Dale Napier writer Tai Chi Chuan Tai Chi In Your Life Queen Joan politics martial arts cyberwar
Dale Napier writer Tai Chi Chuan Tai Chi In Your Life Queen Joan politics martial arts cyberwar
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Extras for the Tai Chi practitioner who wants it all.

Hackers Gone Wild: DEF CON

August 20, 2016

Early this month I attended DEF CON 24, the world's largest hackers conference. If you ever wanted to learn hacker programming, how to hack an ATM, how to hack a Boeing 707, how to hack a heavy truck or for that matter a DEF CON badge, or just how to pick locks - then this conference was for you. And in case you're wondering, yes, the white hats were there to keep an eye on the black hats.
Read on.
Def con

The Paranoid Style in American Politics

July 17, 2016

One of my favorite silly sayings of politics is "history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes". One hundred years after the birth of American historian Richard Hofstadter, I'm rediscovering one of his great works of a half century ago. When I read the book in college it read like a story of distant past history. When I reread it again this month, The Paranoid Style of American Politics read like it was written for this year's presidential election. This year we are rhyming like the lunatic ravings of a psychopathic poet.
Are you a paranoid in the style of American politics? Probably. Read here and find out.

Facing Down the Police

July 10, 2016

Have you ever been confronted by police with a weapon in your hand? How did you behave? How did it end? It's happened to me twice, and both times everyone walked away happy and healthy. What is required to make that happen? Is it still possible? Given today's police-public dysfunction, what is required for healing to begin?
Read more police confrontations that were close to me.

The Heart of Europe

June 26, 2016

When I read a book of history my goal is to fill gaps in my knowledge of the subject. Sometimes the gaps are large, sometimes they are small, but every so often a book comes along that completely transforms my knowledge of a subject, filling gaps I never knew existed. So it was with my recent completion of Peter Wilson's Heart of Europe, an all-encompassing history of the Holy Roman Empire. For those who know nothing else of the Empire, we begin with Voltaire's famous statement that it was "neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, " a cynical depiction with more than a dash of truth. What I came to realize was that most of my knowledge of medieval times was based on English and French history and culture , which took a path quite separate from that of the Empire.
Read more about the Empire's impact on the founding of America..

How Round Is the World?

May 30, 2016

When I was a schoolboy we were taught that when Columbus sailed to America, almost everyone believed the world was flat and if you sailed too far from the coast you would eventually sail off the edge of the world. This ridiculous piece of fiction is typical of falsehoods that school teachers teach when they know little or nothing about their subject. But a recent jewel I just finished reading, The Invention of Science, helps set the story straight on a wide variety of subjects our teachers never got right, such as Aristotle's errors, how he set back the pursuit of knowledge for more than a millennium, the real reason Columbus' "discovery" of America was so important, and the real reason Amerigo Vespucci's influence made him more important than Columbus.

The Invention of Science is an encyclopedic work of such scope that it is tough to discuss in one sitting, so I'll restrict my discussion to the more salient subject of Columbus, Vespucci, and what science and society of their day really thought of the nature of the world.
Read more about the strange round world of medieval times.

Movie Review - Batman v. Superman

March 26, 2016

As a young boy I was drawn to the Superman character because of the message of hope, goodness and heroism, though I was too young to understand that Superman's acts were not truly heroic because he rarely risked anything to save lives; he was just doin' what comes naturally. At one point in this movie Batman, whose age is set at between 45 and 50 by the dates on his parents' tombstones, flaunts his human superiority at his younger (by a decade) Kryptonian opponent: "You're not brave," he intones. "Only men can be brave." That tone of determined arrogance perfectly represents the attitude of Bruce Wayne, who is angered beyond measure by the destruction of Wayne Tower and hundreds of his employees during the events of Man of Steel, in which Superman and his Kryptonian enemy, General Zod, lay waste to most of Smallville and a great deal of Metropolis. In the end this movie is truly about Bruce Wayne. Batty Ben Affleck gets billed higher than super Henry Cavill, and his performance merits it. But there are a lot of details to this movie, most of them good.
Read why this movie is far better than its early reviews - better than Man of Steel, better than Dark Knight Rises.
Ben Affleck, at 6 foot 4, makes Batman three inches taller than Superman.

Perry Mason Meets James Bond

March 18, 2016

In the past I've written about books that were turned into movies, but I left out a couple on purpose - Perry Mason and James Bond - because both were/are franchise characters that require closer attention. Like all small or big screen adaptations (Mason was in film before the famous Raymond Burr TV show), changes were made. Almost without exception when we think of either character we think of them as they are depicted on the screen, but in both cases the characters were much different in print. It is safe to say that the very qualities that made them so appealing in books were eradicated as quickly as possible by Hollywood, reducing Mason and Bond to formulae guaranteed to succeed, even though no formula was required to make them succeed in print.
Read more about Perry Mason and James Bond.

Presidential Breakdown

March 1, 2016

A few months ago a Democrat friend of mine asked a question, somewhat in shock, about whether we are watching the death of the Republican party. I doubt that we are, but more and more we see signs that a complete realignment of the Republican coalition is taking place. What most Democrats fail to understand is that their party is going through the same thing. Many Sanders supporters understand this because they came from outside the party, but Clinton supporters tend to ignore these warning signs, which could spell doom in November.
Read about the coming party realignment.
Critical Elections

Titanic II

February 12, 2016

I paid more attention to Titanic than I ever expected to, because my young daughter at the time was obsessed with it (and King Leonardo). I remember reading that James Cameron had built a 90% scale replica of the ship to make the film and remember thinking, if you're gonna do 90%, why not go all the way? Why not built a full-out replica and lease it out for use? Then, somehow thinking of Pscyho II (the book, not the movie), I thought, why not use the new Titanic to make a movie about making a movie of the Titanic, and sink the ship on purpose (without warning, of course) for full authenticity? The biggest problem with this cheeky idea, I thought, was that not many people would want to ride on the maiden voyage of a new Titanic.

Recent events have proven, once again, that reality is stranger than fiction every time. An Australian billionaire by the name of Clive Palmer is building a Titanic II, scheduled for a 2018 maiden voyage - from Jiansu, China to Dubai. It's not your grandfather's Titanic, that's for sure! It also runs on diesel-electric engines instead of coal-steam, and has a fully modern helm. The question is, would YOU want to pay to ride on a ship with a cursed name? Would you want to fly in a newer, "safer" Hindenburg? Would you lease space in a replica of the World Trade Center? Yeah, me neither.
Read about the Titanic II here.

Books in Review 2015

January 1, 2016

2015 was a year where I discovered I was reading more and enjoying it less, so I started making changes, such as using the library for throw-away fiction. Now my purchases are largely restricted to non-fiction I might have future use for, such as Jon Meacham's 2012 biography of Thomas Jefferson, and advanced topics in Tai Chi Chuan.

The 97 books I read this year split 60/40 between fiction and non-fiction. My favorite novel read this year is a translation of a Japanese work, while my favorite non-fiction work is by an Austrian Jew who explains the mental attitude that allowed him, and others, to survive the Holocaust.
What were my favorite books read in 2015? Read on.
Man's Search Taiko

War Is Over - NOW!

December 25, 2015

Christmas is a time for all wars to be over, including the war on the war on Christmas - an anemic cause if ever there was one. To understand the foolishness, let's examine the word "Xmas", used in various forms for 994 years, and see why the televangelists come up empty when they use it as evidence of anti-Christianity.

Read about the Greek derivation of Xmas.

