Thursday, September 21, 2017

How not to land a rocket

The eagle-eyed Queen Of The World spotted this - SpaceX created a blooper video of their failed rocket landing attempts.  It's pretty funny, and shows that they have a good sense of humor - and more importantly, a sense of confidence from a long string of successful landings.  They can afford to poke a little fun at their past "learning events".

NSA has made its job harder

This is big, big news:
An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies. 
In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.
Germany, Japan, Israel - these are our allies.  They clearly do not trust the NSA.  One of the researchers is quite explicit on this:
“I don’t trust the designers,” Israeli delegate Orr Dunkelman, a computer science professor at the University of Haifa, told Reuters, citing Snowden's papers. “There are quite a lot of people in NSA who think their job is to subvert standards. My job is to secure standards.”
There is an old saying in the Intelligence Community: there are friendly governments but there are no friendly foreign intelligence agencies.  I don't think that they really believed that applied to them, at least Back In The Day.

I suspect that we've reached Peak NSA.  Even our friends no longer trust it.  This likely will greatly compromise its effectiveness.

This is a very good article.  Recommended.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Koala goes for 10 mile joy ride

Luckiest Koala in Australia:
There’s at least one animal from Australia that won’t poison you or bite you in half and it is as durable as it is cuddly. This koala, a lactating mother, rode in this car’s wheel well for 10 miles. It must have been very stressful. 
The unidentified driver of the car didn’t notice anything until he started hearing“crying,” which is when he stopped and discovered the animal. He also called for help. Firefighters showed up and took a wheel off in the course of the rescue.

Well done to our keen eared hero, who pulled over.  The Koala has been released back into the wild.

Dog interrupts soccer game

This is hilarious.  The pup just wants to play with the ball.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Global Warming - not so much of a problem after all

Climate Scientists and Environmentalists - still as much of a problem:
An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook.
Experts now say there is a two-in-three chance of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the ultimate goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
OK, so the good news first: a newly published (peer-reviewed) article in Nature Geoscience says that warming has not been as fast as predicted.

Now the bad news: we've known this for a long time, so it's very strange to see Science™ only now catching up:
So a full half of the historical record of the most reliable global temperature data set [satellites - Borepatch] shows zero warming, despite enormous increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  None of the climate models have predicted this, which is a layman's way of saying that the scientific predictions from the models has been falsified. 
Now the worse news: there is simply no data to suggest that the 'unexpected "revolution" in affordable renewable energy' has anything at all to do with the situation:
Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.... 
So the significantly lower warming is due to a "revolution" that supplies less than a percent of the global energy output?  I'd sure love to see any sort of data to back that up.   But let's look at that "revolution" and what it means in the Paris Accord context:
Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours. 
If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s. 
At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs. [My emphasis - Borepatch]
What's the environmental impact of covering Russia with wind farms?  I'd love to see some data on that, too.  But wait, we're not done with the "revolution" in "renewable" energy.  What does that do to electricity rates?

The countries that have been most aggressive in their "renewable" energy targets have electricity prices two to three times the price we pay in the USA.  Who pays that?  The citizens, of course.  This is a particularly regressive tax on the poor and lower middle class to fund upper missile class prestige "Green" projects.  It's so bad that there's a term for the social damage done by these programs -"fuel poverty":
European Carbon emission agreements combined with an unsustainable "sustainable" power initiative have led to energy prices increasing 150% in the last decade.  Now the Brit.Gov is shutting generating plants, reducing excess capacity (read: "emergency capacity") from 15% to under 5%.

Next up, winter:
Spiralling energy bills contributed to 24,000 deaths last winter, as many elderly people cut back on their heating.
The shocking toll will increase fears that the number will be even higher this year because of further increases in energy bills and warnings of a particularly cold winter.
The figures for ‘excess winter deaths’, published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, reveal the majority of victims were over 75.
And now let's look at what I consider to be the worst part of the whole situation.  All the poverty, all the deaths, the lack of any sort of real results (less than 1% of the world's energy budget), what's the justification?  How can anyone recommend the death and misery?

