Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notes on the News

Leah Garchik's column in the San Francisco Chronicle reports this tidbit from the Democratic Convention in Denver:
Scattered Denver observations from Noah Griffin, veteran of seven previous conventions: He's never seen such a police presence ... helmeted, on horseback, hanging on the running boards of humvee-like vehicles in full riot gear." They're nice to delegates, but "they surround the bull-horned protesters in a massive show of force."
Sounds as though we learned something from the Beijing Olympics, but I'm not sure it's the right lesson. Whatever happened to the First Amendment? At least we don't seem to have sent anyone to a re-education camp for requesting permission to protest.

And Jon Carroll of the same paper has a column on resentment, related to bicycles, that is worth reading. In my neighborhood there's been a great deal of concern over bicyclists, riding on the sidewalk, running red lights. Pedestrians (including, once or twice, me) feel threatened. Bicyclists feel unjustly accused. In their defense, this neighborhood has very narrow streets and no bike lanes. Speaking for the prosecution, I see them run lights and stop signs all the time.

I'd like everybody to memorize this column. I particularly like this remark:
Inferred arrogance is a way of enabling bad behavior. He's being a jerk, so I can be a jerk."
Why is that a good thing? The last thing any of us needs is more jerks around, even if it's us. Especially if it's us.

Lunch in the Yard

I like to eat lunch in the yard when it's warm enough; this is one of the rewards of retirement. It's certainly warm enough today - the Google weather gadget says 92 degrees, although that's probably at the airport with all the concrete. To show you why I like to have lunch in the yard, here's what I see when I sit under the patio umbrella:

It's a small green jungle out there, and very pleasant.

This week, though, it's a little less pleasant than usual, and not because of the heat. Earlier this week we had a nocturnal visit from one of the local skunks.

I don't know what pissed the skunk off, but pissed he was, and he sprayed our driveway thoroughly, just around the corner of the house from the garden. This was I think Monday night, 3 days ago - I remember getting up in the middle of the night and thinking, "What is that smell??" I actually went downstairs to see if anything seemed to be smouldering; nothing but the smell. The next morning Jim went out and reported that it seemed to be strongest right next to our neighbor's chimney base, so that was the scene of whatever happened.

So we have an experiment in progress - how long does it take a full skunk spray to wear off?? Believe me - 3 days is not enough.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Causal Dynamical Triangulations

What? You ask. Say what? And well you might. But this is the working description of the most exciting cosmological theory I've read about in probably twenty years. It was written up in the July 2008 Scientific American and you can find the article here, entitled The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe.

I began to try to summarize it; and realized that I don't know enough about it to do it justice. Read the article yourself - it's surprisingly accessible - but here's what excites me about it:

I read cosmology and quantum physics articles as a challenge. I don't understand the math; I want to see if I can read the words and get a feel for what they're talking about. I have a general feel for quantum theory - the broad concept that any entity from an atom to the universe exists in what they call "superposition", which means that it "exists" in all possible states simultaneously, and only "collapses" into a single state when you measure it. (I told you this wasn't my world.) But quantum theories don't explain gravity and never really have.

Increasingly expansive attempts to develop a "theory of everything" (including gravity) have postulated ever-increasing crowds of elementary particles (quarks, gluons, etc.) and even minuscule vibrating "strings" - and the theories based on these predict universes that exist in dozens of dimensions, all so small they can't be detected. Nothing they predict resembles anything you can see when you look around, or point a telescope at the universe. And their theories are so complicated they require massive supercomputers to work out the mathematics of the simulations. Frankly, they've never made any sense to me; and they've always made me think of the epicycles that medieval philosophers developed, to explain why their increasingly precise measurements of planetary motion didn't match what the Ptolemaic theory predicted.

It's probably too much to suggest that this team of
scientists - a Dane, a Pole, and a German - is the equivalent of Copernicus and his heliocentrism. For one thing, I doubt anyone will actually burn at the stake for advocating their theory. But the theory, which they call causal dynamical triangulations, has a number of points in common with Copernicus':
  • It's based on a few simple assumptions, using only very basic quantum principles.
  • The calculations are simple enough that they can do their simulations on a laptop. (Keep in mind that today's laptops have a lot of computing horsepower!)
  • What it predicts looks remarkably like what we see.
  • When they change details in their simulations, the results barely change at all.
What made me sit up and shout, "Yes!" when I read it was the basis of their theory: causality. They assume that "events occur in a specific temporal sequence of cause and effect, rather than as a haphazard jumble." Also, "the distinction between cause and effect is fundamental to nature, rather than a derived property."

