Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Borepatch 101: Global Warming

Yes, I know that "Global Warming" is the old label, replaced by "Climate Change", which was in turn replaced with "Climate Disruption".  By the time you read this, it may have been replaced with something else.

Oooooh kaaaaay.  Nice Marketing Spin.

I wasn't trained as a scientist, but I was trained as an engineer (Electrical, thanks for asking!), and while that's not exactly the same thing, it left me very well versed in the Scientific Method.  More importantly (from a Global Warming Climate Change Climate Disruption point of view), I was also trained in history, and minored in ancient and medieval history.  This in fact was my insertion point into this whole brouhaha - reading about how the Medieval Warm Period supposedly wasn't warm triggered that doesn't sound right thoughts in my head.  Then digging into the current state of Climate Science tripped all sorts of science alarms.

So yeah, you can count me as one of those "skeptics".


What do we mean that something is "scientific"?  You should start here, because the core principles of science are easy to understand.  More importantly, it's easy for someone to spin you if you don't understand them.

Global Warming in a nutshell.  This is a high-level overview of the whole situation.

Remember the "Hockey Stick"?  It's what Al Gore used to hype Global Warming in his movie.  You don't hear much about it any more, because it turns out that it's a lot of bunk.  The data was dodgy and the computer program that did the statistical calculations makes hockey stick shaped graphs out of random data - say, the phone numbers in the telephone directory.

Just how many thermometers are used to measure the Earth's temperature?  How many were used 100 years ago?  200?  So how do we know that "1998 was the hottest year in 1000 years"? But Borepatch, I hear you say, surely it can't be that bad!  Sure can.

The word that you will never hear from Global Warming Climate Change Climate Disruption enthusiasts: Treemometers.  Things are interesting when you watch the sausage get made.

Science is about the data (and also about reproduceability).  So how good is the data?  TerribleReally terrible. Unbelievably terrible (this one is simply mind-blowing).  It's so bad that NOAA - the government agency that runs the nation's weather stations - doesn't even try to get accurate readings any more.

Did you know that the climate data has been manipulated (it's called "adjusted")?  Did you know that if you just looked at the "raw" (unadjusted) data, there has been no warming at all since 1850?

Skeptics suggest that the temperature record is biased upwards by the "Urban Heat Island" (UHI) effect - that as cities grow, weather stations that had previously been sited in cool meadows now find themselves in the middle of hot asphalt parking lots.  The "consensus" view of Climate Science is that UHI is minor, if it exists at all.  The problem with this poo-poo response is that a sixth grader can show that UHI is real, and serious.

A very large portion of the case for Global Warming comes from computer models.  Just how reliable are these models?  Not very.

What does history tell us about climate?  Quite a bit, actually, and the climate data do not explain this well.  Translation: the climate reconstructions are falsified by historical records.

But what about the "consensus"?  Quite a few scientists are as skeptical of Global Warming as I am. 

So why are so many scientists caught up in what's clearly a pretty shaky hypothesis?  It's almost a religious debate.  And not in a good way.

Bad public policy recommendations based on Global Warming hysteria: starve children, kill pets, "green" electricity that's far dirtier than coal plants.

There are a bunch more posts here, for those of you who are gluttons for punishment.

How the Police's view of the citizens has changed

Isegoria looks at this week's Texas University shooting, and thinks about the original "Texas Tower" shooter.  He posts about how the Police's views of what an armed citizenry might do has changed:
What a different world. First, it was taken for granted that a bunch of people in the area would be carrying powerful rifles openly in their trucks in the middle of the state’s capitol city. What’s more, the police felt no hesitation in asking those citizens to help out in a dangerous situation and the citizens were eager to do their part. None of this was seen as out of the ordinary or unexpected at the time.
Read the whole damned thing, and then reflect on the difference between a citizen, and a subject.  After you scrape away the overlay of Intellectual Mumbo-Jumbo, the difference is this:

A citizen is armed, and is presumed by those in authority to be an instrument of Public Order.  A subject is neither.

Read it all. Srlsy.

Court upholds conviction of guy who hacked Sarah Palin's email account

Actually, it wasn't a "hack".  Still, a District Attorney filed four felony charges against him, and a jury upheld one of them, and an Appeals Court said that the verdict stands:
A federal judge has shot down a former University of Tennessee student's bid to have tossed out convictions in the illegal access of Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account during the 2008 presidential election.

...

The feds slapped Kernell with four felony charges. At his trial in April jurors rejected a wire fraud charge outright, reduced a felony illegal e-mail access charge to a misdemeanor, deadlocked on an identity theft count and convicted Kernell of the felony charge of anticipatory obstruction of justice.
I have to say that I think the felony rap is excessive.  "Anticipatory Obstruction of Justice"?  That's a pretty broad net to cast, and sorry to say I don't trust politically appointed (or elected) DAs not to abuse that power.  The kid is a punk, hit him with a couple misdemeanors, fine him, and make him pick up the trash for a while.

But taking away his voting and gun rights over this?  Good grief.  That's just encouraging the encroaching Government Elite to come after more people.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another baby killed in the War On Drugs

In what seems like a pot sale gone bad, a baby was executed in his mother's arms.  Then she was executed.  Since this happened in Boston, news reports that they were killed with guns must be yet another example of a biased Press making stories up:
Boston’s grisliest mass murder in nearly two decades - made all the more horrific by the senseless execution of a baby in his young mother’s final embrace - sent horror rippling yesterday throughout the city, from the most powerful seats of government to the child’s devastated family.


“You don’t see this in Boston or really throughout the country for that matter,” said District Attorney Daniel Conley after the early morning massacre in Mattapan that left four bodies - some naked - and one man clinging to life last night. “A small child was not doing anything. As a parent, as a citizen of the city, it breaks your heart. It’s very troubling to see what man can do to man.”
Over pot.  Boy, this War On Drugs and all this Gun Control is sure keeping the Children safe.

Can we all just agree that the War On Drugs is just encouraging the cold-hearted scum who did this, and that the Gun Control laws do nothing to stop them?

Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev, are all riding together in a railway car ...

So who's your favorite Russian Commie dictator?  The answer, of course, is all of them:

Brezhnev and Chernenko are chatting in the other world:
- Kostya, but who rules now instead of us?
- Da, it's Misha Gorbachev.
- But who supports him?
- Who supports him?  Why, he walks all by himself...
Seven men ruled Soviet Russia.  Here's a breakdown, filled with bolshoi snark worthy of The People's Cube.  The bit about the Chernenko regime as "Weekend At Bernie's" by itself fulfills the snark quota of the last Glorious Five Year Plan.

In Soviet Russia joke is you ...


Plus a bonus post about MXC, which is indeed the Greatest TV Show Ever:
There's no need to explain Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, because if you don't already know what it is, you're an idiot.  It is the best thing ever.  If watching hordes of little Japanese people getting flattened by boulders, bent all backwards by giant crushing rollers, or dropped into puddles of mud doesn't tickle your funny bone, then I cannot help you, sir.  You are dead inside.
He has videos.  Not much beats watching MXC reruns with #1 Son and #2 Son. 

