Thursday, October 31, 2013

About Those Dogs

Any idea of a children's book is chucked out the window, way out the window.  I'm about five days ahead of what is currently appearing in the blog and I'm not going to reveal what's coming but I will tell you dogs are not the only creatures to bark.  The talking dogs are part of the story throughout but that's not the only story.  More to come.

I was thinking that it will get more and more difficult to pick up the story as I put more parts of it online.  Perhaps it would be good to put an index together so it's easier to go back to the start of it and find all the parts.  I don't want to get extreme and start another blog for it.  If anyone has any thoughts on that, please do let me know.

More on Scottish Independence

The U.K. Home Secretary Moots has said Scottish independence is a risk to Scotland's security because an independent Scotland will no longer have access to intelligence gathering by the GCHQ and to some extent, presumably, the NSA and there will be a greater risk of terrorist attacks.

The Scots have said this is rubbish and they aren't having any of the fear-mongering.  They also said they want independence as they don't want any Scots participating in illegal wars.  They said further that nuclear weapons on submarines, etc will be banned from Scotland's ports.

Moots also said Scotland may not be able to continue to use the pound for its currency.  This also is rubbish as an independent Scotland would either use its own pound and let it float independently from the British pound or, probably more likely, it would convert to the euro.

The more I hear of Scottish independence, the more I like it.  This is much more than flag-waving.

Boy George Lives

Boy George turned up on the television this morning and the first impression wasn't much other than the hat.

But then he sings.

I'm not positive but I think the song was "King of Everything" and it was very good.  The melody was very well done and he delivered it beautifully.  Something that amused me was that he sounds more masculine in singing it than many of the ostensibly straight pop boys who are currently so popular.  It's not that I have any opposition to gayness but rather my thinking is if you're a man then maybe it would be a good idea to sing like one.

Cat and I talk every so often about the use and abuse of falsetto and we generally concluded the only one who can get away with it is Prince.  He only uses falsetto when it's specifically needed for the song and not all the time as if his bollocks were squeezed by a brick.

Boy George is looking healthy, he's clean from dope, and he's got his first record deal in years.  He also said that, gasp, he exercises five days a week.  He was laughing about the horrors of exercise but he said he really did come to like it.  That probably means he is in love and good luck to him if that's true.  What it often means for music gods is that after they clean up and fall in love then they will be next to be killed in a helicopter crash on tour or at least that's what happened to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

So, hopefully, Boy George will avoid helicopters and go on to sing many more gigs in the future.  He is on-tour in England now.

Happy Birthday, Doc

Today is Doc's birthday.  It's also Halloween and he has been living with that strangeness all his life.

There is the Pink Floyd way to look at it that you're done day close to death ... or it's one more day breathing.  I'm going with Door Number Two on that one.

We've had our differences over the year but there's one thing I know for sure and it comes from Raul Julia in "The Gumball Rally:"

After tearing the rear-view mirror off the Ferrari, he says, "What'sa behind you ista not important!"

Happy birthday!

"What Would Dogs Do - Part 13" (story)

After four hours on the road, they weren't terribly tired but they were still very happy to arrive at the gate to the ranch.  They turned onto a gravel road that led through a grassy meadow that was surrounded by rolling hills.  At what may have been the other end of the property the land started rising where a fairly-dense forest started building up and it stretched all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

"Holy cow, Boss.  How big is this place," exclaimed Goldberg.

"We will get to the house pretty soon.  It's up here behind the next hill.  They like privacy and they bought this place when land was cheap."

Harrison didn't say any more as he knew there would be a whole host of questions once they stopped as the students hadn't seen anything yet.  As they drove around the hill and the house came into view, he was happy to see his parents puttering around in the garden.  They stood to greet them as the caravan arrived and waved at each vehicle.

The caravan stopped in front of the house and Harrison walked up to his parents, first to give his mother a hug and then pleased to feel the firmness of his father's handshake.  The handshake didn't last long and then his father hugged him too.  Harrison was most happy to see them looking healthy.  Both of them were wrinkled from their years but not so much and they were tanned from the Kentucky sun.  It was obvious they didn't get tanned like that by hanging about doing nothing at a beach.

"Please let me introduce everyone," said Harrison and then he continued, "may I present Steve Goldberg and Jane Margolis, Mark Campbell and Christine Sweeney and, my driving companion, Harold Gill.  Everyone, may I present my parents, Roger and Susan."

There were many handshakes and hugs all around as they got through the introductions but most of all there were smiles.  While Harrison's parents enjoyed their privacy, they weren't shy and they were pleased to meet their son's students.

"There is one more introduction, Daniel," said Roger.  "Take a look over at the porch."

Harrison was immensely surprised to see a strikingly good-looking woman waving and walking down the steps to the porch.  As she walked toward them she called out, hey, Tiger!"

"Boss, she calls you Tiger," said Goldberg, apparently impressed.

Harrison smiled and said, "Relax, son.  She's my wife.  I wasn't always an ageing professor."

Harrison gave her a huge hug and a kiss then told her quietly, "You got my letter.  I have missed you terribly and I am so happy you are here."

Caroline said, also quietly, "I'm very happy to be here too but we can talk later.  I'm not going to leave."

Harrison smiled at her and squeezed her hand.  There was so much to say but she was right.  They would have plenty of time for themselves later.

"Daniel, I read in your letter that you have some need for going underground.  Would you like to show your gang how we do it," asked Roger Harrison.

"Sure, Dad.  They don't know much of the setup here except that you two have been building it up from an old sixties nuclear war fallout shelter."

Harrison turned to his students and said, "Back to the vehicles everyone.  Let's get them parked, unpacked and the dogs free to run about."

He went back to his camper and idled away from the house as the other vehicles fell in behind him.  When he got to the separated garage, he pulled into the first parking space and then called out the window, "hold where you are for a few minutes.  You will see why in just a minute."

After pulling the camper into place, Harrison turned to Gill and said, "we need to let the dogs out and unload the luggage here."

The dogs were obviously happy to be released and seemed to understand they had reached their destination.  Archie ran up to Harrison and said, "home?"

"Yes," said Harrison.  "We are home."

When the others saw the dogs were out of the vehicle, they let their own dogs out as well and the dogs started gambolling together with Archie leading the way and saying Home to each of them.

After unloading their luggage, Harrison said to Gill, "you may get a kick out of this next part.  Please stand back a few yards."

Harrison then walked to a panel to a table by the wall and picked up what looked like a remote control.  He got back into the camper and pressed the button marked Down.  The elevator started descending and Harrison smiled a little as he thought of Gill's surprise at seeing this happening.  After moving the camper into one of the underground parking spaces, he stepped back onto the platform and pushed the Up button.

Gill was actually smiling when Harrison came back to ground level and he said, "Boss, I suspect that's not the last surprise of this day."

"Harold, are you calling to start calling me Boss too," asked Harrison, laughing.

"It's either that or the Wizard of Oz, you choose," replied Gill who was smiling quite broadly now.  He loved science fiction and he had started thinking he was about to see a lot of it.