Because the computer models predicted a high rate of increase in the temperature.  A rate that we aren't seeing, according to Nature Geoscience.  What do we call a scientific prediction that is not backed by experimental observation?

Generally to be considered "scientific", something has to be falsifiable - where anyone can try to duplicate your observations or results. If there's no way that this can be done, then the thing cannot be held to be scientific.
When after-the-fact justifications are frequently made to explain why your prediction did not pan out, that is a huge, huge warning sign.  And that's exactly what we are seeing - the heat is being absorbed by the oceans or some such thing.  No data are presented to back this up, of course.  The problem is that a lot of people (including your humble host) have been saying for years and years that the Science doesn't hold water.

Bad science leading to disastrous public policy that kills and impoverishes without achieving its own stated goals, there's your modern environmental movement.

Arrrrr! Ye scaliwabs!

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day!  Even if you're a little unclear on what pirates did ....

Monday, September 18, 2017

ZZ Top - La Grange

How can I have been posting music for over 9 years and never posted ZZ Top?

The Queen Of The World is teaching me to be cool.

Road Rage, shotguns, and Go-Pro

Note to Oklahoma Good Ol' Boys (of the bad persuasion): if you let your road rage lead to bushwacking bikers using a shotgun, they may have a Go Pro and post it to YouTube.

Fascism started earlier than I had thought

General Lundendorff had absorbed (even more than Kaiser Wilhelm II had) the moral relativism and historicism that had become fashionable in the German elite in the decades running up to the First World War – ideas that can be traced all the way back to (in their different ways) such philosophers as Hegel and (far more) Fichte, whereas General Falkenhayn still clung to concepts of universal justice (morality) and rejected such things as the extermination or enslavement of whole races, and the destruction of historic civilisations such as that of Russia. Lundendorff, and those who thought like him, regarded Falkenhayn as hopelessly reactionary – for example thinking in terms of making peace with Russia on terms favourable to Germany, rather than destroying Russia and using the population as slaves. In the Middle East Falkenhayn came to hear of the Ottoman Turk plan to destroy the Jews (as the Armenian Christians had been destroyed), and he was horrified by the plan and worked to frustrate it. Advanced and Progressive thinkers, such as Ludnedorff, had great contempt for Reactionaries such as Falkenhayn who did not realise that ideas of universal justice and personal honour were “myths” only believed in by silly schoolgirls. Falkenhayn even took Christianity seriously, to Lundendorff this was clearly the mark of an inferior and uneducated mind. And Falkenhayn, for his part, came to think that his country (the Germany that he so loved) was under the influence of monsters – although while their plans to exterminate or enslave whole races and to control (in utter tyranny) every aspect of peacetime (not just wartime) life remained theoretical, he never had to make the final break.
We are taught that something went horribly wrong under the Nazis, where they corrupted the Germany of Beethoven and Schopenhauer.  It seems that the corruption was complete decades earlier.

Tonedeaf #2

The headlines this morning are all about the Emmy Awards. How it was all cutting edge and how they spent three hours sticking it to President Trump with Steven Colbert leading the charge.

The part they left out was how the rating for this agitprop was down again this year, falling off to a 2.8% share among adults 18-49.  If it keeps on like this, I might have to start having hope again.

Top Equifax IT execs out

It's a start:
Equifax's chief information officer and chief security officer “are retiring” and the company has admitted it knew Apache Struts needed patching in March, but looks to have fluffed attempts to secure the software.
No word on whether they sold stock in the weeks leading up to the disclosure.

