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Crime / JusticeIamA former UK undercover police officer - AMA!

Feb 12th 2017 by theurbanjedi • 35 Questions • 8883 Points

UPDATE: Thanks everyone for all the questions. We really enjoyed chatting with you today! Signing off for now, but may be back to later to answer a few more questions!

Hi, we're scientists and science fiction writers Catherine Asaro and David Brin. In a recent conversation about the legacy of nuclear weapons, we talked about the history and future of warfare - and how growing up in the era of "Duck and Cover" affected our books. Together, we make the case that science fiction - especially apocalyptic science fiction - can make the world safer.

David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The Postman, Earth, and recently Existence. Dr. Brin serves on advisory boards (e.g. NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program or NIAC) and speaks or consults on a wide range of topics. His nonfiction book about the information age, The Transparent Society, won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.

Catherine Asaro is a critically acclaimed author of science fiction who has won the Nebula Award twice and been nominated for a Hugo multiple times. She has a doctorate in theoretical chemical physics from Harvard University and is the Director of the Chesapeake Math Program. Her next book is the science fiction mystery novel The Bronze Skies, set in her Skolian Empire universe. It is due out from Baen Books in the Fall.

We're also joined here by Natalie from PRI’s The World who will help us in answering your questions today. Read the recent piece The World wrote asking if science fiction can help prevent a nuclear war.

Ask Us Anything!

Here's our proof: https://twitter.com/pritheworld/status/829678212213010434

Q:

Ever had someone say to you "are you a cop because you have to tell me if you are" and seriously think it works that way?

A:

What happened to the 2 mil that is still unaccounted for? Did you really only go to Mexico with 50k?


Q:

Because of your last AMA I bought a Panasonic bagged canister vac (because I can't afford a Miele) and it's great. Thanks for your service. What would you recommend for a robo-vac in an area with laminate floor and lots of dog hair?

A:

To David ... First, what are your plans to continue books in the Uplift universe, and do you have plans for a sequel to Glory Season?

And second, how would you contrast your vision of near future Earth in 'Earth' with your view on near future now, especially after current election. I always loved your idea of requiring people to consume certain amount of news before they are allowed to vote, but in current (apparent) propaganda war, would this even be feasible, with all the echo chambers?


Q:

Yep.

I was dealing with a drug dealer, who was such a nice bloke, and honestly, I would have gone for a beer with him under other circumstances.

It was his day to be arrested, and he gave me my crack and heroin. I gave him my cash, and he said 'Chris, I really like you man. I really get in with you. But, can you just tell me one thing?' 'Sure' I said 'Youre not an undercover policeman are you? Because if you are, you legally have to tell me' Me: 'Nah, of course not mate'

Seconds later he had been pinned ot the floor and handcuffed by the arrest team, and it made me fell quite sad in fact.

Its an urban myth obviously, as some previous sub reddits have pointed out,

A:

No idea where it is I only ever had what I took with me and what was sent to me.


Q:

If you're going to get a robotic vac, I'd recommend Neato or Miele models.

A:

Hi Janareta. I am a little way into my big Uplift Book returning to Creideiki and the folks I abandoned on that planet long ago. (I am getting death threats from my 35 year old former self!) I have lots of sequel notes for Glory Season, Postman etc but none of those will happen till I get the self-duplicator from KILN PEOPLE! ;-) -- But I have two new books! INSISTENCE OF VISION and CHASING SHADOWS! See more at http://www.davidbrin.com -- db


Q:

Does the guy find out he has been betrayed then and there or do you kind of get fake arrested too?

A:

Would you tell us if you knew? ;)


Q:

I had a Neato, but the battery wouldn't hold a charge for crap. It was great for the first few weeks, but then it couldn't even finish a room without needing a recharge. I always let it run in a closed off bedroom while I vacuumed in another room.

A:

YES.


Q:

Usually you go for the fake arrest. That's always fun.

A:

hahahaha! nope


Q:

Have you contacted them about a replacement battery?

A:

Hi. David Brin here, checking in. Let's talk nukes. Yay nukes. I am alive today because of them. (How's that for provocative?) -- DB


Q:

Do your colleagues take you down rough because it might be the only time they get to?

A:

Did you get to spend much time on set? What was it like to have a movie based on your story?


Q:

I've always though roomba was best? What's the difference?

A:

Miniature nukes. How the heck can we not allow or, perhaps, contain them?


Q:

Yes, they took full advantage of being able to throttle me and get up close!

A:

I did get to spend a good amount of time on the set in North Carolina and having a movie based on my story was a bit surreal and a bit funny to be honest. When I first got there nobody knew who I was, they just thought I was another producer or something and when they realized they were very gracious and curious.


Q:

Roomba has a weird pattern algorithm for cleaning, which is very inefficient. The Neato and Miele models use a logical mapping algorithm.

A:

Hello. Just wanted to say we aren't ignoring your comment, but rather, answering are appearing below, along with other comments. Thank you for your input! -- C.A>


Q:

How hard does old bill go after weed dealers/users?

A:

I've read that once the FBI actually closed in on you, you were relieved because you were fearing for your life at that point. Any truth to that? How did it actually feel when the FBI took you in?


Q:

You said you really don't like Rainbows because of the water filtration, but how do you feel about steam vacs for cleaning carpets? What's the difference?

A:

What's your take on the the time frame for practical fusion energy generation? Is it something that will be unnecessary by the time it's possible?


Q:

Depends.

Are they causing a problem in the community /area? Are they evidently making a shit load of cash illegally? Are they involved in other crime?

A:

I felt relieved, I knew that things were getting ready to come to an end and getting caught was a stress reliever even if I knew I was going to jail.


Q:

Let me hit you with some copypasta from an expert in the field:

from /u/lolzergrush:

I did carpet cleaning work to put myself through college and grad school, it was great money because people use cheap vacuums and their carpets get filthy. Buying a good vacuum is absolutely true and you have no idea how much money you save yourself in the long run.

We used to charge $0.35 per square foot, that worked out to about $1000 per average-sized house to do good carpet cleaning because all of our competitors did shit work.

The number one problem was that most people didn't vacuum properly, so they had to get their carpets cleaned every few years and they were always filthy.

  • Never ever buy a bagless vacuum. Just don't. Buy a good one with HEPA filtration (or S-class if you're in Europe). Buy one that is warrantied for commercial work. That means it is made of quality parts. Even brands on the cheaper side like Sanitaire and Eureka will work fine if they are the true commercial line. Just don't buy ones that say "professional" but are actually marketed towards residential: they will break down in a year if you use it more than once per week.

(I do not, personally, recommend using a commercial vacuum in your home, but rather, a premium residential vacuum.)

  • Properly adjust the brush roller so that the bristles sweep the carpet, not dig into it. The tips of the bristles should just barely touch the bottom of the pile and it should offer no resistance.
  • Change the bag regularly. Just buy them in bulk for a year, you should get them for about a dollar per bag.

(This depends greatly upon vacuum type chosen, and bag capacities of various vacuums. This can vary greatly, but remain cost effective)

  • Never wear shoes in your house, and if you have pets vacuum at least twice as often. Also vacuum after every event.
  • If liquid is spilled on carpets clean it up immediately. Keep putting dry towels down and stand on them, then put a fan on the damp spot.
  • If you must clean them, hire a professional (not Stanley Steamer) to clean them using extraction. Shampooing is a last resort for very heavy soil, and should always be followed by extraction. Never hire coupon cleaners, or anyone that doesn't have a license & insurance.
  • If you insist on cleaning your own carpets, never use a Rug Doctor or any carpet cleaning machine that is rented out by chain retail stores, you might as well use a shop vac and a water hose. Go to a janitorial supplier and rent a professional extractor, RTFM, and vacuum your carpets completely before you extract. You can rent an air mover or just buy some cheap box fans but either way you need to dry your carpets completely after extraction.
  • Listen to everything /u/touchmyfuckingcoffee [+10] says about selecting and caring for your vacuum. He knows his stuff.

Do all that and your carpets will never need cleaning, you'll save yourself a crapload of money and your house will be healthier too.

A:

Actually, the scientific community has been talking about fusion as an energy source for over fifty years. We were discussing this in the 1970s, expecting it would be less than a decade away. We should have been able to develop it for practical use by now. I think what is holding it up are political concerns.


Q:

I think he may be a low key weed dealer

A:

What are Jandice and Kelly up to now? Did you stay in touch with them? Masterminds was a fun movie. Were you offended that they portrayed you as an idiot being so easily manipulated?


Q:

What kind of fucking coffee are you drinking?

A:

I might be a little (a lot) behind. I keep wondering what scientists know that makes them so convinced that the barriers are political instead of practical. Is the math already worked out? Because I thought that they were still trying to figure out how to contain the reaction for an extended duration. Is it really just a matter of testing what they are already fairly certain of?

FYI. Saw Catherine speak at WorldCon(ChiCon) in 2012. Turns out your EM Drive info was quite solid. :D


Q:

I wouldn't worry then!

A:

No idea. No. Glad you like the movie. And it would take a lot more than that to offend me, I thought it was funny.


Q:

I didn't get to Costco yesterday for my 2 pound bag, so I'm drinking 7-11's Brazilian Dark since it's cheap and isn't fucking burnt like everything at Starfucks.

A:

Hello. This is Catherine Asaro, and welcome.

One thought on your question: we’re looking at a new type of weapon unlike any traditional weapons of war. The cyber arena is among the fastest growing areas of military development. It makes it possible to weaponize propaganda in a more dramatically effective manner than has ever been done before. How do you overthrow a government without firing a shot? Control the flow of information to its people to reflect what you want heard and (attempt to) defeat or marginalize your opponents with fake news, propaganda, hacking, and other forms of cyber attacks.

If you extrapolate that into the future, consider this: what happens when we begin connecting our brains directly to online platforms? In isn’t that far in the future; it’s already being done in rudimentary forms. It takes the concept of a propaganda war and control of information to an entirely new level, one that could be used to wage a war with none of the traditional forms of weapon.

I can talk about future weapons of space war in another post (e/g/ smart missiles, advantages and disadvantages of beam/antimatter weapons, and the effects of relativistic speed in another post).


Q:

Did you get the chance to speak to him again after that? How did that go?