It's time to cut Europe loose

The EU embodies an ideology that is fundamentally anti-American, and it's time for our foreign policy to recognize that.

Exhibit A: EU thwarts anti-terror data sharing:

One way to keep these terrorists out of the country is to heighten border scrutiny of Europeans and Americans who’ve traveled to Pakistan and spent months there without visible means of support.  To do that, of course, border authorities need to know who’s been traveling in and out of Pakistan.  Then they can use that information to flag visitors for additional questioning.
So how is the European Commission helping the US get the information it needs to protect itself from European terrorists trained in Pakistan?
It’s not.  In fact, it’s campaigning to make sure we never get it.
Quite frankly, the only way to deal with Mumbai-style terror attacks by radical American terrorists is by promiscuously granting concealed carry permits to law-abiding Americans.  Nice "we should be more like Europe", lefties - your European friends are fixin' to get a lot of folks killed here.

Exhibit B: Europe to block flights from America unless we enact a Carbon Tax:

Foreign airlines are threatened with a flight and landing ban from 2012 in the European Union if they do not participate in emissions trading.

The ban is proposed in an internal document by the EU Commission seen by Handelsblatt. Summarised on nine pages, the guidelines describe how such a ban could be implement. The Commission considers a flight and landing ban as a last resort to make the airlines surrender over its Emissions Trading Scheme.
Institutional anti-Americanism is pervasive within the Brussels ruling class.  It's time - now that World War I is finally over - to reassess just what we're doing paying for their defense.

Look, I like Europe, and Europeans.  I've lived there.  And even someone like me has had it with Brussels.

Borepatch 101: Internet Security

I've been going back through my archives, and am organizing things so that some early posts don't get lost in the mists of time.  Over the next few days, I'll be putting up a series of posts on various topics, which basically highlight a set of posts on the subject.

Assuming that someone could actually learn something from all this verbiage, having it collected in one easy to reach place may be useful.  Or it may not.  In any case, it seems like an interesting experiment.  Please leave your comments as to whether this is useful or a waste of time.

My security posts have evolved over time.  A lot of you comment saying that you like the "Hey, go grab the patch for your Foo application", and so most of my security posts in the last year have been along those lines.  When I first started posting, it wasn't that way at all.  I posted on a lot more wide ranging security topics, and it struck me that it would be a shame for them to get lost in the dusty archives.  Here are a set of early security posts that may be worth your while.


WiFi security for home users.  If you haven't turned on security in your home WiFi device, you know that your neighbors can lock you out of your own network, don't you?  This post walks you through how to turn on WiFi security in a Linksys router (it's pretty much the same for other brands).  What's a little sobering is that I get around 50 page views a day from Google searches for "hack neighbor's wifi".  Don't be that neighbor.

Military threat from InfoWar.  How do you stop an Armored Brigade using computer hackers?  The threat is real, but probably not what you think, or what Hollywood shows.  I hope our Uniformed Services are taking this seriously.  I suspect they are.


Don't bank online from your cell phone.  I used to rant a fair amount about the risks of online banking, and maybe have mellowed a bit in my old age.  However, banking online from your cell phone is an astonishingly bad idea - epic security FAIL that puts your money at significant risk.  Here's why.


Why bridges don't fall down, but programs crash.  Software is a strange beast, but the way we think about things is based on what we've learned from observing physical things.  No wonder Internet security is counter intuitive.

Hacking a bank for fun and profit. Not that you'd ever do that.  The secret, as they say, is don't let a crisis go to waste.

Funny Database tricks.  This post not only contains what IMHO is the funniest Internet security cartoon ever, but the story of how some d00d used that on the tax people.  Heh.

How to hack a classified network. Yes, it's been done.  This isn't about how it was done, it's about why it's possible.  The recent StuxNet worm - was it really Israel hacking Iran? - is only the latest of a series of incidents.

There you go.  Let me know if this is worth doing more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Overheard Chez Borepatch

The lovely and seasonally-affected Mrs Borepatch: We can sell the snowblower!!!!1!one!!!

It's a nice one, too, but likely to be entirely unnecessary in Atlanta. The Lord brings it; the Lord will take it away ...

The Dread Pirate Roberts theory of politics

Tam points out that the Tweedle-Dee party is pretty hard to tell from the Tweedle-Dumb party:
The biggest problem with voting is that people generally go to the polls for one of two reasons: Either to tell other people what to do, or to take their stuff.
Milton Friedman channels his inner Tam:
But Friedman gives us a clue to the conundrum.  Political skill matters in the electorate, because Politicians are mostly greedy for power and not too smart.  And that is our advantage.

Thus I return to a recurring theme here:

They're greedy for power, and not very bright, and so can be intimidated.  It is, if you'd like, the Dred Pirate Roberts theory of politics:
Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.
Dr. Johnson said that when a man is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.  Keep them in fear for their seats, and the worst of the shenanigans will take care of themselves.

Whether this is long-term stable (over the course of a decade) or not, I have no clue.  But the moment is now.  We can break them to our will.

Monday, September 27, 2010

You leave home, you move on, and you do the best you can

Alea iacta est.  The die is cast.
- Julius Caesar, crossing the river Rubicon to march on Rome
We've gotten an offer on Chez Borepatch.  While we're taking a haircut (those of you who've met me know that this is A Bad Thing), we're not taking a haircut so bad as to stop our Drang Nach Suden strategy.  December should see us in the vicinity of Roswell, Georgia.  Maybe even snooty East Cobb.

If anyone has a recommendation for a Gun Store that you like in those parts - one with people you trust and like doing repeat business with - I'd be mighty appreciative for any recommendations.

But the kids are now having to deal with this reality as reality, not as potentiality.  Leaving their friends behind is hard, especially to #2 Son.  We moved here when he was five, and so this house is the only one he's really known.  It's the House That Built Him.



I hope that in time he realizes that the friends you leave behind - those that are real friends - are never really left behind.
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
- Pericles, Funeral Oration

Making Jerkey

No, not me - after all I don't aspire to be a Domestic God.  Cher, on the other hand (as a self-described aspiring Domestic Goddess), shows you just how easy it is.  Even with hamburger (!).

I'm not sure if the young lady is taken or not, but my young Gentlemen Readers should read, and comment.[See update]  Her recipes sure look good to me.

Her Jerkey-omatic tool looks cool, but you could probably get by with a large freezer bag with the corner shipped off.  It's basically just a piping bag, for use with yummy meat.
Added to the blogroll under "People Eating Tasty Animals".

UPDATE 27 September 2010 22:07: Mopar stops by to say that the lovely Cher is indeed married, and is in fact Mrs. Mopar.  To my young Gentlemen readers, my apologies for getting your hopes up.  Ya snooze, ya lose.
He does not tell us - and cruelly leaves to our imaginations - whether he is the Very Well Fed Indeed Mopar.

