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Member Since 10 Sep 2008
Offline Last Active Aug 14 2017 04:03 AM

#1194744 Hide your atmospheric noise - new SA laws to force suspects to surrender pass...

Posted by @~thehung on 09 August 2017 - 10:41 PM

i am going to retread the same ground, because its understandable if there is confusion about some of the points made which rest on some distinctions that are fairly obscure IMO.  

there are two very different types of 'encrypted files' being discussed here.


type 1: 'a thing'

this is analagous to an A4 piece of paper with printed gobbledygook on it. this sheet of paper quacks like a duck, announcing in black and white that it is almost certainly an "encrypted file":


Version: SecretData V1.2


type 2: 'um...'

not so straightforward!

consider that any two ordinary blank sheets of A4 paper are never the same under a microscope.  at that scale, none of them are uniformly white. instead, you will see an ocean of random patterns of tiny fibres with varying degrees of whiteness.  in truth, every sheet of A4 paper is as unique as a snowflake.

now, suppose its possible to tweak a paper making machine so it can manufacture perfect blank A4 sheets of paper but also mathematically encode secret data into the apparently 'random patterns of tiny fibres' within ordinary paper.

then, there would be no process of analysis, no fancy machine in an NSA facility, no nobel laureate chemist, no OfficeWorks employee even, on the entire planet that could distinguish one of your encrypted sheets of A4 paper from an ordinary one.

at this point, which blank sheets of paper might contain hidden information?  every single blank A4 page inside every office or home.  all of them.

whilst you could hand the NSA one of your special encrypted blank A4 sheets and easily make 99.99% sure it would be impossible for them to decrypt it within your lifetime, it would actually be 100% impossible for them to know you didnt just hand them an ordinary sheet of paper until they did so!


when it comes to encryption stored in digital form on computers, type 1 and type 2 are 100% real.  

examples of type 1: a zip file with a password, an email or word document containing a block of alphanumeric gobbledygook, a garbled end-to-end message.


examples of type 2: an audio recording of noise, the random '1' and '0's in the unused space on a hard drive

in the case of type 1, you *might* be tempted to argue that suspects should be compelled to produce passwords when a strong circumstantial case can be made that an ostensible 'encrypted file' exists.  

in the case of type 2, it is all but impossible to make a strong case that an ostensible 'encrypted file' exists at all.  moreover, it is 100% IMPOSSIBLE for any person to prove their hard drive contains no encrypted data.

TL;DR re: this hopefully beat up news story — the notion of drafting any law that would make it possible to convict people of a crime on mere suspicion of guilt, but even worse, in specific instances where proof of innocence is impossible to produce, is inconceivably daft.  

#1192775 Opinions are like arseholes,

Posted by @~thehung on 25 June 2017 - 01:27 PM

#1192594 What's on your mind?

Posted by @~thehung on 19 June 2017 - 08:48 AM

yes!  CUBs have pretty much ruined gold class forever.

#1191286 What's on your mind?

Posted by @~thehung on 30 April 2017 - 04:08 PM


Warning - fairly realistic looking scam trying to get St George 'netbanking details.  Email which says your online access is suspended and prompts to login to fix the problem to www.stgeorge.com.au.standsergioalemao.com/ibank/


Not an issue if you don't have a St George account.  Had one in a similar vein purporting to be State Bank (SA) sometime last year - not their customer either.



yeah, and even if i somehow thought an email like that was legit — i would never click on the link in the email.  i would be verifying the banks ownership of the domain name before manually entering it in an address bar. 

#1191267 What's on your mind?

Posted by @~thehung on 29 April 2017 - 05:29 AM

Going home on the train. Out of about 40 people I can see in my carriage only 2 are smiling. They are the only people talking to each other and not on their phone


cant help thinking that if the ratios were reversed, and there were 38 people sitting there smiling, the other two would be having a terse discussion about whether or not making a run for a window would be better than waiting till the next stop.

