Things My Father Taught Me – Booby Traps

At 1 minute 10 seconds in this video you see a soldier pick up a stuffed bunny and die. My Father taught me not to do that…

Dad was a Combat Engineer in W.W.II. While lots of folks claim “First In / Last Out” in fact they go in and exit over bridges and other entries built by Combat Engineers. They leave THEN the Combat Engineer blows up the bridge. Or the Combat Engineer builds the bridge under enemy fire then they cross it to go in. Dad did just that.

One of the things he taught me was “NEVER ever pick up a souvenir”. Why? Because a lot of his time was spent disarming booby trapped “things”. It might be a doll, or a Luger, or a doorway or whatever. The Germans in W.W.II did a LOT of booby traps as they retreated. My Dad took them apart. For whatever it is worth, at about 8 years old I was instructed in how to spot and disarm them (and how to disarm German W.W.II land mines and other, now, relatively useless explosive techniques… but the concepts have eternal value… )

To some extent my career as a White Hat computer security guy is an extension of his career as a White Hat in W.W.II identifying and eliminating explosive threats. Is it really useful to know how to find and identify an “anti-handling trigger” on a W.W.II tank mine? Or is it just useful to know such things exist and to look for them? Eh?

FWIW, Dad survived the invasion (landed about day 2-3 on Utah beach I think), Went to Cherbourg to rebuild the port for Allied use for a few weeks, then crossed France into Germany. Building bridges and blowing up stuff along the way.

Somewhere in eastern France he traded his M1 Carbine to a foot soldier for an M1 Garand. The foot soldier wanted something lighter to carry and Dad was happy to take the higher fire power into his “Duce and a half” truck. (2.5 ton truck that Dad drove off the LST on the beach).

Oddly, my Dad was important to getting the Spousal Dad where he needed to be. Seems that my Dad was busy building bridges that the Airborne needed once they were on the ground. Spousal Dad went in as 100 st. Airborne but British Liaison Officer, so landed on a British Glider. (I have his Sykes Knife, given to him by his British liaison contacts as a token of acceptance… used, no doubt. Really, without doubt … from his mouth to my ears..) So these two danced across Europe without knowing their children would one day meet..

Have I transmitted this heritage well enough to my kids? I fear not so much. But, OTOH, it seems the Son “gets it” despite my failings.

The Point? America depends on “people like me” and my kids. We “get it” for better or worse. Banning won’t work as we have a 1000 years of flowing around obstacles. And YOU depend on US. Think about that for just a little while. Who makes your email “go”, and who takes apart the bombs intended to blow up you and yours? People “like me”.

Perhaps it is not so great an idea to piss off “people like me”. Eh?

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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39 Responses to Things My Father Taught Me – Booby Traps

  1. corsair red says:

    Thanks for doing it.
    I must say I don’t understand any of it when you discus how to create this or work around that. But i’m glad somebody om our side does..

  2. beththeserf says:

    “The Point? America depends on “people like me” and my kids. We “get it” for better or worse. ”

    Yes, great post… Tonight I had dinner with friends and then we watched the NSW Mardi gras on TV. pushed by medja as a significant social event but so far removed from the act of legal reform in Western law that addressed the unjust treatment of gay people like Turing whose Enigma machine helped save Britain in WW2.. So disrespectful of gay people like Dave Riubins and Douglas Murray who don’t wish to be judged by a single criteria of sexual diversity. The group prancing and preening, blond wigs, tinsel lycra costumes and feathered headwear, ”look at me, look at me,” bread and circus in the arena, oh what a sad display by grown up human beings. Once equal rights have been achieved for gay people why is LBGTQ being pushed top-down, even in primary schools, as the significant political issue of the Western world? It’s a diversion and an undermining of what’s really important, human maturity and liberty and a productive economy.

  3. H.R. says:

    @beththeserf – wOw! Great comment.

    You’ve described Identity Politics to a T. Yes, ’tis sad when people see only one aspect of their existence for their short time on this Earth. They have been taught by the Masters of Manipulation that one thing about them is supremely important and that gives the puppet masters the strings of nearly complete control.

