Like the flowers before the spring? Or the Resistance during the big war? Or, maybe, the trains that rumble underneath most major cities.

drone spy

These days, it often means “hidden” as it “off the grid.” Not discoverable in the usual ways. Without an electronic footprint in the virtual universe. And good luck to you in achieving it. Got a Facebook account? Twitter? Snapchat? Do you blog or comment on others’ blogs? Do you use email? How about a credit card?

I’m not sure I was ever underground. I certainly never went to any lengths to keep my life a secret or hide whatever I was doing. As soon as there was an Internet, I was on it. The price of admission to the virtual world, the online society is personal privacy. Not every single bit of your privacy.


To the best of my knowledge, what we do and say in the privacy of our homes and cars remains there, barring some blabbermouth posting it somewhere. Otherwise, the minute you sign on up for your first social media account, you are in the net, on the grid, part of the web, and fair game for every organization who’d like a piece of you.

Is it annoying? Yes. Is it inevitable? Definitely.

You can rant, rail, whine, and moan about how the government is watching you and you would probably be correct. They are. They will. They always have done, only now, they can find you much more easily. Computers and cell phones have made spying on citizens a whole lot simpler.

And, of course, advertisers are targeting you. Scammers will find you.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth notwithstanding — what did you think was going to happen when you put your life online and made it public?



“And that’s the way it is” by Rich Paschall

With so many bad sources of news in the world, who do you trust to give you reliable and up to date information?  I know it is tough to decide.  At one time there was radio, television, newspapers and your grandma’s gossip across the back fence.  You may also have had a few barroom buddies who seemed to be pretty up to date on the happenings in the nation and even the world.  Now that there are so many more options, how do you know who to trust and what to believe?

Perhaps you still rely on Aunt Mildred.  She always seems to be well read and has a tidbit of news on everything.  When she shows up at family gatherings she can easily dazzle those who would sit down to listen.  She always shows up early to the parties and is willing to stay until the very end, as long as there are snacks and highballs around.  Her whisky fueled news items show the great recall she has from the supermarket publications she gets regularly.  Sometimes she also gets the Sunday papers, but that is more for the store coupons than the news.

Then there is cousin Billy, also a regular at the family gatherings.  He tries not to get into arguments with Aunt Mildred because her vocabulary is better than his.  However, you just know he is right about his views of America.  His sources may seem a bit murky, but if you can not trust someone you practically grew up with, who can you trust?

cronkite-395Your nephew Chad is probably much more up to date than the others because he is on social media all the time, reading up on the environment, politics and his favorite rock bands.  He often shows you those clever memes that contain some of the best quotes for your education on the latest issues.  If you mention a topic, Chad can find a meme, video or highly respected blog that will educate you on what you need to know.  At least the blogs are highly respected by Chad, and you respect Chad, don’t you? (Chad respects this blog.)

When I was younger (much younger) and staying with my grandparents, dinner had to be finished by 5:30 PM so that my grandfather could get to his favorite chair.  We lived in the Central Time Zone and the CBS Evening news came on early.  It was OK because it fit right into their retirement schedule.  My grandparents had been farmers and were use to early breakfast and lunch, so 5 PM dinner did not seem too early.  Their main source of news was a Monday through Friday evening broadcast.

It was not just that it was a news program.  There were others at that time.  He could have watched the venerable team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.  He could have tuned to Howard K Smith and Harry Reasoner.  But my grandfather only followed the man who came to be known as the most trusted man in America.  Many years of strong and steady broadcasts of news events had led one man to the top of his field.

Solid reporting

Solid reporting

Walter Cronkite Jr. was a broadcast journalist who started his career in 1937 covering major news events around the globe.  Later he covered NASA and brought us all the early successes and some failures of the space program.  You could rely on Walter to describe the event and educate you on space all at the same time.  It was the facts that he brought to a broadcast, not the spin.

In 1962 he became the anchorman of the CBS Evening News and the main face of the news division.  If there was an important story, Walter told us about it.  With a confident and authoritative tone and a grandfatherly face, people came to trust him with the news.  In fact as his tenure on the evening news went on, polls began to show that it was not a politician or entertainer that people trusted most, it was Walter.

