document.

  * Generation 0 Original Document
  * Generation 1 Scanned Image of Original
  * Generation 2 Scanned Image Printed and Marked Up
  * Generation 3 Marked Up Version Scanned
  * Generation 4 Marked Up Version Saved To Image
  * Generation 5 Image embedded in new PDF with additional Mark Up

Judge notices the markups are Not Correct and requires the original version.

  * Generation 6 Unredacted version is saved as Image and Edited with image editor (Paint?) with different redactions and new Mark Up. Embeds this image into a Word Doc. Then converted into new PDF.

The Generation 6 document is submitted to the court as the “original”. The submitted document is not the “original” because it has already determined that the “original” did not have certain Mark Ups which where added by the DoJ. These Mark Ups are a hinge for the case and are clearly still part of the submitted document.

The trial part is very convoluted and there are numerous posts to untangle that lot.

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

Cassandra November 16, 2020 10:02 AM


re: MacOS Big Sur update bricking some MacBook Pros

No idea. It is difficult for independent operators to diagnose what is going on with the Apple hardware and software. At least with Linux you can look at most of the relevant source code (binary blobs aside) and assure that most of what is running on your computer corresponds with the visible source.

Owners of such MacBooks have to hope that Apple come up with a timely and cost-effective solution.

lurker November 16, 2020 12:32 PM

@SpaceLF, @Cassandra
Over a year ago I “came up with a timely and cost-effective solution” for my late-2013 – mid-2014 MacBook Air: ditch Apple. Now I have a life devoted to establishing a stable, useful platform for the work I want to do…

JonKnowsNothing November 16, 2020 2:42 PM

@WmG @All @Moderator

re: Ignore Option

This site is listed as a “blog” vs “forum”.

Forum sites have built in options to ignore other posters but generally require a “login” to be able to post. I don’t know of any direct method of doing /ignore on a blog comment. Blog comments are generally Post Yes / Post No options.

However the site is now WP based and there maybe other features available to the moderator or readers.

So far Speed Scroll works well…

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

WmG November 16, 2020 2:51 PM

Thank you for the interesting link about MacOS Big Sur to Sneak.

I have submitted this issue to Apple as a bug report. It seemed naive but the right thing to do.

SpaceLifeForm November 16, 2020 4:29 PM

@ WmG, Clive

This is not Usenet.

You must keep the killfile in your brain.

Extrapolate, and think.

Do you see how difficult that it is for people on social media?

WmG November 16, 2020 4:52 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

Well, true, it’s not usenet, but some might not know.

Yeah, don’t really do social media. And the killfile of my mind… helps keep me sharper than I might be otherwise, maybe.

Oh look didums diaper is itching again November 17, 2020 2:15 AM


Yet two more voices call for you to cease and desist, is the message getting through to you yet?

Contrary to your claims of favour it appears your posts do get removed.

But your infantile demands, false assumptions and many other falsehoods stay on in other places, like dung droppings scattered across the woods where ever your diaper has overflowed.

You talked of a hosts party yet you spray you have sprayed your fecal matter all over the hosts carpet as though it’s your right.

But your infantile view lacking in all morals will not let you see what you have done.

People plural not singular have noted that since your first demand, that no sane or sensible person would answer and if people look back they will see that the target of your infantile behavioir quite rightly ignored your demand, but treated you politely.

But that is where your narcissistic behaviour showed you could not stomach that the target of your behaviour would not bow down to your infantile attempts at self aggrandizement, it stuck in your craw and you became wrathfull and angry so like any petulant child that can not see anything but their own wants you started throwing hissy fits, you raged you demanded and failed yet again. Your target of your stalking behaviours still rebuffed your demands, so you imagined things you built strange and deranged fantasies in your head. You then started as series of false accusations and worse the target of your ire started to point out your falsehoods and clearly told you to stop your behaviours but you would not. You decided to go from rebuffed stalker to character assassination. Others by now were warning your behaviour was unacceptable but you would not stop, your bruised and rejected ego with it’s false sense of self importance was such that you railed in your impotence. Your plan so grandiose in your mind but so obvious to others through it’s infantile obviousness had failed you. You could not “look in the mirror” you dare not, because a little part of your “lizard brain” knew what it would see, not just failure not just impotence, but a vileness of self debauchery writ large. You had to strike back you had to reaffirm your grandiose imaginings. So you made claims that were obvious in their falseness and you got not just rebuffed but your target attacked back and like a bully your craven cowardice showed true to form and was conflicted by your narcissistic ego, and you started to go into fuge, a dissociative state, caused by the confliction of your ego and fundamental sense of self preservation thus an inability to behave rationaly. Unfortunatly your narcissistic personality traits became pathological. Your narcissistic personality had to be bolstered less in it’s fragility it shattered thus it overruled not just your conscious mind but your subconscious mind. You became irratic and irrational, as you retreated back even further into amoral behaviours of the toddler.

So you had to strike back and true to diagnosis you tried to use words as weapons but so badly it would have been funny if portraid on stage. You found a word “cockwomble” a word thought up by petulant doll carrying infants to hurl around the plauground because it annoys the adults…

Which brings us to your accusation of

“Clive / didums”

And your demands for an appology.

Despite the clear indications your addled brain could not cognatively accept the truth.

Which is you rrd the dispenser of so much rectal refuse is didums.

Yes didums is you, and your ego won’t let you realise it. You witter on about Bruce running a sociological experiment as your brain will not let you see. Your ego won’t let you so you do not realise,

‘It’s not Bruce, and you are the lab rat.’

So fix it in your mind, you behave like a diaper wearing toddler who is also “poopy panted” with the over flow of that wonderfully graphic “anal retentive” behaviour of yours

Do you now understand?
Will your ego let you?

The lab is looking down on you, watching intently and waiting, will the rat turn right or will it turn left in the maze. Or will it show intelligence and back out?

Curious November 17, 2020 3:49 AM

It just occurred to me that health care workers would want a covid-19 vaccine. It seems rather obvious to me. Why risk poor health or death when you can also get vaccinated as a health care worker. Presumably, you would keep wearing personal protective equipment, because the prospect with a vaccine doesn’t include an immunity for 100% of people vaccinated.

I think I read somewhere recently that more health care workers have died from covid-19, than all medical nurses/doctors died in World War 1.

20201117 November 17, 2020 4:15 AM


Science is right again; light is faster than sound. That is why you appeared bright until you spoke. Just like one teacher told a student, “Your mere unfounded, baseless opinion about anything is of no consequence to anyone”.

It must really be lonely being all by yourself in your little world of dumbness, thus it is probably the worst kept secret that you appear to be dumb and ignorant at the same time.

By the way, I love that cute little frown you have when people tell you how crazy your opinions are, but don’t be too hard on yourself, almost no one actually expects you to ever be that good.

I really can’t stop wondering how you have no common sense given how common it is. Sense, it must be a strange term to you, right?

Your face is what they put on pesticides to let people know how harmful they are. Never forget, zombies eat brains, so you will be perfectly safe in a zombie apocalypse.

And last but not least, never ever forget that the truth will be the first step to set you free…nonetheless you still appear to be such a beautiful but stupid little angel.

rrd November 17, 2020 6:28 AM

Oops, my second paragraph should have ended with “as truth truly is not only stranger than fiction but more interesting, too:”

JonKnowsNothing November 17, 2020 7:57 AM

@Clive @SpaceLifeForm @MarkH @All

re:COVID-19 reinfections increasing

Various sources are starting to reference an increasing number of “COVID-19 reinfections”. The numbers reported are small, now totaling @200 cases.

There are differences in how these cases are going to be categorized or recognized since most dashboard reporting doesn’t have a separate line item for them.

In order for a case to be considered a reinfection they need the following:

  * 3 COVID-19 PCR tests: Positive – Negative – Positive
  * 2 genome sequences: one from each the Positive Tests
  * Exclusion of other illness or viruses
  * A delay of n-days between infections

Because the vast majority of cases are self-isolate at-home with no tests, it makes tracking re-infections more difficult. Because of the lack of historical testing and genome identification, reinfections will most likely be classified as “new infections”.

What will obscure things more, is that to-date, the few cases that have met the above criteria, the infection is from 2 near branches of the genome, not far from the first infection’s lineage. There is not enough information about the mechanism of reinfection to determine why some people get it more than once while some remain purely-asymptotic and contagious or if asymptotic persons have serial infections from the same genome or can carry other genome strains at the same time.

The new F-spike/ΔFVI-spike (Y453F) mutations arising from Human-Mink-Human-COVID-19 transmissions have raised questions about how these mutations will be classified within the system. COVID-19 mutates all the time. The F-Spike change catalyst was due to small differences between Mink and Human ACE2 receptors. Other similar mutations (N439K) have happened spontaneously in different geographic regions.

Some healthcare systems are starting to address how these various forms of COVID-19 will be treated (aka in hospital) and the risk of increasing mutations from cross-exposures.

note: N439K and Y453F (F-spike/ΔFVI-spike) are immune resistant mutations.

Clive Robinson November 17, 2020 11:37 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

The numbers reported are small, now totaling @200 cases.

But are they? And for how much longer?

As you note by far the majority of people are not tested to the required level so ~200 could be seen as a gross underestimate with ten or a hundred times that being the case.