All cosmological theories assume basic building blocks, which have certain properties. In the authors' theory, each triangular building block is assigned an arrow of time, pointing from past to future; and the rules governing gluing building blocks together require that their arrows of time point in the same direction. The spacetime this predicts looks like the four-dimensional spacetime we live in, and conforms to the predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity (which has never been disproved). I was actually reminded of the computer game "Life", where you define a starting state and a fairly simple set of rules, and let the program run to produce a world.

Additionally, as far as the authors can tell to date, the universe predicted by this theory is fractal - that is, it looks the same at any scale, as far down as one can measure. I don't know why this appeals to me, except that as far as I can tell, the living universe tends to be fractal.

I don't know if this will appeal to anyone else the way it did to me, but it fascinated me and I had to share it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Road Food

NB: I actually began this post at the beginning of July and got distracted; so here it is in full.

Dining on the road is always an adventure, and a risk. When we're on the road, we always get too much salt, and usually too much fat, compared to what we cook at home. Neither of us can stand the chain restaurants any more, so our solution while traveling is to ask the B&B host, or the desk girl at the motel, for a local restaurant they like. This produces mixed results, although on this trip we never had to resort to a chain.

The awful meals, at least for my husband, began in Elko, Nevada. I've concluded that Elko is just not a good place for Jim to eat; on an earlier occasion he got actual food poisoning, on this pass he merely got a tough, fatty steak full of gristle. The desk girl at the motel had referred us to the restaurant in the casino down the road, saying it was, "Pretty good." I guess it depends on what else there is. I've learned that I do better, eating on the road, if I order some kind of salad with chicken in it, and dressing on the side; I did that, and it wasn't bad.

Our next memorable meal was in Wendover, where we stopped for lunch before crossing the salt flats. We had a choice of casinos to eat in and not much else; so we picked the Peppermill.

It was like eating inside a pinball machine. Because of the slots, it sounded like a pinball machine; and of course, in standard casino mode it had no windows. What it did have were mirrored black glass interior walls, accented at unpredictable spots by neon tube lighting, reflecting off all the other black mirrors. You literally could not tell where the walls were, or the ceiling. And on the walls, where you'd expect paintings or posters, they had frames with live action video loops of various scenes. The food wasn't bad as the joint in Elko, but the ambience was surreal. I went to U.C. Berkeley in the '60s with some people who would have paid serious money to get stoned inside that place.

We fought our way through Salt Lake City commute traffic to Brigham City, where we gave up and found a motel. The desk girl referred us to Maddox's Fine Food, down the road in Perry, and we ended up getting probably the best "American home cooking" I've ever had in a restaurant. My diary reads: "Bison and local open range beef, Idaho trout (Yum!), fresh homebaked everything (rolls, cornbread fingers, pie), two kinds of homebrewed root beer, birch and sarsparilla" (this is Utah - coffee and tea were not offered). It was a family owned place, and full of families, we were almost the only table that didn't have at least 3 generations and 3 children. "Local open range beef" means the slaughterhouse was at the bottom of the hill. Honest, it's almost worth driving to Utah to eat there; and if you're in the vicinity, it's absolutely worth a detour.

In Paris, Idaho, the next day, we stopped at "the local place." Paris is a few blocks strewn along the main highway toward the Tetons, and this little joint was right across the street from the (really impressive) Mormon Tabernacle, which we toured. I'm always interested to try the local place, but it's a crapshoot, and Jim rolled snake eyes. I had a hamburger, which was edible, but he decided to try the specialty of the house, which was chicken with something they called "Huckleberry fire surprise." I didn't try it; but he reported that it was simply awful, and didn't finish it.

Once we got into Yellowstone, our dining options became severely limited. You can't just drop in and eat at the restaurant in any of the hotels because they book 24 hours in advance; and you're at least 2 hours (on relatively bad roads) from anywhere else. So the first thing you do after checking in is book all the nights you want to eat there. We stayed 5 nights, and we ate at Yellowstone Lake twice and Old Faithful twice, and the first night we walked over to the gift shop and ate fast food at the lunch counter because it was the only thing that didn't require reservations.

