back to article WW2 Enigma machine to be seized from shamed pharma bro Shkreli

A World War II German Enigma machine will be among the valuables a US court plans to seize from convicted felon and shamed former pharmaceuticals exec Martin Shkreli. The Enigma box is listed among the valuable assets American prosecutors plan to take to help cover the $7.4m in forfeiture the New York Eastern District ordered …

  1. macjules Silver badge
    WTF?

    Conflicted?

    So no conflicts about not paying debts to banks, stopping FDA approval on drugs so that he can short pharmaceuticals' stock or on the price hike of Thiola?

  2. Ole Juul Silver badge

    Re: Conflicted?

    nah, that's all good - apparently

  3. phuzz Silver badge

    Re: Conflicted?

    This is the US we're talking about, that sort of behaviour is considered laudable over there, or at least it is by the people that matter (ie the ones with all the money).

    Shkreli just rocked the boat a little too much, if he'd only increased the price by ten times rather than twenty he might have stayed under the radar.

  4. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Re: Conflicted?

    He had help with the price hike on Thiola from the FDA. If they weren't so pernicious folks in the US would be able to pay pennies for the stuff. It isn't like the brand of tiopronin they sell in other parts of the world is substantially different but somehow because somehow the ball got dropped on thalidomide the FDA makes it cost prohibitive to get some meds even if they've been around and safe for a hundred years with a little help and fear mongering from big pharma of course.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enigma

    .. the Enigma system was among the world's most sophisticated ciphers in its time, and its complexity was famously cracked by superboffin Alan Turing's team at Bletchley Park.

    I think by now it is firmly established that the original Enigma system was cryptanalyzed and broken by the Polish Cipher Bureau in cooperation with the French intelligence, well before the Bletchey Park was even established. Turing and his team had full access to the PCB's work and were able to build upon it to break later versions on Enigma.

    I do not mean to denigrate Turing's and the whole Bletchey team's contribution to this effort - but we must give credit where credit is due.

  6. bazza Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    Yes, but what Alan Turing broke was the newer Enigma with the plug board, which had stumped the Poles. That was a very clever piece of thinking in his part.

    The history has been firmly established for many decades now, and the Pole's hugely important role in the endeavour has been widely acknowledged for a very long time.

    On the shoulders of giants and all that.

  7. Voyna i Mor Silver badge
    Boffin

    Re: Enigma

    Well yes, but the significant thing is that the US has almost certainly broken up its Bombes - so they don't want Shkreli being able to send uncrackable messages when he gets out.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma

    > Alan Turing broke was the newer Enigma with the plug board, which had stumped the Poles

    Except it didn't exist at the time of the PCB. Turing's work was based on 'Rejewski' et al and it was Welchman who developed the diagonal board without which the bombes would have been too slow to be of use. The roles of a dozen others who made the mistake of not being English or keeping their oaths are lost from history.

    >On the shoulders of giants and all that.

    Very apposite, although unlike Newton, Turing himself never claimed the work as his own - that's down pop historians and shoddy film makers

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma

    Very apposite, although unlike Newton, Turing himself never claimed the work as his own - that's down pop historians and shoddy film makers

    Correct, and those are the same pop historians and shoddy film makers that helped to bury the many contributions Gordon Welchman made to these efforts. I was quite impressed that the BBC made a rather good documentary about it.

  10. DropBear Silver badge
    Flame

    Re: Enigma

    With all the respect where respect is due (and none where it's not applicable) as long as the Polish insist on piping up *Every Single Damn Time* the Enigma and Turing or the Brits are mentioned anywhere loudly protesting "but no, no, it was actually us!" I will not cease vigorously downvoting every such comment I can find. Yes, I know of your early work. No, what you broke was not what later required halls of Bombes to break. And the public at large will keep seeing a typewriter whenever they look at an Enigma, never mind Polish or British achievements. Get a f###ing grip already. And no, I'm not even British.

  11. Dave559

    Re: Enigma / Poland

    As a country which has suffered greatly (for a long time) before, during and after the Second World War, and the significant contributions and sacrifices of its people towards fighting for good are very sadly overlooked or forgotten about, I think the Polish people are more than entitled to often feel quite upset that their contributions to history are too often relegated to footnote status by many of the others who record the history of that period.

    We owe every Polish person who helped to defeat the Nazi regime just as much respect and thanks and we do all of the people of every single country (and there were many) who fought on the Allied side.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma

    >No, what you broke was not what later required halls of Bombes to break

    As would Turing's redesign without Welchman's genius - unfortunately he later committed the unforgivable crime of becoming American, so we don't like to speak of him.

    With hindsight and a modern CS perspective these are easy systems to model and understand - you should perhaps make the effort to do so before lecturing on the subject.

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  14. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    No, the Enigma with plugboard didn't stump the Poles at all.

    What stumped them was that the German military switched from three wheels to five wheels. With three available wheels they could put into the Enigma in six different ways. If you have five wheels, you have five choices for the first wheel, four choices for the second wheel, and three choices for the third wheel, for a total of 60 combinations, ten times as many.

    There was no mathematical difficulty. The problem was that it was ten times more work to create the pre-calculated tables that the Poles were using, and they just didn't have the manpower to do it.