    Once a person’s self is defined so narrowly by one issue or aspect of their life, they can be directed at will with the “Us against Them” tactic. The power hungry can then point that Identity group at any “Them” that suits their needs.
    “Say it often, say it loud! I’m straight and I’m proud.”

    Ummmmm… no. That’s not me. I’m much more than just my choice of sex partner.

    “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” ~Groucho Marx

    A common phrase used by our forebears was, “It takes all kinds; live and let live.” That was recognition that others were different and, though someone and their ideas might not be your cup of tea, they had a right to their World View. It was still a common attitude when I was a young’un, but for all the talk, talk, talk of “Diversity” nowadays, what’s really going on is that only the people who think approved thoughts are ‘good’.

    “It takes all kinds; live and let live” attitude has been washed, rinsed, and spun dry out of the minds of too many sheeple by the GEBs. Mindless conformity to whatever those sheeple are told is ‘good’ and anger and hate directed at all others who are not ‘good’ has taken deep root. The West has probably reached the point where there are fewer people who can agree to disagree than there are those whose hate and anger have been weaponized. Bummer.
    Stray thought: Over the past couple of years, I have read the stories of several people (Dems) who became Trump supporters after attending a Trump rally. They came to see just how Deplorable, Horrible, Ignorant, Hate-filled, Low-Life Trump’s supporters were.

    They were instead overwhelmed by kind, friendly happy, positive, engaged people who just wanted the best for America. The scales fell from their eyes as they realized they had been lied to about Orange Man Bad and his Troglodyte hate-mongering mindless Trump-cult followers.

    So maybe there is hope while there is still a large number of people who reject the GEB’s attempts to control everyone under a One World Government. The battleground is Identity Politics, Divide and Conquer. So far, the winner of that battle is still undecided.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Corsair Red:

    That’s just the way it is for Tech Folks. We know that what we do has very little of interest to anyone else. They just want the application / computer to “go”. It’s like electricity in the socket: most folks don’t know how it works, how it gets there, and don’t care at all about anything the other side of the plug. They just want it there when they plug something in or flip a switch. The only time almost everyone cares about any of it, or even thinks about it, is when the lights are out and the house is getting cold.

    Nobody will ever get praise or kudos for having the lights stay on, or having the network be up and the computer working today. At most, you can become the center of negative attention when it all fails to work. In some ways the exact opposite of a Politician. They glory in something failing and use it to aggrandize themselves with “action”; but just keep things running, quietly and without any failure? They are not interested…

    The Thousand and One land mines that did NOT blow up because my Dad lifted and disarmed them were not big news. Nor were the bridges he built after the retreating Germans blew them up. (Nor the few he blew up when our guys were retreating under fire). What made the news?

    One time he and his buddy made a wrong turn. Ended up, middle of the night, about 50 miles behind enemy lines and drove into a base… the guy at the Guard Shack, half asleep, gave them a Nazi salute as they drove in… Wrong base! Lucky for them, using captured trucks was common and neither of them had their helmets on, so just kept on going into the base…

    BUT, you can’t just U-Turn and get the hell out… Would look very wrong. So they found a pile of steel, and loaded it up. Drove back out and found their way back to where they needed to build that bridge… Made the papers about Brave Americans going behind enemy lines to find the needed steel… When the reality was just a wrong turn and adapting to circumstances. Keeping your cool and doing what you must.

    So I post “Tech Talk” for other Tech Folks, and for the Wannabees to have a model to follow. Basically putting up signposts for others of “Turn right at the next corner” and “Don’t go left, you will end up on the wrong base…”. Cookbooks for folks who want to give it a try themselves. I’m going to do the work anyway, so might as well document it. Besides, sometimes the “Wannabee” is me a year later wondering “How did I do that last time?….” and my own posting reminds me ;-)

    Then there’s that small vain hope that someone who’s not a Tech Type will see it and think “Golly, what they do is a lot more complicated than I thought. Nice to know…” and appreciate what it takes to “keep the lights on” or the bits flowing…

    Oh, and my current batch of work is about demonstrating how to “Go Dark” and still communicate. Just in case it is necessary for folks to find an alternate way. With all the purges and such underway, the Cancel Culture of Communism on the warpath… I need to build that bridge to a safe place to talk and share… Then put up Cookbooks that folks can follow even if they don’t know how to roll their own.

