Thursday, July 28, 2016

Brigid on Self Defense

You do read Brigid's posts, don't you?

You should, this one was especially on point.


The "Russians hacked the DNC" story is wrong

At the very least, it is journalistic malpractice and we should consider it wrong until proven otherwise.  Robert Graham (an Internet Security bigwig) posts at length about this:
People keep citing this New York Times article by David Sanger that attributes the DNCleaks to Russia. As I've written before, this is propaganda, not journalism. It's against basic journalistic ethics to quote anonymous "federal officials" in a story like this. The Society of Professional Journalists repudiates this [1] [2]. The NYTime's own ombudsman has itself criticized David Sanger for this practice, and written guidelinesto specifically ban it.

Quoting anonymous federal officials is great, when they disagree with government, when revealing government malfeasance, when it's something that people will get fired over.

But the opposite is happening here. It's either Obama himself or some faction within the administration that wants us to believe Russia is involved. They want us to believe the propaganda, then hide behind anonymity so we can't question them. This evades obvious questions, like whether all their information comes from the same public sources that already point to Russia, or whether they have their own information from the CIA or NSA that points to Russia.

Everyone knows the Washington press works this way, and that David Sanger in particular is a journalistic whore.
There's more, and you should read the entire post.  In my opinion, this is exactly right.  I've been skeptical about this, but anonymous "tips" basically say "trust me".  I'm sorry, but the last decades have shown that we shouldn't trust the Press.

The echo of Jackboots

It may be stirring in France, as a frightened population rushes to join gun clubs.  Why?
As a Brit who has lived in France for 15 years, I like to think I know my neighbors pretty well. I've pretty well mastered the language, and have even been elected to the local council. So my observations are not a tourist's snapshot. I talk to a lot of people at every level of French society and I am detecting a change of mood. And the mood is turning nasty.
Normally, it takes quite a bit to excite my neighbors under the languid southern sun, but as one horror has followed another, I am no longer taking for granted that they will put up with this much longer.
Tom Wolfe once joked that fascism is always descending upon America but always landing in Europe.  France has a long history of native grown fascist movements, as a reading of the Third Republic will reveal.  The movements then were driven by the same dynamic we see today:
Traditional politicians are failing France's citizens. The president, Francois Hollande, has so far responded feebly to this. After the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine, he suggested that radicalism could be avoided by making school children recite a pledge of allegiance to the French state. 
Last week, Manuel Valls, the prime minister, further infuriated my neighbors by suggesting that they should just "learn to live" with terrorism. No wonder the extreme nationalist politicians are gaining ground.
I need to point out that this article is at CNBC, for crying out loud.  As you'd expect from a reliably lefty media outlet it does a tip of the hat to the (very real) problems of discrimination faced by France's muslim community.  But the entire article is grim.  People are buying guns - lots of guns.

Me, I blame Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, and America's lack of an Assault Rifle gun law ...

Hat tip: American Digest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


 Toledo Ohio used to be a manufacturing center for glass. It's gone now, but like many things, there are people that remember and want to commemorate that history. To that end, they built a lovely museum.

All I bring myself to do is offer this quote from the website:
One of the distinguishing features of the pavilion is that all of the exterior and nearly all interior walls are large panels of curved glass, resulting in a transparent structure that blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces...Toledo was once a major center of glass production; now most of its factories are closed and the glass workers gone. The enormous sheets of glass needed for the pavilion were manufactured in Germany and molded in China.

Of Free Trade, Bastiat's "Seen and Unseen", and the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party

Peter has a good post up about free trade. I left a comment about how economists (like everyone) suffer from Bastiat's "The Seen and the Unseen" fallacy - you notice what you measure and you don't notice what you don't measure.  Economists measure the amount of trade, and increasingly do not measure the actual impact of unemployment (not least because the way unemployment is measured has become corrupted by a cynical government.  And suddenly I'm afraid that I found myself in a rant.

It's not Peter's fault - I've done this before, on this topic, and this post is really a combination of two older posts that are suddenly made fresh by the Trump phenomenon.  You want President Trump?  This is how you get President Trump.

Globalization is presented in a very sterile manner.  That's because the people who benefit from it are the Intellectual Class - the Harvard Business School types, the Banksters, the Intellectual Class hangers on.  Lots of dusty figures and graphs.  It's left to the artists - in this case, a latter day Woodie Guthrie - to give it a human face.

The plant in the video was the Goodyear factory in Union City, TN.  It closed in 2011. When I was a lad, Woodie Guthrie was a hero of the Left, a man who stuck up for the Little Guy who was oppressed by the Powers That Be.  Nowadays, this is called right wing hate music.  Just because.

