Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A mashup in my head

I came back to FOB Borepatch and put on Cherry Poppin' Daddies* and that and the remnants of my last post on Der Deutsche Volk** did an interesting fandango in my brain.  Sort of like this:



Great flick, that.  But yeah, it's weird in my head, sometimes***.

* The introduction to Ding Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line has a voice saying eins zwei drei vier, which only contributes to the mashup in my head. Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe!!

** Thanks to your Œcumenical Volgi for correcting my abuse of the German language in the last post.  I was never a great language student, rarely able to get much past Zwei bier, bitte!

*** "Sometimes?"  I heard you say that.

Where is Jörg Haider when you need him?

So the latest "plan" to save the Eurozone is for the German government to take over the governments of Greece, Italy, and Spain?  Because quite frankly, nobody believes "assurances" from any of the PIIGS countries that they will restore fiscal sanity.  Nobody.

And so the €Trillion bailout funded by die Deutsche Volk will need real collateral - basically the PIIGS governments will go into Receivership if they don't follow through.  Which, of course, they won't.

And so the really interesting question is whether the Germans will take over Southern Europe or not.  Chancellor Merkel almost certainly won't, which everyone knows, and is a further blow to the credibility of EU bailout efforts.  So what would inject some desperately needed credibility?

Jörg Haider was a far right Austrian politician who briefly was a significant partner in a coalition government - to the horror of all Right Thinking Europeans™.  Haider was a no-nonsense sort of guy who knew what the Europroles wanted and was willing to go around the elite to get it.  His proposed 2006 referendum had the Usual Suspects™ seeing red; fortunately (for them), he died in a most convenient automobile accident soon after.

But there's no doubt that if someone else of his ilk rides a wave of German discontent to the office of Chancellor, the EU may come to deeply regret trying another "temporary" clever way to inject some short term credibility into the process.  An actual strong German Chancellor with the deeds to the Southern European governments might be tempted to do something with them.

As I wrote a year ago:
The subsidies required to defer a financial collapse and default are the better part of a Trillion dollars, just for Greece. Guess who pays?

You simply cannot look at this situation without a voice in the back of your head whispering die deutsche volk. Nationalism horrifies the elites, but nationalism feeds on an external enemy (or irritation), and the German people have every right to be steamed right now. One of the two key differences between Transnational Progressivism and Fascism is creaking.
And so, no appeal to the European populations are to be allowed by the elites.  Even though it's probably the only way to inject any credibility into their Continental pipe dream.  And so, step by too-clever-by-half step, they are leading Europe to the tipping point, where German nationalism finds itself provoked once too often.

Funny, I think I saw a movie about this.  Something about financial crises compounded by weak leadership throughout Western Europe.  Oh well - probably it was no big deal.

Your phone does not respect your privacy

Srlsy.



Trevor Eckhart found an app called CarrierIQ that records all your key presses, geographic location, and the messages you receive.  It also periodically communicates with CarrierIQ's web site, presumably to upload this data.

Here's where the plot thickens.  CarrierIQ sued Eckhart to silence him.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation came to his aid, and so Eckhart posted his information.  And as it turns out, CarrierIQ doesn't deny that they're doing this:

In an interview last week, Carrier IQ VP of Marketing Andrew Coward rejected claims the software posed a privacy threat because it never captured key presses.

“Our technology is not real time,” he said at the time. "It's not constantly reporting back. It's gathering information up and is usually transmitted in small doses.”

Coward went on to say that Carrier IQ was a diagnostic tool designed to give network carriers and device manufacturers detailed information about the causes of dropped calls and other performance issues.
We had to spy on the village in order to save it.  Or something.

I call this sort of thing "spyware".  The reason is that it's sneaky - nobody knew it was there until Eckhart released his information.  It's running silently on millions of Android devices.  There's nothing in the EULA (well, nothing that I can see, which brings us back to that "sneaky" bit) that says they're recording and uploading this "for purposes of debugging".

So caveat emptor.  You may want to jailbreak your Android phone, to wipe this out.  It looks like it's not easy - back to the "spyware" bit.

Me, I think I'm going to go back to the Motorola Brick.

(Image source)

UPDATE 6 December 2011 16:33: The company issues a denial, with considerable technical information.  The technical press seems to find that credible.  I'm not so sure, but you know how nasty and suspicious I am.

Still want a Brick Phone, for that retro-techno chic.

This blog is Y2K compliant

I just wanted to clear that up.

You see, most folks don't understand what the Y2K problem was (well, not in enough detail to be able to figure out where the problems might be).  So people thought up this nifty "Y2K Compliance" thing.  Slap the label on, and nobody needs to know anything more.  Everyone can disengage their brains, because mentally everything is in the "problem solved" bucket.

Regulations are like that, almost all the time.  Most people don't particularly care about the issues, they just want to be able to tick the box.  This explains why most government regulations are a waste of time.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that most regulations have a core problem, and that at some point someone who actually understood that problem thought up the regulation.  The problem is that the regulations get handed off to the private sector to comply with, and nobody in the private sector really cares about the original problem.

The care about the check box.

And the regulation now is enforced by a bunch of bureaucrats who don't understand the original problem, either - they're just looking to make sure that the check box was checked.

In other words, nobody understands the original problem anymore, and nobody cares.  All anyone is trying to do is avoid blame: Hey, we were compliant.  What more do you want?

Now add in that the chances of getting someone at a government agency (or God forbid, in Congress) to actually understand the original problem, and craft a well thought out regulation addressing it, and you can pretty well kiss any chance of solving the actual problem goodbye.

But lots of people are employed in the private sector in Corporate Governance teams, and in government agencies, all being busy checking and re-checking the boxes.

And so, let me say definitively: this blog is entirely Y2K compliant.  It even has a nifty checkbox graphic logo that I stole somewhere on Al Gore's Intarwebz.  So relax.  Turn off your brain.  All is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds.

(Image source)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

4792

That's how many posts I've done - actually, 4793 counting this one.  118 so far in November, which is down a bit from last month (admittedly one of my chattiest ever).

I somewhat immodestly point this out to assuage my guilt for not having much for you today.  Mom and Younger Brother leave later today, and so I've been spending time with them.  It's been great.

So thanks for your patience, and I'll be back on a more regular blogging schedule starting this evening.
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 28, 2011

Facebook and Twitter WiFi privacy hole

Boy, howdy, how'd I miss this one:
Firesheep is an extension developed by Eric Butler for the Firefox web browser. The extension uses a packet sniffer to intercept unencrypted cookies from certain websites (such as Facebook and Twitter) as the cookies are transmitted over networks, exploiting session hijacking vulnerabilities. It shows the discovered identities on a sidebar displayed in the browser, and allows the user to instantly take on the log-in credentials of the user by double-clicking on the victim's name
Actually, I know exactly how I missed it - I was moving, and packing boxes rather than watching security stuff.But in any case, this is real:



This is nasty - basically, cookies passed from the web site to the browser are unencrypted and unauthenticated, so any Tom, Dick, or H4X0r sitting at Starbucks can snarf them out of the air via the open (public) WiFi.  Then, he simply goes to Facebook (or Twitter), presents your cookie, and is logged in as you.  Who do you want to be friends with today ....

