Monday, December 31, 2012

Nancy Pelosi sez: Mouth shut! Ears open!

Secret video of the Democrat's Gun Control plans:

There is no spoon gun control plan.

What the well-dressed Gentleman is wearing for the New Year's celebration

The world's finest ammunition-based cuff links.

A bit pricy, but one must maintain standards, mustn't one?
Our cufflinks are made one set at a time from hand made custom molds. There are no fillers or cheap base metals used in our cufflinks, they are solid gold, silver, and platinum. At B&Co. we offer everything from mild to wild, and enable you to choose your options. You can choose a simple set of polished .45 ACP cufflinks in solid gold ($9,769) or silver ($1,291), or go the more unique route with options such as hand-engraving or the addition of diamonds. Should your taste be more exotic and exclusive even than the standard options we offer, B&Co. offers the ultimate expression of power: our Special Edition solid platinum ammo cufflinks. These cufflinks have no equal and include diamonds in both the firing pin and tip ($31,400).
I'd think that one of the Hollywood types who wants to make a statement could do a lot worse than doing something like this.  But it's not the "firing pin", it's the "primer" ...

Damn, I need a shoulder holster.  Maybe Dennis or Michael could do one up.

And the Missus needs a thigh holster.

Because as I said, one must maintain standards, mustn't one?  Particularly standards of protection.  Have an elegant, safe, and very happy new year!

So when the Revolution comes, how does it come?

It seems that prophesies of the Civil War are the new hotness.  My, I'm skeptical that anything other than huffing and puffing will come from the latest gun control insanity, but OK, I'll play too.

By way of introduction, Graybeard sums up a lot of the current thinking.

Here's where the scenarios break down.  Gun control is only popular is limited areas: coastal urban zones, the cultural "elite" (scare quotes entirely intended), college towns.  Everywhere else they're non-starters.  Really non-starters.  Like never gonna happen non-starters.

Does this mean that the cultural "elite" won't push for it with every fiber of their being and every breath until their dieing day?  Not at all - they want the "non-elite" disarmed as a matter of course.  Congress doesn't have the cojones to do anything (as I've said before), but let's do a Thought Experiment.  Suppose the Powers That be ram it down the Republic's throat, either via Constitutional or extra-Constitutional means?  What then?

Well, remember that this Republic is made up of 50 States.  In maybe 40 of those States, the new way of doing things will be really unpopular (follow the link to see just how unpopular).  What do the Governors of those 40 States do?

I think that they tell Washington D.C. to get bent, sideways, with a rusty nail.  If push comes to shove, I could see Governors take over military bases within their State - with the full approval and cooperation of most of the military personnel stationed there, I might add.  If (say) Obama unilaterally banned semi-automatic weapons and implemented a confiscation scheme, I'd expect (say) Texas Governor Perry to tell him not to send Federal Agents to Texas to implement the policy.  If Obama did, I could see Perry send the Texas National Guard to take over Ft. Hood, Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland Airforce Base, etc.  I'd be shocked if the military personnel there refused his deputization as Texas National Guardsmen.

Add in the Dakotas (goodbye, SAC), Virginia and Washington state (Navy), Georgia (Ft. Benning), Kentucky (Ft. Knox, HQ of the Armor) and you see that the States would be reasonably likely to thwart the over-reaching Federal power gram.

Precisely as the Founders foresaw, and crafted the Constitution.

I don't think this will be a Threeper moment, in any possible scenario.  Extra-Constitutional Washington power grabs will be unpopular most places, and Governors will be incentivized to stick it to The Man.  The police and military will support the Governors.  All you need is one to draw a line in the sand, and the cultural "elite" will fold for lack of the muscle to back it up.  And a street mob won't be effective against the police and military, and will only galvanize the unorganized militia to stand with them.

Like I said, this scenario simply won't happen.  Constitutionally, the Congress won't vote for it and extra-Constitutionally the States will reject it.

So while this is all fun, everyone needs to take a deep breath or two.  A New Year starts again tomorrow.  Next year will be much like this year.  We won't see the gun banners get traction, and in a couple months we'll have the pleasure of seeing their heads come off in frustration that their so-called Democrat "allies" were just yanking their chains and mugging for the TV News.  It's a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.  Ultimately it signifies nothing.

Me, I'm long on kitten and sunshine futures, at least for gun rights.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Stultus est sicut stultus facit*

Oh hum, another junk science study about guns. People are talking about a study (a few years old, actually) that purports to measure the "externalities" - costs to society - of gun ownership.  Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig write in the Journal of Public Economics:
This paper provides new estimates of the effect of household gun prevalence on homicide rates, and infers the marginal external cost of handgun ownership. The estimates utilize a superior proxy for gun prevalence, the percentage of suicides committed with a gun, which we validate. Using county- and state-level panels for 20 years, we estimate the elasticity of homicide with respect to gun prevalence as between +0.1 and + 0.3. All of the effect of gun prevalence is on gun homicide rates. Under certain reasonable assumptions, the average annual marginal social cost of household gun ownership is in the range $100 to $1800.
I read through this paper and it is entirely unconvincing.  The authors have chosen what they claim is a "superior proxy for gun prevalence" - the suicide rate.  The provide no discussion or justification other than a simple claim of superior technique, along with a couple of references to other articles.  OK, fine.

Here's why this is junk science: we have direct measurements of gun prevalence that have been gathered over the last 15 years or so.  These are not proxies (indirect measurements of something related to but not identical with what is being tracked), rather they are direct quantitative data measuring the actual prevalence of firearms:
  • The number of background checks that gun stores run through the NCIS is a direct measurement.  These do not get run if someone is not purchasing a firearm.
  • The number of Concealed Carry Permits issued by the States is a direct measurement.  People don't bother applying if they do not want a firearm handy (i.e. not just at home but carried with them).
  • The number of firearms sold is a direct measure, as reported by publicly held manufacturers.  The SEC requires each public company to file annual 10-K reports which contain financial performance data for investors; these reports will list sales figures.
All of these are markedly up in the last 15 years, while the firearms murder rate is sharply down.  And yet the authors use an indirect measure (suicide rate) as a proxy for firearms prevalence.  Why?

The suspicion is that this is just the latest in a long line of academic studies purporting to "prove" that more guns result in more violence.  The "proofs" have been, shall we say, less than scientifically rigorous?

The scholar we have to thank most for this awakening is Michael Bellesiles, the author of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (September 2000). In looking back on the public debate that led up to the Heller ruling, I can think of no other single person who did so much (even if inadvertently) to change the political climate around gun rights.

Bellesiles sought to to show that the bearing of civilian firearms had not been a central feature of life in the first century of the U.S’s history; that American gun culture had been founded on a myth, and the “truth” denied it political legitimacy. His book got a favorable reception (the Bancroft Prize, glowing reviews, near-unanimous praise in the national press) because it told the media-political elite what most of it wanted to hear, that the Second Amendment was an anachronism being defended by dupes and frauds.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the punchline: it was Bellesiles himself who was the fraud. His conclusions were unsupported; his ‘evidence’ was a tissue of deliberate misconstruction and outright fakery. His Bancroft prize was eventually withdrawn for “scholarly misconduct”
Raymond is only warming up, and continues with a Hall Of Shame from the academic community:
Noel Perrin’s 1979 book Giving Up The Gun. Perrin argued that Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 1543 ban on firearms was successful and a key factor in the Tokugawa pacification of Japan. Implicitly he proposed this as a model for emulation. But, as an eminent historian of Japan once explained to me, it is known for certain that the great daimyos continued to equip the retainers with firearms after the ban. The truth is that the shogunate merely pretended to abolish firearms and the daimyos pretended to obey, a very Japanese face-saving maneuver. To support his conclusion, Perrin must either have ignored or outright suppressed the most obvious kind of primary documentary evidence — the actual weapons inventories from the Tokugawa period.

