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I remain amazed at the way our government is so ******ned stupid -- and arrogant -- as to believe that they can demand "keys" to some sort of lock on demand and nobody will ever get them other than the authorized parties.

The latest incantation of this is found here:

FBI Director James Comey said as much Thursday in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, suggesting the agency might ask congress to force companies to provide what amounts to a “back door” to law enforcement to obtain password-protected data on targeted personal mobile devices.

“We’re hoping to start a dialogue with congress” on updating laws that require tech companies to comply, he told the audience.

**** you James Comey.

And I say this not because I want to see bad guys get away with things as a result of encryption.  I say it because I do not want to wake up one morning and find that utterly nothing works that has a computer in charge of it, which incidentally includes our electrical grid, our communications systems along with military command and control.

It is the height of arrogance to believe (as the NSA has done in the past) you can design in some sort of "back door" and nobody will be able to discern that (1) it is there, and (2) figure out how to pick the lock.

You can bet your last nickel that there are legions of Chinese hackers under government control that are tasked with doing exactly that.  You can also bet that Sir Jihadist will be trying as well.

Neither of those entities pose a good outcome for America should they succeed, and eventually one or more of them will.

It is utter insanity to intentionally put such a mandate on manufacturers, because doing so means that there is a commonality of the means to get in, and once that's discovered by someone who has improper motive for its use we are all ****ed.

You will wake up one morning to find that every nuclear plant in the United States has shut down and the emergency generators will not start, meaning that the time before you all glow in the dark will be measured in hours.  Your cellphone will not work because the software in the switches and tower radios will have been corrupted and impossible to reload without a JTAG machine, which is a pain in the ass and will take weeks to correct, if not longer.  Your data on disk will be either re-encrypted with someone else's password (the bad guys) or worse, simply erased and when you think you'll be ok with the backups you will find that the bad guys corrupted the process months or even years ago and while you might keep backups for that long, all the data you generated in the interim period after the corruption took place will be utterly gone.

If we get really unlucky all of our battlefield equipment that has computers in it won't work either (that's most of it these days, by the way....)

Pilots are increasingly being allowed to use iPADs and similar devices for sectionals and aircraft procedures.  What happens when none of them work, all at once, because the boot code has been overwritten -- and nobody has the paper ones in the big carry-on any more?  I'll tell you what happens -- commerce by air ceases on an instant basis.

What happens when the computers that control oil refineries are corrupted and commanded to overpressure the pipes and other process equipment?  We have massive explosions nationally everywhere, all at once.

What happens when every civilian and government "regular" computer is rendered inoperable at the same time?  All commerce grinds to an instant halt.

The FBI is criminally insane.

Someone will figure out and exploit this.  I am absolutely, utterly, 100% certain of it, and it will happen at the worst possible time, because that's how jackasses that do this sort of thing operate.  They will gain entry, quietly corrupt everything, wait months or even years and sit on it until there's a natural event or other catastrophe that we could otherwise handle but exploiting it will dramatically multiply the damage -- and then they will pounce.

We are not the smartest people in the world and we have no monopoly on brainpower.  What we can devise in this fashion someone else can break through -- that much is a certainty.  Mandating this sort of back door is utterly insane and anyone in our government arguing for same must be shouted off the stage and removed from their office.

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I wrote the other day on a bestselling author who had written an op-ed on a person who sideswiped his parked car.  He was lamenting that the police observed that "People just aren't honest anymore."

His challenge was to ask the person who hit his vehicle to prove that wrong.

I went after him, and I believe justly so, pointing out just a handful of the myriad scams and frauds (that is, dishonesty) that permeates literally every nook and cranny of our society today.

Jason has written some pretty decent little puff pieces for Fox as of late.  But I gotta tell you -- I still think I'm spot on with my commentary, and here's why.

The simple fact of the matter is that it is Jason, and you, and I, and the rest of us, that make all these scams and schemes possible.  We do it through our silence, we do it by participating, we do it when we advocate for or support forcibly taking someone's money to hand to another in the form of food stamps or AFDC, Section 8, Medicaid or otherwise.  We do it when we go along with Obamacare or even allow the "traditional" health insurance rip-off model to function.  We do it when we accept the claim that "2% inflation" is proper, even though that is admitting to the wanton and intentional destruction of value of what we have previously earned and, absent such intentional interference purchasing power would increase as technology improves instead.  We allow politicians to run ponzi schemes that must mathematically fail and impoverish our children, grandchildren and those not yet born -- screwing our own kids.  We are complicit and thus to blame because we do not cast our wooden shoes into the gears of the machine, destroying it or at least slowing it down.

It's only when our car gets ripped up that we write columns about honesty -- or the lack thereof.

And therein lies the gist of my post, and the message behind it.

My decision to sell MCSNet was a long-considered process, just as was my decision to get the hell out of Chicago.  As with my decision last year to close down most of the forum all of the various factors, including where I am in my life, what I see on the road ahead at a personal level, how much flexibility I want (and expect to need) during the months and years ahead and how I both need and want to spend the remaining sand in my hourglass (given my inability to know how much is there until it is almost gone, as is nearly-always the case) bears large on these sorts of decisions.  No small part of any such decision for me is whether I believe I'm playing the part of Don Quixote or whether I'm advancing an important idea.

It's a funny thing, really -- I've written recently about 3+ Sigma events and that one should not ignore them, a lesson I learned in my 20s (and then I promptly didn't follow my own advice a couple of times in my 30s.)  While I would not change the outcome of those disasters, as on-balance I'm very happy with them with the benefit of hindsight, the fact remains that they were quite-arguably objectively wrong decisions without that benefit.  Who knows where I'd be today had I made a different decision at those critical times; what I do know is that I wouldn't be here.