  15. DropBear Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    "You, sir, are just an idiot."

    Aye, that I am. Though unlike you, sir, I at least admit it - and hold my opinions openly.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma

    Though unlike you, sir, I at least admit it - and hold my opinions openly.

    Ah, so the name on your birth certificate is really "D. Bear"? Well, I am sure P. Bear and M. Bear are both very proud

  17. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    @AC

    so the name on your birth certificate is really "D. Bear"

    Not impossible - I seem to remember a Mr De Beere made quite a lot of money mining rocks

  18. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: Enigma

    There is still Reverse Polish Notation.

  19. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    "credit where credit is due" - it was teamwork, a great many people worked on it and never sought any recognition - I knew a school master many years ago who worked on the project. But that was all he ever said about it ... on the other hand, he did the crossword every morning and never wrote down anything - just did the whole thing in his head. Needless to say - as kids, we were beyond impressed.

  20. werdsmith Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    Bletchley Park wasn't just about knowing how to break an enigma message, it was a huge industrial operation that collated thousands of messages from dozens of outstations and had to do it very quickly.

    Some of this work was based on the leg up they got from the Polish cryptanalysts, but thereafter Enigma had to be cracked and re-cracked and for long periods in the middle of WW2, Bletchley was completely blind to some Enigma versions, particularly naval Enigma which put the battle of the Atlantic in the balance. Many more breakthroughs had to be made. To state that breaking enigma was about knowing how to decrypt an early version of it is oversimplifying matters. The Polish input was the seed for the subsequent work and is well acknowledged, and anyone that gets a tour of BP will hear all about it and get shown the very nice monument to them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma / Poland

    well, the Poles DO pontyfy incessantly about their greatness / suffering, regardless of whether others ignore it (usually) or applaud...

    And I speak as authority, because? Well, married to a Pole, fathered two Polettes, actually a Pole myself. There must be a Polish joke to cover THAT! :)

  22. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Enigma / Poland

    Polish joke, I dunno ... this is good, I think, though ...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaQfy63mtk0

  23. pop_corn

    Re: Enigma

    Don't forget the very small matter that the Polish intelligence enigma breaking efforts were disrupted somewhat by the rather inconvenient invasion and occupation of Poland by German right near the start of the war!

    Which is why (so I believe) that all their enigma breaking material was rushed out of Poland to England, so Turing et al could continue their work.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: so the name on your birth certificate is really "D. Bear"

    Confusing "everyone posting with a made up name" with "everyone posting with the same name"?

    Quality thinking.

  25. JimboSmith Silver badge

    Re: Enigma / Poland

    When visiting Warsaw I was made aware of just what had happened to the Polish people. There are parts of the city that have been meticulously rebuilt after the Germans and then the Russians destroyed them. You'd never know that they weren't the original buildings dating back hundreds of years. They were also beautiful to look at. It was at once both a slightly depressing and truly uplifting sight. One of my Polish friends said that Poles are tough and if you knock it down we'll build it back up, knock us down we get right back up.

    The other vivid memorys I have of Poland is of being chased around by a market trader insisting that I wanted to buy a pair of (very shiny) chrome trainers that weren't in my size. That and the taxi driver taking me back to the airport beating the traffic by driving on the tram tracks for sort distances.

  26. Roland6 Silver badge

    Re: Enigma

    Bletchley Park wasn't just about knowing how to break an enigma message, it was a huge industrial operation that collated thousands of messages from dozens of outstations and had to do it very quickly.

    Perhaps the real reason some are happy that "pop historians and shoddy film makers that helped to bury the many contributions Gordon Welchman made to these efforts." is to keep the focus on Turin and Enigma, and so deflect attention away from the big picture and Welchman.

    It is interesting that Welchman was still considered to be a security threat in 1982, because of his book "The Hut Six Story", which "included details that were "still classified""

    [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-27128685 ]

    Aside: If you are interested in the bigger picture, I recommend reading "Bletchley Park's Secret Sisters: Psychological Warfare in World War II" published in 2005.

  27. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Enigma

    ... the US has almost certainly broken up its Bombes...

    There's one here:

    https://www.nsa.gov/resources/everyone/digital-media-center/image-galleries/cryptologic-museum/current-exhibits/

    I've seen it. A quality NCR product. Would probably start right up. I'm not sure they could find anyone who knew how to run it though.

    Now, you can imagine the scale on which they had these.running. Over a hundred of them.

    https://cryptologicfoundation.org/m/cch_calendar_mobile.html/event/2016/09/01/1472706000/1943-first-bombe-to-nebraska-ave-/78139?get_id=Ihz0LulkBZG4YiNh9auJsZr9gadJQvVgwOnaBAR6PYbwmUngTR38yElAjGLLkBLgKn6kH7W7VAPDSu6lKv9hVhO2fzvSQkSPaTh9ILGziFi%2F5OuF9%2FAhxGGWLiOQGIsZyxI7HZ4hlzKK

    Whereas Bletchley had tens of them. And remember, Nebraska Ave was cracking and reading the Japanese Navy as well. Simultaneously.

