[Axis of Easy] US Military To Stop Using Floppy Disks To Coordinate Nuclear Launches

Weekly Axis Of Easy #118

Last Week’s Quote was  “It seems that in the advanced stages of stupidity, a lack of ideas is compensated for by an excess of ideologies” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, nobody got it. (I don’t know who that is, it’s another one cribbed from Marc Faber’s Gloom Boom Doom report).
This Week’s Quote:  “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent” by ?????
THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted below in the comments.
The Prize: First person to post the correct answer gets their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.

This edition of #AxisOfEasy is memory of an old friend from the London music scene, the legendary Ted Triebner. Co-founder of Exeter, Ontario’s UIC (so many London musicians from Exeter) and later, Positively Stompin’. Ted passed away last week. RIP. I’ve been listening to Junk Drawer all weekend.

In this issue:
  • US Military will stop using floppy disks to coordinate nuclear launches
  • Millions of Linux devices vulnerable to a WIFI bug
  • Google exec says homeowners should warn guests about Nest thermostats
  • UK drops controversial adult content blocking program
  • Bank of Canada exploring cash replacement digital currency
  • What really goes on in a Chinese gulag

We’ve added a podcast version of #AxisOfEasy! You can listen to this week’s edition:

US Military will stop using floppy disks to coordinate nuclear launches

Back in 2014, 60 Minutes did a story on how the US military maintains its nuclear preparedness and they were shocked to report that one of the computers that would hypothetically receive a launch order (which I mistyped as “lunch order”) from the president ran on 8″ floppy disks. (My very first computing job was porting Helix Courier’s billing and dispatch system off of a Motorola 6800 that used 8″ floppies. That was in 1992)

Well those days will someday be over, as the US DoD will replace those floppy drives with a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution”. The reason these old systems have been in use for so long is because they are so old, they are deemed unhackable. The premise being that they were built before the internet existed, and its impossible to hack because it doesn’t have an IP address.

Read:  https://www.c4isrnet.com/air/2019/10/17/the-us-nuclear-forces-dr-strangelove-era-messaging-system-finally-got-rid-of-its-floppy-disks/

Millions of Linux devices vulnerable to a WIFI bug

An unpatched bug in Linux that affects Realtek Wifi chips allows attackers to crash or fully compromise vulnerable machines. It’s a buffer overflow that can be initiated when the machine is within radio range of an attacking device, and it requires no interaction on the part of the user, just that Wifi is enabled. The flaw can’t be exploited if it’s not a Realtek chip or if Wifi is disabled.

This issue has been assigned CVE-2019-17666.

Google exec says homeowners should warn guests about Nest thermostats

Following on what we said last week, one should assume that any network detected device in your home with a camera or a microphone is listening and that employees have access to those recordings, Google’s head of its devices unit, Rick Osterloh confirmed as much in an interview with the BBC. “Google’s Nest smart devices are always listening, their microphones detect loud noises and cameras track sudden movements in a home”.

When a BBC reported asked him if home owners should warn guests that there are Nest devices present that record their conversations and that they would be on camera Osterloh, after admitting surprise to having it framed that way, conceded that it would be proper etiquette to do so, and that he already does.

(Personally,  I warn guests entering our house that we have a dog that looks like a wolf, now I have to tell them they’re going to be recorded? Actually no, since we don’t use any of this stuff.)

UK drops controversial adult content blocking program

We reported back in #AxisOfEasy 89 how the UK block on cyberpr0n was going into effect April 1st, which would require anybody who wanted to visit NSFW websites to obtain a special permit to do so, providing photo ID and paying a fee. As well, all operators of NSFW site anywhere in the world would have to add authentication process to their systems to detect UK visitors and verify they had a proper permit.

That initiative has been scrapped after numerous delays. It appears as if it’s unworkable. Instead, the UK will be expected adult websites to exercise a new “duty of care” to prevent underage viewers and will be creating a new online regulator “with strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance”.

Bank of Canada exploring cash replacement digital currency

The latest salvo in the global war on cash and cryptocurrencies has been fired by the Bank of Canada who wants to introduce a digital currency that would replace cash, track how citizens spend their money and combat “the direct threat” of crypto-currencies.

The Financial Post obtained a copy of an internal BoC memo exploring the idea via a Freedom of Information request, but in response to an email inquiry the BoC responded that they have no immediate plans to launch a crypto currency.

All this follows on the theme I’ve been writing about in more depth over on Guerrilla Capitalism. Governments understand that control over money is essential to maintain control over the rabble, and the last thing they want to see happen is for people to take control back via crypto currencies, or to face incursions from large tech platforms looking to end-run fiat money (which is all debt, and headed for a sooner-or-later international currency crisis, but I digress….)

(My guess is they could probably just code taxes right into it, so that when the government raises or adds new taxes it could just come right out of your digital wallet without you having to even think about it. Now that’s progress!)

