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2016-10-28 13:19 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 174 references
[Comments enabled]  

No, the ka-boom today was not due to the Killary news -- although that news is both real and a big deal.

Someone obviously got to Comey.  Maybe he figured out that while Obama would almost-certainly pardon Hillary on his way out the door irrespective of who wins the election Comey was not going to get any such favor, and if Trump wins he was potentially exposed to not only impeachment but possible criminal indictment himself.

Tampering is a big deal; formally, it's called Obstruction of Justice and comes in a lot of forms.  It's also a well-worn way to wind up in the Graybar Motel for a very long time, and it's also usually rather easy to prove when it happens.

One of the major issues that anyone who whitewashed or otherwise interfered with the investigation would have comes from the fact that a pardon would remove the ability of the person so-pardoned to take the 5th Amendment, because it is an unconditional grant of immunity.

If you get pardoned then everything related to your work product, everything you did, everything that can be subpoenaed and your personal testimony related to same are all fair game to use against anyone and everyone else.

Perhaps -- just perhaps -- Comey got wind of what's coming, and that he's not in the "protected class."


Supposedly the FBI found a "device" in an "unrelated" probe.  In other words, it appears that in point of fact classified data may well have been distributed even further than we first thought!


Best guess on this news is that the FBI found classified material that came from or was sent to Hillary on someone's machine that had no clearance at all, or was cleared but not appropriately for what was found.  If that's the case, and it proves that Hillary distributed classified information to someone who was not cleared then she's dust.  And given the proximity to the election I have to surmise that whatever they found it has to be pretty-much this sort of "breaking bad" or they'd never release it now.

PS: What set off the move southbound in the market?  That's far more likely related to a report that a Brexit challenged was ruled against, which hit the wire at the same time, roughly, that the Killary news did......  Why do I say this?  Have a look at the currencies.....

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2016-10-28 11:18 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 134 references
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Oh, there's no fraud eh?

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in Florida said that one woman, 74-year-old Gladys Coego, had been working as an absentee ballot opener when a supervisor allegedly saw her marking ballots that had been left blank to show votes for a Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate. Prosecutors said that Coego admitted to marking the ballots, and was charged with two felony counts of marking or designating the ballot of another.

Well, you know, that was just an "aberration."

Uh huh.

How about this one?

Separately, 33-year-old Tomika Curgil was charged with five felony counts of submitting false voter registration information for allegedly handing in forms filled out by fictitious voters while working on a voter-registration drive for a medical marijuana advocacy group.

There are those who say that the risk of such a "person" voting is "low."  No, it's not.... as we've seen in many elections where more ballots are cast than there are registered voters in the precinct!

How does that happen, may I ask, without fraud having occurred?

Look, the fact is that it is very hard (even with intentional fraud) to move an election by a large amount.  However, in a close race where you only need to move a vote by a percentage point or two it's not difficult at all.

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2016-10-28 00:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 249 references
[Comments enabled]  

If you're short on time and don't want to read through this, I'll make it simple: If you want a flagship-class Android device at a rational price, where you actually get what you pay for, and you're on a compatible network (AT&T, T-Mobile or any of their MVNOs) then go buy this phone now.

What are you getting with a DTEK60?

  • Flagship-class specs.  820 CPU, 4GB RAM, 21MP main/8MP front camera, fingerprint sensor, high-ppi (QuadHD) AMOLED display.  Can you get "slightly" faster?  Yes, if you're willing to buy a Pixel at double the price.  I'm not.

  • Very rapid security updates. BlackBerry has even beaten Google in some recent months on security releases; expect to get a monthly OS update.  There are only two marques in the Android world that hit these metrics -- Google and BlackBerry.  Security should damn well matter if you do any sort of financial activity (like shopping!) or other personal things on your device -- and you know damn well you do.  If you're buying any carrier-locked device or any of the other makes out there in the Android space you are not getting anything close to a reasonable level of security and tracking of updates.

  • Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 -- 7.0 is coming (likely around the new year.)

