Friday, April 30, 2010

Epic Rant

Stingray, on Dances with Aliens Avatar.

Err, strong language alert. And strong snark alert, too. Post-driver-installation nap, heh.

Quote of the day - Gun Control edition

The Czar of Muscovy explains what's really going on with the whole zomg-call-out-the-National-Guard noise coming out of Chicago, and ends with, well, the truth:
Daley cannot escape the inevitable conclusion that his firearm ban is a catastrophe, which was predicted back when he first proposed it in 1982, and continues to result in innocent death after innocent death almost three decades later. Your mind may boggle at how he can live with this, especially when the rest of the nation can demonstrate that handgun ownership halts the spread of violent crime. But that would be like explaining to a sufferer of OCD that too much hand washing is bad for the skin.

The Supreme Court and religious symbols on public land

ASM826 explains it to the 4 Justices who dissented.

Man, that's gonna leave a mark ...

You know you want one

Careful, though - they spit.

All I can say ...

... is my kids had much better stats.

I am an M1 Garand

A couple days ago I posted the (pretty disappointing) result of an online quiz. It said I was a Glock. I said I don't think so.

But that got me thinking. Rather than taking the Gun-blogosphere equivalent of a Cosmopolitan quiz, why not just describe things as they are. If I were a gun, which would I be? And it was pretty easy: I am an M1 Garand.

  • I'm obsolete, but offer virtues that aren't taught much these days.
  • While I'm not heavy and clumsy, I'm not as portable as some of the young folk.
  • Like today's military tactics of fire superiority via rapid but not particularly well aimed automatic fire, today's Internet Age seems to put a premium on quick tweets, throw-away Facebook wall scribbles, and other "quick draw" information flow. Like the old way of methodical aimed rifle marksmanship, I strive for arguments that are carefully composed to hit their target.
  • As with the rifle range, this doesn't always work.
  • While I don't have a bayonet lug, people sometimes have to be careful when "reloading" me, or I'll bite back.
  • I take pride in doing things that not everyone can, and of being a bit of an anachronistic throw-back.
  • It's not always easy to keep me clean, but I strive to be considered reliable.
So that's me. Yeah, I know that I'm putting on airs, comparing myself to the Garand. But it's good to give yourself a goal that may exceed your grasp. It inspires you to try harder.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Your audio moment of Zen

I don't know that this is the most beautiful piece of music ever written, but I don't know that it isn't, either.

It is, of course, from Wagner's opera, "Tristan und Isolde" and where he later re-scored the Prelude and Finale (the "Libestod", or "Love Death") as an orchestral piece. It's haunting.

Wagner's opera was fatal not only to the lovers Tristan and Isolde, but to the performers themselves: the original Tristan died suddenly 3 weeks into the opera's original run in 1865, plus a couple of conductors (one in 1911 and one in 1968) - both of whom collapsed and died while conducting the second act.


That's one righteous can of whoop-ass she opens on her opponent. Memo to Michael Steele and the other brass in the Stupid Republican Party: that's how you do it.

Full of furious graphics, signifying nothing

Via Alan, we find the Geocities-izer. It can make any web site look like the, err, "best" of Geocities.

Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure the hit counter at the very bottom of this page came from a Geocities page.

Global Warming theory gutshot?

One of the things about the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis (the idea that mankind is causing sudden, drastic, and irreversible warming by releasing Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere) that has always struck me as the weakest part of the story is the "positive feedback" idea. It is suggested that as the globe warms, additional Carbon Dioxide will be generated (especially from microbial activity in thawed permafrost tundra). Thus, instead of the usual "negative feedback" typical to physical processes where trends tend to slow down and self correct, we would see a runaway acceleration.

Basically, this is like a rock rolling down a canyon wall that, when it reaches the bottom, accelerates up the far side. Oooohhh kaaaaaay. As I wrote on this:
The universe is stable because of negative feedback. The best (not to mention shortest) description of this is:
Name three positive feedback systems in nature. Get back to me on that when you're done.
Yeah, I know, there are some wicked smart scientists with all sorts of wicked smart models that say this will happen. So what happens when you - you know - actually do some experiments to test this?
From the University of California, Irvine press release, a finding that suggests soil microbes have a negative feedback with temperature increase. This has broad implications for the amount of CO2 emitted estimated in climate models. It had been assumed that as temperature increased, microbes and fungii would increase their CO2 output. Globally, this microbiotic contribution is large. The amount of CO2 released from soils worldwide each year is estimated to be about 8-10 times greater than the amount released by humans.

This study shows that soil microbes won’t go into a an “overdrive” mode when soil temperature increases.

Soil microbes produce less atmospheric CO2 than expected with climate warming

I don't know that this makes the whole AGW business gutshot; but I don't know that it doesn't. AGW has to have positive feedback, because CO2 is simply a very weak greenhouse gas. It won't cause almost any warming by itself, at least the quantities we're putting into the atmosphere.

No positive feedback, no run away warming. And this is the second set of observations that falsifies CO2-based positive feedback. The first was the historical record:
  • From 1910-1940 temperatures rose, but CO2 did not.
  • From 1940 to 1975 temperatures fell, but CO2 rose.
  • From 1975 to 1998 temperatures rose and CO2 rose.
  • From 1998 to 2008 temperatures fell and CO2 rose.
For three quarters of the last century, the hypothesis that increased CO2 will lead to higher temperatures is either not confirmed, or is falsified.

Weak. This is precisely what you would expect from a scientific "error cascade":
Strong evidence opposing it "can't be right" and weak evidence supporting it "must be right", and as a result, AGW is an astonishingly weak theory. In the last twenty years its proponents have made many predictions, most of which have been falsified. Michael Mann said that the Medieval Warm Period wasn't warm, contradicting recorded evidence from the period like the Domesday Book that showed wine vinyards in England in the eleventh century. AGW computer models predicted a warm layer in the middle Troposphere in the tropics; MIT's Jim Lindzen and others looked and looked - no warm zone. NOAA's Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) is the most comprehensive store of historical climate data; people are finding that the data has been frequently, consistently, and mysteriously adjusted so that older temperatures are lowered below what the thermometer readings showed, and recent temperatures are raised above what the thermometer readings showed.

It's an error cascade of epic proportions.
That's certainly more plausible than a falsified positive feedback from CO2 still somehow leading to higher temperatures.

I'm not quite ready to say "stick a fork in it" - there's still a ton of momentum around AGW in the scientific community - but this is such a clear falsification of such a major theoretical justification, and it is so easy to repeat this experiment, that I simply don't believe that the scientific community will be willing to paper it over. Some will want to, of course, but this will be so blatant that in the end they'll only damage their own reputations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time and Tide

And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet.

- St. Marher, poem in Middle English, 1225 A. D
Time and tide wait for no man. This is an old saying, very old. So old that the first recorded use was in Middle English, that half-German, half-French, half-English ancestor of our current tongue.

We went with Dad to the doctor yesterday. I wish that the prognosis were better. We hope for a victory, but even a delaying battle is of infinite value.

These moments bring the entirety of the human condition into sharp focus.
If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?

And why are you waiting?

- Stephen Levine

Every day is a gift. What would you do with it?

Continuation, continued

The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
Isaiah 44:13

Like I said, I never knew my Great Grandmother, but I know someone who did. I knew my Grandfather, but not my Great Grandfather. Fortunately, I know someone who did.

Dad's side of the family didn't come from money. While Mom was a (pretty glamorous) city girl, dad's stock was pretty firmly rural, and not very well off. What this meant was that they could work with their hands, especially his grandfather.

This table was in our house when I was growing up, and is in Mom and Dad's house today. Dad's Grandfather made it. Dad wrote up the story for #1 Son and #2 Son, when they were younger:
Your Great-Great Grandfather had a farm near Longton Kansas. It was not a very good farm; it was at the very western edge of fertile land in Kansas. But it had one thing that was really good - Black Walnut trees. Your Great-Great Grandfather made a table from his very own walnut trees. That table is still in the family.

To make a Black Walnut table Grandfather first needed boards. He found them already being used as parts of the doors of the house. Those doors had been made for the house when it was built in the 1870s, and they had been made from Black Walnut trees from the farm itself. In other words the house builder had cut down Black Walnut trees, took them to the local sawmill, and had the trees sawed into boards. Then, the boards had been made into doors.

So, Grandfather took down the doors and used them as boards for the table. The door boards were painted green. If you look very carefully underneath the boards of the Black Walnut table, you will find little spots of green paint from the 1870s.

The big problem was that Grandfather needed to find Black Walnut for the table legs. They could not be made out of the old door boards, because he wanted legs that would be about four inches by four inches. What he had to do was to cut down another Black Walnut tree on the farm. He did that. Then, instead of taking the log to the sawmill, he decided to split it himself with an ax. Of course, he intended to have straight legs for his table. But when he split the log, the log did not split straight. Instead, it split in a curve. Grandfather was so mad.

When he got over his mad, he looked at the curved split log more carefully. Wait a minute, he thought, I could make that table with curved legs instead of straight ones. And that is what he did. So, now the Borepatch family has a Black Walnut library table with curved legs. We do not know when your Great-Great Grandfather made that table, but it must have been over a hundred years ago.
Out of the crooked timber that is man, nothing straight was ever built. And so with tables, too. But a man who is skilled, who spends his time for those he loves, who builds from the heart - that man will leave something beautiful behind.
It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

- Unknown

Cat 3, Mice 0

Crash the house cat (we just couldn't stick with the new name, "Ghost") seems to be a good mouser. As the Buddha would say, he has the cat nature.

Since I'd much rather have a house cat than house mice, the situation is entirely satisfactory.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
We stand always in the great stream of time, mostly unaware of what flows past. Unaware of our place in that flow. For me, being with my family lets me feel that flow.

I never knew my Great Grandmother, who passed away years before I was born. But I know people who knew her, and they connect us, and join the generations. Mom wrote about her grandmother, sixty-odd years ago:
My Grandmother

Written for a Rhetoric II class taught by Miss Sally Lacy at St. Joseph, Missouri Junior College, Spring 1947 by Granddaughter, Mom Borepatch


After she graduated from gymnasium [high school], she was sent to a ”high government college” in St. Petersburg, near where her brother Richard was a professor of languages. Several attractive buildings and a neat lawn made up the school, but it was cut off from the rest of the world by a high stone wall. Only on Saturdays, when the girls could go out with friends, and on Sundays, when friends could come to visit, was that isolation broken.

In spite of the fact that the girls were strictly supervised, they had a grand time, as all college students do. About one hundred girls slept in the big dormitory room, with some of the more privileged, including Grandmother, in alcoves along one wall. They ate and studied downstairs, went to classes six hours a day, strolled along the sunny paths, chatted with friends or played croquet during their few leisure moments. Grandmother recalled that the school did not have the facilities to allow the girls frequent baths. Therefore, once a month they were given half a holiday and driven in carriages to a Turkish bath, where they had a wonderful time soaking, steaming and washing their hair.


