Two bees, or not two bees.

When I was younger I was enamored of flying, having learned how at Key West Naval Air Force base thanks to a brief stint as a military dependent. Flying lessons were at that time affordable, and I took the opportunity to learn how to solo a Cessna 150, and later at Hill Air Force Base Aero Club, a PA-28 140. After I turned 23 and lost dependent status, flight time became prohibitively expensive, so I never got my ticket – but I sure loved the experience.

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During that time I was subscribed to “Flying” magazine and read it religiously, drooling over the new Mitsubishi twin-engine planes that looked so beautiful, and one of the monthly features was “I Learned About Flying from That” – a humorous but educational look at the odd sorts of things that crop up.

I share with you here a portion of one that I always remembered, and which thanks to the eternal memory of the Internet, has been preserved for posterity.


Ridiculous things can happen when you least expect them. It was a beautiful, smooth CAVU day and I leveled off at 8,500, cranked the trim, settled back and opened a stick of chewing gum. It was all very peaceful, but while part of the gum was sticking out of my mouth, a bee landed on it.

I exploded the gum as far as the windshield. This must have put the bee in a bad mood, because he did an immelman and came at me out of the sun. As soon as he got me in his sights, he was joined by another bee.

I wade a rather haphazard attack with a folded low-level chart, but the situation deteriorated when the bees made a flank attack up my trouser leg.

By this time, I imagined I was sitting on a whole nest of bees and began looking for an airport. In answer to my screaming into the mike, a pedantic voice told me wind direction and velocity, barometric pressure, runway, and then, to report downwind. I was hoping for a straignt-in approach, so I began to shout about bees.

Of course, the tower said, “Repeat.”

I supposed I sounded something like “Blah blah blah, Comanche, two bees…”

“Comanche Bravo Bravo, go ahead.”

“Negative Bravo Bravo. Bees. I’ve got two bees.”

“You’ve got to what?”

“Seven-Five Pop has got two bees!”

The tower somehow got the idea that I wanted to use the facilities, and cleared me straight in. I went literally buzzing up to the wire fence beside the terminal, leaped madly out on the wing and took off my pants. Not until there was a burst of applause from a Girl Scout troop did I realize how totally I had been routed by the emergency.

Now bees are on my checklist, just like birds.

From “Flying” magazine, October 1972. “I Learned About Flying from That,” No. 389, by Guernsey Le Pelley

Full text here: https://books.google.com/books?id=aMXZoqvRpaIC

I could tell you about the time that I was at about 10,000 feet practicing cross-control stalls in a Piper and learned exactly why one should be aware of this danger by going into a dead spin, but perhaps another time…

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beware of “Pet Care” texts or emails

Scam Alert-stamp

Over at a post about working over a Craigslist scammer, I got a few comments about a particular scammer that’s working the “pet care” angle. I thought I’d respond to his email address and see how it works.

I wrote to jamesbrenard1@gmail.com: “Someone said you were interested in pet care. Where are you located?”

Here how the drone responded:

Hello and how are you doing?

Glad to read from you and since you were refereed by CARE, I feel comfortable discussing this opening as it concerns the comfort of my fur babies who happens to be the only babies i have presently but hoping for that to change soon. My name is James and my wife’s name is Maha, I contacted Care i needed a Caregiver so am trusting their judgement. I am relocating to your neighborhood from Canada. I recently got a contract with a company on a private research job and i’ll be in charge. My wife is 6 months pregnant, she was in a little accident few weeks ago so am a little indisposed and this is going to be a big change in my family so we want everything to move smoothly and stress-free, so i am going to have a limited time for our fur babies and this is where i hope you come in and help.

I need someone to work 4 hours in a day for an 3 days in the week, someone that is mature whether young or old, loves pets, reliable, attentive, honest and punctual. You will be taking care of 2 Dogs, Billy a yr old Australian Terrier and Misty a 4 years old German
Shepard for any three days of your choice excluding Sundays and will have to take them on a walk at least once a week, give them a bath, brush their hair and make them comfortable while we are away. I can handle the feeding but the rest i wont be able to do, so you can work for us as long as you want. I plan on getting 2 fishes on the other hand; one is a Fancy Goldfish, while the other is an Auratus Cichlid, we’ve never had fishes but i wish to have the very best care for them so i’ll need advise on names that you think will befit them. I trust you can do this for us.

Our arrival date will be on the 28th of January and we’ll be having a face to face meet on the 29th the day after our arrival. I will be offering you $415 weekly,and also will be needing your services for 4 hours at any suitable time of yours. Bonus will be paid if there are any overtime, If you believe you are fit for this position in as much you will prove yourself to be a reliable and good person, I will instruct my financial clerk to pay for the first week before our arrival so as to secure your service in advance and to show our commitment on our part. 

