* Posts by Archtech

639 posts • joined 9 Jul 2016

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It's artificial! It's intelligent! It's in my home! And it's gone bonkers!

Archtech
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"It's in my home!"

Well, there's your problem.

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US govt to use software to finger immigrants as potential crims? That's really dumb – boffins

Archtech
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Re: Pre-cog

http://dilbert.com/strip/1996-08-28

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Archtech
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Re: "Translation: Are you or have you ever been a member of the $Faith faith?"

Yes, it's always important to make software configurable at the design stage.

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Archtech
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Do it! Do it!

There is a definite upside to this. The people in ICE who are proposing this plan ought to be charged with implementing it. That is, they personally should be made to write the software and test it, until they have ironed out all the bugs and demonstrated that it works reliably as described.

Then (1) they will have learned a lot more about what computers can and can't do, which will make their future proposals more realistic; and (2) they can solve all the world's other hard computing problems with relative ease.

I especially enjoyed this bit:

'The researchers note that characteristics sought by the government – e.g. whether an individual will become a "positively contributing member of society" – are ill defined...'

It would be highly amusing to see the proposed software in action. What would be its verdict on the various members of Congress? On the Supreme Court? On American's many billionaires? On Mr Trump? On the DHS itself?

"He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone".

Ho ho ho.

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How can airlines stop hackers pwning planes over the air? And don't say 'regular patches'

Archtech
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Re: Here's a thought

"As always common sense becomes road kill in the rush to profits/convenience".

And fashion! Let's not forget the vital need to be up with the latest fashion!

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Archtech
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Re: Cost is king.

"Watch what these people actually do, not what they say they will do".

As explained in that classic book, Henry Petroski's "To Engineer is Human", they will wait until there have been enough disasters to cost them a noticeable amount. Then they will do the sums, and some action might result.

More likely the politicians will do their sums (slightly different) and order them to take action.

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Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

Archtech
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Re: "When it's political, technology cannot do anything."

I don't think Amazon and Google's computers support that many "seats", but they do have a lot of them running a huge number of users.

With Linux.

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Microsoft, Intel cook kit to secure firmware in servers and beyond

Archtech
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Back doors all the way down

This recent set of discoveries about Intel chips very nicely complements Ken Thompson's famous insight about software back doors. http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2007/04/15/strange-loops-dennis-ritchie-a/

It never seemed fair that software should be systemically insecure in such a fundamental, Goedelesque way, while hardware stood "unharmed upon the eternal rock".

Now the balance has been redressed and all three components of every computer system are seen to be equally, and fundamentally, insecure: hardware, software, and wetware.

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China-owned Opera touts big comeback

Archtech
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Re: State enterprise

The USA has been doing it for about 150 years, and before that Britain was doing it for several hundred years.

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Where hackers haven't directly influenced polls, they've undermined our faith in democracy

Archtech
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Pipe dream

"We need to promote a culture of truth over one of winning".

Much as I agree with your sentiment, it is impractical. One of the best short definitions of culture is "those customs and practices that cannot be legislated for, imposed, or forbidden".

In short, culture is precisely that which cannot be "promoted" (or, for that matter, "demoted").

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Archtech
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Re: Democracy and cynics

Contrariwise, as a student of British history I see cynicism and selfishness as the greatest force behind every liberalizing change going back to Magna Carta and before. British people have never had a disinterested desire for everyone to be free; individually and severally they have had a strong desire NOT to be oppressed by others, and they have cut up very rough indeed when it came to the crunch.

Imagine how much political liberty we would have today if King John had crushed the barons by force, or if King Charles I had not had his head cut off. His son King Charles II was often heard to say, explaining his readiness to submit to Parliament, that "I have no wish to go on my travels again". And King James II actually was obliged to flee abroad, being replaced by William of Orange and his wife Mary (James' own daughter).

That was one of the political principles on which Thomas Jefferson was keenest. He far preferred the spirit of the French Revolution to the comfortable, repressive, property-centric ethos of the American Revolution. And he often actually declared that he hoped there would be a revolution, however small, every few years, as the shedding of a little blood (especially that of nasty tyrants and bankers) was far preferable to the gradual loss of liberty. (Which has in fact transpired, until the USA today is a place that would probably drive Jefferson stark raving mad if he could see it).

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Archtech
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Re: Democracy

I have lived under several benevolent dictators (not in the UK, of course, ours aren't very benevolent). Juan Peron, Dr Salazar, Habib Bourguiba... for most people, life wasn't noticeably different from life in Britain today. Certainly a few people disappeared alarmingly, and many of them were never seen alive again. But that happens here and now, too. It's just that our politicians and our media are dedicated to ignoring or minimizing those disappearances, because, you see, they happen to BAD people.

