Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Autonomous vehicles - blessing, curse, or something in between?

Increasingly, it's looking like autonomous vehicles are going to dominate our roads in just a few years.  What's more, if you own a current-technology or earlier vehicle, you may not be allowed to drive it, thanks to advances in vehicle automation and autonomous control.  Mish Shedlock comments:

Capitalism is precisely why driverless is coming. Corporations are betting their money and resources. The government is not resisting. The trucking industry will save hundreds of millions of dollars. People who believe driverless is not coming are the ones who do not understand capitalism!

Fully autonomous vehicles are not some pie in the sky prediction by Al Gore. Real companies (hundreds of them) all working on driverless. A bet against them is a foolish bet against capitalism.

Comparing current carpooling with what’s going to happen is like comparing ancient stone huts to modern houses. Carpooling requires a number of people to get together, on the same route, for rides at the same time every day.

On-demand scheduling, point-to-point, is needed, and in the works. I rather doubt that fuel-based cars disappear by 2024, but widespread (not total) disappearance of privately owned vehicles by 2030 seems reasonable.

. . .

Some point to how few autonomous cars are on the roads. It all starts somewhere. In 1900, in New York City, there was not a car on the road. By 1920, there was not a horse in sight.

Others say they will never accept the technology. Perhaps they will when their insurance costs go through the roof.

There's more at the link.  There's also valuable information in these reports:

Both are worth reading.

I find these reports both interesting, and deeply troubling.  There are certainly many positive results that may come out of this, if the technological and legal problems involved can be solved.  Can autonomous vehicles be made 'hacker-proof'?  Who's legally responsible if autonomous vehicles are involved in an accident?  There are many questions like those that can't be answered at present.

However, I'm also deeply concerned at the reduction in personal freedom and autonomy that this technological evolution represents.  Consider:

  • If I want to drive anywhere right now, I can get in my vehicle and go.  What if a government edict says I can't?  Consider a scenario such as evacuating in the face of a hurricane or other national disaster.  If roads are blocked by too much traffic, it would be child's play for some bureaucrat to digitally signal all vehicles in a large area, to allow only those within a given range of transponder ID's to move at any one time.  An hour later, those ID's could be blocked, and a new range allowed to move, and so on.  For that matter, the same technology could be employed to reduce rush-hour traffic jams every day.  From a bureaucrat's perspective, this is a wonderful idea - controlling mass movements of people to prevent 'disorder' or 'chaos' . . . but what if they get it wrong?  What if their plans are overtaken by events such as natural disasters?  Besides, who gave them the authority to stop me going where I want to, when I want to?  You can bet we won't be given a say in the matter!
  • What if I don't want an autonomous vehicle?  What if I want to retain my existing, driver-controlled vehicle?  That may become impossible, partly because insurers will refuse to cover my old-fashioned, non-autonomous vehicle, and partly because manufacturers will no longer produce them, so that when mine wears out, I have no choice but to replace it with an autonomous model (if, that is, I can afford to - or am allowed to - replace it at all).  What's more, cities may (and probably will) pass local laws to the effect that if you want to drive on their streets, you have to be in a vehicle that can be controlled by their traffic management systems, so as to prevent 'disorder' or 'disruptions' caused by 'outdated technology'.  Present private vehicles may become automotive dinosaurs (not to mention their drivers!).
  • What if government decides to use vehicle autonomy as an extension of law enforcement?  In theory at least, any vehicle controlled by a traffic management system can be ordered to pull over to the side of the road and stop.  If there's (say) a bank robbery, local cops could tell every vehicle within ten blocks to stop until they can check them all - whether or not they were involved.  If an agency wants to conduct a 'safety check' (whether or not that's the real reason to stop vehicles), it can conceivably tell every car on the road to pull over at a designated point for inspection.  Drivers would no longer be in command - they'd be passengers, with no choice but to obey orders.  Some may argue that's no real problem in a democratic country, but what if the checkpoint was in a totalitarian nation, looking for 'enemies of the state' (real or imagined)?  What if it were in a religiously fundamentalist nation, looking for those who profess other faiths, or who are classified as 'heretics' or 'apostates' by the powers that be?  Vehicle autonomy might become a tool of oppression rather than freedom, under such circumstances.

