Facts are what they are. One reason that so many conspiracy theories pop up is arguably because much of the mainstream media has lost sight of the traditional purpose of journalism. Namely, news media are supposed to report news, rather than blend news with opinion or sometimes veiled agendas.
Cloudlfare is a popular service used by numerous internet-based operations of various sizes, including big ones.
This is NOT just Cloudflare, as far as I can tell. Half the Internet is down, even small VPS providers and local routes in other countries that are unaffiliated with CloudFlare.
— Jeff Geerling (@geerlingguy) July 17, 2020
Not unlike other huge operations like some of those named in the tweet above, MHProNews and our sister site were among those impacted. It is worth noting that other websites we have were not impacted. When the service on our main site went down for roughly half-an-hour yesterday, the question of ‘why it happened’ arises.
Our service provider stated that the cause was Cloudflare’s outage.
Gizmodo is a tech site that includes tech-related news. Their U.K. or British site had this headline posted 18 July 2020 at 4:00AM.
“This Is Why Half the Internet Shut Down Last Night
Scores of websites and services went down Friday afternoon due to problems with Cloudflare’s DNS service, sparking rampant speculation about the cause. After all, a global DDOS attack would totally fit the real-life apocalypse movie that 2020 is increasingly turning into.”
Gizmodo made all of the speculation, connected memes, and conspiracy theories sound silly. Perhaps they are. Here is what Cloudflare’s top man, Matthew Prince, had to say.
We isolated the Atlanta router and shut down our backbone, routing traffic across transit providers instead. There was some congestion that caused slow performance on some links as the logging caught up. Everything is restored now and we’re looking into the root cause. 2/2
— Matthew Prince 🌥 (@eastdakota) July 17, 2020
Gizmodo said that “According to the incident report, this issue with Cloudflare’s 126.96.36.199 DNS service impacted its data centres internationally, from Frankfurt to Paris and Schiphol, as well as several in major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta and San Jose. Reports on Downdetector showed the outages appeared to be concentrated in the U.S. and northern Europe.”
“A DNS, or Domain Name System, serves as the connective tissue between the domain name you use to locate a website (like Gizmodo.co.uk) and its corresponding IP address, which determines the site’s specific location on the web. The service essentially acts as a digital phonebook for the Internet, and there’s no getting to where you want to go online without it – regardless of whether a site’s own servers are working or not. Some Internet providers rely on their own DNS service, but alternatives from the likes of Google and Cloudflare, which launched its version in 2018, are more commonly used,” said Gizmodo.
They also noted why speculation about a hack was high on people’s minds.
“It’s little wonder that most people immediately thought malicious hackers might have been the cause given this week’s Twitter hack for the history books. That kind of sprawling breach would have anyone on edge.”
Among the speculation was that a DDoS attack originated from China. Another report says such an attack came from Iran, perhaps in response to mysterious explosions in their country near nuclear sites in recent days. The China hack motivation theory would be an apparent retaliation for the increased tensions between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership.
Right-of-center Forbes is among the major news sites this morning to also report on this matter. They began their report this way.
“It’s not been the best of weeks as far as cybersecurity goes. A critical Windows Server worm emerged that caused the Department of Homeland Security to issue an emergency directive ordering federal agencies to update. Then there was the Twitter hack, of course. So when a whole bunch of popular websites goes down at much the same time, many people will assume that a cyber-attack is underway.”
Like Gizmodo, Forbes not only accepted but applauded Cloudflare’s transparency.
“Cloudflare CEO, Matthew Prince, who recently became a new billionaire, tweeted that the company had now “applied safeguards to ensure a mistake like this will not cause problems in the future,” while confirming it was a simple, but costly, typo in that router configuration that caused the problems.”
Details on how we caused an 23 min outage for~50% of @Cloudflare‘s network today. The root cause was a typo in a router configuration on our private backbone. We’ve applied safeguards to ensure a mistake like this will not cause problems in the future. https://t.co/iHQTiJ8O5J
— Matthew Prince 🌥 (@eastdakota) July 18, 2020
Again, let it be stressed that all may be exactly as reported. This report and analysis should be instructive on the headline issue of the internet outage and recent major hacks. That topic will be returned to further below.
But first, to gain perspective, both left-and right-of-center media were all saying in the runup to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that for the safety for the free world, he had to be stopped. Often overlooked, or all but forgotten in the reporting was that Hussein was in power due in part to U.S. support over a range of Republican and Democratic administrations.
