Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cell Phones Of Mars

Conner and FatSam are cuddling and watching Sagan's old "Cosmos" show ... they start showing images from Mars.

Connor said, "How do they know that? Mars is far away."

FatSam paused the video. "Well," FatSam said, "we sent robots to Mars and the robots took pictures."

"So the robots know it then. But how do they know it?"

"The robots sent the pictures home so people could see them."

"Home to Earth?"


"But how do they send pictures home?"

FaSam had to think about it. "By radio, I think with little satellite dishes."

"You don't know?"

"I don't actually know everything."

"I know, Richard told me. Maybe it's like your phone, your cell phone, like if it was cell phones on Mars. Do the robots come home when they're done?"

"No, they stay there and keep taking pictures."

"Oh." Connor paused. "It's sad they don't get to come home. You can start the show again now."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lakers & Hasta La Vista

The Lakers look better this year than they have since Shaq left. They're 18 and 10 and going into a showdown with the Boston Celtics on Sunday; I'm taking my 15 year old nephew to that game as his birthday present. (Kevin's an amazing kid: six feet tall, 200 pounds, a black belt in karate, bona fide tough guy who plays three instruments and gets straight A's in school...)

Kevin was my birthday present: he came home from the hospital on my 30th birthday. As a result, he's the only person whose age I always know without having to think about it; he's my age, minus 30.

The Lakers really do look good. The Kobe haters are having a field day with the fact that Andrew Bynum, who Kobe wanted to trade last year for Jason Kidd, has blossomed into a top-5 center (maybe top 3; only Yao Ming and Dwight Howard are obviously better than Bynum right now) ... I don't doubt for a second that Kobe's more than happy to have been wrong. The guy may be a screaming psychotic, but that's OK by me; he's a screaming psychotic who wants to win more than he wants to breathe. And whom the Lakers might get to keep, if things go on as they have. The Lakers are tied for third place in the Western Conference right now -- the only team in the West that's clearly better than them is the Spurs, who are getting older.

We've been here before: last year the Lakers were 18 and 10, got hit by injuries, and spiraled into 7th place and a first-round date with the Phoenix Suns. Who creamed them. But last year the Lakers were winning games by about 1.7 points on average; this year their margin is 5+. In basketball terms, that's huge. Only the Celtics, Pistons, and Spurs have a higher winning margin, and historically, winning margin is a better predictor of playoff success than won/loss.

This is the first Lakers/Celtics game in twenty years that really made me feel like the Lakers really needed to win it. I hope they do.


There's a website,, that's hosting the books and short stories I've published as e-books -- which is OK -- but they're also tearing up the texts, displaying them with ads, and converting the texts into non-rtf and non-pdf formats. I'm recasting the copyright notice on the books; there's a busier-than-usual discussion going on over on the Continuing Time mailing list ( to join) -- about how to handle the copyright to permit such things as printing a copy for personal use, while not permitting tearing or converting the texts in a for-profit context. Any suggestions would be appreciated, though the guys on the mailing list seem to have a pretty good handle on it. I'll recast the copyright notices, share it here and on the list, and then resubmit all the texts over at Immunity with the new and more explicit copyright notices.

If you run across anything similar anywhere else -- the texts from Immunity, converted into non-rtf or non-pdf format (or the texts themselves altered in some fashion) ... I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.


I'll have AI War back from Bantam in January. :-)

This has been a good year, even with constant low-grade stupidity with attorneys. Still hoping for better next year.


For years now we've barely had a functioning television at our house. The results are good; my kids get As and Bs; none of them have had a C in a couple years now. A while back I got rid of all the video games; the Gameboys, DSs, Xbox --

For Christmas my sons got scooters, skateboards, bicycles, and Nerf guns. The Nerf guns probably aren't politically correct, and I don't care; they're running around out in the yard shooting at each other and having wars, but the important part of that sentence is, "running around."

Since their video games got retired they've watched more movies (we have a couple portable DVD players) and read more books, and gotten more exercise. I couldn't be more pleased.


Santa brought me a nice leather jump rope. I'm in "good shape" -- I can play basketball for hours -- but man, getting outside the areas where I'm fit, I'm in terrible shape. Jumping rope is hard. I still haven't gone 100 jumps without tripping.