A:

The movie is hilarious. How accurate was the movie?


Q:

Ruta Maya coffee from Costco is fucking gangster.

A:

The disinformation you open with is not exactly new, tho... we just give it different name. But point taken. @David, in Existence there was no mention of any 'information gatekeeping' function within the information infrastructure everyone accesses every moment of the day. Do you assume this can be fixed? And if so, with algorithms or crowdsourcing?


Q:

No I never saw the guy again unfortunately.

I think he was the sort of chap who would have been apologetic and remorseful tbh.

A:

Well, it's 'based' on a true event, and there are accurate bits sprinkled throughout. However, it's a Hollywood comedy.


Q:

I'm not familiar with it. I will have to check it out.

A:

I may seem obsessed, but there is only one answer... transparency. In an open ecosystem, parasites meet their match with other predators swooping in on them. The Open Source movement is spectacularly important as is having a mostly open society. Bad stuff can be detected early and bypassed if we let our wounds be exposed to light.

Dig it. All of our civilization's deadly enemies -- despotisms, criminal gangs, oligarchic cabals -- all of them are lethally allergic to light. If all their secrets are exposed, they die. This is not true for us. Revelations cause embarrassment... then improvement. Was true of Wikileaks, Assange, Snowden.

When this is true, why would we choose any battlefield other than one awash in light? Oh, our spooks and warriors need tactical secrecy! But the long term secular trend to light is the only victory condition. - db


Q:

I'm guessing you don't have to be at the trial because of cover?

A:

Has this affected your ability to get a job? Being a quasi-famous bank robber and all?


Q:

and isn't fucking burnt like everything at Starfucks.

Damn truth! Everything in starbucks that includes milk tastes too strong and burnt.

At one point in time, Starbucks was good. But then the fad came up where every boss'es intern/assistant would be there during lunch time and get a couple. This caught up. Now its just a brand and nothing more.

A:

Well, you certainly are the Titan of Transparency, Dr. Brin. } ; = 8 P

To touch on that, though, and play a bit of a devil's advocate, how do you think transparency could be used to stop the guy building a "small" fission bomb in his basement, either as a hobby because he was bored and owned a large property he liked to blow things up on, or to further some terroristic agenda? It's not feasible today, but in a few decades, it's not beyond the realm of plausibility that even mid-range, consumer-level 3D printers and CNC-like fabricators could produce equipment of sufficient sophistication to create an implosion-type bomb (and the hardware of an gun-type fission bomb can be manufactured easily enough, today).

If a person is willing to settle for less than the ideal isotopes for nuclear weapons, and accrue small amounts over time, how would we be able to catch them, and either prevent them from doing something stupid with their backyard destruction project, or from building and deploying such a device for terroristic purposes?


Q:

No, we would always give evidence at court. Certain precautions are taken, but it is a basic right that the defendant has an opportunity to face his accuser.

Pseudonyms are used, and we would be screened from public view.

A:

Good question , Oddly most employers are very understanding as long as you are honest with them up front .


Q:

And when I fucking ask for a SMALL amount of ice, so I can drink it right away, and they fucking make the shit tepid!!

I need to sip my Brazilian and calm down.

A:

Transparency makes such a fellow's goal much, much harder to pursue. Sure, he might sneak toward it slowly. But we are also developing personality metrics and lie detectors. Those tools would be hellish if monopolized by Big Brother. And hellish if we all lived in a judgmental conformist society of "liitle brothers." But in a tolerant and transparent world, we could shine light onto geeks we suspect of building WMDs. And if we prove wrong, they get an apology and compensation That is not hell.


Q:

Pseudonyms are used, and we would be screened from public view.

do you sit behind a sheet and we watch your shadow?

A:

Have you had problems getting positions of trust at all?


Q:

Why aren't quiet vacuums a thing?

I had heard that someone made one once, and no one bought it because they associated loudness with doing a good job at cleaning. The solution seems simple: add a suction power gauge that lets you know if stuff is blocking the vacuum's hose.

A:

I'm not sure I completely agree. There is an importance nuance.

Inventing and innovating is at the core of societies ability to adapt. And this is a somewhat private process that often goes against the status quo. This makes it harder to perform when every decision can be judged before it bares fruit.

We need a social system that reflects the power of the decisions being made. One that encourages diversity whilst at the same time tying us together in a shared global community. One where transparency is automatically increased with the degree of power involved. One that encourages freedom of individuality, but keeps dangerous technology heavily supervised.

BTW: I'm a long time fan. Earth was very formative for me in 90s. I wish more authors would write near future science fiction. It must be very hard to write as it is sure to always gets it partly wrong, but it is so informative and provides a vision for us to work with.


Q:

Yes, And if I feel in a frolicking mood, I will amuse the jury with a hastily constructed puppet show depicting precisely what happened. /s

A:

I ll be honest and say I probably have to put forth a bit more effort


Q:

Don't worry; Quiet vacuums do exist. Miele and Sebo are some of the quietest vacs on the market.

A:

WOrldbuilding can be fun in its own right and there are great new tools, e.g. a book describing in detail the nearest 200 stars! Still, I rely mostly on my instincts for what feels right... after years as a planetary scientist, I admit.... -db


Q:

Ever said that to someone yourself while undercover?

A:

Why did you do it?


Q:

We got an ElectroLux at Lowes (before I read your AMA), Consumer Reports ranked it well and it got good marks for being quiet. What's your opinion?

I also just did a partial restore on my Hoover Windtunnel, the adjuster snapped and it was starting to stick. 17 years old and its as good as new except for the cord (replacing it was too hard, going to find a shop to replace it)

Based on you recommendatiosn we'll likely get a Meile Animal model soon because neither is really great on stairs, and now we have carpeted stairs...

A:

David,

I recall a few years ago you mentioned that Startide Rising was under consideration for a movie version. Is that still in the works and, if so, where in the process is it?

I read the book at 16 years old and absolutely loved it! A movie version with today's special effects would be fantastic.


Q:

No, but I often wore a t shirt which was emblazoned with the legend; COPS TAKE DRUGS

A:

I just wanted to change my life, in hindsight the quick and easy way is not always the best way. I do not recommend doing what I did.


Q:

I'd have to know which model Lux you got. But, regardless of what CR says, I look at vacs from a technician's perspective first and foremost.

A:

Coincidence. There are... nibbles... as we speak. No jinxing. It's ridiculous that anyone can resist the elevator pitch... "dolphins... in SPACE!"


Q:

We would really appreciate a pic of that t shirt yknow...

A:

But would you recommend it if you had not been caught?


Q:

How much for a new identity ?

A:

eep! David Brin! I loved the Uplift series.

I'm curious if you ever heard about this?: there's a 90's Artificial Life sim called "Creatures", where you take care of cute little pets with a virtual brain, genetics and biochemistry, in a virtual sandbox world with natural dangers.

In 1997, players of the game took to setting up a world and letting it run without helping the creatures to survive or interfering at all, to see how they would eventually improve after many generations of mutation and natural selection. They took to calling it a "Wolfling Run" after the Uplift novels. We still do today, 20 years later.


Q:

Hmmm. I don't have it any more - I got it from Camden Market in London. It was either that one, or one which said UNDERCOVER CPO

A:

No....philosophically I would not recommend it, however a life in the Caribbean wouldn't have been soooo bad I think.


Q:

Everything you have.

A:

Born to write! Born to blather tales. I did good physics by dint of hard work and romanticism. The arts are wonderful, but science is changing us and giving us this one chance to actually actually grow up, at last. I wanted to be part of that! -- DB


Q:

With all that time spent undercover, infiltrating gangs and arresting criminals, how much do you worry about being recognized by former associates? What do you think you'd do if you were recognized?

Thanks for the AMA!

A:

Prior to planning and executing the robbery, would have you ever thought of yourself as an armoured car robber? If not, when was the turning point?


Q:

What are some vacuum brands that you recommend?

A:

Okay, maybe this is a really predictable question but ... What's your take on Trump, especially when it comes to nuclear security and the fears so many people seem to have about his presidency altering the country and the world in significant ways? Think this will all make its way into your writing?


Q:

I don't worry about it consciously, but I take these weird subconscious precautions. Like I travel different routes to work, and I actively avoid particular areas, or try to.

I'm lucky because I worked in London, and London is huge. Anonymity is guaranteed. Also, I have been in the public eye, and I left the police several years ago, so I think if anyone wanted to get me, they would have done so by now.

If i was recognised in the street now, I would just deny it. I have enough confidence in myself and in the environment I am in to be able to get out of such a confrontation, but I wouldn't relish it at all.

A:

Prior to, I would have never even considered it but one day life kinda slapped me in the face. I was working sometimes 75-80 hrs a week for $8.15 an hour, I didn't even have a real home life because I was never there I was working all the time and unhappy which is understandable considering how old I was at the time. I felt cornered and one day the joking in the break room about robbing the place suddenly didn't seem so far fetched.


Q:

The three best brands in the US market are (not in order) Miele, Riccar, and Sebo.

A:

I think we utterly rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the United States Military and Intelligence communities' officer corps. DT has already fired shots across their bows.


Q:

Wow. That's insane, thanks for answering!

Sounds like you've been in the game long enough that convincing them that you aren't who they think you are would be similar to what you did undercover.

A:

Hello David! How was life in prison? And what is the biggest lesson you learned from this whole experience?


Q:

Why hasn't word gotten out about the greatness of Riccar vacs? We bought a Supralite in 2008 and that baby is still as good as the day we bought it. It's a snap to service it too. I assume it's a marketing thing, but seriously. Best vacuum ever.

A:

To enlisted personnel, the words "rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the... officer corps," don't exactly inspire confidence. Officers not having any idea what they're doing, and the enlisted guys being the ones who actually do all the work and get everything done is something of a half-joke/half-truth in the military.

All jokes aside, though, at least in the sub force (I can't speak for the surface fleet, nor the other branches), -most- officers who make it much past LTJG are usually pretty competent, capable, and generally very intelligent (though JOs having high intelligence is generally much more reliable than them having high competence). We also have the advantage, unlike the militaries of many other countries, of having a highly-trained, and usually well-educated enlisted corps, who are very active in both training the officers and providing back-up (sometimes "forceful back-up") when they try to do something particularly stupid.

