The Watchman

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This is billed (front cover) as "A Joe Pike Novel". Don't worry, Elvis fans: he's here, he does important stuff too, despite his rocky recovery from the horrors in the previous book. But the interesting stuff, character-wise is Pike.

In a different previous book, Pike promised a future favor to Jon Stone: Stone would offer Pike a gig, and Pike would have to accept it. That promise comes due here. The FBI has a witness to the presence and activity of a wanted terrorist. That witness is the very spoiled, insanely rich heiress Paris Hilton, sorry, Larkin Connor Barkley. The normal witness-protection procedures ain't working. Squads of Ecuadorian gangsters keep showing up at the "safe" houses, apparently trying to kill her.

Worse, once Pike takes over, Ecuadorian gangsters show up at his safe house, and it's all Pike can do to kill a few of them, and take off. Obviously there's a mole somewhere, but who?

The best defense is a good offense, and Elvis and Joe take it upon themselves to discover the truth about what Larkin saw, and why people want to kill her for it. Larkin is a lot to handle, but she's never met anyone like Pike before. Diligent detective work soon determines that one of the FBI guys is lying to them; does that mean he's the mole? It's not safe to assume that.

As usual, a suspenseful and action-packed climax.

Last Modified 2024-01-09 6:49 PM EDT

Hope Everyone Had a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Not that you should care, but mine kind of sucked. Illness compelled me to forego social gathering. And you don't know what you're missing until … you miss it. About all I could give thanks for was a new episode of "Frasier", Coricidin HBP, and having the foresight to stock up on Kleenex.

But I'm on the mend, and this pic from PowerLine made me chuckle, and if you haven't seen it, or even if you have:

[Godzilla vs. Les Nessman]

If you don't get the reference, here's your background.

Also of note:

  • I'm on Team Will. George is Thankful for soon being able to say ‘Good riddance, 2023’.

    This holiday is devoted to the noble sentiment of gratitude. So, before passing around the cranberry sauce, give thanks that 2023 experienced no repeat of the Great Cranberry Scare of 1959.

    Three weeks before that year’s Thanksgiving, the government announced that a small portion of a Pacific Northwest cranberry crop contained traces of a herbicide that caused abnormal growths in rats stuffed with it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower substituted apple sauce for cranberry sauce. This episode presaged subsequent panics, dietary and otherwise, and today’s apocalypse fatigue, when everything poses an “existential” threat to this or that. This year — the 10th anniversary of a Cambridge University scientist saying the Arctic might be ice-free in two years — has been replete with reasons for saying good riddance to 2023. Bud Light heartily agrees.

    Some Colorado school officials, with no sense of irony, cracked down on a 12-year-old whose backpack had a “Don’t tread on me” patch. A Florida charter school principal was forced to resign for not notifying parents that she planned to illustrate Renaissance art by showing her sixth-graders Michelangelo’s “David.” A Northern Virginia playground’s 21 rules include “no loitering” at the slide’s bottom.

    More things GFW gets off his chest at the link. For example:

    Yale has “one administrator for every four students. That’s the same ratio the government recommends for child care of infants under twelve months.”

  • This would make a sensational movie. Jazz Shaw claims OpenAI Tried to Fire Altman Because He Was About to Wake Up the Monster.

    Earlier this week, we discussed the way that the board of directors at OpenAI attempted to fire CEO Sam Altman and how a revolt at the company led to his reinstatement and the removal of the board. It was a remarkable example of employees overriding the will of the governing board and changing the course of the company’s direction. What wasn’t clear at the time was the reason that the board tried to remove the founding brainchild of ChatGPT in the first place. But now more indications of their reasoning have come to the surface. It wasn’t a case of different “visions” for the corporation’s future, but apparently, a fear that Altman was on the verge of doing something that could potentially have catastrophic consequences for humanity. Altman and his team had made a breakthrough with a project known as Q* (pronounced “Q Star”) that would allow the Artificial Intelligence to begin behaving in a way that could “emulate key aspects of the human brain’s functionality.” In other words, they may be close to allowing the AI to “wake up.” (Daily Mail)

    Q*: remember that name.

    Given the recent record of natural intelligence, is it really too tough to imagine that AI could do better?

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:20 AM EDT