Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Soylent Green, now almost a thing.

Cheesy SF movie buffs will remember the movie Soylent Green, wherein megacorporation Soylent Inc. grinds up captured humans and turns them into food for the cities. Spoiler, Soylent Green is people.

Well, as usual, somebody took that as an instruction manual, not a warning.

Start-ups are trying to revolutionise the food industry and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from venture capitalists to do so.

Many are motivated by a desire to wean humanity off meat and other foods that have big environmental and social impacts, whether in the methane emissions and land use of cattle herds or additives in typical processed food.

"The traditional food system is broken in every way," says Seth Bannon, founding partner at Fifty Years, an early stage venture fund in San Francisco that has invested in food technology companies. "It's terrible for the environment, it's economically unfavourable and it's not great for human health."

The best-known of these would-be disrupters is also the most extreme in its approach. Soylent was founded in 2013 by a group of Silicon Valley engineers trying to cut the time and money they spent buying and preparing food. The company has expanded from producing a powder that was mixed with water to ready-made drinks and nutritional "food bar" snacks. 

Yeah, those damn farmers are fragging the ecosystem with their amazing production and low cost. The bastards. We better fix that! By marketing shit that is really and truly called "Soylent."

Here's another better way, food from slime.

Insects, blood and faeces may not sound particularly appetitising, but they are among the produce we should consider eating if we want our food to be sustainable and healthy, according to a team of chefs and scientists in Denmark.

The Nordic Food Lab was set up on a boat in the Danish capital of Copenhagen in 2008 by Michelin-starred Noma head chef RenĂ© Redzepi and culinary entrepreneur Claus Mayer to better understand the flavours and the gastronomic potential of Scandinavia. 

But in almost a decade – and now based at a laboratory at the University of Copenhagen – its researchers are travelling the world to piece together a holistic approach to eating. Scientists, artists chefs, designers and specialists in education are all rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in to the cause.

A reminder my friends. This year these people are fricking looneytune nutjobs on the fringe of the fringe. In ten years, given the slavish following of the media to yet another Good Cause, you will be seeing this shit on the school lunch program. And I do mean shit, note above that the Nordic Food Lab is talking about processing and including animal poo in their offerings.

The Lefties lost the Gun war, they're in the process of losing the Global Warming war and the Race war, and they need another war. Next up, the Food War.

The Delicious Phantom (Excellent with a nice dry merlot.)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Obligatory Hillary Clinton post.

Hillary Clinton's robot pantsuit fights on, even though Hillary herself is a zombie jazzed into life with drugs and possibly a remote control unit.

In news that surprises no one, the Clinton campaign is contesting the election, despite losing by a wide margin. Because it is always about the Clintons, fuck the nation.

All those who booed when Trump said he wouldn't accept defeat because of possible DemocRat cheating will now shut up in embarrassment. (I don't really expect that from such baying mongrel dogs, but if they had the decency of a goat, they would.)

Phantom Prediction: On Monday the stock market will fall off its new all-time high, as uncertainty mars a US election, and the nation spends millions on waste motion.

Clinton: The Thing That Couldn't Die.

The Deplorable Phantom

Obligatory Fidel Castro post.

Fidel is dead. Liberals hardest hit.

The Phantom

Thursday, November 24, 2016

New hack turns headphones into a microphone.

Just when you thought you knew all the ways your PC can spy on you:

Security researchers at Israel's Ben Gurion University have created a proof-of-concept exploit that lets them turn headphones into microphones to secretly record conversations. The PoC, called "Speake(a)r," first turned headphones connected to a PC into microphones and then tested the quality of sound recorded by a microphone vs. headphones on a target PC. In short, the headphones were nearly as good as an unpowered microphone at picking up audio in a room.

I will add that there is no reason at all that -speakers- can't be made to do this. They don't have to be headphones.

"Most of today's built-in sound cards are to some degree retaskable, which means that they can be used for more than one thing. …the kernel exposes an interface that makes it possible to retask your jacks, but almost no one seems to use it, or even know about it," wrote Linux sound engineer David Henningsson. That's exactly the exploit Speak(a)r uses.

This isn't a driver fix, either. The embedded chip does not allow users to properly prevent this hack which means your earbuds or nice cans could start picking up conversations instantly. In fact, even if you disable your microphone, a computer with a RealTek chip could still be hacked and exploited without your knowledge.

Perhaps its just my tinfoil hat is a little tight, but when I see experts in a field say "no one uses this or even knows about it," my radar starts to ping and I begin thinking about back doors and three letter agencies in the USA.

Maybe might be good to put a physical "off" switch between your PC and the speakers/headphones.