My financial clerk will require this information to be able to make out a check to you;

Full Name:
Full address with Apt Number:
City, State and Zip code:
Phone number:

I await to read from you soon.

Warmest regards

Note a couple of things:

  1. This bozo has no idea where I live. Even if legitimate, he or she could be living in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I might be responding from Key West, Florida.
  2. The promise of advance payment. Anyone who “bites” would be sent a check of this nature: Secret Shopper Bogus Check
  3. The next thing that would happen is that the criminal would send too much money and ask the victim to wire a large part of it to someone else via Western Union. Of course, the check is bogus, your money is gone, and you’re on the hook to the bank for the full amount – including possibly facing criminal charges of your own for negotiating false documents. That doesn’t happen often, but some banks and police departments are anal-retentive enough that it has happened, and will probably happen more often in the future.

I sent the drone a fake name but a real address… and never heard back. I wrote back once saying “Hey, what happened? You were going to send me a check to get Pet Care started. Did you change your mind,? Should I still be looking?” but never had a response. Either he somehow twigged that he was being played for a fool, or simply had moved on to a new victim.

At any rate, watch out for this individual and any others using the same ploy.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Philippe Kahn, Prophet

I was on site in 1986, the year Philippe Kahn, CEO of Borland, had the temerity to say in the midst of a crowd of Mac enthusiasts in San Francisco, that the Macintosh was a piece of shit.  That took a lot of gumption; I’m reminded of the scene in The Patriot where Mel Gibson walks into a bar and shouts, “God save the King,” exiting hastily in front of a cloud of knives and axes.

He was wrong then.

128k-macintosh

The 128K Mac was a thing of beauty and innovation (at least for folks who had not been inside the Palo Alto Research Center.) It introduced the world to the concept of a real graphical user interface, and made things possible in the world of graphics, sound, fonts, gaming, design, music, and artwork that would never have been possible in the IBM world – even by adding a dozen cards – more so as the machine morphed into faster and colorized versions. Dark Castle, HyperCard™, designable fonts, MIDI, user-accessible resources… they were all so fun!

The beautiful 1988 Battle Chess game by MacPlay riffed on the biggest disadvantage at the time – the price differential. “Pawn takes King” has the pawn whip out a Macintosh Price List, whereupon the king suffers a fatal coronary.

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Flop for flop, the Macintosh machines were about half again as costly as a comparable IBM device, and remain so to this day – but back then the “coolness” factor was enough to overcome that little annoyance. From 1984 until about 1990, I was a devotee.

But Kahn was just 30 years too early.

My wife has an iPod, and years ago one of her kids gave her an iTunes gift card for some music. So we had to set up an AppleID for her to be able to use it. Hold that thought.

Recently she acquired an iPad from her mother, and it was necessary to switch ownership of the pad to her account. Hold that thought.

For about six months last year, I worked for a cloud storage company as a tech support agent, and with remote tools I delved into a lot of Mac systems while I helped customers with their tech issues.

From the experiences I had trying to navigate the Apple environment to resolve what should have been the simplest of problems, I can safely go on record as saying that the Mac world is a place of overpriced, underpowered hardware, combined with a byzantine tangle of AppleIDs, iTunes (an abomination of desolation if ever I saw one, a heavy-handed store thinly disguised as an impossibly cumbersome media management tool), iCloud, Photo Library, and other bits and pieces which form a virtual nightmare to navigate. For Mogg’s sake, they even make you create an account to look at their help forums. And when you try to do that, you hit a brick wall.

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My Username is OK. I agreed to the Agreement. “Please check the form for details” shows virtually no additional information. Thanks, Apple.

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Add to this some recent technology decisions that seem difficult to fathom, including a plethora of dongles, the removal of a standard audio jack, and those easily-lost wireless earbuds, and it makes me wonder why anyone would go with Apple hardware any longer. For the longest time a relative imperviousness to viruses and malware was a big draw, but that era has ended, and there’s not much a Mac can do that a PC can’t, and for about 60% of the price. The “coolness” factor is just not there any longer.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been religiously attached to any hardware or operating system. I’ve used so many, it’s basically “whatever gets the job done.” But for a brief period, the Mac was really a wonderful, dazzling, entertaining and useful new thing. Today, I’m pretty convinced that the company has lost its way and its vision when it comes to computers. I don’t hate Apple; I’m really hoping they can turn themselves around. If they don’t, it’s a sure bet that somewhere in the future, another Steve Jobs is waiting.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets – from On the Media.”

On the Media is “WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. Veteran journalists Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield give you the tools to survive the media maelstrom.”

A recent segment intriguingly addresses the PEOTUS’ twitter-storm, and how the media should appropriately respond.