Remember, here's what you need to know about protecting yourself after the breach.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

St. Hildegard of Bingen - Spiritus Sanctus

Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard.  Hildegard was born around 1098 AD and began having visions at an early age.  Likely due to this, she entered the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg young, part of a community of women attached to the monetary).  The education that she received there helped her flower.  Particularly interested in medicine, she wrote some of the earliest botanical texts in Germany and is considered the founder of German natural science.

But she is best remembered as a composer of sacred music.  It is very old but has a serene beauty that I find quite compelling.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Brigid Computer Advice - A Guest Post

You know me, safety forced. 
 - Red Green

Borepatch is your guy for computer stuff.  I'm just the forensic scientist that has a homemade computer made out of a 1940's Analytical Balance.  That is the total extent of my computer knowledge - what the basic components are (and yes, the big button is on/off).
I'm lucky that I have an admin assistant at work that was administrative in the Army or I'd not be able to get anything done without him.

So sometimes even the basic stuff is a challenge

Like when I tried to upload Windows 10. The last laptop I got had Windows 8. To say I hated Windows 8 was an understatement.  Using it as I did to capture and sort photos for the blog was about as user-friendly as the U.S. Tax Code.

The intent I guess, was to meld together the desktop and mobile platforms to try for a single operating system that would work on the desktop, notebooks, and tablets.  What I got was a system that just screamed for flaming torches and pitchforks.  The tutorial was no help at all, simply telling me to move my mouse to any corner. . and then. . WHAT?   What is it supposed to do, to be?   And all I could think of was SNL's The Church Lady with "could it be. . . SATAN?"

It just leaves off right there and apparently, I was supposed to just cognitively know that although most scroll wheels go up and down, Windows 8 wants you to scroll sideways.

So I muddled through, scrolling through screen after screen of run on photos, only to find the one I wanted to add to the blog, only to have something go "zap" like Samantha of Bewitched was in the room and the next thing you know my picture was missing and there was a pony in the room.

See, that's my computer skill.  So tasks that are basic for everyone under the age of 50 are more a challenge for me. Like, what do you do if you have a hard drive you want to get rid of.

Sure you can take out all your data, compress and encrypt using a strong encryption and then format the hard disk drive. Even if the bad guys recover the encrypted file, trying to decrypt the recovered file would be a difficult task (think the average politician and a really hard level of Angry Birds).

But you can't just delete a file from the hard drive, it doesn't go away.  When files are erased  (and that's a pretty loose definition of the word) from a hard drive, they don't really disappear, only the file location information is removed. In other words, the file(s) are invisible to the operating system (like Windows or Linux) but not impossible to recover (especially for geeky folks that have nothing else to do)
"Me, mess with my colleagues?"

So what do you do when you've replaced a hard drive, to make sure someone doesn't get the info off of the old one and you're really not a computer whiz.

I'll offer some Brigid ideas from the past few years.  Then you all can come up with one of your own. 
No, not going to cut it.
There's an assortment of shop tools and stuff out in the garage.

You can bury it. With enough old computers around, you can have your own "Hard Drive Body Farm".

There's blunt force trauma.

You might want to check with your homeowners association first. 
 Ve haf vays of making you talk.
There's heat (but there's that whole harmful volatiles issue).

What's this?  

"Product warranty void if drive experiences shock in excess of 350 G's."

350 G's?! What on earth would have that kind of destructive force?


No, with Barkley gone, the current "mandibles of death"- Abby Normal the Labrador  -couldn't do any significant damage, and she might injure herself.

I could use an extra coaster.

Montgomery Gentry - Our Town

Troy Gentry died last week in a helicopter crash.  He was from Lexington, Kentucky - the Queen Of The World's old stomping grounds.  She knew his family and remembers him playing at his mother's bar (along with John Michael Montgomery).  She says that he did a good job of growing up with money but not turning out to be a jerk.

Rest in Peace, Troy.  Thanks for the music.