  • DTEK.  BlackBerry exclusive, and extremely useful.  DTEK tells you what is accessing your information and when.  It also provides a convenient mechanism to shut off permissions from apps that are doing things you disagree with.  You will be stunned at what you learn about app behavior with this tool if you take the time to turn on the reporting and actually pay attention to what it tells you.  You can't get this anywhere else, from any other maker -- you either buy a Priv, a DTEK50 or this device today in order to get this functionality and standing alone it's a great reason to buy one of these phones.

  • My God, it's thin -- and sexy.  This isn't a big deal for me, but for a lot of people style matters.  Well, you got it in this device.  The glass back is flat-out beautiful (more on that in a bit though) and the understated bezel design screams "quality."

Of course since this is an Android handset all of the Android apps "just work."

Do note that this device is an "offshoot" of the TCL950; BlackBerry took their reference design and had them slightly tweak it.  This is a function of their new hardware scheme; they no longer design and contract out in-house, but rather select reference designs from manufacturers and then ask for a few modifications.  In this case what you lose is the tri-color LED; it's red-only.  But what you gain is a nicer back (the TCL's is not glass) and a better screen (the TCL's is not QuadHD, nor AMOLED.)  Therefore no, it's not the same phone as the TCL -- it just looks (sort) of like it, and the screen is the most-notable and important externally-visible change.

It arrived in 2 days via FedEx after I ordered it (at the above link.)  As promised BlackBerry included a case and a second (faster) charger.  The charger was a not-really important thing, but the case I appreciate -- and it's something that nearly every other device maker (since an old HTC phone I bought years ago) does not come with.  In short it's an extra $20 that everyone forces you to spend, except these guys.

The naked phone folks won't care, but I don't do that unless I have to.  Why?  Because the additional impact protection from a small, light case is worth it, and properly designed it doesn't do violence to the device's pocketability.  For a device with a glass back this is arguably even more important; I saw a lot of broken iPhone4 backs over a couple of years until they faded from the scene, and the same risk exists here.

Let's talk for a minute about the "out of box" experience: This device feels incredible in-hand.  It's thin (and really nice), the back is glass and gorgeous, and it just screams quality out of the box.  On first boot it immediately went out and grabbed a small (~130Mb) update off the network, installed it and restarted, which was interesting.  Out-of-box it also had 50% power in the battery, so it was usable immediately -- the update took about 5 minutes, but if you're wondering "will you get timely updates", well, how's that for "timely"?

Transfer of my apps from the Priv took a while; it asks if you want to transfer, and I said yes.  Prepare to wait, and plug the phone in; it takes a while, but that's expected.

By the way I insist on expandable memory -- in fact, I refuse to buy a phone that doesn't have an SD card slot irrespective of other factors.  Some folks will tell you that having an SD card doesn't matter.  I disagree -- violently -- with that assertion.  I have a 200Gb SD card in the hole (and have had in my Priv for a while, with a 64Gb before that) and the difference, if you buy a larger device memory space instead, is enormous -- not to mention a sunk cost you cannot recover or use anywhere else.  You can buy a Pixel, for example, with more storage, but the additional price is ridiculous compared against under $100 for a 200Gb card that will work in anything from here onward.

Then again I'm one of "those guys" who walks around with darn near my entire music collection in my pocket, so I can listen to it literally anywhere.  I refuse to stick my photos "in the cloud" where Google or anyone else can steal them.  You might not be one of "those guys", but it's nice to be able to choose and without expandable storage you can't.

The charging port is USB Type C and offset from the center to the right.  Type C has some advantages (most-notably it should be both more durable and the plug is reversible, so there's no "fiddly" thing with it.)  The off-center socket is where it is to make space for the microphone/speaker setup (which incidentally is stereo for the speakers, very nice!) but may cause problems with plugging in for those with car phone-holders.  It doesn't with mine, but you'll need to check it -- and USB Type C does mean buying travel cables (and probably one for your car charger too.)

BTW, get an Aukey QC3.0 car plug.  I have one, and in a ~25 minute drive to my favorite pub it took the phone from 55% to nearly 90% (!)  Yes, it charges fast.  Very fast.  Oh, and the screen was on.