As we all know, Donald Trump’s tweets have become a potent force in our new era. On the one hand, a single tweet can cripple opponents, activate supporters, move markets, and subsume the news cycle. On the other, they’re a window into Trump’s wee-hours, unfiltered id. But when his tweets are full of half-truths, distortions, and often bold-faced lies, should journalists treat them as normal presidential utterances, or something else? Cognitive linguist George Lakoff believes that the press must understand how Trump uses language if we’re to responsibly report on his tweets, not just magnify their misinformation. He talks with Brooke about the categories he’s come up with for thinking about Trump tweets.

A summary of the categories:

  1. Preemptive Re-framing – Trump’s tweet stated, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This was rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact, but it effectively re-frames the popular vote in the minds of those who see the tweet, thus distorting the facts in the public arena.
  2. The Diversion Tweet – This kind of tweet is akin to the magician’s misdirectional “nothing up my sleeve.” While you’re busy looking at his or her sleeve to be sure, jiggery-pokery is happening elsewhere. A good example is focusing on Hamilton, as Trump did when he tweeted “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” In this way, people focus on Hamilton rather than the $25 million settlement in the case of  fraud allegations against Trump University.
  3. The Trial Balloon – Send up something and see how the public reacts, so you’ll know what to do in the future. When Trump tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he watched to see how the public responded to this idea; in this case there was a brief discussion about nuclear policy which quickly faded from the public consciousness.
  4. Deflection – In which you attack the messenger. After being pointedly called out by Meryl Streep for mocking a disabled reporter, Trump attacked the messenger: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!The video is out there; no matter how much he denies it, Trump’s actions can not be interpreted as anything other than cruel mockery of a man’s afflictions – but attacking Ms. Streep, one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of this generation, deflect’s the public’s view from the issue at hand. This was also evident as Trump attacked Buzzfeed, CNN, and the BBC around reports on the supposed Russian dossier.

Lastly, Lakoff presents an example of a Trump tweet that uses all four strategies at once:

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

  • Pre-emptive framing: “This is fake news.”
  • Diversion – Getting the public to discuss whether or not this is fake news rather than addressing the issue itself.
  • Deflection – Attacking the messengers
  • Trial balloon – Will the intelligence agencies be stopped, and are they working like Nazi Germany?

And, of course, tucked away in the tweet is the invocation of a corollary to Godwin’s Law: In any online discussion, whoever first brings up a reference to Hitler has lost the argument, and the discussion is ended.

Lakoff’s suggestions for the press on how to handle the onslaught of 3 AM tweets, as well as the entire podcast (it’s only about 8 minutes long) are well worth the listen.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The only way to the stars.

It won’t be technology that gets us there, although that’s a critical part of the equation. It won’t be money alone. Humanity won’t crawl out of the mud until we really learn to care for each other.

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This sad tombstone reads:

Seduced and pregnant by her father’s friend,
Unwed she died from abortion, her only choice.
Abandoned in life and death by family,
With but a single rose from her mother.
Buried only through the kindness of an unknown benefactor
Died February, 1875, age 21
Victim of an unforgiving society
Have mercy on us.

The poem below was part of a BBC program, unfortunately not available in the US, translated by redditor /u/Reedit_girl

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Too many people in this world live and die essentially alone and ignored and forgotten. How can we possibly hope to inherit the stars if we can’t even take care of our own here on this Pale Blue Dot?

This image from David Linn – “The Ascent” – illustrates beautifully the Quaker proverb, “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”

david-linn-the-ascent-helping-into-the-light

That’s what life is about, regardless of your spiritual walk, be it person of faith, humanist, deist, atheist, anti-theist, or somewhere else – it matters not. We’re here to make a difference in one another’s lives for good. If you’re doing that, you’re on a good road.

The idea is not new, it’s as old as the hills. In the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a, we find this:

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“That which is distasteful unto yourself, do not unto others. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and study.”

Lest you think I’m being partial to Judaism, have a look at the Golden Rule in many faiths around the world:

Golden Rule

Missing from the chart is the humanist “ethic of reciprocity,” the belief  that people should aim to treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves – with tolerance, consideration and compassion.

Until we live in a world where this idea is as natural to every person as breathing, we won’t be ready to inherit the stars.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

The Saga of Window 10 – so now my scanner doesn’t work any more.

When I first bit the bullet and upgraded from Win 7 to Win 10, I lost my HP PSC 950 printer – no available drivers could get it to work. By dint of a lot of pray-and-try fiddling, I was able to get my Canon all-in-one (MF 4350D) to print, but the Canon toolbox was no longer recognized, so my ADF feeder was bricked.