The arguments for a benevolent dictator are quite strong, and of course go back to Plato and long before. A fortiori, monarchy also has its attractions - see the writings of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, for instance. A monarch has a big investment in his or her country, especially if (s)he hopes to hand it on to the offspring.

The big speed bump is the word "benevolent". How on earth can you find someone who not only is benevolent now, but will remain benevolent when given power? There are your Marci Aurelii and your Frederick IIs, but they are few and far between.

The big question is whether power corrupts, or merely attracts the corruptible.

"All governments suffer a recurring problem: [p]ower attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted".

- Frank Herbert, “Chapterhouse Dune”

"The nature of power is such that even those who have not sought it, but have had it forced upon them, tend to acquire a taste for more".

- Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World Revisited”, Chapter 1

The more one reflects on the ramifications of these knotty problems, the more attractive seems the solution proposed by Philip K. Dick in his novel "World of Chance". Supreme power over the world government is bestowed completely at random by a (presumably unhackable) computer, which at any moment of the day or night may designate any human being, from anywhere and any walk of life, to be President of Earth. Such a person gets protection and advice, but must rule as best (s)he sees fit. And, of course, may be replaced as suddenly and arbitrarily as (s)he was raised to power.

The bottom line is that human beings did not evolve to live in communities of more than a hundred or so. Thus it is likely that there is no ideal way of governing them in communities of millions or billions.

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Archtech
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Re: Democracy

Actually, your diagnosis is a little too optimistic. When the next election approaches, they know perfectly well that the voters have no one else to vote for who would be any better, so they really don't need to change anything.

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Archtech
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Nil carb

As one of the very thick old people who voted for Brexit, who have no money and no access to the Internet, I sympathize with you.

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Archtech
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Nonsense

How is it possible to "undermine" something that is buried in a half-mile-deep tunnel at the bottom of the Marianas Trench?

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Don't worry about those 40 Linux USB security holes. That's not a typo

Archtech
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Re: Tell me now

Er, at least we know about the bugs in Linux.

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Picture this if you will: Facebook trousers $77,794. Every. Minute.

Archtech
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Re: I do wonder

That's easy: they will pay less tax. More profit means more money sloshing around, some of which will find its way into the accounts of politicians. Those politicians will then see how wonderfully Facebook contributes to society, and make speeches about how it shouldn't be taxed.

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Wheels are literally falling off the MoD thanks to lack of cash

Archtech
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Not the MoD

It's not actually the MoD whose wheels are falling off. Just the poor bloody infantry, the poor bloody armour, the poor bloody artillery, the poor bloody navy and the poor bloody air force.

I think you'll find Sir Humphrey and his pals are doing very nicely, thank you - in their pleasantly furnished Ministry buildings, with their good salaries, bonuses, benefits packages and index-linked pensions.

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Atto, boy! Eggheads fire laser for 43 attoseconds, fastest Man-made spurt

Archtech
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Re: I'm thinking...

Charming.

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Can you get from 'dog' to 'car' with one pixel? Japanese AI boffins can

Archtech
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One-dimensional, hence exceedingly fragile

Without delving into technical details, it looks to me as though the designers of those systems have made the mistake of treating the challenge as no more complicated than the Turing Test.

As has often been pointed out, to pass the Turing Test a computer does not have to "think", "feel", or in any way simulate the operation of a human nervous system. All it has to do is, on one single occasion for a limited time, manage to hold up its end of a conversation in such a way that its interlocutor cannot distinguish it from a human being.

The pattern recognition systems designed so far apparently aim only to meet certain performance criteria under "normal" conditions. They do not seem to have been designed to cope with unusual or adverse conditions. They need to be subjected to the ministrations of a Tiger Team - people who will go to great lengths to make them fail. Only if they can be shown to go on working reliably regardless of such adverse conditions can they be considered as even eligible for safety-critical tasks.

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Li-ion batteries blow up because they breed nanowire crystals

Archtech
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Re: Dendrites.... ummm....

"Dendrite" simply means anything roughly tree-shaped. And when you think how fundamentally natural such a tree shape is, it's unsurprising they are ubiquitous.

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Robot granted Saudi citizenship has more rights than Saudi women

Archtech
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Obvious really

'Sophia is the same robot who told her creator that she would "destroy humans"...'

And that would be why it was given this ridiculous "citizenship". Now it is in the same category as 9/11 attackers, Osama bin Laden, the murders of Yemeni civilians, and most of ISIS.