The 1986 Kellerman & Reay study Protection or peril? An analysis of firearm-related deaths in the home is the source of the widespread myth that home-defense weapons are 43 times more likely to kill or injure family members than a criminal. Dave Kopel’s refutation, devastating as it is, fails to mention that Kellerman has refused to disclose his entire primary data sets to peers so his statistical analysis could be checked. Kellerman was later a vocal defender of the Arming America fraud; perhaps his data sets are swimming with Bellesiles’ nonexistent probate records?

Kellerman and Reay are nothing if not consistent. Two years later, their 1988 Handgun Regulations, Crime, Assaults, and Homicide: A Tale of Two Cities blatantly manipulated and misrepresented data from Seattle and Vancouver in an attempt to argue for the effectiveness of Vancouver’s firearms restrictions. Among other failings, it omitted to control for socioeconomic and ethnic differences between the cities, and it ignored the actual 25% increase in Vancouver murder rates after the law.

Colin Loftin’s 1991 paper Effects of restrictive licensing of handguns on homicide and suicide in the District of Columbia failed to control for population changes between 1976 and 1987 and fraudulently ignored a doubling of D.C’s murder rate after 1978 that earned it the sobriquet “Murder Capital of the World” even as gun-ban advocates were citing the Loftin study as evidence of the success of their policy. Refutation here.
He continues with more examples and you should RTWT.  And so back to Cook and Ludwig.  Is it accidental that they chose to ignore direct measurement measurement of household gun prevalence and rather chose to rely on a proxy whose validity is of conjectural accuracy?  Presumably, the "scientists" who peer-reviewed their paper did not challenge them on this (we can't know because these comments are rarely published, but this issue is not addressed in the paper).  Presumably the editor of the journal had no objections to the suppression of actual data and its replacement by an inferior proxy data set.

This alone is enough to condemn the paper to the trash can as scientifically worthless.  It doesn't matter that the paper is larded with references to statistical significance and fancy regression mathematics.

If your data is junk, the output of your regression is junk, p > 0.95.

But back to Raymond's analysis, which suggests motive:
I described the errors as “systematic” before the jump because there is a pattern of distortions in the anti-gun literature that have been repeated over decades even though they violate known good practice in the social and medical sciences. These include but are not limited to:
  • Failure to control for socioeconomic differences between star and control groups, even when the differences are known to correlate with large differences in per-capita rates of criminal deviance

  • Choice of study periods that ignore well-documented trends that run contrary to the study’s conclusions immediately before or after the period.

  • Selective use of suicide statistics, counting them only in star but not control groups and/or ignoring massive evidence that would-be suicides rapidly substitute other methods when firearms are not available.

  • Tendentious misapplication of Uniform Crime Report data, for example by ignoring the fact that UCR reports of homicides are entered before trial and therefore fail to account for an unknown but significant percentage of findinga of misadventure and lawful self-defense.
And I described this pattern as “fraud” before the jump because the magnitude of these errors would be too great and their direction too consistent for honest error, even if we did not in several prominent cases have direct evidence that the fraud must have been intended.
The alert reader will note that at least two of his highlighted bullet points are present in Cook & Ludwig.  Raymond's prediction applies, at least close enough to suggest predictive value.  And so there are two conclusions that we can draw from our analysis of academic scholarship on the topic of gun violence:

1. The Academy is, as has been claimed, entirely biased in favor of liberal policy positions (including gun control), and researchers will knowingly ignore evidence that tends to debunk gun control initiatives, or

2. The Academy is incompetent to produce scientifically valid studies on the subject, as demonstrated by the long and sordid record described here and in Raymond's post.

The conclusion is inescapable, and it is entirely irrelevant as to which cause we take as most likely: all academic papers discussing firearms should be dismissed out of hand as almost certain to be junk.

It is not required to ascribe motives (knowing fraud) for this rule of thumb to be reliable.  As with climate science we see a continual advancement of weak evidence supporting Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming that does not stand up to close scrutiny, and a rejection of strong evidence falsifying CAGW.  Did Cook & Ludwig do this knowingly?  Who knows?  But they did a splendid job of hiding the decline in gun violence during their study period.

The latest in a long line of junk is still junk.

* The common translation is "stupid is as stupid does".  I don't think that this is taught at the Academy anymore.  This actually is a recursive bit of snark in this bootnote, if you really think about it.

Some days I feel like this, too

Sunday, December 30, 2012

B.B. King does Christmas

Like only he can do it.

I went to H Mart today.  I can't believe that I've never been there before.  If you don't have one near you, H Mart is an oriental grocery super store, although the Latin American section was pretty big in this one.  They have the critter parts (pig trotters, etc) that aren't in your local super market, and a huge selection of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean pickles, sauces, noodles, and the like.  It's the real deal.  How real?  This real:

I didn't get any, but they had rabbit and goat.  Going to have braised Thumper here in Camp Borepatch soon.  Plus I have freshly made Kimchi (yum!) and some sliced oshinko (double yum!).  And fresh udon for #2 Son.

Plus they have a furniture and, err, hardware section:

You can score a sweet, sweet computerized Throne for your Smallest Room.  Don't know if it's got a heated seat and water jets for your sanitary enjoyment or not.

Ooh, yes please

Piers Morgan says he will deport himself if we don't ban guns:
In conclusion, I can spare those Americans who want me deported a lot of effort by saying this: If you don’t change your gun laws to at least try to stop this relentless tidal wave of murderous carnage, then you don’t have to worry about deporting me.

Although I love the country as a second home and one that has treated me incredibly well, I would, as a concerned parent first – and latterly, of a one-year-old daughter who may attend an American elementary school like Sandy Hook in three years’ time – seriously consider deporting myself.
Never let it be said that Mr. Morgan is not a true gentleman.  And after all, a gentleman's word is his bond, right?


The whole situation concerning Mr. Morgan's proposed self-deportation back to England brings to mind Samuel Butler's comment on Thomas Carlyle: It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another and so make only two people miserable instead of four.

Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde (Liebestod)

New Year's is time for reflection; reflection on the past, yes, but more importantly reflection on the future.  Reflection that will hopefully lead us to a psychological breakthrough to the next level, leading to success at our job, success in our family life, simple happiness.  This reflection is maddeningly hard to see through to a successful resolution.

Yes, there's classical music for that.  But there's also penetrating psychological analysis about why it's so hard.  This is from one of the masters of the art.

Joseph Campbell had a pretty big impact on my own psychological development.  He introduced me to Aquinas.  He introduced me to the Vedas and the Great Buddhism.  He introduced me to the Gospel of Thomas:
The Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.

