Incoherent ramblings

Playing with scammers, part II. I’d like my 5,125,000 euros in bitcoin please.

October 11, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , ,

I posted some of my initial interactions with “Fred Gaston, Esq.”, a “lawyer” in need of some severe English literacy remediation.

Playing with internet scammers: 20.500.000.00 Euros

I still don’t have my 5,125,000 euros, but complicated the process by asking for my share in bitcoin, instead of just nicely giving him my banking information and the international swift codes for my bank so that he could “make a deposit” to my account.

Here’s some of the second round interactions.

Having not sent Mr. Gaston all the information he wanted, he’s nicely prompting me:

Hello Peeter Joot,
Your message was received and content well noted with .I therefore
look forward to hearing from you As soon as possible to enable us make
some progress.

Kindly please expedite action.My estimation of time for the completion
of this operation is 10 business days hence I need your total devotion
and trust for us to see this through quicky.

Thank you once again.

Your partner,
Fred Gaston, Esq.

so I feed him a bit of the info he’s asked for:

Since you asked, here is the address of one of my houses:
194 Roxborough Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1X8
Note that I don’t have multiple houses, and this house which listed a few years ago on the Toronto Real estate market for ~$20 million, is sadly not mine.  As I have had the good faith to send Mr. Gaston my address, he has now dispensed with his request for any identification, and has gone straight for the money shot, sending me his bank transfer form.  This was a bit disappointing since I wanted to send him an image of my 1st Dan WTF Black-Belt card, as “identification”.

Greetings Dear Peeter,
Having resolved to entrust this transaction into your hands,Please
copy the letter attached and fill in your bank account information
where the funds will be transferred to and then send the letter to the
bank by email to their email address as indicated to enable the bank
to begin to process the transfer of the funds to your bank
account.Please send this letter by email and then let me know.

Kind regards.
Your friend and partner,
Fred Gaston, Esq.

Here’s the attached letter for me to sign


Clearly, I’m not sending him the information that he needs to make an international withdrawal from my account.  Here’s a better option to “recieve my funds” :
Hi Fred,
I no longer use a bank for any of my financial matters, and have switched exclusively to bitcoin.  After I send you all my required documentation, please send my share of this large batch of Euros to my bitcoin address:
I know that there could be a currency loss on any given bitcoin transaction, but the amounts are so large that any approximation of my 40% share is acceptable to me.

His response is to gently prompt me to fill in the form anyways:

Dear friend and partner,
Please go ahead and send the application to the bank.Once the heritage
claim is approved by the bank we certainly can direct then on how to
recieve it.One step at a time.

Let me know as soon as you send the application to the bank and also
do send me the required documentation.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Your partner,
Fred Gaston,Esq.

So I have to explain what I mean:

I no longer use bank accounts, so cannot fill in your form.  The salary I take from the company I founded (GAEM), is entirely in bitcoin.
My company focuses on Geometric Algebra applications to electromagnetism.  Are you familiar with Geometric or Clifford algebras?  They are a very powerful mathematical tool.  Here’s a synopsis of the basic underlying concepts:
Geometric algebra is founded on the assumption that vectors can be multiplied, and that sums of scalars, vectors, and vector products, called multivectors, are well defined. Multivector addition and multiplication conforms to most of the rules that anybody would be expect of number like quantities, with a couple exceptions: order that multivectors are multiplied matters, and there is also no general multiplicative inverse. Multivector multiplication is also constrained by a rule that provides meaning for the square of a vector. The formal statement of the algebra is that of the multivector space.

Will Mr. Fred Gaston be a kindred mathematical cousin accross continents and be interested in my passion for electromagetism and geometric algebra?  Unfortunately not.  He ignores that part of my email and gives me a new form

Dear Peeter ,
It very much sound to me that you did not understand my previous
message to you.Go ahead and send the application to the bank.Once the
claim is approved by the bank we certainly can direct then on how to recieve it.

chech now i have simplify the application ,sent it in that format.

Let me know as soon as you send it.

Thank you.

Your partner,
Fred Gaston,Esq.

Here’s the new letter that he wants me to fill in

This new letter is somewhat mysterious to me, since I don’t see what he has to gain by having me fill this in?  Is this just to keep me hooked, and then he’ll ask for the bank info again, or is he switching to a different scam?  Google tells me that there is actually a Bank of Africa branch at this address, but I don’t see any domain, and ask him about that.

