Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Spammers and frauds do irritate me. Anyway, I had a few minutes to kill so I decided to reply. But not as Chuck Divine. No, that wouldn't be fun. So I assumed the persona of
Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Earth
Federation of Sentient Planets
Anyway, here is my first reply to the delightful umogbai:
umogbai favour wrote:
>Dear Charles Divine
>LETTER OF APPOINTMENT
>It's with an unbound joy that I introduce EAGLES
>Eagles Foundation is a network and great of Achievers
>from different part of the globe,
I'm afraid you've contacted the Vulcan Ambassador to Earth. We've been
keeping our presence here a secret. We try to keep a low profile until
a prospective member world has been invited to join The Federation of
>with the purpose of
>providing for the unprivileged child: EDUCATION,
>PROTECTION AND SECURITY, We also help in medical&
>Technological research and leadership training,
>especially we are dedicated to the unprivileged child.
Good. Although the few humans we've actually had conversations with
usually speak of the "underprivileged" child. Might I suggest you work
on your English? Or speak in your native tongue. We do have
translators. Perhaps you've seen some of our efforts at familiarization
of humanity with Galactic Culture? You know -- "Star Trek." Granted,
there are inaccuracies. Trust me, Vulcans make love more than once
every seven years. More like every 7 hours -- every hour for the more
>After our just concluded EAGLES SUBMITTE, WITH A
>THEME: The place of the unprivileged child in our
>We came to a few conclusion, one of which was that,
>every day, our different orphanage homes gets an
>increase of 10%, mostly babies and that the future of
>the orphanage homes are faced with uncertainty and
>Our final conclusion is that the rich and the highly
>placed run a deadly risk in their callus neglect of
>the poor and unprivileged child.
>Dear friend, you may have once lived and survived by
>the mercy of people, on your way to the top,
Actually, Vulcan is a very democratic and free society. We learned
millenia ago that tyranny is not only illogical but counterproductive.
So we really don't have a "top" the way you humans do. You do seem to
be learning though. The delusion known as communism is dying. And the
delusion known as naziism really is dead.
>return such kindness to the society without a prize.
>In our search for those who have established their
>reputation and standard as the highest
> their different career.
>We have found you of good reputation in high standard
>in your chosen carrier.
Thank you! But how did you hear of the Vulcan Embassy? We've been
trying to keep it under wraps -- don't want to frighten humanity. We
think you have real potential.
>In view of the above, we have decided to appoint you
>as one of our associate member, by this appointment
>you will be committed to serve humanity with your
>skill. Your prayer contribution to the growth of
>EAGLES FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL will be highly
Hmm. Have you heard of our Prime Directive? We're not supposed to
interfere with cultures that haven't achieved warp capability. Even
this e-mail comes perilously close to the edge of interference.
>Note also that countless of prayers are being made
>every hour that passed by for your success by our
>prayer partners, this is because of your importance to
>Always remember that your friendship is too precious
>for us lose, as we await your mail of acceptance.
Thank you for your friendship. When you finally achieve warp
capability, we look forward to assisting your entire species. From what
we can tell, Reid Malenfant and Bootstrap Corporation are making
excellent progress. Please support them with all your resources.
>Thanks for your anticipated co-operation as we
>resuming a purpose and eventful relationship.
>To your success,
And to yours!
Remember to contact us when you achieve warp capability. We eagerly
anticipate the commencement of cooperative, profitable endeavours.
Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Earth
The Federation of Sentient Worlds
Umogbai replied! I was stunned. Anyway, I managed to get off the following answer:
umogbai favour wrote:
> Mr charles
The name's Chuck. We Vulcans don't go in for nicknames. Haven't you
seen any of our efforts to familiarize your species with Galactic
Culture? You know "Star Trek", "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Star
Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Star Trek: Voyager" and now "Enterprise"? The
characters from Vulcan are named Sarek, Spock, Saavik, Tuvok et alii --
getting the picture?
