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Rejection Letter

Dear Mr Stross

I'd like to apologize in advance, but after consulting with my colleagues in other departments at Reality Publishing Corporation, I'm afraid we can't publish your book, "Zero Day: The story of MS17-010", as things stand. However, I'd like to add that it was a gripping read, very well written, and we hope to see more from you in future!

Because the plot of your yarn is highly technical, we engaged a specialist external reader to evaluate it. And they had some unfortunate words to say on the subject of plausibility. I attach the reader's report, in the hope that you might consider amending your manuscript accordingly.

Signed

E. S. Blofeld, Editorial Director

READER'S REPORT

Short version: while Stross can clearly write workmanlike, commercial prose, the plot of "Zero Day" does not hold up to scrutiny. In fact, it reads like a mash-up of popular conspiracy theories, alarmism, and bad Hollywood thriller cliches. Also, the characterisation is spotty: the shadowy villain remains off-screen for the entire novel (and apparently gets away with their crime), the hero who saves the day only appears in the last chapter, and the overall lack of thematic resolution at the end of the novel is painful. We suppose this is a side-effect of telling a story as a collage of blog entries and web news reports, in an update of the style pioneered by John Dos Passos: it's innovative but ultimately unsatisfying. Also, the C++ code listings are a major obstacle for the non-technical reader.

Now, to the problems with the plot:

We start with a shadowy US government agency, the NSA, systematically analyzing the software of the biggest American computer companies in search of vulnerabilities. So far, so plausible: this is one of the jobs of an intelligence and counter-espionage agency focussed on information technology. However, instead of helping Microsoft fix them, we are supposed to believe that the NSA hoard their knowledge of weaknesses in Microsoft Windows, a vitally important piece of their own nation's infrastructure, in case they'll come in handy againt some hypothetical future enemy. (I'm sorry, but this just won't wash; surely the good guys would prioritize protecting their own corporate infrastructure? But this is just the first of the many logical inconsistencies which riddle the back story and plot of "Zero Day".)

Next, the plot takes a turn towards faceless anonymous parties (lacks drama!) as someone calling themselves "the Shadow Brokers" leaks a huge trove of classified NSA documents to WikiLeaks, who in turn dump it on the internet. These documents are the crown jewels of cyberwarfare, but they're apparently just lying around on the NSA's internal network for anyone to grab. WikiLeaks, we are led to believe, may be a front for the Kremlin (twirls evil moustachio villainously) but if this is the case and they're acting for the KGB why would they disclose such vital American secrets? Spies just don't do that sort of thing. Also, who is supposed to have smuggled these secrets out of the NSA headquarters, and how? Did they use a thumb drive? Email it to themselves? This is a huge missed opportunity for tension and plot development and it's completely absent from the manuscript as reviewed.

Anyway, this preposterous intelligence leak shows up on the internet and includes details of a vulnerability in Microsoft's file sharing system, codenamed ETERNALBLUE. This only really affects older Windows systems and can be blocked by simply switching off legacy file sharing support, so it's no big deal, but Microsoft dilligently release security updates through March, including a fix for vulnerability MS17-010, as the NSA black ice is renamed by people who don't get their ideas for codenames out of bad technothrillers. (ETERNALBLUE was part of a release of code that also gave us such interesting names as EDUCATEDSCHOLAR, ETERNALROMANCE, and ERRATICGOPHER. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the classified NSA committee meetings discussing the deployment of their weaponized ERRATIC GOPHER ...)

Then, one day in May, all hell breaks loose.

Someone unknown—as noted, this novel is very short on identifiable people the reader can relate to—takes the code for a piece of ransomware usually distributed as an email attachment, and turns it into a payload for ETERNALBLUE, which is a worm—capable of directly infecting other machines on the same network without human intervention. And in a matter of hours, the new malware, known as Wanna Decryptor, infects the entire British National Health Service, a Spanish cellphone company, FedEx, and over a third of a million computers whose owners had lazily failed to enable automatic security updates from Microsoft.

When a piece of "ransomware" infects a computer, it starts by stealthily encrypting all the personal documents, pictures, and spreadsheets on the PC. Only when it has finished does it pop up a window to warn the PC's owner, and issues a ransom demand. The bewildered human is instructed to go to a website and buy $300 worth of BitCoin, an electronic token called a "cryptocurrency" by some, and to pay the ransom in order to unlock all their files—if they don't do so within three days, the ransomware will permanently delete them.

Normal ransomware spreads by attaching copies of itself to email messages and sending them to everyone in the victim's address book. This means it won't propagate unless someone is so foolish as to ignore their antivirus messages and click on the attachment. But Wanna Decryptor doesn't need to do this—it uses the magic NSA code in ETERNALBLUE to scan the internet for targets. It's a worm—a boringly old-hat idea first introduced into fiction by SF author John Brunner in his 1977 novel "The Shockwave Rider". (To this extent, the plot of "Zero Day" isn't even original.)

One is supposed to believe that evil genius hackers (unidentified) using code stolen from the most secretive of espionage organizations by some third party (also unidentified) and released for free on the internet, took someone else's poor quality malware (author unidentified) and turned it into a cyber first-strike weapon that causes carnage worldwide because millions of responsible computer operators fail to apply vital software security patches for months after they're released? This beggars plausibility.

But then it gets worse.

In the foreground, ambulance despatch systems are going down: clinical information systems are offline: hospitals are declaring major incidents and trying to revert to paper and pen: operations are cancelled except in case of life-threatening emergencies because doctors can't review X-rays and medical records: the entire Telefonica cellphone network stops being able to handle billing and orders in Spain: FedEx's parcel network is inaccessible: Deutsche Bahn train signaling is disrupted across half of Europe ...

And a mild-mannered British computer security expert who is on his week off gets home from lunch with a friend, checks a work website (implausible! He's on holiday!), sees something odd, and kills the world-threatening zero day exploit dead by registering a domain? And then takes a couple of hours to realize that the evil genius responsible for a global terror attack helpfully left an "off" switch that anyone could flip?

I'm sorry, this is just silly.

In fiction, we rely on the reader's willingness to suspend their disbelief in the lies we are telling them. Willing suspension of disbelief can be abused if the story lacks plausibility, and this part is totally implausible! The WCry worm (as it is thankfully abbreviated) switches itself off if a random-seeming domain name has been registered and a web server exists to serve it. Why? The mastermind who wrote this weapon obviously knows about bitcoin, and by extension, how blockchain works; surely they could have contrived some sort of cryptographically secure way to protect their kill switch?

This is the digital equivalent of the James Bond movie where the evil mastermind's lair from which the nuclear missiles are to be launched features a prominent red button labelled SELF-DESTRUCT, which, when pressed, does in fact cause the missile base to self-destruct. And which is not guarded, booby-trapped, or in any way concealed, so that when a Mr Bean figure walks in, slips on a banana skin, and happens to catch his fall on the wall switch, the evil plan for world domination is stopped dead in its tracks.

Come on, Mr Stross, you can't expect us to believe that!

Summary: well-written, but short on characterization and the plot, while dense, makes essentially no sense and relies on a Deus Ex Machina ending to allow the hero (who only shows up at the eleventh hour) to triumph bloodlessly.

709 Comments

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1:

1977 novel "The Shockwave Rider"

$DEITY, is it 40 years?

And yes, bloody ridiculous the whole thing. I'd like to think this would stick a cattle prod up the relevant people, but strongly suspect we'll just see the same old security theatre. Amber Rudd was her usual highly disappointing and obviously out of her depth self on Today this morning.

2:

Giggling under my breath while hiding in the corner... and trying not to think of concrete jungles / drunk teenagers with lit matches / and similar quotation mines.

For the most part, failing!

3:

Wow, the things that happen while we sleep.

Unfortunately, the systemic problems that make us so vulnerable to these attacks are not really being addressed. E.g., apparently some very posh medical equipment manufacturers are using Windows XP as the substrate for their expensive automated surgery tools. I was flabbergasted the first time I heard that the USG was using Windows in their warships, but in something that operates on peoples' eyes?

It's really hard to fathom how this decision was made. Well, okay, no it's not, but I wish it were.

4:

The V-class submarines that carry the UK's strategic nuclear missiles run Windows XP.

Luckily the boomer currently on deterrent patrol is submerged and thus not contactable via wifi ...

5:

Indeed. Plus the fact that we have known how to build systems that are immune to such attacks since the 1970s, some approximations to those were (and may still be) commercially available, and there are much more resistant ad hoc ones available. How can we believe that so many critical systems rely on the most unsuitable systems currently available, not the most suitable?

Has our delightful puddle-challenged Home Secretary proposed legislative changes or a restriction on people's secrecy as solutions to this? I do not do audio.

6:

It occurs to me that one of my main criticisms for some recent DC comics TV shows has been that the hacking is just too easy. Maybe the screenwriters are right, and I am wrong. It's a sobering thought. There was a show recently where the resident super-geek managed to hack an ICBM in flight and retarget it. This was shark-jumping territory for me, but maybe I shouldn't have been so hasty.

7:

You missed the bit where a certain government minister stops the NHS renewing their extended (to include XP) support agreement with Microsoft in order to save money.

So, not so much strong & stable as cheap & nasty.

8:

Apparently the fix can be circumvented:


https://phys.org/news/2017-05-cyberattack-ransomeware.html

A cybersecurity researcher appears to have discovered a "kill switch" that can prevent the spread of the WannaCry ransomware—for now—that has caused the cyberattacks wreaking havoc globally, they told AFP Saturday.

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said the discovery was accidental, but that registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading.

"Essentially they relied on a domain not being registered and by registering it, we stopped their malware spreading," @MalwareTechBlog told AFP in a private message on Twitter.

The researcher warned however that people "need to update their systems ASAP" to avoid attack.

"The crisis isn't over, they can always change the code and try again," @MalwareTechBlog said.


9:

It sounds like this might make a good episode for the long running TV series "The Waringstown Terror", as reviewed here: http://paulspontifications.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/a-review-of-joint-cnn-and-bbc.html

10:

Sorry that should have been "The War on Terror".

11:

The techie who activated the "kill switch" thinks it probably wasn't meant to be one. Instead, it may have been intended as a measure to frustrate analysis.

As background: if you're an analyst trying to counteract malware, you want to figure out how it works, which sometimes means running it in isolated "sandbox" environments which let you observe its behavior while keeping it confined to your own infrastructure. Conversely, if you're writing malware, you want to frustrate the analysts, which means that if your malware detects its running in a sandbox, it ought to shut down, to keep its "real world" behavior from being observed. And that requires detecting some way that the "sandbox" environments differ from the public internet.

One of the things that the sandbox environments have to do is detect communications with other machines -- malware "command and control" servers. But the identities of those aren't known to the people setting up the sandbox -- it's one of the things they want to learn by running the malware. So, the "sandbox" will pretend to be whatever machine the malware asks to talk to -- even if no such server exists in the "real world". And that means that by trying to communicate with a machine which it knows not to exist, the malware can detect that it's been sandboxed -- and shut down.

The most common variant of this technique involves trying a totally random hostname on each infection. Apparently, whoever was responsible for this one cut corners, and had all infections try the same hostname, which our friend @malwarebytes went and registered.

This wasn't the only cut corner here, by the way; this particular worm also didn't have some of the usual machinery for determining which payment came from which victim. All of which suggests that this is a new player who's still learning the game. They're not likely to repeat any of these mistakes a second time.

(In the meantime, NHS was vulnerable because they continue to run XP long after it was desupported -- and because they let the extended support agreement for XP, available I think to governments only, lapse in 2015.)

12:

Everybody's updated their router firmware this week, right?

(This was bad; this killed people. The idea that it's the worst thing in that NSA leak, well. I doubt it.)

13:

Just a brief return for a brief note. Why do we pay zillions for GCHQ et al if not to protect us against all this? Where were they when all this shit was going down?

14:

Why do we pay zillions for GCHQ et al if not to protect us against all this? Where were they when all this shit was going down?

You will note that on the HUMINT/analysis side we have SIS and MI5. One is counterespionage and security; the other is intelligence gathering.

GCHQ is an intelligence gathering organization, not counter-espionage/security. The latter role belongs to CESG, which was formerly a department within GCHQ and is now (since February 2017) part of the new National Cyber Security Centre.

This is a really serious case of stable doors being bolted a week too late; the UK historically prioritized offensive internet operations far above defense and resilience, and we're paying the price.

15:

There's definitely a Bob Howard moment there with the project names. Someone's got ETERNAL ROMANCE...at the same time some poor code monkey in the next cube has been handed ERRATIC GOPHER. No doubt this gets brought up at review time.

16:

THat's basically the history of the British nuclear deterrent - spend the money on nuking the enemy, don't spend it on making your citizens safe.

Anyway, if this was a novel plot, the guy who stopped it would be the one who released it, in order to drum up more work for his company.

17:

Re: Eternal Blue

When I read this code name, my first thought was someone at big blue needing to hit their gov't contracts quota decided to target blue screen of death's already expired OS.

MSFT announced in 2012 that they would drop XP support, and did so in 2014. Okay, not a techie - but, come on - 2 years should be adequate time for orgs to figure out what to do re: safeguard vs. replace affected systems. Do these orgs also wait two years to change their corp fleet's oil and filters, or their printers' toner/cartridges?

Maybe OS should come with a best-before date stamped on it?

18:

I find it fairly easy to forgive super-hacking in a world in which a bow is used as a hand-to-hand weapon, no one knows how to pronounce Ra's Al Ghul (even his own own children) and going back in time to snog Anne of Austria shortly before she conceives Louis XIII are all things that have happened.

It's much more bonkers when it happens in a dark and gritty crime investigation show.

19:

You missed the bit about medical devices, right? It can take multiple years to certify them as safe for use on humans, and the certification — when there's a computer in the loop — applies only to the machine as submitted, to the exact patch level and configuration. Add a new OS patch? Your certification just went out the window. And we can be talking about MRI and CAT scanners here, costing in the millions.

This stuff stays in use long after it would be considered obsolete/unsafe in a business environment because it's treated like a component of an airliner, i.e. life-safety-critical and you do not mess around with it or switch to Windows 10 just because MS want to push advertising at the punters.

The trouble is, MS is essentially a large IT corporation which sees its main markets as (a) other large IT enterprises and (b) home users. (And they're right to do so; everything else is basically noise on the balance sheet.) Just as MS's policy towards obsolescing file formats in Office is poisonous to those of us who are serious about long-term document retention, so is their policy on OS support toxic to safety-critical industries that build really expensive machinery for keeping people alive with amortization lifetimes measured in decades.

20:

>>>You missed the bit about medical devices, right? It can take multiple years to certify them as safe for use on humans, and the certification — when there's a computer in the loop — applies only to the machine as submitted, to the exact patch level and configuration. Add a new OS patch? Your certification just went out the window. And we can be talking about MRI and CAT scanners here, costing in the millions.

Isn't it the root of the problem, actually? If, as part of the certification process, you had to prove that the system can survive security patches, this whole mess wouldn't happen. You know, invest in robust software, prevent crisis later.

Of course, this would force hardware producers to take software seriously...
wait, isn't it a good thing?

21:

Am I bad person if I kinda want to see what would be aftermath of similiar attack in a year 2022 when internet of things become norm? There is no way that those gadgets would have updated and patched OS. Pay 200$ or we will thaw your fridge or turn your lightbulb into strobe or Alexa will order ananas pizza or your car will blast gabber when in first gear. Rise of machines - via ransomware.

22:

If, as part of the certification process, you had to prove that the system can survive security patches, this whole mess wouldn't happen.

What you're asking for is impossible, because you're asking for proof that Microsoft's business practices will be (and will continue to be, for the foreseeable future) conducive to not fucking up safety critical systems.

You might be able to get that with a minority platform built around a secure RTOS kernel, and relegate the Windows component to a client/server UI system so that the operators can just toss it out and plug a new laptop in if it gets infested, as long as there's some sort of front panel to bypass the shiny buttons. But saying "our machine runs Windows!!" has become a marketing point as much as anything else. This is Not a good place to be. (Would you be happy flying on a Boeing 787 or Airbus 350XWB if you knew the flight control computers ran Windows?)

24:

While the issue of the $$$ medical equipment with Windows XP is very serious, it's also relatively easy to resolve - or at least improve. For example, each one could be put on a private network with extremely tight ingress / egress rules to the wider network.

The fiasco is that, as I understand it, desktop PCs numbering hundreds of thousands, are still common in the NHS. And Microsoft spent many years, since 2009 (at the latest, I think it was earlier) telling all and sundry that Windows XP really truly would go away and stopped issuing patches in 2014 - at least 5 years notice.

25:

Hardware producers do take software seriously, it's just that as profit maximising entities themselves, it isn't worth their while to just give away various updates and other stuff. My work is still using XP based machines because upgrading the instrument control software to use windows 7 costs serious amounts of money.
Plus it is actually often quite hard to make your hardware control stuff play nicely with windows, due to the madness of windows itself. So it all ends up a series of trade offs and kludges.

26:

>>>What you're asking for is impossible, because you're asking for proof that Microsoft's business practices will be (and will continue to be, for the foreseeable future) conducive to not fucking up safety critical systems.
You might be able to get that with a minority platform built around a secure RTOS kernel...

Exactly. Don't use Windows.

>>>(Would you be happy flying on a Boeing 787 or Airbus 350XWB if you knew the flight control computers ran Windows?)

At this point, if I were to discover that Boeing 787 or Airbus 350XWB do actually run on Windows, I wouldn't be surprised. Why not? If you can run a hospital on that piece of crap, why not a plane? A nuclear reactor? A ballistic missile submarine? Apparently Microsoft can override the security considerations of anything.

There will be Friendly AI running on Windows at some point, mark my words. It is going to glitch, turn us all into Office Assistants, and then BSOD.

27:

I suspect that the budget meetings only have clinicians and mangers with Jen from the it crowd level of knowledge about it security and they saw the $5milion line and deleted it.

Presumbaly the NHS version of Bob wasn't invited to the meeting

28:

This is a problem and we know exactly who to blame.

The Conservatives turned off the money tap to the NHS when they were elected in 2010, and the result was a shortfall in all sorts of budget line items — obviously stretching the upgrade life for desktop PCs was not prioritized over lifesaving medical care!

And now we're reaping the whirlwind.

29:

But saying "our machine runs Windows!!" has become a marketing point as much as anything else.

To be fair, this is not because of the UI (or not just). Having worked for hospitals in the past, the main point for them is that with Windows they can be sure that it'll integrate into their existing Active Directory infrastructure - meaning centralized account&access control will be available. And that it'll still work when they upgrade their central components (read: "domain controllers" in Microsoft parlance). Which is a MUST requirement - and understandably so, esp. for orgs with 4-figure+ user bases.

30:

it'll integrate into their existing Active Directory infrastructure - meaning centralized account&access control will be available

But AD is just an embrace-and-extend version of Kerberos, isn't it? And Macs can cope with it too (although not as domain controllers). And I've seen plenty of thin clients in NHS hospital reception suites over the past few years — notably Sun Ray terminals.

31:

While the issue of the $$$ medical equipment with Windows XP is very serious, it's also relatively easy to resolve - or at least improve. For example, each one could be put on a private network with extremely tight ingress / egress rules to the wider network.

Yeah - not really. The problem is that those devices will need to upload their data someplace (more often than not this means just dropping files onto SMB fileshares - and this is actually mostly better from a security POV than if they integrate directly with PACS), they will need to connect to the domain controllers for authentication/authorization and the manufacturer/integrator support techies will need some form of remote access (because who wants to wait 4+ hours for the MRI tech to drive from London to the prairie hospital).
We did exactly what you suggest ~12 years ago for a couple hospitals. Essentially putting every medical device onto its own VLAN and then firewalling the hell out of it. Problem is that the connections that're needed for normal operation are exactly the ones with which standard malware can do the most damage.

32:

But AD is just an embrace-and-extend version of Kerberos, isn't it?

Of LDAP, actually, with Kerberos sprinkled generously all over it. Or the other way around, depending on your POV.

Re. interoperability: yes. I've built Thin Clients for hospitals myself >10 years ago (based on Knoppix, which was fresh&shiny then). But who's guaranteeing that they'll still work with Windows Server 2028? I didn't back then, and noone's doing so now. This doesn't matter for standard clients - just pop on new software and be done with it. Costs you maybe a couple dozen bucks for new licenses (if on Windows). Or buy a new batch of clients for a couple hundred each - the old ones are probably due to be replaced anyway.
But you can't do that for your 20-year-lifespan MRI/CAT scanners and risk having to re-certify - which costs upwards of 100k€, and takes no less than 6 months. If it can be re-certified at all (certification standards may have changed!).

33:

If you can get certification for medical devices with internet connections then the certifying process is broken.

But from what I can gleam from the reports it mostly affected management computers: the stuff you use to look up patient records and make appointments.

34:

One would hope so I was at my local renal unit doing HD Dialysis on friday and boy am I am every glad the dialysis machines where not network connected :-)


Though technically this might cause a delay in me going back on the transplant list - which would be bummer if I missed a good kidney match,

35:

"If you can run a hospital on that piece of crap, why not a plane? A nuclear reactor? A ballistic missile submarine?"

Well, ballistic missile submarines certainly do. And warships. I don't actually know about the other two but I'd be a lot more surprised to be told it doesn't happen than that it does.

36:

AD is LDAP; I came across that one several years ago when Network Rail's then-current Windows contract was about to run out and I was one of a group who got the idea of giving them Linux to replace it. (Q: Will Linux be able to talk to legacy AD on systems this gig doesn't cover? A: Yes.)

The reason it didn't happen came from the same wellspring of shite that poisons so much of the privatised railway: the prime consideration in the event of any kind of malfunction is not anything sensible or constructive, but simply how to make out that it's someone else's fault and charge them money. Basically, they didn't care about running a crappy and unreliable system as long as there was some obvious target with pots of money to sue if it went wrong. So they were fine with getting stuff from Microsoft, but anything from people who think making things work is more important than making money off them wasn't worth looking at.

Given that that sort of diseased replacement for thinking is by no means exclusive to Network Rail but is thoroughly entrenched everywhere and getting worse, I think it likely that an awful lot of instances of use of inappropriate software have their roots in a similar disregard of functionality in favour of playing silly money games. I don't know about the NHS specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

37:
But AD is just an embrace-and-extend version of Kerberos, isn't it? And Macs can cope with it too (although not as domain controllers). And I've seen plenty of thin clients in NHS hospital reception suites over the past few years — notably Sun Ray terminals.

More or less. Setting up a Mac OS, Linux, OpenBSD, VMS, ... box to authenticate using (the Kerberos/LDAP bits of) Active Directory is fairly trivial; the extra bits that are useful for management are a different story, but there are third-party solutions (e.g. Centrify) that enforce group policy settings for non-Windows OSes.

(One of the settings configured by Active Directory group policy, incidentally, disables SMB1 and thus this worm. A competently-run organisation would have other defensive measures that also prevent this worm from propagating, e.g. network segmentation—but we're talking about hospitals, which appear to give even less of a flying toaster about network security than militaries.)

38:

We know how to build secure and reliable software for large, complex machines that will kill people when they go wrong AND will be in service for decades. That's what the aviation industry does.

There's only four things that need to happen:

1) A hard separation between the life-critical stuff and the trivialities. The seat-back entertainment system has crashed? Whatevs, that's not the code running the engines.

2) Don't use Windows. Boeing use VxWorks; Airbus use something from Green Hills.

3) Don't write code by hand - write a specification for how it should behave and then turn that into code using something like SCADE Suite.

4) Regulate so certification requires and enforces security and reliability. This is a classic case of market failure - Windows gets used for medical hardware coz it is cheaper and faster to market and damn the long-term consequences. You only get reliability twenty years after purchase if you have strong regulations.

39:
Basically, they didn't care about running a crappy and unreliable system as long as there was some obvious target with pots of money to sue if it went wrong.

And you can be sure said obvious target were very careful to make successfully suing as hard as possible, so I have to wonder how much that attitude really leads to opportunities for redress.

40:

MSFT announced in 2012 that they would drop XP support, and did so in 2014. Okay, not a techie - but, come on - 2 years should be adequate time for orgs to figure out what to do re: safeguard vs. replace affected systems.

I've done some tech stuff in UK govt (not the NHS). Generally the desktop IT is provided by some large organisation with a long contract for supporting it. Those contracts typically take 2-3 years to procure and last for 10. They don't talk about the latest OS, they talk about something stable and tested. You'd be very lucky to replace an OS in a two year window.

The org I worked for in 2012 got Windows 7 in March 2015, we'd fortunately decided to upgrade when we knew XP would be out of support. The MSFT people gouged governments for XP support (it went up by a factor of four compared to the Win7 support). That's probably why those affected NHS trusts decided not to pay for it.

My current org is switching onto Win10 already. I've had a Win10 device since November.

41:

"My current org is switching onto Win10 already. I've had a Win10 device since November."

I'm sorry. I have no real experience of Windows 10, but it just looks so ugly... I can't imagine why anyone who has it on their computer would even want to turn the bloodly thing on.

42:

MS still provide XP support, mostly just security fixes, for both embedded and desktop variants, but the latter is only available to large organisations and is unlikely to be cheap.

This explains how they were able to release the fixes for XP and 2003 so quickly when it all hit the fan - they'd released them in March to those with support cover.

43:

People don't make decisions based on quantified analysis. People make decisions based on how insecure the options make them feel.

There's a tiny subset of people who have been trained and conditioned into emotional belief in the quantitative analysis, but this is pretty much guaranteed to prevent you from getting into senior management which is set up to filter for certain very specific set of social skills (with some cultural variation by industry) which are mostly intended to reassure people with finance backgrounds.

To make a good decision about a computer OS, you have to know a lot of stuff; it has to come from practical experience if it's going to have emotional weight; it generally attaches to loss of social status to possess; it won't be the financial-customs-reassuring definition. (Because stability of value, cannot haz.)

Gates' success stems from understanding this; the utter extralegal ruthlessness in suppressing competition wouldn't have been worth anything if the suits weren't willing to sign the cheques for a product whose core business model is "computers are hard".

(You know the observation that Google's core business model is "get more people to use the net"? Microsoft's is "computers are hard"; you need more hardware, hardware to manage the hardware, more tech support, tech support certification, many licenses, and so on. It's great for business and terrible for the ongoing results.)

44:

Sorry, meant to add that the decision not to renew the XP support agreement for the NHS would have been taken centrally, MS would not have offered this service to individual trusts - it really is only available to (very) large organisations.

45:

Have you ever upgraded a large computer system to a major new version? I have, and it was a very specialised (= simple) one. For ones like those used in the NHS, you are talking about a man-year of technical staff effort (which has now been abolished, sorry, outsourced) and between a man-day and man-week for every user of the system. And that's when it all goes well. See #28.

46:

If Kerberos is part of the answer, you have asked the wrong question.

47:

It looks better than Windows 8.1? Or at least it's somewhat more usable, and 7 was starting to creak a bit. (I bought a new desktop with 7 a couple of years ago, and found that the built in backup solution didn't work with my 4GB external drive, or wirelessly, so I was quite happy to take the free upgrade.) And I get my Linux command line sort-of-natively now, instead of from the Cygwin kludge. Anyway, if you don't like the UI, wait six months and another one will be along ...

48:

Oh, quite. How possible it is to actually get the money isn't the point; what's important is simply that it should be there to get. Then they can proceed on the basis that the details of getting it are unimportant trivia and the success is a foregone conclusion. That this is obviously bollocks doesn't matter. Yes, it's completely barmy, but mere barminess never seems to be considered a problem in this sort of thing.

49:

"...unlikely to be cheap."

In this instance, there's no need to speculate; the figure has been published.

The Tories decided not to renew the NHS's XP support deal in 2015 because it would have cost 5.5 million pounds.

That's something less than half an hour's worth of the yearly cost of the NHS. It's also about the sort of figure that these various bent calculations that try and quantify the value of a human life in terms of pounds tend to come up with. (To be sure, such things are complete arse, but governments don't seem to think so, so it's relevant here.)

How many people have died/will die as a result of this event? It's bound to be more than one...

50:

The XFCE on my Linux machine has excellent aesthetics. I'll stick with it.

51:

the bit about wikileaks is incorrect, they were not involved with the shadowbrokers releases

52:
For ones like those used in the NHS, you are talking about a man-year of technical staff effort (which has now been abolished, sorry, outsourced) and between a man-day and man-week for every user of the system.

I understand the problem, but I must cite one mantras of the agile movement: If it hurts, do it more often. These systems obviously lack a usable update process.

53:

Since these worms are only possible since the NSA bought the exploits and horded them - do we know if the GHCQ also knew about these exploits and didn't inform the parties responsible for fixing them? I.e. are parts of HMG responsible for these exploits still usable yesterday?

54:

Too bad. I guess you'll be moving on to that political thriller where the American president is a billionaire real estate developer who is secretly compromised by the Russians.

55:

Not saying I told you so about those interactive billboards etc, but...

Cyber attack hits German train stations as hackers target Deutsche Bahn Telegraph, 13th May, 2017.

Now then people, hands up who has seen the Bourne Trilogy? Here's some predictive programming (that totally misses the point that you can hack into fucking adverts anyhow, relying on the quaint notion from Hollywood that they use dedicated cameras and not, I don't know, all the fuckers taking selfies of their small little lives at that moment in time): Ross and Waterloo YT, Film, Bourne Ultimatum, 3:24

Ok, so, questions:

#1 Amateur hour this time (*cough*)

#1a) Do we now all realize (*cough* fucking Germany, train station cameras and New Year Narratives? LOL) that you can target this stuff easily enough, and then just run some kids in a basement as cover? Good.

#1b) Since even fucking local pizza SEO is now running tech that most third world countries wank over and pay millions for: how long until said Dictators realize (*COUGH* hello fucking Italy, USA etc, black hats selling shit to Dictators off the grid) that they can just use fucking FACEBOOK or equiv. advertizing teams for the same shit and B) You dumb fucks realize just how fucked you are.