It looks like there’s a typo in the email address of your form, since does not appear to be valid.

In response he says:

Hello Peeter, Please check and make sure you actually copied the email address properly. ( Let me know when sent. Fred Gaston,Esq.

I’m able to send a test email to this email address, and it doesn’t bounce.  Later he prompts me, since I haven’t taken any action:

Good morning Peeter, Happy new week to you and hopefully you are in good health today?I have no further information from you and write to know if you where able to send the application. Expedient response please. Thank you. Fred Gaston, Esq.

This gives me a nice opening, since I have a cold:

Funny you should ask.  I’ve actually got a pretty unpleasant cold, a side effect of too much work while jet lagged.
How is your health?
But Mr. Gaston is strictly business, once again not willing to chit chat:
The “This message contains remote content”, with a virus-free link to click is an interesting twist.  In retrospect, I took a risk opening his “letter” or even the .jpgs that had his “identification”, since there was a chance that it could also have had a viral payload that my system could have been exploited with.
Having failed to get my bank info, I don’t actually know if Mr. Gaston is sophisticated enough to try to infect my computer, but I am left with the inclination to not play with him any further.

Playing with internet scammers: 20.500.000.00 Euros

October 5, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments ,

Since seeing a couple of James Veitch’s scam trolling videos:

I’ve been waiting for a chance to play too.  Well, I got my chance a few days ago, courtesy of FRED GASTON <>

Dear Peet
I am Barrister FRED GASTON, private attorney to Late Mr. Markus   Peet(My Late Client) a national of your country, who was a Gold Merchant Here in Republic Du Benin HattonAfrica.Herein after shall be Referred to as my client. On the 20th Of July 2011,My Client Lost His Life As A Result Of Brain Cancer,
As Confirmed By A Medical Specialist Who Was Taking Care Of His Illness For Over Six Months Before His Death.He did not marry and Since then I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives, but all efforts ¨proved unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track his last name over the Internet to locate any of his family’s members, Hence I have contacted you because you have the same family
last name with my client.
I want you to assist in Repatriating his fund valued  (20.500.000.00 Euro) Twenty million five hundred  thousand Europians Euro, left behind by my late client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable By The ” BANK” Here in Republic Du Benin where this huge amount were deposited. The Bank has issued me a notice to provide his relative or have the account confiscated, since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over four years now. For the fact that I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 2 years now.
I seek Your consent to present you as the rightful next of kin to my late client, since both of you have the same family last name, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you and then you and me can Share the money 60% for me and 40% to you. I have all important information and legal documents needed to back you up for the claim, all I require from you is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through, I guarantee that this will be executed under legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of  law.
Call me immediately you receive this mail on +229 68842298.  Also get back to me with the following  information’s for proper
Your Full Name……………..
Your Address……………….
Your Age,………………….
Occupation and Position…..a……….,
Your Telephone Mobile………………
Your Fax…………
I await your Call and reply ASAP.
Best Regards,
Well, I couldn’t resist:
Mr. Gaston,
As much as I’d like a big cut of those Euros, I’m not related to the late Mr Peet, as Peeter is my first name, not surname.
I figured he’s just waiting for somebody to actually reply, and will interpret that as an opening to play his game, and I guessed right.  It didn’t take too long before I got his response, and as predicted he didn’t care that I’d disqualified myself in my reply:
Greetings Dear Peeter,
I am highly impressed with your immediate attention to my confidential business proposal to you.Very well,i want to assure you that by your cooperation that we can arrange the paper wsork of this claim without any flaws to have these heritage approved by the bank and the funds transfer in your name for our mutual benefit.I do not want the corrupt goverment Benin to take over these funds.
The requirements for us to succesfully claim out this fund is our presentation of all back up legal document here in your name as next of kin to these deposit so that the funds will be approved by the bank and transfererd to your bank account as the beneficiary.
Please note that this transaction is 100 percent risk free and failure proofed as all arrangement is going to be handle legally to protect you from any breach of law. To enable us proceed officially in this transaction please send to me your below personal information:
1,Your Full Names
2.Your Address
3.Copy Of Your Identification
4.Your Occupation
As soon as i recieved the above information from you i will draft an application of fund claim that you will tender to the bank here for their immediate approval of the claim.
Thank you and kind regards.
Fred Gaston, Esq.
Playing dumb, I queried the illogic of his response:
Hi Mr. Gaston,
I’m not sure I understand.  If I were to provide you with legal documentation, such as my passport for example, it would demonstrate that I’m not eligible for the inheritance.
Here’s where it gets a bit fun.  To inspire confidence, he now supplies his “Identification” to me, along with the following response:
Hello Peeter
Do i understand from your mail that you do not have international passport or that you are afraid to provide it.
Listen dear friend,there is nothing to fear or worroied about,if there is any risk in this transaction i would not undertake it.I really need that you give me your personal informations so that i can know who i am dealing with not for any other reason.This is a transaction that involve a mangitutude amount ,i really have to knwow who i am dealing with.I quite hope you understand me.
Enclosed in is my proof of identification for your perusal.Please send to me the below so that we can proceed,
1,Your Full Names
2.Your Address
3.Copy Of Your Identification photo
4.Your Occupation
Thank you, Fred Gaston,Esq.
My response, which naturally didn’t include my passport (and I don’t have James’ photoshop skills) was just:

