* Posts by An_Old_Dog

161 posts • joined 26 Mar 2010


Version 251 of systemd coming soon to a Linux distro near you

An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

Hacking off the Chromebook Locks

I bought my Chromebook because:

(a) It was the only Chromebook I'd seen with a real-all-the-keys PC-style keyboard;

(b) I knew there was a procedure and freely-available code available I could use to install SeaBIOS, and hence install my preferred OS; and,

(c) It was only $199.00 (store demonstrator on-sale).

I don't recommend this for Ma-and-Pa, but for techies, I do.

An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

ChromeOS Alternative: Install SeaBIOS + OpenBSD

I bought an Acer C-710 on sale at Fry's in 2013, and it still works, though the mouse buttons are begnning to go flakey and battery runtime is decreasing.

The first thing I did was back up ChromeOS, then installed SeaBIOS so it acted like "a regular computer", then installed OpenBSD. The only downside was OpenBSD (still) not dealing with the builtin wireless, which I fixed with a USB-attached wireless unit.

If OpenBSD is not your thing, there are other Unix and Linux distros you can run. Elsewhere, I run Devuan to avoid the plague of Systemd.

US fears China may have ten exascale systems by 2025

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uses of supercomputers

Anything "could" lead to anything, but that doesn't mean it will.

Instead of future warfare modes, I'd prefer to imagine a warm, sandy beach, myself on a lounge chair with a supply of tasty eatables and drinkables nearby, surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women researching new ways of doing nice things to me.

If a supercomputer can make that a reality, then I'm all for supercomputers.

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I think it was a joke

Lars, I think you are taking StargateSg7 too seriously. He/she/they didn't use the "Joke Alert" icon, but I think that post was joking, nonetheless.

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Re: other things it could do

None of the things you've listed require use of super-duper computers to achieve. Plain old human thinking is what's required.

US Army journal's top paper from 2021 says Taiwan should destroy TSMC if China invades

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What could possibly go wrong?

1. "You mean that big red button wasn't the emergency power-off?!"

2. Bloke A: "You gonna check the blueprints before you start drilling in that wall?". Bloke B (revs drill): "Nahh, t'ain't necessary. "

FreeBSD 13.1 is out for everything from PowerPC to x86-64

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Re: FreeBSD is the best all round UNIX today

The BSDers write usually-great man pages. Always look there first for info on *BSD.

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BSD acronym & "standard"

IIRC, Berkeley got money from the US Department of Defense to produce a standard version of Unix for military use. So, "standard" within the DoD, even if "standard" wasn't what the S in "BSD" stood for.

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Rough Edges

I love OpenBSD, but neither it nor FreeBSD is completely smooth. OpenBSD/i386 v7.0 does not boot on my Eee PC 900 (Celeron M), though v6.9 and 7.1 do. Installing OpenBSD requires you to manually create disc device entries.

FreeBSD's installer can become confused if you don't do things "just so", and you can get into a place where it won't let you fix things. Further, as good, and as well-illustrated as the FreeBSD installation process is, the semantics of using the partitioner are not documented, nor easily discoverable by me, though that might now be fixed.

My Eee PC 1000H netbook dual-boots OpenBSD and FreeBSD.

Cars in driver-assist mode hit a third of cyclists, all oncoming cars in tests

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Re: Tricky technology

"...the motor vehicle gets reported ..."

That doesn't happen where I live. The local cops' bar on "things we care about" is set pretty high. I watched a car drive the wrong way on a major, one-way street. The cops parked at the curb watched it, too, and all they did was blip their siren at them.

An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

Three rounds through the windscreen

Hmm ... that wouldn't be as effective as you hope:

(1) it takes the pedestrian too long -- relative to the speed of the vehicle -- to process the info, conclude, "yes, I should shoot", draw, aim, and fire, and,

(2) inertia -- the driver may be disabled or dead, but that vehicle, like a Cape Buffalo, just keeps going, and hits the pedestrian anyway.

Start your engines: Windows 11 ready for broad deployment

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Re: The bottom line is anyone who values their freedom has to switch

Hmm, let's see ...

* Many different versions of PC-/MS-DOS (abandonware)

* PC-MOS (DOS-like, multitasking, abandonware)

* CPM/86 (abandonware?)

* MPM/86 (abandonware?)