#1191212 <Boggle> Directly Imaging Exoplanets

Posted by @~thehung on 28 April 2017 - 04:49 AM

its more like this: 


by combining the imagery from an array of telescopes they have found a way to effectively blot out the direct light of the star, giving them an isolated read of the light reflected to us by the planet itself.  this data is just a point source of light with nary any resolution, but it varies in intensity dependent on the qualities of the reflective surface the planet is presenting to its sun at any given moment. 


this signal can be processed the same as any complex wave.  for example, sound. just like you can use additive synthesis to produce any kind of sound you want by mixing different frequencies together in the right proportions — you can also work backwards.  like when you a see a sine wave on an oscilloscope with a ripple along it and can deduce right away that you are looking at a combination of a very low and very high frequency. 


they are gathering a lot of data over time and then deconvolving the light signal to its fourier components, giving them the precise series of individual frequencies which would sum to produce that signal.  then, somehow they are correlating these frequencies with an accurate estimation of the geographical features that would produce all of those frequencies.  for example, if there was a very dominant signal component pulsing with a period matching the rotation speed of the planet, this might indicate that there is a huge reflective land mass covering most of one east-west hemisphere but not the other.  how exactly they go about this, i dont know — but its fucking brilliant.



i do wish they hadve gone into more detail about the method.

- is it really just one data point, or does the sensor produce a very small cluster of samples for that 'point source' -- coz anything more, even very fuzzy data would help A LOT

- to do what they are doing i am pretty sure they would need to know the length of the planet's day, the trajectory of its orbit, and then probably make best fit guesses about its axis along with geographical assumptions until they hit on a model that could increasingly track with and finally predict the observed data.  amazing.


#1191082 The Buffett Rule

Posted by @~thehung on 24 April 2017 - 05:49 PM

the prerequisite of any workable medium of exchange is that it should be sufficiently scarce and finite.


money is only useful if the relationship between its abstract value, and the instrinsic value it maps to, stays relatively constant and predictable.


/captain obvious

#1190622 [Another] London Terror Attack

Posted by @~thehung on 09 April 2017 - 12:40 AM

I think I know what you're trying to say

i am not entirely sure that you do.

maybe it would be helpful if you could articulate exactly why tasty emphasised "controversial issues" with both bold and underline, and then explain why you omitted something so obviously central to what he is trying to say from your little 'transposition'?  if you can do that, it just might lead you to a more meaningful conclusion.


#1190489 [Another] London Terror Attack

Posted by @~thehung on 04 April 2017 - 01:36 AM

SBS put together a useful explainer here.

i beg to differ on its usefulness.

it starts, by way of clarification, pointing out that "Sharia Law" is most correctly an overriding set of moral and religious principles, and then immediately sets about drawing a very murky picture of how this dogma actually determines, overlaps with, or integrates into, what we understand as a judicial system in the secular sense.

it seems that 'fiqh' often has a hand in what we would understand as common law, but on the basis of this article, how exactly it does this — who can tell?

all muslims live according to Sharia, yes, yes. extreme punishments for crimes are only a feature of countries that implement extreme interpretations of Sharia, yes, yes. and Australian muslims arent calling for a parallel legal system.

okay, but many want to "accommodate Islamic principles in the Australian legal system" because "its necessary for the legal system to think about how it responds to the people [culturally and linguistically diverse communities] within it". and what exactly would this mean in practice? .......... yeah, thanks for fuck all "SBS Explainer".

there is a semantic problem with the word "law" at the heart of this. we cant tell when we are talking about Sharia law in a religious or judicial sense.   with the general lack of distinction between church and state in muslim societies, it would seem that our confusion is a natural extension of theirs.

and so it goes with articles like the one on Brunei.  it is quite understandable, and hardly a categorical misnomer, for 'us' to occasionally use the term Sharia law to denote a legal system that implements islamic doctrines in way that is distinct from "law" as it is commonly understood in the western sense.  having to include a long qualification would be untenable.  it is also, in my opinion, reasonable and far more concise than it is ambiguous to use the phrase "full Sharia law" as a general descriptor for implementations based on extreme flavours of fiqh. 


#1190267 [Another] London Terror Attack

Posted by @~thehung on 26 March 2017 - 02:58 PM


yes those were just more of the points i generally agree with. 


but you havent addressed the fact that Daesh is a different beast to what has come before.  these are terrorists involved in a massive land grab who have maintained a standing army and whose mix of motivations is massively skewed towards the purely ideological.  Al Qaeda they aint.  you may think these factors shouldnt effect your thesis, but its strange not to at least acknowledge the magnitude of this geopolitical shift. 


