Monthly Archives: June 2013

With all the problems in the world and countless issues – like Windows 8 & Linux – awaiting TechnoRants©, Dr. Data has nothing better to do with his time than blether on about the enduring social fiction known as the ‘Little White Lie’. We’ve all told them at one time or another; those fibs intended to comfort, encourage, soothe or avoid hurting someone’s feelings. For example, a friend presents you with a truly hideous gift of no practical or aesthetic value. Instead of asking the person “Have you been dumpster diving again?”, we avoid hurting the feelings of the – usually – well-intentioned gift-giver by saying “What a lovely/handsome/thoughtful gift! I will have to think of just the right place to display/use it.”

In reality, the next time that the aforementioned gift will see the light of day will be:

  1. On sale at a charity shop
  2. On the table at a neighbour’s yard sale
  3. Given as a gift to someone or other who will then pass it on to someone else, traversing the 6 degrees of separation until it returns home to the original gift-giver.

The white lie was the subject of a column by Ceila Walden in London’s Daily Telegraph concerning what we tend to say upon seeing someone’s baby for the first time. While we may say to the parent “What a sweet/adorable/handsome/beautiful baby you have!”, we privately ponder the feasibly of giving the poor kid a lifetime supply of paper bags.

Like most everything on the internet now-a-days, there was a space for user commentary following the column. The following two jokes were gleaned from the various remarks by readers. One is an auld chestnut that is still worth a smile while the other is one that Dr. Data has not seen before. Enjoy!


A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says:

“Ugh, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!”

The woman walks to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her:

“‘The driver just insulted me!”

The man says:

“You go up there and tell him off. Go on, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”


A man with two beautiful daughters visits his wife in hospital after the birth of an ugly son.

Husband says to wife, “How come we have two beautiful girls and now this? Have you been playing away from home?”

Wife to husband, “Not this time.”



In truth, we’d be lost without all those little white lies – The Daily Telegraph

“It’s quiet out there tonight.”

“Yeah; too quiet.”

Those of you familiar with westerns will know that this exchange between two cowboys guarding the wagon train immediately precedes every Injun  Native American west of the Missouri river overrunning the camp, killing all the men and carrying off the women. Those were the good old days but I digress.

Well, it’s not “too quiet” but it’s getting close. This morning, I really had to strain to hear any noise at all from the cicada population. Yes, if you listen very, very carefully – and there’s not any traffic on the street out front – you can hear a bit of the once overwhelming racket; much diminished and far away. It’s pretty safe to say now that the cicadas have had their day. There were some groups raising quite the din on our way out to Lake Monticello late Monday afternoon but the chorus was almost non-existent when I took the same route this morning.

For the past few days, I have found the remains of the recently departed on the hoods and roofs of the Parsonage motor pool; remains that were not there the previous afternoon or when I turned into the car-park 2 hours earlier. Those remains are rapidly disassembling themselves.

Back in the fabulous 50’s and swingin’ 60’s, there was a kids game called “Cootie”. What you had there was a box full of plastic bug parts; heads, thoraxes, legs, eyes, etc. and the players each rolled a die in turn trying to assemble a complete cootie bug before everyone else.


NB –  The game called Cootie is not to be confused with “cooties”; the dread affliction of elementary school hallways and play-grounds. There are many of us who still suffer the after-effects 50 years hence. There is no known cure for cooties but there is hope. To learn how you can help, write Washington, DC.


Well, the back patio looks like someone dumped the contents of a giant box of Cootie parts; wings, legs, heads, etc. litter the ground and are tracked into the back hall-way. I’ve swept the patio for the n-th time and have had to mop up the spew of cats who thought that a thorax with a side of wings would hit the spot. No doubt, I’ll have to repeat the process again tomorrow.


 Cootie (game) — Wikipaedia

Tempest_RevealedDr. Data tries to keep track of the search terms that lead visitors to The Parsons’ Rant and he has noticed a significant uptick in visitors looking for a review of  Tempest Revealed by Tracy Deebs. Dr. Data would love to find a copy so he could write a review but he has had no luck and herein begins the mystery.

Earlier this month, Dr. Data received a notice from announcing that Tempest Revealed was released on June 4th, 2013. There were some pretty positive reviews for those who had been fortunate enough to obtain an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of this book but no word from those who had actually purchased a copy. A visit to revealed that:

  1. There is no product page for the Kindle edition
  2. There is no product page for the paperback edition
  3. There is a product page for the hardcover edition but the book is not yet available, The publication date is listed as October 21, 2014

Amazon is not alone in this; Barnes and Noble has no knowledge concerning Tempest Revealed. A visit to the author’s website shows that the last comment concerning the book was made way back in March of this year. To be fair, it must be noted that Ms Deebs is not the most prolific blogger out there.