Harrison walked over to Goldberg's van and passed the remote control to him.  He then told him the procedure and, for once, Goldberg didn't say anything.  Like Gill, he was already guessing this wasn't the first surprise this day would bring.

While the others were getting their vehicles stowed away, Harrison walked over to join his father as he had seen him backing up his tractor to a trailer to one side of the barn garage and Harrison thought he would see if he could help.  When they were finished Harrison rode with his father in the tractor's cab as they drove back to meet everyone else.

Before getting out, Roger said, "ask your mother to ride on the trailer with the kids.  I'm sure she will enjoy getting to know them better and I'd like you to ride up here with me so I can bring you up to date on what has been happening."

"Sure thing, Dad," said Harrison and we went back to tell everyone what they needed to do.

After his mother and the students were sitting on the trailer, he said to them, "it will take about fifteen minutes to get to The Refuge so make yourselves comfortable on the hay bales and Mother can tell you more about where we are going.  I will ride with my Dad and we will regroup when we get there."

"I feel like there should be snow all around and we are about to start singing Christmas carols," called out Goldberg.

Susan said, "if you're still here in a few months, maybe we will."

Goldberg looked at her quizzically but she just smiled and didn't say anything more as they got settled in for the ride.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Prometheus" (movie)

"Prometheus" was directed by Ridley Scott, the man who directed "Bladerunner" which may be the most depressing movie ever.  If you're not a hard-core nerd, you may not know at least two endings exist for the "Bladerunner."  In one it's revealed that Rachel is the newest type of replicant and doesn't have a builtin time to die.  They must have decided that wasn't depressing enough as there is another version in which that ending has been removed.  Instead Ford looks wistfully into the sunset with the presumption Rachel will die in less than four years.  Fade to black.

"Prometheus" has a lavish production.  The visual effects are gorgeous and very well-executed.  In contrast, "World War Z" uses CGI to the point of total absurdity so any money they spent on production was wasted.  Charlize Theron plays the mission commander so there's huge coolness in that aspect alone.

Where "World War Z" was supposed to be a scary, sci-fi horror, it doesn't deliver on any of those but "Prometheus" gives you all of them.  Where "World War Z" is predictable at just about any moment, "Prometheus" isn't predictable at all and it's fascinating from start to finish.  Despite the fascination, the movie is still not worthy of a recommendation to Cat.

The story is kind of muddled and things happen without any apparent explanation.  For example, David 'infects' Doctor Holloway with some genetic material (or whatever it was) but there's no clear reason for why he did it other than experimenting just to see what would happen.  It looks also like, as with "Bladerunner," this one was shot for alternative endings.  The one I saw gave a final scene that reduced that whole movie to a practical joke and the last scene was the punchline.  It wasn't necessary as the movie could have faded to black on the previous scene and still held together.  It would have held together much better, in fact.

On a sci-fi ten scale, I'd give "Prometheus" about 6.5.  Using the same scale, "A Clockwork Orange" would be a 10.0 and "World War Z" would be a 0.0.

Breaking the Web

The BRICS nations (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are considering building their own Web network using their own cables so they can make themselves immune to NSA spying.  As their international infrastructure builds out it will be relatively-easy for other countries to join it too.  Web traffic in a country all goes through a certain number of 'repeater' locations to route it wherever it is supposed to go.  Cutting a country over to an alternative Web requires change at the level of the 'repeater' sites but no change at all is needed at lower levels.

It's likely the NSA would respond by trying to penetrate the network such that it could infect servers and systems much as it is said to have done with an Iranian nuclear reactor.  It is said the reactor software was compromised and the result was a change in the software such that the reactor destroyed itself.

It would be a formidable challenge to keep NSA software out of any new network but the biggest damage would be at the user level in removing entire countries from access to varying parts of the world.  Where the World Wide Web was predicated on openness and sharing, the NSA has turned it into a world of secrecy and theft.  The destruction already wreaked by this will be incredibly difficult to reverse as trust once lost can sometimes never be recovered.

Obama has said he is considering restraints on the NSA but this doesn't mean anything as he has already lied so many times about what the NSA is doing as have representatives of the American security pyramid. There's little chance Obama would be believed and there is little reason he should be believed.  Having created the nightmare, there's little or nothing that can be done to control it.  Unlike nuclear systems which can be physically-inspected, there is nothing to be seen in network surveillance and any restraint in capability could be rolled back out of the systems as soon as the inspectors have gone.

David Cameron, Enemy of the Truth and America's Favorite Tool

David Cameron announced on Tuesday that any newspaper that publishes any leaks about the NSA may face prosecution.  The way Cameron disgraces the truth makes it all the more important that such leaks do get published as there's no other way we will hear what's real.

Meanwhile, a young girl and her family testified before Congress about a drone strike that killed her grandmother and barely missed her and also her sister.  CNN will probably make a big deal about this happening but what they likely will leave out of the report is that less than half of a dozen Congressional representatives were in the briefing room to hear what the family had to say.  Yet another disgrace.

At the bottom of all of this is that the NSA and the GCHQ are performing exactly the same crimes for which journalists at the News of the World were jailed and continue to be prosecuted.

Unsubstantiated propaganda is flying freely and Congressman Perry King said the NSA has saved thousands of lives.  Really.  Where are they.  Who are they.  What specific risk did they face and what did the NSA do to thwart it.  Classified.

"What Would Dogs Do - Part 12" (story)

After some initial awkwardness in getting used to riding with each other, Harrison and Gill settled in for the ride.  The first ten minutes shows everything the Interstate has to offer except watching for speed traps but this wasn't a trip for speeding and Harrison would rather take it easy anyway.

"It looks like some heavy weather up ahead, would you like to go with Beethoven's Pastoral," asked Harrison.

"Good choice," said Gill.  "It would be impressive if we broke out on the other side into sunshine for the last movement."

Gill leaned the seat back and made himself comfortable as the music started.  He knew he wouldn't sleep but he was happy to relax without the need to come up with any road conversation while they drove.  The dogs were all curled up and sleeping as the music wasn't loud and didn't disturb them in the back.

In the Sprinter running next in the caravan, Goldberg and Margolis were listening to Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" and they had the volume pumped up.  Both of them liked it loud and the mirror was vibrating from the bass.

"The best three-minute song ever recorded," shouted Goldberg.

"Baby, with Krupa's drum solo it runs about five minutes," shouted Margolis back at him.

"Details, details," shouted Goldberg.

As the music faded, Goldberg said, "I've got to thank Scarborough for this sound system.  Outstanding."

"I wonder who he was," said Margolis.

"I have no idea.  Maybe he was some stoner who ran marijuana out of Mexico."

"No chance.  With a truck this loud he would have been busted before he ever got out of Texas."

"What do you know about running drugs," asked Goldberg.

"Nothing but if I were going to do it I think it would be better to look like Uncle George and Aunt Harriet going to a tent revival," replied Margolis.

"I don't think talking about how to smuggle drugs is going to carry us all the way to Kentucky.  How are the dogs doing?"