He challenged me to peer into that part of myself that was too comfortable where it was, and didn't strive to be where it might.  I missed the part where he would have introduced me to Wagner's immortal Liebestod - what may be his greatest musical work.  Dad introduced me to it, on one of the last trips I made to see him before the cancer began to burn his candle from the inside.  To this day I can't listen to this without thinking of him and Mom, playing their parts to each other as Tristan and Isolde.

But that's looking back.  Campbell reminds us that this is part of the psychological challenge we all face.  You think you're dead and *bing* you've broken past it.

If you're lucky.

I posted this song once before, describing it in musicology terms.  The delayed release of the theme builds a dramatic tension that is only completed at the final pianissimo chord.  Rather than ending with bombast, Wagner ends with a magnificent quiet using this technique.  But that describes it in terms of musical analysis.  Psychological analysis tells us that each year is an uncompleted theme.  We wait, expectantly, for the completion.  That completion is found - if we dare - by peering into that part of our soul that is too comfortable in where we are, and uncomfortable striving for where we might be.  Wagner suggests that the striving can lead to an exquisite - even if pianissimo - breakthrough.

Wagner himself didn't use the term liebestod to refer to this particular music.  Rather, he used the term Isolde's Verklärung - her "coming to clarity".  This description is one of the best that I've read:
The climax of the Liebestod is magnificent; there is a feeling of tremendous achievement, of soaring and freedom.  It seems all obstacles are overcome—only there is this amazing thing: the highest note, a C#, is outside the chord, and there is a terrific feeling of dissatisfaction, as it wants to pull back down to the B, the home key.  Then the orchestra and Isolde gradually descend and the music comes to an E minor chord—a moment of darkness.  Wagner seems to be saying, “In your achievement, don’t forget the struggle.”  Finally, after Isolde’s last notes—an octave leap from F# to high F#—a single oboe bravely plays a high D#, the sweet major third of the key, the full orchestra joins it, and the music resolves on the pure B major chord it has been aiming for from the beginning.  It is because the struggle is honored that the achievement is both believable and so satisfying.
Campbell was certainly wrong about a great many things.  But his challenge to us on the eve of this new year is not his answers, nor even his questions.  His challenge is our answers.  May your new year be filled with revelation and hard won wisdom.  If not, perhaps you can join me in the hope that our struggle will be honored in itself and in the end, if we're lucky, an enlightenment.
And He said, "The Kingdom is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
- The Gospel of Thomas (8)
So let it be written, so let it be done.  Amen.

Awesome book review

Foseti reviews Kingsley Amis' "Everyday Drinking".

Amis, of course, was the hard-drinking father of Martin Amis, the hard-drinking lifelong friend of the hard-drinking Christopher Hitchens.  The combination of alcohol in excess with intellectual* wit in excess has, I must confess, rather a gravitational pull on me.

And Foseti is quite right about the virtues of a simple syrup.  About the only place that won't work better than sugar is in a mint julep where the sugar crystals are required to shred the mint leaves during muddling.

Here's a flavor of the book:
First, a simply ploy with gin . . . Asked what you’d like to drink, say simply, “Gin, please.” Wave away any tonic, lemon, even ice, and accept only a little water – bottled naturally. Someone’s sure to ask you if that’s all you really want, etc. Answer, “Yes, I must say I like to be able to taste the botanicals, which just means I like the taste of gin, I suppose. Of course, a lot of people only like the effect.” Any gin-and-tonic drinkers in earshot will long to hit you with a meat axe, which after all is the whole object.
Awesome, simply awesome.  And timely for New Year's Eve, I might point out.  Foseti, a grateful Intarwebz thanks you.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Debating fundamental differences with gun banners

Robb likes to say that we have facts and figures, and they have penis jokes.  The futility of arguing details with people who disagree with you on fundamental principles is futile.  Eric Raymond has an old post that's worth your while - he describes superstructure (individual logical arguments) and substructure (basic first principles) and suggests aiming for the substructure:
I listened to the others on the channel offer polite, reasoned, factually correct counterarguments to this guy, and get nowhere. And suddenly…suddenly, I understood why. It was because the beliefs the ignoramus was spouting were only surface structure; refuting them one-by-one could do no good without directly confronting the substructure, the emotional underpinnings that made ignoramus unable to consider or evaluate counter-evidence.

The need, here, was to undermine that substructure. And I saw the way to do it. This is what I said:

“You speak, but I hear only the bleating of a sheep. Your fear gives power to your enemies.”

Ignoramus typed another sentence of historical ignorance. My reply was “Baa! Baa! Baaaaa!”

And another. My reply was more sheep noises, more deliberate mockery. And you know what? A few rounds of this actually worked. Ignoramus protested that he wasn’t a sheep. At which point I asked him “Then why are you disarmed?”


The conversation afterwards was completely different, and ended up with ignoramus speculating about meeting with one of our regulars in his area to do things with firearms.
I think that this is particularly useful.  I've said before that gun banners argue from emotion and we argue from logic.  That's true, but that's not the way to get our message across.  Even worse, I'd go so far as to say that few of us have convinced ourselves to own firearms by logic; rather, it's a different sort of emotion (we refuse to be sheep).

OK, then.  Say it to the gun banners.  It's direct, it's honest, and it's transmitting on a frequency they're tuned into.  They may not agree, but the debate will be over first principles, not irrelevant minutia.  RTWT.

"Big Data" isn't the solution to gun violence

"Big Data" is nothing.  Everyone in tech knows that the Cloud is the solution to gun violence.  The Cloud is the solution to everything.  Well, except security.

But you knew that I was going to say that.

Anne Kirkpatrick - Travellin' Still - Always Will

My man Uncle Jay is a travelin' man, more than I have the stomach for.  He's stuck Down Under, and so is touring that fair land on motorcycle.  Check it out as he bumps up against the "they're so like us/they're so different" thing that makes travel a pleasure.

That like/different idea applies to music as well.  Australia is home to what may be the biggest Country Music center outside of America - certainly the biggest out of North America.  The crucible of the Outback was a refining furnace for the original Scots-Irish music similarly to how the Appalachias melded our version of those same old songs into the Ur-Country music.  The 1950s and 1960s saw the internationalization of popular music, with Slim Dusty (Oz's Johnny Cash) bringing American influences to the music scene Down Under.

Slim's daughter Anne Kirkpatrick has an almost Emmylou Harris purity of the style, although hers was born of the Outback "Bush Ballad", not from Coal country.  But the differences highlight the similarities.  It's very like what we're used to on these shores, but different.  And that's a good thing.  G'donya, mate.  This Sheila can sing, fair dinkum.

So good on ya, Jay.  Careful with the grog.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wolfgang wants you to know

That he does not like Christmas, even when he gets an 18" rawhide chew in his stocking.  The problem is that people are gone on holiday, and so there are no puppies for him to play with at the dog park.

Three times this week, we've been the only ones there.  It's enough to make a pup raise a bark of protest.