In 1963 I recall watching Walter as he told us all about the assassination of President Kennedy and the events that followed.  No I did not see the earliest broadcasts live, I was in grade school.  But I did see all that followed.  I have seen the early footage many times since in documentaries, as Walter had to tell a nation that the President was dead.  To this day that broadcast will evoke tears.

"President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time."

“President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.”

Walter advised us of what was going on in Viet Nam.  Did it help turn a nation against the war?  Walter told us about Watergate extensively.  Did it help lead to the downfall of a President?  If he influenced public opinion, it was not because he twisted the facts or spun their meaning, it was because he reported them.

After 19 years, Walter Cronkite retired from the CBS Evening News.  CBS had a mandatory retirement age of 65 then.  Today they would probably let him go on as long as ratings were good.  He lived to be 92 and remained active for many years after “retirement.”

Are there any broadcasters today that enjoy the trust of American people like Walter Leland Cronkite Jr.?  Yes, I know the answer to that.  Everyone seems to be interpreting rather than just reporting.  They all appear to have a point of view and we may trust them about as much as we trust Aunt Mildred.  Of course, there are a few that trust Aunt Mildred a lot, “and that’s the way it is.”


It all happened so fast.

Stay in the car!

No one was supposed to get hurt.

He was turning his life around. He HAD turned his life around.

Everybody loved him.

S/he didn’t have an enemy in the world.

He needed killing.

It was self-defense!

I was only trying to protect (you) (her) (them).

I had no choice. You would have done the same thing in my place.

(For the end of any disaster movie:) Now, we rebuild.

I didn’t see anything.

“I did it for you” is a variant of “I was just trying to protect …

Music to our ears! We’ve heard them all again and again. In cop shows and movies. In westerns and science fiction epics. These are, of course, just a few of the thousands of “lines” that comprise a typical “script.”

If you’re lucky, you can get a double or even triple play, as in: “You would have done the same thing. He wasn’t supposed to die (variant of “no one was supposed to get hurt). What else could I do (variant of “I had no other choice”).” A hat trick!

They are so standard, so common, so predictable, I decided to make a game board so you cross them off as they come up. Wherever gets a row first gets to shout NOW WE REBUILD!


You win the prize. A beer, a coke … or maybe one of those soft, salty, hot pretzels from one of those pretzel stands in the mall. How about a pizza?

We used to have a business meeting version of this, lovingly known as Buzzword Bingo. Whenever someone at the meeting spoke one of the popular buzzwords of the day, like “think out of the box,” “monetizing,” “prioritizing,” or the deathless yet ever-popular “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” or any of the thousands of trite, meaningless business clichés, colleagues would leap to their feet and shout “BULLSHIT!” Then, everyone, including the boss, would cheer. Over time, it significantly shortened those meetings and always enlivened them. With everyone keeping score, it was almost fun. No one wanted to be the one who got the chorus of BULLSHIT from the entire staff, so folks started trying to convey information using real words and concepts.

After which, we could all get back to work.

Now that we are retired, waiting for the classic television clichés that have become the backbone of scriptwriters throughout the world, we wait to hear those words. When we do — and we always do — it  is one of the most rewarding parts of watching the tube.

You get extra points if they say it exactly as written. The other night someone said “He was turning his life around. Everyone loved him!” A big score — two in one with exact wording. Does it get any better than this?


Last year, I wrote an update to my original commentary (from November 2012 – WHY TABLETS CAN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS AND WHY THEY SHOULDN’T) about how tablets were NOT going to replace laptops which absolutely everyone agreed was inevitable and I thought was utter rubbish. Today, in TechRadar, one of the original places that predicted the demise of laptops, the very same experts who predicted the demise of laptops and desktops completely reversed their position. Minus the fanfare with which the predicted the demise of computers, I might add.

15 best laptops you can buy in 2016

By Kevin Lee

The best laptops for your every need (NOTE: Not MY every need!)

