Monday, October 24, 2016

Wolfgang goes to a Halloween party with us

We all go as pirates.  Sort of like this.

It was the "Yappy Hour" at a local brew pub.  They meet every month, so we'll go back.  Err, not in costume.

Ghosts in Gettysburg

The Queen Of The World and I went to Gettysburg yesterday and took a horseback tour of the battlefield.  It's an outstanding way to see the site - it gives you more of a nineteenth century feel.

Our guide was outstanding and really helped visualize the battle.  Looking at just how far in front of the lines General Sickles pushed the III Corps was something that makes your stomach lurch when you see it.  I'd known the story, but in an intellectual way.  Seeing that 700 yard gap where he exposed his troops made clear just what an idiot he was.

It was also eye opening to visualize just how big Pickett's charge was, which covered maybe half a mile in width.  It was still a huge mistake, but the sheer scope of it was something that I'd only known intellectually.  I really recommend this ride, from National Riding Stables.    The horses are all rescued from kill pens (the last stop before the slaughterhouse).  I rode Gus, a former plow horse who had been cruelly abused but who is a gentle giant who cannot get too much love and affection.  He's also by far the largest horse I've ever been on, which made it easier to see the sights that were pointed out.  Gus wasn't particularly peppy, but that wasn't the point.

And then we went on to dinner at the Dobbins House in Gettysburg.  As a funny coincidence, reader Roy left a comment yesterday recommending the place which I only saw when we sat down to eat.  I can heartily second his recommendation - the food was excellent and the venue is fabulous.  It was built in 1776 and was a way station for the Underground Railroad, and has a nice (if small) museum.  It also has ghosts*, apparently - The Queen Of The World took this picture while we were eating.  The ghost can be seen right behind the young lady.

Highly, highly recommended.

* You might not believe in ghosts, but I'm told that I do.  And I'm actually OK with that.  It was a fun evening.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Join the Army, they said

Learn a skill, they said ...

Sarah Flower Adams - Nearer My God To Thee

So he [Jacob] came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it...
- Genesis 28:11-12

Sarah Flower Adams lived in England the first half of the nineteenth century, and wrote the poem based loosely on the Genesis verse.  Her sister Eliza Flower put it to music, although the version heard on the shores of the New World uses a different tune.  It rapidly became wildly popular on both sides of the Atlantic, most famously as the reported last song played on the Titanic as it sank.

But it was well known much earlier than 1912.  At the battle of Gettysburg during the American War of Southern Independence, the survivors of Pickett's Charge  staggered back to their lines to this tune played by a band in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Today the Queen Of The World and I head north to Gettysburg for a horseback tour of the battlefield.  This song will be much in mind today.

Nearer My God To Thee (Songwriter: Sarah Francis Adams (words), (music))
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Chorus: Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God, to Thee, 
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee! 
There let the way appear steps unto heav'n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv'n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee, etc.
Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee, etc.
Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee, etc.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Worst. Caturday. Ever.

Perfectly Timed Photos has some good pictures.

You found it!

Elusive though it is.

Bo Burnham - Country song (Pandering)

Russia just epically trolled the United States.  Donald Trump has made voter fraud an issue this year (for actually quite good reason).  Russia shoots; Russia scores:
Russia has reportedly tried to send its officials to monitor the U.S. presidential election in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas.
The U.S. State Department immediately shot the idea down, telling the Russian diplomats 'thanks, but no thanks'.
Representatives from the Central Elections Commission allegedly spoke to the State Department about sending a group of monitors to oversee polling places on November 8, according to Russian media. 
The move has been deemed a 'PR stunt' by the State Department.
Gee, ya think?  Troll level: Galactic Overlord.

The comedian Bo Burnham has trolled the modern Pop Country industry with a side splitting song about how to get a #1 hit in today's Country Music industrial machine.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Celia Cruz and Ray Barreto - Ritmo en el corazón

Happy birthday, Celia!  They won a Grammy for this in 1990.

Some people just want to watch the world burn

So Hillary says that she will tax the rich?

Nazzo fast.