A Machine Gun made in Boston


Right down town, too.  Of course, this ad was from 1945 before Boston was conquered by an invading army of Guns-Eeeeek! lefties.  Different world.

Looks like it would be a handful to shoot, with handheld full auto .30-06.

For once, living in the Future lives up to all the hype

This starts out like all posts from new iPhone fanbois:
Last Wednesday, my life changed forever. I got an iPhone.
This post is different.  The blogger is blind:
I consider it the greatest thing to happen to the blind for a very long time, possibly ever. It offers unparalleled access to properly made applications, and changed my life in twenty-four hours. ...
When I first heard that Apple would release a touchpad cell phone with VoiceOver, the screen reading software used by Macs, I scoffed. The blind have gotten so used to lofty promises of a dream platform, only to receive some slapped together set of software with a minimally functional screen reader running on overpriced hardware which can’t take a beating. I figured that Apple just wanted to get some good PR – after all, how could a blind person even use a touchpad? I laughed at the trendies, both sighted and blind, buying iPhones and enthusing about them.
But a blind friend went nuts over how good VoiceOver (Apple's text-to-speech software) was, and so off he went to the Apple store to "see" it.  And found himself living in the future:
I continued to excitedly ask questions, as did my Mom. “Can he get text messages on this?” she asked. “Well, yes, but it doesn’t read the message.” the salesman said. Mom’s hopes sunk, but mine didn’t, since I understood the software enough. “Well, let’s see, try it.” I suggested. She pulled out her phone, and sent me a text message. Within seconds, my phone alerted me, and said her name. I simply swiped my finger and it read her message: Hi Austin. She almost cried.
As someone who works in high tech, and hangs out with the Marketing guys, for once it seems that the reality is even better than the hype.  RTWT for a window on a whole group of people who have been on the outside, and how the Future is better than we'd thought.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Incoming radio transmission from Borepatch High Command ...

Regarding Operation Drang Nach Suden: Jean has a long mustache.  I repeat, Jean has a long mustache. 

It seems that we're getting an offer on our house.  Seems they liked what we did to the SCIF.

Going to be busy for a bit, but Lord willing and the creek don't rise (and the numbers work out OK), we'll be heading south before the first snow.

Pat Buchanan: Republican establishment thinks Tea Partiers are "field hands"

Good enough to hire, not good enough to marry:

To the Republican Establishment, Tea Party people are field hands. Their labors are to be recognized and rewarded, but they are to stay off the porch and not presume to sit at the master's table.
And what O'Donnell did, with her amazing victory, is to imperil that Establishment's return to power. That is why these Republicans went ballistic.
Pat and I don't see eye to eye on a bunch of things, but this is God's own truth.  When you go to vote for that Republican, just remember what they think of you.
Standing like a stone on the old plantation
The rich old man would have never let him in
Good enough to hire not good enough to marry
When it all happens nobody wins
Walk on, walk on alone
Walk on, walk on, walk on alone

- Bruce Hornsby, The Valley Road

Open house

We're having an open house, starting in a few minutes. Early enough to get people before the game (hopefully).

Now we just need to find someone who needs a Secure Perimeter and a Secure Classified Information Facility.

I love what they've done with the SCIF, Jim!

Actually, they're pretty easy to accessorize ...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bono's anti-poverty charity still hasn't found what it's looking for

Poor people:

Bono's anti-poverty foundation ONE is under pressure to explain its finances after it was revealed that only a small percentage of money it raises reaches the needy.
The non-profit organisation set up by the U2 frontman received almost £9.6million in donations in 2008 but handed out only £118,000 to good causes (1.2 per cent).

The figures published by the New York Post also show that £5.1million went towards paying salaries.
Glad to see that a bunch of lefties have well paying jobs, though.

Via I Want A New Left, who pretty well nails it:
This seems to be the way redistributions work: pay off all the redistributors first, and the tiny scraps that are left go to those they're trying to help.
Word.  Of course, it's pretty hard to find the poor. 
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Ray Stevens - The Streak

1973 Oscars

The 1970s were a strange time, and streaking was perhaps the strangest.  One streaker made the Academy Awards.  David Niven, introducing the next speaker, didn't lose a beat: "But isn’t it fascinating to think that the only laugh that man will probably ever get in his life was when he stripped off to show his shortcomings."

 It's not known whether the streaker - Robert Opel - got any more laughs.  We do know that Ray Stevens got plenty with his 1974 song, The Streak, which peaked at #1.  Not on the Country charts.  On Billboard.

Ray Stevens is mostly known for his humorous songs like this one (Guitarzan is one of my favorites).  A lot of folks have forgotten (or didn't know) that he won two Grammys (for Everything Is Beautiful and Misty).



The Streak (Songwriter: Ray Stevens)
Here he comes
Looka dat, looka dat
There he goes
Looka dat, looka dat
And he ain't wearin' no clothes

Whoa, yes they call him The Streak
Looka dat, looka dat
Fastest thing on two feet
Looka dat, looka dat
He's just as proud as he can be of his anatomy
He dun give us a peek
Oh, yes they call him The Streak
Looka dat, looka dat
He likes to show off his physique
Looka dat, looka dat
If there's an audience to be found
He'll be streakin' A-round invitin' public critique
He ain't crude
Looka dat, looka dat
He ain't rude
Looka dat, looka dat
He's just in the mood to run in the nude

Whoa, yes they call him The Streak
Looka dat, looka dat
He likes to turn the other cheek
Looka dat, looka dat
He's always makin' the news wearin' just his tennis shoes
Guess you could call him unique
Whoa, yes they call him The Streak
Looka dat, looka dat
Fastest thing on two feet
Looka dat, looka dat
He's just as proud as he can be
Of his anatomy
He gonna give us a peek
Whoa, yes they call him The Streak
He likes to show off his physique
If there's an audience to be found
He'll be streakin' A-round
Invitin' public critique
 And here's the scene at the Oscars (the streaker is at around 2:30), when Mr. Opel got his 15 minutes of fame.  Sadly, Opel was killed in a robbery six years later.

Would you like to play a game?

By now, everyone's seen japete's twenty questions.  I left a comment there which needs to be approved, and so I reproduce it here:
This is an interesting set of questions, but is sadly incomplete.  Perhaps I could offer some more:

21. Most narcotics are banned, and yet are likely available within a mile or two of the location of every one of your readers.  This is despite a "War On Drugs" that spends a thousand times more than any gun controller has ever proposed on confiscation.  The question is: which weighs more, a ton of cocaine or a ton of Glocks?  Extra credit: why do so many people think passing a law is some sort of magical talisman against the Evil Eye?

22. The Democratic party has a long history of saying "we're not going to take your guns", while simultaneously seizing people's guns (Lockyear v. California, the permanent injunction issued against New Orleans following Katrina gun confiscations, etc).  Is there any reason that an educated person, aware of current events, should take at face value any statement from a Democrat that they support the right to keep and bear arms?

