Monday, September 16, 2019


And one for desert, too:


Yes, yes, a million times yes.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Bruno Walter conducting Gustav Mahler - Das Leid Von Der Erde

Sunday music has focused on composers, but the 20th century in particular should focus on conductors. Partly this is because classical music written in the 20th century is so bad, but partly it is a reflection of the explosion of symphony orchestras and the spread of "mid brow" culture in the post war period in particular.  Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the most famous of these conductors, but most important is without doubt Bruno Walter.

Born on this day in 1876, his name was originally Buno Schlesinger.  His musical education soon focused him on his main interest, conducting.  As the choral director at the Hamburg opera he met Gustav Mahler and ended up becoming close to him for the rest of Mahler's life.  Not only was Walter present when Mahler died, but Mahler's widow asked Walter to conduct the premier performance of the yet-to-be-performed Das Leid Von Der Erde.

But Walter's jewish background was a serious hinderance as the Nazis came to power, and Walter ended up in the United States.  His reputation was such that he conducted - and recorded -all the most important orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles symphonies.  His influence was most felt in the music he selected for performance.

His recordings were mostly done before stereo was available but are generally considered superior to the later stereo versions.  This recording of Das Leid Von Der Erde is famous despite the older technology used in its creation.

Therapy For The Overly Woke


Saturday, September 14, 2019

So Bob O'Rourke says he's going to confiscate all the AR-15s

Oooooooh kaaaaaaay.  Solid plan.

Neil Diamond - Porcupine Pie

There's not much to say about this song, other than it's a not-very-country nonsense song from 1972.  But it's fun.

Porcupine Pie (Songwriter: Neil Diamond)
Porcupine Pie, Porcupine Pie, Porcupine PieVanilla Soup, a double scoop please.... No
Maybe I won't, maybe I will, maybe I'll havethe tutti fruit, with fruity blue cheese
Ah but Porcupine Pie, Porcupine Pie, Porcupine Piedon't let it get on your jeans
And though it sounds a little strange butyou gotta eat it with gloves or your hands will turn green
Ah but porcupine pie, porcupine pie, porcupine pieweaves its way through my dreams
I do believe I'm gonna try some andleave enough room for dessert, the chicken ripple ice cream.

Friday, September 13, 2019

"No One Wants To Take Your Guns"

Oh wait.

Beto O'Rourke definitely wants to take your guns.

Understanding liberals

So the Democrats had a debate last night, yadda yadda.  Rather than delving into particulars, it's important to keep sight of the forrest, rather than the trees.  This post from ten years ago explains how:

Nothing I could write would improve on that sentence, part 4

The Czar of Muscovy* looks at Thomas Freedman's wistful "Now why can't our Government act like Philosopher Kings like the Chinese" Op-Ed, and dissects it. It's well worth your time in an intellectual well-balanced-dinner sort of way, but he ends with this delicious morsel for desert
The Czar has said before that if you really want to understand liberals, progressives, the news media, and Hollywood, it helps to learn about how spoiled high school freshmen girls think.

I'd ask what's with all that liberal yearning-for-a-strongman thing, but it's already been explained. At length.

* Not a fake Czar like in the Obama Administration, but rather in an Internet Pseudonym sort of way. All in all, much more respectable and credible, if you ask me.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

18 Years Out

18 years after December 7th, 1941 was 1959. Japan and Germany had largely been rebuilt. The threat they had represented was relegated to history books and movies. The United States had made the decision to eliminate those threats, converted to a war footing, won decisively, and returned to a peacetime economy that was the envy of the world.

18 years after September 11, 2001 is 2019.

We never identified the enemy. We never declared war. We called it a war. The War on Terror. A complete failure to identify the enemy and an undeclared war on a tactic. Invaded two countries inconclusively. Then we decided to start rebuilding before we had won.

As a result, we have incurred 7,000 combat related U.S. military deaths, 54,000 injuries of which approximately 1,700 involved amputations, and there are 6,000 veteran suicides a year, every year.

In the process we have already spent 6 Trillion dollars. We did not tax or sell war bonds for this. It is all done with borrowing and deficits.