University Prof: Execute Global Warming "Deniers"

Glad that Reasoned Discourse™ is alive and well in the Academy:
If a jury of suitably qualified scientists estimated that a given GW denier had already, with high probability (say 95%), caused the deaths of over one million future people, then s/he would be sentenced to death. The sentence would then be commuted to life imprisonment if the accused admitted their mistake, demonstrated genuine regret, AND participated significantly and positively over a long period in programs to reduce the effects of GW (from jail) – using much the same means that were previously used to spread the message of denial. At the end of that process, some GW deniers would never admit their mistake and as a result they would be executed. Perhaps that would be the only way to stop the rest of them. The death penalty would have been justified in terms of the enormous numbers of saved future lives.
Professor Parncutt is no doubt an expert on climate science, not to mention ethics.  No doubt he painstakingly collected this expertise while becoming Professor of Systematic Musicology.  His proposal certainly does seem systematic, after all.

And the tell in his missive is this:
The sentence would then be commuted to life imprisonment if the accused admitted their mistake, demonstrated genuine regret, AND participated significantly and positively over a long period in programs to reduce the effects of GW (from jail)
Such a totalitarian world view has been seen before.  A grateful world thanks Professor Parncutt for his candor.

Extra credit assignment for Advanced Placement readers: compare and contrast the good Professor's argument about future deaths to Planned Parenthood (abortion), Greenpeace (the DDT scare that condemns millions of Third World babies to death from malaria), and to Britain's National Health Service and their "Liverpool Pathway" euthanasia program.   Make sure to discuss why this question is not allowed to be discussed at the "University", and whether the Academy even pretends to include the Universe of knowledge in its scope these days.

A public service announcement

#2 Son has his learner's permit.  Georgia drivers in particular might want to be on their guard.

Giggle *snort*

If you like military humor, The Duffel Blog is your HQ.  Some of the headlines there now:

Mortar section keeps getting interrupted by 'Goddamn Fire Missions'.

Navy Replaces all sailors with overpaid contractors to cut costs.

US Army awarded Medal Of Honor after jumping on Fiscal Grenade.

Funny, funny stuff.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We have to close the "Talk Show Loophole"

More here.
UPDATE 27 December 2012 19:02: A moment on the Meme Generator produced this:

Feel free to spread to the far corners of Teh Intarwebz.  Hat tip to gator in the comments for coming up with the suggestion.

Where's Officer Michael when you need him?

Mrs. Mallard was visiting Toronto and took the ducklings for a walk.  Across the Trans-Canada Highway.

Please, everybody - don't tell Weer'd.

It's not all doom and gloom

Sometimes we're surrounded by good people.  I get down on cops sometimes when there's cases of abuse, but this Boston cop is perfectly described by the word "hero".

And here's a store owner with a lot more patience than I.

Optimism.  It's hard to keep it, but Pandora did well to shut the box when she did.

From now on ...

Every time I hear someone utter the words "Gun Show Loophole" I'll reply that first we should close the "David Gregory Loophole".  This is a gift that will keep on giving.  After all, it seems that NBC knew that displaying the magazine (well, possessing it, which they had to do to display it) was illegal before they taped the show.  It's not like they were somehow caught by an obscure law - they knew about it and didn't care.

And Gregory gets to skate, because Liberals are so tribal that laws seemingly only apply to those they perceive as their enemies.  That's why more gun laws should be opposed.

Well played, UK

Many of you have heard about the petition to deport Piers Morgan because he's just generally a douchebag.  Folks in the UK caught wind of this, and were (naturally) horrified.  They started a counter petition to make the US keep him:
We got rid of him once and why should we have to suffer again. The Americans wanted him so they should put up with him. We washed our hands of him a long time ago.
Well played.  Full marks.

What does it look like when the TSA runs an entire country?

It looks like Britain:

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.
They don't want to ban your chef's knives, just the high caliber clip [sic] assault Wusthofs.

This is what happens after a century of class ideology that says that the common man is little more than a brute, fit for nothing but being controlled by his betters.  Unfortunately, his betters have always acted like this:

It doesn't look like things are different lately.  It's management a la TSA: someone gets shot, ban gun possession by law abiding citizens.  Someone gets stabbed, ban knife possession by law abiding citizens.  It's a stupid game, but they sure seem to like to play.

Of course, handgun crime has skyrocketed since handguns were banned.  We can expect knife crime to be unchanged (at best) after chef's knives are all confiscated. And British cuisine - showing signs lately of being actually worth eating - will fall back to mushy peas and beans on toast.  The French will be mocking them in 3 .. 2 .. 1 ..

Too bad about Britain.  It used to be great.

Via A Girl And Her Gun, who has a story of her own on the subject.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas harmony

A most unusual version of a familiar song.

Jagdstaffel Elf flies again

Jagdstaffel 11 was the Red Baron's squadron.  It seems some folks have built reproductions of the Fokker Dr. 1 Triplane and they've tricked them out in the pain schemes of each of the Jagdstaffel pilots.  Cool.

It's amazing just how short a field those old birds need to get airborne - less than 100 yards, and maybe no more than 50.  It's also amazing just how slow the fly bys are - I'd think no faster than 80 MPH.  The top speed was only 115 MPH, and you wouldn't stall until your speed dropped to 45 (!) MPH - maybe the lowest stall speed of any fighter, ever.

Gun control isn't Liberal vs. Conservative anymore

And it's not going to happen.  At least, not any meaningful way.

The elites will tell you that it is, but that's a very bad misreading.  A "Red State" vs. "Blue State" analysis will also send you very far into the weeds.  The whole gun control conversation is about class.

Gun control is loved by the elites - highly educated, largely (but not entirely) coastal, those who look to the European experiment with soft socialism as a model.  Joe Biden is actually the perfect person to lead Obama's Blue Ribbon gun control task force, because this description fits him precisely.

Here's the problem for the elite: most of the country doesn't identify as being a member of this class.  And for better or worse, the country will have to vote for or against whatever proposal Slow Joe's panel comes out with.  Given that the panel will be heavily weighted towards Progressive Class membership and given that the country will be weighted just about the opposite, any proposal will start in a deep hole of legislative fail.

If you look at the Congressional districts, there are some traits that will tend to make the Congressmen members of the Progressive Class:
  • Urban - the more urban the population the more progressive the district will be.
  • Seat of government - all governments (even Red State ones) attract a more Progressive crowd.
  • Presence of large Universities - New York (Columbia), Boston (Harvard), Research Triangle all enhance the progressive leaning of the district.  The RTP Universities go a long way to explaining why North Carolina is the Massachusetts of Dixie, by the way.
Austin is a good example - all three of these points are strongly present, explaining how that fair city is a 100% paid up member of Moonbats For America.

The rest of the country is effectively not a member of this Progressive elite class.  While Congressional districts that don't have these three characteristics will have citizens who do self-identify as Progressive Elite class members, the majority (and likely a large majority) will not.

And so back to gun control.  The elite loves the idea.  The rest of the country doesn't.  So what do the numbers look like for Biden's panel?

There are 435 Congressional districts.  I estimate that 158 meet enough of the three criteria here to self identify as being members of the Progressive Elite, meaning that their Congressmen could feel safe enough to vote for the Blue Ribbon Panel's recommendation.  That's not nearly enough - there are 277 districts that do not meet the criteria.  Congressmen from these districts would rightly fear defeat in the 2014 elections if they voted for anything more substantial than a fig leaf to the gun banners.

It's worse for the Senators, because a lot of the "purple" states are more red than blue.  While only a third of the Senators are up for election in 2014, they need to win votes state wide.  I estimate only 25% will think themselves safe voting for real gun control.  That's not enough to get a bill out of committee.