I'd love to box again, but being blind in one eye, getting hit around the eyes is probably a bad idea. I told Amy I wanted to box again a while back, you know, midlife crisis and all, and after laughing a little too hard for my pride, she advised me to have an affair instead, because a probably-divorced Dad was better for the kids than an entirely-blind one ...


Fifteen years life insurance, payout of a million and a half dollars, costs $145 a month, at my age. The insurance agency actually sent a woman to my house to give me a physical. It was a little weird getting an EKG while lying on my 6 year old's bed, because his room was the only room in the house without computers to throw the portable EKG off ... the first EKG, taken in my office, showed that I was dead ... which would make some people happy, but fortunately was a false reading. :-)


Best movies I saw this year: 3:10 to Yuma, Enchanted, Bourne Ultimatum, Live Free or Die Hard. None of them perfect, but all of them very good. Bourne probably the best of the bunch.

Worst movies I saw this year: Smoking Aces is easily the winner, but probably only because I didn't go see Hannibal. Ghost Rider gets an honorable mention here.

Movie I downright hated: No Country For Old Men.

Movie that surprised me the most: Transformers. A Michael Bay movie that didn't actually bite.

Movie I saw for the worst reason: Resident Evil: Extinction. Because of Milla.

Movie that made me saddest: The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. And that's without having gone to see it.

Movie I felt most virtuous about not going to see: Good Luck Chuck. Despite Jessica Alba in her panties. I admit, I thought Jessica Alba, circa Dark Angel, had no career ahead of her once that show was done; she had a nice little jailbait thing going on, but once that was gone I figured she'd age the way Brittany Spears has. (And yeah, I know, "age" is the wrong word; they're both still young.) But despite being unable to act a lick, Alba's matured nicely and managed to generate a nice little career for herself. Bright girl and nice to see her doing well.

Alba is also, like me, from Pomona. Vanessa Bryant -- Kobe's wife -- is also from Pomona.

A year or two back I was in a Denny's in Pomona at about 11:00 at night. We were on our way up to Mt. Baldy and we stopped overnight at a hotel in Pomona. The family crashed, I couldn't sleep, and the Denny's was across the street, so I walked over and got a late meal.

You desire what you grow up seeing, so I've heard, and it's certainly true in my case. There was a parade of women through that Denny's -- and I mean white, asian, black, latina -- who just nailed the sweet spot on the curve where I'm concerned. Maybe once or twice a day, in my normal day to day life, some woman really catches my eye. There were at least a dozen of them in that Denny's, that night.

You can take the boy out of Pomona, but you can't take the Pomona out of the boy ...


People I'm sorry are gone: Molly Ivins, Robert Anton Wilson, Kurt Vonnegut, Lloyd Alexander, Fred Saberhagen, Robert Jordan, Madeleine L'Engle, Dan Fogelberg ...

And Evel Knievel. There are very few men I've ever really wanted to be -- Warren Beatty, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney at different times in my life -- but I did have a period, and so did every man my age, when I really wanted to be Evel Knievel. He was a mean bastard, by all accounts, but I don't hold that against him; the conversion to Christianity though, just this year, was bush league. Die as you lived, and I wish he had.


Best wishes to Terry Pratchett. He has early onset Alzheimers, which most of the people reading this list probably already know. Good luck to him -- he's the author I'm fondest of, if not the author I think most highly of. His works have been hugely entertaining and worth every dime and every minute of my time.

Incapacity is the only thing that scares me, at least on my own account. Being unable to check out when it's time frightens me. Cancer? Heart disease? No worries. They come, I diagnose, I wrap things up and go to sleep at the right time. I'd be sorry, but I don't think I'd be scared.

Quadraplegia, stroke, dementia -- the inability to control when I check out is about all I really find frightening in life.


Best wishes to everyone for 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Deep Thoughts

I made a flip comment in Matt Stover's Star Wars fiction forum to the effect that I didn't care for philosophers in general -- they worked with language and I don't think much of language as a tool in the Search For Truth ... so he asked me to back it up. I'm not done but there's enough here that I thought I'd share. And speaking of Jack Handy:

Who named the Mustang Cobra? Horses hate snakes ...

