Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How Do They Pick What To Shutdown?

Since the shutdown is cherrypicking what little pieces they shutdown, how do they decide? My conclusion is they are simply jacking with us. Shutting down whatever creates the most inconvenience to the citizens. Closing parks. Making travel more difficult. **Not sending tax returns while continuing to collect taxes.

Meanwhile,  30 Democrats from the House and Senate are on travel to Puerto Rico. The claim is they are there to see first hand the damage from last year's hurricane. Yeah, maybe. Then again, here's the announcement of their plans. But whatever the truth of this trip, how did they pay for it? There couldn't have been any federal money available because the .gov is closed, amirite?

You want to shutdown? Fine. Shut all the way down. Stop collecting taxes. Send every federal employee home. Call it quits. Let the states declare nation status and move on. Otherwise, stop playing games.

**UPDATE: Unknown in the comments pointed out that the IRS has announced that they will be sending tax refunds.

Hey, anyone remember the last government shutdown?

Remember how Obama denied death benefits to Gold Star families?  The Internet remembers:
Within three days, the government was supposed to have fulfilled its promise to give $100,000 to these grieving families — a “death gratuity” that is supposed to help cover funeral costs, as well as immediate living expenses until survivor benefits kick in. According to USA Today, the money is also supposed to cover family travel expenses so that they’re able to meet their loved ones returning home for burial in flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Unfortunately, the government has been unable to fulfill this promise because of the shutdown, leaving the families high and dry during this vulnerable time.

In a media release Tuesday, the Pentagon confirmed that it has suspended death benefits to families of fallen troops.
But Donald Trump is literally Hitler.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Free Speech

Next up, having staked out my position on the right to self defense, is my right to free speech.

Once again, it's a libertarian absolutist position. Free speech is not to be limited. If I spout off with something you disagree with, offends you, insults your <#DEITY> or make your houseplants blush, so what? You can turn away, change the channel, go read some other blog, or start your own blog.

No limits. I'd like to get that guillotine clear. I have every right to let the world know what I think. The world is equally free to consider my ideas to be of no value, which is pretty much is what is happening in this brave new world. I type this as a digital form of hollering down a well, not because I think it will change any minds.

The way we are headed the person or group that is going to rule over the ruins is the most offended. Offended because someone used a word they found insensitive. Offended because someone created art they found blasphemous. Offended because they were referred to with the wrong pronoun. Because feelings.

In Israel, sometime in the last few days, there were riots because some people were butt hurt about a crucifix where the corpus had been replaced with Ronald McDonald. I had a quote picked out, but in this case, I'm going with a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thoughts on the shutdown

This is from one of the folks in our corner of the 'net:
I’ll tell y’all I’m affected by the shutdown. I’ve been “out-of-work” since Mon, Dec 24 (and who works Christmas Eve if they don’t need to?). Since I’m not a direct Federal employee, it’s doubtful I’ll get “back-pay”. Since the Dems have the House (and purse-strings), it wouldn’t surprise me that even Fed employees don’t get back pay. (“Take that, you meany orange guy!”)
I support the purpose of the shutdown. I accept that this issue is bigger than my pay. This was not unexpected nor announced out-of-the-blue; why didn’t people plan for this? It’s been coming since October.
Good luck to Quizikle during this period of extreme governmental FUBAR.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Joachim Raff - Symphony No. 11 in A minor "Der Wintrer"

Image von der Wik
Some decisions change everything.  In 1810, the German state of Württemberg had been conquered by Napoleon.  Forced to provide soldiers for his planned invasion of Russia, the prince implemented conscription.  One young man had no intention of going to Russia, and so fled to Switzerland.  That man ended up being Joachim Raff's father.  Since almost all of Napoleon's army came to an end in Russia, we owe a great deal of German romantic music to his father's quick wits.

