147 The Rise and Fall of Lisp at JPL (flownet.com) 96
55 Data Brokers (oag.ca.gov) 19
213 Volkswagen exec admits full self-driving cars 'may never happen' (thedrive.com) 487
53 Learn to write your first OS kernel (github.com) 4
44 LISP I Programmer's Manual (1960) [pdf] (history.siam.org) 1
101 America’s aggressive use of sanctions endangers the dollar’s reign (economist.com) 82
49 What the death of iTunes says about digital habits (theatlantic.com) 30
66 Algorithm to Draw a Tree (rachel53461.wordpress.com) 13
43 SuperDisk (a.k.a. LS-120, LS-240) (en.wikipedia.org) 29
47 Nototo – a virtual memory palace of your notes (nototo.app) 15
63 A biotechnology dream: nitrogen-fixing cereal crops (news.mit.edu) 25
26 AlphaFold: Using AI for Scientific Discovery (deepmind.com) 7
117 Luhmann's Zettelkasten (emvi.com) 52
47 In search of a better job scheduler (beepb00p.xyz) 13
22 Ginkgo Bioworks: Organism Engineering at Scale (ginkgobioworks.com) 0
370 Smart homes will turn dumb overnight as Charter kills security service (arstechnica.com) 266
139 Measure code execution time accurately in Python (knasmueller.net) 48
78 Ending Legacy Admissions at Johns Hopkins (theatlantic.com) 52
8 How the internet helped crack the Astros' sign-stealing case (espn.com) 1
26 Currency Rates API (currencyscoop.com?u=a) 3
54 Directsum.jl – Abstract tangent bundle vector space type operations (github.com) 13
30 The Art of Pivoting: How We Built Rainway (rainway.com) 6
101 A new obstacle to landing a job after college: getting approved by AI (cnn.com) 96
161 The case for cities where you’re a sensor, not a thing to be sensed (theguardian.com) 36
87 Why so many things cost exactly zero (bloomberg.com) 125
26 Field Linguist's Toolbox (software.sil.org) 7
323 Students defeat new 'Barnacle' parking clamp, skip fines and get free internet (postmediadriving.wordpress.com) 302
4 Show HN: Study, research and learn with thinking notebook – MindForger 1.50.0 (github.com) 0
22 Xenobot, a new kind of programmable organism (wired.com) 2
102 ANSI Common Lisp (1995) (paulgraham.com) 48
534 What's New in Java 19: The end of Kotlin? (youtube.com) 415
64 DIY Games Console (youtube.com) 5
1050 A sad day for Rust (words.steveklabnik.com) 657
3 GitPals - A web platform for finding team / teammates for development (gitpals.com) 7
46 Universal tooltip on Mac OS X for programmers. Hackable. Work with every app. (github.com) 12
2 Python+MySQL+Docker template FULLY integrated with Stripe for subscriptions. (github.com) 0
39 GNU Guile 3.0.0 released (gnu.org) 15
2 Terminal-based Tetris - Part 1: Procedural polyomino generation (Go) (rocketnine.space) 1
133 Trying out the Pinebook Pro - a $200 ARM Laptop (jeremymorgan.com) 48
0 WebAssembly: Building Graphical Applications with Wasmer and WASI (medium.com) 0
1624 Google is finally killing off Chrome apps, which nobody really used anyhow (theverge.com) 533
8 How RSA public keys are stored in PKCS8 (link.medium.com) 0
211 (Rust) Actix project postmortem (github.com) 166
4 Command-line Jobs: Using Jobs To Improve Your Workflow (youtube.com) 0
0 Abstracting a json HTTP endpoint into a continuous data stream (voorloopnul.com) 3
42 Gathering Intel on Intel AVX-512 Transitions (travisdowns.github.io) 1
0 Using reCAPTCHA with Golang (johnpili.com) 6
8 Blazor Mobile, Uno Platform, and WebAssembly - piling up the tech (platform.uno) 0
12 How talking in first person put math in crisis. (deepsource.io) 4
1 "What UNIX Cost Us" - Benno Rice (LCA 2020) (youtube.com) 50
0 A curated gallery of all my best tiny JavaScript programs (dweets.3d2k.com) 11
0 Wanted to make a personal terrarium tv/cyberflix clone (cyberflix.me) 0
19 Programming the GPU in Java (blogs.oracle.com) 1
94 Smoke-testing Rust HTTP clients (medium.com) 52
12 Interactive hacking demo of TikTok XSS vulnerability (application.security) 1
Slate Announces List of The 30 Most Evil Tech Companies (slate.com) 6