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US voting server in election security probe is mysteriously wiped

Archtech
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Re: @big?_john

How can you believe that Donald Trump is any worse than any other American political leader since... well, certainly since Teddy Roosevelt, whose racist rhetoric could not be distinguished from that of the Nazis?

The huge joke is that American citizens go on from decade to decade arguing that the other party are wicked murdering liars. They never notice that their own party is exactly the same. And so they go on from decade to decade, never noticing the man behind the curtain who is orchestrating it all to his own ends. It really is pathetic.

To my mind, the main reason so many in the US political establishment hate Trump so much is that he has a most indiscreet habit of telling the truth. And that lets the cat out of the bag.

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Archtech
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Logic fail

Er,

"So far the Feds have refused to say whether they still have that copy"

does not mean

"So, there is a copy available".

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US energy, nuke and aviation sectors under sustained attack

Archtech
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Utterly unsurprising

Although the attacks described were most likely nothing to do with any state actors, the US government would have no right to complain - or to be surprised - if they were mounted by such actors.

For years the US government has been making rousing speeches about "the threat from China", "the threat from Russia", the threat from Iran", and recently even - hilariously - "the threat from Venezuela". It has also proceeded to talk about how it is budgeting generous funds to hire and train specialists whose job it is to attack other nations' infrastructure should they be deemed to have stepped out of line.

It wouldn't be amazing if some of them thought, "we might as well just do what we are being blamed for anyway - and get ready for the balloon to go up if and when it does".

Reminds me of the wonderful scene in "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" where this big ugly gunfighter challenges Bean (Paul Newman) to a duel. Right on time, the black hat shows up in front of the courthouse steps, calling the odds and shouting for Bean to come out and fight. Then the take switches to a warehouse window about fifty yards behind the black hat, where Bean lies comfortably prone on a bed of straw with his rifle aimed squarely at the middle of the black hat's back...

As Sun Tzu puts it, "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win".

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Archtech
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A hint to recruiters...

'...spear-phished them with emails bearing subject lines such as “AGREEMENT & Confidential” containing benign attachments that “prompted the user to click on a link should a download not automatically begin.”'

And I suppose we are meant to believe that someone in a position of trust and responsibility was so incredibly dumb and irresponsible as to fall for those?

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Do fear the Reaper: Huge army of webcams, routers raised from 'one million' hacked orgs

Archtech
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Re: How to fix this

That suggests an obvious optimization.

'Never buy anything that has ever been referred to as "Internet of things"'.

You will save time, money and angst.

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Archtech
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Re: Safe home router ?

So far, as far as you know.

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You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec

Archtech
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Simples

From reading the article, this is a purely artificial problem. It can be condensed to:

The stupid bastards want something for nothing. Tough.

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IRS tax bods tell Americans to chill out about Equifax

Archtech
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This is news?

"IRS tax bods tells Americans to chill out about Equifax

Your personal data was probably already in crims' hands".

Isn't that a tautology? The IRS probably know what data they have...

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Huge power imbalance between firms and users whose info they grab

Archtech
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Re: This has always been the case in America...

Actually, how could they "give it back"? Only by ensuring that they erased every last copy in their own possession. Including backups.

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Here's a timeless headline: Adobe rushes out emergency Flash fix after hacker exploits bug

Archtech
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"Flash support"

I have several browsers that support HTML5, of course. But I have no control over what corporations and governments choose to do with their Web pages. The BBC, to pick a name more or less at random, still cheerfully asks you to install Flash if you want to watch a variety of videos.

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IT at sea makes data too easy to see: Ships are basically big floating security nightmares

Archtech
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Re: How current is this?

Full of choice bits - although there's nothing there that any reasonably well-informed citizen shouldn'have known for years.

My favourite bit is this:

'“The purpose of the Navy,” Vice Admiral John Bird, commander of the Seventh Fleet, tells me, “is not to fight.” The mere presence of the Navy should suffice, he argues, to dissuade any attack or attempt to destabilize the region'.

Yes, "John Bird"! This coot is actually called "John Bird"!! John Fortune was probably interviewing him.

"The mere presence of the Navy should suffice... to dissuade any attack or attempt to destabilize the region".

Yeah, just as the mere presence of "Prince of Wales" and "Repulse" dissuaded the Japanese from invading Malaya and capturing Singapore.

The Japanese didn't even break stride: they just sank them and kept right on going. Their troops on the beaches and in the jungle didn't even know the British ships had ever been there.

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Archtech
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Re: How current is this?

