Friday, May 31, 2013

We'll see just how much I know

It's a cliché that sons think their Fathers are idiots during their teen years, and that they grow out of that as they approach adulthood themselves.  We're about to put that to the test.

I've been working with #1 Son, teaching him networking and security with an eye towards getting him a Cisco certification (and a real job).  This morning I'm taking him to meet a buddy who can explain the world of the high-priced security consultant.

Me, I've explained it, but it will be interesting to see if I'm less of an idiot after my buddy explains it his way.

Quote of the Day: Programmer edition

Not about programming, but about programmers:
Reading through the comments demonstrates something about the personality of computer programmer types. They believe they are smarter and better than everyone else, and therefore on account of libertarian economic theory in which smart people create value and value creators are always rewarded, they have nothing to worry about. For some reason, nearly all computer programmer types buy into libertarianism and they all think they are like Howard Roark.
I have known a lot of programmers (I'm related to one).  This is 100% true.  It also explains why so many programmers like to shoot guns.

This is a pretty interesting post, if you're in Tech.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Canned Heat Boogie

Z. Z. Top stole their shtick.

Canned Heat trivia: the name came from a 1928 Tommy Johnson blues number about an alcoholic who took up drinking Sterno.


Old NFO brings an incredible story:
What if the janitor in your building, or school, or office was a war hero and you didn’t know it?

What if that janitor had the MOH???
This is the most amazing story I've read so far this year.  Just wow.

Orwell was right

His essay on "objectively pro-fascist" is famous.  Less famous is is his explanation for the phenomenon:
The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security.
And so we see today.  Vanderleun ponders Memorial Day, and ponders Those Who Will Not See:
In the Battle of Soissons in July of 1918, 12,000 men (Americans and Germans) were killed in four days. Vast crops of white crosses sprouted from the fields their rows and columns fading into the distance as they marched back from the roadside like an army of the dead called to attention until the end of time. American cemeteries merged with French cemeteries that merged with German cemeteries; their only distinction being the flags that flew over what one took to be the center of the arrangement. I suppose one could find out the number of graves in these serried ranks. Somewhere they keep the count. Governments are especially good at counting. But it is enough to know they are beyond numbering by an individual; that the mind would cease before the final number was reached.

To have even a hundredth of those cemeteries in the United States now would be more than we, as a nation, could bear. It would not be so much the dead within it, but the truth that made it happen that would be unbearable. This is, of course, what we are as a nation fiddling about with on this Memorial Day. We count our war dead daily now, but we count mostly on the fingers of one hand, at times on two. Never in numbers now beyond our ability to imagine. This is not because we cannot die daily in large numbers in a war. September 11th proved to us that we still die in the thousands, but many among us cannot now hold that number as a reality, but only as a "tragic" exception that need not have happened and will -- most likely -- never happen again.|

That, at least, is the mind set that I assume when I read how the "War on Terror" is but a bumper strip. In a way, that's preferable to the the mind set that now, in increasing numbers among us, prefers to take refuge in the unbalanced belief that 9/11 was actually something planned and executed by the American government. Why many of my fellow Americans prefer this "explanation" is something that I once felt was beyond comprehension. Now I see it is just another comfortable position taken up by those for whom the habits of automatic treason have become just another fashionable denigration of the country that has made their liberty to believe the worst of it not only possible but popular.
Orwell knew their kind, 70 years ago.  A bourgeois illusion bred of money and security is the entirety of the situation, although I quite like the construction those for whom the habits of automatic treason to be quite the bon mot.  It says the same thing.

In a more robust age of the Republic the first such would have swung from lampposts, and the rest - cowards that they are, seeking nothing but cheap approbation from their peers - would have rightly shut up.  I look on the dark night of fascism declining once more on Europe and anticipate their voices will be (thankfully) muted soon.

Seems Britons want their guns back

Via Traction Control we find this:
Last Friday the Daily Telegraph, Britain's most widely read broadsheet newspaper, issued an online poll asking members of the public which proposal they would like to see introduced as a Private Members' Bill in the UK's Parliament.

Private Members' Bills are introduced by Members of Parliament or Peers who are not government ministers.

The choices include term limits for Prime Ministers, a flat tax, a law to encourage the 'greening' of public spaces and the repealing of Britain's hand gun ban. Following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, in which 16 schoolchildren were killed, Parliament passed The Firearms Act of 1997, which essentially banned handguns for the atrocity.