Young Joachim got a job as a school teacher in Zurich, and taught himself composition.  He sent a couple of his works to Felix Mendelssohn who recommended them to his publisher.  By 1850 he was an assistant to Franz List and his career was off to the races.  By his death in 1882 he was one of the best known German composers, although few have heard of him these days.  Interestingly, there's an entire web site devoted to him, at which we find an excellent description of this composition:
The Symphony No.11 in a op 214 Der Winter (The Winter) is both the last in a series of symphonies describing the four seasons and the last Symphony undertaken by Raff. Although composition commenced in the spring of 1876, the work remained unfinished at the time of Raff's death six years later. The task of completing the work was assumed by his long time friend and associate, the conductor Max Erdmannsdörfer (1848-1905), who published the score in the year after Raff's death. The symphony was premiered in February 1883 in Wiesbaden under the direction of Louis Lüstner. 
It would not be surprising when listening to this symphony if one would be reminded of the characteristics usually associated with Tchaikovsky, Raff's younger contemporary. Some comparison with the Russian's first symphony (op. 13 in g "Winter Dreams") might be made. Although composed some ten years prior to Raff's Winter Symphony, it was not performed until 1886 and it is quite unlikely that Raff had any knowledge of the work.
There's quite a lot there if you're interested, particularly on why he went from extreme popularity to obscurity.  It snowed here at Camp Borepatch last night and so the first movement of this symphony (Die erste Schnee - The first snow) seem particularly appropriate for today.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Interesting news in the world of motorcycling this week.

A riderless motorcycle:
At CES this week, BMW provided demonstrations of its self-riding motorcycle. First unveiled back in September, the motorcycle can start, slow down, turn, and stop by itself. All of this is accomplished via a suite of proprietary software housed in some hard pack cases mounted on the back of the bike — an otherwise stock-looking R 1200 GS, save for the inclusion of a tall radio antenna on the rear.
Ooooooh kaaaaaaay ....

In other news of the WTF, Harley unveils an electric motorcycle:
Let’s just get it out of the way first. The bike’s MSRP comes to $29,799. That is an expensive bike no matter which way you look at it. Do the specs justify the price? Read on to decide. 
The all-electric LiveWire will apparently hit 60 from a stop in 3.5 seconds. There is no clutch and no gear shifting, which will definitely make riding an extremely different experience. And riders will be able to slow down using the power regeneration mode in addition to the brakes.
So it's fast as hell off the start line, Harley expensive, and doesn't have a transmission.  Here's the kicker:
Then we get to the range. Harley estimates 110 miles of urban roads on a single charge, which... isn’t great. And you can expect that mileage only to drop on the highway, as motorcycles aren’t the most aerodynamic. 
One of the advantages of motorcycle ownership is their superior mileage over cars. You’re supposed to be able to fill up less frequently and go further. This bike is less than a Honda Rebel, which gets an estimated 200 miles between fill-ups.
It takes forever to charge - 13 minutes of range per hour of charging - unless you get a Harley expensive special charging station.  This means that you can ride it 50 miles before turning around to go home.  Not exactly going to replace a Road Glide.

Am I the only one who looks at all this "technology" and asks WTF?

UPDATE: Jalopnik finds some Harley electric concept things that it likes on display.  But even this ends with a pessimistic note:
Knowing Harley, however, they’ll be too expensive, too slow, and not offer enough range to compete with existing electric two-wheeled products.
Yeah, probably.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Clarification II

This is my fault. I focused on guns. Mea culpa.

I'll let Beans say it, as he did in the comments:

The 2nd Amendment isn't about guns. It is about the God-given right of self defense.

Take away or control guns, then it's just a step away to taking away common household items that can be used for self defense, like hammers, kitchen knives, baseball bats, golf clubs. Like, oh, say, what is happening in (formerly) Great Britain.

Guns are just the big ticket items. What about butterfly or switchblade knifes? Canes? Umbrellas with sharp ends (no, really, umbrellas used to come with a somewhat spike rather than the rather blunted ends)?

God-given right to self defense. With an F-84G fully armed with bombs and rockets, if necessary and I can afford it


In my last post I said:
The 2nd Amendment, and the underlying inalienable right to self defense, being what it is, gun control is unconstitutional. All of it. I would roll it all back past the 1934 Gun Control Act. No lists. No watchdogs. No limits on design or rate of fire.
I thought I was pretty clear. The comments seemed to suggest otherwise.

Gun control is unconstitutional. All of it.


Nothing in the Constitution give the federal the power to make these laws. It is not within their purview. I don't care how bad the excesses are. The real danger is in the inevitable outcomes of the government consolidating power.

I would consider restrictions on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, but believe that any such restrictions would require a constitutional amendment to be valid.

Other than that, if you can afford it, and afford to feed it, all you need is a big enough range to practice safely.

"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Gun Control

The 2nd Amendment, and the underlying inalienable right to self defense, being what it is, gun control is unconstitutional. All of it. I would roll it all back past the 1934 Gun Control Act. No lists. No watchdogs. No limits on design or rate of fire.

But what about the felons? What about mass murderers? What about *insert your favorite boogeyman here*?

Blink. Blink.