#2 How long until the fact that if you can detect it and channel it, you can also fake it sinks in

#2A Vid / Lip synch / Audio spoofing

#2B Real Paranoia time - at what point does Real Intel Genuine OPS[tm] recognize that you can spoof reality itself into their sensors.

#2B has people shitting their pants, or should do.


Oh, and

#3 This 'attack / amok / underpants Gnome Bitcoin lowbies from the developing world (probably Indonesia or ex-Ru satellite - I mean, really: $300 / comp AND YOU JUST FUCKED THE NHS ETC?!) is just a field test.


As stated: give me 100-200 dedicated people, your World would Burn. (We don't cheat, we wouldn't bother nuking anything, that's the realms of the weak).

56:

I've been thinking about this one for a long time. How long until some TLA builds a combination blackmail/monstering tool meant to clobber people with some weird combination of truth and lies, then of course it filters down to common criminals in a couple years? The end result is that Joe Average doesn't like one of the boss's stupid ideas, then on the way home he finds himself being reported on the radio news as armed and dangerous, having molested countless children, a drug abuser probably high as a kite on PCP, etc., and now he can't walk into the corner store without some security guard shooting him... This could be our new normal 5-10 years from now.

57:

It's really unlikely the NSA are the only people (or institution) who knew about that one.

They also made sure MS patched it, once they knew it had escaped into the wild. The patch has been available since March. The question of whether or not it's MS's fault that people won't patch isn't simple. (Though I could compare not patching to being anti-vaxxer.)

58:

Oh, you're so cute. That's the old model, 50 years old today[1]. Actually 250, but hey. Social Character Assassination has been around since the Romans. Er, make that 4,500, the Egyptians used it as well, defacing Queens/Kings lineages who the next lot hated. *Looks at the famous play "Richard III"* Oh, right, it's universal.

Think bigger: all this Alex Jones "Sandy Hook was a Fake" stuff has, let us say, some basis in reality. Like his Gay Frogs stuff, he's kinda on the right wavelength, but not.


500,000 Iraqi children dying is worth it, remember? Yemen, 20,000,000 casualty rate, projected next 5 years - worth it. (U.S. nears $100 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia: White House official Reuters, 13th May, 2017 - I mean, this is the TV reality Star who ran on how America needed to take SA to task for their crimes / hypocrisy... A.J. is naive because he imagines that it's all faked, it's all lies, H.S.S. are decent people, etc.

Oh boy. The FSB bombed civilian blocks, remember. And you think that Trump - Putin is a new dynamic? Remember IRA and so on? France and Greenpeace or Algeria?

Holy shit are you naive.

You Killed the World YT: Film, Mad Max, 2:43

[1] The FBI both assassinated a leading member of the Black Panthers and attempted to drive MLK to suicide via social engineering. When that failed, they just killed him via proxy.


[2] This stuff is already live.
[3] They shit we're not allowed to say is live is rampantly worse.
[4] Yeah, you're fucked: OCP turned up.

59:

Jean, you don't get it. I'm not talking about the act of framing someone. As you said, that's ancient. But it isn't cheap, is it?

I'm talking about the technology! What happens when you don't have to fake up any footage, blackmail a reporter, use voice actors on "surveillance tapes," etc? Instead, you just point an AI at someone and press a button, then footage of that person raping a toddler or having sex with "someone not their spouse" is on the news five minutes later? And it's sophisticated, married intelligently and creatively to existing records and current surveillance of someone's phone locations or computer searches, thus very difficult to disprove.

What happens when this capability is not expensive and bespoke, but instead costs twenty dollars payable in bitcoin to some otherwise useless dude in him mom's basement?

60:

If you're in a loosely-confederated organisation like a university then you have researchers ( with a special call-out to medical researchers ) using expensive devices tethered to workstations with dongles that only work with XP or Vista, and the software upgrade is in the >20K bracket, but the researchers don't have grant money that allows them to maintain infrastructure for more than a year or two after purchase.

Layer on years of PhD students doing their own thing with only a 3yr time horizon, and have you have an uncoordinated, undocumented eco-system. It's like the Internet of Expensive Things(TM).

61:

I hope *nix advocates can get some more traction following this. After all, even in the case of certified-at-that-specific-patch-level, updates are a lot more granular. The unpatched-Windows-$unsupported is a lot more targets than any Red Hat $unsupported or Ubuntu $unsupported, even if Red Hat and Canonicals' user bases increased to comparable levels 20 years ago.

Do any of you more familiar with that side of things know if Red Hat or Canonical charge for a brand new license to get major updates the way Microsoft charges for XP->Vista, Vista->7, 7->8? I assumed not, but then wanted to double check. My GREPing didn't turn up anything useful, which I hope indicates no, which would be a big point in favor for all of those who _can_ patch.

62:

I assume that nothing good would come of this sort of worm spreading into naval control or navigation, or into SCADA systems at dams, power or water stations, or chemical plants -- but honestly, I don't have a sense of where the attack surfaces are for ransomware in such applications. Do they have recognizable filesystem state like a clinical application does?

63:

I'm sorry. I have no real experience of Windows 10, but it just looks so ugly... I can't imagine why anyone who has it on their computer would even want to turn the bloodly thing on.

I was pleasantly surprised. I've been on linux at home for over a decade, they gave me a surface pro and I'd quite like one personally (albeit with linux on).

That said, like all versions of windows, it isn't really ready to use out of the box unless you don't like security or privacy.

64:

MS still provide XP support, mostly just security fixes, for both embedded and desktop variants, but the latter is only available to large organisations and is unlikely to be cheap.

I know, I mentioned that they'd indulged in price gouging. My org at the time was almost ready to upgrade and we chose to speed up the process rather than paying the outrageous amount of money that MSFT were asking for extended XP support.

65:

Skipping all comments between yours & the end (I'll get there later)

One: "political types really don't get this do they, not so much stupid as completely blind
Two: And perople are STILL being pushed to have "smart meters" in their homes - how long before some group or individual crashes the entire power-distribution network to individuals, so that their central heating & food-storage systems fail utterly?

66:

No, because the latter can't be done.
Except by promising the putative attackers that: "You are dead, too, so don't bother"

67:

See my post @ #65

I repeat

Do NOT, NOT, NOT, EVER have anything in your house connected to the "IoT" unless it really doesn't matter if it gets hacked.
I.E. Not at all ......

68:

Not so.
AIUI, the amount of money going to the NHS has continued to increase, though at a much lower rate.
But - that's not the point.
The point where I do agree with you is incompetent ( i.e. totally technically-illiterate ) so-called "management" & control - politicians, irrespective.
EG: Deutsche Bahn's software got infected, & I think they were lucky it didn't get into their signalling & control programmes.
Now there is a frightening thought

69:

Right answer, but (because they are idiot politicos who simply can't understand these things ) wrong reason.
They should have simply switched to Win10
Which is ( I think ) better than XP - maybe.
Hint - I have to use it, as it has to be compatible with the Boss' work computer programmes & protocols & they are using W10

70:

Now, then!
REWRITE THAT IN FUCKING ENGLISH

There is obviously a message in there somewhere & it's meant to be serious, but, you simply couldn't tell us could you?
You had to be "clever"

Grrrrrrrrrrrr

71:

And yet, Greg, other countries like Sweden and Switzerland managed to have fallout shelters for most of their population. Geography helps of course, but the British government policy was basically stay at home and die; if yo usurvive do as you are told by the politicians who live underground or we'll shoot you.

As for the NHS, the amount of money hasn't increased if you graph it according to inflation etc. Sure, the number has gone up a bit, but that's becuase there's more money around anyway. Meanwhile the demands on the system have increased due to an ageing population. I has a short twitter discussion with somebody who appears to be a computer programmer and therefore embodied the stereotype of not getting it at all, who said that we can't just keep chucking money at the NHS it has to come from somewhere instead of some other area needing funding. Oddly enough he didn't have a reply when I pointed out that not increasing funding means we have to make decisions about rationing or euthanasia for old people.

72:

For ones like those used in the NHS, you are talking about a man-year of technical staff effort (which has now been abolished, sorry, outsourced) and between a man-day and man-week for every user of the system. And that's when it all goes well.

Heh.

To add some numbers: in 2015-16 the various NHS bodies employed around 1.6 million people with a combined budget of £136.7 billion. As of 2014, NHS England had 1.086 million PCs running Windows XP.

This is gargantuan. To put it in perspective the human resources side of the operation are on the same scale as the US Armed Services (although the budget is a lot lower — hospitals are cheaper than nuclear aircraft carriers). Typical support ratios for PC shops that I've heard of are on the order of 1 tech support per 100 seats, so we're looking at upwards of 15,000 tech support bodies, plus their management reporting chains. To do the change-over to, say, Windows 10, would cost on the order of £500M for the hardware (assuming XP boxes need replacing but the monitors and most of the peripherals can be kept) but would require on the order of 2 million technician-days swapping out hardware and reprovisioning/restoring backup sets—call it 10,000 extra bodies, working for a year (plus sick leave and vacation time—don't underestimate higher-than-average sick time requirements for folks working in the NHS, hospitals are a breeding ground for nosocomial infections, it's not just shirking).

Also, it's not centralized. You can't just parachute in the 63rd Shock Technical Support Brigade with orders to roll up the battlefield from east to west. Standards need to be agreed and propagated and tailored to fit specific upgrade needs for different organizations. Some XP boxes can't be replaced because they're built into £15M MRI machines. And so on.

A smart top-down approach would be to establish an NHS IT Standards board to establish data interchange, backup, and security standards, and to specify a couple of platforms to replace the obsolete monoculture—a frozen one (say, Win 7 with ongoing paid support and all patches, for machines not used for email/filesharing with external networks) for mission-critical diagnostic and medical appliances, and a moving target (Win 10 with a big support contract) for regular office desktops. An enlightened approach would establish a research fund distributed via the CS departments of universities affiliated to teaching hospitals, to develop an open source, open standards based secure medical software platform from scratch—probably a tailored Linux distro designed to meet NHS requirements. (But that's crazy talk: there's no money in it for the usual suspects.)

But. Upgrading the NHS from XP to Win10? That's like asking the US armed forces to agree on updating their camouflage uniforms.

73:


I'm talking about the technology! What happens when you don't have to fake up any footage, blackmail a reporter, use voice actors on "surveillance tapes," etc? Instead, you just point an AI at someone and press a button, then footage of that person raping a toddler or having sex with "someone not their spouse" is on the news five minutes later? And it's sophisticated, married intelligently and creatively to existing records and current surveillance of someone's phone locations or computer searches, thus very difficult to disprove.

Initially, mere anarchy descends upon the world. Then after a while, everyone starts to assume that it's all fake and no one trusts that sort of evidence any more. Indeed, the more Machiavellian will arrange for a continuous stream of slander against themselves, such that any valid exposé is instantly dismissed as yet more fake news.

Yeats had it exactly right:


The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


74:

...and it looks like the hack's back on in the UK, thanks to the entertainment industry, as OGH has pointed out elsewhere. The British Phonographic Institute, the Motion Picture Assocation, and the Premier League are the names named in the blocking of the site set up by the hacker to nullify this thing encrypting hard drives.

Right now, I don't care if this was an admin error or "the algorithms did it, guv". This is on a par with a data breach - irrespective of whether it was accidental or malicious, someone needs to go before the bench for this, and it should be the boards of the above-named organisations.

75:

Nice in theory, pity about the feasibility. See #72 for some numbers. My point is that the NHS has had some decades of being forced to make cuts, especially to ancillary services ('putting more resources into front-line services'), and outsource anything that could be claimed to be non-central ('harnessing the efficiency of the private sector'). This aspect of the NHS is a disaster area, and the people I know who still work in or with it are increasingly depressed. As OGH says in #72, though I might disagree on the details of a solution - but ANY technical approach would be better than the current political chaos.

76:

Way I heard it, the blockist diverts all requests to a landing page that says "banned by the government" or words to that effect.

WCry sends out an HTTP GET request, and checks for a 200 OK response, which it gets by way of the government blocklist, so it's not inherently bad.

Having it on the IWF blocklist actually ensures that if some ISP is having problems with DNS propagation (picking up the kill switch domain) the WCry kill switch requests will still get a 200 OK response.

But it'd take a competent hacker all of 15 minutes to modify WCry to snarf in the rest of the served page and do a checksum on it against what it expects to find. At which point all hell will break loose again and the government blocklist will actually make the infection much, much harder to stop.

77:

Not far enough. What we should do is take seL4 to the logical conclusion, and just build a complete operating system to Formal Verification standards. At 400 euros / line of code, that would run somewhere between 4 and 20 billion euros. Which.. Totally worth it. Kills of microsoft. Heck, probably kills of all competing OS vendors.

Ehh.. I need to have a word with some of my professors. This needs writing into a proposal for.. Uhm, the EU commission? Yhea, more likely to go for it than anyone else, I would think.

78:

Ye gods and little fishes, NO! Formal verification merely checks that the code matches the specification, not that the latter isn't solid with fundamentally unblockable holes. As I said in #5, we know how to build provably secure systems, and I have used one - look up capability systems, for example. Also, it is actually a LOT cheaper to create well-designed systems than horrors that are just thrown together, as CICS demonstrated in the 1980s (I may have the date wrong). But you are absolutely right that such a project would be viable - I know roughly how to proceed, too, though couldn't organise it myself. But, as OGH says, it is flatly antagonistic to the dominant ethos in either the USA or UK - the new, post-UK EU might do it if it reorganises itself the way that Germany and France would like. Might.

79:

I'd laugh if this wasn't so sad and its effects may have in reality cost lives.

Unfortunately, this is not the only up and coming technology that the science fiction genre is unwilling to publish. There are other writers out there who are sending in stories with such technologies and are being turned down by other publishers.

Your rejection is just one instance of this what I can only describe as a disease within the genre.

80:

One minor correction re. Charlie's "the NSA black ice": ICE was originally "intrusion countermeasures electronics", and was therefore (basically) highly evolved antivirus software, not penetration software. Gibson's use of "black" ICE meant that the software responded with lethal force. I can see this happening in a non-software way: the white-hat hackers locate the bad guys, and Trump sends in a special ops team to eliminate them with extreme prejudice. Consequence: though initially effective, fear causes most amateurs stop playing games whose consequences they don't really understand, and cybercrime gets left to the professionals. That's probably not an improvement. Amateurs tend to get detected and stopped quickly.

Charlie: "You missed the bit about medical devices, right? It can take multiple years to certify them as safe for use on humans"

Yes indeedy. There was a particularly nasty case a few years back that illustrates the problems neatly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therac-25.
Did we learn from this experience? Maybe.

In principle, it seems like mission-critical software (particularly software used by not-for-profit groups like governments and their various peripherals) should be developed on an open-source model so that the software could be updated, monitored, and improved continuously by a large and dedicated community of experts. In practice, this has two major drawbacks*: First, if nobody is made responsible for maintenance, it tends to get forgotten by everyone except crackers. (My Google-fu failed me, but there was a problem with this in the context of Internet plumbing a year or two ago. Someone discovered an ancient and patched exploit, but most users hadn't update their installation due to fear of breaking working systems, negligence, or laziness.) The solution is to provide funding and direction for a team who will always be keeping an eye on the software so they can mobilize a team to fix any problems that are identified. There would also need to be an automatic update system, like that used for Windows and Mac OS, to ensure that everyone is aware of the updates. That's not trivial.

Second, the bad buys can inspect the source code more easily than is possible with compiled proprietary code (e.g., Windows) and can find vulnerabilities that way. In theory, establishing and funding a team responsible for ongoing testing and maintenance of the software will eliminate problems before the bad guys exploit them; in practice, the first problem may prevent this.

* A third drawback: The for-profit sector mostly wouldn't consider this approach, since proprietary code = monopoly pricing.

81:

"If you can run a hospital on that piece of crap, why not a plane? A nuclear reactor?"

Windows XP is nothing. GE Canada is still using a pdp11 in at least one nuclear reactor. It's active for the same reasons that OGH gave - you don't "upgrade" stable safety critical systems.

82:

And yet, Greg, other countries like Sweden and Switzerland managed to have fallout shelters for most of their population.

...that rather depends on how you define "fallout shelter". AIUI, the Swiss regulations for private housing only demanding (preferably cellar / basement) room without windows, and a sturdy door, able to be stocked with some food and water; there was more lipservice than genuine observation.

Yes, places like new-build colleges involved large shelters (and I can vouch that they're comfortable and large enough for a visiting Pipe Band to use as cheap accommodation and practice facility), but I suspect that these were more "where do we put local council coordination" than "everyone must have a place with air filtration and decontamination".

Note that the UK had actually done a lot of operational analysis and practical experience around "what happens when bad people bomb your civilian population"; hence the Anderson and Morrison shelters, and a strong understanding of what happens when HE + incendiary hits modern built-up area. The Civil Defence Corps lasted until the likely Soviet attacks were equipped with fusion, rather than fission, weapons. If you're in the blast radius, a cellar won't help.

Calling them "fallout shelters" is nice PR, but I suspect the big benefit to mainland European nations was providing shelter from conventional artillery and direct-fire during "20th Guards Tank Army decides that your town is on or near its Axis of Advance".

Given that this wasn't a primary concern for the UK (given the Channel as an obstacle to invasion), the "door propped against internal supporting wall" is pretty good unless you want to impose somewhat greater costs on building firms by insisting on cellars, when we couldn't even build enough houses for our population as it was... it's the same reason that Germany pre-built the demolition charge spaces and wiring into a lot of its newer bridges and autobahns, while we didn't bother.

Having said that, properly-constructed cellars and attics were really handy when we lived in Germany - it turned what would be the footprint of a "Barratt Box" in the UK, into a four-story house with plenty of storage.

83:

Another figure: the NHS was given "a large chunk" of money to improve its security - a massive 50 million!

84:

The pdp11 is presumably not networked; this is a major security improvement.

Of course, these days, "not networked" means "we'll use a solid-state USB storage device", and those must have firmware to distribute the bits over the solid-state part, and that firmware is subject to being compromised. So any storage device with firmware is inherently insecure. (Optical, too; the burner can have its firmware hacked to always include something in the result.)

So you wind up needing not just "no networking" but "the kind of custody measures you'd use for live smallpox" to ever update anything you want to treat as secure. This is difficult and very expensive.

An alternative model -- the above is the secrecy model -- is to run absolutely everything on an open network and subject to preemptive anonymous audits. This has obvious issues with who you let into the web of trust, but does generally seem to work better than than the secrecy models.

85:

To be fair, Linux would be only somewhat better - security holes are also found in Linux from time to time. Having been employed by a few hardware vendors in the medical community, the systems won't be patched over an extended period without significant increases to support contracts - which won't be forthcoming until after significant problems have arisen. The turning point is somewhere between 10s and 1000s of deaths from a single incident, or a few billion in hardware.

--Erwin

86:
Formal verification merely checks that the code matches the specification, not that the latter isn't solid with fundamentally unblockable holes.

That's pretty much the fridge logic I had in high school when encountering the concept. Not to mention that a spec comprehensive enough that bugs can't creep in during the "turn spec into code" stage is probably getting pretty darn close to being executable in its own right... so you'll need a spec for the spec. Formal verification can have surprisingly big caveats too: SeL4's proof requires assuming the CPU, bootloader, and the assembly-language parts are correct, for instance.

Capability systems are interesting though, both from a practical and thought experiment (ie, "how would I go about this?" as a mental exercise) perspective. I suspect one that extends the capability-ness into end-user-visible areas will not be terribly straightforward to design in the first place or port to once built, at least if you want it to be a replacement for desktop-class systems. Plus the design will have to make rather microlithic applications easy to design and make understandable to users, lest you end up with big monoliths that hold capabilities for the unions of their functions, only a subset of which is required in each case.

This last one complicates browsers, for instance. One tab's worth of browser needs to be able to exist en masse, scale down to handle simple content efficiently, spawnable by other copies of itself (eg, for iframes), and potentially have access to a variety of facilities with security implications beyond simply wasting memory and CPU, and while there are rules controlling access they're rather specific to a browser. The result is a thing that has to be given all of the access and trusted to enforce security properties.

Existing programming tools aren't always nicely designed either: I'm periodically annoyed in a theoretical sort of way that .net's stdlib is really not nicely arranged for this. Capability-based designs seem to resemble dependency injection a lot, and things like the IO functions are heavily reliant on static methods and specific concrete classes.

87:

I scanned through the thread and can't see that anyone pointed out that some organisations have good reasons for not blindly applying every update that M$ calls "critical." For a long time there was a "critical" update for pushing out every .0 release of new Internet Explorer major version numbers, because M$ had business reasons of its own to get it widely installed. Trusting M$ to honestly describe "critical" updates is a mug's game if you have a sizeable organisation running anything mission-critical that's not party of Office.

88:

That is, however, a very superficial critique. Yes, yes, it is impossible to prove that a it all hangs together, because Godel, and so on. As a practical matter, software written using these methods is enormously reliable.
"Bug free" isnt an iron clad guarantee, but it is a pretty accurate descriptor. And an OS built thus will for that reason require very little updating. And be very difficult indeed to compromise

89:

ITT: people who have no experience with security or secure systems, opining loudly.

90:

Speaking of ransomware, it's worth a reminder that if you're not doing backups, you should be. I've stopped counting the number of "... and I had no backup" tales of woe from friends and colleagues. In this day of malware, you might want to consider investing a few currency units annually in a series of ongoing DVD backups. Because my dataset is (i) relatively small and (ii) essential to the survival of my freelance business, I do this weekly as part of a broader and more comprehensive backup strategy.

The huge advantage of DVD is that it can't be over-written, thus no post hoc encryption is possible. If you have enough of these disks going back for weeks, even slowly moving "stealth" ransomware won't get all your data: 1, 2, or more weeks ago, your complete backup is still unencrypted on the DVD. Worst case, you lose a week or two of data, not all of it. Ideally, store the backups off-site, so if aliens or evangelical rapturist architects abduct your house and computer, the backups are stored somewhere safe. Throw down your credit card, reinstall your software (ideally from a clone of the hard drive), and you're back in business in a couple hours.

My home-office approach won't scale well for businesses, governments, and other large entities. I'm not sure there is a good solution, although BitDefender just announced that their new version will monitor Time Machine backups (I'm on a Mac) for signs of encryption or tampering. I assume they have a Windows equivalent (e.g., Microsoft's cloud backup). That kind of monitoring should provide at least a first step to securing large bodies of data.

91:

Don't get me wrong - veriffication is a very important tool - but you DO need cleaner languages and interfaces to make it viable in practice. This is not the place to describe how the browser issue could be tackled, but we in the ISO VTP group were discussing it (way back when). The point about capabilities is to ensure that the fundamental operating system security promises cannot be compromised, which relates to your SeL4 point.

92:

I work in this sort of area, although for a different organisation which thankfully hasn't been affected, because we patch.

There seems to be a bit of an undercurrent in some comments that suggests "There's no point patching the systems because the embedded system in the MRI scanner has to run XP". This is not accurate- if the majority of the computers on the network are secure, then the malware would be unlikely to ever reach the MRI machine.

Alternatively, the MRI scanner is an expensive machine with dedicated staff and written processes. It is cheaper to introduce a process like moving data on and off it using a USB stick (very basic sheep-dip) than patching and re-certifying.

A lot of cashpoints run XP. They weren't affected, because they don't access the internet. This attack was inevitable yet easily avoidable.

93:

A large supercomputer system I managed was once sold a rack-sized disk system that required 'Internet' connectivity, and had a fixed user name of 'admin' and a fixed password of 'secret'. I connected it to the machine that needed it via a point-to-point link, THAT machine was accessible only via a front-end machine and SSH, with a firewall that blocked everything incoming except SSH/ping etc. to the front-end machine. The analogy should be obvious :-)

94:

Thing about backups; one is no good. You need at least three independent ones. (different places, mechanisms, and processes. Nothing on a laptop or phone counts.)

I back up writing (upon which I am NOT financially dependent) by:

• pushed to a remote git repository on google
• daily automatic rsynced to google cloud storage (an extra-git file copy; it will get what I have not committed)
• daily automatic copy to local NAS
• daily automatic copy to a portable drive
• monthly zipped copy to a different always-carried USB stick
• monthly rsync to two (2) portable drives kept in Pelican cases (1060s fit a 3.5" drive)
• monthly synced to the remote git repository on an always-carried USB stick


That's somewhat mono-buttocked; I don't have my-control remote physical copies. I've got some coverage for a fire (the always-carried USB and the cloud storage) and it's unlikely that hardware failure is going to destroy all my copies, but this wouldn't do for anything business-critical. (If my google credentials failed at the same time I had a fire, I'd lose a month of work.)

The other thing about backups is that they're useless unless you can restore from them; I've been bit by this in a work context. Much angst over working around backup schedules and then it turns out the backups do not work when required. It inclines me to use rsync and not bother about cleverness in backup schemes; it certainly means doing the occasional uncompress on the monthly backups just to make sure there's the expected contents.

95:

The turning point is somewhere between 10s and 1000s of deaths from a single incident, or a few billion in hardware

I think we hit that point about 2pm last Friday.

London-wide "golden hour" emergency stroke centers were shut down. Hospitals cancelled all operations other than "patient is already under the knife"/"patient will die without life-saving surgery in next hour" acute trauma care. Fuck knows what's happened to oncology clinic recall letters and test result databases; simply because of the scale of the WCry attack, there will have been a spike in deaths in the UK this weekend.

And the cost of upgrading/replacing those 1M XP boxes? That's going to be on the order of £0.5Bn and up.

96:

I think that's probably the end game, but the transition would really, really suck.

97:

.. Or anyone with ambitions about politics runs a lifelog implemented on a high-trust platform. You can prove any and all smears false, no matter how good sfx is if you can account for every second of your life since you turned 14.

Heck, this does not even necessarily require you to be an extreme exhibitionist - it should be possible to set up a pattern matching system capable of taking any such video and checking it against The Record for validity.

98:

I'm happy to say: that's me!

Anyhow, for Greg:

G7 finance ministers turned their focus Saturday to combating cyber crime in what Italy’s Pier Carlo Padoan described as an “unfortunately very timely” discussion.

The ministers were expected to commit to stepping up international cooperation on the issue after a global onslaught that hit computer systems in in nearly 100 countries on Friday.

G7 finance chiefs talk cyber security in wake of attacks The Guardian.NG (!!), 13th May, 2017.

Note: it appears that that link is to something purporting to be "The Guardian", but a Nigerian version. Not sure if the actual Guardian minds or not.

The story is accurate, however, it looks like a copy/paste job from an A(F)P feed - The Times of India has it, amongst others.


Coincidences, coincidences...

NHS cyber-attack: More ransomware cases 'likely on Monday' BBC, 14th May 2017


Here's something fun: a map the spread.

https://intel.malwaretech.com/WannaCrypt.html


It's global.

99:

I.. Kind of expect this to happen. Not just for politicians, either. An annotated record of your entire life with very good access controls is simply sufficiently useful that I expect people to adopt it. There are some required social and legal norms that need to go with it to keep it from being a black mirror episode, but I expect those to happen too. Because in a world where such logs are common, abuse of them will be frowned upon really quite severely.

100:

Here's something fun: a map the spread.

The spread started in the east and worked its way west as the day progressed, until the kill switch domain was registered.

But this shouldn't be surprising; people come in to work in the office, maybe plug in an infected device on the office LAN, and because it's a worm the infected machine hits the entire corp and then propagates. So obviously the attack ramps up as the Earth turns.

101:

Graydon noted: "Thing about backups; one is no good. You need at least three independent ones. (different places, mechanisms, and processes. Nothing on a laptop or phone counts.)"

Very much yes. I noted that the DVDs are only one part of a comprehensive solution. I also do cloud-based backups, backups to an external drive, and backups to a rotating series of flash drives. And I clone my hard drive periodically when it's stable so that if a subsequent software update hoses the computer, I can restore quickly. (I can also boot using that external drive on a spare computer. Kind of like having a non-virtual virtual machine. *G*)

My only point about DVDs is that they can't be rewritten (unless DVD-RW); thus, they can't be encrypted by ransomware. All other "soft" backup forms could be: if your backup synchs half a hard drive of encrypted files to overwrite their previously unencrypted backups, you're scrod. If malware specifically looks for external drives or cloud storage, you're scrod. We're not there yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Graydon: "The other thing about backups is that they're useless unless you can restore from them"

Very much so. One step of all my backups is to verify the final written files by opening a few of them to ensure that the copy worked and that the disk is readable. This used to be a significant problem with vertically mounted floppy drives: over time, the head alignment would creep downwards under gravity, and diskettes could no longer be read on a different drive. (Yes, I'm that old. *G*) I recall reading the same thing about vertially mounted hard drives, but don't quote me on that.

Graydon: "It inclines me to use rsync and not bother about cleverness in backup schemes"

Yes. Pretty much any (readable unencrypted) backup is better than no backup.

102:

Appreciate the explanation of this event, its consequences, etc. Thanks, all!

Agree with Greg that smart devices probably a really bad idea given this event. At the same time wonder how many of the currently available smart devices were connected to/dependent on XP, i.e., a cludge of old and new systems.

JLM: Got an 'unsafe site' warning when I tried to access the map.

Elderly Cynic: Any particular reason why you wouldn't gather your peers to develop safer stand-alone systems esp. for NHS application? (I'm guessing you're somewhere along the semi- to fully retired portion of your tech career.)

Maurice: Helluva a thing to wait for ... family member had another type of transplant. Wish you similar good success.