And note that this assumes that extreme measures like Andrew Cuomo's and Dianne Feinstein's total bans aren't proposed.  I'd think that the Banning team would lose half of their support - i.e. fewer than 100 Congressmen and a dozen or so Senators would vote for an extreme measure.

You can play the game, too.  Wikipedia lists the districts by State.

Bottom line: there will be a lot of huffing and puffing in the Media (paid up members of the Elite Class), but nothing will see the light of day in Congress.  I don't think that anything will get a committee vote - Congress loves to posture and pose, but votes count, and people track who votes for what.

As to the ATF, I think that Chris Byrne is right that it won't do anything significant.  If it does, Alan Gura and the SAF will tie it up in court until the next Administration.  And if by some turn of events the ATF does do something onerous that makes it difficult for normal people to have guns and if the courts uphold that then there will be a lot of Congressmen with (D) next to their name polishing up their resumes come December 2014.  The math makes that a certainty.

Net/net, I'm annoyed at myself for paying through the nose for ammo this Christmas, because the panic will pass and prices will return to sane levels.  Of course, I needed it for stocking stuffers*, so you want to play you got to pay.

* Ammunition makes a great stocking stuffer.

A teachable moment

There's quite a lot of buzz about NBC's David Gregory and how he broke Washington D.C.'s gun laws by using a 30 round AR Magazine as a prop on "Meet The Press".  More than a couple comments have been that it would be poetic justice were he to be convicted, since he excoriated the NRA's proposal for armed guards in schools while sending his children to a school with armed guards.

While I like a nice, steaming hot cup of schadenfreude as much as the next guy, I think there's something more.  The Press simply doesn't understand just how many gun control laws are on the books, or how those can ensnare the law abiding.  They don't understand how the laws do precisely nothing to stop criminals while keeping upstanding citizens under a pall of fear.

David Gregory would be an example of what the rest of us worry about.  If his actions broke the law, and if the law were a felony, it is important that Gregory be convicted and lose his right to vote (he likely doesn't care about his right to own a gun).  Seeing one of their own in this situation will be an opportunity for some of his peers to reflect on the stupidity and futility of most of what they consider "common sense" laws.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Song

This may be the best one ever, by the best singer ever.  Maybe.

What I'm getting for Christmas

Sometime in the next 2 or 3 hours, the odometer here will turn over 1,000,000 visits.  Arrogantly, when I first started the blog I thought I'd get a million hits in the first four years.  It's taken four and a half, and it's very ironic indeed that it's happening on Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who stops by, and especially to everyone who comments (other than the yucky spammers).  The 22,000+ comments mean a lot more to me than the stats.


This is who we are.  It happened on this very day.

Merry Christmas to all - Gaudete Christus est natus

This is what it sounded like in the English Monasteries, before King Henry VIII decided that he wanted their money and land*.

* I explained what happened to the then 4 year old #1 Son who replied, "But why did the King get so mad at the monkeys?"

Monday, December 24, 2012

To our troops overseas ...

Stay safe, and come home to a grateful Republic soon.

Christmas memories

Tis in my memory lock'd,
And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
- William Shakespeare
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, Dad would always make sure that Santa knew to bring a six pack of Beck's beer for my stocking each Christmas.  It became a tradition in the Borepatch household.  He enjoyed sharing Santa's gift with me.

It wasn't the beer, it was having a beer with me.  He probably enjoyed that more than I did, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Today I was out at Whole Foods (or as a friend likes to call it, "Whole Paycheck") getting the fixins for tomorrow's Christmas Feast and I found myself in front of the beer cooler.  My eyes happened to come to rest on the Beck's.

And suddenly I couldn't move.  Choked up, I picked up a six pack, remembering those father-son times so many years ago.  I'll make sure to tell Santa to put some in #1 Son's stocking tonight.  Maybe I'll have another of those Christmas father-son beers.

Merry Christmas, Dad.  Thanks for all those memories.

A Christmas parable

The Lion and the Lamb lie down together.

Merry Christmas.

Blogger creaks, and cracks

I'm drowning in spam comments, which outnumber real comments by around ten to one.  The problem is that some of you comment anonymously, and I don't want to cut that off.  But that gives a free pass to the spammers, and while the comments are (mostly) getting caught in Blogger's spam filter, it's increasingly a pain to go through and make sure that none of you got swept up by the filter (which happens rather more than I'd like).

What I'd like is to require a CAPTCHA for anonymous comments only.  Blogger doesn't have that option, and likely won't:
I assume that Blogger, like Google Reader itself, is slowly going the way of Google Reader Shares. Blogger is legacy GoogleMinus, not a good fit for the post-2011 Google. A small but dedicated team doesn't have the resources to keep it healthy.
Gordon has some interesting thoughts at his post (and links to some of his older posts).  I'd hate to migrate to Wordpress, and Kevin's migration to Disqus was a nightmare of lost comments.  I'd also hate to ban anonymous comments.

Bah, humbug.

I hope that you're done with holiday shopping

If not maybe you can pick up one of these Christmas Tree ornaments.

Maybe later.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have a Swingin' (Fireballs) Christmas!

Swingin' Fireballs are said to be „Deutschlands beste Swing-Jazzer“ jazz band.  Don't know about the others, but this sure is swinging.

Got to love a Christmas song with a horn section.  I'm digging these guys.

Last minute gifts for her

Hey guys, chicks dig nice house decorating, right? Here's something you can nestle under the Christmas tree to show her that she's your special girl.

She'll dig it that you're getting more in touch with your feminine side. Chicks dig that.

Quick! Get the company on Twitter!

On second thought, maybe not.  It is a rather silly place ...

Yeah, I could put up something like this

White Trash Repairs has a bunch more.

George Frederick Handel - Hallelujah Chorus in D Major (from The Messiah)

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
- Revelation 11:15
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
- Revelation 19:6

The biggest mistake that Classical Music (as commonly understood) can make is to divorce itself from its audience.  This divorce explains almost all of why modern Classical Music is such a wasteland of ugliness.  In earlier days, Classical composers were Rock Stars, and the audience treated them as such.  That flame, while flickering, is still burning and even showing signs of roaring back.  Handel's "Messiah" shows that.

Image via Wikipedia
It's a myth that everyone stands for the Hallelujah Chorus because the King was so overwhelmed when he heard it that he lept to his feet.  The rest of the audience of course would have scrambled to theirs as well - nobody sat while the King stood, Back In The Day.  It seems that the story isn't true but I must say that the hair on the back of my neck stood up when the audience rose en masse the first time I performed this.  They also sang along to us, claiming this small portion of Handel's master work as theirs.

That continues to this day with the wonderful new tradition of Classical Music "Flash Mobs".  Essentially, this is music swooping down on people who, unsuspecting, are simply living out an ordinary day of their lives.  The People always rise to this occasion, joining with delight the sudden and seemingly random outbreak of culture.  Here's one example, from a shopping mall in Philadelphia, accompanied by the world's largest pipe organ:

Sure, the camera work is bad (it's mostly caught from within the audience), and the sound quality is amateurish (same problem).  Watch the people - caught without practice, or even a script, they join in the singing.  They take a stuffy Symphony Hall performance and make it their own.  They understand - everyone involved understands - that this is our culture.  The result is a performance done for the joy of the doing by both professionals and audience.  I cannot put into words how beautiful I see these social acts of culture.