An anonymous reader quotes Slate:
Separating out the meaningful threats from the noise is hard. Is Facebook really the danger to democracy it looks like? Is Uber really worse than the system it replaced? Isn't Amazon's same-day delivery worth it? Which harms are real and which are hypothetical? Has the techlash gotten it right? And which of these companies is really the worst? Which ones might be, well, evil?

We don't mean evil in the mustache-twirling, burn-the-world-from-a-secret-lair sense -- well, we mostly don't mean that -- but rather in the way Googlers once swore to avoid mission drift, respect their users, and spurn short-term profiteering, even though the company now regularly faces scandals in which it has violated its users' or workers' trust. We mean ills that outweigh conveniences. We mean temptations and poison pills and unanticipated outcomes.

Slate sent ballots to "a wide range of journalists, scholars, advocates, and others who have been thinking critically about technology for years," and reported that while America's big tech companies topped the list, "our respondents are deeply concerned about foreign companies dabbling in surveillance and A.I., as well as the domestic gunners that power the data-broker business."

But while there were some disagreements, Palantir still rose to #4 on the list because "almost everyone distrusts Peter Thiel."

Interestingly, their list ranks SpaceX at #17 (for potentially disrupting astronomy by clogging the sky with satellites) and ranks Tesla at #14 for "its troubled record of worker safety and its dubious claims that it will soon offer 'full self-driving' to customers who have already paid $7,000 for the promised add-on... Our respondents say the very real social good that Tesla has done by creating safe, zero-emission vehicles does not justify misdeeds, like apparent 'stealth recalls' of defects that appear to violate safety laws or the 19 unresolved Clean Air Act violations at its paint shop."

Slate's article includes its comprehensive list of the 30 most dangerous tech companies. But here's the top 10:

  1. Amazon
  2. Facebook
  3. Alphabet
  4. Palantir Technologies
  5. Uber
  6. Apple
  7. Microsoft
  8. Twitter
  9. ByteDance
  10. Exxon Mobil

There's also lots of familiar names higher up on the list, including both 8chan (#20) and Cloudflare (#21). 23andMe came in at #18, while Huawei was #11. Netflix does not appear anywhere on the list, but Disney ranks #15.

And Oracle was #19. "It takes a lot to make me feel like Google is being victimized by a bully," wrote Cory Doctorow, "but Oracle managed it."

Microsoft's New Windows Terminal Preview Offers a Retro CRT Screen Effect (microsoft.com) 13

"The release of the Windows Terminal preview v0.8 has arrived!" announces a post on Microsoft's Command Line blog:
Search functionality has been added to the Terminal! The default key binding to invoke the search dropdown is {"command": "find", "keys": ["ctrl+shift+f"]}. Feel free to customize this key binding in your profiles.json if you prefer different key presses! The dropdown allows you to search up and down through the buffer as well as with letter case matching.
You can search through multiple tabs, reports the Verge -- and those tabs can also be resized "so you can fit more tabs into View." But they also note that Microsoft added some interesting retro-style CRT effects: If you're old enough to be a fan of CRT monitors then this one is for you. A new experimental feature will be enabled that includes the classic scan lines that you might have seen before the world switched to flat monitors and LCD technology.
To enable it just add the following code snippet to any of your profiles: "experimental.retroTerminalEffect": true

Exploit Fully Breaks SHA-1, Lowers the Attack Bar (threatpost.com) 21

ThreatPost reported on some big research last week: A proof-of-concept attack has been pioneered that "fully and practically" breaks the Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1) code-signing encryption, used by legacy computers to sign the certificates that authenticate software downloads and prevent man-in-the-middle tampering.

The exploit was developed by Gaëtan Leurent and Thomas Peyrin, academic researchers at Inria France and Nanyang Technological University/Temasek Laboratories in Singapore. They noted that because the attack is much less complex and cheaper than previous PoCs, it places such attacks within the reach of ordinary attackers with ordinary resources.