In fact, this is nasty enough that Google changed GMail so that it only uses encrypted web (https) connections, which entirely fixes the issue.  Facebook added an option to require encryption, too - and all y'all should go turn this on (ignore the blather about "military grade" encryption):



But there's a catch.  It seems that Facebook does not require Apps to use this, so your session is reset to insecure when you play Farmville or take a poll or do whatever you whacky hipsters do there.  You'll even get a prompt to close your browser and log in with a new one, so the fix is incomplete.

And as far as I can tell, Twitter doesn't have a fix at all, so be careful tweeting @iPwnUl0nGt1m3 ....

The first video here has good advice, to install the httpseverywhere extension in Firefox.  The EFF are good folks (meaning you can trust their download), and the plugin forces Twitter and Facebook to use encrypted sessions which entirely removes your risk.

Congratulations to Carteach0

His odometer just clicked over 1 Million hits.  If you don't follow him, you're missing out.

Blogroll update

David emails (yay!  Twice - ed. - Oh, bother) to point out that he's blogging at Musings Over A Pint.  Not only that, but he's doing all your Low Country Christmas Punch blogging there, too:
The drink exhibited a nice balance of alcohol warmth and fruit-sweetness while the tea imparted a bit of bitterness at the end. The sparkling wine gave some palate cleansing efforvescnce. While it was a change from the craft beer or wine we typically serve with dinner, and a bit more potent, the Low Country Punch was an enjoyable addition to the meal
Sounds pretty good, actually.  Full recipe at the clicky-clicky.

And Outdoors Native has a blogroll, and has been kind enough to add me there.  They have much more of a professional writing shine to them, but there's a lot of interesting articles on a lot of different topics there.

Welcome to the blogroll, everyone!

Career ending moves

Look like this, once Al Gore's Intarwebz picks up on it.



Glad I missed that one, actually ...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family has been cutting into my blogging

It doesn't suck to be me.  I'll get back on schedule soon, but it's just been wonderful having family here.  Even if Mom has had to tell me that ranting about the law banning incandescent bulbs is bad for my blood pressure.

Sure is nice having her visit.  Back later.

Reverence

There is no conflict between science and religion.  Listen to the sense of wonder and, well, reverence as the scientist describes visualizing from conception to birth.

News you can use

R.I.P. One Life To Live.

I was never a Soap fan, but the Mrs. was.  She explains why, and why it's hard to start watching again after you stopped.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite

It's now after Thanksgiving, and so it's officially the Holiday season as we approach the end of the year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia*, and all the rest.  And the Holiday Season means The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write this ballet in 1890, and it was first performed in 1892, a year before his death. The reception was lukewarm, at best - the audience seemed to much prefer his older ballet Swan Lake.  The Nutcracker ballet slipped into obscurity for fifty years, but Tchaikovsky's orchestral Suite quickly became one of his most popular compositions.

The entire Suite comprises three parts: an Overture, the Dances, and the Waltz of the Flowers.  Disney's 1940 film Fantasia included both the Dances and the Waltz.  Today, we'll see the Dances:



Now I only had boys, so we missed the whole ballerina thing.  But when they were small, they were both mesmerized by this part of Fantasia - particularly the Frost Faeries and the Cossack dancers.  And who doesn't love the dancing Mushrooms?  The entire set of Dances (not all included in Fantasia) are:

Marche
Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
Russian Dance
Arabian Dance
Chinese Dance
Reed-Flutes
So welcome to the official start of Saturnalia, with the Official Shopping Theme for the whole Saturnalia season!  Stop back next week for more Saturnalia music.

* OK, you caught me - we're still about 3 weeks out from Saturnalia.  But Black Friday marks the official start of the Saturnalia Shopping Season.  Can't start too soon, you know.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where I'm going

The Austin Lounge Lizards are playing. 



The radio's tuned to Magic 95 ...

Awesome.

UPDATE 26 November 2011 22:32: Many, that sure was fun. I expect a blog meetup at a Lizzards' performance in January is in the offing.

John Bell Hood and the Peter Principle

The Peter Principle was coined by Lawrence Peters in the 1960s, and states that in any organizations people rise to the level of their incompetence.  Before they reach this point, they are performing effectively (exceeding expectations), and will tend to get promoted.  Once they rise to their natural level of incompetence, they will no longer be seen as performing above expectations, and promotions come to an end.

Peter's book is very funny (if breathtakingly cynical), and entirely true.

Sometimes this principle becomes deadly.  John Bell Hood was perhaps the Confederacy's finest Brigade and Division commander.  Bold and fearless, he could be relied on to press the attack, literally saving the Confederacy in the Seven Days Battle outside Richmond in 1862, and breaking the Union lines at Second Bull Run.  Hood's division saved Stonewall Jackson's Corps at Antietam, albeit at a terrible cost to his command.

Bold and fearless tactics garnered him repeated promotions, from Captain straight to Colonel, then Brigadier, Maj. General, and then Lt. General.  The last was after the battle of Chickamauga, where Hood led the assault that broke the Union lines.  Very much a "lead from the front" commander, Hood was wounded so severely that when his leg was amputated, the doctor sent the leg in the ambulance with Hood, assuming that Hood would be buried with his leg.

But Hood was tough as well as bold and fearless, and survived to assume command of the Army of Tennessee when Jeff Davis relieved Joe Johnston of command.  Johnston had fought a journeyman retreat from Chattanooga in the face of greatly superior Union forces under Billy Sherman.  In two months, Johnston had managed to keep his army intact in the face of dancing flanking moves by Sherman.  And despite inflicting very heavy casualties on the Yankees, he'd been backed up against the defenses of Atlanta.

What Johnston knew - as did Sherman - was that the prize wasn't the city, it was the Army.  As long as the army was intact and a cohesive fighting force, Sherman had to be careful.  Jeff Davis didn't understand that, and when he replaced Johnston with Hood, he discovered that Hood had risen to the level of his incompetence.

In a month, Hood had broken the Army of Tennessee, cutting its strength to half what it had been at the beginning of the campaign.  Frontal assaults like those at Peachtree Creek and Jonesborough failed to break the Union lines like at Second Bull Run or Chickamauga.  Hood was forced to evacuate Atlanta.

He still hadn't learned.  Trying to draw Sherman back north, he boldly invaded Tennessee in a lunge towards Nashville.  Sherman didn't take the bait, and when The Union army closed with Hood at Franklin, Hood once more had his soldiers charge the enemy in what has been called the "Pickett's Charge of the West". 

Bold, fearless, and - one last time - decisive.  Sadly for Hood, the "decisive" part was his army essentially disintegrating under the pounding from Schofield's Federals.

