Tuesday, May 24, 2022

100 years of Gummi Bears

Haribo introduced Gummi Bears 100 years ago:

The first production plant was a copper kettle in his kitchen and his first employee was his wife Gertrud. He’d make hard candies and she’d deliver them on her bicycle. In 1922, Riegel invented a new confection: the Tanzbären, or Dancing Bear. It was a soft fruit-flavored candy shaped like a bear sitting on its hind legs, inspired by the sad performing bears that were so popular at the time.

 Interesting article which includes a bit on where the name "Haribo" came from.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Dad Joke CCV

 I know you are wondering how we keep up with all these jokes. It's easy, really. There's only one place to keep dad jokes.

We store them in the dad-a-base.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Rest in Peace, Murphy

Last month, Murphy's Law lost his German Shepherd Memphis Belle.  He just lost his other shepherd, Murphy.  Wolfgang is sad about this, as am I.  Blogger is still messed up for me so I can't leave a comment over at his place, and so I'll put up a post here.

Murphy's Law rescued the dog, way Back In The Day.  Murphy became his constant companion, as they will  do to you.  But Nature is cruel - they become part of your heart but then Nature takes them away too soon.  It's quite a void that gets left behind, at least if we're any good at all.

I've often said that we see ourselves reflected in our dog's eyes, not as we are but as we would wish to be.  

There are songs that say that better, if you know where to look.  To save you the trouble, here's one that fits:

Just A Dog (Songwriter: Mo Pitney)

Ten years ago I was on my way home, saw her walking on the side of the highway alone.
It was raining like hell and I kept telling myself
"not my problem, keep on driving, just like everybody else."
Why should I be the one pulling over on the shoulder at night?

It's just a dog, right?

From the cab of my truck, to the foot of my bed, to a new pair of boots that she chewed in shreds.
Digging holes in the yard, chasing cars down the street
to one gutter and when I found her, I thought it hit me.
Took half of my savings to save her, and I didn't think twice.

It's just a dog, right?

Just an old mutt riding shotgun, getting my seats all muddy.
Just the one who I come home to, just my best fishin' buddy.
We were walking that spring in the sand on the beach.
You know she was the reason, Amy walked up to me.
She lost her place on the couch, but she kept her cool.
She was crazy about Amy and she knew I was too.
And the night that girl left me, she kept me from losing my mind.

But it's just a dog, right?

It's 83° today and man I can hardly wait to get this truck down to the lake, I bet the bass' are hittin'.
Boats in my rear view mirror, got my... tackle box and all my gear,
the wind is right, the sky is clear, there's only one thing missin'.
Just an old mutt riding shotgun in my seats on my knees.
It just hit me she's not with me like she was this past Sunday.
Why am I pulling over on the shoulder with tears in my eyes?

It's just a dog, right?
She was just a dog, right?

Rest in peace, Murphy. 

Quote of the Day, American Civil War 2 edition

I think this from Divemedic makes a lot of sense:

Let the court decide that Americans actually have gun rights, let them actually decide that women don’t have a Constitutional right to kill their children, then follow that with their inability to pack SCOTUS to change it, and you will see a left that becomes insanely violent. Remember how they scream like petulant children when Trump defeated HRC? Remember that it was then that the left began systematically trying to destroy Trump by using the power of the swamp?

I used to think that CW2 would be triggered when the left pushed the right too far. I feel that I may have been wrong. It will be the left that kicks off CW2, and SCOTUS just might be the catalyst.

It will be interesting to see how the Democratic Party handles the Lefty Rage this summer.  It will no doubt poll very badly for them, and add to the many issues polling badly for them.  How they act will tell us much about how they view the November elections.  A "we don't care about the polls" attitude will strongly suggest a "we don't care how you vote because we're going to cheat like nobody's business" attitude.

And honorable mention to Toastrider in the comments over at that post:

My sole response to the left’s rhetoric:

“Say when.”



Friday, May 20, 2022

Dad Joke CCIV

What do you call a fake noodle? 

An impasta.

School shootings are for pikers

95 years ago 38 children and 6 adults died in the Bath School Disaster. Andrew Kehoe hid hundreds of pounds of dynamite in the basement of the schoo0l in Bath Township, Michigan.  He rigged two timers, one for each wing of the school.  Only one detonated, and it's likely that the body count would have been higher if the other had also detonated.

All the while he sat in his truck outside the school.  When first responders appeared, he detonated the bomb in his truck, killing himself and wounding several of them.  In all, 58 were injured but survived.  Yeah, he had a gun.

Oh yeah, before he left in the morning he killed his wife.  Quite a guy.

I'd be more impressed with the gun control crowd if they would (a) also talk about other mass murders that didn't involve guns, and (b) knew about other mass murders that didn't involve guns.  They don't, and they don't.

