A robot bartender chats to customers

The robot bartender says, “What will you have?”
The robot brings back his drink and asks, “What’s your IQ?”
“168” comes the smirking reply.
They then chat about physics, space exploration, and medical technology.

After the guy leaves he starts thinking about it. He goes back.

The robot says, “What’s your drink?”
The robot returns with his drink and asks, “What’s your IQ?”
“100” comes the modest reply.
They then chat about Formula One, Budweiser and TV shows.
He finishes his drink and leaves. He’s now fascinated and decides to
try again.

He enters the bar and, as usual, the robot asks him what he wants to drink.
The robot brings the drink and asks, “What’s your IQ?”
“50” comes the grunted reply.
The robot leans in real close and asks,


Ray H.

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Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Great Compromise 1962-3

The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

The USAs missiles in Turkey1958


The 1958 installation of missiles in Italy and Turkey provided compelling evidence, for the Soviets, of the USA’s malign intentions. Khrushchev resolved to remove the American missile threat to the USSR’s existence. The Cuban Revolution in 1959 provided an opportunity for a ‘reciprocal’ missile site adjacent to the USA. The USA’s attacks on Fidel Castro meant he was eager to cooperate with the USSR. A horrified President Kennedy flailed around hoping to avoid nuclear war. He finally accepted Khrushchev’s solution. That solution was the Great Compromise whereby both the USSR and the USA would dismantle their missile sites. Khrushchev provided Kennedy with a diplomatic coup by dismantling the Cuban site first and allowing the Italian-Turkish sites to be secretly dismantled. This gave Kennedy an enormous political victory as the West believed that the USSR were ‘climbing down’.

Eisenhower’s siting of missiles on the USSR’s doorstep happened, through a freak of political coincidence, immediately prior to Fidel Castro’s triumph in Cuba. The USA reacted to the overthrowing of the dictator Batista with assassination attempts; the Bay of Pigs (1961), being the most egregious. American regime-change attempts were farcical but demonstrated to Castro that Cuba needed a super-power ally. The Italian-Turkish missile crisis was manna from Heaven for Castro. Cuba is the geopolitical mirror image of the USA’s Italian-Turkish missile bases and Khrushchev made the obvious connexion.

Eisenhower’s decision became a military nightmare for Kennedy. Uniquely the USSR could have offensive nuclear weapons sited a few miles from the US mainland creating a tangible threat. Nuclear war was now a reality for the American population. A population who’d never suffered invasion or devastation and who believed that the Soviets were aggressive enemies.

In 1956 John Foster Dulles asserted the plausiblity of using nuclear weapons. His theory was that the USA’s nuclear weapons would, as a matter of fact, be used should the USA judge it to be appropriate. This policy is called brinkmanship. In October 1962 Kennedy wasn’t debating brinkmanship he was applying the concept in full view of the world. Military and diplomatic ‘hawks’ had the future of the world in their hands and both Kennedy and Khrushchev knew that the outcome could well reconfigure humanity itself.

In the brief period between the identification of the Cuban missile sites and the escalation of military action* both Kennedy and Khrushchev had to rationalise their use of nuclear weapons. The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction was well understood and both knew that an open-ended use of nuclear weapons would bring Armageddon. The intellectual seeds of compromise were born.

Both Kennedy and Khrushchev had direct experiences of war**, which informed and coloured their response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Perhaps their wartime experiences tempered their judgement? (Khrushchev had also survived the blood-soaked Stalinist Great Purges of the 1930s.) Both men had the emotional intelligence to understand the position of the other. Khrushchev understood and appreciated Kennedy’s political position. Both men had to face down hawkish advisors and both political heavyweights able to initiate and see through the Great Compromise.

The Great Compromise of 1962-3 was the two phase dismantling of the Cuban missile sites and, subsequently, the Italian-Turkish sites. Khrushchev dismantled the Cuban missile sites first. This provided a great political victory for Kennedy. A year later the Italian-Turkish missile sites were quietly dismantled, the deal was fulfilled and Khrushchev’s diplomacy was vindicated. Armageddon was avoided and the Cold War warriors were marginalised. This was a victory for men who had been tested in the cauldron of war over the shallow certainties of desk-warriors.

*July 1962- October 1962
** Recent- post 1992- presidents Clinton, Bush and Trump are commonly thought of as ‘draft dodgers’ as they pulled strings in order to avoid entering the US military. They are all bellicose and may well have reacted differently in 1962 if they had, hypothetically, been the principal decision-makers. The author of brinkmanship, John Foster Dulles, didn’t serve in the US armed forces either. Compare this
“All organizational structures tend to produce false images in the decision-maker, and that the larger and more authoritarian the organization, the better the chance that its top decision-makers will be operating in purely imaginary worlds”.