Quite frankly, there's nothing that more clearly demonstrates the decadence of the Left.  And nothing that more clearly demonstrates why I hold them in contempt.  It's all upper middle class SWPL self-interest, and I say this as someone who's been sort of upper middle class for a long time.  The people in this video are our neighbors.  Where, o where is Hollywood and the Left?  The World wonders.

Actually, we don't.  That's where the contempt springs from.  The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.

HYPOCRITEn. One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
I used to be a Democrat.  I used to hold elective office in the Democratic Party Apparat (County Council, as a matter of fact).  I'm registered Independent - as I've been since the 1980s - but have never been a Republican, and have no plans to change that.

I grew up pretty liberal, as childhood friend 2cents could tell you.  Quite frankly, I'm one of the millions who think that they didn't leave the Party, the Party left them.

And that makes a difference.  While I think that the GOP is the Stupid Party, when I look at what the Democratic Party has shrunk to, the only word that comes to mind is "evil".  I mean that quite literally.

They have sold their souls to those who used to be considered their worst enemies.  They've shaved much of their souls off, and burned them as an offering on the altar of Wall Street and the Banksters.

Where I came from, that used to be called hypocrisy.

I was trained not just as an Engineer, but as an Economist, and so I understand the theories of technological advancement displacing unskilled labor, and the theories of international trade and advantage.  Indeed, I've spent my career in an industry that has benefited from that trade and America's differentiated value as we built the Internet.

And yet I never forgot that Dad was born on a kitchen table, and grew up dirt poor in the Depression.  That runs deep, to my bones - which is why I'll never be a Republican.

And yet I look at the Democratic Party, the party of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the Recording Industry, Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, and I want to vomit.  Bill Clinton destroyed the soul of the Party; NAFTA was only the start of a long and (literally) sordid list of betrayals where bit by bit, the Party's soul was gradually sliced off until the only thing left was appetite.

Democrats love him because he won elections, but he destroyed the Middle Class.  NAFTA was intended to pad the bottom line of the Fortune 500.  It came at the expense of the Middle Class.  The Fortune 500 contributed large amounts of money to his campaign, and to the Democratic Party.

Repeat for the Bank bailout.  Repeat for the Federal Reserve monetizing the debt and causing an inflation that the Government no longer tracks (they changed how it's counted to make it go away).  Repeat for the EPA refusing new oil drilling permits and refinery permits, causing gasoline prices to double (oops, energy isn't included in the inflation indices any more).  Repeat for SOPA and the galaxy of Intellectual Property laws that would criminalize the Middle Class, saving the RIAA the expense of tort law.

Now add in Obamacare which is gutting the 40 hour work week, and the push for "immigration reform" - bringing in between 12 and 20 Million more workers that are willing to work for lower wages than unemployed former Middle Class Americans.  Because the Powers That Be in the Democratic Party smell new votes.  Not Middle Class votes, but hey - eggs, omelets, right?

Add in the EPA and a thousand other regulatory agencies making it impossible to build a factory in this country.  The Chinese can have it up and running in six months, just like we used to - but the Democratic Party's environmentalist allies (and their allies in government agencies who benefit from this jobs killing red tape) have a monomaniacal drive for more, more, ever more regulation.  If that kills the middle class then gosh: don't they vote Republican anyway?

And throughout all of this, you hear an endless litany of "the Democratic Party is the party of the little guy".  The biased Media never calls them on any of this.  And I (and presumably you) are racist wingnut h8trs because we see the betrayal for what it is:

Evil.  These are real people, with real lives and dreams.  Those are being destroyed by the Democratic Party.  The Democratic Party is impoverishing the Middle Class, all the while claiming to be sticking up for it.  I have data.

What's the Matter with Kansas?  What's the matter is that the good citizens there haven't strung up every Democratic politician from a lamp post.
My mother gave birth to me on the kitchen table that I ate off until adulthood.  I have always considered the humble conditions of that birth to be a distinction, one to be proud of.  In spite of the humbleness of that birth, I was able to become a university professor, author of several books and many articles, and to be blessed with marriage to a wonderful woman and father to three fine sons.  Having accomplished that from such a birth had given me bragging rights.
Dad made a shift from being a Republican to a pillar of the Democratic Party because of this.  I've made the shift away from the party for exactly the same reason.  I'm not cynical or evil enough to stomach what the party has become.

Well played, Gardiner.

The Castle Borepatch garden is bearing tomatoes.  They're pretty danged good.