And although I have not sung this for twenty years, to this day I could do a creditable job on the baritone part from memory - and could do it justice if I found the script lost somewhere in the library here in Camp Borepatch.

This is Classical Music, as it was understood back in the days when composers were Rock Stars.  And quite frankly, some composers - notably Handel - are still rock stars.  Just watch the people there when the organ kicks off and the chorus unloads the first line.  The audience entirely gets what's going on and joins in, with delight.

This is a meditation on the upcoming holiday.  The Lord Messiah was not sent for a small elite, he was sent for everyone, even shopping mall patrons.  The music of this coming day is one that everyone is invited to join in.  For those that want a more Symphony Hall version, delivered by professionals to a passive audience, here's a quite good one.  You can see the audience standing as the music begins, but while White Tie is very elegant indeed, it lacks the pure participatory joy of the flash mob (but makes up for it with a pretentious introduction by the snotty conductor.  Watch it anyway - it's backed up by artillery from a full trumpet battery). 

But even this performance - of a symphony on stage singing to a passive audience - even this gets no standard ovation.  The audience roars their approval, because they understand that this triumphant music is ours.  After all, it was written by perhaps the first Rock Star.

And all I can say is "Amen" - which fortunately the first Rock Star thoughtfully included in his Oratorio.  It begins with what can only be described as the theological closing parentheses to the opening that you have just heard.  Then it ends with what may be the finest classical music ever written.  The part that starts around 6:30 is what I think is the most spiritually moving music ever written.

On this Sunday before Christmas I hope you find this as inspiring as I do.  We are surrounded by marvels, marvels that are not to be viewed from a distance but rather to be grasped to our souls. Marvels written by Rock Stars.  Marvels to sing along with.  Go ahead - the video even displays the score for you.  The Lord doesn't care if you're on key or not.  After all, this coming Holy Day is not for an elite, it's for us.  Theologically speaking, I mean.  It's glorious.  Join in the Glory.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

What "Social Networking" means to you

Yes, it's exactly like that.  Facebook does not have your privacy as their top priority.  Or any priority.

Celtic Woman - O Holy Night

Great song, pretty good performance.

OK, I'm a sucker

I picked up a box of the Hornady Zombie ammo for a stocking stuffer. Dang, that's a rip off.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

UPDATE 22 December 2012 17:52: Bob in the comments asked if there was much ammo there - the case was half empty, and the only .380 was either Winchester or the Zombie stuff.  72 cents a round for the Winchester and 96 cents a round (!) for the Hornady Zombie.  Yikes.

But it was to have stocking stuffers.  Because ammo makes a great stocking stuffer.

Wayne LaPierre has to go

I've been thinking about the NRA press conference. There are some good proposals in their plan, and Asa Hutchinson's part of the presser was what the whole conference should have been: restrained, on-topic, reasonable, focused on actions and benefits.  The problem for Asa is that he came on the mic after LaPierre's Lovecraftian performance.

There's a reason that this happened: the Iron Law of Bureaucracy tells us that organizations end up getting captured by Organization Men, and those tend to form closed intellectual bubbles.  The NRA organization under the direction of Wayne LaPierre does not have anyone who was able or willing to challenge him on the parts of his speech that can only be described as creepy:
  • A national database of the mentally ill?  Every heard of the Soviet mental health system, Wayne?  Has anyone on your staff?
  • Most schools don't need cops.  Some already have them because of gang violence.  Saying that every school in the country needs armed, uniformed officers would not only be insanely expensive for no benefit, it has quite unpleasant connotations.  You were so over the top that Asa Hutchinson explicitly contradicted you, saying that all schools did not need police.
  • The finger pointing at video games is nothing short of embarrassing.  Was there really nobody there at NRA who dared to say to you Orlly?

That's the problem right there. The NRA Board of Directors need to replace LaPierre, he's damaged the organization structure.  They probably can't do it for 6 or 12 months because that would look terrible and would be (deliberately) misrepresented by the Media.  But he has to go, and the NRA needs a new head that will rebuild the organization to one where there can be real internal critiques of major policy positions before the klieg lights and microphones power up.

Rascal Flatts with SheDaisy - Twist Of The Magi

(Image source)
I must admit that I'm not a Rascal Flatts fan.  Sure, they've sold a bazillion albums with their pseudo (that means fake) Country-Pop sound.  Not a fan.  But this is the season for us to ponder the birth of a Redeemer, and so in that spirit we see that even one gravely sinned against can still forgive.

At a price.

SheDaisy is an incredibly talented trio of sisters who write and perform their own Country songs.  Here at Camp Borepatch, we're huge fans although it must be admitted that they too shade to the commercial Country Pop side of the aisle.  But this song perfectly captures the spirit of Redeemer's Grace that is so needed in this jaded, commercialized season.  It's one of my favorite Christmas songs, even with Rascal Flatts.  Yeah, it's that good.

Twist Of The Magi (Songwriters: Kristyn Osborn, Marcus Hummon)
Shedaisy: I sold your Rolex
To buy that gold Versace dress
Rascal Flatts: I set free your whiny French poodle
So you could get your beauty rest

And I did it all for you
I did it all (I did it all) for you
This Christmas (This Christmas)
All your dreams (All your dreams)
Will come true

Rascal Flatts: I put your mother on a greyhound (you did what?)
You always hoped she'd have the chance to see the world-now she can
Shedaisy: I torched your Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues (No, no, no,no)
So I could be your only girl-and now I am

And I did it all for you
I did it all (I did it all) for you
This Christmas (This Christmas)
All your dreams (All your dreams)
Will come true

Shedaisy: How can I forget
All you've done for me
I'll get you yet
Rascal Flatts: This is the season to give
But I can never forgive the damage that you've done
(Damage that you've done)
This must be love

Shedaisy: I sank your bass boat (Not my bass boat, no, no, no)
So you'd have more time to spend with me
Rascal Flatts: I hocked your grandma's diamond earrings (AHHHHH!)
For the down payment on my SUV
Shedaisy: Fully loaded, heated seats, in hunter green-is this for me?

And I did it all for you
I did it all (I did it all) for you
This Christmas (This Christmas)
All your dreams (All your dreams)
Will come true
This Holiday season, may the spirit of Our Redeemer shine down on you and yours.  May that spirit inform your response even to all that they do for you.  Especially to all that they do for you.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Not many people have ever done Feliz Navidad better than Jose Feliciano.  This gives him a run for his money.

Why police in schools is a bad idea

Short answer: it won't do anything useful, it will be expensive, and it will further the Police State.

Long answer: It's Security Theater.  Expensive, intrusive Security Theater.

The world is full of soft targets.  Someone motivated to shoot up a soft target has lots of choices.  There's nothing that we can do to change that.

But it gets worse.  If the proper reaction to the Connecticut school shooting is to put armed police in every school, then the obvious proper reaction when an evil nut job shoots up (say) a hospital is armed police in every hospital.  Then when nut jobs turn their sights on libraries, we put police there.  Then grocery stores, then Starbuck's, then gas stations.

We've seen this game before, played out by the TSA: terrorists take guns onto planes and so we have metal detectors.  Then they put bombs in suitcases and so all our luggage gets X-Ray'ed.  Then they take bombs in their shoes and we have to take our shoes off in security.  Then they use liquids and mothers can't take bottles of breast milk.

