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2017-07-26 11:21 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 341 references
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Recently there have been claims made on Reddit from a person who says he was a former Amazon IT employee.

He alleged that there are intentional back door connections into their "public" side from a "private" side run by, ostensibly, the NSA.  Said systems were intentionally connecting to same and did have root access to said public side machines.

Folks, I've said this before and nobody wants to pay attention to it but you had better listen up.  It's simple, really:

IF YOU HAVE ADMINISTRATIVE (e.g. "root") ACCESS TO A MACHINE RUNNING A HYPERVISOR AND HOSTING CLIENTS YOU CAN TRIVIALLY READ ANY OF THE MEMORY IN USE BY SAID CLIENTS WITHOUT BEING DETECTED.  THIS IN TURN MEANS YOU CAN TRIVIALLY READ ANY ENCRYPTION KEYS USED BY SAID CLIENTS AND STEAL THEM UNDETECTED.

HAVING DONE SO YOU CAN NOW READ EVEN SO-CALLED ENCRYPTED DATA STORED ON THE DISKS OF SAID CLOUD SERVICE COMPLETELY UNDETECTED.

ALL CLOUD SERVERS ARE BUILT ON THIS ARCHITECTURE.

EVERY.

SINGLE.

ONE.

There is no such thing as a secure encryption key, ever, on a cloud server.

EVER.

All such keys must be presumed to have been stolen immediately upon being put on said machine.  If said key is a signing key, such as for a Certificate Authority ("CA") or similar then the person who steals it can trivially create new authentication credentials that the system will accept as legitimate even though they are entirely forged.

There is exactly zero a customer can do to protect against this in a "cloud" environment.  Leaving aside the fact that firms like Amazon employ a huge number of people with legitimate administrative access to said machines, that you have no ability (or right) to vet any of them and you will never be told if any who have ever accessed any machine on which your data resides are terminated or quit, with or without cause, the fact remains that there is now an allegation that Amazon intentionally allowed our "three letter agencies" a back door into said machines and it was actively used on a regular, ongoing basis and thus all your keys that ever touched any of those cloud providers must be assumed to now be in the possession of multiple other people, including, I remind you, other than US government actors since the NSA, CIA and similar cannot manage to keep their own contractors from stealing and handing over said material.

Specifically both Russia and China must be presumed to have any such key along with others and you must presume that they will use it and there isn't crap you can do about it when they do.

You are a ****ing idiot if you have any sort of confidential business information on any of the public cloud company machines.

Period.

I've been in the computer field since the 1980s and I've never in my life seen anything so ******ned stupid as what is going on in corporate America today --  not when it comes to stock valuations and definitely not when it comes to deploying business-critical applications on knowingly-bugged systems that in fact are bugged with the explicit permission and cooperation of the firm you're buying the service from.

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2017-07-26 11:02 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 360 references
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When you're right, you're right -- and on the so-called "transgender" nonsense related to the military he's right.

Folks, the military is not a place where delusion or confusion is a good thing.  You have enough external sources of that (especially in an actual combat situation!) to begin with.  Adding more such sources is suicidally stupid.

Sit down, take a minute and think: Let's assume it's raining outside.  You insist that it is not, despite the fact that you can see it raining, I can see it raining, and so can everyone else.

As time goes on you continue to insist that it is not raining, despite the ground being wet and, as the rain continues to fall, soggy.  You now decide that since you're sure it's not raining you're going to drive a tank across said soggy field.

It becomes bogged down and everyone inside gets killed when it can no longer move and it is targeted by the enemy.

So how is this different?

Folks, someone who denies physical reality either doesn't see it or is delusional.

One is fairly easy to resolve through education -- if you insist that it's not raining but you can't see outside I can point you at the window.  Your confusion is immediately resolved and now you agree with the physical facts: It is raining.

If you continue to insist that it is not then you're delusional.

Delusions are a form of mental illness.

Now let's look at this from a different angle.

