Month: May 2016

This Has Fail Written All Over It

Some whiz kid (as in urine for brains) at Google has decided that they can simply profile you well enough to do know who you are:

Google will begin testing an alternative to passwords next month, in a move that could do away with complicated logins for good.

The new feature, introduced to developers at the company’s I/O conference, is called the Trust API, and will initially be tested with “several very large financial institutions” in June, according to Google’s Daniel Kaufman.

Kaufman is the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, where the Trust API was first created under the codename Project Abacus. Introduced last year, Abacus aims to kill passwords not through one super-secure replacement, but by mixing together multiple weaker indicators into one solid piece of evidence that you are who you say you are.

Among the pieces of evidence that Google suggests the Trust API could use are some obvious biometric indicators, such as your face shape and voice pattern, as well as some less obvious ones: how you move, how you type and how you swipe on the screen. With the service continually running in the background of the phone, it can keep track of whether those indicators match how it knows you use your phone.

Individually, it would be ludicrous to use any of those methods to secure web services. Even facial recognition, now built in to many Android phones, is significantly less secure than a fingerprint scanner, according to Google’s own metrics. But combining them can, the company suggests, result in something more than 10 times as secure as a fingerprint.

This is a verification system that would fail when, for example, you have a migraine coming on, or when you have fallen and broken your wrist, or when you are shaken up following a car crash, then you cannot unlock your phone.

I understand why Google likes this,  “With the service continually running in the background of the phone,” it means that they can invade your privacy, and sell your data to identity thieves even more efficiently.

For the rest of us, it does not make a whole lot of sense.

3 “Democrats” Who Think That Your Financial Advisor Should Be Allowed to Cheat You

The Senate voted to prohibit regulators from requiring financial advisors to work in their own client’s best interest:

The Senate voted Tuesday to strike down a controversial Obama administration rule for financial advisers, setting up a showdown with the White House.

Senators voted 56-41 to overturn the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisers to act in the best interest of retirement savers.

The Senate’s vote paves the way for a battle with the White House, which has pledged that President Obama will veto the legislation once it reaches his desk.

“The final rule reflects extensive feedback from industry, advocates, and Members of Congress, and has been streamlined to reduce the compliance burden and ensure continued access to advice, while maintaining an enforceable best-interest standard that protects consumers,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.


Americans for Financial Reform, an advocacy group, defended the regulation.

The rule “simply says that financial professionals who claim to offer honest, unbiased advice on retirement savings should actually have to do that,” the group said.

“The motive for this resolution is not a genuine concern about the wellbeing of retirement savers. Instead, some Wall Street salespeople and their firms are worried about losing out on the billions of dollars in excess profits they have been making by recommending investment products that serve their own interests.”

If you look at the vote you will find 3 “Democratic” senators who voted to allow grandma to be cheated out of her retirement, former Congressional “Blue Dog” Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

They need to be primaried, big time.

They are all up for reelection in 2018

Chemical Coat Hangers

In Texas, women are going to Mexico to buy chemicals to induce n abortion, because it is next to impossible to get a safe abortion in Texas:

Susanna was young, single, broke and pregnant in southern Texas where, thanks to the state’s strict laws, her chances of getting a surgical abortion at a clinic were slim to none.

So she did what an estimated 100,000 women or more in Texas have done – had a self-induced abortion.

With the help of a friend, some online instructions and quick dash across the Mexican border for some pills, she addressed the issue of unwanted pregnancy in a state where women are finding abortion services too expensive and too far away.

Restrictive laws took hold in Texas in 2013, forcing so many clinic closings that fewer than 20 remain to serve 5.4 million women of reproductive age.

The Texas legislature sees The Handmaiden’s Tale as a blueprint for the file.

How Utterly Proper

Karl Rove’s Crossroads PAC has endorsed Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the Democratic primary for her Congressional seat:

The super-PAC founded by GOP operative Karl Rove on Tuesday mocked Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-Fla.) leadership as a boon to Republicans and “endorsed” her reelection bid.

American Crossroads said Wasserman Schultz’s management has led to electoral gains for Republicans and more tension among Democrats.

“Congresswoman and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has played a critical role over the past several years in the massive Republican gains we have achieved at the state level, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the U.S. Senate,” Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law said in a statement.

“Wasserman Schultz’s leadership has also been a catalyst for the emerging civil war in the Democratic Party this year, ensuring that their nominating process will drag on far longer than that of Republicans,” he added.

The GOP group is backing her over her insurgent primary challenger Tim Canova.

“Voters of the 23rd District of Florida should know — American Crossroads stands with Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her primary against ultra-liberal outsider Tim Canova, and they should too.”

Obviously, this is trolling, but it is very high quality trolling.