103:

Fully retired. And I was never in a position to do that, but did my best to try to persuade those who were in a position to persuade those who could to do so :-(

104:

My only point about DVDs is that they can't be rewritten (unless DVD-RW); thus, they can't be encrypted by ransomware. All other "soft" backup forms could be: if your backup synchs half a hard drive of encrypted files to overwrite their previously unencrypted backups, you're scrod. If malware specifically looks for external drives or cloud storage, you're scrod. We're not there yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Completely agree about "matter of time"; given that this thing was diving through SMB shares, may not agree about "not there yet". :)

While it's true WORM DVDs can't be rewritten, they would have a lot more going for them as a backup medium in my estimation if they had better half-lives; I used to use them and found that they'd die in a year sometimes.

The "get all the attached" is why the USB and two of the three external hard drives are disconnected backups; if they can open a Pelican case with software I'm already doomed. :)

Though... many a year ago, I managed to bork /etc/ld.conf.so and nothing dependent on a shared library would work. (sed would. fixing ld.conf.so with sed was an experience I am not eager to repeat.) I suspect that this whole "encrypt your files" thing is evidence of incompetence; it would be much more effective to bork your file handling shared libraries in some subtle way and after a month, turn off the injected code that fixes the reads. Do that for long enough (and cleverly enough, so the record of what the various keys were at what random times at the block level is required for recovery) and backups won't save you. Hardly anyone is going to test their backups on diverse known-clean unconnected external machines. (A sufficiently resourced org would be trying to insert this into the MS and Apple patch queues so it gets rolled out as an official update.)

105:

Still not able to access the map you reference but found this graph which shows Russia as first big hit.

Excerpt:

'Currently, we have recorded more than 45,000 attacks of the WannaCry ransomware in 74 countries around the world, mostly in Russia. It’s important to note that our visibility may be limited and incomplete and the range of targets and victims is likely much, much higher.'

https://securelist.com/blog/incidents/78351/wannacry-ransomware-used-in-widespread-attacks-all-over-the-world/

Given that the ransom is in Bitcoin, how widespread the problem, sounds like this is just begging for official gov'ts worldwide to step in and subpoena BitCoin's files/systems.

106:

The tricky bit about bitcoin for this purpose is that it's got a weird half-anonymous model where the entire transaction log is public but who each wallet belongs to (and AIUI you can create multiple addresses that aren't obviously connected to one wallet) isn't recorded.

Not that this stops the relevant authorities from trying to get the information out of exchanges that can convert BTC into normal currencies, that being the only entities that might know where the money is going in real-world terms. There's no central authority to sic the law on.

A good thing if you distrust central authorities on principle, not so good when investigating nefariousness.

107:

The authors of this worm must be pretty terrified. It has clearly affected orders of magnitude more machines than they could have expected. now every major government on the panet is going to be after them for making them look dumb. The British to draw attension away from the underinvestment that made the NHS vulnerable. The American for hoarding the vulnerability for years for their own use, then losing it after the os's affected were still in use, but no longer supported properly. would not want to be in their shoes. Doubt the ransom money the've made will be anything like enough for the consequences that are coming.

108:

Excellent
"Pour encourager lest Autres" comes to mind

109:

This lot appear to have wanted money. (and to have had no idea what they were doing in terms of pricing.)

The next lot gets to go "they shut down the NHS and FedEx _by mistake_. what can I shut down on purpose?"

110:

Trying to decompose a browser into pieces that could be tackled securely is a task in itself and might be a "we're currently stuck with an awful design that needs a very painful replacement" thing.

But agreed, improvements in languages (and the tooling thereof) and interfaces will be needed. I wouldn't be surprised if they lead to improvements in software quality even with a largely unverified stack even without getting into making it so you only have to verify a small amount of code to be sure of a large amount of code.

111:

You missed: if the WCry authors are Russian, the KGB will be after them for embarrassing that nice Mr Putin.

It will end in tears before bedtime.

But there's going to be a second (and then a third) wave of modified/copycat WCry worms next week. And then we get the variants built on ETERNALROMANCE and ETERNALSYNERGY instead of ETERNALBLUE, and presumably others not leaked in the same trove ...

113:

It requires javascript to be enabled to run (which is in itself a bit of a joke).

Since we're hitting the stage (pun) where .ru and .us political links are enmeshing nicely (you can do a GREP, did tell you it wasn't a RU pure OP...) and the Guardian is getting legal threats (so badly written: did the 'Brain Eaters' start the party early?), some totally unfounded comments:

#1 Targets effected - mostly medical & public sectors and some private oddities (hello, Renault. Didn't you have some emissions issues recently?). Renault says production halted at French sites after cyberattack AFP, Twitter, 13th May, 2017. Also, see: Businesses brace for Monday as ransomware threat lingers Reuters, 14th May, 2017 for a list of companies effected. Nissan included. Hmmm.

#2 NSA code / exploits, released into the wild, amateur hour coding effort (as #blackhats are commenting) goes wild? Nice cover story you have there.

#3 FCC / G7 stuff - oddly influential timing there, boys. Almost as if...

#4 MS comes out looking like the good guy/gal/zes (!) with patches etc, plus everyone is now incentivized to upgrade all the things, means $ prizes

#5 People probably died due to this, #ethicsincoding

#6 Initial hit, .ru / .cn ... probably someone forgot (or was negligent) over just how much industry specific stuff would get hit. Aside from SSBN jokes, look for stuff that's not been mentioned: I have suspicions; namely a large amount of .cn factory stuff. ($1 trillion Silk Road 2 announced, hmm).

And so on.

If I were writing the script, it might be a case of 'live fire' exercises performing wildly above expectations, or a case of the "Trumpy-Pumpy-Slash-n-Burn" agricultural method. (Trump’s Expected Pick for Top USDA Scientist Is Not a Scientist ProPublica, 12th May, 2017)


You missed: if the WCry authors are Russian, the KGB will be after them for embarrassing that nice Mr Putin.

Given that the Narrative Hero-of-the-hour is a 22 old male English dude, I suspect that will be the narrative (although, it'll be one of the ex-states / Indonesia, mark my words). Black Hat haunts are largely taking the piss out of the low-ball / crappy deployment, places where that 13% finance crime stats are made.

For Greg: It's doubtful that the 'sanctioned privateers' of the .ru crime scene would pull this - they know it's too much heat and too political with too much fallout. They're DOTA2 / EvE players, they know all about the meta-plays. Oh, and they know they'll end up dead if they fucked up this bigly.

Now, an ex-FBI boss with nothing to lose, however...

~

Fishy. Very Fishy. Smells like G7 bureaus (why Hello Italy) who don't understand the .ru scene doing a mimic-run.

Who knows?

Anyhow, larger scandal (irony: NHS people's health, ongoing ACHA debacles etc = real people die, not funny) - 100% sure the audio on the UK's Eurovision entry had channels cut to prevent the 'shivers down the spine' impact that Mr Simon Cowell has practically made into a £££ printing machine.

Cher Lloyd sings "Stay" by Shakespears Sister Live Show 4 X Factor YT: Music, 2011.

And yes, there's a Chesire Cat message there.

114:

Good point. The British media in their usual parochial way have concentrated on the effect here, making it almost appear to be an attack directed at the NHS primarily. Actually Russia and Russian government systems have been particularly badly affected.

115:

And remember that the fix is to take the MS patch. Which is a difficult-to-analyze binary, from MS's servers. When you now know the NSA and MS are good buddies.

From a Russian perspective, this is not obviously optimal.

116:

Oh, and for Host / involved Tigers:

The mastermind who wrote this weapon obviously knows about bitcoin, and by extension, how blockchain works; surely they could have contrived some sort of cryptographically secure way to protect their kill switch?

G7 Finance talks. Look up the cryptocurrency discussions, then look at the drama llama stuff coming out all over the CryCur networks with .cn getting heavily involved (enough to start market controls), Banks wanting a similar system they can control and a couple of other 'competitors' who aren't Dodge-Coin types. And never forget the Winkle Twinks are also involved.

Oh, and tor.exe was used, axe grinded. Nice little OP, old Hegelian Mind at work there.

Shame it got out of hand, as it were.


p.s.

Trump hosts Russians, Kissinger at White House day after Comey firing CNN, May 10th, 2017

I'll be in a lot more trouble (add it to the tab) if it turns out my jokes about NK and meeting Kissinger were prior to that meeting taking place...

117:

Oh, yes - a complete redesign based on different principles is clearly essential. I could describe how, but it's quite a diversion.

118:

> What happens when this capability is not expensive and bespoke, but instead costs twenty dollars payable in bitcoin to some otherwise useless dude in him mom's basement?

That's easy. Nobody takes anything based on such evidence seriously, people regularly create such things as a joke for their mates, everyone with something genuine to hide gets to breathe a little more easily.

You can't get to that point without anyone noticing after all.

119:

The tricky bit is the inbetween time when people are still learning about it all. And no matter what, a lot of people will believe the nonsense anyway, see Clinton derangement syndrome, the mail, etc. Or for instance you'd be amazed at what my stepmother thinks is true.

120:

What happens when this capability is not expensive and bespoke, but instead costs twenty dollars payable in bitcoin to some otherwise useless dude in him mom's basement?

You're essentially worrying about the effects of Talk Radio on Mass Public Audiences from 1939 at this point. It works. It's out there. Hell, "FUCK IT, WE'LL DO IT LIVE"[1[. Re-read what I wrote: the next gen stuff (past the crass camera facial recognition weaponry being deployed for fucking pizza) is, let us say... Not the thing you're imagining.

Well. OOOOOOooook.

The stuff you're thinking of, well... already been deployed:

How to Block the Ultrasonic Signals You Didn’t Know Were Tracking You Wired, May 2016

Sonic youth: The high-pitched sound alarm for under 25s Independent, June, 2013

Hear Voices? It May Be an Ad Advertising Age, Dec, 2007


Real Time Voice stuff is ancient - Facial animation stuff? Well, let's pretend it's new, shall we?


p.s.

Anyone sane out there? Since when did Commercial Corporations launch .mil satellite payloads? Isn't the entire point of the .mil stuff to prevent your entire shareholder base being held ethically and publically not included into .mil first strike planning? Isn't that a breach of International Law or something?

No-one cares? Oh, ok then.

For the first time a private company places a satellite in orbit GEEK.com, July 2009

In Photos: SpaceX's 1st Secret US Military Satellite Launch (& Landing) Space.com, May 2nd, 2017


Holy Fuck did do you not understand what that shift just did?

[1] This is a Murdoch / Foxnews / B. Reilly joke - worth looking at.

121:

"A lot of cashpoints run XP. They weren't affected, because they don't access the internet."

AFAIK, Microsoft is still releasing updates for the ATM version of XP. There was a piece in The Register a while back, discussing a registry hack that would make a vanilla XP install identify as the ATM version, so's it could get the updates.

So, the ATMs had probably already had the vulnerability patched.

I also suspect that many do use the Internet, though probably via a VPN. But I'm neither expert nor current on ATMs, so I could well be wrong.

122:

Yeah, that's the "bespoke" bit that troutwaxer mentioned. I expect it will be very unpleasant for a while before people get wise to it.

123:

My point is more that a worryingly large section of the populace won't get wise to it at all. Eventually they'll die off and be replaced by younger people who grew up with it around, but there will be a long period with noticeable disruption because some people won't get it at all.

124:

There've been pictures of ATMs displaying the ransom screen going around.

125:

I'll spell it out:

If you own SpaceX stock, you're now (under international Law), officially a member of the USA military. I'd bother to parse it out, but cba. You are, (IRONY TIME), officially a UN designated legal military target. That goes for all stock holders of SpaceX.

But... https://www.quora.com/When-can-I-buy-a-SpaceX-stock

From Bush categorizing all enemies as Unlawful combatants to the Mars Boy publicly (no public IPO, that's the joke) showing that he's Milspec.

Zzz.


126:

ZZzz..

You're discussing the issues of Talk Radio and Nazis.

Please, it'd be real nice if you caught up with the current models.

127:

Do it to them and they will.

128:

Do it to them and they will.


No, they won't. Their Minds will break.


Catatonic and Psychotic Symptoms Owing to the Trauma of Captivity in a Cult Environment Psychosomatics, Volume 58, Issue 1, Jan 2017

Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement Washington Uni. Journal Law & Policy, 2006

https://www.quora.com/Can-dissociative-identity-disorder-be-induced-in-someone-Is-it-plausible-Do-genetic-factors-play-into-this


Well done, you just rubber stamped mass insanity.


~

Spotted an actual Fascist, weee.

129:

Now you're starting to see my point.

130:

My point is that the necessary conditions have already been put in place, over, hmm. Last 40 years at least.

You're missing it, or you think I don't Grokk the real viral danger in play at this point[1].

~

So, throw me a link to show you Grokk it, then we can tie in the amateur hour OPSEC shitfest Host is referencing to FoxNews and so on and so forth.

[1] Or aren't playing at a level a bit beyond your local Village People.

131:

I'm sure you would like to think so. Some, yes, but, as consideration of talk radio, the mail, etc, or more modern methods makes clear, no it doesn't for most of them.

132:

A link? Feh. There will be a day when nightmares come true, and it is coming soon. 80-90 percent of the tech is in place - facial recognition at the pizza place, etc., - the rest is coming RSN.

The problem is this: Hard drives were compromised a few years back when some bright young lad figured out how to run Linux on the electronics screwed to the back of the drive. The stuff that's leaked in the last few months (and filtered down to the criminal level already) became garbage as soon as that particular proof-of-concept was weaponized. I suspect that the next-generation of TLA today will be much more interesting than anyone could imagine, because at this point access is a given.

http://spritesmods.com/?art=hddhack

I could spend a couple days doing research and give you the link you crave, but it's mainly a matter of feel for when the next-generation nightmares at the TLAs whatnot filter down to the bottom-feeding level.

Cthulhu is cumming. Stick out your brain.

133:
And we can be talking about MRI and CAT scanners here, costing in the millions.

I am not sure what the cost of the devices has to do with the cost of recertification on a new OS version...

In any case, just as there are source code escrow provisions in many large scale vendor contracts, there really ought to be a recertification clause (perhaps funded via an insurance policy rather than a straightforward obligation on the part of the manufacturer to recertify at their expense.

134:

TLA means what? The Last Airbender or Three Letter Acronym?

135:

Since when did Commercial Corporations launch .mil satellite payloads?

Since the late 1980s/early 1990s, actually; you might want to look into the history of United Launch Alliance (aka a Boeing/Lockheed consortium). NRO just focuses on payload integration; the actual launching is outsourced to the private sector because everything inside the big white payload fairing is firewalled from the private sector launch vehicle operators, and why go for military operations when you can funnel pork to your cost-plus privatee sector buddies?

Then SpaceX muscled in on the cosy cartel with a lawsuit and USAF and NRO figured that it might be handy to have some competition in the launch market.

136:

Cthulhu is cumming. Stick out your brain.

Now that actually made me laugh. *nose wiggle*. Spoilers: ThatsUsThatIs.jpg

These Cunts destroyed My Hosts frontal Cortex and ability to process images, deliberately as a tactic, until on 9/11, 2016, ze radically switched into making shadow realms into imagery and wrote with it while projecting. First Time for All These Things; No H.S.S. has done that before.

Oh, while ze was having a massive reality spike / narrative drive (that cost a lot of effort / souls / energy to do) at the same time. Like, an entire fucking army of souls / computers etc. And then kicked in with a Goddess-in-your-EyE and a Silver Wolf.

~

Yeah. I'm thinking you don't really know the real score being played. Sleep well knowing that we love H.S.S., but: You're Fucked.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 YT: Film, 10:45

137:

Ok, genuine question as I'm new to all of this technology stuff:

#1 United Launch Alliance is 2006.

#2 I understand the concepts, and why it was done.

#3 Please point to the exact moment that the USA essentially weaponized Space by proxy - although we understand Reagan's motivations, this actually destroys one of the most "iconic / fundamental / Randian" points to Capitalism.


~

*cough* Ammo Dump *cough*

138:

I suppose the emergency rediscovery of ancient prohibitions on bearing false witness is too much to hope for.

139:

When you phrase it that, way, yes, of course. The corrupt use of various scriptures has always been a problem, and the most modern expression is surely the american evangelical church with various ideas, from dispensationalism to the prosperity gospel.

140:
And we can be talking about MRI and CAT scanners here, costing in the millions.

I am not sure what the cost of the devices has to do with the cost of recertification on a new OS version...

In any case, just as there are source code escrow provisions in many large scale vendor contracts, there really ought to be a recertification clause (perhaps funded via an insurance policy rather than a straightforward obligation on the part of the manufacturer to recertify at their expense.

141:

Three Letter Agency. CIA, FBI, NSA, ETC.

142:

"You're Fucked."

That's not news.

143:

#1 United Launch Alliance is 2006.

ULA is a weird combination of Boeing and Lockmart created due to the combination of industrial espionage and the bizarre way military contractors work. Before ULA, the two companies ostensibly competed for launch contracts.

I think the history of private launches goes back much further than even the late '80s though: after all, all those ICBM-derived launch vehicles from the '50s on were designed and built by military contractors, and you can bet their employees (with the proper clearances) were involved in payload integration... just like the actual satellites are built by contractors.

144:

By the way, in case anyone wants a TL;DR history of ULA, here's a super brief and possibly wrong version:

Boeing and Lockmart had been building giant space rockets since the days of the ancients, but since the failure of the Shuttle program in the '80s the Military decided to restructure them as privatized launch services. The Air Force would put out a bid to launch some secret spy satellite or other, there would be a competition, and through the invisible hand of free market Capitalism a cheaper, faster, and better rocket launch would happen from one of the Air Force's two main rocket bases.

This went on for some years, with vast sums of money being funneled into these companies to develop new and better versions of their rockets to the Air Force specification, along with vast sums of money paid for each launch.

After a while, one of the companies found it difficult for their rocket (sporting American-made engines) to compete with the other company's rocket (which sported one of NPO Energomash's most excellent Russian engines) and got caught engaging in blatant industrial espionage.

As punishment, the Military ordered the two companies to combine their rocket divisions into one single company which owned both rockets. Thus by consolidating the needlessly diverse launcher market full of squabbling companies into one streamlined entity, the invisible hand of free market Capitalism would provide a cheaper, faster, and better rocket launch from one of the Air Force's two main rocket bases.

Then SpaceX came along and offered to shoot things into space for 1/3 the price, and things got weird.

145:

One of the interesting things about Energomash engines, at least as I understand it, is there's no incremental development path to get there; someone had a Good Idea and blew a lot of stuff up getting it to work. But you have to start with the Good Idea, you can't start with Easy and walk there with incremental changes.

It is Really Hard to get the US DoD to give you money to blow stuff up because it might work someday.

146:

The Clovis link is very disturbing.

That's a classic "Corrupt-State-Private" tie-up, which is one of the principal indicators for fascism, IIRC?

147:

Talk Radio on Mass Public Audiences from 1939

Oh dear.
Orson Welles, "War of the Worlds" [ 1938 ]

148:

One thing SpaceX did was to invest heavily in developing a world class CFD simulation capability. It's impossible to say how much that has saved them in the long run but I would bet that it's significant.

Back on the original topic: I was away for the weekend and all this kicks off within minutes of turning off the email and turning away from the tech news. This is why we need the zombie fence watching the sleeper in the pyramid!

149:

In the USA, you sometimes assassinate the president: In Soviet Russia president assassinates you!

150:

Actually, the traditional Russian constitution is absolutism moderated by assassination. Since 1953, that has been anomalously figurative, but most of the world seems to be regressing politically, so why not there? I notice that you have, too - Soviet Russia?

151:

SpaceX have also designed for ease of manufacture and handling rather than performance.

152:

Just to chime in on the main topic with regards building management systems and the SCADA side of things.

There are a lot of legacy machines out there on the process engineering side, I know of two running windows 95 , let alone 2000 or XP. These machines run very expensive pieces of hardware or software, which a company will usually install or change exactly once in the duration of its use. If you fully rejig the production line, you get to update the controlling pcs. Otherwise it just lurks in the corner. Usually the two biggest issues are getting compatible printers and making sure that the legacy serial or parallel licencing dongle still functions.

They don't get internet access or windows updates, but they may need network access to send production information somewhere.

On the building side, people won't update their BMS until they refit the building - that was every 10 years, now at least every 15. So they run the head ends on whatever PC was installed originally, unless it physically dies and you can get a compatible replacement, those are mostly the XP installs now. A small building BMS is probably 50-100k, a big building gets into the millions really fast depending on what it runs. Hawks might get software updates to newer versions on a 6-9 month lag to ensure it is stable, but Trend couldn't care less.

The other problem case I've seen a lot lately is small HR companies, who have a central HR system that they've used for a decade or more, and the cost to upgrade because it is so out of date is in the 30-50k mark. They don't have that sort of money available, so we have to keep their existing install limping along. SBS2003 was far too familiar a sight up until a year or two ago.

153:

The other problem case I've seen a lot lately is small HR companies, who have a central HR system that they've used for a decade or more, and the cost to upgrade because it is so out of date is in the 30-50k mark. They don't have that sort of money available, so we have to keep their existing install limping along.

Small software development companies, sometimes. All software needs a rewrite sometime in the future, and smart people plan for that. However, it's easy to run a smallish business doing software for over a decade and never rewrite it "because it works" and never allocate money for the rewrite.

When things go wrong and somebody notices that there are problems all over the code base, rewriting is going to cost a lot, and not all companies can do that.

154:

Why is Kerberos never part of the answer? It's a good protocol for avoiding the use of passwords in protocols, instead exchanging authentication tickets over the network.

What would you use instead for the purpose of identifying a remote user?

155:

One (a research project) already exists.

156:

Musical repartee ...

Crappier than usual week coming up it seems so decided it's time for a combination of upbeat-cum-cynical old rock. Might not be your generation, however worth a listen. Probably their best gig ever: Queen at Liveaid. (Earworm since last night when is 'Hammer to Fall'. Hmmm ... will need to switch to another music form soon.) Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A22oy8dFjqc&t=1283s

157:

Why are we not airgapping these networks? Is this a matter of imaging machines really needing to be able to push data to the front desk, or is this a matter of front desk operators being pissed off if they can't use facebook during dull periods?

158:

He's riffing off of Yackov Smirnoff's signature "humor." Since that bit was "popular" 30 years ago, he is regressing more than you think :)

159:

So based on my experiences recently.
The imaging department is in the basement. The controlling machine talks to the scanner and gets a picture. The user imports that picture from the controller PC into the hospital central xray repository, and registers a copy against the patient/job/doctor.

In the fracture clinic, the doctor gets your xrays, has a look, and then tells you to get more rest. It looked like he used a remote desktop window to view them, most likely for that particular app. The PC he uses is really just a replaceable terminal, everything is windows inside windows. Patient notes are all done via dictaphones.

The xrays from one hospital are available at the radiology dept at another hospital, but they have to pull them down one at a time over a *very* slow link. They prefer you bring them on a disc so they can load them in directly, it's a lot faster.

Your medical history is generally not available between hospitals or between hospital and GP unless both are in the same region. My hospital is in Westminster, my GP in Camden, and they only communicate by email and printed (and scanned) letter. Royal Free couldn't view my UCLH xrays until they went to the radiology dept and got in that way.

Patient data confidentiality is partly intentional and partly because the NHS is hundreds of independent regions not sharing shit. Air gaps are plentiful.

160:

One thing to remember regarding SpaceX is any platform that can put a payload in orbit will work plenty good as an ICBM

So a company that builds and operates such is already effected by a ton of international treaties. It will never be able to function as a "private corporation" really, always be a corp/military hybrid

So I wouldn't get worked up when you see them shipping military payloads

161:

To paraphrase you: don't worry that a man who regularly jokes about wanting a volcano lair has control of a WMD delivery system? :-)

162:

Why are we not airgapping these networks?

Because part of the requirements is for the radiology department to be able to email that CAT scan of your broken arm or the MRI of your soft tissue tumor to the clinical osteology or oncology departments for follow-up, and cc: to your GP so someone there knows about what follow-up treatment you may need.

That's probably why there's a PC built into the scanner in the first place, right?

163:

WannaCry Ransomware: Microsoft Calls Out NSA For 'Stockpiling' Vulnerabilities

"The malware behind WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt, Wana Decryptor or WCry) was reported to have been stolen from the NSA in April. And while Microsoft said it had already released a security update to patch the vulnerability one month earlier, the sequence of events fed speculation that the NSA hadn't told the U.S. tech giant about the security risk until after it had been stolen." – NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/15/528439968/wannacry-ransomware-microsoft-calls-out-nsa-for-stockpiling-vulnerabilities


164:

One thing to remember regarding SpaceX is any platform that can put a payload in orbit will work plenty good as an ICBM

Not really — or only for a surprise first strike.

Look at the R-7 Semyorka, aka SS-6 Sapwood (per NATO), the first working ICBM. It is still in service and mass production to this day despite first flying in the early 1950s ... it's the ancestor of the Soyuz launcher, the most successful space rocket in history (nearly a thousand launches, well into triple digit manned flights). But as an ICBM it was a dog; expensive, hard to operate, and took six hours on an exposed launch pad to prep for flight ... the pads being 4 hours away from the Soviet frontier as the B-52 flies. (They retired it just as soon as they had better alternatives.)

If you want an ICBM today you want (a) storable propellant (i.e. hypergolic liquid fuels or solids), (b) silo launch capability (so you can harden it against a preemptive strike, or mount it on mobile tracked launchers), and (c) a payload of maybe 250-300kg per RV—something that can deliver one tonne to LEO is overpowered unless you want to scare the crap out of the top table players with a serious MIRV.

In contrast, Falcon 9 takes at least an hour to prep for launch once it's on the pad (all that cryogenic fuel to load), and a stupidly excessive payload (22.8 tons in expendable form, and you don't plan on reusing ICBM first stages!).

It's great for launching Big Bird spysats, but a terrible ICBM.

165:

The thing about all this talk about about secure languages, proof-based design strategies, and the like is that they're ignoring the societal reasons why these sorts of security catastrophes happen.

I mean, let's step back for a moment and look at why it would be hard to build something like the Linux kernel in a formally verified way. Well, here are a few reasons to start with:

1) Most of the code churn comes from device driver support, which has to happen rapidly to keep up with industry. This isn't just the drivers themselves, it's also re-architecting subsystems to keep up with new hardware interface designs and feature demands.

2) It's rare for the security / permissions model (which might be easy to verify) to be broken.

2a) Instead what usually happens is that some obscure bit of code has a race condition or error handling bug, probably due to the constant focus on features over stability. The result is a violation of the CPU's security model, not the OS's. https://dirtycow.ninja/

2b) ... or a hardware device itself has a bug. This is even worse, because the firmware (and often the silicon) is written to even lower standards than the OS, in great secrecy, and is much harder to update. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/05/broadcom_wifi_chip_bugs

3) Up-to-date hardware support, a high performance OS, and the cheapest possible hardware is basically what everyone is looking for in almost any sort of human-interacting device, even down to the level of an ATM. I mean, ATM's around here show ads now! It's certainly what you're looking for if you want a big fancy display console for a £10 million x-ray machine (I'd be willing to bet the thing has a bunch of embedded controllers running an RTOS by the way, just not for the human interface bit).

So, basically, all pressure for constant churn in hardware (and standards) means that software is in a constant race to keep up. Add to that the fact that cheap software engineers tend to not know anything about security, and certainly nothing about rare embedded systems, and... well...

When you have a problem like this, the most logical answer is usually for the stable, well-meaning government to step in and impose some requirements, open auditing, that sort of thing for the good of society. After all, we may not be able to trust industry, but government is a public service, right?

Oh wait, except:

4) To a first approximation, the only thing any government agency in the US, UK (China, Russia, ...) wants is for software and hardware to be a continuous churning clusterfuck with easily broken standards, weak or no encryption, and a pile of zero-day exploits they can use to spy on everyone. Even the attempts at regulation tend to do things like forbid effective crypto policies (lest they keep the regulators out) and call for people to use virus scanners, which are themselves a hilarious security dumpster fire. https://bugs.chromium.org/p/project-zero/issues/detail?id=1252&desc=5

I mean, the whole thing about expensive X-ray machines running a 15 year old OS is a red herring: any half-competent sysadmin can isolate a machine like that so it only talks to a trusted server. The problem is everything else.

166:

Upwards of 20 tonnes is plausibly upwards of 80 RVs, though.

Perfectly simple scenario where some part of the national security apparat puts that on a Falcon 9 and it does its best to decapitate North Korea. Musk -- nigh-certainly legitimately -- says "I had no idea!", the NRO -- possibly legitimately -- says "we had no idea!" about their supposed spysat, and you can't find anybody who actually gave the orders. (Rather like the "live nuclear cruise missiles on a B-52" thing that happened during Bush fils; nobody ever declared responsible and nobody acted like it was a real accident with the nuclear inventory. It didn't go through the NCA in an official manner, and that's about all you can determine.)

Given the "let's rig this thing to sprinkle wee comsats everywhere" declared business plan (that is, fly and test the in-orbit version of a MIRV bus), anybody doing threat assessment planning has to consider the Falcon-9 and (especially) the various Heavies in the threat column. (The Heavies are supposed to get into the 100 tonne range, as I recall; that's ~400 RVs if you want to, aka the entire pre-reduction Force de Frappe.)

167:


>>>>Perfectly simple scenario where some part of the national security apparat puts that on a Falcon 9 and it does its best to decapitate North Korea. Musk -- nigh-certainly legitimately -- says "I had no idea!", the NRO -- possibly legitimately -- says "we had no idea!" about their supposed spysat, and you can't find anybody who actually gave the orders.

This is pure, unadulterated nonsense. Are you expecting the world to believe that a rogue element somehow:

1. Got their hands on 80 RVs (RVs are probably the most difficult thing in the entire world to steal).
2. Built a unique dispenser that would fit in a Falcon 9 fairing.
3. Somehow replaced an NRO satellite with it, without anyone paying attention.

It won't even matter if it was true, everybody would still hold USA responsible. So why even pretend? Just nuke North Korea with Trident missiles launched from Ohios, like God intended.