My surname is entirely too difficult to translate into any human language.
> Thanks for your maill
Americans and Brits would spell the word as "mail."
> sir, it was a splended
> one also
>for your corrections,
We try to help.
> kindly tell me more about your
Well, in your years I was born in 2342 and am now 273 years old -- don't
worry, our species lives to at least 1500 of your years. My parents are
respectively 2417 and 1693 -- and in excellent health, by the way. They
both finished Vulcan's premier megamarathon (2910.003 of your
kilometres) only last October. I'm really proud of them!
Myself -- well, I'm a polymath. I love new challenges -- and new
lovers. I hope to eventually beat my older brother Karnak's record of
43 lovers in a single Vulcan day (OK, our days are longer than yours)
and my older sister Dharmak's megamarathon time of 372:43:16:27:68.92.
My art is not only prized on Vulcan, but Centauri dealers have started
selling it around the galaxy.
Of course I'm really delighted with my recent election to the Vulcan
Academy of Science.
Finally, there's my new wife, Dink. What else can I say about her
except she's utterly brilliant and the most loving woman I've ever met.
> and The Federation of Sentient Worlds, l am
>interested also in what you do
Well, our general role is to promote peace and freedom throughout the
galaxy. We occasionally do have to fight off invaders from parallel
universes, though. Like the Vorlons and the Borg. Tell me, are you
familiar with the Copenhagen Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum
Mechanics? Too few humans are. You really should learn some modern
physics -- it's important if humanity is ever to fit into the Galactic
>,where you are located.
At night, go outside and look up at the constellation Sagitarius --
Galactic Center is that way. At Galactic Center there is a massive
black hole that's torn a rip in the space-time continuum known as the
Esty. Our headquarters -- a microworld known as Babylon (didn't you
name one of your ancient cities that?) orbits the Esty.
On this planet we have secret observation posts located at important
locations: Washington, New York, London, Paris, Moscow, Rome, Grover's
Mills, Hollywood, New Delhi, Hobart and others. In the United States
our observation post looks like a portajohn -- it's right across from
the White House. In London we use a police box. We try to keep our
Oh, by the way, don't panic if you see some Black Helicopters and a few
guys dressed in Black. They're just part of our observation team.
Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Earth
Federation of Sentient Planets
Believe it or not, that answer actually got a reply. At that point, though, I got bored and had better things to do.
The next victim of my humor was one MOO ALEXENDER.
I don't normally greet people with a "Moo!!!" I usually reserve that greeting for cows....
Anyway, here is my response to MOO:
Mr.MOO ALEXENDER wrote:
> URGENT AND EXTREMELY CONFIDENTIAL
I'm not a director.
I'm Chuck, Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Earth, Vulcan Senator, Vulcan
High Command, Diktor of the Security Council of the Federation of
Sentient Planets, you freaking idiot.
> It is with trust and confidentiality, that I make
>this urgent and important business proposal to you.
Oh, you want to sell us your damned planet.
You and every half wit in Africa.
>It gives me so much enthusiasm to write this letter to you. It is all
>in a view to soliciting for assistance to enable us execute a venture
>of mutual benfit.My name is MOO
> ALEXENDER A former Central Bank of
>Zimbabwe Worker, during the last political disturbuce by the
>government held by Robert Mugabe,
Oh, you stole some money from that racist murderer, did you?
>I and my other colleagues worked out
>over US$20,000,000.00(Twenty million, United States Dollars Only) as
>over invoiced and inflated payment.for election materials and the
>funds is now flotting
Flotting? Don't you mean "floating"?
> in a surspence
>account ready to be transfered
>to the provided account.Now that we are not sure of the future of thi
>scountry, due to the cry of sanction by world leader in and around
>the world. for the brutal take over of white farm by the
>Administration, and the lack of purpose in the Administration, me and
>my friends have decided to invest this funds wisely.