Well, This Explains a Lot

It turns out that over the past 70 years, many medical conditions that were considered normal are not considered pathologies that require aggressive treatment.

There is a lot of money in this, which raises the obvious question, “cui bono?”

As many as 16 million Americans are prone to screaming and pounding on the dashboard when someone cuts them off in traffic. Another 7 million are fully capable of devouring a whole box of cookies in front of the TV.

There are 14 million men with low testosterone, 9 million women with low sexual desire — and tens of millions of people with bladders that are too active and blood sugar that’s a little too high.

The common thread: All have non-life-threatening conditions that for most of the 20th century were not considered a part of mainstream medicine. Some did not exist at all as formal disorders.

Each of the conditions, from intermittent explosive disorder to overactive bladder disorder, is the product of a new or expanded definition. These definitions come from medical societies or researchers who get money from drug companies.

Not to worry though, I’m sure that the invisible hand of the market, and the “skin in the game” required by Obamacare, will fix all this.

And yet I find just the opposite to be true. The replacement is even more extreme

What a surprise.  The US policy of assassination makes extremest groups more extreme and more dangerous:

The elimination of Taliban leader Mansour will only increase the danger to Afghan civilians, a US terrorism analyst, whose research focuses on the impact of targeted killings, predicts.

Dr Max Abrahms, from Northeastern University in Boston, said the US Government does not look carefully enough at the strategic implications of its strikes on extremist leaders.

He said he had done a number of studies on leadership decapitation of a militant group and he had not found a statistically significant reduction in the amount of violence perpetrated by the group after a leader was removed.

“In fact these decapitation strikes can actually be counter-productive, because one of the assumptions of the targeted killing campaigns is that the replacement of the leader that you killed will be more moderate,” Dr Abrahms said.

“And yet I find just the opposite to be true. The replacement is even more extreme.

“So for that reason, in the immediate aftermath of a successful targeted killing, like over this weekend, the group’s violence tends to become even more extreme, in the sense that it’s even more likely to attack civilian targets.”


“What I’ve seen is that the younger people to emerge in the Taliban are actually even crazier, if you will, than the old guard.”

And then Abrams says that, “He did not think the US Government very carefully studied the strategic implications of taking out Mansour.”

Gee, you think?

The problem here is that there are way too many people out there who think that our “Freedumb Bomz” will make the world a better place because they are our weapons.

Like the bite of a dog into a stone, it is a stupidity.

H/t Empty Wheel.


Charlie rocking out on a mandolin:

This Sucks………

2 trials, and no convictions against the cops who killed Freddie Gray:

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams rejected the state’s case Monday against Officer Edward Nero, acquitting him on all counts for his role in the arrest of Freddie Gray.

The verdict, which followed a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely watched case. Nero, 30, had faced misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. The 25-year-old Gray died last year of injuries sustained while riding in the back of a police transport van.

I’m beginning to think that all these cops are going to walk.

Legal Exchange of the Day

If someone threatens me with a libel suit, I have to remember to cite Arkell v. Pressdram.

It involved an English magazine, Private Eye, which had a uncovered that a man named James Arkell had been taking kickbacks to throw debt collection business to some firms.

Arkell’s solicitor demanded a retraction:

9th April 1971

Dear Sir,

We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter.

Mr Arkell’s first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.



Goodman Derrick & Co.

Private Eye, published by Pressdram, Ltd., made this response:

Dear Sirs,

We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr. J. Arkell.

We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: f%$# off.


Private Eye

(%$# mine)

I’m going to have to remember the legal citation.

PICTURES: Saab rolls out first Gripen E fighter

Saab has rolled out its first Gripen NG, which structurally is pretty much a new plane.

As compared to the travails of the F-22, where upgrades and modernization have been expensive and difficult, and the F-35, which is late, expensive, under performing, and unreliable.

By comparison, all the major systems for the new Gripen have flown, the first aircraft is a production unit, and it is expected to start flight testing this year:

Saab is targeting the on-schedule delivery of its new Gripen E fighter to the Swedish and Brazilian air forces late this decade, as it steps up export campaigns involving both the advanced model and its earlier C/D-model jet.

The first of three Swedish test aircraft to be involved in the project was unveiled at the manufacturer’s Linköping facility on 18 May, in front of an international audience of current and prospective Gripen users.

Lead aircraft 39-8 will be handed over to Saab’s flight test department “this summer”, and should make its flight debut at the end of the year, the company says. It will be used initially to verify the general systems, airframe and aerodynamics of the evolved design, which – while visually resembling earlier iterations – is entirely new.

