The Recombinator

At 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning at the end of April he was still asleep. He got up and went to the bathroom.  “Three old ladies”, he said to himself, trying to ward off premature micturition.  The charm only worked sporadically.  The light was breaking as he walked back into the bedroom from his bathroom. There was a pinkish-orange blush in the East, but in the West the sky was darker in successively deeper shades of grey. He thought about going back to sleep, but the dream came back to him and he sat down at the keyboard with a cold cup of coffee and started to type.

He was approaching his seventieth birthday.  It which would fall in two days right after the weekend.  He had nothing planned that day except a visit to the dentist.  The girls in the dentist’s office thought he should not book an appointment on his birthday, but he took the opposite view.  This was the same as yesterday, when he decided to sell five thousand dollars worth of bank stock.  It had lost more than six per cent of its book value in the space of a week.  Some story about working conditions and forced sales. He had spent six months delaying his purchase but now he decided he could do without the uncertainty.  It was more important to hang on to his hard-earned cash. The five thousand dollars had come from a tax return two years ago.  He would have liked to have kept more tax returns.

Sleeping was very important to him, these days a lot more so than sex. The older he got sex seemed to require more stimulation and gave much less interesting results.  But dreaming had become a circular thing.  Years ago he would have experienced a dream as a serial flow of different events. Now his mind just seemed to want to play variations of the same theme over and over again. Last night it was The Recombinator.  Like a travel-stained survivor of  life a century before in the deep South West, The Recombinator lived a harsh life expressing different aspects of his ethos, his philosophy, and his way of life, mostly with his revolver.  His justice was brutal and simple. It involved his very survival more than it had anything at all to do with the law.  This seemed to be mostly a pretext.  He thought of his hero as a savage, but really he was just a product of his lifestyle.  He recycled lives the way these days you recycled soft drink cans.  You crushed them and collected nothing at all on exit.


What a world! A young refugee was drowned and his body washed up on a beach.  Once alive it became suddenly lifeless and inert.  Picked up by a patrolman it became the centrepiece of a new pieta.  Once photographed in a fleeting news cycle it became the object of universal pity.  A week later it was mostly forgotten.  Whole boatloads of adult refugees perished daily.  Even a pieta was something he knew of only from pictures.  He had witnessed such a scene once high up on the dark wall of a Catholic church, but it seemed somehow contrived and foreign.  Not real, and not in my world, he felt.  But it left an indefinable kind of a  taste in his mouth.  Like of salt water, the non-taste of sand, and fluids leaking from the guts of the corpse.  Heavily diluted, but still there.


He had a mind that was stuck on History and he could not shake some of the ideas he had collected through his life.  Having lived a life in unbroken peace in the West, he had little to compare with Events In The Real World.  He had never seen a dead body, unless it was fleetingly from the window of a bus passing down Lillie Road about 1973. He saw the image of a man’s face, turned to the left and pressed to the road.  He saw  the man’s two arms thrown ahead.  Had he seen a trace of blood under the head?  The bus passed, and the conductor made a comment of finality.  “He’s laid out, then.”  Or were they the words of a train driver when they had had to stop after hitting a body on the way  down to St.Pancras.  Even when his mother had died, he did not go to see her body.  She had paid for it, but he had been too tired to go to the viewing he had arranged.


Money in everything.

The lie of Capitalism.

The Evil that is in the World.

As Jesus saved the World, why might he not invent a new  solution.



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Recurring possibly noisy dreams

So I am at sleep last night and this dream comes upon me. I am working with another artist at a sort of performance. He is young and very intelligent but says almost nothing so I have little to go on by way of providing him with feedback. Some might find his brand of moody sultriness attractive, but I don’t find him the least bit stimulating.

His work consists of making a packet for the future which is then discovered. Two of us are involved in discovery but the actual production of the packets is limited to one. A packet might typically be made of a sort of rare material like silk. It is small and contains  a recording or two. For example, one of last night’s packets exclaimed the word “Sacrifice” over and over again. Another exclaimed that it was always on a different floor, requiring us to use use the elevator to reach it.

An earlier version of the recurring dream involved me being rather more involved in both production and discovery of a similar type of packet. These were richer, mostly musical in form, and they would usually contain the work of other artists. They could be made of different materials. One might be a series of cloth envelopes. Another might be an actual paper envelope containing a poem. We would go out driving in a car in some nameless, depressing town that looked like Detroit. My partner was bearded and morose, also very quiet, but more successful in his communications. One of his packets featured a very hot saxophone solo that was part of a larger song. An earlier packet was more incoherent and seemed to feature a male voice at my door several times, but there was no knocking so I will assume there no disturbance to other people on my floor while I was having this dream.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment and South Park Season 20 Episode 4. Duh?

