Monday, March 18, 2019

The most 31337 candidate in history

It seems that Beto O'Rourke was a computer hacker.  Not just a hacker, but a member of the Cult Of The Dead Cow hacking group.  They are supposedly the ones who popularized the term "31337" (meaning "elite") way back in the '90s.

 _   _
[ x x ]
 \   /
 (` ')


As a politician he may be a good call goof ball, but it seems he has considerable H4X0r cred.

UPDATE: Fixed a very annoying autocorrect barf in the last sentence.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Turlough O'Carolan - various Irish classical tunes

What is the "Classical Music" of Ireland? It's not (Italian) Opera, or (German) symphonies, or even an (English) homage to Ralph Vaughan Williams (who studied under an Irish music professor) "countryside music" in the concert hall. Instead, we find something ancient

Image via Wik féin
We find something that easily might not have been.  Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738) was the son of a blacksmith.  His father took a job for the MacDermot Roe family; Mrs. MacDermot Roe gave the young lad some basic schooling and saw in him a talent for poetry; when a few years later the 18 year old Turlough went blind after a bout of smallpox, she had him apprenticed to a harpist.  He soon was travelling the land, composing and singing.

This tradition was already ancient by the early 1700s.  it was undeniably Celtic, dating back through the Middle Ages, through the Dark Ages, through Roman times to a barbarous Gaul.  There bards travelled the lands playing for their supper on the harp.

This was O'Carolan's stock in trade.  He rapidly became the most famous singer in the Emerald Isle.  It is said that weddings and funerals were delayed until he was in the vicinity.  One of his most famous compositions - if you have spent any time at all listening to Irish music, you know this tune - was considered too "new fangled" by the other harpists of his day.  Fortunately, he didn't listen to their criticisms.

He married very late, at 50, and had many children.  But his first love was Brigid, daughter of the Schoolmaster at a school for the blind.  He always seemed to have carried a torch for her.

So why is this post in the normal slot reserved for Classical Music?  Listen to this composition of his, and you see the bridge from the archaic Celts to Baroque harpsichord.

And keep in mind how this brilliance might never have blazed, had Mrs. MacDermot Roe not seen the talent in a blind Irish boy and set him upon a path trod by many equally unexpected geniuses, all the way back to St. Patrick.  It is truly said that we never know what our own path will be until we set our foot down on it.

But his was an ancient path and he inherited much from those who trod it before him.  His "Farewell to Music" is said to be more in the traditional mold, and might have been appreciated at a feast held by Vercingetorix before the battle of Alesia.

This music is a bridge between modern and the ancient that disappears into the mists of legend.  Perhaps more importantly, it is a music that is still alive today, after a run of perhaps two and a half millenia.  You don't get more classical than that.

And it is a music where you still hear the yearning of a young blind man for his muse, Brigid.  That is a vitality that should not be exiled to a single day of celebration, even if it is for as illustrious a Saint as Patrick.  On this Feast Day, remember just how deep the roots of our civilization run.

(Originally posted March 16, 2014)

Yea, I'm a Capitalist

Could be anything. Cars,  toothpaste, shoes, health care, but today, let's talk about how capitalism provides a basic necessity.

*Stolen from Kim because the truth needs to be repeated.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Nathan Carter - Temple Bar

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, which calls for Irish music.  Interestingly, Ireland has a pretty thriving country music scene, one where American country themes are mixed with Irish ones called (sensibly enough) "Country and Irish".  There's even a television show called Opry an Iúir.  It's an interesting mix, not exactly country and not really traditional Irish.  It seems like a good choice for the Feast of Patrick.

Nathan Carter is one of the biggest stars of this scene.  This song is from his 2016 album, Stayin' Up All Night.

Temple Bar (Songwriters)
There's a busker playin' on the street
Watching all the people meet
The boys and girls are back in Dublin town
There's young ones there from everywhere
From America to God knows where
It's just another night in Temple Bar 
So come on down, out on the town
Cause' this is where a good time can be found
So bring along the old squeeze box, the fiddle and guitar
Let's have a good old night in Temple Bar 
There's a stag do here from Liverpool
Chasing hens and on the boat
Old Barney's lashing out the 'Rare Auld Times'
Ah the Glasgow girls are on the floor
And a round of shots have just been poured
It's another crazy night in Temple Bar 
So come on down, out on the town
Cause' this is where a good time can be found
So bring along the old squeeze box, the fiddle and guitar
Let's have a good old night in Temple Bar 
There is no better place to be than this old town tonight
Nobody's going home till' they turn out the lights 
So come on down, out on the town
Cause' this is where a good time can be found
So bring along the old squeeze box, the fiddle and guitar
Let's have a good old night in Temple Bar 
So come on down, out on the town
Cause' this is where a good time can be found
So bring along the old squeeze box, the fiddle and guitar
Let's have a good old night in Temple Bar
Let's have a good old night in Temple Bar 
There's a busker playing on the street
Watching all the people meet