* OS/3 (now developed/supported by eCOS)

* GeoWorks (abandonware)

* MWC Coherent (v7 Unix-like, abandonware)

* SCO Xenix and Unix (abandonware, can't install without a license key. Did you keep that pink card?)

* BSD-derived Unixes

* Solaris-derived Unixes (withering-on-the-vine?)

* Plan 9 (abandonware)

* 9Front (Plan 9-derived)

* Haiku (BeOS-like)

* UCSD p-System (abandonware)

* ETH Zurich's Oberon (aka Bluebottle, aka AOS, aka Object-something, aka ...)

* Some dude's toy OS written in 100% assembly language

* BASIC-in-ROM, if your PC's old enough, and,

* Forth-in-ROM, if your PC is a C-64 or Atari 400/800 with appropriate cartridge, or is a sufficiently-new Apple ("Open Firmware")

I may have missed one or two.

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Re: Unusual suspicous activity...

Yes, I had that card played on me years ago by yandex.ru, at which point I abandoned that burner email account.

An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

unintentional DoS?

If you install W11, with a Microsoft account as recommended, and you are out of wireless range, don't have an Ethernet connection available, or Microsoft's servers vomit or have a DNS problem (both have happened before), are you locked out of using your W11 machine?

If you're locked-out in those situations, then using W11 is an unreasonable denial-of-service risk both for individuals and corporate users.

Export bans prompt Russia to use Chinese x86 CPU replacement

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Re: Russian? CPUs?

[re: approach:] "... translates x86 instructions to Elbrus VLIW instructions dynamically.". Sounds like the same sort of approach used by the long-dead company Transmeta.

[re: speed:] I have a Transmeta Crusoe CPU in one of my old laptops. It's still fast enough for DOS, for resource-efficient, minimalist Linuxes, and for Unixes. But trying to run (modern-ish) Firefox on it was an exercise in pain management -- it was s-l-o-w.

I recently was compiling on two similar netbooks. Each had an Intel Atom n270, uni-core, hyperthreading CPU @ 1.6GHz in it. Using "make -j 2 ...", System A, with OpenBSD installed on a class 10 flash card, compiled the kernel in ~26 minutes, and X11 in ~2.1 hours. System B, with OpenBSD installed on an internal SSD, compiled the kernel in ~51 minutes, and X11 in ~5.3 hours. This was startlingly counterintuitive to me, so I carefully checked things over. I found that System B had only one GB of RAM, while System A had two GB of RAM.

An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

Using slower CPUs

If they drank the "Microsoft Kool-Aid", they are now in a world of pain.

Relevant military strategic issue: do you effectively own your own data?

Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?

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Black Helicopters

"There are no [post-quantum-encryption] back doors"

That was 100% true - at the instant he said it. Later on, however ...

And even if the spec is backdoor free, the implementations might not~will not be backdoor-free.

Seriously, you do not want to make that cable your earth

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Re: Sparkies...

In the 1990s I was helping set up a Unix system which was to connect to (among others) a group of three intelligent terminals in an office 900+ miles away from the host. The connection was via a set of statistical multiplexors over a dedicated line leased from the national telco. As it was a dedicated, point-to-point line, there were no telephone numbers associated with it.

The sparkies at the remote office called me at the main office and said things were ready to go. I hooked my stuff up and enabled logins on those three RS-232C ports, called the secretaries at the remote office and had them (try to) log in, but they got nothing on-screen. I had them tap the Enter key a couple of times, and got nothing on the host end. Yup, their terminals' status lines showed connectivity with their stat mux, and my serial line monitor showed connectivity between the host and the stat mux in the main office. Gettys were running on the correct three ports, and my serial port monitors showed correct RS-232C signal statuses.

On each end, between the stat mux and the actual line connection was a CSU/DSU box, which was not in my area of knowledge. I looked at ours, and noted a green LED lit, and a red LED lit. I called the guy who knew about the CSU/DSU, and he said something was wrong with the line.

I had the remote secretaries hand their phone to the head sparky on-site, told him what I knew, and he replied, "The line's good, I checked it and it's got tone."

Me: "It's a dedicated line. It's not supposed to have tone."

Head Sparky: "Oh."

Three days later they got it fixed.

Microsoft Bing censors politically sensitive Chinese terms

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Bing Bada Boom!

