Archives for the month of: November, 2014

I started my engineering career in oil and gas down in Texas back in the early ’80s. And I still have the Ideal Gas Law – which defines the relationship between pressure, volume and temperature (PV=nRT) – permanently stuck in my head .

In an oil refinery those properties are all closely measured and monitored using sensors. Then the proper values of those properties [for any given process] were maintained using things like pumps, heaters, chillers, and valves.

That said, I have kind of an old and abiding interest in process systems, sensors and controls. And when I made a career change ten years later and went from Texas to California, and swapped electrical systems for electronic systems it became apparent that many of the underlying engineering principles remained the same.

Namely a system is a system is a system. The systems might be chemical, electrical or a combination thereof. But all systems have a certain commonality in that they all contain processes that require measurement(s) and control management.

Anyway, I just replied to an EETimes (Electrical Electronic Times) article entitled, ‘Experts Call for Secure Sensors‘, about the concern over network security at the [network] fringe – the sensor level – of the upcoming Internet of Things; also commonly referred to as the machine to machine (M2M) communications piece of the internet.

I wrote that “This opinion is completely contrary to Francis daCosta’s very well written, comprehensive and authoritative book on the subject ‘Rethinking the Internet of Things: A Scalable Approach to Connecting Everything’.

And I agree with daCosta that non-related system sensors sharing data for security reasons (or any reason for that matter) seems absurd; and not to mention expensive.

And hacking a sensor  – something that is fundamentally unintelligent – seems absurd as well.

Protecting (and monitoring) the upstream controller is where the smart money should be spent – and not adding unnecessary  intelligence and security to the sensor.

And as deCosta points out, putting an IP stack – requiring memory and processing power – on sensors can’t be justified by the economics alone. And doing such would add to their vulnerability.

So methinks Intel’s crying wolf over security at the sensor level is their ploy to sell more processors.”

And I went on to say –
“PS – Let’s not forget what sensors really are. Sensors sense and then report their sensed values. That’s it. Other entities control the system based on those reported values. And the more complex the system, then the more built in systems’ checks they have. But their sensors – as in temperature, pressure, volume (or whatever) – should be left as unintelligent as possible. Ergo, as such they’re unhackable. Like how do you hack a thermometer? You can’t.”

Just in case you haven’t been following along on the whole internet growth thing, then here is a quick catch up for you.

One – Today, the present internet contains some number of networked entities numbering in the low billions. In ten years time that number could easily swell by two orders of magnitude; which would mean something like hundreds of billions of connected devices.

Two – Most of those new connections will be in the form of ‘fringe’ devices in the form of sensors.

Three – The internet is undergoing a fundamental addressing transition from IPv4 to IPv6. IPv4 can address 2^32 devices but IPv6 can address 2^128 devices. Punch those two numbers into your Base 2 calculator and convert them to Base 10 and you’ll see that the latter is almost infinitely larger.

Four – This address space upgrade was intended to forever end the argument of running out of IP addresses (which is presently happening); up to and including the IoT.

Five – But no one back in the ’90s – when IPv6 was being conceived – had sufficient insight to foresee the consequences of the IoT and that the architecture wouldn’t necessarily follow the existing peer – peer paradigm.

Last – This EETimes article primarily referenced an Intel executive’s presentation at a recent conference where he raised what I believe were unwarranted concerns over the security of sensors. But in fact, the entire article was entirely misleading – fear mongering if you will – speaking about things like the increase of ‘software based sensor attacks’. And how even home devices aren’t safe.

From my perspective the author needs to do four things: conduct real research if she wants to write authoritatively about something she apparently doesn’t understand. Then tone down the fear rhetoric, and quit mixing her metaphors (since when is an attack on a network workstation the same as an attack on a sensor?). And for goodness sakes get their terminology straightened out. For instance, a system controller is not a system sensor. A controller can get hacked but not a sensor.