"This work shows once and for all that SHA-1 should not be used in any security protocol where some kind of collision resistance is to be expected from the hash function," the researchers wrote. "Continued usage of SHA-1 for certificates or for authentication of handshake messages in TLS or SSH is dangerous, and there is a concrete risk of abuse by a well-motivated adversary. SHA-1 has been broken since 2004, but it is still used in many security systems; we strongly advise users to remove SHA-1 support to avoid downgrade attacks."

Given the footprint of SHA-1, Leurent and Peyrin said that users of GnuPG, OpenSSL and Git could be in immediate danger.

Long-time Slashdot reader shanen writes, "I guess the main lesson is that you can never be too sure how long any form of security will remain secure."

Facial Recognition Database With 3 Billion Scraped Images 'Might End Privacy as We Know It' (muckrock.com) 49

One police detective bragged that photos "could be covertly taken with a telephoto lens" then input into Clearview AI's database of more than three billion scraped images to immediately identify suspects.

Long-time Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes: For the past year, government transparency non-profits and Open the Government have been digging into how local police departments around the country use facial recognition. The New York Times reports on their latest discovery: That a Peter Thiel-backed startup Clearview has scraped Facebook, Venmo, and dozens of other social media sites to create a massive, unregulated tool for law enforcement to track where you were, who you were with, and more, all with just a photo.

Read the Clearview docs yourself and file a request in your town to see if your police department is using it.

The Times describes Clearview as "the secretive company that might end privacy as we know it," with one of the company's early investors telling the newspaper that because information technology keeps getting more powerful, he's concluded that "there's never going to be privacy."

He also expresses his belief that technology can't be banned, then acknowledges "Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but you can't ban it."

Major Breakthrough In Quantum Computing Shows That MIP* = RE (arxiv.org) 18

Slashdot reader JoshuaZ writes:
In a major breakthrough in quantum computing it was shown that MIP* equals RE. MIP* is the set of problems that can be efficiently demonstrated to a classical computer interacting with multiple quantum computers with any amount of shared entanglement between the quantum computers. RE is the set of problems which are recursive; this is essentially all problems which can be computed.

This result comes through years of deep development of understanding interactive protocols, where one entity, a verifier, has much less computing power than another set of entities, provers, who wish to convince the verifier of the truth of a claim. In 1990, a major result was that a classical computer with a polynomial amount of time could be convince of any claim in PSPACE by interacting with an arbitrarily powerful classical computer. Here PSPACE is the set of problems solvable by a classical computer with a polynomial amount of space. Subsequent results showed that if one allowed a verifier able to interact with multiple provers, the verifier could be convinced of a solution of any problem in NEXPTIME, a class conjectured to be much larger than PSPACE. For a while, it was believed that in the quantum case, the set of problems might actually be smaller, since multiple quantum computers might be able to use their shared entangled qubits to "cheat" the verifier. However, this has turned out not just to not be the case, but the exact opposite: MIP* is not only large, it is about as large as a computable class can naturally be.

This result while a very big deal from a theoretical standpoint is unlikely to have any immediate applications since it supposes quantum computers with arbitrarily large amounts of computational power and infinite amounts of entanglement.

The paper in question is a 165 tour de force which includes incidentally showing that the The Connes embedding conjecture, a 50 year old major conjecture from the theory of operator algebras, is false.

Tuxedo's New Manjaro Linux Laptops Will Include Massive Customization (forbes.com) 9

Tuxedo Computers "has teamed up with Manjaro to tease not one, not two, but several" Linux laptops, Forbes reports:
The Tuxedo Computers InfinityBook Pro 15...can be loaded with up to 64GB of RAM, a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, and as high as a 2TB Samsung EVO Plus NVMe drive. You can also purchase up to a 5-year warranty, and user-installed upgrades will not void the warranty...

Manjaro Lead Project Developer Philip Müller also teased a forthcoming AMD Ryzen laptop [on Forbes' "Linux For Everyone" podcast]. "Yes, we are currently evaluating which models we want to use because the industry is screaming for that," Müller says. "In the upcoming weeks we might get some of those for internal testing. Once they're certified and the drivers are ready, we'll see when we can launch those." Müller also tells me they're prepping what he describes as a "Dell XPS 13 killer."