We used up the life of our ships, aircraft, vehicles, and weapons systems. We would be currently unable to effectively respond to another war. Our active obligations drive an ops tempo that do not allow for proper maintenance of equipment and push personnel into a continuous cycle of deployments.

We set in motion a surveillance apparatus that continues to grow, watching every move, call, text, click that we make.

We turned air travel into a Kafkaesque system where everyone, from 80 year old nuns to infants are suspects. It's all theater, but it's unpleasant, unconstitutional theater. And we spent a 100 Billion dollars just on that.

We have lost and are continuing to lose. We're negotiating with the Taliban. We don't control Afghanistan. We don't control Iraq. We are not safer than we were in 2001. We don't have any idea who is coming across our southern border. We don't know that the next attack won't be worse. We're far less free than we were.

If Osama Bin Laden wanted to make us bleed, both physically and economically, he won.

BREXIT beer deal

LOL.  Via Chris Lynch, who you do read every day, right?

Liberal "logic"

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Eighteen years of futility

ASM826 posted a moving tribute but I find I find that words for that day mostly fail me.  And so here are some pictures to remember that day.

They call him the Falling Man.  He's not the only one they got a picture of.

There's a reason that we call these men "heroes".  343 firemen and 71 police ran into the building to save people, but never came out.  Rest in peace.

I found this very moving from back then, but some folks complained that it endangered birds.  Same planet, different worlds.

Looking back after 18 years, I think this was George W. Bush's greatest moment:

The follow-through lightening campaign driving the Taliban from power was the pinnacle of his presidency, but it was all down hill from there.  18 years later, we're still in Afghanistan, because Bush flinched from what it would take to "nation build" there.  Publius Cornelius Tacitus is probably the easiest of the Roman historians to read.  Son-in-law to the governor of Britannia, he recorded a speech of a vanquished chieftain:
To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain's glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission ... To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.
- Tacitus, Agricola ch. 30
The Romans would have known how to deal with the Taliban, and would have made the Taliban's lands a peaceful desert.  America did not. Bush got us into that mess, and rather than pulling out in 2002 with the message that there's more of that where it came from if you don't behave, Bush dithered with a foreign policy that has led to thousands of American dead and tens of thousands of maimed.  He didn't even go after Osama, holed up under the protection of the Pakistani military.  Obama did, in probably the only positive even of his tenure.  Tacitus would have approved.

But we're still in the Middle East.  We're still hated there.  "Nation building" has been a failure, as has pinprick bombing.  People complain that turning on some lights to commemorate the World Trade Center towers will harm birds, while Dover Air Force Base continues to receive flag-draped coffins.

Nothing symbolizes for me the utter incompetence of both parties than the last eighteen years.  The dead from 9/11 deserve better, as do we all.

UPDATE 11 September 2019 16:56: Well, it has shown us who are friends are, and aren't.  That's a plus.


Christine Lee Hanson was the youngest person to die as a direct result of the 9/11 hijackings. She was traveling with her parents to Disney World. She was two.

Something like 9/11 is too big to take in. I recommend picking one person. Take a name off the list. Learn about that person. I picked Christine. She represents 9/11 for me. The loss, the horror, the senseless stupidity of murdering random civilians.

She would be 20 now. A college student, moving into adulthood.

Instead, she and her parents died  when their plane impacted the South Tower. Christine's paternal grandfather Lee was on the phone with his son Peter right up to impact. They knew what was going to happen. Peter tried to comfort his dad, "Don't worry, Dad, if it happens, it will be quick." His last words were, "Oh my God".

Her grandparents have spent the last 18 years pushing for justice, for trials, for the people responsible for planning the attack to be held accountable. That hasn't happened. Lee Hanson died last November. Eunice continues to push for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be brought to trial.

Not birthdays and vacations, watching her granddaughter grow up, but memorials, visits to federal defense attorneys, waiting for some sort of justice, and growing old alone.

"They took away our dreams. They took away our future,"
--Lee Hanson 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Last Day in the Old World

I have reposted this several times over the years. It always feels right.

September 10th, 2001 was a Monday. I had scheduled a day off a couple of weeks in advance, and we had made plans to go canoeing. The perfection of the day was breathtaking. A Carolina blue sky, a light breeze, afternoon temperature in the low 80s.