What is outdated in Friedman's analysis is that the middle class is no longer the beneficiary of government programs.  This in fact is the root cause of the Tea Party/Donald Trump phenomena.  As the payoff goes to hold together the Democratic Party's coalition of large business cronies and client voting blocs, the payout will have to increase and the taxes received from the "rich" will have to be less.

And so the economic situation is really much more hopeless than Friedman says.  And the political situation is much worse, as the discontent that is driving the Trumpening is a symptom of this dynamic which oppresses the middle class.  That will get worse.  If the establishment doesn't like Trump, just wait until Hillary dials this all up to 11.

Why the polls are unreliable

This makes a lot of sense:
There's no way to tell what people think. It's impossible for most Americans to form a judgment with which they feel comfortable, because they do not have sources of information they can trust. Fox News is in a civil war between the pro- and anti-Trump Republicans. The other networks are with Hillary. The major media outlets have lost credibility. Only 32% of Americans said they had "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of confidence in the news media in a September Gallup Poll survey. That's the lowest level in history, and should be no surprise: the major media has to spin a new cover-up every couple of days, before it is finished putting the previous set of lies to bed. 
That's why Americans don't simply watch the nightly news and go to bed. They read the rumors on the Internet and circulate them to their friends. They create networks of people they trust in the hope of obtaining an accurate account of what is happening around them.
All that's left to add is that people don't trust pollsters, either.  Some unknown number of them distrust random phone callers that they won't participate in the poll.  This skews the sample by some unknown amount.

The normal rules of political campaigning don't seem to be in play this year.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Canned Heat - Election Blues

This political silly season got you down?  There's some great music for that.

I love me some Canned Heat.

Family, Shooting, and Love

The Mad Irishman sent this in. We'll call it his first guest post. Who knows, there may be more. I'd call this short post and the pictures below a reflection of love across the generations.

 "My son, Dad and I took weekly trips to the range for most all of the summer (every Wednesday). We missed a few due to Seamus being out of town for a week and because of my Dad's chemo.
They were great days.

We had to stop once school started. My Dad was also beginning to get real tired easily. I did get Dad out once more just before labor day when an old friend of mine came in from out of town to visit. We hit the range at about 10am and stayed until 1pm. It was a fine time especially because we brought a brand new shooter with us (she was a natural).

Dad is too sick now. I doubt we'll be able to go again.

Here's pictures of my Dad with my son."
--The Mad Irishman

Bad news for the EPA

Court rules that they have to evaluate how many coal mining and power plant jobs will be lost based on their regulations.  It seems that they haven't done this since 1977.

This will certainly get appealed, because the EPA will not be allowed to issue any regulations if job losses are considered.

When is an autopilot not an autopilot?

Behind the smokescreen of its new onboard hardware announcement, Tesla is quietly killing off its controversial Autopilot feature in its new cars. 
The money shot is buried in this announcement emitted today titled All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware
The blog post is a masterpiece of misdirection. It leads with boasts that, from now on, all Model S and Model X (and at some point in the future Model 3) vehicles rolling off the production lines will have eight cameras, 12 ultrasound detectors, a front-facing radar, and a more powerful computer. This tech is all ready to run self-driving software and turn Teslas into autonomous rides, we're told. 
But the statement then admits this:
Before activating the features enabled by the new hardware, we will further calibrate the system using millions of miles of real-world driving to ensure significant improvements to safety and convenience.
While this is occurring, Teslas with new hardware will temporarily lack certain features currently available on Teslas with first-generation Autopilot hardware, including some standard safety features such as automatic emergency breaking, collision warning, lane holding and active cruise control.
It goes on add: "As these features are robustly validated we will enable them over-the-air."
Translation: It won't be an autopilot until we think we won't get sued or jailed.  OK, then.