"Smart" lightbulbs are pretty stupid

From a security perspective, that is:
Nine security holes, four of them still unpatched, have been found in the Osram smart light bulb system, potentially giving attackers access to a home or corporate network. 
The issues in the Lightify Home and Pro systems range from cross-site scripting (XSS) to problems with the ZigBee and SSL protocols to insecure encryption key handling. They were discovered by security company Rapid7. 
Some of the programming bugs are pretty amateurish, raising the larger question of what kind of security review the products go through before being put on the market.
Security wasn't an afterthought - it wasn't thought of at all.

My recommendation is to assume that any "smart" appliance is an open door to hackers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yeah, I could get behind this

Must read on the Trump phenomenon

Via Isegoria (you do read him every day, right?) comes this:
... humans appear to have some need to look down on someone; there’s just a basic tribalistic impulse in all of us.  And if you’re an elite white professional, working class whites are an easy target: you don’t have to feel guilty for being a racist or a xenophobe.  By looking down on the hillbilly, you can get that high of self-righteousness and superiority without violating any of the moral norms of your own tribe.  So your own prejudice is never revealed for what it is.
What does it mean for our politics?  To me, this condescension is a big part of Trump’s appeal.  He’s the one politician who actively fights elite sensibilities, whether they’re good or bad.  I remember when Hillary Clinton casually talked about putting coal miners out of work, or when Obama years ago discussed working class whites clinging to their guns and religion.  Each time someone talks like this, I’m reminded of Mamaw’s feeling that hillbillies are the one group you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon.  The people back home carry that condescension like a badge of honor, but it also hurts, and they’ve been looking for someone for a while who will declare war on the condescenders.  If nothing else, Trump does that. 
I grew up comfortably in this "Intellectual Class" but Dad remembered the hard days of the Depression and his Grandfather's hardscrabble farm.  The angriest I remember him getting at me was when I casually tossed out some sneering reference to the problems of the Working Man.  He had no patience for that sort of thing, and so I had a correction to the Class Condescension problem at quite an early age.  Fortunately, it stuck.

And so while I am a card-carrying member of the Intellectual Class (multiple papers published in the technical literature and all that), I feel this same rage at the sneers from people who should know - and behave - better.  There's no mystery to me about what Trump's appeal is, and in fact there is a sense of kindred spirit: he, too, came from this same class.  He, too, rejected the easy prejudices of that class.  He, too, is impatient with those who should know better.

It's quite an interesting interview, and I highly recommend it.

I'm skeptical about the whole "Russian Hackers got into the DNC email"

I'm increasingly skeptical that Vlad Putin hacked the DNC email servers and released the emails to help get Donald Trump elected.  Sure, it could have happened, but a number of things have me saying "Hmmmm":

1. While the Russians certainly have the capability to do a hack like this, I don't see the motive.  If they want to get Trump elected, why not release the emails from Hillary's servers?  That would be much more damaging than the DNC emails which haven't really done anything other than make Bernie Bros angry.  Letting it be known that they were reading her email while negotiating with them would be terribly damaging.

2. The story about Russian hackers came out almost immediately after the Wikileaks announcement.  How on earth would anyone have been able to know who did the hack in that short a period?  The Press picked this up and mouthed the story as you would expect from Running Dog Lackeys of the Democratic Party, but there's very little evidence being offered.

3. There are other plausible actors who would be more embarrassing to the Democrats.  It's not beyond belief that an IT Administrator was a closet Bernie Bro who caught a whiff of what was going on, and leaked the emails to Wikileaks.

All in all, I'm taking a wait and see approach to this.  But for now, I'm not buying the "Hacked by Rookies" thing.

Ongoing War

Whether we fight or not, we are at war.
An 86-year-old priest has been beheaded by two ISIS knifemen who cut his throat after bursting into a French church and taking nuns and worshippers hostage before being shot dead by police.
Five people including the priest, two nuns and two parishioners were held by assailants who raided the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy at 9am.
The clergyman, named as Jacques Hamel, is believed to have been beheaded during the attack while another hostage is fighting for life in hospital.
The two attackers were neutralized by marksmen as they emerged from the building, which is now being searched for explosives. French president Francois Hollande said the men claimed to be from ISIS. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Smart guy