Most people are unhappy with some aspect of who they are, or their life, at some point in time.  In fact virtually everyone is unhappy about something this very minute.  There are varying degrees, of course, of unhappiness.  For example as I write this I'm unhappy that I do not have an espresso sitting next to the keyboard, because I have not had my second one for the day as of yet.  I'm unhappy that my hair is turning gray and has been for more than 10 years.  And I'm unhappy that I'm not a billionaire sitting on a 200' yacht at the moment.

These factors of unhappiness have different degrees, of course.  The latter, not being a billionaire, is not very strong at all.  I'm not Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos and while it might be nice to be either, I'm ok with the "not", mostly because I believe that achieving that would come with being an ******* at a level that might actually make me more unhappy on-balance.  I had plenty of tastes of that during my younger years and while necessity is a bitch that doesn't make for happiness; being good at something doesn't mean you enjoy it.

The middling one is a mild unhappiness.  It's quite mild because it's also quite fixable for little cost; I could choose to dye my hair, for example.  Obviously, since doing so is inexpensive I'm not very unhappy over that.

And finally, I will address the espresso unhappiness about the time I hit "send" on the Market Ticker site here, since I have coffee in the kitchen and the machine is on.  I can therefore alleviate that unhappiness with about 20' of walking and a couple of minutes of effort.

So let's examine the other possibility when it comes to allegedly "trans" people: They're not delusional; they understand that if they have an XY chromosome pair they're a man -- they're just profoundly unhappy about it.

Well, so what you say?

That's actually quite a big deal.  You see while it's perfectly ok to be unhappy about something (we all are) when you're so-profoundly unhappy that you are willing to cut things off from your body so as to produce an illusion of a change in what you are that's indicative of clinical depression.

The fact is that you can't change your sex -- you can produce an illusion of being the opposite sex from what you actually are but it is factually impossible to actually change your sex as that is immutable from the time you were a zygote!

Profound unhappiness that leads to self-mutilation is well-recognized as clinical depression and is a form of mental illness.

I don't care if saying this is politically correct or not -- it's the truth.

Having people who are profoundly mentally ill in our military on purpose is a mistake.  War is a terrible thing and our military exists for one reason: If called upon they are expected to kill people and break their stuff.

It is utterly nuts to hire people for that job who we know, in advance, are either delusional or profoundly depressed.  Doing so is not only unfair to them it's extraordinarily dangerous as well; if you are deluded about one thing you might be deluded about many, and the decisions you must make if you are called upon to do the job you were hired for demand that you (1) not be deluded and (2) not be clinically depressed.

Obviously we can't prevent everyone who is either delusional or depressed from being in the military, simply because it's not always clear that someone harbors those problems internally in advance.  But someone who claims to be "trans" has declared themselves to either be deluded or profoundly depressed and just as the service denied many people for induction during WWII due to a history of turberculosis even if it was not active the military must deny entry or retention to those who it identifies as having this condition.  In fact that's why my father escaped being sent to war (and possibly killed) while his brother was inducted (and survived.)

Trump is right, in short.  While we are currently nominally in "peaceful" conditions our military still is called upon to take forceful action in various parts of the world from time to time and exists at all because with little or no warning it may be called upon to do terrible but necessary things.

Intentionally placing mentally impaired individuals into the service is stupid and to do so for political correctness reasons is criminally stupid as it has a high probability of being the direct or indirect cause of getting our own men and women killed.

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2017-07-26 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 424 references
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Prediction: Within 10 years every single airline will be reduced to carriers that operate routes consisting entirely of flights of more than 1,000 miles, most over water.

Why?

Because self-driving cars.

The long-haul trucking industry is going to get it up the pooper first, simply because of the cost of tractors.  Self-driving vehicles there are a moderate cost increase and they eliminate the nut in the cabin that makes mid-five to low-six figures and as such they pay for themselves in a single year.  You will still have drivers for the local segments but the automation will hook up and run the trailer from Terminal A -> Terminal B, where it will automatically undock and drop it, instantly deleting 80% of the truck drivers in the economy.