Just thought y'oughta know.

The Tinfoil Phantom

Friday, November 18, 2016

Best article yet on the US election polling failure

This is a great article.

Now that the initial dust has settled from the historically surprising 2016 election, we all have one question: What went wrong with the polls and predictions? They showed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, sometimes handily. Just about everyone blew the call.

Well, not everyone: There were some people who got it right. Whether by a quirk of their polling, a model that relied more on history or by sheer accident, a handful of predictors bucked the crowd and told us something else was going on.

In a move unheard of in the mainstream press, this author went and talked to some pollsters who called it right.


The "shy voter," those being people who did not want anyone around them to know they were voting Trump.

The "lapsed voter," people who hadn't voted in many years but came out for Trump. That's a major notion right there. He inspired people that had given up.

The "herding effect," where the polling companies didn't want to be too far off the accepted norms in the polling industry. Go-along-to-get-along.

The "bubble effect," media people and Blue Staters not having anyone in their social circle saying anything good about Trump.

Very good read, I recommend it.

The Recommended Phantom

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Left moves to shut everyone up.

Twitter has just suspended a large number of accounts for political purposes.

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter suspended a number of accounts associated with the alt-right movement, the same day the social media service said it would crack down on hate speech.

Among those suspended was Richard Spencer, who runs an alt-right think tank and had a verified account on Twitter.

Well now, that's interesting. Who decided what accounts were "Alt-Right?"

Heidi Beirich, spokeswoman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told USA TODAY that the center had asked Twitter to remove more than 100 accounts of white supremacists who violated Twitter's terms of service. She also pointed to two alt-right accounts that had been verified by Twitter, including Spencer's.

The article does -not- say that the SPLC made the decision and Twitter implemented it. However, the article does say the following:

 The alt-right used social media to spread its cause of white supremacy, operating largely unchecked by social media giants Twitter and Facebook.

So, the author approves of this decision, and is part of the pol;itical spectrum who no doubt lobbied for it. Probably thinks the SPLC is a noble cause.
Now, I've not been paying attention to Milo Yiannopoulos  who was suspended by Twitter back in August, and I don't know who Richard Spencer is or what his "think tank" says.

If they really were George Wallace-KKK-style White Supremacists then I'm sure I'd at least have heard. Richard Spencer is the white Louis Farrakhan? Who knew? So I find it unlikely, given the frantic scramble on the Left to label everyone and everything RAAAAACIST!!!1! that I wouldn't have heard of a -real- racist.

Important to note here, and this is my entire point, Noam Chomsky and the e-zine "EcoWatch" both are not on the Twitter suspended list. Noamy can come out and say:

"On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government—executive, Congress, the Supreme Court—in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.

False news. A lie. A heinous lie, in fact.

But allowed, because it is a lie that works for the Left. Lies that work for the Right (assuming for the sake of argument that everything the SPLC says is true) will not be allowed.

Some animals are more equal than others. How long before The Phantom Soapbox gets banned?

The Phantom

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hyper stupidity: Mansplaining hotline.

Today in the latest witch burning news, a Swedish labor union has started a telephone hotline for women to call when men explain things to them. I hope this is a joke, but I'm afraid it isn't.

Unionen, Sweden's largest union, is encouraging members to call up when male colleagues give them unsolicited lectures on things they already understand. 

The organisation, which represents 600,000 private sector workers, launched the advice line on Monday and said it will be open from 10am to 4pm everyday for a week as part of a campaign to highlight and stamp out the insidious and damaging practice.

For those who might not be familiar with the modern portmanteau, the union defined mansplaining as when "a man explains something to a woman without being asked, particularly something which she might already know more about than the man".

Unionen said the commonplace practice diminishes women, by making them appear less competent than they are.

No word on when the men's "anti-Harpy" hotline goes live.

I have a prediction. After a brief and disastrous flirtation with all-female workplaces, profitable companies will segregate their employees. Men and women will not work together in the same office. There will be the Boys section and the Girls section. This will happen because the men will simply stop interacting with the women.

If every time you talk to a co-worker you get a phone call from Mansplaining Central, you will most definitely stop speaking to the female staff. You will in fact shun them at all costs. Simple self defense.

Another prediction, the Girls section will get smaller and smaller over time until it disappears. I'm not saying that's a good thing, I'm saying that is what will happen. This is how businesses used to run, and they will go that way again.

The Phantom

Chinese Android phones home. To China.

I keep having this argument with tech heads. Android is LESS secure than Apple.