Play John Lennon's classic song Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Happy Xmas Happy Xmas
1910 Xmas card
source: Wikipedia
Constantine's Chi-Rho

Tai Chi
Rebooting Tai Chi

November 30, 2015

I've spent the year working on a curriculum for "scientifically" structured tai chi classes that will enhance the student experience and create a stable of qualified teachers. Starting January 4 I will be testing the curriculum and preparing for a new day in tai chi instruction.
Read more about my insights on structured teaching and its implications.
Dale teaching tai chi

Superforecasting, by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner (2015)

November 17, 2015

What is the likelihood that Donald Trump will be elected president next November? This is the test question I contrived in order to examine my understanding of this book, which demonstrates how the world's best "superforecasters" use numeric and non-numeric techniques to produce results that are often strikingly accurate.
Read my review and follow the progress of my own test predictions on the electability of the top presidential candidates.
The Consultant

The Consultant, by Bentley Little (2015)

October 25, 2015

If you're a corporate employee reading Bentley Little's latest offering in the horror genre, you may not pick up on the anti-corporate subtext that gives this steak its flavor. And if you truly hate the horror genre you may not want to read this book, but if you have any background at all in the corporate world you may end up like a highway rubbernecker examining a grisly tableau: horrified but transfixed. In the case of Little's new book, The Consultant, the real horror comes from realizing you are already living and working in a world much like this story's barely fictional setting.
Read my review and compare The Consultant's corporate environment to your own.
The Consultant

Energy / Environment
Toxic Rocks in Boulder City

September 6, 2015

When we think of asbestos or mesothelioma we tend to think of men who have worked on ships or in construction that used asbestos for a building material. One celebrated case was actor Steve McQueen, who died young in 1981 from mesothelioma, having worked closely with asbestos as a teenaged Marine in the 1940s. Buildings constructed before World War II are regularly subjected to asbestos abatement before demolition, because the greatest danger comes from disturbing fibers previously lying untouched. But former Congressman Jim Bilbray, an attorney by occupation who never smoked or worked in construction, suffers from lung disease caused by asbestos - and he is not the only one with a suspicious illness. "I've hiked all around Boulder City and all over Southern Nevada," Bilbray said recently on George Knapp Reports on local Channel 8, CBS ( view the video, Asbestos in the Backyard, here.) Last week residents of Boulder City were given Bilbray's recent rude awakening: asbestos exists in the soil, occurring naturally. It exists not only in the routes for the new Interstate 11, it exists all over Boulder City.
Where are the danger spots and what can be done? Read on.
King Elementary The view of Martha King Elementary School from the asbestos field 500 feet away.

Energy / Environment
Net Metering Lives!

August 31, 2015

Fans of rooftop solar power in Nevada by now are conversant with the net metering debate, which I first introduced in my May 4 article “Billionaires Battle for Solar Power Supremacy” . The latest round in the controversy took place this week with a one-two punch – first a live debate at the National Clean Energy Summit (NCES) last Monday (Aug. 24), then a decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last Wednesday (Aug. 26).

The dispute is more a sign of solar power’s transitional period, wherein storage technology is not sufficient to fully eliminate a solar electricity user’s need for The Grid, otherwise known as the local utility monopoly. That state of affairs is changing quickly, but not quickly enough to salvage the solar rooftop industry, which has created thousands of jobs in southern Nevada in recent years, if net metering is killed.
Who won the net metering debate and whose side did Senator Harry Reid take? Read on to find out.

Dog Days of August

August 24, 2015

As the time for my vacation drew near, I became apprehensive. Such a state is not typical for me; I look forward to the interruption of my daily routine, to seeing new people and places. But this time I was fearful, filled with dread. The day before I left for Portland, it was time to put my dog Zoro in a kennel for boarding, and I cried as if I would never see him again. What was wrong? By the time I was on the plane, which I had to force myself to do, it had become pretty clear.
Read here to find out about my dilemma and how I resolved it.
Stogie Zoro

Infinitesimal, by Amir Alexander(2015)

August 13, 2015

There was a time when the average school child learned before high school the story of the Catholic Church's persecution of Galileo Galilei for his advocacy of the Copernican view of the solar system - for saying the earth revolves around the sun rather than vice-versa. I don't know what is taught today, but I suspect it is far less than the whole story. The subtitle of Infinitesimal hints at much more to come: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World.
Read and find out how the Jesuits fought a holy war against the idea of the infinitely small.

The Great Zoo of China, Matthew Reilly (2015)

July 30, 2015

By now you've probably seen Jurassic World if you're going to, but how satisfied were you to see what is little more than a remake of Jurassic Park? The idea of a new gen-dinosaur story is fine, but why repeat the same old story? Author Matthew Reilly must have been thinking this when he conceived The Great Zoo of China - the next-generation dinosaur story told with real characters and a (barely) believable basis for the resurrection of new monsters - not dinosaurs but dragons. Flying. In open air. Sure, the park has an electromagnetic cage that keeps them from flying away ... what could go wrong with that? Read and find out ... the twists and turns are everything J-World could have been but wasn't.
Great Zoo of china

Hacking the Galaxy
June 17, 2015

I hope you don't do any financial transactions at all on your phone. We've known for some time that the iPhone is hackable any number of ways, but now we learn that every Samsung Galaxy model, S6 included, has keyboard software flaws that turn your hackphone over to any hacker who wants to have his way with it.
Read the details about the Samsung Galaxy problem here..

Samsung Galaxy hackphones

Warren Buffett, Favorite Son

June 12, 2015

Warren Buffett has been liberals' billionaire cuddle-bear for a decade or longer. It's hard to track back to when it all started, but I do know he was currying favor among the media and political intelligentsia as early as 2007, when he scored Brownie points by complaining to the media that his $60,000 a year secretary paid a larger percentage of her taxes than he did on his $46 million income from the same year. While the media picked up the income inequality meme that he was going for, in truth he was just another billionaire complaining about taxes in his own sly way, while underpaying his secretary. If that disingenuous behavior was his only sin he would be a saint indeed, but the truth is that many of Buffett's business practices are no better than those of the Koch brothers - and it is no accident he is worth as much as the two of them combined. Read all about Warren Buffett's aggressive anti-progressive practices.
Warren Buffett

The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson (2014)

June 6, 2015

When I was a young reader I gobbled up biographies - by and large, the life stories of individuals whose actions helped change the world. As a result I read mostly about explorers and innovators, but the biographies available to children are substandard at best. They're often designed to promote an ideal or mythology cherished by the author, with crucial details intentionally omitted. As an adult I want a lot more details, the details that explain how and why someone acted as they did, but I'm not always up for an entire book on a person's life. In this manner Walter Isaacson's latest work, The Innovators, provides a useful role in our understanding of the technologists who shaped today's world. Learn more about The Innovators here.
The Innovators
Tesla Powerwall
Tesla Redux

May 20, 2015

I never saw such a fast response to a column as my recent Billionaires Battle for Solar Power Supremacy. However, much of it was based on the newly-announced Tesla Powerwall, the home battery that promised to soak up your home solar panels' excess electricity and store it, literally for a rainy day. Or night time. A lot of folks are now taking a closer look; a lot of them are in the financial industry, and they don't think the numbers add up. Bottom line: if you lease your solar array from SolarCity or one of its competitors, the Powerwall helps you not at all. If you own your solar array, there is a chance. Maybe. Meanwhile, the Nevada legislature is looking at net metering. Read my take on the legislation and the Tesla Powerwall here.

Clinton Cash Redux

May 15, 2015

The feedback to my Clinton Cash book review has been heartfelt on both sides. On the one hand, errors have been found in the book; on the other hand the publisher has already corrected the Kindle version. On the one hand, ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton press secretary, admitted to and apologized for keeping secret $50,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation; on the other hand the admission and apology comes only after getting called out by Politico.com, and has resulted in widespread calls for his resignation or at least omission from any presidential debates. Read my wrapup of the controversies here.
Here is a new, related story on Politico: 'Hillary Clinton Sold Her Soul When They Accepted That Money': The king of Morocco, the Clintons and a problem that just won't go away.