"They're all cuddled up in a big pile back there.  The music doesn't seem to affect them," she replied.

"That must mean play some more," said Goldberg.

"Baby, I found some CDs in the glove box.  I guess Scarborough must have forgotten them.  There's one here by someone named lefty Unplugged and it's hand-lettered like Scarborough burned the CD himself.  Do you want to try that one?"

"I'm always up for something new," said Goldberg.  "Let's hear it."

Campbell and Sweeney weren't saying much and they just looked at each other and smiled every so often.  They hadn't been seeing each other for all that long but they were already comfortable not saying anything to each other and they were happy to be together and rolling toward something that seemed like it would be very special.

And so the miles rolled away, everyone relaxed more and more.  It was past prime season for camping so there weren't many people in the camp sites and they didn't have to face any questions about just how these dogs came to start talking.  The dogs spent most of their time sleeping except for when one or other of them would come forward to get some air from the window.  So it went for the first two days and nights but things got a bit more animated on the last day when they would arrive in Kentucky.

The third day started early, just like the ones before, and they were on the road not long after daybreak.  Not long after that, Harrison's walkie talkie crackled as Goldberg opened the connection.

"Breaker one nine, breaker one nine," said Goldberg.

"That's CB trucker talk, Steve, and I don't see any big rigs," replied Harrison.

"Have you heard the news this morning, Boss," asked Goldberg.

"Not yet.  Gill and I have been doing a crash course in techniques for managing DNA recombination."

"I'm sorry I've been missing that as I would like to take that course too.  The news is taking a highly dismal course.  It looks like Washington really outdid itself this time."

"I will take a listen when Gill and I take the next break," said Harrison.

"Ten four, Boss," said Goldberg.

Harrison clicked in again and said, "We are about four hours from my parents' spread.  My preference is to go straight through.  Respond back if you want to discuss it."

The walkie talkie went silent and Harrison settled into the last leg of the trip.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Abby Martin Breaking the Set with Dr Noam Chomsky

There may be no two people more determined to seek out truth.

The Great Russian Public Relations Campaign

While America and Britain have been doing everything possible to make themselves look bad, Russia has been pouring on the biggest public relations campaign I've ever seen in the run-up to the Winter Olympics at Sochi.  For most of my life Russia has been cast as the Worst Place in the World and, even after the fall of the Soviet Union, it didn't look too good.  All of that is changing in a most incredible public relations blitz.

Running the Olympic torch everywhere from Moscow to the North Pole to the bottom of Lake Baikal is beautiful thing but yesterday Putin made a point of saying everyone is welcome regardless of race, sexual orientation, etc.  The part about sexual orientation follows a particularly stupid law from Moscow earlier this year that made it illegal to promote homosexuality.  The statement from Putin shows his responsiveness to protests and is remarkable from a country that for decades has seemed indifferent to public opinion.

The recent Islamic terrorist bombing in Volgograd shows one of the similarities between America and Russia but there is a vast difference in the way each country deals with terrorism.  The putdown of Islamic radicals in Chechnya was brutal and perhaps that is necessary but that doesn't separate Russia from what America has done.  Where they differ is in the unilateral approach of American military drone strikes and America's perception that it's the only country that can solve the problem looks remarkably simplistic.  It seems obvious that the only solution must come through a concerted approach but that isn't even being considered.

Sochi probably looks like quite a plum to terrorists as there's nothing they enjoy so much as a lot of publicity so it will be interesting to see how Russia defends against an attack.  What also seems likely is that America will offer little or nothing toward that defense and instead will be continuing to work actively toward further inciting Muslim rage.

It also seems to me that a great deal more progress could be made by helping countries like Senegal to protect themselves against illegal fishing within their territorial waters.  Countries that are poor and/or in disarray are prime candidates for manipulation by al Qaeda so why would not the best defense be to help such countries rather than bombing them.

"World War Z" - Worst Movie Ever

"World War Z" is not only the worst movie ever made, it is likely the worst movie that will ever be made.  Even Brad Pitt, once the sexiest man in the world, just shows as an old dork who needs a haircut.  I can identify with this as I am an old dork ... but I no longer need a haircut.  The only one who did anything even remotely resembling acting was a young Israeli soldier girl but they didn't do too much with her talents as that would have come too close to an actual story.

This is the most expensive low-budget movie anyone could possibly imagine and it all hinges on two simple concepts:  zombies can be created with a virus / infecting people with a deadly virus will make them unappetising to zombies.  That's the whole story.  The End.

Watching this was toward finding a sci-fi movie for Cat that isn't a cartoon but "World War Z" is definitely not the one.  A cartoon is at least amusing but "World War Z" is two hours of completely wasted time.

Rand Paul Tries to Get Abby Martin Arrested / Fired

Thanks to Yevette for the tip on this one.

Notes About "What Would Dogs Do"

There's a wee mistake in the "What Would Dogs Do" story as I had thought Hoffman was a man but she isn't.  I've corrected this in the iBook version but not in the serialised version in the blog.  You may wonder what difference that makes when she ran off and disappeared but you will have to keep reading to find out.

I'm also abandoning any thought of a children's story as that implies I have something to teach a kid and I don't.  The object is to write something entertaining, not to be Doctor Fookin' Spock.

"What Would Dogs Do - Part 11" (story)

On the day they had planned for departure, everyone arrived and drifted into the house over the course of about an hour.  There was excitement about getting on with it but there was also a wistfulness over leaving the university in which some of them had been studying for years.

Harrison was serving up scrambled eggs to each new arrival.  They were making their own toast, serving themselves with orange juice, and then joining the others around the table.  CNN was showing on the television in the dining room but no-one except Harrison was paying much attention to it.

"Is anyone tracking the bond crisis," asked Harrison.

"Boss, there's never been a time in my adult life or any time in my life, for that matter, when there wasn't a financial crisis," replied Goldberg.  "It looks kind of dismal but it's tough to tell when the prima donnas on CNN aren't so much giving news as trying to get an Oscar."

"Washington will take care of itself.  That's what it does best.  I'm going to look in on the dogs one more time before we load up and move out."  Gill didn't wait for a response and went to make sure the dogs were fed and ready to go.

"I love Gill," said Goldberg.  "No-one has a better ability to stay focused."

"One day he's going to scare us all and laugh," said Margolis.

"Since he's not here, I'll say it for him.  One day one of you will say something that's actually funny," replied Goldberg.

"Like you don't fancy you're a comedian," said Margolis, all ready to play a little ping pong with him.

"Has everyone had enough to eat," interrupted Harrison.

Everyone smiled and thanked the chef for the breakfast.  There wasn't much left to do except clean up and then get the dogs into the cars to go.  They slowly got to their feet and then filed past the sinks to wash and dry their plates and then put them away.  As they finished, they moved to join Gill with the dogs.

Campbell joined up with Gill first and heard him say, "We go."

Campbell was about to reply when he realised Gill wasn't talking to him but rather to the dogs.  What happened next surprised him even more.

"Yes, yes, yes," said one dog after the other.