But Britons seem unconvinced by the law. The proposer, known as "Colliemum" asked, "...why should only criminals be 'allowed' to possess guns and shoot unarmed, defenceless citizens and police officers?"

While the poll continues, so far over 80 percent of the 11,000+ respondents have told the Telegraph that they want to see the handgun ban repealed.
Gee, I wonder why they might think that.  Oh, wait - Gun Crime Soars by 35%:
The Government's latest crime figures were condemned as "truly terrible" by the Tories today as it emerged that gun crime in England and Wales soared by 35% last year.

Criminals used handguns in 46% more offences, Home Office statistics revealed.
Firearms were used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the 12 months to last April, up from 7,362.

It was the fourth consecutive year to see a rise and there were more than 2,200 more gun crimes last year than the previous peak in 1993.

Figures showed the number of crimes involving handguns had more than doubled since the post-Dunblane massacre ban on the weapons, from 2,636 in 1997-1998 to 5,871.
Yeah, yeah - the Telegraph's poll is an online one and all that.  Hey, why not put it to a referendum?  While they're at it, the citizens could also vote on immigration, membership in the EU, and the death penalty!  That's the poll that counts ...

Oh, and this is an infographic that never goes out of style:

Or you can look at the statistics of homicide rate since the wide spread introduction of "shall issue" concealed handgun permits.

The best case that the gun grabbers can make is that there's no correlation between the availability of legal firearms and the homicide rate.  That's the best case they can make, scientifically speaking.  Looks like they're at war with Science, or something.  Damn Deniers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pandora, you bitch

You should have left the damn box open.

Don't run from the truth, 'cause you can't get away

Make peace with God and make peace with yourself
'cause in the end there's nobody else

It's not who you knew or what you did, it's how you lived.

Some days, I don't like being a grown up.

RIAA: All your computers are belong to us

The Entertainment industry wants the legal right to put trojans on your computer and hold your files hostage.  Srlsy:
The hilariously named "Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property" has finally released its report, an 84-page tome that's pretty bonkers. But amidst all that crazy, there's a bit that stands out as particularly insane: a proposal to legalize the use of malware in order to punish people believed to be copying illegally. The report proposes that software would be loaded on computers that would somehow figure out if you were a pirate, and if you were, it would lock your computer up and take all your files hostage until you call the police and confess your crime. This is the mechanism that crooks use when they deploy ransomware.
Because the RIAA would never make a mistake and think that a Grandmother was pirating rock 'n roll music:
On Friday, the Recording Industry Association of America withdrew its lawsuit against Sarah Seabury Ward of Newbury, Massachusetts, after the 66-year-old grandmother said she had never used or even downloaded any peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Bolstering her claim is the fact that Ward and her husband own a Macintosh computer, which is incompatible with the Kazaa file-sharing network they're accused of using to share more than 2,000 songs.
Another reason to run Linux, if that there law gets passed.

Why Stockholm is burning

The few media outlets even reporting on the riots in Stockholm describe the trouble as being in the "suburbs".  While technically correct, this leaves most readers in the dark as to what is really going on:
Instead, they were in high-density housing projects that Sweden built in an effort to promote transit ridership, which planners today would call “transit-oriented developments.” Most Swedes, however, refused to live in these projects, so they became home to Sweden’s second-class citizenry, namely immigrant and often Muslim workers.

American urban planners who want to follow Europe’s example of emphasizing multi-family housing and transit over single-family homes and automobiles should look closely at Sweden’s example. Though Sweden is often praised as an ideal social democracy, the riots reveal a dark underbelly, namely that the country has come to depend on immigrant workers who take second-class jobs and live in second-class housing and are forced to use second-class transportation.
They're the Swedish equivalent of the Paris banlieus, or of the old unlamented South Bronx projects.  The 20th Century fetish for central planning - the dehumanizing, soul crushing squashing of the individual by the collective - that's what's on fire.

Personally I'd be a lot more impressed by the intelligence of those who view themselves as our betters if they ever saw a planning failure that didn't lead directly to an instinct to do it again, only harder.  Who realize that while mass transit and mass housing may in fact be rational, people don't want them if they have a choice, and that the real solution doesn't lie in taking away all other choices.