    Signs and bridges, it’s a thing…


    One of the best Telco guys I ever had work for me was a Gay Guy. Always professionally dressed and by all appearances conservative. Was about 6 months before I figured it out. I think he appreciated that all I cared about was his skills, not what he did on his own time, and that it was fine with me for him to be himself at work. Near as I can tell, he was never of the “Glitter and Lycra” crowd.

    I’m glad we’re past the time when folks like Turing were destroyed by lesser lights. I just wish that the lesser lights on “the other side” were not trying to destroy things too. “Live and let live” does not mean “shove down my throat” nor “screw up my children”. But it seems a big chunk of humanity can’t abide by anyone, anywhere, having a slightly different opinion about anything… They shout about “Diversity!!!” when what they really demand is 100% conformity to their world view.

    Oh Well…

    Why the push? I’ve seen assertions that The Global Leadership is terribly worried about over population (to the point of obsession) so they are pushing all things that reduce reproduction. Abortions, being homosexual, childless couples, drugs, wars, urban living, secular non-religious world view, etc. Really quite stupid, since we know that the fastest way to lower birth rates is sending women to college and having a reliable stable advanced economy. Just make things work well and get everyone to modernity… that’s all it takes.

    Similarly the way that EVERY TV show and movie made currently seems to have 2 black guys kissing each other and EVERY couple is mixed race. Why push it? To advance the elimination of “race” by making everyone a mutt and push the childless gay couple thing. Never mind that all it takes to get “race mixing” is an after the game party at the high school or college… Blacks in America are presently about 1/3 white. Whites are pretty much about 3% Black. More or less in proportion to their percent of the population. 10:1 ratio. That says they are “getting in each other’s pants” pretty well already and have been for several generations.

    I’m glad we’ve gotten past making it a crime (like in the movie Showboat where it was the theme) but really, can’t we have some normie couples too? We’re well past the point where having a gay or bi-racial couple in a show makes it “cool” or “new” or trendy or whatever, and we’re far into it being trite and boring. It doesn’t advance the story and it doesn’t contribute to the show, it just is a “shove it in your face” moment that’s usually way out of place. (But a useful time to refill the cup and plate… so there’s that…)

    We mostly watch old movies now just because they are a lot better. Well acted, with themes that matter and not pushing An Agenda. Movies made by The Greatest Generation after they came back from W.W.II and wanted to just make a normal life. The current crop of stuff out of Hollyweird is just not very interesting. Made by people with no real life experience to draw on, about things nobody wants to see. Over the top emoting and not enough real grit. Like STD Star Trek Discovery (Disappointment Disaster Dismal …) or what has been done to Star Wars under Kennedy… So we watch all the ST Original and ST TNG, and call it a night ;-)

    Why? Because “Beatings will continue until moral improves” doesn’t work, nor does “put my agenda in a movie until you change your attitude”, it just makes bad movies.

  5. Jim Masterson says:


    ” . . . EVERY TV show and movie . . . .”


    “We mostly watch old movies now just because they are a lot better.”

    Double Amen.

    “So we watch all the ST Original and ST TNG, and call it a night.”

    Triple Amen–although ST TNG not so much.


  6. YMMV says:

    “Similarly the way that EVERY TV show and movie made currently seems to have 2 black guys kissing each other and EVERY couple is mixed race.”

    To say nothing of all the ads YT forces on us. An alien might think there were no “whites”.

    “It’s like electricity in the socket: most folks don’t know how it works, how it gets there, and don’t care at all about anything the other side of the plug. They just want it there when they plug something in or flip a switch.”

    Not just electricity. Water, sewer systems, food, millions of systems that metro-myn just take for granted. No understanding, no curiosity, no future.

  7. jim2 says:

    Yep. It seems I missed “Old White Guy Month!”

  8. philjourdan says:

    Re: the Song – one of 2 Stones songs I actually like. (the other is Sympathy for the Devil).

    Back in the 70s, I was working at a theme park while in college. Everyone there was late HS or college, so we were the same age. One of the guys there was a very friendly black guy. I would not say we were best of friends, but we shared a lot of laughs when stationed together at the same Arcade game. One day he came out to me. WHy I do not know. He was not actually coming on to me, but telling me a friend of his was roughhousing with him and then it got kind of intimate and he said he liked it.