Metadata and NSA's Big Lie
May 14, 2015

For quite a while now we've been hearing that the NSA "only" collects metadata when it eavesdrops illegally on our phone calls. As a database guru of more than 36 years, I've long wondered what they meant by metadata. In the database industry "metadata" means one thing and one thing only, so I've always known that not only is metadata not worth collecting, but you do not need to "collect" it because it is known in advance.

In other words, the NSA was lying. Completely. Read my explanation here - on the Hard Cyber page.

Tai Chi
Essential #10: Stillness

May 13, 2015

In the closing essay of my What is Tai Chi? series, with "ten essentials", I discuss stillness. Most people have trouble sitting still, but a much higher attainment is desirable: The ability to maintain internal stillness, internal calm, while in motion. The beginner and intermediate student must shut out external vibration, such as music and other controllable noise, in order to concentrate on the stilling of internal movement. Even internal cultivation such as Daoist orbiting must be set aside to acquire deep stillness.

Read about stillness - and try sitting perfectly still while you do. Is it so hard?
Thirteen Treatises

O'Reilly's Rant Reflects Ignorance
May 13, 2015

America's adherence to religion is in steep decline in a way I could never imagined when I was younger. According to the Pew Research Center in just a short seven years, from 2007 to 2014, the "unaffiliated" rose from 16.1% to 22.8%; Protestants dropped from 44.4% to 40.1%; and Catholics from 23.9% to 20.8%. Much of this change is attributed to millenials coming of age, which suggests a long lasting trend. Knee-jerk Neanderthal Bill O'Reilly, in a recent rant, happily compared this trend to the fall of the Roman Empire, even though the trend is just as noticeable in Europe as America.

There's a problem with that analogy, Bill: The Roman Empire fell as Christianity was on the RISE, not the decline. After Constantine adopted Christianity as the state religion, the empire's fall was not far behind. Bill's ignorance of history extends even more disturbingly to government: he interchanges the words republic and empire as if they're the same thing:

The citizens there ultimately rejected sacrificing for their republican — for their republic, I should say — and the empire collapsed.

Historians tend to trace the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire as occurring during the times of Julius and Augustus Caesar, more than 400 years before the fall. If your stomach is strong, read O'Reilly's ridiculous rant for yourself..

Clinton Cash

May 10, 2015

The biggest political book of the season, at least for now, is Clinton Cash. I decided to cut through the political chatter and read the book for myself. It is responsible journalism, professional, and generally restrained. He presents compelling information that suggests the need for a Congressional investigation. Schweizer makes no attempt to prove criminality, which he rightly says is the job of prosecutors - just as it was in the storied days of Woodward and Bernstein.

Read the book for yourself, but first read this review.
Clinton Cash
Will the NSA/Obama Administration Obey the Court of Appeals?
May 8, 2015

Lately important stories have emerged in the media, but disappeared almost immediately. It's as if someone is watching and censoring the news, but does so only after the fact. A few weeks ago, for instance, the White House and a great deal of the neighborhood suffered massive power outages caused by the explosion of a single facility across the river in a less protected area. The story was hot on the news for about six hours, then disappeared abruptly. I tried to find stories that had appeared the day before and they had simply disappeared.

It happened again yesterday. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals held that the NSA has violated the Patriot Act in its massive, unencumbered spying on every American in the country. It's amazing to think that, considering how George Bush's Patriot Act eviscerated the Constitution, there are still rights left that can be violated, and they have been violated. It was the lead story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal today, above the fold, but by 10 a.m. it was nowhere to be found on its website; I had to go back to the original Washington Post story to get the details.

Lindsey Graham, the Senator from South Carolina who fantasizes about being President so that he can invade every country in the Middle East and Asia in order to prove a masculinity that simply does not exist, holds that President Obama's NSA spying is the best thing Obama has done. That alone should tell you how dangerous the situation is.

You may think your are exempt from the NSA danger because you have done nothing wrong, but you, too are being spied upon ALREADY. You may think you have nothing to worry about because you have done nothing wrong, but the stormtroopers who invade people's homes every day make mistakes every day. You may pay the price whether you "asked for it" or not. Read the Washington Post story here in full.

Billionaires Battle for Solar Power Supremacy

May 4, 2015

Two of America's most storied billionaires - Elon Musk and Warren Buffett - are battling this week for solar power supremacy. Surprisingly Musk, who owns no utilities, has a new advantage over Buffett, whose Berkshire-Hathaway owns NV Energy in Nevada. Lately NV Energy has taken major PR hits as it tries to monopolize solar power in Nevada.

Read about how Musk's latest foray may have doomed Buffett's plans forever.
Elon Musk Warren Buffett
Musk              Buffett

The Age of Ultron

May 1, 2015

In my review of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron I focus on the fact that as psychotic humanity-killing robots go, James Spader's Ultron does not hold a candle to Allesandra Torresani's Cylon in Caprica/Battlestar Galactica. But it doesn't really matter, because the magic is in the music of the Avengers themselves, working and playing together. The result is every bit as good as we hoped.

Why are Cylons worse than Ultron? Read and find out.
Ultron/Iron Man Ultron and Iron Man: The Early Years

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

April 18, 2015

20th century psychiatrist Viktor Frankl tested his logotherapy methods in the most trying crucible of them all: Auschwitz concentration camp. Frankl rejected the methods of Sigmund Freud before the war, so when he was imprisoned by the Nazis, Frankl was already far along in development of his theory. As he discusses in this book, he works with the idea that that a man sustains himself in life by finding meaning. Frankl does not investigate all the possible ways of finding meaning, but he discusses what worked in the death camps: having a strong internal life based in love. Man's Search for Meaning is the rare gem--short, sweet, but highly nutritious.
Read my review of the book, then read the book.
Man's Search for Meaning

Tai Chi
Essential #9: Continuity

April 13, 2015

Continuity, what some would call consistency, should be a core value in your life as well as in your practice of tai chi. In the last two essentials we have learned about the importance of unity - of unity of inner and outer, of mind and body. Contuity is, in a sense, the glue that keeps all the pieces together. Smooth, easy, continuous movement is the element that makes the exercise feel so good, but it is also important for making it work as a martial art.
Read here to learn more about continuity in form and practice.


April 5, 2015

What does your hair mean to you? After I got my dog groomed yesterday I reflected on how much a simple haircut can affect our perception of someone. My little pup came away from the grooming the exact same dog as when he went in, but my perception of him changed a little as he went from a shaggy little horse-puppy to a sleek young guy ready for the heat of spring, if not summer. But he's the same guy! Have your perceptions of anyone ever changed due to a haircut? How about perceptions of yourself?
Read on about haircut trials and tribulations.
Zoro after grooming Zoro After Grooming

Tai Chi
Essential #8: Unify Inner and Outer

March 25, 2015

Tai chi is said to cultivate the spirit, shen, because it can move freely through the body when we learn to move as a single light, supple piece. In this regard spirit is sometimes confused with chi, which is called energy by some and breath by others, but which is neither. In any event we can satisfy our desire to be light and supple only by learning to relax, turning our mind inward, and moving as one piece. In Essential #7 we looked at this in regard to unifying the upper and lower parts of the body, which is difficult to understand. Essential #8 is perhaps the most esoteric, so even more study is required.
Read here about unity of the internal and the external.