I'm not blind to the many advantages of autonomous vehicles.  As I get older, and become more infirm, it may be that an autonomous vehicle will allow me many more years of independence than I could have by relying on my own faculties.  This is a good thing.  I just hate the thought that autonomy will both increase our mobility, and decrease our individual freedom.  Is there no way to reconcile those conflicting values?


On the road homeward

Miss D. and I overnighted on the outskirts of Kansas City, MO last night, after attending the funeral of her relative in central Iowa.  It was a difficult gathering, as all such events are.  The loss of a loved one isn't a good reason for a family reunion . . . but at least the survivors can (hopefully) comfort one another.

We're going to take it easy heading home.  My fused spine and damaged sciatic nerve are bad enough, but when kidney stone problems are added on top of them, things become ouchy.  Miss D. has injury issues of her own, so both of us are feeling the pain of several days sitting for hours in a car, or sitting yesterday during church services, then a long car ride to the cemetery in another town.  By the time we got to our hotel last night, both of us were pretty much wiped out.  We went straight to bed.

Today we'll probably visit a local tourist attraction, perhaps the Kansas City zoo - both of us come from areas where wildlife is plentiful and popular, so we like to see how various zoos portray it and educate local citizens about it.  (I still exhibit some typical African traits, though . . . I think of African animals in terms of how they taste, to Miss D.'s amusement!)  After that, we'll head south again, probably overnighting in Wichita, as we did on the way up (or somewhere close to it).  We'll tackle the rest of the journey in leisurely fashion on Wednesday, hopefully getting in towards evening.

Thanks again to all of you keeping us in your prayers.  Hopefully, it's all downhill from here!


Terror strikes Manchester

I don't suppose there's anything new to say about the suicide bomb attack in Manchester, England.  Nevertheless, it bears repeating a few truths that we've shared in these pages on such occasions in the past.

  1. There are certain places where it's simply less safe to be than it was in years past.  That includes any mass gathering.  Even if the gathering itself has good security (as appears to have been the case in Manchester, according to initial reports), there are other places that can be targeted, such as mass transit facilities used by those attending it, or 'choke points' such as entrances and exits.  The terrorist(s) don't have to get into the actual venue to cause mass casualties.  There is no possible defense that can encompass and make safe every single point of potential danger.
  2. You have to make a cold, hard, rational assessment of your and your family's priorities.  If you know that certain gatherings, such as concerts, are preferred targets for terrorists, and if you live in a large city where there is more likely to be a concentration of potential terrorists, you need to take that knowledge into account when planning whether or not to attend mass entertainment events like the concert in Manchester.  It's no good saying that not to attend means that the terrorists have won.  Not to attend is one possible response to a clear and present danger.  To attend regardless is your right and your privilege.  So is living with (or dying from) the potential consequences.
  3. It's no good relying on the security services to safeguard such venues - or blaming them when something evil happens.  They're doubtless doing the best that they can;  but their hands are tied by the very political, social, economic, religious and cultural structures that we, the people, have insisted our politicians erect and maintain.  We're the ones who demand that certain values be implemented and safeguarded in our society.  When those same values open the way for extremists to operate, we have to make a choice.  Do we want to maintain those values no matter what?  Or are we prepared to give up some of them, or modify them, in order to have greater security?  My response will always be to maintain values in the face of threats against them.  Others, more reliant (or willing to be more reliant) on government, will argue the alternative.  This is a debate that will be ongoing.  If we're not careful, it may reshape our society in ways that make Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and 'Animal Farm' seem like light comedy.

Meanwhile, let me point you to some of my earlier articles pertaining to our society's response to, and our personal security in, this sort of environment.  I provided a list back in March, when writing about the then-latest terror attack.  I recommend it to your attention.

May those killed in the Manchester terror attack rest in peace.  May those who mourn them receive what comfort they may.  May all of us who reflect on that attack, make wise decisions going forward about how to avoid becoming victims ourselves, and how to prevent such violence from devouring our rights and freedoms in the name of national security.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Oh, good grief! Rambo goes to Bollywood!

It seems the iconic Rambo character is to be revived in an 'official' Bollywood remake.  The Telegraph reports:

News that the 1980s classic is to be adapted into a Bollywood blockbuster has prompted an incredulous response from fans of the original, and a somewhat startled reaction from Rambo star, Sylvester Stallone, himself.

“I read recently they are remaking Rambo in India!!...Great character…hope they don’t wreck it,” he wrote on his Instagram account, next to a movie still of a fierce-looking John Rambo, the troubled Vietnam War veteran who the franchise is based on.