But further remember talking about dengue fever? The thing about that is you might not notice the first strain you get infected with, the second you realy will notice and some die. What is not well publicized is what happens if you get a third or fourth hit…

COVID-19/20 with 20-30% being asymptomatic or insufficiently symptomatic to tell would be “silent infections” and a second more severe infection might look like a “first infection”… Thus the numbers could be up in thr 200,000 range… because in reality we just do not have sufficient testing, nor will we in our life times.

Whilst humans are only susceptible to just a very few of the billions of corona viruses out there, we know that four of them hit us year after year as the “Common cold”.

All that is needed for it to become an annual seasonal disease is some kind of reservoir of viable virus that can also mutate. So humans or animals can become a reservoir. If animals are wild and free then it’s game over for eradicating the virus. All we will be able to do is vacinate to keep it under control which on current approved vaccine production projections and chill-chain issues is not going to happen in my lifetime, nor I suspect many others.

But if we get better vaccines it might take a decade to innoculate every one. Then from then on with say a needle in the arm when you are 12years old we might just eradicate it if it has not found a natural reservoir in humans, live stock or wild creatures.

We know from what has happened with MMR and other vaccines that some parents will avoid having their children vaccinated. Thus with over ten percent not getting vaccinated in the first world thorty percent upwards in the second world, and more but unknown numbers in the third world a human reservoir is not difficult to envisage (think TB and Polio issues).

Live stock reservoirs will probably be culled with pyres dotting the farms in the countryside. We are expecting to see this with mink farming.

However the problem with large scale wide area culling is accidents will happen, thau COVID in mink could end up via escaped animals in the general wildlife population so from mink to wheasels to stoats to badgers and otters with all mutating as they go, and some jumping back into humans. Of it does spread into wildlife we will never get rid of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it’s mutations.

If more politicians had acted sensibly as those of several nations did, then we would be discussing COVID in “the past tense” right now not as we actually are as “the cirrent and future tenses”…

We’ve had two corona virus pandemics in less than two decades the first should have been a big red flag warning, but due to luck it was easy to place fairly simple control measures in place, this eradicate it quickly. We could have eradicated this second pandemic before it got started but stupidity in politicians and venal self interest via lobyists turned what was a second warning into a disaster.

Thus the question arises as to what will happen with a third pathogen, will politiciams act swiftly for the good of all or the considerable benifit of a few?

If you look at the infection curves against time for most nations they follow a common patern, with the exception of one nation where the curve is more like a rising stepwise ratchet. Thus the “cause or correlation?” question arises for that nation. Personaly I suspect “causation”.

Cassandra November 17, 2020 12:53 PM

@Sherman Jay

The problem of decreasing signal to noise is common to all non-moderated/edited forums that I know of. The ‘eternal September’ of Usenet is one of the better known instances, but it affects many. The usual (temporary) answer is to find another transmission method.

We are all guests of Bruce’s blog, and the moderator is free to delete any message, which helps to keep the noise floor low, but eventually the task of moderating gets too onerous. I hope we are not approaching that time.

In the meantime, I thank Bruce for graciously allowing us to share thoughts within his blog comments.

While I’m posting, I’ll add a couple of suggestions for Squid Blogging articles:



Cassie November 17, 2020 1:09 PM

@Sherman Jay:

I am SOOO tired of the trite, childish muddled personal attacks by a few on this blog. It dilutes and degrades the value of information. It makes it more difficult to separate the ‘security wheat’ from the ‘peevish personal chaff’.

Can we have some positive, constructive info on these? PLEASE.

And ends with: “Stay safe everyone.”

Sorry to say it but you are quite a hypocrite.

Try watching this:

And leave people alone with your “opinion” on Covid-19.

Thank you.

Sherman Jay November 17, 2020 1:13 PM

Thanks for reminding us of Usenet. A little limited but a good idea and practical for those who are focused on less frivolous stuff. Also, there are some good computer oriented forums out there.

I was looking through my fav. links and found (ancient, still functional and a little limited):
h t tps:// SDF Public Access UNIX System – Free Shell Account and Shell Access

h t tps:// Public Gopher Proxy @ Access Gopher Sites from Your Browser

h t tps:// LYNX – The Text Web-Browser

If I remember correctly the ‘limitations’ of the below browser help prevent tracking/spying:

Links (web browser) – Wikipedia
h t tps:// Links is an open source text and graphic web browser with a pull-down menu system.

Also, there are some fascinating vids of the ‘vampire squid’ on the internet.

Sherman Jay November 17, 2020 1:33 PM,

Aber, sagte ich nichts von covid. My remarks didn’t mention covid at all. I don’t place much credibility in a video created by Russian TV.

In the context of my post: ‘Stay safe’ could, and does, also refer to staying safe on the internet.

For Cassandra and Bruce and everyone who might be a vampire squid fan:
h t tps://

Fertig bin ich, heute. That’s enough for me for today.

Sherman Jay November 17, 2020 1:38 PM

Oh, just this one more pertinent thing:
@Cassandra and all,

The Best Usenet Providers 2020
September 4, 2020
h t tps://

Anders November 17, 2020 2:58 PM

Interesting transition. Apple ditches Intel.


Let’s see what that brings in security.
At least that new OS is already a subject of criticism…


WmG November 17, 2020 4:21 PM

So many references. Classic rock, Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street,” “Welcome Back Cotter,” “An Instance of the Fingerpost,” some perhaps unintentional.

In considering decreasing s/n, the analog engineers of old had learned about “Listener Fatigue” in the early days. In the Radiotron Designers Handbook, 4th ed. (1953), after considering the effects of noise, the author goes on to look at other forms of distortion.

To wit: “(iii) Listener Fatigue … is caused by the necessity for mental processes arising from the unnatural effects in [sic] the hearing system. Probably the creation of synthetic bass, intermodulation distortion and transient distortion play important parts in producing this fatigue. [As is] … high background noise level….”

Wikipedia has a somewhat interesting page on the topic, which can be suggestive of other psychoacoustic and cognitive considerations of such effects.

The need to keep one’s wits sharp are of, um, keen interest in the fields of security.

SpaceLifeForm November 17, 2020 4:31 PM

@ Cassandra, Clive, vas pup, JonKnowsNothing, Lurker, Wael, Anders, JG4, MarkH, Ismar, Curious, Winter, WmG, Sherman Jay, ALL

Silicon Turtles


Advocates of the new security chip, known as Pluton, say it will cut off a key vector for data-stealing attacks: a communication channel between a computing system’s central processing unit (CPU) and another piece of hardware known as the trusted platform module (TPM).

Just another backdoor, buried in silicon.

TPM is not trusted after all.

Turtles all the way down.

rrd November 17, 2020 4:50 PM

@ Sherman Jay

Well said. Let’s let the past stay in the past and move forward as if your comment marks a brand new beginning; a reboot, if you will.

I have some specific tech ideas I’d like to ask about here in the future, but first I’m interested in a specific topic you mentioned.

You said:

there are a few p2p powered browsers that are also attempts to help

I’m sorry if I missed any such prior discussions, but maybe I can pose some questions to seed some purely sec-tech discussions on that topic:

In these questions, I assume that random network nodes will be assigned to actually perform the query to the external server, after which the data is routed back to the requesting node, thereby basically randomizing the client request endpoint, but I don’t really have any comprehension of how the requests can be distributed uniformly without a centralized server, so if anyone can clear that up, that would be (for me) a good place to start.

1a. Are we talking about setting up individual networks of trustworthy friends, or is it all one big network of equal nodes consisting of everyone who uses the system?

[That question frames the design issue of whether or not one’s peers can be trusted.]

1b. If #1a is “one big net”, then how are we to ensure that powerful organizations don’t flood the net by creating vast swaths of cloud-based nodes to capture request data to analyze later, or merely cripple with lag?

2a. If #1a is “one big net”, then how can we be sure our node isn’t being used for nefarious (such that we face legal liability) or unsavory (accessing sites we don’t want to help support) purposes?

2b. If #1a is “one big net”, then the broader question of #2a then becomes how can we trust the specific peers we engage with to even have our ip-addr?

3a. If #1a is “one big net”, then will there be problems with long-lived connections being more traceable with the help of unreliable peers?

3b. Won’t there be significant problems with websites/services (eg: SPAs) that don’t have the simple old-school request/receive/display interface?

4a. If #1a is “individual networks of friends”, then is creating such tech even worthwhile given that motivated (as they tend to be) groups of bad actors can use it for their own nefarious purposes, as such a network could be used in a way indistinguishable from a bot-net, given suitable C&C?

5a. How can this system not be defeated by the external servers simply refusing to honor requests that don’t come from “normal” traceable clients? [I mean, gmail seems like it would be a PITA in this regard.]

5b. Am I correct in assuming that some sites are capable of refusing requests from, e.g. known VPNs, and that such tech would severely complicate matters in this endeavor, if not totally defeat it?

It sure feels good to contemplate tech design for a change, and I look forward to our new community going forward.

Anders November 17, 2020 5:00 PM


Yes, this (computer)world is turning into real hell…
You are forced to upgrade, because old trusted hardware
can’t be used any more. It’s an chicken and egg problem.
Apple understands it very well – want a new fast computer?
You can only get one with M1, where everything is integrated
into one silicon, starting from CPU and memory and ending
with probable hardware backdoor. And at the same time you are
also forced to upgrade to latest macOS Big Sur, where API is
changed so that Little Snitch won’t work any more.

And soon they probably introduce some new web standard, that
is only available in latest web browsers that of course are
not available on older OS. So – you have again forced to upgrade.