I'd say we batted 500 in Yellowstone. Our first formal meal was at the Old Faithful Inn, and I've described the snowstorm that enlivened that evening in another post. The food at Old Faithful was good, but I couldn't focus on it because I was wondering how we'd get back to sleep. It didn't help that we'd gotten lost in the Old Faithful grounds and spent most of 45 minutes walking around in a snowstorm. But the food was OK. The next night, though, we had reservations at Yellowstone Lake Hotel, and we returned in late afternoon to find that the power was out. The story at the desk was that they had blown a transformer. I've described that meal elsewhere also; it really was one of the worst meals I've ever had.

Apart from those harrowing incidents, the food in Yellowstone was quite good, and the breakfast buffet was reliable if a little heavy on the fat. Eventually we set out for Bozeman and then Missoula, and on to Glacier. One of the things we no longer do when we're traveling is eat lunch in restaurants; Paris, Idaho was an aberration (and the exception that proves the rule!). We get bread, and almonds or cheese, and fruit, and we just eat that by the road somewhere.

From Bozeman onward I found myself eating cayenne pepper in various dishes that hadn't said they contained it. In fact, in Bozeman, Jim and I actually switched dinners. I really can't eat a dish with too much pepper. In Missoula we had a dubious deli meal in a little semi-vegetarian grocery, mostly fascinating for the meeting of a local non-profit board at the next table, discussing where they were going to get volunteers and how they could meet the city council's funding deadline. The next night we went to a restaurant at a golf course, notable for a fabulous view of the valley and a clientele whose average age we lowered by at least a decade. Food was OK.

Many Glaciers Lodge is like the hotels in Yellowstone: if you're there, you eat there, because that's all there is. I suppose we could have driven in to Babb and eaten at the Cattle Baron Supper Club, just outside the park boundary; but we didn't. The food at Many Glaciers is just so-so; you go for the view, not the food. The Yellowstone hotels set a higher standard on food. As part of our bus tour, we had a very nice lunch at one of the commercial lodges on the Blackfoot reservation.

Coming home, we stopped for the night in Sandpoint, Idaho, and there we stumbled into a world-class meal at the Sand Creek Grill, right on the lake - a restaurant in the style of Alice Waters, with fresh local everything.

Our greatest disappointment was the Columbia Gorge Hotel, in Hood River. We stayed there a few years ago and had wonderful food (if the 7 course breakfast was a little much) and fabulous service, in a legacy luxury hotel. So we stayed there again and found that someone is building "Columbia Gorge" condos on the lot next door, the excellent service has disappeared, and there are huge flat-panel TVs in every room except the dining room, including the lounge, which last time had a talented singer/comedian doing live entertainment. Now they have ESPN. The room drains were stopped up and they couldn't unstop them. And the experienced serving staff in the restaurant had been replaced by beautiful boys who can't handle a complicated order, and can't tell skim milk from 1% (and don't realize that the customer can). Sic transit gloria mundi. They still have their views, but they won't have their reputation very long at this rate.

They were so bad that we chose to find another restaurant for our last dinner in town. That was my next unexpected encounter with cayenne pepper, which the restaurant, the Stonehedge Gardens, chose to put in the house salad dressing. I complained about it and they just said, "Oh, we always do that." They advertise as a high-end restaurant, but all I remember about them is that they put too much pepper in the salad dressing and didn't give me a choice.

Our last stop was at our old friend, the Wolf Creek Inn. It's a restored stage stop near Grants Pass, Oregon, run by the Oregon Parks Dept., with about 8 rooms; and the food was reliable and excellent as always. My only problem with the Wolf Creek Inn isn't food - when they built that enclosed staircase to the second floor, suitcases were smaller than they are now...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Bag Lady

After my last post on retirement, I had that exchange with my husband again, the one where he says, "The finances really are all right, you don't need to worry about the money." Except, of course, that I do worry. I don't obsess over it, but I think over purchases more carefully than I did when I had a salary, and I look for bargains.