How could anyone possibly vote Ledswinger's comment down? Either there is a lot of wishful thinking going on, or personalities are creeping in.

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Archtech
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Re: How current is this?

All those countries have carriers under construction because they adhere to the US model: the "defence" industry is essentially a profit centre. It is assumed that defence is actually unnecessary, because there is no threat. (Although the politicians and the media keep talking up imaginary threats to keep the populace frightened and relatively willing to be milked).

As is well known, the general (and admirals and especially politicians) are always well prepared for the last war. As that was in 1939, you can imagine their state of readiness in 2017.

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Archtech
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Re: Die Hard: Offshore

A warship would normally stay well away from any other ships. Its officers cannot know in advance who has malicious intentions. This is absolutely basic.

Moreover, warships are designed to be fast and agile. They should be able to leave any merchant ship far behind, and run rings around it. (Actually, even carriers could do that - they are very fast when they have to be).

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Archtech
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Re: How current is this?

Or perhaps the Kuznetsov task group felt it had nothing to hide. The Americans can see pretty much everything with their satellites in any case.

No one seriously intending to fight a modern war would put to sea in something as huge, cumbersome and defenceless as an aircraft carrier.

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Archtech
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Re: Die Hard: Offshore

The container ships wouldn't be able to ram US warships, no matter what orders were given, unless the US warships were fast asleep. It would be like a bull ramming a fox.

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I love disruptive computer jargon. It's so very William Burroughs

Archtech
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My personal favourite

My favourite American code comment is

"Horse string length into correctitude".

Meaning, obviously, "Fix string length".

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Archtech
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Re: Userfriendly

Userfriendly.org is very definitely still a thing. Indeed, it exists perpetually, outside ordinary time. As Symmachus said of myths, it is something that never was but always is.

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Equifax: About those 400,000 UK records we lost? It's now 15.2M. Yes, M for MEELLLION

Archtech
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Re: Force majeure!

On further reflection, the US administration doesn't even care very much what American legislators or judges say and do. Or the people who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

"If the President does it, it's not illegal". - Richard M. Nixon

"The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper". - George W. Bush

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Archtech
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Figures

Would you really be surprised, seeing that they think of us in much the same light as they would so many tons of guano?

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Archtech
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Thanks for the confirmation

I did think your name sounded a tad Irish. (I'm licenced to joke about the Irish - I've kissed the Blarney Stone, and my maternal grandfather was born in Tipperary on April 1st).

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Archtech
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And there you have it in a nutshell

"Who is going to feel happy telling lies to a credit rating agency[?]"

Perfectly put. That is the exact dilemma that faces all would-be honest, decent citizens living in a world dominated by filthy, corrupt corporations and filthy, corrupt politicians.

Should we try to behave honestly and decently, and get it in the neck over and over and over? Or should we try to play them at their own game - which entails more or less trying to play football uphill on a vertical pitch where the opposing team does not have a goal?

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Archtech
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Re: Easy

By a curious coincidence, $2.9 trillion is about the same amount as the USA has wasted (well, actually, quite a bit worse than wasted) killing people in Asia - since 2003.

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Archtech
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Force majeure!

As the Athenian said to the Melians, "... you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".

The USA considers itself the 800 lb gorilla, and doesn't much care what European legislators do or say.

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'Israel hacked Kaspersky and caught Russian spies using AV tool to harvest NSA exploits'

Archtech
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Er, excuse me, but...

... has anyone seen the tiniest scrap of concrete evidence yet?

As far as I can see, this is just another of the MSM presstitutes' stories along the lines of, "My great contact in the alphabet soup [or sometimes Congress, or the White House, or State] gave me this great inside scoop, which I am now going to share with the whole world so that my career can be enhanced [sorry, to enlighten everyone about the truth]".

But is there any reason at all to believe that a single word of it is true? For some insight into how these things work, read this: http://www.unz.com/article/the-elites-have-no-credibility-left/

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Three words: Synthetic gene circuit. Self-assembling bacteria build pressure sensor

Archtech
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How big is your amygdala?

"Self-assembling". "Bacteria". Have you really contemplated the implications?

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Leicestershire teen admits attempting to hack director of the CIA

Archtech
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Silly boy

Doesn't he know that the CIA hacks you, not vice versa?

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Microsoft silently fixes security holes in Windows 10 – dumps Win 7, 8 out in the cold

Archtech
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Re: Perhaps money will talk louder:

Microsoft is one of the US government's pet corporations. Don't look for any action from that quarter.

Besides, government has plenty of money to move to the latest version - YOUR money.

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