You already have my full names.  Unlike so many people, I have no middle name.  I don’t have a scanner with me to make a copy of my documentation.  That will have to wait until next week since I am currently travelling.

I figure that this will be enough to keep him intrigued, but haven’t gotten a response yet.  The game is still on, stay tuned;)

LinkedIn replies to headhunters

September 25, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , , , , , , , , ,

I blundered upon my messaging history on LinkedIn the other day, and noticed that it has, for the most part, transitioned from chats with IBMers that I was saying goodbye to (and the ever growing ex-IBMer population that I now know) to rather canned responses to headhunters.

Like contact requests from anybody I don’t remember having worked with, I ignore those from headhunters.  I’ll reply to the headhunter connect requests with a terse “Sorry, I don’t accept requests from people I haven’t worked with personally”.

Going through my replies to the last 10 headhunters who explicitly messaged me, it appears I’m pretty consistent, and most of my replies were fairly close to the following:


Thanks for reaching out. I enjoy my current work, which is challenging and interesting, the potential of the company I am working for, and my compensation. I’m not currently interested in a job change.


The company that you are recruiting for would have to offer really damn interesting work to get me to defect from LzLabs at the moment.

There were two headhunters that got non-canned responses:

1) A banking and financial sector headhunter got a more direct response:

Hi XXX, thank you for reaching out, but I’m not interested.

This may surprise people, but it’s a moral choice.

I picked up a microeconomics text from the bookshelf of our local Unionville recycling depot (the best priced second hand book store in Markham). That text book was packed with enough Hamilton and Lagrangian equations to make any physicist (or want-to-be physicist like me) at home.  Application of those techniques would surely be interesting, and I was being targeted by a recruiter for a company where that probably would have been possible.  However, it would take a lot more than that chance to make me work directly for a financial parasite.

Yes, I know that I spent 20 years working in the guts of DB2 LUW, which is a product that is used in many financial institutions.  Yes, I know that I am now working for a company with a mainframe solution that is going to be used by many financial institutions.  Both of these cases have a level of indirection that influences my attitude.

If I wasn’t employed, or I had my mortgage paid off, perhaps I’ll feel less hostile to the financial sector.  However, in the near term, I’m certainly not going to work directly for one of the leeches.

2) google.


I’m very happy with my current job, which is challenging, interesting, pays very well, and is with a company that has potential I find very appealing.

Google was previously a company that I found intriguing as a possible employer, but has recently demonstrated aspects of authoritarian political correctness that make it much less appealing. There is also evidence of political bias, anti free-speech tendencies, and censorship related to the google products that I find very unsettling given the power and scope of its technology. It is not at all clear that I would be comfortable working at google in its current state.


This response was one that surprised me when I wrote it, but I think it is honest.

I would have previously considered working for google if the conditions were right.  When I was at IBM, I never accepted any interview requests from google.  The rationale for that choice was knowledge that relocation was required for any interesting technical work at google (their Toronto lab was marketing only), and I made it clear that relocation was not an option in any correspondence.  I’ve been rebuked by colleagues for that hard line position on relocation, since interviewing at google is said to be really fun.