. . .

Fans, particularly Indians, among Stallone’s 3.3million Instagram followers, have been a touch more cynical.

“Low budget 3rd class acting and dramatic emotional scenes for no reasons,” lamented one Indian fan.

“Trust me sir they will make your movie cartoon I am an Indian and I know our directors it will be hell of a wreck,” said another.

“Dance numbers and a happy ending what can go wrong?” asked an Instagram user.

There's more at the link.

Here's an Indian report about the announcement of the remake.

After seeing many of Bollywood's action scenes here over the past few months, I have my doubts about this remake . . .


Was the entire 2016 Democratic primary a sham, a fake, and a public lie?

I'm amazed by the sheer chutzpah of lawyers for the Democratic National Committee.  They've just argued openly in court, with a straight face, that the entire primary process for that party's Presidential nomination is nothing more than smoke and mirrors - and rightfully so.

There's a lawsuit in progress in Florida, where DNC contributors who supported Bernie Sanders' candidacy in 2016 are suing that organization.  A left-wing (not conservative) observer reports (bold, underlined text is my emphasis):

Without any pretense the Democratic primary nominating process should be expected to be conducted fairly, lawyers for the Democratic Party tell Judge Zloch the lawsuit should be thrown out because the Party has the freedom to determine its nominees by “internal rule”, not voter interests, and thus the party “could have favored a candidate”.

Lawyers for the Democratic Party suggest the lawsuit “can’t be resolved” by the Court because it is based on an internal rule that “cannot be enforced”. This statement by lawyers for the Democrats to a Federal judge is a damning indictment the Party may never recover from: the party views itself in no way beholden to voters’ interest whatsoever.

This will play out in further remarks, but in taking this position, the Democrats present themselves as perfectly comfortable with the American public and Court knowing they view the nominating process to be the Party’s choice, and they can and do operate under no legal obligation whatsoever to be representative of the interest of American citizens participating in Party activities and nominating contests.

The DNC’s Charter clearly articulates it is the responsibility of the party and specifically, its Chairperson, to guarantee a fair Presidential primary process and that all DNC staff conduct business evenhandedly to ultimately assure this. Judge Zloch’s correction of the DNC lawyer’s language demonstrates the Judge’s clear understanding that this element of the Charter’s language is central to determining the merits of the DNC’s argument, and shows the Judge did not allow the DNC’s lawyers to obscure the specificity of this guarantee in the Party’s charter.

Despite the implications of this position, lawyers for the DNC repeatedly denied that the terms “impartial” and “evenhanded” can be defined to the point that a ruling can be issued on what obligations these words carry as they appear in the DNC’s Charter.

There's more at the link.  Copies of submissions to the court and other materials are provided as evidence to support the observer's report.  Highly recommended reading.

This is absolutely mind-blowing stuff.  The Democratic Party's National Committee is openly arguing, in court, for all the world to see, that it's entitled to rig the primary election process, disregard the democratically-expressed views of its party's members, and decide for itself who gets to be the party nominee for the Presidency.  It doesn't see itself as accountable to its members, and can even decide to violate with impunity its own clearly-expressed and (formerly) presumably binding policies and principles.  After its machinations were exposed, it's now arguing that no court has any jurisdiction over its internal processes and procedures.  Effectively, the DNC is putting itself above the law and above its own party members.  It can do whatever it likes, and no-one else is allowed to comment, complain or intervene.

I would ask why the mainstream media hasn't bothered to report on this case in much more detail . . . but we all know why, don't we?  Can't have awkward things like facts affecting the narrative du jour, now!

If I were a Bernie Sanders supporter, I'd be absolutely mind-boggled at these revelations.  I'd be asking myself, very sincerely, how I could ever trust the Democratic Party to take me and/or my views seriously in future.


On the ground with the extended family

Miss D. and I are in Iowa, where her family has gathered for the funeral.  There was a get-together at a local restaurant yesterday evening, at which I met a large number of relatives-by-marriage who were new to me, and vice versa.  There were several visibly emotional reunions of people who hadn't seen each other in ten to fifteen years.  In that sense, even though the reason for coming here is a sad one, at least it's also got its positive side.