23. Aren't the Democrats sick of losing elections?

24. When did the Left decide that the People couldn't be trusted, and if gun control laws as proposed (Assault Weapons Ban, etc) had been in force in 1946, would that not have prevented the Battle of Athens from expelling a corrupt government in Athens, TN? Extra credit: Is this not counter-revolutionary?

25. Is this whole debate - at its heart - not about gun deaths, but about the balance of power between citizen and government as originally established by the Founding Fathers, and the desire of "Progressives" to shift power to an elite minority of decision makers?
While japete's motivation deserves praise, I'm afraid that I am cautiously pessimistic that it's even possible to have a debate such as this.  There's no commonality of first principles, and so people - even people of good will (which I presume japete to be) - will talk past each other.  I believe that 99% of gun control laws are either futile or mendacious. Japete seems to think that there is a "sweet spot" where real progress can be made in reducing gun death by reducing law abiding people's access to guns.

Sadly, I don't see any gain from this sort of discussion.

Full disclosure: One of my friends in High School shot himself, so I know about gun death up close and personal.

On why I love Canadians

The Supersonic Reflectoscope emailed me about a post I did a while back about how the Quebec.Gov wouldn't help a lady get her baby out of a locked car.  He pointed out (fairly, IMHO), that I had tarred the entire nation with a rather broad brush, when I had intended to just tar (and feather) the Quebec.Gov.  He's right.

I've been meaning to post on this for a while (sorry, Jim!), but figured that if I just waited long enough, the Canadian People would show the world why they're just about the nicest folks around.  And they did.

Blake McGinness is a young Canadian boy, whose father tragically passed away when he was nine years old.  Once the estate was settled, there wasn't any money for McGinness père's headstone.  On the first anniversary of his father's death, young Master McGinness declared to the world that he would sell his toys to buy a headstone for his Dad:
An equal number, from Bay Street brokers to big-city police officers to hardened residents of New York City, just said they had tears running down their face as they read Blake's story and the short letter the young man published in The Whig on the anniversary of his father’s death, telling his dad how much he missed him and how he always says good-night to him before he goes to bed each evening and how he hopes his father can hear him. 

Donations poured from across the country, and a headstone for Mr. McGinness is being fabricated as you read this.  His college fund is collecting donations, if you've a mind: Contact the Royal Bank of Canada, transit number 02402, account number 5030473.

But that's not why I'm posting.  This is why: young Master McGinness still plans to sell his toys and give the money to charity.

To Master McGinness, you are a credit to your Country, a credit to your family, and (while it is not my place to say), I expect your Dad would be terribly proud of you.  With young people like you, Canada's future will be bright.

That's why I love Canadians.  For every idiot in the Quebec.Gov, you have a citizen like Blake McGinness with a heart as big as teh Northwest Terretories.

Hat tip: A Large Regular.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Did Israel hack Iran's Nuclear Program?

People have been asking, and The Czar of Muscovy is looking for a report.  As always, he has interesting ideas, and you should first of all go read his post.  This will be a longish Sitrep, and the Czar provides excellent background material that you'll need to make sense of this post.

Then you should go read one of my old posts, How To Hack A Classified Network.  It also is longish, but it gives you a lot of information that I'm going to build on in this post.

Then, you should go read an even older post of mine about the intricacies of software, and how easy it is to mess up security.  It amplifies some of what the Czar wrote, and gives you a Real World example of how a computer that controlled a factory was accidentally taken down.  It's not precisely analogous to what's happening with the StuxNet worm (that's in How To Hack A Classified Network), but it is something that happened to me, on my watch.

Back now?  OK, let's think about "Embedded Process Controllers" - computers that control manufacturing processes.  SCADA systems - the ones I keep yammering on about how someone could attack them and take down our power grid - are a variant of these.  Typically, there's a hierarchy of devices: (a) The SCADA system(s) as the Master Control unit at the top, (b) a distribution layer that talks to SCADA on the top tier and individual devices at the bottom tier, and (c) the individual devices (e.g. welding electric switch, pipe valve actuator, etc) at the bottom.

The (c) layer is 100% custom software.  There aren't a lot of people who understand this, and they're very well paid indeed.  Were I Dr. Evil, directing a hacking effort, I wouldn't waste any time here.  The next level up (b) typically runs on Linux, but a stripped down version.  It's exploitable, but is not only a harder target, but if you did get in, the opportunity for mischief is less.  You could focus here, but that's not where the smart money will bet.

It's the top tier that's the big win.  SCADA runs on Windows (insert Dr. Evil maniacal laughter here), so you know that it's a target rich environment.  These systems are unlikely to be patched (for reasons that you should read here; another one of my very old posts that explains why people don't like to patch).  So while the StuxNet worm seems to include multiple "Day Zero" exploits (attacks for which there is no security patch to stop it), you probably don't need them.  They're insurance.

Once you're in the SCADA system, you have high level control options (as opposed to low level "device on/device off" ones at the lower tiers).  If you want to make something go boom, this is where you'd do it.  Well, that's where I would do it, except I only use my Powers for Good ...

Can you really make something go boom?  Absolutely, and this has been done before:
The CIA was tipped off to the Soviet intentions to steal the control system plans in documents in the Farewell Dossier and, seeking to derail their efforts, CIA director William J. Casey followed the counsel of economist Gus Weiss and a disinformation strategy was initiated to sell the Soviets deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense. The operation proceeded to deny the Soviets the technology they desired to purchase to automate the pipeline management, then, a KGB operation to steal the software from a Canadian company was anticipated, and, in June 1982, flaws in the stolen software led to a massive explosion of part of the pipeline.
Important note: My knowledge of this comes from "Open Source" intelligence only; the people that I know who would know something about this are in the Intelligence community.  I haven't asked them, and they wouldn't tell me if I did (it's classified, duh).

So what are we left with at this point?  As the Mythbusters would say, the scenario is plausible.  The technology exists or could be created to do any number of types of mischief.  Insertion of the code is clearly not a major problem, even into totally isolated networks (as our own Defense Department has discovered to its dismay).  This would be expensive, and would require the resources of a Nation State actor, and one of probably a dozen or so actors (Israel qualifies as a member of this club).  The government of Israel certainly has the motivation to do this, and pervasive corruption throughout the Middle East offers a selection of insertion points.

Means, motive, and opportunity.  This is the "Holy Trinity" of mystery stories, is it not?

You could add layers of misdirection to this scenario.  The Russians have sold much of the technology to the Iranians, in the face of weak and ineffectual protests on the part of our State Department.  Is it possible that there is a quid pro quo where we let the Russians sell the technology (to get the hard currency), but the technology is actually sabotaged a la the Siberian Pipeline of the 1980s?  The cover story now becomes a worm did the damage, to keep the Russian's hands "clean".  If so, then it's possible that we created this.  Absolutely we have people who know how to do this (I know some of them).