Yeah, gettin' my coat ...

US won’t prosecute ‘good faith’ security researchers under CFAA

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Re: "That's breaking and entering"

I'd expect there to be a significantly-less proportion of peoples' houses being illegally-entered in those states. If there is not a significantly-less proportion of illegal home entries in those states, then it would appear the perpetrators are not thinking carefully, if at all.

People not thinking carefully is a continuing societal problem.

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"That's breaking and entering"

Um, no ... it's not; it's simply "illegal entry". The door was unlocked, so you didn't break (in). But the plods will collar you for the illegal entry.

Google keeps legacy G Suite alive and free for personal use

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Google / Office365 Alternatives

Everybody's got their own preferences, but I just do not host my docs on some-one/some-company else's computers.

If I want to remotely work on a doc on my home PC, I RDP into my home PC over SSH. If I want to work on a doc simultaneously with someone else, then that doc will a text doc (not a binary and/or proprietary-format doc), and that's what SCCS/RCS/CVS/Subversion, et. al. are for. (Git is not so good for individual files, as it's oriented to file-set changes.)

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Google Services

come and go by random fiat. Is the convenience truly so great that it's worth the pain of an emergency data-migration-scramble when those services are killed off, or when the terms and conditions are changed?

Pentagon opens up about its database of 400 smudges that may or may not be UFOs

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Re: Occam's chainsaw

I'm not arguing against the bulk of your post, but as to "there aren't any two similar UFO descriptions", (1) human eyewitness reports are frequently inaccurate and inconsistent - ask any plod or lawyer ("He's wrong, Constable, the getaway car was blue."), and (2) consider how many different ship and aircraft shapes and sizes humans have made.

How CXL may change the datacenter as we know it

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Re: CXL == slower /tmp

CXL will provide exciting opportunities in marketing, buzzword-generation, consulting, and certification programs!

CXL-attached RAM could accelerate multi-user timesharing systems, which I haven't seen in use since the mid-1990s.

Seriously, though ... if running multiple VMs on a single CPU is the new timesharing, CXL-attached RAM could allow more VMs per-CPU, but you could do the same by adding more conventional RAM to the system. Whether or not the CXL gear would be cost/performance-effective for this, vs just buying more nodes with their own CPU and dedicated RAM, is something we won't know until we have CXL hardware price info and benchmark results.

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A super-duper-speed bus linking units in different racks sounds like an antenna waiting to be exploited to exfiltrate data from "secure, air-gapped" systems.

(Icon for data-escape.)

Arm CPU ran on electricity generated by algae for over six months

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Who needs massive amounts of electricity on a daily basis?

Metals-processors. There are many glass, aluminum, steel, and rare-metals (titanium, niobium, etc.) processing plants where I live, for one reason: the cheap hydro power we have here. It's why we also have so many gods-cursed, industrial-scale crypto-coin-mining installations.

(That said, we won't be getting any more hydro-electricity-generating dams here, because the resultant lakes would cover too many rich-and-"important" peoples' houses and factories.)

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Nuclear Fission

The unsolvable problem with nuclear fission is that greedy and/or insufficiently-caring and/or insufficiently-imagination-possessing people design, build, and run the plants, take cheap/careless shortcuts, and so eventually cause disasters.

That's a people-problem, not a technology-problem.

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Re: @Cyberdemon

"A doorbell could be powered by the push of a button". My doorbell is. It's at least 60 years old, and probably no-longer made. You push the button, and it goes 'ding'; you release the button and it goes 'dong'.

Many things are electrically-powered when they need not be so.

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Re: Size matters - mea culpa

I did not read TFA sufficiently-carefully. It's a good thing I didn't write any code that day!

Ad-tech firms grab email addresses from forms before they're even submitted

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The Client "Didn't Know"

Client (holding fingers in their ears): "La-la-la-la-la!"

Valerie: "Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck!"

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Dynamic Email Address Validation

I've seen sites which did email address validation on-the-spot, and their list of "invalid" email addresses included mailinator.com (and its aliases)-type sites, and some free email services (techemail.com, gmx.com, etc.).

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Re: Is this really a problem?

"How often does one fill out a form then decide not to click 'submit'?"

"Dark Pattern #514": when the form is structured as a series of pages which present unacceptable-to-you info-demands and/or T&Cs a few pages in. By that time, you've already filled-in some info, which they've already grabbed.

Also: how many websites have you been to where the weblinks at the bottom of the page to "Our Privacy Policy" and "Terms and Conditions" go nowhere useful, i.e., to the company's "Under Construction" page?

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Big Brother


"Inadvertant password grabbing" -- I'll chortle over that one for at least a week.

"Honest, guv'nor, we had no idea we was doin' that!"

Open-source leaders' reputations as jerks is undeserved

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Re: How People Use Software

@doubleslayer: re: "customer got the same information": yes, I was going purely off the description given, and there may be other unknown-to-us data included in the despatch report.

Re: "Or the product picking process was [defective]": you are right, it could have been.

Doctor Syntax seemed to be bothered that users weren't using the software as designed (to management's specs). These users probably used the software incompletely/incorrectly because management gave the users conflicting orders: (a) use this software (which slows you down), and, presumably, (b) "meet your pick quotas or suffer negative financial consequences" (wages docked, demotion, or firing). Human nature ensures goal "b" gets priority.

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How People Use Software

First, I'll note the customer got the same info, whether the computer was used as intended by the software designer, or whether the manual shortcut was taken.

Second, I'll ask: was it faster for product-pickers to write down the serial numbers by hand than it was to work the computer as intended? If the answer is "yes," then the program design is at fault.

Fully automated AI networks less than 5 years away, reckons Juniper CEO

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Hmm, and how do we puny-minded humans fix an AI-driven network when it breaks? What's the mean-time-to-repair on that? Or is AI (which was itself created by puny-minded, error-prone humans) somehow magically-infallible?

How ICE became a $2.8b domestic surveillance agency

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Where the Money is

This is why Google, et. al. are so big on profiling and personal-data-Hoovering: they want to drink from that firehose of cool, delicious, refreshing, federal money -- and it's not just ICE who's spending it.

Bosses using AI to hire candidates risk discriminating against disabled applicants

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AI/ML: overhyped, frequently mal-used

The problem with AI/ML is that you can't determine how it got its results, so you've no idea whether those results are accurate or fair.

For some problems, such as heuristic railcar routing used during the early years of computers, the bad results (occasional misrouted railcar) were acceptable compared to the good (ability to get timely solutions from slow hardware). AI/ML is these days applied to problems where the bad results (mal-discrimination) should be considered as outweighing the good.

For evil-minded assholes actively, wrongly-discriminating against various groups of people, AI/ML is manna from heaven. "No job/loan/insurance for you! 'Cause computer says so. Next!"

A subpoena of conventional, deterministic computer code and examination by experts can reveal intentional mal-discrimination in that code. You can't find mal-discrimination in AI/ML code: it's in the datasets. You can't "prove" mal-discrimination in an AI/ML dataset; you can only infer it, which is a lot of technical/legal wiggle-room for any mal-discriminating assholes who ever do end up in court.

MIPS discloses first RISC-V chips coming in Q4 2022

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blah, blah, blah ...

Show me a motherboard which uses these chips, which fits in my PC case, and which uses a standard PC power supply. Gaming == "high-end computing". :-)

Only Microsoft can give open-source the gift of NTFS. Only Microsoft needs to

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Failure of the Closed-Source Model

... is what happens when companies making a product you depend on go out of business, or "change stategic direction" and consequently quit making/supporting the product you use, and give you the following options:

(1) No upgrade path whatsoever (no security patches, either);

(2) Upgrade to a product which lacks features and/or the speed you need; and/or,

(3) Upgrade to a product which is not cost-effective for you.

I don't say open source will save the world, but I do say closed-source fans have to (if they're being intellectually-honest) acknowledge the disadvantages of closed-source.

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Re: Designed "universal" standards

@bombastic bob: universal standards (vs ordinary standards) strongly attract "monument-builders", who create exceedingly complex standards, with exceedingly-vast functionality. Exceedingly-vast funtionalities require exceedingly-complex hardware and software to implement them.

Excess complexity is where mistakes-slash-security holes breed.

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Playing nice with other recognized "open source" licenses

The reason the GPL doesn't "play nice" with other "recognized open source licenses" is that the GPL uses the structures and words needed to prevent people, or companies, from going Ferengi with your code ("What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine. What was yours, and is now mine, is no longer yours 'cause I did some legal tricksiness which your software license did not prevent, and you have no legal recourse. Ha-ha!").

