Good news: first conviction for spreading a hoax

This is really a big deal.

Yesterday (Mon 16-May-2016) a court in northern Greece convicted, for the first time, a journalist/blogger for spreading a hoax.

A hoax is a piece of fake and (usually) emotionally charged news item. The usual drivers behind this is “like farming” (earning a small amount of money for every ‘click’ via Google ads) and selling bogus “health” products on the side. It’s very common for hoaxes to go hand in hand with conspiracy theories, like “chemtrails” (“we are being spreyed with chemicals from airplanes!”) or, as in this case, “harmful vaccines” (“vaccines cause autism”, “pharma companies spread cancer through vaccines!”).

Until now, the economics were firmly on the side of the scammers propagating the hoaxes: there was only profit to make, no real cost and, more importantly, no risk. So they would (and are) spreading whatever b*****t they can think of, with no or fake proof but lots of emotional content (“cancer to children!!!”) and pocket the profits.

The hoax of this specific case was titled “Shock: See how companies are spreading cancer through a vaccine”. It was about a girl which is not named other than by first name who supposedly received the MMR vaccine and then died from a brain tumor.

The story is full of sh*t. It was very well researched here.

This conviction is the only one I’m aware of globally (I do hope there are more, but I haven’t heard of any). And it may be, however slowly, a turning of the tide. Organized society needs to fight against this, and such cases are long overdue.

More info here:
http://www.ekathimerini.com/208703/article/ekathimerini/news/court-convicts-hoax-journalist-for-reproducing-false-news

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Ιδεοληψία

Μόλις διάβασα ένα άρθρο του BBC σχετικά με τον διάσημο κατάσκοπο-προδότη της Αγγλίας, τον Kim Philby. ​Είναι τρομακτικό να διαβάζεις πόση δύναμη έχει, και που μπορεί να οδηγήσει, η ιδεοληψία:

“[Kim Philby’s] KGB handler next instructs him to get the top job by removing his boss, Felix Cowgill.”

“It was a very dirty story – but after all our work does imply getting dirty hands from time to time but we do it for a cause that is not dirty in any way,” Philby explains.

“I have to admit that was the most blatant intrigue against a man I rather liked and I admired but the instructions stood and nothing I could do would alter them.”

Για όσους ξέρουν ποιός είναι ο Kim Philby ή έχουν διαβάσει έστω και ένα μυθιστόρημα του John le Carré, το άρθρο του BBC είναι must.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35943428

Το τίμημα του Frankenschock… δεν είναι αυτό που νομίζετε

Ακόμα και σε ένα έγκριτο μέσο, όπως η Ναυτεμπορική, βρίσκεται που και που δημοσιογράφος να γράφει για θέμα με το οποίο η σχέση του είναι… πλατωνική:

“Λαμβάνοντας υπ’ όψιν τις οικονομικές και γεωπολιτικές εξελίξεις, και έχοντας επίγνωση των νέων μέτρων νομισματικής στήριξης και του «πακτωλού» ρευστότητας που προετοίμαζε η ΕΚΤ -πρόγραμμα ενός τρισ. ευρώ- η ελβετική κεντρική τράπεζα προτίμησε την τακτική της υποχώρησης στον συναλλαγματικό πόλεμο που είχε ξεσπάσει τότε, αντί την τακτική της άμυνας, γνωρίζοντας πολύ καλά ότι η υπεράσπιση του ανώτατου ορίου με αλλεπάλληλες παρεμβάσεις θα οδηγούσε με μαθηματική ακρίβεια στην «εξαφάνιση» των συναλλαγματικών της διαθεσίμων.”

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1055258/to-timima-tou-frankenschock

(η έμφαση δική μου)

Στην πραγματικότητα, όπως γνωρίζουν οι πάντες, θα συμβεί το ακριβώς αντίθετο ! Το έχουν επισημάνει πολλές φορές, μεταξύ άλλων, οι Financial Times (πχ. “The Swiss hill that may become a mountain“).