Tai Chi
Essential #7: Unify Your Body

March 13, 2015

Without learning to control your movements with your mind (Essential #6), the requirement to unify the upper and lower parts of the body into a seamless whole is impossible. When you turn your mind anywhere but to the three dan-tiens (head, heart, belly), your are no longer "one piece", but instead "broken", so that your movements are disjointed and ineffective; you become easy to defeat. How do you know if you still have that problem?
Read here about how to move as one piece, and to tell when you are not.
Yang Cheng-fu's straight back leg as shown by son/successor Yang Zhen-duo Cheng Man-ching's bent back leg as shown by disciple Ben Lo

Health & Wellness
Heal Yourself

March 10, 2015

Do you have an chronic illness or condition that your medical doctor has not been much help with? Don't waste your time cursing the doctor; there are limits to what drugs or surgery can accomplish. Instead, investigate whether you can heal yourself, or at least help yourself. The herniated disks in my spine often cause me pain and limited mobility. Except for aspirin no painkilling drugs help, and in any event the side effects of narcotics are grossly undesirable. I've discovered that most of the time, a heaping helping of tai chi goes a long way toward easing the problem. Although I like yoga and have practiced it since my teen years, when I have pinched nerves it is usually impossible.

My own condition is not the only one that is self-treatable. Is yours?
Read here about healing yourself.
Tai Chi Destination Lake Mead from Tai Chi Destination: Wellspring

Tai Chi
Essential #6: Mind Over Matter

February 22, 2015

Our next essential carries into all parts of your life: the idea that you must use your mind to direct your actions. To some this is a philosophical notion; to many it remains an obvious truism though without obvious application to life; but to those of us devoted to the study of tai chi chuan it is a governing principle. As such it is one of the easiest to echo, but one of the most difficult to acquire. Full acquisition means you are stepping into the arena of advanced attainment.
Read here about how to use your mind to direct your body.
Brick Hand Brick Hand

Health & Fitness
Eat Meat: Feed Your Brain

February 19, 2015

In my last column I highlighted the problems of overcoming established obesity. Diet will always be the main culprit in creating the problem, but we have good news from a survey of recent data in New Scientist magazine: fresh meat does not have bad health consequences - not red meat, not any kind as long as it is fresh. Processed meats like sausage and bacon remain dangerous. One study alone involved a half million Europeans in 10 countries, providing a database that is wide and deep.
For more information about the article read here.

Health & Fitness
Get Fit While You Still Can

February 15, 2015

A recent article by weight loss specialists in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology turns weight loss strategies on their heads, at least for exercise advocates like me. The implications for the long-term obese are staggering even though they confirm what many already thought they knew: once your obesity settles in, your body will fight all attempts to go back to skinny. Forget diet programs, hypnotherapy and even exercise: your body is programmed to fight famine, and it can have some funny strategies for that fight. Now what?
For more information read here.

Are You Watching TV as Much as TV Watches You?
February 12, 2015

If you knew that your smart TV's voice recognition system allowed the TV listen to everything you said in the room, and sent it to unknown third parties, would you buy that TV? A lot of consumers are counting on disabling the offending features, as Samsung has recommended to its customers - but who knows if you're really disabling it? And if you do, you may be violating federal law. Will Apple do any better with its TV? Doubtful.
For more information go to my Hard Cyber page here.
Who's Hacking Your Phone?
February 9, 2015

We've learned in recent months that the FBI and NSA feel entitled to hack your phones calls and text messages without a search warrant - because America isn't about freedom any more, right? Wrong! Truth is, there are plenty of bad actors out there who can hack you with the same technique of using a dummy relay station for your phone, so even a Tea Party patriot should be on the look out. You can fight back with an Android app, SnoopSnitch, available for free in the Google Play Store. It only works on phones with the Qualcomm chipset, but other than than you're good to go. With SnoopSnitch you can snoop on the snoops, stalking those who are e-stalking you. And once you discover that going on, it may be time to buy a burner!
For more information go to my Hard Cyber page here.

Book Review
Golden Son: Red Rising Book II (Pierce Brown, 2015)

February 8, 2015

Any sequel to a novel must navigate carefully between a tedious repeat of the first book's success and a departure so great as to negate the value of a follow-on story. Golden Son, Pierce Brown's second book in the trilogy begun with Red Rising, walks this line carefully. For the uninitiated, Red Rising begins the story of an attempted revolution against Mars' oppressive caste system. Mars' denizens die in the color-coded career caste to which they are born. In this system the lowest are the Reds, the miners of Mars, and the highest are the Golds, the kings, princes, and generals constantly jockeying for power on Mars and throughout the solar system. Read More.
Golden Son
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mucked-Up Book
February 6, 2015

Fans of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird were surely heartened at first to hear she has another book coming out in short order - a prequel to her first and only book today. As the details trickle in, though, a disturbing pattern emerges.

To begin with, any writer knows that if they are sitting on a manuscript for 60 years - imagine that! - there must be a good reason it never came out. Lee, who is in cognitive decline, clearly did not make the decision to release this book, which by all accounts has not been edited.

I've heard a couple of versions of how Harper Lee came to get To Kill a Mockingbird published, but they come down to this: her editor thought her writing, which was episodic and story-based, needed a lot of work. Supposedly this "new" novel was written before TKM - that would probably make it the early writing that her first editor rejected. From that we can conclude that Lee had good reason not to publish the work. We won't know until it is released, but it could well damage her literary repuation if that is the case.

When an author's editor says he did not edit the book and only saw it after it was ready for publication, that's a bad sign. I hope for Lee's sake this matter gets sorted out properly. Sadly, in this case that probably means not publishing at all.

For more info read Don't Publish Harper Lee's New Novel, HarperCollins .

Book Review
A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire, Geoffrey Wawro (2014)

January 23, 2015

In the last year we have passed many one-century milestones marking the beginning of World War I, known then as The Great War. That decade was a remarkable time, resulting in the fall or reconfiguration of many dynasties and empires - the fall of the Habsburgs, the Ottomans, the Russian tsars, the Manchurian rulers of China, and the first German reich; the decline of British influence; and the rise of America as a world power. The Italians and Ethiopians were affected, but to a lesser extent. The realignments that followed, including continued Chinese weakness during its brief flirtation with democracy, led to the rise of the Japanese empire. To all but the most dedicated history buff, not to mention quite a few historians, the Eastern origins of World War I have long remained a mystery ... Read More.
A Mad Catastrophe

Tai Chi
Essential #4 - Full and Empty

January 20, 2015

Our new essential has a couple of unusual characteristics. Its martial aspect is far more obvious than its energetic aspect. This essential is also the first that is difficult for many beginners to understand. Sometimes that is the result of their teachers' own inability to put the concept into words, but we can remedy that problem. Let's take a look.
Read More.
Single Whip
Yang Cheng-fu's Single Whip
Hacking Updates
January 16, 2015

When a foreign terrorist organization can hack the U.S. military at its highest levels, what form of insanity allows the American public to continue trusting The Cloud, smartphones, and tab computers as if nothing is wrong? Now we're learning that instead of being hackproof, the iPhone's fingerprint technology is more vulnerable than a pet name password. And once its hacked, unlike a password, it cannot be changed! Apple has jumped the shark. More cyber threats are appearing by the hour, so stay tuned to the Cyper Page.
  • ISIS Hacks the U.S. Central Command
  • Founder of McAfee Software Hacks Stuart Varney Live on TV
  • Airline Internet Connections Designed for Hacking
  • Your Christmast Gadgets are All Hackable
  • Congress, Military Worry about a Cyber Pearl Harbor

Tai Chi
Feedback - Essentials 1-3

January 13, 2015

Last month I began a series of columns starting with the general question, does Tai Chi have standards? From there I proceeded to write individual columns about each of Yang Cheng-fu's Tai Chi "essentials". Three columns into it and I've already accumulated enough feedback to pause and recap what has been said. To put these comments in context, I publicize each column heavily on two Twitter feeds, @DaleNapierLV and @TaiChiYourLife. The tweets are deliberately provocative in the hope of drawing readers and comments. And it works! I generally agree with the comments I received, but would like to add some footnotes to emphasize the basic points of each column.
Read More.
Water mountain
Black Belt Mag
Tai Chi Redux: Relax the Waist
January 7, 2015

In my latest column I discuss the tai chi essential ingredient to loosen the waist. Today I ran across a new column in Black Belt Magazine that emphasizes the same point but at much greater length, in much greater detail. It's called
"Generate More Power In Your Punches Using This Traditional Kung Fu Training Method" .
In my next column I will examine the Twitter responses to these columns and the tweets I used to promote them.