It is people inside the news business that have raised concerns for years about objectivity with their own media.
MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
The first posted comment on the Gizmodo site is the one below.
“Far be it from me to fuel speculation. I’ve read the statement from Cloudflare about their explanation. Perhaps it is exactly that, but isn’t it at least possible that there is some other explanation? That Cloudflare is covering for something else? These are just questions – and that is the way that reporting used to be done. Ask questions, question – don’t blindly accept ‘authority,’ follow the money, then see what the evidence from investigation reveals.” – L. A. “Tony” Kovach.
The Cloudflare/internet outage incident is whatever it is. Time may or may not reveal if their billionaire boss’ statement is precise, or if there is any more to this story. Either way, at a minimum, it should cause hundreds of millions to realize that the internet is vulnerable to attack. This is something that cyber-security has been talking about for years. State-backed bad actors could cause wide parts of the internet to go down. What would that do to your business, profession, or personal life? With much of telephone, cable TV and other services being carried over the internet, the disruption could be significant.
With that backdrop, let’s shift and examine a different case to shed light on the reasons why authority and official statements ought to be questioned.
In our industry, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) makes official statements. One reason they apparently tired of MHProNews membership is because we asked questions. We reported on inconsistencies in their stances.
MHProNews spotlighted, for instance, the massive disconnect between Warren Buffett’s support for President Barack Obama, who pledged not to change Dodd-Frank, and 21st Mortgage President and CEO Tim Williams who led MHI into a multi-year effort that was ultimately unsuccessful to amend Dodd-Frank. Recall that Williams leads a Berkshire Hathaway owned brand.
MHProNews asked at the time, was Williams at odds with Berkshire’s ultimate boss? More recently it was noticed that Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger on the Munger, Tolles & Olson (MTO) law firm website proudly proclaimed how progressive their firm is by displaying this quote.
Is that the only time that MHI members were arguably misled? The evidence shows otherwise.
As a disclosure, this writer was an MHI member and was later an elected board member of the Suppliers Division at MHI. In those roles, I did not blindly accept everything that they claimed. Questions were asked. The answers provided did not always stand up to scrutiny, as the disconnects shown above reflects. There were other examples, but that is an important one that is sufficient to make the point.
Just because a Warren Buffett led-Berkshire Hathaway brand, say Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), says something, does that official statement mean that it should blindly be followed?
When MHI says something, should it automatically be trusted? One must keep in mind that MHI is arguably dominated by Berkshire brands in conjunction with other larger companies, both in terms of board positions and via the dues structures.
Longtime industry readers recall that Clayton-led MHI touted the wonders of “the new class of manufactured homes” in 2018 that was later rebranded by MHI as “CrossModTM” homes in 2019. Doesn’t MHI’s own published material claim that this was going to be popular?
Above and below are examples.
In the report linked below, objective readers can see that mainstream housing is rapidly recovering. Why isn’t manufactured housing recovering at a similar or greater pace?
How is it that MHI-Clayton’s supposedly “CrossModTM” popular concept with focus groups that MHI has touted has not gained traction in the marketplace?
Why does MHI and Clayton keep doubling down on a clear failed concept? Nor is this the first time that Clayton pushed a new product that failed in the marketplace. Their own website gives prior examples.
Recall, that the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) was up in arms over CrossModTM.
MHBA have since gone quiet. Why? According to informed sources, it is because they realized that CrossModTM was going nowhere. They were more focused on growing their industry than on blasting MHI for impinging on their terminology.
That noted, MHBA’s statements are still very relevant to the owners of millions of manufactured homes plus to independent retailers, communities, and producers of HUD Code manufactured homes. The industry’s production is in decline for the second straight year, while conventional housing and RVs are both rising? Isn’t that an alarming trend? Affordable housing is growing in need, not shrinking. When a business or professional leader fails time and again the normal response it so switch leaders. You don’t keep using a losing coach or quarterback.
How is it that MHI can have meetings at the White House, or with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, or with the FHFA, etc. and not get the full implementation of the laws that were passed in 2000 and 2008 that could benefit manufactured housing?
Doesn’t MHI claim to want relief on zoning and placement? Doesn’t MHI claim that they want more financing on manufactured homes?
Among the messages MHProNews recently received was a question that asked, why hasn’t the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform been successful in overcoming the roadblocks created by MHI and their backers? It is a fair question.