Or maybe the Russians did it - after all, it was a Russian antivirus company that "discovered" the worm.  What the Russian's motivations would be are left as an exercise to people better at Realpolitik than I (perhaps our dread Czar?).  Certainly the idea of nuclear proliferation into the 'Stans isn't something that the Kremlin looks to eagerly.

One thing that I'd bet cash money on, at long odds - the worm code itself will not provide clues that point back to its creators, at least not easy ones.

My own feeling is that you won't hear about a boom.  While dramatic, there are a lot of moving parts in a process control system that would need to be sabotaged at the same time, and anyone smart builds manual governors and overrides into systems like these.  However, nuclear warheads are terribly finicky things.  Everything has to be just right, or your incredibly expensive "physics package" (as they call it in the business) is really nothing more than a falling rock.  If I were Dr. Evil, and charged with doing this, I'd make sure that the processes almost worked perfectly - so close that the parts pass QA inspection, but far enough off that the bomb won't detonate. 

Disclaimer: I don't really know what I'm talking about, and absolutely did not rely on anything classified for this post (or the ones linked).  It's informed speculation based on what I know from my days in Internet Security, and from people well versed with atomic weapons.  Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law.

UPDATE 24 September 2010 16:18: The Register has more, and it worth a read in its entirety.  If you were to attack a single point in the process, the centrifuges would be the logical place.  You might even get a catastrophic failure that would take months or years to recover from.  However, it's an obvious failure, as opposed to non-obvious failures like warheads that won't detonate.   Again, all disclaimers apply.

UPDATE 24 September 2010 19:20:  Hmmm ...

UPDATE 24 September 2010 22:01: Well, that didn't take long:

 First out of 1.1 Million pages.  Google's my bitch.

I just know that some of you will feel this in your bones

Especially Alan.

Why are Progressives scared of strong women?

Suzannah Fleetwood looks at the lefty attacks on Christine O'Donnell, compares them to the same sort of attacks on other strong women (both Republicans and Democrats), and says "enough":
However, the whole ugly Christine O’Donnell cloud does have a silver lining. Whether he realizes it or not (and I doubt that he does), Bill Maher has managed to expose how actually weak the Left really is right now. Think about it. If Barack Obama had been a successful president thus far, do you really think that the Left would be reduced to discussing witchcraft and masturbation?! Heck no! They would be talking about job numbers and the economy. Barack Obama’s message has gone from “Yes we can!” to “Yes we can–you won’t go blind or grow hair on your palms!” and, “Yes we can dunk her in water and see if she floats!”.

And finally, with his disgusting attacks egged on by the so-called liberal MSM, Maher has probably woken up a slew of Mama Grizzlies from their slumber. He definitely woke me up. I say that it’s time to emerge from our hibernation. It’s time to let them hear us roar. Looky–I can see November from my house!
She has a set of rules to follow when you run into this sort of drivel from "Progressives", and there's not a lot to argue with there.  Really, the whole O'Donnell thing is so sophomoric and idiotic that it's annoying.  Ms. Fleetwood gives you pre-canned Whoop Ass to open on these morons whenever you need.

Hat tip: The Other McCain.

Breaking: E.J. Dionne is a Tool

Oh, wait - we already knew that.  He has another clueless screed about the Tea Party up:
The Republican establishment, such as it is, has long depended far more on big money than on troops in the field. In search of new battalions, GOP leaders stoked the tea party, stood largely mute in the face of its more outrageous untruths about Obama -- and now has to defend candidates like O'Donnell and Angle.
The Tea Party is a child of the Republican Establishment.  Riiiiiiiight.

You need to get out of Washington more, E.J.  Man, it sure would be nice if the Left could actually think these days.   Actually what's happening is that E.J. is trying to help his posse, the Democrats.  His only though process is "Republicans are bad, mkay?" Since the Tea Party hurts the Democrats, it's bad - therefore it must be Republican.

Mkay?

It's a bit insulting that he thinks we might be dumb enough for this.  E.J., I don't mind bias so much, as stupid, insulting bias.  In future, please give us a higher quality bias.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will this give World of Warcraft a run for its money?



Via #2 Son.

We've found some witches!

Can we burn vote for them?


Via Three Beers Later.

Australian Climate temperatures adjusted upwards by 70%

I've frequently criticized the quality of the existing climate databases, and particularly how the data is manipulated after the fact to show a higher temperature than was originally recorded.  The response of the mainstream Climate Science establishment to this is "whatever", and so it's been left to amateur "Open Source" efforts to quality control.

What they've been finding doesn't build confidence in the "hottest year of the millennium" stories we've been reading.  Not at all:
Ken Stewart has been hard at work again, this time analyzing the Australian urban records. While he expected that the cities and towns would show a larger rise than records in the country due to the Urban Heat Island Effect, what he found was that the raw records showed only a 0.4 degree rise, less than the rural records which went from a raw 0.6 to an adjusted 0.85 (a rise of 40%). What shocked him about the urban records were the adjustments… making the trend a full 70% warmer.
Computers take the raw data (the temperatures as read from the thermometers at the time) and then "homogenizes" them.  The intent of this process is to remove gaps in the record, or to eliminate sudden jumps (say, when a weather station is moved to a different location).  Fair enough.  But you simply have to question the process when the output is 70% higher than the raw data.
The largest adjustments to the raw records are cooling ones in the middle of last century. So 50 years after the measurements were recorded, officials realized they were artificially too high? Hopefully someone who knows can explain why so many thermometers were overestimating temperatures in the first half of the 1900’s.
If anything, you'd expect the thermometers to be reading too high today.  The "Urban Heat Island" effect - the fact that it's warmer in cities than in the countryside - would tend to artificially push up temperatures today, as weather stations that had been in cooler fields fifty years ago are now in a parking lot.  The SurfaceStations.org project shows that 90% of US weather stations err by more than 1° C.  Once again, the response of the mainstream Climate Science community is "whatever".

And now on top of this 80% reading hot, you can add an extra 70% from "homogenization".  How on earth could the reports not show that it's not the hottest it's been in a millennium?

And to answer Ms. Nova's question about why so many thermometers were overestimating temperature fifty years ago, that's easy.  You want more funding, you show a political problem (or opportunity).  If the data don't show the problem, you change it.

You'e welcome.

Get the popcorn

This looks like it will be interesting.  Texas has filed suit against the EPA, seeking overturn of their finding that Carbon Dioxide can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  Texas' claims are very interesting indeed:
"The state explained that the IPCC, and therefore the EPA, relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare," Abbott said.  "Because the Administration predicated its Endangerment Finding on the IPCC's questionable facts, the state is seeking to prevent the EPA's new rules, and the economic harm that will result from these regulations, from being imposed on Texas employers, workers, and enforcement agencies."
Long-time readers will remember this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  Most damning of all is that a third of all the "scientific papers" referenced by the IPCC's report seem to be environmental groups' press releases.

