Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For Tam, On the Subject of Cameras

View From The Porch takes no comments these days, so I can only post it here.

The ongoing quest for the perfect pocket camera is much the ongoing quest for the perfect concealed carry pistol. You want it to lightweight, easy to deploy, disappear in a pocket, and do everything.

Carrying a full sized camera is a decision. Relying on your cell phone camera is limiting at best. Any camera with a protruding lens is inconvenient.

My choice, and the option I would like to recommend is the Canon Powershot Series. The latest of which is the SX710. I don't have one, mine is an older version, but they appear to be much the same.

A 30X optical zoom, a lens that fully retracts into the camera when shut off, a small flash, and a 20 megapixel output in a camera with outside dimensions of 2.6 x 1.4 x 4.45 inches. Something that easily carries in a jacket pocket and rivals the capability of much larger systems.

Another passes

Another World War II veteran joins the final muster:
During World War II, Lt. Col Masters flew 28 B-17 bombing missions and 25 fighter scout missions, in which he flew a P-51 fighter plane to scout targets for bombers. He flew for the 551st Squadron of the 8th Army Air Corps and the 385th Bomb Group. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel and was awarded numerous medals for his service in the war which include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, and the French Legion of Honor medal. 

After the war, he returned to his native California and entered medical school at Stanford University. Dr. Masters moved to Athens in the early 1970’s and helped form the women’s clinic at UGA. He retired from UGA in the mid 1990’s and then continued to work part time for the nest 10 years for the Clark County Health Department.
That's quite a man.  Rest in peace.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Day out

I went to Antietam National Battlefield yesterday.  It was America's single bloodiest day, and a lot of that was here.

There's quite a nice (but small) museum, and the battlefield is small enough to walk.  I hadn't realized just how close it is to the Potomac river and Harper's Ferry.  This is definitely worth a detour if you're in the Washington D.C. area.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

OK, now that's just funny

I guess that's what they call a "Rebel Alliance" ...

John Philip Sousa - Presidential Polonaise

Chester Arthur didn't much care for "Hail To The Chief" and so asked Sousa to write a replacement.  This is what he came up with in 1886 - it is said that it was intentionally upbeat to keep people moving in the White House reception line.

But Hail To The Chief was traditional - dating to the 1820s in its use for the President - and so Sousa's replacement was soon gone.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ray Charles - America The Beautiful

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang this today, but nobody does it like Ray did.

And Now A Fresh Start

"Biker for Trump" attacked by rioter

Stay classy, Progressives.

Remember how people were talking about "violent Trump supporters" and how everyone who supported him was part of that?  Well, you made the rules, jerks.

Souvenirs, marked down

Drastically marked down.

Comments on Inaguration Day

Some quotes from the press on Inauguration Day

A new day is dawning here in the nation’s capital on the eve of the inauguration ... Does it get any better, or more beautiful, or more spectacular, than this?”
— Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez opening CBS’s Early Show, January 19th 
“We know that wind can make a cold day feel colder, but can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer? It seems to be the case because regardless of the final crowd number estimates, never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.”
— ABC’s Bill Weir on World News, January 20th
What a day it was. It may take days or years to really absorb the significance of what happened to America today....When he finally emerged, he seemed, even in this throng, so solitary, somber, perhaps already feeling the weight of the world, even before he was transformed into the leader of the free world....The mass flickering of cell phone cameras on the mall seemed like stars shining back at him."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the January 20th
“America the Beautiful: The nation and the world pause to witness an extraordinary milestone as nearly two million people come together to hail the new chief and celebrate an era of change.”
— ABC’s Terry Moran opening Nightline, January 20th
“Politics, and patriotism, and the presidency. It is the place where the secular and the religious merge. And one of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration... So it was that as many as two million pilgrims made their way to Washington and the Mall to witness this most sacred event.”
— Then-CBS host Harry Smith on the January 21th
“In the end, though, it really didn't matter where you were as long as you weren't alone. Just ordinary street corners like this one here in Chicago fell silent, almost becoming a political cathedral of sorts. And almost everyone was making that mental scrapbook, noting the time and place where they were on this day and, perhaps, shared a collective tear.”
— NBC reporter Lee Cowan on the January 21th

Huh? What's that? Of, yes of course, these quotes are from 2009 and reference the previous President. But I'm sure they'll say similarly nice things today, aren't you?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

President-elect Trump's Popularity

Is Trump the most unpopular President-elect? History would like to check your answer.

Abraham Lincoln (Republican) was elected with 39.8% of the popular vote in 1860.

Following that, seven states seceded from the country between election day and inauguration day. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia were all gone before March 4, 1861. A fairly strong statement about their feelings about the incoming administration, eh?

Unless I've missed it, none of the States have decided to object to the current President-elect by seceding from the Union and taking up arms.

History gives the nod to the Great Emancipator as the most unpopular President-elect by a landslide.

Tomorrow begins a new chapter in the American Story. I am choosing to greet it with hope.