There are so many things wrong with this

I don't even know where to start:
Leave it to Bieber. The "Baby" singer was allegedly speeding in his Calabasas, Calif. neighborhood again over the weekend, but this time he ticked off the wrong neighbor.

Former NFL star and current ESPN commentator Keyshawn Johnson saw the Bieb driving recklessly in his Ferrari over the weekend, so he chased him down in his Prius – yes, that's right, the big man cares about the environment.


Johnson reportedly parked right up behind Justin's Ferrari and got out of the car to talk to Bieber about his driving style, but this time the Bieb didn't act like a tough guy, as he has in previous confrontations with neighbors over his driving. Instead, he ran inside his house and wouldn't come out, TMZ reports. At least two people called the cops on Bieber, who reportedly "appeared stoned."
I mean, a Prius?

Punching back twice as hard

Marine detained over Facebook posts sues police:
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The Chesterfield Marine who claimed he was wrongfully detained over posts he made to Facebook has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Chesterfield Police officers and other government workers, according to his attorneys from The Rutherford Institute.

They claim Brandon Raub’s First and Fourth Amendment Rights were violated when FBI agents appeared at Raub’s Chesterfield home last summer.

Raub claims the agents questioned him about his Facebok postings on the government’s version of 9/11 and the role of the Federal Reserve. Based on that conversation, and Raub’s actions, he said he was “forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward for a week.”
A few more of these - and a few seven figure payouts - may lead the local authorities to tell the FBI to do their own damn job by themselves, instead of getting local Po-Po patsies to be fall guys for them.

Well, a guy can dream, can't he?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Security FAIL

Chinese government hackers allegedly stole the master blueprints and other highly classified technical information relating to the new headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The state-of-the-art building, which is located at the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Australian capital Canberra, has so far cost taxpayers in excess of AUD $631 million (US $608 million). Although it remains under construction, the new headquarters is said to feature the most sophisticated security features of any government building in Canberra. But a report aired on May 28 by Australian television’s Four Corners investigative program, alleged that a Chinese government agency managed to steal the building’s blueprints. The program claimed that the highly classified blueprints were stolen when hackers mounted a sophisticated cyberattack on a private-sector contractor involved in constructing the ASIO’s new headquarters. Four Corners suggested that the cyberattack, which was “traced to a server in China”, also compromised the building’s communications diagram, server locations and physical security systems.
So now the Red Chinese* know not just the floor plans, but where the servers will be and how the communications networks function.  What could possibly go wrong?

* I only call them the "Red Chinese" to annoy the Usual Suspects.

The place where Western Civilization perished

Tacitus writes movingly of the small patch of ground that saw the extinction of Western Civilization:
If you sometimes wonder how the world got into its current sad state I can point you to the very spot where things went so badly astray.  It is in a series of hills just east of the drab town of Verdun France.

The Great Powers - none of which rank as such any longer - blundered stupidly into the First World War.  Their diplomats had in utmost secrecy created an interlocking web of treaties and understandings that were nothing less than a Doomsday Machine for Western that put armies of millions to the march after an inept but implausibly successful terrorist act.

Brave men, those armies of 1914, "Lions led by Donkeys" as tragically belated wisdom had it.

But there were still rays of hope.  Nations were at war but civility in men remained in places. The Christmas Truce of 1914 where the guns went silent and soldiers from both sides sat down together showed a Europe that might have been and still could be.

But Verdun changed it all.
This is one of the best posts that I've read in a month.  His photographs send a shiver up the spine.

Cyber security: the enemy isn't at the gates

They're inside the gates:
"We've got North Korea with ICBMs and we've got Iran developing an atomic bomb, but that's not our biggest problem," Brocade Communications chairman David House said at a future-forcasting panel during the Ethernet Innovation Summit this week in Mountain View, California. "Our biggest problem is cyber security."


The way that we've architected our networks has exacerbated the privacy problem, House argues. "We've been spending the last 40 years abstracting up from the piece of wire to higher and higher levels," he said, "and virtualizatIon and software-defined networks are just another layer of abstraction that we're putting into the environment."

All that abstraction is providing more and more ways for hackers to break into networks. "Every one of these layers is a tunnel that people can go through to access things that they shouldn't have access to," he warned.

At another Summit session, a gaggle of security execs expressed equally pessimistic concerns. For example, Alan Kessler, CEO of data-security company Vormetric, has given up on traditional security measures. "Building a fortress around you network no longer works," he said. "The bad guys are already inside. They already have access to your network – in fact, you may have hired them."

Kessler also is of the opinion that the advent of cloud computing has brought with it another threat layer. "Even if you're confident that you're running your data center, you can trust your people, what if your data is in someone else's cloud? How do you know whether the systems administrator who's managing that server is someone you can trust?"
I've been saying this sort of thing for a while, that the game seems to be pretty much over and the interesting question isn't whether the infrastructure is vulnerable but rather how much of the infrastructure is already pwn3d.

I think that this is an opportunity for people looking for higher paying jobs.  Pick up one of the Cisco CCNA study guides and go through it.  Find some Youtube videos on the topics in the guide.  Maybe (maybe) take a Community College class on the subject.  Take and pass the certification.  Because this is the pull quote from the article I linked above:
But no security scheme will work unless a company has well-trained network-security techs on its payroll – and there aren't that many of them to go around.
It may be a bit perverse to simultaneously say that the battle is lost and that you can make good coin by enlisting the the CyberCommand, but that's what it looks like.  Nobody cares what your degree is if you have CCNA/CCIE/CISSP certifications.

Higher Education Bubble, indeed.

Bootnote: Not everyone agrees, at least the Cisco stuff.  Don't think he'd disagree with me on CISSP, though.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What would you write if you knew men who didn't make it back from the war?

You'd write this.

Marine reunited with dog he handled in Afghanistan

When Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach served as a dog handler in Afghanistan, he told the yellow lab who was his constant companion that he'd look her up when he returned home.


Since leaving active duty to take classes at the University of Wisconsin this summer, Gundlach, of Madison, Wis., had been seeking to adopt 4-year-old Casey.

The 25-year-old learned Casey had finished her military service and had been sent to the Iowa State Fire Marshal's Office, where she was used to detect explosives.
Click through to read the best thing you will read today.


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Funnel Cakes

Never made them before. You actually need a funnel. Huh.

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Decoration Day

Charles Ives wrote this back in a time when the day was more than just an excuse to barbecue.

It's only been recently that we've brought all the fallen troops home.  The cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy is moving in part because you realize just how far from home and hearth those graves are.  I wondered how many had family that could afford to make the journey to decorate the graves.  Probably not many.

Sacrifice layered upon sacrifice.  That's the message of today, one that's worthy of a moment's reflection.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cocktailblogging: The French 75

The Canon de 75 modèle 1897 artillery piece revolutionized warfare.  Much like the German 88 was the finest artillery of World War II, the French 75 was the finest of the Great War.  Indeed, it set the modern form for artillery: the recoil was absorbed by a hydro-pneumatic cylinder, where the air began to compress (absorbing the recoil) with increasing resistance until all backwards motion was halted, and then the stored energy returned the gun tube to the firing position.  The result was that the gun was pointed at the exact same target after it was fired.

What that meant was that for the first time the gun crew didn't have to re-aim.  All they had to do was load another shell and fire again.  And that meant an unprecedented rate of fire.  Rather than four rounds a minute the French 75 could shoot one every 2 seconds.  Without this rate of fire, France would have lost at Verdun, and therefore lost the war.

Plus the 75 mm shell had a huge wallop.  And so to the name of theis cocktail, which was invented in Paris' Harry's American Bar (yes, that Harry's) and which was Hemingway's favorite.

It kicked like a mule, which what what Hemingway was after.  As with all great things, there's a controvery: Red Sox vs. Yankees, 9mm vs. .45 ACP, French 75 made with gin vs. French 75 made with Cognac.  Today we make it with Cognac.  More on gin later.

1.5 oz Cognac
0.5 oz Triple Sec
0.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

The first thing to point out here is that you're not using top shelf mixers in a cocktail like this.  For example, Grand Marnier would be a waste.  XO Cognac would be a waste.  Vintage Champagne would be a waste.  You want something passably decent, but that's it.  Trader Joe's is your friend.  The one thing you cannot skimp on is use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Combine the Cognac, Triple Sec and lemon juice in a metal cocktail shaker half full of ice.  Shake until the shaker is frosted on the outside with, well, frost.  Pour into a large wine glass.