Have you ever considered the possible outcomes of a civilization dominated by nations who take a much more old-school/traditional approach of having gentrified officers strictly from the nobility commanding uneducated and minimally-trained enlisted personnel, vs the model we use?

How different do you think the world might be today if the US military had stuck with the old-school approach of educated officers vs uneducated enlisted? How much of an impact on civilization do you think the differences between those two models has?


Q:

Exactly. Its a sad fact that I am in effect, a trained deceiver. So, when its neccessary, I am pretty confident I can bluff it.

PS Its a pleasure to answer!

A:

well move into a broom closet with two other people ,and eat hospital food every day . That part really sucks , its supposed to suck to discourage returning . Freedom is a precious , precious thing


Q:

I'm glad you're happy with it. Reviews like yours will help.

A:

From what I hear, you are describing the Russian and Chinese militaries and it is very scary. This is why the US military is both competent and somewhat wise. Because the Marshallian traditions include not only absolute loyalty to civilian leadership, but levels of professionalism and education that are among the highest in American life. Especially in the Navy. Our experience with subs and carriers... which any 19 year old recruit could blow up at any moment, has led to utter respect for the noncom petty officer caste. You guys are among the most mature humans ever produced by our species.

The most distressing - yet cheering - thing I have seen in the last 2 weeks has been DT's utter contempt for our military, intel, and law professional castes. It is scary! Yet, I take some comfort in knowing that they are being driven (silently and cautiously) toward recalling that their loyalty is to the Union.

Here is one helluva novel (frightening) about a new, hot American civil war: https://www.amazon.com/Tears-Abraham-Sean-T-Smith/dp/1618688197


Q:

Did you ever encounter any crooked cops or people in positions of power whilst you were undercover? If you did, did the higher-ups care about your findings on these people if it wasn't related to the case you were currently investigating?

A:

How much did you make off the movie?


Q:

What's your least favorite vacuum?

A:

Yes, that's pretty much what I was describing. About ten percent or so (give or take) of the total crew compliment of any US Navy ship consists of commissioned officers. The rest consists of enlisted personnel, a huge percentage of which are varying levels of non-commissioned officers (and a significant majority percentage on subs, where advancement rates are much higher than the surface fleet). Our enlisted personnel are highly-trained system experts, and excluding the new guys who are still learning/qualifying in the basics, everyone is expected to have a solid, working knowledge of how their equipment operates, and how to keep it operational in the field.

The Russians, in contrast, take a very different approach. They still have the officer/enlisted divide, but it is much more substantial, in multiple ways. Roughly half of their crew compliment is commissioned officers, with the other half being enlisted conscripts, who serve for two years and are strictly trained as system operators, not system experts. They operate out of rote procedure, and are not trained, nor expected to have a working knowledge of how their equipment does what it does, or how to keep it working in the field, beyond basic, pre-written maintenance instructions.

It is also worth noting that we're not the only ones who follow the system expert model. Some of our closest allies, like the Brits, follow the same model, with minor variations. I can't speak for every nation, but it does seem like Western/democratic nations tend to prefer the system expert model over the system operator model.


Q:

Crooked cops, a few, yes. And they get investigated with a thoroughness you wouldn't believe, even when it is nothing to do with the current case.

A:

I didn't get money for this, what I got was a great vacation and a chance to tick something off of my bucket list. I know that isn't exciting to most people but I, regular Joe, had the chance to be on a movie set...who wouldn't want to do that? Plus the food truck was awesome, my wife called me a hobbit for having second breakfasts.


Q:

Most of the products by Dyson. Shark vacuums aren't much better.

That being said, either would be better than a <$100 piece of shit Bissell, Eureka, or Dirt Devil.

A:

Catherine here: I have far more ideas and stories worked out than I have time to write, so I concentrate on the stories I'm doing for publication.

If you're working toward publication, I would suggest writing short stories, going through one or two revision processes, sending them out to potential publishers, either online or in print, and then getting to work on your next story. It's good to learn to revise, but don't spend so much time revising that the story never gets sent out.

Also, don't let rejection get you down! It happens to every writer, even those of us who have hit best seller lists. If a rejection comes back, send it out to the next publisher on your list.

You can also go the self-published route. I would suggest trying publishers that pay first, however. Many of us got a lot of rejections before placing a story, but it was worth going through all that for the editorial and marketing advantages of having a well-established publisher.

You can also combine self-publishing with sending out stories that you haven't self-published, so you're building a fan base while you look for a publisher. One note: once you've published something on the web that anyone can read, you've given away first publication rights, which most publishers want. So that is why I suggest submitting different stories to publishers than the ones you've put up on line.


Q:

What was the most difficult thing you had to do to maintain your cover?

A:

David, what do you feel like was your biggest mistake in the heist? Getting too many people involved? It seems like you got away with it for a while until all of your cohorts started talking too much.


Q:

Hi may I ask why you are not a fan of dyson or Shark? I'd imagine because they specialize in bagless vacuum cleaners as opposed to the bag vacuums?

A:

A bit more of a present-day question, on the subject of nuclear weapons and their use.

I have a number of family members (aunts, uncles, older cousins, etc.), and various friends and co-workers I've had over the years, who have all either agreed with, or actively argued for the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike to solve our problems, mostly in the Middle East.

Do you have any recommendations for what to say to these people, all of whom lived through the days of "Duck and Cover" and the threat of nuclear annihilation, to dissuade them from the notion that using nuclear weapons, let alone as a "first strike," is a good idea?

In addition to that, do you have any thoughts on why people who spent half or more of their lives living under the threat of global nuclear annihilation would think that the use of nukes at all would be a good idea?


Q:

Whilst bored at the beginning of a long term drugs operation, I decided to adopt a faux-Russian accent. The job lasted for many months, and I found it somewhat exhausting to keep that up. Some drug dealers also thought it was a piss take, and it led to several comical arguments in seedy council estate stairwells.

Probably most difficult thing was pretending to be a paedophile, and being enthusiastic and discussing some of the most abhorrent things humanly possible.

A:

To be honest, doing it at all was my biggest mistake but that thought comes with a bit of perspective. I will say though, if you have a "secret" it's best to keep it to yourself, lol.


Q:

It's not about bagless, per se. It's about the brands, themselves.

Dyson used to make pretty decent vacuums. Now, all the shit they put out has horrible airflow, shitty nozzle base plates, and they churn out vacuums with known problems, cashing in on the fact that a HUGE number of owners won't ever file warranty claims, and then churn the same shit out after they've "fixed" a problem or two.

Shark doesn't put their parts out on the market for guys like me to be able to repair them for our customers. Instead, they want you to ship your vac back to them (both ways) for repairs. They've also had many complaints about their warranty service. Combine that with shitty designs and shitty materials, and you get a less than ideal vacuum.

A:

We have a severe problem that irrational people can take the American ethos of Suspicion of Authority (SoA) and be coaxed into turning it NOT against their oligarch oppressors, but against all the smartypants professionals who know stuff. Those professionals KNOW that crime has declined in America. We know that a hundred times more Americans died under George Bush as died under Obama from violence at the hands of Muslim antagonists. A hundred times. But you'll never get the New Confederates to look at the evidence. Indeed, facts only enrage them against us.

If every Middle Eastern nation declared war against us tomorrow, what could that alliance do to us? Fear of them is pathetic and cowardly. We outnumber them, even united! Their combined economies and militaries are a fingernail clipping, next to ours. Terrorism? Show me the terrorism! There's been almost none!

Our parents, in the Greatest Generation, endured more losses in any week of WWII than we have across the entire War on Terror, including 9/11! Yet the GGs never whimpered and whined and moaned and thrashed and threw tantrums the way confeds do, screeching "Islamic terrorists!"

Note it is folks who do NOT live in the cities who rail in fear. City folk - who are the targets - shrug and get on with business. -- db


Q:

Do you actually know Russian?

One of them could have typed 'are you undercover' in google translate on his phone and pressed the play option, then asked you what it said...

A:

What is the biggest difference between the real you and how you were portrayed in the movie? Something that was super accurate?


Q:

Should I expect a vacuum to be able to pick up lint from a medium pile carpet surface if the brush isn't spinning (mine doesn't)? Wondering whether my Dyson DC07 is from the decent years.

We've had a Dyson DC07 for over 10 years (heck, it may be close to 15 years), and my only complaint is that the bristles are too stiff and thus fuzz the carpet. I never cared before, but we recently went from crappy old carpet to new medium pile. The model doesn't have any height settings, so I can't adjust the bristles to barely touch the carpet surface. Vacuum is in great shape and works fine otherwise, so I haven't been able to bring myself to spring for a Riccar yet.

A:

One would hope, with the amount of surveillance we have nowadays that enough data would be left to track back to the perpetrator. But the public image of our intelligence agencies is less than stellar these days so who really knows if they would be able to figure it out definitively.

Not exactly the same subject, but what are your thoughts about the possible dangers of all the old radioactive material that's been dumped in oceans or is still stored in leaky containers in the US?


Q:

Luckily yes I do, a bit. I was happy that if I encountered a Russian, I would be able to blag my way through any issues.

A:

Well I'm taller than Zach and we have different Carolina accents. He even says that he played a much 'dumber version' of me, I'm actually pretty laid back. Something that was very accurate was the victory dance when leaving the vault.


Q:

I think the problem with your Dyson is that you need a new belt set installed. If the brush isn't aggressively turning, you're not getting cleaning. If it's been more than a couple of years, you also need a whole filter set installed. Probably around $100 for everything.

But, it still won't clean like a Riccar.

A:

Our intelligence agencies are filled with civil servants who mean well. Even they know that their power could go bad, in the wrong hands. I get nods when I tell them that over the long run, they must fight for a more transparent world, because that is our only victory condition.

Other topic. Re-open Yucca mountain. Such hypocrisy! Senators who cannot envision the world 5 years from now used as their excuse that Ucca might leak across 10,000 years!


Q:

That's hilarious! (The fake accent part that is). Why did you do it? For shits and giggles?

A:

Was the victory dance caught on cctv like in the film? If so, is there anywhere we can go to see the real victory dance? lol.


Q:

I have a Sebo airbelt K3. Thoughts?