“With the advent of the iPad just over six years ago, analysts were expecting laptops to be ousted by tablets at this point. Fortunately, for PC makers, that never happened. In fact, with the recent début of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update alongside new AMD and Nvidia graphics cards and Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors, the best laptops on the market continue to thrive.

Between thin, light and stylish budget notebooks like the HP Chromebook 13 and thick, robust powerhouse computers like the MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro, laptops are on their way up rather than out. Even Apple’s MacBook sees persistent success year after year despite all the changes MacOS has undergone since 1984.”

Isn’t that what I said?  See my post: “WHY TABLETS DIDN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS.” November 20, 2015

It continues to list each computer in their “top 15 pick.” As it happens, in the course of searching for the computer that would best suite me, I looked at every one of these and dismissed them all.


Best is relative and subjective. “Best”for whom and under what circumstances? Not best for me. None of these machines contain enough graphics support or RAM to run Photoshop. So maybe these are the “best” for the magazine’s editors? Or for “the average computer user” who is …? Are you an average user? If so, what does that mean? What do “average” users use?

Articles like this and previous articles on the anticipated disappearance of computers mislead people. If you accept this stuff as “expert opinion” and don’t do your own research, you will end up with the wrong machine. Quite possibly a very expensive, yet terribly wrong machine.

alienware side view computer

Here’s my rewritten article from last year. I was right. Not because I’m a genius, but because I don’t accept opinion as truth.  “Experts” don’t know a lot more than you do, but they are paid to make you think they have some kind of pipeline to ultimate truth. Their opinions are nothing more than personal opinion heavily influenced by big computer company sponsors. Sales pitches disguised as expert advice. Be very wary of taking this kind of thing at face value.

Know what you need. What you do. And what you require to make it work for you.


I originally wrote a longer version of this in November 2012 and the link for it as been included. At that time, agreement among “experts” was nearly universal. Tablets would replace desktop and laptop computers. Within a couple of years — in other words, by now — everyone would be using a tablet for everything. I disagreed then. I was right. (Don’t you love when that happens?)

Tablet sales have slowed, not because tablets aren’t fun or don’t have a place in our lives, but because everyone has one, or two, or three of them. And because, as it turns out, tablets do what they do, which isn’t everything.

I remember reading all those articles announcing how tablets will replace laptops and desktops. This, based on the surge in tablet sales and the slowing of computer sales. Every time I read one of those articles, I wanted to reach through my monitor, grab the author by the throat and shake him or her.


I don’t have anything against portable devices. I have quite a few of them, but there are a couple of differences between me and those authors:

1) The reviewers apparently don’t do any work. Not only do they not do any work, they don’t even have hobbies.

2) They think their favorite device is perfect and can do everything.

Have any of the people extolling mini devices as the total computer solution designed a book? Made a movie? Used Photoshop? Converted a document to PDF? Tried playing games on a tablet? It’s nearly impossible. All other issues aside, the screens are too small.

Virtual keyboards are good for virtual fingers …

I just read an article explaining how you can type perfectly fine on the iPad’s virtual keypad. Having tried typing on a variety of tablets, that’s an outright lie. Not true. You can’t type on a virtual keyboard because (trumpets) there are no keys.

You need memory and a hard drive to run applications.

You can’t run photo or video editing software on a tablet. Or a Chromebook. Or a Smartphone. It’s not that it won’t run well. It won’t run at all. It has to be installed. It uses a lot of memory. Without a hard drive, you can’t install it. Even online versions of these applications won’t run on small devices. If you use a real camera — anything more than a basic point and shoot, or a telephone — you can’t even download your photos, much less edit them. If you shoot RAW, you might not be able to load a single photograph on your device.


You can’t edit a 16 X 20 photograph on a 10 inch tablet. Much less a cell phone.

This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a fact. Can’t do it. Can’t see enough of the pictures to know what you are doing. It does not matter whether we are talking about a Kindle, an android tablet, or an iPad. Operating system is irrelevant. The device is physically too small to do the job. Even if it had a hard drive and enough memory (none of them do), you still couldn’t do it.