    I told him that was fine as long as he was fine with it. It did not change our relationship (he never came on to me). Being gay has never been an issue with me. My brother is. (he came out 6 years after that event).

    Apparently the only people that care about if you are gay or not, are liberals who have to know who to hate and what epithets to string along when said person does not kowtow to their plantation masters.

  9. beththeserf says:

    Yes, HR and EM. Just want to respond to people individually. Watch TV and you get unrelenting politicks of Cancel Culture, climate change, covid and con-sens-us.

  10. H.R. says:

    philjourdan (bold mine): “Apparently the only people that care about if you are gay or not, are liberals who have to know who to hate and what epithets to string along when said person does not kowtow to their plantation masters.”

    Exactly. Most people I know, and add me into the mix, just don’t care. What we Do Not Want is to be forced to some PC viewpoint, despite the fact that we really don’t care who sleeps with someone with the same equipment.

    But if you INSIST that I must like it, support it, and advocate for it or else I am evil, then you’ve just pissed me off. I.Don’t.Care. Get it?

    Don’t tell me I MUST CARE when I don’t.
    BTW, flamers irritate me because it just seems to me that they are insisting that I care, and I just don’t care. Go away, sez I to them. If that’s all you are – gay – then you are inconsequential. You are more than annoying to me. You are irritating, and it is very hard to irritate me.

    That said, there are marvelous, interesting, fascinating, accomplished people who – oh by the way, and they didn’t even mention it – are gay. I like them very much for the totality of who they are. And generally, they don’t hold any grudge against me because I’m straight. They are real, secure people. Who they are, their accomplishments, and their abilities are far more important to them and me than who they have sex with.

    BTW, one such person is Ric Grenell. He is amazing! We have been lucky to have him engaged in the struggle to MAGA. Oh, and w-a-a-a-y down on the list, he happens to be gay, as if anyone cares. I think that’s the last thing of importance to him and to me. It’s clear that ‘gay’ is not how he defines himself. Clever, competent, powerful, astute, accomplished… yes. Gay? Not so much.

    After a day of kicking ass on the National and International stage, Ric Grenell goes home to someone he loves and who loves him, and as best I know, he does not want anyone butting in. He doesn’t care and neither do I. He is one cool dude who is NOT defined by who he sleeps with. I like that.

  11. Terry Jackson says:

    “Watch TV and you get unrelenting politicks of Cancel Culture, climate change, covid and con-sens-us.”
    Good point, TV watching is confined to old movies and golf, and Stuart Varney. Weather is the internet segment from the TV station. Remember the TV show Quincy. It was pretty good and then suddenly got all preachy about the issues of the day and then went off the air.

  12. John Robertson says:

    Trouble is,when you finally get pissed off enough to organize and reduce the parasitic burden,these same people will be appalled that you are persecuting them..
    “You have no reason to be angry,we have been helping you all our lives,we did it all for your good”
    “We only have the best of intentions and only act for your benefit”..
    And they will be telling the truth..
    They really do know better than all of us,how we shall live our lives and that the crushing financial burden they impose on taxpayers..Why that is a small price to pay for such expert help..
    And FREE healthcare…

    A tax on all do-gooders would clean up many communities..

  13. John Robertson says:

    We keep coming back to human nature.
    Some people are born so stupid,that they cannot or will not ever learn to leave other people alone.

  14. Tennessee Budd says:

    Is a “Duce and a half” sort of like a “Deuce-and-a-half”, but built by Lancia?

  15. H.R. says:

    I was checking comments and the title jogged an old memory from my teens.

    It seems we had a barely-clothed-almost-nudie third-rate bar called The Booby Trap. It was pretty sleazy.

    You could go in at age 18 because back then our State had 3.2% beer for ages 18 to 21 and then any % alcohol after you hit 21. If you were under 21, you got a hand stamp at the door that signaled you got low test beer only. Not a bad system, really. Beginner’s beer.

    My older brother went into The Booby Trap once. I had to wait outside since I was only 16. My brother lasted about 10, maybe 15 minutes and came back out. He said he was more inclined to pay them to “Put it back on!” rather than take it off. Their stock of nearly-nude waitresses was that bad.