Apparently, there has been some hold-up along the way. Rest assured that Dr. Data will read and review Tempest Revealed just as soon he can get his mitts on an electronic copy.

Please see Tempest Revealed is no longer M.I.A. for the latest update.

Somewhere around 5th or 6th grade, I remember doing a report on this poem by James Thomas Fields. There are those males amongst us whose only exposure to barbering is Fantastic Sam’s, Super Cuts or the stylist at the mall will be gob-smacked at the idea of the old time barber shoppe being a bastion of masculinity with stuffed hunting trophies, etc. adorning the walls. Toss in cigar smoke, a copy of The Police Gazette and you were in business.

The Owl Critic

“Who stuffed that white owl?”

No one spoke in the shop,
The barber was busy, and he couldn’t stop;
The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading
The “Daily,” the “Herald,” the “Post,” little heeding
The young man who blurted out such a blunt question;
Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion;
And the barber kept on shaving.

“Don’t you see, Mr. Brown,”
Cried the youth, with a frown,
“How wrong the whole thing is,
How preposterous each wing is,
How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is —
In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck ‘t is!
I make no apology;
I’ve learned owl-eology.

I’ve passed days and nights in a hundred collections,
And cannot be blinded to any deflections
Arising from unskilful fingers that fail
To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail.
Mister Brown! Mr. Brown!
Do take that bird down,
Or you’ll soon be the laughingstock all over town!”
And the barber kept on shaving.

“I’ve studied owls,
And other night-fowls,
And I tell you
What I know to be true;
An owl cannot roost
With his limbs so unloosed;
No owl in this world
Ever had his claws curled,
Ever had his legs slanted,
Ever had his bill canted,
Ever had his neck screwed
Into that attitude.
He cant do it, because
‘Tis against all bird-laws.

Anatomy teaches,
Ornithology preaches,
An owl has a toe
That can’t turn out so!
I’ve made the white owl my study for years,
And to see such a job almost moves me to tears!
Mr. Brown, I’m amazed
You should be so gone crazed
As to put up a bird
In that posture absurd!
To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness;
The man who stuffed him don’t half know his business!”
And the barber kept shaving.

“Examine those eyes
I’m filled with surprise
Taxidermists should pass
Off on you such poor glass;
So unnatural they seem
They’d make Audubon scream,
And John Burroughs laugh
To encounter such chaff.
Do take that bird down;
Have him stuffed again, Brown!”
And the barber kept on shaving!

“With some sawdust and bark
I could stuff in the dark
An owl better than that.
I could make an old hat
Look more like an owl
Than that horrid fowl,
Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather.
In fact, about him there’s not one natural feather.”

Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch,
The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch,
Walked around, and regarded his fault-finding critic
(Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic,
And then fairly hooted, as if he should say:
“Your learning’s at fault this time, anyway:
Don’t waste it again on a live bird, I pray.
I’m an owl; you’re another. Sir Critic, good day!”
And the barber kept on shaving.

James Thomas Fields


The following poem by Robert W. Service — my favourite poet from the get-go — is one that I have loved for decades. I am presently contemplating memorising it as a party-piece.

A Song For Kilts

How grand the human race would be
If every man would wear a kilt,
A flirt of Tartan finery,
Instead of trousers, custom built!
Nay, do not think I speak to joke:
(You know I’m not that kind of man),
I am convinced that all men folk.
Should wear the costume of a Clan.

Imagine how it’s braw and clean
As in the wind it flutters free;
And so conducive to hygiene
In its sublime simplicity.
No fool fly-buttons to adjust,–
Wi’ shanks and maybe buttocks bare;
Oh chiels, just take my word on trust,
A bonny kilt’s the only wear.

‘Twill save a lot of siller too,
(And here a canny Scotsman speaks),
For one good kilt will wear you through
A half-a-dozen pairs of breeks.
And how it’s healthy in the breeze!
And how it swings with saucy tilt!
How lassies love athletic knees
Below the waggle of a kilt!

True, I just wear one in my mind,
Since sent to school by Celtic aunts,
When girls would flip it up behind,
Until I begged for lowland pants.
But now none dare do that to me,
And so I sing with lyric lilt,–
How happier the world would be
If every male would wear a kilt!