Is there anything "missing" from the "total package"?  Yes -- there is no wireless charging.  I've got it on my Priv and I like it; it's extremely convenient once you get set up to exploit it (e.g. a wireless nightstand holder, etc.)  With that said it's slow as molasses compared against QC-anything, much less 3.0 which the DTEK60 has.  How fast is QC3.0?  About an hour for a full charge from nearly-drained.  Got 15 minutes?  That's good for about 30%.  The argument for wireless is it's simplicity.  The argument for QC3.0 is that you don't need simplicity when you have both all-day battery life to start with under normal circumstances and in an "extreme" situation you can recharge in under an hour and get a second full "normal" day.  So far I'm buying it, but we'll see what I think in a month or so.  QC2.0 was nice but QC3.0 is very nice; I've got an Aukey QC3.0 plug in my car and it absolutely works "as advertised."  I'd like to have my wireless charging back, but it's not a deal-breaker given QC3.0.

I've not seen any sort of performance issue with the device since unboxing it -- no lag, no stutter, no nothing.  This phone is fast, as you expect a flagship to be.  In my limited (thus far) time with the camera photos are excellent.  The rear camera lacks OIS, but it has PDAF (and it does lock focus extremely quickly, as one would expect with PDAF.)  One caution -- BlackBerry has changed the priority on the shutter to shoot-first, rather than focus-lock first as was the case for the Priv by default.  This makes the shutter button blistering fast to respond (literally before you get your finger off it) but it means if the camera has no focus lock when you shoot it will fire anyway.  In difficult conditions this can lead to out-of-focus shots, but that's controllable -- tap the screen first to select where to focus and let it lock before you fire. There is, however, a switch in the camera preference if you want the other behavior, just like in my $4,000 dSLR!  Note that the manual controls of the Priv are present; these are extremely useful, especially when you're in difficult lighting conditions.  For those who are OIS purists I will simply observe that it does exactly zero to help if the subject is moving; all it does for you is help control the shake of your hand.  Does it help?  Yes, most-notably during video recording and low-light shooting of stationary objects.  Is it a deal-breaker?  No.  Why not?  Because some of the benefits can be had electronically (which is in the DTEK60) but the specific use-case where it helps most -- stationary object still photography under low light -- don't happen all that often.  Incidentally the Pixel doesn't have OIS either, but Google's claim that it's most-useful for stills is (and I'm speaking as a guy who owns a lot of high-end photography gear -- think Canon 5d3 class) dead wrong; it's best and highest use case is in fact for video, not stills.  The rear camera compares well against my Priv (which takes stunning photos) and the front camera blows the Priv away (which is not surprising as the Priv's front camera was known to be compromised in order to fit in the slider keyboard space available.)

In short my first impressions with the cameras are that they're both excellent.  The Priv had a fabulous back (main) camera but the "selfie cam" sucked.  This one does not suck.

RF performance is fantastic.  It beats the Priv.  Not by a lot, but by enough.  I'm in a "funny" area and on the Priv I fall back to HSPA+.  The DTEK60 holds a solid LTE lock and in area where the Priv (and my old trusty Z10!) falls back to EDGE over by the airport the DTEK does not and holds an LTE lock.  A weak one, but it's there and it doesn't lose the signal.  'Nuff said.

The fingerprint scanner is blistering fast and "just works."  Is it secure.  No.  None of those are; if I want into your phone, you've handled it and it has a fingerprint scanner Bob's Your Uncle.  Choose Picture Password if you want reasonable security, a long alphanumeric password if you want really GOOD security or the fingerprint scanner if "good enough" is, well, enough.  You pick your threat model, you pick what you're willing to put up with to resist it.  Convenience wise the fingerprint scanner wins big.  You decide if it's worth the trade-offs.  What I would like, but today cannot currently have under Android, is to be able to choose to allow the fingerprint scanner to be used for in-app things but not for the screen lock.  In other words be able to set the phone to use Picture Password to unlock the screen, require the actual alpha password to boot it originally, but let me use the fingerprint once the screen is unlocked for app authentication and similar.  This is something BlackBerry should consider doing; it would be a big bonus to security and usability.