I agree Daesh are different to what has come before, but I'm arguing that there are fundamental causes for their rise that were common to Al Qaeda, and that it was a natural progression of foreign military involvement in the Middle East.  I'm sure you're already across the ideas in first paragraph, but I think it's necessary to ensure appropriate context for the second:


Occupy sovereign territory with a technically superior force to address insurgents battling their fellow countrymen for power, and the initial effect it has is to encourage guerrilla warfare.  Guerrilla warfare leads to collateral damage, and the secondary effect is to stimulate public animosity towards the invaders, and a desire for retaliation.  If you continue with these pressures, the animosity grows, the discourse more emotional, and the system shifts more and more out of balance.  Animosity and a desire for retaliation starts to get woven into the insurgent narrative, resulting in increased recruitment/conversion.  Since regular warfare has essentially no hope of making an impact on the invaders, ideological frameworks are commandeered to justify terrorist attacks on foreign civilians (you kill our civilians, so we'll kill yours).  The system then starts to feed back on itself.  Terrorist attacks are carried out, which results in the invaders retaliating, which causes more collateral damage.  The pressure builds to a point where instead of Terrorism being an extremist mentality, large swathes of the population start to support foreign attacks on the invaders.  Selective pressures start to favour more extreme versions of the insurgent narrative, and instead of small isolated militia, large standing armies start to self-organise.


Daesh are not special snowflakes, or extreme villains that have materialised out of thin air.  They are humans who are reacting to very particular environmental pressures.  Their ideology has come to power specifically because of the shared experience of hundreds of thousands of people, who at any moment, are considering joining the cause.  All it takes is for the pressure of foreign invasion to continue, and a new incident that finally pushes an individual above their tolerable threshold.  At this point, the main options they have available are to remove themselves from the situation, join the corrupt governments forces, or join Daesh.


This brings us back to the original options.  We either bomb the shit out them until there are none left, which in turn serves to recruit more of them, leading to more terrorist attacks, more bombing etc. etc.  Or we withdraw, and contain the situation until Syrian and Iraqi society return to some sort of dysfunctional equilibrium (2-3 decades from now).


What other options do we have that resolve the underlying issues, as opposed to suppressing them, and therefore prolonging the conflict?



i just wonder if youre being a tad too reductive with the prism youre looking through.  at any moment theres no real limit to how far we can pull back our frame of reference and then conclude that violence begets violence and war is futile.  but if we accept the existence of circumstances that warrant military action, we need to narrow our focus to judge how when and why this may be the case.  

arguments against intervention centre around the extent of collateral damage and everything from inefficacy to counterproductivity being the bitter rewards of our sacrifices.  thats fair enough, but enemies differ qualitatively.  power structures differ qualitatively.  when these change, so do the ramifications of continued involvement.

a tyrannical regime is like a machine with essential parts; key players like idealogues, cultural leaders, commanders, tacticians, communicators, etc. with complimentary skillsets through which it is able to mobilise enough believers to threaten or enact violence in the course of enforcing its will.  there may be a small cadre of indispensable cronies, or more rarely, an individual on whose existence the integrity of the regime depends.  when it is a case of the 'the tail wagging the dog', it can be possible to topple a corrupt regime through the elimination of its key players.  

but of course its rarely that simple.  if the regime's power base is strong amongst the people theres always the chance that replacements can be readily sourced, or that it morphs to into something worse, or splinters off into warring factions — to devastating humanitarian cost.  that said, i do make the point that the key figures in possession of skillsets necessary to sustain a structure with broadly similar motives are a finite resource.  but in any case, if targeting the brains of the outfit is not enough, you can always go after the brawn.  kill the body and the head will die, so to speak.  the problem with the decentralised nature of Al Qaeda, as opposed to Daesh, is both their brains and their brawn are widely distributed and hard to find.  

Daesh' land grab has surely effected a distillation of the region in so far as it has sucked up a large proportion of the most militant radicals and their sympathisers from far and wide while spitting out a large proportion of everybody else.  if nothing else, this was always going to be a consequence of deciding to capture and hold territory as opposed to conducting guerrilla warfare.  deployments become visible and predictable.  the most poisonous militants lose the tactical benefit of 'hiding in plain sight' across nebulous territories and populations as they are increasing drawn inside clearly demarcated bounds.  this, in turn, makes them more conventionally targetable, and as opportunities for decisive action against them continue to increase, the cost and risk of collateral damage goes down.  

now, this is not to suggest there arent hundreds of thousands of people in occupied territory who want little to no part of it, including a large portion of the men holding guns who are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  and its not to suggest there arent plenty of people nominally on the same side as western forces in this conflict who are radical militants themselves or in all other respects supporters of terrorism against the west.  and its not to suggest that hitting them hard will not create yet more militant radicals.  