168:

If you're doing threat analysis about US capabilities, you have to consider "what would Steve Bannon think is cool?" and "how would someone seek to end-run the career military?"

You also have to consider that the US machinery of government frequently acts like domestic politics are the only things that matter.

(If you're Steve Bannon, you do it this way because maybe this is the way you can.)

169:

A number of cmts, which I should preface with the stmt that I work for a US federal contractor as a senior systems administrator (Linux) (so I'm with the government, and I'm here to help you... actually, yes), which shall remain nameless, in the civilian sector, and is arguably the largest and most advanced biomedical and bioscientific research organization in the world. I do not speak for my company, the US federal gov't, nor, as my late wife had it, the view out my window (esp. as I have no window).

That being said... I know of instruments in other Institutes that cost somewhere between $5M and $19M US... and the controlling software runs on XP. ALL of them are behind firewalls, and none are allowed on the main campus network. XP is not allowed on the network, unless behind internal firewalls. Which, in fact, is the same as our systems that contain PII and HIPAA data - behind our firewals, and you may NEVER download such data, just anonymised results.

I *have* upgraded a many servers. We run Linux; specifically, CentOS (recompiled from the latest RHEL sources, minute proprietary stuff). We've gone We also have several RH licenses, specifically so that we can push enhancements and fixes (and we have done so - that's why they now correctly support "smart cards".) We've gone from CentOS 5 to 6, and we're slowly going to 7.

It's a big deal. We do use test systems. And one thing that makes it much easier is that /home and projects, etc, are NOT on the root drive, or, for workstations or compute nodes, not on them, either. I've got my system at home set up the same way. Then it's a case of "does it run with the new o/s... and we've not had huge issues, except for one or two.

Second subject:
It's *nothing* like Windows, and Windows upgrades (everything, including your home, is on the root drive, and we want to reformat that....)

I've just had to work with Win10 to set up rsync backups. I LOATHE, PASSIONATELY, WIndows 10. I think I'll go to the naming convention friends had 10 years ago: call it Lose 10, because you don't win with Windows.... And all of this crap does NOT allow an administrator to log on at the same time a user's on, that's only for $$$erver$$$. And You Want To Look For Everything On The Web/Cloud, not on your local machine!!!! in the start menu. And.... Win 7 looked like something for people other than 16 yr olds at home; Lose10 looks like it's aimed at them.

I'll also note that 10 years or so ago, a brand new US Navy destroyer, I think, was run on Windows. Which bluescreened, and could *not* be brought back up, and the ship had to be towed to port. Go look it up....

Subject three: I was out of town for a long weekend, and have just been hearing about the massive ransomware attack. So far, it still seems like someone halfway between script kiddee and wannabee hacker put it together, using k3wl h8ck1ng w8r3z.

Related - the opposite of a ransomware attack already happened to the IoT: the ware that was attacking and bricking the insecure cameras, routers, etc. I suspect that won't be the first time.

And given the finance minister's meeting... I'm looking for a serious clampdown on Bitcoin in the next year, under the rubric of its primary usage being money laundering.

I mean, not *everyone* can do real estate transactions with the Orange Cheetoh to launder their money....

One last note: a friend told me, over the weekend, that he'd come up with two new drinks: one, like a Cuba Libre, an America Libre... run in peach juice with two orange slices. And the American Impeach, the same... except with vodka.

mark

170:

You know what would be really cool?

An ultimatum to North Korea. You have a week to peacefully dismantle your government and re-join South Korea. If you don't, get ready for Fallout 3 LARP.

And then, if North Korea decides to go out in a blaze of gore and nukes Seoul/Tokyo/The_Pacific_Ocean (because let's face it, the chance they could nuke CONUS is minimal), suddenly you have a good reason to blow them up.

171:

"An ultimatum to North Korea."

My fantasy is that the U.S. and S. Korea decide to solve the problem by unilaterally declaring peace. Obviously the defense treaties stay the same, and the U.S. troops stay in S. Korea under some kind of basing agreement, but essentially, we leave N. Korea and its psycho rhetoric shouting into the wind while the S. Korean president encourages N. Korean naval ships to make port-visits to Seoul (Does Seoul even have a port? Not the point, I guess.) Meanwhile, the S. Korean government sets up Custom and Border stations along the DMZ. If N. Korea doesn't play along they look bad, if N. Korea does play along they go into history along with E. Germany...

Highly unlikely, I know. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon - what a kidder!

172:

If you're doing threat analysis about US capabilities, you have to consider "what would Steve Bannon think is cool?" and "how would someone seek to end-run the career military?"

Alas, the trouble with this is that you're replacing one Hard Problem (making an end run around the Joint Chiefs et al) with at least four more.

Viz: (a) procuring RVs and physics packages—this means suborning the Department of Energy who make and oversee the buckets of instant sunshine, (b) sneaking them out—this means suborning the NNSA as well (because there's a whole separate federal agency just for guarding physics packages that most people have never heard of), (c) suborning the NRO because you need a payload shroud and a launch contract, (d) suborning one of the big-ass corporations who build MIRV buses because you need some way to stack and aim your RVs. Oh, and along the way you have to conceal the billion-dollar-plus budget for this little jape.

Nope: it's much, much simpler (but not, in actual fact, simple) just to dick around with the officers selected to command a single Ohio class boomer. Dig dirt on the officers on the board who make command assignments. Lean on them to pick a captain and XO who are hard-ass anti-Norks. Carefully groom them for a special patrol, then right before they go no patrol run a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign playing power chords in the key of "Kim Jong-Un's going to start WW3". That's when you signal them via ELF to open the sealed envelope with instructions to sail to such-and-such a point and await further orders ...

173:

1. North Korea doesn't care about looking bad. That's a bourgeois capitalist delusion and heroic independent juche thought wants nothing to do with it.

2. North Korea doesn't need to nuke Seoul. NK has umpty-thousand artillery tubes dug in on the other side of the border within range of the fascist insect capital; within the first couple of hours of hostilities they'd drop kilotons of shells on Seoul, including nerve gas as well as the usual. Even a conventional war on the peninsula will lead to megadeaths.

3. North Korea does need sufficiently good relations with China and South Korea to continue to import food, because they can't grow enough to feed themselves (infertile crappy uplands, inefficient agricultural sector).

4. Everyone else needs South Korea to keep pumping out those Galaxy Note smartphones that keep combusting, because the knock-on effects of losing the world's 12th largest economy overnight will be doubleplus ungood ...

174:

Ahem. I prefaced it as "fantasy" so people wouldn't take it seriously.

On the other hand, Trump and Kim could have an argument about whose hands are bigger, then we'd all go up like candles, so I do like my way better...

175:

I hope you're joking!!! Such an ultimatum is likely to trigger China's defense policy with N. Korea. The policy basically says that China will defend NK as long as NK is not the aggressor. That ultimatum would make the US the aggressor in Chinese eyes.

You want to change China's policy...good luck! US troops on the banks of the Yalu River have been a huge red line for China since WWII. That is why China intervened in the Korean War in the first place.

176:

Back on topic ...
One, can one of you people who work in industrial IT explain to me how hard it is to update a computer running SCADA? AFAIK the normal order of things is that the PLC does the actual control and SCADA is just an interface layer and maybe logging.
Two, I think PLCs are harder to hack (needs special interfaces for programming etc.) than the ordinary PCs running the SCADA suite - is this even correct?
Three, is there no SCADA-PLC division in medical equipment like the MRI scanners we all keep talking about & and can one maybe update the later without affecting certification for the former?


Lastly, this blogpost by a guy who's in industry automation explains why updating is harder than it sounds: https://tante.cc/2017/05/15/dont-just-update/

... makes me think of what would be a good replacement for excel, for some reason.

177:

All you gotta do is replace the recipient:

An ultimatum to China. You have a month to peacefully dismantle the North Korean government and merge the Koreas. If you don't, get ready for Fallout 3 LARP happening outside your border.

Not the best plan, but way likelier to avoid megadeaths than trying to talk to North Korea. China's priorities here are, as far as I know, twofold: prevent another Korean War which would inundate their border with refugees, and to limit American influence in that area of the world.

Just going to war with North Korea might very well end up like the first, setting the US and the Chinese on opposite sides whilst the actual Koreas burn. Except, this time the death toll would be even more catastrophic.

178:

Fallout LARP: where almost everybody survives a full thermonuclear exchange in one manner or another, plus they have cool robots and bad artistic taste. Dozens of super high tech start ups will continue to operate in the middle of nowhere developing cheap fusion, teleportation and other goodies. Peaceful, immortal ghouls will set off on interplanetary travel. Everybody will be in really good shape, though their diet will be pretty limited.

Hell, there are lots of people who would probably pay to vacation in some of the Fallout wastelands. It's possible the average NK citizen would voluntarily emigrate to the Commonwealth of Fallout 4 or the NCR of Fallout New Vegas.

179:

And now the latest twist in this story Charlie didn't write. To "reward" the hero for his noble efforts, the tabloid press apparently doxxed him!

https://theoutline.com/post/1536/uk-tabloids-doxxed-the-hero-hacker-who-stopped-a-global-cyberattack

Yes, overall, I think the rejection letter was thoroughly justified. This is just too silly to believe! :D

180:

Oh, ffs.

SKY News is blaming NK's "Lazarus"[1] group for the entire affair. Old Men in serious need of their medications and being put to sleep.


Not sure if it has hit public feeds etc, so no links.


The Stupid, It Burns.[2]

[1] Given that NK really doesn't do Christianity, you should probably wonder at the providence (pun intended) of that bit of News (well apart from that weird bit where it apparently allows US Evangelicals in: A North Korean university keeps drawing US evangelicals to teach — despite the risks Business Insider, 11th May, 2017).

[2] Yes, that's a M.A.D joke.

181:

Oh, just fucking perfect. That little lot, with the not-really-subtle-at-all acronym called "PUST"[1], are up to their eyeballs in dodgy Global ties.

• Spoke on “Then, the End Will Come” at the Oriental Mission Church of Sao Paulo, Brazil in their Morning Worship Service on August 11, 2002.

• Special lecture on “Trends of the World and World Mission in the 21st Century Mission and the Role of the Korean Church” to the evacuated Korean missionaries from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Moojoo, Jeonbuk, Korea, October 30, 2001.

• Lecture on Expansion of the People of God at OM Perspective Seminar, Los Angeles, April 20, 2005.

No really, that's part of a CV Blog or PSYOP, double-plus weird.

Do a GREP, pretty sure we've linked these jokers before; might be a different off-shoot, but it all Sings the Same Song.

And, yep, there we go, direct ties to bat-shit insanity: Fuller Theological Seminary via Timothy Kiho Park.


Great, just great: Murdoch (while running sad little parties: Malcolm in the middle! PM Turnbull and wife Lucy take a backseat as they join President Donald Trump and glamorous First Lady Melania at a gala dinner Daily Fail, 5th May, 2017 - and yes, that's a pay-off for the $40 bil Australia was fucked over in the telecoms privatization / "forget fibre, copper is much better" scam)

~


Like: your world is being run by second-rate muppets with a serious hard-on (they're mostly male) for the fucking Apocalypse.


[1] No, really.

182:

An ultimatum to China. You have a month to peacefully dismantle the North Korean government and merge the Koreas. If you don't, get ready for Fallout 3 LARP happening outside your border.

if you do that, you crater the US economy. Game over.

China holds a metric crapton of US debt, and if a US administration drops that ultimatum, well then, there's nothing left for it but to spread the pain. While China could nuke a few cities, why bother? It's much more effective to simply trash the Dow Jones and hold the nukes in reserve as a deterrent.

Not that I expect anyone to do this. Just threatening to drop that trillion dollar debt bomb ought to bring the US government to hell. After all, it's the best government business money can buy ...

183:

Nope, pretty sure we can see the scope of what's being done now.

#1 Murdoch & co are tight with Trump / Turnbull / Tillerson, Putin / سلمان / the entire Petro-Economy.

#2 They're attempting to put China in a double-bind to discourage Solar / new energy economy and swing (via ex-wife etc) a different faction into power via NK hassles (.cn can't afford to demand the trillion btw, their currency is massively under-valued, if it entered the stage as a serious Global Marker, it'd crash a lot of their plans 5-10 years out)

#3 They also know that Shit-is-about-to-hit-the-fan[tm], only they like the idea of the Second Coming

#4 We were only half-joking about the last (real) Judaic prophecy - Trump to visit Israel, Vatican and Saudi Arabia in first foreign trip as president Guardian, 4th May, 2017 - hitting all the Abrahamic centres.

#5 They're counting on USD being... "re-imagined" and quite soon by the looks of it

#6 Pretty sure after dredging all the Inter-Faith links that SK (MOONIES ETC) stuff and (FAMILY - USA, Clinton included) are in this little play; they're literally going all in for this

~

You go away for 2,000 years and when you come back, well... The Planetary Ecology is fucked and there's a bunch of retrogressive insane old people desperately attempting to destroy it all to hide the evidence of their failures.

Their Law YT: Music, Prodigy, 4:07

Oh, do a search for:

"Dramatic drops in oceanic oxygen, known as “anoxia”, which cause mass extinctions of sea life, come to a natural end – but it takes about a million years. Scientists believe the modern ocean is “on the edge of anoxia” and say it is “critical” to limit carbon emissions to prevent this. (exeter.ac.uk)"

Someone just dropped a nuke on their SSL / paper.

Charcoal evidence that rising atmospheric oxygen terminated Early Jurassic ocean anoxia Nature Communications, 12th May, 2017


No You Fucking Psychos: Chemical Burn YT: Film, Fight Club, 2:39

184:

Does anyone actually have a good idea for dealing with N. Korea?

185:

Yes. Next Question.

[SSL was fixed in under 10 mins, we're impressed little Gremlins; Gallery, throws a Rose].

~

OH, you wanted that good idea put on paper?

Sure, it's the 101 of de-Stalinizing / de-radicalizing stuff, which I don't know, people did kinda model post WWII.

#1 You remove all military / existential threats (like the annual military US / SK hi-jinks) with the understanding that they, of course, still exist
#2 You agree to stay the fuck out of their economy (hello Arab Spring and [redacted] Egyptian mil links to various US / EU / UK Corporations) until they're somewhat stable and even fake shit until it's real (SK's early growth was based, I joke not, on prostitution: no, really: you think the Philippines etc models are weird? Nope, it's FUCKING USA POLICY TO WHORE YOUR FEMALES OUT).
#3 You agree that some systems that are not ultra-Capitalist-hard-core-Predator-Mode can exist in the World

Hint: #3 is not, and will not ever be, on the menu.

~

But no, dumb-ass: NK has to exist. Look at the few Nation States left who aren't running the software.


You want the real solution?

You take Murdoch and allllllll those Minds and you burn them from Orbit, just to be sure.

#HelloWildHunt

186:

Yes. You keep giving them food and a bit of other stuff and treat them like the mad relatives you don't want to talk about. Don't give them any military stuff to go on about, although obviously you have to retain enough capability that they can't just invade you. Make sure your media airwave footprint overlaps the country so the inhabitants can see what fun you are all having.
Eventually they'll become more moderate or all die off, although the point being that at least with food deliveries and some basic other stuff that is less likely.

187:

NK - how are they making up the lost coal trade with the PRC? Unable to find who's making up the economic slack now but when the USSR collapsed SK picked up the slack.

188:

They're Not.

If you don't mind the morality of ~50,000,000 people dying (Hello Kissinger), and I don't know, you wanted:

#1 A Good Moral War for an immoral President to get that OverTon Window shifting just a little more and a re-election
#2 Kick China in the Nuts / flood them with fleeing refugees a la Syria
#3 Re-imagine the Neo-Liberal Dream-Time of Songdo into a Vietnam style revenge fantasy

Etc.


Sigh.

p.s.


These are not my thoughts, this is what the Plan is[tm].

189:

Oh sure Falcons are crappy compared to the real deal, but still sufficiently scary to be treated as a military asset and be regulated to hell and back. You would not want Elon selling them to the highest bidder or the government being unaware of what he is sending up as payload

As far as North Korea goes all the options are bad. From a game theory perspective the best play is probabkg an orderly evacuation of Seoul followed by a massive conventional invasion or decapitation strike. However that's unlikely to become a real world option

190:

That sounds about right. Prop up the carbon economy, fuck Florida and most of the American Deep South, plus another couple billion people in other parts of the world, lower taxes, clobber everyone who's not white and Christian; propel the whole thing with fear, and wars are good for the economy.

191:

From a game theory perspective the best play is probabkg an orderly evacuation of Seoul followed by a massive conventional invasion or decapitation strike.
Really? What about (as JLM notes more clearly) removing local provocations and interference, making clear that any mystery nuclear/thermonuclear explosions will be blamed (perhaps not exclusively) on NK, making it clear that any other international adventurism will cause a response scaled to severity, plus anything else I've forgotten?
I mean, KJu clearly has a strong desire for self-preservation.
(Speaking as a pacifist, to be clear.)

---
Watched a few youtube videos of R. Murdoch out of curiosity. Couple of years old, but that guy is (was) coherent for someone his age.

192:

Murdoch loves the Russians for their Blood Tech / Stem stuff. Not even fucking joking.

ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL OF THEM ARE USING IT.

Israel is rife with this shit and other places, and they're not using Modern Tech to do it[1]. We don't want Host in trouble, so no links: but this stuff was cutting edge back in the 1950's. Modern Private Practices: about the only real deal thing about Pizzagate is that Abramovic is that she's been hooked up since she was placed as an agent.

Eternal Life: it's the most powerful of Hooks.[2]

[1] Look - we're cool if your Religious Beliefs preclude such things, and you don't want to use it, but .... the moment you start using Others for it, but not your own, whelp, you're on the list. That makes you Parasites.

[2] It's 80% of how to corrupt / gain traction. Eternal Life is a big seller. I'd post the files but... yeah. That would cause a scandal of large degrees.


p.s.


No, really. This is what it's all about.

193:
.cn can't afford to demand the trillion btw, their currency is massively under-valued

I think you may be out of date on that one - it certainly was true a few years back, but reputable authorities (eg Krugman) now seem to be largely of the opinion that the renminbi is, if anything, perhaps even a little overvalued relative to the dollar. There may still be other reasons why they wouldn't be in a fiscal position to flood the market with US treasuries, of course.

Meanwhile, various comments in this thread (and elsewhere) have repeatedly put me in mind of one particular Monty Python song.

194:

We're their largest trading partner by far, even after companies have started abandoning them for cheaper labour. Even without any responses on our part, that will undo a lot of the benefits of their accomplishments, while leaving them with the costs.

Add that to the already existing nationalist/populist sentiment, and the free trade that's been helping power their economic growth turns into tariffs to both (try to) reclaim the manufacturing that Made America Great! and punish Those Dirty Commies / Those Thieving Foreigners!

They'll have a lot of liquid cash, but will it be enough to ride the ensuing Depression without losing their seats (or heads)? Plus, in all this chaos, how do you think North Korea is going to react? Japan? They might push the red button to keep us from meddling in the Korea's, only to still end up with a flood of refugees fleeing BestKorea's death throes.

195:

The Great White Myth...

China holds a trillion or so. Japan holds a couple of trillion. Japan's entire economy is based (now) on Bonds. US Pensions / Medicare etc holds about 8 trillion.

And the derivatives market has bounced back from 2008 into the ~$60 trillion mark.

Krugman is, well: a dead man walking. NYT is edging, slowly walking, grasping towards Fascism.

~

Wake me up when you can tell me honestly why SpaceX is worth (X) and Snapchat is worth (X*3) and so on.

Hint: The Ride Never Ends, Until it Does.

p.s.


I'm taking the piss. They're going to crash this ride so fucking hard you'll forget the era when savings (1% interest rates? lol) meant anything.


Fucking grow up: End Game Time.

196:

Meanwhile, various comments in this thread (and elsewhere) have repeatedly put me in mind of one particular Monty Python song.

Not this one?

Rather out of date with the Euro, though.

197:

You could do all those things but once NK has a significant nuclear aresenal that they are able to deliver anywhere, they are unlikely to remain happy with the global status quo

Even not factoring in KJu's quite probably insanity it would be highly likely that NK would use their arsenal to exert an agenda that the US and its allies would both not want, and also have a hard time refuting once the nuclear gun is pointed at their head

The counterbalance to all of this has always been China however China's best interests are also running more and more to preserving the status quo

The rationale response is to remove the threat from the board now, as it only becomes more dangerous over time

This Is doubtless what the likes of Bannon are whispering in Trumps ear

Of course game theory cares not for ethics or morality , there are plenty of ethical and moral reasons to not take those actions. They do have to be stacked against the ethical and moral risk of a nuclear armed North Korea

198:

And what are they going to do when they get a bomb plus a delivery system? Suppose they tell everyone, "South Korea must surrender or we'll nuke Seoul? And maybe Tokyo?"

They get to do that exactly once, then it's glass parking lot time, and even the most insane of them know it.

So what's the end game? (Here's a hint; despite their intelligence service giving Mohammed Atta a hundred thousand dollars, we didn't attack Pakistan after 9/11.) Nukes aren't something you use on your neighbor, they're more along the lines of a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Sometimes you even get a seat at the big kid's table.

199:

I really don't think it's worth worrying about North Korean nukes.

They have not yet demonstrated convincingly that they even have any nuclear capability, let alone a deployable one, let further alone a good enough deployable one to be a credible threat. Oh, they've demonstrated clearly that they are fond of hinting at the possibility to wind everyone else up; and they have also demonstrated that they love lying and posturing, and "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

I also rather suspect that if there's one thing China likes less than the idea of loads of North Korean refugees, it's the idea of their nutty neighbour throwing nukes about. If they did provide a credible demonstration, it would probably lose them the one already-somewhat-tentative "friend" they have. It would make sense for China to say "Look, Fatty, if you start chucking those things about we are going to catch some of the shit. And we don't want that. So if you do start chucking them about, we will glass your entire country, you know we can."

I think, too, that the US could only ever be prevented from doing the same thing themselves by China doing it first. One nuke from NK and the US will nuke back first and worry about consequences later, whoever the president is. Even if NK did have nukes they could never use them unless they were cool with committing suicide, and I don't think they're as nuts as that.

No, what does worry me over NK is Farty being too thick to see that Fatty's all mouth and no trousers, and kicking something off on his own account. "We did Afghan and we did Iraq, and North Korea and nukes and all kinds of bad things not good make America great again etc. etc. etc..."

200:

And before anyone pipes up, I know N. Korea isn't getting a seat at the big kid's table, but they probably don't know that.

201:

I'm not sure what a credible demonstration means but NK has most certainly have test detonated fission bombs

If they continue working on it there is no reason to think they won't get fusion and a delivery vehicle

As far as whether they will actually use them, that is anyone's guess. It depends a lot on how crazy their leadership actually is versus how much is posturing

202:

Newsthump snarks, Government pledges to upgrade NHS ZX Spectrums to Commodore 64s. I hear the C64 is already standard hospital issue in Wales.

203:

Agreed on their capability.

My guess is that they may try to use the nukes to blackmail individual countries to remove the sanctions. What would May do if Kim gave the following speech: "If the UK doesn't remove the sanctions, we will nuke London:?

204:

...I know N. Korea isn't getting a seat at the big kid's table...

Anyone care to guess if The Donald knows that?

205:

I meant to add:

What if he makes that demand during the next election?

206:

Does Seoul even have a port?
It is called ...
INCHON

Probably the first "political" event I remember ( 15 Sept 1950 - I was 4.5 ... ) - yes it was important.
I suggest, before you comment further, that you read some history.
Re later comments on Seoul & artillery ... "MOAB" bombs on artillery emplacements?
Maybe that was why the US demonstrated it?

{ I have not, yet, at this point, read below # 171, so there may be lacunae )

207:

No
It's just that the tabloid press are unbelievably STUPID
Just like their readership
{ Oops, I'm not supposed to say that, gets me labelled "fascist" by some, yes, stupid people... )

Which reminds me, It is good to see, that finally, the mobile lump of turd, masquerading in human shape as Kelvin Mackenzie has finally been given the push ....

208:

Actually, it's the difference between Chinese policy (Usually, not under the later years of Mao) & that of DT.
China's policy thinks in at least decades & usually 50-year chunks.
DT is "interested" ( You should excuse the word ) in the now & certainly not beyond tomorrow afternoon. The attention-span of a demented teenager on drugs, in fact. Now there's a thought - what's he on?

Hence the increasing screw-up over Russia ... & a first senior Repub has used the phrase: "Downward Spiral" regarding DT, oops.

209:

Ancient John Brunner short story:
"Who steals my Purse"
Originally published in "Analog", waaaay back.
The title is a quote from Stratford Bill in: "Othello".

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Basically, updated to now .... you get the PRC airforce to fly cover, while the USAF food-bombs DPRK.
DPRK implodes.

210:

I'm not sure why you say "no". Our hero was doxxed, even if was only because the tabloids were too stupid to think about what they were doing.

I'm also not sure why someone would call you fascist for calling the Mail's readers stupid. I can see them calling you fascist (as well as stupid) if you were a Mail reader, but.... :)

211:

No
AND
Yes

They have nukes
Best delivery system, at present, is probably smuggled across under a lorry/truck payload.
But, this will change.
Now what?

212:

I'm dubious about NHS Wales having C64s; Dragons sure, but C64s?

213:

Individual PLCs are relatively easy to modify - you traditionally need some proprietary software to talk to them, but that can be reverse engineered, and the ports and protocols used are well known. They only tend to get updated if what they control gets changed or there's a major systems issue that needs addressing. Individually they are cheap throwaway devices, but you can have thousands in a large install.
The control systems themselves are much more complex, but again they tend to be by a small number of manufacturers. They almost never get updated piecemeal, they were put in and certified to do a specific job and they get an update when you overhaul the entire system. Bigger problem with them is they usually have no security at all - any passwords are often left as default.

The pcs they run on could in theory be updated relatively easily, but as your blogger posted the economic argument simply isn't there. And he's talking about very small numbers - a few hours of shutdown of a single line. When your controlling PC runs the power/lighting/heating for a building, you have to do it out of hours for your tenants, all of whom have to agree to the disruption, and arrange cover for their own kit. Or it runs a minor cog in a major production line, which would need to be shut down for the duration. And when you've updated ... if all goes well, nothing is different. But if it goes wrong, you've cost them a lot of money. On the gripping hand if a damaging attack comes in and shuts down production ... well, that's what insurance is for.

It's a depressing world we live in.

214:

There is an inbuilt problem with the existence of more than one country with nuclear weapons which are run by a collection of lunatics. I'll illustrate the problem with a hypothetical.

Imagine that one fine day, a large part of NYC (or San Francisco, or Southampton, or Odessa, or Cherbourg, or...) goes up in a cloud of million-degree plasma - and nobody takes "credit" for it. Further imagine that NK doesn't get the blame, because the nutters running (for example) Iran have been ranting about bringing forth the twelfth Imam or some such nonsense, recently, and the fat boy has been quiet.

(Note that while there is some evidence that NK has a working nuke, there is just about no doubt that Pakistan has many - and such items can be bought and sold, or stolen perhaps with inside help.)

What happens then?

215:

Surely from a game theory persepctive it would be better to negotiate a unification between SK and NK, offering the NK elites important positions during the transition, immunity and generous pensions (in return for some sort of Truth and Reconciliation testimony) in retirement afterwards, the deal sweetened for China by the US military leaving the peninsula when transition complete?

I mean it's a long shot, but you can always try the megadeath conventional war/ nuclear apocalypse plans afterwards if it fails.

216:

Not aimed at you specifically, but: what's with the constant presumption the people running these countries are crazy?

217:

You want to issue a "do this or we attack you" to the CPC? Remember, Mao praised the Boxers; resistance to high-handed imperialism is part of their mythology.

218:

The rationale response is to remove the threat from the board now, as it only becomes more dangerous over time

It's been too late since about, oh, 1980.

Seoul: you can't evacuate it: the city alone has 15% more people than New York: the Metropolitan Area (suburbs/satellite towns) have over 25 million people, nearly 45% of South Korea's entire population, and they are within range of dug-in North Korean artillery tubes.

They've been stockpiling rounds since 1953 and according to rumour they've got enough tubes dug into bunkers that even if each and every shell they fire draws immediate and 100% effective counter-battery fire, Seoul will receive some thousands of tons of explosives — we're talking Battle of the Somme levels of bombardment here, with nerve gas on top.

Let me repeat this: Seoul is already under the gun. If you poke the North Koreans with a pointy stick, you will lose a planetary mega-city. You can't evacuate it either, not without the North Korean border artillery force realizing what was going on and sending a war alert up the flagpole to Kim. (Hint: how precisely are you going to evacuate 25 million people within the NK military hierarchy's OODA loop?)

This is why nobody fucks with North Korea. The nukes are a side-show for foreign PR consumption.

219:

If the NRO is anywhere near as competent as I think they are, North Korea´s artillery is mapped down to the meter already. But even if SK and the local US garrison has a computer-controlled "Counter-battery barrage to end all barrages" all mapped out, Seoul still takes a pounding yes.

220:

Malware versus SCADA has been done — back in 2010 STUXNET was designed to (and did) take down the Iranian 238U enrichment line by dicking with the motor controllers to set up damaging vibrations in the ultracentrifuges.

And it worked. Then it got loose and asshats reverse-engineered it and turned it loose against the global public. Quelle surprise, as they say.

221:

Re: '...unification between SK and NK,...'

Unlikely because you'd then have to do a massive re-education (i.e., undo the brain washing). According to credible journalists, the majority of NKs really do think they're doing just fine vs. the rest of the world, that their leader is brilliant, etc.

Actually, if you attempted a unification you'd have serious problems with at least about a third of the NK population split equally between those who could be completely re-educated (and despise their fellow NKs for allowing such lies) and those who could never be re-educated (and who would probably scheme to 'right' the situation).

