November 18, 2017

There's an old Polish proverb...



More here.

BOOM

I only follow Order of the Stick casually and occasionally, but as an experienced D&D player I was concerned about this latest adventure because even a very high level party risks annihilation going into a dungeon full of vampires without clerical support.  Unfortunately, because their cleric was turned into a vampire, they didn't have one.  I was concerned Burlew had overlooked this nuance, and that there were no other high level clerics in-universe that would have an interest in the proceedings.

He hadn't, and there is...one-ish?

(link)

Unencrypted? Amateurs.

One of the kids’ smartwatch brands was even found by the BEUC to be transmitting children’s locations—unencrypted—to servers in China.

(link)

I wonder how Livingston's +/- compares to Young's...oh Lawd


Labels:

November 16, 2017

Was it something we said?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Republican governors are now trying to answer those questions after Gillespie, whom he called "an exceptionally good candidate," was so soundly defeated.

"What is driving the turnout? Is it a specific issue? Is it a specific region? Is it a specific type of voter? What impact of Washington?" Walker said, without offering an answer.

(link)

November 14, 2017

Just another night at the office

With Curry out Livingston started tonight, went 6-12 from the field, 4-for-4 from the line. Six assists, +/- tied for second at +16.


Labels:

November 13, 2017

Ah, my Second Life is over before it begins


November 12, 2017

Scribin' ain't easy, but it's worth it

A bit more from Ostler's Empires of the Word:

The Egyptian scribe...represented from the earliest documented times the acme of ambition. This is amply confirmed by the kinds of texts that were copied in the scribal schools:
Behold there is no profession which is not governed; 
It is only the learned man who rules himself.

Set to work and become a scribe, for then thou shalt be a leader of men. 

The profession of scribe is a princely profession; his writing materials and his rolls of books bring pleasantness and riches.
In the Satire on Trades, the scribe boasts: 
I have never seen a sculptor sent on an embassy, nor a bronze-founder leading a mission.



November 11, 2017

The last gangster movie

On the plane back I glimpsed on a screen in front of me a peculiar Japanese movie.  Full of intense meetings with cranky old men, it looked like some kind of corporate drama.


Only, upon further inspection (some furtive Googling) it turns that this is Outrage: Coda, the final installment in a trilogy of Yakuza films by the Japanese director Takeshi Kitano.  Some say his films are just blood-spattered exercises in exploitation, while others compare him favorably to the French auteur Jean-Pierre Melville (e.g., Le Samourai).  Kurosawa interviewed him once and said he liked his stuff.

Normally I don't go in for this kind of thing.  On the other hand, this is a 12 hour flight, and the alternatives are Barney and The Big Bang Theory.  In I go.

It is superb.  The cinematography and acting are outstanding.  In the photo above we are looking at some power players in the Hanabishi family.  They are pondering how to apologize to the Korean Chang family for the errors of the man on the left, Hanada, who mistreated some girls at a Chang-controlled resort on Jeju Island in South Korea.  When the local Chang representative - a man named Otomo - stopped by to demand compensation, Hanada instead had his men kill the flunky they were supposed to pay.

In hindsight, this was a mistake.

One big problem is that the initial apology, attempted with Deputy Underboss Nakata (next to Hanada in the photo above) went poorly.  The bundle on the table is a large sum of money that was pushed back in their faces.  Underboss Nishino is digesting all this as the head of the family, Nomura, looks on from behind.

The Chang are not amused.

There is a second problem, which intensifies their pondering.  Otomo, the local Chang representative in question, is a semi-retired Tokyo gangster who also featured prominently in the prior two movies.  Otomo (played by director Kitano) is an old-fashioned gangster who prefers direct action.  In his prime he was somewhere between Omar and Harmonica in terms of his ability to screw up large organizations through violent countermeasures.  He has a grudge against the Hanabishi - it was their purge of his old gang that prompted him to seek a peaceful life abroad with the Changs.  As one review has it, "having slashed and burned all other bridges, then gone back to riddle them with bullets, Otomo is now off-grid ..."

Although fiercely loyal to the Changs, he is fish-shooting pissed about the Hanabishi killing his guy.