"It's 10th-generation Intel based, we will have it in 14-inch with a 180-degree lid, so you can lay it flat on your desk if you like," he says.

The Manjaro/Tuxedo Computers partnership will also offer some intense customization options, Forbes adds.

"Want your company logo laser-etched on the lid? OK. Want to swap out the Manjaro logo with your logo on the Super key? Sure, no problem. Want to show off your knowledge of fictional alien races? Why not get a 100% Klingon keyboard?"

Why Did Red Hat Drop Its Support for Docker's Runtime Engine? (techrepublic.com) 31

"I've grown quite fond of the docker container runtime. It's easy to install and use, and many of the technologies I write about depend upon this software," writes TechRepublic/Linux.com contributor Jack Wallen.

"But Red Hat has other plans." The company decided -- seemingly out of the blue -- to drop support for the docker runtime engine. In place of docker came Podman. When trying to ascertain why Red Hat split with Docker, nothing came clear. Sure, I could easily draw the conclusion that Red Hat had grown tired of the security issues surrounding Docker and wanted to take matters in their own hands. There was also Red Hat's issue with "no big fat daemons." If that's the case, how do they justify their stance on systemd?

Here's where my tinfoil hat comes into play. Understand this is pure conjecture here and I have zero facts to back these claims up... Red Hat is now owned by IBM. IBM was desperate to gain serious traction within the cloud. To do that, IBM needed Red Hat, so they purchased the company. Next, IBM had to score a bit of vendor lock-in. Using a tool like docker wouldn't give them that lock-in. However, if Red Hat developed and depended on their own container runtime, vendor lock-in was attainable....

Red Hat has jettisoned a mature, known commodity for a less-mature, relatively unknown piece of software -- without offering justification for the migration.... Until Red Hat offers up a sound justification for migrating from the docker container engine to Podman, there's going to be a lot of people sporting tinfoil hats. It comes with the territory of an always-connected world. And if it does turn out to be an IBM grab for vendor lock-in, there'll be a lot of admins migrating away from RHEL/CentOS to the likes of Ubuntu Server, SUSE/openSUSE, Debian, and more.

Red Hat's product manager of containers later touted Podman's ability to deploy containers without root access privileges in an interview with eWeek. "We felt the sum total of its features, as well as the project's performance, security and stability, made it reasonable to move to 1.0. Since Podman is set to be the default container engine for the single-node use case in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, we wanted to make some pledges about its supportability."

And a Red Hat spokesperson also shared their position with The New Stack. "We saw our customer base wanting the container runtime lifecycle baked-in to the OS or in delivered tandem with OpenShift."

A Broken Computer System Is Costing F-35 Maintainers 45,000 Hours a Year (taskandpurpose.com) 55

schwit1 shared this report from the defense news site Task & Purpose:
The computer-based logistics system of the F-35 stealth fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin, which has been plagued by delays, will be replaced by another network made by the same company, a Pentagon official said on Tuesday.

The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was designed to underpin the F-35 fleet's daily operations, ranging from mission planning and flight scheduling to repairs and scheduled maintenance, as well as the tracking and ordering of parts... ALIS was blamed for delaying aircraft maintenance, one of the very things it was meant to facilitate.

"One Air Force unit estimated that it spent the equivalent of more than 45,000 hours per year performing additional tasks and manual workarounds because ALIS was not functioning as needed," the GAO said in a November report.

Microsoft Is Also Launching a New $1 Billion 'Climate Innovation Fund' (geekwire.com) 20

As part of Microsoft's effort to reduce more atmospheric carbon than it emits, the company has announced a $1 billion "Climate Innovation Fund," reports GeekWire: Microsoft said the new fund will leverage its balance sheet to loan money and take equity stakes in ventures to encourage the development of new environmental innovations. The money will be invested over the next four years. The company cited four criteria for investments, including sustainability initiatives, market impact, technological advances, and climate equity, addressing the tendency of climate change to disproportionately hurt people in developing countries.

"We deeply understand this is just a fraction of what is needed to solve this problem," said Amy Hood, the company's chief financial officer, outlining the plan at the event Thursday morning.... Microsoft said it is signing the United Nations' 1.5-degree Business Ambition Pledge, and said it will publicly track its progress in an annual Environmental Sustainability Report.