We must take web back. As it used to be. Without Javascript.
With simple protocols like Gopher.

Ah, and IRC still work on DOS!


MarkH November 17, 2020 5:01 PM


If I recall correctly, people here have been warning against TPM since its inception.

MarkH November 17, 2020 5:40 PM

@Sherman Jay:

Thanks, for a much needed wake-up call.

@rrd, Clive, et alia:

Long ago I was at a big conference table participating in a software review. One of my friends and colleagues was going through a list of concerns he had about the code, and kept addressing the author with phrases like “on line 153 you do …”

Though I dislike interrupting, after hearing “you” several times I jumped in to say, “we’re reviewing the program, not the programmer.”

I found the recent back-and-forth in blog comments to be disgusting, and wholly inappropriate to this forum. It reflected extreme discredit on its authors.

He who slings mud, loses ground.

Probably nobody who comments here is more of a critic than I. I try (with varying degrees of success) to focus my criticism on correction of factual errors, observations of problems with logic and inference, and examination of ideas.

Posting personal criticism is going right up to (and almost always, crossing) the line of what belongs here.

From time to time, I try to point out that somebody keeps repeating the same kind of error, in the hope that they might profit from the observation, or at least that other readers might cast a more critical eye on what they write.

Once, I responded to a comment here by suggesting that the author seek psychological evaluation, because I recognized signs which I understood to be potentially suggestive of extremely dangerous illness.

What I try not to do … and I’m addressing you guys (you know who you are) … is to belabor such messages. I’ve no brief to control or rescue anybody. Take what you like, and leave the rest.

Anders November 17, 2020 5:53 PM


Clive Robinson November 17, 2020 6:25 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Anders, Cassandra, Curious, Ismar, Sherman Jay, JG4, JonKnowsNothing, Lurker, MarkH, vas pup, Wael, Winter, WmG, ALL,

Just another backdoor, buried in silicon.

Potentially yes, but more likely to be a “We pown yor device” rather more than the Managment engine or similar.

The problem at the moment is there is too little information on the Where, the What and the How of this device so we have to “clink the crystal balls” a bit and make some educated guesses…

Some here are old enough to remember the “Fritz Chip” battle where “the Senator powned by Disney” tried to get absolute DRM built into everything that was consumer electronics (there was also the anti-porn chip initiative the name of which I can’t at the moment remember).

The thing is such devices are going to fail one way or another even if built into the CPU chip as long as the CPU has direct access.

The reason being software is at or above the CPU ISA in the CPU stack and memory and memory control are below the CPU level in the stack.

The likes of “reach around” attacks like RowHammer or the various below CPU Direct Memory Access attacks alow the contents of any memory to be changed. Thus the behaviour that happens at the CPU level in the stack. Even memory tagging is not going to stop such attacks.

There are ways you can limit this sort of attack, the first being “encrypted memory” which can stop the likes of RowHammer if the crypto mode is correct (but has performance issues). But encryption does not realy work when low level IO writes to memory directly.

The second is to have entirely seperate and issolated memory that software driven CPU function can not access either to read or write. But it’s likely at some point a time or power based side channel attack will be found.

The third way is to use a state machine between the CPU and the secret storing memory. The state machine function can be fully defined for all states unlike a general purpose CPU. Thus it’s activities are constrained and errant behaviour by the CPU detected.

There are other mitigations but none are realy as secure as we might hope.

For instance back in the laye 1970’s and early 1980’s variously came up with entirely independently the idea of putting an SR gate in the write line. The CPU reset line enabled writes to the top blocks of RAM. But when the CPU wrote to a certain memory address the write line was disabled by the SR gate. The CPU had no way to clear the SR gate so what had been written to memory did not get over written.

Some times it’s best to start with simple security ideas and then build on those.

Well it’s well past bed time in my timezone so it’s “time for rack opps”.

SpaceLifeForm November 17, 2020 6:30 PM


As expected.

Chris Krebs has been fired as director of CISA after defending the accuracy of the 2020 election.

SpaceLifeForm November 17, 2020 11:03 PM


Just saving this here for future reference.

Statement from CISA Director Krebs Following Final Day of Voting
Original release date: November 04, 2020

WASHINGTON – Following the final day of voting, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Christopher Krebs, issued the following statement:

“Over the last four years, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been a part of a whole-of-nation effort to ensure American voters decide American elections. Importantly, after millions of Americans voted, we have no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies.

“We are only here because of the hard work of state and local election officials and private sector partners who have focused efforts on enhancing the security and resilience of elections. The United States government supported these partners throughout the election, bringing the full range of capabilities to bear in securing systems and pushing back against malicious actors seeking to disrupt our process and interfere in our election. CISA will continue to support our state and local partners as they move toward their certification deadlines and the official outcome of the 2020 election.

“We will remain vigilant for any attempts by foreign actors to target or disrupt the ongoing vote counting and final certification of results. The American people are the last line of defense against foreign influence efforts and we encourage continued patience in the coming days and weeks. Keep calm, continue to look to your state and local election officials for trusted information on election results and visit for facts on election security.”


name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons November 18, 2020 2:25 AM

@ Clive
Am surprised your bi-static radar array didn’t beacon in my direction, what gives?

Joking of course, this is a re-run of the time told forgetfulness of the young whippersnappers rejecting the wisdom of the past. I believe we’d talked before of starting from baseline, verifiable, robust, and simple scalar type designs. Keep it simple, stupid. But no, the complexity conundrum is enjoined with the time to market, and finally to the quarterly results.

Cassandra November 18, 2020 3:15 AM


An interesting read, and links to Scott Helme’s blog which goes into more detail and links to another of his blog entries that explains the use of Bloom filters as a possible alternative to OSCP: CRLite. Good reading:

Scott Helme: Déjà vu – macOS hits OCSP hurdles:
Scott Helme: CRLite: Finally a fix for broken revocation?:


Anders November 18, 2020 4:58 AM


This The New World. You don’t own your computer
any more. You don’t own your apps you have paid
for any more. Just any time they might stop working
when you need them most.

This is business model, where they use security as
a pretext to control their business model and guarantee
it’s longevity and continued income. Microsoft is doing
the same – source code that is compiled with the new
Visual Studio doesn’t run on older OS. This is done

And soon internet will act as a dead man’s switch. While
you have your internet connection (and they can control
you), everything works. When you lose your connection
and they lose the control over you, everything shuts down.
I haven’t yet tested extensively how long you can use win10
without internet connection, but already quite soon it
starts complaining. So we are heading at that direction.
Dead man’s switch.

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 7:44 AM

@ name.withheld…,

Am surprised your bi-static radar array didn’t beacon in my direction, what gives?

Sorry I bust my foot the other week and it’s misbehaving, it was getting better but now just trying to keep my foot on the ground is not fun for some reason, added to the fact I can not get to see a Dr as we are back in lockdown in most of the UK… So I’ve had to find “homers” to try and occupy my attention.

Also as you might have noticed just about every time I post a certain troll pops up, with false imaginings, claims and ravings, which is ruining things for all. So I’m waiting for the Moderator to do a fifth labour of Hercules on the droppings left all over the place…

Oh speaking of people of that ilk who realy are not seeing the light, but grabbing at what they can, yes I saw that comment the other day and it’s short lived reply so yes it is a game where the water is getting warmer as the mutton gets slowely stewed[1].

Witch way it’s going to go I’ve no real idea but such exemptions as noted should be removed. The dark arts of dirty money and politics should never be given a blessing by any sane individual. History is a great teacher in that respect and people should be aware of it under thr old maxim of “Eternal vigilance…” otherwise the tree will get fed…

[1] Speaking of puting the pot on to boil slowly this from the hight of the Tudor Period might be of historic interest,

This and many similar were ordered by those who believed they had divine right… Not a period of history one would wish to have lived in nore ever wish to see be brought back again.

Anders November 18, 2020 9:39 AM

Ah, it’s interesting to browse this blog purely
in text mode.


Cassandra November 18, 2020 9:41 AM

@Clive Robinson

Sorry to hear you are hors de combat. I hope you come back to fighting fitness soon.

I wonder who named ‘Pluton’ and whether they were ignorant of its definition as an ‘igneous intrusion’.


Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 9:57 AM

@ Anders, Cassie, Lurker, ALL,


OCSP, CRLite and the related methods are all doomed to fail one way or another allways, you can not fix broken…

Especially by overloading it with carbunle fixes of increasing complexity and stupidity. Put simply it just breaks somewhere else as well as increasingly the load thus gross inefficiency.

Victorian artisanal articifers learnt this the hardway with bits of bodies flying across the scenery before the legislators forced them to become engineers via the scientific method.


1, Code signing is a failure.
2, DRM does not work offline.

This was discussed between a number of people on this blog years if not a decade or so ago. In both cases it started as a conversation between @Nick P and myself and others joined in. You can probably still find the original comments somewhere.

The idea behind code signing is that you get a number of “Bags of Bits”(BoBs) add time and date stamps to them and make a bigger BoB of the lot. Then use some kind of hash and then using a PKIcert sign the hash.

In other words the same method as signing a plaintext document or message. It’s 100% reliant on the “PubKey infrastructute”(PKI) run by “Certificate Authorities”(CAs) even if you have to become your own CA.

Two things to note,

1, The process guarenties next to nothing.
2, CAs are very, very unreliable at the best of times.