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Bob Dylan on the Beatles

When Paul McCartney played an acetate of “Tomorrow Never Knows” for Bob Dylan, Dylan’s response was “Oh, I get it. You don’t want to be cute anymore.”



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Character building explained

Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

Supreme Court Justice (USA) John Roberts Speaking to Year 9 pupils



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A safety briefing by a budget airline

“We crash, we die,” said the pilot. “That gets the safety briefing out of the way.”

Stephen Leather Hot Blood

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Six years ago a nice elderly couple moved into our tower block opposite our flat. I was quite pleased as it meant we would probably have neighbours who wouldn’t cause any nuisance, with loud music or have weird young yobs as friends visiting our fifth floor landing. For the first three or four years that nice old couple kept themselves to themselves, coming and going as people do. Later, their adult son moved in with them, as the couple were experiencing difficulties with their day to day living. His mother wasn’t so mobile, or astute as she used to be. Her husband was showing serious signs of mental problems. Forgetfulness, and confusion were apparent, in his behaviour. Then he started  drawing large amounts of money from their account and couldn’t recall what he had done with the cash.

Mum took to using a wheelchair, pushed by her son, whilst his father opted to go for long walks by himself. He was fine except he couldn’t always remember where he was or where he started from. A number of times his son had to go and collect him from various police stations. There were other occasions when his dad started trying to enter the flats above and below his, simply because he was so confused, having forgotten where he lived. The son and his mother began to get exasperated, when neighbours knocked at their door returning him, to his home. Over time, exasperation turned to resentment. He became despised and resented by both his wife and son. In turn they became strangers who he discovered in his home.

“He’s the daft old bugger” his family called him. “They have buggered off somewhere” he would complain, “don’t know where they have gone and I don’t care if they don’t come back”. Things have gotten so bad now that recently they left him alone and he decided he’d make himself a cup of tea. He filled the kettle alright, but then forgot to boil the water and worse forgot to turn off the tap at the sink. He then went to bed as he thought he’d been up for hours. As a consequence all the flats below his were flooded with water pouring through their ceilings. When his wife and son returned from their short shopping trip, they were livid to discover a flooded kitchen.

“This is the last straw” the son told me, “tomorrow I’m putting that daft old bugger, in the care of Social Service’s I can’t take it anymore, it’s like living with a zombie, everything I tell him goes in one ear and out of the other. I’m fearful that he will really hurt himself or others by his stupidity”. I thought that was harsh, but understandable. The son had moved from his own home, to come and live with his parents again whilst they were facing such profound problems. He was at the end of his tether and might even attack or hurt his own father, who, couldn’t was suffering from a horrific illness. He took his dad to the doctors, and explained how difficult it had all become and he wanted a test to find out how bad his father really was. The doctor drew a circular clock face on a piece of paper and asked the dad to draw to hands on the paper clock face, to show the clock as a quarter to eleven. However, instead of drawing roughly two lines on the paper, the dad drew his own version of two winged butterflies or angels.

The true suffering Alzheimer’s can cause to individuals and their families it is horrific and there aren’t any easy solutions. Social Services do deal with it by using care homes. But that is a massive problem. On the one hand the people are in a place of safety and their relatives aren’t on tenterhooks all the time but those with Alzheimer’s are totally confused and lost. Tough decisions have to be made for everyone’s sake.


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Book Review: Stephen Leather Cold Kill

Cold Kill is the third Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd novel where he imperceptibly shades from being an undercover police officer into an assassin. His journey begins when he goes undercover to penetrate a people smuggling group who turn out to be also importing counterfeit euros (from north Korea of all places). The owners of a bureau de change launder counterfeit euros and have suborned a Passport official to issue legitimate, but false, passports. Here is the connexion with the war-on-terror and the USA. Leather’s novel employs brutal and graphic sadism to illustrate the importance of the ‘means justifying the ends’ done by the USA but with the compliance of MI6.

Why you should read this novel: It’s a fast page turning novel with genuine thrills and plausible sub-plots.

Why you shouldn’t read this novel: It relishes sadism and shoot to kill with enthusiasm.

Buy it at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_9?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=cold+kill+stephen+leather&sprefix=cold+kill%2Caps%2C154&crid=251AXIFFPEKU8


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