It's a stupid game and we should stop playing.  There literally is no end, either to the TSA's idiocy or to Wayne LaPierre's.  Actually I just lied - there is an end, and it's called a Police State.  No thanks.

The mistake that the War On Terror™ warriors make is the same as the mistake the gun banners make, which is the same mistake the NRA just made.  Sprinkling Magic Government Security Dust™ on something doesn't make anything more, you know, secure.

It's been said over and over that there are only two things that have made air travel safe in the 9/11 age: reinforced cockpit doors and passengers who know that they have to fight for their lives.  It's harsh to say a week after the kids were gunned down, but the same thing applies to mass shootings.  The school had locked doors, what was lacking was the ability to fight for their lives.  That applies to schools, hospitals, libraries, stores, and to all the other infinitude of soft targets.

Neither the gun banners nor the NRA are willing to talk about this.  And so they talk about pretty lies that are security kabuki,

It's a stupid game and we should stop playing, because lives literally are on the line.

Thoughts on the NRA presser

First thought is that it's always fun to watch the media get called on the carpet.  Kudos to the NRA for grabbing the beast by the horns and letting them know that the contempt is mutual.  And well done for challenging them that their reporting is dishonest.  I don't think that they used the word but everyone knew what they meant.  This will boost the NRA with their target audience, and it's hard to see how the press could get worse after this.

I'm luke warm to putting cops in every school.  Quite frankly, it smacks of Police Statism, and something in the back of my head is whispering that if the cops are going to be there anyway, and since there's nothing going on (school shootings are quite rare), perhaps Officer Friendly could help out with, say drug searches.  This will not play out well - certainly not an improvement over allowing teachers and administrators to carry.

The part about cracking down on violent films and video games is idiotic.  Quite frankly, it's Junk Science.  AFAIK there are no studies that show a causal effect between games and films on the one hand, and school shootings on the other.  We sneer at the gun banners and their magical thinking.  This is magical thinking from the NRA.  I actually think that LaPierre knows this, but wanted a lightening rod to deflect criticism.  If that's the case, then this is breathlessly cynical.

So overall I score this as a wash.  Too bad.

In which I get my tinfoil hat on

Long time readers know that it's not often that I don my Wookie Suit and hit the low crawl down the slit trench.  But this makes my skin crawl, because it's horrifyingly plausible. No, it's not about guns.  It's about electric cars.  With the bankruptcies going through the automotive and "Green" power industries, you know what's some of the most valuable assets for liquidation?

Patents.  Thar's Intellectual Property in them thar hills.

And guess who's buying up all the patents for anything related to electric car power plants?  The oil companies.

I see you rolling your eyes, and just stop it.  If you really think it through it makes sense:

If you buy an electric car, what happens?  You end up tooling down the road in an electric car.

If you tool down the road in a fully electric ride what happens?  You look like a dork.

This is just your wiser big brother Exxon-Mobil watching out for you.  You'll thank him some day.

Huh. Still here.

Stupid Mayans*.

Now I guess I have to fill out my HR self-evaluation for my annual review. Oh, and it's winter now** too.  Yay.

* Yeah, yeah, "Maya" not "Mayans".  Keep that up and I'm going to start talking about "high capacity ammunition clips".  Still trying to figure out just wtf the "shoulder thing that goes up" is, though.

** Congratulations to  my readers from the Antipodes, where it's now summer.  Me, I blame Global Warming for all the hot weather you've been having lately.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

aptget install steam

This is cool, and I am *so* trying it out:
The Steam for Linux beta program is now open to the public! In order to participate in the beta, you must download the latest Steam Linux client (found here) or upgrade your existing Steam for Linux client to the latest version.
It's a Debian package, and so it's super simple.  May need to upgrade my video, though.  My display may not be up for something this revolutionary.

If you're not familiar with Steam or Debian packages, you just might have a life.

Guns and mental illness

Figures that one of the best analyses would come from someone in the mental health care field.  Recommended.  I like to think that I'm decently grounded in the subject, and I picked up a lot from this.

A short review of The Hobbit

There's a big post that will have to wait, but here's the pocket guide to the movie:

If you liked the Lord Of The Rings movies, you'll like this.  If the Lord Of The Rings movies bugged the Tolkien purist in you, then this will bug you.

Oh yeah, if you bought the soundtrack to the Lord Of The Rings, you already have all the music from this one.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shark, jumped

NASA Johnson Style remix ...

This is clever, but when bureaucracies jump on a meme, it has the stench of death.  But I dare say that I'll soon get jaded by these Intarwebz Memes from the Internet Super Highway, so I'm glad that NASA got their licks in early.  1.5 MegaViews on Youtube.  You go, NASA!

Damn. Maybe I need to get an EBT card

Seems you can buy all sorts of stuff with them.  Damn.

Herding cats

Suppose you were a young tech geek (with no girlfriend to, err, distract you).  Suppose you like disassembling things and rebuilding them to do different things.  Suppose you notice that your cat likes to chase the red laser dot.  So what do you do?

Well, you might disassemble a Radio Controlled (RC) car and rebuild it to be a remotely controllable cat laser harness:
Cat Car uses a steering wheel controller with an attached Arduino and gyroscope / accelerometer, which communicate with a cat harness via an XBee. The movements control a servo on the back of the cat, which moves around a laser pointer, propelling the cat forward, thus allowing the user to remotely control the cat.
They have video at the link.  I guess that I only have two things to say about this:

1. This is why were were able to beat the godless Ruskie Commie bastards.

2. Lissa, you're welcome.

But this brings to mind what is perhaps the greatest Superbowl commercial ever:

Git along thar, little kitty.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This just in

I found myself cooking for two teenage boys. I made my "Bacon cornbread with BBQ fried corn with bacon" (check my "food" tag). This time I used grits instead of cornmeal, because that's what I had.

The boys snarled it down. Probably fed then for $5. And I caught one licking the plate (srsly). I'm so proud.

I like cornbread made with grits a *lot* more than with cornmeal. It has a LOT more texture than cornmeal.

Oh yeah, bacon is good too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Anonymous hacks the Westboro Baptist Church

It seems that the latest from the WBC crowd is that they were going to picket at the funerals for the kids shot in Connecticut.  Action, reaction:
Over the weekend, Anonymous was stirred to action against an old nemesis: the Westboro Baptist Church. The most recent feud came in the wake of WBC’s appalling reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting Friday in Newtown, CT. Anonymous’s offensive increased in intensity as WBC announced plans to picket a vigil for the elementary school’s victims. The hacker collective has since managed to hijack a high-profile Twitter account as well as take down WBC’s site, among other claimed victories.


Today, Anonymous scored several more successes:, the website of WBC, went down, possibly as a result of DDoS attacks by anonymous members. Other high-profile hackers have joined in, such as @cosmothegod, who hijacked the personal Twitter account of WBC spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper and retweeted several posts about his victory. Anonymous’s official Twitter account also claims that its members managed to change Phelps-Roper’s desktop background to gay porn, uncovered alleged social security numbers of key WBC members through the doxing process, and successfully filed for a death certificate for Phelps-Roper. The group has since tweeted out the alleged hotel where WBC members were staying and offered an IRC channel specifically to talk about its #OpWBC movement.
Not a fan of Anonymous, and not a fan of cyber vigilantism.  But it's interesting to see what sort of thing attracts their attention, other than anti-Government anarchism.