Tai Chi
Essential #3: Relax the Waist
January 3, 2015

A key secret to the power of Shotokan karate is the use of the hip in completing a punch, often a reverse punch. Most karateka and taekwondo students are taught this hip movement, but many beginners find it unconvincing because their teachers cannot explain why. If you know about the use of the hip in karate, without an understanding of why you use it, you will find it tough to separate from the idea of using your waist, not your hip, in tai chi. If you have no karate background you will not have this problem; instead other problems will emerge.

Put your hip into the karate punch because the angular momentum arising from the twist will provide last-minute acceleration to the punch, increasing the force (force equals mass times acceleration). In tai chi our punching power is derived by totally different methods, so our use of the waist has different reasons as well. Read More.
Yang logo
Thumbprint Hack to iPhone
Holiday Hacking Updates
January 2, 2015

The Sony hacking story is morphing by the minute, but there is more, such as how to hack the iPhone thumbprint. Here are the highlights of today's additions to the Cyper Page.
  • iPhone Thumbprint Easy to Hack
  • Obama Applies Sanctions to N. Korea
  • N.Korea May Have Hired Outside Hackers
  • Xbox, Playstation Hacked by 'Lizard Squad'
  • JPMorgan Hackers Used Neglected Server
Hacked Corpses
Happy New Year! Have you been Hacked Yet?
January 1, 2015

Three quick thoughts about going to see The Interview as a way to support freedom of speech and to thumb our noses at Kim Jong-Un.

1. The Interview is a terrible ambassador for free speech. This bumbling comedy wannabee would never have been noticed if not for this controversy. If you want to support free speech and come out of the theater feeling uplifted instead of dirtied,
go see Selma instead.
2. If you went to see the movie to show Kim Jong-Un he could not tell you what to do, you failed. He coerced you into seeing a bad movie. Your bad!
3. North Korea may not even be behind the hack attack on Sony. A prominent computer security firm has reported to the FBI that the job was performed by Sony ex-employees working with piracy hackers. Word is the so-called Guardians of Peace is turning its attention to other targets, which could be an indicator that it's not KJU after all.

Tai Chi
Essential #2: Sink the Chest, Raise the Back
December 26, 2014

The second essential, regarding the posture of the chest and back, carries another "anti boot camp" element: instead of puffing the chest out in a show of macho posturing, the chest is hollowed inward. Digging deeper, we discover that this principle has energetic as well as physical goals.
Click here to learn about the physical and energetic aspects of this tai chi essential.
Tai Chi Peng

If Castro was a loony as Kim Jong-un, could this movie have been made?

Cuba Libre
December 22, 2014

The first time I took part in a debate about American recognition of a foreign power, the year was 1968, I was barely a teen, and my soldier dad was furious at the notion that we establish diplomatic relations with China, a Communist country. He and I argued about Communism and freedom as we watched on TV the Chicago police riot on the streets outside the Democratic National Convention.
Click here to find out about recognizing China and Cuba.

Tai Chi
Essential #1: Crown Up
December 18, 2014

Yang Cheng-fu's first "main point" of tai chi describes the posture of the head and neck. The ramifications are physical but also energetic. If you miss this principle you will never get far in your tai chi practice.

Tai chi scholar Douglas Wile in his book Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Touchstones, translates Cheng-fu's description as follows:
Click here to find out tai chi's first requirement.

Location of Bai Hui (crown point)

Sci-Fi Book Notes
December 14, 2014

I read a lot and rarely take breaks for book reviews. Many books I read are throwaway thrillers, read to study my craft; they deserve little mention. But others, such as true literature, special science fiction and non-fiction, are worthy of at least a note. Let's play catch up with a few:
  • At the Mountains of Madness
  • Red Rising
  • The Three-Body Problem
Click to continue reading about the latest in hard sci-fi.

Tai Chi
The Essence of Tai Chi
December 8, 2014

What is tai chi chuan? We must ask this question with tact because it is a sensitive matter. A lot of exercise passes as tai chi that probably is not, often taught by people who have no idea what tai chi is. At the same time many advanced practitioners hold opposing views about what tai chi is or is not, and what it should or should not be. Chen style practitioners famously advocate tai chi's martial methods, although they are not alone. Others claim exactly the opposite, that tai chi was never, or at least should not be, a martial art. This is easy to understand among those who have never been taught martial methods, which is increasingly common. Others conduct classes in sitting tai chi, or wheelchair tai chi. Who is right and who is wrong? More importantly, is there even a right or wrong? Does anything go?
Click here to find out whether tai chi is a "to each his own" art.

The Yin and Yang of Tai Chi

Stogie Memorial Bracelet

Tai Chi
Do you Tinkle when you Tai Chi?
November 22, 2014

Do you tinkle when you Tai Chi? For the last month I have practiced with my late dog Stogie's collar on my wrist, in his memory. The collar has two aluminum tags that used to tinkle when he walked, so I always had a good idea what he was up to without having to look. When I started wearing the Stogie Memorial Bracelet I was both comforted and saddened by the familiar sound of the tinkle. Within a few sessions, however, I realized a deeper truth: the better my practice, the less the tinkle.
Click to continue reading about the Tai Chi Tinkle.

Are You In Denial?
November 14, 2014

My recent novel White House Storm features Zumwalt-class destroyers being controlled remotely by a hacker. The book is a little ahead of its time because our three Zumwalt destroyers are not yet operational, but another exotic weapon I depict in the book, an Active Denial System, has been available for ten years. Sometimes it is called a heat ray because it works by heating the skin with an electromagnetic beam at 95 GHz. By comparison a microwave oven works at 2.45 GHz. ADS penetrates 1/64" into the skin, while a microwave penetrates 2/3". How does it work?
Click to continue reading about Active Denial and Sonic Cannons.

Active Denial System mounted on a Humvee

Tai Chi
Tai Chi and Music
November 9, 2014

Almost five years ago I wrote a blog called Invest in Silence, about the importance of eschewing music and other entertainments during our tai chi practice. I recommend you read it first to lay the ground work for what I say next.

Stillness is the essence of what we seek in tai chi as well as meditation, though it is less obvious with tai chi, a physical exercise of movement. Since music is energetic and generates non-stillness, it is difficult acquire deep focus while musical or video distractions are at hand. That said, it would not be tai chi if an absolute could so easily be spoken with truth. Let's dig a little deeper.
Click to continue reading about investing and uninvesting in silence.

SpaceShip Down Redux
November 7, 2014

Last week I made some fleeting and confused references to the week's two space-related tragedies, and a few folks objected. Fair enough! I doubt we have any real differences, but they called me out in how I presented my message, so let me start over.

Media pundits have tried to characterize the two tragedies as a one-two punch to the civilian space program. In reality they were two very different events. Neither will be long lasting, but the recoveries will be quite different. Let's start with the manned mission of Virgin Galactic, which justifiably received the bulk of the attention, and then work back to the Antares explosion, which was unmanned and different in many other ways.
Click to continue reading about space touristry and swarms of space telescopes.