    // my mother was part of the effort.

  28. Cederic

    Re: not even British

    If you were you'd share our respect and acknowledgement of the Polish contribution to winning the war.

    Not just code breaking but things like the Polish squadrons that helped win the Battle of Britain.

    It's probably one reason that even with the hatred of current immigration levels I haven't heard anybody have a go at the Poles. Jokes about them, sure, but culturally they fit well and we get on with them, and many of us recognise them as allies when the shit hits the fan.

  29. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Enigma / Poland

    @AC (Polish)

    Don't be such a Negative Pole

  30. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Re: Enigma / Poland

    the taxi driver taking me back to the airport beating the traffic by driving on the tram tracks for sort distances.

    If that got you weak in the knees, don't ever go to Vietnam, where the "occasional taxi takeover lane" is the sidewalk...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma

    "... on the other hand, he did the crossword every morning and never wrote down anything - just did the whole thing in his head. Needless to say - as kids, we were beyond impressed."

    Ah, but was it a cryptic crossword?

  32. Roland6 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Re: Enigma

    >Ah, but was it a cryptic crossword?

    And to truly count, it does need to be The Telegraph's cryptic crossword and completed within 12 minutes...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Enigma

    But that was all he ever said about it ... on the other hand, he did the crossword every morning and never wrote down anything - just did the whole thing in his head.

    My grandfather (served in WWI and subsequently became a schoolmaster in Peterborough) died peacefully in hospital back in the 80's aged 92, on his lap was that morning's Times open at the Cryptic crosssword - completed in his distinctive hand.

  34. colinb
    FAIL

    Fail

    "but it’s a constant reminder that we should use knowledge for good"

    Spectacular fail, even by his own fluid standards.

  35. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Re: Fail

    "but it’s a constant reminder that we should use knowledge for good"
    Yes, because arbitrarily hiking by 56x the price of life-saving medication to $750 per pill, then very publicly sneering about it, is such an obvious example of "using knowledge for good".

    Please let this psychopath die in prison.

  36. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: Fail - Please let this psychopath die in prison.

    If it wasn't for the fact that his actions have almost certainly led to deaths, I would say that's much too harsh.

    I think the most appropriate punishment will be when the drug dealers in prison find out who he is and charge him a special rate for the stuff he will need to make life endurable.

  37. colinb

    Re: Fail - Please let this psychopath die in prison.

    People can become currency in Prisons.

    I suspect he could be getting some pointed instruction on his beloved free market economics from the Bro's.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fail

    Please let this psychopath die in prison.

    That's too harsh. I prefer him to develop an illness that can only be addressed by very specific medication, which is raised 100x in price just before it can be obtained for him, leaving him ill with no means to get at it. You know, karma..

  39. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Re: Fail

    I'd suggest arbitrarily hiking his sentence by 56x would be appropriate. Because we can.

  40. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  41. Steve Knox Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Fail

    I prefer him to develop an illness that can only be addressed by very specific medication, which is raised 100x in price just before it can be obtained for him, leaving him ill with no means to get at it. You know, karma..

    Or more specifically, phkarma.

  42. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Re: Fail

    @Oh Homer

    Please let this psychopath die in prison

    IANAS(hrink) - is psychopath the correct term? Sociopath certainly. One of the slimiest creatures to walk God's earth, ditto. And he's not helped by that permanent nasty smug grin he has, but that doesn't make him a psychopath.

  43. Paul Johnston
    Alert

    Re: Fail - Please let this psychopath die in prison.

    Was wondering how long it would take for prison rape to crop up in this thread.

  44. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: Fail

    That's too harsh. I prefer him to develop an illness that can only be addressed by very specific medication,

    Insert 'debilitatingly painful'.

  45. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Re: Psychopath vs Sociopath

    The difference is subjective.

    From my limited understanding of the subject, psychopathy is genetic, whereas sociopathy is supposedly circumstantial.

    Personally I think the latter is a myth, otherwise everyone subject to similar circumstances would become a psychopath, which is demonstrably not the case. Again, from my limited exposure to various research material, only 1% of the general populous is considered to be clinically psychopathic.

    Someone like Shkreli, who would deliberately kill for no reason other than greed, then publicly sneer about it, is clearly one of them, especially given that there was absolutely nothing harsh about his extremely privileged circumstances at the time, that might otherwise have accounted for his behaviour.

  46. JimboSmith Silver badge

    Re: Fail - Please let this psychopath die in prison.

    I think the most appropriate punishment will be when the drug dealers in prison find out who he is and charge him a special rate for the stuff he will need to make life endurable

    What Lubrication?

  47. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    The sole copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

    What are they going to do with this, auction it to another arsehole with more money than conscience? Copyright probably prevents it being distributed as normal.

  48. hplasm Silver badge
    Go

    Re: The sole copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

    Do the right thing, WTC* - declare it Copyleft and distribute it free.

    The he can have it back.

    * Or whoever owns the copyright.

  49. kain preacher Silver badge

    Re: The sole copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

    Wu tang said you could do what ever you wanted with the album except for distribute commercially.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The sole copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

    I say burn it. They clearly didn't think it was good enough for public consumption anyway.

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