Campbell was flabbergasted and said, "Man, I've heard them talking to each other but I've never heard one say anything to any of us before.  Congratulations."

Gill almost cracked a smile and said, "It's very encouraging.  I'm of course making notes of every behavioural change or anomaly but this shows me may be on the verge of what we had hoped."

"I agree," replied Campbell.  "The opportunity to observe them on the drive may well yield some fascinating insights.  I gather Harrison has got walkie-talkies so we can keep each other posted along the way without using mobile phones."

"He might have watched too many spy movies but I'll go with anything that keeps the science moving forward," said Gill.

"I heard that," said Harrison and laughed.  "Don't worry about any more James Bond stuff as we won't be thinking about it when we get to Kentucky.  I'm sure you will be pleased with what my parents have done with that cave.  They even have large-scale hydroponics units down there for growing food."

"Holy cow, Boss," said Goldberg.  "What on Earth is this place?"

"I told you it was first built as a fallout shelter in case of nuclear war.  They didn't screw around and outfitted it to hold and sustain the whole family for, I think, about a year," replied Harrison.  "Who knows what they have done with it since I last saw it.  I thought they were crazy but they're looking quite sensible now."

"There's plenty of room for the dogs," asked Gill.

"Oh sure.  The cave system under Kentucky stretches all over the state and may even go beyond its borders," replied Harrison.

"It sounds like a Nuclear Holiday Inn," said Margolis.

"It's much better than a Holiday Inn.  I told you, they're loaded," said Harrison.

Gill said, "I don't believe anyone has opted to use cages so we should be ready to get started."

One by one the dogs started saying, "No cages, no cages, no cages."

Stunned, Margolis whispered, "they understand."

"My word," said Harrison.

The dogs picked it up right away and some of them repeated him, "my word, my word"

Twenty-one dogs clustered around them and they didn't know what was happening but they were obviously eager to find out.  Each of them went to his or her respective trainer and sat but they still managed to wag their tails.

"OK then," said Harrison.  "Let's get ready for the road."

Harrison walked over to Gill, clapped him on the shoulder, and said, "All set?"

"Yes.  The luggage is loaded and all that's left is to get the dogs into the camper and go," replied Gill.

Harrison had an old Ford camper van and he liked the independence it had given him over the years.  There was a small stove that ran from propane and a refrigerator that was powered by a generator when the camper was stopped.  It had quite a bit of headroom which was a blessing for a man who stood 6'2".  He and his wife had put thousands of miles on the camper as they roamed all about the country and there was no chance he would ever sell it.  There was plenty of room in it for he and Gill to be comfortable and they set off toward it with their dogs.

"Thanks for chumming me on this ride, Harold," said Harrison.

"You have become a friend, Daniel, but you're still my professor and I look forward to this opportunity to talk more about your work.  I'm fascinated to learn more of your techniques in genetic recombination," replied Gill.

Harrison smiled and thought silently, "Man, we have just got to get him hooked-up with a woman."

Meanwhile, Goldberg and Margolis went off toward Goldberg's old Sprinter van.  It had large paintings on each side of it that proclaimed Silas Scarborough Galactic Peace Tour.  He had no idea who Silas Scarborough was but the paintings of the Andromeda Galaxy were pretty and the stars sparkled while the truck moved.  It was easily large enough for all the dogs and would house them in comfort for the drive.

Campbell and Sweeney were doing the same thing.  In the early days Campbell had laughed at the huge size of Goldberg's Sprinters but he was impressed by the frequent comments on its reliability and he ended up buying one as well.  Campbell's parents had protested at the cost of it but they had been very supportive of his education and were finally convinced the Sprinter was necessary.  Fortunately, as with Harrison's parents, they were fairly well-off and could afford to get him a newer one that was outfitted for camping, something he considered very important as he had known from an early age that he would spend his life researching animals and their behaviour.

In fairly short order, each of the walkie-talkies buzzed to acknowledge readiness to depart and then Goldberg announced, "onward to Shangri La!"

The vehicles then followed each other to form a caravan as they drove toward the Interstate highway.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Not a Good Day for Music

Lou Reed has died.  I remember from way, way back when I took "White Heat / White Light" to a party and they wouldn't listen to it.  That's how it went with Lou Reed in general but he still had a lot to say and he wouldn't be stopped.

John McVie of Fleetwood Mac has cancer.  The type is unspecified but the band has canceled their tour so he can go into treatment.

Conrad Murray, the doctor who killed Michael Jackson, is now out of jail after two years, apparently because of jailhouse overcrowding.  It's said he is going to try to get his medical license back.  I guess he figures he can cash in on killing some more pop stars.

In the Headlines

So what if the Saudis are angered because Obama didn't attack Syria and is moving toward better relations with Iran.  There are very large oil reserves in Iran.  That's why the U.S. installed the Shah in the first place.  Things went to hell between Iran and the U.S. when the Iranians overthrew the evil bastard.  America meddled in Iran's affairs and provided yet another example of causing a problem it now claims it's trying to fix.

Edward Snowden has struck again with the news that Angela Merkel is not alone, the U.S. has spied on as many as thirty-five world leaders.  What's interesting to me is that the leaders used mobile phones so heavily when it's notorious that they are so easy to monitor.  The NSA was apparently monitoring at the server level but that's not the only way to do it.

After Rupert Murdoch's News of the World was hacking mobile phones at will, it's not clear why it's a surprise that the NSA does it too.  The mistake is to think only the NSA is doing it as Britain's GCHQ is another example of massively-invasive spying.

According to the same recent information from Snowden, the NSA has been spying on Angela Merkel for more than ten years.  The U.S. responded that not much of value had been gained from doing it and this sure explains why they kept up the spying for all those years, doesn't it.  Obama said he didn't know just like Reagan always said I don't recall when someone asked him about his crimes.

RT News is reporting on how food suppliers in the U.S. are deliberately using addictive substances in food so, of course, the incredible obesity in America is because the people are helpless victims.  Alcoholics are victims, junkies are victims, and on and on ... what a load of crap.

Sonya Jevette is my friend and I hope to see her play live when I get to Texas.  She sings about "Big Girls" and she is a big girl but she's not obese.  There are lots of people in America who need to be carted around in trucks.

The Rally Against Mass Surveillance in Washington on October 26 was somewhat successful as there were thousands of people but it was nowhere near as big as the civil rights demonstrations in Washington in the sixties.  This is likely in part because there was no notice of it in national media and also because of the complacence of the American people.  That complacence shows a singular lack of imagination as most don't have much of a view of now and hardly any have a view of the future.

The Road to Sochi promotion Russia is doing is quite a beautiful thing and most recently the Olympic torch was taken to the North Pole.  It is on a route that goes thousands of kilometers around Russia and I don't think there has ever been an event like this before.  It's obviously a public relations effort but what a charming thing to do it in support of the Olympics which have served the cause of sports and peace for thousands of years.

Big, big storm in England today.  Most of the trains aren't running, flights canceled at Heathrow, trees down all over the place, and lots of flooding.  The storm isn't affecting Scotland too much but they're weren't having too much fun in the southwest of England.  The wind hit 99 mph at one point.