I think this is a female thing, and it has to do with the 77 cents on the dollar
that women make (according to the National Committee on Pay Equity in 2006), as opposed to men. I've been married (and bringing in a good salary) for 22 years, and we've built a solid retirement fund; but before that I was single for 10 years, and I wasn't making anything like enough money to fund a reasonable retirement, even when I could put anything away. I was a professional woman, too, with an advanced degree in my field; but the field was library work, which isn't an area that generates the astronomical salaries that, say, investment bankers get. Or even computer programmers; in fact, that's one of the reasons I changed careers and went into data processing. I could make more money there; and I did.

I will bet that every woman who's ever had to earn a living on her own has this niggly little voice somewhere in the back of her mind - not always very far back, either. I call it "the Bag Lady" - it pipes up and says, "You're going to run out of money. You'll be old and sick and broke, and you'll have to push what's left of your belongings down the street in a shopping cart." I have to deal with the Bag Lady every time I make a big purchase - I bought a digital camera recently, and I had to stifle her to do it.

I really don't obsess over this much. But it's there, in the back of my mind, and I regularly have to shove it down and latch the lid. Because it is true, especially after 7 years of neoconservatives in charge and twenty years of globalization, that what used to be a fairly reasonable safety net has more holes than a pair of fishnet stockings; in this day and age, if you haven't saved it up yourself, you're out of luck. I may have gotten this from my parents, who lived through the original Depression, before there was any safety net at all.

FDR built the New Deal on the principle that we're all in this together, and in a country this rich it's ridiculous to let people starve just because of misfortune. That's always seemed to me to be a reasonable approach; I don't understand why the neocons don't get it. Maybe they don't think that "There but for the grace of God, go I" applies to them.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Retirement Reconsidered

It's been just over a year since I retired, and I thought I'd do a little stocktaking. Where have I come in this year?

Well, one thing I've done is to successfully build a new web site, on new software, for LifeRing Press, the online bookstore for LifeRing Secular Recovery. It went live a week ago and seems to be doing fine, although I had one or two minor tweaks to do. I'm really proud of this. It took me most of 8 months, much of which was spent figuring out what I was doing, and trying to understand whether the things that weren't working were actual problems with the software or just my ignorance. I now know a lot more about PHP than I did when I started, also a lot more about CSS - I'm about confident enough with CSS to start playing with it on my own web site. I've also been polishing up the Oakland Symphony Chorus' web site.

Is that all? Have I just been sitting around geeking away? Well, no. I'm on 2 volunteer boards, and I attend those meetings, and do stuff for that. I still blog - I may actually have a little more time for that, now that the LifeRing site is up.

I spent some time last spring volunteering with Girls, Inc. - I turned up once a week at a local elementary school and acted as an aide to the Girls, Inc. staffer who ran the meetings. This is to encourage girls to be interested in science and math, and to realize that they can do it and enjoy it. It was interesting but kind of truncated - I was only there 6 weeks, and by the time I left I had just about learned most of the girls' names. I'm still deciding whether I want to do it again in the fall and go for a whole year. I'd like to have some regular human contact, but I'm not sure whether 10 year old girls are the humans I had in mind.

Am I sorry I retired? Well, no and yes. No, because I love not having to get up in the morning, and I love not having to be in the same place at the same time every day. I certainly don't miss the endless conference calls! I've gotten to the point that I don't even want to take a Pilates class because it requires me to go at the same time every week; I like my loose schedule. Yes, because I miss the camaraderie of a large office (see note above about human contact); yes also because I miss the income. We planned this all carefully, and I bought into the plans; but the economy over the last year or so has been a scary time to be depending on investments (though my husband is still working). I keep telling myself that what goes down eventually comes back up.

What I really like is that I'm not locked into anything (unless I agree to take on a project). I can choose to go visit my sister. I can choose to spend the afternoon loafing, or blogging; or organizing the 17 rolls of film I shot in Yellowstone and Glacier in June. I can choose to go to San Francisco and tour a museum show with an old friend (now also retired). So on the whole, I'd say retirement is going pretty well for me. We'll see where I am next year.


The more I look at the situation in Georgia, the worse it looks. It looks distressingly as though Russia is setting itself up to take over the country: they've destroyed the main cross-country rail line, they're encamped on the major east-west highway, they're 20 miles from the capital. And all this despite the fact that they say they've withdrawn and are observing the brokered ceasefire.

The Economist this week has an excellent briefing article on the situation, The scripted war, which I highly recommend, it gives detailed background on how this all came to be.