In recent times, I have been continually reading and hearing of political bias at google.  I’d expect a company that wields so much power to take a non-partisan political position, but they seem to have actively attempted to bias the recent opportunistic-psychopath vs narcissistic-idiot competition in the US, and also appear to be actively attempting to introduce questionable social engineering (biased search rank manipulation, selective demonetization, …) into their products.   In spite of this, even in recent times, had google had google offered up interesting work at interesting compensation levels, without a relocation requirement, perhaps I would have bitten hard enough to interview.

The recent James Damore fiasco is a game changer.  Damore’s primary crime appears to be have been the use of the psychological term neuroticism (a “big five” personality trait that seems to roughly be a measure of negative emotion) without explicit inline definition in his memo. If you are going to fire somebody and make them a scapegoat just to appease the diversity police, then you become uninteresting as an employer.  I just finished working for IBM, which seems to have made it their business to treat people as entries in a HR ledger, irrespective of competence.  It will take some hard sales work to pique interest in google when their HR department is evidently trying to be orders of magnitude more insane than IBMs.  Unless there’s some evidence of HR reform at google, I suspect google technical recruiting is going to get really difficult until their treatment of Damore has been forgotten.

IBM and government are both strong evidence that insanity scales with organization size.  With google clearly growing in size, I am not holding my breath for the chance that it will reverse any of its tendencies down the path toward organizational dementia.

NATFA renegotiation

September 19, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , is running a campaign to object to the NATFA secret tribunals, stating:

In just a few days, negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada will converge on Ottawa for a critical round of NAFTA negotiations where sources are saying things are really going to heat up. [1]

Corporate lobbyists are fighting tooth and nail to preserve dangerous and extreme rules in NAFTA called “Investor State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS). ISDS gives corporations the power to sue our government for laws that protect our environment and our health.[2]

Time is running out to influence this deal, and unless we speak up in a big way, lobbyists could bully the Liberals into putting corporate profits ahead of the public interest.[3-4]

The government has opened an inbox to get the public’s input on what it should prioritize in negotiations — and almost 10 000 Leadnow members have already sent messages calling on decision-makers to strip ISDS from the deal. We want to hit at least 15 000 messages before meetings start on the weekend to let negotiators know that Canadians want toxic ISDS rules out of NAFTA. 

Peeter, will you help us up the ante against these toxic rules that let billionaire corporations sue Canada?


Their form letter explicitly names the secret corporate tribunals (ISDSs), something I knew existed, but didn’t know the name of:

“Dear Canada’s NAFTA negotiating team,

Modernizing NAFTA means standing up for democracy and fighting to remove its extreme, secretive, and anti-democratic Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rules. No more corporate lawsuits that kneecap our democracies at the expense of the public good.

We know the corporate lobby and business elite are lobbying to keep ISDS intact. Please don’t cave into the corporate pressure. Put our democracy first. I’m calling on you to fight to remove toxic ISDS rules during NAFTA re-negotiations.”

While informative, their letter was a bit boring, so I wrote my own:

I understand that the NATFA negotiating team is probably populated with corporate shills, fighting to keep or augment the status quo.

This note is a quick exercise in futility, pretending that I have a place in the sham that we call democracy. A “free trade” agreement that is hundreds (probably thousands) of pages long, and was negotiated and now renegotiated in secret, that grants corporation effective control over the countries in the agreement is a travesty.  Unlike so many that fell for or still fall for the deliberately misleading label of “free trade”, I’d like to see NAFTA dissolved entirely.  I know that this is very improbable, and this note and any others that express a similar opinion are just headed for the trash, but I can still fantasize.

quantum spin dreams

July 13, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , , ,

I woke up this morning with the perception that I had been dreaming about designing trinary computers and topics related to quantum spin for a large chunk of the night.   Why I would have been dreaming about this is not at all obvious.  I didn’t go to bed thinking about any scientific or computer engineering topics.

In my dream it seemed natural to use spin-1 quantum states to build a trinary clock signal for the microprocessor.  That basically means that the clock signal would be optical, since photons can have spin 1, 0 or -1.  However, what would it even mean to have a spin synchronized clock signal.  This would be a state that could be measured at any point on the microprocessor that has a time varying spin, but measurement of that spin would not alter the spin states of all the other photons in the clock signal?  If measurement of the signal at one point on the chip cannot perturb the overall clock signal, then there must be a large number of particles involved.  Also how could you prepare a stream of photons that you could measure the spin and know before hand what the observed spin state should be at any given point in time?  Is the spin state of any given photon not random when measured?