I believe I'm close to having AI War back from Bantam. I'll let you all know. Maybe for Christmas. Also, I want to publicly acknowledge the work Everett Kaiser's done proofing DR and TF ... his thoroughness is exhausting, remarkable, and slowing me down in getting the books out the door; but the books will be much better for it. I've had professional proofreaders who were no better.

My posts on Matt's forum:


Arguing in language that language is insufficient to the task is sort of a chump's game, but I'll do it anyway, since it's what I've got to work with.

This is going to take a few posts to get through, and I don't have time to write it all at once, so I'll start by laying the foundations of what I think I know.

First, all representational systems are incomplete. Science, math, any human language: incomplete. More, not capable of completion. Goedel. This doesn't mean that a given formal system can't be broadly useful, merely that there's inherent fuzziness in the system: a place where that system stops. (And it's important to be clear that I don't mean a place where the sysem isn't finished: I mean a place where it can't be finished.)

Second, the universe is fuzzy. This is the principle lesson of quantum mechanics. You can skip all the sci-fi stuff about the observer effect -- which isn't as weird as it seems; it just means that the universe is entangled in interesting ways, and the old trope about the need for an intelligent observer to resolve indeterminancy is apparently untrue -- but what is true is that quantum mechanics imposes a hard limit on the degree to which the universe is knowable. It introduces graininess into the observable -- fuzz.

Third, chaos is real. Almost all systems in the real world are non-deterministic and can't be predicted.

Fourth, even systems that are deterministic -- a tiny subset of the universe of systems -- are not necessarily predictable: for complex deterministic systems it can take more time to model and predict than the process takes to run. In a complex always-on system it's likely that you can't take an initial state, make a prediction, and be complete before the system has moved past the point that you predicted to.

Fifth, though capable of rationality, humans are not rational in their drives or desires.

People are capable of knowing the world through two means, reason and experience. You can take things like intuition and lump them under reason for the purpose of this discussion; something you know (and we assume this knowing to be accurate) without knowing exactly how you know it. Doesn't mean some processing didn't take place.

Experience is what's happened to you. I'm not interested in the argument about whether there's a real world out there external to your experience; water is wet, stones are hard, walk in front of a bus and stop bothering me. Maybe our senses are feeding us the Matrix; give me a test and I'll discuss it. Until then, the world is out there and we're all part of it.

The problem with experience is that no one has the same suite of them. This is due to two well-known principles:

1. Shit happens
2. You are unique ... just like everyone else.

The problem with reason is that experience is the subject matter of reason. Now, a valid experience is reading a book -- that's pretty discrete. Same words for every person who comes to it. But the text hits each reader differently because each reader is different -- unique makeup filtered through unique experiences. The lessons one person derives from reading Rush Limbaugh's "The Way Things Ought To Be" can be very different from the lessons I derived -- which were that Limbaugh is a mediocre thinker and not overwhelmingly honest. (Same way I feel about Michael Moore, to play both sides of that fence, though I'm more prone to agreeing with Moore's conclusions than Limbaugh's.)

On the two means people have for knowing the world, reason and experience -- experience diverges and therefore reason, working with the stuff of experience, diverges ...

... and all formal systems are fuzzy, and English or German or Chinese or French or whatever are all substantially worse than fuzzy, and the universe is both fuzzy and chaotic, and even systems that can be modeled, often can't be modeled in real time (meaning no feedback possible), or even in useful time (meaning no results at all possible before the generated results are useless.) People can know the world only through experience and by applying reason to their experience: but everyone has different experiences.

Matt responded with:

I'm right with you on the fundamental fuzziness of reality -- which is exactly what makes mathematics (for example) useful for some flavors of truth, but not for others. Attempting precision modeling of something inherently imprecise strikes me as being akin to picking up lint with a needle. Sure, you get some, here and there, with effort -- but if you want to get it all, it's much more efficient (and useful) to use other lint.

Before you go on, you might want to define just exactly what flavor of truth you're talking about. Are you a Pythagorean ("The universe is number") on this? Or a Platonist ("What we perceive is is a distorted image of the Universal Ideal"). Math = Truth guys usually fall into one of those two broad camps . . . though I'm sure there may be others. Are you talking about "truth claims" in the technical sense, of statements regarding verifiable fact?

Because the Pursuit of Truth seems to break down into two broad categories: the Search for Fact, and the Search for Meaning. I'm talking about the latter, and I suspect you're talking about the former.