Apple of course is famous for storing your location data and sending it to an Apple server every ten minutes whether the phone is in use or not. It sends the data to Apple servers in the USA.  Android sends stuff to Google, also in the USA. Unless you bought an off-shore phone.

Kryptowire, the security firm that discovered the vulnerability, said the Adups software transmitted the full contents of text messages, contact lists, call logs, location information and other data to a Chinese server. The code comes preinstalled on phones and the surveillance is not disclosed to users, said Tom Karygiannis, a vice president of Kryptowire, which is based in Fairfax, Va. "Even if you wanted to, you wouldn't have known about it," he said.

Security experts frequently discover vulnerabilities in consumer electronics, but this case is exceptional. It was not a bug. Rather, Adups intentionally designed the software to help a Chinese phone manufacturer monitor user behavior, according to a document that Adups provided to explain the problem to BLU executives. That version of the software was not intended for American phones, the company said.

Sure. "...was not intended for American phones..." Uh huh. If you believe that, I can get you a deal on this nice bridge in Brooklyn NY.

In case you were wondering why some phones are so amazingly cheap, wonder no more. They collect and sell your data for more than the phone is worth.

My approach is to buy my phone from somebody I can sue if they rip me off. You can't sue Random Chinese Company, they're completely unreachable. But you can sue Apple, Motorola, Blackberry, etc. My other line of defense is to never put anything on a phone I don't want my worst enemy to know. Because they will know.

The Phantom

Monday, November 14, 2016

Media: We weren't wrong! Shut up!

Doubling down:

One big complaint about the latest U.S. election is that "the polls were wrong." It reveals a complete misunderstanding of what polls -- and statistical forecasts in general -- are supposed to do.

This article explains to the gentle reader that it is all far too complicated for your feeble minds to comprehend, math is hard, and we should leave these difficult decisions to our betters.


The Phantom, who took statistics in graduate school, thanks all the same,

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cellphone hack: wifi can read your keystrokes.

This is getting very interesting. In a new paper, some guy has used wifi signals like radar to track finger movements on a cellphone screen.

Because the user's finger moves across the smartphone when he types text, his hand alters CSI properties for the phone's outgoing WiFi signals, which the attacker can collect and log on the rogue access point... By performing basic signal analysis and signal processing, an attacker can separate desired portions of the CSI signal and guess with an average accuracy of 68.3% the characters a user has typed... but it can be improved the more the user types and the more data the attacker collects.

Research paper here.

That's getting pretty good as imaging goes. You can use that level of resolution for a really cheap radar set. Spot squirrels in the back yard, maybe?

The Phantom

p.s. Your phone is insecure as shit. Don't do -anything- involving money, banking or cheating on your girlfriend with a phone in the same room. Stick the damn thing in a steel box.

Update! Reader Secret Sam writes:

" ...this is a hidden secret, you can do this (if close enough to a person) on any electrical device by intercepting the IF frequency most common channels depending what band the phone runs on."

From the Wiki link: 

In communications and electronic engineering, an intermediate frequency (IF) is a frequency to which a carrier wave is shifted as an intermediate step in transmission or reception.[1] The intermediate frequency is created by mixing the carrier signal with a local oscillator signal in a process called heterodyning, resulting in a signal at the difference or beat frequency. Intermediate frequencies are used in superheterodyne radio receivers, in which an incoming signal is shifted to an IF for amplification before final detection is done.
Conversion to an intermediate frequency is useful for several reasons. When several stages of filters are used, they can all be set to a fixed frequency, which makes them easier to build and to tune. Lower frequency transistors generally have higher gains so fewer stages are required. It's easier to make sharply selective filters at lower fixed frequencies.
That password on your phone is mostly cosmetic, my friends.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Twitter-pocalypse: death threats!

It would seem many special snowflakes are upset.

But that message of inclusion was apparently lost in social media circles, particularly Twitter, where a simple search can reveal dozens and dozens of calls to gun down the next leader of the free world. Some posts called for both Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to be assassinated, and there's even an #AssassinateTrump hashtag.

Never forget my friends, Lefties are sore losers.

As for those eeeeevile Republicans who are going to do all manner of horrid things... I don't recall there being a #assassinate tag for Barry back in 2008 and 2012.

So really, liberals, we can see you. I hope the US Secret Service is kept very busy hunting down and charging all these assholes over the next couple of years.

The Phantom

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why did nobody say they were voting for Trump, anyway?

This might have something to do with it.

The CEO of Grubhub, an online food delivery service, sent a company wide email Wednesday suggesting employees who agree with President-elect Donald Trump's behaviors and his campaign rhetoric should resign.

"If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here," wrote Matt Maloney, Co-Founder of Grubhub. "We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team."