So, perhaps the clock signal is a complex entangled many-photon state?  Is there a mechanism to produce an entangled state for which the measured state at any point in time would be cyclic?  I haven’t even studied any aspects of quantum information theory, other than knowing that entangled states exist.  Perhaps questions like these are already well understood?

I also dreamed of a large clear glass-like window pane, in which all the spin-1 particles had their spins synchronized.  I guess this is a similar, but simpler version of the microchip spin synchronized clock signal, just not varying with time.  In my dream I wondered what the optical properties of “glass” would be if there was a large degree of spin synchronization.  Now, does glass even have any spin-1 particles?  Perhaps the window pane in my dream was built of some other material, like plastic or Star Trek like transparent aluminium.  Even supposing that it was possible to synchronize the spins in a large number of particles, the optical effects of doing so are not clear to me.  We do calculations of reflection and transparency in electromagnetism, but there the underlying nature of the transparency is treated as a black box, having to do with the electric and magnetic permittivity.  I understand transparency to be a bulk solid state quantum statistical mechanics phenomena, but  don’t really know enough to be able to, say, compute the optical properties of a given crystal lattice of some arbitrary material.  Understanding that has been a goal since I was a kid (perhaps since I saw “The voyage home” with my grandparents as a kid), but I haven’t gotten that far in my studies yet, or if I have, I haven’t put all the pieces together mentally.

In a metal, like aluminum, there would be many free electrons.  Perhaps the spin of those half-integer spin particles could be synchronized.  What would be the optical properties if that was done in a large sheet of material?  In stat-mech we did the calculations that related spin to magnetic moment, so there would surely be magnetic properties to such a spin synchronized surface.  It is kind of interesting that we have two so very different mechanisms for magnetism, one due to quantum half integer spin, and the other due to relativistic effects of observing electrons in motion.  There are surely some subtle ways these are related in quantum field theory, but I don’t know much of that topic either.

This purpose of this dream sequence really seems to be pointing out to me how little I know, in the big picture sense, about how electrodynamics and quantum mechanics fit together.

patriotism, and worship of war, state and country

July 12, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

I was reading the Gulag Archipelago, by Solzhenitsyn last night before bed, and now find myself up in the middle of the night, not able to sleep.  At first it seemed rather mysterious why I’d be wide awake with anti-patriotism and anti-war thoughts rolling around in my head so strongly, but I finally connected those thoughts with my bedtime reading.

This book reads like a real life version of 1984, starting off with stories of arrests, interrogations and searches.  Perhaps it hits so closely to home since it is so easy to see so many other aspects of 1984 playing out for real in our society around us.  It is probably not a good bedtime reading choice if I want to be able to sleep through the night.

As I lay tossing and turning at ~3am, definitively not sleeping, I had four specific memories rolling around in my head.  All were anti-state and anti-patriotism memories.

You might get the impression that Canadians are anti-war.  Part of this is because “our” participation in war is covert, and not advertised.  If “we” happen to be playing the bombing for dollars in game Kosovo or Syria, it isn’t because there is an explicit declared war, but instead because we are part of NATO “peace-keeping” (hello Orwell!) forces.  Canadian participation in the wars of our belligerent neighbour is expected.  Like the US, we aren’t creating terrorism, we are fighting it!

Canadians aren’t indoctrinated in the believe in the goodness of war as heavily as our US counterparts, but there are some lines that can’t be crossed without getting severe emotional reactions.  I challenge anybody to disrespect the religious Oh Canada or Remembrance day ceremonies, or the sanctity of the belief that Canadians were saving lives by participating in the world wars.