Now, after the Anniversary Update, the entire scanner function is gone. Sticky notes are locked to a minimum size, regardless of how much text is on them. Chrome demands permission to run every blasted time, along with other programs like Paint Shop Pro 7.0 and WinAmp, to name just a few. And you can now no longer tell Windows not to restart your computer after an update, but only specify when you’d like to do it… and you can’t specify longer than a 12-hour exclusion window. ¹

Do you have any idea how enraging this is?

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(With apologies to Bud Grace.)

Do you remember the scene in Dirty Harry where the serial killer, Scorpio, pays to have himself beaten up by a thug so he can blame his injuries on the police?

Yeah, that’s what I’d like do do with every Microsoft executive responsible for the Mißgeburt that is Windows 10. In an abandoned warehouse somewhere, until they beg abject forgiveness from every frustrated user who had Win10 forced upon them without permisson, and even those of us who upgraded by choice.

Not very charitable of me, I know. But the frustration level has risen to such a point that some Linux distro is starting to look darned attractive, learning curve notwithstanding.

I have some words for Microsoft, but they’re not suitable for what I try to keep as a family-friendly blog. Fill in the details yourself, it won’t be hard.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Edit: A month or so after I had written this draft, Canon (bless their souls) had come up with a new driver for my printer, so at least the scanner works again. And Windows did fix the issue with sticky notes. The rest of my frustration remains. Yes, these are #firstworldproblems, but I live in the first world and depend on my machine for a whole lotta things.

No, Virginia, “brain booster” pills don’t work.

I have inveighed many times against the deceptive nature of affiliate marketing. It’s getting worse all the time, and otherwise legitimate entities are promoting it by allowing anybody and their capybara to inject ads onto their websites. It’s all about the revenue.

Newser™ used to be one of my favorite news aggregator sites, but my enthusiam began waning when their site became jugged with deceptive advertising, and my patience finally snapped when they added code to create popup tabs and randomly switch me to unwanted articles.

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This one, which I had mentioned before, popped up again. It infuriates me, because people are going to believe this camel ejecta, and waste their money on worthless garbage. Instead of “BrainStorm Elite” or “IQ+,” it’s now called “Intelleral” – and it’s not much more than what they flufferously designate as WGCP (whole green coffee powder), meaning NoDoz™ would be just as effective because it’s nothing more than caffeine.

Take note:

  • Stephen Hawking does not say anything about Intelleral or anything else doubling your IQ.
  • The advertisement server is smart enough to know that I’m browsing from Maine, and it injects that state into the headline.
  • Anderson Cooper’s interview has nothing to do with any products.
  • I believe that Intelleral is worthless garbage, and its manufacturers are – in my humble opinion – criminal scum.

So let’s say you’re curious and google something like “intelleral scam.”

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Take note that almost every one of these results is the result of an affiliate marketer’s campaign. The red WOT circles are also a good indication that these websites are deceptive and potentially dangerous.

An example: the last link on the list purports to warn you about the side effects and cost of Intelleral. And it’s nothing more than a page promoting the product:

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How much more deceptive can you get than this? Why would you buy a product that’s so dishonestly promoted, even if it worked… which it doesn’t.

One customer wasn’t too happy… among countless:

This product is a scam
By [redacted], Canton, NC, Jan 6, 2017
I ordered Intelleral due to the wonderful advertisement and testimonies by several famous people. I have taken this for a couple of weeks with no noticeable positive effect.

I was checking my credit card this morning and noticed two different charges pending for the two trial items I ordered from the Intelleral website. I did not request future orders. I was billed $64.95 and then $69.95 (charges pending).I contacted my credit card company to dispute this.

Do not order from these people.

You notice her complaint about the extra charges? That’s standard operating procedure for these slimy bottom-feeders. Have a look at their “terms,” which you have to click through to read:

2.1 By placing your order you will be receiving a 14 day evaluation of for the price of $4.95! We stand by our satisfaction Guarantee and our friendly customer service. You will also be enrolling into our convenient auto ship program once your evaluation expires. You understand that you are subscribing to a monthly shipment program and you will be charged $89.99 per month starting 14 days from today and every 30 days thereafter unless cancelled. You also understand that you can cancel at any time, subject to the provisions of section 3, without further obligation by calling 888-298-0291, Monday – Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm MST. Your transaction will appear on your credit card statement as “”. You will recieve your package within 2-5 business days of each payment. Please allow 2-5 Business days for your initial Bottle.

There’s a lot more if you have the stomach to read it. You thought you were paying $4.95 for a trial, but you were actually obligating yourself to shell out $90 bucks a month for this snake oil, and good luck getting a refund from these weasels.

Best solution: TURN AROUND, RUN AWAY, DON’T LOOK BACK. Do not buy this or anything like it that sounds too good to be true, because it is.