A:

I hope you're right regarding intelligence agencies civil servants. The problem is that more and more, meaning well is not enough. You need to Act Well, and unfortunately that means doing what Snowden did !


Q:

Precisely that. I got so bored and almost m=numbed through years of the drudgery of buying drugs, I need to sex it up a bit.

A:

Truthfully I don't know , I kinda hope its out there somewhere , lol


Q:

Great vacuum, but ugly as sin. Are you happy with it?

A:

Catherine here: It is certainly still a deterrent. However, you make a good point. It only takes one person in a position of power to upset the careful balance we currently maintain in the world. The scientific and technological infrastructure to create such weapons isn’t easy to come by, but that doesn’t mean other countries and/or individuals can’t eventually develop them. We need to become well educated on the dangers, and to use our judgment in selecting leaders who can protect our best interests, not only in weapons development, but in dealing with the rest of the world in a manner that will encourage cooperation in protecting humanity from destruction. We also need a strong education focus on STEM fields that help train those who can develop counter measures to the means of mutually assured destruction; and a focus on political science/diplomacy, to train more people who can deal in a positive manner with discussions about weapons control among the international community.


Q:

sex it up a bit.

Wait.. are we talking about the accent thing or the pedo thing?

A:

How is your life now? Can you relate to the one you were before all this?


Q:

I have a rowhome with two sets of stairs of carpeted stairs and a mix of regular carpeting and hardwood. I have a dog.

Without going over 3-4 hundred (but tell me if it's dumb to skip on a 440 one etc), can you give me advice on what to buy so I don't need to think? After each one of your threads I get into review hell on amazon, see my price creep up and end up getting nothing.

A:

Best estimate on when will the singularity happen?

What's some cool things you plan to do when we have infinite virtual worlds to explore and create?


Q:

deffo the accent

A:

My life is actually pretty ordinary, the movie really did not change a thing. I still get up in the morning and go to work just like everyone else.


Q:

Man, your place was built by a vacuum masochist. Are you a strong person? Can you get that budget up to $600-700?

A:

Depends on which singularity. If it turns out AI must happen the way WE did it... the only example we know... then they'll have to experience the world in tactile reality, like a human child. In which case it will take 20 years for little child robots to become truly superior. Time to teach them values and for civilization to remain human.

If it happens like in the movies, with a sudden accidental takeoff? Well, maybe it already has! Yes, I am talking to you, fellah! Yes, you, the AI I spotted lurking while I wrote EXISTENCE. You think I'm gonna stop these hints just because...

...ah, a bribe? Okay, never mind. Just joshing around ;-) --db


Q:

After people started questioning the accent was there ever a moment of "oh shit I might die because of shits and giggles"?

A:

You didn't hide any of the money???


Q:

I think that's what makes people balk at the high price tags. People are used to vacuums being disposable and only lasting a few years. Like /u/touchmyfuckingcoffee said, treat it as an appliance. Spend big, lasts for a lot of years. Miele wouldn't have such a long warranty if they lost money on the deal. Their vacuums last at least the length of the warranty.

A:

Hey, thanks for your detaillied answers. My question is, what are the sci-fi stories or books that gave you the Wow-effect? You know, when you read it and think "damn, this idea mentioned in here is so... Genius or insane, but very interesting". And maybe the best you have read so far?


Q:

yes, because it caused some friction with some nasty dudes who thought I was taking the piss out of them, and I had to beat a hasty retreat after being threatened with a stabbing!

A:

nope


Q:

It's not like Electrolux didn't cut their teeth on vacuums that would cost ~$2000 or more in today's dollars.

A:

Well... so many... Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE? Almost anything by Fred Pohl. Greg Bear's BLOOD MUSIC. Vernor Vinge's MAROONED IN REAL TIME. Almost anything by Catherine Asaro! Nancy Kress. -db


Q:

What's your view on police having a relationship with someone using their undercover identity?

A:

Did you manage to bury any of the money before you got busted?


Q:

My wife insists on the shitty $49.99 bagless vacuums from some company you never heard of. Whats a good way to sway her to buy a better one?

Also. She has long hair. Its pain to clean the spinning brush. Whats the best way to remove hair from it?

A:

Blood Music was one of the most beautiful and frightening things I've ever read!


Q:

Its wrong, and I have been very clear about this in previous dealings with the media. I don't approve of it, and a professional operator should not need to shag someone to maintain their cover, and certainly not with the tacit approval of superiors.

However, when you expect someone to go undercover with a small group, for 7 years, it is human instinct to form relationships, so I can maybe understand how it has happened in the past. I don't condone it, but I might understand it under certain circumstances.

This is all being covered by the Pitchford enquiry in the UK, which I am sure will doubtless reveal some of the more interesting questions about this activity.

A:

Nope. And FYI, American currency uses an ink that never really dries and burying money can lead to mold and rot and thus worthless money.


Q:

Cheap is very costly! Imagine how much you would be able to spend on a good vacuum with all the money you've wasted on shitty vacs. Ask her why she hates clean carpets and air. Seriously, most people just don't realize that there is a qualitative and quantitative difference in the quality of product and cleaning when spending money on appliances.

Ask her if she'd spend $50 on a refrigerator and expect it to get the job done. Your vacuum is a more important appliance because it's the only one you have that cleans your living space and air. Eww...

Check my post history; I have a video which will help you with that hair.

A:

Greg Egan's novella "Wang's Carpets" left me with my jaw dropped. I ended up writing a 5000 word essay titled "Strange Loops of Wonder" about the science/math in it. The essay first appeared Tangent Magazine and then later in the anthology Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film, ed. Lou Anders.


Q:

However, when you expect someone to go undercover with a small group, for 7 years, it is human instinct to form relationships,

How do people who have been undercover for so long cope when it is over?

It seems like it would be really draining to be undercover for years, to have that be your life, and then one day it just ends.

A:

What did you dream of spending the money on?


Q:

About 2 years ago, a friend of mine bought a canister Miele. While it is the quietest vacuum i have ever used, i'm not sure it's more powerful than my hoover bagless. My question is if i empty out the canister every time before using my hoover versus a bagged vacuum cleaner with the bag say half full, is the performance of the bagged still better than the bagless model? Have you also played around with the new Miele Blizzard CX1 bagless?

A:

Given your use of the larger concept in Sundiver, have you heard of the recent proposal of a quantum cascade laser system that is powered strictly by heat, with no electrical input, and produces a cooling effect by emitting light? https://phys.org/news/2012-11-powering-lasers.html

Do you think this could be used, not just to power a high-energy laser, but to make highly effective and efficient heat sinks that emit laser light at a much higher rate than even the most emissive materails we could make a heat sink out of?


Q:

Well, just look up Mark Kennedy and you will see what a drain it was for him.

A:

well my long term plan was to bank the money , buy a boat and kinda cruise around , the Caribbean fish and dive . Kind of a permanent tourist if you will.


Q:

You need to understand that Miele bags, in particular, allow for maximum suction and airflow until they're completely full. So, even if your Hoover bagless had freshly washed filters and a clean HEPA filter, it still can't out compete the Miele.

That being said, the better Hoover bagless models out there perform far better than many bagless vacuums.

A:

This is Catherine, not David, so I"ll keep my response brief. Do you have a link to the proposal of the laser? I'd like to take a look and see what I think.


Q:

Iv read stories of undercover police having to partake in the use of class A drugs to get in with the criminals, and ending up with habits. How true is this and how deep does an officer have to go?

A:

Why didn't you do this? I assume you got caught first but why not make a beeline for a country with no extradition laws/international water?


Q:

I've got a Miele S7000 with a torn up hose that's currently held together with duct tape. How do I get a replacement or repair?

A:

Given your use of the larger concept in Sundiver, have you heard of the recent proposal of a quantum cascade laser system that is powered strictly by heat, with no electrical input, and produces a cooling effect by emitting light? https://phys.org/news/2012-11-powering-lasers.html

Do you think this could be used, not just to power a high-energy laser, but to make highly effective and efficient heat sinks that emit laser light at a much higher rate than even the most emissive materails we could make a heat sink out of?


Q:

True in US and probably other countries

It may happen in the UK, but only under very extreme and justifiable circumstances, because any (admitted) use of drugs would drastically effect the credibility of ones evidence (not just during that occasion but the entire operation)

A:

Well, you know what they say about hindsight.


Q:

Take it on down to your local Miele dealer.

A:

Kewl! Hadn't heard of that! I will look into it. I want royalties! -db


Q:

Have you ever rolled on the ground and fired your gun in the air whilst screaming "AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH"?

A:

What do they say about hindsight?


Q:

That's painfully obvious. Thanks!

A:

I've read like 5 books in my life front to back; I just can't get into them. But one book I couldn't put down was Robert L. Forward's Dragon's Egg! Have you read it, and do you have a recommendation from your works that you think I might like?


Q:

Often

A:

Hindsight is 20 /20


Q:

Glad I could help.

A:

Catherine here: Dragon's Egg is brilliant. If you like diamond hard sf, then from my works I would suggest Primary Inversion (preferably the ebook version, which was updated from the hardcover) and its sequel The Radiant Seas. They involve relativistic projections, other physics, math, chemistry, and also military science (e.g. futuristic weapons development and space battles at relativistic speeds). I ended up publishing a paper in the American Journal of Physics about the scientific extrapolation I used for the relativistic background.

http://aapt.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1119/1.18258 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/243491300_Complex_speeds_and_special_relativity http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/people/asaro.cfm

Also you might enjoy my book Spherical Harmonic, which involves an imagined universe based on the Hilbert space described by the spherical harmonic eigenfunctions that solve the Laplace Equation. Some prose in the book is even written in the shape of the sinusoidal waves found in the spherical harmonics.

Some of my books also include essays in the back about the science. For example, The Quantum Rose is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a science fiction setting, so it's not hard sf. However, the book is an allegory to quantum scattering theory, and I talk about the science in an essay at the end of the book. That happened because I was writing my doctoral thesis in coupled channeled quantum scattering theory at the same time I was writing the first draft of Quantum Rose, and I couldn’t separate my thoughts on the two.


Q:

What was your closest call? Edit: More specifically when undercover. Were you ever close to being exposed?

A:

So basically this was you


Q:

If I'm cleaning a theater (short carpet flooring tiles everywhere, vacuuming after every show, 3 shows a day, every day) what is the best vacuum I can use? There's popcorn, there's candy, etc.