The article notes that Bill Gates "reviewed Microsoft's new initiative but wasn't involved in its creation." Gates has his own $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund and has meanwhile also invested in mini nuclear reactors to address climate change.

And this spring he'll release a book titled "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need."

Boeing Discovers Issue With 737 Max Flight Computers (cnn.com) 61

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Boeing's troubled 737 Max has run into a new glitch. During a recent technical review involving the Max, Boeing observed an issue with the plane's flight computers, according to a source familiar with the matter. The source said the issue is not related to the software revisions Boeing made to address the cause of two fatal crashes that killed 346 people, and would not occur during flight. The Max has been grounded since March following the second of those crashes.

The computer issue was observed when booting up the computers on a Max and involves the so-called software power up monitoring function, which checks for anomalies when turning on the computers. It's similar to the steps any computer might make when first turned on. The source said the process of turning on the computers is performed when the plane is on the ground, rather than in flight. The source said the test was intended to find any issues like this one and that Boeing would fix the problem.

'Watch SpaceX Blow Up a Falcon 9 Rocket in a Safety Test Sunday' (cnet.com) 27

"SpaceX is setting out to prove a critical safety system will be able to save astronaut lives in the event of a launch emergency during ascent," reports CNET: The Crew Dragon in-flight abort test...is a required step before NASA will allow astronauts to fly to the International Space Station in the SpaceX capsule as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

[UPDATE: Though they'd originally planned to launch Saturday, SpaceX tweeted early Saturday morning that "due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area" they're now targeting Sunday, January 19, "with a six-hour test window opening at 8:00 a.m. EST, 13:00 UTC." Watch SpaceX's livestream here.]

NASA will also livestream the event... Backup test opportunities are set for Sunday or Monday if Saturday doesn't work out.

Crew Dragon will take a ride on a Falcon 9 rocket, which won't survive the test. The launch will take place at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, which will allow the rocket to break up over the Atlantic Ocean. It could be quite an eye-opening experience. SpaceX shared an animated video showing how the test is expected to go. If all goes well, the Crew Dragon capsule will separate from the rocket, deploy parachutes and float gently down to the water....

SpaceX successfully sent an uncrewed Crew Dragon to the International Space Station in early 2019. The ultimate goal is to make a return trip with NASA astronauts on board. If the in-flight abort test works out, then the first launch of humans from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle era should finally happen in 2020.

98.6 Degrees Fahrenheit Isn't the Average Anymore (smithsonianmag.com) 123

schwit1 shares a report from The Wall Street Journal: Nearly 150 years ago, [German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich] analyzed a million temperatures from 25,000 patients and concluded that normal human-body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In a new study, researchers from Stanford University argue that Wunderlich's number was correct at the time but is no longer accurate because the human body has changed. Today, they say, the average normal human-body temperature is closer to 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source).

To test their hypothesis that today's normal body temperature is lower than in the past, Dr. Parsonnet and her research partners analyzed 677,423 temperatures collected from 189,338 individuals over a span of 157 years. The readings were recorded in the pension records of Civil War veterans from the start of the war through 1940; in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1971 through 1974; and in the Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment from 2007 through 2017. Overall, temperatures of the Civil War veterans were higher than measurements taken in the 1970s, and, in turn, those measurements were higher than those collected in the 2000s.
The study has been published in the journal eLife.

NBC's New Peacock Streaming Service Is Just One Big Ad-Injection Machine (digitaltrends.com) 100

Comcast's NBCUniversal is launching a new streaming service in April called Peacock. With three pricing tiers from free to $10 per month, Comcast wants Peacock "to be an ad delivery system to destroy all others in its path," writes Ryan Waniata via Digital Trends. From the report: In a shockingly long investor call, NBC revealed its big new strategy for delivering its many intellectual property spoils online, which will be offered in a multi-tiered plan (with both ad-based and ad-free versions) rolling up a content hodge-podge, including NBCUniversal TV classics and films on-demand, a handful of new exclusive shows, and live content, from NBC News to the Tokyo Olympics. Peacock's ad-based service -- which rolls out first to the company's Xfinity and Flex cable customers from within their cable box -- will arrive in at least some form for zero dollars per month. A $5 monthly charge will get you more content (but still carry ads), while a $10 fee will get you ad-free viewing and the whole kit-and-caboodle. But here's the thing: The execs at Comcast don't even want you to buy that service. It's an also-ran. A red herring.