Now if there are companies out there building and installing hybrid devices (sensor-controller combinations) into consumer devices like smart refrigerators then it is quite possible that your shinning new stainless clad frig could at some point in the future go all 1984 on your ass. But that’s presuming that your food containers at some point are all RFID tagged. Have a look at my first IoT post to see how that could happen.

But if you really want to cut to the chase and understand the emerging IoT then you should read the definitive book on the subject – one that was written by an expert, Francis daCosta‘s Rethinking the Internet of Things: A Scalable Approach to Connecting Everything. It is available right now for a free download from Amazon.



I went exploring yesterday before finally ending up in extreme backwoods mountainous Michoacán. I knew that I wanted to go to La Barranca; I just didn’t quite understand exactly how different the painted image was from the actual reality of it nor just exactly how far away it really was.

Some Mexicans haven’t made up their mind about distances. Maybe that’s time related. Everyone in the world seems to be acquainted with that Mexican cliché, manaña. But it turns out to not be so much a cliché as a truth. From my experience it appears that both time and distance either morph or entirely lose their significance here in some parts of Mexico.

Looking east from La Barranca back towards El Ricón

Looking east from La Barranca back towards El Ricón

I had learned a week or so ago that the puebla of La Barranca produced the best mezcal in Michoacán. Copy that. Now, I never paid much attention to the whole mezcal discussion because this is tequila country. You want mezcal? Then go to Oaxaca. But La Barranca – as it was so recently pointed out – was right next door to El Ricón. Copy that. And the distillery was a big enough of an operation that I couldn’t miss it once I got to the village. Copy that. And La Barranca was supposedly 8 km from Sahuayo; or about 15 minutes by bus. So copy that.

I‘ve walked to El Ricón many times. It is a nice little 30-40 minute walk from my house. And much nicer now that the road has been paved. In the pre-pavement days, the vehicular generated dust in the dry season always seemed to undermine the very logic behind taking a walk for your health argument.

On a few of those occasions, I was searching for the legendary backtrail from the river at El Ricón up into the northern hills known locally as the Calzonuda; aka ‘The Big Panties’. And no, I don’t know why the locals call them such. And while I am sure that the backtrail exists, neither the locals living at the bottom of the hills nor my own feeble exploratory efforts have had any luck finding the damn thing.

It was there btw, while running up in these same Big Panties a year or so ago, where the three big dogs tried to eat me for lunch. It was a truly frightening experience that I covered in a previous post entitled ‘He Disagreed with Something that Ate Him‘.

So over the past few days the idea that La Barranca not just existed but produced an almost mythical and exquisitely smooth mezcal has been slowly working over me like some shivery surprise. I suppose one could say it’s a cultural thing. If you live near something that’s really cool then the onus is on you to go give it a look see.

A good counter-example might be if you live in a place like Kansas City (or anywhere in Texas for that matter) and don’t like barbeque then the entire local food culture is wasted on you. And you probably owe it to your neighbors to move. And if you’re a vegetarian then you might want to consider California as your destination. And if moving seems unappealing then don’t rule out suicide as an equally viable (albeit more long term) solution.

All my trips out to El Ricón, following the main road along the river, terminated a couple of kilometers west of the village where the road finally petered out at the river into a brushy landscape of thorn bearing scrubs, rock, and prickly pear cactus. Ahh, but there is another road prior that splits, crosses the river and heads into the west-south-west. And it is on this road that lies the puebla of La Barranca.

I flagged down the bus only to catch a ride of kilometer or two before it veered off on another road heading back east. The driver assured me that La Barranca was only 2 kilometers further up the road. I wasn’t carrying any water but I figured the big distillery that was just up the road would have water. After all, they needed water to make mezcal, the workers drank water, and a visitor from time to time probably wanted a glass of water if for no other reason but to rehydrate after a few too many complimentary glasses of their splendid mezcal.

I walked what I guesstimated from my watch as being something like 2 kilometers. But all that I could see in the distance was just more of the same road disappearing into the distant mountains. A van slowed up and stopped as I waved my hand in a patting gesture towards the ground. I asked him how much further up the road was La Barranca. He said he was going there and told me to hop in. He laughed when I told him that I was planning to walk there.