> The fund is currently in security company in Holland the
>netherlands.I have put all the needfull together to ensure a
>successful transfer of the funds to a desinated
Good grief, can't you even spell, you worthless incompetent?
> account. Acting in
>concert with few trusted other officers, we need the assistance of a
>foreign company/persons to push this money into their accounts. You
>will do very well with what we have in mind. Your share of what ever
>we succeed in putting into your account will be giving you the 20% of
>the total sum, while 70%will be for us and 10% will be mapped out
Hmm, send me 90% in gold pressed latinum and I'll think about it....
>any expenses incurred by both parties in the process of the transfer,
>we require nothing more from you,except your willingness to assist
>us.I will refrain from giving out more operational details, until I
>receive your reply. Since time is of the essence to us,
Time is not of the essence to us, cretin. We have time travel.
>letter quickly so as to know what next to do, even if this letter
>does not meet your approval, please inform me. There is norisk
>involved, as we have done our homework carefully.
I can't stop laughing.
Send me all your money -- no strings attached. If there's enough, I
might help out. Then again, maybe I'll just buy beer for the hash.
Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Earth
Vulcan High Command
> Looking forward to hearing from you.
>Thanks And God Bless.
I was obviously more irritated with Moo than Favour -- and more pressed for time. Moo never responded. Boo hoo..... Was I perhaps too insulting?
It's now some years later than those exchanges. I had a frustrating week. When one evening's plans got screwed up, I sat at home and saw another one of these spam e-mails. Poor Joyce Zane got the Ambassador Chuck treatment as a result of all this. Here's what I wrote:
On Thu, 2006-03-09 at 16:36, From Ms Joyce wrote:
> Good a thing to write you.
How did you discover this address? The Embassy does like to keep this
address a bit quiet. There is a real fear that humans are not quite
ready for contact with galactic civilization.
Oh -- we do like to give a bit of instruction in proper English. The
correct way to write that sentence would, of course, be "It's a good
thing to write to you."
> I have a proposal for you-this however is not mandatory nor will I in any manner compel you to honour against your will.
Um -- you do know you can't compel species that have acheived warp
drive, don't you?
> I am Joyce Zane ,26years old and the only daughter of my late parents Mr.and Mrs.Zane.
Zane? Any relation to Zane Grey?
> My father was a highly reputable business magnate-(a Grandnut
What refreshing honesty. Most people just like to be thought of as just
> merchant)who operated in the capital City of Senegal during his days.It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad year 12th.Feb.2003.
On Abraham Lincoln's Birthday? What a tragedy...
> Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle
Man From Uncle? Ilya Kurakin? Good friends of ours...
> of his whotravelled
Dr. Who? The Time Lord?
> with him at that time. But God knows the truth!
Actually, Cthuthu also knows the truth. But he won't tell unless you
give him a really big bribe...
> My mother died when I was just 4 years old,and since then my father took me so special.
Be careful with that kind of kinky stuff. The Embassy is located in the
United States. Maybe you know how they are.
> Before his death on Febuary 12, 2003 he called the secretary who
> accompanied him to the hospital and told her that he had a sum of $4.5million US DOLLARS (Four Million Five Hundred Thousand USA DOLLARS)
Oooooh. What's that in gold pressed latinum? You know -- galactic
> kept in One trunks box as a vault deposit with a private security company in Europe. He also said that the security company does not know the content of the safe Box.He decleared
decleared? or declared?
> it as family treasure and used my name to Deposit
It's not proper to capitalize a word in the middle of a sentence unless
it's a proper name.
> the money as his first daugther
> for next of kin. He also explained to her that it was because of this wealth that he was poisoned by his business associates,
Any relation to the Borgias?
> that I should seek for a foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this money to and use it for investment purposes.
Have you considered doing business on Frottage 3? Saucy Jack is quite
well known for his various services.
> I want you to assist me in re-locating this deposit into your position overseas as a beneficiary,and also use it for our joint ivestment
> purpose on my behalf.I am just 26 years old
Oh, so young. At that age my species is barely able to read and write.