A:

Catherine, I love your work! Why is there not more sci-fi that also treats romance and sex like you do? Are male authors really out of touch or is there just a negative stigma against romance?


Q:

Hmmm. When youre undercover, you experience extreme rights of paranoia, so this is difficult to quantify.

I think maybe the occasion alluded to above was the closest.

I had been going to a particular pub for months, getting my face known etc etc in order to get into a local criminal gang, known to loathe outsiders and by uber-suspicious.

All was going well, but the senior officer in charge wanted some action, despite me saying this is a 'softly-softly' long term job,

So, they sent along a fellow undercover officer, who was (a lovely guy, but) loud, brash and gregarious, the exact opposite to me.

Maybe I was being overly paranoid, but bearing in mind, I had had no trouble in this place for months, this fellow UC approached me one evening in the pub, and said one of the gang had just accused him of being a police officer.

I wanted to then leave, but thought better of it, choosing to brave it out. Well, the alcohol continued to flow, and I remember I had drunk so much I had to be sick outside. As I was merrily vomiting outside, some of the gang began leaving the pub, and addressing me as 'officer' and 'sarge'

In my criminal guise, I decided to take umbrage at this and began a full-on argument with them, and was joined by my colleague. This scenario narrowly missed descending into ultra violence when the landlord grabbed us both and locked us in the now empty pub, and barricaded the doors.

Stuff was being thrown at the pub and shouting and hollering etc, which after about 10 minutes, died down. Thankfully.

We were lucky not to get a kicking tbh.

A:

lol, good meme, thank you.


Q:

Man, that is a shit job for a vacuum. Check out the ProTeam XP1500. It's an old Electrolux design that's been licensed out to different companies, and this is my favorite clone. It can take all kinds of abuse without problems, and the bags are available in bulk for dirt cheap. Plus, with HEPA filtration, it won't leave a lot of dust in the theatre after.

A:

Aw.... I agree that Catherine writes REALLY good romance woven into stories about science. "The Moon Pool" makes you justabout cry! But am... I... really chopped liver? ;-(

(Actually ;-)! -- db


Q:

How do you afford to be drunk while undercover? I mean, you can slip up and say the wrong things right?

A:

What kind of boat would it have been?


Q:

What do you think of Numatic, if you've ever encountered one? Particularly Henry? I don't think they're very popular in the US. My mum had one for 20 years, tried out several others and then got another Henry. Also, he's cute.

A:

What do you think of the development of railguns, lasers and anti-ballistic missiles greatly reducing the threat of ICBM-delivered nuclear weapons?

How would this affect international relations, if MAD was less certain than it is today?


Q:

Yes. Absolutely. So you have to be in that particular drunk frame of mind where you still have a level of being compos mentis. If such a thing exists.

Its not something which is condoned, but it does happen.

A:

I wanted something that would go mostly unnoticed . I was looking at a small (40 ft. ) trawler


Q:

I hear they're great vacuums for the price. They've just recently begun importing them, and the costs are very high. So, I haven't had a chance to personally play with one yet.

But, basic is good and reliable, and I hear that's what they are.

A:

HI, Matterbeam. At this point, I'd say that the threat is spreading out among more types of weapons, so it's diffused in that sense, but that nuclear weapons still pose a substantial threat.


Q:

What is your most interesting or disturbing case?

A:

How do you feel about your actions 20 years later?

Would you have not done it altogether, looking back, or would you have done things differently to make sure you got away with it?


Q:

Why are they pushing bagless so hard? They suck.

They're dirty, they don't work well, and you spend more time cleaning the canister and their multiple filters than vacuuming.

I can't be the only person that's noticed this right? I bought a $45 bagged Bissell to replace a $200 bagless Eureka. In addition to being a more powerful vacuum I just throw the dirty bags away and don't have to clean anything.

A:

Have you heard the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?


Q:

Disturbing for me, probably anything dealing with paeodophilia. Once case involved making a call to a suspected child abuser, who had been identified online. The idea was that I would give him a quick call, for no other reason than to arrange potentially some sort of meeting in the future. I expected to be on the phone with him for 5 minutes, and for him to be ultra suspicious, and actually for the call not to yield anything other than a possible agreement to call again later. I was totally taken aback when the call ended up lasting around 45 minutes, with this guy describing, in rather sickening detail, the activities he wanted to engage in with my (fictional) children. In fact, I had to end the call myself, as I felt physically ill engaging in such conversation (although I expected that I should do so as part of my job). It was a conversation which I find disturbing to this day, made all the more potent by the fact that I had to display enthusiasm and engage in the chat with a certain amount of vigour, to maintain my cover. I had several more conversations of that ilk with the guy, and eventually met him in person. I was very nervous when meeting him - not because of a fear of impending violence or anything like that, but just because the urban cop myth states that a paedophile can always recognise another paedophile, and I was anxious that he would simply dismiss me in person for that reason. Evidently, this didn't happen and the meeting passed without a hitch and the guy was arrested and taken to court. All in all, a really quite disturbing episode which haunts me every now and then.

A:

If I hadn't have done what I did, my life would be completely different now. The things that have happened in my life since then have led me to having a lovely wife that I wouldn't have met if I didn't move here after I got out which led to us having a wonderful child. That being said my actions years ago were from someone who was very different than I am now and while I think what I did was wrong, well, at this point it is what it is.


Q:

You're preaching to the choir, bro. They're making these vacuums specifically to those who have drunk the bagless-koolaid.

Some people simply do not want to mess with a bag, and these vacs are for them. At least with these brands, you're getting far more powerful motors, better filtration, and rock-solid warranties with a built in dealer-repair network to make things easier.

A:

nope -db


Q:

At least you know that he'll never be able to act out what he told you. I'm glad you caught him.

A:

Honestly, you've accomplished a pipedream fantasy that many people hold. Embrace your success and failure both. I note you as being inspirational, not criminal. Hey, very few people have done what you have and that makes you absolutely an interesting man, not to say that other things don't, but you are elite.


Q:

Question regarding this. I received a Dyson big ball animal + allergy for my birthday last year. I'm obsessed. Do you have any recommendations on cleaning/maintaining it other than cleaning out the internal components every now and again? Thanks for doing this AMA!

A:

Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis "the wise"? I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life... He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. He became so powerful... the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. It's ironic he could save others from death, but not himself.


Q:

I think he recently committed suicide actually. He only removed 12 months in prison for the operation I was involved in and I think he was subsequently arrested for similar crimes.

A:

I humbly and honestly Thank you .


Q:

You've pretty much got it. You can check out youtube, armed with your vac's model number to see if there any any maintenance videos available.

A:

Look up Manicheanism. I deem George Lucas's universe, his moral system and messages and theology to be among the most evil I have ever seen. I am hoping THE LAST JEDI's title comes true and that galaxy can sigh relief, spreading a cure-plague that kills every midichlorian and frees them from mutant force abusers, light and dark.

See STAR WARS ON TRIAL!! db


Q:

12 months seems a frighteningly short amount of time

A:

If you could have anyone besides Zach Galifianakis play you in a movie, who would it be?


Q:

What are your opinions on Kirby vacuums? I used to sell them so I'm a little biased, do you think they're worth the money for the power before l behind them and warrantee ?

A:

Hey humans, thanks for doing this. I'm just wondering what's next for science fiction? Do you see the current geopolitical climate informing any general themes? Will we see more "abandon ship" Earth exodus story telling? Or a move away from dystopian to something a bit more idealistic?


Q:

Yes it does.

A:

Morgan Freeman, he's calm like I am and has a great voice, like, he could read the back of a lunchable and I would listen.


Q:

Since this is the first Kirby question of the day, I'll go ahead and make it thorough.

I make more money repairing Kirbys and selling their consumables. Last week alone, on a slow week, I raked in over $600 in Kirby repairs...on 4 vacuums. I also get at least a dozen calls a week from people who regret buying them and want to sell them.

Kirby vacuums cannot compete against modern vacuums in terms of a) maintenance costs, b) consumables costs, c) deep cleaning (through the carpet padding), and d) filtration.

  • Kirby's impeller motor design is a low-suction, high-airflow system. This prevents it from cleaning the carpet padding, and down to the subfloor, leaving your home dirtier. This applies to the air you breathe as well as the cleanliness of your carpet. They clean the surface quickly and efficiently, but that's all.

  • The price of bags for the new Kirby's are ~ $8.6/bag. Miele's premium imported bags are ~ $5.4/bag. Kirbys also lack a separate exhaust filter to keep the air clean.

  • Kirby's factory warranty is only 3 years, with a refurbishment program that is not free, and costs more every year your vacuum ages. Miele has 7 year basic and 10 year premium warranties. Riccar's warranties vary based on model but are comprehensive and cover for 4-8 years.

So, all that for a vacuum that weighs as much as a boat anchor, can't get under any furniture, and is a pain in the ass to use.

A:

Lots of myths about how reality shapes sci fi. Are there more zombie flicks during Democratic administrations and vampires in GOP ones? Defeat-The-Man tales happened under Obama but I expect more under DT... e.g. Norman Spinrad's new book THE PEOPLE'S POLICE. -- DB


Q:

Where do you draw the line? What's something you won't do to keep your cover intact? What are you willing to do?

A:

Did you have to claim the stolen money on your tax return that year? That might sound like a dumb question, but think about it... Once you were caught and everything was sorted out, there must have been a known amount of money in which the FBI, etc. determined that you had spent at that point. The spent money would have technically been untaxed income, so I'm just curious if the IRS or someone contacted you one day said "so yeah... we need you to pay taxes on the $_____ that you spent". Or did they not even bother and consider it lost currency? All my other questions were already answered :(


Q:

What do you think about a rainbows?

A:

Hey humans, thanks for doing this. I'm just wondering what's next for science fiction? Do you see the current geopolitical climate informing any general themes? Will we see more "abandon ship" Earth exodus story telling? Or a move away from dystopian to something a bit more idealistic?


Q:

There are hard and fast rules in the UK about what you can and cant do.

It would depend on the circumstances, but suffice to say, you learn, and are trained, to wheedle your way out of situations using some swift banter and chat.

You can't commit crime essentially, although there are certain circumstances where you can.