The Grand Prix of India

The Grand Prix of India, maybe the last running for quite some time, was the big show for Sunday but that's not the only race coverage on Brit TV.  British Superbikes, Grand Prix Superbikes, rally racing, sports car racing, and others are also well-represented.  However, what you will never see is NASCAR and this seems true for all of Europe as there is a generic disdain for stock car racing.

Before going on to NASCAR, something that may amuse you is last year's champion in British Superbikes is Shaky Byrne.  How you carry a name like that in big bikes and still live is open to your guess.

So, some of the disdain about NASCAR is warranted.  In Formula One if you so much as break wind in the direction of another driver then an official will bust you for it.  In NASCAR, the other driver may well punch you in the face.  Maybe that's bad form but that's how it's done.

Where NASCAR is really beautiful is in about the last thirty or forty laps of the race.  As many as eight or ten of the fastest drivers sort out over nearly five hundred miles to form a pack of their own and they start a dance within inches of each other at about 200 mph.  There's nothing else in automotive racing that matches this elegance.   Formula One is a little bit faster but when you're running at 200 mph or above, it really doesn't make much difference.  Besides, Formula One drivers hardly ever drive so close and definitely not for so long.

What European fans find distasteful is all the crashing and banging in NASCAR and there's a lot of it but there's a form to it you will come to know.  NASCAR officials don't interfere anywhere near as much and drivers will seek justice on their own.  There are some things that happen that are 'racing incidents' and are all part of the business of racing but there are others in which a driver has done something stupid or overly-aggressive and caused an accident. You bet there will be a payback for it in a future race.  Whether this is good racing is your call but that's how it works in NASCAR.

I didn't like crashing and banging at all as NASCAR rules apply in go-karts as well.  I really didn't particularly prefer racing as practice was always faster.  In practice there is no-one in your way and you can drive just as fast as you and the kart are capable of going.  I didn't care about who was the best or all the crashing and banging, I just wanted speed.  (Sebastian Vettel was turning laps in the Grand Prix of India that were about six seconds slower than his qualifying time.  Everyone is faster ahead of the race.)

On to the Grand Prix and the most important question of the day is what kind of music does Sebastian Vettel hear when he wanders about the pits with his headphones.  I don't have an answer and I'm surprised the TV people haven't asked him.

Alonso got screwed as he had to swap the front wing that was broken when he and Webber bumped on the start.  It looked like just plain bad luck as Webber and Raikkonen bumped then Webber came right which took him into Alonso's path and that hit Alonso's wing.  It was a bitch later on for Webber when his alternator broke so he has had three DNFs in the last four races and none of them were his fault.  The only one of the three who wound up in the points was Raikkonen.

Cat fancies Raikkonen but I've been watching Grosjean and it was cool to see him come back from fifteenth to finish third again.  Alonso was back down to around fifteenth but he couldn't come back from it while Grosjean did.  Most impressive.

And a big NASCAR burnout by Vettel after the race.  Cute.  He's the new World Driving Champion ... again.  He has now matched Niki Lauda with four world titles so they will be singing songs for him in Germany.  Very cool.

Ball games get a lot of attention over here too.  Even American football plays pretty well.  I didn't know this previously but the NFL stages pro games in Wembley Stadium and last night the San Francisco 49ers played, I mean beat the living hell out of, the Jacksonville Jaguars.  What may be interesting to you is that there was a huge crowd watching the game and they stayed through the whole game even though it was obvious very early that the game was over.

Cricket, soccer, and rugby all get live coverage and maybe that's because people so much love gambling over here.  Regardless of the reason, they love the events and there is tremendous enthusiasm for them.  All of this makes it all the more remarkable to me that NASCAR is nowhere here, it's not even mentioned.  There's no mention of Indy car racing either and Danica Patrick wouldn't be known here as anything but a model for Go Daddy, assuming she's known at all.  There's no great sociological phenomenon, it just might be interesting to you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"The Horse's Mouth" (movie)

So this one is a recommendation from me.  It stars Alec Guinness but what is less well-known is that he also wrote the screenplay.  It's all about an old artist living on a Hausboot and in less than perfect financial conditions.  Comedy ensues.

This was Brit comedy before Monty Python and is one of several in which he appeared.

Guinness died in 2000 and that marked the loss of one incredible genius.

"Name of the Rose" (movie)

"The Name of the Rose" is yet another recommendation from Cat and again there is nothing to gain by comparing it with any of the others except that it's excellent.  The only other point of similarity between any of her recommendations is that all of them are love stories but they are shown in very different ways.

While this one is a mystery, it far surpasses the simple titillation of the cop show mysteries so popular on television.  The photography is stunning and the portrayal of Fourteenth Century Catholicism has an horrifying surrealism even though it's quite real.

At first I was drifting as I wasn't so sure I wanted to commit the time to a mystery but the depth of the love stories is what kept it alive.  There's the love of God and the love of the woman and each is equally fascinating.  It's easy to guess the woman is the Rose but it's not until the final line, in a last ironic twist, that you learn how the story got its name.  The story couldn't have ended any other way and it's perfect.

Sean Connery plays the lead and he's backed by a very young Christian Slater, both of whom do fantastic jobs.  Connery is always interesting to me as he has an uncanny resemblance to my ol' Dad, partially in his appearance and very much in his manner.  F. Murray Abraham is an excellent actor also but this one wasn't a huge stretch for him as he starts out as the Evil Inquisitor and he stays that way.  If you're not convinced of his talent, check him out playing Salieri in "Amadeus" in which he is exquisitely evil but in a much more complex way.

Cat scores again.

Rally to Stop Spying - Washington - October 26

Rally to Stop Spying - Saturday, October 26, in Washington

There is a multi-billion dollar temple to the power of the state in the NSA's pyramid in Utah.  Above the entrance is the old motto of the phone company:  We Don't Care.  We Don't Have To.

What you do about it is up to you.

The NSA has nothing to do with stopping terrorism or crime as the former has increased while they have been doing all this spying and heroin exports from Afghanistan have skyrocketed.  More likely they're keeping track of global arms sales.  Whatever they're doing, you can be sure it's no damn good.

For more information:  A Rally Against Mass Surveillance - You will find speaker names, rallying point, start time, etc.  Good luck.

There's nothing on this on any American news outlet.  You're still not thinking they're just government stooges?

Carrying Your Instrument on Aircraft - The Law

Apparently this is how the law reads verbatim:

"An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if

(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator; and

(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft."

This information comes courtesy of Ari's Take, a blog:  CARRY YOUR INSTRUMENT ON THE PLANE - IT'S THE LAW

This law isn't so much important because it may save some money on submitting your guitar for checked baggage but rather because checking the instrument can destroy it.  If you forget to detune the instrument, particularly for a long flight when it will get the coldest, the strings will contract from the cold and are fully capable of pulling the neck back far enough to destroy it.

Interesting reading on Ari's Take and you might want to take a look.  Thanks to Cat for sending it to me and she said Voodoo Shilton sent it to her.