In fact Code Signing does not guarantee anything, because of the hash function, the moment a BoB is one bit bigger than the hash size in bits the uniquness is not guarenteed. It might be hard to find a second BoB that fits the hash of the original BoB currently but it can and has been done in the past and will become easier to do with time.

As for CA’s where do you start… There are so many things wrong with them that it’s like trying to pick up jello with a trawler net. It’s just very very messy and fruitless as an endeavor.

Do people need me to go over why “Offline DRM” does not work? Or why “Online DRM” fails as well, hence the need for “SoftFault” fixes AKA vulnerabilities.

One point though both authors failed to make a point that is important.

As noted CRL’s are unmanagably large. A side effect of which is they consume network bandwidth. Likewise OCSP whilst individually light on bandwidth are in aggregate heavy on bandwidth.

Which brings to light a couple of points. Firstly at some point in time which ever route you take the effect on the networks will be the same, a massive load that can not be supported in the current way they work. Secondly Governments are going to tax data transfers, they have little choice as the Internet is a primary cause of falling tax revenues. Thus either way what is cutrently a hidden cost to users will become a rude awakening for customers or the people running these services. From a Government perspective hitting cash rich Apple with a 10-100billion USD tax bill will plug a couple of holes nicely, if they don’t pay then hitting their customers via the service providers for about twice that or the customers individually for about three times that will do instead… Apple like other US corps are vulnerable due to countries installing “Great Firewalls” just stopping OCSP or CRLite there will have many advantages in blackmail potential and the companies will cave in to any and all demands. See the history of RIM Blackberry and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan if you want examples.

But fundementally CRL’s OCSP, CRLite etc are just a series of brain dead overloads of Code Signing which is fundementaly broken and should never have seen the light of day decades ago. Which is before you add all the CA failings and all the failings of DRM, and then a few more thrown in on top such as bad implementations due to software developers not understanding the “techy add ons” like Bloom Filters. Does this sound like a recipie for success? No of course not it’s a recipe for disaster on a major scale…

So why on earth would anyone think that adding Bloom Filters is going to fix any of those problems… Hello 1800’s calling “You can not fix broken” things with fundemental flaws “blow up in your face”, worse you add new flaws to crack up on you in new and interesting ways (hence the Chinese curse of “May you live in inyeresting times”).

Sorry but Bloom Filters don’t fix any of the fundemental problems, they just add more problems that most do not understand so they will add “SoftFault” fixes which are ripe for DDOs and other avenues of attack. The only very small advantage of the Bloom Filters is they delay the inevitable collapse of these unsecure, unreliable “DRM” systems.

And that should tell you what I’ve been saying for years,

1, We need to fix Key Distribution.
2, We need to find a better solution than Code Signing.

Both are “Open Problems” and I’ve yet to see a proof that they can not be resolved. Untill then we are all “living in interesting times”.

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 10:52 AM

@ Cassandra,

Sorry to hear you are hors de combat. I hope you come back to fighting fitness soon.

It’s the coups de grâce that worries me as they used to do with race horses with broken feet… My racing days may be over[1] but as with all things the nackers yard still beckons…

I wonder who named ‘Pluton’ and whether they were ignorant of its definition as an ‘igneous intrusion’.

I realy don’t think they were ignorant of it.

If you look on wikipedia you see,

“A Jurassic pluton of pink monzonite intruded below a section of gray sedimentary rocks and then was subsequently uplifted and exposed”

That is just too tempting for those with a “School boy sense of humour”, the only word missing is “hot” to get the full house of giggles and guffaws of laughter.

You can just envision a couple of childish Microsoft employees of the male marketting variety giggling over a computer screen daring each other to see if they can get away with it…

But it could also have been Microsoft select names the way the CIA/NSA are supposed to do, which a quater of a century ago Scott Adams poked fun at[2],

[1] First sail boats, then cycling, it was fun to do and it got me out of the house. But I’m not a “sports person” that is I did it for my own personal fun, not “for the sport” which is just a less bloody form of collecting hunting trophies. Keen sports people look for weaknesses in their opponents to exploit, I just wanted to improve my game.

[2] I don’t know which is worse, the fact it was over a quater of a century ago, or that I so vividly remember it…

MarkH November 18, 2020 11:13 AM


If I see James Herriot headed your way with a loaded humane killer in his hand, I’ll stick out my foot to trip him!

lurker November 18, 2020 12:56 PM


Firstly at some point in time which ever route you take the effect on the networks will be the same, a massive load that can not be supported in the current way they work.

Which is why my ears pricked up at @Anders’ post: the thought of apps failing because of lack of network seemed I made a good choice in ditching Apple. But no, Apple’s OCSP has “fail-soft” for offline working! Ever since my first dealings with DARPAnet my connections have been the equivalent of a very long piece of wet string, so everything has to be able to work offline.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons November 18, 2020 2:23 PM

@ Clive

So I’ve had to find “homers” to try and occupy my attention…

Again, the funny bone is affected. Sorry to hear about your health and the current state of the NHS. Used to be a good organization until Blair and Brown (okay, Maggie too). My mother was writing a book, “Poem in Lieu of Suing the NHS”, concerning my step-fathers treatment for cancer back in the early 2000’s. My mother was also killed in hospital, went to the inquest and realized what a farce the whole procedure was, the local reporter was very interested in what I had to say after the hearing. They found no reason, the pathology report was a joke, to resolve or recognize their errors.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons November 18, 2020 2:27 PM

@ Clive
Yes, have witnessed the abuse you to which you are on receiving end. Thanks for the ACK, it means I might have to develop a stenographic poetry of some sort. Really kind of concerning, this is not a good thing at all. Have had a few ideas on how to approach the sources of this BS. Will try to communicate this issue sometime in the near future.

Stay well my friend, we need you.

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 3:23 PM

@ lurker,

But no, Apple’s OCSP has “fail-soft” for offline working!

And thereby lies another Catch-22…

As I noted DRM can not work in “offline” mode, the “SoftFail Mechanism” is a security bypass, totally wrecking the security model. In the process opening up your system to various vulnerabilities such as a DDOS attack against Apple’s OCSP in effect holding known to be vulnerable apps open in what is effectively the equivalent of “Not Patching” with MicroSoft and other PC software vendors systems. Thus the known vulnerability can be exploited.

It’s why I’m ultra cautious about “SoftFail Mechanisms”, the most costly of which is “Smart Card” based credit and debit cards being forced back into MagStripe Mode thus making them vulnerable again to all the old magstripe attacks of which there were hundreds and losses of billions of USD annually.

Another “SoftFail Mechanism” of note is “electronic safes” you can program them with four to fifteen digit codes, but in case the battery goes, there is a lift out pannel behind which is a mechanical key lock, that is probably less secure than the ones you used to get on 5USD 5.25inch floppy disk holders for your desk… On the safes I have built computers into which have this “SoftFail Mechanism” I’ve picked the locks on all of them in less than 30seconds, including the time to put the pick and wrench in place. Which is why added an additional “auto destruct” system of my own design as a peripheral on the motherboards to wipe the FDE and session keys etc leaving only a “PublicKey” to be used to put keys back from a remote location backup via a signed message on a java button.

Do I need such protection? NO and Yes, the information under protection is not exactly of life and death value nor evidence of crime or anything else that might be of interest to the authorities so on that score probably not. But it is “business information” for which I do have a duty of care to others under NDA, Contractual Obligation and under UK Patent and similar legislation and regulation, thus civil liability of unknown proportion hangs like a sword of Damocles. Thus taking better than “Industry Best Practice” norms appears prudent as a form of self defence.

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 4:28 PM

@ MarkH,

If I see James Herriot headed your way with a loaded humane killer in his hand, I’ll stick out my foot to trip him!

That would be a harp and his wings would stop him falling, but thanks for the sentiment.

I met him briefly when I was quite young at a book signing. I was youngish and shy but had read the books over and over and knew them word perfectly.

As I was “accompanied” to the signing the general consensus was I would be the one holding and proffering the book. He smiled and asked if I’d liked the books and I shly nodded, he then asked if I was thinking avout being a vet. I replied truthfully that I wanted to be an electronics engineer, he smiled and said it would be a good indoor job, which was nice of him.

But in a way he was wrong, in the course of my career I’ve spent a lot of it in some strange out of the way places up antenna masts and on oil rigs, steel works and many other nooks and cranies including in bit of ships and aircraft you never get to see.

Even military tanks and helicopters, one of which was probably the most frightening white knuckle ride in my life. We were testing a millimetric collision avoidence system that would fly the helicopter around cables and under bridges etc. The pilot had absolut faith in it’s working, me I knew better and in my mind all I could see was a fuse that I knew was under rated[1] and praying the thing did not blow…

[1] Under rating fuses in prototypes is a fairly common practice with battle experienced design engineers. It’s all to easy to slip with test probes and short things out. It takes just seconds to change a fast blow fuse but it can take what feals like hours to repair a logic or RF board… Time is perhaps the biggest enemy to a design engineer, then marketing followed by bean counters, whilst in theory you can shout back at the latter two, time goes it’s own sweet way and there is nothing you can do to stop it steam rollering you to the tarmac…

JonKnowsNothing November 18, 2020 4:53 PM

@Clive @SpaceLifeForm @MarkH @All

re:COVID-19 reinfections and Dengue fever

This MSM article popped up contrasting Anti-Vaxxer’s with Hesitant-Vaxxers.

The article is short on science and long on innuendo and other forms of dog-whistle attacks that pass as reporting.

