Saturday, May 25, 2019

Your Memorial Day must read

PFC Albert Dentino was wounded in action against German tanks on the western front.  He died four days before his 23rd birthday in December, 1944.

He's known as Great Uncle Albert.  You can read his story here.


Radney Foster - Angel Flight

It was the summer of 2011, and I was flying to Dad's Memorial Service.  His funeral had been a few months earlier in New Mexico but now was the last gathering in my home town in Maine.  It was a circuitous route: AUS-ATL-DET-BAN.  I've flown a lot in my life, but I saw something on that Detroit tarmac that I'd never seen before or since.

Photo credit: Borepatch

I'll reproduce here what I liveblogged from my phone:

My flight to Detroit just touched down.  The flight attendants came on the PA asking everyone to remain seated when we reach the gate, so some soldiers returning back from Afghanistan could de-plane first.

Everyone clapped.  Everyone.

Then the Captain came on.  He said we were taking a fallen soldier home.  You could have heard a pin drop.

God Speed, whoever you are.  I can't imagine any thanks can possibly fill the void your family feels.

We're at the gate, and the plane is clapping for the soldiers again.  Out the window, you can see the cars lined up on the tarmac for our fallen hero.  Everyone's crowded around the windows.

It feels like you're in church - that you're in the presence of something holy.
There was a boy no older than ten a couple rows in front of me.  When he saw this, he took off his baseball cap:
Photo credit: Borepatch

All that weekend I thought on what I'd written about how hard the Honor Guard duty must be:
This must be a tough duty, spending all day, every day welcoming home fallen veterans.  It must take a special sort of personality to be continually surrounded by grieving families, and to take that grief as an inspiration to perfect the ceremony.  The respect they showed - especially to Mom - was very moving.

It's strange, but after the months leading up to Dad's death, and three weeks now to process the emotions, that I wasn't ready for what that washed over me when the guard slow-saluted Mom, and then knelt down to present her the flag.

This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service.

The Honor Guard has a hard duty, and one that may seem unimportant.  After all, it's just one more old man leaving his grieving family behind.  The kindness and respect they devoted speaks volumes of them, and the Republic.

This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.
- William Lyon Phelps
But on that Detroit taxiway it wasn't an old man coming home to lie with his brothers, it was someone in the flush of youth.  Someone who didn't get the chance to bury his father; on the contrary, someone whose father met him on the tarmac on his last flight.

I look on this Republic, and wonder how it can possibly live up to that sacrifice.  And then I look at that ten year old boy on the plane, just some random kid on a vacation flight, taking his cap off as a sign of respect, and thanks.  And I look at all the other passengers who would normally be crowding the aisle to get off the flying bus that brought them where they ended up.  All crowded around the windows.  I don't expect that many will ever forget that moment.

I sure won't.


Memorial Day is the traditional start of summer, celebrated with barbecues and the opening of swimming pools across the land.  But that's so, so not what the day is about.  On this holiday, think for a moment about that fallen soldier, met by his father at the end of his Angel Flight.  And think on all the other fallen and what we owe to them, a debt that can never be repaid.



Angel Flight (Songwriters: Radney Foster, Darden Smith)
All I ever wanted to do was fly
Leave this world and live in the sky
I left the C130 out of Fort Worth town
I go up some days I don't wanna come down

Well I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you're with me tonight
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home

I love my family and I love this land
But tonight this flight's for another man
We do what we do because we heard the call
Some gave a little, but he gave it all

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you're with me tonight
(Come on brother you're with me tonight)
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home

Well, the cockpit's quiet and the stars are bright
Feels kinda like church in here tonight
It don't matter where we touch down
On the Angel Flight its sacred ground

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Gotta hero riding with us tonight
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Ave atque vale.  Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.  Amen.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Britain's government collapses

Prime Minister May resigns after drubbing at the polls in yesterday's EU elections.  Nobody cares: viewers were furious that the BBC pre-empted a popular home improvement show for the PM's resignation speech.

Here's the reason she quit, boiled down:


It's that last set of numbers compared with all the others.  May didn't have the leadership to turn Parliament around.  Now she's gone, and may have taken the Tory Party down with her - quite an achievement, really.

And this game of rope-a-dope was a catastrophe for the EU as well.  It's certain that the next UK Prime Minister will invoke Article 50 to leave the EU immediately, but the EU Parliament will be stuck with a bunch of euroskeptic EMPs, unless they expel them all.  The optics on that are miserable.

Me, I'm enjoying the popcorn.