What Would Dogs Do - Part 10" (story)

When Harrison went back out to the yard, he found all of the students in total silence as they watched the dogs.  They were so entranced by what the dogs were doing that none of them noticed he had returned.  Harrison was happy to join them in silence as watching the dogs was part science and part pleasure.  He saw quickly what was intriguing the students as the dogs had divided into two packs but it wasn't to fight with each other.  It looked like they were playing some kind of soccer.  As he watched he saw there were no particular rules but there were definitely two teams playing.

Finally Harrison said, "I don't believe it."

Gill turned around and said, "Incredible, isn't it.  I don't think any of us has said anything for the entire time you were inside."

"I hate to break for business but we need it.  Ford accepted the extension for a month.  He wasn't pleased but he really doesn't have a choice without a confrontation that no-one wants."

"OK then," said Goldberg.  "We're now the Gang of Seven, the Dastardly Dognapping Desperadoes."

"Indeed," said Harrison, a bit grimly.  For all his life he had been a scientist in whom the police had no interest beyond a speeding ticket once in a while.  Stealing the dogs hardly made him a career criminal but he had never imagined he would be a criminal at all.

After another period of silence, Harrison said, to no-one in particular, "Do you know they watch television?"

Margolis swung around and said, "Really?"

"Oh yes.  All four of them were sitting in front of the television watching The Big Bang Theory."

"No!  Our beloved dogs will learn to be physicists and start telling jokes no-one understands!"  Margolis would not accept the idea of the dogs becoming physics geeks but the idea still amused her.

"It could be Star Trek," said Sweeney, also amused.

Gill said, "Maybe we ought to start thinking about how we're going to pull off the Great Escape.  Teaching the dogs quantum physics will have to wait for a bit."

Margolis was still laughing but said, "You're right.  I think all of us have been pretty anti-social except for the department so we won't be seriously missed but I do think it would be a good idea to contact our parents to let them know.  I know mine would notice my absence quickly and they would soon after be ringing telephones to find out what had happened.  So long as we do it with letters, it wouldn't violate our rule of no electronics."

Gill continued the thought and said, "My preference is to roll out as soon as possible.  The sooner we get settled again, the sooner we can get back to some science."

"Now who sounds like a physicist," asked Margolis, giggling all over again.

Gill was a little bit annoyed as he really didn't like being pulled away from the project but he knew there was no point in resisting.  Harrison thought this would be a good time to step into it.

"How about we allocate two days to packing.  There's no need to bring televisions, stereos, or the like as my parents have really got this place well-outfitted.  They have been long-time investors in the stock market and wound up with more money than the Pentagon.  The cave started out as a nuclear bomb shelter in the sixties and they have been adding to it ever since."

"More money than the Pentagon?  They got their money from China too?"  Margolis was really determined to get a laugh out of Gill.

"Nope, they bought Apple stock when it was at fifteen bucks and that's just one example."  Harrison smiled as he said it.  He didn't think much of playing with the stock market but his parents had been really good at it and had done very well.  They had also said to invest wisely and keep it.  This is the best way to ensure you don't end up living on macaroni and cheese when you get old.

Gill said emphatically, "Could we please keep this on focus."

"We need to work out who will be carrying the dogs inside the cars and who will need them caged.  I do believe the dogs will be safer if they're caged when we have more than a few in one vehicle."  Goldberg saw it wouldn't be at all good to keep teasing Gill.

The discussion got down to the mechanics of how to split up transporting the dogs, how they would manage stopping to walk them and feed them, and all the details of how they would handle their Great Escape.  After talking for another hour, everyone was satisfied they were ready and would meet again on the morning, two days hence, to get started.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Maria's Mother Comes Forward

What do you know, I was right on this one after all.  Sashka Ruseva, a Bulgarian woman, says she 'gave' Maria to the Roma couple who were stopped by police in Greece.  She says she did it because she wasn't able to feed her.  Assuming the DNA checks out, it looks like this case may be closed except for formal adoption proceedings should the Roman couple desire to proceed with that.  (CNN:  Bulgarian woman claims she's Maria's mom: 'We gifted her' to Roma family)

Passport Update - End of 5th Week - Updated

Right about now the new photographs should be arriving at the Embassy in London.  I will follow up on Monday to verify these ones meet their specifications.

Best thing to do for the moment is look to writing something funny.  Can't say I feel all that funny but maybe that's the best time to do it.  "The Decapitation of the Cadillac Man" was a classic moment of those days but I have other pending titles as well.

Update:  Confirmed via tracking number that the photographs were delivered on-time.

OS X Mavericks - Review - Updated


OS X Mavericks / OS X 10.9 is the latest operating system upgrade from Apple.  It's much more than a maintenance upgrade as the size of it is 5.29 GB from the Apple Store.  Mac OS upgrades usually don't cost much but this one is free, presumably to encourage people to switch to it quickly.  This review will show what you can expect from the installation process and what you will see in the more dramatic of the new features.


OS X Mavericks presents an 'interesting' installation process as it goes through several steps.  In the first it runs from the download for about a minute and then restarts at which time the main installation takes place and runs for about forty-five minutes.  It then restarts again for the completion / clean-up step which takes about ten minutes.  No action is required from you except to start it running.

Where the installation gets 'interesting' in the second and third steps is when in both cases it tells you there is 'less than a minute remaining.'  In English this means, go off to jog around the park, come back to take a shower, and then have a sandwich.  That's an exaggeration but take away from it that you mustn't break out of the installation process even if it seems to be running long, it's not broken and it will complete.


The most obvious change is the iBooks icon in the Dock.  Clicking it will take you to the app but there's not at first much you can do with it.  When you're offline it will download all your titles from iCloud or you can go to the iBookstore to buy new ones or get some free ones.  You can import titles from your iTunes but this isn't immediately useful to me.

iBooks Author has also been changed as the Preview function no longer demands an iPad unless it's already plugged into your Mac.  It now gives the option of selecting the Mac for the preview and the result is excellent.  Displaying the Table of Contents, etc is done by a menu rather than an icon at the top of the screen as it is done on the iPad but it's effective nevertheless.  The proof is in the reading and this works very much like the iPad with swiping to switch pages, etc.  It's smooth, brisk, and works like the iPad so there I'm calling this one a job well done.

Finder Tags

The next most obvious change is the addition of tags for files.  You can find information for any given file with CMD-I to pull up the display window.  At the top of it is now a section to set tags for the file.  The simplest way to do it is to click a list of color tags and this will put a coloured circle at the front of the file name to show it has been tagged.  After that you may want to create text tags and this works the same way by adding the tag in the Information window.  You can color the text tag if you wish.  Something that may get a little strange if you create a lot of tags for any single file is another coloured circle is added with the text tag.

The way to use the tags is in the Find command as you can select simply by color or by text to find all matching files with that tag.  This is the type of function that will require use over a period of time to discover how important it will become for you but I definitely see potential in it.  This goes well beyond simple searches by file name so it may well change how you use your Mac.