    I never went to The Booby Trap after that scouting report.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tennessee Bud:

    Problem of too many languages over the years. Spanish in grammar school and high school (6 years total…), French in college (all the way to where the next class was French Lit. in French…), German (one class), Russian (one class), then Italian crammed on my own on a trip to Europe to teach Unix and evaluate an Ada Compiler, and a few others studied a bit on my own just for fun. (Not to mention the several dozen computer programming languages ans Swedish for a while when working at Ericsson…)

    After a while you get muddy spelling. Does apartement have one p or is it appartement or appartemant or… no e apartment or is that appartment? Depends on the language and I’ve lost some of the pointers… The spell checker says one P and no e, but I’m pretty sure French has 2 p and and e… or not…

    I no longer care about Spelling Nazis. If you “get it” then it is spelt right.


    On a round the country trip at about 19 or 20 y.o., a buddy and I “enjoyed” the 3.2 beer in some State or other. One of the Virginias? We took to calling it “Piss water beer” because that was all that happened. You drank it and peed a lot…

    Further down the road, stopped in a gas station to fill the tank, walked in to pay, decided to get a 6-pack of beer (as many States then were 18 is OK) and paid. Back at the car buddy says: “Is this a State where 18 is legal?”… And I realized we’d crossed a few State lines that day and I didn’t really know… Confidence at the counter seemed to be enough ;-)

    We rounded down through Florida (and ended up asleep on a beach… Ft. Lauderdale? after someone offered to share some smokeable at a random party…) and then turned toward home. In Louisiana we were in the French Quarter and there was a Topless Bar. Buddy wanted to go in. So, OK, I go along…

    Inside was mostly empty. A nice looking but bored and uninterested waitress came over to take our order. A “20 something”. We each had a beer, that I think was about $4 (in that era money, about $20 today). I was not amused. All I could think of was how cold and uncomfortable the waitress looked. How it was “a way to make a living” but not a very good one. After one beer we left.

    Only been to another “Titty Bar” twice since. Hauled in by others. There was one in Silly Con Valley named something like “The Pink Pussycat” that some sales guys kept trying to talk me into visiting. Just could not get past the memory of a bored, cold, and dissatisfied waitress “putting up with shit”… Eventually I was talked into going to a couple of “Dance Bars” where the waitresses were semi-clothed but dancers on stage did the pole & grind…

    The amusing thing there was that I was interested in the dancers mental state. (Yes, I noticed the rest too…) So I was watching their face a lot of the time. They would notice the “eye contact” and often seemed pleasantly surprised. Had two interesting conversations that way. One in Dallas about the early 1980s (V.P. took the group… can’t say no to the boss). Another in San Francisco about a decade or 2 back (guest at a meeting and guests usually don’t turn down the host).

    The Dancers seem much more comfortable with the notion of “teasing for cash” and put some effort into making a good “show” out of it. Plus the bars were much warmer ;-) But they clearly appreciated someone who was not just there to get sloppy drunk and cat call.

    I guess once every couple of decades isn’t too bad…

  17. David A says:

    Funny thread from booby traps to , well booby traps. Ha.

    Lots of good posts on the annoying woke agenda. And yes, population is one of their big concerns. The willful destruction of the family, of American heritage, is another objective.

    I deeply feel for a teen growing up now. A young lady has a bad experience with a boyfriends disloyalty, and she finds a safe space with another girl, and gets endless praise from peers. I have seen this several times. A boy gets several rejections from young ladies, gets intoxicated, and has that desired experience with some other boy, or boys. A long period of confusion usually sets in. And if that boy or girl is white, and taught to disrespect their own race, this confusion is compounded. And if white male, well it’s even worse.

    I saw a very saintly conservative deeply religious friend of mine asked by a young person what they thought of this, ” Her answer was very simple, as she said, “The blending of the positive feminine qualities with the positive male attributes makes for more balanced individuals, yet whatever you do, remember that the laws of loyalty are most important.”