How to talk to Progressives about Gun Control

Aretae, as is his wont, brings The Smart.

What I like about this is that by starting the discussion from the perspective of a hypothetical thought experiment, it breaks the participants out of the emotional starting point that drives 99.9% of them.  At that point, there's the opportunity for the Buddha to lead them to Enlightenment.

The one thing that I'd add (because unlike Aretae, I can get pretty nasty) is when the Progressives drop back into emotion (because they don't like having to argue actual outcomes) it offers the opportunity to say "This is the problem with Gun Control.  It's not rational, it's hysterical.  No wonder it doesn't work."  That will usually close down the conversation (and leave everyone thinking that Borepatch needs to learn some manners), but has the virtue of letting everyone know precisely where I stand on the issue.

It also has the virtue of being precisely correct, which just annoys everyone even more.

Comment spam

It seems to be running not quite ten times as much as real comments.  It's leaking through Google's spam filters more often, too.  Is anyone else seeing this?

I'd hate to block anonymous comments because there are real comments left that way, but cleaning up more than 100 spam comments a day is getting to be annoying.

If you want to be informed about Global Warming, this is mandatory viewing

It's long been known that there's a very close correlation between Solar Magnetic Activity (Sunspots) and climate. This is the best introduction to the subject that I've seen.

This is science that the Scientific Community is not interested in pursuing, perhaps because there are no financial grants to be had by saying that an increased Government control of the economy won't Save The Earth™. The film actually shows this is gory detail, as Scientists® confront Svensmark telling him that his experiment is "worthless" without giving a scientific reason why.

It also explains how Sagittarius killed the Dinosaurs.  This is long time-scales science.  And this is brutal:

OK, then.  But if you actually want to, you know, understand the science (as opposed to The Science®), then this is must-see Borepatch TV.  And read the links.  The next time that some smarmy Prog Bastard sneers that "the Scienciness™ is settled", ask him about the Svenskmark Hypothesis and it's scientific strengths and weaknesses.  And then stand back and enjoy him squirming.

And if you really want to twist the knife, let him run down and then turn to someone else and say "He doesn't know."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mental Health break

It's easy to get overwhelmed with the bad news that is screamed so hysterically at us.  It's easy to become cynical, and to doubt the good faith and yes, the humanity of our fellow men.  I must confess that I succumb to this myself from time to time.  It makes me ranty, and while I've been accused of being "unreasonably civilized", I still feel like the Angels of my Better Nature don't often sing.  At least lately.

These Angels of our Better Nature do sing.  This is perhaps the best thing that you will see all day.

I love watching the audience.  The surprise of the "random acts of culture" peels away the cynical, hardened veneer of getting through the day to reveal a humanity that is entirely appealing.  These people get what's going on, in an entirely unironic way.  They are the ones that the Cultural Elite likes to sneer at.  That tells you everything that you need to know about the Cultural Elite.

There, I managed to turn an entirely inspiring, humanity-redeeming moment into a rant.  Good think that I'm "unreasonably civilized."

Gun Control proponents: still racist

Gun Control has racist roots, forged in the fire of the racist early Progressive era.  It was said, back in those Bad old Days that Negros weren't temperamentally suited to have guns.  So what's happened since, as Progressives have carefully expunged all vestiges of racism from polite society?
You could not imagine another gun law added on the top of the stack of restrictions on gun ownership in the city of Chicago. We find the most extreme progressive politicians in control of both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. You are not allowed to defend yourself against thugs, vandals, and gang bangers if you live in Cook County. What additional restriction could you impose on the cowering, fearful, barricaded citizenry?

If you want to discuss the impact on gun control in reducing tragedies of multiple murders with gun violence, then don't look to a school in Connecticut.
Odd, isn't it, that you get wall-to-wall shock-and-awe TV coverage of the blood of white children, but not a whisper of coverage about the much greater red river from black children.  Is it that Progressives don't care about black children, or that the example is not useful to their preferred narrative?  That black children are expendable in the Cause?

To ask the question is to know the answer.

Talking to Hipsters

Here's your translation guide.

Zoltan Kodály -- Variations on a Hungarian Folksong

Today is the birthday of Zoltan Kodály, the Hungarian composer and music educator.  His education technique (the Kodály Method) is popular around the world today and may be his greatest legacy.

That's too bad, because his music is particularly good.  Like other turn of the century composers like Edvard Grieg and Ralph Vaughan Williams, be made a study of the folk music of his native land.  Kodály was a pioneer of musical recordings, using phonographs to gather folk music from as early as 1905.

Today's selection represents him at the apex of his late-romantic era interpretive powers from a surprisingly late date (immediately before World War II).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Garlic in your soul

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Housecat

Spam poetry

Plants pretty
a almost whole
and seeks occasionally to
restore the highest harmony
occasionally to the almost whole
of the patient's

Toby Keith and Willie Nelson - Beer For My Horses

(Image source)
A lot of people have trouble with the concept of evil.  Whether the evil is conscious (like the Gulag)  or whether it's unconscious (like Old Yeller), evil exists.  It walks among us.

It walked into a school in Connecticut yesterday.

A lot of people have trouble wrapping their brains around this idea.  That makes them paralyzed in a way that prior generations weren't.  You didn't have school shootings like this in the 1960s.  There's a good reason for that - there would almost certainly be a lot of guns in the cars in the school parking lot.  Evil may walk in on us, but with the right tools and attitude, it won't go home that night fully staffed.

Country Music gets a bad reputation with Right Thinking People® because it plainly speaks uncomfortable truths.  Toby Keith perhaps more than any other country artist has a bad reputation with Right Thinking People® because he keeps speaking uncomfortable truths, again and again.  Peter Jennings banned him from ABC because Keith refused to speak the expected Pretty Lies.

And so, to previous generations and their view of evil.  They thought that it was real, and that they might encounter it.  They thought that if they did, they would need to confront it, not run from it.  They did confront it, facing down two races of Supermen in World War II and then the Soviet Bear afterwards.  They knew how to deal with the evil that walked into that school yesterday.

This song shows that some of us still remember.

Beer For My Horses (Songwriters: James Stroud, Toby Keith)
Well a man come on the 6 o'clock news
Said somebody's been shot, somebody's been abused
Somebody blew up a building
Somebody stole a car
Somebody got away
Somebody didn't get too far yeah
They didn't get too far

Grandpappy told my pappy, back in my day, son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys
Hang them high in the street for all the people to see that

Justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys
You got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
We'll all meet back at the local saloon
We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces
Singing whiskey for my men, beer for my horses

We got too many gangsters doing dirty deeds
We've got too much corruption, too much crime in the streets
It's time the long arm of the law put a few more in the ground
Send 'em all to their maker and he'll settle 'em down
You can bet he'll set 'em down 'cause
Older generations believed that you confronted evil - especially the two legged kind - to protect the weak.  The shooter seems to have been very ill, but that doesn't change the evil nature of what he did, not the justice in an "Old Yeller" solution once he had started shooting.  I hope that society remembers what our elders knew.