Of course we do live to at least 3500 of your years.
> and a university undergraduate
Isn't that a bit slow for a human?
> and really don't know what to do.
That must be why you turned -- so wisely I might add -- to the Vulcan
Embassy on Earth.
> This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Senegal.
That's too bad...
We Vulcans do wonder when your species is going to achieve greater
maturity. It's really keeping you from entering into galactic culture.
> The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life coupled with the hardship, I am passing through my only uncle
What? Is he some kind of cannibal?
> who wants me dead because he want to take-over all my late father's wealth.
> Dearest one,I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded.
Buy Amalgamated Aluminum Associates. Now.
> Now permit me to ask these few questions:-
> 1. Can you honestly help me as your daughter?
That would be a bit hard to do. My pointed ears, my greenish skin. You
> 2. Can I completely trust you?
Mais oui, madamoiselle.
> 3. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after the deposit is retrived
> and re-located to your position.
Why don't you just trust us with our matter duplicator to work that one
> Please,Consider this and get back to me as soon as possible.
> Thank you so much.
> My sincere regards,
> Ms Joyce Zane
Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Earth
Joyce hasn't responded as yet. Was I too rough on he
Saturday, May 30, 2015
On May 23rd St. Mark's held a requiem eucharist for Bert Cooper. I photographed this eucharist. You can find my images of this event on Flickr at A Requiem Eucharist Celebration of Bert Cooper. He was a fine man who made many good contributions to our world. Quite a few people shared that impression. When he passed away he was 80 years old.
He had been born on December 2, 1934. When he was born my Uncle Dick was only 10 years old. My father was all of 21. I remember my father as a fine man I am proud to call Dad. Uncle Don was also a fine man I am glad I can count as a relative. What memories do I have of Uncle Dick? None -- unless you count comments by my parents. I have memories of relatives saying he was the smartest of the three brothers. My father and Uncle Don were, shall we say, exceptionally intelligent good men who I was glad to spend time with. I obviously spent much more time with Dad than Uncle Don, but I still remember how good both of them were.
Why don't I have memories of Uncle Dick? Uncle Dick was killed in the last days of World War II in Europe. Bert Cooper was only 10 years old. Uncle Dick was only 21. My father was only 32. My mother was only 29.
I sometimes think what contributions to not only my family but the larger world Uncle Dick would have made had the NAZIs surrendered on April 1, 1945 rather than May 8, 1945. He would have a been a very positive influence on my life. The year he spent at Rutgers he had been a mathematics major. It would have been wonderful to have someone with a mathematics degree to talk to when I was a boy growing up and getting interested in things like physics, astronomy, space exploration and more. He could have helped me actually understand the book by Eddington titled "Mathematical Theories of Relativity." That's just one thing he could have done.
These days we are asked to remember the contributions in defending our country what the good people (usually men) who died defending us from people like the NAZIs. I am quite willing to do that. But I also think about what Uncle Dick could have contributed if he had lived to 80, 90 or more. His contributions would have been far greater than what he could contribute from his birth in 1924 until his tragic death in 1945.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Over the years I have heard much discussion and debate about abortion in the United States. I have even heard some from other countries.
Let me begin this posting with a few stories about my maternal grandparents. I remember both of them as good people with whom I enjoyed spending time.
My grandfather came to this country to work. He was a fine bricklayer. I still remember the home he and his friends built for the family. After he had been in the United States for awhile, he went back to England. Mom said it was because he had not found a woman to love and marry in the United States. Early in the 20th Century it was possible for working class men to travel back and forth across the Atlantic for work.
Back in England he got to know my grandmother. They fell in love and got married. At the party after their wedding, a friend of my grandfather's said to him "When are we going back to the States?" My grandmother then jumped into the conversation with the question to her now brand new husband "When are we going to the States?" The friend who started the conversation never returned to the States.