In my own head I had come to the internal conclusion that Oh Canada is nothing but a patriotism indoctrination tool.  The “we stand on guard for thee” words in the song scream exactly this.  I remember being a kid, standing proudly in various public school indoctrination centres, feeling proud to be Canadian, proudly listening to the “with glowing hearts” line.  However, like so many other national anthems, the Canadian anthem appears to have been rolled out in force as a war propaganda action, in our case for WWII, the “good war”.  People are still of age to have plenty of relatives that fought in WWII and aren’t mentally prepared for second guessing absolute confidence that Canadian participation in that war was beneficial.  It is a lot easier to relish the memory of loved grandfathers than to admit that their grandfathers were unfortunate pawns in the games of the power brokers that profit from war.  Canadian participation in WWII is viewed as a shallow “we saved the world from Hitler” point of view.  There are many aspects of this war that you are not allowed to think about.  You are supposed to think of the battles that Canadians helped save the day fighting.  You are not supposed to think of all the civilians that were killed and displaced.  You are not supposed to think about all the German civilians that were killed in bombing raids, and that the British were playing that city bombing game with as much relish as the Germans.  You are allowed to think about Hitler’s concentration camps, but not allowed to think about Allied cooperation with Stalin, who killed many times more of his own people than Hitler managed to kill in camps or active war.  How can a war be good when it aids and facilitates one of the worst murderers in history?

Thoughts of these sorts are hard to enunciate on the spot if you should decide to not participate in the indoctrination game of standing to attention during Oh Canada, or not standing still during a Remembrance day ceremony.  Memories of two specific instances of running the social experiment of not participating in these observances were rolling through my head.  One was at a public school when the national anthem interrupted a talk with the principle that was much more important seeming to me than the anthem (the insanity of how multiplication was being taught to Karl, our current household public school victim).  The other was returning a book at the public library when my conditioning to stand silent during the remembrance day ceremony way playing.  Should you try this social experiment, I can tell you what will happen.  You will get looks of shock and horror, and what easily appears to be pure hatred.  This is from peace loving Canadians.  I was not brave enough to play this game when the US national anthem played at my brother’s recent graduation ceremony.  I can imagine coming out of that auditorium with injuries had I decided to disrespect that particular religious ceremony.  It was both amusing and horrifying to observe the feelings of adoration as all those Americans stood enraptured with their hands on their hearts as their national anthem played.  I am thankful that it was standing room only at Devin’s graduation.  Would I have been tempted to sit during the US national anthem had I not already been standing?  I didn’t have a convenient and well articulated response for sitting at hand for such a social experiment.  I suppose that I could have claimed to be a practising Jehovah’s witness.  It is ironic that one of the only responses that may have been acceptable, like the anthem itself, would have also been religious.

I think there is perhaps value to actively not playing the Oh Canada game or the remembrance day game.  Doing that may be enough to get some people to realize exactly how conditioned their behaviour is.  At the same time, it makes people angry, which is counter productive, because people cannot reason when they are angry.   Instead perhaps consider for your self just how angry you would get if some insolent snot like me didn’t stand for attention during the anthem or walked around during a remembrance day ceremony, when we all know that you are supposed to stand still quietly.  Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t get angry to observe that?  If you did get angry, consider your reasons for that anger.  Does the fact that fact that you were forced to comply with this religious ceremony again and again and again in school have anything to do with your conditioned response?

Good patriots stand for attention during the national anthem.  Good patriots do not question the goodness of war.  Good patriots fight without considering they are being manipulated to fight the battles of others and line the pocketbooks of the power brokers that love war.  What could be wrong with encouraging patriotism?

My dad was thoroughly anti-state, and a lot of that rubbed off on me.  I think that I learned my disrespect for Remembrance day from him.  I didn’t understand it when I was a kid.  He’d been a refugee himself.  He’d lost his original home and country, his biological father, and much of his family and roots.  He’d ended up with an abusive and drunkard of a step father.   My dad was Estonian, a country that was a desirable territory in its day, having been repeatedly occupied by both German and Russian forces as they passed through it in their insane fight.  I heard many stories from my insane step grandfather about Estonian guerrilla tactics against both the invading Germans and the invading Russians.  They seemed to support the good-war indoctrination that I was receiving at school, but they didn’t work on my dad.  It was very confusing when I was kid that he didn’t respect the sanctity of remembrance day having had such personal involvement in WWII, but I think I understand some of the factors now.  Part of it is probably fairly simple.  Had there not been a world war to “fight Hitler”, the Estonians would have just had to fight the Germans in their home territory as they passed through to Russia.  Imagine that the only actions taken against the Germans were defensive, and that the Germans had to fight guerrilla tactics on all fronts in all directions from their invading epicenter.  That might have been a good war.  The real story is nothing of the sort, since fundamentally, the war was desired by the British and others, and there were hard fights on many fronts to get others involved in the game.