I am unmoved. The criminal behavior of others has no impact on my rights.They already have guns. They will continue to have guns. Either imprison them, execute them, or accept that they have guns. With enough gun control, the honest and the law abiding will disarm. Then there are two groups with guns. Criminals and the government agents.

The Dems, having taken some control, will be trotting out a big gun control bill. There will be a well orchestrated serendipitous coincidental mass shooting during the debate of this bill. The question of whether they have the Constitutional power to pass this law without an amendment will never come up. If it doesn't pass, they will try again. Like death and taxes, the one thing you can count on is more gun control.
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.... The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun."
- Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

Br friendly to Art


Will we miss Jerry Brown?

Via Samizdata, I had not known that Jerry Brown was actually the Grown Up in the room (at least for California government).  This makes him sound almost Milton Friedman-esque:
The Democratic constituencies want more money and more laws. I take a different view. We have too many damn laws. The coercive power of the state should be invoked sparingly.
Pay no attention to that High Speed Rail to Nowhere over there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Joshua Tree National Park Fully Closed, Unlike The Gov't

Apparently, the actions of a few led to closing Joshua Tree until the full staff returns. Which leads to the comments on this action.

My favorites so far:
1. If the government is shut down, who is closing the park?
2. Wow, maybe they could build a wall!
Protip: As long as they are still collecting your money, they haven't shut down.

Tab clearing

Here's a grab bag of items that are only related by the fact that they're in this grab bag.

B alerts us to the fact that a huge amount of what is reported as "Science" is in fact a scam.  The Iron Law of Bureaucracy applies to Department Heads and University Presidents as much (or maybe more) as any bureaucrat.  I would go so far as to say that today's scientific bureaucracy essentially ensures that there will be a crisis of reproduceability.

I don't almost ever go on Facebook, because they're simply evil - they sell your data to anyone who will pony up.  So what, you say?  Here's what:
A lot of people probably don’t care if Netflix or Microsoft have access to their “private” messages. But technology companies aren’t the only kids on the block with big bucks. Do you really want your health insurance company having access to your “private” messages? That medical issue that grandma messaged you about may be hereditary and the fact that you might face it at some point may convince your health insurance company to up your premium. Would Facebook provide access to your “private” messages to health insurance companies? You have no way of knowing.
Related: this cannot be said often enough:

Reality is starting to catch up to (and overwhelm) the hype about self-driving cars.  It's about time, but this quote from the article is pretty pathetic:
"I've been seeing an increasing recognition from everybody—OEMs down to various startups—that this is all a lot tougher than anybody anticipated two or three years ago," industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid told Ars. "The farther along they get in the process, the more they learn how much they don't understand."
We have Top Men working on it.  Top.  Men.  They obviously don't read this blog because I've been talking about this for years.

Once again I must point out that the cyber security job market is red hot and you don't need a college degree to get in to it.  You can study on your own and take certification tests for small money (a few grand, max) and find yourself making big bucks without a huge amount of college debt - and without all the Snowflake indoctrination that goes with it.  Some companies even offer scholarships.  If you are (or know) a young man who's smart and has some get up and go, this might be their ticket.

Philip emails in response to my post about Sidecarcross racing (Motocross with sidecars):
If you think dirt bike side car racing is as mad as a box of frogs, try looking at some Isle of Man TT side car road racing. 150 MPH at times on a flat platform with no hand holds and not strapped in is a bit too hirsute for me to do, methinks!
I'm with him 100%.  In my 20s I might have thought that Sidecarcross was cool enough to try out (heck I did dirt biking, so it's just a short step from that).  But even the 22 year old me would never have tried this - which as he says is indeed madder than a box of frogs:

Thoughts on Trump's address

It was short.  Presidential addresses typically run much longer - I guess they think that if they're going to barge into your living room they may as well make themselves at home.  Trump said his piece and got off the air.

It wasn't an elegant speech in the Reagan (or even Clinton) mold.  I think that this is a big part of why the establishment hates him - he does not follow their norms or aspire to their goals.

It was an effective speech.  It's said that Winston Churchill's most famous speeches ("We shall fight them on the beaches ...") used simple words.  Old words, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.  Words that would resonate with the population.  I think that Trump's use of vocabulary is similarly chosen, and it works.  Not in the Acela Corridor, but in the places that voted for him.

Boy, did Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi look like they had swallowed something unpleasant.  It seems that Trump's speech wasn't published beforehand and so Check and Nancy had to think on their feet.  That's clearly not their strong suit and so they fell back on the usual pablum.

The address was a huge challenge to the Democrats.  It will be very interesting to see which way the polls break (assuming you trust the polls, that is).