Saturday, July 31, 2010

You guys crack me up

Every now and then, I go back through the last month or two of posts, looking for posts that look like they might fit in the "Best Posts" category. I like to have a few weeks between the original date of posting and when I tag it as one of the best posts.

Well, every now and again I find something that kicks over my giggle box. It wasn't this post on the futility of gun control, it was the comments that all y'all left. Laugh out loud funny, right there.

Maybe I need to start a "Best Comments" category?

Well that was fun ...

I got the ladder out to scrape some paint on the walls of Chez Borepatch (motto: if it moves, salute her; if it doesn't, paint it). And since the scraping went pretty fast, I got the paint out, and painted the scraped patches.

And since the ladder was out, I cleaned out the gutters, and swept up all the @#$%! pine needle detritus. And then since I was all done, I put the ladder away. Good thing it was a balmy 80° here. Summer in New England sure beats winter in New England, but it removes a danged good excuse to put off scraping, painting, and gutter cleaning.

Now it's time for an ibuprofen cocktail. Can't be too achy for tomorrow's blogshoot ...

Cledus T. Judd - Lets Shoot Dove

Earlier in the week, I had the chance to shoot a sweet, sweet Browning Auto-5 shotgun. Also, tomorrow is the 3rd Annual New England Blogshoot, so a song with shotguns was obligatory. And when you absolutely, positively need to sing about shotguns, you're talking Cledus T. Judd.

Judd (real name: Barry Poole) has been called the "Weird Al" of country music, for his stock-in-trade parody songs like I Love NASCAR (parody of Toby Keith's I Love This Bar) and My Cellmate Thinks I'm Sexy (parody of Kenny Chesney's She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy, perhaps the stupidest country song of all tome).

Country Music sometimes goes over the top with swelling orchestra schmaltz, and when it does, it makes itself a big ol' target for mockery. Cledus is usually there, loading the shells into the shotgun, like this parody of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (Let's Make Love): Let's Shoot Dove.

Let's Shoot Dove (Songwriters: Cledus T. Judd, Chris Clark)
Buddy I'm sick of shootin at clay
Dreaming of opening day
How bout you

Yeah me too

The only thing I want to do
Is hunt with you
Kill a bird or two
Go get your gun

Let's shoot dove
All day long
Until all our shells are gone
Shoot five times
Then reload
Run like heck if the game warden shows
Yeah when the sun comes up
Let's shoot dove

You know Faith gets mad at me
When she thinks I'd rather be
In a field with you
Sipping brews

Shootin anything that moves

I think my sight's a little off to the right

You can't hit nothing

Let's shoot dove
All day long
Until our eardums are blown
By tonight
One things for sure
Boy our shoulders will be sore
I just can't get enough
Let's shoot dove

(slight artillery prictice)

Let's shoot dove
All day long
Until all our shells are gone
Point your gun
Towards the sky
I want to see them feathers fly
And when the sun comes up

I can't get enough

Let's shoot dove

Hey d'jou get one

Nah d'jou

I think I winged one



Tired from the trip, and lots to do around the house, so I'm late posting. It cracks me up to see Insty apologize for the light blogging. In a post at 8:00 AM on a saturday. The fifth post of the day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A $5 Million wedding?

The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through all eternity.
- Goethe
I hear that Chelsea Clinton is getting married, and wish her all happiness.

Long time readers are waiting for the "but", the part where I snark. I won't for a second snark on Miss Clinton's hopes or chances for happiness. If anyone in the public eye deserves someone who will cherish her, she's the one, and it's fervently to be hoped for.


If I were to be the father of the bride, and were to spend $5 Million on a wedding ceremony, I'd want sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads.

Well, I would.

No word if Miss Clinton's wedding dinner features sea bass ...

Hot Green-on-Green action!

One of the problems with travel - at least, roadtrip travel like we just did - is that it's hard to keep up with what's going on in the Blogosphere. Because of this, I'm late to the game about a delicious story that combines two of my favorite things: Internet Security and Junk Science.

One of the areas of Black Hat hacking that is thankfully much less prevalent today is "hacktivism" - hacking motivated by political activism. Most of this involves taking over a political enemy's web server and posting what amounts to political graffiti. While this is a step up from the usual LOL w3 pwn3d j00 graffiti, it's not much of a step up. But I'll make an exception for this one:

click to enlarge

The Independent Media Centre of Australia is reporting that the sister website of the flatlining Chicago Climate Exchange, the European Climate Exchange (ECX), had it’s main page hacked and replaced with the image above. I’ve confirmed this with Google cache of the ECX website available here, Screencap of the cached page here. [Update: Wikipedia now has a larger screencap online here]


Comment #2: C'mon lefties - it's a climate crisis! Don't you love Mother Gaia? We're all being told that we have to give up 2% of global GDP to atone for our evil ways, can't you sacrifice your hatred of Wall Street for The Cause? No? OK, then!

Comment #3: Man, I picked the wrong day to drive 700 miles. In future, I shall endeavor to do better for all y'all.

Comment #4: Hey lefties, google "regulatory capture". Now extrapolate the opportunity for Regulatory Capture with 2% of the world GDP at stake. Pop an artery when you realize what it means.


From the Department of Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do

People notice, and remember.

My only comment is that even assuming that everything that Al and Tipper Gore said about music lyrics was true (and it's almost certainly not), nothing that Rock music has done could be remotely as damaging to the lives of the middle class as Al's environmental policy proposals. Mote, beam.

Quote of the Day: Make You Think edition

Aretae posts an off-the-cuff comment that made me go "hmmmm":
Sometime near the 1970s, growth pushed us out of the 10000 year old agrarian tradition of productive men get women to the older >10000 year hunter-tradition of status gets women, but with much better psych-tech. This is scary and unpredictable, given that the nuclear family has been the stable social unit for 10,000 years.
I'm not entirely sure I agree, but I'll be mulling this - and his larger post, which has a larger point - for a while.

I'd certainly add the brass cartridge case to his two world-transforming inventions, but maybe that's just me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


#1 Son and I are now safely back inside the Chez Borepatch secure perimeter.

13 hours from North Carolina was a long haul. We managed to time it to miss the New York City rush hour, but landed bang in the middle of the Stamford, CT rush hour.

But it's always a good trip when you're going home.

#1 Son drives the Garden State Parkway

All growed up and handling the big city traffic. Doing pretty nicely, too.

We're making good time because we can trade off driving. Looks like we'll be just past New York before rush hour, and home for dinner. Yay, #1 Son!

Posted from my iPhone, which is a pretty crummy blogging platform. Anyone out there blog from Droid?

Let's be careful out there

A lot of folks do all their web surfing in Condition White. Zercool shows how not to be one of those people. Highly recommended security reading.

Thursday Gun Pr0n

ARs and 1911s and Auto-5s, oh my!