Come to find out, there is no actual distillery in La Barranca. And the puebla was still something like another 8-10 kilometers further out. And so not just was La Barranca totally not adjacent to El Ricón – it was literally at the end of the road we were on. But first we had to pass through several other pueblas to get there. La Flor del Agua was the first village beyond El Ricón. Then La Chichara. El Aguacate. Then La Uva. Barranca de Soyate. El Añil. And then finally, La Barranca.

It was somewhere around El Añil where the road more or less gave out. That’s when we crossed a boulder infested arroyo that I am sure over time did such serious damage to a vehicle’s lifespan that there would be warranty denial issues should such a claim arise. I felt like Sir Richard Burton. And not the drunken actor, you idiot. The nineteenth century explorer. I felt almost giddy, certain with the knowledge that I was trodding in a most foreign place.

We made a couple of stops. First to look at the still flopping body of a green supposedly highly venomous snake called a ‘vibora hocico de puerco’ and then we stopped to pick up a ladder which involved a perilous traverse over a 40 foot long span of a rusting and crumbling footbridge constructed in places of cracked and paper thin wood suspended 30 feet over the top of a shallow river filled with rocks. I hate heights. And bridges that have nothing to hold onto. I let my new friend, Luis go first and then followed precisely in his footsteps, not daring to look down.

The road became a muddy two-track before terminating in front of Luis’s brother, Viktor’s house. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, shit.’ I was deep in the mountains of northwestern Michoacán. Under a blazing sun, already thirsty, without water and facing the prospect of a dry, two plus hour walk back to El Ricón through quite possibly hostile country – read, dogs off the leash with a tremendous appetite for the taste of gringo flesh and now, poisonous snakes. Just what kind of fool anyway goes for a walk through the devil’s own playground, and then not thinking that there might be serious consequences involved?

La Barranca. The end of the road. The entrance to Luis's brother's house.

La Barranca. The end of the road. The water-crossing, the gate and entrance to Luis’s brother, Viktor’s house.

But not to worry, as Luis was planning on returning back to Sahuayo in 4-5 hours so it would be just a simple matter entertaining myself and staying out of trouble while Luis did whatever it was Luis was out there to do. I ended up having a pretty good time.

Open air kitchen. The porch and the view to the west

Entrance to the open air kitchen containing an adobe wood-fired stove. The porch and the view to the west.

If you click on the photo above to zoom in then you will see a trace of smoke coming out from between the eave of the roof and the crumbled wall. There was a delicious pot of beans on the fire and Viktor’s wife had just returned from a 20 yard walk where she gathered some fresh cactus paddles from which she was going to make a nopale salad. When I first arrived at their house, the first thing Viktor did was to pour me a glass of his homemade mezcal. He said it was pure and straight from the still. It was smooth, tasty and quite strong. Probably something like 110 proof.

Luis's brother, Jaime in front of his house. It's a steep walk a little further up the mountain from Victor's house.

Luis’s brother, Jaime in front of his house. It’s a steep walk a little further up the mountain from Viktor’s house.

Now, maybe you are beginning to realize from some of the photos that this is unelectrified country. So picture the most primitive part of Appalachia that you know, but subtract out all of the broken down cars parked out front sitting up on cement blocks, then sprinkle in a few cacti, change the language, and add a bunch of exotic fruit trees. Oh, and lose the crack habits, make the people way friendlier and give ’em nicer teeth. And now it all starts to look somewhat vaguely familiar doesn’t it?

Fresh deer birria cooking in Jaime's kitchen.

Fresh deer birria cooking in Jaime’s kitchen.

I sat up on Jaime’s porch for an hour and talked to him and his wife. She asked me question after question. She seemed somewhat convinced that I was a bit slow (as in stupid) because I didn’t understand all of her words. And she was a bit suspicious that I didn’t have a woman. After all, I was in Mexico. There’s lots of women in Mexico. So why didn’t I have one? She demonstrated faultless logic on both counts.

Air-drying deer meat at Jaime's from a deer killed the day before.

Air-drying deer meat at Jaime’s taken from a deer killed the day before.

So no electricity means entertainment is very limited; like watching venison strips dry slowly in the sun. Actually, that was a rather tasteless joke for which I apologize. Rather, spare time in a place as rugged as La Barranca is back- filled doing work. Sitting on the porch all day staring into the mountains seems like a sure way to go crazy and starve to death all at the same time.

A view from Jaime's house to the west. The kitchen is on the left and the house is on the right.

A view from Jaime’s house to the west. The kitchen is on the left and the house is on the right.

This is about as rural as rural living gets. But there is plenty of food. What they grow and don’t eat, they sell or trade to get the other things that they need. I promised them that I’d look into the cost of a solar panel. She asked, ‘By when?’ And I told her to give me a week.

We drove back into town and I discovered that Luis lives unsurprisingly just 4 blocks south of me and more or less on the corner of the same cross street as me (Melgar). I met his wife and one of his daughters and bought a liter of his brother’s finely distilled ambrosia. He gave me his phone number and I told him I’d drop off one of my cards with my phone number on it.

The big avocado tree in front of Viktor's porch.

The big avocado tree in front of Viktor’s porch.

PS – On my way back down Melgar Street about 5 pm on my way home I stopped in to find that my parrot buddy, Mateo was almost birdnapped that same afternoon. The small grocery story where he lives is just a block from my house. Anyway, I find him out of his cage and 3 women are passing him around, petting him, and all yacking at the same time about how just 5 minutes earlier 3 boys on a motor scooter tried to make off with him in his cage.
I’ve come to like this bird very much. He is very smart. And he seems to enjoy my visits. Marta tells me that he is now a year old and that he was captured wild as a chick in the nearby northern Pacific state of Sinaloa. It’s just as well that the sisters’ are going to put a small chain to his cage as it would sorely vex me if Mateo was ever stolen and I had to call in a favor and put a bounty out for the little bastards that stole him.

Another footnote on the subject of pet parrots. About a year ago, Loren down the street somehow got sprung (open cage door?) but somehow a week later managed to get himself recaptured – the family had put up wanted posters with his photo – and he got put back behind bars. On a philosophical note, just why does the caged bird sing anyway?

Mateo being comforted by his owner, Marta after his near ordeal.

Mateo being comforted by his owner, Marta after his near ordeal.

PPS – I ran into my friend, Pancho in the Mercado this afternoon. In the course of the conversation I told him about the cool time I had in La Barranca, about how I just couldn’t imagine not living in Mexico, and that a reoccurring nightmare was getting deported back to the US. I told him that I’d rather go underground first and become an American version of an Mexican illegal alien. He laughed and told me not worry. He said if it came to that he’d adopt me first.

I love these people.

Years ago a friend once farted loud and long in my presence. He looked at me indignantly, then slyly arched his right eyebrow before angrily asking, ‘ Did you hear what that asshole just said?’

The temperature outside has plummeted to sixty-five degrees, it’s raining, and I am feeling like it is a good day to stay home. I’ve got the electric heater fired up and the door closed off to my 3rd floor study so that I can continue to work dressed in my customary house garb of boxer shorts.

And yeah, I know – I am just f**king with you. What a great word/idea/ironic/bullshit thing to say, given the circumstances to say ‘plummeted’ in the context of temperature when places like the north central US just got slammed with an early winter storm of historic proportions. My buddy up in Marquette just emailed me to say that by tomorrow they’ll have 35″ of snow on the ground. And it’s only the 11th of November!

That still doesn’t change the fact that I had to put on long pants for the first time in almost a year and don my rain jacket before heading down to the Mercado this morning. And give me a break here. Back in ’78 I was as sensible as that recently released free-range chicken; once that cage door was opened I fled Marquette at the first opportunity.