This blog belches carbon

Somewhere along the road, something disappeared from my side bar:

This is from way back in 2010, when Blogs were "the thing" and so the Green Nutcases were Very Concerned:

Oh, now this is rich. German greenies calculate that a blog which gets 15,000 hits or more a month (yay! we qualify!) pumps out 8 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

 Hmmm ... rough math time: 15,000 "hits" corresponds to roughly 20,000 page views (in the old SiteMeter days).  I've been running about 4 times that for 12 years now so - let's see ... carry the one - this blog has belched 350 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.

Sigh.  Those are rookie numbers.  Must up my game.

Or we can all just think it's a bunch of Eco-fascist nonsense by some very unsavory totalitarian would-be overlords who deserve all the mockery we can give them.  And so this will go proudly back into the side bar to make a permanent focus of mockery for the oh-so-mockable.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

How to save public education

Kevin Baker - whose blog just celebrated its nineteenth blogoversary - has an uberpost about the dire state of education in this country.  You should go read the whole thing which lays out in detail (it's an uberpost, remember?) just how FUBAR'ed public education is on these shores.

It's an uberpost so it's impossible to excerpt, but Kevin's conclusion is what made me think:

The public school system cannot be reformed. I must be destroyed and the people in it must never have power over children again. 

Alas, destruction would be very difficult as there are too many vested interests at play here.  What we need to do it minimize the enemies our plan will make, and maximize the allies it will get.  I posted about this several years back, and still think that this plan has at least a fighting chance of getting through:

A modest proposal to prevent the fall of civilization

Every person has two educations, one which he receives from others, and one, more important, which he gives to himself.
― Edward Gibbon
The Silicon Graybeard muses on the fall of civilization:
Over the years, I've said (and more often hinted) that what I see in the future is not just the chance of an economic collapse due to the world's unsustainable debt levels. I see a real chance for another Dark Ages. The main driving force there is the Postmodernists in academia pushing the idea of "my truth and your truth"; the idea that there isn't anything other than our perceptions of things. That works fine for simple questions like, "what's your favorite color?" but is completely wrong for "what's the speed of light?", "will this virus survive in air?" or any interactions with the real world. VDH follows those trends to the conclusion a Dark Age may already be starting.
When civilization falls, it falls hard.  We hear mostly dry statistics about the collapse of civilization, things like the population of Rome in 100 AD was around a million people.  That's impossible to visualize.  Instead, we should look at this:

Immagine gentilmente concessa da Wikipedia
This is Monte Testaccio in Rome.  It is a hill made entirely of broken pottery, and it dates to the first and second centuries AD.  It's over 100 feet high, around a kilometer around, and historians think that it used to be much larger but has eroded over the last two millennia.  The Roman "bread and circuses" was a huge welfare project that fed much of the city's population, and which required huge imports of not just grain but also olive oil - over a million gallons of oil each year, every year, for hundreds of years.  The oil was shipped in big clay pots, but what do you do with the pots when you've distributed the oil?  The Romans were the best engineers until at least the eighteenth century, and so they came up with an engineering solution: they made a mountain out of broken up pots.

And then it all fell, and fell so far and hard that it was forgotten.  The Roman Forum itself - the political center of the Ancient World for centuries - became a cow field, the Campo Vaccino:

Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino by J.M.W. Turner, painted in 1839
It's been said that any system can survive only three generations before facing crisis. The first generation is the generation that created the system. They knew it intimately. The second generation saw the system being created, and so at least understood its main functions and how they worked. The third generation inherited the system. They may or may not know anything at all about how it works.

If this is a system created by the government - and remember that government is politics - then politics will be the main thing that we can expect the third generation to understand.  NASA is an excellent example of this dynamic: the generation that won World War II created it.  They landed a man on the Moon and returned him safely to the Earth, all in that decade.  The generation that followed watched that.  They were able to make a Space Shuttle and a Mars Rover.  Now NASA is in the third generation and the Space Launch System is pushing a decade late and $20B over budget, all while offering less capability than SpaceX at ten times the price.  But hey, a Senator is happy so it's all good, amirite?

This Republic has a population that is observably more stupid than when I wore a younger man's shoes. This isn't just get offa my lawn ranting, it's a measurable fact:
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), test scores for 17 year olds have not improved since the early 1970s. That is, the average 17 year old in 2012 got about the same score in reading and math (287 and 306, respectively) as a 17 year old in 1971 or 1973 did (285 and 304, respectively). 
The response from professional educators?
Carr argues that flat scores aren’t terrible. “It’s a good thing that they’re not going down,” she said.
Well okay, then.  This is the same time period when per-pupil spending on K-12 education has skyrocketed:

If anything, this understates the scope of the problem: there is lots of discussion about how incoming college students can't read or do math very well, and so they have to take remedial course (and take on student debt while doing so) before they can start what would otherwise be their studies.