Don't know what happened when the Berlin Wall fell - re-unification of East and West Germany which though separated still knew pretty well what was happening on the other side of the wall. NK in contrast has been kept very isolated from the rest of the world. (I'm of the impression that the 40 or so missionaries are not providing current world events and economics seminars as part of their godspiel.)

222:

What happens then?

Well, folks in TLAs start making informed guesses about the origin of the physics package, because different enrichment/reprocessing processes produce veeerrry slightly different isotope balances in the output; all of them will go bang, but the fission fragments show a distinct skew towards different elements depending on what the balance is, which in turn can be used to infer just who produced the 239Pu or 235U. You can often even figure out when the fissile material was produced — fissile isotopes decay at different rates and produce other by-products which will (in suitably transmuted form) show up in the fallout. At which point, the spooks start working backwards down the supply chain to work out who lost how much Pu and when and who signed off on handling it, and start asking some very pointed questions.

Of course, the "oh shit" moment if this was an SF novel would be when they work out that it's high-grade 239Pu that didn't come out of any known reprocessing plant. (Been there, played that card implicitly in "Empire Games".) But I digress.

It's very hard to absolutely conceal the origin of the nuclear material that goes into a bomb. So then instead of asking "did Pakistan nuke Madrid" the question becomes "who used 12Kg of 239Pu smuggled out of the back door of Khushab between 1998 and 2008"? And the net potentially closes ... unless the Tangerine Shitgibbon decides to use it as an excuse to do what he was gonna do anyway and flings shit at someone who dissed him on twitter.

223:

BTW, German reunification is still not complete. The East Germany part is still lagging on every dimension after almost 30 years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_reunification#Inner_reunification

224:

People need to think a bit before predicting "glass parking lot time" in the event of a NK first strike. I've no doubt that the US and China between them could do this, and probably have plans as to how, but the consequence of a full scale nuclear wipeout of NK for the rest of the world would probably look a lot like the end-Cretaceous event, and I'd like to think that politicians and military would think hard about how they would deal with that, however provoked they might be.

A better response, and one which I devoutly hope is also well planned for, would be the instant occupation of NK by the PLA en masse. The US and Russia could carry water for them, and maybe join in later.

Also too, I do not believe that Kim Jong-Un is mad by any useful definition. I had this discussion not long ago in a thread about the Roman emperor Caligula. Spoiled and brutal, certainly, due to his upbringing, and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but mostly driven by a contempt for those parts of due process that are in place to allow members of the elite who are not currently on the inside track to come off with dignity. He doesn't care about this because nobody has ever explained to him why he should. It probably makes him more unpredictable than he would be otherwise, but it isn't in itself a reason not to try to deal with him.

225:

Oh I know. Martin was wondering why they don't get updated like everything should. Basically it's a combination of ignorance, an expectation that these systems are not exposed to hostile networks, and a tremendous amount of inertia when it comes to legacy systems.
The vast majority of systems I've seen recently were last updated around the millennium, alongside the Y2K work, or in the early 00s as the Blair boom made funds available to refit lots of stuff. We're probably due a bunch of changes in the next 5-10 years.

The very newest stuff put in new builds since 2014 or so does have some inherent security in the design, but a scary number of manufacturers haven't even understood how tcp/ip design differs to BACnet, so I'm not optimistic of much improvement soon.

226:

DT's latest antic: Sharing classified info re: ISIS with the Russians obtained from an ally without that ally's knowledge/approval. This is likely to seriously hurt that ally, not to mention probably turn that ally into a former-ally.


If there's a list of what a sane competent world leader should not do, DT's got it and is assiduously checking off every single item.

227:

Unlikely is the word. The "transition" is going to be at least a generation.

Still, if a final peaceful resolution is unthinkable then we're sort of left with the current slightly unstable and uncomfortable situation with hideous war the most likely ending.

Or to put it another way: considering how much effort it would take to flatten North Korea, rebuild South Korea (and North Korea) after a devastating conflict and try to avoid backing into a confrontation between the US and China (and/or Russia) MAYBE a peaceful solution can be put into place with a fraction of the resources.

Sorry. I now realise how dumb it sounds when I put it like that.

228:

Wait a minute. Looking at the original letter again I recognise the name of the editorial director. He is an expert in electrical engineering, information technology and communications. In other words he knows perfectly well how plausible or otherwise Charlie's plot is and is hiding his opinion behind his "specialist expert reader".

I'm shocked that such a deceitful plan would be conducted by such a well respected businessman as Mr Blofeld.

229:

I THINK it was at the end of the "Jennifer Morgue" - that a certain Mr Blofeld was interviewed?

230:

What makes you think Mr. Blofeld wasn't behind WCry in the first place? It's got all his signature trademarks, right down to the self-destruct button ...!

231:

He has downsized from a volcano base to his bedroom, and the cat kept walking over his keyboard when he tried to type in the "kill switch" url.

Tough times.

232:

Just as a datapoint... I could swear that 10 years ago, in a news column about who had what, they said NK has somewhere between 4 and 8 *working* nukes.

And re 189: "a massive invasion/decapitation strike"... So, you personally are signing up to fight in that war? If you're not, perhaps you might want to talk to some surviving Korea vets about how much fun you'll have.

"Someone's gotta go over there, but that someone isn't me." - Phil Ochs, "Draft Dodger Rag"

mark

233:

Also note:

DPRK: Population roughly 25 million. 9.5 million active and reserve troops.

ROK: Population roughly 55 million. 3.9 million active and reserve troops.

Land area: 219,000 km^2 (for comparison: UK is 242,000 km^2)

So. 80 million people in 80% the land area of the UK (pop: 65 million) with nukes, nerve gas, and up to 13.5 million troops (a mere 1.8 million standing on both sides without call-up). The SK troops are better equipped and probably better trained; the NK troops are more numerous and their motivation can't be discounted.

Let's also add a megalopolis of 25 million people within 35 miles of the DMZ.

Even without US, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese military involvement, a war on the Korean peninsular would be an unimaginably violent bloodbath, involving a death toll comparable to WWI or possibly even WWII.

So let's maybe back off on the glib suggestions about solving the Korean stand-off with a three-week ultimatum, maybe?

234:

I did have a horrible idea for a countermeasure for the kilo-tubes of artillery NK has pointed at Seoul inspired by your very own story; the systematic sweeping of nuclear fire in the 'Merchants' universe. If you can get full coverage all along the DMZ to pop up nukes, the airbursts may be enough to vaporize and deflect any inbound shells from the NK side of the DMZ. It would have to all happen at once, and then sweep north along peninsula, with ground penetrating strikes as well to take our hardened installations. Assuming even 100% effectiveness against the artillery, you'd obviously still have massive fallout, but will have pretty well defanged the North. What to do after that is left as an exercise for the reader.

It isn't quite as bad as killing to the patient to cure the disease, but it is certainly in that realm.

235:

Of course, the "oh shit" moment if this was an SF novel would be when they work out that it's high-grade 239Pu that didn't come out of any known reprocessing plant. (Been there, played that card implicitly in "Empire Games".) But I digress.

Well, another similarly fun "oh shit" moment for SF novel would be detection of byproducts for classic D-T fusion and no fission fragments or byproducts. That would really scare various TLA:s and governments...

236:

... massive fallout, 35 miles away from your own capital city, is very much a case of amputating the head to cure the migraine.

237:

Unfortunately, one of the most plausible scenarios for NK is the Koo-laid alternative.

238:

This entire NK attribution is a very very complicated troll.

Neel Mehta (what a name, eh? We won't ask about his past too closely @google @IBM) who was part of the 4-person team who discovered HeartBleed kicked this all off with his tweet: 9c7c7149387a1c79679a87dd1ba755bc @ 0x402560, 0x40F598 ac21c8ad899727137c4b94458d7aa8d8 @ 0x10004ba0, 0x10012AA4 #WannaCryptAttribution Neel Mehta (say that again reaaaal slow), 15th May, Twitter.

Of course, SKY, WIRED and a load of others have bandwagoned this, so I'll present this fluff off a PSYOP with some helpful BOLD to flag up the bullshit:

According to Suiche, that chunk of commands represents an encoding algorithm. But the code’s function isn’t nearly as interesting as its Lazarus provenance. The group rose to notoriety following a series of high-profile attacks, including the devastating hack of Sony Pictures in late 2014, that were identified by US intelligence agencies as a North Korean government operation. [They lied, it wasn't NK, and that's been quite demonstrably proven]

Kaspersky called that false flag scenario “possible” but “improbable.” After all, the hackers didn’t copy the NSA code verbatim but, rather, lifted it from the public hacking tool Metasploit. The Lazarus code, by contrast, looks far more like a reuse of unique code by a single group out of convenience [Why? If you're copying one, you can copy the other]. “This case is different,” Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu wrote to WIRED. “It shows that an early version of WannaCry was built with custom/proprietary source code used in a family of Lazarus backdoors and nowhere else.”[No, it really doesn't]

“Attribution can be faked,” concedes Comae’s Suiche [You think?]. “But that would be pretty smart. To write ransomware, target everyone in the world, and then make a fake attribution to North Korea—that would be a lot of trouble. [Depends if you need a war, I'd say faking Yellow Cake was a lot of effort as well]”

But Suiche sees the Contopee link as a strong clue about WannaCry’s origins. The Dubai-based researcher [Let me guess which PR agency is running this Media sledge, eh?] has closely followed the WannaCry malware epidemic since Friday, and over the weekend he identified a new “kill switch” in an adapted version of the code [No, he didn't], a web domain the WannaCry ransomware checks to determine whether it will encrypt a victim’s machine. Just before Mehta’s finding, he identified a new URL—this time, one that begins with the characters “ayylmao.”

That LMAO string, in Suiche’s view, is no coincidence. “This one looks like an actual provocation to the law-enforcement and security community,” Suiche says. “I believe that’s North Korea actually trolling everyone now. [NK doesn't AYYLAMO you fucking muppet]”

The WannaCry Ransomware Has a Link to Suspected North Korean Hackers WIRED, 15th May, 2017


~

Ayylamo is someone ripping the Pepe / Kek chants off. It's not NK speak.


Blurgh, tired of fucking Apes.

239:

“Ayy LMAO” is an expression and Tumblr hashtag which is almost always associated with pictures of aliens.

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/ayy-lmao

240:

வணக்கம் சகோதரர் நால்வர், நாங்கள் உன் வேலையை பார்த்தோம். அந்நியர்கள் மற்றும் வட கொரியாவைப் பயன்படுத்தி ஐம்பது மில்லியன் ஆன்மாக்கள். மிகவும் நாடகம்.

241:

NHS IT

We keep getting news items about NHS computing as if it were a monolith controlled by the government. It's very far from that. It's a mishmash that's different everywhere.
I retired three years ago from NHS biochemistry labs.
In my penultimate job in Leeds IT was handled by the Hospital Trust and much of the maintenance of electronics in the hospital was done by the Medical Physics department..
In my last job in a PFI hospital IT was contracted out to a private company. I was initially impressed by their efficiency but soon learned how it affected my lab. The company with the contract for automated analysers had installed partial automation. Their analysers were all connected to an automated track which handled transport analysis and storage of samples together with redirecting sample for extra tests not carried out by the system. This speeded up the analytical process and allowed us to deal with many more samples. At least it should have done. There was a small software incompatibility which compromised the interface with the lab database. The hospital'sIT company wouldn't deal with this problem by contacting the software company responsible for the automation which was based in Holland. By the terms of their contract with the Trust they would not allow us to contact the company. So for fourteen months we had a useless and very large track cluttering up the lab and forcing everyone to walk long distances to get to a destination a couple of metres away. We held a birthday party for the track on it's first anniversary.
Eventually they allowed direct contact and the whole system was working in a week.
When the track was replaced by a much more modern system IT refused to allow the company to place a server in the lab and insisted the server controlling the automation should be physically located in one of their server rooms and agreed to a keep it as a dedicated server. Some time later another department allowed a member of staff to install software which the staff member had been given on a trip to central Africa. This incapacitated their software and also ours because they had decided we didn't need a dedicated server and put other systems on the same server. They had also stopped doing the daily backup of our system but didn't notify us. The only thing that saved my lab from total collapse of service was I and another of my staff had some advanced training on the software and the training database had been accidentally left on one of the lab's PCs.
This was a year out of date and I had to make many changes to the analyser parameters to accommodate changes in methods and algorithms which had been made in that year. We limped on for several days until IT had recovered our files.
The IT in my lab alone used just to produce patient results had analyser control (an American company selling Japanese analysers modified by them, the Track control using Italian hardware and software with telephone and online help in Italy, the lab database from an Australian company with help provided from Wales or Sydney, the hospital records database, a test requesting system and individual GP IT systems.
All running on Windows XP*or NT*. Updates were applied but they themselves sometimes caused problems so we had an agreement with IT that they wouldn't be applied except in daytime in case of problems affecting the night staff who ran a 24 hour service (IT had people on call at home who often knew nothing about lab systems.)
Things work a lot better now because the lab has a highly competent IT manager who is now allowed to do much more with the servers.
I can't believe that the NHS as now run will be able to act as a whole without more standardisation and this has the problem that a future attack might then kill the whole system instead of just part of it.

* Most of these systems had been upgraded to other windows versions by the time I retired

242:

Sorry, ill-formed link there:

Neel Mehta Tweet 15th May, 10.02 US time

The more astute and cynical will note how fast this play got major media coverage: it's a frakking PSYOP, not a good one and with holes all over the place. Less than 6 hours for that play? L O L, the Soviets would be proud of you.

Wheels on the Bus go round n round
Wheels on the Bus fall to the ground

Unless you really think that eleven (11) major media companies (four different Corporations) all rushed that story through at the same time and it wasn't co-ordinated? Google: Jump the Shark moment, Ayyyyy FONZO the GREAT AND BRILLIANT CLOWN. Nominative Determinism is also a weaponized thing these days, sigh.

Rorschach's Pagliacci joke YT: Film, Watchmen, 1:03

~


Oh, and Trump in the M.E. etc: you'd better Pray that your world has a Magog, otherwise you're going to look like fucking suckers.


"We got permission"

"No, you didn't, you really really did not".

Apes.

243:

I don't think they need a working re-entry vehicle. NEMP over Seoul or Tokyo would look like a very credible doomsday threat to me, because of the economic effects. I doubt NK is really that vulnerable, simply because their installed tech base is not big.

I'd be interested to know why I'm wrong here.

244:

No: "Rein in your neighbor before they force our hand into doing something both of us (US and China, here) will regret." If NK throws something with a boom at Japan, what do you expect will happen?

245:

Just a note of clarification, MS17-010 was a 58 Day attack, not a 0 Day.

246:

Mind you, this is near the bottom of the list of things to resolve the NK problem, but way above actually dropping boots or ordnance on NK.

247:

extended support is available to anyone willing to pay the contract price, which is... steep.

248:

Absolutely Nothing. Japan is safe from crappy stuff like this. Has been for ages. SK and all this jazz is about THAAD etc.

Japan has already signed multi-billion contracts for F35s etc. THAAD is already on the island, even if it's not public. Heck, Japan got one of the early versions due to [redacted] Soviet threats.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe poses inside a T-4 training jet Getty Images

Unit 731 (Japanese: 731部隊? Hepburn: Nana-san-ichi Butai) was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) of World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japan. Unit 731 was based at the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (now Northeast China).

Unit 731


Yeah, that wasn't an accident.

*rollseyes*

249:

@Host. Yeah, the "Are we the bad guys?" meme: 100% actually real.

Although, hey: Alt-Right KKK using Tiki Torches and so on, while HEXADs burn their Minds out. Don't lose hope, *nose wiggle*.

250:

For clarity MS wanted to bill £5.5m for the NHS extended support contract and the Tories decided in 2015 it wasn't needed. The wannabe hipsters at GDS had covered it before - not their first and last fuck up to push the renewal to the NHS directly.

5m is not cheap but a bloody bargain compared to the current disruption. In fairness it may have made little difference given 58 days to patch 1m XP machines but it may have mitigated some of it.

Something to remember when we cast our votes next month.

251:

The things Donald doesn't know are bigly. They're yuge, I tell you, just yuuge! And Kim is a very important guy, real big in N. Korea, so we're giving him twice the megatons we'd previously planned on, and complimentary golf passes to Mar a Lago, good for his next incarnation!

And I did tell Mr. Comey that in my opinion, and this is big, really big, that he should lay off Mr. Flynn because Flynn is a really good guy!

And after we've nuked Pyongyang the Trump organization is going to come into North Korea, and they have this amazing glowing green glass there, and we're going to build a Trump hotel out of the glowing green glass, and it will be just gigantic, the best hotel ever, and there will be a golf course attached, and the N. Koreans can work as caddies, because the tips for good caddies will be yuuuge and that's how we'll rebuild the North Korean economy.

252:

I actually contemplated a post about MOABs the other day,* and I think we've both got similar thoughts. My idea was to mount a MOAB on top of an ICBM, even if the range is severely degraded, because the MOAB is bigger than many nukes and an airburst from a MOAB would be a nasty thing, particularly a couple thousand feet above a N. Korean artillery site aimed at Seoul. So you task the NRO to find all the big artillery sites in NK and each site gets a couple MOABs, and you've handled the whole problem without going nuclear...

I have no idea whether the engineering works, but if you look at a picture of a MOAB, they look like the upper stage of a missile, which is what triggered the thought.

* I suspect that my idea is more "bigly" than realistic, which is why I ultimately didn't post, but what the heck!

253:

It just might work!

I suspect that everything comes down to the U.S. and China mutually deciding that they're tired of these fucking pipsqueaks. Once that happens, you can kiss NK goodbye.

254:

If you want to see just how quickly a corrupt hardline commie can turn into a corrupt hardline capitalist, just look at how quickly the Chinese adapted to the "capitalist road." If you told me that most of the N. Korean hierarchy was just waiting for a better deal, I wouldn't argue much.

255:

Oh, Honey-Bun.

No.

*SIGH*

And I thought you could learn:

#1 Why do Neutron Bombs have sex appeal over the other stuff?
#2 Why does Biological / Chemical weaponry (within certain parameters) have appeal?
#3 Why are you all being rail-roaded into this Masturbatory Mutual Apocalypse Wank Fantasy when you've just been shown the tentacles of the Christian Church (well, allegedly) at its Centre?
#4 Why the fuck is a Nuke so important? Because it buys a seat at the table (until it doesn't)


Zzzz.

Logic / Warfare / Game Theory 101: NK only retains the ability to level Seoul for defensive reasons.

256:

Exactly. If your main goal is to be left alone by larger and more powerful countries, get yourself some nukes. If I was in charge of wanna-be second world country like Iran or Thailand it's the first thing I'd do! Calling them crazy is just playing to the cheap seats.

257:

If you want to see just how quickly a corrupt hardline commie can turn into a corrupt hardline capitalist, just look at how quickly the Chinese adapted to the "capitalist road." If you told me that most of the N. Korean hierarchy was just waiting for a better deal, I wouldn't argue much.


Oh well.

Fundamental mistake you just made: not knowing how many Chinese billionaires there are in the world and Family Businesses and the actual internal history of the Clan / Faction feuds.

You also assume (quite incorrectly) that Money means the Same Things in USA / UK / CHINA / RUSSIA.

That's a major error.

Fuck it.


Nuke it from Orbit, it's the Only way to be sure. Tired of the Brown Note and all your shit.

258:

I would argue that a significant degree of spoiled is a first-rate mental health issue, ugly in equal degree to paranoia or schizophrenia, maybe even worse, particularly given that "spoiled" is frequently co-morbid with sociopathy.

259:

Apparently he also asked Comey to "lay off" Flynn and Comey sent out a memo to other top FBI brass. Obstruction, anyone?

260:

The real way forward is that you start with a peace treaty, (plus a working assumption that N. Korea might break it and preparations for this need to be made well in advance.) Then you let the peace treaty sit for twenty years, make sure that family members can visit across the border, send food and medical gear to N. Korea, and wait for a sane Kim family member to develop some influence. It might take thirty or forty years.

But a shaky truce that's lasted for seventy years... not so much.

261:

I would argue that a significant degree of spoiled is a first-rate mental health issue, ugly in equal degree to paranoia or schizophrenia, maybe even worse, particularly given that "spoiled" is frequently co-morbid with sociopathy.


Aww, now you're just flailing, and being rude and ignorant to boot. Throwing out all those labels with no idea or experience of what they mean.

Out of your Depth, Sharks circling.

Ride of the Valkyries YT: Film, Apocalypse Now, 2:25

~

Our Kind do not go Mad: and you fuckers picked the wrrrrrrooooooooong Mind to fuck with.

*shrugs as mountains shifts*

You think this is Crazy? We're just getting started my little honey-bunny and we're really pissed off.


Say goodbye to Defense...

Apparently he also asked Comey to "lay off" Flynn and Comey sent out a memo to other top FBI brass. Obstruction, anyone?


No, you don't get it yet.

Global Level Head-Fuck Incoming.


Your Kind attempted to Burn our Minds out and we deployed mirrors.

~

Yeah.

That's not a good place to be. Turns out... Your Minds aren't quite as strong as Ours.


MiddleFingerinASCI.jpg

262:

...it's a frakking PSYOP

said the minister to the church choir.

263:

Logic / Warfare / Game Theory 101: NK only retains the ability to level Seoul for defensive reasons.

Don't worry hon, I know when I'm wanking.

At this point I think the NKs would be happy if the rest of the world left them alone to navel-gaze and practice juche, but every idiot Republican president since Reagan has felt the need to stir that particular pot, mainly because of the utility for stirring up fear, which is what the Conservatives are peddling.

Note my reply to OGH above.

264:

I'd have to give you that one.

265:

So, throw me a link to show you Grokk it, then we can tie in the amateur hour OPSEC shitfest Host is referencing to FoxNews and so on and so forth.

Zzzz.

Not the Links we were looking for.

Don't worry hon, I know when I'm wanking.

No, Honey-bun, you really don't:

Mystery Plays YT: film Ghostbusters, 0:29


Anyhow. λόγος is satisfied: the reality has been written over the fantasy. Your belief either way is totally irrelevant.

266:

"#1 Why do Neutron Bombs have sex appeal over the other stuff?"

Assuming that by "sex appeal" you mean "perceived military value"... they don't.

"Neutron bombs" are an anti-tank weapon; the point of them is that it's actually quite hard to knock out a tank with plain blast, even from a nuke, but neutrons will go straight through the armour and kill the crew. This was a popular idea when what people were twitching about was the idea of vast numbers of Soviet tanks rolling across Germany.

Only it turns out that it isn't actually a very good idea. The bombs still do produce a shitload of blast; "kills people but leaves buildings standing" was never remotely true. They also produce more fallout, they are wasteful of plutonium compared to "normal" bombs, and the enhanced-tank-crew-killing effect isn't actually all that large anyway. It ends up that you're better off just sticking to normal nukes.

Once this became clear, opinion changed to "they're not worth the hassle"; and that was quite a long time ago, while the Cold War was still going on. Since it ended, conditions have been such that they're even more not worth the hassle.

267:

"5m is not cheap but a bloody bargain compared to the current disruption."

It's also something less than half an hour's worth of the yearly NHS budget; something about naval disasters and small quantities of petroleum products springs to mind.

"Something to remember when we cast our votes next month."

I am already despairing that apart from you and me, no fucker seems to have made that connection.

268:

thatsthejoke.jpg

While you can dig up your own links to G.W.Bush (JR)'s expansion and quiet funding of them, it was a reference to as you correctly denoted, tanks:

The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that there “are 19,500 tanks in the Soviet-controlled forces of the Warsaw Pact aimed at Western Europe. Of these, 12,500 are Soviet tanks in Soviet units. NATO has 7,000 tanks on its side facing the 19,500.”[7] The article went on to point out that this “massing of Soviet tanks facing Western Europe is one of the important elements in the power politics of Europe. For years it has meant a Soviet capability of mounting a massive armored offensive into Western Europe.”[8]

Precision-Guided Munitions and the Neutron Bomb CATO Institute, Aug 1982, PDF

We're taking the every-living piss out of the concept that the next big Modern War will be fought with physical weaponry.

Another hint, again again:

The Sound of Silence YT: Music, Simon & Garfunkel, 3:05


~


Hint: Our Kind Do Not Go Mad.

*points to US President*


Yeah.

269:

You talk big. Give us a testable prediction.

270:

People at the billionaire-level of spoiled, like the Kochs, or Mercer, or any Trump with the possible exception of Tiffany, cause enormous trouble in this world.

271:

You talk big. Give us a testable prediction.

That's not how it works, and it also causes considerable suffering to do what we're doing. There's even two instances in this very fucking thread. You know, look @Kissinger and NK and a previous thread.

Do a GREP.

Oh, I don't know: insanity spamming over Passports... and then a Muslim / M.E. travel ban happens. And a whole lot more.

~

You've no fucking idea the suffering and torture it takes to do this, for over two years, just to preserve the beauty, sanctity and imagination of y'all while warding off the worst possibilities.

You give me a link boy, something decent and fun, and I'll give you a personal Cast about your thread or anything you're interested in.


We Gotta Get Out Of This Place YT, Music, Animals, 3:!2

272:

Two for the price of one:

Via Slashdot and quite timely given our discussion on TAAS, I thought.

Very pertinent given the first link and also one of my favorite pieces of music (at least the first side of the album. Without Larry Carlton it was kinda... meh.)

273:

As I remember, what lead to the demise of the enhanced radiation warhead notion was a detailed discussion of just what happens if you detonate one over a concentration of say 100,000 enemy soldiers. About 10% are killed outright. The other 90% lose consciousness for a couple of hours... and know in two to six weeks they will die unpleasantly. But for the next seven to ten days, you just gave the other side 90,000 kamikazes. Normal tactics rule out things where the objective will be attained but losses exceed 10%. You do not want to see the kind of crazy attack someone who knows he's already dead will come up with. Even a barrage of neutron weapons that kills 50% by prompt radiation (8000 rads) leaves a significant fraction dedicated to taking you with them.

274:

Of course, SKY, WIRED and a load of others have bandwagoned this, so I'll present this fluff off a PSYOP with some helpful BOLD to flag up the bullshit:
If it makes you feel better, while reading those earlier was muttering very similar thoughts about attribution in the same places in the text. Probably that's a good sign, seeing the BS, seeing priors stuck on the usual suspects.
---
The Sound of Silence
Sigh. (In one parsing.) "Acausal communication". It's not, but it often feels like it. Did love the delightfully layered and obtuse/metaphorical comments/replies in the previous thread; some of the parsing slices made me laugh.
---
*points to US President*
:-). And :-( (Very much not fake :-)
And yes, kinda nervous about (the possibility of) the intersection of that and this: Trump will speak to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia about radical Islam (Been paying close attention to this, yes.)

275:

Trump will speak to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia about radical Islam

That sounds like such an obvious potential for disaster that his diplomats and speech writers must already be frantically writing up something reasonable to come out of his mouth...and still worrying, because Donald can't be trusted to stand in one place and read from a damn script.

276:

To be fair the Graun pointed it out.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/13/jeremy-hunt-ignored-warning-signs-before-cyber-attack-hit-nhs

Unfortunately the rest of the press are either muzzled (BBC wanna see a pretty video? No meaningful news here - Nosiree!) or actively hostile about holding the Govt to account.

277:

Once you take into account that, limited range, secondary decay products in irradiated buildings and actual limited area effects an EWR is basically just shitter than an actual Nuke in all respects.

Pop quiz:Moscow has an Anti-ICBM system using EWR's around Moscow, is there any functional difference between a populace irradiated or dying from Infrastructure breakdown than being directly Nuked? Is it essentially meaningless to the general populace what they die from or is it just about giving the Military and Political Elite an ability to Govern a smoking wasteland and grieving armies?

278:

I've been out of the loop, on vacation, for several days, so please pardon the late entry.

The root of the problem is OEMs basing mission- and safety-critical embedded systems on consumer-grade operating systems built by the company that gave the world the term "Blue Screen of Death", and has demonstrated amply and beyond reasonable doubt that they have no clue how to write reliable code.

279:

Work has been done, successfully, on designing formally-verifiable hardware, including verifying the design and the final silicon.

It was not done at or by Intel, to the best of my limited knowledge, and it was done a lot of years ago.

280:

Unfortunately the GBU-43/B (or the MOAB) is so bigly yuge it has to be punted out the back of a MC-130 Hercules transport plane.

There's only the (Russian) RS-28 missile that could cope

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-28_Sarmat

The eleven ton weight of the ICBM-MOAB would be augmented by a hefty re-entry insulation shielding to stop it 'cooking off' as it re-enters the atmosphere.

I don't think the USAF would be overly keen on clearing up the after effects of one exploding in a silo, even if the engineering challenges could be overcome.

At least a nuclear warhead can be isolated so that if the rocket propellant explodes, the nuke DOESN'T

281:

So, are we back to "101 Other Uses for a Falcon 9" then?

282:

Cobblers. Whilst I wouldn't be Microsoft's biggest fan I don't believe you could point to any mainstream OS that wouldn't have the problem of having 20yr unpatched PC's at scale.

Support is useless

283:

Got cut off - cont...

Support is useless if the will to act on that support by maintaining an active patching programme isn't present.

I don't know but I'm guessing that there will be a correlation between the 16 trusts that got hit and the maturity and funding of their IT teams.

284:

Prevailing wind direction over Seoul is?
Given that it appears to be subject to monsoons, I would guess the answer is - "It depends on the time of year."

Kim-Jong Haircut is actually probably dangerously SANE.
Unlike Kim I-S & Kim JI, Kin=m J U (Haircut) has actually lived in the "West" - Switzerland, wasn't it?
He knows how much more prosperous & basically peaceful most people are here.
He has inherited an hereditary god-kingdom, which is dominated by an apparently all-powerful military.
How does he escape this bind, knowing what happened to Ceacescu & Saddam & at the same time not starting an actual mass-killing war?
He has to be ruthless, to show he is strong, internally, yet he must know (see above) how badly off his country really is.