NBCUniversal Chairman of Advertising & Partnerships Linda Yaccarino spoke vociferously to the crowd of investors, saying, "Peacock will define the future of advertising. The future of free." To hook viewers into their ad-loaded trap, NBC execs have leveraged Peacock to offer "the lightest ad load in the industry," with just 5 minutes of ads per hour. To be fair, that ad-to-content ratio would be quite light these days in TV talk. But, Yaccarino continued, these would be revolutionary new ad innovations for Peacock, including ads that won't be as repeated over and over. Ads that will look "as good as the content" they accompany (whatever that means). Solo ads where "brands become the hero" and offer a TV show brought to you by a single advertiser. Ads. Ads. And more ads.

An Algorithm That Learns Through Rewards May Show How Our Brain Does Too (technologyreview.com) 32

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: In a paper published in Nature today, DeepMind, Alphabet's AI subsidiary, has once again used lessons from reinforcement learning to propose a new theory about the reward mechanisms within our brains. The hypothesis, supported by initial experimental findings, could not only improve our understanding of mental health and motivation. It could also validate the current direction of AI research toward building more human-like general intelligence. At a high level, reinforcement learning follows the insight derived from Pavlov's dogs: it's possible to teach an agent to master complex, novel tasks through only positive and negative feedback. An algorithm begins learning an assigned task by randomly predicting which action might earn it a reward. It then takes the action, observes the real reward, and adjusts its prediction based on the margin of error. Over millions or even billions of trials, the algorithm's prediction errors converge to zero, at which point it knows precisely which actions to take to maximize its reward and so complete its task.

It turns out the brain's reward system works in much the same way -- a discovery made in the 1990s, inspired by reinforcement-learning algorithms. When a human or animal is about to perform an action, its dopamine neurons make a prediction about the expected reward. Once the actual reward is received, they then fire off an amount of dopamine that corresponds to the prediction error. A better reward than expected triggers a strong dopamine release, while a worse reward than expected suppresses the chemical's production. The dopamine, in other words, serves as a correction signal, telling the neurons to adjust their predictions until they converge to reality. The phenomenon, known as reward prediction error, works much like a reinforcement-learning algorithm.
The improved algorithm changes the way it predicts rewards. "Whereas the old approach estimated rewards as a single number -- meant to equal the average expected outcome -- the new approach represents them more accurately as a distribution," the report says. This lends itself to a new hypothesis: Do dopamine neurons also predict rewards in the same distributional way?

After testing this theory, DeepMind found "compelling evidence that the brain indeed uses distributional reward predictions to strengthen its learning algorithm," reports MIT Technology Review.

PopSockets CEO Calls Out Amazon's 'Bullying With a Smile' Tactics (mashable.com) 62

At a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on competition in the digital economy, PopSockets CEO and inventor David Barnett described how Amazon used shady tactics to pressure their smartphone accessory company. Mashable reports: "Multiple times we discovered that Amazon itself had sourced counterfeit product and was selling it alongside our own product," he noted. Barnett, under oath, told the gathered members of the House that Amazon initially played nice only to drop the hammer when it believed no one was watching. After agreeing to a written contract stipulating a price at which PopSockets would be sold on Amazon, the e-commerce giant would then allegedly unilaterally lower the price and demand that PopSockets make up the difference. Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter asked Barnett how Amazon could "ignore the contract that [PopSockets] entered into and just say, 'Sorry, that was our contract, but you got to lower your price.'" Barnett didn't mince words. "With coercive tactics, basically," he replied. "And these are tactics that are mainly executed by phone. It's one of the strangest relationships I've ever had with a retailer."

Barnett emphasized that, on paper, the contract "appears to be negotiated in good faith." However, he claimed, this is followed by "... frequent phone calls. And on the phone calls we get what I might call bullying with a smile. Very friendly people that we deal with who say, 'By the way, we dropped the price of X product last week. We need you to pay for it.'" Barnett said he would push back and that's when "the threats come." He asserted that Amazon representatives would tell him over the phone: "If we don't get it, then we're going to source product from the gray market."