Hood, you see, only knew one trick: bold and fearless assault.  It carried the day a number of times, and he kept repeating the same trick as he was promoted through the ranks.  However, Peter's Principle would not be gainsaid: once he rose to the level of his incompetence, he only knew his one trick.  The tragedy of John Bell Hood was that once in command, in six months he destroyed what was left of the Confederacy.

Calling all EMTs

Mom got a decent size scrape on the flight out here, and I treated it with a bandaid and antiseptic ointment.  For a couple days, everything was healing nicely.

Then when I was changing the bandaid, I used one of the clear ones.  The next day, she had a bright red rash where the bandaid had been.   I took the bandaid off a couple days ago, but the rash isn't getting better.

Question for the EMT guys out there: how would you treat this?  Benadryl?  Mom's 82, and so I don't want this getting worse.

Dale Watson - Lost My Heart In San Antone

(Image source)
San Antonio's Reverwalk is enchanting (at least when it's not hosting a mob descending to watch the lighting of the Christmas Tree).  On a warm Texas evening, it's the sort of place that you could accidentally misplace your heart.

As it turns out, there's a Country song for that.

Or, according to the songwriter, an "Ameripolitan" song.  You see, Dale Watson is an Alt-Country sort of guy, with not a lot of good to say about the "New Nashville" sound of Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, and Sugarland.  Giving up on the "What's the real Country music" debate, he's struck out in his own new - and interesting - direction.  I've posted before about "Country Blues", with the Pistol Annies.  This also offers a definite, pronounced Blues flavor.  Not your usual cowboy song, but a song you can see on a warm Texas evening down by the Riverwalk.



Lost My Heart In San Antone (Songwriter: Dale Watson)
The day gave way to a summer night
blew in by a warm Texas breeze.
The stars were bright enough to hypnotize.
The moon was right for love for you and me.

On the Riverwalk
where we strolled along
The more was planned
but something went wrong.

You stormed out in a thundercloud
and you were gone.
The night I lost my heart
in San Antone.

Sometimes I look up at that Texas moon
and I feel so all alone.
I wonder if you look up and see it
and think of our lost love
in San Antone.

On the Riverwalk
where we strolled along
The more was planned
but something went wrong.

You stormed out in a thundercloud
and you were gone.
The night I lost my heart
in San Antone.

The night I lost my heart
in San Antone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm back from Hell

No, the Alamo is just fine, thank you very much.  I'm struck by just how small it is.

But seriously, when did Disney buy the San Antonio Riverwalk?  It's just about that kitchy-sweet, and it was simply mobbed.  It seems they're lighting the Christmas tree and having a boat parade, or something.  Mom never much cared for crowds, and that trait hasn't changed over the years.  Oh, and the Occupy San Antonio folks were out.  Who'd have thought that they'd be so polite?  And not smell bad?

But what's with most of the restaurants shutting down "to get ready for dinner"?  We ate at the most boring, uninspired place imaginable.

But the Alamo was fun, and time out with family is always a win.  Even if you're mobbed in a Disney Theme Park with no food.

You can all go to Hell*

I'm going to Texas the Alamo.  With Mom and Younger Brother.  Back later.

* Err, it's a historical reference.  Please don't go to Hell, at least not on my regard.

Snerk

From the Borowicz Report on Twitter:
Gingrich on his success: "The American people want an adult, and no one has a stronger record of adultery than I do."
Heh.  Yeah, it's ad hominem.  It's funny ad hominem,

Aunt Charlotte's Dinner Rolls

Since Mom and Younger Brother are visiting FOB Borepatch, I have a reason to pull out the stops and cook.  And "pull out the stops" means baking (at least for me, I mean anyone can cook).  And baking means Aunt Charlotte's dinner rolls.

She was a neat lady, actually my Great Aunt.  She taught Home Economics for 40 years, and so she really knew what she was doing.  Yesterday, I made her rolls, and because all y'all have been read on to the special compartmented BAKING classification, here's her recipe.*
Dissolve 1½ cakes of yeast (a cake is the same measure as an envelope of dry yeast) in ⅓ cup of warm water, with half a tablespoon of sugar.

Scald and cool 1¼ cups milk.  When cool, add the yeast mixture.

To this mixture, add ⅓ cup sugar, ⅓ stick melted butter, and 1½ teaspoons of salt.

Add one beaten egg (optional; recommended for the Cinnamon roll variant).

To all this, add 3 cups flour, a bit at a time.

Spank (her description, not mine) and knead the dough until it just barely does not stick to the board.

Let rise in a warm place (45 minutes).

Knead the dough a second time - as she described it, "to see if it is still enough".  I don't know what this means, but the dough should never be particularly stiff.

Repeat the rise and knead sequence twice more.

Form the rolls and let them rise until light.  Optionally, baste with an egg wash for better browning.  Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 425° oven.
Two things to point out: the amounts here are half what her recipe calls for.  Aunt Charlotte made a lot of rolls.  Also, I only used half this (made 15 rolls), and saved the other half of the dough for Cinnamon rolls:
Roll out the dough until it's a square roughly 12 inches on a side.

Butter generously.

Sprinkle with brown sugar (you'll need at least a cup).

Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to taste (remember, a little allspice goes a long way)

Roll into a log

Slice into twelve 1" rolls

Put on a baking sheet and let rise one last time before baking.  I like to let them rise overnight in the refrigerator.  Just remember to pull them out 30 minutes before baking.

Bake 10-15 minutes at 425°
There you have it.  You'll never eat a Cinnabon again.  And remember, if you use Aunt Charlotte's original quantities, you'll have two dozen dinner rolls and two dozen cinnamon rolls!

* Remember, this is classified, so don't tell anyone.

UPDATE 25 November 2011 10:45: Here's what they look like.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Your Philosopher Kings in action, a comedy in one act

By the Bard of the Hudson, Jon Stewart.




About spot on, if you ask me.

And this guy wonders why he never gets dates


Sure, sure - the chicks dig geometry.  Keep saying that to yourself on Saturday night.

It's still not too late to get your Thanksgiving turkey

FPS Russia shows you how to do it with a fully automatic Glock 19.



For #2 Son

Happy Thanksgiving

Whatever you're thankful for, it's a wonderful world.



One thing I'm thankful for are our troops overseas, keeping us safe. Remember them, and their families today.


Image via Theo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Honesty

Leigh brings it:
It seems, at least to me, the height of folly to think that some random stranger would be keenly interested in what I had for breakfast (crackers) or other, similar minutiae.
Brand new blog smell, over there.  Go let her know what you eat for breakfast.  I did.

Your Philosopher Kings in action, Act the Third

Man, that Aretae is one wicked smaht bastid.  Riffing on a must-read post by Sonic Charmer, he brings teh smart:
Financial firms necessarily always outwit regulators because of the OODA loop. Regulations take time to craft. Financial direction changes don't.
But hey, at least a bunch of lefty Ivy League grads get some great, high paying jobs as regulators!  Winning!