Απλή λογική: όταν μια κεντρική τράπεζα θέλεις να στηρίξει (ανεβάσει) την τιμή του νομίσματος, αγοράζει το νόμισμα ξοδεύοντας συνάλλαγμα –συνήθως δολλάρια. Έτσι τα αποθέματα μπορεί να τελειώσουν κάποια στιγμή. Όταν όμως θέλει να ρίξει την τιμή, όπως η ελβετική κεντρική τράπεζα, τότε “τυπώνει” (στην πραγματικότητα πιστώνει ηλεκτρονικά λογαριασμούς τραπέζης) το δικό της νόμισμα. Και αυτό δεν “τελειώνει” ποτέ.

Αυτό δεν σημαίνει ότι η ενέργεια αυτή δεν έχει προβλήματα (όπως εξηγούν οι FT) ή ότι μπορεί να συνεχίζεται επ’ άπειρον. Αλλά οπωσδήποτε δεν θα “εξαφανιστούν τα συναλλαγματικά αποθέματα”, όπως διατείνεται ο συντάκτης της Ναυτεμπορικής.

Serious but hilarious NSA anecdotes

(This one’s for IT guys, perticularly crypto geeks, source is Schneier’s blog)

NSA recently declassified a lectures book from 1973. It contains some real gems, such as these from pages 55/56:

KAG-1/SEC used to be the bible of US cryptographers, was held in every crypto-center and covered everything from message preparation to compromise reporting in considerable detail. While we viewed it as a model of clarity, this perception was not always shared in the real world. A frustrated Navy Chief stormed out of bis crypto-ccntcr on board a carrier at sea, banded KAG-1 to a sailor and jokingly said “Throw this dam’ thing overboard.” He did. Several ships thereafter steamed back and forth for several days, but never found it. Winds, tides, and currents were studied to predict where it might come ashore with results so ambitious as to offer little hope and, in fact, it was never recovered – at least by us.

This incident triggered an R 1 study on what happens to our documents in salt water. A tank was made, and a copy of KAG-1 immersed. It stayed there for a year or so with no sign of deterioration. Agitators were added to stimulate wave action for another few months, with still no appreciable effect. We never did find out how long such a document would last. Subsequent work, however, has shown that good paper is nearly impervious to salt water, apparently indefinitely. A visit to S2’s exhibit of materials recovered from the sea bottom will bear that out. There you can see perfectly legible codes that had been under water since World War II, together with extraordinarily well-preserved items of hardware and magnetic tape that had been on the bottom for many years. These facts add to the previously expressed skepticism about jettison as a way to get rid of our stuff unless at very great depths and in completely secret location. (Shortly after WWII, small Army training crypto-devices called the SIGFOY were disposed of beyond the 100 fathom curve off Norfolk. Some years later, they became prize souvenirs for beach combers as they began washing ashore.)

UNSOLVED PUZZLE – We used to store a lot of cryptomaterial in a warehouse at Ft. Holabird. It was fenced and protected by a 24-hour armed civilian guard. One evening, such a guard saw an individual inside the fence, evidently attempting to penetrate the warehouse. He drew his weapon, cried “Halt!” and led the individual to the guard shack and started to call in for help. About that time, the intruder started running, climbed the fence, and disappeared.

We asked the guard why he didn’t shoot – he said he was afraid he might hurt somebody.

CONFETTI – When we manufacture one-time tape, a by-product of the punching process is millions upon millions of tiny, perfectly circular pieces of paper called “chad” that come out of holes in the tape. This chad was collected in burn bags and disposed of. Someone thought it would make good public relations to give this stuff to high school kids for use as confetti at football games. Inevitably, one of the burn bags was not quite empty when the chad went in. At the bottom, were a couple of TOP SECRET key card book covers and a few assorted keys. They carried the impressive caveats of those days like “CRYPTO – CRYPTO-CLEARANCE REQUIRED” and were, to use a term earlier referred to, “fascinating” to the kids when they discovered them.

One of the girls, whose father happened to be an Army officer, tacked soine of this material on her souvenir board. When Daddy saw it, he spiralled upward. He decided that it must be destroyed immediately; but first made a photograph of it for the record. He tore it up, flushed it away, and reported in. With some difficulty, various cheerleaders and other students who had glommed on to some of this material were tracked down, and persuaded to part with it.