Friday, March 15, 2019

D-plus 75 years parachute drop

The 75th anniversary of D-Day is shaping up to be quite an event.  Part of this is an entire squadron of DC-3/C-47s called Daks Over Normandy.  40 aircraft are currently signed up from a bunch of countries; a bunch will fly to the rendezvous from North America via Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland.  The reenactment will be complete:
At approximately 13.40pm on Wednesday 5 June, more than 35 Douglas DC-3/C-47s will take to the skies from Imperial War Museum Duxford. 
Escorted by a number of World War II fighters, they will set course for Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Normandy. The planned flight will pass Colchester, Southend-on-Sea, Maidstone and Eastbourne before heading out over The Channel. 
They will pass Le Havre and then the historic UK Drop Zone at Ranville, where the skies will be filled with paratroopers jumping round military parachutes, as they descend in honour of the troops who did the same 75 years ago.

If you're planning on being in the area then, you can pick up tickets here.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

In other Civil War 2.0 news

Related to my last post, this shows later stage Progressivism.

Slouching towards Civil War 2.0

It's long been said that Republicans think that Democrats are stupid, while Democrats think that Republicans are evil.  So what happens when you combine stupid with evil?

Act the first: The Stupid, it burns!
Dugas works as a retail security manager, so he went back into the mall to look at surveillance footage of the parking lot. 
At 12:40 p.m., a car parked next to his SUV. Four women got out. Two of them peered into his vehicle — where there was a red "Make America Great Again" hat on the console.
The women went into a store, reappeared seven minutes later and got into their car. But a minute later, the driver and front passenger got out again.
There's a special type of stupid in slashing someone's tire because they have a MAGA hat on their dashboard.  It's a double dose of stupid when it's in a place where there's pretty ubiquitous surveillance. Nick Dugas worked for Mall security and so he had access to the camera footage, but any customer who was victim of a crime would have had Mall Security's full cooperation.  The perp was going to get caught, and caught easily.  Over a MAGA hat and a hair trigger temper.

Like I said, stupid.  But there's more.

Act the second: Evil is as evil does.
Dugas saw this kid sleeping on his belly and the 6-foot-6 man bent down to help him. He fed him, gained his confidence, and learned the truth. 
Bland wrote, "The boy began to talk. His mom took off when he was 2. He lived with his dad. But he had run away a week ago. He told him why. 
"Dugas listened in silence. He had grown up in Portland, Oregon, with attentive parents and a big sister in a nice house. They had taken family vacations and camped every summer. While he might not have had everything he wanted, he had everything he needed.
"Sitting at the table, the boy had inched up his shirt to show Dugas his back. There were lash marks, 63 of them, where he had been hit with a broken car antenna." 
Dugas took the kid in. This required filing paperwork, getting cleared by the state as a foster parent, and getting permission from the father to take the kid in. Dugas and eventually adopted him. Last June was his first Father's Day as a father.
That was the man who was seen as so evil (for having a MAGA hat) that someone slashed his tire.

This is the sort of story that makes me wonder if this Republic can survive.  Democrats have seen Republicans as evil for a long time, but now they're acting stupidly.  Violently and stupidly.  And that is perhaps causing Republicans - who have long seen Democrats as stupid - to now see them as evil as well.

The middle ground of shared "we're all in this together" that has been a core of political life in this Republic as long as I can remember is fraying.  Once those bonds snap, it will get very ugly.  Plausibly you could make the argument that we're already in a shooting war, although I don't think that I'd go that far.

Not yet.  But going into next year's election campaign we can expect things to get worse, not better.

But it doesn't matter whether you're a good citizen or a good neighbor.  Not if you have a MAGA hat on your dashboard.  This will not end well.

Decoding BREXIT

Man, the BREXIT mess is, well, getting messier:
Theresa May's voice cracked today as she warned MPs that Brexit 'could be lost' forever as her hopes of winning tonight's 'last chance' vote were devastated by Tory Brexiteers and the DUP abandoning her renegotiated deal. 
The Prime Minister was supported in the Commons by her husband Philip, who was watching his wife from the public gallery, as her deal appeared on the verge of a fatal collapse despite her warning rebels that Britain may never leave the EU. 
Mrs May, who is losing her voice after her late night rescue mission to Strasbourg last night, said: 'A lot of focus has been on the legal changes - but if this vote does not pass Brexit could be lost'.
This last bit made me sit up.  Legal challenges?  What's the deal there?

You see, unlike here in the US of A, Great Britain has an unwritten constitution.  Steven den Beste wrote about this almost twenty years ago:
Part of the difference in opinion, especially between the US and the UK, comes from the difference of having a real constitution, set out directly in words, which describes how the game is played. We've got that and it's served us damned well for more than 200 years. It's been amended many times (and it is a tribute to the wisdom of the Framers that they included an amendment process) but at its deepest level there was a great deal of wisdom in it. It's written on paper but it has power in this country as if it were etched in steel. We have things like our right of free expression not merely because the government sees fit to let us use it, but because it's written in that steel and the government cannot take it away even if it wants to try to do so. 
In the UK, there is no constitution as such. No-one in the UK actually has any rights, in the sense that we in the US use the term. There's centuries of common practice and precedent, but Parliament can override that at any time. We have a hard right of free press; in the UK, Parliament can revoke that (and has, in fact, partially done so in the last fifteen years). We have a constitutional right to not be held in jail without being charged for a crime; in the UK the government has the ability to lock up anyone it wants any time it wants for as long as it wants without even saying why. 
It doesn't do so; the government in the UK doesn't generally abuse this. But it could and would be completely legal doing so.
So why the "legal problem"?  British Subjects don't have any rights other than those which Parliament chooses to recognize at the time.  Why not just pass the thing and damn the torpedoes?  And here we get to the heart of the matter: we're not talking about the citizen's rights, we're talking about Parliament's rights.