Note that this discussion has been about the portion of the public education system that is arguably working; it doesn't work at all in the inner cities.  None of Baltimore's schools graduate students who can do mathematics, and Atlanta's school system had a huge scandal where test scores were massively manipulated so that administrators could get their incentive bonus.  People went to jail for that, but the system is no better almost a decade later.

In short, the more government has gotten itself into education, the dumber the population has gotten - and at fabulous expense.  The system is broken, and since it's a government system (in which politics is uber alles) it will not reform itself.  Further, the public education system is generally popular throughout the land, so the normal political process will be useless for reform.

And so the Republic slouches towards the Campo Vaccino.  The third generation will lead to a fourth, and as Graybeard fears, a new Dark Age approaches.

Immodestly, I believe that there is a solution.  It's one that will improve performance, reduce costs, and be politically acceptable to large portions of the voters.  The Department of Education can issue a rule saying that if a public school system does not issue vouchers allowing parents to send their children to the school of their choice, that the Department will withhold education grants to that school system equal to the average per-pupil cost in that district.  The Department will then issue an Income Tax credit to the parents for that amount.  The Department will provide a free home schooling curriculum and teaching materials for free with the tax credit.

Simples.  No fuss, no muss.  It may even be that the Education Department can do this without any action of Congress.  I Am Not A Lawyer, but Congress has granted a huge amount of authority to the Regulatory State.

So why do I think that this is politically possible when the Teacher's Unions and Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) will fight this to the death?  Consider:

  • Vouchers are popular among blacks and hispanics and have been for a long time.  This makes sense, as its their kids who are locked into failing school districts.  You don't get much more White Privilege than mandatory public schools.
  • Tax Credits allow stay-at-home Moms to school their kids if they want.  Home schooling three kids at an average tax credit of around $12,000 per kid is the equivalent of a pre-tax job paying around $50,000/year.  Politically, this will play very well with women.
  • We can expect this to be especially popular with black and hispanic women.  No doubt some upper middle class white women will complain that these women of color cannot be trusted to educate their children but we can dismiss this as veiled racism, and the women certainly can't do any worse than the current inner-city schools are doing.  At the very worst, the money wouldn't be going to an impenetrable education bureaucracy but rather directly to voters.
  • Public schools will have to do a better job, at a lower cost.  Competition will focus on results, rather than on a politicized curriculum.

Now what's interesting about this is that politically this would hurt democrats and help republicans.  However, the people who think that politics doesn't enter into the public education system shouldn't concern themselves about, well, politics entering into the public education system.  And anyway, since government is politics, a better  description of "public education" is "government education", leading to "political education".

This is no panacea against the New Dark Age.  However, it puts resources in the hands of parents who presumably care more about their kids than a set of bureaucrats.  Eliminating all the nonsense permeating the schools (hello, Critical Race Theory!) will let teachers and parents focus on reading and math and you know, education.

Don't ever change, WaPo

Pretty much everyone is mocking Taylor Lorenz' WaPo article about how EVIL conservatives scuppered the new Ministry of Truth. You remember Taylor, don't you?  She's the one who doxxed the woman who ran the Libs of TikTok account and then sobbed about how mean everyone was to her.

Anyhow, this is the bit from her article that is the most jaw droppingly stupid:

Jankowicz’s case is a perfect example of this system at work, said Emerson T. Brooking, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “They try to define people by these single, decontextualized moments,” Brooking said. “In Nina’s case it’s a few TikTok videos, or one or two comments out of thousands of public appearances. They fixate on these small instances and they define this villain.”...
Okay, Taylor - now do Roseanne.

The Czar of Muscovy wrote a long, long time ago that you will understand the media perfectly if you just think of them as mean middle school girls.  Jealous. not very smart, but mean.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

About that NATO expansion

So Finland and Sweden have applied for NATO membership, which would make them the first NATO partners to share a border with Russia.  Well, ignoring Kalingrad aka Konigsburg which is basically occupied and ethnicly cleansed East Prussia and not contiguous with Mother Russia herself. So NATO would be literally on Russia's doorstep.

This strikes me as exceptionally unwise.  It's hard to see how international relations will be more stable after this.  On the contrary.

But politics ain't beanbag, and neither are international politics. Turkey has had a rocky relationship for some time with the USA, NATO, and the EU.  But they are a full member of NATO, and so have veto power over any expansion.  It looks like they're exercising that option.

Maybe it's just to work a better deal with the US, NATO, and EU.  Me, I hope they hold out and make it ridiculously painful for Sweden and Finland to join.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Dad Joke CCIII

What do you feed a vegetarian zombie?