We put in at the landing in the primitive camping area in Goose Creek State Park. The marsh grass and trees were showing some signs of fall. The creek runs up through the park becoming narrower as it goes. We slowly picked our way along, stopping to look at birds and wildflowers. When we got to a point where all we could do was turn around, we paddled back out.

Going past the landing, we paddled out into the Pamlico Sound. The breeze was in our faces, so it was slow going, but the water was calm enough for the canoe. We paddled almost all the way across, enjoying the exertion. When we turned around it was a fast run back to the creek, 20 minutes to cover what had taken a couple of hours going out.

We sat in the sun on the landing and ate and talked. After we loaded the canoe on the truck and started home, she fell asleep. I remember it so clearly because it was the last day of the old world. A carefree, gentle day on the water, shared with a fine woman. There will never be another day like it in my lifetime.

Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.
–Wayne Dyer

Happy Palindrome week!

This is cool:

Shamelessly stolen from Gorges Smythe.

Cool business strategy, bro

Bill de Blasio commands the tides not to rise

Image via Wikipedia
There was a day when the Vikings ruled England.  King Ethelred the Unready was defeated and overthrown by a Viking prince, Canute son of Sven Forkbeard.  Yes, I know that this sounds like something out of Game Of Thrones.  Stick with me.

Perhaps unsurprisingly compared with his feckless predecessor, Canute was one of the most effective kings in English history.  His reputation was such that he was able to get his daughter married to the man who would later become Holy Roman Emperor.  Not bad for a "barbarous" Dane.

Such a ruler attracts the flatterers that naturally gravitate to a powerful royal court.  The chronicles tell us that King Canute had his throne erected on the shore of the sea, and commanded the tides not to rise. Of course it did and the king admonished his courtiers, telling them to put not their faith in the commands of mortal men.

Alas for the degraded age in which we live, with politicians so much less wise than Canute.  Miguel posts about how New Your City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to ban robots:
What he is talking about is increasing the costs of doing business.  That makes America less competitive on the global market.  Which in turn will harm American businesses.
To try and save some jobs from being lost to robots, he is going to cost America many more jobs when companies can’t be cost-competitive and go under.
True, but what he is really doing is commanding the tides not to rise.  You see, New York State passed a law raising the minimum wage to $15/hour:
As part of the 2016-17 State Budget, Governor Cuomo signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 minimum wage plan that will lift the earnings of more than 2.1 million New Yorkers, in all industries across the state.
Well, businesses do what businesses do when the cost of one of the factors of production rises - they look for substitutes that are cheaper (hence, robots).  Oops, unemployment goes up!  Dang, the tide is coming in and everyone's feet are going to get all wet and their shoes will be ruined!

But have no fear, gentle reader!  Mayor de Blasio is on the scene to command the tide not to rise!  All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds!


You'd think that these morons would learn from the past, but you'd think wrong.

A simple cure for Ransomware?

We've seen a rash of ransomware attacks against small towns.  This is malware that encrypts all the files on the computer and demands a ransom for a key to decrypt them.  Most recently we saw a bunch of towns in Texas succumbing to the attack.  But not all towns submit:
The City of New Bedford, in Massachusetts, has found a way to deal with ransomware without paying: shoring up defenses, restoring from backups, and rebuilding systems.

The attack on the American city's systems was identified on July 5, after employees noticed unusual network activity upon returning from the July 4th holiday, Mayor Jon Mitchell explained in a press conference on Wednesday.

"We haven't seen any interruption in municipal services at all," said Mitchell.

The city's Management Information Systems (MIS) staff identified the presence of the file-scrambling RYUK nasty, a sophisticated form of ransomware, and through prompt action managed to limit its impact.


Unwilling to pay $5.3m, Mitchel said he made a counter-offer of $400,000, based on cyber-insurance proceeds available to the city. The cyber-crim declined and the city continued negotiating, buying the IT staff the time needed to bolster defenses and restore files from backups, to the extent possible.
Good on them.  A good data backup strategy cures a multitude of security sins.  You can find ASM826's and my recommendations here.