When Grandmom and Grandpop had been here awhile, a baby boy came along. They loved that baby boy -- as they loved me, a grandson who came along many years later. When that baby was a few months old, a flu epidemic went through the part of the States where my grandparents lived. Their baby boy caught the flu and died from it. That death devastated my grandparents. Grandmom even returned to England for awhile to recover from this tragedy.
Eventually Grandmom returned to the States and her loving husband. Another baby was born -- this time a girl. That baby died too -- after living 93 years and 4 months. Mom was a wonderful mother. She and Dad were two fine people who brought me to respect and like all kinds of people.
I have another entry on my blog about My Family. Let's just say people on my father's side of the family also sought to make life better for all.
I know some people who are strongly prolife. The ones I personally know are fine people. Kathryn Dietz Hichborn is the mother of five and the grandmother of still more. When I hear the term prolife, she is one person who comes immediately to mind because she is prolife in many ways. I enjoy our conversations, especially those in real life. Facebook and other social media have their place in our society, but they do have their limits in many ways.
I also know some people who are prochoice. They can be fine people as well. Some of them are women who personally seen or have experienced bad marriages. Some have been sexually assaulted. There is more, but I am trying to start a discussion.
Before Roe versus Wade abortion was illegal in the United States. That didn't mean it didn't happen. It just happened illegally. We've tried various prohibitions in this country. We made it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages for awhile. That was a disaster which did real damage to our country. Want to address problems with alcohol? Helping the people with the problems get better seems a like a better choice. The same things can be said regarding currently illegal drugs. Problems with gun violence? Gun control advocates bring up Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine and more. Courtesy of the Clinton administration we now have tough gun regulation on American military bases. In 2009 at Fort Hood a Muslim Army psychiatrist whom other Army psychiatrists had warned the Army about and who had been investigated by the FBI for ties to terrorists ran wild killing and wounding many before he was stopped by a civilian woman deputy sheriff who wounded him with her gun.
So what do I think we should be doing? Let's begin by helping good people have good lives. We should be teaching children how to have good lives and why those kinds of lives are better for them and for society. We can promote both the arts and sciences to help make our world a better one. We can help people have good families like the ones I knew growing up in New Jersey.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Today is the 13th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center by Al-Qaeda terrorists. That same morning they flew a plane into The Pentagon. That last attack produced the scariest e-mail I remember seeing. I didn't learn about the attacks until I was walking into work. That day was a hot day. I began it with a six mile run before breakfast. I had breakfast before the attacks. While the attacks were occurring I was showering and getting ready for work. During my short drive to work, I didn't hear anything. When I walked into the small office building where Tidal Zone Associates was located, I ran into someone who worked in the Maryland State Comptroller's office on the first floor. She asked if I had heard that a plane had collided with the World Trade Center in NYC. I replied that I hadn't. I walked into my company's offices. People were already talking about the accident. I walked into my office and began checking my e-mail -- work related and personal. The personal e-mail had an e-mail from a Hash House Harrier who worked in the Pentagon. She began her e-mail with a story about the attacks in NYC. Then she closed her e-mail with the words "PENTAGON ON FIRE." That really scared me. I told other people I worked with. We were all shocked. The news kept piling up. No one got any work done that day.
The one thing I remember from later that day was contacting Paul Ambos in New Jersey. I knew he worked down in that part of Manhattan -- but not at the World Trade Center. He told me he was alright -- but that getting out of Manhattan had been difficult.
Months later I remember talking with a fellow Mensa member about her experience that day. She had been working in one of the two towers. She was going up in an elevator when the first plane hit the other tower. She got out. She was told to continue to work because her tower wasn't in danger. She ignored that command and took the next elevator down. She got out in time -- and quite safely. Others did not.
That day scared lots of people -- not only Americans. We were horrified at what happened. Thousands of people were dead.
Since then, our country and world has changed in many ways -- too often not for the good.