Finder Tabs

Next comes the addition of tabs to the Finder.  What this means isn't immediately obvious as selecting New Tab from the Finder File menu just opens a normal Finder window.  Where you see the tabs come into effect is when you select New Tab a second time as the tab will be created within the same Finder window you just opened.  In this way you can quickly switch between file lists pulled from your Favorites on the left of the window or whatever else you might like to do with it.  As with tags, how this will affect the way you work with the Mac will take some time to discover but Finder Tabs has a lot of potential to speed moving files about, etc.

An example of using Finder Tabs is when you want to move a file from one folder to another.  Open a tab for each of the folders then click and drag the appropriate file.  Hold the file over the second tab which you will discover is spring-loaded so it will open and you can drop the file where it needs to go.


The first time Maps is used it will download the map to your computer based on your current location.  Maps can then be used offline from the Internet but it won't have the full function as it can't download all of the satellite images in one swallow.  Even so, the offline capability gives Maps a huge advantage over Google as you could use it on an aircraft to look over where you are going before you get there.

Maps is the 1.0 release and there some things that are a bit cumbersome.  You have to drop a pin on a location of interest before you can create a permanent bookmark for it.  You then edit the bookmarks to add a name to it.  If you could CTRL click the location and create the bookmark directly without needing to edit the name of it then that would be much more 'Apple.'

One aspect in which Google Map has an advantage is that you can create maps which are easily shared and also are easily propagated to additional maps on personal Web pages.  The only way to share the Apple map is to create a PDF and then email it, upload it, send it to Twitter or Facebook, etc.  The Apple approach doesn't have the same flexibility so hopefully that will be improved in subsequent releases.


Something previously irritating was that after waking the laptop from sleep when there is no active WiFi elicited a prompt for other WiFi networks you might want to try.  This is useful the first time you wake it as maybe you do want to try one but it's not at all useful to do that each time you wake it thereafter.  That has been changed to eliminate the repeated prompts after each wake-up so this too is appreciated.  The irritation was that sometimes the system would prompt three times before it gave up and you couldn't do much with the computer prior to it finishing with them.

There are additional changes but these ones are likely the biggest.  You may want to review the notes in the App Store to determine if other changes will be more interesting to you.

Apple has an extraordinary knack for creating things you didn't know you needed which subsequently become indispensable.  I wasn't really expecting iBooks on the Mac even if it's not such a difficult thing to predict.  Now that it's here, I know it will be hugely useful to me as it's fairly time-consuming to create an iBook preview on the iPad whereas it's very swiftly executed on the Mac to give immediately what I want to see.  The tags and tabs aren't indispensable but I suspect they will quickly become a significant part of the way I use the system.

Overall rating of the Mavericks / Mac OS 10.9:  Outstanding
Price:  Free download from the App Store and no license charge
Recommendation:  For all Mac users

"What Would Dogs Do - Part 9" (story)

The dogs ran about the yard cavorting and trying to figure out who was the alpha male.  They weren't fighting but rather they seemed to be doing some sort of negotiation.  Harrison watched them and thought to himself that science isn't supposed to be this much fun.

The silence in a group of graduate students can only last so long and Sweeney broke it when she said, "It won't work."

"What won't," asked Goldberg.

"The sleight of dog trick.  Once they realise they have been hoodwinked, my guess is banker would sacrifice them rather than dealing with them.  He wouldn't look at them as anything more than an accounting problem."

"Good point, Christine," said Harrison and then continued, "That leaves running for it.  Does anyone have any thoughts on that?"

Margolis responded first in saying, "I've already talked to Steve and we want to play this out.  We're in."

Goldberg nodded and smiled.  Despite the surrounding drama, his fascination with what the dogs would say was growing with each word he heard from them.

Sweeney followed not long afterward and said, "Mark and I have also talked and we're in as well."

Harrison raised an eyebrow and asked, "Another romance?"

"Quite so," said Campbell and laughed.

Harrison turned to Gill and said, "Do you like chess?  It looks like we're the bachelors."

Gill laughed and said, "Actually, I don't but I'm in anyway.  I wouldn't miss it.  So long as there's a good supply of sci-fi, I won't get bored."

"Sci-fi?  Christine is the one who named her dogs after Star Trek characters," said Harrison.

This time Sweeney laughed and said, "Star Trek isn't sci-fi any more than hip hop is music."

"OK, OK," said Harrison.  "I'm glad to see everyone is willing to play.  I'm concerned about Hoffman but we just have to wait for now.  Ford wants me to to contact him by the end of the day so I believe I'll tell him I need another month before returning the dogs.  I told him they are not yet talking as I thought it would be better if he doesn't know.  I'll tell him I need another month before I give it up."

"Interesting approach, Boss," said Goldberg.  "I assume we will disappear before the month is up."

"Exactly.  It will take two or three days to get from here to Kentucky.  There's not much to do when we get there except pick rooms as my parents have kept their survival cave stocked and in good condition ever since they first built it."

"Is this Top Secret approach really necessary," asked Goldberg.

"Not as far as NSA or any other government spooks are concerned but anything they can do anonymous hackers can do better and some of those will be available for hire should the banker try to track us.  When we disappear it's a good chance he will guess the value of the dogs and every avaricious dream he ever had will go into overdrive.  I do think it's likely he will try to find us or hire people who can."

"Fair enough," said Goldberg.  He looked around at everyone and then said, "It looks to me like we're all in agreement."

"OK then.  I'll go inside to call Ford," said Harrison.  He too looked at everyone and then turned to go inside the house.

Post-Traumatic Cop Syndrome (video)

One of the most egregious examples of police brutality during the crushing of the Occupy Wall Street protest was a cop, Lt. John Pike, at the University of California at Davis campus.  Video shows this miserable bastard walking in front of about twenty kids who offered no resistance yet he sprayed them for a significant time with some type of pepper spray.  (Wiki:  UC Davis Pepper Spray)

This loathsome coward was drummed out of the police force in disgrace, right?

In fact he claimed he suffered from PTSD as a result of the incident and was just now awarded $38,000 by Workmen's Compensation because of undocumented death threats, etc received after doing it.  You can see from the video that no-one ever laid a finger on him or even tried.  He was fired eight months after the incident but UC Davis administration subsequently ruled he acted appropriately.

My family lived in Davis at one time while my ol' Dad taught genetics and did research at UCD.  It would have been unimaginable that such behaviour could take place in that lovely, peaceful place but today it's just one example of many across the country in which the police used excessive violence to repress OWS.  Obama was in command through all of this and any idea this was taking place without his consent is beyond credibility.  He's not just a bad President, he's an absolute disgrace to the U.S. and to the world.

I voted for Obama and I still believe a Republican President would have been even worse.  It becomes more and more clear that neither Democrats nor Republicans have an answer except more repression so the only answer left is to create a third political party.  Germany has multiple political parties and the country has been governed by a coalition for years.  In Germany the political parties moderate the policies of one another whereas in America both are almost exactly the same.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Art, Mr President

Tell us what you really think, homeboy!  (In case the video doesn't work, you can see a giant purple sculpture floating in the river that's flipping the bird at the Czech president.  Love it!  Here's the link on RT News:  Political gesture: Rebel sculptor gives Czech president giant floating finger)

Did You Hear a Click on the Line?