The other thoughts that were floating around in my head had to do with the religion of Trump in the USA.  In my youth, before I found Quantum Mechanics and Maxwells’ equations, my own religious indoctrination was that of Scientology.  Until recently, I thought of Scientologists, like my dad, as predominately anti-state, but have been disabused of that notion thoroughly by my recent visit to the US, where I discovered that there are a number of true believers in my family (both active Scientologists and also fellow childhood indoctrinees).  I guess it is true that Scientology is a multi-denominational religion.

I’ve dumped enough thoughts that I think I’ll try to go back to sleep now.  I will leave thinking through vague thoughts on Trumpism and Scientology to another day.

Building a new BBQ drip tray.

July 3, 2017 Incoherent ramblings No comments ,

My old BBQ drip tray was in really rough shape:

In exchange for coffees, the installer of our new energy efficient (and functional!) air conditioner gave me a nice new piece of sheet metal, so I’m traced out a new drip tray:

Here it is before any folds:

I don’t have a brake, nor access to a metal shop, but Sofia bought Lance a little vice a few Christmases ago, and I borrowed that:

I also found that a heavy ruler (one of the edges of my square), worked well to help with the bends

The very skinny bends were harder to do nicely, and I had to resort to some pliers to help coerce them into place, but the final result is pretty decent and a lot less porous:

It looks a bit out of place with all the rust in the remainder of the BBQ, but should help give the unit a few more years:


Political correctness

November 24, 2016 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , , , , , ,

I saw an article on facebook about some recent idiocy at Queen’s university.

The idiocy isn’t what is being dubbed a racist party, but the fact that a costume party is dubbed racist.

A comment on this (Leon) that I thought summed things up nicely was:

“It is people who criticize a bunch of kids dressing as racists who make incidents of real racism greatly diminished.”

There is an alarming trend of perverting language in the political correct circles that is mystifying

  • A kiss without a contract, triple signed and witnessed, is now being called rape, or it’s seeming legal equivalent “sexual assault”.  There are concent posters all over UofT that outline the legalistic contracting required for sexuality in this PC age.  I was too inhibited when I was an undergrad to have had much sexual activity, but I’m glad that I’m not an undergrad now subject to the current guidelines.  It’s definitely not okay to take advantage of somebody who is drunk, but this has been flipped on its head.  Sex after consentual codrunkenness now appears to be sexual assult in some places.
  • Failing to use the “correct” gendered pronoun is now “hate speech”, and is perceived as, or at least mislabelled as, explicit violence.  I’m a firm believer that people should have complete freedom to engage in hate speech or discrimination of any sort.  Let people dig themselves their own social graves instead of trying to legislate speech.
  • Costume parties, even at halloween, are now being mislabelled racist.  Attempting to point that out at some PC universities resulted in so much PC backlash that resignations followed.

I keep hearing about instance after instance of such events.  It seems like most of the people who are pushing the political correctness agenda really desperately need dictionaries.  Just because you can label two things as identical, doesn’t mean that they are.  A perfect example of this is the use of “sexual assault” now instead of rape.  The two are now identified as identical, even though sexual assault is a much broader term that includes groping.

There was lots in the recent US election media circus about how Trump’s bragging of pussy grabbing and aggressive kissing, acts that were facilitated by stardom.  One of the debate moderators explicitly called that sexual assault.  I don’t like the phrase sexual assault, because it is ambiguous, and has connotations of rape, while not necessarily being rape.  It seems to be a phrase designed to have the emotional impact of rape, while being something lesser.

Whether or not that Trump was bragging about sexual assault is probably dependent on state law.  Ambiguous language identifies unequal events with the same weight, and seems to be a characteristic of political correct speech and activism.  For example, calling pussy grabbing rape would be an obvious example of the misuse of language.  That’s why PC correct speech uses sexual assault instead.  A side effect of such PC correct speech is that actual rape, a horribly abusive event, is trivialized.  The irony in the Trump case was that the media could have focused on actual rape.  For example, Trump and his pedophile buddy Jeffrey Epstein, are codefendents in an actual rape case (which I understand has now unfortunately been dropped due to technicalities).  Characteristic of many of the charges laid against Epstein, this one is also of a child, in this case a 13 year old.