The article attempts to assign science questions about various vaccine data trials (or lack of trials) into the garbage can of “nothing to see except Nut Cases”.

The author certainly never reviewed the problems of Dengue Fever, nor the problems of ASFV or Avian Flu which are both out of control in Europe ‘causing mass culls of poultry and pigs (1)(2)(3)(4).

Getting the right vaccine for the COVID-19 in your area, is not likely to prevent COVID-19 from another area or from one of the many Immune Escape variants that are spontaneously arising or to prevent re-infection as new strains emerge once the “PLANES, TRAINS, BOATS” again become the biggest sources of virus variant transfers.

The mink variants are the first to be noticed but there are a number of wild animals outside of the Mustelidae family that may be of concern. Raccoon dogs are on the top of the list.

There are 150+ vaccines in the pipeline. There will be a lot of options. Knowing how these interact will be very important. Getting multiple jabs of different types will likely be necessary, but getting the wrong version could be deadly. (5)

1, China now prohibits any pork products coming from Germany because ASFV can be carried in sausage, thru the dust bin, into the environment and remain infectious for decades.

2, Lack of market poultry is already being mentioned for the UK. Some due to Avian Flu culls and some due to BREXIT caused supply chain breakdown. Other food items normally readily available in markets may not be available both in UK and N Ireland.

3, Locust damage continues unabated. The extensive of loss of food source across many countries already causing increased famines and rising prices.

4, Tried to buy a bundle of toilet-roll today. No longer available on-line. Supply not expected until Jan 1, 2021.

5, My horse had vaccine failure for Strangles. If he gets a Strangles Vaccination in the future it could kill him or cause serious life-threatening illness. I keep copies of his veterinary documents available because different horse vets service this area and they might give him that vaccine as part of the standard annual horse health vaccination set.

ht tps://

ht tps://
ht tps://

A virus similar to SARS was isolated from Himalayan palm civets (Paguma larvata), a raccoon dog, and humans working in a live-animal market in Guangdong, China in May 2003.

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

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 7:29 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

This MSM article popped up contrasting Anti-Vaxxer’s with Hesitant-Vaxxers.

I’m not anti-vaccination, though I do think there is more than enough evidence to say a needle stuck in the body bypassing all the natural protection mechanisms is not the right way to do it and we should be finding better ways more in tune with the way nature works.

Am I hesitant about the two mRNA vaccines, you betcher I am, way to much unknown risk for my liking. So it will be five years before I’ll let an mRNA vaccine be put in me, unless my risk gradient climbs significantly.

They mRNA vaccines are also eye wateringly expensive, something like nine or ten times the price of the Oxford vaccine.

Will I go for the Oxford vaccine, well I can’t say for certain at the moment because the efficacy information is unknown. But even though there have been a couple of bumps on the safety side, it’s a traditional vaccine that we know a lot more about than the new mRNA vaccines. Thus I’m rather more predisposed to it. The fact it’s also the least expensive at about 1/10th the mRNA vaccines cost also appeals to my parsimonious side. It’s not that I’m miserly, stingy or tight, but I do like to get value for money.

But there is rather more to it than the monetary aspect. The Oxford vaccine will be affordable to less wealthy nations, and that will benifit everybody not just a few as it will cut down potential disease reservoir issues way faster, thus I think the oxford vaccine should get my custom as a reward.

But also unlike the mRNA vaccines with their rediculous “chill-chains” the Oxford vaccine has a very moderate “chill-chain” and can be shipped out almost using those “ice blocks” you get for keeping your picnic food cool and fresh and aerosol / canister CO2 for temprature “pull down” as can those “brewers gas” cylinders, that are very very common world wide for putting fizz in drinks. Meaning parts of the third world were zoonotic disease reservoirs are most likely to happen are going to get vaccinated way faster than they otherwise would.

So I’m keenly awaiting the efficacy results that should be “in”, hopefully in a few days.

But people need to remember that Phase III testing has more than the efficacy testing. If the efficacy is OK there is usually a further two month safety trial period before a vaccine gets a green light.

So effectively vaccination will not hit peoples arms till just before Winter Solctice in the last couple of weeks in December.

But if the Oxford vaccine efficacy figures are OK then I’m happy to wait that little bit longer for it.

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 8:19 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

Devin Nunes sues Washington Post again, saying midnight run ‘never happened’

But he’s admitted he was party to the information…

All right it was not “at midnight” and “not at the Whitehouse” but I don’t get where he is claiming defamation or similar…

Clive Robinson November 18, 2020 9:08 PM

@ name.withheld…,

I might have to develop a stenographic poetry of some sort.

Hey… it would non be the first time, it can be done with just the click of a Mouse… @Wael and myself had a little such going with Shakespeare quotes, you can do similar with other sources such as books, titles and even articles. There was a talk about using the ordering of nested HTML tags, but @Wael and @Ratio went down the use of empty –non printing– slots in character tables quite successfully.

SpaceLifeForm November 19, 2020 1:14 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, MarkH, Clive

Looking for a Snow Horn. May cost a bitcoin someday.


So, on that note, I will be trying to bring a laugh to at least one person per day.

If one does not see the humour, that is ok. As long as someone does.


SpaceLifeForm November 19, 2020 2:14 AM


Detecting Sarcasm.

On a dataset drawn from Twitter.

Seems that is recursive, so model must be difficult.


Clive Robinson November 19, 2020 3:55 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

So, on that note, I will be trying to bring a laugh to at least one person per day.

I try for atleast a smile, a day, but as I was once told “Laughter is the sound of real love”.

But I did once hear another definition,

“Hey, laughter is a noise that comes from a hole in your face…

Any where else and you’ld better see a Doctor”.

Mike Amling November 19, 2020 8:33 AM

h ttps:// addresses the most recent blog post. The Final Exam you reference is at
h ttps://

GregW November 19, 2020 9:18 AM


Perhaps I parse too carefully, but the statement from the CISA Director Krebs you posted — presumably to rebut the poorly-supported Trump arguments about election tampering — which I appreciated coming from Krebs the first time I read it a few days ago, was not particularly reassuring to me from an overall election security perspective upon a second reading. His key claim was:

“…we have no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies.”

The implications of this presumably carefully worded statement and its various qualifiers to me were:
* We aren’t commenting on any domestic voting manipulation capabilities (by either party)
** We also thus by extension assume no domestic entity with possible capabilities would ever collude knowingly or unknowingly with a foreign adversary to expose capabilities to them
* We aren’t commenting on capabilities of foreign entities who we deem are not “adversaries”; there might be some of those (and/or we are ignoring for the purpose of this statement the non-adversary’s ability to be manipulated by our foreign adversaries),
* We can’t comment on actual manipulation or attempted manipulation occurring or not occurring which we may not have evaluated; our comments (and our evaluation?) were focused on evaluating solely if an entity “was capable”
** (Was there any skilled vote-changer pen-testing/red-teaming to inform the threat model and presumed potential capabilities being assessed?)
* “There is no evidence”… meaning either that wisely we are covering our potential lack of knowledge with a reasonable qualifier… but alternately it’s possible there is no evidence because we are lazy or ignorant or not-that-creative-thinking or insufficiently funded or our adversaries are good at hiding their capabilities but you should hope that none of these possibilities are true and trust us and this statement we are making.

So maybe he’s saying we have no evidence China or Russia could manipulate the US election, and I suppose that’s good news (if one ignores the assumptions even of that claim mentioned above), but it’s not particularly that strong a security claim.

WmG November 19, 2020 11:34 AM

@Clive @SpaceLifeForm
in re: Devin Nunes. He is widely known to be a very low functioning individual of far right wing views. He’s the Louie Gohmert (R-TX) of California. His district loves to send him to DC because they actually want to attack the “gubmint,” and think Devin is great at doing that.

So, he’s rewarded for his antics and his antics get worse. The wine yacht episode, of several years ago. in which Devin himself was not personally involved, is still easily available by web search and might be interesting, and may indicate that certain of his involvements may be mostly unknown.

In this latest ploy, he says he’ll sue the Post. Well, when an ordinary individual gets even an informal letter from a lawyer, it does shake them up. When a big newspaper hears something like this, they won’t even yawn.

But, as with former Mayor Rudy, Devin’s antics probably indicate his main function, that of Clown as Noise Maker. Right now team Trump is doing everything possible to spread fear, raise uncertainty and cast doubt on the election outcome and what is or can be known about it. FUD is all they’ve got, plus a huge amount of money, not Trump’s, that will spread out trying to find leverage.

WmG November 19, 2020 11:46 AM

“ it’s not particularly that strong a security claim.”

That’s how I read Krebs’ statement.

While I think balloting is pretty much secure in almost every state, I do think that tabulation can be open to manipulation. Networking built in to a tabulating machine = Bad.

MarkH November 19, 2020 12:14 PM


“tabulation can be open to manipulation”

At first glance, an election seems to present a vast attack surface.

However, when planning a robbery, most crooks would prefer to (a) cash in the loot, (b) keep the money, and (c) retain their liberty so they can enjoy the fruits of the risk they just ran.

Stealing is conceptually simple … getting away with it, less so.

I suggest that any plausible tampering with the tabulation process must either be extremely likely to be discovered by test/audit, or too microscopic to have any meaningful probability of changing the outcome.

As I wrote before, the only use I can imagine for tabulation sabotage would be to increase the tallies in favor of an opposition candidate. When the tampering is discovered, many will assume that the favored candidate or party was responsible for the crime.