The funeral service will be on Monday morning, followed by a rather long drive to where the deceased will be interred next to his late wife.  It'll take most of the day to get there and back.  I'm not yet sure whether we'll depart for home on Monday afternoon, planning to overnight somewhere near Kansas City, KS, or whether we'll return to the small-town gone-to-seed motel where we're staying at present, to spend another night there before heading for home.  I guess it'll depend how long the proceedings take, and how tired we are.

Thanks to all of you who've kept us in mind as we traveled.  So far, so good.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

So far, so good . . .

We're in Wichita, Kansas at present.  We got here late yesterday afternoon, after a late start from home.  Since we were both tired, we decided to break our journey here, rather than push on.  It'll mean only a few hours' drive to our destination on Sunday, but that's OK.  We can take our time and enjoy the scenery.

We're enjoying our rented vehicle.  My work truck is 12 years old, and Miss D.'s small SUV is 11 years old, and neither is as comfortable (or reliable) as more modern vehicles.  In particular, my back complains about the narrower seats in Miss D.'s vehicle - I'm a big guy.  In order to make the journey more bearable, we splurged on renting a Toyota Camry, which is proving very comfortable.  (We're trying to rent a different make and model of car each time we do this, so as to get an idea what's out there.  In due course, when we come to replace our existing vehicles, we'll know what suits us, and we'll look for a reasonably-priced used example we can buy for cash.)

I don't know most of Miss D.'s extended family, having met only a few of them.  It looks like this funeral will also serve as an impromptu family reunion, so I guess I'm going to make up for lost time!  I'll let you know if I survive the experience.  I'll try to put up a few more blog posts during the course of our journey.  Regular posting will probably resume around mid-week.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

On the road for a few days

Miss D. and I will be traveling for a few days, and not often within reach of Internet access.  There's been a death in her family, and we're on our way to the funeral.

Blog posting will be light and intermittent, depending on when I can find time to write a post and when I can get Internet access to put it up.  Regular service should resume around the middle of next week.  Until then, please amuse yourselves with the blogs listed in my sidebar.  There are good writers there, too!

Thanks.  Those of you who are thus inclined, please say a prayer for our traveling safety - and that my kidney stone doesn't become too painful.  I'm kinda worried about that, but we don't exactly have a choice in the matter.


The anti-Trump knives are drawing blood from this entire nation

We're seeing a wholesale campaign of insurrection by the progressive left wing of US politics, fueled and aided by the so-called 'Deep State', against President Trump.  As a matter of fact, he's only the figurehead of their attack.  What they're really after is the political voting bloc that elected him - those they view as 'deplorables'.  They want to knock them out of politics as well, to prevent any further roadblocks on their path to domination of the USA.

Four articles make this point very convincingly.  First, here's the Federalist.

It’s nearly incontrovertible that a slow-motion coup d’etat is now taking place. Since November 9, 2016, forces within the U.S. government, media, and partisan opposition have aligned to overthrow the Electoral College winner, Donald Trump.

To achieve this they have undermined the institutions of the Fourth Estate, the bureaucratic apparatus of the U.S. government, and the very nature of a contentious yet affable two-party political system. Unlike the coup d’etat that sees a military or popular figure lead a minority resistance or majority force into power over the legitimate government, this coup d’etat is leaderless and exposes some of the deepest fissures in our system of government. This coup d’etat represents not the rule of one man or even many, but by the multitude of our elites.

. . .

With the aid of the media and the Democratic Party, the institutions of the republic are crippled, the levers of power having been seized not by the elected but by the unelected bureaucratic state — from ideologues at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the partisans and paranoid who inhabit our intelligence community.

. . .

Complicit with the authoritarian nature of the administrative state is factions within the United States intelligence community both inside and outside the White House. They have engaged in a campaign of selective leaks and plots to undermine the president of the United States and weave a media narrative of Russian influence, conspiracy, and now obstruction of justice. With their media allies, they have leaked information and intelligence that — while lacking any actual criminal element — has allowed a narrative to arise that casts a dark shadow over the White House and those who live and work in it.

. . .

In all of this, the media has abandoned their role as watchdogs with a healthy dose of skepticism and become the propaganda arm of the unelected administrative state, complicit in and even cheering on the actions that have superseded the will of the people. A cursory glance at the social media feeds of most Washington DC-based press more than illustrates this.

Bolstered by their partisan allies, the media has acted as a beachhead for the assault on the Trump administration. Partisan organizations like Media Matters for America have helped to provide ammunition to the media and pour fuel on the fires of resistance among partisan activists.

. . .