And I responded:

I'm not a Pythagorean; the universe isn't number. I think that number theory is a kind of map, and that what the Incompleteness Theorem says is that the map isn't the thing. Not shocking, but worth noting.

I'm also not a Platonist. The error of the map occurs here too; Plato (or Socrates, channeled, whatever) assert that there's a universal ideal, a thing that exists independently of the real world, and that the real world is a reflection or ghost of that. Maybe, but we're back in Matrix-land now: give me a test. Until someone can, I call bullshit.

"Attempting precision modeling of something inherently imprecise strikes me as being akin to picking up lint with a needle."

Which is why there's statistics in the next post, when I get to it. We can't know any one thing in its entirety: but we can know approximations. The question becomes, how useful is the approximation? The Drake equation is an example of a good approach in one such area: How well do we know Elements A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and so on, in a given area: and multiplying them one upon the other we come up with Statement one, which says AxBxCxDxExFxG = a Probability of .85: Statement One is 85% likely to be true. That's both useful and true within the limits of what we can know.
How you apply that to an individual -- how you produce a Probable Truth (or Probable Fact) that's useable by individuals in their search for meaning, is a much more difficult question, but it's the one modern philosophers should be struggling with. Maybe someone out there is?

"Because the Pursuit of Truth seems to break down into two broad categories: the Search for Fact, and the Search for Meaning. I'm talking about the latter, and I suspect you're talking about the former."

Sure, we're back to the experience/reason dichotomy: is your Search for Meaning divorced from the Facts that surround you? If it is then any answer that makes you feel good suffices. Enough food, entertainment, orgasms, healthy bowel movements, call it a philosophy and move on.
There are only two root reasons to ever do anything: to enjoy yourself, and to help other people enjoy themselves. (Enjoy has to be defined pretty broadly here, and if I knew a better word I'd use it. Maybe "fulfill.")

The first is trivial; if your Meaning of Life can be defined in that context you're no better than an animal. (Though there are plenty of humans who could usefully confine themselves to that.) The second is as complex as it gets and is the place where an accurate set of Facts is essential.


That's all for now. I have the feeling I'm veering toward serious-drunks-in-college territory here, but as I've never had this conversation in public that I can recall, here it is. More as I write it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The FBI, CIA, and LAPD ...

... are on a training exercise together. They've been taken out into the Angeles National Forest and told a bear has been released within a mile of their spot. Their job: to go get the bear. They have twenty minutes each ...

The CIA goes first. Highly trained agents skulk silently into the forest, flitting here and there, tree to tree, quiet as ghosts. And ... twenty minutes later they coming stomping out of the forest, angry and embarrassed. "We can't find the bear."

So the FBI goes in. They crash into the forest knocking down small trees and frightening the raccoons, screaming "Go! Go! Go!" just as in your basic Michael Bay movie. After twenty minutes of knocking about ... they some sulking out of the forest, sullen as teenagers. "We can't find the bear."

A SWAT team from the LAPD goes in next, billy clubs swinging. They don't skulk, they don't run, they just walk in like they own the fuckin' forest, and vanish from sight. Only a minute or two passes ... and then there's a terrible eruption of noise, a bloodcurdling scream ... and a minute later the LAPD swaggers back out of the forest. Two of the cops are carrying the suspect ...

... a bloody fluffy white rabbit, who's screaming "OK, I'm a bear, I'm a bear!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sick of MLB, and Not Because Of Steroids ...

I'm sick of Major League Baseball.

Not of the players. Roger Clemens was on the juice? Good for him. He's won 7 Cy Young Awards. In 2001, at the age of 38, he started the season 20 & 1 ... no other pitcher in the history of baseball's done that. He won his 7th Cy Young at the age of 41 and posted his best ERA -- a remarkable 1.87 -- in 2005, at the age of 42.

Steroids did all that for him? Cool. Entirely his business if he had to buy new hats....

I don't have a problem with Barry Bonds (though he probably shouldn't have lied to the Feds, assuming he did.) I don't care that Barry Bonds was juiced when he broke Hank Aaron's home run record, or when he hit #72.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (who I went to school with, who I played against in Little League, and who hit #62 a few hours from the moment my son Richard was born) ... I don't care that Sammy and Mark were juiced when they assaulted Ruth's home run record.