ASM826 and Dan in NC took us to the range yesterday evening to make some noise, which is (unsurprisingly) an excellent way to get rid of the stress from a long day in the car. I'd shot the AR and the 1911 (#2 Son's favorite), and they're indeed very nice. What was new was the one at the bottom of the picture, the Browning Auto-5, designed by The Man himself, John Moses Browning (PBUH).

Man, what a sweet, sweet shotgun. Light recoil, fast cycling action. Fast cycling. The fact that I couldn't break many of the clays is no statement on the gun (although it was pretty cool when I hit a clay dead center, and it disappeared in a cloud of dust).

This one is on the top of my "Guns I will get when I move to the United States of America" list.

There was also AR fun. #1 Son was pretty psyched when he saw that he was significantly better than me with the Auto-5; the AR gave me a chance to impress him. I left the target in the car (too tired to get it now; I wrote this post last night and scheduled it for this morning), but the top reason to get an AR is because you want 2" groups ...

I'll put up a proper Range Report for the Auto-5 when I'm back home. ASM826 has more pictures up, so check them out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Boy, that was fun. A huge, huge thank you to ASM826 and sometimes commenter Dan in NC for hosting us at an undisclosed, secure range somewhere north of Atlanta and south of Boston. Pictures tomorrow, but let me just say that there are few ways I can think of to unwind after a long day's driving than making loud noises while you punch holes in targets.

Or break sporting clays. #1 Son seems to have a knack for breaking them, at least with a sweet, sweet Auto-5 shotgun. In my case, there were precious few that actually, you know, broke. Oh, bother.

My journey to the Dark Side is complete

You are 0% hippie.

Ok, you conservative soul. Do you even believe in global warming? Loosen that necktie a little, and try some organic food. It actually does taste better. And go to a farmer's market--they're fun.

Are you a hippie?
Take More Quizzes

Although I'm not a conservative. The 0% hippie is about right, though. And I'm a bit skeptical about that Global Warming thing.

Hat tip: Alan.

Remember, Port-A-Potties are concealment, not cover

Today's must-read

Is brought to you courtesy of the Czar of Muscovy, who visits a school in one of Chicago's poor neighborhoods:
Lest you be uncertain: the Czar believes entirely in Dr. King’s awesome goal. The Czar believes that blacks are real people, like anyone else. No better, no worse. No greater, no weaker. That it is up to the individual to recognize his or her own strengths, and use them to his or her own advantage. But this school immerses students in a dismal mixed message that they are victims, and that despite all their faults, they might just become incredibly wealthy. And that is a crime, right out of the leftist make-them-dependent-on-you playbook.

But hold on. There is hope.
That's the part you expect. The part that you don't expect - and which is amazing in its mixing of hope, inspiration, and despair - you'll have to go read it all for that. It's worth the journey.

Oh, and I think I can answer the question on the blackboard, but I'm not sure.

Forced March

We're hitting the road as this post goes up, rolling out from Atlanta headed for a rifle range in North Carolina. It'll be a long day, but ASM826 is hosting us for some shooty goodness at the end of the day.

It's been quite fun to have this much time with #1 Son. If he drives as much as expect he will today, I'll try some highwayblogging to go with some scheduled posts.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections on Massachusetts' racist gun control laws

The nice folks at the Roswell Guns and Gear store pointed me to Georgia Carry, who have an outstanding FAQ about Georgia firearms laws. As a current inmate resident of the People's Republic of Massachusetts, this part hurt the most:
Q: What is required to purchase a firearm in the state of Georgia?
You will need a valid state-issued ID.
Show your (Georgia) driver's license, pass the background check, leave with your gun. Sigh.

But this one got me thinking:
Q: What is a public gathering?
The Public Gathering Law was repealed when SB308 was signed into law on June 4, 2010. The Public Gathering was law in Georgia for 140 years and was one of the last Jim Crow laws to be repealed in Georgia.
For 140 years, the "Public Gathering" law was used to disarm black Americans in Georgia. It was only repealed last month. Yowzer.

Note that I'm not hatin' on Georgia, here. Reading through Georgia Carry's outstanding history Disarm the Negros: The Racist Roots of Gun Control made me think that Jim Crow is alive and well, and firmly ensconced on Massachusetts' Beacon Hill. You see, the gun violence in Dorchester, Roxbury, and other poor neighborhoods (read: majority black neighborhoods) is used to justify restricting firearms ownership in Massachusetts. Just like events like the Camilla Massacre was used to justify restricting (black) firearms ownership in 1868 Georgia. Hysterical stories sensationalized by a biased press try to whip up support for disarming Massachusetts citizens, just like in the 1906 Atlanta Race Riots.

And the Massachusetts law is applied selectively. If you live in Lincoln (a very white suburb of Boston, one with very low crime rates - IOW, one where you have less need for a gun to protect yourself), you'll have little trouble getting a permit. If you live in Dorchester (a majority black suburb of Boston, one with a very high crime rate - IOW, one where you have a lot more need for a gun), forget about it. Just like in 1908 Georgia. The analogy is not general, it's precise.

I mean, can't have a bunch of guns available to dangerous, excitable black folks, can you? [/sarcasm]

Massachusetts lefties, j'accuse. You are objectively racist, in a way that would have made the 1880 Georgia KKK proud. You should think long and hard about updating your laws - just like Georgia has. It is firmly to be hoped for that some day Massachusetts will grapple with its racist philosophy, and follow in Georgia's footsteps.

Canadian government incompetent or "not nice"? You decide.

Canadians pride themselves on being nicer than us grouchy Americans. Whatever.* So how do you classify this:
LAVAL, Que. – A mother and a daycare teacher tried desperately to free a 15-month-old baby boy from a locked car in the scorching heat Monday after emergency services refused to send help.
The mom accidentally locked her keys and her kid in the car, on what was one of the hottest days of the year. Understandably concerned for the child's safety, she called 911:
“The operator told me that for them, this wasn’t an emergency, that they don’t send the police for this,” the teacher explained.
Ooooh kaaaay. The question, then, is from whence comes this inexplicable behavior on the part of CA.Gov officials? Is it incompetence that puts toddlers at risk of death? Or are they miserable human beings, despite their lofty opinion of their "niceness"?


*I'd tell you what I really think of this attitude, but I'm too nice.

Atention Massachusetts voters

We interrupt your blogging for a (non-paid) political announcement ...

Via Too Old To Work, Too Young To Retire, we find that Jim McKenna is running fot Attorney General in the People's Republic. As a Republican, he likely faces a long shot, but his web site is worth a visit:
Like you, I am tired of public corruption, government mismanagement and the erosion of rights for average Americans. It seems our current leaders are more interested in protecting everyone but us hard working Americans. This needs to stop.