I wouldn't do anything which harmed anyone else to keep my cover - I would expect not to be in such a situation anyway. If I do my job right, then I shouldn't expect to have made such a disastrous choice of action where someone is asking me to do something awful.

On a personal level, I would do anything to save my own life, or that of someone I loved, so if it came down to, theoretically, someone saying 'Admit you're a cop or I kill your kids' then its a no-brainer.

There were many occasions where people would suspect you were a cop, and you just put on some bravado and get on with it. Although once such occasion I ended up barricaded in a pub surrounded by angry gentlemen who were in no doubt I was a cop. That operation ended there and then.

A:

good question the short version is that it was all added onto my fines which add up to around 3.8 million .


Q:

I'm not a fan. Water isn't a great filtration medium and you lose a great deal of suction trying to pull the debris through the water.

There are more reliable, better filtered, and lower maintenance options out there.

A:

Hello! And you're welcome. I suspect we will see a more books dealing with political projections into the future, not so much dystopias (which are suffering right now from dystopia-fatigue among readers), but rather, projections of current political situations taken to the extreme in the future. For example, what would happen if we denied global warming 100% and it continued until substantial portions of the planet became uninhabitable?

All of these have been done in some form or another already, so I think fresh, updated takes on the subject matter with a view toward modern day life (in particular the much larger influence of the online world on our culture) will have the greatest impact. -- CA


Q:

Most creative excuse you received when making an arrest?

A:

Do you get royalties from the movie? That's kind of a roundabout way to get rich off of robbing an armored truck.


Q:

=[ I love my Kirby... All $1800 of it.

A:

Can you recommend some good high science Sci-Fi? I haven't read much of the genre but I really enjoyed the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson and (unrelated) the Hyperion Cantos.


Q:

As an undercover officer, I would never have been involved in arresting anyone. The targets would only ever know of my involvement when neccessary, and sometimes it would be revealed during 'tactical interviewing'.

So for example, I spent several months buying crack and heroin from a group dealing drugs in a Jamaican barber shop. I went for the down and out look, with faux suppurating leg ulcers and a pervasive odour of urine...

The suspects were all arrested (they had a Mac 10 in the premises too) and they were shown the video footage of me going up to them on about 60 occassions, exchaging money for drugs etc.

They were asked in interview what was going on, and they all stated that I was a well-known local homeless itinerant, and they were good Christians, so were giving me money and food.

That, unfortunately, was the nail in theory coffin, because then it is revealed who I really am, and the evidence is laid out (video, chain of custody of the drugs I was sold, DNA etc etc) and they have no choice but to plead guilty.

A:

Nope, not a dime. That would be profiting from a crime which is a no no and I'm on the straight and narrow.


Q:

I'm glad you're happy with it and sorry you didn't get it for MSRP or less.

A:

I have posted a lot of lists, over time. Here you can find compilations about science fiction http://www.scoop.it/t/speculations-on-science-fiction

... and about using Science Fiction to teach Science http://www.scoop.it/t/using-science-fiction-to-teach-science

... and about teaching Science Fiction itself! http://www.scoop.it/t/teaching-science-fiction --db


Q:

You had to buy drugs from them 60 times before having enough evidence that they were drugdealers?

A:

What was the dumbest thing you purchased with some of that $?


Q:

has your opinion of dyson changed since the last AMA?

A:

Several writers in geo-politics (Peter Zeihan, George Friedman of Stratfor, etc.) seem to think, well, yes, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but the U.S. can ride it (and anything climate change can throw at us) out. Do the two of you think we have the resources/privilege of being isolationist in the face of the world's challenges, and what do you think the results of such a strategy would be?


Q:

No, i didn't HAVE to, but there were some 25 plus dealers operating from the premises, and best practice was to get 3 or 4 corroborated buys from each.

A:

The 4 pairs of boots I bought in one day [shrug] what can I say they were nice and I was impulse shopping.


Q:

Fair question. With the absolute disaster which is the new filterless models, I can only say my opinion has changed, but not for the better.

A:

I have met those guys and deem them to be vastly overrated. They go along with the hellishly stupid over-rating of the "Islamic" threat. They ignore the spectacular creativity that was engendered by the renaissance of the last 70 years. The only way their forecasts can come true is if: (1) A non-linear destructive dual use tech appears (see above), or (2) The current confederate madness (phase 8 of our civil war) keeps getting worse, slamming down upon the professional classes who created all our wealth and power. (3) If the propaganda system that has pushed this meme of cowardly pessimism continues.

There are ZERO statistical supports for "hell in a hand basket." Despite relentless downer and anti-professionals propaganda and economic sabotage by parasitical oligarchs, we still have vibrant science, inventive tech and an economy that moves forwar.

Those jerks are fools. As is anyone who listens to them. --db


Q:

Did you go after their suppliers ? Or are the "street-dealers" the primary target ?

A:

Whats your favourite film with zach galifianakis in?


Q:

I just bought my first Miele (C3 Kona).

First of all, the hype is real. I'm ashamed to have called myself a Dyson owner. 2nd, apart from standard filter/bag replacement, any tips for a first time Miele owner?

Anyone reading this with indoor allergies, it has made an instant impact on my wife's allergies. She was having to go in for weekly acupuncture to help with her migraines caused by allergies. After 2 days of furious vacuuming the whole house (normally would have killed her) she claims to feel as good as she did coming out of acupuncture. So, hesitate at the price tag all you want, this thing will end up making our lives cheaper.

A:

Do you have an old-timey favorite short-story sci-fi author? I think it's the toughest sci-fi out there - trying to convey an "abnormal" plot in a meaningful way in a short amount of time.


Q:

When I did it it was street dealers, which is ridiculous - you just end up chasing your tail, and achieving nothing, hence my disillusionment!

There is some effort to get to the higher up people, but then you are talking about very very long term and complex operations usually, which dont get sanctioned by the senior officers (who want figures and statistics)

Its much better for them to say 'A long term covert operation culminated in the arrest of 50 drug dealers in Sandford today (read 50 poor guys selling drugs on behalf of someone else, for a hundred quid a day, and being easily replacable)' and that gets them kudos.

A:

Actually my favorite thing with Zach in it is his show Baskets however Due Date was pretty hilarious.


Q:

I'm so glad to hear you're having such great performance from your Miele. Welcome to the club. Here's some tips:

  • Let your bags get completely full (bag indicator) before replacing them to save money. Many bagless converts don't understand how much they can hold.

  • Always start with your height adjustment set to the highest setting and working it down just until it starts to vibrate the carpet and NO lower. This will give you the best agitation and airflow combination.

  • Unplug your cord by hand and walk it to the vac before retracting the cord, and let it go in in a controlled fashion. This will help it and your winder to last much longer.

  • Be conscientious about how you use your hose, and try to avoid crimping it or stepping on it. You don't want to damage your wires inside the hose.

Take it in every 3-5 years just for a thorough inspection, so as to get out any trapped hair in the powerbrush and to make sure all else is running smoothly.

Hope that helps!

A:

I really liked Joan D. Vinge when I was young. I agree with what you say about short stories. They are the hardest for me to write.


Q:

Thanks man :D A lot of people seem angry with my question. But I was curious how true the Wire was in the UK. But you answered it somewhere else.

the senior officers (who want figures and statistics)

Seems rather universally true then, sadly.

Its much better for them to say 'A long term covert operation culminated in the arrest of 50 drug dealers in Sandford today

Do you have any clue how this could be changed ? Because it seems many cops (even the most "hard-core") agree that the current approach isn't really working. But yet, those with the field experience seem to be ignored, by both voters and politicians.

A:

So I haven't read your story or anything but what was your thought process going into the heist?


Q:

Would brand would you recommend for house cat pestering applications?

A:

Contrariwise, may not utopian science fiction that explains how a species has skillfully averted nuclear be beneficial for the same goal? Any recommendations for such science fiction novels? Thanks!

Eray


Q:

I have no idea how to change it in the short term, but organisations such as LEAP are doing some great lobbying and advocacy work.

A:

I planned backwards, where I wanted to go and then how much I would need to get there.


Q:

Eureka and DIrt Devil vacuums are particularly noisy, and if you get one of the cheap ones with no exhaust filtration, then you can blow dirty air at them too.

A:

Have you tried Joan Slonczewski? She's an excellent writer of hard sf with a bent toward microbiology.


Q:

Do your friends and family know you're working undercover?

Working must be super stressful for you.Do you suffer psychologically during the who time?

A:

Did you help at all with the movie, directing, explaining how it went, etc? If so how was working with them?


Q:

But it won't actually vacuum up the cat? Boo!

A:

No, I have not. Thanks for the recommendation.


Q:

My close friends did - certainly those in the police. My immediate family did (except my mum, although she does now)

It was stressful, and I ended up leaving the police. But a lot of that was down to me not managing my stress effectively, and the simple fact is, whilst stress affects people in different ways, I did not manage it effectively, and I am still tarnished by it now. I'm still getting over it to be honest, and it takes time.

Its weird because at the time, you have no idea of the effects it is having, and it's only in the past 2 years or so, I have been able to realise 'S**t, I didn't realise I acted this way or reacted to such things'

A:

I consulted on some of the props and sets in the movie, it was a joy working with Jared, Zach and the rest of the cast and crew.


Q:

Shop Vac.

A:

Folks thanks for participating! Before we close, here is my web site: http://www.davidbrin.com (LOTS of stuff there!) And my blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

Twitter @DavidBrin G+ = +davidbrin1 FB= https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORDAVIDBRIN/ Youtube= https://www.youtube.com/user/davidbrin1

Catherine?


Q:

Could they be charged with assaulting a police officer?

A:

how did you feel with Zach Galifianakis playing you?


Q:

What's your take on "Roombas"?

A:

No, I have not. Thanks for the recommendation.


Q:

I suppose, if you drilled it down, perhaps yes they could. There are innumerable points to prove, and the offence of assaulting a police officer is notoriously difficult to prosecute believe it or not. I dont ever think it would happen though - undercover officers are volunteers and know what they are getting into, and are given in out in stress management and go through such a rigorous selection process that it would be foolhardy to try and claim some sort of emotional injury as a specific result of another's actions.

A:

I feel fine. I think he did a good job and is a really great guy.