Your Philosopher Kings in action, Act the Second

Brock posts about the 14,000 abandoned windmills in the US:
The US experience with wind farms has left over 14,000 wind turbines abandoned and slowly decaying, in most instances the turbines are just left as symbols of a dying Climate Religion, nowhere have the Green Environmentalists appeared to clear up their mess or even complain about the abandoned wind farms.
Jobs "created or saved", right there.

IN Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Naught but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

- Horace Smith
Rope.

Your Philosopher Kings in action

Rick emails to say that the Department of Homeland Security has a warning out on turkey friers:
The Department of Homeland Security is taking any threat seriously during the Thanksgiving holiday, including the ominous threat to our national security posed by turkey fryers.

"How dangerous can turkey fryers be?" asks a warning issued on the official DHS Twitter account.
Fear not, Citizen, the Government has an answer for you.

I'd mock this, but in all fairness it comes pre-mocked from the Government Bureaucracy Factory.  And the mockery has no shelf life - it's good indefinitely!

It's times like this that I miss TJIC, and so let me (briefly) attempt to fill those large shoes.

Rope.

When the fox gnaws ...

... and you're 900 miles away, you keep on.



This was a message that I shouldn't have needed to hear, Back In The Day.  Lots of ways.
The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say.
- Kalil Gibran

LORD, forgive me my youth, and save me from a relapse.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The return of ClimateGate

Folks are emailing me about this, the release of a quarter million more emails from the ClimateGate crowd.  I'm going to spend the long weekend digesting all of this - there's a ton of material here, but a lot of it is old hat.  I want to see if I can tease some new threads of meaning out of the mass of data.

Initial thoughts:

1. This crowd really hasn't learned anything.  Like the old Bourbon Monarchs, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

2. There is quite a lot here about the actual uncertainty involved in the science, that you simply don't hear the MSM reporting.  Quite a lot indeed.

3. There's still much chatter about controlling membership on the IPCC panels.  See initial thought #1.

4. There are some quite pungent emails about Mike Mann's infamous "Hockey Stick" paper.  Even the High Priests think it was a load of dross.

5. Perhaps most interesting, there was a manifesto included in the data, presumably from the leaker (who is currently unknown).  It's basically "Save the world's poor with cheap energy" which is pretty interesting.  Whether this is the actual motivation, or simple misdirection, is unclear.

6. The misdirection idea is particularly interesting.  Russia in particular has a history of annoyance directed at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit.  The have the motivation to kill restrictions on carbon fuels (Russia is a huge exporter of Natural Gas to Western Europe).  They have hacking skills out the wazoo.  I think that the leak is probably an inside job, but this is pretty interesting.

So I'll probably be quiet on this subject until I've digested things.  I know that this violates my typical "ready-fire-aim" approach.  Must be growing up, or something.

The Last Codetalker

Mom brought the Albuquerque Journal newspaper for me, because it had an article that she knew that I'd want to read.  The Last Codetalker:
With gnarled fingers, Chester Nez reverently opened the small box that his son Mike had fetched for him at their West Mesa  home.  Even at 90 years old, Nez's face still beams as he proudly opens it.

Careful not to tough the gold medal, Nez shares a secret.

"On the other side it says, 'We used out language to defeat the enemy,' and that's what we did," he said.
The CodeTalkers, of course, were Navajo indians that joined the Marine Corps in World War II.  They used a code based on the Navajo language to send undecipherable radio messages in combat, acting as human encryption machines.  They were so much superior to the mechanical and code-book ciphers of the time that they often missed R&R deployment, because everyone insisted on having them.

The reason, of course, is that when the mortars are landing around you, nobody wants to wait ten minutes for the radio man to cipher the call for artillery support.  Especially when an error made transcribing the code (not unbelievable under combat conditions) might make the entire message undecipherable, and would require a retransmission.  Get a Code Talker on the radio, and if there's a problem he'll just say it again.  Incoming fire support in 15 seconds, not 15 minutes.

The code was so important - saving so many Marine lives - that it wasn't declassified until 1968.

There were 29 original Code Talkers, from the first class where they learned radio operations and developed the code.  It was based on Navajo words, but wasn't Navajo, so it was essentially undecipherable by the Japanese.  As far as we know, they never broke the code.

Of the 29, Chester Nez is the only one left today.  I met him once, in Old Town Albuquerque, at a book signing.  He and the few remaining of his fellow warriors wrote their memoirs together: Navajo Weapon.  I was fortunately to get him and his fellow heros to autograph my copy; they were doing it as a fund raiser to help with their health care costs - to the shame of the Veteran's Administration.


Of the original group, Nez is the only one left.  The Albuquerque Journal did a simply superb job telling his story.  It is, in fact, exactly what journalism should be about: local stories that tell us about ourselves, that nobody else can afford to tell.

You'll notice that I don't link to their outstanding story by Charles D. Brunt.  The reason is that the link (which you can search for - please use Bing instead of Google) takes you to a paywall.  I think there's a free registration, but you'll have to want to jump through their hoops to read Chester Nez's story.  And that's a damn shame.  That's a story worth reading, well told.

Cpl. Nez, thank you for your service to this Country in its moment of need.  You and your fellows are an inspiration from a nobler day, when the citizens of this Republic did not hesitate to stand up for that Republic.  Unashamed to defend a common community.



Most have now gone onwards, where we all some day will follow.  Only Cpl. Nez remains to guide us towards his comrades.
In beauty I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty around me, I walk.

It has become beauty again.


- Navajo Blessing Way prayer

Concealed Carry holsters for Ladies

It's said that all a gentleman needs to carry to look presentable is a comb (well, except for gentlemen like me, where that ship has sailed).  Things are not so simple for ladies.  And so with concealed carry.  Which holster for the to-die-for Cocktail Dress, which holster for the beach, which for jogging?

This young lady has some outstanding suggestions for my Lady Readers.



And I must confess that if I were 25 and unmarried again, I might be pretty smitten.  So I guess there's something here for my Gentlemen Readers, too.

But seriously, this looks like pretty solid, practical advice.  Carry your pistol, it's a lighter burden than regret.

Google Security Guru goes all evil

Funny, but evil:

Google's open-source program manager has launched an entertaining rant against firms offering mobile security software, accusing them of selling worthless software and of being "charlatans and scammers".

Chris DiBona, Google's open-source programs manager, argues that neither smartphones based on Google's Android nor Apple's iOS need anti-virus protection. Anyone telling you different is a snake-oil salesman, he said.

"Virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you BS protection software for Android, RIM, and, iOS," DiBona said on Google+. "They are charlatans and scammers. If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM or iOS, you should be ashamed of yourself."
Zing!  There's your evil, right there.  Get the popcorn. Honni soit qui mal y pense, Scooter*.