This isn't a childrens' playground. It's the world of law, lawyers, and courts. The GPLs certainly aren't perfect, but they seem to best achieve effective protection against Ferengi-minded people and companies.

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Designed "universal" standards

Everyone who thinks standards designed to be "universal" are good ideas need to have their heads adjusted with a clue-by-four.

These standards are created by people who long to architect huge, great monuments to the awesomeness which they believe themselves to be. (USB, XML, PulseAudio, and Systemd are examples.) Adding large corporations -- each with their own ulterior motives -- into the mix makes things worse.

Good "universal" standards typically are simple things which work well, and which never were intended to be "universal". The Centronics parallel printer interface is one such.

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Using NTFS

I use NTFS on flash drives and portable hard discs because:

(a) I've found it to extremely-durable against PC lock-ups and dirty shutdowns, and

(b) It's cross-OS-portable, readable by Windows, Linux, Unix, and OS X. The computer-world I deal with contains all four of those OSes.

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

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STAPLES?! Fark, no!

In the early 1990s I was a consultant working on a Xenix system expansion. The client wanted to add some more terminals (comms via RS-232C cables). Their multi-serial-port box ("CompuTone" brand) had plenty of free ports, so no problem there. The host was a Compaq 80286-based PC in an ordinary office. They ordered the cable I'd specced, and their maintence department was installing it while I soldered the endpoint connectors. For one of the terminals, instead of running the cable through the building's ceiling/attic spaces, the maintenance people ran it through a wall to the outside, under the eaves of an open courtyard, and through another exterior wall to the inside of an office. They were using some sort of industrial staple gun -- which I presumed was loaded with appropriate cable-staples (it wasn't) -- to do this.

It was a fine spring day, and I had their office door to the courtyard open while I worked. I couldn't see them, but I could hear them. Ka-PUNCH! ... Ka-PUNCH! ... Ka-PUNCH! "Uh-oh." (silence). I laid down my soldering iron, got up, walked into the courtyard to where they were standing and looking at their latest work. I said, "Excuse me. I know what I mean when I say, 'uh-oh'. I want to know what you mean when you say, 'uh-oh'." They looked at the ground, shuffled their feet, and finally admitted that their last ka-PUNCH had ran a staple through the cable. The MD saw the three of us standing in the courtyard looking at the cable, and correctly sensed trouble. He asked, I explained, and laid out out his options and their risks and costs.

He choose option "D", use the cable as-was, no additional costs, no schedule delays, but risking shorts in rainy weather. It mostly-worked, but was flaky in the winter.

Fedora backs down on removing BIOS support… for now

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Re: Great ideas of our time . . .

Re nano: if they thought vi/vim was "too hard" for Linux techs to use, and that Emacs took up too much disc space, they should have gone with a clone of MS-DOS EDIT.

SEC nearly doubles cryptocurrency cop roles in special cyber unit

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minimum standards

I don't wish ill on the victims, but for me care about their victimization, they have to meet a minimum standard of exercising due care and common sense. These people don't meet that standard. Crypto-whatever, block chain-whatever, and NFT-whatever victims are like people who ignore the big signs warning people to not climb down into the lion pit, climb down into the lion pit anyway, and consequently are lion-mauled.

I'd rather those 50 officers were cops-on-the-street, going after wife-beaters and armed robbers.

John Deere tractors 'bricked' after Russia steals machinery from Ukraine

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Testing British Nukes

Nukes are tricky about that. The bad consequences of a successful test (nuke launches, flies to its target, and goes boom) preclude testing. You can't prove a negative, so if you take the thing apart and examine it, and you find no cut-out, it doesn't mean there are no cut-outs. If you find a cut-out, you have to wonder if there's a second cut-out. If you find two cut-outs, you have to wonder if there's a third cut-out. If you ask the 'Murkans and they say, "There are no cut-outs", you gotta wonder if they lied, or if the person you spoke with was told a lie and believed it, then unwittingly told you the same lie. If the 'Murkans say, "Well, yes, there's a cut-out" and you take it apart to find and fix the cut-out, but don't find a cut-out, you don't know whether the 'Murkans lied or you just weren't good enough to find the cut-out.

There are no good answers when you're dealing with nukes.



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