Performance wise the DTEK60 smokes the Priv.  That's not surprising either, considering that the Priv is a full year back on hardware spec in terms of CPU, and has 3Gb of RAM instead of 4.  That extra RAM matters, especially when things get "busy"; in fact it matters more than the CPU does.  I'm impressed.

Battery consumption is outstanding.  I've only had the phone out in the "real world" now for a single evening, but I have utterly no doubt it will get through more than a full day without a probelm; it's materially better than the Priv and on a par with my former Passport.  Yes, it's that good.

Finally, let's talk price.  $499 US, including a very serviceable case, is very aggressive for a flagship-quality device.

On a price-performance basis this phone blows away the Pixel, the Samsung S7 (say much less the S7Edge) or the iPhone and while about $100 more expensive than the Chineesium knockoffs (e.g. the OnePlus3) it has a real warranty, rapid updates with a manufacturer committed to getting security fixes out immediately and an SD slot.  In fact it's cheaper than the "branded" Samsung S6 (e.g. from T-Mobile) and comparable to the online sellers who have no-US-warranty versions.

BlackBerry has often been said to be unrealistic about their pricing strategy, and there's some merit to that argument.  The Priv was expensive, and while unique (the only physical keyboard device in the market among Android at all) the price was an instant turn-off for many.

You can't make that argument here -- at all.

Is there any group of people who I believe would not find this device to be a good fit, but who want a flagship-class phone?  Yes -- the DTEK60 is not water resistant, so if you're inclined to drop your phone in the toilet then you want to look elsewhere.  Among the devices I've had and used, including in my outdoor activities which including backpacking, hiking, running (with my music) and boating I've not yet "drowned" a phone in 10 years time.  Your experience may differ from mine, and while I'd like water resistance of some caliber it's not a decision-changing bullet point for me.

Want a physical keyboard device?  Save $75 and get a factory unlocked Priv for $425.  I still like mine, and with the price cut it's very competitive.

Don't need flagship-class specs and can live with the smaller internal storage (remember you do have an SD slot here as well)?  Consider the DTEK50.  At $299 you're giving up the fingerprint scanner, the better camera, half the internal storage (16Gb .vs. 32Gb), 1Gb of RAM, picture password (for now) and the flagship CPU (and yes, that's a lot to give up!) but it's $200 cheaper.  In the midrange IMHO its not a bad option although that area of the market has a lot of competition priced around $250 and for me it was never a serious consideration since I find the compromises in that segment of the market to be too great of a trade-off to make.  Your mileage may vary.

The DTEK60, in short, is a unique offering from BlackBerry in that for the first time ever the company has come out with a flagship-spec device with nothing material missing from the package (e.g. fingerprint scanner, excellent display, top-drawer performance, etc) while managing to price it below the competing products in the marketplace by a considerable margin -- by anywhere from 20-50%!

Buy this phone provided you're on AT&T or (possibly) T-Mobile.  On a value proposition in the Android marketplace you can't beat it.

Note: I have not yet verified Band 12 VoLTE compatibility with T-Mobile.  This may or may not matter to you, but if it does then you need to check it.  I will update this article once I've been able to do so.

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2016-10-27 15:44 by Karl Denninger
in Company Specific , 258 references
[Comments enabled]  

Quick read from their 10Q, which just hit Edgar: 

AWS growth is slowing a lot, which portends very serious trouble for the company's stock price.

See, the premise was that Amazon was on the front end of a major growth wave that would continue for a long time.  Now we have evidence that instead they're starting to saturate the market (between them and competitors) which means that the market is about to shift.

How will it shift?

Simple -- as all markets for something new shift when they become more and more like a commodity.

First comes slower growth.

Then comes cross-cannibalization, as one firm starts trying to steal customers by undercutting them on price or providing more service for the same money.

This is inevitable in any market that can become like a commodity.

CPU cycles and stored bytes are commodities.

A company with exclusive products and services that nobody else can provide often commands a huge premium because if you want the product or service you have to come to them.  This gives them pricing power, and thus earnings power.