Powered by a GE Aviation F414 turbofan engine capable of generating 22,000lb (98kN) of thrust, the Gripen E has an empty weight of 8,000kg (17,600lb) and a maximum take-off weight of 16.5t. The latter represents a 2.5t increase over the C/D. At 15.2m (49.8ft), it is also 30cm longer than its predecessor, while its wingspan has increased by 20cm, to 8.6m. With 40% more internal fuel, the new model has increased range, payload and endurance, and features an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, other updated avionics and new electronic warfare equipment.

Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe reveals the cost of developing the Gripen E and producing its three Swedish test aircraft will be less than $2 billion.

This is chump change by the standards of modern fighter development.


Stressing that aircraft 39-8 is not a prototype, Ydreskog says: “Assembly of the first test aircraft – with 60,000, mostly new parts – was shorter than number 204 for the C/D.” The programme’s other test units are in different stages of structural assembly and only minor adjustments are expected as the shift to series production occurs. “There is some optimisation to do – we can reduce some weight,” he notes.

But Saab believes one of the biggest advances with the Gripen E comes through its use of an all-new integrated modular avionics system, which splits flight-critical and tactical management software. It says the latter’s software, hardware and algorithms can be rapidly changed – like apps on a smartphone – to keep pace with evolved operational requirements or technological advances in computing over the life of the type’s use.

(emphasis mine)

The updated software has been in development for far less time than the (still not up to snuff) avionics package for the F-35 JSF, and it will be trivial for countries using the aircraft.

The reason is that critical functions are segregated from one another, which, as any programmer can tell you, simply works better than tightly integrated all in one software as used in the JSF, even after billions of dollars have been spent.

Of course, for Lockheed Martin, their hairball of a software platform is not a bug, it’s a feature, because it allows charge tolls on users who want to make upgrades.

As Aviation Week notes:


Gripen E is scaled up from the early Gripen C/D with 40% additional fuel capacity, more thrust from its General Electric F414 engine and more weapon stations. Internally the aircraft has been given a new sensor suite, with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and infrared search and track (IRST).

Key to the aircraft is a federated software system that separates critical flight control systems from the tactical systems. Saab claims this will make the Gripen E’s avionics and mission systems more easily and quickly upgradable. Just 10% of the aircraft’s system code will be devoted to flight-critical systems; the remaining 90% will be mission-system related. Saab officials say tactical upgrades could be tested and introduced in weeks rather than months.

(emphasis mine)

The direct operating cost, as well as the fly away cost, of the Gripen looks to be less than that of its competitors.

Compared to its competitors, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and the Lockheed-Martin Lightning II, this aircraft should better suit the needs of most countries out there, but Sweden lacks the connections behind the other platforms, so it looks likely that while it will be a market success, it will be a only a modest success.

Why Not Both?

Angry Bear wonders if, “Economists Idiots or Just Delusional?”

If reducing the value of the policies If held by those who are continuously employed, either by taxing them or forcing those people to move to a less comprehensive plan than their risk-aversion preferences, is going to “reduce costly distortions in U.S. health care,” the only possible conclusion is that total health care spending is going to get costlier on average.

Yes, you might argue this will reduce “distortion.” But you would have to be an idiot—or, apparently, Alan Auerbach (Strongly) or Austan Goolsbee—to believe that is a good thing.

It does explain many of the policy shortcomings of the Obama animation.
Posted via mobile.

I’ll Call These Folks Welfare Queens

I’ve had a fair amount of exposure to various Ultra Orthodox communities, and as a result, I view the fact that the Heredim communities in Brooklyn have the one of the highest percentages of Section 8 recipients in the nation is as a result of a sophisticated attempt by leaders in this community to game the welfare system.

I call them Schnorrers (שנאָרער).

What is going on here is that people are spending their days studying instead of working to support their families.

As noted in Perkei Avot (Literally Wisdom of the Fathers), “Do not make the Torah into a crown with which to aggrandize yourself or a spade with which to dig.”


New York City’s 123,000 vouchers make this the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. Reluctant landlords and rising rents are making vouchers nearly impossible to use in many areas of the city. Tenants, especially larger families, are often relegated to the edges of Brooklyn and the Bronx. That’s why this cluster of Hasidic households stands out.

The neighborhood is home to one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 housing vouchers in the city, according to federal data analyzed by WNYC and the Daily News. In several of its census tracts, Section 8 tenants compose more than 30% of residents, a level reached only in scattered pockets of the Bronx.

The difference: In Brooklyn, the Section 8 tenants live smack in the middle of one of the city’s hottest real estate market.

The juxtaposition happened over years, not overnight. Leaders leveraged longstanding political connections to win favorable zoning changes. Local developers bought and built to meet the need. Residents organized to get in line for rental subsidies. Block by block, the community created a de facto free market, affordable housing plan.