Angela Merkel has complained about tapping her mobile phone conversations by the NSA.  Of course Obama denied it and let's guess what he told her:  don't worry, baby, we didn't capture anything but metadata.

All this surveillance crap is getting egregiously tiresome as what the NSA is doing is flawed in multiple ways.  There's little or no evidence they've ever been effective at anything but there's little chance they would be anyway.  They've decided that electronic communication is all that matters in capturing bad guys so it seems quite obvious the answer is don't use it.  Instead of using email, send your message via normal postal mail.

The NSA seems to exemplify the thinking that when you can only fix things with a hammer then everything around you starts looking like a nail.  Ultimately they're limited by their own arrogance.

Say you're the big-time dope trafficker in Colombia, are you seriously going to use a cellphone to call up your partners in Miami to say, "Hola, amigos, I've got a hundred keys coming in on a speedboat tonight.  Party hearty."

I saw recently that there are claims terrorist groups are using social networks to collect money to make bombs or whatever.  Yah, this makes sense.  People will suddenly stop playing Farmville and will become Muslims who want to blow up the world.  What utter rubbish.  With all the immense tapping and computing equipment available to the CIA and the NSA, it still took ten years to find bin Laden, assuming you believe any part of the official story.  So, Homer, tell me again what good this NSA is supposed to be.

This isn't a how-to for terrorism as any idiot could figure this out ... except the idiots at the NSA who keep on spending more and more to do exactly the same thing thereby fully qualifying for Einstein's definition of insanity (i.e. repeating an act and expecting a different result).

Yes, of course there's another answer:  what the NSA is doing has little or nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe that's so obvious that it doesn't need saying.  Who knows.

OS X Mavericks - I Want It

OS X Mavericks is a free upgrade to the Mac OS and it specifically addresses iBooks, along with a great many other things.  As it stands, one cannot do much with an iBook on anything but the iPad.  You can edit the book under the Mac OS but you can't read it.  OS X Mavericks addresses that and I'm most interested to see the result as it should greatly speed development.  I split "What Would Dogs Do" into a separate book so now there are three books in varying stages of development so this OS change is of very high interest to me.

There many other features to OS X Mavericks but I won't have anything further about them until I can successfully download it.  The file is 5.89 GB so the WiFi may explode in trying to obtain it but the download is currently in-progress and hopefully I'll capture it today.

There's more to reading an iBook on a Mac laptop or desktop machine as it also means can buy them.  Previously the market was only to iPads and that's a cool environment but it cuts off the area where the long-term Mac loyalists are most likely to live.  Not anymore.  I've had a note on the one plug I've got up for my poetry book that it's iPad only.  It's very cool that is now changing and it will be interesting to see what comes.  (I still need to re-publish the book to take the videos out of it as the download is about two gigabytes.)

Passport Update - Again in Motion

The photographs were obtained yesterday afternoon and went out just now via Royal Mail Special Delivery to arrive at the U.S. Embassy in London by 1300 tomorrow.  Here we go again.

I realise this is as exciting as a termite inspection but there's nothing else for it just now.

"What Would Dogs Do - Part 8" (story)

There were cars scattered all over Harrison's front yard and he was pleased to see almost all of his assistants were there.  He knew there was one missing but he didn't review to see who it was as he went inside the house.

A circus was live inside the house with five graduate students and twenty-one dogs.  Sometimes the dogs were saying various words but even this didn't pull Harrison far from what he needed to tell everyone.  Before starting, he noticed that Hoffman was missing.

"Has anyone heard from David," Harrison asked.

Right away, Goldberg answered, "No word and we have called him three times."

"It would be one very damn big shame if he turns up on the Letterman show," cracked Campbell.

Harrison sought to squelch that right away and said, "Take it easy.  This isn't the NSA and he's innocent until we know otherwise.  There could be a family emergency, dead battery in his cellphone, you know how things go.  Agreed?"

All of the students nodded affirmation but they weren't happy with it.  They wanted an answer and weren't pleased with the idea of waiting for it.

"I've got a bigger problem just now.  I assume you know I have been meeting with Ford and I'm not going to drag out what he said.  He wants the dogs back." announced Harrison.

"Damn," said Goldberg.  "Now what?"

"We run for it," suggested Margolis.

"We tell him to buzz off," added Gill.

Various ideas flew about the room for a few minutes but then it fell silent until Sweeney said softly, "We find more dogs?"

"That's it, Christine," said Harrison.  "Excellent idea."

"Do you mean we should find twenty-one dogs and pull a sleight of dog trick, Christine," asked Goldberg.

"I think it just might work," she answered.

"I agree with her," said Harrison.  "It wouldn't fool a vet but it would take some time for anyone to realise a vet examination was necessary.  Take a breath before responding to the next part."

He looked around the room and there was complete silence as they waited.

"I also agree with Jane," continued Harrison.  "We need to run for it.

After a short pause, Goldberg said, "Let me get this straight.  Part 1 is that we will find twenty-one Highland Terriers of about the same age as ours.  Part 2 is that we deliver them to Ford as if they are the actual subject dogs.  Part 3 is we disappear for some as yet unknown location.  Correct?"

"Precisely," replied Harrison.  "However I caution you to stay as detached in your decision as possible.  When I say disappear, I mean no credit cards, no cellphones, no contact.  We will go right off the map."

"Tell me more, Boss," said Goldberg.

"Alright.  My parents have a ranch in Kentucky and there is a quite large cave on the property.  It's easily large enough for us to stay in it along with the dogs.  My parents are survivalists and the cave has been set up for years as a fall back for any eventuality."

"Do your parents wear aluminum hats," asked Margolis, laughing.

"No, no," said Harrison.  "They look at it as realism.  Better to prepare and not need something than to be caught short.  When there are so many whackos running around with weapons, I really can't fault their logic."

"How long do you think we would be there," asked Sweeney.

"Keep in mind I'm improvising as I go along.  I had some time to think about this on the way back from seeing Ford but the details are resolving as we talk about it.  What I'm thinking is that we would be there at least long enough to see if the dogs breed true.  This will go through the second phase of the program.  Here's a twist that just occurred to me.  After we have the next generation, we neuter the first generation and return them to Ford.  That will be hard on all of us as I know we've all fallen in love with them but it just might save them."

"What about Hoffman coming up with the same idea and starting a talking dog puppy mill," said Campbell.

"No chance," said Gill.  "He only has males."

The students were thinking hard at all that had come at them in the last few minutes and the room fell quiet.  It was a huge decision to make for Harrison and imagined it would be even harder for the kids as he had twenty years on almost all of them.

Harrison said, "Let's take this to the backyard and have a break to play with the dogs.  A quick decision on this is probably not a good idea."

Everyone slowly stood up, all the while deeply thoughtful, and then they filed outside.