SpaceShip Two in the Mohave Desert

Arkyd 3 (height 12")

Bruce Wayne

Abel Teller

TV Childhood Traumas
October 27, 2014

We all know that deprivation or trauma in early childhood can leave a child with a warped emotional and value system for the rest of his/her life. Now in ultra-violent cable TV shows we are seeing directors honestly playing out child-centered story arcs that result from the bad deeds that their daddies do, or that the daddies are victims of as well. We saw it first on Dexter, when Dexter Morgan's toddler was witness to the brutal bathtub slaying of his mother, playing out a scene not much different from Dexter's own childhood - which lead to Dexter becoming a serial killer. With that ghost haunting us, who else might be lurking?

Bruce Wayne, obviously. He saw not one but both parents gunned down in cold blood. Coming from a wealthy, entitled and otherwise idyllic childhood, we can assume the jolt was sharper than was Dexter's or his son's. Increasingly in the Gotham episodes we find the adolescent boy obsessed with crime in Gotham, obsessed with identifying gangs, gang leaders, and killers - and uncovering the political and financial muscle who enable them. Inevitably he realizes the culpability of Wayne Enterprises itself, now a billion-dollar football for any captain who can gain control of the ball. This story line threatens to become highly unrealistic in its handling of business - comic bookish, one might say, as more of a criticism than a recognition - because Bruce's "butler" and presumed foster father, Alfred Pennyworth, seems to know things only an executive would know.

As usual the most brutal work is saved for Sons of Anarchy. While the gang members and their rivals blow each other way in machine gun battles and far worse, SAMCRO President Jax Teller's son Abel is quietly absorbing and reacting to the violence surrounding him. He sees everyone around him violated or killed, including his mother; at one point he (3 years old? 4?) tries to stand guard to defend his sleeping baby brother Thomas, wielding a hammer with a vengeance - not because he was crazy but because he correctly perceived that they were all in danger all the time. The crushing blow came this week when Abel overheard his grandmother, the psychotic SAMCRO den mother who killed his mother, secretly confess her crime to baby Thomas, not knowing Abel was listening. Now Abel knows her secret, which surely will point us to the end of the series: anyone who knows anything about young children know that they can never keep secrets, especially big ones. That bright light up ahead? It's a train headed straight our way. Stand to one side and watch a terrible calamity.

Heinlein, Scientology, and Star Trek
October 23, 2014

Recently I wrote two pieces about what interested me most in William Patterson's two-volume biography of Robert Heinlein: his connection to L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, and his connection to Star Trek. Here they are together - not exactly a book review, but I rarely find another writer's life interesting enough to merit a biography: Heinlein's Trouble with Tribbles, and Heinlein, Hubbard, and Scientology.

On the Bookshelf
Reading Now:
  • Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1862)
  • The Curve, Nicholas Lovell (2013)
  • Superintelligence, Nick Bostrom (2014)
  • On the Bookshelf:
  • Thus Spoke Zarusthustra, Friedrich Nietzsche (1959)
  • Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation, by Jess Stearn (1965)
  • Rosshalde, Hermann Hesse (1954)
  • Mirror of Modern Democracy: A History of the Democratic Party, 1825-1861 (1863)
  • Consumed, David Cronenberg (2014)
  • Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl (1959)

  • Writing
    Self-Publishing Rises
    October 19, 2014

    Writers' conferences are a great idea in concept, but until last weekend I never attended one that satisfied, the key metrics being time and money. Is it a coincidence that the Indie Recon Live, which might also be called the Western Self-Published Writers Conference, had not a single workshop on how to right good, I mean, write well?

    Probably not. Self-published writers are torn between two worlds.

    Click here to read more about the rise of the self-published writers' conference.

    October 18, 2014
    Today I'm heading out to the Vegas Valley Book Festival, which will feature a variety of workshops through the day on writing and publishing topics. The festival will be in and around The Historic Fifth Street School, which is, curiously, at 401 S. Fourth St. I hope to attend:
    • 10 a.m. - The Personal Essay in an Oversharing World (Reader's Tent)
    • 11 a.m. - Vegas Writes: Lost & Found in Las Vegas: What the City Hides and What it Reveals (Auditorium)
    • 11:30 a.m. - Someone Else's Story: A Writing and Editing Workshop (Room 125)
    • 12:15 a.m. - Fiction: West of Eden (Auditorium)
    • 2 p.m. - Publishing Options: What Writers Need to Know (Reader's Tent)
    • 3 p.m. - Media in a Digital Age (Room 125)
    • 4 p.m. - Closing Keynote by Aimee Bender (Auditorium)
    If you drop in, stop me and say hi - I'll be the guy with
    the teal colored travel vest with 20 pockets.

    Oswald Cobblepot

    October 17, 2014
    Tv Update: Gotham continues to be of interest. The character development of the strange Oswald Cobblepot, aka Penguin is the first realistic treatment of thie character I have ever seen: the Tim Burton (Danny DeVito) and TV (Burgess Meredith) versions were a sick joke. This young man brings the idea of Penguin to life. Meanwhile, young Bruce Wayne continues to develop in a brash, iconoclastic manner typical of neither his age nor class. What strange ideas lurk in this boy's mind?

    On Sons of Anarchy the body count continues to rise as Jemma's killing of Tara has consequences far beyond anyone's imagining - with the exception of producer Kurt Sutter, of course. This week we had a fakeout death for Jemma. How long can we put up with such nonsense? The depopulation of northern California will continue for seven weeks, to be precise.

    October 16, 2014
    Today I have a smattering of items... first off, Ebola. Doctors around the country are adamant: Get your flu shot!. It won't help with Ebola, but flu kills thousands of people each year. As we get older, we become more susceptible to the ravages of influenza. The #1 thing you can do to protect your health right now is to get a flu shot. Don't use the Ebola scare as an excuse to ignore ordinary health precautions.

    Today begins the Vegas Valley Book Festival, continuing through Saturday. Like most such festivals it favors outside celebrities over local writers, who have trouble getting involved. Nonetheless there is a chance you will find a lecture or other event you find interesting or useful. I'm going to find out if there is a way to get a foot in the door for next year's event. Click here to see the main Saturday event schedule.

    As I mentioned earlier, the Indie Recon Live event for self-publishers in Salt Lake City set a standard that bears copying around the country. Watch here for a full blog on the rise of self-publishing. Is it an all or nothing proposition? Can you self-publish as well as go traditional? We have a lot of ground to cover starting with the question, When should you make the leap?.

    Dale's Doggies Die
    October 15, 2014

    Stogie's Regal Pose
    What is it about dogs that make them so special to us? My family always had dogs and cats when I was growing up, so I took dogs for granted. As a Cub Scout I once read six dog books in a week, until my mother tried to put a stop to my obsessive-compulsive reading tendencies that emerged right around that time. But I never had a dog as an adult, mostly due to living in apartments, I thought, because I would not have a dog without a yard. As I dig into my own psyche, I wonder if the reasons go deeper.

    This year, living and working alone in a house in a small, desolate town in the middle of a harsh desert, I decided to get a dog for company.
    Click here to read more about Stogie, Kuno, and the rest.

    October 14, 2014
    With this redesign of the website I begin journalling with daily entries. I will continue to write the column-length articles I have been calling blogs in addition to the day to day insights.

    Sunday, Oct. 12 I returned from the Indie Recon Live in Salt Lake city. IRL was a self-published writers' conference, live for the first time; the first two years were online only. This was a great start with 300 people and dozens of workshops: expect it to be an annual event, possibly in a couple of different regions. For the self-published writer, ordinary writers' conferences are a waste of time and money. IRL overcame both problems handily.