"No major cell phone has a 'virus' problem in the traditional sense that Windows and some Mac machines have seen," he said. "There have been some little things, but they haven't gotten very far due to the user sandboxing models and the nature of the underlying kernels."
And there's some more evil: the shell covering the pea just moved.  Nobody is saying that Android phones have a problem with Windows-style viruses that spread by emailing themselves to other devices.  People are saying that Android has a problem with sneaky malware that installs itself to steal bank account and credit card data, and beam it back to the great Botnet Command and Control systems in the 'net.

You know, little things.  Nice bit of misdirection there, Scooter.
"No Linux desktop has a real virus problem," he added.
Well, yeah.  So everyone jailbreak your Galaxy phone and install Ubuntu.  Cookin' with gas.

Methinks that Scooter doth protest too much.  Must that's just me, and you know how nasty and suspicious I am.

* Full disclosure: while I don't work for a company making malware protection, I have in the past.  Saying that people trying to solve DiBona's security failure should be ashamed of themselves is, well, evil.  Don't be evil, dude.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What is a location where nature makes wind power impractical?

It's not what you might think.  As budgets all across the EU come under pressure from the creaking sovereign debt train wreck unfolding there, governments are slashing subsidies to wind farms.

Even in the Netherlands, home to many picturesque and historical windmills.

The problem is that the windmills are picturesque and historical because they were all replaced 150 years ago by cheaper energy sources.  Coal fired steam engines at first, and then coal fired electrical generators.  The current Green philosophy is that carbon energy sources need to be replaced with "sustainable" power.  There's just one little catch with that whole "sustainability" thing:

Towering over the waves of the North Sea like an army of giants, blades whipping through the wind, the turbines were the country's best hope to curb carbon emissions and meet growing demand for electricity.

The 36 turbines -- each one the height of a 30-storey building -- produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000 households each year.

But five years later the green future looks a long way off. Faced with the need to cut its budget deficit, the Dutch government says offshore wind power is too expensive and that it cannot afford to subsidize the entire cost of 18 cents per kilowatt hour -- some 4.5 billion euros last year.
Now €4.5B may not sound like a lot, in this day of Trillion dollar deficits.  But let me put that in perspective: the population of the Netherlands is about 16.5 Million people, or about one twentieth of the population of the USA.  So that €4.5 is the equivalent of $100B here Stateside.  For wind power subsidies.

Just by itself.

That's what Greens mean by "sustainability" - massive subsidies shifting wealth from poor people (in the form of higher electricity prices) to wealthy, politically connected corporations like GE.

In the name of "social justice", of course.

And the punch line is that this is happening at ground zero for wind power.  I mean, it's not like we don't know that the wind can drive the Dutch economy or something.  It's like the reverse of Sinatra's song: if you can't make it there, you can't make it anywhere.

But don't you forget, the people proposing these policies are smarter and nicer than you or I.

Condolences

Red Hill Kudzu's Mother-in-law just passed away.  Condolences to him and especially to Mrs. Red Hill Kudzu.

Piltdown

The greatest scientific hoax was the "Piltdown Man", "discovered" in a quarry in southern England in 1908.  It was the "Missing link" in the fossil record, a skull with the brain of a man but the jaw of an ape.

Of course, it was all fake.  It was assembled and hidden at the Piltdown site by person or persons unknown, but on this day in 1953 the British Museum formally announced that it was not genuine.

For fourty years, the scientific community had been taken in by a clever assembly of piece parts designed to play to current accepted scientific theory.  The parts never really fit together well, and the story didn't fit together very well either, but the scientific establishment welcomed Eoanthropus dawsoni with open arms.  Backed by the power of the consensus, Piltdown Man was "settled science" for four decades.

Scientists wanted to believe in it.  It fit the current theory, National pride made it agreeable to swallow, and so many scientists didn't look too closely at the data or demand too many consistencies.  It was comfortable.

And it was a fake.  Confirmation Bias comes from many places, but all examples - all of them, including the too eager acceptance of Anthropogenic (human-caused) Global Warming - have something in common.  People don't look too closely at the data, because it result is one they like.  Too close an examination of the data might raise questions, harshing their mellow.

Piltdown Man, rest in peace.  May we learn from you the need for eternal vigilance, against our own desires most of all.

The Republican Party and the Iron Law of Bureaucracy

Jerry Pournelle coined the term some time back, describing how organizations predictably lose their focus on their ostensible goals as the management hierarchy is taken over by people devoted to the organization, not the goals.  Pournelle termed this the Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

The typical example of the Iron Law in action is the workings of the Teacher's Union, where it's become impossible to fire incompetent teachers, layoffs are done by seniority (as opposed to by letting the bottom 10% of the teachers go), and where salary and benefit spending crowds out teaching supplies in budget planning.

But all organizations find that the Iron Law applies to them.  Tam looks incredulously at the GOP, fixin' to go down in flames in the upcoming election:
Have you really stepped back and looked at this Jim Rose Circus you're trotting out in front of the American people? Are you guys trying to throw this election? Or has the job become so onerous that no decent person with an ounce of brains would seriously apply for it anymore?
They're not trying to throw the election, they're caught in the vise grip of the Iron Law.  The GOP is a large, top-down bureaucracy like all political parties.  People rise in the organization by bringing home the bacon to the GOP's many hangers on, just like the Teacher's Unions are successful by bringing higher pay, benefits, and job security to their members.

So the question we need to ask is what are the benefits and who receives them?  A great place to start is by looking at Sarah Palin's run for Governor in Alaska.  The Alaskan GOP was famously - and notoriously - corrupt.  Shady insider deals put a lot of filthy lucre in the pocket of Alaskan GOP insiders.  Palin ran against that, and won.  The GOP machine never forgave her.

Some may say that the Democratic Party is just as corrupt, and you'll get no argument from me.  But today's subject is the Republican Party.

And so take a look at a hypothetical candidate that might sweep to power as a GOP nominee in 2012, with the Tea Party and Independents joining with Republicans for a landslide.  The winning platform is less centralization in Washington D.C, less government control, fewer government intrusion into things that government does poorly and has no business doing anway.

The common denominator there?  All of those reduce the opportunity to feed the GOP party bureaucracy.  And so the bureaucracy fights any outsider who looks like he (or she) might upset the apple cart.  Campaigns of whispers from insiders to members of a biased media looking for dirt to prop up their Lightbringer and his party.  I don't for a second think that the paper thin harassment story against Herman Cain came from the Democrats.  It's a cold, dead certainty that it was the GOP machine that is trying to cut him down.

You see, Cain is very likely to be bad for business.  Well, bad for the GOP Bureaucracy's business, anyway.

And so they'd rather throw an election than give up their perks and opportunities for filthy lucre.  And what it's starting to look like is that they'll get someone safe (to them) like Romney, who will depress turnout from Tea Party and Independents, and so a GOP landslide will turn into four more years of Obama - and possibly even continued Democratic control of the Senate.