There is a third issue simmering beneath the surface:  Nishino and Nomura hate each other.  Nomura isn't a real Yakuza - he married into the family, took no oaths, and has never been in prison.  In the meeting shown above Nishino takes charge and says he will take Hanada back to the Changs, and help him apologize properly ("I'll show you the finesse that Nakata lacks").  Nomura reads this as a way for Nishino to get with the Chang to plot against him, and begins to, you know, take steps.

The second apology does not go particularly well either, as Chang ignores the apologizers while reviewing plans for a new resort and instructing his people to not accept bids below "eight billion."  English is heard in the hallway.  Nishino abandons the finesse strategy, ignores the ignoring, and starts yelling at Chang across the room.

"THIS ASSHOLE SCREWED UP.  WE ARE HERE TO APOLOGIZE."

After they leave, things escalate quickly.  Nomura decides to whack both Nishino and Chang.  Chang (after a failed attempt on his life) decides to whack Nomura.  Chang also deploys Otomo back to Tokyo to even things up a bit more, which he does, just possibly overshooting the mark in the process.

The trailer gives you the general look of the film and the flavor of the action scenes, but doesn't capture the brilliant pacing, acting, and dialogue:



If you tuned in for the gun porn, the joke is on you - the slaughters take up perhaps five minutes of the movie.  The real story is about conflicts between personal honor and organizational obligations, the trials of advancing age and decrepitude, and the utter emptiness of gangster violence.

A dry sense of humor also emerges sometimes, this is apparently a Kitano trademark:
- You're just a retired office worker without your henchmen.
- You're betraying me?
- Betray is too strong a word.  It gives the impression that I was on your side.

Outrage: Coda doesn't just end the trilogy, it probably also ends the gangster movie.  After the final scene, which is stone cold perfect, there's nothing much left to say except see it.

Oh, you too

I dropped by Australia briefly this week, and looked forward to getting away from the toxic nationalism that...what, what?

The news there was full of the 'citizenship crisis' in government, in which long-serving parliamentarians were found to have potentially divided loyalties due to birth or family ties to menacing foreign powers like Canada or England.
  • BBC:  How a dual citizenship crisis befell an immigrant nation (link)

Also big in the rotation this week was an incident in which Australian senator Sam Dastyari - who has no citizenship issues - was harassed by racist punks in a university pub:
The senator is trying to get a beer. 
A far-right group — who call themselves patriots, as if patriotism somehow means harassing fellow citizens — start following him around, getting in his face, calling him a little monkey, a terrorist, a puppet of China. 
“Why don’t you go back to Iran, you terrorist?” 
“Is that halal?” they say, of the drinks he’s ordering. 
He tries to brush them. They say: “What race is Islam, mate? What race is Islam?”  
  • The Weekend Australian:  Dastyari abuse: true blue? No. They’re yellow (link)

Australia, of course, didn't get completely away from race-based immigration policies until the 1970s.  

It's a nice country in other respects.

What happens if I try to steal it from the old guy?


Labels:

Then it got...even weirder



(link)

November 08, 2017

Check out "Living with the Gods"

Read about this BBC Radio series in the Economist, and heard a promo for it on the In Our Time podcast. Highly recommended!


November 04, 2017

Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?

Computers can be fooled into thinking a picture of a taxi is a dog just by changing one pixel, suggests research.

The limitations emerged from Japanese work on ways to fool widely used AI-based image recognition systems.

Many other scientists are now creating "adversarial" example images to expose the fragility of certain types of recognition software.

There is no quick and easy way to fix image recognition systems to stop them being fooled in this way, warn experts.

(link)

November 03, 2017

Three chuckles gets a post (or maybe I'm just delirious) - here's an Onion link

Itinerary For Trump’s Trip To Asia

(link)

Even the Police began to take notice

NYPD says it is building rape case against Harvey Weinstein

(link)

The Picts! I forgot all about the Picts!

In Our Time, 20th season kickoff:  "The Picts"

(link)

Meanwhile, down at the office

[W]e had the federal prosecutor meet with the reluctant individual and his attorney. It was not pretty. The attorney said, essentially, “This is espionage. This is assisting our sworn enemy. The jurors will hate you no matter what, but I promise you and your attorney that I will throw the prosecutorial book at you if you don’t cooperate. I will not accept any deal from your attorney after today, and when the time comes for your trial, I will beat you like a seal pup on a sheet of ice and watch you bleed.” 