    It ended in tragedy with the hit-and-run death of my dog and best friend, Stogie, outside Salt Lake City.

    The Science Isn't Settled:
    Five Sayings That Will Always Make You Sound Stupid

    October 6, 2014
    I like word play as much as the next guy, probably more, but a handful of sayings have crept into the language in recent years that try the patience of anyone who believes that words have meaning. Even allowing for the plasticity of English, there are limits to reasonable flexibility. Let's examine the top five that really get my goat. Do you have some of your own? Let me know. Click here to learn five sayings that will always make you sound stupid.

    This Week on Cable
    October 3, 2014

    Gotham: New kid on the block
    As I finish launching the publication of White House Storm and move into my final edit of the sequel, Queen Joan, I'm reading less and turning to current cable TV more for inspiration. Such a wild and woolly scene it has become! Soon it will be all but impossible to recall the days of childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, when TV was so timid that Jack Parr was forced to leave The Tonight Show for making an oblique reference to a "water closet" - a popular euphemism of his day for speaking of a room with a toilet. Today we call them bathrooms (or "half-baths"), which is funny because water closet is actually more accurate.

    I'm going to try my hand at a short weekly blog with comments on the events and prospects for my favorite shows. This week we have a lot to talk about starting with a Jump-the-Shark episode for the Season 4 premiere of Homeland. Click here to read more about Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, Hell on Wheels, and Gotham.

    A Crippled Presidency
    September 2, 2014
    Woodrow Wilson Who runs the government when the president is incapacitated? The easy answer is the vice president, as Acting President under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, but suppose there is debate over whether he (or she) is truly incapacitated. Suppose, like Ronald Reagan in his second term, his cognitive impairment is border line, "manageable". Suppose the Cabinet is split down the middle over the issue. What happens? Basically, nothing. But what happens when the President's confidantes start scheming to take advantage of the situation?

    That actually happened once at a critical time for American in world history.
    Click here to read about the Cowardly Vice President.

    Self-Publishing Emerges
    August 25, 2014
    Are you are considering the self-publishing route for your book? If so what's holding you back? For some, it might be the cost; for others, it might be the overwhelming desire to see their books on the shelf of bookstores, before they all close down; but for most, I suspect, the problem is that they don't want to become publishers. They don't need the hassle. They just want to write, and see their writing in print. I can sympathize.

    Five years ago I was hunting for a publisher for my then-new book ...
    Click here to read my blog on Self-Publishing.

    The Tyrant of Cable
    August 14, 2014
    The last decade of cable TV has seen remarkable growth, perhaps more than we want or need, given The Walking Dead and The Strain. As shows like The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad, Dexter, 24 and soon Sons of Anarchy literally die off, we are seeing new suspenseful thrillers with high octane but more implied than actual violence - shows like Homeland, The Americans, and now Tyrant. All have an overseas tie-in that help leaven the stories.
    Click here to read my blog on The Tyrant of Cable.

    August 14, 2014
    My interest in reading about the subject of writing was a long time coming; my interest in writing on the subject is even more of a late arrival. Over the years I plugged away, not with great consistency, but enough to realize at long last that the problem is the writers as well as the reader.

    In time the situation has improved, with noteworthy gems emerging. My recent favorites are ...
    Click here to read my latest blog on Metawriting.

    Hacking the Weapons
    August 8, 2014
    Reports of large-scale cyber hacking have become so common that the latest round - of 1,200,000,000 user names and passwords from 400,000 websites, for an average of a mere 3,000 per website - still fails to feel like the wake-up call that our Internet-addicted society needs if it is to survive a real cyber war.

    Three months ago I thought perhaps a TV show like 24, depicting what happens when a terrorist group hacks a fleet of drones, then uses them for international blackmail and mass murder, would serve the purpose. Then I realized we've become too put off by the psychochotic behavior of Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer to take it seriously either, even though tens of thousands of lives were putatively at stake.

    Consider instead the stories of real-life drone hacking ...
    Click here to continue.

    Comics Begin
    August 1, 2014
    Superman 25th Anniv
    Fantastic Four 24
    Hollywoodland is growing stale from the success of its comic book movies, enough that there is reason for concern even if you are an uber-fan like me. To get right with it all, I have to return to my roots. My earliest memory of comic books comes from 1963, the year I turned nine. Going through the checkout line at the Carswell Air Force Base commissary I spied a silver anniversary special issue of Superman, which my mom surprised me by buying. Supes was 25 that year, a number that would have seemed impossibly old except Mom was already a whopping 30.

    Later that year I discovered a Fantastic Four comic at a local pharmacy, #24, a story about "The Infant Terrible", an alien infant with unimaginably catastrophic powers. Even then I had a discerning eye for narrative consistency and could see no way that Reed Richards could concoct an intergalactic communications device that would, first time out, work perfectly to contact the infant's parents across countless light years.
    Click here to continue.

    Who Will Challenge Hillary?
    June 26, 2014
    Remember President Muskie? Yes, former Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, Hubert Humphrey's running mate in the near-miss 1968 election against Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. By 1970 the media and Democratic intelligentsia had all but crowned Muskie President, a sure thing who could not be challenged. It was too soon after Chappaquiddick for Ted Kennedy to run, and few wanted to face the long odds of challenging a strong incumbent President like Nixon. Muskie was to be the Democrats' Great White Hope.

    But reality stepped in. During the campaign for the New Hampsire primary, Muskie and his wife were attacked personally by the Manchester Union-Leader newspaper, New Hampshire's primary media outlet. At a press conference, Muskie wept real tears (later claimed to be snowflakes), offended by attacks on his wife. His reputation for calm and composure was shattered. He would have lost fewer votes if he had simply shot the right-wing owner, but in any event he was finished, and Humphrey himself had to run to stave off the McGovern challenge. Humphrey lost to the best-organized campaign since his defeat by Jack Kennedy's primary romp in 1960. Humphrey was a well meaning but fuzzy-headed liberal who believed in spending but not counting. George McGovern and his campaign manager, future Colorado Senator Gary Hart, were counters.

    Now we have Hillary Clinton, crowned the presumptive nominee and President by today's equivalent of the same media-political intelligentsia who anointed Muskie.
    Click here to continue.

    Reading the Movies, Part III
    June 20, 2014
    A while back I began a three-part series on Books That Made the Movies - best-selling books that became movies. Typically we readers see the book before the show, such as my early reading of the Dexter series, and our expectations are set accordingly. Some movies, however, I have read only after the fact. My reflections on both versions are much different for the change in order. For my final set of books I have not full reviews or even mini-reviews, but reflections of the differences or similarities I found most striking.

    Stepford Wives * Six Days of the Condor * The Boys From Brazil * The Other * First Blood * Chiefs
    Click here to continue.

    Character Matters
    June 10, 2014
    Today is the Primary Day in Nevada. In this campaign cycle I have seen behavior that defies all reason, but that's par for the course in politics. Conservatives and liberals trade places, and beds, with an abandon that would make Alfred Kinsey blush. Over the years I've come to realize that issues come and go; they change in form and substance. From the time of a campaign to the time the elected takes office, much can change that substantially alters the point of view that a candidate might need to take on an issue. The final legislation will certainly be crafted with different wording from that posed on the campaign trail.

    Consequently, the only reliable barometer for behavior in office is character. Look inside a candidate's character to see how they will behave when issues arise that are different from what arose during the campaign. Look inside to see how they will respond under pressure. Character can be measured on many levels, as noted by the saying that "an honest politician is one who stays bought."
    Click here to continue.

    Tai Chi
    Tai Chi and Balance, Western Style
    May 28, 2014
    Wuji Stance As a young student I mistakenly believed that centering was a mental-spiritual idea and nothing more. As a result one of my earliest important "light bulb" moments came when I realized that balance is first physical. From physical balance can arise mental balance, and from mental balance can emerge spiritual balance. I say "can" because more work is needed after achieving physical balance, but by taking the first step you make the later steps possible.
    Click here to continue.

    Culture/Las Vegas
    Trafficking in Las Vegas
    May 16, 2014
    The meet took place at dusk, on the far west side north of Summerlin. Our only communications had been by text message, where I found out more about what I was getting, how much it would cost me, and where to get it. I plugged the street address into Android Maps and left Boulder City for a 100-mile introduction to a vice I never knew existed.

    Arriving at the address, I was dismayed to discover it was a convenience store set on a pad in a large shopping center. Now I wondered whether I would leave unsatisfied. After a couple of quick text messages confirmed our cars' descriptions, soon she pulled up next to me in her car.
    Click here to continue.
    Book Review
    Six Amendments, by John Paul Stevens

    May 5, 2014

    Lately politicians and pundits have been piling on with proposals to amend the Constitution. Particularly curious is the phenomenon of activists who show their support for the Constitution by demanding that we change it. Last year we were inflicted with the ranting of conservative talk show host Mark Levin (The Liberty Amendments, 2013). More recently we have Philip K. Howard (The Rule of Nobody, 2014), who wants to break government deadlocks by giving the President the power of a dictator.

    Into this fray steps retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, with his new book Six Amendments. Compared to the aforementioned politicos Stevens steps gingerly indeed, with proposals couched in legal nuance. Consequently he wields far more authority through care and diligence than the others achieve through bluster.
    Click here to continue.

    Book Review: Flash Boys, by Michael Lewis
    April 24, 2014

    I remember that day in October 1987 when the stock market crashed. Since I was not in the market at the time, I stood outside the event, watching, wondering if this would lead to another depression as it had almost 60 years before. I was young with a wife and child, financially unprepared, and completely at the mercy of what was to come.

    I got lucky: Neither depression nor recession were in the cards, but the crash did lead to clumsy attempts by the Securities and Exchange Commission to shelter small time investors from the effects of such events. Those attempts in turn led to a federally mandated computerized trading system that foreshadowed the Rise of the Programmers.
    Click here to continue.

    Culture: The Full Life at 60
    April 17, 2014

    By Chinese standards, I have lived a full life: Today I am 60 years old. I was born in a Year of the Wooden Horse, which comes around once every 60 years – and here we are again, Year of the Wooden Horse. I am a true Trojan. For you Westerners, my birthstone is diamond, so the perfect gift would be a wooden horse stuffed with diamonds instead of soldiers. “Full life”? What the heck is that all about?
    Click here to continue.

    Culture: Las Vegas v. Houston, Part II
    Feb. 16, 2014

    I have committed one of the greatest sins available to me in Sin City, which is saying a lot in a place that markets debauchery in all available extremes. Worse yet, I have done it in the Sinless Suburb, Boulder City, which allows neither casinos nor liquor stores: I have planted grass. Click here to continue.

    Book Review
    Double Down: Game Change 2012

    Feb. 13, 2014

    A great deal of my early political interest as a teenager was stimulated by Theodore White's Making of the President series of books, for the elections of 1960 through 1976. I still have my original copy of the 1972 edition, and recently re-read the premier book covering John Kennedy's razor-thin victory over Richard Nixon. The two Game Change books are nothing like The Making of the President books. Both are good in their own ways. Click here to continue.

    Culture: Boulder City Tomorrow
    Jan. 22, 2014

    What will Boulder City look like tomorrow, next year, next decade? Will it successfully continue its steady-state, slow-slow-growth policy, or will it be forced to adapt to changing times? Does the shuttering of the Goatfeathers consignment empire reflect an economic decline of our community, or is it just part of the ups and downs of all small towns? Forty years I saw my newly-adopted community of Austin, Texas, facing similar concerns under drastically different circumstances. Click here to continue.

    Book Review: Ike's Bluff
    Jan. 6, 2014

    The popular image of President Eisenhower, which he cultivated, was that of a genial golfing grandpa who hung out but did little. This image is crushed by Evan Thomas' new work, which depicts Ike as an active, aggressive, egocentric leader who did everything himself because he felt he was most capable. In most cases, he was probably right.

    Ike was a bluffer in bridge and poker, but not so much so in foreign policy. In that regard the book's title is a bit disingenuous, but in any case this works informs on many fronts. Click here to continue.

    My top blogs of 2013
    Jan. 1, 2014

    Area 51 and Roswell
    World Tai Chi Day
    Trust is a Tricky Thing
    Tai Chi Roots
    The Two Faces of Tai Chi

    Culture: The Bad Boys of Cable TV
    Dec. 20, 2013

    With one down for the count and two KO's, this year's bad boys of cable TV - Jax, Dex, and Walt - have left us breathless in anticipation of what new anti-heroes may be lurking around the corner.

    Tony Soprano and Vic Mackey (The Shield) were bad boys and soulless killers, but now we know they were just warm-up acts for true evil, the kind that lures not by repulsing, but by drawing you in with an intimacy rarely seen outside the boudoir or the abattoir. Click here to continue.

    Culture: Conspiracy Theories
    Dec. 2, 2013

    I never heard of a conspiracy theory before President Kennedy was assassinated. No doubt they existed before - no doubt someone knew how Julius Caesar was really killed, and certainly the Lincoln Conspiracy continues to draw enthusiasts - but they never went mainstream until the 20th century's first pop-culture political superstar died under unusual circumstances. In the last 50 years they have proliferated like mushrooms in cow patties. Click here to continue.

    Culture: The Late, Great Johnny Ace
    Nov. 22, 2013

    Jack Kennedy learned to live with death from an early age. Like many second sons, he was a pale shadow of his older brother, who was named for their father and bred for the presidency from an early age. He was frail and of ill health; even during college special arrangements were required to make it possible to keep up with studies while spending extensive time in the hospital, where he almost died. Only Joe Junior's premature death pushed him into the family limelight. He was so thin, so fragile, that he looked like a kid until his late thirties, when cortisone shots filled him out and gave him a seeming appearance of newly found maturity. None of this was public knowledge on the day he died. Click here to continue.

    Movin', Movin', Movin'
    Oct. 8, 2013

    As a Born Drafted kid who had to lose his friends and start over whenever the military decided to jerk his father’s chain, I tired of moving by the time I was fifteen. As an adult my feelings have changed: I have found the most exciting changes in my life have come from moving. Moving, I have discovered, contains a metaphysical component at least as important as the geographic component.
    Boulder City Area
    Click here to continue.

    Culture: Longevity Lessons
    July 23, 2013

    A long time ago I read an Isaac Asimov story portraying a future society with human life spans extended by several centuries. The effect on society was to slow social and scientific progress in equal proportion: Feeling no rush, people took their time.

    Further adding to the problem was the fact that children could no longer look forward to the deaths of their parents, which can be a key event in freeing people to become themselves. Nothing turned over; nothing changed. Estates were not inherited; offices were not succeeded to. Civilization stagnated.

    Although the average life expectancy is still twenty percent less than a century, we can already see some of the social effects that Asimov projected with such prescience. The problems caused are hardly devastating, but they are telling. And growing. In the case of the institution of marriage, much suffering occurs.
    Click here to continue.

    Culture: Reading the Movies, Part II (June 22,2013) Click here to read about Gladiator, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Psycho, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Seven Days in May.
    Culture: Trust is a Tricky Thing (June 4, 2013) Click here to read about Frank Abagnale, the subject of the hit movie Catch Me If You Can.

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