Robert W. Service


You’ve probably heard about it by now and I’m already tired of hearing about it;  the story broken by the UK’s Guardian newspaper – it figures -concerning the surveillance being carried on by the NSA (National Security Agency) on Verizon’s phone call meta-data as well as other aspects of internet communications like e-mail. For those of you who may not quite get it, meta-data is information about data; not the data itself.  The NSA does not give an R.A. about calls to your mistress/boyfriend or your predilection for phone sex. By the time they get the meta-data, your 3:00 AM call to Jake at Snake Farm is long over. Instead, they are looking for patterns like calls to the local 7-11 from Abbottabad, Pakistan that occur only when Achmed is behind the counter on the grave-yard shift.

There is the predictable hue and cry that this is the end of America as we know it or that the Government has done the “freshy-fresh” with the Bill of Rights. No-one seems to give a fig about the Police running your licence plate when they spot you parked at the Achmed’s 7-11 at 1:30 AM. Indeed, La Polizia have run the plates of a certain Mitsubishi pick-up with a canoe on top driven by a bearded, kilt-wearing, pipe-smoking, Scotch-drinking, hippy freak in ear-rings more times than I care to think about. They probably needn’t bother because no-one in their right mind would use a 23 year-old pick-up with an “I brake for Mermaids” bumper-sticker on the back as a get-away vehicle.

Yes, it’s a shame that things have come to this but it’s the price we pay for being under siege by sub-humans who would gladly suicide-bomb a day-care just to inflict a bit more pain and terror on Americans. Dr. Data can remember the common cries of “Protect us! Protect us!” in the wake of 9/11 and the Boston bombings. Well, the NSA, et alia, are trying to do just that. Moreover, the government has been doing that for a lonnng time. Back during the cold war, a certain female-type person with whom  Dr. Data has had a more than nodding acquaintance for nearly four decades, had relatives on the east side of the iron curtain. Letters arriving at her grand-mother’s house had already been read and redacted by both sides. Her brother – like Dr. Data – was into short-wave radio during that time and a Federal agent showed up at their house wanting to check his QSL cards . . . no doubt looking for coded messages.

So folks, let’s turn down the histrionics and hope that the NSA does its job before the next airliner flies into an office tower. If  you’re worried that the intelligence community may want to know about your relationship with that visiting professor who works part-time as a dominatrix, then do the following:

  1. Get rid of your phones – smart and not so smart
  2. Get off the internet
  3. Blow up your TV
  4. Pay for all transactions with cold, hard cash
  5. Read only old-fashioned books printed on real paper
  6. Travel only by foot or bicycle
  7. Hope and pray that Achmed does not hijack a Cessna and fly it into your house.


NSA PRISIM programme spied on e-mails, searches

This past week-end, my brother and I rendezvoused at our stately ancestral home in Hopewell, VA. The aforementioned brother said he had a problem or two with his laptop and I — having nothing better to do at that moment — volunteered to have a go at fixing his machine. Midway through turning off a few start-up items, I casually asked what he planned to do with the laptop once support for Windows XP ends next April. To my dismay, he said that this was the first he’d heard of it; Proof positive that he does not read this blog as I’ve mentioned the XP “sell-by date” quite a bit over the past year.


So just in case you’ve not paid any attention to what I’ve said over the past year – I’ve been married for 37 years so I’m used to it – Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP on April 4th, 2014. That means no more patches, security updates, etc.  Since there are 500 million +/- XP machines out there and comprising around 40% of the market as of May 2013, those PCs still running XP will be sitting ducks for the malware industry. Those guys never miss a beat when it comes to vulnerability so don’t expect them stop attacking Windows XP when the 8th of April rolls around.

Those of you still hanging on to your XP machines will have to make some serious decisions and soon. Computing hardware has progressed so much in the 12 years that XP has been with us that your trusty laptop purchased in 2006 won’t be able to run Windows 7 or 8. You’ll need to either buy new hardware or consider switching to Linux; Ubuntu or Mint will run quite nicely on my brother’s Gateway laptop. Whatever you decide to do, you need to be quick about it. Whether you choose to buy new hardware with Windows 7 or 8 pre-installed or make the move to the FREE Linux operating system, doing it under the gun is no picnic and leads to a significant increase in frustration. There’s always a period of adjustment when you make a move like this.

Because I seem to be a voice crying in the wilderness – at least on this blog – I’ve added a count-down clock to the side-bar.  Remember, tempus fugit.


See Microsoft’s End of Support page at

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June 2013
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