Here's the thing: everyone knew. Everyone who could conceivably have cared, knew. You knew. I knew. The players knew. The media knew. The owners knew. Mark McGwire turned into the Incredible Hulk late in his career? And my goodness, look how large Sammy is, and Barry, wow, he's about the size of a minivan and the police departments across the country are looking enviously at the size of his skull, envisioning the greatest battering ram the world had ever seen, if only Barry would cooperate: and the LAPD has contingency plans that don't actually require cooperation from Barry, remind me to tell you all my favorite joke some day. ("Okay, I'm a bear, I'm a bear!")

Yeah, steroids are bad for you. So's booze in anything but very small quantities. So's cocaine, adjustable rate mortgages, and a career in the NFL. Mostly I don't worry too much about social hypocrisy; in tiny amounts, it's a lubricant that lets people get through their days without too much outright violence. No, your kid is not special, he's a little thug who's cruising to have his day as an LAPD Battering Ram, and that may be the high point of his entire miserable life. And your daughter's ugly and your husband keeps hitting on my wife until he gets drunk enough, after which he hits on me and I must say, this is only a modest improvement ....

But we don't actually say those things to people, because, you know, courtesy, or hypocrisy if you like.

Sports are valuable, are meaningful, only to the degree that they reflect life in some minor way. A basketball game between two Latin American teams I've never heard of is no more worth watching than a pickup game at my local park -- less so, I might learn something about a player I'm going to play against in a few games, watching the local guys. But a game between the Lakers and Celtics (Sunday, December 30, I'll be in Section 318) ... that's very different. That's an Epic Battle between Good and Evil, sort of the way the Dodgers and Yankees used to be an Epic Battle between Good and Evil, until O'Malley sold the Dodgers and Rupert Murdoch destroyed them, leaving only Evil behind: when Yeats wrote that the best lacked all conviction, while the worst were full of a passionate intensity, he was really writing about the Dodgers and Yankees (or maybe about the Dodgers and Murdoch: here's hoping Murdoch does for the Wall Street Journal what he did for my baseball team. I believe he's capable of it.)

... valuable and meaningful, I think I was saying, to the degree that they reflect life in some minor way. The technical exercise of a given sport is meaningless without someone to root for; Kobe Bryant is somewhere between the fifth and tenth best basketball player the NBA's ever seen (and the best playing today) -- but the astonishing skill he brings to the game, the fierceness, the dedication, are meaningless to observers unless they identify with it. (And, to be sure, the variety of ways you can identify are large -- "I Hate Kobe" and "I Love Kobe" are very nearly the same statement. "Kobe who?" is their opposite ...)

So we root. We cheer our guys on. And no one, no one anywhere in the baseball world, cared if the guys were juiced. Not really cared. Not cared because they cared about the integrity of the game of baseball. Push to shove, nobody thought this stuff damaged the game; that, the people who do love the game would have been up in arms about. When Bonds broke Aaron's home run record, I read at least a dozen sad, outraged, "this must have an asterisk" columns about it.

Really? Because ... Hank Aaron, for example ... came from a pure era. An era where men were men and people didn't cheat at the sacred game of baseball. Well, except Gaylord Perry. Who titled his autobiography "Me and the Spitter." And is safely ensconced in the Hall of Fame. So apparently cheating with vaseline is OK, it's just the cheating with steroids that's bad.

Certainly Aaron himself thinks cheating is bad. "Any way you look at it, it's wrong," he said about Bonds and Bonds' steroid use. So take a look here:

Good read, and good work by the author, whose name doesn't appear on the post. One of the things held against the steroid generation is how they got better as they got older, presumably because this was when they started on the juice ... and here are Aaron's stats:

Age HRs HR%
33 44 7.3
34 39 6.5
35 29 4.8
36 44 8.0
37 38 7.4
38 47 9.5
39 34 7.6
40 40 10.2

Pretty good work, for a guy at the age of 40: one home run in every ten at bats.

I've never heard it authoritatively stated that Aaron used either steroids or amphetamines. (Or to put it another way, I've heard it repeatedly, but not from someone I was prepared to believe really knew.) But -- and whether this is fair to Aaron or not I neither know nor care -- I think he did.