your main argument is that radicalisation arises from the ground up more so than from the top down.  that is, more from disaffected masses with gripes rooted in the real world than from the influence of wackjob clerics, and i agree.  every drone strike, every manipulation of domestic corruption from afar, every perceived creation of a bigger mess than before which does more to preserve global inequities than peace and all things good.  this is not a fight that can make the inherent problems of the war on terror go away.

but what i see here is a more conventional war against a qualitatively different kind of radical.  i see an opportunity to destroy a certain breed of jihadist at a faster rate than they can be created.  what may be at stake is the chance to defeat incarnations like Daesh for an extended time.  long enough, perhaps, for Al Qaeda style radicalism to dominate again — because that form of terror is in some ways self-limiting.  and maybe then, we can explore the ameliorating effects of easing our involvement.  

many key players will go to ground as they always do.  and the modern technological strategies Daesh has employed will not go away.  but there are no Afghan mountains to hide in for Daesh's power base — the critical mass of people who believe in it as an idea.  the idea being, that a global caliphate is achievable in the short termthat any and all means, no matter how cruel, no matter if perpetrated against muslims, justify this end.  i would argue that this is an idea that is not, and never has been, nearly as endemic as anti-western or pro-terrorism sentiment.  an idea whose perceived viability we have the chance to severely cripple.  and one we cant afford to let flourish.  are you sure you are not talking about pulling out at the very peak of justification for our involvement in the ME?

#1190151 So far so good...

Posted by @~thehung on 21 March 2017 - 10:23 PM

the quality of Joe Rogan's podcasts vary, but sometimes theyre great.  this is loooong but the discussion here with biochemist Dr Rhonda Patrick covers a lot of insteresting stuff re general fitness and nutrition. 


oh and look here, redditor jayramsay somehow had time to do this:


#1190127 What car do you drive?

Posted by @~thehung on 21 March 2017 - 12:38 PM

the idea is brilliant, but looking at this video i am amazed it works acceptably for high torque applications.


the sheeves pinch the belt!  thats it?  0_o  with the force transferred non-uniformly across the bottom edge towards the top edge of the belt — a factor which also appears to vary across the range of angles* at all sheeve positions.  i dont know anything about the stiffness and resilience of the belt material, but that type of contact just seems so obviously imperfect.  not only does it have to respond to diameter changes with minimal non-linear losses, its behaviour has to be precisely constant with the diameter changes at both axles or else forces would be lost through the belt itself.  why arent friction and slippage ever-present problems?



* i say range of angles, even though it appears the sheeves may have constant angles. i am allowing for some kind of tapering.  i guess i am thinking about the effects of there being more contact along the circumference of the belt at larger diameters, and that this would need adjusting for. 

#1189950 I do not, nor have I ever seen a penis ...

Posted by @~thehung on 15 March 2017 - 11:45 PM

Back on the penis topic, when we were in Pompeii a few years back we noticed that the stone roads would often have a penis carved into them.

Given that Pompeii was a major trading port there were merchants and seamen(cough) from all over the known world.

So rather than use the written word that only the locals would understand they used a pictorial representation.

In this case the penis was pointing to the local brothel. Once you arrived at the brothel there was a picture above the doorway of every room outlining what service could be purchased.


oh right, just like in the old song!


Follow the penis brick road.
Follow the penis brick road. 
Follow, follow, follow, follow,
follow the rainbow over the stream,
follow the fella who follows a dream,
follow, follow, follow, follow,
follow the penis brick road.

We're off to see the whores,
the Wonderful Whores of Pompeii!


in fact, such was the reputation of the whores of Pompeii that one day the god Jupiter went for a visit, the ironic result of which, was an unhappy ending for Pompeii :(

#1189927 South Australia to install new batteries!

Posted by @~thehung on 15 March 2017 - 04:23 PM

milliwatt hours?

#1189903 South Australia to install new batteries!

Posted by @~thehung on 15 March 2017 - 12:24 AM

apart from being the second electorate on the planet to allow female suffrage (after new zealand... eh !)

yeah no, actually we beat the Kiwis by almost three decades :)

little known fact, Australian women in Victoria voted in the 1864 general election. New Zealand women didnt vote until their 1893 general election.

of course, we disallowed it straight after for nearly another 4 decades...... but we still won :D!