I believe that the current Attorney General is out of step with Massachusetts voters on illegal immigration, reform and prosecuting political corruption. She has been more focused on prosecuting Garden Clubs than with the lawmakers stuffing bribes down their shirts. It has been federal authorities that were responsible for uncovering and prosecuting the most significant corruption charges, including those against former Boston state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson.
Amen. If you need more, TOTWTYTR says he's pro Second Amendment. Still want more? He's running against Democrat Martha Coakley. Long time readers will remember how we scientifically proved that she's dumb as a rock. If you're in Massachusetts, go check him out. If you're not, but have had it with arrogant incumbents possessed of a sense of entitlement, go check him out. Good luck, Jim.

We now return you to your regular blogging schedule.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Models, Scientists, and the End of History

The strongest evidence for the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming comes from climate model predictions. Not everyone is impressed with the software, though. Some of the strongest criticisms come from some pretty high powered scientists:
Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models. – Freeman Dyson
Computer models are interesting, but the proof of the pudding for skeptical scientists is in whether the model predictions match the observed record. So how do the models hold up to observation? It depends on which observations. For example, NASA's GISStemp data set says that the model predictions of sudden late 20th century warming to unprecedented levels doesn't match the observed record of peak temps in the 1930s, followed by a decline through the 1970s, with a minor El Nino spike in the 1990s:
This is a problem for scientists who have to respond to skeptical eminences like Dyson, or Nobel laureate physicist Ivar Giaever:
I’m a skeptic. …Global Warming it’s become a new religion. You’re not supposed to be against Global Warming. You have basically no choice. And I tell you how many scientists support that. But the number of scientists is not important. The only thing that’s important is if the scientists are correct; that’s the important part.
So what do the "warmist" scientists do? Remember, Gavin Schmidt - one of the most important advocates of Global Warming - runs the NASA group that maintains the GISS data set. Some time between 1999 (data from 1999 used for the graph above) and 2000, something happened to GISStemp. Now if you look at the data, you see something very different:

Older temperatures (1880 to 1920) were reduced. Recent temperatures (1990s) were increased. Instant Hockey Stick - just add data "adjustments". So which one is wrong, the old GISS or the new GISS? Is there some other data that we could check that could help decide the question? Other climate data? Like snowfall records?

No hockey stick in sight. And you'd think that a colder 1880-1920 would give more snow, and a warm 1980-2000 would give less. Clearly, these records are in desperate need of "adjusting".

I wrote about how easy it would be to manufacture a consensus that the globe is warming:
What is clear about the HadCRUt (as well as GISStemp) is that they are opaque - the data sets are terribly hard to understand, poorly documented, and adjusted in a manner that is not well explained (if, indeed, it is explained at all). In the case of CRU, the original (unmodified) data is no longer available, but seems to have been destroyed.

Yet ever single climate scientist uses these data sets for their analysis of global temperature.

So, if the guardians of these data sets were to want to ensure a scientific consensus that the globe is warming, that this is a recent phenomenon, and that mankind is behind it, all they need to do is modify the data sets. All researchers pick up the modified data sets, have no (easy) way to validate the soundness of the data, and unsurprisingly produce similar results. Hey, the data show conclusively that the planet is warming. Oh noes! Thermageddon!
There was a joke, back in the bad old days in the Soviet Union: In Soviet Russia, future is always known. Is past that always changes.

The scientific establishment acts like they think that they've reached the End of History, and that controlling the past allows them to set the future. The problem is that the world is no longer one of central, top-down information distribution. Now it's the Internet, where you can't disable comments. That same Internet that considers censorship to be damage, and routes around it.

But does it come in a Jackalope bottle?

Long time readers will remember Tactical Nuclear Penguin, the world's strongest beer. The brewers were criticized for brewing such a strong beer, what with so many UK residents drinking too much already. After such a vigorous chastening, what do you do?

First, you amp up the alcohol to 55%, to give all the neo-prohibitionists an aneurysm. Second, you put the bottle inside roadkill, freshly back from the taxidermist, for the PETA crowd:

The End of History: The name derives from the famous work of philosopher Francis Fukuyama, this is to beer what democracy is to history. Fukuyama defined history as the evolution of the political system and traced this through the ages until we got the Western Democratic paradigm. For Fukuyama this was the end point of man’s political evolution and consequently the end of history. The beer is the last high abv beer we are going to brew, the end point of our research into how far the can push the boundaries of extreme brewing, the end of beer.
Of course, the bottle has all the Usual Suspects acting, well, usual:

However the decision was described by Ross Minett, campaigns director for the U.K. charity Advocates for Animals, as "terribly out of date" and "degrading" for the animals.

"The modern approach is to celebrate the wonders of animals and respect them as individual sentient creatures," he said, according to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph newspaper. "I'm sure this would have much greater appeal with the animal-loving public."

Fish, barrel. But still the twitch in his eye is mighty dang funny.

Sadly, not only is the beer retailed at $700/bottle (no, I'm not making this up), the entire production run is sold out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Friendship

The friendship that can cease has never been real.
- St. Jerome
#1 Son's best friend used to live next door, back when we lived in Atlanta. Since we're visiting, he was adamant that he look Kevin up.

While I didn't say anything, I was nervous about the reunion. We've been gone 8 years, and that's a lot when you were only 10 when you moved away. In the back of my mind was the fear that they would have grown on very different paths, and that the drive back home would be a thousand miles of disappointment.

It sure was nice to see them drop back into the friendship, seemingly as if it were only a long summer vacation that had kept them apart.

As a parent, you want to protect your children. Sometimes this means that you have to watch them get hurt, because that' s how they grow. Sometimes - if you're lucky - that feared life lesson passes them by, and they get a different lesson.
The language of friendship is not words, but meanings.
- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday morning humor, and thinking

The forceps of our minds are clumsy things and crush the truth a little in the course of taking hold of it.
- H.G. Wells
Sometimes we get too serious, and drain all the fun from something in the course of cracking our hard, intellectual nutshells. All Thought and no Play makes us a grumpy old geezer, or something.

So here's something pretty danged funny to start your intellectual day off. Three Minute Philosophy is a series of (what else?) 3 minute overviews of famous philosophers. It's mildly NSFW, and very, very funny. Especially the one on Immanuel Kant (both the NSFW and the very funny parts apply in spades here).

Many more over at Youtube - watch one, collect 'em all!


But all fun and no thought makes us rather dull. While still chuckling about John Locke, wander over to Rhymes With Gars And Girls and ponder Sonic Charmer's thoughts about Democracy, Locke's great passion:

But the concept of market failure is intellectually sound, namely, the possibility of market patterns in which everyone pursuing their self-interest rationally leads to an overall outcome which is worse than some other possible outcome (to be precise, not Pareto-optimal). The classic example is a factory that pollutes, the pollution being an externality borne by society at large that won’t be priced into the factory’s product (absent some sort of Pigovian tax). It can be debated whether this or that cited example of a ‘market failure’ really is one, or whether its definition begs the question, but the concept is worth thinking about.