We all have one life, and there are no do-overs.  But for those of us who have children, and the author that I was commenting on does (as do I), what we do extends beyond ourselves.  

If we take seriously the exercise of the greatest power mankind has -- the power to create life -- then I allege that to saddle our progeny with knowingly-fraudulent institutions and practices when they are too young to understand or do anything about them is an outrageously damnable thing to do.

I can defend walking off and disconnecting to the extent possible if you discern that you're not making headway on positive change.  Others, including your children, can follow that example and while it is by no means a perfect solution it has a positive delta.  I can especially defend it if, predicated on both your personal assessment and life you decide that winding it down to the extent practical will bring an increase in the number of times you smile (or better) in a day.

But what I can't support is complaining only when you get reamed by the very processes and societal "norms" that you exploit and countenance in your daily life, and which will screw your kids.

It seems that more than a few people simply didn't get it.

Maybe, with a bit more reflection, you will.

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2014-10-18 07:53 by Karl Denninger
in Politics , 319 references

Oh, good lord, what sort of dolt do we have here?

Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill Friday criticized Ron Klain, President Obama’s choice to be “Ebola czar,” as a figurehead with no health background.

“Given the mounting failings in the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak, it is right that the president has sought to task a single individual to coordinate its response, “said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “But I have to ask why the president didn’t pick an individual with a noteworthy infectious disease or public health background?”

Uh, yeah.

And this points out a few things -- first, that the entire "czar" system is stupid to begin with, since it does not carry Senate confirmation requirements.  Second, they're virtually all figureheads, if not all.

These are pure patronage jobs, and in this sort of context that's dangerous.

Who cares if he's a good manager?  I don't.  What I want is for people with cabinet-style access and control to be cabinet members and subject to Senate confirmation.

There is a check and balance system in our government for a reason -- it is specifically to prevent any one person or party from appointing to powerful positions individuals that have no need to pass through the gauntlet of public approval via some means.  We don't get to vote for the Secretary of Defense, but the Senate does.

The compartmentalization and limited power structures in our federal government are the work of genius that makes the United States unique.  We have massively damaged that structure over the last 30 years, and this Russian-dictator-style "czar" system is just the latest insult.

It is well past the time to dismantle all of these, starting with the so-called "czars."

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Perhaps the apparent transmission of ebola to two health care workers in the Duncan case is nothing more than a statistical aberration.  Random chance does occur, you know.  But..... I want you to consider a few things.

First, the "non-transmissible" nature of ebola absent physical contact with the body fluids of a symptomatic person with the disease comes from our experience with the bug in Africa.  Unfortunately there is a correlation between whether viruses and bacteria in evolved droplet form remain in the air or fall to the ground and it is related to the humidity of the environment.  Specifically, and surprisingly, high humidity environments actually appear to inhibit transmission via this route.

This could be trouble.  I will point out that I do not know if it is trouble, simply that it could be -- that is, our view of how this disease can be transmitted may be out of date and incorrect in the United States, particularly in homes, businesses and the clinical environment that tend to have climate-controlled spaces -- all with relatively low humidity.

I'm not ready to ring the alarm bells on this yet, but the person who pointed this out as a potential theory isn't a random nut and it facially there's enough there for me to think about it -- and thus there should be for you too.  The implication is that it may be far easier to transmit ebola through the air in a relatively dry environment -- that is, one that has active HVAC -- than we commonly believe.

Second, I was reminded of a NIH outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that causes pneumonia -- at their flagship location.  Genetic testing proved that the bug they were seeing had been transmitted from patient to patient despite high-grade isolation and excellent infection control both at the personal and facility level.  They wound up ripping out the plumbing in their attempts to control the bug, which kept coming back -- and ultimately killed six.

So while I am not raising the "bug-in" flag, it is wise to consider that those who claim to know everything often are proved wrong, and tragically so. This is particularly true when diseases cross some boundary of novelty and thus experience with them in that particular environment is (relatively-speaking) limited.

Life finds a way (from the movie "Jurassic Park"), even if it's a sort of life, in this case a virus, that we'd rather not exist at all.

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It would appear that there are now two foreign nations that simply do not believe us when it comes to ebola and the contagious status, or lack thereof, of Americans.

Specifically the nation of Belize first allegedly refused to allow an American cruise ship to dock because one of the passengers had been involved in the Duncan case.  The passenger was not reportedly showing symptoms of being ill and was a lab technician -- not an actual care-giver, although lab techs can be exposed due to handling the samples they work with if they are not careful.  In a later update the cruise line said that the ship did dock there.  Hmmmm....

Then, Mexico also refused a second cruise ship, this time intending to put passengers ashore in Cozumel for a port call, which has since departed back for its home port.  That ship also had a person on board that was a lab supervisor; he is also asymptomatic and voluntarily isolated himself (presumably in his cabin.)

The Mexican case is particularly galling.  Here we have a nation that repeatedly allows its citizens (and anyone else who wants) to attempt to cross their border with the United States, outrageously violating our sovereignty.  Who knows what all those "migrants" came into the US with -- especially the kids.

But our government, despite Mexico deciding that nobody from that ship could get off in Cozumel and enjoy their vacation, still refuses to close our border to people from Mexico that have a far higher potential of carrying disease than this lab technician does.

Obama's outrageous lack of action on the border, never mind both Republican and Democrat parties generally, continues -- even when we're slapped in the face by the very nation that is doing the most damage in that regard.

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