In the EPA's defense, I'd point out that it really isn't any more politicized than, say, the Department of Justice.  Or Homeland Security.

Hat tip: Soylent Green.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Global Warming Climate Change Climate Disruption

By now, just about everyone's seem how Obama's "Science Czar" John Holdren has pronounced anathema on the term "Climate Change" - he actually said that the term is "dangerous".  Oooooh kaaaay.

I guess that this is what a "Czar" accomplishes in a year.  It's "Disruption", but it's not "Warming" or even "Change"?  Heck Barry got elected on that slogan!

The American Thinker has the best analysis of this whole sorry episode:

In scientific terms, this means John Holdren has run up the white flag and is begging for mercy. "Warming" is something we can measure scientifically. "Global warming" is a lot more speculative, but with satellites, weather balloons, and plenty of ocean buoys, we now know that it's just wrong. Global warming has been shot down in flames by scientific skeptics who resorted to an unfair tactic called "facts and observations.

...

This is how dying political establishments behave. In real science, you don't have play those save-your-butt games, because you make really sure to keep out crazy and unsupported hypotheses from the very beginning. Really bad ideas never hit quality journal headlines, because you have honest reviewers who stop the corruption before it even starts.
Yup.  It would be nice to have a vigorous climate science.  We don't - we have a politically vigorous climate science.

Dr. Boli (a scientist of some sort, I'm assured, although this has always been somewhat vague) brings the snark:


"Climate Disruption"? C'mon, Holdren - if you really want to keep everyone scared, bring the Atmospheric Reform Society.

Iconic photos


There's a blog entirely devoted to them.  Some are disturbing - lynchings from the 1920s, bodies left in the aftermath of political coups, that sort of thing.  Some are offensive - Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" is currently top of the blog.  But all of these are indeed iconic, and the commentary does a good job providing background.

And some of them are simply sublime, like the one here of Ella Fitzgerald singing in a Paris nightclub.  That's Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman at the front table.

Warning: you can lose a lot of time going through his archives.  You find stuff like this:


Recommended.

If Facebook had been around 65 million years ago

 
Shamelessly stolen from Nancy R at Excels At Nothing, who has a bunch more.

Destruction of Army Group Center Blue Dog

Russian T-34 tanks attacking on the Eastern Front

May 1944 was a bad time for German Military Intelligence.  George Patton's fictitious First US Army Group (FUSAG) convinced them that the main Allied Invasion of France would come not at Normandy, but at Calais.  Weeks were lost before German reserves were committed against the actual beachhead.

But this was a minor intelligence failure compared to what happen on the Eastern Front, where the Russians were able to gather 2.5 million men and 6,000 tanks, massing them on the front defended by the German Army Group Center.  The attack began on 22 June 1944; twelve days later, Army Group Center had effectively ceased to exist.  The Germans had lost a half million men and 2,000 tanks, in what was their worst defeat of the entire war.  In the West we hear stories of Patton's encirclement and the destruction of 500 German tanks at the Falaise Pocket; the Germans lost that many in just the Bobruysk pocket where the XLI Panzer Corps was entirely wiped out.  There were many similar pockets on the Eastern Front that month.

The German High Command had grossly underestimated their enemy's strengths, and had grossly overestimated their own.  Many of the Germany military disasters of World War II can be blamed on Hitler's interference with the Wehrmacht General Staff, but this one was the general's fault.  Bad strategic planning was coupled with bad execution, and suddenly Soviet Guards Tank Armies were in East Prussia.

The election of 2010 bears not a few similarities.  Obama has laid the ground work for disaster by vastly overextending his party.  However, the Democratic Congressional leadership has played the part of the German High Command to perfection - they've overestimated the appeal of ObamaCare to their own party faithful, and they've completely misjudged the nature and the strength of the Tea Parties.  Now the battle is joined in earnest, and even West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Massachusetts' Barney Frank are trapped in a pocket, cut off from support.  Maybe they can fight their way out and back to friendly lines.  Maybe they can't.

What's eerily similar in these situations is that the Democratic leadership, like the German High Command, heard what they wanted to hear.  The data was there for them to correctly interpret, but they chose to fit the data to their existing world view.  Large troop deployments to Byelorussia?  Must be a deception designed to distract attention from the "real offensive" planned for the Ukraine.  Constituents screaming and booing at Town Hall meetings?  They'll love ObamaCare, once it's passed and we can find out what's in it.

Data to fit the assumptions, not the other way around.  Fortunately this election cycle won't see hundreds of thousands of dead.  It will see the elimination of Democrats from swing districts, perhaps almost to a man.  This will drive the Democratic Party much further to the left, as the safe districts are much more heavily to the left of the political center.  Paul Krugman is already ranting that the stimulus wasn't big enough; expect to hear a lot about how the Democrats weren't aggressive enough with a leftist agenda.

But the Germans lost 25 divisions in Operation Bagration; the Democrats will lose a lot more Congressional seats.  Weakened, Obama's chances will look poor in 2012.  Expect Hillary Clinton to resign as Secretary of State in early 2011 - she'll be running for President again.  She won't be the only one.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hitler tells you how to make a Hitler parody video



There are new scenes, too.  Pretty cool. 

Yeah, embedding is disabled, so you have to click through.  It's worth it.  I may use my extra uber crazy 1337 skillz to get around this, but probably won't bother.

Fortuna's Wheel

There's a lot of discussion today about how the institutions born of rebellion in the 1960s - say, the Environmental movement - have become terribly ineffective.
Watching the colossal and implosive decline of the once mighty green movement to stop global warming has been an educational experience.  It’s rare to see so many smart, idealistic and dedicated people look so clueless and fail so completely.  From the anti-climax of the Cluster of Copenhagen, when world leaders assembled for the single most unproductive and chaotic global gathering ever held, the movement has gone from one catastrophic failure to the next.
It's not just the Greens, either.  While full, equal rights for women has become thoroughly mainstream, the "Women's Movement" has found itself increasingly, and very unpopular:
Only 20% of women are willing to use the word “feminist” about themselves. Only 17% of all voters said they would welcome their daughters using that label.
Unions, too:
For the last decade, more than 50 percent of Americans polled have told Gallup that they think unions hurt non-unionized workers.
These are the core of the Democratic Party coalition, and they are increasingly unpopular.  That's bad news for Democrats, and news that they have yet to come to grips with.  In fact, the record of the Democratic Party's successes over the past two decades is that they only win when they conceal their true intentions: Clinton running as a centrist (and then governing from the far left in 1992-1994), and Obama's HopeyChangey "centrist" message two years ago.

But hard core Democrats still think that their party is the natural choice for people who care about clean air and water, for women, and for average working people.  It's almost a divide-by-zero error that these groups are rejecting the message, in increasing numbers.  A better understanding of history would explain it.

