Pickstone Origins

Stone mound nr Cado NW France

The Pickstones are a very ancient family but we were not always called Picksone.

We originated somewhere in what is now north western France. Our family, or more properly our tribe, were stone gatherers. We gathered stones and arranged them in shapes considered pleasing to the Gods. We were not druids yet we worked closely with druids because our stone arrangements were used by them in religious festivals.

No one is entirely sure when we came to Britain but our family legend has it that we came to take part in the stone gathering for what was to become stonehenge. Our family at that time was called Ramasspiere which may be roughly translated as stone harvester. We stayed in Britain for centuries after the stonehenge job was completed.

We settled in Angelsy and prospered there until many of us were wiped out by the Romans. Some of us survived the Romans and as the centuries passed our name slowly evolved from Stoneharvester to Stonepicker until it eventually became Pickstone sometime in the 13th century.

Stone circles were out of fashion in medieval England so we diversified into other stonework and became founding members of the free masons. We returned to our origins in 1917 when daylight saving was introduced. Daylight saving requires that all clocks be adjusted by one hour. This is simple enough for modern 20th century clocks but it is a major undertaking for stone clocks such as stonehenge. The circle of stones must be rotated to maintain accurate celestial alignment. Who better to accomplish this painstaking task than the ancient order of Pickstones.

My great grandfather Obelix was the first of the Pickstones to hold the title of Grand Master of the Stones. Each year until his death in 1941, Grand Master Obelix would supervise the shifting of the stones to their precisely surveyed new positions. My Grandfather continued the tradition and he was followed as Grand Master of the Stones by my uncle Obelix. The job of Grandmaster of the Stones is largely ceremonial these days because GPS coupled with 3D predictive modeling has made the work child’s play.

An interesting footnot to my families history occurred when an engineer in Anthem consulted with my uncle Obelix on the finer points of stone and sun alignment for a memorial to be built in that town.

Anatomy of a Lie

Trump has said so many things that appear to be false, from the trivia of his inauguration crowd size to a very serious accusation of criminal activity on the part of President Obama.

Is Donald Trump a liar? Is The President of The United States of America delusional? Does he have deep insights beyond the ken of other mere mortals? Or is he just a lucky fool hitherto protected from the consequences of his own foolishness by immense inherited wealth?

This is a detailed time-line, with supporting links, of just one of his lies/delusions/deep insights.

A time line of the wire tapping saga with acknowledgement to an original story from ABC News by Veronica Stracqualursi and Adam Kelsey Mar 20, 2017

March 04 2017
Trump fired off a tweet from his Mar-a-Lago estate accusing Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower in New York during the election.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
7:35 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Trump then followed up with three more tweets, comparing the allegations to President Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
7:49 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
7:52 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
8:02 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Comment: These tweets are more than likely complete twaddle and that conclusion was more or less obvious on the day they were sent. Here’s why.

March 05 2017
FBI Director James Comey asked the Department of Justice to publicly rebut Trump’s allegations out of concern that the president’s tweets might make it look as though the bureau acted improperly.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced in a statement that Trump requested that congressional intelligence committees “determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016” as part of their investigations of Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election.

March 06 2017
Former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said that “there was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the National Intelligence Community … including the FBI.”

Sean Spicer said in an audio-only gaggle: “I think that there’s no question that something happened. The question is, is it surveillance, is it a wiretap, or whatever?”

When asked for clarification about whether Trump believed the FBI or Obama committed criminal acts in a potential pursuit of surveillance, as well as the appropriateness of the sitting president making such a public charge, Spicer repeatedly said that Trump’s tweets “speak for themselves.”

Comment: Spicer later explained that ” wire tapping”  does not necessarily mean “wiretapping

March 07 2017
Another White House press briefing led to questions about the promised investigation into the claims and Comey’s reported request made in private that the Justice Department publicly shoot down Trump’s claims.

Spicer said that “the president has not” asked Comey whether he was wiretapped and stands by his March 5 statement on the direction of the inquiry, saying, “I think the smartest and most deliberative way to address this situation is to ask the House and Senate intelligence committees who are already in the process of looking into this.”

The press secretary was also asked whether Trump has “any regrets” about making the accusation.

“No,” Spicer said, “Absolutely not.”

March 10 2017
The House Intelligence Committee formally requested that the Justice Department turn over any documentary evidence, including applications, orders or warrants, by Monday, March 13. This deadline would later be extended to March 20.

March 12 2017
In answer to a direct question: “Do you know whether Trump Tower was wire tapped?” Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway went on to say. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways — and microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.”

March 13 2017
Spicer launched a defense of Trump’s tweets centered around punctuation, calling attention, in the day’s press briefing, to the quotation marks employed by the president.

“I think if you look at the president’s tweet, he said very clearly “wiretapping” in quotes,” Spicer said, indicating that Trump meant the word as a reference to overall reconnaissance.

“The president was very clear in his tweet that it was wiretapping, that that spans a whole host of surveillance types of options,” Spicer said.

Two out of Trump’s four tweets on the subject do not include the quotation marks, however, and he specifically refers to his “phones” in one.

Spicer also cautioned the media about reading too literally into the claim of Obama’s involvement:

“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally.”

The Department of Justice also asked for more time in meeting the House Intelligence Committee’s request for evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claim. The committee set the new deadline for before their March 20 hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election.

March 14 2017
In light of the fact that the DOJ was given an additional week to gather evidence on surveillance, reporters continue to ask Spicer whether Trump feels assured in his position.

“I think he feels very confident that it will ultimately come to this — will vindicate him,” Spicer said during the press briefing.

Fox News segment aired in which legal commentator and Fox News regular Andrew Napolitano accuses the British GCHQ of spying on Trump for President Obama.

Comment: Napolitano’s accusations were subsequently disowned by FOX News and Napolitano himself was eventually suspended from FOX.

March 15 2017

The House Intelligence Committee leaders announced they didn’t find any evidence that Trump’s Manhattan office was wiretapped by Obama.

“We don’t have any evidence that that took place … I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif alongside Democratic ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff of California  during a Capitol Hill news conference .

Nunes also said it depends on whether you interpret Trump’s tweets literally.

“I think the challenge here is that President Obama wouldn’t physically go over and wiretap Trump Tower,” Nunes said. “So now you have to decide … are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong.”

Nunes continued, “But if you’re not going to take the tweets literally, and if there’s a concern that the president has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out.”

In an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday night, Trump commented for the first time on the wiretapping allegations.

Trump explained that his claims originated from “reading about things” and news reports. He pointed to a New York Times article and a Fox News segment, though neither reports that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

When asked why he didn’t reach out to intelligence agencies to verify his claims, Trump said he didn’t “want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.”

He added, “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

March 16 2017
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders — Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. — released a joint statement: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”

Spicer defended Trump during the press briefing and said the Congressional intelligence committees’ statements were not based on investigative work.

“They’re not findings. There’s a statement out today they have not begun this,” Spicer said. “Two days ago the Department of Justice asked for an additional week. The statement clearly says at this time that they don’t believe that.”

Spicer also launched into a lengthy explanation, citing various news reports that inspired Trump’s March 4 tweets and Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano’s suggestion that Obama used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters to spy on Trump.

“The bipartisan leaders of the Intelligence Committee would not have made the statement they made without having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities,” Sen. Warner’s spokeswoman fired back at Spicer in a statement after the press briefing.
March 17 2017
The Justice Department announced it was complying with the Intelligence and Justice Committees’ requests for information on surveillance efforts, but did not provide detail on the extent of the information.

Word of the Justice Department’s actions came just as Trump was holding a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he was asked by German media about the claims.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said of Merkel, referring to the revelation first reported in 2013 by a German news magazine that a document apparently from a U.S. National Security Agency database indicated Merkel’s cellphone was first listed as a target in 2002.

March 20 2017
FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that he had “no information that supports those tweets” alleging that Obama wiretapped Trump, adding that the Department of Justice asked him to convey that it also does not have any supporting information.

“I’m not going to try and characterize the tweets themselves,” he said. “All I can tell you is we have no information that supports them.”

Comey went on to describe the procedures that must be followed for any surveillance to be approved.

“No individual in the United States can direct electronic surveillance of anyone,” he said, saying “no President could” unilaterally order a wiretap. “It has to go through an application process, ask a judge. The judge can then make the order.”


Genius Required?

Puzzles regularly appear on my time line in the form of a series of equations which purport to require a genius for their solution. Click here for one such puzzle

Despite the claims made by  whoever prepares these graphics, “that only a genius could solve them”,  the puzzles are typically trivial and would barely tax the abilities of an 11 year old in a high school maths class.

These puzzles invariably take me back more than forty years to a maths class I attended as a first year undergraduate student in Liverpool in 1969. The lecturer recounted a tale about a maths question, originally posed in an English eleven plus examination and subsequently put to Cambridge University mathematics undergraduates. According to the story the eleven year old kids had little difficulty but  none of the elite maths undergrads was able to answer the  question correctly.

Here is the question: what is the next number in the following series: 1/4, 1/2, 1, 3, 6.

I was the only one in my 1969 undergraduate class to get the correct answer, on the other hand I failed the 11+ exam.

Here is a clue: RTFQIHTFA

Let me know your proposed solutions to the puzzle ?

NOTE: the 11+ was an exam taken by British junior school kids to determine if they were smart enough to go to Grammar school or not*.  

*I wasn’t considered smart enough

Trump “Tapp” Twaddle

Trump’s “Tapp” Tweet is Twaddle

Shamelessly plagiarized from Huff post article 03/08/2017
Written by Andy Ostroy.


Let’s assess the reasons why President Trump’s incendiary accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign is absolute twaddle:

1. We assume Trump has evidence because if he doesn’t then he’s just committed an unconscionable, possibly libelous/treasonous/impeachable act by blatantly lying about the former pres;

2. So if he does have evidence, why is he demanding an investigation? We assume he got his evidence from the FBI or Justice Department, and if so he already knows/has the answer;

3. If he doesn’t have the answer, and truly needs a Congressional investigation, then he doesn’t have the evidence and intentionally made this baseless, unsubstantiated claim;

4. If he doesn’t have the evidence, as president, he can make a call and in a matter of minutes get from FBI, and Justice whether or not the FISA court did in fact issue a warrant to wiretap him, and why. But again, if the answer is it didn’t, then his accusation is an outright lie;

5. And if he doesn’t make that call, why not? If he really wanted to find the truth, why hasn’t he already made that call? Why choose not to get a quick answer to confirm this very serious charge if it’s truly the truth he seeks? Unless his accusation is a calculated lie designed to distract away from #RussiaGate?

6. If FISA did issue a warrant, we have to assume Trump already knew that, which is why he then Tweeted about it. So again, if he already knows, why is he pretending he doesn’t know and is demanding an investigation? Especially one that wastes a ton of taxpayer money?;

7. By law, no president can “tapp” anyone’s phones. FBI or Justice, based on reasonable suspicion/evidence, makes the request to FISA independent of the White House. So while Trump’s accusation could possibly end up having merit, it’s not Obama doing the tapping, and therefore it’s not something Trump should want to be publicizing;

8. If FISA did issue a warrant, that would be because FBI or Justice proved to FISA that they had sufficient evidence that Trump colluded with Russia, which is why they needed to “tapp” his phones in the first place;

9. By Tweeting this information, Trump in effect, because he’s the president, served to declassify what previously was classified;

10. Trump, who just days ago ranted like a maniac about “unnamed sources,” Tweeted his treasonous bullshit about Obama based on…unnamed sources;

11. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated last weekend that there were no FISA warrants issued during his tenure at NI to “tapp” Trump Tower phones;

So, what can we conclude? That Trump is a liar who made up his evidence-free accusation. Or, if his claim of being wiretapped ends up being true, Trump, as everyone suspects, has been co-opted by the Russians, which is why FBI/Justice, not Obama, sought the wiretap. Either way, Trump is in a heap of shit, and too ignorant and tone-deaf to understand the gravity of that early morning weekend Tweet. And that, this time, he may have gone too far…

Tree of Liberty

This text is from a letter written by Jefferson to William Stephens Smith from Paris on Nov. 13. 1787. The spelling has been preserved but I have arbitrarily split the text into paragraphs for easier reading. I have put some of the text in bold.

I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my
thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate.

What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life.

Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves.

Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.[1]

The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.

We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.

The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted.

Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787[2]