So moving on to a more pleasant subject – food. I had a nice spicy breakfast of beef in green chili sauce, beans, and hot tortillas. Mexico still remains pretty much confused like the rest of Latin America about the whole coffee thing so I have to make mine at home. Nescafe is widely available but for the real stuff you either have wait for the two trendy little places in town to open up or better – make it yourself.

I thought it best to pick up some supplies as I felt my soaked through sandals precluded a second trip out. So I bought 20 pesos worth of locally made chorizo – the primero seco variety, a kilo of the local unpasteurized white farmer’s cheese, 2 full chicken legs, and half a kilo of dried yellow beans. And btw, I learned last week just why the some of the chickens here have such lovely yellow skins – the birds at some point are fed marigolds. Who would have ever guessed?

I already had a kilo of tomatoes and onions, some fresh chilies, as well as a pair of avocados. And the fridge is full of a cheap but tasty Milwaukee produced lager. The pantry is stocked with tea and the bar has an adequate supply of locally produced mezcal; more than enough to get me through this housebound stormy day. And yes, denizens of Marquette – stormy is relative. And ‘braving’ six months of winter doesn’t speak to tough, it speaks to insane.

And there are plenty of new books to read including Francis daCosta’s ‘Rethinking the Internet of Things: A Scalable Approach to Connecting Everything’, Adam Shostack’s ‘Threat Modeling: Designing for Security’ and James Howard Kunstler’s ‘History of the Future’.

So I am sitting here putting off doing real work, listening to the soundtrack from the movie ‘Puerto Vallarta Squeeze’; which is mostly guitar and violin with some light percussion. It captures the south of border feeling much like Miles Davis nailed the soul of Spain in his immortal jazz work ‘Sketches of Spain’. And btw, the movie sucked but the novel of the same name by Robert James Waller was quite brilliant.

Anyway – to upshift to the day’s more serious news – I stopped to visit with my very wise friend, Pancho yesterday. I really only stopped by for some information, as in to ask where exactly in El Rincon did they make that exceptionally smooth mezcal that I just recently became acquainted with. But a conversation developed around local current events as to why the town was relapsing back to its days of violence. Meaning, commerce was once again grinding to a halt. People are once again not traveling into town to buy, eat and drink.

During the violence everybody knew who was who and what was what. Now nobody knows. Prior to the big shootout at Los Cruces (sounds like a movie doesn’t it?) a few months back, one side ruled. Then immediately after, the balance of power shifted. But even then everyone knew who was in charge.

He called it right when he told me a couple of weeks ago that the outfall from the Iguala, Guerrero incident – where the 43 students were murdered – would be that eventually two or three people would be arrested and charged and then – poof – the whole incident (and the real culprits) would disappear. And that appears to be what’s happening. And that’s much like the local violence here. It is still happening but no one (and I mean no one) is talking about it.

I asked, ‘So what’s the solution? If you were Enrique Pina Nieto what would you do?’ He told me. And what he said was absolutely and inarguably right. Given the entrenchment of lawlessness and corruption; the solution would be a very (very) extreme version of Marshall Law – like shoot all the bad guys. But as we further discussed, that solution creates an even bigger problem because the government then assumes tyrannical control.

So given the real big top down kind of problems: like violence, corruption, equality, a more equitable distribution of resources, as well as improved access to education and other necessities like clean water and nutritious food, how do we affect positive change?

My opinion is that the real solution – as I pointed out in a previous post – isn’t to be found in technology, government, military, or revolution. And there is no historical evidence that any of the aforementioned ever provided any fixes that addressed the core issues anyway.

Sure, the plumbing might be a little bit better today, but that’s nothing to brag about as the ancient Romans’ tempered their sword delivered civilization with better infrastructure too. And so while some citizens might be more comfortable today, I would hazard to say that for a good part of the rest of the us, 2014 AD is probably as dangerous and as f**ked up as 2014 BC.

No, the real solution in my humble opinion lies in the way of Thoreau and Gandhi and their self-sacrificing path of civil disobedience. And for each and every one of us to get some real skin in the game.