Q:

As far as robotic vacs go, I prefer Neato and Miele models for their logical cleaning algorithms. My concern with robots is them dragging around animal waste or vomit. Just Youtube that shit.

A:

Does anyone have any final thoughts?


Q:

How does being undercover affect your personal life as you won't be able to describe to them what you do and when you do it? I cannot think how strong you have to be to deal a dual life just for the betterment of society and not your personal life...

A:

Did u enjoy your time as lead singer of the Spin Doctors?


Q:

This is why I always do a check of the floor before I turn the roomba on.

A:

Thanks for all the great stories... Didn't have any questions but enjoy both of your work and this AMA


Q:

Honestly? A bit trite but it fucks you up. Not just not being able to tell them about stuff, but just the concept that you are striving to put away bad people, and it means that you inevitably sacrifice part of your life (at the time just temporarily, but as it turn out, it effects you forever) And yes, you have to be strong in many respects, even turning your nose up at moral questions - I wasn't strong enough, hence my departure from the police

A:

Hahaha, sadly that wasn't me and my wife doesn't recommend singing as a career for me.


Q:

If you're home when it's happens, that's great. I think that's usually the problem.

A:

Anyone re nuclear power or energy?


Q:

Were you ever stabbed through the hand by a man dressed as Father Christmas?

A:

Oh exalted lord of all that is vacuum-related, is there any news about your collaboration with Riccar? (Side note: Still trying to convince my wife to let me get a canister. Best I'll be able to do is a Panasonic, but it's sure as shit going to be better than the Dyson/Bissell/Hoover trio of terribleness that we've had before my Future Vac).

Thanks, as always. You're my favorite AMA-answerer.


Q:

Yes when I was deemed too efficient and maverick, and posted to a sleepy village called Sandford.

A:

I'm fairly certain that somebody at Riccar made promises they shouldn't have and the project was cancelled.

I say fairly certain because no one at Riccar, particularly the woman who made me the offer, could be bothered to return my calls or emails.

I'm sure they enjoyed the free publicity, though.


Q:

I wasn't sure I believed you before this but that's a good bit of knowledge. But what's the shopping centre called?

A:

I am about to spend lots of money on my dream Miele canister vacuum. Is it worth it? Which would you recommend? Trying to stay under $700.


Q:

I dunno mate, I failed the sergeants exam three times.

A:

You know I think it's worth it. My Miele is 25 yrs old and works better than 90% of new vacuums, with virtually no maintenance.


Q:

What's your most satisfying arrest or good result on something you were working on? Also what areas of London were the main spots for organised criminal activity? Used to live there so I'm curious!

A:

Is it safe to put a vacuum on my penis? Asking for a friend


Q:

Satisfying arrest was Juan Carlos Guzman Betancourt (not an undercover job just when I was a detective) known as the worlds top conman.....

Best result operating undercover was any job where I bought a gun, or snared a child abuser.

London has no main hotspots for crime - there are traditional 'bad areas' - Beckon and Stratford for Lithuanian criminality, Islington and some part of South East London for old school London baddies, Tottenham, Hackney for Badass youth and Turkish gangs etc - but also places like Chelsea, Kensington etc house some of the biggest baddies of all (bankers, fixers, oligarchs etc)

A:

Don't stick your penis into a vacuum cleaner.


Q:

Just read up on the conman... Sounds like a slippery fella!

A:

With Valentines day coming up, whats the best vacuum for the lady in my life??


Q:

He is a genius, with balls of steel, and the charm of a smoothly oiled snake in a big vat of oil, selling oil to an oil baron soaked in oil, swimming in a pool of oil in an oil tanker.

A:

Do you want to die a violent death?


Q:

Tottenham, Hackney for Turkish gangs

Forgot to mention Green Lanes, had a shit load of family members locked up for heroin dealing

A:

I think you underestimate the love some women have for vacuums


Q:

Yeh that's sort of what I was intimating: Tottenham Hackney border. Thats where I grew up in fact.

A:

Without a request for one, that's a bold fucking move.


Q:

Yeah I grew up in Tottenham too, major shithole, flat I lived in you'd get cigarettes stubbed out on you waiting for the lift to get to your floor

A:

I will happily accept a vacuum as a gift! Wanna be my valentine?


Q:

The first time I bought crack undercover was about 30 yards from the house I grew up in.

A:

You'd have to consult my fiancee. I don't know how she would feel about it.


Q:

What are your favourite police movies/tv shows? Which ones do you think are the most accurate at portraying the psyche of police?

A:

Looking for a bagged vacuum for a small, 1br apt. Sub $200. Any recommendations or save up for a better one?


Q:

The Wire probably depicts accurately police psyche and the general pointlessness of lots of policing activity and internal politics (yes its even applicable to the UK)

Serpico is awesome.

Fave police movie is Polisse (a French movie) which is under statedly amazing.

A:

You're not going to get much worth having for just $200. You'll get much better options at ~$400. I'd go with a good compact canister vacuum. Panasonic has some good ones for lower prices.


Q:

Thanks, any on UK policing which you like as well? Also, have a wonderful day!

A:

Okay. So, save up it is. Thanks for the response!


Q:

You too thanks!

UK policing maybe The Sweeney?

The Bill was very good in many respects.

We need a UK equivalent of The Wire

Sam Bain's Babylon was very good as well, actually - very reflective of the bulls**t prevalent at the upper echelons!

A:

When you're ready to buy, drop me a line. I'll come up with some options for you.


Q:

How did you deal with the emotional strain of undercover work while you were undercover? Did you have any ways of unwinding during an operation or did you leave that until a job was finished? And how have you dealt with it since? Has it affected you much in the years since you left?

Thank you so much for doing such a fascinating AMA, it's definitely one of the best I've seen.

A:

What is your opinion of Simplicity uprights? I bought mine about a year ago and love it. What are some things as an owner I need to be aware of when caring for my unit? I live alone with no pets so I don't think I'm very hard on the unit. Thanks for doing this AMA.


Q:

Thank you for the comments.

You would usually just carry on until it was finished. I think I still deal with the fallout now.

I think I am affected in a subconscious level, in ways that I act and react to things. I am overly suspicious, and often paranoid, and I do little things like change my routes to work often, or arrive for meetings 15 minutes early to scope the place out (like meetings in public places, not in offices or anything!)

A:

Simplicity vacuums are very good indeed. They're built by the same company that makes Riccar, and are often used to vet parts for upcoming Riccar models. Keep your brush roller clear of built up hair, fibers, etc., and have it into the shop once every year or two, just as a preventative maintenance measure.


Q:

What I really feel that shines out of your responses is that you are a genuinely good person. You've been through stuff that is by definition traumatic, but you haven't emerged either a cynic or a self-aggrandizing victim.

May be a stupid question, but are you aware that you are a good person and happy to be one?

A:

I have a dog that likes to change his Coat more than my girlfriend changes outfits. What shall I get? Mostly carpet apartment with linoleum kitchen. I realize this is a stupid and easy question. But I have never thought about this until I cam across this AMA


Q:

Seriously? No I am not. I am constantly reminded by my awesome other half that I am though, so maybe it will sink in!

A:

Really, all you need is a premium vacuum. This is your invitation to visit your local vacuum shop and really get to know what your options out there are.

Just avoid all box stores.


Q:

I'm an East Londoner myself. Grew up in Newham - saw Stratford change from the grimmy old place to the fancy new spot (but still riddled with crime under all of it)

What are your views about crime in East London? Do you feel it has increased/decreased, or just changed in its nature?

A:

People in this thread are posting vacuums that are north of $1,000. I didn't even know those got that expensive except for the Kirby an old coworker's wife ended up buy for about $2K after the interest of the crazy monthly payments.

What sort of vacuum can/should a peasant like me buy for my house?


Q:

Crime is always there, and always will be. People will always want to make a quick buck under the counter, as it were.

I think it has just changed in nature - we are seeing a lot more cyber crime nowadays, and a lot less 'traditional' crime like armed robberies, street crime and mugging and such like. I worked on a robbery unit once in north east london and would regularly get 10-15 new cases a day of street robberies (this was the advent of the smartphone) I think you're a lot less likely to get robbed in the street like that now, but more likely to get targeted by a robber on Ebay or Gumtree who will arrange to meet you then snatch your cash - as well as more online based criminality.

A:

How much would you spend on a refrigerator, air conditioner or water heater?

Because a real vacuum is an appliance and should be budgeted as such.


Q:

How often does it happen that the police gets infiltrated itself?

A:

How much would you spend on a refrigerator, air conditioner or water heater?

A few hundred probably. Would take some research I guess depending on needs.

My background is in computers. I know that buying the cheapest product generally isn't a good idea, and there are things that are way overpriced. And if you're sort of a lax user, there are some quality middle-of-the-road products you can get that will serve you well. What are those sort of things in the vacuum world?


Q:

I don't know, but its not a great prospect, having to spend the first two years dealing with the worst jobs and making tea for a bitter, sour face old curmudgeon of a sergeant, for 19k a year.

There are more likely (and indeed certainly are) officers who have been recruited after joining, to provide info to criminal gangs.

This is happily very rare though, and such activity will often be noticed before it has a huge effect.

A:

You want good, but middle of the road in price and performance? Panasonics and Kenmores fit that bill.


Q:

Any unexpected benefits of being good at lying?

A:

the most memorable repair you had done?


Q:

None, in fact quite the contrary - not many people trust you!

A:

That's tough to say. I've had lots of fun and challenging jobs. But, the ones that stick out were the nastiest.


Q:

Do you guys carry hidden equipment? Such as a button that alerts Police that you're in trouble, and allows tracking of you? Stuff like that?

A:

Go on


Q:

Its fairy well known, and indeed certainly in this day and age, that officers would need technical evidence to corroborate their activities. The nature of such devices or equipment is necessarily not bandied about, but there are always things in place to mitigate against any potential risks.

A:

Oh, you know how stupid and thoughtless people can be. You can just imagine the shit they'd put in a vacuum...literally.


Q:

being right there on the streets, I' m curious as to what your opinion is towards the " war on drugs ".
do you think legalising (most) drugs will bring serious crime figures down?