  18. another ian says:

    Booby traps and rough humour

    A bloke uses a toilet that had been trapped and, as he went through the roof, an onlooker observed

    “Must have been something he ate”

  19. H.R. says:

    David A says: 8 March 2021 at 10:29 am

    “Lots of good posts on the annoying woke agenda. And yes, population is one of their big concerns. The willful destruction of the family, of American heritage, is another objective.”

    Depending on the GEB, the goal is to reduce global population to about 250 – 300 million. I wrote a month or so ago that the elites will get it wrong. No doubt in my mind.

    The elites figure they’ll hire all the techies they’ll need to keep their dachas, yachts, helicopters, and jets humming along. It takes a lot more people than they know to make all the parts needed to keep a plane or helicopter flying and the furnace, air conditioner, and hot water heater heater running. It takes a lot of people to find, drill, pump, refine, and transport the fuel they will need.

    If the GEBs succeed in their population goals, I believe they will be surprised to find that it’s not going to work out the way they expected.

  20. E.M.Smith says:


    One of the big things missed is the rare case of the Extraordinary Inventor.

    There’s only one every few hundreds million. Someone like an Einstein or a George Washington Carver or a Tesla. Folks who move whole industries and the world.

    When you have an 8 Billion population, and – say 1 / 200 Million – that’s 8000/200 =40 of them and the world maybe lets 1/10 of those rise to a place of leverage, so somewhere around 4 (and at most 40) moving the human race forward at extraordinary speed.

    But drop population to 250 – 300 million, you get maybe 1 or 2 and often they will not be able to rise to a position of influence. Progress on human problems of great merit grinds to a halt or very slow slog.

    The simple fact is that the larger the population the faster it can solve major problems and resolve issues. This rate of improvement dwarfs any physical issues from the larger population.

  21. rhoda klapp says:

    Some of the best things that were ever invented were produced by a far smaller population. Weaving. Cultivation. Various weapons and tools.

    How many non-obvious operations have to take place before you can have a pair of woven pants?

    But you’re right, they can’t make civilization work with 300 million people. That way leads to Eloi and Morlocks. Or Idiocracy. Or just plain ole revolution.

  22. H.R. says:

    When it comes to ‘culling the herd’ just due to intentionally created hard times, the first to go will be bureaucrats/government employees. I don’t think their career and worldview (show up, get paid, spend, retire) has prepared many of them them for survival.

    My money is on the people who made things, fixed things, and grew things. And the working poor among us are not badly positioned, either. They are experienced in finding a way, making do with what they have, and figuring out how to do things without hiring someone else. And they work; they aren’t afraid to work at just about anything.

    Another group that the GEBs are counting on to go first and fast are the dumbed down people they intentionally created via public screwels and welfare payments. They get money and they vote for those who give them the money. They have no skills, or the ability to think, or even the ability to read to teach themselves something they realize they need to know. Too bad. They just sit and wait for sustenance and shelter that isn’t coming. That’s been ingrained in some for over 4 generations now.

  23. E.M.Smith says:


    Advances still come at about the same rate/million population, but you get to wait a few generations for The One who does it, instead of getting several in one generation.

    That is why technology advances so fast now, compunded advancement in parrallel. In the Ronan Era it was a hundred years between leaps. In pre-history, thousands…


    History has shown Urban Specialized types die off. High skilled (M.D., Engineer) are kept. Rural Generalist farmers do best.

  24. Power Grab says:

    On the subject of what the world would be like if its population were reduced to 300 million or so people…

    Have any of you given any thought to the purpose of all the deep fake goings-on, using AI to do facial recognition or second-guess what individuals are going to do, etc, etc?

    Sometimes a thought hits me out of the blue, and I am drawn into cogitating about it…

    Some of those cogitations have to do with asking questions about how feasible and/or satisfying(?) it would be to lose your loved ones, but have substitutes available to interact with–if you can say that seeing an image on a screen (or a hologram) of someone you know has passed. I’m not talking about watching home movies of things that happened in the past, I’m talking about having interactive experiences that feel new and contemporaneous.

    Even though I would much rather interact with my friends and family in person because there is no substitute for the natural, interpersonal energy that real-life interactive experiences provide…I’m aware that some are working long and hard to come up with digital substitutes.