MarkH November 19, 2020 12:53 PM


The National Science Foundation just announced that the giant Arecibo radio telescope will be demolished, as in smithereens …

The 305 meter spherical “dish” reflector was seriously damaged recently by the parting of one of the cables holding the enormous instrument platform over the center of the dish; even worse damage occurred a few days ago when a second cable failed.

No safe way was found to repair the structure, and letting it continue to fail spontaneously could be cataclysmic, so the decision is to attempt controlled demolition.

Off topic, I know, but Clive will appreciate that this extraordinary instrument was made possible by funding from the U.S. military, who had no interest in radio astronomy, but wanted it to study the ionosphere for communication applications.

For that reason, Arecibo wasn’t limited to listening with enormous sensitivity, but could also shout very loud: it has powerful transmitters, which made it a radar set like no other.

20201119 November 19, 2020 1:21 PM

We are headed, under clueless leadership, into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the merging of AI technology with our humanity. It will end with complete control of each one of us, in short, commodification of every human being and that is but the start. Hide behind your masks, keep away from other human beings and let government work it all out. Our very essence will be connected to 5G as each of us is constantly monitored. This Dark Winter is our last chance to save ourselves and our disappearance into the mainframe. Biden and Harris don’t matter they are but the show, the Ruling Class wins no matter who is president.

lurker November 19, 2020 3:08 PM


The National Science Foundation just announced that the giant Arecibo radio telescope will be demolished, as in smithereens …

No safe way was found to repair the structure…

Is this the most extreme example yet of the throwaway society? Whoever failed to allow for replacement of components that should have been known to fail, will be long gone…

Clive Robinson November 19, 2020 3:13 PM

@ MarkH, ALL,

The National Science Foundation just announced that the giant Arecibo radio telescope will be demolished

The NSF has been trying to “off load” Arecibo for over a decade now. There are two reasons that get discussed,

1, The cost of running the place is very high.

2, Political pressure is “redirecting research funds” to “Pork-barrel kick-backs”.

The result is it’s been poorly maintained for atleast half a decade if not more.

But asside from the politicking, there is a now quite long debate going on about just how usefull “big dish” radio telescopes realy are. Arecibo was a compromised design from day one in that the dish is more spherical than parabolic, so that it could have some measure of change in direction. However just as in optics you pay a big price for this that limits it’s usefull functionality.

The other thing is it’s “mechanical technology” not “electronics technology” the power of electronics technology doubles one way or another around every 18months or so. As some jokingly say “The last time mechanics made a step forward was when Armstrong put his foot down”. Whilst not exactly true, progress in mechanics –not materials– has realy only been “with electronics technology”. That is you could take a mechanical technician from WWII and drop them into a modern workshop and after you lift the guards and the CNC electronics they would recognise nearly all the tools.

Thus as the cost of big dishes goes up to the fourth or fifth power of their radius, and their utility goes down due to gravity, wind and sunlight by the third power or more of their radius big dishes can nolonger compeate with multiple small or medium sized dishes in clusters or as long or very long base line systems.

But electronics technology drives in another nail. Many of the signals people want to observer are well well below the noise floor and bog dishes have electrical noise problems, which is why people in Green Bank, Pocahontas County, West Virginia, home to the Green Bank Observatory and the National Radio Quiet zone.

A place where intentional radiation of RF is –without special permission– not just banned but an act that can get you into legal hot water. So no cordless phones, no mobile phones, no WiFi (even some cable/broadband is baned), no garage openers and some modern high end cars are a no no (as are some computers and many home gadgets and off grid power sysyems). Apparently even TV and Radio is problematic as well. You would think it would drive people mad… but no, it’s a quiet peacefull place with I’m told no street crime and everybody is friendly…

The problem is Green Banks is being encroached upon by commercial interests including a winter skiing/tourist/holiday industry and they want the National Quiet Zone gone as their customers moan (frankly the place as it is sounds like heaven to me).

Thus the use of many widely spread small dishes aided by modern electronics technology can get over many of the RFI/QRM and natural QRN issues that a single point dish can not…

So it looks like the days of all big dishes are numbered. Which is a shame. Big dishes are iconic, medium and small dishes because they lack individuality and would be dotted all over the place in effect are “eyesores”. Which brings up the notion of flat phased array antennas that use complex electronic technology to “beam form” but importantly can point in multiple directions at the same time. Which is why 5G is using them, thus the effective low cost spin off of 5G would be antennas as small as single solar pannels that could be put unobtrusively in any “RF quiet” spot at very very low cost and be very easily maintainable.

But the real future of radio astronomy is out in space as well as at very low frequencies wr can not receive on earth. Thus high orbit cube-sats in clusters with very long wire antennas is something some people are talking about. However I suspect the likes of the “Internet by Satellite” boys have killed that (as they have with launching other satellites with some of their rouge satellites causing near misses etc).

(Apparently the ESA disagree with the US explanation of a software bug… Apparently ESA tried every method they could to contact the US operation which basically ignored ESA).

But as I’ve mentioned before space-near-misses are increasing geometrically in frequency and even last century we knew we needed to clear “the junkers out of the garden” the problem is nobody want’s to pay for either the research on the best way to do it, or pay to have their old junk towed…

We have an environmental disaster unrolling on earth, yet we have the same attitude in space as well. Mankind is perhaps the filthiest of beasts both on and off the planet, and there is no excuse for it.

SpaceLifeForm November 19, 2020 4:06 PM

@ Clive, MarkH, Lurker

Actually, Arecibo is a Catenary Curve.

Close enough for government work.

Slight shoutout to Gateway Arch.


MarkH November 19, 2020 4:13 PM

@lurker, Clive:

To my knowledge, DoD got the data they wanted in the early years of the observatory, and had no reason to continue spending on it.

Take a good look at the structure, and devise a plan to safely replace the cables from which the 900 ton (!!!) instrument platform is suspended … in a spot liable to be ravaged by hurricanes about 5 months per year.

I suppose it could have been done, and I wish it had, but I judge it to be fiendishly difficult.

For Clive’s benefit, the reflector was designed to be precisely spherical, not at all parabolized. The telescope was made steerable — though the reflector is immovable — by swinging the “feed” antenna system through arcs on a concentric sphere..

If the reflector had any figure other than spherical, its performance would degrade severely as the view angle deviated from straight up.

Though the spherical shape permits steering, it also causes strong spherical aberration (basically, blurring). A variety of ingenious techniques have been applied to correct this aberration at or near the feed antennas.

Many astronomers are grieving today …

With its powerful transmitters, this unique instrument was used by the SETI project to transmit an image file to hoped-for extraterrestrial scientists.

Wael November 19, 2020 4:26 PM

@Clive Robinson, @name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons,

@[…] and myself had a little such going with Shakespeare quotes, you can do similar with other sources such as books, titles and even articles.

Yup. And it almost invariably starts with ” “Hark what light through yonder window breaks…” 🙂

@[…] and @Ratio went down the use of empty –non printing– slots in character tables quite successfully.

Yes, until the blog switched from Movable Type to WordPress, which broke it all. Admittedly, the code (scripts, actually) weren’t resilient, with lots of hardcoded values. It and was a quick-and-dirty amusing proof of concept to be evolved to something different that I still have in mind — but no time so far.

Regarding your funky choice of songs… I’ll have to give up: you chose some really funky songs that I am not familiar with and there’s no way they can be made to conform to the specifications, so to speak. It’s freaking impossible! And I am not in a goofy enough mood these days… I also need a small break because the video sensors aren’t in an optimal state.

One of my favorite stego-limericks was this one. See if you can grok it before you look at the “Clear Text”…

Clear Text: was shown over a year later and de-steganogriphized here

Believe it or not, some limericks are only decipherable by the intended recipient, like this one meant for @Ratio

vas pup November 19, 2020 4:49 PM

Tocilizumab: Arthritis drug may treat severe Covid

“The rheumatoid arthritis drugs tocilizumab appears to treat people who are critically ill with Covid-19, early trial data shows.
The researchers in the UK and the Netherlands said it was “an absolutely amazing result”.
The drug is no longer being trialed as the researchers are so confident in the data, but the precise effect on survival is still being calculated.
Other experts have urged caution until the full data is released.

==>Tocilizumab targets the immune system, which goes into overdrive in some patients with coronavirus. It is this reaction, rather than the virus itself, which can be deadly.

Steroids, including ==>dexamethasone, are the only drugs proven to be save lives from Covid-19 and they tend to calm the whole of the immune system. Tocilizumab targets specific parts within that complex system.
The researchers hope they have found another.
Dr Lennie Derde, an intensive care consultant at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, said: “This is an absolutely amazing result.
“To have a second effective therapy for critically ill patients within months of the start of the pandemic is unprecedented.”

vas pup November 19, 2020 5:02 PM

Anti-coronavirus protests: How safe is the German parliament?

“Aggressive demonstrators penetrated the Bundestag while parliamentarians were discussing the new Infection Protection Law, expanding government powers in the anti-coronavirus crisis. How was this disruption possible?

Security cameras captured unusual scenes on Wednesday inside the Bundestag: An agitated woman shouting at Economy Minister Peter Altmaier while filming him with her smartphone; another person joining in to threaten him. The minister, however, remained calm in the face of aggression.