Mr. Maloney was moron enough to expose his company to lawsuits by stating his policy in writing.  A hell of a lot more tech companies are probably doing exactly the same thing, just more quietly.

So if you were the guy with the "Make America Great Again" hat on your desk at work, you should probably be getting your resume together. But Mr. Trump Supporter would have been told that months before. It would come as no surprise.

That's why Hillary lost. Because in a free country, people do not take kindly to being told who to vote for by their boss.

Incidentally, this would be a great reason to NEVER do business with Grubhub. Clearly they don't want my filthy Trump-stained money, and I'm happy to oblige them.

The Unemployable Phantom

SciFi SJWs: "Hit back twice as hard!"

Response to the win by Trump yesterday in the US election, by greater than the margin of fraud, has been decidedly mixed.

Conservatives such as myself are delighted that Hillary Clinton lost. Less enthusiastic that Trump won, but on the whole reasonably content. Making fun of people on the Internet is as malicious as we get.

Liberals are checking to see how hard it is to move to Canada (very hard, don't bother, we don't want you anyway), they are having emergency counseling sessions with their shrinks, and in several cities they are breaking windows, burning shit, and beating white people up.

So, the usual. Damn conservative fascists!

In the tiny world of science fiction, the head of TOR publishing appears to have learned nothing from the four year old Sad Puppies Campaign, learned nothing from two complete meltdowns of the Hugo Awards, and nothing from the massive repudiation of his party, the DemocRats.

Last night, I found myself very grateful that I work in science fiction.

Science fiction came into being in response to a new thing in human history: the understanding that not only was the world changing, but also that the rate of change was speeding up. That in a normal lifetime, you could expect to experience multiple episodes of rapid, disorienting change. Science fiction at its best has always been about examining and inhabiting those experiences when the world passes through a one-way door.

In short: if you're a Conservative, or you're writing a story that doesn't tick the right SJW checkboxes, you should probably not bother submitting to TOR Books or its parent company Macmillan. If you're a reader with a Conservative turn of mind, probably you're not going to find anything you like very much with the TOR imprint on it.

In other words, TOR is doubling down. Again. Clearly the beatings will have to continue. All the more for Amazon, it seems.

Sad Puppies Five! Let slip the dogs of war!

The Ex-deplorable Phantom

H. Sapiens got it on with Neanderthals.

Some more DNA evidence that Great to the Nth Grandad and Grandma used to hang out with the Neanderthals and git it on. Woohoo!

The researchers conducted thorough searches for outsiders' DNA in four groups: Europeans, East Asians, South Asians and Melanesians. They estimate each group boasts 10 to 20 stretches of beneficial DNA from close human relatives. Many of those DNA stretches influence either the immune system or the coloration of body parts such as skin, the researchers found.

Previous experiments identified bits of DNA from other species that helped Homo sapiens get ahead — for example, a Denisovan gene that enhances modern Tibetans' ability to cope with high altitudes. But the new research provides welcome confirmation of the kinds of genetic benefits that humans reaped from their relatives, Janet Kelso of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who has collaborated with Akey on previous research, says.

So the next time some atrocious Leftist trots out that old turkey about us Humans killing off the poor helpless Neanderthals, let him/her/it know that they are SO Twentieth Century, and they need to get with the program.

Then smack them one for me, just because. ~:D

The No Longer Deplorable Phantom

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump wins, snowflakes riot.

I feel pretty good this morning. The rodeo clown won, which at least demonstrates the USA hasn't descended into complete barbarism yet. I'll take that as a good sign.

Better sign, the Republicans now have both the House and the Senate federally, and they picked up a bunch of governorships and state houses along the way. That's an even better sign.

Best of all, all the right people are having a really bad day today.

Burn on, you special snowflakes.

The Deplorable Phantom

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election day condolences, America.

Well here we are, November already and my American friends are stuck choosing between the evil overlord Robot Pantsuit and  the rodeo clown with a cat on his head. Proven criminal and insane socialist Hillary Clinton vs. limousine liberal with the stench of New York City corruption lingering on his coat, Donald Trump. Either way, you boys and girls are pretty screwed.

Two things to bear in mind.

First, apart from anything else, Hillary Clinton is so ill she couldn't drive down to the supermarket and bring home a sixpack by herself, much less drink any of it. You might want to consider that in your calculations.

Second, if this election proves anything, it is that government can't be relied upon to keep you safe, fed and happy.

If it was me, I'd take a deep breath and vote Republican across the board. They at least say they want smaller government, even though for the most part they lie.

Good luck, America! Vote early, vote often!

The Deplorable Phantom