    For example, I sometimes use a music software program to create tracks. The version of the program I have provides something like 1200 styles. So once I enter at least the chords of a song, then I can chose any of those styles to listen to it being played in that style. Different instruments are used in different styles. If I can play them back from WAV files into an auditorium-sized sound system, they’re not bad substitutes for having a real ensemble playing them. If my real life experienced did not involve any real life playing/listening to real humans playing real instruments, it would be OK, I guess. But I always find myself focusing on the instruments that really don’t sound live!

    Then, when I learn there is software in the wild that can be used to create from a sample, videos (or audio tracks) of, say, a celebrity or politician, saying/doing something they didn’t really do, it strikes me as a Good News/Bad News issue.

    While it might be fun to re-render a song or movie with a different artist’s voice or persona, it is troubling to think that the same thing could be done with the image/voice of an ordinary person, say for use in a court case, to allege that they were guilty of some crime.

    Then I think about the effect covid has had on such developments. Is it easier for the AI facial recognition tools to do their job if half the face is obscured? I’m thinking it will take less processor power to do the CGI for half a face than a full face. Is that one reason the masking requirement has hung on so long? Not to mention the requirement to stand six feet or more away from someone you’re intereacting with. You can’t very well whisper to them if you have to overcome the muffling effect of a mask (or two), and while you stand six feet or more away from them. Therefore, any one of several cell phones in the vicinity can be picking up what is said, and then…doing what with it?

    I’m fairly certain that requiring everyone to use surveillable tools to interact with people they don’t live with (and sometimes with people they do live with) only provides more fodder for the AI development. But I guess that the development process is hard enough, and takes a long enough time, that you have to REALLY want to do it, if you’re going to throw enough resources and time and skill at the project.

    We keep throwing more and more technology at the issue of identity verification, but it seems like it only makes it harder for ordinary people to verify they’re really interacting with the person they believe they’re interacting with.

    What if the covid situation had as one of its main purposes to serve as a test to see what minimum amount of simulation it would take to convince distant-but-connected-by-tech people that they’re really interacting with the person/people they believe they’re interacting with?

  25. cdquarles says:

    I forget which one it was now, but Isaac Asimov discussed this kind of a thing, where the “Spacers” viewed each other on video and had little to no actual interpersonal interactions, including sexual relations. It was a consequence of long life (extended greatly compared to the teeming numbers of people and the rest of life on Earth) and technology which, in part, was used to extend life. One of the Robot series of stories, I want to say and set before the Foundation series.

  26. rhoda klapp says:

    Caves of Steel, CDQ.

  27. cdquarles says:

    Thanks rhoda, I just wasn’t sure I was remembering correctly.

  28. philjourdan says:

    @H.R. says:
    7 March 2021 at 1:17 am

    Re: Badge wearers – and that is the worst part about the left. They are always saying “The first blank”” or the “The best blank”. But what about an unqualified “best”? To the left it is impossible for a woman to be the best at anything. Because she is only the best woman to do that job. Same with blacks, hispanics, gays, etc. To the left, the best with no qualifications always seems to be old white guys.

    The bigotry of the left.

  29. philjourdan says:

    @H.R. says:
    7 March 2021 at 11:25 am

    He said he was more inclined to pay them to “Put it back on!” rather than take it off. Their stock of nearly-nude waitresses was that bad.

    Never went to the booby bar, but did go swimming at the sand pit in Germany back in the early 70s. Clothing was optional. But being 16 I was looking. And those who opted out, should not have. Those who should have, did not. Guess those who did not strip felt they had something worth paying for and not giving it away for free.

    On the subject of 3.2 Beer – I went to college in Ohio – 3.2 there – but all you had to do was hit a keg party because someone was over 21 and gotten the real stuff.

    But when I went home, it was regular beer and wine at 18, hard stuff at 21.

  30. philjourdan says:

    @EM – Re: 3.2 in one of those Virginnys – Must have been the west one as The real Virginia never pulled that squirrely shit.

    And I never went to a titty bar, but an old boss dragged us managers into a nude place. Not really a bar. But women there got more than suggestive (it was Philly). We had to go because he was the boss. I used my complimentary token and then went and sat in the parking lot until he was done (as did the other manager).