But as the cost comes down to where the additional cost gets under $5,000 -- and it will be a while before the hardware and software is that cheap, probably 20 years or so -- the airline industry is finished.

Look folks, most cars today can be retrofitted as the automakers have moved to electric steering assist (as opposed to hydraulic) for fuel economy reasons, every engine is DBW (no mechanical link between the throttle and pedal in the cabin) and brake systems now have both retardation and application available via the ABS pump which is routinely used for both since it does traction control as well.  They're four-channel too, unlike the brake pedal which is one-channel, which means they can be more-efficient than even a highly-skilled driver in terms of stopping ability.  (As an aside a highly-skilled driver can beat the ABS-n-mash-pedal mode; I can quite-handily outperform these systems in crap conditions, but they're a vast improvement for the "slam on brake" crowd, which is most people.  But no driver with a one-channel system can beat a 4-channel system that is applying, rather than retarding, the brakes.)

What this means is that it is now a matter of sensors + CPU and you have an autonomous-capable vehicle.  Punch in a destination, get in back and ride.

Show me a $500 Lidar array that can do the job and suddenly that $2,500 retrofit becomes not only possible it's easy and it's an option roughly equivalent in cost to a leather seating package on new vehicles.  At that point the "take rate" will be 90%.

Today I can drive from my home to Atlanta in about 5 hours.  All-in, including "mandatory" 1 hour pre-take-off airport arrival requirements it takes me almost 4 hours assuming no weather or schedule delays to fly that same route.  30 minutes to the airport, 1 hour pre-departure mandated time to be at the airport, 1 hour 15 minute flight time (up more than 15 minutes in the last 8 years due to airlines reducing speed to save fuel!), another half-hour at Hartsfield deplaning and dealing with that sprawling piece of crap and 30 minutes to the destination via some form of ground transport is nearly 4 hours!  Actual operating cost of said autonomous vehicle is materially cheaper than the flight is and I can take a nearly-unlimited amount of cargo with me at no additional cost, unlike today's airplanes where every single ****ing bag is another $50.

The day I can get into the car at midnight in the back where I have equipped half the fold-down rear seat and trunk into a comfortable place to sleep, push the button, go to sleep and wake up at 6:00 AM (1 hour time zone shift) in Atlanta in time for two espressos before a business meeting Delta is bankrupt.  That's especially true when I can choose to cut the fuel cost of the vehicle by some 35% by going to bed at 10:00 and telling the computer to route and operate for optimum fuel efficiency, which takes another hour or so but I don't care because I'm sleeping anyway.  Exactly zero wasted time results from such a paradigm because the travel takes place when I am usually asleep anyway versus the current model that demands that I be aware and awake (and not doing something else of my choosing) for most of the time.  Out of those ~4 hours in air travel today I can only sleep for one of them and that's if there's no screaming kid or 400lb monster in the next seat!  Oh, and if I want a drink -- boozy or not -- it doesn't cost $5 either as I can bring an entire cooler full of them in my car.

The model isn't much different for a drive to Indianapolis or some similar place like Chicago.  There are no direct flights there from here, so air travel is a damned mess.  I have to take two flights, deal with the layover and the crazy in three airports -- departure, mid and destination.  I also have to deal with the hassle and expense of ground transport (taxi, uber or a rented car) on the other end, none of which is true if I get into my automated personal vehicle and push the button.  Again, I can choose my departure time as I wish instead of as an airline wishes, optimizing it for time I'd spend sleeping anyway, and thus reducing the lost time to nearly zero -- even for a 1,000 mile trip halfway across the country!

I need emerge from said car only to******and refuel it -- once, during said 1,000 mile trip.  I probably need to******anyway somewhere during that time, so there's no net loss.

Folks, there is no business model for the airlines as they exist today once this becomes rationally expensive.  Hell, even if these are originally "fleet vehicles" you hire and nobody buys one except the super-rich it still works because I can always take the Taxi, "L" or Uber on the other end and summoning one of these vehicles for the return trip works too.