Parliamentary Supremacy is really the heart of the matter, and is at the core of how the UK political system works:
The doctrine of parliamentary supremacy may be summarized in three points:
  • Parliament can make laws concerning anything.
  • No Parliament can bind a future parliament (that is, it cannot pass a law that cannot be changed or reversed by a future Parliament).
  • A valid Act of Parliament cannot be questioned by the court. Parliament is the supreme lawmaker.
It's that second bullet point that matters here.  Unlike in the good ol' US of A where a treaty becomes essentially on the same legal standing as part of our Constitution (once signed by the President and ratified by the Senate), a treaty in the UK is just another act of Parliament (remember, there isn't a separation of powers there, not like here).  If you can vote for it today, a future Parliament can vote it away.

The EU seems to be asking the UK for something that Parliament simply can't (or won't) do.  Suddenly, the UK finds itself in the position that the US has been in for a long time.  As den Beste explained:
There is a perception in the US that Europe takes the concept of "team player" to an extreme, where it becomes an end in itself instead of a means to an end.
But more to the point is that Europe has been using pressure on the US to be a "team player" as a way of subverting the Constitution. Most of the treaties and agreements that the Bush Administration has rejected (and been castigated for) could not have been enforced in the US without infringing our constitutional rights. 
For example, the biological warfare convention required that inspectors be able to go anywhere and look at anything they wanted without warning. That's a violation of the Fourth Amendment; the government of the US does NOT have the right to make speculative searches. No way, no how. With that provision, the US could not sign that agreement.
Welcome to the party, pal.  No UK government is going to do what the EU is demanding.  And so the smart money seems to be betting that Prime Minister May will ask the EU for an extension, which the EU will refuse.  The reason for that is that the UK is going to leave the EU, and EU elections are coming up next month or so - the last thing that the EU wants is a bunch of Euro-skeptic MPs voting against, well, everything in Strasbourg.

And so the "hard BREXIT" date will hit next week or the week after, and things will be a mess for a while until everyone sorts things out.  It would be too damaging on both the UK and EU economies to not sort things out, even if the politicians hate each other.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I saw it on the internet so it has to be true

A man from Waterbury in Connecticut faces divorce after his wife found out that he was not actually deaf and had been faking it for more than 62 years to avoid having to listen to her. 
According to the divorce papers, 84-year old Barry Dawson never spoke a single word in front of his 80-year old wife Dorothy during the decades they lived together.
Seems that this is making the rounds on the 'net - it's a funny story and so it's popping up all over.  The only problem?  It's not true.

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page in the link.  You'll find this:
World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.
Entirely fictional.  The site does satire.  This is pretty funny satire, but satire it remains.

Semper Fidelis

How bad do you want it?

People don't listen to Green Hypocrites

It's Science! telling us that:

Abstract Would you follow advice about personal energy conservation from a climate specialist with a large carbon footprint? Many climate researchers report anecdotes in which their sincerity was challenged based on their alleged failure to reduce carbon emissions. Here, we report the results of two large online surveys that measure the perceived credibility of a climate researcher who provides advice on how to reduce energy use (by flying less, conserving home energy, and taking public transportation), as a function of that researcher’s personal carbon footprint description. Across the two studies, we randomly assigned partici- pants to one of 18 vignettes about a climate scientist. We show that alleged large carbon footprints can greatly reduce the researcher’s credibility compared to low footprints.
Gee, ya think?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


Dick's sporting goods is going to stop selling rifles and shotguns in 125 stores. The reason is declining sales.

Heh. There's a lot of places to buy baseballs, running shoes, and low end camping gear. They didn't want my business and I obliged.           

Quote of the Day: Blowing things up edition

Miguel is simply unimprovable here:
If I ever have enough money to go back to school and get another degree, I am going go to New Mexico Tech and get a Masters in Explosives Engineering in association with the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center. 
I cannot imagine anything cooler than saying “I have an advanced degree in slowing shit up.”
But then he rolls up his sleeves, spits on his hands, and methodically blows up the new Democratic Party.

Why do American Jews vote Democrat?

Frequent commenter NITZAKHON asks over at his place.  He's Jewish, and is as mystified as I am.

But to me it seems like they're voting against their interest.  Perhaps cultural identity trumps religious identity for many, but it sure looks like the crocodile isn't going to eat them last.

UPDATE 12 March 2019 11:52: About sums it up: