Siri? Cortana is Flirting With Us!

The best technical information I have heard recently is that Microsoft will port Cortana voice assist to the Apple environment.

I know nothing about Cortana, but Siri is one of my few bête noires — Siri is often unavailable, usually obtuse, even dense! Yesterday, Siri found the upholstery shop I was seeking, but would not read it to me and told me to look at my screen. 

At California lane one freeway speeds? Gimme’ a break, Siri!

It is particularly galling when I am on the freeway at 82 MPH, When all I can do is scream at an un-hearing Siri. Cortana cannot be worse!

Siri was a marvel when first introduced, but it has not progressed into anything approximating artificial intelligence — it is, as I have described my writing the Navy’s first AI program, all artificial and no intelligence.

Welcome Cortana!

Quick Hits

A tragic story in San Diego of a woman who ran down a Navy Chief Petty officer driving a motorcycle in her automobile, during a road rage event.

The woman, in her 20s, had her license returned to her just two months ago after a two year suspension. She had her license suspended by the State of California for “lack of knowledge or skill.”!

The sentences for motor vehicle deaths in California is terribly low, but this would be a murder charge in my book! 


On the subject of stupid California sentencing laws, a 14 year old girl has been sentenced to probation for a crime she perpetrated when she was 13.

She started a fire in her back yard. Then the next day she started another fire that got away, burned down 35 homes, and caused $28 million damage. 

She didn’t get off Scott-free…she has to pay restitution of $6 million — as if she will ever repay any substantial amount. She has to do 400 hours of “community service” but she is seen in the neighborhood riding her yellow bike.

If it was up to me, she would forfeit any possession, such as her bike, her cell phone, her computer, and she would not be permitted Facebook or ANY social messaging until age 18!

Stupid state law precludes time in Juvenile Hall, but the sentence was not even a slap on the wrist.

Only the 35 homeowners whose homes burned to the ground were punished!


The Republican field is getting like a clown car — but many of the candidates are first class.

Cruz is the smartest, by far, but not the brightest. 

Walker is the brightest but not the smartest. 

Cruz picks unnecessary fights. Good lawyering, not good politics!

Rubio probably has the best chance — or possibly Walker — because they have made the fewest mistakes, and in this race, making few mistakes is a decided plus.

Bush can raise the most money, but he is a Bush. 


ABC National News tonight covered something my wife and I did for more than a quarter century — swapping houses for vacations.

All in all we swapped houses to go to Kauai –twice — and to Tahoe for Skied and we skied Whistler for several weeks as well. The Kauai exchanges turned into 17 more trips to the same home in Kauai with the now friends traveling around the world without coming to our home.

It works!

A friend and his wife who came with us many times is in the midst of a six months exchange to Kauai.

I have been offered a houseboat in the Bahamas, an apartment in Paris, and an exchange to the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand for a year!

I have an 18 page guide to Home Exchanging at


The Greenman column in the Vancouver Sun had an interesting title,”Garden Hacks” so as an inveterate gardener who has Spring fever, and in the garden daily looking for easier ways, 

I immediately turned to the column.

Noting really new or particularly interesting, until I got to:

“In Urban Homesteading, Rachel Kaplan suggest quitting your job to live a simpler life urban homesteadingbenefits the environment and your physical and mental health…She says full-time work is a “trap” in which we earn as much as possible yet don’t live a sensible life.”

You know if all the people at the Vancouver Sun quit and went home, as she recommends, no one would be able to read the column! Dumb people should have stronger editors!

Caution: Genius at Work

SpaceX is on a roll — two huge wins recently without even launching a rocket!For years a consortium of Big Corporations (Boeing and Lockheed Martin) have had a monopoly on making military space launches for satellites. last April tiny SpaceX — an Elon Musk corporation — sued the government to permit SpaceX to compete for those lucrative and frequent launches. (Nothing like suing the people who could pay you!)

The suit must have resulted in an agreement because SpaceX dropped the suit and SpaceX will be allowed to compete next month for a future satellite launch. Boeing and Lockheed Martin use reworked old Russian engines in their rockets, and Congress has already banned them after 2019, but the newly approved SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is much cheaper and very reliable. The “Consortium”. (Read “Monopoly”) had better start squeezing the fat out of their program, because there is a new kid on the block. I have the feeling that that Elon Musk — the brain behind PayPal and Tesla automobiles, is about to eat their lunch. 

The other SpaceX victory is the approval of their Astronaut capsule, to be used in future, taking Astronauts to the Space Station — and those human replacement rocket shots are currently a Russian monopoly. That will soon end, also.

Musk is an American disruptive engine, and he has set his sights on Mars colonization — don’t bet against him!   

Socialist Brains(sic)

Before I joined a media group for a tour of the Russia of the Soviet Union, I listened to a Russian lawyer’s opinion of the disadvantages of the United States, in a Rancho Bernardo living room:
“You have too many cars, you should walk more — it is healthier. (Right! So why do Russian “walkers” die on average 20+ years before average Americans?) And products like tooth paste…you must have 20 brands on the shelf whey you only need one or two!”

I correctly put those comments down the comments as the lawyer making excuses for what we knew to be a scarcity of everything in Russia, trying to make a virtue of necessity. It reminded me of a Milton Friedman quote: 

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” 

Cuba and Venezuela are great examples of the accuracy of that. Venezuela is suffering from a shortage of toilet paper. Toilet Paper!

Why do I bring this up? Because Bernie Sanders, Socialist turned Democrat-Socialist who caucuses with the Democratic Party, and is running for president as a Democrat, says:

“You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.”

There is something in the brains of socialists that does not compute.

Quick Hits

About 1,500 of the usual suspects rallied today in San Diego against the Monsanto Corporation and Genetically Modified Foods. 

(I say the usual suspects because they are the base of every nut bag leftist group — women in floppy hats and huge glasses and guys wearing red bandanas beating drums. The general message appears to be the Monsanto is “poisoning us.” 

I am not certain how they explain the average age of death rises every year, and I guess the guy with the drum is designed to drown out any person asking the question. 


The City of San Bernardino is trying to get out of bankruptcy, and must submit their exit plan to the the Federal Judge by May 30. (I have taken a computer company out of bankruptcy and it isn’t easy.)

The City has made major efforts but there are several sticking points, including city salaries:Every city union has agreed to a salary cut of 10% EXCEPT firemen and police. (There are six firemen who made more money last year than did the City Manager!)

Not only did the Fire Union refuse pay cuts, but the union has sued the city multiple times in the past two years, costing the city money it didn’t have.

The result of the fire union recalcitrance is that the city has put out fire and medical contracts out for bid to surrounding cities, CalFire, and most interestingly, out to a private fire company. 

The city is serious about getting out of bankruptcy, even taking away medical care from all retirees, but the insertion of a private fire company into the mix has made the fire Union particularly nervous. So nervous, in fact that they have raised the specter of nearby union fire departments refusing to offer mutual protection contracts in case of soon to be expected wild land fires.

That should tell you everything you need to know about unions.

I’m sorry if I can’t rise or kneel in the presence of David Letterman, whose exit appears to dominate even the national evening news shows. Just never warmed up to him, or his show. I’m glad others think we’ll of him, but even at that his exit should only be fodder for Entertainment Tonight, not actual news shows.

I have the distinct feeling that Obama treats ISIL with the same sort of disdain that I treat Letterman — but Obama’s disdain is much worse. 


The Gallup Poll finds that Americans vastly overestimate the size of the LBGT population. In a poll conducted by Gallup, fewer than 4 % self-identify as Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay or Transgender combined.

They certainly have power far beyond their numbers.


TV manufacturers are doing cartwheels to get people to buy new TVs, primarily because most people are really satisfied with their current flat-screen TVs. The 3D trial has not caught on and 4K is really good if you have a ginormous set and sit really close. 
The TV manufacturers seem to have produced themselves into the box that desktop computers have been for years — desktop computers are vastly more powerful than all but 1% of enthusiasts could possibly use. Asked by a lady in COSTCO several years if I knew anything about computers and what should she buy, I replied, accurately, that all computers are way beyond her capacity to use so she might just as well pick on the color she liked. The new eight core i7– 5960x chip alone is a cool $1,000 or so — but who (except Gamers) really needs that much power?

TV manufacturers are getting in that position. 4k TV sets have just been standardized driving down 1080 sets into the bargain basement position, and OLED sets — with still more vastly improved pictures are on the way at $10,000. So, 1080s are good, 4K is better and OLED is best but the differences are really only for those with perfect pitch and 16:9 aspect eyeballs!

Pavlovian Response

Politicians always think we need more laws or they are just not doing their jobs. We have so many laws there is no way to consider them all in daily living. 

It is common newspaper fodder to “reveal” that the IRS gives bad dope to callers — usually a reporter with a brain block makes three calls and gets three different answers.

Journalist always fall back in times of Writer’s Block on “revealing” the local Transit executives do not ride the bus/commuter train, or that the local politician has a particularly large/green lawn in a drought.

Similarly, politicians can be trusted to propose the raising of taxes, usually for a very good cause — politicians can be counted on saying their proposal will only cost a few cents a day.

The latest tax celeb is raising taxes on gasoline. The plea is that the tax has not been raised since the 1990s, but if that logic is to prevail all taxes would be raised periodically until there is not a dime left in taxpayers pockets, regardless of need.

Here is what the tax proponents won’t tell you:About a third of Federal Highway Trust Fund dollars are spent on non-highway projects such as mass transit, highway greenery, and sidewalks.

The Highway Fund is going broke because it is being used for items not connected with repairing highways or bridges. If our highways and bridges are in disrepair — and they are — it is not that politicians don’t have enough money.

As usual, politicians turn immediately to their first standby:Raise taxes.

Pavlovian response!

Scammers Never Stop

The Scammers just never stop when you get elderly. The three that are at least weekly on my phone are the “Hi, Grandpa, this is your favorite Grandson. I am in a Mexican jail, and I need $500 to get bailed out…”
That was the one about an hour ago. He wasn’t very good, but the first one who tried it many months ago was REALLY good. Scammers have to be good to be convincing. 
Yesterday, it was “Mr. Hemphill, this is the Windows Technical Department.” 

Here there are two variations. The one yesterday began with:

“Several years ago, you paid for Windows Technical support, and you have not used it. We want to return all of your money. If you will go out to a website I will give you…”

The other begins: “our servers at Windows Technical Support report a large number of errors from your computer. If you will go to your computer and open a website you will be given…”

Going to their website and downloading their program will encrypt your entire computer…then the next day they will call and offer to give you code to unlock your computer.

I have no idea how they select their suckers, but you can buy lists of the elderly and I would guess they do that, particularly the elderly in known retirement centers like San Diego.

I try to keep the scammers on the phone for as long as possible, so they will have less time to search for suckers, but their scam must be successful or they would not continue — or they would get new scams.