One of the special occasions when they wore their best uniforms was a large ball, the much dreamed-about main event of the year. The professors, mostly army officers, brought their cadets over for the evening. Grandmother must have made a charming picture, with her blue eyes, black hair, creamy white skin, dancing with a cadet to a Strauss waltz or a mazurka. The excitement of the ball did not die down for weeks afterwards, but school went on all the same.


She loved music and was a skillful pianist. One time she played a concerto with full orchestra for a school program, and another time she played the outside piano in a four piano concerto, and was scared to death, she said. She also sang in the chorus which Balakiereff, one of Anton Rubenstein’s concert masters, came once a week to direct. The chorus was so good that when Rubenstein gave a concert at the school, he had it sing too. Afterwards, he shook hands with each girl and Grandmother said that her hand was lost in his like a wave in the sea. His hands were so large that he easily played three notes over an octave. He was such a powerful pianist that he took his own specially-built piano on his tours because he always broke several strings on an ordinary instrument during a concert. After all these years Grandmother still was thrilled by her contact with genius.


Her certificate allowed her to teach at elementary schools and gymnasium any where in the country, which at that time included all of Russia and half of Poland. Her old gymnasium offered her a position, so she returned to Lodz to teach Russian. She lived with her brother and his wife again, and when after a few years they came to America, she came too. Interestingly, she said she was an American and so would not teach any of us any of the European languages she knew.

Here she met and married my grandfather, who also came from Poland. She laughed and said it seemed funny that both she and her husband were born in the same country and had lived with a few miles of each other, but had had to come to St. Joseph to meet and marry. Here my uncle and father were born. Later the family moved to New York City where the boys went to school. They returned to St. Joseph when my grandfather died, and he was buried here. The boys grew up, married and had children, and here my grandmother has continued to live. It has been a blessing to have her with us.

[My grandmother died in 1952 at the age of 86, missed by all of her family and friends]

Perhaps I suffer from a lack of imagination, but it's often difficult to see past generations as the same as we are: the triumph of a good grade, the excitement of a first date, the arrival of a baby. Reading this, I can not only see these, I can see Great Grandmother in the palm of my hand.
The family is one of nature's masterpieces.

- George Santayana

I don't think so

I am a: Glock Model 22 in 40 cal
Firearms Training
What kind of handgun are YOU?

I really don't think so. Look, not that they're not reliable as all get out (as long as they don't explode), they're soul-less and plastic. Now I may aspire to reliable as all get out, but I hope to avoid soul-less and plastic.

Well, I do.

Hat tip: Alan, who was also a Glock until he took the quiz again. Maybe I need to do that.

The Pink Panther

Arguably the best tank of World War II was the Soviet IS-3 Iosif Stalin heavy tank. Designed to beat the German Tiger tank in head-to-head combat, it was slow, but had very heavy sloped armor and an enormous 122 mm gun. It was produced in massive quantities - over 6,000 (vs. less than 2,000 Tigers). The IS-3 made such an impression in the September 1945 Allied Victory Parade that it was the catalyst for a generation of British heavy tank designs.

23 years after the fall of Berlin, the IS-3 once again rolled through the streets of a central European capital city. The Prague Spring ended with a bang, as the Brezhnev Doctrine allowed no relaxation of the top-down central planning model favored by Moscow.

But time stands still for no man, not even Leonid Brezhnev. Another 23 years were to pass, but what was to fall was not Democracy movements, but rather the sputtering top-down Eastern European governments. And when they fell, the resentments that had before been stamped down bloomed:

The Monument to Soviet Tank Crews in Prague's Štefánik Square saw some visitors on the night of 27 April, 1991. Student David Černý and some friends who styled themselves the "Neostunners" turned the IS-2 on display into a, err, "Pink Panther" tank. The Soviet Union was outraged; the tank was repained, and Černý was arrested. But the times were indeed a-changin': Černý was released, and fifteen newly-elected members of the parliament painted the tank pink again. The U.S.S.R. was not well-loved in Prague.

Two decades later, Russia is still not well-loved in eastern Europe. While the recent airplane crash that killed the Polish President and many senior government figures was very likely accidental, conspiracy theories will continue to swirl. A half century of Soviet occupation showed the subject peoples what the Bear's face looked like when it wasn't smiling.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Light Posting

I'm sitting on Mom and Dad's patio, watching the pick glow fade on Sandia Peak. Between job stuff, and Dad's doctor visit, and Mom's birthday, I've been sadly derelict in my bloggy duties. I have some pretty cool stuff to post, but I think that it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Sure is good to visit them, though.
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
- Thomas Jefferson
P.S. Those sure are some pretty mountains, especially at sunset. And there is a pair of doves nesting in Mom and Dad's yard; sitting here listening to their calls is so peaceful that I don't even think about 20 guage.


Peace be upon him


Yellow Rose Iris of Texas Albuquerque

Yesterday was "Sunday Redneck" - not music, but enough walking around in the sun to get a little color on the back of my neck. We went to the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens, and the Iris were simply glorious.

Apologies to the Lone Star State for stealing the title; while I don't recall seeing any yellow roses, the yellow iris were spectacular.

The purple ones weren't shabby, either.

The Botanical Gardens have quite a variety of plants. This Texas Red Bud was in full display. There are varieties of Red Bud from other, lesser states, but why bother?

Albuquerque is, of course, in an arid region. Not desert, but dry. Native flora were well represented, including this Yucca that was in full bloom. I'd never seen one bloom before.

Of course, roses were pretty much everywhere (I think this was a rose; I took so many pix that I sort of lost track).

I'm out visiting Mom and Dad (it's her birthday), and the weather was glorious. We spent most of the afternoon out in the Gardens - perhaps not especially exciting or exotic, but good companionship. I think I'm pretty lucky to be friends with my parents; a lot of folks aren't.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Maybe we can polish that out ...

Hat tip: Andrew, via email.

"What's that Lassie? There's a fire in the workshop?"

Not Lassie, Buddy:
One Alaska man is truly grateful for his best friend, after his German Shephard [sic] 'Buddy' saved his life - with the help of a state trooper who was quick enough to recognize the animal's signals.

And now Buddy the dog has been honored for his quick thinking and absolute determination to ensure his owner was saved.

There's video at the link showing the dog leading the trooper to the fire. The dog would look back periodically to make sure that the trooper was still there.

As someone who was once fortunate to have a German Shepherd, I heartily approve of this story.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Observe the power of this fully operational weblog

That's me: number 5 out of 25 Million. Heh.

For my next trick, I'll probably make them un-hide the decline, or something ...

Failure to communicate

So flight to Chicago touches down, and there's a plane occupying our gate. Mechanical problems; hey, it happens. Scheduling thousands of flights is a lot harder than it sounds, when you can't program in 20% overcapacity. Overcapacity costs, and none of the airlines can afford that, with folks like me flying cross country for $200.

So we wait while they try to get another gate. And wait. No extra capacity. Like I said, this sort of thing happens, and I put my Big Boy trousers on this morning.

But riddle me this, Batman: why the communications breakdown - the one so bad that the pilot came on the PA to appologize for the fact that while the other plane had been fixed and had indeed departed the gate, there was no ground crew and so we had to wait some more. He said that he had exhausted the radio comms options, and had no idea when we'd actually park the plane.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Who's directing traffic? Who's organizing the pipeline? You reduce overcapacity by better organization of resources, and you organize by better sharing and using information. The fact that the pilot spilled the beans speaks to a very high frustration level, which says this happens a lot.

Corroborating data: I asked the gate attendent where my flight to Albuquerque was departing from. Gate K11, she said. Being late, late, late I hoofed it PDQ to Gate 11. The monitor said the flight was heading to Miami. Back to Gate Agent, who explained rather curtly that the Miami flight was delayed, but that was indeed my gate.

So why didn't she tell me that in the first place? Why didn't the monitor display "Albuquerque delayed"? Why couldn't the pilot find out when the ground crew would be there?

It's the Information Age, people. We're living in the future. Please make a note of it. Kthanxbai.

Sigh. Now the Miami passengers are looking for their gate, which has changed. The monitor doesn't say where. Communication, people - it's not just a good idea.

Flying radio controlled B-29 and Bell X-1 models

Wow, I need a better tag than insanely cool for this. A scale model of the B-29 Superfortress carrying a scale model of the Bell X-1 rocket plane is teh awesome. I liked the part (about a minute into the video) when the B-29 throttles were firewalled for takeoff, and the chuff-chuff-chuff turned into a propeller roar, even at 1:20 scale (or whatever it was).

It's also fun when the X-1's engine lights up. I do have to say that the low-level inverted flyover by the B-29 didn't quite strike me as realistic. If the Big Bird could actually do that, it would have sure been something to see.

Hat tip: Theo Spark.

Marty Robbins - Ghost Riders In The Sky

Regular readers will remember seeing this song from not so very long ago, when I showcased the version from The Outlaws. In that post, I wrote:

One of the great things about Country Music is that if you don't like a song, someone else is likely to cover it, and do it a really different way.

To Old To Work, Too Young To Retire posted his favorite cover, by Marty Robbins. It's a great rendition, and very different from The Outlaw's Southern Rock style.

Marty Robbins grew up poor in Depression-era Phoenix. His first escape was the Navy, where he drove landing craft in the Pacific Theater. While stationed in Hawaii, he picked up a guitar and taught himself to play. After that, he never looked back as his progression took him from Honkey Tonks to a show on KTYL AM to a show on KPHO TV to a recording contract with Columbia. In his thirty year career, he had 17 #1 songs, and 82 in the Top 40. He won a Grammy for his 1959 song, El Paso, which not only was #1 on the Country charts, but crossed over to the Hot 100 as well.

Along the way, he was a successful NASCAR driver, with 35 races and 6 top 10 finishes. He also had a role in Clint Eastwood's 1982 film Honkeytonk Man.

Robbins' version is more traditional than the one by the Outlaws. Compare and contrast. It's the differences that keep things interesting.

Ghost Riders In The Sky (Songwriter: Stan Jones)
An old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy day
Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw
A-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw

Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel
Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
For he saw the Riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry

Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi yaaaaay
Ghost Riders in the sky

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
He's riding hard to catch that herd, but he ain't caught 'em yet
'Cause they've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
On horses snorting fire
As they ride on hear their cry

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name
If you want to save your soul from Hell a-riding on our range
Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride
Trying to catch the Devil's herd, across these endless skies

Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi Yaaaaay

Ghost Riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky
And thanks to TOTWTYTR for the idea. If you're not reading him, you're missing out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Follies: Careful about those lawyers

Dr. Michael Mann, of "Hockey Stick" fame, has had enough. A group called "Minnesotans for Global Warming" did a very funny song ("Hide the Decline") in which the Good Doctor was, shall we say, prominently featured.

Dr. Mann's lawyers has sent the group a letter demanding the video's removal, as it “[leaves] viewers with the incorrect impression that he falsified data to generate desired results in connection with his research activities”. Youtube has pulled the video; presumably it's sharing a room with all the Hitler parodies.

The group, however, is not taking this lying down. Bring it on, they've told Mann:
“Minnesotans 4 Global Warming hope Mann will proceed with his lawsuit so that the legal discovery process will force exposure of data and methods Mann has still not released and that the official whitewash inquiries refuse to investigate.”
Hoist, meet petard.


Lissa encounters a co-worker in full-on Palin Derangement Syndrome. I started to jot down a brief comment over at her place, but you know me - it grew to be the Comment That Ate The Blogosphere, so I'm elaborating on it here.

First, her post, which you should read in full (I only have a small bit here):

I’ve always liked Sarah Palin as a politician, though I can understand why others don’t, and I’d be concerned about how much negative branding she’s absorbed for the next time she runs for office. But there was palpable contempt and disgust dripping from CW’s voice; she was genuinely angry.


Alan left a comment that Palin's an attractive female Republican, and that's not to be allowed (since women are presumed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party). I think that's right, but I'd go further in explaining the PDS on display (my comment):
Alan's right, but I think that the killer is that she's perhaps the country's most effective politician right now. "Effective" meaning able to shape the discussion on her terms. Think "Death Panels" - the howls of outrage over that remark were the strongest sign that she'd hit a nerve, and all that "curve bending" discussion pretty much ended then.

That she gets under the skin of all the bien pensants shows that they realize that she's effective - otherwise why keep bringing her up (like Obama did last week).

The Internet has destroyed all sorts of business models, and made incredible successes out of nobodies who turned into Google, Amazon, and eBay. What these "nobodies" understood - and what their Old School competitors did NOT - was how to reach into the "Long Tail" of the Internet, to people who were poorly served (or not served at all) by the current players.

Both political parties govern for themselves and their cronies/clients. Both parties hate her guts because they see her reaching out to the unserved voters, and harnessing their energy (and money). They fear her power, and their old top down command and control structures are not nimble enough to keep up with her, so they keep finding themselves dancing to her tune. They hate that perhaps most of all. As John McCain might say, she's on their six.

So the sound you hear is the sound of political business models shattering. People overly comfortable with the old model don't know how to respond, and are reacting not from their cerebral cortex, but from the ancient reptilian brain stem - shock and fear.

As I've said more than a couple of times before, the Dinosaurs smell a change in the air, and roar their defiance.
What I didn't say in my comment was that the rage really comes from a realization that Palin has considerable political skill combined with what Alan points out. From the point of view of your run of the mill, not too smart Obama voter (this includes most Democrats and just about everyone in the media [redundancy alert]), membership in a "protected group" (minorities or women) is a sort of armor that's supposed to deflect criticism. All of the "you oppose Obama's policies, you must hate him/be a racist" is offered as Exhibit A. In the world of the Leftist, they think that this armor would make her even more formidable.

And so the hate - real hate, real disgust, real fear. Lissa points out all sorts of Wicked Smaht logical reasons why this doesn't make sense, but this is not bubbling up from the Cerebral Cortex. It's visceral, tribal, primitive.

And quite frankly, it's the correct response to a leftie confronting someone who is probably the most formidable opponent to their entire agenda. Their "arguments" are laughably idiotic, but their IFF mechanism is working properly, and they have correctly identified Palin as a Foe.

As I said before (at lamentable length):
When you hear talk of "teabaggers", or how "dumb" Palin is, or how Brown won "because he stood in the cold shaking hands outside Fenway Park", you know that you're talking to one of the people that the Internet is turning into a loser, as their political business model collapses around them. They'll all be gone in ten years.
Lissa, if you like CW, you should point out to her that she's talking like a loser. I'd think that it's probably not worth your while. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this Internet phenomenon that has massively disrupted business, overthrown retail and media empires and replaced them with vigorous new young kingdoms would do the same in the sphere of politics. Some people - like Palin - get this. Most others do not. I don't know how this will play out for Gov. Palin, but I'm not worried about her prospects, "negatives" and all.

The sound of PDS is the sound of victory. The Dinosaurs smell a change in the air, and roar their defiance.

UPDATE 23 April 2010 14:26: Welcome visitors from Snarkybytes! As always, thanks for the link Alan. There's quite a lively discussion going on in the comments here, so if you just stopped by, don't miss it.

Signal to Noise

We keep hearing that the "Science is Settled", that the earth is warming, and has warmed by a degree or so over the last hundred years. This is usually presented in a breathless zomg-we're-all-gonna-die report of impending Thermageddon.

OK, whatever.

Willis Eschenbach (seen before here at Borepatch) started looking at the way the data is presented, and wondered why it was shown as year-to-year. Why not the months of the year? Does it tell the story a different way if you do it that way?

As it turns out, it does indeed:

NORDKLIM is a climate database compiled by the governments of the Scandinavian region, and included in the major global data sets (GHCN, etc). Each decade during the 20th Century has a different color line, showing the average temperature by month for each month of the year. What can we see from this display?

Well, we see that the differences are much more pronounced in the colder months (January is month 1, February is month 2), and much less pronounced in other months. So the "annual average" mostly shows changes from warmer winters, not warmer summers. Look at months 6, 7, and 8 - the warmest decade was 1930-1939. January and February were much warmer in 1990-1999.

OK, so what? Well, the "Urban Heat Island"* is known to be much more pronounced during colder months than warmer months. Eschenbach explains:
The NORDKLIM notes say:

Especially one should notice that stations represent local conditions, which may have been effected e.g. by urbanisation

This effect is known to be greater in winter than in summer. In a study done in Barrow, Alaska, for example, there is a 4.5°C difference in the UHI effect between January and July. The winter to summer difference in the UHI in Fairbanks, Alaska is estimated to be 1.2°C.

Let's put that in perspective: the entire warming for the lower 48 states between 1940 and 1999 (as reported by the GHCN data set) is 0.6°C. The annual error due to UHI seems to be between tw0 and seven times that amount.

Let me restate that in engineering terms: the noise is between two and seven times the signal that we're trying to detect. Anyone who's tried to tune in a staticy AM radio broadcast of your favorite baseball team knows what that means - you can't tell what's happening in the game.

* The tendency of cities to be warmer than the surrounding countryside, due to paved roads, parking lots, and building absorbing the sun's heat. Energy use in the city is also a major contributor, especially in the winter. Houses heated to 70° radiate a lot of heat when it's 0° outside. Rural areas don't have much of either of these (roads or houses), and so don't suffer from an UHI effect.

"I voted Democrat because ..."

Ever run into someone who can't explain why they voted Democrat? That was too busy "feeling" to spend a lot of time "thinking"? Basil has some ready-made reasons for them:
  1. I voted Democrat because I believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.
About right, that. There are nine more.

Hat tip: Don Surber.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Similarities to Gang Banger thugs ignoring gun control laws are, well, obvious.

Man loses license for driving Barbie toy while drunk

More news from the place that used to be Great Britain. Never mind all the knife crime, there are real criminals on the loose:
Paul Hutton, 40, is regretting his impromptu roadtrip after he was arrested for drink-driving when he tried to take the battery- operated child's toy to a friend's house.
Thank goodness this menace to society has been properly dealt with by Her Majesty's Courts.

Some folks over here in the Colonies like to tell us we need to be more like Europe. This is Exhibit # 4,781 for the proposition that maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea. Failure to prioritize intelligently? It's how the gubmint rolls ...

Vietnam: No Regrets on Blog Talk Radio today

On the right-hand side of this blog, you'll find a review for Richard Watkins' memoir, Vietnam: No Regrets.

Sgt. Watkins will be on Blog Talk Radio today, at 8:00 PM Eastern time:
On April 22, 2010, Conversations with American Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature with J. Richard Watkins, Vietnam Veteran and author of Vietnam, No Regrets.
Program Date: April 22, 2010
Program Time: 1700 hours Pacific
Topic: Vietnam, No Regrets
Listen Live:
I recommend this book, and look forward to the show.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm perhaps a bit unusual ("perhaps?", I hear you snicker) in that I don't mind flying puddlejumpers - regional jets are decently comfortable (no middle seat) and often offer much more convenient connections.

But I've never flown one over the Rocky Mountains before. If we only get half way to Denver, it's been fun hanging out with y'all.

UPDATE 21 April 2010 18:05: Bluesun in the comments was spot on - it was fine, and more comfortable than the 757 that brought me to Boston.

Argentina nationalizes pension funds

The Argentine government is in terrible fiscal shape, and has just seized a quarter of the private pension funds in the country - $29B of them:

So, over $29bn of Argentine civic savings are to be used as a funding kitty for the populist antics of President Cristina Kirchner. This has been dressed up as an anti-corruption and efficiency move. Aren’t they always?

Argentine sovereign debt was trading at 29 cents on the dollar today, pushing the yield to 25pc. Tempted?


My fear is that governments in the US, Britain, and Europe will display similar reflexes. Indeed, they have already done so. The forced-feeding of banks with fresh capital – whether they want it or not – and the seizure of the Fannie/Freddie mortgage giants before they were in fact in trouble (in order to prevent a Chinese buying strike of US bonds and prevent a spike in US mortgage rates), shows that private property can be co-opted – or eliminated – with little due process if that is required to serve the collective welfare. This is a slippery slope. I hope Paulson, Darling, and Lagarde tread with great care. I do not expect Steinbruck to tread with any care.
Man, it would be something to see the Tea Party rallies after the Obama administration nationalized our 401(k)s ...

It must have been one of those "Assault" Swiss Army Knives

With a bayonet lug and a pistol grip, or something:
A disabled man who kept a Swiss Army penknife in his car to cut up fruit on picnics, has been landed with criminal record for possessing an offensive weapon.

Full time carer Rodney Knowles kept the knife in his glove compartment of his vehicle.

The 61-year-old, who walks with the aid of a stick, was stopped by police on suspicion of drink driving - he was below the legal limit - but officers found the knife in a pouch in the car's glove box.


Knowles, from Buckland, Newton Abbot, Devon, said:"It's a stupid law. Now I have a criminal record."

From the place where Great Britain used to be.

Hat tip: The Drawn Cutlass. He's basically doing all my blogging for me now ...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How much is the planet warming?

So much that another leftie zomg-we're-all-gonna-die grandstanding showman had to be rescued from the cold:

Yet another alarmist is nearly killed by global warming hysteria:

Tom Smitheringale ... was on his way to the North Pole, alone, when he fell through an ice sheet. He was close to death when he was miraculously rescued by Canadian soldiers… He wrote on his website: ”Had a bad fall into the ice today and came very close to the grave.”

He’s been in constant strife from the cold:

Last week he almost quit after excruciating frostbite in his fingers and thumbs forced him to call in an emergency rescue.


Last year it was Pen Hadow and his team who had to be rescued from their global warming stunt


The year before, eco-adventurer Lewis Gordon Pugh was similarly thwarted


And the year before that, alarmists Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen paid the price for thinking the Arctic was warmer than it actually is
There's so much Global Warming that the moonbats can't seem to learn, or something.

I use antlers in all of my decorating

Gasthaus outside Frankfurt, 2005.

Why will the British National Health Service not put a piano in a hospital?

Because they can't even keep the patients clean:

A grandmother died in a filthy and depressing NHS ward which 'removed her rights to dignity', a coroner ruled yesterday.