Who needs footnotes? Engineering drawings? Spreadsheets? I do, that’s who.

And good luck editing video on a tablet. Let me know how that works for you.

About that thesis: footnotes and bibliographies, and cross references? Explain to your adviser how you can’t include references and attributions because your tablet can’t do it. Surely they will understand. After all, computers are obsolete. And who needs attribution anyhow?

If you’re an architect or engineer? Return to your drawing table and start doing them by hand. I hope you still have those old-fashioned tools and remember how to use them, because you won’t be doing them on your tablet.

Need a spreadsheet? Not going to happen. Even if all you are trying to do is track your own household budget, you can’t do it on your tablet or telephone.

alienware computer front full

It’s a big world with room for many operating systems and devices … you don’t need to dump one to have the other.

There’s room in our lives for many different devices. And operating systems.

I prefer stuff that’s dedicated to specific tasks or sets of tasks. I love reading books on my Kindle. I edit on my desktop with the big HD monitor. I use my laptop when I don’t what to be stuck in my office, which these days seem to all the time.

You love your iPad? Enjoy it, but respect its limits — because they’re also its advantages. If you make it big and powerful enough to handle the tasks it currently can’t manage — larger screen, real hard drive, RAM, keyboard — it’s not a fun, portable device any more. If you need that much functionality, you need a laptop or desktop.

You can’t replace everything with one thing. There’s no reason you should.

One size does not fit all.

It’s okay to be different. Whether it’s your religion or political opinion — or which computer system you prefer, diversity and differences make the world interesting. Live your life as you prefer. Let others do the same.


I just started using Facebook. I know. I’m way behind the curve. I resisted getting sucked into the social media scene because I didn’t feel any need for it. But … it crept up on me.

I text and email close friends regularly. I also talk to them on the phone as often as possible. I am a big phone fan. To me it’s almost like being with someone face to face. Probably better these days because in person you have to watch people check their emails and Facebook pages while they talk to you. On the phone you can still imagine that your friends are paying rapt attention to everything you’re saying.


What got me excited about joining Facebook was a comment by a friend who had recently joined and loved it. She said that it made her feel much more connected and involved with people. I wanted some of that.

I’ve only been ‘using’ it (participating in it?) for about a month. At this early stage, I’m mostly reading other people’s posts. So far, I’m just not feeling it. I’m not sure what I should be feeling. I reconnected with a few people from my past and reignited an old friendship that I’m very glad to have back in my life. I’ve seen some photos of kids and grand kids that I would not have seen anyplace else.

But I’m also seeing lots of photos of people’s meals and the restaurants they’re eating them in. Lots of sunset pictures too.


Mostly I’m reading or watching links to articles or videos found elsewhere on the internet. Many are very interesting, as are the comments. Many reveal the issues and political views important to the people I know. Yet somehow, this isn’t making me feel more connected to the people who post them. Maybe I’m a narcissist, but watching a video someone shared or posted to everyone online doesn’t feel personal to me. I don’t feel personally connected when I read an editorial in the New York Times, nor do I when I read it on Facebook. Just because someone I know posted it doesn’t personalize it for me.


I think I am too steeped in ‘conversation culture’ – the old-fashioned art of communication which seems to be disappearing at warp speed. At least texting still feels like a conversation, however truncated or stylized. To me, Facebook feels more like parallel playing than actually relating. I see it as another source for material to read online – with the added benefit of being able to share things I find interesting as well. That should be enough for me, right? I simply have to alter my expectations.

Now please ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ this with as many people as possible!


If you have stopped by on recent Sundays you have seen some movie lists.  My top 20 Coming of Age movies included the 1971 B&W feature, The Last Picture Show.  The top 20 Films All Guys Should See included a half-dozen black and white films, including a couple mentioned below.

Thoughts on colorful movies shot in B&W

by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

If I asked you to list your favorite movies, what would they be?  Star Trek, Jason Bourne, The Secret Life of Pets?  Maybe Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America or Suicide Squad?  Is it a 3D Surround Sound, computer enhanced spectacular? Or just fast and furious?  Do special effects and color make a movie great? Or might it be a brilliant script and amazing performances?