(link)

Exactly

The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.

The primary source of this breach, to make a long story short, is the US conservative movement’s rejection of the mainstream institutions devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge (journalism, science, the academy) — the ones society has appointed as referees in matters of factual dispute.

(link)

The Ghost

Shaun Livingston's last two games:

  • vs. Clippers 10/30 - 14 minutes, 8 points, +/- of 26 (#1 on team)
  • vs. San Antonio 11/2 - 19 minutes,  0 points, +/- of 19 (#1 on team)

In other news, Steve Kerr endorses Gregg Popovich for higher office (link)

Labels:

November 02, 2017

Swaggy P watch

So, nine games in, and Mister Young is scoring the basketball.  He is attempting 10.1 three pointers per 36 minutes, second only to Curry's 11.3, and he is outshooting Curry, with a three point percentage of 48% (vs. 39% for the True MVP™).  His points per attempt of 1.4 snuggles in nicely between Durant (1.5) and Klay Thompson (1.3).

How is this translating into value for the Golden State Warriors?  Well, here is Nick Young's cumulative +/- for the first nine games:



via GIPHY

November 01, 2017

Yglesias: Paul Ryan is no coward!

 Last night on Vox's The Weeds podcast (at the 20:30 mark), Matthew Yglesias launches into an epic defense of Paul Ryan against charges that he is being a coward in not standing against Trump.
I think it's worth quoting at some length what Paul Ryan had to say back in March of 2014, when Russia originally invaded Ukraine. He said,
[Recording of Paul Ryan] Well I think it's one more chapter in what happens when you project weakness abroad, through your foreign policy, through your defense policy, and aggression fills that vacuum -- and I think we're seeing that. The fear I have is that all the domestic problems the President's created [that was Obama -MY] I know we can fix those. I know we can fix the budget, the economy, healthcare, if we win elections and put these good ideas we're offering in place. It's the lasting damage to foreign policy and world affairs that's going to be a deeper hole we'll have to dig out of as a country. And I really worry that he has put our foreign policy and our defense policy on such a bad trajectory that it's going to be -- it's going to have huge consequences that are going to last a long time in this world.
And I think the moral of that is: Paul Ryan is not cowardly. Paul Ryan is courageous. Paul Ryan for years has worked -- he has worked tirelessly -- to make it so that rich people have more money, and poor children have less food and medicine. He loves those causes, and he believes in them really passionately.
And so to advance those causes he does amazing things, right? He says at one point, "I am going to have the United States government default on the national debt to advance my agenda of helping rich people get richer," right? He says, "I'm going to write a healthcare bill that's going to poll at 27%, but I'm going to push it through because I've been dreaming, since we were doing keggers in college, of making it harder for poor kids to get medical care."
In 2014, when Russia invades a foreign country, he says, "I'm going to launch a partisan attack on the President of the United States to help win the election, but my whole view on this is bullshit, because when the President comes in from my party -- at the behest of the Russians, refusing to any sanctions policy -- I'm not just going to say nothing. I'm going to actively, daily involved in a massive cover-up. I'm going to time and time again block floor votes on disclosure of the President's tax [returns]. I'm going to set up new House investigative committees to go after Hillary Clinton." Right? He did that, last week, right?
So it's just not that he's dodging these question. When he goes on the radio, people are like, "What do you have to say about this?" he's like, "Oh, I got nothin' to say." But he has a lot to say about it, right? He's working with Trey Gowdy -- he's plotting -- he's like, "How can we muddy the waters on this? How can we help build the rationale for firing Bob Mueller," right? He's doing it.
And it's because he really, really, truly believes that it's sad -- it's a gross injustice -- that rich people do not have more money. And like, it's not cowardice, it's amazing acts of boldness, and like vision, creativity like the likes of which -- it's hard to comprehend. 
And I think -- to me that's just like -- it's fundamental, you know. Like there are cowards out there, but there is no downside risk to Paul Ryan saying, "Trump shouldn't fire Bob Mueller." He would be widely and universally acclaimed. He is taking the risky, all-downside course of action because he's taking a stand for something he believes in.