The reply is simple enough. MHI has perhaps 10 to 1 the annual financial resources of MHARR. Plus MHI has a PAC – a political action committee – that makes campaign donations. The wonder is that MHARR gets as much done as they do based upon a simple principle. A fair reading of MHARR’s efforts could be boiled down to this. That the laws that regulate manufactured housing or that benefit manufactured housing ought to be properly enforced. Almost everything they do flows from that principle.
Which begs the question. Why doesn’t MHI follow the same principle?
The other principle that MHI follows could be summed up like this, by their prior president.
So, MHI – according to Ghorbani, himself a former MHI vice president, is pandering to the largest association members. MHI award winner Marty Lavin has said similarly.
Questioning authority is prudent. Keeping the history of events in mind is important, because history reveals if some claims and promises were just hot air, if in fact they were ever sincere.
Even a one-time president said that questioning presidents – or by implication, other leaders – was a notion to be applauded.
The mainstream media is widely followed but not always widely believed.
That is one reasonable explanation for why conspiracy theories abound. Returning briefly to the Cloudflare concerns, it is their own website that reminds people that China has been behind certain hacks, specifically naming the GitHub attack in 2015. It is only prudent to suspect that it may happen again.
Pivoting back to our industry, the point that virtually all others who blog or publish on manufactured housing issues blindly go along with Clayton and MHI after years of problematic results defies common sense. When someone follows the money trail, those who kiss the ample behinds of the powers that be are routinely rewarded in various ways. Coincidence? Or is that following the money trail?
Investigators – be they journalists, law enforcement, other legal, or citizens who care about a given issue need to prudently and objectively question authority.
Two closing points. Ghorbani’s statement is backed up by actions, not just words. When the folks at MHARR don’t get what they want, so long as they are in the right, they keep pounding away. Persistence backed by what is correct is proven to pay.
Interviews like the one linked above are now posted on MHARR’s website. That intellectual and legal foundation – based upon a series of facts – becomes part of their effort to expose the purported corruption at MHI and how it connects to questionable if not corrupt behavior at HUD, FHFA, DOE or elsewhere. Mark Weiss, J.D., is following the Ghorbani tradition of not losing sight of the facts and history of a matter. That paid off with the DOE rule, as just one of several possible examples. MHARR ‘won’ against both MHI and those pushing the problematically heavy DOE regulations.
Interviews like the one above or below are also ways of drawing independents attention to the purported corruption at MHI and how they serve the interests of the few who are steadily consolidating the industry. That consolidation arguably harms independents and the home seeking public. It harms taxpayers, in as much as tax dollars often pay for subsidized housing programs when millions could qualify for affordable manufactured homes and live better by living at a lower cost. MHI claims to be working for all aspects of factory built and manufactured housing. If so, then why is good information like this that might drive more manufactured home sales not on their website?
Years of MHARR effort pushed MHI into the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 in the first place, that is what the record shows.
With limited resources, but pushing facts, the law and common sense have achieved several victories by MHARR, despite MHI’s foot dragging.
To the previously mentioned question that the reader posed, the logic would be for that person’s business interests to join MHARR. The logic would also be for MHI independents to stop feeding the hand that bites them.
While success takes time, the years of several successful efforts by MHARR in the face of corrupt behavior inside the industry and inside government is compelling. It is a case of David beating Goliath, although the victories take time.
MHARR benefits more than just producers, but they represent independent producers. MHARR has said for years that there is a need for a post-production association too.
That noted, those independent producers who are not already a MHARR member should consider joining. Without MHARR, the odds are the independents in our industry would already be gone.
While trade media like this platform is important, so too are associations. MHProNews is not an association. The two can be useful working together. Who says?
Tim Williams, prior MHI chairman and still 21st Mortgage’s President and CEO.
That’s how questioning, logic, objectivity, historic information, and deductive thinking should work. That said, isn’t it obvious why MHI, Clayton, 21st and others won’t directly engage in discussion or debate? Because the evidence and history reflects that they are purportedly funding and causing the problematic actions that often undermine manufactured housing.
That corruption in government occurs, many accept. Perhaps it is more difficult for some people to believe that there can be such significant corruption in businesses or associations. But history proves that WorldCom, Enron, and Bernie Madoff were once trusted and then ended up in federal prison. If something has occurred before, that means it can happen again.
And never forget that Bill Gates himself said that he didn’t trust Warren Buffett.
MHI seems to be a breeding ground for giving de facto cover for problematic and corrupt business practices.
In the sense of understanding the industry and its issues, one of the more important articles by MHARR’s CEO Mark Weiss is the topic below.
That’s a wrap on this installment of manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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