And the real problem is: if Russia chooses to go in and take over, and ignore all the remonstrations from the U.S. and the E.U., there's no way to stop them, short of open war. And nobody wants open war with Russia.

The Economist's recommendations run to economic sanctions and public shaming. I hope they work. I hope someone tries them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Health Care

I started to write this earlier today and then my Internet connection died... but it's important enough to come back to, now the bytes are byting again.

The hot story in California this morning the request, from the court appointed overseer of the state prison health care system, for $8 billion dollars over the next 5 years to build new facilities. He wants almost half ($3.1 billion) this year, which would bring the budget gap to $20 billion. The argument is that health care in California's prison system is so bad that it violates prisoners' constitutional rights.

There's a constitutional right to health care? Where did that come from? And can I get some?

Don't get me wrong. I actually agree with the court that California's prison system is broken and should be fixed (well, I really think it should be downsized by about half, at which point the existing facilities would be adequate). And I buy the court's argument that, having locked these people up so they can't take any action on their own about their health, we've assumed the responsibility to maintain it for them - which we are shirking.

But a constitutional right to health care: how about that as the basis for a single-payer system? Hmm?

I also liked this quote:
"I think it's a sad day for California taxpayers when we're talking about health care improvements for convicted prisoners when hard-working, law-abiding folks are having trouble finding affordable health care for themselves and their families," said Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines of Clovis (Fresno County). "It just shows how one is so out of touch with reality."
Mr. Villines is right; it is a sad day for California taxpayers when hard-working, law-abiding folks are having trouble finding affordable health care. Let's apply some of those constitutional rights to them, shall we?

Or we could just continue our existing attitude, which is that, since we're not willing to provide health care for our hard-working, law-abiding folks (and we aren't), we shouldn't even try to provide it for the people we've locked up in prison. Let 'em die, and "decrease the surplus population."

I'm sure Mr. Villines would agree.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Invading Georgia

I hope not, but it sure looks like here we go again. I'm not sure what was in any of these people's minds, but there are several mistaken assumptions floating around.

Mistaken assumption 1: Mikhail Saakashvili, the Georgian president, assumed that if he invaded South Ossetia, Russia would not respond in force.

I have to admit, the scale of the Russian response is pretty startling - they seem to be throwing the whole army across that border, and from what I hear on the news, they aren't staying in South Ossetia. They're in Georgian territory, and in force. Are they trying to take Georgia back?? They say not; I'm not sure I believe them. Vladimir Putin would love to be the man who brought Georgia "back into" Russia; and if he succeeds at it, Ukraine is probably next.

Mistaken assumption 2: Russia having responded, Saakashvili assumed that Western countries (maybe NATO, which he's trying to join) will support him in some way.

I don't know why he thinks that. Is "the West" intervening in Darfur? In Tibet? Did it intervene in southern Sudan, during a civil war that ran for (I think) 20 years? Did it intervene in Rwanda, or in Congo? "The West" intervened in the Balkans for exactly one reason: the United States President at that time was Bill Clinton, who was willing to throw U.S. forces into the game, and who had both international cred and the forces to throw in.

The U.S. has just made the usual critical statements about the Georgian situation, but I'm sorry, remonstrances about invading sovereign nations just don't have the force from George W. Bush that they had from Bill Clinton. Not to mention that the U.S. military is tied by the leg in Iraq and Afghanistan, and simply doesn't have the forces to divert; and the entire world, including Russia, knows this.


It's always a pleasure to finish something you've been building, try it out, and have it work the first time. (Given the amount of testing I did on the thing, "the first time" is a little misleading here.)

For the last 7-8 months, I've been rebuilding a web site - the bookstore at the site, which is the eCommerce arm of LifeRing Secular Recovery. This is the group that has helped my husband stay clean and sober; and the web site sells their small list of publications, and is one of their sources of income. The organization wanted to move it to a different hosting company and to a different "platform" (different set of management tools) - so instead of just calling the new hosting company and saying, haul it over (which takes about 3 days), I had to rebuild it from scratch using a new set of tools (ZenCart, an open source shopping cart) to make it do all the things it used to do.