This is the point where I must pause to discuss two controversies.  The first is that some people prefer the use of gin, rather than Cognac.  If you subscribe to the theory that clear drinks are higher social status than colored (I don't), then bring the Bombay.  This debate, as I pointed out before, falls into the same camp as Red Sox vs. Yankees, and so is actually perfect for Cocktail Party conversation.

The second controversy is that the original recipe is much stronger than what I listed here: 2 full jiggers of gin or Brandy, and one full one of Triple Sec (and make it a full jigger of lemon juice, too).  The cocktail's name came from the impact crater of the original canon, and while Hemingway's thirst (and capacity to quench same) was legendary, I find that a drink of this strength rapidly closes off Cocktail Party conversation (as most participants are soon lying face down, drooling).  Forewarned is forearmed.

Fill the glass with Champagne.  Et voila!  Garnish with a lovingly dogeared copy of Farewell To Arms, and serve to a grateful Public.

I got yer Anarcho-Tyranny right here

Anarcho-Tyranny is when the State stops enforcing important laws and regulations (leading to anarchy) but cracks down on petty offenses (that's the tyranny).  You don't get a better example than this:
STOCKHOLM (FRIA TIDER). Owners of cars destroyed in the riots fined for parking illegally while police adopt non-intervention policy.

Since last Sunday, May 19, rioters have taken to the streets of Stockholm’s suburbs every night, torching cars, schools, stores, office buildings and residential complexes. Yesterday, a police station in Rågsved, a suburb four kilometers south of Stockholm, was attacked and set on fire.

But while the Stockholm riots keep spreading and intensifying, Swedish police have adopted a tactic of non-interference. ”Our ambition is really to do as little as possible,” Stockholm Chief of Police Mats Löfving explained to the Swedish newspaper Expressen on Tuesday.


Swedish parking laws, however, continue to be rigidly enforced despite the increasingly chaotic situation. Early Wednesday, while documenting the destruction after a night of rioting in the Stockholm suburb of Alby, a reporter from Fria Tider observed a parking enforcement officer writing a ticket for a burnt-out Ford.
Europe is screwed.

Sir Edward Elgar - Enigma Variations, "Nimrod"

This piece is very popular in Elgar's native Britain on Remembrance Day (their equivalent of Memorial Day).  It's appropriate for the mood of this weekend.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Stupid Blogger

When I upload a picture, it's impolite of you to tell me that it has to be a picture file.

Maybe I need to get the heck off of blogspot after all.

A river of blood

45 years ago last month, British MP Enoch Powell gave a stunning speech.  In it, he looked on the immigration of foreign peoples into the Kingdom and the way that this was changing the UK's culture.  It was widely criticized by all Right Thinking People® but at the same time was wildly popular with working class Britons.  Indeed, a thousand dockworkers marched on Parliament in protest when Powell was sacked from his positions of leadership.

Dockworkers marching in support of a Tory politician.

The most famous line in his speech is where he quoted Virgil:
As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see 'the River Tiber foaming with much blood'.
He was roundly damned for his "inflammatory" and "racist" remarks.  And so the British Political Class went back to sleep - indeed, the last Labour government intentionally accelerated immigration to make the UK "less British".
The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and "rub the Right's nose in diversity", according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.
He said Labour's relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to "open up the UK to mass migration" but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its "core working class vote".
They remembered the unions striking in support of Enoch Powell.  What's unclear is why Powell could see so much more clearly 45 years ago, and they were so blind even 5 or 6 years back.  None so blind as him who will not see, I guess.

And to the charge of inflaming racial hatred, where no less than the London Times called his speech "evil"?  We see this played out on the streets of London.

Indeed, we see it playing out on the streets of Boston and Paris and Stockholm and Ft. Hood and Amsterdam.  The Right Thinking People® who stripped Powell of office have no answer to what Powell say nearly half a century ago.  Like the old Bourbon monarchs, restored to the throne after the fall of Napoleon, they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

And the river foams red.

What do you call a reliable Scientific Establishment?