Example. You want to see less belligerence coming from mainland China? Then quit buying their shit. You want to see a less f**ked up Middle East? Then let’s get rid of our eight-cylinder cars, drive less, so we can quit buying so much of their oil.

You want to slow down the growth of government and restrict their reach? Less tax dollars equals less mischief. So we need to consume less. Make do with less. Be our own sources of entertainment. Buy local. Act local.

And certainly don’t think that your vote is going to affect change. The incumbents merely change places.

And I think it is pretty fair to say that they’re all pretty damn happy with the way things already are.

I am taking a writing break. I took some time out to read my friend, Bob’s second chapter of his third novel. And I thought that I would take another hack at just what constitutes – for me – the craft of writing.

For what it’s worth, here’s my approach.  And this approach is pragmatic – as in real time – as I am getting very close to completing the first draft of my second novel.

Anyway, so what I did was start writing.

That happened about 2 years ago; about two years after I finished book #1. My plan has always been to write a trilogy. I have no real idea of why a trilogy exactly other than the fact that there seems to be some kind of literary completeness to three books that are interconnected and share the same characters.

So as I said, I started writing. I imagined my three primary characters as they would be a short distance out from where book #1 ended. And then I wrote some more.

A chapter on one of the characters, then a chapter on another, until where like maybe a third of the way into the story, all three characters converge. Please keep in mind that all this time I have no idea how the story is going to end. I am just imagining things during this start up writing phase.

And because my story has huge equal helpings of travel, food, and my personal interests, I am able to inject real images and background from my journals. Right now I am drawing on four different travel journals. I am using the ones I wrote in 2000 and 2001 to backfill a sub-story of one of my primary characters as he walks the Inca Trail.

Then I am using a journal that I wrote in 2010 to backfill two different sub-stories for this same and another character as they do separate overland treks through different parts of Peru. Lastly, I am using a journal from 2009 to pick up detail from a long trip that I did through  northern Peru and southern Ecuador to help build out the core of the story.

I now have something like 18 chapters in various states of completion (61,000 words or about 175 pages). Some of the chapters are complete (as in polished). While some of the chapters have only been roughed in. Yesterday I had an epiphany when I decided finally (as in finally) how the whole story was going to end; but only in a very basic sense. More on that later.

So today I started what I know will be the second to the last chapter. In the next couple of days I’ll finish roughing it in. If I get lost, or if the words aren’t coming then I will move back to one of the earlier chapters and either do some polishing or I’ll continue to fill in the blanks spots on some of the other chapters that have only been, so to speak, roughed in. But either way, I am always working at the craft of writing this second book. In the immortal words of Ovid “Add a little to a little and there will be a big pile.”

Next week I’ll start roughing in the last chapter. And again, while I see a vague sort of conclusion to this second book, this last chapter will get revisited many more times as I continue to tighten up the whole story.

In December, I’ll print a copy of it. For me, there is literally nothing like the [printed] written word. And from the printed copy, I’ll read it like I bought it. And it is at this stage where I get truly critical. And from there I intend to drive myself to finish the first draft by Feb. 01.

And then I’ll print it again. It is beginning from the first draft where the final stage of polishing comes in. And by the mid to end of next year I’ll consider the whole thing done.

Mastering the craft of writing is impossible for most us. Personally I never expect to be anything more than a journeyman. But that’s okay. I find writing to be wonderfully compulsive and intend to keep writing up until the day I die.

PS – And I truly believe the literary world needs a doer/maker in the form of a structural engineer as a hero with a taste for travel, great food and booze.

And this for me is where the magic comes in and the craft gets somewhat left behind.  Because at the end of the day when the critical elements come out to lay waste to your plot, to your writing, or to your style – then you better have some remaining refuge in the form of honesty.

I was thinking about my last post and wondering after the why of just how [some/most/all] companies that start out with such large social promises of providing benefits to humanity, only to then at some point get their values so totally twisted around as to become true menaces to society.