If you’re under 30, does your list include anything in black-and-white?  If you’re under 20, have you seen a black-and-white movie?

That’s right, black-and-white movies, like black-and-white photographs, have no colors, just shades of gray covering the gray-scale. It may seem to some that black-and-white movies were only made because color was not perfected until later, but that’s not true. Long after color was standard for all kinds of film, some directors chose black-and-white.

Some shot in black-and-white to evoke a feeling of another time and place. Raging Bull, the break-out performance for Robert DeNiro in 1980 was shot in black-and-white to evoke the era of Jake La Motta, the boxer and film’s subject.

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Academy Award winning Schindler’s List was done in black and white not only to make it feel like a World War II movie, but also to emphasize the darkness of the subject matter. American History X, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, The Elephant Man, all were made in black-and-white for effect, for mood, for a certain cinematographic grittiness. If you never heard of any of the aforementioned, in 2012 the Academy Award for Best Picture went to The Artist, filmed in black and white to recall another age.


Here are my top 5 black and white movies. These are required viewing before you report back next week: Casablanca is definitely number one. I know some will tell you that Citizen Kane is the best movie of all time. I watched it. I liked it. I have no need of seeing it again. I could watch Casablanca over and over.

Set during World War II, it’s the story of an American (Humphrey Bogart) who fell in love with a beauty (Ingrid Bergman) in Paris.  Forced to flee when the Nazis invaded, he is stood up at the train station by the woman he loves as the rain pours down. He winds up running a casino in Casablanca amidst a cast of shady characters … when guess who shows up? The movie includes one of the great movies songs of all time, As Time Goes By. And before you ask, Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.”

As a child, Psycho scared the heck out of me in the theater. It was one of many Alfred Hitchcock classics filmed in black-and-white. Anthony Perkins gave a deliciously creepy performance as the proprietor of the Bates Motel. If you have seen any other version of this classic, you wasted your time. See the original! Perkins reprises the role a number of times in sequels after he was typecast as a weirdo psychopath. Too bad; he was a solid actor.

When the Music Box Theater in Chicago was restored and started showing vintage movies, I took my mother to see Sunset Boulevard. We had both seen it on our wonderful 19-inch, black-and-white television. This was a chance to see a restored print in a restored theater. Writer William Holden is found dead, floating in a swimming pool. The story plays out mostly in flashback.

Silent film star Gloria Swanson, appropriately plays a former silent film star and manages to chew up the scenery in a fabulous performance. A list of Hollywood notables make cameos, including H.B. Warner in the Paramount film, song writers Ray Evans and Jay Livingston (who wrote music for the movie), and Cecil B. DeMille. As Norma Desmond would famously say, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”


High Noon is everything a western should be. The town marshal is going to resign — on his wedding day — when bad news arrives. A dangerous outlaw is coming to town, and the new marshal has not yet arrived. The old marshal appears to be no match for the younger guy he had earlier put in jail. Gary Cooper distinguished himself as the sheriff willing to face down the bad guy even if it costs him his life. An A-List of Hollywood stars passed up the chance to make this movie for which Cooper won the Academy Award.

The movie genre that used black-and-white, light and shadows for maximum effect was (is) the detective story. The shine of a street light through a window that throws a shadow on the floor which contains the lines of the window frame and perhaps the detective’s name help to create the scene. Black-and-white emphasizes composition, shadow and light, contrast and mood in ways color can’t.

Top movie of this type is The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart chasing his partner’s killer and the elusive Maltese Falcon. It costars Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, both of whom will turn up a year later with Bogart in Casablanca. The ending has one of the dumbest movie speeches, but paradoxically, one of the great closing lines. Altogether, it’s a great movie.


Coming of Age
Films All Guys Should See


Since today is all about cell phones, somehow, this seemed the perfect companion to the fantastic, new iPhone 7 announcement!

Please visit Evil Squirrel’s Nest for lots more cool and usually hilarious stuff!!

See the rest of the story and other stories & comics: Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #225 – 8/18/16