The attack on Trump from within and without is coordinated and purposefully geared to make a lack of evidence seem like a mountain of evidence and be as damning as possible, although what it truly amounts to is a paper tiger. With the administrative state leaking and the partisans giving context, the media gins up a plot that declares Trump guilty of crimes of which there is no concrete evidence he committed. This is how you build the consensus behind a coup d’etat.

. . .

Whereas some continue to try and enforce republican values and norms, a large swath of what administers the government of our nation has chosen to embody the Roman dictator Sulla — in the form of a multitude of bureaucrats and careerists; a dictatorial court without an emperor to bring them to heel.

We may already be past the point of no return. Some in the White House made it a point to seek dismantling the administrative state, but it appears the administrative state is more than capable of fighting back and seizing additional power through leaks, obstinacy, and partisan rancor — ensuring its survival and propelling what can only be described as a coup d’etat.

There's more at the link.

That article is pretty damning.  Evidence for its claims is abundant.  For example, when it comes to what's behind the very visible media partisanship, consider this.

Shareblue’s online “army” of paid shills is not a jarring new discovery. They’ve made themselves publically known for months now, attempting to “fight back” against the massive grassroots wave of patriotic Trump supporters on Twitter and other social platforms.

What is a new development for Shareblue is their leaked “Strategic Plan for Action” that plans to fight “fake news” and “develop technologies to serve as an early warning system” against it.

. . .

This playbook seems to line up directly with the recent move towards online censorship by Silicon Valley. It could not be more clear that Silicon Valley is in the back pocket of the Democratic party. Their actions align perfectly with that of this Democracy Matters coalition, which should come as no surprise being that they openly admit to working with them.

. . .

This unified attack on liberty and free expression online can only mean one thing: the global elite and far-left are in all out panic mode over the rise of populism. It’s incredible to think that in the ten years since social media’s rise, not once before the rise of populism has “fake news” been an issue. Silicon Valley and the global media elite have realized that The People are rising up and using their own tools against them to expose the truth and to fight for freedom, sovereignty, and national identity among other things.

Below is an overview of the Democracy Matters “Strategic Plan for Action” as well as some examples of this plan unfolding specifically on Reddit.

Again, more at the link.

Scott Adams sees the present situation as 'the slow assassination of President Trump'.

I saw this quote on CNN.com today: “The episode is the latest woe for Trump, whose administration is engulfed in a series of scandals linked to Russia.”

A “series of scandals linked to Russia”? Would it be equally accurate to characterize it as a series of stories manufactured by the media, none of which have been confirmed to be a big deal?

. . .

I also think we are seeing with the recent leaks the first phase of Mutually Assured Destruction of our government. The leaks will destroy Trump if they continue. But if that happens, no Democrat and no anti-Trump Republican will ever be able to govern in the future. Payback is guaranteed. The next President to sit in the White House will be leaked to the point of ineffectiveness. And that’s how the Republic dies.

. . .

If you can sit passively while watching the Opposition Media turn “hope” into “asked Comey to end the investigation,” you are part of the slow assassination of President Trump. And you are also part of the slow assassination of the next president, and the next. If Trump goes down from leaks, Mutually Assured Destruction kicks in automatically.

On the plus side, the public has the power and the moral authority to strip the Opposition Media of its power and take control of the government via the weight of public opinion. But that probably won’t happen because of our old friend confirmation bias. Confirmation bias makes the innocent word “hope” look like “Asked him to end the investigation.” Trump’s critics will see it that way. And if they do, your next president might be Elizabeth Warren.

She should last about two years.

More at the link.

The frightening thing in all this is that the Trump administration seems unable to find a way to effectively respond to, and to fight back against, the tidal wave of criticism and opposition that's pouring over it.  President Trump isn't helping matters with his off-the-cuff, unplanned remarks that merely add fuel to the fire.  There isn't a coherent, consistent message from this administration - and how are its members and supporters supposed to 'stay on message' when there isn't one?

I don't know how this will work out, but it can't possibly be good for the USA in the future.  If we, the people, allow the will of the people - expressed through a constitutionally valid election - to be thwarted by the 'deep state' and political forces operating outside the constitution, then the rule of law will have ceased to exist in this country.  Perhaps that's what some forces actually want . . . but, as Ace of Spades points out, that's a two-edged sword.