The ancient Greeks worshiped the Goddess Tyche, whose Goddess Super Powers governed luck. The Romans called her Vortumna, from which we get her modern name, Fortuna. She was often depicted blindfolded, holding scales which weighed her worshiper's success. You may have seen her statue at a courthouse, although it's unlikely most people in the building know - or would approve - of its origin.

In the Middle Ages, she was very popularly depicted, especially with her wheel. The four stages of her wheel show anticipation (I will reign), success (I reign), loss (I have reigned), and penury (I have no kingdom). The depiction was explicitly political, explaining the ebb and flow of history with Fortuna as a Gatekeeper.  The most famous depiction was in the 13th Century manuscript Carmina Burana, which Carl Orff turned into a song that you've heard:



Some people are heading upwards, some people are heading downwards, but all ride her wheel.  The ones heading downwards never like it, and try to apply the brakes. 

Consider the 1960s radical.  He's at the bottom of the wheel, but has a message with broad appeal: Why shouldn't we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink?  Why shouldn't women be able to work, and get paid the same as a man?  Why shouldn't the Working Guy get a fair shake?  Our hero - and many others like him - crafted a popular movement that moved him upwards on Fortuna's Wheel.  Over the next 30 years, the movement became the establishment.  Top of the World Wheel, baby!

Society's social institutions - political class, the church, social mores - all have been used to keep those on top, on top. They still are. Would-be Gatekeepers in the media, or in the University, or in Wall Street or K Street, all use these social controls to try to stop Fortuna's Wheel, and keep them and their friends and families on top.  Tactical decisions by our 60's Radical - now in control of The Movement - decisions that gave temporary advantage came at the cost of people who made up the broad, popular support group.  Cap And Trade is only the most egregious example, where gasoline needs to go to $9/gallon to meet the goals.  A few at the top benefit, the masses are increasingly immiserated by the New Rulers.

The Movement has become The Man.  Like everyone who occupies that position, they want to keep it.  They try to use their power to act as Gatekeepers of information, stifling opposing views.

But Fortuna smiles her inscrutable smile, looks at the Internet, and gives the Wheel a spin. The Gatekeepers, as you'd expect, are horrified. They see the Internet giving rise to all sorts of competitors, who can now get their message out. As you'd expect, they don't like the competition.

And so you hear a furious reaction.  "Deniers!" we hear howled.  "Flat Earthers!"  "You should all be arrested!"

Or Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties: I can see Russia from my house sneer a whole bunch of folks. She's too dumb to be President, they say.

The problem for the Gatekeepers is that the Internet makes it easy to check things. It makes it easy for information to bypass the Gatekeeper's control - after all, isn't it true that information wants to be free? That the Internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it? They look at the lack of Ivy League credentials, and skip past the way Palin redefined the Health Care debate - "Death Panels", anyone? - and how she's picking winners in this election cycle. The Internet lets you watch, and read, and decide for yourself.

Fortuna smiles, and gives her wheel another spin.  The Institutions of the Radicals start to descend.  It's going to be an interesting few years.

The new Brezhnev Doctrine

The Left seems to think there's some sort of Brezhnev Doctrine in place for their programs, that once in place they'll be impossible to repeal.  ObamaCare seems to be the latest of these.  I think that's very wrong regarding ObamaCare in particular, and now that they've voted for it, we'll keep finding out what's in it - at least if the Republicans have two brain cells to rub together.

Forcing the choice of keeping it as the Democrats rammed it through or repealing it in its entirety will put this Brezhnev Doctrine to the test.  Given that ObamaCare is likely to get even more unpopular over the next few years as its mandates and restrictions bite will be a disaster for the Democrats.

Remember the old Brezhnev Doctrine, and how it ended.  Sometimes things aren't like you think they are.

Civilization V review

I have to confess that I lost a lot of my life to the original Civilization game, back in the day (err, around 1991, IIRC).  This was the only game that I've ever played literally until the pink glow of dawn came in through the window.

None of the later ones caught me as much, but my life was pretty different - it's hard to stay up all night playing computer games when you have small children.

But #2 Son has heard me talk about it, and sends me this review of the new Civilization V.  It looks pretty cool.



Of course, there's also the Open Source FreeCiv, which is pretty cool, too.  Not as much new eye candy, but you can play on-line, and did I mention the free part?

EMS Blogging

Now that they voted for it, we're starting to see what's in it.



Via Theo.

Monday, September 20, 2010

R.I.P. Tony Cassise

I just try to lead by example.
- Tony Cassise, in a comment to his blog post here.
I first "met" Tony when he left a comment here on this blog.  It struck me as unusually sensible, and I followed it back to his blog, My Road To Freedom.  Reading it made it clear that this was an extraordinary man.

Blunt and outspoken, yes.  He called 'em like he saw them.  He was smart - perhaps not in a "book learning" way, but in the way of a man who understands the Universe, and how it works.  Who knows his place in it, and has made his peace with that.

In other words, a man you don't find every day.

He showed us a depth and compassion, but one driven not from pity for an unfortunate, but from a respect for what that unfortunate soul does:
I was always the first to arrive since I liked a cup of fresh coffee, and some quiet time before the normal routine started. That was how I met Mark. Skinny guy, unkempt beard, just wearing a beat up pair of shorts, and tennis shoes. He was pushing a shopping cart with two garbage cans, and a variety of buckets strapped to it. The amazing part was the broom and shovel. When he completed his chip removal from the dumpster he swept up any that fell to the ground. His haul was separated by material, and size.

Talking to him showed he was intelligent, hardworking, proud, and polite. I know he would have made some-one a very good employee. I told him I would save all our chips, and scrap in garbage cans in the shop, and he was to come in each day and get them. When he did I had him sweep up around the machines and gave him $20.00. He said the chips were enough and the money was not necessary.
You should read that entire post, as well as the comments his readers left, and his replies to him.  There's a wisdom there that is most unusual.

I remember his advice when I posted about how Massachusetts' insane Gun laws almost tripped me up, when only good situational awareness allowed me to catch the expended brass cartridge case stuck in my boot.  Useless except for scrap, the Solons who run Massachusetts have nonetheless deemed that to be "Ammunition Components", and the unlicensed possession of that - carried in my boot - would have made me a felon.  Tony minced no words about these "Common Sense" gun laws:
Common sense would be to move to another state.
Yup.  As we prepared our move south, I was looking forward to meeting him.  After all, Georgia's right next to Florida.  Unfortunately, it's not to be; Tony passed on in late July.



Tony, I would have liked to meet you in Real Life, but thanks for sharing your wisdom.
Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime and, departing, leave behind us, footprints in the sands of time.
- W. H. Longfellow, Psalm of Life

Thanks to JayG and Lawyer With A Gun for letting us know.

Christine O'Donnell does not sound crazy, even a little bit

We're hearing all sorts of things about Christine O'Donnell these days. Sound bites or references to twenty year old statements she made (as a college student, for crying out loud). All carefully packaged by the MSM to bring a heapin' helpin' of Teh Crazy.