From The Mad Irishman

The Mad Irishman left this in the comments:

On your sad note I'd like to share with you and all the other readers, my father and me taking my son to the range this past summer for their only times together shooting. When I was a kid my parents ran a small range in their spare time and going there with my dad is what cemented the shooting sports and the second amendment in my young mind. I would spend countless hours shooting my Glenfield model 25 while my dad did improvements or I would spot for him while he did load development for his competition guns 7mm BR, 7mmTCU sometimes when he was done he would let me take a few shots with them (WOW I was a big kid at 10 shooting those cannons)Two years later I was in the matches as well (yes the first year was small bore) after that I was shooting IHMSA with the adults and holding my own (10th at the 1985 internationals at 14)I've a box full of awards but they don't matter.

This year I finally got my dad and my son on the range at the same time, I've had my son out many times since he turned 6, but finally when he was 9 I got my dad to come with us. he hadn't shot in many years but was itching to and finally gave into my plea's and came with us. The chemistry was pure magic, it was like watching a young me all over again, the patience and the guidance was just what I remember. What sucks is in a few weeks or maybe months that will be gone. Fuck you cancer!!!!! I wish I could share some of the pictures with all of you but I don't know how to embed them in this comment or if it's even possible.
 I don't have your email, but on the chance you're reading this, email ASM826(at)gmail(dot)com and send me the full story along with the pictures and I will post it.

Fuck cancer, indeed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chris Wallace nobly sacrifices his career on the altar of Journalism Past

Kudos to Wallace for being an old school journalist - asking tough questions of both sides (unlike the "journalists" who moderated the first two debates).  It is a magnificent gesture of a dead age, like the charge of the Light Brigade, or the Union charges at Fredericksburg.

I wonder what the over/under is on the length of his career after this.  My guess is that it's measured in days (maybe hours).  The rest of his so-called profession will crucify him for this, because he didn't change the strike zone based on which side was batting.

But it was a great display of what was best about Journalism, back when it was alive and thriving in this Republic.

Quote of the Day: Football Edition

Chris Lynch highlights the "karma is a bitch" that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is facing:
Tom Brady now needs just 5 more wins to become the NFL'a all-time leader in wins by a QB (including playoffs). Most likely this will come in week 12 in New York vs the Jets or week 13 in Foxboro vs the Rams. How can the Commissioner not honor that historic accomplishment? How can he not honor that accomplishment in person? But also how can he dare show his face in Foxboro?

In an interesting way Roger Goodell is now in the bizarre position  (given the fractious relationships involved) of hoping the New England Patriots go undefeated in the next 5 games so if he does have to go to a Patriots game at least it will be in New York (where he'll be safe).

As if 2016 couldn't get any stranger. Roger Goodell now rooting for the Patriots.
LOL.  And just a reminder, the Patriots didn't cheat (well, at least the way that the NFL said they did in DeflateGate).

Failure to anticipate consequences leads to unanticipated consequences

Liberal votes for all city spending ordinances, is shocked that her taxes go up:
How about, oh, I dunno, not voting for every feel-good lefty progtard tax that you find on a ballot?
“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.
“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”
Suicidally stupid bint thought she was voting to spend other peoples’ money. Which didn’t bother her at all. Until she discovered, to her horror, that good intentions were not enough, and that, mirabile dictu, she was the other people.
The "big picture" is not what she thinks.  We could start with the public school system which, rather than teach kids how to think instead does lefty feel-good indoctrination.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Is it safe to use your credit card at the store?

I've posted before about skimmers, devices that thieves use to steam credit card numbers and debit card PINs.  The thief installs the skimmer on top of the store card swipe terminal.  The skimmer records the card information and PIN and then passes that to the real terminal for processing.  Brian Krebs has had an excellent series on skimmers; the photo below is from his latest post:

Things to look for: at the far right, the skimmer version (on the left) is a lot wider between the card swipe slot and the end of the unit.  On a non-skimmed terminal the picture showing the card being swiped pretty much fills up the entire width.

Another: The logo on the top of the non-skimmed terminal goes from about the top of the unit to the top of the screen.  The skimmed version has a lot more space there, because the skimmer has to be physically larger than the real terminal (to fit over it).

My advice: take a quick look at the terminals before you swipe.  If anything looks unusual, use a credit card (not your debit card).  The credit card company has financial coverage to protect you if your card is used fraudulently, but your bank may or may not cover fraudulent withdrawals using your debit card.