It's an older trope, but it checks out

He was just one in a large number of undead, evil consultants that have worked with the Dark Lord over time.

(link)

Miss me yet?

San Francisco now on their third quarterback of the season...  "New 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo quickly takes charge" (link)

Meanwhile the Chiefs lost their first game of the season Sunday, cooling Alex Smith's MVP prospects somewhat. (link)

If you can't trust a fake Russian professor, who can you trust?

In a biography that was previously displayed on the website of the London Center of International Law Practice, where Mr. Mifsud was the director of international strategic development, there is no mention of academic training or any degrees he may have earned. Instead, he is listed as the “honorary director” of the London Academy of Diplomacy, an “honorary” professor at the University of East Anglia and a full professor at Stirling University.

A spokesman for Stirling University, however, said that Mr. Mifsud “has been a full-time, professorial teaching fellow in the university’s politics department since May 2017.”

. . .

On March 24, 2016, Mr. Mifsud falsely presented a young Russian woman as a niece of Mr. Putin’s and introduced her to Mr. Papadopoulos, prosecutors wrote. Mr. Papadopoulos emailed his campaign supervisor about his promising meeting with his “good friend” — Mr. Mifsud — and “Putin’s niece.”

(link)

Thus to punks everywhere

Nick Akerman, a former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, said ... he could not see any defense to the Manafort indictment.

“He has no choice but to plead guilty. That’s what the indictment says to me,’’ he said. “The only defense that you’ve got is to go in there and start singing like a canary to avoid jail time. And once he starts singing, one of the tunes is bound to be Donald Trump.’’

(link)

October 30, 2017

Also, for no reason at all

Small observation

On Grace Slick's 78th birthday, just a small observation on the incendiary force that she could bring to a performance.  I was watching her performance at Woodstock, which was first thing in the morning, and they are standing there in front of 400,000 people, and the band are staring at their instruments like "how do I work this?" Slick seems pensive, then you see her just kind of center in, like - "you know what?  I am going to crush this."

Nothing will stand before me

The band follows out of sheer shame and terror, and eventually figures it out, mostly.  The whole thing hits ELEVEN around 3:07.  It's a Woodstock performance, so YMMV, but it's my kind of thing.

When the truth is found / to be lies...! 

Not asking for my money back.  Thanks, Grace.

October 28, 2017

This is more entertaining than when they were good

Here is Eisengeiste's complete coverage of the Draymond / Bradley Beal fight grapple mini-circus:

"It’s two competitors going at it."  - Kevin Durant

October 27, 2017

Nice try, though

The National Park Service is denying a permit to a group wanting to place a 45-foot statue of a naked woman on the Mall near the Washington Monument.

Group members had said they were optimistic about receiving the necessary permits for the unusual, 16,000-pound display and raised upward of $100,000 to transport the statue from San Francisco and assemble it on the Mall, where it would stand for four months.

(link)

October 22, 2017

The Swaggy P Experience

Let's check in on Nick Young's progression from Biggest Airhead in Basketball to NBA Champion.  The Warriors' decision to sign this fool can be framed in various ways:  overconfidence, arrogance,  poor risk assessment, death wish, etc.  The man's Box Plus/Minus has been negative every year since he came into the Association in 2007.

But then there's this:  Nick Young can shoot.  The top catch-and-shoot three point shooters in the Association last year were...



Here is a little study from last January (before Curry rediscovered himself) that has Young as one of the top ten shooters in the NBA (Curry Honorable Mention).

So let's open the box of chocolates - what are we getting so far?  Here is a quick rundown on the season to-date:
  • Game #1, first on Warriors in scoring (23), last in Plus/Minus (-10).
  • Game #2, played 11 minutes, three points, again last on team in Plus/Minues (-1).
  • Game #3, played five minutes, non-factor.  Curry and Durant got thrown out, so there's that.
Also he is 9 for 14 on field goal attempts so far this season, and 7 for 11 on threes.  His effective field goal percentage is .893.

Grade so far:

???
Get used to it, Steve.

Say what you want, the Warriors bring so much joy to the world

After-action report

Well, we have finished a dozen or so Mission: Impossible episodes now.  What a show.  I just wasn't prepared for how good these would be.  At its best Mission: Impossible looked like a million and ran like a Swiss watch.

Here are the ten we liked best, with a few notes:


We decided to pause after Season 3 because after that  the focus shifted away from the Cold War to fighting organized crime in the U.S.  Landau and Bain left the show, and there's general agreement that (with some exceptions, e.g., "The Submarine") the writing went downhill as well.

A few concluding observations:

  • I doubted that Season 1 with Steven Hill playing team leader Dan Briggs could match the "classic" Graves episodes.  But Hill does a great job, his episodes are absolutely up to snuff.  
    • One of our viewers notes that the team members seem more human in Season 1. Later on they became cooler and more professional, apparently on Geller's orders.
    • If you want one more from Season 1, try "Odds on Evil", in which Rollin cheats at cards to prevent an arms deal.
  • It's very hard to distinguish quality among these ten episodes. However, I'm going to try.
    • If I had to pick one episode to represent the first three seasons, I'd choose "The Mind of Stefan Miklos".  It has everything. 
    • I would give "The Execution" a special rating of OMG.
    • Also extra-superb are: "Memory", "The Seal", and "The Cardinal".
  • Special awards:
    • Most attractive person in a towel -  Barbara Bain in "Pilot"
    • Most satisfying Team Lead moment - Briggs punching Rogosh in "Operation Rogosh"
    • Most menacing enemy - The suffocating nun in "The Cardinal"
    • Most memorable guest star performance - Steve Ihnat - a.k.a. Garth of Izar - in "The Mind of Stefan Miklos".  It is just as Mr. Phelps says:  no weaknesses, no flaws.  
      • Honorable Mention:  Albert Paulsen in "Memory", one of the few guests who really carried an episode.  Paulsen even smuggles in a little character development.
      • Honorable Mention:  Darren McGavin's fluent but overconfident tycoon in "The Seal"
      • Honorable Mention:  Ed Asner delivers big time in "The Mind of Stefan Miklos"
    • Best getaway - "The Heir Apparent"
      • Honorable Mention:  "The Seal"
    • Best Rollin Hand disguise - "The Cardinal"
    • Now THAT's acting award -
      • Gold:  Landau in "The Execution"
      • Silver:  Bain in "The Exchange"
      • Bronze:  Landau playing two enemy agents in "The Mind of Stefan Miklos"

And finally, kudos to the estimable Bruce Geller, who created the show. The man knew exactly what he wanted, and he got it.  You can watch it 50 years later, and it's still damn near perfect.  Respect.

October 18, 2017

Mission: Impossible - clips from "The Execution"

The Execution
Season 3, Ep. 5


Oh, man.

This one is unusual for two reasons.  First, unlike most early episodes, this is not in Ruritania - the action is in the U.S.  Second, this is an episode where the visual narrative power is not there just to impress you, but to confront you with a modern day horror, in explicit detail.


"The man you're looking at is Lewis Parma who by extortion, kidnapping and murder is coming close to taking control of the food distribution industry for the entire United States.  Using his control of food prices as leverage, Parma is now moving towards positions of power in other important areas of business, labour and government."

The authorities can't touch Parma, because no one will turn on him - every attempt to prosecute his people has been defeated.  The IM Force will have to find someone who can incriminate Parma, and persuade him to do so.

Step #1 is to make Parma so mad that he makes a mistake.  Jim Phelps, a simple fruit salesman who refuses to join Parma's Co-Op, manages to do this quite easily.  After a little protection racket shakedown, Phelps storms into Parma's office, slaps him around, and empties his wallet:

"You owe me $1800 for damages and destroyed stock.  I'm here to collect it."

After Phelps leaves, Parma's lieutenants arrive to find their boss nonplussed. "I want him dead and I mean now!" he explains.

Step #2 is to not die when the hit man arrives.  Parma waves in his best guy, who assembles a rocket grenade from spare parts (the IM Force, noting the bill of sale from the store, had correctly inferred that this was his plan)...