Last Friday, I renamed it and "brought it live" - until then, people going to went to the old site. Now it's up and running and working, and I'm astoundingly pleased with myself. We toasted my success in Calistoga water, Saturday night. I've learned a great deal, and enjoyed it; but I was really spending a lot of time on it (one reason I've been blogging less), and I keep reminding myself, I don't have to work on the web site today... (Don't worry, I'll find something else to do.)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More Questions

I've now read the government's case against Dr. Bruce Ivins. I read it carefully. I also listened to his attorney discussing some of the holes in the case. I think they blew it. I don't think they could have proved that case beyond a reasonable doubt, with any kind of a competent defense attorney bringing up the unanswered questions. They say they're convinced that he sent the anthrax letters. They haven't convinced me; not beyond a reasonable doubt.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mrs. Grundy

Katherine Parker of the Washington Post had an excellent column today, printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, in which she deplores the tendency of the blogosphere (of which I am a humble member, although I hope I don't act like this) to wallow in unsubstantiated gossip about public figures, which isn't printed in the "mainstream media" precisely because it is unsubstantiated. It's worth reading, and it contained a wonderful story about Mrs. Brown and Mrs. MacQueen:

When I was a little girl, my best friend was Mrs. Brown, a 65-year-old widow who lived on the corner across the street. Several times a week, I joined Mrs. Brown for lunch. She always ate the same thing: a hamburger patty, a scoop of cottage cheese, two slices of tomato with pepper, and a cup of hot tea with lemon.

One day, Mrs. Brown veered from course and also ate a slice of pecan pie. No sooner had she taken her last bite than her telephone rang. It was Mrs. MacQueen, another widow who lived on the opposite corner: "I saw you eat that piece of pie," she said.

Mrs. Brown and I were both horrified, even though I knew that Mrs. Brown also watched Mrs. MacQueen's every move from her own dining room window. They gossiped incessantly about one another. Heaven forbid, one should have had a night visitor.

Or that either had been a blogger.

This story reminded me of a bit of doggerel I'd like to share, which John Dickson Carr once included in one of his detective stories; his character was talking about English society but I think it applies here:
They eat and drink and scheme and plod,
And go to church on Sunday,
And many are afraid of God,
But more of Mrs. Grundy.
Mrs. Brown and Mrs. MacQueen, meet Mrs. Grundy.


Today's uneasy question is: did Dr. Bruce Ivins kill himself because he was guilty of sending anthrax-laced letters in 2001 and he thought the FBI was onto him, or did the FBI hound an innocent man into suicide?

Now that he's dead, we'll probably never know. The FBI's record in this affair isn't distinguished; they spent years trying to convict Steven Hatfill of the same crime, only to have him sue them for violating his rights by talking to reporters; they just settled that case for $5.82 million dollars. How good was their evidence against Dr. Ivins? The accounts I've read, from the NPR main site, suggest that the FBI was at least a couple of weeks away from any indictments, and still had several witnesses to take before the grand jury. So we don't know whether they could have gotten an indictment at all.

Dr. Ivins' therapist tells a hair raising tale of an unbalanced man who ranted about killing people and threatened her to the point that she asked for, and got, a restraining order against him. But he applied for and got a security clearance, after the 2001 attacks tightened security everywhere.

His colleagues at Fort Detrick say they don't believe the accusations. They do say he was deeply upset at the way the FBI had been questioning him, questioning his wife and children, staking out his house. He "just couldn't get past the fact that the FBI suspected him."

Here was a 62 year old man - my age, by the way - with a 30 year career at Fort Detrick and no incidents on his record that I've seen mentioned. And he thinks he's about to be indicted for a major public crime, bioterrorism. Let's assume for the moment that he was innocent - may he simply have been unable to contemplate the prospect of seeing any good work he'd ever done overshadowed by a public trial? How do you prove you didn't do something? It's very hard - that's why, in our legal system, the defendant doesn't have to prove anything. The prosecution have to prove guilt. But Dr. Ivins must have known that some people always assume "where there's smoke, there's fire," and, "they wouldn't have accused him without proof" - even if there wasn't really any proof. And what about the money to defend such a case? It would have cost tens, maybe hundreds of thousands - taking all his hope of a peaceful retirement with it. It would have destroyed his life - even if it was false.

As I said - he's dead now, and we'll probably never know.

Just remember: the FBI acts in our name. As Pogo once said, we have met the enemy, and he is us.