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?

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Conflicted?

      nah, that's all good - apparently

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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! :)

          1. 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

          2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Enigma / Poland

            @AC (Polish)

            Don't be such a Negative Pole

        2. 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.

          1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            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...

      2. 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.

      3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. 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.

          1. 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

            1. 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

              1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Enigma

                There is still Reverse Polish Notation.

              2. 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.

      4. 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.

    4. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

      2. 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?

        1. 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...

      3. 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.

  3. colinb
    FAIL

    Fail

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

    Spectacular fail, even by his own fluid standards.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. 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.

        3. 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?

      2. 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..

        1. 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.

        2. 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'.

      3. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Fail

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

      4. 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.

        1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They clearly didn't think it was good enough for public consumption anyway

          Yeah, that's why they sold it for millions.

          Actually it was a rather intelligent comment on how the internet devalues music. Looks like it went straight over your head.

      2. Stu J

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

        Giving it away for free wouldn't be distributing it commercially...

        1. Allonymous Coward
          Pirate

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

          The Pirate Bay is that way --->

  5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    More Fitting

    Somehow his antics and crimes which as noted earlier probably led to deaths because of his greed will not get the proper punishment. So he has a stay at Club Fed and must surrender property; that is a better deal than the pine box some got.

  6. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

    Is this what we're doing now?

    Seizing the property of people we don't like?

    1. KBeee

      Re: Is this what we're doing now?

      No, seize the illegal gains of criminals to try to compensate the poor sods their solipsistic world view hurt.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Is this what we're doing now?

        No, seize the illegal gains of criminals to try to compensate the poor sods their solipsistic world view hurt.

        Something we should be doing more often I suspect, but more as a 'punishment fit the crime' rather than simple compensation. Rich bastards who rob the poor should have all their assets frozen, be given a job picking sprouts in the Fens, and forced to live on their wages for a couple of years. Much cheaper than prison, and they might learn something useful.

        1. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: "they might learn"

          Psychopaths are genetically incapable of learning from their mistakes, because they completely lack the capacity to understand that the harm they cause is in any way "wrong", and therefore in their view cannot possibly be a "mistake".

          Rather, it's everyone else who's "wrong" for stopping them, criticising them and punishing them, since in their neoliberal view they should be allowed to run amok with complete impunity. Indeed they view their causing harm, with or without any particular reason--but typically for some personal benefit, to be a sort of "inalienable right", and that our stopping them actually constitutes a form of "violence".

          Yes, the twisted mind of a neoliberal psychopath is a vile, mysterious cesspool, full of horrors.

      2. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

        Re: Is this what we're doing now?

        No, it wasn't an illegal gain. It was bought with money he earned. Just because you don't like him doesn't make every single thing he does a crime.

        1. gotes

          Re: Is this what we're doing now?

          He "earned" that money by fleecing investors out of millions of dollars. He was convicted for it, read the article.

        2. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: Is this what we're doing now?

          it's being seized to pay court fines. Just like if I were to get judgement against a private person then send in the bailiffs to collect.

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Is this what we're doing now?

      No it's the courts saying you have no money to pay your fine so will will seizes assets that equivalent to that fine. Oh did you know if the auction raises more money then the fines he gets to keep that money ?

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Is this what we're doing now?

        "No it's the courts saying you have no money to pay your fine so will will seizes assets that equivalent to that fine"

        Wouldn't it be great if everyon could agree NOT to bid on it xcept for one (maybe a museum) meaning he loses that asset and STILL has a fine at the end.

  7. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Auction

    I have a feeling the auction will bombe...

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Auction ....I have a feeling the auction will bombe.

      IIRC during the financial crisis large houses in Dublin had become something of a bubble, and some of them had been bought by the more successful boys with the Armalites. Who ran into a spot of financial bother. When the houses were auctioned they sent the boys round to try to "persuade" bidders to offer more than the owners had paid.

      I can imagine Shkreli sending his friends round to discourage purchase of his assets.

  8. emmanuel goldstein

    Let's face it, after "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 chambers)", which is pure genius and immortal, the Wu-Tang Clan's output has been progressively more shit. That's why they flogged OUATIS to a div with more money than taste. Fair play to them and more fool him.

    BTW, did you know "The Clan" recently sued a dog-walking outfit called "Woof-Tang Clan" for breach of copyright? I shit you not.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Securities fraud...

    No "Big House" with violent criminals for this guy, he'll end up at a min sec resort with his own kind, pity really. I'm sure there is a tattooed giant in the big house who has needs.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do us

    all a favour, PLEASE destroy the "Lil' Wayne" album.

    For the love of god (and music), please destroy it.

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Do us

      Don't worry he soon will kill him self. he insists on drinking lean even though his body is revolting .

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Used by Adolf Hitler's German military

    also, let's not forget, by Herman Goering's German military...

  12. Tannin

    Credit where it's due please

    Look, the guy is not a total tosser, He did at least do his best to effectively erase all public access to a couple of hip-hop recordings and thus improve the world of music by some very small percentage. In recognition of this selfless and valuable act, I propose a reduction of his sentence. About three seconds seems fair.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Credit where it's due please

      IKR!! It's all just THUMP THUMP THUMP these days. And the boys have longer hair than the girls!!!! What's wrong with a nice military march??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Credit where it's due please

        Would you like to see my collection of 21st century Telegraph poles?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Credit where it's due please

          oy! leave us Poles out of it, willya!

  13. wolfetone Silver badge

    ""It’s like owning a gas chamber.. but it’s a constant reminder that we should use knowledge for good, even if the process is ugly.""

    Says the man who increased the costs of AIDs/HIV drugs by over 700%.

    I hope Big John has an extra special welcome for him in prison.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      It's not like owning a gas chamber. It was just a (very good) encryption tool used in normal business well before the war.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        "It was just a (very good) encryption tool used in normal business well before and after the war."

        FTFY

        Enigma was widely used after the war, in part because the UK government kept both Bletchley Park and the breaking of Enigma secret, because many foreign governments thought it was secure and unbreakable...

  14. rmason Silver badge

    Every time

    Every single time, without fail.

    Can we do this minus the "isn't prison rape hilarious" routine please?

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    Rich guy talking about doing good while doing bad

    See title.

    Irony. He haz it.

  16. Snorlax Silver badge
    Headmaster

    The first and last...

    ...time you will read 'Picasso', 'Wu-tang Clan' and 'Hitler' in the same article.

    1. ukgnome Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The first and last...

      Not true, I am workshopping a joke...

      Hitler and the Wu-Tang Clan walk into a bar - Picasso gives them a sideways glance.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: The first and last...

        @ukgnome:

        "Hitler and the Wu-Tang Clan walk into a bar - Picasso gives them a sideways glance."

        Hitler and the Wu-Tang Clan walk into a bar, and take a seat in a cubical - Picasso gives them a sideways glance.

        FTTY

  17. defiler Silver badge

    Couldn't happen to a more deserving chap.

    I dread to think how repellent I'd find him if I actually knew him...

  18. jakeisatwat

    Superboffin?

    So, in the world of RegUnits (TM), how do we distinguish between the already exalted term of boffin, and superboffin? What extra feat of boffinry do you need to commit to climb the scale of boffinism? Are there additional levels - ultraboffin? Uberboffin?

    This has put far too much doubt and confusion into my already fragile world.

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