Environmentalism is a scam

It's not about the principle, it's all about power and filthy lucre:
How do humans save nature? By caring for people. Poor nations access cheap and reliable energy to grow more food on less land, create jobs in cities, and reduce fertility. All of this urbanization & increasing yields returns the countryside to grasslands, forests and wildlife. In rich countries — where forests & wildlife are returning — the key to environmental progress is to move to ever-cleaner and safer forms of energy, including nuclear power.
Unfortunately, both of these strategies are increasingly opposed by powerful interests. Using a variety of policy and regulatory mechanisms, large NGOs, European governments, and financial institutions in rich countries are forcing the closure of our largest source of clean energy, nuclear power plants, all while diverting funding from cheap and reliable power to expensive and unreliable off-grid solutions incapable of lifting billions from poverty.
A new group has formed to seize the bull by the horns:
Our ambitions are immodest: we seek to double the rates of both a. electricity growth in poor nations and b. new clean energy generation globally by 2025. Our strategy is to build a grassroots social movement capable of changing minds and policies.
We seek first to stop the premature closure of nuclear plants, restart shuttered plants, and increase the rate at which nations build new nuclear plants, whether Generation III or Gen IV. Second, we seek to motivate policymakers, private banks and public financial institutions to significantly reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for inexpensive baseload electricity in nations where people still rely on wood and dung as their primary energy.
This actually makes enormous sense, and so we can expect that it will be opposed tooth and nail by all Right Thinking People™.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday, Puppy Sunday

Golden retrievers at a water park.

Someone wants a Golden Retriever puppy.  Not sure how you say "no" to someone whose title includes the word "Queen" ...

Adolphe Adam - Overture to Si j'étais Roi

You have heard one of his compositions, and likely can sing along to it.  Here's the song:

Adam was what you might call a "natural".  As a child, he didn't like his structured music lessons, preferring to improvise.  He was a prolific composer of operas and ballets, and a professor at the Paris Conservatoire.  His music is very listenable, and he really deserves to be know for more than a single Christmas carol.

Today's classical composition is the overture to the comedic opera Si j'étais Roi (If I were King):

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wood, Summer Heat, and Hope

I had to pay to have this tree dropped. I looked at it for weeks and could not come up with a process that didn't involve having the roof repaired after the tree fell. It had tilted more over the past year and waiting until the next hurricane would have given me the same outcome. I made a deal with a tree service to put it on the ground and leave it for me.

Today I started the process of clearing the small limbs and cutting the larger pieces into stove fodder. It was 85 when I started, closer to 95 when the sun got up overhead. I drank a lot of water, took my time, and didn't pretend I was going to get it all done. When the truck was full I retreated to the shade. There's at least two more truckloads in that picture.

Cutting wood for the winter is an act of hope. You work now in expectation that you will be here to appreciate it when winter comes.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I, sharpshooter

The local volunteer fire department put on a carnival to raise money.  The Queen Of The World and I rode over on the Harley for an evening of small town summertime fun.

One of the sideshow stalls was a shooting gallery.  It was just BB guns, but full automatic BB guns.  You had to shoot out the red star on the tiny card (click to embiggen).

Everyone around me was just blasting away, and getting nowhere.  But the Queen Of The World was needing a big furry stuffed thingy, and so I handed over my $3 and took aim.  I did short bursts, gradually chopping out the entire center of the card.  When my 100 BBs were all expended, the carnie reeled the card in.  The red star was entirely shot out.

We rode home on the Harley with a purple gorilla in the trunk.  All the spectators were impressed with my shooting; the Queen Of The World was thrilled that her beau had won her a prize at a feat of skill; I'm unreasonably self-satisfied with myself.  Trigger control FTW!

I was glad to win her a big prize, but was glad it wasn't any bigger - would have had to lash it down to the top of the bike's trunk.

Hitler heckles at a Trump rally

Pretty ironic, because Trump is Hitler, amirite?

I mean, Hilter is heckling himself!

Wait, what?

I think these guys may have taken a wrong turn on their wait to the Plateau of Leng.

Uncle Jay could not be reached for comment.

Green energy = prices increase by 14,000%

Who could have seen this coming?
The South Australian Government been forced to beg fossil fuel operators to bring mothballed plants back online, to contain wild swings in electricity spot price caused by unstable renewable production, prices which last month peaked at $14,000 / MWh – up from more normal prices of $100 / MWh which prevailed before political favouritism towards renewables messed up the market.
Well, knock me over with a feather!  You mean that there's some sort of law of "Supply and Demand", and if the supply tanks because of unreliable generating capacity then the price will spike? Whodathunkit?

Boy, it's pretty amazing that a few dirty hippy tree huggers can bring a nation's factories to their knees, huh?  It's almost as if there's someone else behind "political favoritism".  Now who might that be?
According to the Financial Post;
Climate change initiatives a $7-trillion funding opportunity for capital markets: Carney
TORONTO The trillions needed to fund global carbon reduction commitments in the coming years is a big opportunity for investors, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Friday in a speech to Toronto’s financial community.
Huh.  The banksters see a multi trillion dollar opportunity that just oh by the way requires factories to pay a bazillion bucks more, which they pass on to us in the form of higher prices (or higher unemployment if the factory can't compete in a globalized economy)?  Whodathunkit?

I must say that it's odd to find environmentalists to be corporate shills for big banking, though.