Margot Kennedy, 78, was not properly washed for six weeks before her death.

Nurses at Leicester General Hospital left her in sheets covered with faeces and doctors failed to tackle her refusal to eat as she rapidly lost weight, it was claimed.

It is depressing how often you read about basic sanitation failings in the NHS. Maybe the employees were too busy thieving:

The family of a pensioner whose arm was severed in a car crash believe her wedding rings were stolen from the limb after she was rushed to hospital.

Great-grandmother Doris Smith, 65, suffered horrific injuries when her husband crashed into another car while driving on a country road.

Mrs Smith was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol where her left arm was amputated.

But by the time it was incinerated less than 24 hours later, her three rings - including the wedding and engagement rings she had worn for 48 years - had vanished from the left hand.

Hey, they have to close the budget gap somehow.

Of course, things here would never be like that. I mean, c'mon - it's Britain, for crying out loud. It's not like it was some place civilized.

Hat tip: The Drawn Cutlass.

Why put a piano in a hospital?

This is why:

They sound like the kind of people you'd want as neighbors.

Hat tip: Theo Spark.

Monday, April 19, 2010


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.

- Lord Byron

It's the warmest winter ever ...

... in Finland, according to NASA. Their GISS database reports that March temperatures in Finland are the highest ever seen:
GISS station values are even more spectacular, the warmest March on record is set in every Finnish station GISS is following. For instance, according to GISS, the mean March temperature in Sodankylä (61402836000) was a remarkable +1.5 °C beating the old record (-2.2 °C) from 1920 by 3.7 °C!
The NASA temperature map shows a hotspot over Finland, where the thermostat has been cranked up to 11 (circled for your convenience):

Hold the presses, call Al Gore! Except there's one teensy tinsy problem: people in Finland are freezing:
Well, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, March 2010 was colder than usual all over Finland, especially in the northern part. For instance, the mean temperature in Sodankylä was -10.3 °C, which is almost three degrees below the base period 1971-2000 average (-7.5 °C). So the GISS March value for Sodankylä is off by amazing 11.8 °C!
It seems that they mislaid some minus signs in the data somewhere. Long time readers will remember the last time that NASA was wildly wrong in reporting "record high" temperatures. I guess that this is the time to ask that why, if we can put a man on the moon, can we not get a quality controlled climate database?

Or how about this: what's the difference between weather and climate?

Weather: What NASA reports.

Climate: What's actually happening.

I'm here all week. Remember to tip your waiters ...

By the rude bridge that arched the flood ...

Make that mostly arched the flood. It's been raining a lot here lately (picture from a couple weeks ago). If it had been raining like that in 1775, Lt. Col. Smith's regulars would have to have asked for transport from the Royal Navy. But once at Concord, there wouldn't have been much resistance - the largest contingent of Minutemen came from neighboring Sudbury, and the Sudbury River would have been impassable.

As it was, His Majesty's 10th Regiment of Foot had to fight its way back to Boston. Even reinforced, it was a near thing, and Lt. Col. (later Major General) Smith was wounded in the withdrawal. Given how outnumbered the Red Coats were (2 and a half to one), and how the Red Coats had left Boston with insufficient ammunition for a prolonged engagement, they did very well indeed to arrive under the protective guns of the fleet in one piece. The Colonists blockaded the British at the narrow peninsula that connected Beacon Hill to the mainland (back in the day before land fill and Fenway Park), and it was on.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Free the Beaverton One!

Well, OK, you can't technically free him because he's not in jail. You can let him go back to work, though:

An Oregon teacher who announced his intention to "dismantle and demolish the Tea Party" has been placed on administrative leave until his school district finishes its investigation into whether his political activity crossed the line.

The state's Teacher Standards & Practices Commission is also conducting an investigation into Jason Levin, a media teacher at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton.

Now don't get me wrong: Mr. Levin is a Moonbat, and a sneaky one at that. However, it doesn't seem like anything he's done isn't covered by the First Amendment. I get a little twitchy when the government (town of Beaverton, in this case) employs the Organs of the State against someone because of what they said.

Quite frankly, that's why I blog under a pseudonym here. Am I scared of being thrown into the clink? Of course not. Do I think that some people might go out of their way to make life interesting (see e.g. the Massachusetts State Motto: "Guns? ICK!")? Sure do.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 first look

This looks awesome.

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game

I really like the downloadable missions.

Via #1 Son.

A Koan

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
- Lao Tzu

Once is happenstance

Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action. Bill Clinton's at it again, calling the opposition terrorists.

Again. I know, I know - the Leopard can't change his spots, and all that. But it's not just him. The head of the FBI said pretty much the same thing, and who can forget the Department of Homeland Security (Kabuki)'s report from last year?

And so, I'll extend my offer from last year. Anyone who wants to use this image on their blog is welcome to it. Links back are always appreciated.

Image credit: Borepatch. Released to the Public Domain.

And what is it with the Democrats, questioning my patriotism?
I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you're not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.
- Hillary Clinton

Last Jump

Rest in peace, and thank you:
PHILADELPHIA John "Jack" Agnew, one of the original members of a U.S. Army unit that operated behind enemy lines in World War II and is often credited with having loosely inspired the movie "The Dirty Dozen," has died at age 88.

Agnew belonged to the Filthy Thirteen, an unofficial unit within the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.


Tales of the unit's exploits and a Stars and Stripes military newspaper photograph are said to have inspired "The Dirty Dozen," not because any of the unit's members were convicts like the movie's characters — they weren't — but because of their reputation for brawling, drinking and spending time in the stockade.