Tom House, who's mentioned at length in the Typepad post I linked to above, says that he thinks that baseball is cleaner today, "steroid era" and all, than it was when he played. I tend to think he's correct. Baseball players, at the professional level, are among the fiercest competitors on the planet. If there's an edge, they'll take it.

And it's OK with me. I'm not trying to piss on Hank Aaron's record; I don't care if he was juiced, or on speed, later in his career. I don't care if Bonds was, or Clemens, or any other player in the entire game. If you knew how many rules had been broken by men in Cooperstown -- and kicked out every damn one of them for it -- Cooperstown would be half empty. Or two-thirds.

They're adults. So are we writing about this, mostly. This is the bargain we all made, to look the other way, and I'm good with that. Thank you, Barry, Mark, Sammy, Roger, all of you: made the game a pleasure to watch during an era when the Dodgers barely got my pulse moving. And I'm sorry for any of the crap you're taking now: take comfort in the knowledge that the people judging you are, almost with exception, bigger hypocrites than any of you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bear, Brin, TF, Devlin's Razor, AI War ...

Foundation and Chaos, by Greg Bear

I very much liked Foundation and Chaos. It has the Asimov feel and the Asimov tone, tied to genuinely (at least in the context of a Foundation novel) graceful prose. Bear bounces back and forth between Hari Seldon and the various forces of Daneel Olivaw. He opens with Seldon about to go on trial, and covers, in time, the same period as Asimov's very first Foundation short story. I'm not going to do a book review here -- but I will say that this is the novel, of the three, that felt the most like an Asimov novel. The plotting among the various factions of robots feels Asimovian, the final confrontation between mentalic humans and mentalic robots reminded me strongly of Asimov's Second Foundation faceoff between Bail Channis and the Mule, followed by the First Speaker and the Mule. The cleverest sequence has to be Seldon's trial: Bear recreates the trials as Asimov reported them, going into the motivations and backgrounds of the various characters in substantially more depth than Asimov bothered to, in his original short. It's a worthy expansion and a good read.

Foundation's Triumph, by David Brin

I enjoyed the Bear better than I enjoyed the Brin, and I enjoyed both of them better than I enjoyed the Benford. That said ...

I very much respect what Brin did here. He did what I'd have done in similar circumstances: it's evident from the work that he went back to the source, re-read Asimov end to end, took notes, looked at what worked and didn't work in Asimov's attempts to unify his storylines, took note of interesting questions left over from the likes of the infrequently read Empire books -- Pebble in the Sky and The Stars Like Dust and The Currents of Space. (I re-read Stars & Currents recently myself, and there are obvious and less-obvious references in Triumph to both of them.)

Brin even put together a pretty good timeline covering the events from Susan Calvin's birth to Foundation and Earth -- not the obsessively detailed timeline I'd pay money to see, but nonetheless -- writing this novel really didn't require the work Brin evidently put into it. I'm sure all three of these men wrote their novels from love -- they couldn't have made much more from the Foundation works than they made for their own novels, if any. But Brin is the guy whose work shows most clearly, and whose sympathy for Asimov's base work shines through most clearly.

I wish I liked the novel better. It's not Brin's fault I don't; it's too crammed with incident and ideas, and Brin doesn't take the time to slow down and linger with his characters. He has a lot to get in in this one novel, and might have been better served by two novels -- Douglas Adams stuck 5 or 6 books into his trilogy, I don't see why Brin couldn't have managed it. He doubtless had material, if not time or interest, for his own Foundation trilogy.


Next up, the novels of Steve Perry....


I'm going to edit TF and Devlin's Razor this weekend, and send them on to Immunity. Anyone with copy edits for either, please send them to me. Amy's reading a novel by Tanarive Due right now, and I'm promised a read of AI War's 1st half thereafter ...

I may have other good news about AI War soon. No promises.


I caught a little piece of The Little Mermaid, walking through Best Buy the other day ... Ariel singing "Part of Your World." I'm not sure there's ever been a purer expression of longing, put to music. Having seen Enchanted recently, I'd really like to watch The Little Mermaid again. I suspect my six year old's never seen it.


Still in court. (Going to be in court, one way or another, until Alan Rodgers dies, most likely. Cost of business stuff, there. Fortunately I expect to outlive Alan by thirty or forty years.) No complaints on my end, yet; the kids still haven't been forced to deal with Alan directly.