It's almost scripted.  The Iron Law can only be overthrown by overthrowing the entire organization, as Wisconsin Governor Walker did to the Teacher's Union there (eliminating collective bargaining and automatic withholding of union dues).  So what will do it to the GOP establishment?  The party will have to fracture, as the old Whig party did in the 1850s.  The Iron Law will once again begin its work on the new establishment, but for a moment at least, the cobwebs will be cleared out.

And so I say again that the Democrats are not the problem, and the Republicans are not the solution.  The problem is an institutionalized ruling class that has contempt for the people of this land, other than as a source of filthy lucre.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I'm not going to see tonight

Younger Brother is the hipster of the family.  He picked up a copy of the local Austin "Whos playing where" paper, and found that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was in town.  Those of you who have been living normal (non- Hep Cat) lives may have missed them when they came around in '96 or so.  They sound like '50's Big Band Swing:



Well, as it turned out, the lovely and light-on-her-feet Mrs. Borepatch and I used to dance, back in the early '90s.  Swing dancing, foxtrot, cha-cha, the works.  And so I found myself for a brief but very gratifying time hip.

As all y'all know, it didn't stick.

But still, I thought it might be fun to go hear the band.  Until I found out that it would cost us $200 to go hear the band.  Oops.

So tonight will be tragically un-hip.  Just as well, since the Zoot Suit is back at Camp Borepatch. 

Dressing for your mug shot

Guess what this guy was arrested for:


No fair peeking at the URL in the link.

What does an engagement ring cost?



If you're Brian McGuinn, it costs suiting up in a hazmat suit and wading through the landfill to find the garbage bag you accidentally dropped your pregnant wife's wedding ring into.  Bravo to the gentleman, who after wading through filth unspeakable managed to find the precise bag containing the prize.

Ladies, that is what love is.  Well done to Mr. McGuinn.

Note to the lovely and well-married Mrs. Borepatch: I'd do this for you, honey.  The ring is a family heirloom ...

Ludwig van Beethoven - Heiliger dankgesang (Hymn of Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.  Immigrants are continually confused and bemused by this most American of concepts.
So we have a holiday where the Government wants us to give thanks?

Yes, that's the whole point.

What does the Government want us to give thanks for?

Doesn't matter.  They don't say.  It's for whatever you want.
And so we all give thanks for whatever we want.  It's an intensely personal experience, celebrating the citizen's individual relationship with Nature's God.

Beethoven wrote this in thanks for recovering from a serious illness, late in his life.  Published as one movement of his Fifteenth Quartet, it's known as the Hymn of Thanksgiving.

Musically, it's a very interesting piece.  I would go into the finer points of major vs. minor vs. Lydian scales and how they relate to the psychology of the listener ("mood") and composer (what was intended to be the mood), but it's already been done in a fabulous post over at (of all places) Daily Kos:

The form of the Heiliger Dankgesang is another great example of Beethoven expressing his music in new, creative structural forms.

The form of the movement can best be described as double variations on a theme.  Two themes alternate with each other, and each time they are performed, they are changed.  The first theme is in F Lydian, the alternating theme in D Major.  (Beethoven used this form in many of his other works, including the Adagio from his Symphony #9.

What is unique here is the way the two themes end up absorbing each other with each variation, becoming more alike, until, at the very end, they are merged.  If we label the two themes A and B, the first appearance of A consists of long, slow, sustained notes, making it hymn-like, churchish.  The major key B theme, marked on the score to be played "Neue Kraft fühlend" (/with renewed strength/), beginning with four strongly punctuated notes and syncopation, stuns us by its contrast.
There's no politics in this post, just great analysis of what's going on in this very interesting piece of music.  But we need to remember that this was a thanksgiving, and that if Beethoven were with us still, and we were to bring him this uniquely American concept, that he would have his own voice to add to ours in the nation wide hymn that will be heard later this week.


 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quote of the Day - Defending Asshat Professors edition

Tincan Assassin brings it, musing on Roberta's quite on-target assertion that we should prefer an honest enemy to a dishonest one:
He is honest, and speaks up for what he believes in. I just happen to be one of those Soldiers he disdains who defends his free speech. And I'll still defend to the death his right to say it. But as I die, defending his free speech, I wanna look him in the eye and flip his ass off.
Word.

Epic Liquor Store

... is epic.


Via Tosh, because I haven't stolen posted anything from him in a while.

So what'd ya get?

It's National Ammo Day:
The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens.  Make your support of the Second Amendment known—by voting with your dollars!

There are an estimated 75 MILLION gun owners in the United States of America.  If each gun owner or Second Amendment supporter buys 100 rounds of ammunition, that’s 7.5 BILLION rounds in the hands of law-abiding citizens!

Me, I scored 200 rounds of 7.62x39.  Cheap, Commie mil-surp, steel jacketed, probably dirty as all get out.  But it's 200 rounds.  So that's like two people's worth of ammo!


So there's still time to do your part.

Austin Lounge Lizards - Stupid Texas Song

Mom and Younger Brother are visiting here at FOB Borepatch.  They haven't been here long - just long enough to sample Rudy's (haven't had time to get to another BBQ joint), but this is long enough for Younger Brother to introduce me to the Austin Lounge Lizards and their hilarious Stupid Texas Song.

The Lizards are new to me, which is pretty sad because they've been writing and playing satirical music for twenty years now.  They lampoon pretty much all genres - their spoof of the Beach Boys Hey, Little Minivan is simply brutal - today is Saturday, which means Saturday Redneck, which means Country.

No problem.  We're in FOB Borepatch, which is in Texas.  Texas has a ton of country music.  How about just one more?  Winning!



Stupid Texas Song (Songwriters: Austin Lounge Lizards)
Texas is a big state, north to south and east to west
Alaska doesn't really count, we're bigger than the rest
You can waltz across it, though, so grab your yellow rose
And sing another song of Texas, this is how it goes

One more stupid song about Texas
For miles and miles it rambles on
Biggest egos, biggest hair, biggest liars anywhere
Let's sing another stupid Texas song

By God we're so darn proud to be from Texas - yahoo!
Even of our pride we're proud and we're proud of that pride, too
Our pride about our home state is the proudest pride indeed
And we're proud to be Americans, until we can secede

One more stupid song about Texas
You've heard it all before so sing along
Biggest belt buckles and boasts, love that big old Texas toast
Let's sing another stupid Texas song

Our accents are the drawliest, our howdies are the y'alliest
Our lone star flag's the waviest, our fried steak's the cream-graviest
Our rattlesnakes the coiliest, our beaches are the oiliest
Our politicians most corrupt, our stop signs most abrupt

Our guitars are the twangiest, our guns are the kablangiest
Our cattle the long-horniest, our yodels the forlorniest
Our cookoffs are the chiliest, our Waylon is the Williest
Our sausage is the smokiest, our neighbors are the Okiest

From Texarkana to El Paso, Dalhart down to Orange
Every spot in Texas has got what you're looking for
Aren'cha glad that Texas put the stars up in the sky
If heaven isn't Texas, pardner, I don't want to die

One more stupid song about Texas
Just 'cause we're braggin', that don't mean it's wrong
Biggest heads and biggest hearts, biggest various body parts
Let's sing another stupid Texas song

Toss your hats into the air, we're obnoxious, we don't care
Let's sing another stupid Texas song

One more blusterin', bumptious, bald faced, brazen
High flown, high-tone, dander-up, panderin'
Pompous, puffed-up, snotty, swaggerin'
Stupid Texas song
The Lizards are playing a week from today (November 26) at the Iguana Grill on Lake Travis, 2900 Ranch Rd. 620 N. Austin TX 78734 US 512.266.8439.  We'll be there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quote of the Day - Oops edition

Err, from the lovely and patient-as-a-saint Mrs. Borepatch:
My dear husband Mr. Borepatch has usurped my Doctor blogging, and this has made me quite cross, since he doesn't even like the series. I find it quite irresponsible of him to even venture into this realm.
Toes, trodden upon.  And she's right - I watch it when she has it on, that's about it.  Oh, bother.