Well, take seven minutes to watch this July PJTV interview with her. She may be wrong on policy positions (I don't think so, but reasonable people can agree to disagree), but there isn't a whiff of Teh Crazy.

So who you going to believe - Establishment Republican (and Democrat) politicians and their MSM lapdogs, or your lying eyes?

Via Samisdata. And via The Other McCain, we find this.


Giggle*snort*

Self-Reliance

That's Dad, with his first bike. He earned the money to buy it by collecting old newspapers and selling them for fifty cents a hundred pounds. He'd go out through the neighborhood with his wagon, knocking on doors, and hauling away their old papers. When he'd hauled a ton of newspaper, he had enough to buy his bike.

You can see the pride on his face. Times were hard in 1939, and this was maybe the first time he'd really been a Rainmaker.

Nobody can give that to you, although a lot of folks these days would like to. It's here that "helicopter parents" most damage their children, by not letting them try and fail.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1910 "Paris Speech"
I sometimes fear that we're losing this, that a generation of Americans is growing up without the chance to feel this thrill of success for themselves. But I look at my nephew, Lance Cpl. Dan, and think that there are indeed young Americans that carry this torch forward.
Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The coming Renaissance of the Left

So, the Democrats are heading for a defeat of historic proportions this November. What happens then?

We may be in for an actual reassessment by the Left. Right now, it's so folded in on its current set of canalized thought patterns that intellectually it's awfully weak. A huge Tea Party rallies against the Obama Agenda? Must be racist. Delaware Senate candidate gaffes? Must be an idiot. Woman works hard, and makes it in the political world without inheriting power from her rich husband? Palin Derangement Syndrome.

All of this is pretty disappointing for a group that fancies itself smarter than the rest of us. And while they typically do have a sort of book learning intelligence, their education has generally been so hollowed out by a Politically Correct curriculum that they can't think effectively. As Paul Marks said:
The function of a university (as explained by Gramsci and Marcuse) is to produce minds indoctrinated with 'progressive' thought - so indoctrinated that any ideas that are hostile to the cause will be rejected by them (without consideration) ...
And so November is going to be a shock to them. Just two years after their Grand Ideological Triumph, they'll be forced to stare into the Abyss, and grapple with the realization that their Grand Ideological Triumph wasn't. That what they've been assuming for years (decades, really) simply isn't in touch with reality. That rather than being the Vanguard of society, they've wandered well and truly into the wilderness.

Some - perhaps most - won't, of course. They'll console themselves with visions of the Tea Party cannibalizing the Republican party, and dream that just a better PR campaign - repackaging old wine in new bottles - will be all it will take to get them to victory. These are the second rate intellects, and we can ignore them. They'll keep doing the Old Thing, thinking the Old Thoughts, and so will keep losing.

But I think that there are some sharp minds on the Left, and that some of these will stare into that Abyss, and will realize that public school indoctrination and a monopoly of the MSM will no longer win the nation's hearts and minds. They'll realize that the size of this defeat means that the country did not sweep Barack Obama to power because they bought the whole leftist agenda. They'll realize that the size of the defeat means that the old coalition of Unions, Public Employees, (some) minorities, and radical feminism couldn't stave off a crushing electoral loss. They'll realize that there is a massive distrust of government, and that better spin is simply throwing gasoline on the flames.

Some of these folks will start to reassess their first principles. For the first time since at least Daniel Patrick Moynahan, we will see actual Intellectuals emerge on the left.

It's not at all clear what this will look like, or what form it will take. However, there are two factors that will be absolutely core to any successful movement, and which are explicitly "Open Source" in nature, and being used explicitly by the Tea Parties*:

Decentralization. Right now, the Left is married to a pseudo-Stalinist giantism. Big Environment, Big Labor, big, organized, hierarchial, top-down. The Tea Party will be instructive, at least to the smarter leftists, who will remember that the big wins of the 20th Century came from disorganized, grass roots, bottoms up movements. While the current Big Left excels at "astroturf" movements (fake grass roots), the smart ones will recognize the power of the bottoms up approach.

Transparency. The Tea Party movement would never have gone anywhere if it didn't have a small set of simply ideas that resonate with huge numbers of people. The Left doesn't have this - what they have is a shopping cart of issues that motivate favored constituencies that have provided a Top Down "New Soviet Man" set of "industrial" political power. Because of this, the Left has lost the battle of ideas - all of the interesting intellectual thought has been on the Right for more than a couple of decades. So this is where to look for the Renaissance of the Left.

I can't for the life of me predict which ideas will emerge from the debate that will start to occur here. But I expect that what we'll see is an assault on the institutions of Political Correctness from within the Left - Campus Speech Codes, cries of "racisism" and "sexism", even the denigration of "Dead White Males". This is the "shopping cart" of issues, which are all hurting the Left now, and the smarter Leftists will see that. This will be a Young Turk rebellion that will gain traction with a younger generation sick of the ossified thought control imposed by their elders.

The current Organs Of The Left will be horrified, and will try to crack down; maybe the correct analogy isn't a Renaissance, but rather a Reformation and a subsequent attempt at Reaction. But the Internet serves the role of the Printing Press, and there'll be no jamming the signal.

Sadly, whatever emerges from this process will be no friend of small government libertarianism. But it will be intellectually vigorous, and this will be in great contrast to the current institutional left. It will find a way - by trial and error - to tap into the vein of American populism. How dangerous this will be is anyone's guess.

* This article on the Tea Parties is the smartest thing on the subject that I've seen. Thanks to Too Old To Work, Too Young To Retire for the pointer.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On growing up

It's quite something to watch your child grow up. Much is expected, and comes as no surprise, but much is unexpected. These are the moments that I find more rewarding.

#2 Son is 14. He's not particularly political. But he sent me this:



For those of us who swing libertarian, this sort of thing is the signal, that we have a chance with the next generation. That they can realize that there are a lot of folks who want to prevent them from doing all sorts of things, for their own good.

#2 Son has realized this, and doesn't like it. That he realizes in his gut what the First Amendment means. I think that this is a bright line that he's crossed, and that in a way, will never be a child again, at least not in that way.

Good.

#1 Son's reading list

Atlas Shrugged, 1984, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

And no, he didn't get those from me; he got them from his friends. School indoctrination FAIL. Gives me hope for the future, yes indeed.

My suggestion was to add The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress to the list, possibly in place of Atlas Shrugged.

Aaaaarrrrrrrgh, matey! Don't be shivering me timbers ...

Alan's logo for Talk Like A Pirate Day is simply outstanding.

However, last night's Gunblogger get together showed that the choice of iPhone was not just popular, but unanimous.

And thanks to Lissa and Mike for graciously hosting the soirée. And thanks to JayG (the Northeast Gunblogger's Social Secretary) for organizing the whole thing. Excellent time.