Postscript: Heh:


Graduate

The Queen Of The World's daughter graduated yesterday, getting her nursing degree.  I find this especially impressive considering that she did this while raising 3 young kids, helping her husband in his quest to make Chief Petty Officer*, and still ended up with very nearly a 4.0 GPA.

That's quite a lot of hard work, and TQOTW and I couldn't be more proud of her.

* It's really amazing how much the wives of the Chiefs-to-be do.  I guess it's training for how to keep the family support system running smoothly when sea duty deployments happen.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Slow Motion end of the EU has begun

Election results are notoriously ignored in the EU, but geez louise:
  • LONDON (Reuters) - Investors are on edge on the eve of elections to the European Parliament as they weigh the chances of eurosceptic groups grabbing a third of seats, a level at which analysts say they could stir more trouble for governments and the economy.
    The rise of populist, eurosceptic parties has thrust the European elections, normally a dull affair mostly ignored by global markets, to the forefront of portfolio managers' list of concerns.
    ...
    "It's clear that eurosceptics are going to get more votes than they have before," said John Taylor, co-head of European fixed income at investment firm AllianceBernstein.
    "[If they can get a third of votes] they might become a very disruptive influence when you need Europe to come together to fight things like a trade war."
Anti-EU and anti-establishment parties are on a roll in Europe, following similar results in Australia.  The EU Parliament is admittedly an empty suit, but it has to be a major embarrassment to have 30% of the MEPs from parties that despise the EU.

The globalist Left finds itself astride the march of Progress, futilely shouting "stop".

Breaking and entering, Badger style

From Blighty we get breaking news:
Quite rightly, everyone thought 29-year-old Hannah Carver was crazy when she insisted her freezer was being ransacked by the elusive critter nightly. So she set up cameras in what will surely be remembered as Britain's answer to the Patterson-Gimlin film
She was first woken by banging from her kitchen a couple of weeks ago and came down to find the floor littered with frozen food packaging. 
So the trap was laid, and the badger was filmed clawing open the freezer to gorge itself for 50 minutes on "Twister ice lollies, mashed potato, crumpets and Chinese-style pork chops" though, as Carver reported to the Portsmouth News, it snubbed the velvet luxury of scallops. 
The striped intruder, which weighs a stonking 1 Lindisfarne Gospels, gained access through a catflap.
The cat flap has since been sealed up, leaving the Badger to look elsewhere for popcycles.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Puff, puff, puff

I've found the depths of my nerdiness, and am running down trying to finish what I started.  It was this:
I was out on the Motorcycle, and while waiting in traffic saw a hand lettered sign "Used Book Sale".  Well, I'm constitutionally incapable of passing that sort of thing up, and so pulled into the parking lot.  It was the Milton (GA) Library raising money.  It was late in their display time, and so most of the selection was pretty well picked over.

Fortunately, my tastes are a little (ahem) eclectic.  I cruised over to the history section, and saw this:


That's The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant.  10,000 pages of Pulitzer Prize winningoverview of Western Civilization. 
A year ago, I was already running down:
I've gotten through volume IX, The Age Of Voltaire.  Nine down, and two to go.  Unexpectedly, I've started to run down.  I cruised through the first four with relish, and Volume 3 saw me through the convalescence from the motorcycle accident.  The nurses thought I was a little unusual bringing a book like this to the daily hour long antibiotic infusions, but you can make some progress when you're stuck in a chair.  Unless you forget the damn book.  The volume on the Renaissance surprised me at how interesting it was, but that was sort of peak interest.

Since then, it's been slower going, and it's been harder to keep myself focused.  I found myself skipping over a fair amount in volume IX.  I think that it's because the earlier books covered a lot more time, and so were more of a survey - and this is why I got them.  The more recent the time period, the more detail there is.  Quite frankly, a lot of the detail isn't particularly interesting.

I guess this means that I've taken the measure of my nerdiness, and have found my limits.  I think I'm going to take a hiatus on the last two volumes for a bit.  Just not up to wading through 800 pages on Rousseau.
Well, I did take a hiatus for a while, and then got back into it.  I only have around 100 pages left in volume X which really should only be a week (or two, max) and then the final slog.  But it's a real slog.  And we have the Reign of Terror and Napoleon coming up inn the final volume and it's quite frankly hard to get myself motivated.  If I can finish by August then I will have read the whole set (for fun, at least allegedly) in six years.

Bah.  Everything interesting ended around 1600 AD.  1660, tops.  Take it to the bank, kids.

