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In my library, where I do a lot of my reading of physical books, I keep three reading streams. Fiction, non-fiction, and “spiritual”.

Fiction encompasses mysteries, science fiction, cozies, anything that is made up.

Non-fiction includes a lot of history, science explainers, and trivia.

Spiritual has included an in-depth analysis of the book of Revelation from four perspectives, Christian biographies, and conservative archeology. I recently tossed a book that tried to redefine King David as the ringleader of a small group of tribesmen – that’s not the way I read my Bible.

As I finish a book from my reading streams, I replace it with a similar one. A day or two ago I finished up Indianapolis, a sad story with a happy ending. I replaced it with Homestead, the story of a failing mill town near Pittsburgh.

Today I completed The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, hardback, at about 700 pages. All the stories and novels, with fascinating explanations of the language, the locations, and the exact dates the fictional events must have happened on. A hefty hardback, coming in at four pounds. As enjoyable as it was, I wasn’t sad to reach the end and move on to the next book.

Which is The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, volume 2, at 800 pages.

Woe is me.

I’ve had my “new car” for seven years. About 95K miles on it so far.

The dealership keeps on wanting me to buy something newer, trade it on on that “new car feel” or something. I’m smart enough to thank them kindly, and save my shekels.

This time, though, they are trying something different. This is as clipped from the email – no editing, no photoshop.

The way I interpret it, the “care wash” means that I won’t have any more cares, because of the free car. And yes, that would be a special day.

Point A: If I get up the nerve to try it, I’ll let you know how it comes out.

Point B: Good to know that I can always get a job as a proof-reader. I’d want to read the employment contract very carefully.

I was on LinkedIn this morning and saw this from a random company:

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

I don’t think it’s right to discriminate by hiding Christmas behind “holiday” and then blithely assume everyone uses the same calendar.

And yes, appealing to an external, shared sense of “right” assumes that such a thing exists. Which it does. And that’s why I’m celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus the Christ, instead of an amorphous “holiday”.

Sunday night. Watching the taped last race of the season. I have noticed a couple words that I very rarely hear outside the F1 broadcasts.

Monegasque – a native of Monaco.

Penultimate – next-to-last.

ESPN is carrying the Sky Sports feed from England, which may influence the novelty of the verbiage. Very much enjoy the reporting team, and greatly appreciate Mothers sponsoring the commercial-free shows.

And yes, I know that tape isn’t involved in the delay of a show via YouTube TV. Similarly, ESPN isn’t broadcast – it’s a cable channel. And it isn’t even cable-only, since we get it streamed. *sigh*

The mess of a debate has been sticking with me. Again, both Trump and Biden showed less respect for the office they attain to (or hold) than is proper.

But Biden calling Trump a “clown” is bothersome. I think he would have been better to follow the example of Job, from the Old Testament. Job had been afflicted greatly by the time this interaction takes place.

Job had already been through a rough day. His livestock, servants, and all his children had been killed – one day. Later on, Satan has given him boils – skin infections – from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Ouch!

Then his helpful wife offers him some advice. “Are you still holding on to your principles? Curse God and die!”. Wow – with friends like that, who needs enemies?

But Job doesn’t take his frustration out on her. He gently says “You are talking like a foolish woman”. Not “You are a foolish woman”. He notes the similarity and leaves it there.

Biden would do well to spend more time in the Bible. Just sayin’ . . .

Mizithromax, of course.  Good for what ails you, whether it’s hunger or disease.

And yes, I am short on sleep.  Why do you ask?

I do production support for my company. We’ve been having some significant problems with one product, here called Product.

My manager created a communication channel in our chat tool called Product Issues.

Since this is such a problem, and since as on-call this week I’m the recipient of many of those problems, I (in my head) renamed the room to Produc Tissues. Makes me want to cry.

And of course my new icon is

 

I’m the “Steve” referenced here.

BigBook

I went to the dollar store the other day, and totally wasted a dollar on a book.  The Day After Oblivion looked appealing, but then I opened the cover.  Fifty pages in and I stopped reading.  I don’t mind less-than-perfect writing, but I ran into something that bothered me in almost every chapter.

Chapter 3 ends with a windmill repairman taking pictures and “Little does he know the photographs will be the last he takes of ordinary life”.  At the end of Chapter 6, about the same guy: “Gage enjoys the view, having no idea how quickly it will all change”.  Got it the first time – things are changing.

In Chapter 1, the President’s assistant is introduced.  “Chief of Staff Isabella Alvarez consults her iPad”.  In Chapter 4, a long list of meeting attendees includes “the president’s chief of staff, Isabella Alvarez”.  Got it – she’s the chief of staff (or the Chief of Staff, depending on the editor du jour).