Quote Of The Day: Class Warfare edition

The Archdruid is simply on fire lately.  Today he gives a Field Guide to Trump opponents:
As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House, it may be useful to have a convenient way to sort through the mix of signals and noise from the opposition. When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously. When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on. 

But when you hear people shrieking that Donald Trump is the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil, that he cackles in Russian while barbecuing babies on a bonfire, that everyone who voted for him must be a card-carrying Nazi who hates the human race, or whatever other bit of over-the-top hate speech happens to be fashionable among the chattering classes at the moment—why, then, dear reader, you’re hearing a phenomenon as omnipresent and unmentionable in today’s America as sex was in Victorian England. You’re hearing the voice of class bigotry: the hate that dare not speak its name.
This is a (typically) long and thoughtful exposition of class bigotry as currently practiced in the "classless" US of A.  Highly recommended.

Rule 2 violation

It applies to Light Sabers too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The problems with Technocracy

Well, one of the problems:
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, technocracy is, in essence, rule by technical elites. For instance, your media would be run by trained, credentialed journalism experts. Politicians would be groomed and educated to be leaders from an early age. You could not, for instance, be President if you did not attend the proper schools, earn the proper certifications, and demonstrate a certain set of requirements, like IQ, or perhaps an impressive set of grades in your debating classes.
Climate scientists would run the departments dealing with weather and climate change. Rocket scientists would own NASA, and determine how it should be funded in consultation with the banking experts. The bankers, of course, would run the monetary system and determine appropriate levels of taxation and redistribution.
Naturally, none of these technical elites would need to consult with you and I on these matters. If you are not one of the elite, you would need to be quiet and accept the rulings of your superiors.
The flaws in technocracy are very obvious, to any who care to see them. First and foremost is the matter of trust. Even if we were to concede that the trained, technically-minded elites were better than the hoi polloi, how could one be assured that they were not pulling the wool over the people and taking advantage of them? After all, just because you’re intelligent doesn’t mean you’re honest.
Man, that's a simple way to put things.

Another critique, of course, is that technocrats are increasingly isolated from the negative consequences of their decisions.  Climate Scientists propose policies that impoverish Appalachia due to dodgy computer models and over-confident projections?  They don't lose their houses.  Politicians craft an "Affordable Care Act" that raises the cost of health insurance and the deductibles in the policies?  They don't feed their kids Ramen for dinner.

And so, our own eyes tell us that technically-minded elites are not better at governance than the hoi polloi.  Buckley's dictum that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Cambridge telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard shows us that these problems have been endemic.  The last election shows that the hoi polloi are waking up to this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Day Off In January

I don't know what other people yesterday, but I went to the range. There were only three of us, my gun buddy Dan, his son, and I. So we spread out and got comfortable. Set up targets on stands at 7 yards, used the backer boards at 25, 50, and 100 yards for others. Shot standing, prone, from the bench, rifles, pistols, revolvers, all sorts of various calibers.

My favorite gun of the day was an old Palma rifle, built on a 1903-A3 receiver. This one is chambered in 30.06. I don't know who did the work, but I know the long time owner. He shot it in long range competitions out to a thousand yards with handloaded ammo. His dope for the load he used is still on the yellow tape on the side of the rifle.

These rifles were modified in the 1950s and 1960s when long range shooting was not yet F-Class and military surplus rifles were so common that they were stacked in barrels in gun shops. Now there are beautiful, very expensive, purpose built F-class rifles and calibers like 6mm-BR that are so accurate that a backsheet behind the target is moved for each shot. That makes rifles like mine into relics, neither fish nor fowl. No longer accurate enough to compete in F-Class and so modified from the original rifle to be of no interest to collectors, they exist in a limbo of almost being unusual enough to be collectable. Just the right rifle for a duffer to take out and enjoy making tiny groups on a cold January day.

Infinite loop

n.  See "Loop, infinite"

MIT Wizz Kid: his "Smart" gun design is "relatively reliable"

Buried deep in a glowing review of MIT freshman Kai Kloepfer's "Smart gun" startup, the reporter unexpectedly stumbles onto why this has for decades been a technology in search of a buyer:
“Good intentions don’t necessarily make good inventions,” said Stephen Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. They’re the main trade group for companies that make and sell guns.

Sanetti expressed concern about the reliability of any firearm that depends on battery power.

“The firearm has to work. And a firearm is not the same as a cell phone,” Sanetti said. “The consequences of a cell phone not working are inconvenience. The consequences of a firearm not working could be someone’s life.” 
Kloepfer said his gun is “relatively reliable.” 
“I know, like, when I’m using it, when I’m testing it, it functions almost every single time,” Kloepfer said.

But not every time, as we saw firsthand when Kloepfer’s prototype -- a modified Glock .22 – failed. 
Other than the minor detail of the gun not working, this solution is awesome.

The only thing new about this is that CBS News is reporting both sides of the debate.  But Mr. Kloepfer scored a sweet $50,000 to dust this idiocy off.