Consumer Reports loves the latest Tesla Model S

From the New York Times:

Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S P85D sedan its highest score ever for a car, breaking the magazine’s scoring system by initially giving it 103 out of 100. Editors were forced to adjust the scoring system, leaving the electric car with a mere 100 out of 100.

At $127,820, it’s not only the highest-rated but also the most expensive car Consumer Reports has tested. Even if few Americans can afford it, the car remains “an automotive milepost” that is “a powerful statement of American startup ingenuity,” the magazine wrote.

“It’s a combination we’ve never really seen before,” said Jake Fisher, the magazine’s director of automotive testing.

And here is a video from Consumer Reports:

Nice job, Samsung

Samsung has launched a stylus-driven device, called the Galaxy Note Five. The device is designed with a tube that can hold the stylus. Problem is, however, if you put the stylus in the tube wrong side up, the stylus gets stuck. And, if you pull it out, you damage the device.

I will turn this over Leo Laporte for his report (and error):

Samsung reply to users: read the manual.

Tim Cook’s (current) take on China

via International Business Times:

As you know, we don’t give mid-quarter updates and we rarely comment on moves in Apple stock, [Cook wrote to Jim Cramer via email, according to CNBC.] But I know your question is on the minds of many investors.

I get updates on our performance in China every day, including this morning, and I can tell you that we have continued to experience strong growth for our business in China through July and August. Growth in iPhone activations has actually accelerated over the past few weeks, and we have had the best performance of the year for the App Store in China during the last two weeks.

Obviously I can’t predict the future, but our performance so far this quarter is reassuring. Additionally, I continue to believe that China represents an unprecedented opportunity over the long term as LTE penetration is very low and, most importantly, the growth of the middle class over the next several years will be huge.

Six Feet Under reprise

The HBO series “Six Feet Under” is one of my all-time favorite shows. It turns out that 10 years ago last night, the final episode was broadcast. That episode was very moving and many believe that it was one of the best show-ending episodes ever. Count me in that group.

Here is a video of the stunning final closing sequence of the series. Well worth a look.

Jeb! wants encryption back-doors

The Bush’s (George W. and Jeb!) certainly like to support surveillance at every opportunity, despite the fact that such surveillance rarely leads to actionable intelligence against “evildoers” while violating the personal privacy of people in the US and around the world.

The Intercept is reporting that Jeb! wants private companies to build in back doors to access communications, and he wants it now.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Tuesday that encryption makes it harder for law enforcement to track down “evildoers” — and called for a “much better, more cooperative relationship” with Apple, Google, and other tech companies that are building uncrackable private communication apps into their new products.

“If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job — while protecting civil liberties — to make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst,” Bush said in South Carolina at an event sponsored byAmericans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, a group with close ties to military contractors.

Bush said, “We need to find a new arrangement with Silicon Valley in this regard because I think this is a very dangerous kind of situation.”

But when the event moderator, former CNN anchor Jeanne Meserve, brought up scientists’ conclusions that giving law enforcement special access to communications also gives hackers more access, Bush didn’t explain his position any further.

“Good point, except we ought to have much more cooperation when it comes to cybersecurity,” he said.

Andy Borowitz on Jeff Bezos

Following a scathing New York Times article describing rather horrible treatment of even senior employees at Amazon, Andy Borwitz pens a hilarious Bezos reaction parody.

Here is an excerpt:

Saying that he was “horrified” by a New York Times article recounting callous behavior on the part of Amazon executives, company founder Jeff Bezos warned today that any employees found lacking in empathy would be instantly purged.

In an e-mail to all Amazon employees issued late Sunday evening, Bezos said that the company would begin grading its workers on empathy, and that the ten per cent found to be least empathic would be “immediately culled from the herd.”

Reality check for the GOP

CNN is out with a new poll that should scare the crap out of the GOP presidential candidates:

Donald Trump has won his party’s trust on top issues more than any other Republican presidential candidate, and now stands as the clear leader in the race for the GOP nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

The survey finds Trump with the support of 24% of Republican registered voters. His nearest competitor,former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, stands 11 points behind at 13%. Just behind Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has 9%, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 8%,Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 6%, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former tech CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all land at 5%, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee rounding out the top 10 at 4%.

Trump is the biggest gainer in the poll, up 6 points since July according to the first nationwide CNN/ORC poll since the top candidates debated in Cleveland on Aug. 6. Carson gained 5 points and Fiorina 4 points. Trump has also boosted his favorability numbers among Republicans, 58% have a favorable view of Trump now, that figure stood at 50% in the July survey.

Trump is not going away. I think that he may well run as an independent if he is not nominated.

AT&T is the NSA’s lap dog

The New York Times and Pro Publica have each published detailed reports describing massive, voluntary cooperation between the NSA and AT&T.

New York Times

Pro Publica

Excerpt from the New York Times reporting:

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

* * *

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AT&T and MCI were instrumental in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping programs, according to a draft report by the N.S.A.’s inspector general. The report, disclosed by Mr. Snowden and previously published by The Guardian, does not identify the companies by name but describes their market share in numbers that correspond to those two businesses, according to Federal Communications Commission reports.

AT&T began turning over emails and phone calls “within days” after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001, the report indicated. By contrast, the other company did not start until February 2002, the draft report said.

In September 2003, according to the previously undisclosed N.S.A. documents, AT&T was the first partner to turn on a new collection capability that the N.S.A. said amounted to a “ ‘live’ presence on the global net.” In one of its first months of operation, the Fairview program forwarded to the agency 400 billion Internet metadata records — which include who contacted whom and other details, but not what they said — and was “forwarding more than one million emails a day to the keyword selection system” at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. Stormbrew was still gearing up to use the new technology, which appeared to process foreign-to-foreign traffic separate from the post-9/11 program.

I think this tweet summarizes the relationship rather well:

The arrangement between the two entities should be carefully examined for constitutional violations. The report was based in part on files provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.