In Chapter 2, after the NSA has been cyber-infiltrated, the director of the NSA says “Colonel, I want the best computer operators we have in my office, forthwith”.  No, he doesn’t.  Computer operators make things work.  Cybersecurity personnel investigate breakins (and help them not happen).

Editing bothered me.  In Chapter 3: “Gage pulls up to the closest turbine and kills the engine”.  Of the windmill – really?  By remote control?  No, it’s the car/truck that he turns off.

Technology – well, even basic math – was treated with disdain.  Chapter 3, talking about the big windmills.  “The tower stands 260 feet tall and the blades extend another 126 feet beyond the hub, making the overall height 389 feet”.  No, it doesn’t.  The fact doesn’t matter – it feels like filler, or attempting a minor bit of technology showoff – but it’s wrong.  I blame both the author and the editor.  This is not some self-published bunch of electrons, it’s a real dead-tree book.

In Chapter 4, one of the cybersecurity experts talking to the president is calling out submarines.  “When the submarines surface, there’s a Windows XP chip on the engine that broadcasts the maintenance schedule back to base”.  That hurts my head, between the OS-specific chip, being attached to the “engine” instead of the nuclear reactor, and the idea that they would broadcast private info.  Just no.

In Chapter 5, the cybersleuth decides she’s going to “Look for clues.  Maybe a partial IP address”.  And guess what?  She finds “Maybe a partial IP address.  Three numbers”.  So she “copies the partial address and pastes it into a browser on the NSA’s network. She taps her foot, waiting for a response.  The odds are long, with only three numbers and over six billion number combinations.  She groans when the screen fills with nearly a million hits”.  Umm.  IPv4 addresses consist of four dotted numbers, from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255.  Some of those are reserved, dropping over a half-billion from the approximately 4.3 billion that 256 to the 4th power produces.  But that doesn’t matter – if she has three of the four, there are only 256 numbers possible.

And don’t get me started on a million results on a page.  Reminds me of the million pixel page – I’d groan, too, if Google didn’t filter down the number of responses.  Oh – am I assuming too much when I think Google?  Well, tell us.  Tell us what site she was visiting.  Tell us if the browser returns results (assuming yes, given “hits”) or tries to go to an invalid IP address.  Luckily, we are told in Chapter 8: “I did find a partial IP address.  Ran it through our database and received about ten thousand hits.  I narrowed the search to include likely bad actors and ended up with about a hundred hits”.  OK, so she was doing a database query, and ignored the 99 percent who were good guys, neutrals, or unlikely bad guys.  It’s OK, though, because “They’re almost certainly spoofing the attack”.  And they would only spoof it from other bad guys – got it.

In Chapter 10, a captain in NORAD makes a decision after North Korea detonates a nuclear device over Kansas (don’t worry – I’m not giving away all the secrets).  “Communications, work the phones.  Send an urgent message up the chain of command to alert them of a possible EMP event”.  As opposed to a non-urgent message, or —

Chapter 13.  The sub with the Windows XP chip gets new orders.  “Captain, we are in receipt of a valid emergency action measure that directs the launch of target package one.  Request permission to authenticate?”. And a bit later: “The message is encoded with a cypher to insure –” Nope – it’s ensure.  “to insure that the order originated from the President.  Quigley calls out the code while Garcia authenticates.  Once the message is decoded, Garcia exhales a breath and says “Captain, the message is authentic” “.  So they read the message before it is decoded.  And they can do cryptography in their heads.  Plus, it’s easy enough that a human can verify it, and assumes the reader and listener do not make errors.  And, ya know, there’s a difference between authentication and encryption.  Authentication could be as simple as a code word – rutabaga – to let you know that it isn’t some random stranger asking you for something.  Encryption jumbles the letters to make it non-readable.  Not the same.

My head really hurts.  I stopped reading after that chapter.  My time is worth more than that.

So I started reading a free book – St. Dale, from Sharyn McCrumb (thanks, Mom and Dad!).  In five pages she had me hooked with her writing style, good characters, believable situations, and an all-round better vibe.  She had me at “It was not the end of the world, but you could see it from there”.  Looking forward to it.  And if somebody wants a partially-read copy of The Day After Oblivion, let me know before I donate it to the library’s free book sale.

Sometimes, stories just seem to write themselves.  This one was a juxtaposition (probably from Computerworld) from a few years ago.

inadvertent

I don’t believe that the two stories are connected – but the suggestion is there, as well as the humor.

I was surprised tonight to see something in a similar vein from the New York Times.  I subscribe, and I read with a grain of salt.  But this seemed blatant.

doomsayers

Three links to the same anti-Christian article?  And another one higher on the page.  C’mon, NYT.  I understand there’s a liberal bias.  But put away the sledgehammer.

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