A sliver of the community makes money in diamonds, real estate and trading. But many men favor religious study over work, and most women stay at home, so money can be tight. Those who work are often relegated to low-wage jobs due to a lack of secular education.

Here is a news flash: Despite sporting similar facial hair, Orthodox Jews are not the Amish.

Jews are required to engage the rest of the world and to learn about it.

What we have here here is parents deliberately giving their children a 2nd rate education and creating multi-generational poverty.

My nephews and niece are frum (Orthodox), and their mom and pop are principals at the local religious school, and they have, or are studying for, real careers like systems engineer, lawyer, and therapist.

One can be learned in Torah and make their way in the world, and parents, regardless of religious affiliation, have an obligation to prepare their children to function as self-supporting adults.

We Are So Boned

Who knew that my house would one day be beach front property:

Scientists ringing alarm bells about the melting of Antarctica have focused most of their attention, so far, on the smaller West Antarctic ice sheet, which is grounded deep below sea level and highly exposed to the influence of warming seas. But new research published in the journal Nature Wednesday reaffirms that there’s a possibly even bigger — if slower moving — threat in the much larger ice mass of East Antarctica.

The Totten Glacier holds back more ice than any other in East Antarctica, which is itself the biggest ice mass in the world by far. Totten, which lies due south of Western Australia, currently reaches the ocean in the form of a floating shelf of ice that’s 90 miles by 22 miles in area. But the entire region, or what scientists call a “catchment,” that could someday flow into the sea in this area is over 200,000 square miles in size — bigger than California.

Moreover, in some areas that ice is close to 2.5 miles thick, with over a mile of that vertical extent reaching below the surface of the ocean. It’s the very definition of vast.

Warmer waters in this area could, therefore, ultimately be even more damaging than what’s happening in West Antarctica — and the total amount of ice that could someday be lost would raise sea levels by as much as 13 feet.


The gist is that while Totten may be in a relatively stable configuration now, if it retreats far enough, then it can start an unstable backslide into deep undersea basins and unload a great deal of ice, raising seas first by close to a meter and then considerably more than that.


Scientists believe that Totten Glacier has collapsed, and ice has retreated deep into the inland Sabrina and Aurora subglacial basins, numerous times since the original formation of the Antarctic ice sheet over 30 million years ago. In particular, they believe one of these retreats could have happened during the middle Pliocene epoch, some 3 million years ago, when seas are believed to have been 10 or more meters higher (over 30 feet) than they are now.

A 10 meter sea level rise is end of the world sh%$, but clearly anthropogenic climate change is a hoax, because James Inhof threw a snow ball in the Senate.

Millions Benefiting, and Republican Heads Exploding.

It’s a win-win.  Obama just doubled the minimum pay at which salaried employees can be denied overtime:

The Obama administration unveiled a new rule Wednesday that will make millions of middle-income workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that delivers a long-sought victory for labor groups.

The regulations, which were last updated more than a decade ago, would let full-time salaried employees earn overtime if they make up to $47,476 a year, more than double the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The Labor Department estimates that the rule would boost the pay of 4.2 million additional workers.

The change is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1.

The move caps a long-running effort by the Obama administration to aid low- and middle-income workers whose paychecks have not budged much in the last few decades, even as the top earners in America have seen their compensation soar. The last update to the rules came in 2004, and Wednesday’s announcement is the third update to the salary threshold for overtime regulations in 40 years.


About 35 percent of full-time salaried employees will be eligible for time and a half when they work extra hours under the new rule, up significantly from the 7 percent who qualify under the current threshold, according to the Labor Department.

The shift was swiftly criticized by small business owners, nonprofit groups and universities that say they may have to switch some salaried workers to hourly positions to afford the new threshold. And instead of seeing bigger paychecks, some salaried workers may be assigned fewer hours, they said.

It means that you won’t be getting free labor out of people by pretending that they are management.

And then there is this bit from the halls of overpaid administrators in education:

Some colleges said they worried they might have to cut services or raise tuition to keep up with the guidelines. Linda Harig, vice president of human resources for the University of Tennessee, estimates that the university would need to spend an additional $18 million to afford overtime pay for employees who would become eligible under the new guidelines, such as admission staff, hall directors and people with post-doctoral positions. That is the equivalent of a 4.3 percent increase in tuition, Harig said.

Because working 60 hours a week for 40 hours worth of pay is such a good thing.  And post docs aren’t basically legalized slavery.

If there additional costs, I would suggest cutting the pay people of people like, “Linda Harig, vice president of human resources for the University of Tennessee.”

Why does the head of HR need to be a VP level position? Now there is some useless fat to trim.