...then launches it into the home of Jim Phelps and his lovely wife Cinnamon, not knowing he is shooting at a projected image:

Good night, Gracie

After the enormous kaboom he is startled to see a police car pull into the alley cutting off his escape.  Officers Rollin and Barney pursue him, he dives into a doorway where he meets Willy, who chokes him out.  When he comes to, he's in jail.  Not just any jail - the IMF is doing their local production of "Death Row Meets The Big Store".



Just to fuck with him, all the faces are familiar - the guy in the next cell looks like a cop, the guard looks like a cop, the other guard looks like the guy who choked him, the Warden looks like the guy he was supposed to kill, his lawyer - who says no one is buying his amnesia story - looks like the victim's wife.  His lawyer also mentions that the two year appeals process is exhausted, and no clemency will be forthcoming from the governor unless he gives up Parma.

Then they come in to prep Rollin for his gassing.
- Wait a minute, what are you doing?  
- Leave it, Joey.  It's okay. 
- Why? 
- It's necessary, Joey. 
- What What for? 

That's so... That's so they'll know when my heart stops, huh? So they'll know when I'm dead.

Now Landau just takes over the episode.  He starts screaming at the hit man:
Why don't they kill you first? Why don't they kill you first, huh? I killed by accident, but you did it for money. You did it for money. Kill him first, not me!
Lawyer Cinnamon drops by to apologize, and tells the hit man that his last appeal has failed.  When he says he can't remember the trial she says - if that's true - she feels truly sorry for him, but adds that she never knows if she can believe him or not.

Meanwhile, over in the other cell, Warden Phelps has dropped by with an update for Joey:


Joseph Francis Truitt, I hold here an order for you to be put to death in the lethal gas chamber of this state on this date and at this time for the murder of one, Mary Truitt, a human being. 
It is now my duty to carry out that order.

- Let's go.
 - No! No! Help me! Help. Please, no! No! Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me!

At this point our eyes are the size of silver dollars.  Landau is not "acting", he is crushing this.  This is as close to Death Row as I ever want to get, and it's too fucking close.

The hit man can see, reflected on the clock on the wall, as they strap Rollin/Joey down.



When they're done they hose out the execution chamber.

Now it's our hit man's turn.

From his cell he can see the preparations underway.  Preparing the cyanide capsules that will be dissolved in sulphuric acid after the chamber is sealed:

And here is EXACTLY what that looks like, still enjoying the show?

Pouring the acid...



Now Warden Jim is in his cell:



Victor Pietro Duchell, I hold here an order for you to be put to death in the lethal gas chamber of this state on this date and at this time for the murders of Lucien and Ellen Morgan, two human beings.

I also hold here an order of executive clemency signed by the governor, ordering a stay of execution on the condition that you offer proof of your willingness to provide evidence that can be used in the prosecution for numerous capital offences of one Lewis George Parma.

Are you willing to do this at this time? 

- No.  Parma won't let me die. You'll see.


Parma has been frantically trying to find his man, but it's tough to find hit men who have been kidnapped by extrajudicial mischief squads.  Meanwhile, the execution is going well.  They attach the heart thingy to his chest, take him to the chamber, strap him in, attach the heart thingy to the doctor's stethoscope...

...and seal the door

You are right there:



The sulphuric acid trickles into the container in the floor, and they start to lower the cyanide...



And lower the shades please, because - you know - respect the prisoner's dignity.



Since his execution, Rollin Hand has been on the phone to Parma, imitating the hit man's voice, telling him to meet him at a warehouse uptown.  When he breaks in Parma hears the hitman giving him up over the loudspeakers:

All right! All right! I did seven jobs for Parma. 
Twenty-five hundred a job. 
The arrangements were always handled by Al Ross. 
The first was a wholesale Wholesale poultry guy. 
And then there was Frank Dayton. 
He was the president of American Produce Association. 
Parma was in the room when Ross gave me that contract. 
Parma said, "I don't want him to die easy." 


And then there was Morris Lovell, Interstate Produce.
And then a guy named David Carlyle of Northwestern Packers.
And I killed them all for Parma. 
- Shut up, Vic! 
I killed them all for Parma.  A guy in San Francisco. A guy named Phillips in Denver...