So I go to the Guardian Web site yesterday evening. Except its  now rather than Who knew? And I get an ugly error caused by an invalid certificate for GlobalSign Organization by – of all things – something called Fastly. I thought I stopped using Fastly ages ago. Now it controls The Guardian web site? The world is changing, and not for the better in this case. Here’s that pesky certificate:


Fortunately this gives me lots of opportunities to update my new iPhone 6s. Like I’m installing Twitter to see how it’s going. It doesn’t look like the problem will be fixed soon.

Last week I was annoyed because South Park Season 20 Episode 4 got moved by the network to make way for something crass. The show eventually aired on the evening of October 12th (this Wednesday). But I’m still waiting for it on iTunes on Friday morning. What’s with that? I am PAYING for BOTH of these.

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Time for a new router

So, the high point of my long weekend was that I noticed my router had its telnet port open to the world and there didn’t seem to be any way to turn it off. Now, the other, older part of this story is how my modem-router (the one I get from my ISP) stopped forwarding individual ports some time after I moved here last year. Something to do with a firmware update? Well, you can’t beat city hall! So that’s when I went out and bought that old Linksys WRT54G Version 8 router. Version 8’s have hardly any RAM, but it seemed OK with DD-WRT and I was happy. But for some reason over the weekend I needed run to NMAP to check what ports I have open. That’s when I noticed the open telnet port. Oh, the shame! I’ve been running like that for a year. Anyway, today I went and bought a nice new Apple Airport Express. It runs great, though I did have to furrow my brow a bit to get everything working properly on the new 10.0.1.*. network. Before this I was always a  192.168.1.* type of guy. Oh yeah, I got a new iPhone too!

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A visit to the Genius Bar

My Mac Mini is the mid-2011 model. The day I bought it I doubled the RAM: it now has 8MB Corsair 1333GHz DRAM.

Lately I start to see graphics crashes more frequently. All of a sudden the screen goes like this and after about a minute the machine will reboot itself:


I called Apple a couple of times. The fault has now happened in VLC and when doing large rsync jobs, but mainly it happens in Google or Apple maps on the satellite view. The Apple tech had me reset SMC and PRAM which made no difference. Last weekend after 3 crashes in one hour I took the machine to the Apple Genius Bar.

They triaged the machine but returned it “no fault found”. I swept it out inside and reseated the RAM but so far it will still freeze in Apple maps.

BTW, the photograph was on Google of a tour inside the old nuclear plant at Hanford in Washington state.

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rsync errors

I use tar to backup individual folders on my Mac about once a month, and I copy the files to two separate hard drives.

I also use Time Machine continuously, and several times a week I rsync my home folder to my Linux box.

Passwords are kept in Safari and iCloud with a manual copy to my own private “password safe”.

Part of the job of backing up my home folder is to copy the “dot files” from it to a sub-folder “dotfiles-backup”. All of this worked fine until lately when a bug showed up in rsync:

rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (8 bytes received so far) [sender]
rsync error: error in rsync protocol data stream (code 12) at /BuildRoot/Library/Caches/ [sender=2.6.9]
ended dotfiles-backup at 2016-09-02.112418

The files it’s objecting to don’t exist on my system.

Eventually on a hunch I stopped copying the file ~/.CFUserTextEncoding to the dotfiles-backup folder and the problem went away as mysteriously as it came. My clue was the file permissions:

.CFUserTextEncoding mcook staff 10-04-15 1:03p 7 -r——–

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It’s all SSL now

Part of my birthday celebrations today included reviewing the goings on in Moscow and points East. I found it all very gratifying, as usual, tho’ the military hardware is now reserved for parades on May 9th.

I also found that my web server had stopped working. “Hmm!”, I went. I’d been trying to make it only serve pages using SSL. That’s the trouble with running your own web site: nobody ever tells you when it’s down.

It turns out it was trying to listen on port 443 TWICE, which of course is a big no-no. I don’t know how I missed it, but I did. So: it’s a good job I am retired and can’t screw up anything that people actually depend on. I fixed the problem and restarted.

I had made the changes a couple of weeks ago while responding to some SourceForge document that said I should Raise [My] Google Rankings with GeoTrust. Going all SLL was part of it. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I hadn’t bothered to announce the change to the world at large. After all, nobody ever visits my site anyway, except to download instructions on how to configure WRT54G as an access point, or to try to post drivel to my WordPress blog when it was hosted locally.

I realize I do have a few things to clean up, like my mailing address, and so on. For now, just remember that the only URL that works is: All the virtual hosts are history.

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