Our Town (Songwriters: Reed Neilsen, Jeffery Steele)
There's a "For Sale" sign on a big old rusty tractor.
You can't miss it, it's the first thing that you see.
Just up the road, a pale-blue water tower,
With "I Love Jenny" painted in bright green.
Hey, that's my Uncle Bill, there by the courthouse.
He'll be lowerin' the flag when the sun goes down.
And this is my town.

Where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.
Where I ran off 'cos I got mad,
An' it came to blows with my old man.
Where I came back to settle down,
It's where they'll put me in the ground:
This is my town.
My town.

There ain't much goin' on here since they closed the mill.
But that whistle still blows ev'ry day at noon.
A bunch of us still go down to the diner.
I wonder if that interstate's still comin' through.
Come Sunday morning service, at the Church of Christ,
Well there ain't an empty seat to be found.
And this is my town.

Where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.
Where I ran off 'cos I got mad,
An' it came to blows with my old man.
Where I came back to settle down,
It's where they'll put me in the ground:
This is my town.

Well, I bought and painted up that rusty tractor.
You can't miss it, it's sittin' right there in our yard.
The County came and took that water tower,
And that's Jenny, with a baby, in the car.
Ah, we're off to Sunday service at the Church of Christ,
And if we want a seat, we better leave right now.
And maybe later, me an old T-roy will show you around,
Our town.

Yeah, where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.
Where I ran off 'cos I got mad,
An' it came to blows with my old man.
Where I came back to settle down,
It's where they'll put me in the ground:
This is my town.


CBS MoneyWatch has an article noting the decline in viewers for the NFL. It has the facts, the percentages, and then includes some theories about the causes. Viewers are down 14% since last year. The networks are on the hook for broadcast contracts worth tens of billions of dollars. And the theories include star player retirements and injuries, interest in politics, recent hurricanes, and quality of the games.

Then you get to the comments. One after another, cogent, thoughtful comments clearly stating the exact reason that life long NFL fans have turned off the TV, dropped their cable subscription, and moved on. Here's a sample:

 *I will not watch a single NFL game until the protests during the national anthem end. Period. So, NFL fix the problem of the whiny, rich, spoiled kids throwing a tantrum or your ratings will continue to slide. I cancelled ESPN. I watch sports for fun and news for politics. Get out of politics or your ratings will continue to slide.
 *There will be no NFL at my house until the employment of players that disrespect our flag and anthem is terminated.
 *As long as the NFL buries it's head in the sand and refuses to address the political nature of the "protests" and that these over privileged, narcissistic, over paid whiners offend the majority of the US, viewership will continue to tumble - Never to return
 And so on

The counter-argument that the players are Americans too and they have a right to protest has some traction with me. As a libertarian, I think they do have a right to protest. Whether they can exercise that right while they are being paid is a matter they have to work out with their employers. But even if I am convinced they have a right to protest on the field, there is no argument that will convince me I have to pay for the privilege of watching them do it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Taj Mahal - The New Hula Blues

If there is such a thing as happy blues, it's from Hawaii.

Truth in labeling

This is awesome.

I Hope She Runs Again

 Seriously, Dems, what were you thinking?

Good manners online

Peter posts about them, and that reminded me of the old pre-Internet USENET and the legendary Emily Postnews, foremost authority on proper net behaviour, gives her advice on how to act on the net:
Q: I cant spell worth a dam. I hope your going too tell me what to do?
A: Don't worry about how your articles look. Remember it's the message that counts, not the way it's presented. Ignore the fact that sloppy spelling in a purely written forum sends out the same silent messages that soiled clothing would when addressing an audience.

Q: Another poster can't spell worth a damn. What should I post?
A: Post a followup pointing out all the original author's spelling and grammar mistakes. You were almost certainly the only one to notice them, genius that you are, so not only will others be intrigued at your spelling flame, but they'll get to read such fine entertainments rather than any actual addressing of the facts or issues in the message.
The whole thing was brilliant, and became, well, legendary.  It has held up surprisingly well for something that must be 30 years old.