Not only is this more-convenient and "on demand" rather than on someone else's schedule nobody gets bumped, nobody gets groped, there's no "extra fee and insult" garbage the airline industry has turned into a maze of and it's cheaper on top of it.

The airlines have cut their own throats, in short, and technology is about to kill them all, with the exception of 3,000 mile flights and over-water segments where you simply can't do it any other reasonable way.  That's a fraction of their current capacity and operating schedule and I'm going to enjoy watching them all burn in bankruptcy court.

Oh, and as for the cities and other places that have piled up the debt building airports?  **** 'em all for not ramming these issues up the chute of the airlines and forcing them to cut the crap years ago.  May those cities and port authorities (here's looking at you, OHare, LaGuardia and others) all rest in (fiscal) pieces.

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2017-07-25 10:43 by Karl Denninger
in Company Specific , 449 references
[Comments enabled]  

It is illegal under FTC regulations to display a "suggested retail price" that never, in fact, was a price you sold at, or which exceeds the actual "suggested retail price" the manufacturer provides.

Not only is this illegal at a federal level it is a rank violation of state consumer protection statutes, which bar deceptive practices.

Now it appears Amazon got caught doing exactly that on "Prime Day", and screwed you in the ass if you bought products during their so-called "annual sale":

Jason Jacobs, founder of Remodeez, a small company that specializes in non-toxic foot deodorizers and other odor stoppers, says he had an agreement with Amazon since 2015 on a suggested retail price of $9.99 for his products and was shocked after the tech giant almost doubled that on Prime Day to make it look like people were getting a discount, when they were actually paying full price.

“They showed the product at $15.42 and then exed it out to put ‘$9.99 for Amazon Prime Day.’ And on the final day, the price was like $18.44. So, we put a support ticket in right away and I rallied some friends through social media to go to their complaint board and complain,” Jacobs tells FOX Business.

There was no "deal" offered at all and in fact it is alleged Amazon showed an entirely fraudulent "suggested retail price."

This sort of practice should land Bezos in prison folks.  It's impossible to know exactly how many times Amazon has done this, of course, but that they did it even once is proof that they will do it.

Remember that retailers are free to set whatever prices they wish, including "surge" pricing, which Amazon has been caught using in the past -- while representing that it is the "best" price.

But this is an entirely different matter.  Suggested retail prices are not Amazon's to determine; they are the property of the vendor and to misrepresent those is a flat-out fraudulent (and illegally so) practice.

“I don’t think they are being malicious about it, it is just something that they need to tweak," he says.

Oh really?  Considering that Amazon gets a piece of every sale how do they get more of a piece?

Jack the price.

I didn't buy a thing during so-called "Prime Day" as I saw it for what it was: Get screwed by Bezos day.  I dumped my Prime sub some time ago, and it will expire never to be paid for again -- I've seen far too many so-called "deals" that really aren't and given that there is utterly no value at all to the $100/year cost.

If you believe this is not the case read this from the comments below:

My desktop PC in my office, my wife's desktop PC in her office, and a phone which for some reason doesn't have any info on it linking it to us, list three different Amazon prices for some items. The lowest price is displayed on my PC, which has a lot of ID info about me. I have **** credit, no money, no Prime membership, etc., so it's like Amazon KNOWS it can only get my biz with the lowest prices (usually a dollar or three under Newegg and other suppliers from which I buy)

Go ahead folks, get ripped off and especially if you buy a so-called "Prime" membership.

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2017-07-25 09:44 by Karl Denninger
in Employment , 322 references
[Comments enabled]  

When you can't come up with a legitimate explanation, make sure you invent one.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Just a few miles from where President Trump will address his blue-collar base here Tuesday night, exactly the kind of middle-class factory jobs he has vowed to bring back from overseas are going begging.

It’s not that local workers lack the skills for these positions, many of which do not even require a high school diploma but pay $15 to $25 an hour and offer full benefits. Rather, the problem is that too many applicants — nearly half, in some cases — fail a drug test.

Ok, that's a real problem.  Or is it?

Remember, drug tests don't test for intoxication.  They test for metabolites -- that is, the metabolic product of consumption of said substance.

As noted:

 Because tests for marijuana pick up the drug for up to a month after exposure, many local manufacturers are anxious about Ohio’s plan to permit medical marijuana use in the near future.

“I don’t know if you smoked it this weekend or this morning,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I can’t take that chance.”

But if I got hammered this weekend at the bar, that's fine -- right?

See, there is a solution to this problem and it already exists.  There are available impairment testing devices that check for actual impairment.  They're substance-agnostic -- in fact, they have nothing to do with substances at all.  If you're impaired then you are -- whether from lack of sleep, booze, narcotics or anything else.  They look sort of like a small hand-held video game and check reaction time and coordination; a test takes seconds to complete.

We don't use them on the roads in the cop cars (instead of breathalyzers) because they'd flag the old people who can't safely drive stone cold sober.  Yet said person is just as dangerous as a 25-year old ****-hammered drunk behind the wheel.  One goes to jail, the other won't but both will kill you just as dead when they run you over.

If the goal is to improve workplace safety, as claimed, that's the answer because it doesn't matter why you're impaired -- just that you are.  Set the policy that everyone takes said test (which takes under a minute) before starting your shift; you must pass to clock in.  Fail more than "X" times in "Y" period of time (e.g. twice in a month) and you're out -- and it doesn't matter why.

The devices themselves require minimal maintenance and are reasonably inexpensive since they have no consumables associated with them.  I'm willing to bet integrating one into the time clock would be pretty trivial -- and inexpensive.

At the same time, address this:

It has long been a point of pride for Ms. Mitchell that her company covers the cost of health insurance for its 150 workers and their families. But over the last three years, the company has paid for five dependents of employees to go through drug treatment, costing a quarter of a million dollars.

Last year, when a member of an employee’s family gave birth to a baby found to be addicted to opiates, the company paid $300,000 for three months of treatment in a neonatal intensive-care unit.

What?

Since when is that part of a "reasonable" benefit package?  That's nuts folks, and the problem lies there. Stop being stupid!

Look, people will choose to use various drugs.  Booze is a hell of a drug and there's a massive opioid problem, nearly all of it spawned from the medical industry that gets people good and hooked.

But let's cut the crap, shall we?  I'd much rather someone smoke weed than drink for equal "buzz".

Why?

Because I've never seen anyone stoned on weed decide to get loud and belligerent in a bar, ending in a fight that trashes the place and possibly leads to assault charges or worse.  That happens all the time when people drink and yet there are dozens of establishments selling alcohol for consumption "on premise" within a few miles of my home.  And while smoking anything is bad for you there is zero medical evidence that THC itself, the active ingredient in marijuana, produces long-term damage to the body.  It's also very possible and in fact not hard at all to consume marijuana without smoking it; you can vape it, you can cook with and eat it and similar.

But you certainly can't say that for alcohol, which directly harms the liver, pancreas and other organs.

The Medical Monster must be de-fanged.  If we're going to talk about opiods as an illegal substance then those who push them with a medical license and get people hooked need to do the same sort of 20+ years of hard time that a street heroin distributor gets when caught and that extends to the pharmaceutical industry executives as well.

Our attitude must change, in short.

We can solve the very real issue of labor liability problems on factory floors.  Everyone is checked for impairment before starting their shift.  If you pass, you pass.  If you fail irrespective of reason you're sent home and it's a voluntarily-missed shift.  Miss more than "X" in a given amount of time and you're fired because you're incapable of performing the job.

It's pretty simple folks, but it puts a stop to the demon games, and that makes it politically unacceptable.

You see, the press and the political class always need to find a way to blame someone instead of searching for and implementing solutions.  The filtering of that paradigm down into employers is a large part of why America has become less-competitive, and if we're going to resolve that problem we need to start right here.

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