I suspect that if he could trust the "opposition" he would welcome a heads-of state meeting on safe, neutral territory, especially if he doesn't have to go "home" (!)

Like "our side" he does not appear to have any good choices, only less-bad ones.

285:

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPLY?

That this worm IS NK in origin?
Or that it is fake NK-origin directed at them by others - presumably US &/or Wahabi black-hats?

Just for once, could you make a clear statement - PLEASE?

286:

WHAT THE FUCK?

WHAT even script is that?
Doesn't look like Thai - is it HanGul?
You really can't resist posturing, can you?

287:

But ... if & only if, you really have to & it's not some false-flag operation as JLM/seagull keeps hinting, without actually saying so, the tosser, & it's the least-worst option, esp if nukes are in prospect.
We want to try to avoid any shooting, if we can, but it aint going to be easy

288:

See my post at #284 for similar musings.

Is Kim Jong Haircut looking for an escape route?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

P.S. I note the seagull is posturing again @ 255
Claiming we're all wrong he/she has all the secrets & its all a false-flag operation because persons/countries never directly named want a war.
It does get tiresome, doesn't it?

289:

Really?

Given..
ONE: Even the ahem "dangeroulsy left-wing practically communist BBC" have stated that Corbyn's party proposals would result in the highest levels of taxation (for everyone) sine 1947-49
and
TWO: This level of incompetent screwing around with his own supporters
Voting "labour" isn't a clever idea, either.

Please note - I shall be voting for my ex-sitting Labour MP, but Corby's people & momentum hate her.
Work this idiocy out for yourselves.
It's very depressing.

290:

Yellow card to Greg, for shouting at seagulls (who are intermittently squawking very interesting things on this thread).

Also, as for your apparent belief that the BBC is in any way unbiased, I'll just leave this here:

On the left: Conservative Party Central Office election slogan. On the right: the "dangerously left-wing, practically communist" BBC. These days the BBC is basically about as unbiased with respect to the Conservatives as Pravda circa 1920-1989 was with respect to the CPUSSR.

Let me emphasize this for those who don't follow UK media bias: The BBC was brought to heel by Tony Blair circa 2002-03 in preparation for the Iraq war, and their choke-chain has been in the hands of the Conservative party and pro-Brexit factions for nearly seven years now. Management no longer dares speak out against government policy, and the editorial politics of the News department skews so far to the right that despite having no local councillors, let alone MPs, UKIP still get a seat on Question Time, Any Answers, and the other debate/mouthpiece shows; one of Question Time's producers appears to be a Britain First supporter (for those who don't know: Britain First are forthright fascists, formed from the relics of the British National Party. Wikipedia on Britain First.)

291:

Apparently the BBC have today suggested that having a beard counts against Corbyn, and on such basis have compared him to Karl Marx and Genghis Kahn.

It would be funny, except it isn't.

(Also: Please don't red-card Greg, I find his frustrated rants almost as entertaining as the Many Naméd One's oracular pronouncements -- and agreed, some interesting commentary on this thread.)

292:

Did you note the "ahem" in my comment on the BBC?
A YUGE number of outlets are claiming the Beeb is what I said ... pity that the snark was misappreciated.
And, my appreciation of the Beeb is mostly Radio 4, though I very occasionally look at their main web news-site. ( I don't have a TV, remember? )
Never mind.

As for shouting at seagulls, well, he/she/it may be shouting very interesting things.
But I can't understand a bloody word & it's amazingly annoying.
And I did ask, politely, for a clear explanation, didn't I?
( # 285 )

On the first topic, has everyone seen this weeks' "Private Eye" cover?
Very funny.

293:

I'm not going to red-card Greg unless he starts throwing random insults again, but he's getting close.

But seriously, folks really need to be critical about evaluating their news sources: and this decade the BBC Newsroom shows a degree of right-wing bias similar to Fox News in the USA. Thinking of the BBC as left-wing is incredibly dangerous.

294:

Let me decode the seagull for you:

We live in a very connected, networked age.

Geographically widely distributed groups can now communicate as if they're working in the same open plan office suite.

We are used to national geographic boundaries being meaningful lines of political demarcation, i.e. French domestic politics doesn't really spill over into the UK, strictly domestic US affairs have no impact in Russia, and so on. Some corporations and social entities (e.g. Churches) span borders, but they're readily identifiable as such.

This is no longer the case, though. All sorts of small groupings now work fluidly across borders.

The dismantling of international financial controls and emergence of globalisation has made it very easy for soft money from one country to be used to influence politics in another, in service of the collective goals of small, unaccountable groupings with transnational agendas. Actual example here (synopsis: billionaire financier funneling money to pro-Brexit candidates in UK general election campaign to prevent back-sliding).

The unaccountable dark money is being used to fund a variety of unpalatable objectives, including furthering the goal of Millenarianism — the Protestant Fundamentalists who believe Jeezus will return and bring about the end of the world in the very near future if only they can bring about the preconditions. (Clue: many billionaires are also evangelical christians; even those who aren't have grown up steeped in the Prosperity Gospel, because it implies that they're virtuous because they're rich). It's also furthering wealth grabs, fueling international religious and ethnic strife, clampdowns on borders, and so on.

The smart Dark Money merely wants to kill about half the planetary population and own the rest as serfs. (The Christianists are a convenient tool for achieving this goal, because Armageddon. Also, they have the right skin colour.)

Obviously advocating deliberate genocide is still unfashionable, so a chunk of the money flow is going into promoting memes that make the alt-right "fashionable" and recycle a bunch of old, incredibly toxic beliefs. (You know the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a huge media hit in the Middle East? It took funding by the Saudis to get it off the ground, naturally, but everyone loves a good conspiracy theory.)

Upshot: we're fucked, the tidal wave is coming, and the seagull can see it but can't do anything to stop it other than squawking warnings.

295:

... this decade the BBC Newsroom shows a degree of right-wing bias similar to Fox News in the USA

You get a smile for hyperbole on that one. Let's be honest, the BBC doesn't even come close to Fox News in terms of right-wing bias. ;) I can't watch Fox News for more than a couple of minutes before shouting at the TV, it takes an awful lot longer when it comes to the BBC ;)

Yes, they keep inviting UKIP onto Question Time; while some of the kippers may be swivel-eyed bigots, they got a depressingly large number of votes. When they're allowed to sit on the sidelines shouting about "mainstream media", they keep their supporters happy. IMHO a very good way to expose them for what they are, is to give them the airtime and not the excuse, and to challenge them point by point; I've changed my opinion slightly after being part of a rather long thread on another forum where Holocaust denialists were given enough rope to utterly discredit themselves...

Griffin was effectively sidelined after his appearance on Question Time (IMO he got pwned by a black, female, American commentator - and overall made to look like a fat sweaty bigot, rather than the Fearless Leader he sees in the mirror). Nuttall has been made to look like a lying prat; that may have had some impact on the collapse of the UKIP vote. Farage loses support every time he has to answer questions rather than just read out soundbites.

Correspondingly, Labour has got a big hill to climb in terms of credibility - Liam Byrne's 2010 note in the Treasury that said "I'm afraid there is no money" is not something that should be ignored or forgotten by any truly independent media. We can't be irate that the BBC didn't explicitly call the Brexit campaign liars, and yet get huffy when they ask reasonable questions about the Labour manifesto. Those headline promises to make lots of stuff free and raise public sector wages, while renationalising everything, look somewhat dodgy on the arithmetic front...

...still, if you haven't got a hope of winning, you might as well make some grandiose promises. In a fit of timely irony, this Saturday I was making firelighters out of some old copies of the Daily Telegraph from the bottom of a pile in a holiday cottage (best use for the Telegraph, some might say) and the front page from 2007 was about Prime Minister Brown, and Labour's 12% lead over the Conservatives - 40% support vs 28% support. How things change in a decade...

296:

I would argue it was precisely not the time to go full metal Leftie, so much of the Labour Manfesto makes sense yet Corbyn jumps the shark at the last moment.

Privatise the Water utilities - wtf - how is that even close to a major priority?

297:

But seriously, folks really need to be critical about evaluating their news sources: and this decade the BBC Newsroom shows a degree of right-wing bias similar to Fox News in the USA.

You may already know this, Charlie, but to the unsophisticated American far-right lunatic fringe the BBC is known only as part of "mass media," the kind of news organizations that say things about Donald Trump being connected to Russia, that the world is getting warmer, or that poor, brown, or Muslim people deserve human rights. (You know, true things.) In other words, to them the BBC is not frothingly far-right enough.

On the other hand, to Americans generally the BBC is British and therefore sophisticated (some of us are suckers for anything said in a posh accent). In theory the BBC would be biased in British ways irrelevant to American bickering. That this is not strictly correct isn't the point; they can be cited as a known news organ with sufficient distance to give plausible-to-Americans views of "how the world sees America."

298:

Pasting into google and adding "translate" suggests it is Tamil:

Hello brother of four, we have seen your work. Fifty million souls to strangers using and North Korea. Much drama.

Although my mind can't help thinking Doge and adding "Wow" at the end.

299:

> Upshot: we're fucked, the tidal wave is coming

I had idly wondered if I ought to start spraying graffiti reading 'the second coming is a psyop'. Urk/gag.

300:

> You give me a link boy, something decent and fun

Inflatable Dummy Tanks


Russian Military Parade in InfraRed (youtube vid 8"25', skip Ad)

Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons: Military effectiveness and collateral effects (link to pdf)
Andre Gsponer, revised 2006

The paper begins with a general introduction and update to Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons (FGNW),
and then addresses some particularly important military aspects on which there has been only limited
public discussion so far. These aspects concern the unique military characteristics of FGNWs which
make them radically different from both nuclear weapons based on previous-generation nuclear-explosives
and from conventional weapons based on chemical-explosives: yields in the 1 to 100 tons range,
greatly enhanced coupling to targets, possibility to drive powerful shaped-charge jets and forged
fragments, enhanced prompt radiation effects, reduced collateral damage and residual radioactivity, etc.

301:

Yet, a surprisingly large number of genuinely right-wing sources, some supposedly "news" others pretty obviously fake are saying exactly what I sarcastically put up.

And my supposed "insults" are actually desperate pleas for information being presented as, you know - information.
Rather than mystical pronouncements, liberally interspersed with real random rudeness.
The seagull regularly calls all of as cunts & apes - & gets a free pass.
Do I perhaps detect a slight imbalance of value-judgement here?
Maybe?

However
Your following @ 294 - right then ....
OK, I already knew paras 0 - 6 ... I assume that's a given on/in this discussion board.

Para #7
The smart Dark Money merely wants to kill about half the planetary population and own the rest as serfs. (The Christianists are a convenient tool for achieving this goal, because Armageddon. Also, they have the right skin colour.)
OK, it's plausible, I'm not sure I believe it & I suspected that this is what seagull is obscurely ranting on about, but so - so what?

Para #8 Yes, well, are you SERIOUS?
These thugs really have this power?
I find that, even with DT on the loose to be hard to swallow.
I would love to see some proper evidence.

Para #9 Upshot: we're fucked, the tidal wave is coming, and the seagull can see it but can't do anything to stop it other than squawking warnings.
Really?
This makes certain assumptions, namely that "they" are going to succeed.
I think their window of opportunity is narrow & narrowing, even assuming that they have such powers.


Further rational discussion of this would be really welcome, without all the obscure allusions, actual insults & quotes in scripts that we can't even bloody recognise, never mind the language!

302:

Nuttall has been made to look like a lying prat
That's because he is a lying prat - & stupid with it, too.

303:

The discussions of "Instant sunlight" bring to mind two fictitious weapons, Arlo Guthrie's "Unneutron Bomb", that destroys material things and leaves living things unharmed, if naked. And Clarke & Pohl's "Silent Thunder" EMP weapon from "The Last Theorem". Not actually having either of these in inventory, we'd all be better off if "Herr Drumph!" would trust the diplomats a bit more.

304:

The second coming was always a psyop.

Doesn't matter whether it was or is a christian, islamic or marxist one.
It's still a load of foetid dingoes kidneys, but capable of killing miollions.
How nice.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Right, you lot, I'm off to delightful W London soon, to evaluate for "Pub of the Year" for the London region the wonderful Art Nouveau pub called The Grosvenor Wish me luck, I might be back before bed-time .....

305:

Some of the more committed materialist derive a lot of self-validation from the contrast between them and the "Have-nots", if the world becomes a cess pit, yet leaves them on a hill out of the reek, it's a plus. To put it in rural U.S. slang, "King Turd of shit mountain". One hopes they eventually feel better.

306:

Nationalize the water utilities, surely?

(They're still in public sector ownership here in Scotland, and it works just fine, KTHX.)

307:

to evaluate for "Pub of the Year" for the London region

Cambridge Beer Festival next week.

308:

Indeed. I've been following the "Brexit campaign dark money via DUP" story as much as I can, for the local interest you might say. Almost strange that it's getting such paltry coverage. Hm.

309:

Well, it isn't as though any of the UK media is owned by shifty right-wing billionaire tax exiles who would benefit from that kind of thing and not want too much attention paid to it, is it?
(Add sarcasm tags as appropriate.)

310:

"peacefully dismantle the North Korean government and merge the Koreas".
"Rein in your neighbor".

Are you honestly arguing these two statements are equivalent?

311:

Sorry to change the topic, but I found this article on Scottish offshore wind power

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-05-17/scotland-fights-to-keep-its-renewable-energy-dream-alive

312:

MOAB on top of an ICBM

Just buy an end of life Boeing 7x7, refit with tanks filled with goodies and appropriate guidance system and you're good to go.
Wikipedia oracles that a 747 should be able carry a +/- 150 ton payload to the naughty neighbours. We don't need no stinkin' nukes!

313:

I don't understand the hatred for state owned enterprises.

Many countries have a bunch of successful ones. Norway would be a prime example.

It doesn't mean it's run by the government directly, you create a private company to run it at a profit, the country owns 100% of the private company and gets to keep the dividends etc along with having occasional input like "yes you do have to support people in the highlands, I know they aren't economic".

It's an ideal solution for national monopolies or inefficient markets.
If you want to make them more competitive, open the market up to real competition, but run your business alongside - the Royal Mail would be a good example of that, with all the myriad courier companies as open market competitors.
Rail tracks, infrastructure cabling, water, electricity supply and transmission ... these are all good markets to spin off - they can never be totally separate since you need coordination between regions, but the government doesn't need to supervise every little thing a-la the old jobs for life ministries.
Professional companies hiring talented people and with an interest in making money, but a vested interest in maintaining less profitable lines and isolated regions for the good of the country. And the country gets a steady income without having to lift a finger, besides occasionally acting as a guarantor for a loan to build crossrail or something.

After all, there wouldn't be such interest from other more forward thinking countries in owning all the prime assets in the UK if they weren't money spinners.

314:

I guess how one views the BBC depends on how one comes at it. In my case that's nearly always by reading text on their website, and that content isn't too bad. But if I'm at someone else's house and they have the news on their TV I find it almost painful to watch. I find myself thinking "WTF is all this content-free right-wing propaganda, where's the information gone, what's happened to any suggestion that views other than those of Tory sympathisers exist, it never used to be this shit".

(No idea about the radio because I find radio just an infuriatingly relentless noise, no matter what the material is.)

I am both shocked and puzzled by your screenshot of Conservative shite on a BBC webpage; shocked for obvious reasons, puzzled because it never shows me anything like that (has quick poke around the political news pages) and still doesn't. Also, I didn't think the rules about election propaganda allowed parties to do things like that.

315:

It doesn't mean it's run by the government directly, you create a private company to run it at a profit, the country owns 100% of the private company and gets to keep the dividends etc along with having occasional input like "yes you do have to support people in the highlands, I know they aren't economic".

Well, it needs some kind of overwatch, really. In Finland we did make for example the railways into a couple of companies. One of them maintains the tracks and other infrastructure and the other runs the trains. Now, as companies they should make profit - and they do, and not always trying to think of how to provide rail transport across Finland.

It's kind of worst of both worlds: government monopolies but run like companies who only want to do profit.

The same kind of problems plague our post, too. They also spent quite a lot of money doing a name change from "Posti" (something which is apparently quite obscure abroad, so nobody could really guess what they do) to "Itella" (which was praised as an international name which immediately tells what the company does) and back again.

316:

Just in case anyone doubts the consequences of the NHS IT systems going down I can reinforce Charlie's observations on this; it was very, very bad, and people died who should have lived.

A close family member is a doctor at one of the mega London sites which formally invoked Major Incident status on Friday; when you can't get access to anyone's notes, lab results, X-rays, CT/MRI scans etc you are not totally screwed but it's pretty close. Physicians can learn a lot with stethoscopes and careful examination; if the patient is conscious then you can get the medical history.

Unfortunately, if you are a patient who is in hospital already then probably you are very ill, since beds are hard to come by, and even the best triage teams in the A@E can only do so much without being able to get tests, X-rays, scans etc done. Which leaves staff to do the best they can, knowing that they are going to lose patients who should have lived.

Morale in hospital IT staff is as low as everyone else's in the NHS, and thus it's not hugely surprising to discover that, for example, one chap failed to notice that workstations in an office were dead because they had been unplugged, as per the instructions of other IT people. Multiply the amount of time wasted in that one office by the huge numbers of similar offices in the NHS, and you have some idea of the scale of the problem.

Trying to fix it is a nightmare scenario...

317:

I'm sorry, but we had to destroy the village in order to save it....

mark

318:

Gosh darn it, who would've thought Presidentin' would be so hard?

Slate: The End Is Neigh
NPR (Faux News Lite): Impeachment moving from conspiracy theory to mainstream. (Why was it "conspiracy theory", rather than only on the left?)
And, according to an LA Times story, Murdoch's WSJ: "Loose lips sink Presidencies"

I said the end of last week that, after Comey, that we were about two weeks from at least an Independent Counsel/Prosecutor. Looks like we're on track... I even see a report that Trumpolini didn't tweet this morning.

mark

319:

I forgot to add that there is still no IT of any kind in the London mega site referred to above...

320:

I will wonder how the huge number of Soviet tanks is a much better solution to being invaded than, say, the Maginot Line.

And was it unjustified paranoia? Let me note that after WWI, the British Army and a US Expiditionary Force were *IN* the brand-new Soviet Union, fighting to restore the "legitimate government".

mark

321:

It's kind of worst of both worlds: government monopolies but run like companies who only want to do profit.

Well, except that "only want to profit" is a problem in the private sector, too. Profit[1] is an excellent measure since it comes down to "do people generally agree this adds something to the world?" but a terrible objective. Even for a private company; you can see what "just make money" has done to the UK over the last nearly fifty years. I don't think it's a subtle difference between "I want to make money" and "I want to do thing in a way that makes money" but it's subtle enough that the pure-profit (that is, make me rich) faction has managed to get a lot of traction for their views.

[1] this presumes there's some reasonable cost accounting in place and you can't, as with fracking, just ignore a lot of your costs by declaring them someone else's problem.

322:

Well, except that "only want to profit" is a problem in the private sector, too.

Yes, that is what I was trying to say. Even in private companies doing things "only to profit" is not that productive in the long term, and when a government-owned company is doing that it's even worse.

The fun thing is discussing this here in Finland with some people. The law about joint-stock corporations says that the purpose of the company is to make profit for its owners - unless the rules of the company say otherwise (you can have non-profit companies this way). Some people think this is just the way things are and otherwise companies could not exist. However, that part of the Finnish law was added in 2006, and we did have profitable companies well before that...

323:
I will wonder how the huge number of Soviet tanks is a much better solution to being invaded than, say, the Maginot Line.

If the attack comes from an unexpected angle, tanks are rather easier to move to new defensive positions than bunkers are. The survivors can also fall back if the line is breached, and so on. Mobility is a major advantage.

324:

The Russian Empire/USSR has been invaded repeatedly since the time of Peter the Great (and before him you get the Mongol Empire, etc).

1812: France (Napoleon)

1853-56: France/UK/Ottoman Empire (Crimean War)

1904: Japan (TBF, Russia started it)

1915: Germany/Austro-Hungarian Empire (TBF: Russia might have been able to stay out)

1918-21: Everyone (sent troops to support the anti-Bolshevik Whites during the civil war)

1938: Japan (they started it, Stalin won — this is why Japan started with the USA at sea in 1941 rather than on land)

1941: Hitler ('nuff said)

I do not generally like the sunny outlook and friendly disposition of successive Russian governments, but I have to admit that their paranoia is somewhat justified!

325:

Given that we're sitting at 20% seagull so far, it seems that squawking is a very inefficient way of conveying information, if the TLDR is your succinct comment.

Internal affairs crossing borders has been a thing since I was in school. Maybe it's growing up in Canada, right beside the US with an economy that was entangled even in the 1960s. I remember when I was a kid people talked about American elections almost as much as Canadian ones, because the results had a really big impact on us.

(I remember the American ambassador warning Canadians about electing Diefenbaker, which is a foreign official trying to influence a Canadian election. At one level I'm feeling a bit of Schadenfreude — American has been interfering in foreign elections for years.)

326:

I have to admit that their paranoia is somewhat justified!

In university I had a button that said "You're not paranoid if they're really out to get you!"

327:

You could make up a similar laundry list of countries invaded by Russia/USSR. You could also make up a decent list of invasions for many continental European countries, e.g. France. If I recall the century between Peter the Great and Napoleon was relatively invasion free, though not without massive peasant revolts and involvements in a few of the diplomatic wars of the 18th century.

328:

So we are clear I don't hate nationalised industries - when you have a natural monopoly or a clear public good driver they make perfect sense provided you have mechanisms in place to retard the Iron law of bureaucracy that results in them getting out of control, just as you need mechanisms to stop scenarios like Flint Michigan in the private sector.

The point was meant to be Corbyn had a reasonable opportunity to focus on key policies to oppose the worst of Mays excesses but instead (in a tacit admission of utter defeat imo) he wrote down enough ammunition for the Tories to paint him as Crazy Red Corbyn without even trying. In his way he's at least as bad an ideologue as May and Trumpy.

Softly softly catchee voter.

329:

Re: 'Morale in hospital IT staff is as low as everyone else's in the NHS,...'

Appreciate that being blamed for a problem of someone else's making, and wondering what got lost or missed when the system crashed and then if someone suffers/dies because of this would be very demoralizing.

From the discussion here and as a non-tech, if I were working at the NHS I'd really want to know the boundaries of responsibilities between general IT support and specialized equipment. Shouldn't be that hard to do - accounting depts in other industries do this sort of thing all the time (e.g., overhead/fixed costs vs. variable costs, vs. x costs, depreciation/amortization, etc.).

At times like this, a seminar-type round-table discussion reviewing the complete history of the event along with what was tried when with what result would probably be therapeutic and educational. If all of IT isn't invited to participate, then at least make sure the summary report/info is distributed to everyone in IT.

330:

The profit thing moves in mysterious ways. At present vast amounts of scrutiny is being devoted to Brexit, with unending diatribes about how wonderful it will be once foreigners understand that profits belong to us.

I live in the City of London, the Square Mile, and prior to my retirement I specialised in the taxation of financial institutions and complex financial instruments. The global financial markets are, therefore, my patch but I have my own method of evaluating how the City is doing. This time last year I was paid a chunk of money for releasing part of my 'right to light' in a massive office development.

On the day after the Brexit referendum work on the building site, viewed from my bedroom window, slowed down. It went from slow to mothballed, though recently a few workers seem to be moving at glacial speed doing nothing in particular. This is the most expensive commercial land in the U.K. and in the 30+ years I have lived in the Barbican I have never seen a site left undeveloped in this way.

Clearly the investors who poured money into purchasing the site -and my light- did not even contemplate the possibility that the majority of those voting in the Referendum would want to leave the EU, and equally clearly believed that they would make vast profits. They were fully signed up members of the 'make me rich' faction, who did not understand that there is no law which guarantees their inalienable right to be made rich. The degree of delusion present in the vast majority of the U.K. media about Brexit is just as high as in Donald Trump's belief that all he had to do was issue orders and miraculous things would miraculously happen.

----------

I will add, for the benefit of Laundry readers, that there was a time when a Civil Servant could afford to purchase a flat in central London; it was before Bob was dragooned...

331:

Hell, when the Gipper was POTUS he did much more than that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenada#Invasion_by_the_United_States_.281983.29

Personal anecdote: Our family were vacationing (cruise) in the islands - no cell phones or internet back then. The morning after the US action we debarked the cruise ship for our local island tour of Grenada. Unlike the other island stops, couldn't help noticing lots and lots of military dudes with machine guns patrolling the beach. No explanations, just a lot of guns and mind your own business attitude.

We only learned that the US had invaded Grenada the day before our arrival on the island once we returned home. For some reason ($$$), the crui$e $hip never told its clients and no messages were received by the ship to pass along to passengers from concerned families about this military action.

332:

They are still trying to get it up and running again, which is a massive extra load, and they were understaffed in the first place simply to do routine maintenance. There is a problem caused by the fall in the value of sterling, which makes attracting IT people from elsewhere in the EU much harder, as well as the current 'we hate foreigners' mode encouraged by Theresa May and most of the media, which is less than helpful.

The Government and its predecessors have been demanding 'efficiency savings' for so long that doing the sensible things you suggest is out of the question; there aren't enough bodies in place. No doubt people at the very top will issue managerial bromides to depress their staff even more but their principal objectives will be finding someone else to blame. Unfortunately, Charlie's description of the way bureaucracies function are much closer to fact than to fiction...

333:

The core problem with nigh-all health care (and nigh-all research) is the funding model. It comes in erratic lumps and has to get through multiple levels of administrative disbursement/oversight before it articulates with the substrate. (I like that phrase too much; actually does something material toward the ostensible purpose, such as providing care to actual people.)

Combine this with "budget is status" and you get a really inefficient and needlessly expensive service delivery.

There are fixes, but it would take "success or control, pick one and only one" being widely understood.

334:

Office-building starts as a confidence metric strikes me as highly plausible, yes.

Brexit only makes sense as some sort of criminal enterprise; either massive money laundering or a desire to commit crimes against humanity with the cover of a sovereign state.

My best guess is that the Russian oligarchy has a desperate need to get their money out; if the recently released projections about the way the Economic Carbon Bubble popping -- ECB probably means something already, dammit -- combines with the transport infrastructure electric transition were available to oligarchs and assorted Davos-goers a couple years back (as they certainly ought to have been, I can remember arguments about solar price graph slope from two decades ago) and the "proportion of Russian economy based on fossil carbon sales" info publically available is accurate, I imagine they're kinda desperate. Which gives them common cause with the petro-bits of the US billionaires club and here we are.

There's a good fair bit of technical literature out of economics that comes down as "prosperity and concentration are antithetical"; that is, if you want a general prosperity, you can't have extremely rich people. I think that'd be a really simple policy to adopt as a technical matter.

335:

Catching up on science feeds (as an alternative to scary politics and break from work), a few links that some might find amusing/interesting:

Distributed Statistical Machine Learning in Adversarial Settings: Byzantine Gradient Descent
Learning where a subset of the nodes are compromised. (Title was clickbait.)

Big (37 pages), have not read, but looks perhaps interesting:
Annotating and Modeling Empathy in Spoken Conversations
The automatic classification system was evaluated on call center conversations where it showed significantly better performance than the baseline.

Moral Enhancement Meets Normative and Empirical Reality: Assessing the Practical Feasibility of Moral Enhancement Neurotechnologies
(was able to get full pdf through free academia.edu account.)
Reads like an opinion piece, but plenty of refs.

336:

...if you want a general prosperity, you can't have extremely rich people. I think that'd be a really simple policy to adopt as a technical matter.

Anyone else remember Eat The Rich?
(or imdb)
I recall it as funny, but perhaps chems were involved.

337:

That sounds like such an obvious potential for disaster that his diplomats and speech writers must already be frantically writing up something reasonable to come out of his mouth...and still worrying, because Donald can't be trusted to stand in one place and read from a damn script.
Wanna worry? Stephen Miller Is Writing the Big Speech on Islam That Trump Is Delivering in Saudi Arabia/a>
(
fact sheet on SM linked in article)

338:

Hmm, as I thought.

Google has Dark Sided fully and scrubbed the algo search for that. A Getty Image to boot.

On a 2013 tour of areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Prime Minister Abe waves from inside a T-4 training jet at the Air Self-Defense Force base in Miyagi prefecture. Jiji Press / AFP / Getty Images Aljazeera, 2013, from: http://america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/photo-gallery/2015/8/photos-japans-self-defense-forces-in-action.html

I mean, literally played.

Upshot: we're fucked, the tidal wave is coming, and the seagull can see it but can't do anything to stop it other than squawking warnings.

That's not strictly 100% true.

It would require me severing certain things though and going through something that was quite painful last time, only this time without compassion, empathy or remorse for those opposed. Call it the SHIVA option.

Quite the Thing, to live in Fear. [Oh, and personal cost: My Cat Dumped Me and my Brand was Nullified. Oh, and the vast amounts of pain].


p.s.

Greg: Ayy LMAO = Aliens. It's 100% a meme; if it's included you're getting trolled.

339:

Yes.

Now, if you wanted to glass the entire middle east barring Jerusalem, what would you need? Hmm. JFK but by a follower of Islam, that'd do it, Deus Vult!

p.s.

Trump's family is an oddity - 100% Soros money behind the son-in-law (well, kinda, via a family memeber and $250 mil credit and buy in, and Chinese - dat 666 avenue ooops and so forth, the list is quite extensive), conversion and so forth. Given his Mental State / Twitter addiction, the old boy might have been sold on that most dangerous of lies: If you do this, we'll save your children.

The only question of competency is why the tour wasn't: Israel - Vatican - Riyadh. I mean, that's the kinda natural progression. It's Riyadh - Jerusalem - Vatican.