Tesla Autopilot routinely cuts off other cars

"Using the system is like monitoring a kid behind the wheel for the very first time. As any parent knows, it’s far more convenient and less stressful to simply drive yourself."
- Consumer Reports' Jake Fischer
Absolutely scathing review of Tesla's latest Autopilot software by Consumer Reports.  Sample:
Tesla vehicles have a tendency to cut off other drivers when making lane changes, according to CR's tests. After changing lanes in heavy traffic, the Model 3 "often immediately applies the brakes to create space behind the follow car—this can be a rude surprise to the vehicle you cut off,” Fisher said.
Great.  You car is a big old jerk.

Of course, none of this is a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention.

It's funny because it's true


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Gun Control




Been a while since I brought it up.  So let's have another ...

UPDATE 22 May 2019 09:31: Dick emails to day that the first picture also needs a "No Sheepdogs" sign ...

This Is Why We Built The Internet


H/T to American Digest

Monday, May 20, 2019

Flying with jerks

We've all be on a flight with That Guy - the one who's obnoxious, belligerent, and possibly drunk or high.

This was beautiful.

It's from a few years back but I just ran across it.  Like I said, it's beautiful what happened to That Guy.

Follow-Up on Chernobyl

As many of you suspected, the actual energy available in the potential steam explosion at the Chernobyl power plant was not in the megatons-of-TNT range. It would have been dramatic and it would have been large enough to disrupt the other reactors. It would have ejected a large quantity of the remaining core into the atmosphere and resulted a larger and more radioactive fallout zone. But it would not have been, as reported, in the 3 to 5 megaton range.

The best discussion on the topic I have found so far was at physics.stackexchange.com.

It isn't the show that came up with the reported numbers, though, so I am still open to further explanation. Here's an older interview reporting the high numbers.

The world wide collapse of the Left reaches Australia

Adam Piggot muses on how the Labor party lost an "unlosable" election.  The Greens Sink Labor:
Queensland won the election for the conservative Liberal party, not because of what they did but rather because of what Labor didn’t do. Labor didn’t stand up for its heartland in the face of the Adani protests. Not only that but labor has failed to understand that its traditional working class voters in outback mining towns are more and more in a high income bracket, a situation that is only a fairly recent development. When tradies are on a cool 250K pay packet then Labor’s class warfare tax brackets suddenly don’t have quite the appeal that they once had.
This culminated in the election campaign when a worker at the Gladstone Port in Queensland politely quizzed Shorten on what he was going to do for workers who are now finding themselves in a high tax bracket. Shorten fluffed the question but his real troubles began the next day when the worker had his contract terminated by the company for daring to ask the great Labor leader an awkward question.
Labor has been infected by the Green mind virus and assumed that the majority of Australia would vote like inner-city Melbourne. But with the working class now often making more money than inner-city lefties, a threat to their new found livelihoods in the form of stopping a major coal mine was just the tip of the iceberg, as Labor intended to roll out radical Green proposals to go 100% renewable energy in Australia.
Status is a positional good - there really seems to be a zero sum game at work in status hierarchies (if one person gains status, it is as measured against the other members of that hierarchy who lose status).  This is the vise in which the Left now finds itself: as more and more of their support comes from urban, white collar workers - many of whom find themselves in jobs that have modest pay, like school teachers or government clerks - then seeing higher pay for "lower status" jobs like the trades, mining, and manufacturing (and the resulting higher financial status) is a psychological blow for their core base of supporters.

I mean, here you are with all this student debt for your Masters in Education and some low-life deplorable coal miner is making twice as much as you?

The Left has a built-in preference for policies that will damage the trades, mining, and manufacturing, so that the Left's core support base will be relatively better off as the people in these "deplorable" jobs lose income and status.  Of course, this doesn't do a thing to raise the incomes of the Left's core support base, but nobody ever said that cognitive dissonance ever lead to rational outcomes.

What is a disaster for the Left (in Australia and world wide) is that the Deplorables have caught on to the game, and are now voting as a bloc against the Left.  It's self-defense - there's no ideological congruence with "conservative" parties, but that actually makes it worse for the Left: acting in self-interest is a much stronger predictor of outcome than ideology.

And so the Left keeps losing elections that are "unlosable" - BREXIT, Trump, Brazil, Italy ... the list goes on and on.  The Green Agenda is toxic at the polls.


Quite frankly, the only places you see success for the Greens is at isolated local levels where there is essentially a single party state - California, New York, a few other places.  Unsurprisingly, these are the places facing the biggest fiscal crisis as productive (read: tax paying) members of the Deplorables decamp to friendlier locales.  If anything, this accelerates the coming collapse.  New York and California Democrats are getting short term psychological benefits for their core supporters at the cost of long term lower incomes for those same supporters.