Of his buddy Epstein Trump said

“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

It remains to see if Trump is a sexual predator on par with Bill Clinton.  My gut feeling why pussy grabbing got so much attention, but Trump’s case with Epstein did not was because Bill is also a good friend of Epstein, and had been down to Epstein’s pedophile island many times.  Raising attention to that would have distracted from Hillary’s campaign (perhaps even raised the issue that she’d also “partied” there, in ways currently unspecified).

I digress.

How can political correctness be combatted?  One way is calling out explicit misuse of language.  Be very careful to use accurate words, and not to conflate things in order to push an agenda.

Because the political correctness movement is anti-intellectual, I suspect that purely linguistic techniques to fighting it are doomed.  Are there active social techniques that would be effective?

I came up with one idea that I amused myself with.  Perhaps it is time to start hosting some explicitly politically incorrect parties, just to push back.  Imagine a Halloween party that you are not allowed into, unless you are offending some minority group.  Suggested costume ideas include Hilter, blackface, transvestites or red-indians.  If you aren’t insulting somebody, then you can’t come in.  If you don’t think that Hilter is offensive enough, perhaps the host would allow you in if you dressed as some other psychopathic killer like Kissinger or Churchill, but that risks turning the party into an political party instead of an anti-PC party.  Costume prize adjudication would be biased against those that are in a visible minority group, so you should get extra points if you are a cis gendered white male.  Bonus points to the hosts of the party should they hold it on a university campus.

Kiva, a fun alternative to standard charitable donations.

November 17, 2016 Incoherent ramblings No comments , ,


This year, when I was still at IBM, I had opted out of the IBM Employee Charitable Fund (ECF) and chose to put cash into Kiva microloans instead.  I was tired of just blindly dumping money into some big charity like United Way.  I don’t really have any idea what United Way or any other charity is doing with the money I provide.

At the time I had no idea that I wouldn’t be working at IBM for much longer.  When I left IBM and started working as a contractor for LzLabs in the spring, having made this switch already made it easy for me to continue doing so.  The only change I made I was increase the amount that I was making for my monthly Kiva funds topups.  I’m now an employee of LzLabs Canada (3 of 5 at the time of the incorporation), but since we don’t have an IBM style employee charitable fund, I am still putting funds into Kiva that I used to put into explicit registered charities.

I quite like Kiva as an alternative to standard charity. For one, it isn’t straight up charity, since I can choose to fund people who look like they are trying to improve their condition.  That’s a sustainability difference that I think is very important, and part of the trap of the welfare system.  If you reward welfare recipients by providing it unconditionally as we do, you create the welfare state.  Most of my Kiva loans have specifically targeted individuals who have some sort of business venture that they are trying to improve.  My preference has been for people that want tools or livestock (example: a milk producing cow) that will continue to provide value long after the loan is paid.

Its fun to be able to specifically choose who my funds are going to, and when the loan repayments come in, I can often recycle those repayments directly into a new loan without even waiting for my next top up period.

I don’t think that the default overhead that Kiva wants for each loan is reasonable ($3 on $25), so I lower that significantly each time.  Note that if the loan that you try to fund doesn’t get the backers required, Kiva keeps that overhead donation amount.  When I recycled funds after such an unfunded loan into a new loan, I explicitly set the corresponding Kiva donation amount to zero.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can get a Canadian charitable tax credit for the sort of permanently recycling Kiva loans that I am doing, but it’s fun enough to see my loan portfolio grow that I don’t care too much about the tiny little tax kickback Uncle Trudeau and Aunt Wynne “give me” in exchange for me financing their spending sprees.

Home office progress.

November 13, 2016 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , ,


We’ve had a giant cavity the room that that is now my home office space.  It had been cut into the garage by the previous owner of the house to mount a CRT TV in, made the garage a lot less usable, and also let in a lot of cold.  Last weekend we took it out completely:



and on Tuesday I framed in a new wall support, and got it into place:



Then sealed things up again:


I happened to have a sheet of water resistant board kicking around the garage, so used that:


and today I did the rough coat:


While I had some compound mixed up, I filled in a few other things in this space.  Quite a while ago I fished ethernet and coax cable into my home office space, so I got the box in place for these:



and did a rough plastering fill of all my fishing holes:



It will be nice to get this space completely in order, but we’ve now made some good progress on that front.