The "Elites" of #TheResistance are winning in their bid for a coup, and Trump hasn't been able to thwart them. I realize this is something that causes a lot of controversy to say, but it's true.

. . .

I don't believe they've planned out the aftermath of a coup.

It will be... messy.

Once you've formally announced to the public that their decisions simply do not matter, and that a niche subculture of the country gets to exercise an extra-constitutional veto on any decision they don't approve of -- once you've made it plain that America is a government with a nation, not a nation with a government -- what exactly is it that binds the people to a government that cannot in any way be described as "their" government?

The old bromide was that we have to respect the will of the people when we lose, if for no other reason that we count on others respecting the will of the people when they lose.

But now that that social contract has been entirely disavowed by a large minority of the country -- now that they've made it plain that they will have no government except one they control at the expense of their enemies -- what possible reason could they suggest to citizens why they must respect the next president, or the one after that?

#Resistance is a two-way street, fellers.

More at the link.

If this continues for much longer, this nation will bleed itself to death.  What will replace our constitutional republic?  Will we remain a single political entity?  Will the USA become balkanized, as some have predicted?  Who knows?

Whatever happens, I suspect it's going to be no fun at all . . .


Friday, May 19, 2017

Wild night

We had a pretty wild night here in northern Texas, and the weather outside is still very unsettled.  We've been warned to expect more storms throughout the day and into tonight.

Yesterday evening, when I headed for Old NFO's place for our regular Thursday night get-together, there were five big green garbage bins (the wheeled sort, supplied by the trash collecting company) strewn in the road between our house and the nearest intersection, tossed there by the wind as if they were mere child's toys.  I came back home and put our bins in the garage before setting out again, because I could see we were likely to lose them if I didn't.  The gathering broke up early, too, what with weather warnings blaring from our cellphones, and everyone went home to batten down the hatches.

Just a couple of months ago, we had new gutters installed, and improved the drainage system down one side of the house to better handle heavy rain.  Well, last night's storm was so heavy that it broke the new gutters, which are hanging from their brackets at one joint, allowing water to pour out.  The new drainage grate has been literally ripped out of the ground and upended by the force of the water, and the pipe leading from it to the bottom of our property has been lifted out of the trench dug for it for at least half its length.  I knew flood water had a great deal of power, but I must admit, I'd never expected runoff down the side of our house to get that strong.  The contractor will be here in an hour or so to inspect the damage, and see about fixing it.

To make matters worse, Miss D. learned yesterday afternoon that a relative has died.  We're going to have to spend a couple of days on the road, driving up for the funeral, and the same coming back home again.  We'll do our best to have things as ship-shape as possible before we depart, but serious repairs will have to wait until we get back.

Those of you in the storm-threatened areas of northern Texas, Oklahoma and southern Kansas today . . . take care, will you?  This storm system is nothing to fool with.


Security warning for users of HP laptops

If you use a HP laptop computer, or if friends and family use them, you or they may be affected by a security issue that's recently cropped up.  Sky News reports:

Security researchers have discovered that a feature installed in a number of HP laptops is recording all of the keystrokes that the laptop users make.

In capturing everything users press on their keyboards the software is recording sensitive information, and by saving that information in an easily accessible file the researchers claim that it is potentially exposing users' passwords to attackers.

According to the Swiss cybersecurity group behind the research, Modzero, the feature wasn't designed to spy on users - but it was implemented in such a way that it records everything users type.

This means that from the moment a user logs into Windows on affected HP laptops, every key they press, including to enter passphrases for online banking and email accounts, is recorded and stored.

. . .

HP told Sky News: "Our supplier partner developed software to test audio functionality prior to product launch and it should not have been included in the final shipped version. Fixes will be available shortly via HP.com."

There's more at the link.

I checked my own laptop last night, and sure enough, the keylogger files were there.  I deleted the files, then used Windows' Device Manager to update the driver to HP's new version.  That appears to have fixed the problem.

You'll find details of how to check your own computer here.  I used it to check mine, and its methods worked.  ZDNet has more technical details of the problem and its fix here.

Please check your own computer as soon as possible, and please pass the word to your family and friends to check theirs.  I guarantee you, hackers are even now trying to figure out how to access the key log file on your system (if it exists), and copy it to their own servers, where they can analyze it to see whether key financial information, passwords, etc. was recorded.  If they find it, you may wake up one morning to find your e-mail compromised, or your bank account accessed, or any of a number of other nasty outcomes.