Hey, nobody ever said that cognitive dissonance lead to rational outcomes.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Chernobyl

There's a new HBO drama about the core breach and fire at Chernobyl. The 2nd episode became available today. Here's the trailer.


YouTube will provide you with all the documentaries and information you could possibly watch but this drama makes it real.

Here is the story you need hear. There were huge water tanks under the reactor. They needed to be emptied before the core melted through and contacted them. If that had happened, the resulting explosion would have been between 3 and 5 megatons. Megatons. Remember the Hiroshima bomb was 20 kilotons**. It would have torn open the other reactors at the site and dispersed enough radiation to make the western Soviet Union and most of Europe uninhabitable.

Three men volunteered to enter the flooded basement under the burning reactor to find and open the valves. They succeeded. They took high doses of radiation and some reports suggest they died but from what I can find it appears they survived the initial period of acute radiation sickness.

Their names were Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bespalov and Boris Baranov. They saved millions of lives and a continent.

UPDATE: In the comments, the physics and math question of the potential size of the explosion is generating some thoughtful questions. It may be like the old game of "telephone", where the actual risk was of the steam explosion ejecting the core material into the atmosphere along with all the radioactive water, resulting in a down wind radiation fallout equivalent to a 3-5 megaton bomb. If it had done that as well at causing the other reactors to fail, the outcome would would have been bad enough. I am genuinely curious now and want to understand. If I find a definitive answer, I'll post it.

**Edited to correct yield per Old 1811
 

LOL


Yes, I am a nerd - I still remember the mnemonic for the colors on the resistor.

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.

Under appreciated talents: Doris Day and Christopher Lee

Both Doris Day and Christopher Lee got type cast, and it hurt both their careers.  Day was seen as the Virgin Queen; Lee as the great Hollywood Bad Guy.  While they both excelled in these roles, their talents went much deeper.  Here are a couple of (perhaps unexpected) examples of their deeper and less remarked on capabilities.

One of Day's greatest films was, Love Me Or Leave Me.  She was so, so not the Virgin Queen:



Ten cents a dance.  Oof.

And Christopher Lee - cast as Dracula, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Saruman - his basso profundo (and very classically trained voice) never failed to impress.  He really was the actual Most Interesting Man In The World:



The world is diminished by their passing, Day this past week and Lee these four years ago.  But a short time on Youtube listening to Lee's Heavy Metal or watching Day's finer performances will be a breath of fresh air in this later day of jaded "entertainment" options.

Requiescat in pace.

Lee Moore - The Cat Came Back

Grumpy Cat is dead.  But since cats are said to have nine lives, we can hope that Grumpy Cat will be around for a long, long time.  You bet, there's a country song about that.

Lee Moore was Yankee born and bred, an Ohio boy.  He found himself in radio in West Virginia playing for coal miners in the 1930s before settling down for a long stint as a late night entertainer on WWVA AM in Wheeling.  WWVA could be heard across most of the eastern USA at the late night hours when Moore was on the air, and he built up a following among truckers and other night owls from Newfoundland to Bermuda.  Nighttime AM travels a long, long way.

Moore retired to Troy, New York and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, three years after his death.  This was a song that he popularized (and which I remember from my youth).



The Cat Came Back (Songwriters: Harry S. Miller)
Well old Mr. Johnson had troubles all his own
He had an old yellow cat that wouldn't leave home
Tried everything he knew to do to get the cat to stay away
Even took him up to Canada and told him for to stay
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well they give a boy a dollar for to set the cat afloat
And he took him up the river in a sack and a boat
Well the fishin' it was fine till the news got around
That the boat was missing and the boy was drowned...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well the farmer on the corner said he'd shoot him on sight
And he loaded up his gun full of rocks and dynamite
The gun went off, heard all over town
Little pieces of the man was all that they found...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well they finally found a way this cat for to fix
They put him in an orange crate on Route 66
Come a ten ton truck with a twenty ton load
Scattered pieces of the orange crate all down the road...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Now they gave him to a man going up in the balloon
And they told him for to leave him with the man in the moon
Well the balloon got busted, back to earth it head,
And seven miles away they picked the man up dead...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well they took him to the shop where the meat was ground
And they dropped him in the hopper when the butcher wasn't 'round
Well the cat disappeared with a blood-curdling shriek
And the town's meat tasted furry for a week...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well, they took him to Cape Canaveral and they put him in a place
Shot him in a rocket going way out in space
Well they finally thought the cat was out of human reach
Next day they got a call from Miami Beach and...
And the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
This song dates to 1895 (!) but was updated for the Space Age.  The song had nine lives as well, it seems.