I think nowadays we need a twin concept: democracy failure. Presumably, democracy, like markets, is supposed to optimize outcomes for people in some way or another. (Otherwise, why do we have it?) So then, just as with market failure, democracy failure could be defined along the lines of, a (self-sustaining or sustained) pattern that can emerge in democratic governance in which the outcome is undesirable in some appropriately-measured way.

There's a lot of smart there, and a lot that will make you think. His post is a little depressing in its implications, but then I think on the Second Amendment and watering the Tree of Liberty with tyrant's blood, and I'm happy again. It's Sunday, after all. Don't want to crush the truth while taking hold of it ...

The Internet is full, it seems

I said to myself, "Self, you don't ever tweet any more."

I said to myself, "Self, you really should tweet more often."

I said to Twitter, "Twitter, I'm ready to tweet!"

Twitter said to me, "Answer hazy, try again later."

Man, this Intarwebz thingie would totally rock if someone could figure out how to handle monster loads of traffic.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We're not in Kansas Massachusetts anymore, Toto

Boy, there are a lot of anti-Obama billboards here. Plus Gander Mountain. And no snowplows to be seen.

12 hours from Baltimore, via the Shenandoah valley. I'd never gone that way, and all I can say is that it sure is prettier than the spaghetti junction that is the Washington D.C. beltway in Springfield.

#1 Son drove a lot. Getting all growed up, that one is.

From the Department of Bloomin' Obvious

Man, it gets hot down south in the summer. And stays hot. Older Brother and I took his dog out for a walk at 9:30 last night, and the heat and humidity just about wilted me.

Of course, it'll be nice in March, instead of shoveling another six inches of the powdery stuff. But dang.

Restaurant Review: Red, Hot, & Blue, Laurel MD

I'm getting my Bob on with a Barbecue review, but #1 Son suggested it, and it was our favorite BBQ joint when we lived in Maryland. Since we're rolling through on a road trip, we hit it for dinner. The first thing you'll notice is that this violates the First Law of good BBQ: it's not served to you in a building that's already been condemned. Red Hot & Blue is in a nice brick building on Main street in Laurel.

Inside is quite nice, with an enormous amount of Blues paraphernalia taking up pretty much each square inch of wall space. Some of the posters offer up some tasty nostalgia:

But de gustibus, right? I had the pulled pork sandwich, with cole slaw and hush puppies. The sandwich was decent enough, although a bit dry. The squeeze bottle of BBQ sauce was not your run of the mill sauce, and had enough of a spicy bite to stand out from the crowd. The hush puppies seemed entirely uniform, so they were probably not hand made. Oniony and deep fried got the thumbs up from #1 Son, though.

We had a good waitress, attentive but not hovering over us, keeping our iced tea/lemonade drinks topped off. The staff really bustles there, and the food comes quickly.

All in all, a decent dinner, although a bit pricy when compared to BBQ joints outside the Metro area. Using Bob's scale, I'd rate it 3 out of 5:
average; reasonably good food, moderate effort by staff/management. We'll eat there again if we happen to be in the area and craving BBQ, but have no reason to make a special trip for it.
Interestingly, this was our favorite BBQ joint back in the mid-90's. In our wanderings since then, we've run across better BBQ. But if you're in Laurel MD and have the hankering for some Q, this will fill the bill nicely.

Avenged Sevenfold - Dear God

What's the "Real Country Music"? You could focus on the instruments - fiddles, slide guitars, mandolins - but that's looking at the surface, not the depths. You could look at the props - cowboy hats, pickup trucks, belt buckles - but any poser can wear those. A lot do.

Not everyone will agree with me, but a lot of the depth of the "Real Country Music" comes from the sentiment - the fears, aspirations, hopes - of regular working people trying to make their way in a tough world. The road warrior missing their family (think Lonestar and I'm Already There). Worrying about your family, and praying for their safety (think Jason Aldean and "Amarillo Sky" - Let my crops and children grow). About the human condition, and people's struggle to make their peace with it.

#1 Son said he had a band for Saturday Redneck that fit this bill. A screamo/deathmetal band. Avenged Sevenfold.

I see you rolling your eyes, but give it a listen. It's actually entirely lacking in screaming, and isn't what I'd call metal. But it hits all the right feelings that a good country song does.

Dear God (Songwriters: Baker, James, Haner, Elwin, Sanders, Charles, Owen, Sullivan)
A lonely road, crossed another cold state line
Miles away from those I love
Purpose hard to find
While I recall all the words you spoke to me
Can't help but wish that I was there
Back where I'd love to be, oh yeah

Dear God the only thing I ask of you
Is to hold her when I'm not around
When I'm much too far away
We all need that person who can be true to you
But I left her when I found her
And now I wish I'd stayed
'Cause I'm lonely and I'm tired
I'm missing you again, oh no
Once again

There's nothing here for me on this barren road
There's no one here while the city sleeps
And all the shops are closed
Can't help but think of the times I've had with you
Pictures and some memories will have to help me through, oh yeah

Dear God the only thing I ask of you is
To hold her when I'm not around,
When I'm much too far away
We all need that person who can be true to you
I left her when I found her
And now I wish I'd stayed
'Cause I'm lonely and I'm tired
I'm missing you again oh no
Once again

Some search, never finding a way
Before long, they waste away
I found you, something told me to stay
I gave in, to selfish ways
And how I miss someone to hold
When hope begins to fade...

A lonely road, crossed another cold state line
Miles away from those I love
Hope is hard to find

Dear God the only thing I ask of you is
To hold her when I'm not around,
When I'm much too far away
We all need the person who can be true to you
I left her when I found her
And now I wish I'd stayed
'Cause I'm lonely and I'm tired
I'm missing you again oh no
Once again
Like I said, not all of you will agree with me. I sometimes look at the world with expansive definitions. But if you're looking for a song about the human condition that would drop seamlessly into a performance - tricked out with steel guitars, boots, and all those trappings - this here's the one.

Friday, July 23, 2010

You may ask yourself: did I really vote for him?

The proper response to arrogance is mockery. Now go away, or we shall mock you a second time.


UPDATE23 July 2010 23:09: Oh, foo. I wrote this last night, feeling all smug at my ahead-of-the-curve-ness, and scheduled it for today. Little did I know that I'd be scooped by Insty by 12 hours while I was on the road.

From the Department of Righteous Shootings

Reader Don emails to point out this heart warming story (giving me the chance to get my JayG on):
A wanted man is in critical condition in the hospital after he was shot during an alleged armed robbery.


The vehicle pulling the trailer started having mechanical trouble, so they pulled off onto the exit ramp at McLeod Road in Colleton County near Walterboro [South Carolina].


At that time, a silver-colored sedan pulled up occupied by three individuals and a male subject, later identified as David Jayquon Jakes, 19, exited the back seat and pointed a large caliber handgun at one of the women.


Her son-in-law was armed and drew his weapon and ordered them to leave several times. As Jakes turned and pointed his large caliber weapon, the son-in-law fired several rounds striking Jakes who then fell to the ground and dropped his weapon.
[Pauses to let the cheers die down ...]

The hero son-in-law turns out to be an Army specialist recently returned from Afghanistan. With a concealed carry permit and a pistol.

[Pauses again to let patriotic cheers die down ...]
No charges are pending against him at this time and none are anticipated to be filed against him, said officials.
Well, duh. Give him a medal.

Click through to the story, which has a video interview of the County Sheriff advising people to arm themselves for their defense.

[Pauses once again to let cheers die down ...]

Clearly, this didn't happen in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

[Pauses to let boos, catcalls, and shouts of disapprobation die down. I'm guessing we'll be waiting for a bit ...]

How dare you listen in on my unencrypted WiFi!

Seems some State Attorneys General are upset that Google's StreetView™ cars are recording some data from unencrypted WiFi stations. Um, dude, that's only possible because the owner didn't turn encryption on. A Geek With Guns 'splains it so even a State AG can understand:
If you have an unsecured wireless access point and somebody is grabbing your data it’s your fault. Wireless data is broadcast out for all to hear. Treat it like yelling, if you and your significant other get into a yelling argument you can’t blame your neighbors for hearing what you two were screaming at each other. Wireless data is the same way. If your wireless signal enters my property then I have every right to eavesdrop on it.
They're polluting the public radio spectrum, at least where the roadway is. Turn on the crypto, or quit yer bitchin'. And you think it's bad when the Googlemobile drives by, just wait until someone hacks your Access Point.

No Perv-Scanner, please. We'll drive.

#1 Son and I are off to Atlanta. We're driving instead of flying - all 1000 miles - not just to save money but also because it avoids the non-lethal dose of X-Rays that bombard you when you go through the airport PervScan™ Full Body Scanners.

We were told that the scanners couldn't store pictures. Of course, they could, and so then we were told that they wouldn't store your picture. Ooooh kaaaay.

New UK rules have been issued concerning the scanners, and people are not reassured:

Also I think the code is misleading when it tells passengers that they have a choice – they can either “be scanned” or “not fly”. I don’t believe this to be the relevant choice. For instance, suppose an individual tries to get on a plane and is selected for random scanning. Suppose further that the individual refuses to be scanned for whatever reason. Do you think that the refusal to be scanned would be the end of it?

To provide an extreme example: do you really think that someone who might be a terrorist who has opted-out of a scan because he might be discovered will merely be escorted away from the secure passenger side of the airport and let go?

Nope! I think any refusal to be scanned would result in close scrutiny of that individual and anybody remotely “suspicious” would be searched. And if the security people are then going to search “suspects” and find nothing, why can’t the searched individual then go on to fly?

I think the whole proposition in the code is based on a fallacy. The option is not between “be scanned” or “don’t fly” - the only real option is between “be scanned” or “be searched”.

About right. So we'll drive, thankee very much. Even if it is a long way to Richmond ...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Emergency Microsoft security patch

Criminals are exploiting a vulnerability in the Windows .lnk file linking function. This has enough buzz in the Financial community that Microsoft (unusually) created an emergency patch.

It's not known whether this is exploitable via a browser-based attack; it is known that malware is circulating on USB drives.

If you run Windows, my recommendation is to get the patch. You may notice some differences after applying it:
Microsoft security response communications lead Christopher Budd warned that the workaround disables icon icons from being displayed as usual and recommended admins carefully test the fix before deploying it widely. Specifically, the change will cause folder and file icons on the task bar and start menu to be stripped of their graphical representations, making them appear as generic, white boxes. The Fix It will also require machines to be rebooted.
I don't run Windows, but if I did, I'd get this. It's an interesting attack, and while I can't prove it, my gut tells me you could do something interesting with this via Web/Javascript.

In other security news, Mozilla has a security update for Firefox, to fix a nasty problem where malware could infiltrate via a picture (PNG file). Firefox will autoupdate and ask you if it can restart.

And Apple has an update for iTunes, with a vulnerability allowing malware to run. In iTunes, you may need to ask it to check for updates.

The menu is classified

A man boards his flight. He's hungry, and asks the flight attendant if they were serving meals in first class (where he was sitting). Hilarity ensues:

I get to the airport, boarded my plane and I’m sitting in first class. The flight attendant was right in front of me and was curious if they were going to serve meals onboard. So I asked her, “Are you serving any meals during our flight?”

She looked at me kinda funny and said, “I can’t answer that for security reasons.”

A little puzzled, I wondered how it affected security but I let it pass as she went into the cockpit. About three minutes later, two armed Austin police officers boarded the plane, looked at me and said, “Sugarman, follow us.”

And by "hilarity" I mean "he was forceably ejected from the flight. Now that's the Friendly Skies™.

Maybe that's why they call them "Gut Grenades". Just don't ask the flight attendant. The punchline? They rebooked him. He asks:
If I was too dangerous to fly on my original flight why did they book me on the next United flight.
Sir, this kind of attitude will not be tolerated. It may be very well for you to slap a "Question Authority" bumper sticker on your Prius; once in the Airport, you need to mentally switch to "Respect Mah Our Authoritah."


It looks like #1 Son and I are going to head out. This wasn't planned, and certainly reinforces that not only is the world strange, it's stranger than we can imagine.

I know that some of y'all use the iPhone blogging app. If anyone has any experiences with it - good or bad - I'd appreciate the info.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Your IQ is stupid

There are some smart people here on Al Gore's Intarwebz. Not "Smart", but smart. People like Aretae and Foseti, and while I haven't met them, I'm told that they leave SmartPrints when they walk across your carpet.

But sometimes, they get caught up in Smart, not smart. Like with a discussion about IQ over at Aretae's place. Now I doubt very much that I run in the same league with Aretae and Foseti, smarts-wise (my older brother almost certainly does, so I'm pretty familiar with smart). And you will learn a ton from a daily dose of Aretae, at least if you're like me. He's a bit Aquinas-like - hard going in the important places - but you'll literally add 5 IQ points by reading him for a year.

But. When I read his post about IQ - not stupid, even a little bit - my first thought was this is not right. I even left a comment struggling towards this, although it was pretty weak beer. I needed something stronger.

I needed Country Music, which knows smart when it sees it.

I see you rolling your eyes at me, and just stop it right now. Here's the problem I have with the standard IQ test: it measures a form of intelligence. That form is certainly intelligent.

But that form is not exclusively intelligent. And Country Music can prove it.

Here's the fundamental problem with IQ: you may know the rational thing to do by using traditional high-IQ analysis techniques. That doesn't mean that you know the right thing to do. Your Volgi nailed this in a post that I've quoted 3 or 4 times:
Plus, the kids who come in are often times high on themselves and their SAT scores and have increasingly not been exposed to alternative moral systems, like traditional religion, in which they'd hear, "Yeah, you're smart, but so what? Are you good?" Or have pointed out to them that not a few brilliant men have gone on to do profound evil.
Rousseau was high IQ. Kerrie Pickler is probably not. She didn't know that a piccolo was in the woodwind family, even when the fifth graders did:

Dumb, huh? Must be low IQ, eh? And yet she wrote this song:

She wrote this. Maybe not your cup of tea - it has her thick southern drawl after all. But what's dumb? This may not be high IQ, but that says something's missing from IQ, not from Miss Pickler.

Or how about SheDaisy? Three sisters from Utah who write their own Country songs are not likely to make the Cambridge A-List IQ invitation list. But that doesn't mean that they're not smart. I've posted on them before, but sadly they don't seem to have a video for this astonishing song:

Out Of My Mind (songwriters: Kristyn Osborn, John Shanks)
I live on caffeine, Camus
Eagles and Airplanes
I decorate my lies with butterflies
That glimmer in the shimmering rain
They say you can't lose 'em all
But I'll give it a shot

I want more than enough

Yeah, I want more
I want more than enough
When love is all I got

The truth is so unkind

But I'm good when I'm out of sight
Best when I'm out of my mind
And don't know what you'll find
But I'm good when I'm out of sight
Best when I'm outta my mind

I'm afraid of fallin' upward

I'm afraid of my own age
I'm a paragon with an apron on
And I'm beautiful on an empty page

There layin' in the dresser drawer

Is a rusted ravished heart
And the piercing regrets
Yeah, they pierce me
All the piercing regrets
And false starts

The truth is so unkind

But I'm good when I'm out of sight
Best when I'm out of my mind
And don't know what you'll find
But I'm good when I'm out of sight
Best when I'm out of my mind

I can be as strong as Morphine

I can lay my head down where I kneel
Sometimes I need a broken bone
To remind me how to feel

The truth is so unkind

But I'm good when I'm out of sight
Best when I'm out of my mind
And don't know what you'll find
But I'm good when I'm out of sight
Best when I'm out of my mind
This may not be your cup of tea, but it's another one of those Aquinas-like tough nuts to crack. It may not be high IQ, but that's my point.

IQ identifies intelligence. Some intelligence, not all intelligence. The problem is that a lot of what's not identified is perhaps even more important. Blog friend and shooting buddy Lissa - a smart person, to be sure - gets this:
I’m usually the one to fill awkward silences and invite quiet group members to speak. A lot of folks assume that, therefore, I’m a very intelligent person.

Verbal acuity and actual knowledge/intelligence are NOT the same thing.

Verbal acuity will score high on IQ tests. Is Lissa high IQ? I have no idea (although if I had to guess, I'd put my money down on "yes"). Is she a smart? Damn right. And a good shot - someone I'd want at my back in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

So what does this all mean, other than there are many ways to be human? Spend some time - Aquinas-wise - to understand the difference between "smart" and "Smart", and between "good" and "Good". The Examined Life has many facets, as does the Unexamined Life. What IQ measures, and what it misses.

UPDATE 21 July 2010 17:47: Foseti leaves a comment that is well worth your while. I don't agree with all of it, and will put up a post on this, but it's information-rich and to the point.

UPDATE2 21 July 2010 17:55: Oops, I forgot to point out that Midwest Chick not only left a comment that is very smart indeed, but she elaborated on the subject in a post at her place.

UPDATE3 21 July 2010 18:00: Aretae, as is his wont, brings the smart.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One small step for man ...

A strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.
- Grandma Moses
Nobody I know does memory - and sometimes hope - like ASM826 from Random Acts of Patriotism. I do believe that in some ways, he's my identical twin, separated at birth.

Only better looking, and smarter. And for sure a better writer about today's anniversary of the Moon Landing:
I was twelve. On vacation with my parents, I got to watch the lunar landing and the first walk on the moon on a big RCA console television. The future never seemed brighter than it did that evening.

I was going to to the moon one day, and maybe to Mars. The United States of America was the greatest country on earth and we were capable of amazing scientific and technological accomplishments. Certainly by the time I was thirty, there would be a permanent base on the moon, and regular transports...
Go read it all. Right. Now. Man, I wish I could write like him. A picture is worth a thousand words. I give you a couple thousand words, he give you a mental painting. Oh, foo.

But at least I give you some Redneck country music. This is fun, and it's about old memories (and it has Tim McGraw in a tank top, so you ladies especially want to watch*).

That's he gave you what needed to be said to NASA today. J'accuse.

But I sure wish I could write like that. I'm told that envy is a sin. Bless me Father, for I have sinned.

* Yes, I'm trolling for hits. Why did you have to ask?


Some of y'all know that I grew up in Maine. I'm not sure if this is why my reaction to the sight of a rifle is "Oooh, cool" rather than the typical Massachusetts "Eeek!".

There's a post over at Watts Up With That with a Maine tall tale, rather than the usual Global Warming news. Go read it for a good laugh - and look at the second comment, which will make you laugh even more. And this comment is the Best Comment of All Time. Srlsy. Except maybe for this one. And this one isn't better, but it's obligatory. Well played, sir.

And in the New England tradition, let me offer my favorite "that reminds me of this one" story:

A lady "from away"* went to the Maine coast for a summer vacation. Finding herself in Bass Harbor**, she went down to the docks to take a photo. Well, she was in luck, because a lobsterman had just returned from his day's toils, and was unloading his lobster traps. She asked him if she could take is picture, and he struck a pose for her.

The lady thanked him, and seeing more lobster boats heading back to the dock, remarked "You certainly have a lot of characters here, don't you!"

The lobsterman looked her up and down for a moment and then replied, "Ayuh. But they all leave around labor day."***

* An out-of-state tourist

** A very pretty fishing village on Mount Desert Island; the west side of the island is where the true connoisseur goes.

*** Pronounced "LAY-buh da-yee"

A different take on online banking

Long-time readers will recall that I've pronounced a fatwa against banking from your home computer, because of all the malware targeting financial password capture. Basically, if the malware can get your password, the Bad Guy can clean out your bank account. This is Bad Juju, and since most of the malware targets Windows computers (because most people have Windows computers), I've been quite vocal in saying just don't do it.

Except I did point out - approvingly - how some banks are giving their customers Linux CDs to use when they want to bank online. These are usually "Live CDs", meaning you can boot from them: they have an entire self-contained operating system that will get you Internet with Firefox, straight to your bank, nuthin' but 'Net.

It's cool, and since you're (temporarily) not running Windows, you don't have the malware worry. It got pretty close to getting the coveted Borepatch Seal of Security Approval™.

Well long time commenter and now blogger Ian Argent posts about how this only sounds like a good idea. In reality, he says, it's a Very Bad Idea Indeed:
This is an elegant technical solution to the problem represented by an OS that runs from rewriteable media. ...

However, it's a terrible idea outside of the merely technical. Let's start with why online banking exists.
He then goes on to look at just what it is that's driving online banking, both from the point of view of the bank and the point of view of the bank's customers. He makes some really good points:
I have on my desk a multitasking POWERHOUSE undreamed of, say, 20 years ago. Skipping the rest of the hyperbole, it is vanishingly unlikely that I have to close down my other applications to open up an online banking application. Nor would I want to - I balance my checkbook not by pen and paper, but by database. By doing this I don't have to worry about arithmetic errors, puzzling out handwriting, etc. And to avoid data entry issues, I don't hand-type information into the database, I retrieve it via the internet. Likewise, I schedule outgoing payments in my financial management program. There's a positive benefit to doing so, I don't have to give a third-party permission to debit my account, and the timing of doing so is ENTIRELY under my control, across multiple financial institutions and payees.
Now Ian is different from me here - I don't do any of this, because I'm paranoid (I was, in fact, trained to be paranoid by the Finest Minds in the Free World). But he's right - if you dig this sort of thing, it's simply impossible to do it using the LiveCD approach. Oh, foo.

But Ian's not done. Suppose, he says, that you could tweak the liveCD technology to let you do all this. How about then? Do you have a working, secure system? In a word, no:

But, let's say you've convinced me; your bootable OS CD also has a financial management program that can write to the local storage device, so I can take advantage of the power of my computer while still keeping an unbreachable wall of security around the OS. Let's say you've convinced the bank that the CD will reduce the costs associated with online bank fraud; the OS booted from the CD is immune to trojans and other malware.

It is still not secure.
And he goes on to explain why. If you like the idea of online banking, Ian's post is a must-read.

As for me, I find myself able to resist the siren song of my Bank's web site. Everyone has to do a risk/reward calculation, and for me I find the risk high and the reward low. Actually, for me I don't find the risk high, because I can do everything that Ian describes from Linux, with a much lower risk (and I know how to make my Linux OS even extra super crazy secure, and do). I just don't find the reward compelling.

But I'm an old stick-in-the-mud*. Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law. Make up your own mind. But read Ian's post first.

* But you knew that already.

Wikipedia vs. Wikipedia

Wikipedia tells us that on this day in 1927, Felix Dzerzhinsky died of a heart attack. What was his claim to fame? It depends on which Wikipedia you ask.

This one tells us that he was a murdering commie bastard:

Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (Polish: Feliks Dzierżyński [ˈfɛliks dʑerˈʐɨɲski], Russian: Феликс Эдмундович Дзержинский; 11 September [O.S. 30 August] 1877–July 20, 1926) was a Communist revolutionary, famous as the founder of the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka, later known by many names during the history of the Soviet Union. The agency became notorious for large-scale human rights abuses, including torture and mass summary executions, carried out especially during the Red Terror and the Russian Civil War.[1][2]

OK then.

This page tells us something different:
1926Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinskiy, Soviet law enforcement official (b. 1877)
A regular Wyatt Earp, I guess.

In other biographical news from Wikipedia, Josef Mengele was an anthropologist, Benedict Arnold was a pharmacist, and Tomás de Torquemada was a Dominican Monk.

Weather vs. Climate

This is Climate:
This is Weather:

According to Dellicarpini, National Weather Service officials will survey affected areas [of Massachusetts] to determine if any tornados landed.

“The reports are still being collaborated,” Strauss said.

Still, communities throughout Central Massachusetts dealt with severe weather after the tornado warning expired at 8:30 p.m.

I'd blame Global Warming, but it looks like that's busted. Still, tornados in Massachusetts? That's like Blizzards in Georgia.

Oh, wait ...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Power grid compromised

I try to not fall into the ZOMG the Sky is falling category of Internet Security, but I've written frequently about the risk to the power grid. Basically, I believe pretty strongly that the following are likely:

1. The Grid is a high-value target to foreign Intelligence Agencies. It's been said - correctly, IMHO - that while there are friendly foreign governments, there are no friendly foreign Intelligence Agencies.

2. The computer systems that run the Grid (called SCADA systems) are based on old technology, and are difficult to patch. This means that it's quite likely that the computers running the grid are riddled with security holes.

3. While these systems are not supposed to be connected to the Internet, the incentive to do so is very, very high. For example, it's a lot easier to reset something by remotely connecting to it from home than getting up, getting dressed, and driving 20 miles in a storm at 3:00 AM.

4. Nobody has accurate maps of precisely what their network looks like. Network aren't so much designed as grow, almost organically. The Power Company networks are no exception.

Taken together, this paints the picture of high-value, low-risk for an adversary. I'm not the only one who thinks this, either. Stewart Baker writes at Volokh of a newly discovered attack targeting SCADA via USB devices, and makes a lot of sense:
As far as I can tell, there’s no reason to compromise a SCADA system other than to take it down. The SCADA system doesn’t contain credit card numbers or other financial data, and I doubt that compromising it is a cost-effective way to steal power for free. The guy who found the SCADA calls, Frank Boldewin, says, “As this Siemens SCADA system is used by many industrial enterprises worldwide, we must assume that the attackers’ intention was industrial espionage or even espionage in the government area”. In fact, though, there are no obvious secrets to steal from a SCADA system – other than the secret of how to bring the system down. So the logical goal of the malware is not so much espionage as sabotage.
Yup. The secrets are on Siemens' corporate network, not on the SCADA systems. If you wanted to reverse-engineer one, you can buy one. The only plausible reason to hack into one is because you want to be able to turn off the USA's power.

My advice is to get a generator with at least a week's worth of gas, and to consider getting off the grid. Bad things happen when the power goes out for an extended period, and if it were a large scale outage, it could take months to restore things.

BTW, this attack is more than plausible: not only do we have confirmed malware samples, but we've seen this sort of thing used against the classified DoD networks in the past.

Dean Drives, Hockey Sticks, and Credibility

June 1960 saw an incredible cover picture on Astounding Science Fiction magazine: a US Navy submarine was shown orbiting Mars. The cover article described a new propulsion system that could be retrofitted to existing technology to make an instant interplanetary spaceship.

Remember, this was eleven months before NASA sent Alan Shepard in a sub-orbital test of the new Mercury-Redstone booster. And yet Astounding editor John W. Campbell showed a nuclear powered sub making a trip to another planet.

The reason was the Dean Drive, a revolutionary proposal from Normal L. Dean. The problem with rocketry was well known even in 1960: to send a rocket to another planet, you had to throw away most of the rocket. More specifically, you have to burn 99% of its mass as fuel, expelling the exhaust out the back in order to drive the rest of the rocket forward.