So anyone who wants to help me get out of the dog house, go check up on her Dr. Who blogging - she's blogging up a storm of it.

Hackers damage Water system

Of course, SCADA* control systems were connected to the Internet.  My old friend and colleague Dave LeBlanc (one of the smartest security guys I know) likes to say "boot it, and they will come."  Well, they came:

Hackers destroyed a pump used by a US water utility after gaining unauthorized access to the industrial control system it used to operate its machinery, a computer security expert said.

Joe Weiss, a managing partner for Applied Control Solutions, said the breach was most likely performed after the attackers hacked into the maker of the supervisory control and data acquisition software used by the utility and stole user names and passwords belonging to the manufacturer's customers. The unknown attackers used IP addresses that originated in Russia.
This is me, looking shocked.

“Over a period of two to three months, minor glitches had been observed in remote access to the water district's SCADA system,” Weiss said during an interview, in which he read a verbatim portion of the document to The Register. He said that the attackers were able to burn out one of the utility's pumps by causing either the pump or the SCADA system that controlled it to turn on and off “repeatedly.”
These control systems absolutely, positively should not be connected to the Internet.  Yes, that makes them hard to access remotely.  That's the point.

Yes, it's a drag having to get up at Oh Dark Thirty and drive 50 miles to the pump house.  But hooking the control system to Al Gore's Intarwebz means you're placing a bet that the Bad Guys will find someone else.  Your entire security strategy is I feel lucky.


Damn punks, always messing with the SCADA.

* Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition computers, which run factories, refineries, the power grid, and (in this case) the water system.  Security isn't an after thought, it's not thought of at all.

Attention Dr. Who fans (again)

Mrs. Borepatch is getting her Dr. Who blogging on, over at her new place.  With all the comments on my recent Whovian post, I thought that all y'all might be interested.

Reunion

Mom and Younger Brother are here at FOB Borepatch, until after Thanksgiving.  It's been good to see them.

Mom wasn't thrilled with the modern day flying experience, remembering the days of real travel glamor (especially rail travel in the 1950s).  Days when people would dress like this to take the train (or fly):






Mom, with Older Brother in 1957.  Glamor doesn't fade.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Humility

I've seen a lot of motivational speakers in my day, working as I have in high tech.  Most are terrible: washed up has-been Quarterbacks reading someone else's words, that sort of thing.  While some have been quite entertaining - credible journeyman performances - not one has spoken from the heart in a way that has made me hang on every word.  Not one has been able to twist the great success they've had into a lesson of the humility of leadership.

This talk leaves me speechless.  I literally don't know what to write, other than that this touched my soul.



The world has two sorts of people: those that want to be something, and those that want to do something.  The best leaders are those who want to do something, who strive to be worthy of those they wish to lead.  The best leaders have a sense of humility - as General Welsh displays through this talk - even when they've got the biggest swinging one around.  Especially when they've got the biggest swinging one around.
Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and of tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.


— Admiral James B. Stockdale

This is the best fifty minutes you will spend this week, easy.

Via Gerard.

Epic Troll

... is epic:

Well done, anonymous troll!

Via #1 Son.

And if that doesn't work, we'll express even deeper concern

Four members of Her Majesty's Parliament have submitted a bill expressing "deep concern" over the violence in Call of Duty: Modern War 3:
Four MPs have tabled a motion calling of Parliament to express "deep concern" about how videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 allows players to "engage in gratuitous acts of violence against members of the public".
And when that has the predictable effect of accomplishing precisely nothing (except possibly driving CoD:WM3's sales even higher), they'll craft a bill expressing "even deeper concern".

Boy, I'm sure glad those European Elites have solved all the financial problems over there!  Now if only people here could be "more like Europe" we'd really do something to the Economy!

Turtles all the way up

China is cratering.  It's so bad that some even dare to say it out loud:
Larry Lang, chair professor of Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in a lecture that he didn’t think was being recorded that the Chinese regime is in a serious economic crisis—on the brink of bankruptcy. In his memorable formulation: every province in China is Greece.

...

Fourthly, that the regime’s officially published GDP of 9 percent is also fabricated. According to Lang’s data, China’s GDP has decreased 10 percent. He said that the bloated figures come from the dramatic increase in infrastructure construction, including real estate development, railways, and highways each year (accounting for up to 70 percent of GDP in 2010).
Think about that last one.  Seventy percent of the entire economy is building stuff.  That's why China is filled with Ghost cities where nobody lives and Ghost trains that nobody rides.

What isn't discussed - but which would be very interesting indeed - is what the return on capital rates are.  Of course, any figures that the Red Chinese government* releases will be cooked.  Lower level functionaries won't want to be "the guy who didn't meet target", and so the books get padded.  The next level up will be doing the same, and so on all the way up to the final 10% GDP growth numbers.

It's nothing but turtles.  Turtles all the way up.  Some day soon, one of them will sneeze.



We may be screwed by our miserable ruling class, but China (and Europe) are screweder.

* I say "Red Chinese" because it afflicts the comfortable.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quote of the Day: Resource Poisoning edition

We saw Google playing fast and loose with Climate Change earlier today, now it's the turn of Nature - perhaps the single most prestigious scientific journal.  Until now.


An unsigned editorial states:
Results confirming climate change are welcome, even when released before peer review.
[blink]

Ooooooh kaaaaaay, then.  Here, let me fix that for you:
Results confirming our biases are welcome, even if they may be junk.

Now you know all that you need to know about what's published in Nature.  Sic transit Gloria Mundi.

Attention Dr. Who fans

Get ready for a big budget Hollywood movie:
"Harry Potter" director David Yates is teaming up with the BBC to turn its iconic sci-fi TV series "Doctor Who" into a bigscreen franchise.

Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, told Daily Variety that he is about to start work on developing a "Doctor Who" movie with Jane Tranter, head of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Prods.

"We're looking at writers now. We're going to spend two to three years to get it right," he said. "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena."
Hopefully it will be more than just Daleks in 3D.