After 9/11, the United States has gone on a security kick. We have even created a Department of Homeland Security. Didn't that task used to be the work of the Department of Defense -- formerly the Department of War? Too much of the "security" really doesn't work. Back on September 10, 2007, Women In Aerospace sponsored a forum on the state of aviation security. Before I even walked in, I knew that when the Transportation Security Administration -- known in some circles as Thousands Standing Around -- tested its own "security" by trying to smuggle guns through, over 90% of the time those guns got through. That day I learned that there was a college student out there who had smuggled high explosives onto airplanes just to show he could. People at that meeting were furious with this farce. I recommend people pay more attention to Bruce Schneier and his blog Schneier on Security to learn more about this topic.
We have also launched a horrible war in the Middle East. Before the war was started, I had doubts about it. Then I discovered noted science fiction author Jerry Pournelle had started a blog he titled Chaos Manor. Jerry is fine writer -- with clearly libertarian sympathies. I still remember his protest of the upcoming war. I thought Jerry is not some sort of pacifist. If he was against the Iraq War, I felt quite comfortable also opposing it. That war has done great damage to our country and world. I do hate the Islamic terrorists -- but I want a better way of dealing with them than America's longest war.
We have moved the United States in a direction that gives far too much power to authority. This has been done supposedly to solve "security" problems and to stop "crime." These people claim even education will be better if moved in a more authoritarian direction. They don't seem to pay attention to anything that opposes their ideas, no matter how strong the evidence supporting opposing views are.
I've written enough for now. I wonder how much attention this blog posting will get -- and whether people will respond to it either in comments or directly.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Today in the Washington Post there were reviews of books about Watergate. That tragic crime led to Nixon's resignation 40 years ago. The part of me that is liberal and the part of me that is conservative and the part that is hard to describe all are glad that Nixon was finished as President 40 years ago.
There is something, though, that while it did not attract nearly as much attention, affected me far more deeply than Watergate.
I am talking about the death of my wonderful father, Charles I. Divine, also 40 years ago. I miss that good man still. He passed away far too young. He was only 61. He died of complications of surgery. That tragedy turned me from an occasional runner and swimmer into someone who runs or swims 6 days a week. There is more about that on my blog post My Running Career.
I am sitting here now in front of a computer connected up to the Internet -- things my father could have understood, but did not live to see. What am thinking about? Dad. I wish he was here. He'd only be 101. And Mom too. She'd only be 98. If Dad had lived, I can imagine Mom living longer too.
Dad was Rutgers Class of 1935. His father, Charles Divine, was Class of 1890. That's why I went to Rutgers.
Dad was a cradle Episcopalian. So was Mom. That's why I am.
I try to help the world be a better place -- like my parents.
Is it possible for me to criticize Dad? He was a lousy cook. That's why Mom proclaimed when I was 12 that I should get the cooking merit badge in the Boy Scouts. She said "All men should know how to cook." Today people really like my cooking -- even my French cooking. I wonder if that would have happened otherwise.
God, I miss Dad. I always will. Even if I live to be a thousand. Or a million. You get the picture.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Some posts draw very little attention.
One of my attempts at humor that people seem to like is The Vulcan Ambassador Chuck E-Mails. I will admit I have publicized that piece lots of places. Over 800 views doesn't exactly surprise me.
Then there are things like An Interesting Side Comment by Michael Griffin. That has gotten 234 views -- without me publicizing it much. Other space related blog entries have gotten hundreds of views. Interestingly enough, though, I haven't received many comments directly -- just an occasional comment, sometimes on the critical side.
Tuesday I will go to a Washington Space Business Roundtable luncheon. While there I will try to bring this up as well as mentioning the showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey at Wolf Trap. I will report that I have put that event in the local Mensa calendar. I may also bring up a few other things. For instance, how different space is today from the visions of the 1960s -- with a reference to the Columbia disaster. I might also, if I get the chance, to bring up the February Mensa Bulletin article on sleep deprivation.