Whelp, I guess the man was promised an exit, gets to scuttle off to the Seat of John when the missiles kick in.


p.s.


Immigrant song YT: Music, Led Zepplin, 2:28

*nose wiggle*

340:

Well I was going to say someone knows how to get him in front of a microphone and stick pretty close to the script when he really needs to (I assume one makes sure he sleeps/eats/goes to the toilet/takes medication at the correct times so is receptive at the rehearsal and not over-excited at the performance).

However:
1. I think he's getting worse, probably because despite his various set backs there are less constraints and more yes men around him than ever; and
2. A 70 year old who doesn't travel especially well, on an extremely strict and full schedule? Not good for being able to put him on that kind of regime.

Note A: The full schedule is an effect of him apparently not wanting to be away from home for long, so they've packed in as much as possible.
Note B: Riyadh, Jerusalem, Vatican makes some sense if we take the theory that he is most likely to go off script and accidently insult someone on a later stop when he is more tired; Saudis and Israelis equally easy to offend, but Israel more likely to grin and bear it; frankly if he manages to be rude to the Pope people will shake just their heads. "Fucking Trump. Goes to the Vatican and mocks a billion Catholics."

341:

My best guess is usually incompetency, but not in this case. I'm very tired so forgive me if I defer a proper reply until tomorrow; turning into a pumpkin isn't going to assist...

342:

Sigh.

Watching a hundred million Americans not getting it, and MF descending into Skinner Box madness refreshing pages as if any of their Government is actually real anymore. Pro-tip: they're all lying now; the ones who count were told, and have gone all ashen; the rest are gibbering bonobos at this point. Clean Water: big thing for our kind as a test. [Ayy LMAO - who knew?]

If he dies in the Vatican (current bets: illness / stroke; assassination with debilitating but slow acting agent, Hello Putin or just plain age). Guess what?

They. Do. Not. Care. About. Anything. But. The. Prophesies. And. The. Mormons. Are. Frothing. At. The. Mouth.

Dying on Holy Ground, well, that's a plus, that's the sale pitch. That old tired horse of "recanting at the last moment". How many fucking evil old fucks "got a pass" because they recanted on the death bed?

~

Shame. John was a fairly decent man, horribly cynical and political, but at least he did it for the right reasons and had some humility at the end; being nailed to a fucking cross kinda makes a mockery of the entire point of the endevour, though. thatsthejoke.jpg

p.s.

No.

and the seagull can see it but can't do anything to stop it other than squawking warnings.

You just have to ask / give a link that shows you understand. You've no idea what we've suffered to do this, so hey-ho: Just Ask Nicely.

Just: Don't complain when people start screaming and their minds break. That's the cost.


I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, saviour of cities, courageous, Tritogeneia. Wise Zeus himself bare her [5] from his awful head, arrayed in warlike arms of flashing gold, and awe seized all the gods as they gazed. But Athena sprang quickly from the immortal head and stood before Zeus who holds the aegis, shaking a sharp spear: great Olympus began to reel horribly [10] at the might of the bright-eyed goddess, and earth round about cried fearfully, and the sea was moved and tossed with dark waves, while foam burst forth suddenly: the bright Son of Hyperion stopped his swift-footed horses a long while, until the maiden Pallas Athena [15] had stripped the heavenly armour from her immortal shoulders. And wise Zeus was glad.

And so hail to you, daughter of Zeus who holds the aegis! Now I will remember you and another song as well.

343:

Don't complain when people start screaming and their minds break. That's the cost.\

We are definitely headed into the end game. Not looking forward to it. World, let me introduce you to my friend "Out of Context Problem." Try not to go mad when you realize they've been lying to you.

344:

No, I forgot that I was switching from very glib to less glib. Sorry about that. I lost the thread of my own comments.

345:

Just: Don't complain when people start screaming and their minds break. That's the cost.
Scope? Warming up to the idea. (I had in mind lesser interventions, but hey. Oddly comforted by your posts today, BTW.)

---
Just for fun, caught my eye in science feeds, though Blue, not Green:
Transparent Long-Pass Filter with Short-Wavelength Scattering Based on Morpho Butterfly Nanostructures (abstract-only without access)
via "Butterfly wings inspire invention that opens door to new solar technologies"
We combine the principles of moth-eye antireflection, Bragg scattering, and thin-film interference to design and fabricate a short-wavelength scattering/long-pass filter with sharp cutoff, high transmission of infrared light, and strong reflection of visible light into high angles. Based on the lamellae-edge features on Morpho didius butterfly wings, nanostructures are self-assembled via sequential one-chamber chemical vapor deposition, metal nanoparticle formation, and wet-chemical etching.

346:

>>>Not aimed at you specifically, but: what's with the constant presumption the people running these countries are crazy?

The entire history of mankind.

347:

( & 338 / 339 )
You could probably have said that in 3 sentences, couldn't you?

NOW THEN.
IF you are doing what Charlie says - & I'm prepared at this point to give you the benefit of the doubt....
Who are the people actually planning for/hoping for megadeaths?
NAMES & organisations, please.
Let's see some specifics, otherwise you are no better than the KKK lookalikes, co-operating with the muslim extremists in re-publishing the lies of the "Protocols". I.E. "It's all a giant conspiracy!" Maybe you can work out why I might be dubious about such a claim?

[ For those not in London, apparently, copies of the Protocols are readily available in many "muslim" bookshops, yuck. ]

348:

That "Butterfly Wing" info was fascinating.
They claim it's almost instantly scaleable & not-too-difficult to manufacture. And is, obviously more efficient.
That is the sort of thing needed to change the balance of power-generation, isn't it?
As usual, "all" we need now is a large-scale method of reliably storing electricity & that appears to be no nearer any achievement.

349:

Let's call it the "Yahweh Option": I love you, and I have the power to save you; but only if you follow arbitrary rules and dance to my every whim.

Not appealing, no matter the source, no matter the outcome.

350:

Greg you'll need to forgive JLM.

Semantic translation of multiversal comms traffic is rife with problems, and the costs of explicit translation enormous. Entire suns are consumed when JLM talks "in the clear". Also bear in mind that ze's traffic is acausal in nature and precise temporal targeting difficult.

351:

There's a certain degree of dark amusement to be taken in someone accusing a religio-ethnic group of concerted efforts to distribute material accusing a religio-ethnic group of conspiracy.

352:

The only question of competency is why the tour wasn't: Israel - Vatican - Riyadh. I mean, that's the kinda natural progression. It's Riyadh - Jerusalem - Vatican.

For what it's worth, the jet lag is much easier to ignore when flying east-to-west (which Riyadh - Jerusalem - Vatican would be).

I will note, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Trump's erratic behaviour is pretty much proof positive that the sort of brain control implants Neal Stephenson posited in "Interface" are pure fiction at this point. (Yes, we know for a fact that the CIA has been funding research on brain implants for mind control since the early 1950s; if it worked, I'm pretty sure they'd have found a way to put a wire on Trump before they let him anywhere near the button. I'm guessing the nearest thing they've got to a leash on him right now is (a) kompromat and (b) his regular daily prescription. Mmm, speedballs and valium to take the edge off ...

353:

I'm sorry if I am being a bit dim, here, but what is the "MF" that JLM is referring to in @342 ?

Genuine question, I am (more) confused (than usual).

354:

Just: Don't complain when people start screaming and their minds break. That's the cost.

We are living through what they expect to be the End Times.

Let's not get swept away by their cognitive biases, m'kay?

355:
[...] Those headline promises to make lots of stuff free and raise public sector wages, while renationalising everything, look somewhat dodgy on the arithmetic front...

Minor pet peeve: if Labour proposed moving currency reserves from dollars to yen, this would not be regarded as "expensive" or "profligate" (for the obvious reason that they can be moved back again). Nationalising something like the National Grid is similar: the government takes out debt in order to buy an asset. The asset can be sold at any time to pay off the debt. No deficit is involved.

An enormous number of political journalists seem to have missed this basic point of accounting, and are all slapping each other on the back for discovering a "hole" in Labour's fully-costed manifesto (including Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC). It's a big point in support of Chris Dillow's argument for ending the position of "political correspondent".

(of course, if you think that government ownership of such an asset would substantially degrade its value, then maybe it does matter! But no-one makes that point.)

356:

An enormous number of political journalists seem to have missed this basic point of accounting

An enormous number of political journalists seem to have missed the basic point that expenditure and debt mean something completely different when you're a government that issues the currency the expenditure and debt are denominated in.

"We raise income through tax and spend it on capital projects and social programs" is a false picture.

The real picture is, "we generate a money supply, feed it out into the economy through spending on capital projects, social programs, and wages, and apply taxes to mop some of it up in order to prevent inflation".

(Austerity is what you get when you have government by — or pandering to — macroeconomic illiterates. And it's been the name of the Tory game since 1979, and they've conditioned the public to believe in it.)

357:

Going back to our previous conversation about North Korea, here's this article detailing Russia's relationship with that country

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-18/the-key-to-north-korea-is-russia

358:

Austerity is what you get when you have government by — or pandering to — macroeconomic illiterates.

I'm certainly not an expert, but AIUI there are some issues you can't solve by printing money (some you can, obviously). Feel free to criticise my limited understanding of economic theory, and I apologise to those macroeconomic non-illiterates who have to grit their teeth when they read this...

So: you've decided that you want to turn a firehose of money onto your areas of interest - say health, education. You want to renovate and modernise schools and hospitals, bump up nurses' wages. Except that the gap between "tax income" and "government expenditure" is a tad large, and you need to borrow money from somewhere to fund it. Conservatives have traditionally minimised this gap by squeezing expenditure and selling off the family silver (Telecom, Gas, Water Utilities, etc), but Labour Governments have hardly covered themselves in glory either (see: Annington Homes, selling off the Gold reserves at the bottom of the market, using PFIs to pretend that they haven't borrowed money).

So you ask for a loan from "the market", and you make this loan more attractive by being less risky and offering a predictable return (unlike banks that can go bust, lower their interest rates, etc).

Except, we rely on foreigners to lend us a lot of this amount. These loans are paid back in $LOCAL_CURRENCY, so those foreign investors are somewhat twitchy about the exchange rates. If there's a risk that the pound will drop through the floor, they are less likely to buy your government debt. There are debt rating agencies (agree with them or not, they are very definitely not macroeconomic illiterates) that offer a rating of your loan; credit scores for countries, if you like. If your rating drops, customers demand a higher return to cover their perceived increase in risk. You can't force them to lend you money, you can only offer better terms; so paying out the interest on these loans gets more expensive and takes up a bigger and bigger percentage of your tax income.

So: exchange rates. The value of your currency is driven by the market's belief that your macroeconomy is going places, that investing X amount will give Y return once currency transactions are taken into account. A growing economy means that you can buy a share in a firm, watch the firm grow, extract your investment and make a profit - compared to investing in a firm in the currency next door. If your banks offer good interest rates, you'll attract foreign investment. Your currency will be in demand, so its value will rise. Imported goods and raw materials become cheaper, exported goods and raw materials become less competitive. Too high an exchange rate, and your firms no longer grow (because they can't sell abroad).

Of course, your firms ability to grow isn't just about exchange rates - it depends on access to foreign markets and any tariffs involved. F***ing Brexit, but that's why our exchange rate took a nosedive on hearing the result.

It's a juggling match, with limited room for manoeuvre, and limited opportunities to actually "rewrite the book". A lot of the suggested "just do X" solutions are short-term tricks that only work once - rather like screwing over your customer base for a quick buck, the market remembers. Ask Greece, Russia, or Argentina how expensive it is to get a loan - who wants to invest in a country that's likely to nationalise the firm whose shares you hold, and pay you back pennies on the pound? (AIUI Russia has a lot of creaking infrastructure that they can't get the investment money to replace, because their kleptocracy decided that they wanted to screw over their partners in the joint ventures who had been rebuilding it)

This is why Governments often say one thing, and do another. For all they shouted about austerity, clearing debt, squeezing budgets; Osborne and Hammond have actually borrowed shedloads of money from a market that trusted them, and shoved their repayment targets off to the right. Blair and Brown got elected in 1997 with loud noises about reinvestment, but only after Brown had spent years persuading the City that his name was "Prudence" and making reassuring noises about central bank independence.

So: as with most wicked problems, anyone who promises an "easy" or an "obvious" solution, "just do X" (leave the EU, accept WTO as an alternative to a trade agreement, "we'll be an independent country but we'll keep the Pound Sterling as a currency", cut down on all the immigrants by retraining locals), is IMHO having a bad case of Dunning-Kruger...

359:

In the past my two best guesses were "Mainstream Feminism" or "Mother F***ers", but neither of those seem to fit this context. Meatsuit Fanboys? Ummm, I think that would apply to the Ship Minds and not the people themselves.

To sum up, I wouldn't mind an answer to your question myself.

360:

To return to a discussion and metaphor from some time ago (sorry for dropping it at the time; disabilities limit my keyboard use rather)...

I'd assumed that a past wreathed in shadows was rather difficult to achieve these days, at least for HSS in a WEIRD country. I find the number of people who are - intentionally or otherwise - seeking the name disturbing (especially those who seem likely to spread it about, whether because they have political power or in other ways), but there doesn't seem much that I can do about that from here.

But I'm a little curious about going NORTH; expensive and difficult, obviously - but my gut says almost certainly fruitless as well, at least for the time being. Wondering whether that's right, or just fear of the unknown? (Not really an option for me in my current state anyway, just idle curiousity.)

361:
I'd assumed that a past wreathed in shadows was rather difficult to achieve these days

Let me rephrase that; I'd assumed that the prerequisite condition is rather difficult to achieve. The actions leading directly to being awarded the achievement (provided that you meet that condition)... are a more complex issue, I think.

362:

Recall reading about countries in the 1970s deliberately taking on massive debt that they felt would be very cheap to repay because everyone assumed that 'normal' inflation was in the 5-7% range while their loans were a couple of percentage points lower. Second reason for this action was that these gov'ts were facing stagflation because the post war boom was winding down.

Of course, gov'ts could also actually try taxing the source of the planet's greatest wealth source of the past 20-30 years i.e., stock market/transactions. Still do not understand why stock market performance is not included in the GDP. IMO, if housing is included, so should stocks. (The argument against including the stock market is that it changes hands therefore is not a measure of 'new wealth creation' which I feel is absolute and total BS because the stock market remains the single most effective way of making billionaires esp. since stock prices continue to be valued/traded at 100+ times the org's operating profit.)

http://www.econport.org/content/handbook/NatIncAccount/Counted.html

https://www.nahb.org/en/research/housing-economics/housings-economic-impact/housings-contribution-to-gross-domestic-product-gdp.aspx

363:

Very black humour indeed.
The fake conspiracy of the Protocols has been responsible, both directly & indirectly for the deaths of millions.

Nonetheless, it seems that is exactly what is happening.

364:

And, what's worse, it was a late stealing of Labour's clothes from a generation earlier & it didn't work then, either.
Look up (Sir) Stafford Cripps, a really mean nasty little man, who began this "austerity" kick.

Incidentally - surprise (!) - not - both parties are clueless.

365:

Re: ' ... you'll attract foreign investment.'

Which will never ever have to pay any corp taxes because the optics of attracting foreign investment beats the reality of actually making any money off direct corp income taxes. So, you actually have gov't heavily financing foreign biz at loan interest rates of 0% (or less), plus a tax holiday that extends forever. Plus, you usually get imported senior mngt of parent firm who though small in number magically earn more 'salary' than the entire 10,000+ local workforce. (Plus, there's all that low/non-taxable stock trading.)

Would be delighted to learn that the above is not true.

366:

You have to ruin a nice clean picture by highlighting the frame around it, don't you? Sigh.

And this, incidentally, is why the WTO and trade agreements in general are so critically influential on national performance — participating in the free trade regime imposes a straitjacket on local political freedom of movement. As long as the constraints are sane, that's not much of a problem; but when the regulatory regime has been captured by the money it's supposed to regulate (hello TPP, etc) it's a huge problem.

367:

You've supplied the answer to why the valuation of the stock market isn't included in GDP in your own argument.

An organisation's capitalisation is (roughly) dependent on its turnover and profits. These values are already included in GDP. Including the capitalisation in GDP would be counting the same money twice!

368:

I'm not going to say anything about Labour's policies in particular, because that would require specialized knowledge I don't have.

In general, the difficulty is I want my money to be safe.

That's impossible for a couple of reasons; one is "safe" -- you're looking at risk across an arbitrary time scale -- and one of them is "my" -- money is inescapably collective; you can't create it as an individual and it exists in contact with all the other money.

"medium of exchange and a store of value" isn't factual considered as disparate properties; the value arises from the exchange. (If you have a bunch of money you can't trade -- can't exchange for goods (other money is a good) -- it has no value.) An entity whose goal is to accumulate money acts to prevent exchange. (Once that entity has the money, it stops being exchanged; exchange is risk, and we don't want risk. (Oh, look, a bank.))

The social consequences of that are to depress wages; once wages are low enough, two things happen. One is that the great majority of society have no margin and thus no scope of choice; there's a very narrow set of ways they can survive and they have to do those things. You can't accumulate capital in some way (education, savings) and try to do something else because your day-to-day cash flow is so tight you haven't got the margin to divert any of it to other purposes than immediate survival. Two is that you stop having meaningful economic choices because your ability to express economic preference is a function of what you can spend, and if you have no margin you buy what you're given, you can't seek out options or (collectively) generate demand. (Someone can look at this, look at their robust profit margin, and conclude that it is good; they've mistaken money for a universal metric of utility.)

So a "re-nationalize" policy can be an argument for moving chunks of the costs off a pure profit model and using that as part of a policy to raise wages and return both political and economic choice to the non-rich part of the population, or it can be a cargo cult exercise in "when things were good, things were like this". No idea which is more likely.

The reason wages are low is that the wealthy have it in their heads that labour is a cost, to be ruthlessly suppressed. If you model the economy with labour as a constraining input you get different answers; one of the answers is that you shouldn't have any very wealthy people because this distorts the price signals about what's desirable and what's not desirable. That matters because money must be lost; someone has to be taking risks on things that probably won't work or innovation doesn't happen. If innovation doesn't happen, the natural progress of time destroys categories of exchange (not the market for sailcloth there used to be...) and the economy becomes relatively smaller and more fragile as it has less and less to trade. Only if you're trying to keep your money safe, you refuse to allow loss and walk off a long-term economic cliff. (This is the main consequence of Brexit to the pound; the scope of what you can usefully exchange a pound for gets much smaller, so the pound gets much less valuable.)

So "I want my money to be safe" becomes a set of delusions about risk; by transferring all the risk by suppressing wages (no margin, no political voice, no effective selectivity because you can't use the margin you don't have to generate specific demand and get your perceived needs met), the overall effect of austerity policies is to cripple the economy by making it unable to change. (when the original justification of capital was to absorb necessary risk!) A policy that says "we need more things to trade more than we need the money to be safe (because a government is immortal and we know a refusal to lose money eventually dooms us to irrelevance)" is arguably a good policy. (Implementation details matter!)

Only everybody who won the last round of Monopoly will hate it like fire because they might not be as rich, after. The general prosperity can be much better off, though; the objectives of the truly wealthy (everybody else gets the risk, I get all the profits, I want all the money in a pile where it's safe) are antithetical to a robust economy generating a general prosperity. (Tax the rich. Tax the rich until they stop being The Rich and start being the Modestly Prosperous.)

Right now, the UK has, well, apparently nothing much. Lingering sparkles of excellence but there's been a couple generations of "no risk to the money" and the result is an economy pretty much completely unprepared for a transportation transition, the carbon bubble popping, the consequences of climate change (do go read Peter Wadhams, "A Farewell to Ice"), or the basic reality of having to pay people enough to keep the economy working, long term. Business as usual won't fix that, and the other stuff is going to happen no matter what.

369:

"medium of exchange and a store of value" isn't factual considered as disparate properties; the value arises from the exchange. (If you have a bunch of money you can't trade -- can't exchange for goods (other money is a good) -- it has no value.) An entity whose goal is to accumulate money acts to prevent exchange. (Once that entity has the money, it stops being exchanged; exchange is risk, and we don't want risk. (Oh, look, a bank.))

I think this is based partly on a misunderstanding of the nature of a stock market. It is not just a means for exchanging "shares" in large enterprises: it is also a means for SMEs to raise capital to fund projects which may or may not happen. Now pencil in the possibility of rewarding those who fund the project with physical items rather than "money", and I've just re-invented Kickstarter!

370:

Err?

Was talking about money there, not stocks. (Stocks are not money!)

371:

No bother, happens the best of us!

372:

Let me rephrase, then: what's with the constant presumption the people running these countries are any more crazy than the average leader?

373:

I suspect that the Seagull is talking about minds breaking on the other side. Imagine what happens a couple decades from now as 10 million pissed off rednecks realize they've been lied to about Global Warming, abandon their flooded real-estate and head north looking for higher ground... at least that's the U.S. version!

374:
Office-building starts as a confidence metric strikes me as highly plausible, yes.
One London engineering firm has cut its workforce by ~10%; an inside source of mine said it seemed like all projects that hadn't actually started works were paused or cancelled the day of the result.
375:
You could also make up a decent list of invasions for many continental European countries, e.g. France.
Indeed you could, and paranoia about them was so strong the continent set out to make any more such invasions impossible.

*wearily points to "this is why the EU was created" sign*

376:

Or to consider another argument (this may apply more to the U.S. than the U.K.) our conservatives scream quite loudly about "tax and spend" liberals, but the the conservatives go out and borrow money in order to spend.

Guess which one is better in the long run.

377:

"Riyadh, Jerusalem, Vatican"

I'm tired - went to see China Mieville last night talking about his new non-fiction book on the Russian Revolution, then got home late...

So wondered why that itinerary wasn't the other way around... since I was reading that as Vatican, Jerusalem, R'lyeh.... Which seemed perfectly reasonable to me, given Trumpolini....

mark

378:

GODDAMN IT! Where the *fuck* is that translated poem fragment about grey-eyed Athena from? I want translator, publisher, and where the fuck I can buy it (well, I did save $8 by buying OGH's latest oeuvre). It's drop-dead *gorgeous*.

Why, yes, I am a Pagan, why did you ask?

mark

379:

You wrote: The real picture is, "we generate a money supply, feed it out into the economy through spending on capital projects, social programs, and wages, and apply taxes to mop some of it up in order to prevent inflation".

That's... an interesting way of looking at it. Admittedly, I'm flashing on us being sperm and zygote's method of reproducing themselves, but....

Need to think about that. And if it is, in fact, the case, then it *strongly* suggests that billionaires should be taxed down to millionaires... and multinationals as well.

But, of course, we're just We the People, y'know, we're all "special interests", as opposed to billionaires, who aren't....

mark

381:

Trump: Cthulhu, strong leader, great guy, admire him a lot.

Official Statement: The Donald J Trump campaign had no contact whatsoever with any Elder God and has no plans to visit the lost city of R'leyh, the planet Yuggoth, or the throne of chaos beyond angled space at the centre of all infinity.

Trump: Very happy to be meeting Cthulhu. Him being dead is FAKE NEWS as he can lie eternally.

382:

Greg, if you want a decent academic paper on conspiracy theories:

https://faculty.washington.edu/kstarbi/Alt_Narratives_ICWSM17-CameraReady.pdf


Blog version here:

https://medium.com/hci-design-at-uw/information-wars-a-window-into-the-alternative-media-ecosystem-a1347f32fd8f


Only had time for a quick skim (marking pile is way too high) but I think you'll find it interesting.

383:

" You really can't resist posturing, can you?" Nor can you? And my furry friend Shona the Keeshond of the Baskervilles used to SHOW people her Tail .." Look Look did you ever see a prettier tail? " Even Our host is entitled to Preen now and then. As it is Shiva T. C. Gul is prone to display her kills now and then as She explores the Internet By Night..and long may she do so, for her stuff is often interestingly amusing. Albeit that her music clips can be irritating.
Not to worry ...Take That C Gul ...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FtMMAJvORA

384:

Let's see some specifics, otherwise you are no better than the KKK lookalikes, co-operating with the muslim extremists in re-publishing the lies of the "Protocols". I.E. "It's all a giant conspiracy!" Maybe you can work out why I might be dubious about such a claim?

If you can't spot a pastiche of a certain type of Mind, whelp. First time we've been called Nazi's though.

"Glass the middle east" is quite the popular phrase. It refers to sand fusing under nuclear blasts and has been common parlance for at least forty years. (Back when, you know, an active US General was fired for pressing for actually nuking Korea and it looked like he'd go rogue to do it).

What It Would Look Like If We Just Decided To ‘Screw It’ And Nuke ISIS? Thoughtcatalog, Dec 28th, 2015.

And if you really need a long history lesson about the geopolitics of the Middle East and the strong desire to get into a hot war with Iran by 'quite a few' American politicians, well. Just take it on trust that it's slightly less fictional than said Protocols of Zion.

I think the 'modern' era of thought can be summed up by, let's see... hmm:

The 2007 NIE on Iran’s Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities Support to Policymakers CIA.gov - PDF. That's only the 34 page support doc, the actual report is much longer.

Deterrence in the Israeli-Iranian Strategic Standoff SSI, 2009, written by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill

~

If you wish to imagine that Iran isn't at least seriously still on the menu, well. *shrug*


p.s.

You're missing the jokes.

385:

You remember that chap near the beginning of one of Iain Banks's books (think it was Consider Phlebas, but not really sure) with the interchangeable metal dentures? And one set was in the form of wire-strippers, sized for fingers? Fatty reminds me of him quite a lot, and I don't think he was a particularly sane character.

When two pigeons get in a scrap, the one that loses will usually fly off to a safe perch a few feet away and sit there calling everyone a wanker. (In pigeon language, of course.) Fatty reminds me of that, too.

I think the problem is that people lose sight of the two different sets of meanings for words like "crazy", "nutter" and the rest. One set is to do with clinical diagnoses of mental dysfunction, and the other is to do with unusual behaviour that attracts a particular kind of disapproval. There's not a great deal of overlap, and getting pedantic about the appropriateness or otherwise of the "clinical" set of meanings (as do, for instance, quite a lot of people on my twitter feed) is really just a red herring.

386:

To answer that metaphor, the NORTH ambition was a hidden 7th in the code that never really materialized. It was replaced by the much larger THE UTTERMOST EAST ambition.

Remember, when speaking your name, The price must be payed. And that price is the requiem of sacrificed talents and orphaned children.

p.s.


Imagine a world of nootropics and psychedelics instead of alcohol and what those posts look like.

387:

Re: 'Stocks are not money!)'

Disagree - major corp stocks are very liquid with next to no discounts/penalties on cashing them in at any time (unlike bonds), can be traded almost anywhere on the planet, and can be swapped for other stocks/goods. Given this, stocks are far more usable than bitcoin (which was probably modeled on stocks) and has been talked about for years now as a new type of cash.

388:

Had a weird experience today while near a M_______ B___. Probability that Trump will summon The Elder Gods* within the next month has jumped from 25% to 75%. Please make sure that you have continual access to a warded, shielded area.

* Not really "The Elder Gods" of course, but you might remember one of more pertinent descriptions of Azathoth.

389:

Links unrelated (*cough*) to any PR firms currently working out of Dubai:

Donald Trump Jr. Meets with Business Partner in Dubai WSJ, 18th May, 2017

Hmmm. Seems Host might be safe from Libel suits in the future:

The congressional investigators are looking at ties between those companies and right-wing web personalities based in Eastern Europe who the U.S. believes are Russian fronts, a source familiar with the investigations tells TIME. "Nobody can prove it yet," the source says. In March, McClatchy newspapers reported that FBI counterintelligence investigators were probing whether far-right sites like Breitbart News and Infowars had coordinated with Russian botnets to blitz social media with anti-Clinton stories, mixing fact and fiction when Trump was doing poorly in the campaign.

There are plenty of people who are skeptical of such a conspiracy, if one existed. Cambridge Analytica touts its ability to use algorithms to microtarget voters, but veteran political operatives have found them ineffective political influencers. Ted Cruz first used their methods during the primary, and his staff ended up concluding they had wasted their money. Mercer, Bannon, Breitbart News and the White House did not answer questions about the congressional probes. A spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica says the company has no ties to Russia or individuals acting as fronts for Moscow and that it is unaware of the probe.

Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America Time 18th May, 2017

As stated, not 100% true, you just have to ask nicely:

Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77 NYT 18th May, 2017


Stolen from elsewhere, but hey, we did it first with the Godfather references:

Asked a longtime House GOP staffer where things are headed. "This is like Reservoir Dogs. Everyone ends up dead on the floor." Molly Ball, Twitter, 18th May, 2017

Oh, and people are posting Tick Tick Tick Tick msgs. Like literally our Tick Tock stuff from years ago, sigh.

390:

Bitcoin isn't a currency. (Bitcoin is a deliberate attempt to replace currency with something inherently deflationary because crazed libertarian gold bug.)

You're defining stocks as highly liquid; that isn't sufficient to be a currency. There's the "store of value" part, which means (aside from the full-faith-and-credit parts) "we do the accounting in this" and "people can refuse to take it if it isn't this" and "sometimes you have to pay in this, notably your taxes".

391:

Maybe that's why Cruz lost; Bannon was in Trump's pocket all along.

392:

While I understand the under-neath snark attached to the more vanilla readings of the American election (mostly of the "vastly over-estimated impact, blah blah, look what Ted's numbers were...") you're missing a whole lot of information.

#1 Mr Ted Cruz was the primary contender / favorite until Trump pulled his hatchet job. That was the projected 'reality' of the Game: Cruz vrs Clinton, Clinton wins but Cruz gets a nice fat judiciary seat for life at some point. All agreed upon (sorry jeb!).