  31. philjourdan says:

    @cdquarles says:
    8 March 2021 at 8:51 pm

    I forget the name of the book, but yes, Mankind had leapt to the stars – but after settling 11 (or maybe 12 – I do not recall the exact number), had stopped expanding. The most densely populated of the Spacer worlds was Aurora, and the least populated (and also last) was Solaria (only 20,000 on the entire planet).

    That actually is a very key book in the whole series, that if you have not read it, I will say no more. (the whole series).

  32. E.M.Smith says:


    Face masks make facial recognition much harder and likely a failure.

    Key points are used to make a map, Length of nose, distance from nose tip to eye centers, width of mouth, distance of mouth to nose, eyes, chin, etc.

    A very large number of those are obscured by a mask and the recognition generally fails hard.

    Add sunglasses and it has no hope.

    Biggest use for Deep Fakes? Making more realistic video phone trees so companies can fire more people, and fraud. Eventually replacing actors entirely (what is an actor but a visually acceptable deep fake?) Other than that I think value will be limited. Probably some will be used in sales kiosks.

    I think the biggest impact will be in various frauds and scams. Having, for example, a near perfect “video” of Cuomo in his office hitting on a lady worker would go round the internet in a flash…

    AI is widely thought to be the arrival of our superiors, the reality is far far far less. Biggest issue is that an AI can be horribly wrong and nobody knows how to fix it. My favorite example of this was one taught to recognize Russian Tanks. Then they went to ever smaller pieces of the photo trying to find out what part it was recognizing. No matter how small, it still worked. Finally, it recognized a “Russian Tank” in a part of the photo with no tank at all… Eventually they figure out all the Russian Tanks were clandestine spy photos while the US tanks were high rest local and the AI had learned to spot LARGE vs small grain in photos…

    Had it been turned lose, it would have found a Russian Tank in every spy photo from Russia…

    Will it be good enough to spot you in Macy’s, know you like Red, and try to sell you a “Little Red Dress”? Probably. Will it try to sell ME one because I was with the spouse when she was shopping?… Probably also…

    I’ll start to worry about AIs when one of them can make a burger & fries, and knows when the beer is flat… or manages to explain Shakespeare to me…

  33. The True Nolan says:

    Azimov? There was a far older scifi story that dealt with a society where isolated individuals lived alone but communicated and interacted via video screen. “The Machine Stops”, first published in 1909.

  34. philjourdan says:

    @TNN – I had never read that story. But as they say, nothing is new under the sun. I can see that probably did influence Isaac Asimov Spacer World books (there were 3 and many others that mentioned them), but I also see Frank Herbert’s Dune Series in there as well.

  35. The True Nolan says:

    Hey philjourdan, I am getting old and scatterbrained, but every few years I tell myself that I need to pick up my old Azimov books and reread them to refresh my appreciation. I don’t think I ever read the Spacer World series however.

    If you like Dune, you may want to read some of Cordwainer Smith’s stories about the planet Norstrilia. He wrote them a few years before Dune and (in my opinion) was a likely source for at least some of the imagery.

  36. Taz says:

    I believe that ONLY Congress declares war.
    And that the Constitution is a sacrosanct contract between citizens and the government.

    Any changes to specific performance means citizens have a right to enforce their contract. There was no other agreement – so differences will be settled in the usual way.

    A single individual demonstrated what was possible 26 years ago. Many more are available. These individuals are not unlike those who took their chances on Utah beach. Never expecting to return alive.

    Should provide a reference for the scale of citizens available today. 20 million participated in WWII…and a high proportion of those were real soldiers. The military was not a jobs program back then. These were just citizens attending to grim but necessary work.

    What might those citizens do today?

  37. another ian says:

    Latest Pointman


  38. The True Nolan says:

    @TAZ “I believe that ONLY Congress declares war.” Yes — but we are de facto no longer under the Constitution.

    Here is an interesting bit of history from 19 years ago about Declaration of War.

    Almost two decades ago — and things have not improved. Note also that these were Republicans in control at the time, not the Dems.

  39. Power Grab says:

    @ EM re: “Eventually they figure out all the Russian Tanks were clandestine spy photos while the US tanks were high rest local and the AI had learned to spot LARGE vs small grain in photos…”

    HOT DOG!! Wouldn’t you know it would fail on something like that?!?

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