In fact just yesterday in a Guardian (British paper) article, Google’s chief executive Larry Page has admitted that the company has outgrown its mission statement to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

So I spent a couple of hours this morning searching through a big stack of personal journals for some relevant quotes to help frame my recent conclusion as to why so much of the social progress that should have happened, didn’t happen.

From Michael Lewis book, ‘Next: The Future Just Happened’ (2001) –

Relationships between the upstarts on the fringe and the incumbents in the center:

1) Rules are established to create order and maintain profits for incumbents. Examples of rules are: social mores, professional licenses, government regulations, locked up distribution channels.

2) Cheaper technology suddenly allows for the bypassing of the rules.

3) Incumbents are fat, dumb, and happy with current monopolistic profits and their general situation, so they bad mouth any new stuff which threatens their incumbency, or profits or both.

4) Fringe players emerge to use this ever cheaper technology to simply ignore the rules.

5) Fringe players attract venture capital since there are great profits to be made underselling he incumbents.

6) Incumbents are in denial until their profits are really threatened and/or market share begins to erode meaningfully.

7) Chaos ensues; fringe players are threatened with lawsuits, government regulations, public shaming, etc.

8) Growth at the fringe accelerates, as it is the right way to do business using new technology.

9) Incumbents co-opt the fringe, or fringe players become the new incumbents and seek to establish new rules.

10) Go to 1

T. E. Lawrence arrived at more or less the same conclusion much earlier on. In a passage from his ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ (1922) he said, ” The morning freshness intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves. Yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to remake it in the likeness of the former world that they knew.”

So in my humble opinion, true social progress remains stalled because those of us that have made their way to the top of the food chain – the incumbents – have neither the urgency nor the interest to push their lesser brothers along. In fact logic seems to dictate that the incumbents are pretty damned happy with the way things are.

So what is going to bring about true social change? With that I mean things like equality, a more equitable distribution of resources, as well  improved access to education and other necessities like clean water and nutritious food?

Technology? I’ll let you keep that myth all to yourselves. Back in the early ’90s while employed by Intel I gloomily predicted to a couple of colleagues that ‘we were creating a future that none of us would want to live in’.

Legislate it into being? Rule it so? Sorry. The government as a solution can only be posited rhetorically.

Militarily? As in continue to expend vast sums of the American taxpayers dollars to both destroy and then rebuild other countries infrastructure in the hopes that they’ll catch on to our cool way of life, move to the suburbs and buy our products? No.

Revolution? Probably not. Kafka, from a front row seat once bitterly observed then postulated that, “Every revolution evaporates to leave behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”

So what’s my prediction? I don’t have one and besides with so many variables it’s impossible to guess.  But if the variables in this circumstance can be reckoned to be like a bunch of concurrently spinning dinner plates on sticks juggled by a clown then one might hazard to say that there will be some broken dishes before it’s all over.



“According to Google’s terms of service,

Block Quotes When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.”

Thanks to for that from her ‘Blogger vs. WordPress Content Ownership’ post.

So if you are thinking about engaging Google – once the underdog, now the lord of the manor – for anything (even) cloud services for parking some of your individually created content (your intellectual property) then be sure to read the fine print.


PS – In follow up I read an article that published in 2012 that speaks to ‘Will Google own your files if you use Google Drive?‘. It is a worthwhile read and takes some of the edge off the above clause in Google’s ToS. But still…

PPS – Read up on the current state of DRM and you’ll understand my continued misapprehension.



Today, Nov. 2nd is the Day of the Dead. Here are some photos I took this morning in the plaza.

A mural of sorts constructed of colored elements and fresh marigolds.

A large mural of sorts constructed on the ground from different colored elements including fresh marigolds.

Macabre figures.

Macabre figures.

A shrine of sorts that includes food and candles

A shrine of sorts that includes food and candles.

Yet after all the painstaking handcraft, by mid-day tomorrow it will all be gone.

“…is how you pay your way into the party if you don’t have the guts to be tough or the brains to be brilliant.”