Parma decides to settle this with gunplay, but when he turns around it looks like the IMF has the same idea.

And...cut!


Well, that's the end.  Justice triumphs, and everything's ok.

Right?

October 16, 2017

Mission: Impossible - clips from "The Mind of Stefan Mikos"

The Mind of Stefan Miklos
Season 3, Ep. 13

Walter Townsend, an enemy agent working in the U.S., has been allowed to obtain false information that, if believed by his home country, will cause its leaders grave embarrassment (and discredit Townsend). But another spy from Townsend's home country also working in the U.S., George Simpson, tells his superiors that the information supplied to Townsend is false. Because Simpson and Townsend are known to be rivals, their home country sends its most brilliant agent, Stefan Miklos, to determine the truth or falsity of the information Townsend supplied. The IMF's job is to "assist" Miklos in reaching the "correct" conclusion -- while letting him believe that he has determined for himself that the information is true. - IMDB


We are having a little trouble with "The Mind of Stefan Miklos".  It has all the hallmarks of a Batman gambit:  Mr. Phelps' plan depends critically on predicting how Miklos - the brilliant enemy agent with Holmesian deductive powers and a photographic memory  - will react to the train of clues the IMF leaves behind.

"Stefan Miklos is cold, calculating, and ruthless.  He has no weaknesses and no flaws."

At the planning stage, Willy and Barney express concern that some of the clues are so subtle that Miklos will miss them.  Turns out there's no need to worry about that.

Wiilly and Barnie pretend to be from the gas company to get into the back of a shop where a statue is used for dead drops.  They cut through from inside the cabinet, remove the dead drop and pull out the critical document...

"Your contact will be Lou Grant George Simpson." 

...replacing it with a slightly modified version.

"Your contact will be Commander John Koenig George Simpson."

Commie Sherlock takes the bait.:



Rollin heads for the intercept point, an innocent-looking art shop, which in those days were, apparently, mostly secret operating posts for hostile intelligence agencies.



He scams the operative into thinking his cover has been blown and gets him out of there.  When Miklos arrives, the operative is just as he appeared in the dead drop, and Rollin remembers to be left-handed, too:




Bit by bit the scam comes together.  The airport locker keys, the tickets to Rio for him and her "proving" Townsend has been disloyal.  A bug in Townsend's shirt collar dart keeps them up to date on Miklos' deductions.  Phelps marvels at how efficiently Miklos figures it all out.

"He's running the maze perfectly."

But Miklos isn't quite getting it all.  If he misses a single clue, he will conclude that the information Townsend has conveyed is false (which, of course, it is).  He has most of the puzzle, but he falters.  Phelps, increasingly frustrated, blurts out that "He's letting his emotion affect his reason.
He's never done that before."

But then the eidetic memory kicks in...

Wait...the matches in her purse had been used from the left side...

The girl was not Townsend's lover, but left-handed Simpson's accomplice, which means that Simpson was trying to falsely discredit Townsend...

Miklos thinks

...which means the information Townsend passed along must be true.  Now he sees through the attempt to make him believe otherwise.

"You could have been set up.  Very cleverly."

- "Somebody did alter your information."
- "It's Simpson. I know it is."
- "No, not Simpson. He's not a brilliant man. It took a brilliant mind to plan this entire operation. Someone else is behind it."
- "Who?"
- "The Americans."

After further investigation...

- "What happened?"
- "I allowed them to think they had fooled me.  His proof authenticated the document concerning the nuclear-arms treaty as being false.  Therefore, it must be true.  Our immediate concern now is to get word back that the document is valid."

(So, not a Batman Gambit after all, more of a Kansas City Shuffle, we decided.)

As Miklos and his right-hand man head for the airport they become reflective.

- "I wish I could meet the man who masterminded their operation."
- "He was brilliant."
- "I feel sorry for him.  He played the game well.  But he lost.  It will destroy him."

Think on that, Mister Phelps.

"The best part," says one of our viewers, "is that everybody went away happy.  [Pause]  Except they were probably executed later."

The estimable Christopher Bennett reviews the episode in detail here.