"Dad, when we were little kids, he'd always say, 'I won the war; I know you don't believe me, but someday you'll know,'" [his daughter] said. "We didn't really realize it until the 'Band of Brothers' came out."
It's fashionable these days to say that we no longer have men of this caliber. I don't agree, but am grateful indeed that we had men like this when the need was greatest.

Requiescat in pace.

(via Stormbringer)

$35, $104,000. Whatever.

After all, what's important is Saving The Earth™:

THE NSW [New South Wales, Australia] government spent $104,000 from its Climate Change Fund to save a single tonne of carbon dioxide - worth about $35 under international carbon prices - the fund's annual report shows.

The money, to renovate a building at Sylvania Public School so it used less electricity, was spent on one in a series of projects that appear not to match the Climate Change Fund's main objective: cutting carbon emissions.

More than half the 26 public projects funded in the 2008-09 financial year valued carbon at more than $1000 a tonne, almost 30 times its estimated market value, although many of the projects did fulfil requirements to save large amounts of water.


Other projects paid for by the fund, which is sustained by a levy on energy and water bills, included a $20,000 grant to Dungog Shire Council to put a solar heater on its swimming pool, saving one tonne of carbon dioxide. Manly Council was also granted $154,000 to install energy-saving floodlights at Manly Oval, saving 17 tonnes of carbon dioxide and allowing the council to ''educate a segment of the market that does not normally respond to energy-saving messages''.

So what's with the tax-and-spend, when the spend isn't on what was used to justify the tax?
The Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water says the spending is worthwhile, even though it is not always the most efficient way to slash emissions, because it helps educate about saving energy.
Well all right, then.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to get away with child porn

Make sure that you're a public school administrator.

A couple months back, I posted about how the Lower Merion School District was using software to spy on their students, including using the laptop camera to take pictures of kids in their bedrooms. I was very harsh towards the people involved:
To protect their reputations, I hope that there's jail time involved for the IT Administrators who implemented this at Merion, and for the School Administrators who authorized it. The School Administrators in particular cannot credibly plead ignorance, not with those regulations prohibiting jailbreaking the laptops.
As it turns out, I was too easy on them:

More than once, the motion asserts, the camera on Robbins' school-issued laptop took photos of Robbins as he slept in his bed. Each time, it fired the images off to network servers at the school district.

Back at district offices, the Robbins motion says, employees with access to the images marveled at the tracking software. It was like a window into "a little LMSD soap opera," a staffer is quoted as saying in an e-mail to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program.

"I know, I love it," she is quoted as having replied.

So they knew what they were doing at the time. Emails have been disclosed, and we now know the following:
  • Lower Merion School District administrators have used the spy software on at least 42 different students.
  • Thousands of images have been collected from the laptop's cameras, including photos of the children undressing, or asleep in their beds.
  • At least one student was monitored and photographed by mistake (the wrong student was monitored).
The District Attorney is investigating, and at least some of the people involved are lawyering up:
According to Haltzman, technology coordinator Carol Cafiero refused to answer his questions at a recent deposition, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
So what makes me think that the public employee will get away with what would very likely send you or me to serious jail time? The sound of wagons being circled:
"While we deeply regret the mistakes and misguided actions that have led us to this situation, at this late stage of the investigation we are not aware of any evidence that district employees used any LANrev webcam photographs or screenshots for such inappropriate purposes," [school board President David] Ebby said in his statement.
Well, that's a relief! So a public employee can do things that you and I can't, and the politicians we look to for a fair and efficient administering of public services will cover for them.

John Edwards was right: there really are two Americas. One works for the Government, and can pretty much get away with felonies. The other is you and me, who are presumed to be in league with al Qaeda.

I've been involved with computer security for twenty-five years now, and this is quite frankly the biggest abuse of government power I can ever remember. It looks like the people involved are going to get off scot free.

Offered without comment

Ringo Starr - Act Naturally

The new Country-Rock-Pop sound out of Nashville ("new" in the last 20 years) has a lot of fans.  Sometimes the Country station gets tuned in on the radio.

But not everyone likes that sound. Some people prefer the old school sound that you could only get from Country. Some people, like Ringo Starr.

Usually in these Saturday Redneck posts, I give some background on the artist, by way of introduction. It would be kind of silly to do that for Ringo. It's not for nothing that there's a dismissive saying about over-hyped bands, Bigger than the Beatles.

Ringo likes his Country music, enough so that the Beatles covered Buck Owen's 1960s hit, Act Naturally. When the Beatles came to America in 1965, they famously appeared on Ed Sullivan's wildly popular TV show, where they performed the Country song. In 1989, Ringo teamed up with Buck to release the song again. This was the only time that Ringo made it to the Country Music charts, but managed a very respectable top 30. Paul McCartney and Wings also recorded a Country song.

So what gives with the Beatles - likely the greatest rock band of all time - and Country music? Well, it wasn't Country-Rock-Pop, a sound that was blended to appeal to all sorts of markets. It was the attraction of a sound true to its roots, of a long and honest history of music about a particular state of mind. Good enough for the Beatles.

Ringo made a video of this song with Buck. It's pretty silly.

Act Naturally (Songwriter: Johnny Russell)
They're gonna put me in the movies
They're gonna make a big star out of me
We'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely
And all I have to do is act naturally

Well, I bet you I'm gonna be a big star
Might win an Oscar you can never tell
The movie's gonna make me a big star,
'Cause I can play the part so well

Well, I hope you come and see me in the movie
Then I'll know that you will plainly see
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time
And all I have to do is act naturally

We'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely
Begging down upon his bended knee
I'll play the part but I won't need rehearsing
All I have to do is act naturally