A:

I can never seem to keep the air filter vents clean. The dust stuck in the metal part never wants to come out. I am good about replacing the filters but the actual medal part is never clean enough for me. Same thing with any vents in the house really. Is there a special brush or something else to help me?


Q:

The war on drugs is a waste of time, effort and resources.

I spent many many years dealing with 'drug dealers', who, in the main, are poor people, driven by poverty or environment, to commit crime. One of the reasons I left the police was the constant criminalising of the poor.

I don't know whether legalising drugs per se will bring crime figures down, but what I do know is that prohibition does not work, there are still people making a lot of cash out of peoples misery, and people die so that lines of coke can be snorted across the land.

The old adage that when you arrest a street dealer, another rone replaces him in a second is so very true.

'The Wire' is real, people.

There is a great organisation called LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition which counters some great arguments for and against

A:

What you need is a good strong-bristled brush with 1-2 inch bristles. Straw brushes can work well, but can damage cheap paint. Stay away from metal brushes. Have a partner handy with the vacuum nozzle right at the vents as their being cleaned to get rid of the debris.


Q:

My brother has just recently joined the Met with Police Now (policing grad scheme).

My question is: what do you make of government plans to force all officers to have a degree and what effect do you think that will have on UK policing?

A:

Does your job suck?


Q:

I am old school I am afraid, and one of the great things about the UK police is that there was no expectation of education - it was a true blue collar job in that respect - and I think that graduate entry or entry at senior officer level may have a detrimental effect on frontline policing.

Only from the point of view that the internal view of police officers is that everyone should do their 2 years on the streets, and not be given favourable treatment by virtue of their education or any other perceived asset.

Having said that, I also understand the benefits of education, and that there will no doubt be some awesome people who will make great cops. Forcing all cops to have degrees may be a disadvantage to recruiting potential cops from areas and/or backgrounds where a degree is anathema to their family, culture or environment and may put some people off.

I wish your bro the best of luck in any case, and tell him not to let the bastards get him down!

A:

Not as much as your mom.


Q:

You ever have to fight someone to be initiated ? how does an outsider get inside a gang ?

A:

All of the information you've provided over the years, and yet it is this comment that makes me the most sad that your business is not local to me.


Q:

No I havent, thankfully, and such activities at the higher echelons of organised crime are fairly rare. I spent some time attempting to wheedle into various non-UK criminal fraternities, and the simple fact of the matter is, if they have the slightest doubt about you, they will keep you at arms length. I never heard of, or was involved in, the concept of fighting to be initiated into a gang. Its slightly more difficult and sophisticated that Hollywood would have you imagine, and a lot more dull and prolonged! I think the concept of 'bloodng in' in the UK would be really limited to lower level criminals, football hooligans and youth/street gangs as opposed to the higher level organised firearms and drug gangs who wouldn't want unneccessary law enforcement attention from such activity. That's not to say there wasn't an element of violence in these organisations, but it was very few and far between - probably the threat element was a bigger issue, i.e. the threat of violence and the reputation of such organisations.

Dependent upon the 'gang' it is almost impossible to infiltrate a long standing criminal organisation - they are generally very switched on, and whilst you may get accepted on the periphery, to actually become an insider is ridiculously difficult - this is why such infiltrations (Joe Piston being the most famous one) are celebrated and talked about to this day. In the UK there are strict laws and regulations about the activities which undercover officers can engage in, so being part of a gang and being asked, for example, to take part in a violent act, or commit a serious crime - that's not gonna happen.

A:

Thank you. Well, if you ever make it to Texas, I'll buy you a beer...or espresso.


Q:

Were there agents or assets in those gangs already who helped you get in or who fed back info to your handlers?

A:

My vacuum at home has a problem where if you turn up the sucking power too much, it sounds like the bag 'catches' on something and the sucking power is greatly reduced. So I can only use it on the lower power settings. Any idea what this could be?

Sorry it's hard to explain.


Q:

I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of such assets.

A:

It sounds to me like you've got an obstruction in your duct system somewhere. You can check youtube for videos to help, or get it to a local vacuum repair shop.


Q:

When undercover did you ever partake in substances? Kind of a "do a line with me to proove you're legit" kind of thing? Also while undercover did you live at home and keep a regular life during the times, what would you say if things like occupation, hobbies, usuall small talk bullshit would come up? If i met you in a pub while undercover would your behavior and mannerisms be the same as if i met you in a pub today, or did you have to make personallity changes while working, and if so have any of those changes stuck with you today?

A:

Thanks for another AMA. I've got a Miele and the power cord now doesn't stay out, it now always wants to retract into the vacuum. Is there an easy way to fix this myself, or should I take it in?


Q:

If I didnt know you, then I may effect some mannerisms I might not usually have, just whilst I scoped you out.

My actions and demeanour whilst undercover is not anything like the real me, I have to say. Closest I get is sometimes when I get angry about something, I have this weird switch which flicks into cockney gangster mode........but it only lasts for a second, and I realise I am acting like a buffoon.

I never did any gear whilst undercover, and had plenty of reasons not to, none of which were ever questioned by the baddies.

Yes, I would live at home (my real home) when doing undercover work, but cops generally keep close counsel, and that means often associating only with other cops, so it was easy to be in social scenarios

A:

You should take it in. It's likely an easy fix for a Miele tech. There's a small brake in the system that might need adjustment.


Q:

How did you get involved in undercover work? Were you specifically selected or were they asking for volunteers? And how are you trained for UC work? Excellent AMA!

A:

What is a good affordable workhorse of a vacuum for cleaning my basement, car, random stuff I don't want to use my main cleaner for?


Q:

Voluntary, and you go through a rigorous selection process - like several interviews, psychometric testing, and a selection course where you get about 3 hours sleep a night.

The training is classified, and I would get my balls sliced off if I divulged any of it thats not already in my book.

A:

How about a shop vac? You can get just about any accessories you need to tackle the odd jobs.


Q:

how do police t.v shows and movies compare to reality?

A:

I need a good vacuum that can handle long hair. Does such an appliance exist?


Q:

Very little in my experience.

Whether its bog standard policing or doing the 'sexier' stuff, the work is 95 per cent bureaucracy, boredom and dullness, with 5 per cent sheer excitement and adrenalin.

I think I miss the 5 per cent, and I think its that 5 per cent which keeps people doing the job.

Its almost cliched thing to say, but obviously if TV/movies were an accurate reflection, then there would be no cop shows committed to film, ever.

A:

Of course vacuums like that exist. The trick is to pony up the extra cash for a premium vacuum, which will be much more efficient at picking up the hair.

Also, once you have a vacuum, be sure to regularly maintain it by cleaning out any hair built up around the brush roller, or other places in the vacuum. ALL vacuums require this kind of maintenance.


Q:

What's your opinion on Hot Fuzz?

A:

Happy to see you back! Bought a Miele based on your comments in the last AMA and am thoroughly satisfied with its performance. The Dyson has been relegated to the playroom, since it does suck up Legos easily. <EvilMomLaugh>

My question: how frequently should I have my Miele upright serviced professionally?


Q:

British equivalent of NYPD Blue, surely?

A:

Thanks! I'm glad to hear you're happy.

Assuming you don't have any repair issues that require a visit to the shop, get it in every 3 years for a thorough inspection to make sure everything is working properly and buttoned up.


Q:

Did you often have to wear prosthetics and wigs to change your look?

A:

Thoughts on central vacuum systems? Side question: Are they bagless or does that just depend on the type you get?


Q:

No I am blessed with a fine head of hair which is easily manipulated into a multitude of fashionable styles

A:

CV systems are good options for cleaning your home. So many people love them because they get the dirt OUT of your home....Well, to the big bag in the main unit, usually in your garage.

I wouldn't recommend converting an existing home to a CV system because the cost is prohibitive.


Q:

Has anyone ever seen under your cover? What happened?

A:

If you find any expensive item inside a vacuum, do you return it to the owner or keep it? What is the most expensive thing stuck inside a Vacuum?


Q:

Very few have. And what happened is strictly classified.

A:

I've never found anything particularly expensive inside of vac that came in for repair. Usually, it's bits of necklace/bracelets, charms, coins, etc. I did once find a cheap diamond pendant in the vacuum, but it was abandoned and I never heard back from the owner.


Q:

Do you believe you made a difference and that all the trouble you went through was worth it?

A:

What's your view on Siemens vacuums? My parents have a Siemens z6.0 and it leaves the floors absolutely spotless. I currently have an old Dyson and it gets clogged more than it gets used..


Q:

I made a difference to people individually, yes. Across 16 years service, I know that I positively effected some peoples lives for the better.

But if you are asking do I think I made a difference in the grand scheme of things, in the criminal world, then no, not really. And was it worth it? Well, it was for those individual people, yes. And it was for me, as a rewarding and enriching learning experience.

A:

Siemens vacs are great, but very rare in the US, so I haven't gotten any experience with them.


Q:

Are you still in any sort of danger from your undercover work? I mean now you are going public by writing a book and doing this AMA with your picture as proof. I could imagine guys you've put away (or their henchmen) being set on revenge?

A:

Not really. I wrote the book nearly 5 years ago . I'm only doing the AMA because I only recently got introduced to Reddit and was heartened by the community herem and thought it would be an interesting AMA. Plus its Sunday and I wanted something to do!

I do certain things in my daily life to make me fee a bit more secure and safe, but danger is overrated


Q:

Hello, thanks for doing this AmA , I have the following question :

If, while undercover, someone from the gang orders you to kill someone, what do you do? What happens if there is no way around it ?

A:

Well the easiest way round it is to say no.

I cant see a situation where you couldn't get out of it, unless you yourself are at the end of a loaded gun. And if you are in that situation, then you have done something erroneous somewhere along the line. All the stuff you do is meticulously monitored and analysed. Plans are in place for every conceivable opportunity or event. If you were ever to be in a such a situation, there would be a plan to get you out, and if necessary, compromise the operation.


Q:

What is the best way to get in with criminals without initiating a buy?

A:

Donuts usually


Q:

Not asking how much but is the salary good?

A:

The salary is dependent upon your length of service and rank, and is no different to the salary of a regular cop.

The salary scales for the Met Police are published in their website. When I left in 2011, I was paid around £36k a year, which was the top rate of pay for a constable with over 8 years service (maximum pay level at that time)