Happy Blogiversary

Blogbrother PISSED has been blogging for a whole year.  Still has that new blog smell.

Why I shifted from Google to Bing

I made the switch, in all of my browsers.  Bing is now the default search engine for me.  No, this isn't because of Google's long and sorry neglect of American patriotic holidays, although that's always been an annoyance.

It's because I don't trust the search results.

Ever wonder why Wikipedia comes up very high (top 5) results for just about any Google search?  Even for very obscure search terms, where the number of web sites discussing the term is so low as to make the statistical algorithm become unreliable?  Well, Google has a mechanism where they can manually tweak Wikipedia's score, raising it artificially (and arbitrarily).

Think about that.  What can get dialed up can also get dialed down, right?  So does Google selectively, artificially, and arbitrarily downgrade certain sites in the search rankings?

Yup.

Consider the term "Global Warming".  You would think that this would lead you to the major climate science blogs.  Using Google, you'd think wrong.

The site Watts Up With That is probably the most important - and most visited - skeptic web site.  It gets what is simply enormous traffic: Alexa has it's rank in the top 16,000 web sites.  Think about that - less than 16,000 Internet sites get more traffic than this one does.  By way of contrast, I'm not quite in the top 800,000.

So where is wattsupwiththat.com in the Google rankings for the search term "Global Warming"?  Not on the first ten pages.  It may not be in the top twenty pages - I gave up looking.  Just to level set, a site called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is on page ten, ahead of wherever Google has wattsupwiththat.  OISM's Alexa ranking is higher than mine, meaning that I beat them for traffic.  And yet somehow, Google has them as a more authoritative source than wattsupwiththat.

Bing has wattsupwiththat.com on the second page of search results.  Lower than I'd put it, but plausible.

And so, I no longer trust Google to give me the best search results.  Even worse, I suspect (but cannot prove) that they have chosen to arbitrarily change results in pursuit of a political agenda, one that I do not share.  Like I said, I cannot prove this, but the fact that I wonder is all that matters.  I wonder, what other topics are unreliable?

It's exactly the same reason that I stopped reading the New York Times and listening to PBS: I developed the suspicion that they were poisoned sources of information, and that they were distorting my world view.  Were they?  It doesn't matter - once the suspicion forms, once trust is lost, there's simply no getting it back.

Essentially, I'm comfortable using Google for trivial searches of no import; for anything actually important, I can't afford to take the chance.  And so, hello, Bing.

In Internet Security terminology, this situation is called "Denial of Service via Resource Poisoning".  I don't know whether Google thought they could poison the resource, directing traffic away from wattsupwiththat.com.  It's very hard to see how they could not have intended exactly this.  What they don't seem to realize is that they've poisoned their own resource.

So go ahead and keep being evil, Google.  You'll do it with one less user whose searches you'll no longer be able to sell.

A homework assignment for anyone so interested: compare what turns up for the search term "Gun Control".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bravo, sir. And Bravo Zulu, Corporal.

Marine Corporal Kelsey De Santis asked Justin Timberlake to accompany her to the Marine Ball, via a Youtube post in July.  Here's what happened:

Read about it here.
Well done to all.

Blogroll Updates

Following back an incoming referral, I find that .45er is enjoying the Dad thing, Big Time.  Lucky man.  Heh.

Differ has a series of posts about the time he flew the B-17 "Liberty Belle" to Europe via Greenland.  Wow.  He only posts once in a while, so maybe if we all go ask him pretty please, he'll put up more amazing pictures.  Did I already say wow?

Blueeyedbaby is a young lady who's taken to shooting, and runs across an old gent in a gun store who has stories to tell.

Gator has a new blog location, but you already knew that.

And Mrs. Borepatch is blogging at her new place.  If you haven't stopped by to say "hi", you know what to do.

Welcome to the blogroll, everyone!  If you have blogrolled me and I haven't added you here, leave a comment or send an email.

Quote of the Day: Asshat Professor edition

Daddybear looks into the background of the Asshat Massachusetts Professor who says not to send Care packages to our troops deployed overseas.  Well, it turns out that said Professor also was overseas once, in College.  Specifically, Moscow State University.

As in Moscow, U.S.S.R.  In 1968.  Daddybear is more gentle than I would be:
I've got some news for you professor.  While you were enjoying cheap vodka and all the Communist literature you could carry, your hosts were slaughtering innocent Czech civilians for no other reason than the fact that they were 23 years ahead of the Soviet Union in figuring out that Communism was a load of crap.  I'm not going to attack your stance on CARE packages too much.  Honestly, if I was deployed, I wouldn't ask you to piss in my mouth if my teeth were on fire.  

But someone who fits the textbook definition of "useful idiot" ought to spend a little less time spouting the pseudo-pacifist dreck that was fed to the American left during the Vietnam era and more time doing a little introspection on whether or not everything he believes about people's motivation to serve their country was absolute bullcrap thought up during an alcoholic haze in a dorm room a couple of miles from Red Square.
No doubt Professor Avery has the right to say this, and worse.  And I also have the right to say that not only is he an idiot (useful version), and that his drivel is of such a shockingly low caliber as to be boring.  Sadly, his type is a dime a dozen in his generation.

But he's a Yale lawyer.  Dude, you're the 1%.

You have kids taking on $50,000 of debt to be "educated" by this guy.  He's a great argument right there to de-fund the Universities.  Do it for teh childrenz™.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Memory lane

It's interesting what triggers memories, and what triggers the strongest memories.  There are a million stories about how aromas can trigger long forgotten yet vivid memories in very elderly people.  Music is like that with me - songs can be so strongly associated with good (or bad) times that it's simply impossible to listen to it without being transported back to those days, long ago.

That just happened.  The last time I came back out here to FOB Borepatch, I grabbed a box of CDs to augment my selection here.  After all, everyone back at Camp Borepatch listens to iPod, so as the resident dinosaur, I have pretty much free access to the CD collection.  Well, the box had this:


The kids called it "Daddybies".  I saw it, and put it in.  And suddenly, I'm back in time, when I'd rock my little ones to sleep.






I've done a lot in my life, but nothing that matches this.  Some day, if I'm as lucky as some guys are, I can maybe rock a grandchild or three to sleep with this.

But my very favorite lullaby was from a different album, Daddies Sing Goodnight.


The song was "My little Buckaroo", sung by Doc Watson.  I can't find a video with him singing it, but this one by Slim Whitman comes mighty close.



I can't find that album.  I guess I have a few years to look for it.

UPDATE 14 November 2011 19:53: I'd say that  45er is a lucky guy:
Mrs. 45er (to 3 year old kid - not me - this time): "Honey, don't pick your nose."

Little 45er: "I'm not picking."

Mrs. 45er: "What are you doing?"

Little 45er: "I'm just twisting. Like this." (demonstrates)

You know, she has a point about literal interpretation.
Heh.  But enjoy it, 45er.  They sure grow up fast.