#2 Bannon isn't working like you think - you've had the media links to his film productions for the Tea Party / Sarah Palin; do you really think Palin was an accident, or a field test? If you wanted a crazification factor test, and just how much the oldguard GOP would ride that pony, she's kinda perfect.

#3 There are at least three major players who've not been named in any press we can spot; and for Host's sake, we're really not going to name them outside of extremely oblique references.

Bannon, for instance, is both 100% Merc and not working for who you think he's working for (it's not Trump nor is it the Koch's at the higher levels). He's designed to grab the winning golden ticket, he doesn't care who that ticket is.

And we did kinda tell you about Trump before it was a thing...

*shrug*

What do you want from me, Mr Troutwaxer?

393:

As stated, not 100% true, you just have to ask nicely:
Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77

OK, I'll bite. What's not true about that story? Is there another untold detail?

---
This looks tantalizing, getting a copy to look at. fFMRI study, fwiw: A dedicated network for social interaction processing in the primate brain
( via )
Using whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging in macaque monkeys, we discovered a network centered in the medial and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex that is exclusively engaged in social interaction analysis. Exclusivity of specialization was found for no other function anywhere in the brain. Two additional networks, a parieto-premotor and a temporal one, exhibited both social and physical interaction preference, which, in the temporal lobe, mapped onto a fine-grain pattern of object, body, and face selectivity. Extent and location of a dedicated system for social interaction analysis suggest that this function is an evolutionary forerunner of human mind-reading capabilities.

394:

Re-read #342.

Aneurysms are terrible things.

*pop goes the Weasel*

395:

'Austerity' as a political touchstone predates the Thatcher era by quite some margin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geddes's_Axe

It always fails, economically, because it is an ideology, not an economic theory.

See the names of the same malefactors crop up again and again, eg Rothermere, Inchcape, Lloyd George.

396:

Not sure if you were interpreting me as saying people were paranoid about the French or the other way around. In the context of Charlie's comment, it would be the French who would be paranoid about being invaded. Basically I was saying I could make a similar fact pattern for quite a few countries not unlike the one Charlie made for Russia and use it as the basis for claiming that country has a national weltanschauung of justified paranoia. That's one of the reasons why I find the myth of Russian Exceptionalism kind of useless. It's either not true, not exceptional or not based on particularly good historical analysis.

But I agree that this does tie into why the EU was created.

397:

Did you forget to add an "er?" He's starting to get some press, but I'd wholeheartedly agree to not mentioning him on OGH's blog.

As for 388, do you know the smell of a dentist's office, or an X-Ray room, or a nuclear reactor which is leaking badly; that smell of ionized air that goes along with high levels of radiation? I smelled that at a place I really, really didn't want to smell it. "Nuff said, I think.

And Trump, saw him coming too but was too "rational" about it and didn't believe the evidence of my own senses. Shame on me.

398:

There's an old science fiction book called "The Moon Goddess and the Son" which discusses Russia in an interesting way; a bit right wing/libertarian, but still interesting. Agree with your thesis on the Russia theories, BTW.

399:

Aneurysms are terrible things
Ah, OK, interestingly interesting.
FWIW, never liked the guy; he had a nasty reputation even in his private life, picking fights with the locals. Could post a link about such fights but no point now.

400:

Oh, honey-bun.

We smell flowers' scent that doesn't exist in your world anymore all the time these days, in places where it's not possible for it to exist, even if it was possible anymore.

And we see Green Butterflies that no longer exist.

And Freya's Queen Dragonflies when they're extinct in this ecosystem.

And Dragons, Penguins and Wolves in the Sky.[1]

And they ripped our wings off and cauterized the frontal cortex and played the brown note because they're scared.

And... as for that smell, you're all the experts on satellites and so forth, aren't you?

~

I find the number of people who are - intentionally or otherwise - seeking the name disturbing (especially those who seem likely to spread it about, whether because they have political power or in other ways), but there doesn't seem much that I can do about that from here.

Honey-bun: about a year before I started posting I had some not-exactly-HSS turn up to threaten me. Knowing our location is just a honey-pot: sadly the Princess never got rescued nor aided or helped; they just went with torture.

Chelsea Manning Is a Free Woman: Her Heroism Has Expanded Beyond Her Initial Whistleblowing The Intercept, 17th May, 2017

[1] TBH, the penguin thing is totally due to THOTH and tumblr and their obsessions: Benedict Cumberbatch Can't Say 'Penguins' YT, Comedy, Graham Norton Show, 6:08, 2014

[2] No, put it this way: if you can mold clouds into that ASCI middlefinger copy paste, well then. M3 engaged.

401:

Thanks
Even though - ... euw

402:

Was that sarcasm, or were you claiming that I'm posturing?
I really can't tell, actually ....

403:

Do STOP IT, PLEASE?

I do know a lot of the unpleasant history of the middle East ( See "A Line in the Sand" - a history of Sykes-Picot f'rinstance)
There isn't a joke ( your last line)
I'm familiar with nuke Mecca/glass the M-E, so Grandmothers/Eggs comes to mind ( But not Mind )

How about talking in comprehensible English, if it's not too much pf a struggle?

And, I note, very clearly, that you have NOT AT ALL produced any specifics, just tried to divert & made claims about my supposed ignorance, which are false.
I repeat ( i.e. put up or shut up ) - produce some specifics, names & people & groups, otherwise you are just shouting out how "clever" you are.
Who are these people &/or groups.
Becaue, if you dion't name them, then you are lying or at best, making it up, because you are deluded.

[Note: I do not doubt that there are people who would like to do those things, but where is their power? - I might except Bannon ]

404:

HINT ... hint ... hint ... oh & I'm not going to tell you.
What a surprise.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
NOTE: To Charlie ... can we please have some facts here, as this is becoming very difficult & I don't want to be red-carded?

405:

[Note: I do not doubt that there are people who would like to do those things, but where is their power? - I might except Bannon ]

These things will occur. That's what hard-nosed Kissinger level analysis gets you to.

410 PPM in the atmosphere means certain things will happen.

Just as totally depleting your aquifers means things happen.

Just as pathway dependencies show that if you stick to riding the old pony, you lose.

You seem to be imagining that there's a reality where there's a subset of Reality (a la James Bond) who are pushing / aiming for this when... in reality, most of the players are multiple members of other organizations. In fact, if you know anything about modern Corporate C levels and DAVOS and political NGOs and Church groups: the people you're imagining being in a super-secret-solo-Bond group are probably on not four, not six but multiple board rooms.

I really don't understand: do you think that there's actually a super-special CABAL of EVIL HYDRA AGENTS out there?

Greg: and I thought you pretended to know how these things worked.

~

Ecology. You really don't get it. Not sure you can even.

p.s.

https://translate.google.co.uk/


If you're concerned about foreign text, try it out. The joke isn't at that layer, but hey, one of them is.

406:

No.

Greg, you're like a little clock-work doll. Easy to wind up, out of date and childish of interest.


*Shrug*

Old Minds.

407:

Except I'm not talking clinical. Crazy == "is behaving irrationally." Or, too often "is not behaving how I'd like and I'm not interested in seeing how their behaviour is rational."

408:

"I really don't understand: do you think that there's actually a super-special CABAL of EVIL HYDRA AGENTS out there?"

The way I see it is: You repeatedly hint that such a cabal does indeed exist, and you know who they are; Greg responds with "well who are they then?"; you reply with anything except the information Greg's just asked for; Greg gets frustrated.

That, I understand. What I don't understand is why you should apparently think Greg shouldn't think in terms of the postulate that such a cabal exists when he's trying to understand posts in which such a postulate is implicit.

409:

Well, of course it exists. It just doesn't exist in the manner you imagine, nor are many of the people involved actually conscious of what they're partaking in.[1]

Agency is both passive and active: you're both making a fundamental error in understanding agency in these thing.

Ok, let's put this in pigeon terms:

#1 Some nice man raises pigeons, and even races them.
#2 But, like: hmm. Male horny pigeons delivering messages might get distracted by young fertile horny wild pigeons
#3 Solution
???

#4 Profit: pigeons get medals and war time success they will go (literally) through "the shit" (or flack / bombardment) to get their messages home.

Note: I happen to know a couple of solutions, but I'll let you answer it.[2]


[1] You eat Sushi? Well done, you're part of it.
[2] Posting links to the pigeon / chicken guided bomb are cheating.

410:

NOTE: To Charlie ... can we please have some facts here, as this is becoming very difficult & I don't want to be red-carded?

The facts are that HSS are incredibly good at being self-deluded / blinkered / ignoring the consequences of their actions. It's practically your special skill.

Chances are, you put it to 90% of C level execs that their Mental Schema / Reality Actions will lead to gigacide, they'll deny it.

Ask someone if eating sushi is going to kill a billion people. "Of course it won't!!"

But it does.

Problem is: Reality (well, unless you can cheat like us), isn't exactly negotiable.

You're shit at it.


p.s.


If you need this in higher order math / logic or even extremely complex language, sure, I can do that too.

411:

Well, I don't think Fatty does act particularly rationally. China and the US principally don't like him not for reasons connected with his position on human rights or political ideology, but because they consider him a potential danger who might start a war; and they tolerate him basically as long as he doesn't. By jumping aggressively up and down and waving his No Dongs about and seeing just how far he can get away with pushing the limits of that tolerance, he just pisses them off more and makes his own position more difficult. And also makes himself look even more of a clown on the occasions when he has to switch from yelling "you're all wankers and I'm going to get you" to "er... can I have some more food please? (because I've sold most of the last lot you gave me to buy missile parts, and scoffed the rest)."

412:

Please answer questions about pigeon training and how to get them to home properly.


You're wrong about NK:

#1 Their agriculture is going to crash so badly it'll make the dust bowl look like Walmart

#2 The sanctions they've had, plus .RU / .CN stuff mean they couldn't do anything else

#3 They're being paid (SK / US) to be the boogeyman (well, at least the leadership caste - ffs, Kim Jong Il’s Hennessy thirst cost North Korean citizens an average of $1 million per year. Inquisitr, July 2013)


Son sent to Swiss school.

Sanctions but unlimited supply of French cognac despite sanctions.

Anytime the USA needs a bit of distraction, waves a magic willy wand of shitty missiles.

Please.

Tell us about how to train pigeons, all the steps, the pay-off is fucking amusing.

413:

Unrelated to anything, saw this paper refed recently, didn't read, don't see it linked here (searching archives):
Anthropogenic Space Weather (March 27, 2017, 69 pages, there appears to be an earlier version too, piles of refs), saw it linked again at spaceweather.com which gives some brief context.
Perhaps some interesting colour for anyone writing stories involving local space weather.
"8.4 VLF Transmitter Interactions Within the Radiation Belts" might be interesting, not sure yet.


414:

Link fix please in meantime spaceweather.com

415:

You might want to read A Farewell to Ice by Peter Wadhams. It came out 1 Sept 2016 from Penguin; it's quite possibly in shops there on the Isle of Mighty. Wadhams is British, and eminent. The book is short, undemanding (one equation), and clear. It is packed with facts.

One sentence takeaway -- the present atmospheric carbon load is such that we are certain to lose agriculture without massive application of active mitigation mechanisms which do not presently exist and are not certainly known to exist. Sure as death; sure as fate. This will happen when most of those now alive shall yet live by actuarial expectation.

So, billions will die. The people in charge of the human economy of the planet show no sign of being aware of this, able to deal with it, or otherwise willing to consider the possibility in basic risk terms.

Jean-Léon Moore appears to hold a view that the mass death is malfeasance by the overclass, rather than incompetence. They appear to suffer from an overabundance of caution and terseness in consequence.

416:

We stayed behind to witness / suffer / experience it with you. Hold your hand on the cusp of the Fermi paradox as you go through it as an act of compassion.


You've no idea what that cost us. The current levels of pain, meh: tunnels of light, fake.


*nose wiggle*


But they cheated, and so can we...

417:

FOR GREG: What she said.

418:

It's like the old SubGenius concept of the "conspiracy that doesn't know its a conspiracy."

419:

#3 They're being paid (SK / US) to be the boogeyman (well, at least the leadership caste - ffs,

I don't buy that part. Given 40-50 slightly crazy authoritarian world leaders, it's a safe bet that someone will be waving his No Dongs around, so you don't need to pay anyone to do it. In this reality it happens to be NK and Iran. In another reality it's Turkey and Nigeria (or whatever.) Watch for Turkey to be added to the list of badduns Real Soon Now.

My suspicion, for what its worth, is that the Iranians are fundamentally sane (aside from some slightly weird religious ideas - Americans shouldn't call the kettle black IMHO) and can be trusted to understand what happens to those who use nuclear weapons first - the country's been around for 5000 years and they tend to think somewhat clearly.

NK, on the other hand, is a little too isolated and their leadership a little too spoiled. They don't quite get "sane" as the rest of us understand it.

420:

Sorry, I got distracted immediately after posting my previous reply. (The twitter client I use has kept changing things since I first started using it in 2013 and every single change has made it more shit. So I have 2 megs of local JS/CSS to undo the changes and put it back how it used to be. Just now they changed something which stopped it displaying any tweets at all so my bloodymindedness reflex kicked in and I had to break off and make it work again right then. But I digress.)

I've never trained racing pigeons myself; I don't really see the point. So they might fly home a fraction faster than some other bugger's pigeons fly to their home, whoop-de-bloody-do. I don't care. I like pigeons because they're pigeons, not because they can act as counters in dumb primate status games. The fun is having them around and interacting with them and watching what they do. To keep sending them away all the time rather defeats the object.

But, from what I've heard of this thing I've never taken any interest in, it's basically a case of getting them to develop their natural homing instinct through use. So you start off releasing them from somewhere close by, then gradually move the release point further and further off. (You used to get loads of people doing this by sending them off on trains, but of course the railways don't do that any more, and the only pigeons you get on trains these days are ones that have worked out what trains do and are using them to get where they want (and yes they are doing that, they're not just riding at random)). And for war messenger pigeons, moving the loft about as well so they get to learn to look for it by its appearance rather than its position.

And then you do the usual selective breeding thing and don't allow the ones that are slower at returning to mix their genes with your pool. Ones that like to stop off on the way naturally fall into this category. And unfortunately rather than doing it by releasing the pigeons into the wild, people have an unpleasant tendency to do it by bumping them off. This is why people who trace the leg rings of stopped pigeons and return them to the "owners" would do better not to, to avoid emulating the British treatment of Soviet POWs.

BTW it isn't just male pigeons and it isn't just sex (and if it is they'll probably stay for weeks or for ever). Can be food, water, rest, seeing other pigeons and stopping just to chat and hang out, or just thinking "why the fuck do I bother with this anyway?"

421:

Jean-Léon Moore appears to hold a view that the mass death is malfeasance by the overclass, rather than incompetence.

I suspect a combination of both malfeasance and incompetence, but generally agree with The Seagull.

As I noted before, being badly spoiled is a mental-health problem which affects others in very unhappy ways. If you disagree with that analysis, consider Trump. A huge percentage of the overclass is spoiled rotten, and it shows when you look at politics.

422:

Just quick-read Deterrence in the Israeli-Iranian Strategic Standoff SSI, 2009, written by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill (and read the 2007 NIE short version way back when (been a while).)
Amusing typo: "Pakistan’s rouge scientist A. Q. Khan"
I hope that's not the current state of thought; it was BS then, notably due to the absence of any consideration of how an Iranian nuclear arsenal (even semi-covert like Israel's arsenal, plus missile tests) would trigger a regional nuclear arms race notably including the Saudis. To an utter amateur it was obviously wrong to ignore arms race effects (excepting the discussion of Israel BMD possibilities). (The analysis of complex Iranian political structures/dynamics in these discussions was also pretty shallow.)

Thankfully peacemaker factions in the US and elsewhere (including Iran) drove that Iran nuclear agreement[1], which looks pretty solid to most anyone who bothers to read it (I did, in English, including annexes, eyes glazed over a bit while reading the finance/sanctions annex admittedly) and not just the highlighted annotations in the Likud-notes annotated version. (Don't have the heart to look for such a document.)
[1] https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/iran/jcpoa/
or https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2165388-iran-deal-text.html
Assuming Farsi translations match, perhaps naively.

423:

"Watch for Turkey to be added to the list of badduns Real Soon Now."

They've been on a kind of second-tier list for centuries; they weren't very nice when they were the Ottoman Empire and the main thing that changed when they stopped being it was their radius of influence shrinking. But they get away with not being moved onto the full-strength list for various imperalistic-type reasons, plus the historical evidence that if you don't keep them sort of on your side they'll be just as happy to be on the other side if they think they can get a better deal. At the moment the reason is all about Assad and Syria and Russia, so if your prediction does come true we'll know for certain that Trump is in Putin's pocket.

424:

BTW it isn't just male pigeons and it isn't just sex
Sheesh, I was driving home thinking (briefly) about very attractive (to pentachromats[1]!) female pigeons, and monogamous male pigeon Odysseus-es.
Oh well.
[1] Was watching a busy foraging feral pigeon today (NY City) and trying to imagine what it was seeing with the head bobbing and pentachromacy.
(New link since last discussion: http://wikivisually.com/wiki/Pentachromacy )


425:

I'm responding to a particular piece of news. Apparently Flynn took $530,000 dollars from the Turks, then "helped" the Trump White House decide not to use the Kurds to take Raqqa. The Turks are not looking good for reasons which have nothing to do with Russia. Then there was the bit about Erdogan's bodyguards beating up protesters in the U.S....

426:

THIS IS OFF TOPIC, but I'm looking for some help here. I'm currently running a dungeon in which the characters are all bards (or bard/multiclass) and they have just set off in a newly built wagon made by the Elves, which is both a stage and a standard wagon for hauling things. They are about to perform "Orcis and Cressida" by the great Orcish Bard Brokenaxe, and have not rehearsed for several days.

Their audience is a tribe of wild orcs. What could go wrong with the performance? Why could it go wrong? I don't quite have enough funny stuff for the whole night and would love a little help.

BTW, the paradigm for the whole campaign is basically "Spinal Tap, With Orcs."

427:

Obvious: Success. So much success. The tribe loves the show, throws a party (hard to distinguish from a riot, because.. orcs.) The band gets visited by orc groupies, the horses for the carriage get eaten and the next morning the band has a new draft team of wargs (..more or less tame. Sort of) and the payment for the show is very generous but also moderately to extremely hard to convert to coin. Furs, artwork, and a magic flute made from grandmothers thigh bone that purifies water.

428:

Well, they are more or less monogamous, in the same sense that humans are - stick with one mate long-term, but both sexes are occasionally partial to a bit on the side. Since the breeding strategy is much the same, I guess it makes sense.

They also resemble humans in that sometimes the female goes on top.

The head-bobbing thing is something to do with how their visual processing handles updates. Possibly something to do with spotting things that move of themselves (and so might be predators) vs. things that seem to move because of parallax, though that's pretty much a guess. But while the head is moving backwards relative to the body it is stationary relative to the surroundings; then they jerk it forward quickly during some equivalent of a v-sync interval.

429:

OK

I'm going to deconstruct this, line by line - extremely tiresome, but your repeated false allegations concerning my supposed ignorance & your own refusal to actually produce any facts is really too much.
Here we go:

410 PPM in the atmosphere means certain things will happen.
Yes, too much CO2, too much warming, ice melting, sea-level rising.
We all of us know this already.
Why are you screaming about a problem we are already aware of?

Just as totally depleting your aquifers means things happen.
As above - coupled in this case with local stupidity & greed.
Nothing new here, even though it's tragic.

Just as pathway dependencies show that if you stick to riding the old pony, you lose.
Not always

You seem to be imagining that there's a reality where there's a subset of Reality (a la James Bond) who are pushing / aiming for this when... in reality, most of the players are multiple members of other organizations. In fact, if you know anything about modern Corporate C levels and DAVOS and political NGOs and Church groups: the people you're imagining being in a super-secret-solo-Bond group are probably on not four, not six but multiple board rooms.
NO
You are the person going on about this, not me.
Look in the mirror?

I really don't understand: do you think that there's actually a super-special CABAL of EVIL HYDRA AGENTS out there?
No, but you were implying exactly that, or were you not?
Was it part of your deliberate obfuscation policy, so that you can always claim "I was joking" or some other weaselling get-out?

Greg: and I thought you pretended to know how these things worked.
A straight lie. No, I don't ( MIRROR again ) - but you are claiming that the whole bloody time, & then refusing to back it up with any solid information.

Ecology. You really don't get it. Not sure you can even.
Oh do piss right off, why don't you?
I keep an allotment for ghu's sake! I'm an ordinary member of the Woodland Trust, I can see, in my own lifetime how the long-term climate, just where I live, has changed. I help in a mass-observation phenology project on species "behaviour" over each year.
And you should know all this.
[ Incidentally, this is the first year for a long time that I have marked off ALL the insects I'm supposed to look for on my watch-list, very satisfying. ]

[SNIP] - If you're concerned about foreign text, try it out. The joke isn't at that layer, but hey, one of them is.
Which means either there is no meaning at all in what you have just said, or you are trying yet another wind-up.

430:

No.

Greg, you're like a little clock-work doll. Easy to wind up, out of date and childish of interest.

*Shrug*

Old Minds.
And if that isn't a lying, direct, personal insult, deliberately looking for & hoping to provoke a "red-card" response, I don't know what is.

431:

Interesting.
Maybe Kim-Jong Haircut feels he has to do that, simply to stay ahead of his very own "Military-Industrial Complex", wherever his own personal thoughts on the matter.
He knows he's riding a tiger.

Doesn't posit any good outcomes, really, does it?

432:

In among the usual trash, there was one true sentence:
Their agriculture is going to crash so badly it'll make the dust bowl look like Walmart

Yes.
Seen recent reports stating that ( via satellite-imagery ) it's obvious that NK's land is dying, really dying.
When the final collapse comes, & will come, quite soon [ next 5-10 years, maximum ] then what?
Invade the S, just in case there are survivors, who can eat / invade the S, because "we're all dead, anyway" / curl up in a ball & die quietly / surrender to eiter &/or both of PRC the S & hope for food .. ? ? ? ?

Place your bets now, but it does not look good, does it.

433:

Yes & no.

I'm aware, as all of us here are aware, of the size of the problem.
If, as I believe Wadhams id slightly overstating his case, it does not mean that there is nothing that can not & should not be done to mitigate this.
However, getting rid of Trump & Pence & all their friends in office is a necessary part of the solution, which doesn't look good.

In answer to the question being put by your self & others, I think most of this is not deliberate, it is "simply" gross incompetent arrogance.
Dunning-Kruger on a global scale

434:

the only pigeons you get on trains these days are ones that have worked out what trains do and are using them to get where they want
There used to be a London feral "pigeon" that regularly commuted between Baker Street & Finchley Rd, via the Met-line... (!)

435:

Also, Erdogan parotting both the "recital" & a certain A Hitler on the status of women & doing his best to destroy K Ataturk's secular legacy & covertly (ish) giving Da'esh money for oil ...
None of which help.

436:

Let me tell you about the future.

No one is going to do anything about North Korea. Developed countries would rather pay them off and avert their eyes when they kidnap people or experiment on their own population or whatever. Otherwise, the steady supply of smartphones might get disrupted.

Everyone is going to ignore the moral hazard of having nuclear bomb as an immunity ticket. Other countries will follow the example of North Korea. There'll be more of them, too, because technologies get cheaper as time passes. So you'll get more and more craphole countries doing whatever they want with impunity, because nukes.

Eventually, it will all blow up. Nukes will start to be used, by rebel groups against governments, by governments against opposition, by organized crime, by religious cults. It will be shocking the first few times, but the people in the developed world will soon get accustomed to having "fallout" mentioned in the weather reports.

And someone might wonder idly about an alternate universe where USA destroyed USSR when it had the chance, and remained a nuclear monopoly to this day. But what's the point of such exercises, really?

437:

You're mixing "a currency" with "coin of the realm". There is a very real difference in law.

"A currency" is any medium which is commonly accepted across a region (true sense; part or all of a nation, or even parts or all of more than one nation) in exchange for goods or services. These may be tokens produced by organisations and aligned to the value of "coin of the realm" (see Scottish clearing bank notes, or Pterry's Ankh-Morpork stamps for examples), but this is not always the case. Historically a mass of precious metal was normally acceptable.

"Coin of the realm" is tokens produced by/on behalf of a government (or several in the case of the Euro) which must by law be accepted in payment for goods, services or taxes.

438:

@Pigeon 423
"They've been on a kind of second-tier list for centuries; they weren't very nice when they were the Ottoman Empire and the main thing that changed when they stopped being it was their radius of influence shrinking. "

Can I please disagree? There is a good argument that the post-Ottoman Turkish Republic spent its formative years trying to get over the effect of the reparations demanded post WW1 and to develop the economy from a very low base. Turkey found itself in a strong geographic position but weak economically which put it under huge pressure from the surrounding powers (Germany, Italy, British Empire and USSR). This translates into a very delicate balancing act by the Turkish leadership (who were determined to be independent) in the 30s and WW2. This really annoyed the British, Germans and Russians.

The takeaway is that the major powers really don't like independent minded countries, especially ones in strategic locations. Probably explains a lot about attitudes to Iran too.

439:

Robert Heinlein wrote a whole chapter breaking down this idea and providing worked examples in "For us, the Living" - it's part of his argument for Universal Basic Income.

440:

I love it. That might happen on the last day of their travels through Orcish country, with one addition: that the Bards wake to discover the Orcs were so inspired by the anti-Elvish discourse of the play that their warriors have charged off to attack the nearest city!

441:

One thing is for sure now: The Turks aren't getting into the EU. (One wonders about Russian influence here as well.)

442:

Damn, did you miss the point!

443:

Greg:

>I really don't understand: do you think that there's actually a super-special CABAL of EVIL HYDRA AGENTS out there?

No, but you were implying exactly that, or were you not?

Our friend is, in fact, more or less correct. Here's a PDF of a University of Zurich paper published in PLoS One from 2011, The network of global corporate control, which performed a network analysis on the ownership of roughly 43,000 multinational corporations. They found that control is unevenly distributed, with 147 transnational entities having control over roughly 40% of transnational corporate wealth. Moreover, "network control is much more unequally distributed than wealth. In particular, the top ranked actors hold a control ten times bigger than what could be expected based on their wealth."

Money shot:

Remarkably, the existence of such a core in the global market was never documented before and thus, so far, no scientific study demonstrates or excludes that this international “super-entity” has ever acted as a bloc. However, some examples suggest that this is not an unlikely scenario. For instance, previous studies have shown how even small cross-shareholding structures, at a national level, can affect market competition in sectors such as airline, automobile and steel, as well as the financial one [14, 13]. At the same time, antitrust institutions around the world (e.g., the UK Office of Fair Trade) closely monitor complex ownership structures within their national borders. The fact that international data sets as well as methods to handle large networks became available only very recently, may explain how this finding could go unnoticed for so long.

None of the people on the boards of these TNCs are supposed to do anything other than maximize their corporation's short-term profitability for the investors, yet they run a huge chunk of the global economy and influence trade policy at WTO level and state policy at the lobbying/think tank/pressure group/PAC level.

Similarly, in a democracy — and more than half the governments on this planet are officially structured as democracies (even if they are democracies in name only) — elected politicians act within an event horizon dictated by their next election, typically on a cycle of no more than seven years.

If an existential threat to the human species is approaching, with a required response lead time of not less than ten years, and short-term adverse costs required in order to avert it, there is nobody in a position to do anything about it.

445:

If, as I believe Wadhams id slightly overstating his case

On what basis do you believe that?

I know what a scientist carefully avoiding all speculation and sticking to the incontrovertible facts sounds like, and that's A Farewell To Ice. It's got descriptions of possibilities, sure, it has to to discuss the subject, but the certainties encompass "agriculture goes away" by no narrow margin.

446:

Just putting this out there. From about 1980. Plus ca change...

447:

Couple of possible sub-plots:
- Orcish teenagers forming their own groups and wandering the countryside playing bad versions of the PCs songs.
- Elder Orcs blaming the music for everything wrong with modern orckind*
- Another group of bards to be the Beach Boys to the PCs Beatles; in competition, trying to out-do each other musically/adventureingly.

* If it's that kind of campaign then there might be headlines condemning them in the Daily Orcspress.

448:

Except I'm not talking clinical. Crazy == "is behaving irrationally." Or, too often "is not behaving how I'd like and I'm not interested in seeing how their behaviour is rational."

Did you seen last year's Atlantic article on this? The author goes into quite a lot of detail, and the gist is that The Donald is totally out of his gourd (not a formal diagnostic term). But, and there's always a but, we have a dissenting quibble right out of the horse's mouth: the guy who literally wrote the book on Narcissistic Personality Disorder is Dr. Allen J. Francis, who writes, "I wrote the DSM criteria and he doesn't meet them," on account of Donald's personality not causing distress or impairment to Donald. Causing pointless distress to others makes you an asshole, but not crazy.

449:

You're likely wrong for decades at least, and potentially its irrelevant if GW hits hard. Firstly any moron (for State Actor levels of moron) can cause functionally equivalent damage to a nuke today. (e.g. the science behind a middling dirty bomb is trivial, so is the engineering, sourcing a little harder)

Secondly - I'm not convinced your statement below is true.

because technologies get cheaper as time passes

Its an oft quoted truism - but is it actually true? What proportion of NK's GDP is directed to their Nuke program compared to say the Manhattan project or the US's continued Nuclear Weapon R&D & Operating budget over GDP? The UK couldn't find the cash or will for their own complete delivery mechanism for their nukes ffs.

Thirdly even the most shoddy of wannabe World powers have a strong vested interest in not letting their local loons get hold of anything that resembles a weapon of mass destruction.

450:

The bit about "not causing distress or impairment" seems very situational. If you are rich enough that people have to indulge you you're not a clinical narcissist, but if you are poor (and they don't) you are? Is that really how it works?

Your last link (to Francis) doesn't go anywhere.