What really goes on in a Chinese gulag

We’ve been covering China’s Sesame Credit for quite some time here. The program gamifies and institutionalizes obedience to the State and becomes compulsory for all citizens next year, in 2020. So what happens when your Sesame Credit score dips below a critical threshold? We already know that citizens there are penalized for that, being unable to access transportation services such as flights, or trains, they can’t get their children into preferred schools, they are cut off from accessing credit.

Bear all this in mind when you read the story of this woman who escaped from a Chinese gulag. Over one million Chinese citizens are imprisoned in “reeducation camps” now, where they are subjected to medical experiments, sexual assault, psychological brainwashing and physical torture.

While most of the inmates are currently Uyghur moslems, I can’t help but suspect that it will eventually be deployed across the entire population, with the help of their Sesame Credit platform. No wonder the protestors in Hong Kong are fighting tooth-and-nail for their liberty.

4 thoughts on “[Axis of Easy] US Military To Stop Using Floppy Disks To Coordinate Nuclear Launches

  1. I’ve been a long-time ZoneEdit customer and started getting your Weekly of Axis newsletters… I very much enjoy your writing and the topics you cover. Have gone ahead and pre-ordered your book for my Kindle. Keep up the good work!

  2. The US mil floppy disk story reminds me of a call I took while on the HP Laserjet support team. A woman called from a US Navy office in Norfolk, VA asking for help with their digital printer. She could not find a make or model on the unit in question and kept saying it was a digital printer. After going around in circles for about 10min with me trying to explain in every possibly way that ALL printers have digital circuits and are, therefore, digital and with both of us getting frustrated with each other, I asked her if there was any kind of label on the back or bottom of the printer that might give a clue. She put me on hold, came back and said, “There is a metal tag riveted to the back that says DEC. Suddenly a light bulb went on for me! Years early I had worked as a tech in the corporate world with MANY DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) mainframes including printers. I politely put her on hold, did a quick Internet search for “Digital Equipment Corporation”, got a hit to a website with that domain name, clicked and it landed on…the HP home page! Another fast search revealed something I knew but had forgotten, years early HP acquired DEC and then closed that company. Good thing they still had the intellectual property (domain name). Talking to her further I had her take photos of the unit and email to my supervisor (Someone much younger than me.) They arrived, my sup had NO idea what he was looking at, I started to laugh and say, “Those are ancient industrial strength dot matrix printers.” They were HUGE! I called this customer back and asked where they were being used. She said they had over 200 of them on naval war ships around the world and they wanted every one of them serviced! Cost didn’t matter. I told her they no longer made those machines, there were no parts and no support team to service them. Her response was, “Well you better find someone because this has been approved by the Pentagon and they want these things refurbed and left on the ships!” I asked why they wouldn’t upgrade. What a stupid question! They had been working for over 30 years, they still worked, why replace something not broken? Good point! Our support center sent the request to HP central support who sent it to the military accounts department and nobody knew what to do about it. It came back to me (ahem, a JUNIOR tech) for ideas as they now knew I had experience with this gear. I spent about a month and lo and behold found a group of retired DEC engineers…NEAR NORFOLK no less… that had a computer club and all they did was acquire and play around with old DEC gear. I hooked the USN up with these guys and told them it’s the only solution we had short of sending corporate sales to talk them into new machines, which she repeated they wanted no part of! I never learned the final outcome but American should be…pleased??? maybe?? that many if not all of the older USN warships still use what would now be 40+ year old technology!

  3. How does a national currency get to be a national currency? I think the answer is that the government requires its taxes to be paid in that currency. How do you get hold of currency to pay your taxes? By selling something to the government or to someone who holds currency (who would have sold something to the government themselves). If you hold more currency than you need for taxes, you can try to sell on your currency for goods and services. If the government does not inflate too wildly, you may even be prepared to hold government currency as a temporary store of value.

    The above cycle has had some non-obvious but important consequences where not everyone is thoroughly plugged in to the government currency using market.

    Consider, for example, an Arab tenant farmer in the Levant of the late Ottoman Empire. He operates mostly without cash, eating his own produce and trading produce for goods and services from specialists in his village.

    Then the tenant farmer gets hit with a tax bill (very often presented by his landlord who was likely the local tax agent). How is he to pay it? His landlord offers to “lend” him the cash in return for an exorbitant share of his crop come harvest. Officially, tax farming was abolished in the early 19th century, but this system was not materially different as far as the tenant farmer was concerned. The landlords found it very profitable.

    Towards the end of the 19th century, in what is today Israel, Jews started buying a lot of land to farm. They hired a lot of Arabs to help out and paid them cash. Come tax time, the tenant farmer was able to decline the landlord’s loan offer.

    The landlords tried various methods to preserve their power, such as a law banning land sales to Jews. Illegal sales continued, however, because Jews were paying huge premiums for apparently worthless land. Finally they played the “honour of Islam” card – that it was an insult to Islam for Dhimmis (i.e. Jews) to own Muslims (by virtue of owning Muslim land). That is the origin of the Arab-Israeli conflict, beginning more than two or three generations before the state of Israel came into existence – the unsettling effect of liberating Arab peasants from tax-currency profiteering Arab landlords.

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