In an interview with DW, Green MP Franziska Brantner quickly blamed members of the far-right opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) for the situation: “It is outrageous that the AfD would bring people into the parliament building allowing them to harass and try to intimidate parliamentarians ahead of an important vote,” she said. “This has to be investigated. We can not allow parliamentarians to be prevented from doing their job without disturbance.”

===>The parliament buildings and the surrounding area in central Berlin are a well-protected no-protest zone. There are exceptions, however, and demonstrations can be permitted if authorities see no threat of disruption.

The area between the main parliament building, the Reichstag, and the office buildings and ministries is cordoned off and not accessible to the general public. This is where the Berlin Wall separated East and West Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate; and only parliamentarians, ministerial employees, and other people with special security clearance can walk about.”

Read the whole article and ask yourself are those high government institutions in Your country are really protected against angry mob outbursts regardless from left or right or law and order really matter?

I just recall that in 1918 in Berlin one low-ranking officer and several soldiers with a machine gun prevented rioter to storm the same institution blocking their path through the bridge, and as result prevented similar outcome as in Russia in 1917.

SpaceLifeForm November 19, 2020 5:05 PM

@ Anders, Lurker, Clive, OthersOutsideUS

I know it looks insane. It is insane.

We will get through this.

It’s a shame that Alcatraz is not a functioning prison now.

Though D Block would not suffice.

vas pup November 19, 2020 5:16 PM

UK announces biggest military spending boost since Cold War

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson has earmarked space and cyber-defense projects and pledged to make Britain “the foremost naval power in Europe.” The government wants to define its post-Brexit role on the world stage.

Where is the money going?

The British government said it would spend an extra 16.5 billion pounds ($21.8 billion, €18.4 billion) on the military over the next four years. The current defense budget is just short of 42 billion pounds a year.

The money will help to counter potential future threats, Johnson said.
===>High on the list are space and cyber-defense projects such as an artificial intelligence agency.

Johnson also said the defense funding would “restore Britain’s position as the foremost naval power in Europe” and”`spur a renaissance” in British shipbuilding. He announced plans for 13 frigates as well as committing to a new generation of warships.”

vas pup November 19, 2020 5:31 PM

How to make money with AI in 2030

“Research in artificial intelligence is turning to money-making mass applications for consumers in the physical world. The next 10 years could be crucial.

No conference on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or robotics would be complete without its fair share of technologists, programmers and engineers.

But scan the list of attendees at the 2020 Rise of AI Summit, a hybrid (digital and physical) event this week in Berlin (November 17-18, 2020) and ====>the number of people from health insurance companies, banks and venture capitalists is astonishing.

As one of the founders of the event, CEO of Asgard Capital, Fabian Westerheide, said in his opening remarks on “The Next Decade of AI, we are in a ‘renaissance’ of the technology.”

===>Westerheide says we’re seeing a “refurbishment of ideas from the 1960s, 70s and 80s,” combined with the amount of data we have now and today’s processing power.

He calls it “old ideas, new execution, and new capital.” With extra stress on the capital. That change has happened in the last four years.

After decades of development and numerous so-called “AI winters” of hibernation, AI fully arrived in 2016 when AlphaGo, an AI-driven system playing a Chinese game called Go, beat Lee Se-dol, the-then human, Go world champion.

===>It is “unprecedented,” says Westerheide, how much capital is now flowing into AI — “China: 130 billion, Germany: first 2 billion, then another 3 billion, European Union: 20 billion.”

!!!!Mainstream applications of AI

That could be applications involving the Internet of Things — appliances in your kitchen communicating with online retailers and manufacturers running diagnostics — or in health care, agriculture, climate and resource management, down to apps on your phone that let you book a human to find your AI-powered autonomous car and wash it while you’re out to lunch — or, indeed, at a virtual conference on AI.

==>Beyond that, there’s AI in the physical, military world. But that’s a topic that even the European Commission’s white paper “On Artificial Intelligence — A European approach to excellence and trust” — won’t touch.”

Without wanting to get too technical, ===>AI is moving away from simple pattern recognition towards systems that can respond to real-world events and causes, mixing what’s called “implicit” and “explicit” knowledge to arrive at specific solutions to specific problems, rather than standardized solutions.”

Read the whole article and watch good videos inside as well.

Clive Robinson November 19, 2020 6:44 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Actually, Arecibo is a Catenary Curve.

I wish you had not said that…

Do you want to talk about, how rolling one parabola agaist anothers give a roulette curve that is “y = a cosh x/a” which just happens to have not just some nice easy scaling properties, but some wide band “linear phase” properties that are highly desirable for certain wide band research[1] (think EMP and atmospheric bounce for long distance communications[2] and spotting balistic missile wakes[3]). As well as moving feed points on cables in three axis setups.

@ MarkH,

the reflector was designed to be precisely spherical, not at all parabolized.

Yes that is what one of the original senior workers in the design and implementation of the project has indicated[3] not so long ago.

I was told differently back last century at a lecture on large dish radio astronomy and by others who talked about planatary radar. As I’ve mentioned before I had a small connection with such through the dish at Bochum Germany[4] when it was brought back to useful functionality at the turn of the century. It’s done some serious “venus bounce” and as far as I’m aware is still the only such dish to have done that in Western Europe.


[2] One of these days I hope the connection with the Arecibo dish and the use of EME rather than troposcatter on NSA vessels will be declassified. The people involved are now well into collecting their first century caps and the events are getting likewise into seven decades ago.



SpaceLifeForm November 19, 2020 10:48 PM

@ Clive

I wish you had not said that…


I’m too old and tired to brush up on the calc in the first link.

So, thanks. I wish you had not linked that. 😉

MarkH November 20, 2020 12:13 AM

@SpaceLifeForm, Clive:

The cables linking the Arecibo instrument platform to the support pylons form (ideally) catenary curves.

The reflector covering much of the natural valley in which the telescope is sited functions very much like the mirror in a visual light telescope.

Like optical telescopes, most radio telescopes are designed so as to focus all incoming photons from each star as nearly to a geometric point as is practicable.

Catenary reflectors aren’t useful for sharp focus. Because the instrument platform allowed Arecibo to “look” at a large range of altitude angles, the reflector shape had to be spherical, because only that maximally symmetric geometry presents the same profile to every direction.

I probably learned about the design of the Arecibo telescope in 1972, when the instrument hadn’t yet completed its tenth year of operation, from the very excellent magazine “Sky and Telescope”.

Stuff I learned in those days — when my brain was a much more powerful instrument than at present — tends to “stick” with me.

But if you ask me what I was doing yesterday, everything goes blank …

JonKnowsNothing November 20, 2020 12:24 AM


re: End of Year, End of Quarter corporate press releases COVID-19

In USA, the end of year and end of quarter and annual financial reports are being prepped. There will be a number of pie-in-the-sky announcements and some realistic reviews too. Much of the PR is share-churn pump-n-dump tactics by the large after-hours trading firms/systems to squeak a few more pieces from the zero-sum-game participants.

There will still be useful information if parsed carefully.

There are 3 categories for COVID-19 to consider:

  1, Prevention. Includes vaccinations and practical methods of distribution and pricing.

  2, Treatments. Includes drugs that reduce duration of illness, prevent auxiliary problems, reduce severity of illness.

  3, General Therapeutic. Includes pre-illness regimens (Vit D3), general health and physical support (exercise and diet) and mental health programs (lockdown fatigue, anger, depression, suicides).

When evaluating statements about the wonderful effectiveness of something with unpublished data, be mindful of their proper benefit category. Generally these will be mental health uplifting statements that the cavalry is on the way and just over the horizon.

There was no such luck for Custer.

ht tps://

In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants. If the total gains of the participants are added up and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero.

ht tps://

George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 – June 25, 1876) was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars.

ht tps://

The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, who were led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, and had been inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. 7th Cavalry, a force of 700 men, suffered a major defeat while commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

SpaceLifeForm November 21, 2020 1:01 AM

@ MarkH, Clive

Catenary reflectors aren’t useful for sharp focus.

Please carefully re-parse what Clive noted above.

Also, consider that Arecibo was a transmitter, not just receiver.

MarkH November 21, 2020 3:17 AM


Perhaps you received incorrect information, or scrambled some correct information (which I do at least daily).

The reflector was designed and constructed to be spherical — that’s plain fact.

What Clive referred to was altogether over my head, but I’m pretty sure it’s quite separate from image formation systems … like telescopes.

As to the question of transmission vs. reception, the directional patterns of antennas are modeled by the principle of reciprocity: the transmit and receive geometries are the same, which can be really handy for radar!

I’ve been interested in optical imaging systems (especially telescopes) for 50 years, with particular attention to the design of large reflectors. With very rare exceptions, they are shaped as surfaces of revolution of some conic section.

I haven’t heard of a catenary reflector for focusing applications, and didn’t find any example in a web search.

But if it comforts you to maintain that the Arecibo reflector had a catenary figure, no harm done … it’s just scrap metal now.

Hint: the Arecibo reflector was made spherical for the exact same reason that Schmidt camera mirrors are spherical. Once you’ve grasped the concept, it’s easy to see that there is no possible alternative.

Clive Robinson November 21, 2020 6:25 AM

@ MarkH, SpaceLifeForm,

The advantage of spherical reflectors is they are easy to make and fairly forgiving if you make any errors.