We no lonser issue confetti.

A History of U.S. Communications Security (Volumes I and II);
the David G. Boak Lectures, National Security Agency (NSA), 1973
http://www.governmentattic.org/18docs/Hist_US_COMSEC_Boak_NSA_1973u.pdf

Oh the joy of coding with German Office

So I’m maintaining an Access database, with lots of VBA code, which serves as an internal management tool.

Changing a report should be, and usually is, pretty straight forward. But there I am today, after all changes are done, stuck trying to understand WHY THE FREAKING F*** a format string doesn’t work.

The offender is a text box with a date, and I’m trying to get it to be displayed like Nov-2015. So, according to Microsoft’s documentation, the format string is mmm-yyyy. Needless to say, didn’t work.

After an hour or so of banging my head on the wall, enlightenment comes: Year in German is Jahr !!! So mmm-jjjj, and, pronto, it worked like a charm.

By the way, Microsoft’s german doc is wrong (seems like a copy-paste error): it mentions jj and yyyy, instead of jj and jjjj which work (giving 15 and 2015 respectively).

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR *#@$%

How to overload static methods in C#

Let’s say I have an abstract generic class and a descendant:

public abstract class AuditObject<T> : ActiveRecordBase<T>

(yes I’m using ActiveRecord) and

public class Employee : AuditObject<Employee>

In both of them I define some static Methods, e.g.

public static DataTable GetLookupTable(String where, Int32 topRows)
{
  return doExtremelyCleverStuffToFetchData(where, topRows);
}

(in the Employee class you need public **new** static or else you get a compiler warning)
As the code is, when I call e.g.

DataTable myList = AuditObject<T>.GetLookupTable("inactive = 0", 100);

…and T is Employee, the static method is not “overriden” i.e. the one that is executed is the method in AuditObject, not Employee.

So in AuditObject I modified the static methods (in this example, GetLookupTable) like this :

public static DataTable GetLookupTable(String where, Int32 topRows)
{
  DataTable tbl = null;
  Boolean hasOverride = hasMethodOverride("GetLookupTable");
  if (hasOverride)
  {
    tbl = invokeStaticMethod<T>("GetLookupTable", new Object[2] { where, topRows }) as DataTable;
  }
  else
  {
    tbl = doExtremelyCleverStuffToFetchData(where, topRows);
  }
  return tbl;
}

Here’s how I find out if the static method exists :

private static Boolean hasMethodOverride(String methodName)
{
  var methodQuery =
    from method in typeof(T).GetMethods(
    BindingFlags.Static | BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod)
    where method.Name == methodName
    select method;
  return methodQuery.Count() > 0;
}

And here’s how the “override” method is called :

public static Object invokeStaticMethod<T>(String MethodName, Object[] Args)
{
  return typeof(T).InvokeMember(MethodName,
    BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.Static | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod,
    null, null, Args);
}

Voila ! When I call DataTable myList = AuditObject<T>.GetLookupTable(“inactive = 0”, 100); and T is Employee, I get results from the static method defined in the Employee class.

Η πολιτική του φθόνου

Αυτό το κείμενο, στη Ναυτεμπορική, “χτύπησε” ευαίσθητη χορδή:

Η διάκριση «εχθρού-φίλου» είναι ωφέλιμη πριν και κατά τη διάρκεια μιας εκλογικής μάχης […]

Οδηγεί, όμως, στην πολιτική και κοινωνική καταστροφή εάν παραμένει και μετά την επίτευξη του πολιτικο-εκλογικού στόχου […]

Ο κοινωνικός φθόνος είναι ο καρκίνος μιας κοινωνίας.

Δεν είναι τίποτα νέο: μπλε και πράσινα καφενεία υπάρχουν σε κάθε χωριό εδώ και δεκαετίες. Αλλά η τρέχουσα κυβέρνηση έχει σπάσει όλα τα ρεκόρ –και ο κατήφορος σταματημό δεν έχει.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1021578/i-politiki-tou-fthonou