Newton's Third Law was the problem. To get an action (moving the rocket towards the neighboring planet), you needed an equal and opposite reaction (burn fuel and expel it out the back). The Saturn V monster that took us to the moon had a lift-off weight of 6.7 million pounds, only 100,000 pounds (1.5%) of which was lunar payload. Dean said he'd developed a better way, a reactionless drive.

Rather than using the forward push from rocket exhaust, Dean said he had a machine that would convert rotary energy to linear energy. In fact, he had one that he showed to Campbell, which looked like it generated 0.05g (actually one-eighteenth of the force of gravity at the surface of the Earth). This doesn't sound like much, but is actually huge - this is far more thrust than anything else available today (even ion drives), and running it continuously would allow the spaceship to build up incredible velocities.

Jerry Pournelle was on a team that tried to license the design from Dean, unsuccessfully:

Dean may or may not have been sincere, but he was certainly hard to deal with. He was so afraid -- or purported to be afraid -- that his gadget would be stolen that he wanted lots of money up front before he'd show it to us. Why he showed it to John [Campbell] and Harry [Stine] I don't know; it was from their report that I concluded it was worth going back East and trying to buy the thing, and I convinced the General that we ought to put up the money...

It may be that Dean thought that with at least two potential buyers (there's some evidence of a third but I don't know who it was) he could play tight and up the price. Perhaps he could have -- I'd have recommended far more than half a million if it worked -- but he wasn't going to get any takers until he showed the darn thing, and he wouldn't DO that. Oh. He also wanted a promise of a Nobel Prize. In my case I was perfectly willing to promise it. Of course I had no idea how I'd go about getting it for him, but I suspected that if he really could overcome Newton's third he'd have no trouble on that account.

Anyway, nothing came of it all. If it worked I never saw it work, and neither did the 3M team. The original device as described by Campbell and Stine was never found after Dean died, and the thing described in the patent doesn't work and isn't, according to Stine, what Dean showed as a working device.

Of course, it didn't work. Campbell believed in it right up to his death in 1972, but as nice as a reactionless drive would be (and it would be very nice indeed), there's no There there: we'll have to get to Mars without it. Secrets can get you attention, but not riches, and certainly not a Nobel. Unprecedented claims require unprecedented proof.

We are, in a sense, seeing the same thing going on today in the Climate Change debate. On one side, we have the IPCC, the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (of "ClimateGate" fame), and Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph. The climate is warming dangerously, we are told, and this is sudden and unprecedented.

On the other side of the debate, we have a bunch of people who are basically in the same position that Pournelle was when he was dealing with Norman Dean. They're asking for proof. What they're hearing is pretty much what they heard from Dean: No dice, just give us our money (fabulously expensive Carbon tax/trading schemes). And our Nobel.

Oooooh Kaaaay.

Unprecedented claims require unprecedented proof, and we're simply not seeing it. Mann famously would not release his computer code and data, but was ultimately shown by Steve McIntyre to have fudged his statistics (specifically the R2 number that showed whether their results were relevant or not). The story of this, and the incredible contortions that the "Hockey Team" went through to get subsequent, equally flawed papers into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) is described at length at Bishop Hill in Caspar and the Jesus Paper. Once again, data was withheld when requested:
To have key arguments in the SI [published article's Supplemental information] was most unusual and it quickly became apparent why it had been done: the SI was nowhere to be seen. Even the peer reviewers appear not to have had access, and once again, Amman refused McIntyre's request for the data and code. His reply to this request was startling (and remember that Amman is a public servant):
Under such circumstances, why would I even bother answering your questions, isn’t that just lost time?
As with Mann's original hockey stick, the statistics for this supporting paper were also entirely bollixed up. Statistically, the results were meaningless. That's some impressive "unprecedented proof", right there.

The problem that is emerging for the people claiming catastrophic warming is that the scientific work they are relying on seems very sloppy indeed. When the CRU was asked for their raw data so that their results could be verified, they first refused, then refused a Freedom of Information Act request, and then - when people still wouldn't stop asking - claimed that they'd lost the data. The IPCC AR4 report, supposedly based solely on peer-reviewed science, was found to be one-third based on Press Releases from environmental advocacy groups. The scientist heading up the Working Group 2 portion of upcoming IPCC AR5 is still falsely claiming that the science shows that hurricanes are getting worse due to Climate Change. It's not - or at least, there are no peer-reviewed articles that show this:
I see that four climate scientists, including the incoming head of IPCC WGII, Chris Field, have written up an op-ed for Politico calling for political action on climate change. That they are calling for political action is not problematic, but the following statement in the op-ed is a problem:
Climate change caused by humans is already affecting our lives and livelihoods — with extreme storms, unusual floods and droughts, intense heat waves, rising seas and many changes in biological systems — as climate scientists have projected.
I have sent Chris Field an email as follows:
I read your op-ed in Politico with interest. In it you state:

"Climate change caused by humans is already affecting our lives and livelihoods — with extreme storms, unusual floods and droughts, intense heat waves, rising seas and many changes in biological systems — as climate scientists have projected."

I am unaware of research that shows either detection or attribution of human-caused changes in extreme storms or floods, much less detection or attribution of such changes "affecting lives and livelihoods". Can you point me to the scientific basis for such claims?
This is Roger Pielke, Jr., no Climate Change Denier like me, but an honest scientist and one of the world's experts on hurricane damage. He didn't hear back from Dr. Field.

Sloppy. Add to this the ClimateGate email exchanges where the principals (Mann, Jones, et al) discuss deleting email messages, refusing to release data, and how to prevent publication of opposing scientific opinions by taking over the peer-review process, and you get the flavor of something very different from the typical view of scientists in white lab coats. A comment to Pielke's post is a must-read for this flavor:
The drugmaker Glaxo, we now learn, has been lying for years about its blockbuster diabetes drug. Turns out this multi-billion dollar drug doesn't perform as well as an older drug (in a test paid for by Glaxo), and it also gives people heart attacks. Glaxo withheld and hid this information for years.

I very much hate to say this, but Glaxo's behavior reminds me not just of Michael Mann and Phil Jones -- all their erasure of emails, hiding of data, marginalizing and blackballing articles not to their liking -- but of much of the climate change establishment.
He has specifics. RTWT.

Dean didn't die rich, and neither Mann nor Jones have gotten rich either (although Al Gore certainly has). Dean didn't get a Nobel, and neither Mann nor Jones have either (although Al Gore did). But Mann and Jones have done something that Dean did.

They've put their credibility in a very shaky position. The fact that there are multiple inquiries into their conduct is all you need to know to realize that even the "consensus view" establishment knows this. The fact that none of the inquiries have issued an indictment is cold comfort to Mann and Jones. They'll have to get to Mars on their own, figuratively speaking. What they're burning to generate political thrust is their credibility. As with Interplanetary travel, it'll all be gone long before they arrive at their destination.