A company selling commodities always is subject to shrinking margins due to competitive pressures.

Amazon, even with its fall in the aftermarket, is selling at several hundred times earnings.  As a commodity producer with no dividend yield it is worth perhaps somewhere in the teens.

That, in turn, means that either its business has to expand by a factor of about 40x (which is not going to happen) or the price could collapse to a 20th to a 30th of what it is now -- that is, to $25/share or thereabouts.

Some combination of the two is also, of course, quite possible -- but even a doubling of the firm's size and no further deterioration of growth rate leaves you with a $50 stock.

That today sells for $785, at last check.

Don't be the guy screaming "Ow, my balls!"

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2016-10-27 11:50 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 408 references
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To use just one word, "ugh."

CHICAGO – Genes taken from archived blood samples show the U.S. AIDS epidemic started in New York in the early 1970s, definitively debunking the long-held belief that the virus was spread in the early 1980s by a flight attendant who became vilified as "Patient Zero" for seeding the U.S. outbreak.

That's good, right?

No, it's very bad.  Here's why:

Once they had the genetic code, the team evaluated the mutations made by the virus as it copied itself. This allowed the team to build an HIV family tree. Worobey believes a chimp first infected a human in Africa in the early 20th century. The virus that caused the U.S. epidemic emerged from Africa in the mid to late-1960s, and caused an outbreak in Haiti and other Caribbean countries.

In 1970 or 1971, this strain hopped from Haiti to New York, making the city a hub of transmission, Worobey said. The virus spread to a large number of people "many years before AIDS was noticed," he said.

How did the strain hop from Haiti to New York?

Cut the PC crap folks and use your head before you spout off some nonsense answer: How did a virus that is spread through blood-borne means, which primarily (but not exclusively) means IV drug abuse with shared needles and anal sex manage to jump from Haiti, which is a foreign country, to New York?

It did so one of two ways:

1. New Yorkers went to Haiti and either shared drugs or anal sex with infected persons in Haiti or

2. We imported a bunch of Haitians who were carrying a deadly disease right into the middle of New York, and some of them were either IV drug abusers, gay men or (far worse) both.

I'll let you guess which is the nearly-certain reality between those two given the demographics, education and social status of the average Haitian immigrant.

When did Haitian immigration -- that is, lots of Haitian immigrants who were allowed to stay in the United States with near or utterly zero qualification and vetting as they were mostly "boat people" who literally lashed together anything that would float and tried to come here exactly as did the Cubans -- explode in volume?

In the 1970s.

Unbridled, open-borders "immigration" policies always have led to this sort of disaster in one form or another.  Disease respects nothing but physical barriers; all the feel-good garbage will do exactly nothing to prevent you from contracting a communicable disease if you are exposed to the disease via its means of transmission.

We have had "outbreaks" of various communicable diseases we thought were eradicated in places like California -- and while you won't see it reported in the media the outbreaks largely track where illegal Mexicans (who are almost all unvaccinated) are most-concentrated.  Gee, fancy that, right?

But measles, while nasty, usually doesn't kill or wind up costing you $20,000 a year for the rest of your life to "control."

HIV does.

That the world is, generally, a ****hole is a fact.  The reason America used to take in people through Ellis Island was so they could be effectively quarantined and checked out before being admitted to the United States.

That we apparently have debunked the sex-crazed airline cabin attendant is, arguably, a good thing.

That in doing so we have pointed to politicians and their unbridled immigration nonsense which has now been fingered as the cause of death and infection with African Americans and gays being grossly over-represented compared against their share of the population is the story that, as you can see, is not being reported nor will it be by the mainstream media -- ever.

If you don't have enough reason to oppose "open border" immigration policies and a refusal to depart and prosecute those who do not come into this country without having been first being screened and waiting in line due to the impact that "open borders" has on your job and earnings perhaps being killed as a direct and proximate result of said illegal immigration, whether by a gang thug from Mexico or a Haitian immigrant who brought AIDS to America might be enough for you to wake the hell up.

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