To make one at home you need two “porthole” glasses. You glue one to the center of a table that is screwed down to the floor at about waist hight with the top of the glass leveled. You then slap on your grinding paste and walking around the table rock the other piece of glass backwards and forwards across the glued down glass. After about six months of walking in circles for a couple of hours each night you have a spherical mirror glass block in your hand. Oh and to measure your mirror “don’t” measure the negative that’s glued to the table instead, that way you do not have to touch it thus avoid scratches. Getting your mirror “optically” silvered is another matter. It’s over fourty years ago since I made my mirror and the silvering which was done by spining the mirror and dropping chemicals on it has long since degraded.

The downside of spherical mirrors is you need a corrector of some kind and we only knew how to do that around the middle of WWII (1941ish), thus it more or less remained secret untill after the war. Thus you will find that they started being used around the 1950’s and because they are so easy to make they are now one of the most common “cat scopes”.

Though a catenary lense can be made by heating a thick piece of glass untill it’s just molten and spin it whilst it cools back to being solid, likewise you can make one with epoxy in a similar way. If you want to see the effect just spin a glass of water and look through the side.

The advantage of catenary reflectors is their immensely wide bandwidth and importantly their linear phase response which makes pulse edge recovery thus distance etc accuracy very much more easy to gain by appropriate filtering. Spherical reflectors are nowhere near as good needing a complex filtering algorithm that is thus slow and limits the bandwidth that can be used.

As an aside if you were to make the surface of a rolling road of successive catenary curves, then you could get a smooth ride with any maximal area polygon shapped wheel of the appropriate diameter (other than a triangular one). Similar catenary properties apply to gear wheels often used for chain drives.

I hope that clears things up a little bit, without having to go into an “old Clive length post”.

MarkH November 21, 2020 12:53 PM


Where can we find an example of a catenary reflector for an application involving imaging / maximally sharp focus / maximally narrow beam?

MarkH November 21, 2020 8:33 PM

@SpaceLifeForm, Clive:

This will be my last sally on the matter, but I gather that you’ve both missed a key concept of reflective imaging.

In the design of symmetric optical imaging systems, almost all aberrations (deviations from perfect imaging[1]) are for objects at an angle to the system’s axis of symmetry.

For example, it’s simple to prove that a paraboloid mirror focuses rays from an infinitely distant point source, to a perfect geometric point — if the source lies on the mirror’s axis of symmetry. If you put film in the focal plane, then star images get more and more blurred as their angular distance grows from the central axis.

Astigmatism (also called third-order astigmatism) increases the blur size in proportion to the square of the angle to the axis of symmetry … so it’s impossible to make a sharp wide-field camera unless astigmatism is fully corrected (I’m indebted to H. P. Brueggemann’s amazing book “Conic Mirrors” for making this clear to me.)

Spherical mirrors haven’t been very popular, because they have a rotten on-axis aberration. But Estonia’s Bernhard Schmidt was among the first to realize that if you place an aperture stop (a circular viewport) at a spherical mirror’s center of curvature, then all off-axis aberrations vanish — and that really wide-field astronomical cameras could be built on this principle. My informal teacher of optics called this insight “the Schmidt principle” in the inventor’s honor.

To visualize this, imagine a big room that has a large spherical mirror (say, 4 feet in diameter) with its back stuck onto one wall, mounted at eye level. The room is divided in two by a thin partition wall placed so the mirror’s center of curvature falls in the partition’s plane, and a 1 foot diameter hole cut in the partition, also centered on that same center of curvature.

You stay near the wall opposite the mirror, at a good distance from it. There will be a range of places where you can stand and see only mirror through the hole in the partition, because the mirror is so much bigger than your “porthole” (aperture stop).

From each distinct viewpoint in that range, you will see a different subset of the big mirror’s surface — but it will always look the same: same form, same distance, same curvature, and always normal (i.e., the center part of the mirror in your view is perpendicular to your sight line). The mirror never “sees” the world off-axis, hence no off-axis aberrations.

Spherical mirrors are unique, in having this absence of angle dependence.

Traditional radio telescopes aren’t like cameras, in that they are designed to view only one direction of sky at any moment. Accordingly, off-axis focus is irrelevant, and paraboloid reflectors with their wretched off-axis blurring are perfectly suitable.

Though Arecibo also imaged one spot at a time, the necessity to swing the feed antenna(s) over broad angles created a situation exactly analogous to Schmidt’s extraordinary cameras. [In Arecibo’s case there was of course no aperture stop; movement of the feed antenna along a concentric spherical surface had the equivalent effect.]

Arecibo operated up 18+ degrees off-axis. Had the reflector been any shape but spherical, astigmatism would have rendered the telescope nearly useless for astronomy at such angles.

To boil it down, if the reflector had any curve other than a sphere, then the observatory would have been limited to whichever little patch of sky — perhaps one degree in diameter — happened to be dead overhead Arecibo, Puerto Rico at the particular minute of observation. The options were (a) look at the cosmos through a soda straw, or (b) use a spherical reflector.

[1] An irreducible limit on sharpness of focus is imposed by wave diffraction, but this has no direct connection to the choice of smooth shapes for optical surfaces.

MarkH November 26, 2020 1:49 AM

The foregoing discussion prompted me to look up the world’s biggest single-aperture telescope, China’s FAST (on Wikipedia, of course).

This new instrument has a 500 meter primary reflector (compare to Arecibo’s 300 meters).

Its net contour is also spherical (hence the S in FAST) … but only when it’s not in use. The large triangular panels of which the reflector is composed are all movable, within limits.

During observation, those panels in the field of “view” of the feed antenna (a circle about 300 meters in diameter) are shifted and tilted to approximate a parabaloid, the axis of which is aligned with the feed antenna, which steers the telescope’s angle of view by being moved about a spherical geometry a la Arecibo.

Because of the dynamic parabolization of some subset of the reflector’s surface, the FAST feed antennas don’t need either (a) to suffer the blur effect of spherical aberration, or (b) in the alternative to employ some elaborate aberration correction system.

In the 1970s, the Arecibo reflector was upgraded with a surface having both much smaller gaps, and a more precise spherical curve, than it had when first built. This gave Arecibo an extraordinarily broad bandwidth (down to 3 cm wavelength).

The big panels of FAST yield a reflector unsuited to such short wavelengths, limiting it to a minimum wavelength of 10 cm.

I hope that the combined capacities of newer radio observatories will go far to make up the loss of Arecibo … but I worry that certain observations and measurements might now be impossible.

JonKnowsNothing November 26, 2020 3:59 AM


re: I hope that the combined capacities of newer radio observatories will go far to make up the loss of Arecibo … but I worry that certain observations and measurements might now be impossible.

Things that get marked “obsolete” are not always “useless” and the fact that the US is letting Arecibo hit the dust bin is likely part of our neoliberal-no-science-no-education policies.

Humans managed to put multiple sarcophagus over Chernobyl and the upper layer now includes an entire dismantling system to remove the earlier versions (which are going to collapse and spew metric-giga-tons of radioactivity about if not taken down).

We could fix/repair/rebuild Arecibo too in spite of the dangling cables.

Even Stonehenge has observation value and modern humans don’t know how all of it works but the folks that built it sure did.

Old Tech isn’t Dead Tech.

It comes down to the pennies and if the oligarchs can’t stamp their names on it or brands on it they aren’t going to fund it.

RL Annecdote: (tl;dr stuff)

There was a great set of TV shows were they teamed up some folks, all with various skills and knowledge about different topics, and gave them a task to do that was “ancient tech”.

It was a huge amount of fun to watch when they took away the calculators, internet access and open-book-libraries from the teams and asked them to do it “the old way”.

Some of the solutions were pretty good. Nearly none had any chance of being how it was originally done.

I had the opportunity, eons ago, to visit some of the deeper caves in the Périgord. The caves at that time, had only crude access, but there was a walkway and a docent-guide to show us the important bits.

It was quite hot that day @100F but within 15ft of the entry the temperature plummeted to very very cold. It was also absolutely dark. No light except the torch carried by the guide. We walked a long way in the dark (hands on shoulders) and cold and then we walked even farther in the dark and cold and then some more.

What we all learned is that these “lesser known caves” had not had the Tourist Attraction Revamp and were much more in their “natural state” of discovery. Of course they has installed tracks and made the pathway wider but it was still not the open venues of other sites (where they blasted away half the hill).

Along the path were the objects of we had come to see. Some on the side walls, some on top of each other, some back to front or upside down. They were just the starting courses. As we progressed deeper we came to a huge open chamber 15-20ft or so high.

They wrote what they had seen in a language we barely understand. They wrote what we will never see: a family of mammoths. Matriarchs, aunties and offspring on the way to …

It was dark, cold and absolutely silent.

The original cave painters didn’t have a track-way and didn’t have electric torches and didn’t have nice fluffy mountaineering jackets, or paint boxes from the art store.

There were no torch or soot marks inside that cave. No signs of a fire pit or shelters inside. The only signs they left were the images of all the animals and symbols that meant something to THEM, 20 feet up, in the cold and the dark.

Old Tech isn’t old or useless, sometimes WE just don’t know.

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Clive Robinson November 26, 2020 10:11 AM

To all in the US and it’s dependencies

Enjoy your Thanks Giving but please take care, so you get to enjoy both the Winter Solstice and Gregorian New Year festivities as well, and for others the various luna New Year festivities as well.

Keep safe and make happy memories, even though the company may be restricted in numbers.

SpaceLifeForm November 27, 2020 12:15 AM

It does not appear to my eye that the Arecibo cables broke due to corrosion.


Appear to be zinc coated.

I suspect a large squirrel with very sharp teeth.

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