Science, particularly academic science, is now a big business, and it is an unusually corrupt one that is primarily dependent upon the media and government funding.  It has no practical external limitations upon it holding its businessmen accountable. As Stapel's example demonstrates, there is absolutely nothing - nothing - reliable about it.  This point should be driven home every single time anyone makes the absurd claim that science is the best, or the only, arbiter of truth and reality.

Here is how bad the corruption is: Stapel was actually teaching a graduate seminar on research ethics. Notice too that all of the established academics who caught wind of the fraud not only looked the other way, but advised others to do so as well.
We have a word for real and genuine science that is reliable enough to be trustworthy.  Engineering.
You don't have to look to a Dutch Scientist who committed fraud on an industrial scale to see the rot.  There's the 90% of important scientific papers cannot be replicated by experiment.  And the scientists who published them cover it up:
In their Comment article 'Raise standards for preclinical cancer research', C. Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis (Nature 483, 531533; 2012) refer to scientists at Amgen who were able to reproduce findings in only 11% of 53 published papers. Several correspondents have asked for details of these studies, which were not provided in the article.

The Amgen scientists approached the papers' original authors to discuss findings and sometimes borrowed materials to repeat the experiments. In some cases, those authors required them to sign an agreement that they would not disclose their findings about specific papers. Begley and Ellis were therefore not free to identify the irreproducible papers — a fact that the Comment should have mentioned.
What do you call a scientific paper where experimental replication failed?  Falsified.

But the name of the game in the scientific community is publishing and getting grant funding.  If you publish something valid, than that's even better.  Perhaps I speak as an Engineer (Electrical, thanks for asking), but there's a clarity in engineering that no longer exists in science.  The clarity is that something works, or it doesn't.

I'm starting to think that a great place to start reducing the deficit is to slash the budget of the National Science Foundation.

Kasey Anderson - I Was A Photograph

They called him the "Marlboro Man", a Marine with a thousand yard stare and a smoke, taking a break during the second battle of Fallujah.  It's perhaps the greatest photograph of the entire war.

It was a sensation.  CBS News ran it on their nightly broadcast.  People from all over the country sent him care packages filled with cigarettes.  President Bush sent him cigars from the White House.  The General commanding Miller's First Marine Division personally offered to ship him stateside, because of how people back home connected with him, and the morale impact were he to die.

Miller turned the General down.  He wanted to stay with his buddies.

Memorial Day is a time when we stop to remember those who didn't make it home.  For LCpl James Blake Miller, every day is Memorial Day.  Like many soldiers from many wars, he remembers those of his comrades who didn't make it back.  Like many soldiers from many wars, he would wake at night haunted by ghosts waiting on the other side of the door.  These days we have a name for this: PTSD.  It has treatments available, although it's not always clear how effective they are.  Soldiers from older wars were more or less left on their own.

LCpl Miller understands the true meaning of Memorial Day, in a way that we are lucky not to fathom.  This holiday weekend, remember that it's not about the barbeque.  The Marlboro Marine doesn't need that reminder.

I Was A Photograph (Songwriter: Kasey Anderson)
Sky the color of a match been struck
Sun just hangin' like the noose got stuck
And you can try to stare it back down
But you can't cover it up
Red dirt rising 'til it fills your lungs
Your hand's the bullet and your heart's the gun
And you learned how to turn your back on almost anything
But you never learned to run

You've seen the ditches where the dead get left
And the hungry cats in the hollow chests
And you can pin your eyes shut, boy
But you can't get no rest
Hell, its just bones scattered in the dust
And it don't mean nothing to the TV trucks
'Til it's real American boys
Spittin' up real American blood

In Charlie company, first thing you're taught
Is you ain't worth half of what you thought
And just like everything else I learned
I couldn't shut it off
So I felt like nothing when I got back home
And my father saw me in my granddad's clothes
And said, "you inherit my blood, boy
But your sins are all your own"

I don't sleep like I did before
I just wake up trembling on the bedroom floor
Always seven steps from the ghosts
On the other side of that door
Wondering, what did I do to earn another day
'Cause I don't confess, sure as hell don't pray
I just defend, attack, withdraw
And delay

You know my face, I was a photograph
On the front page, 'neath the headline war
And I was numb back then, boy
I ain't even numb no more
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The pornography of power

By accident I stumbled across a video of Christopher Hitchens giving a talk about his book Why Orwell Matters (link in the sidebar; highly recommended).  I was struck listening to the part that starts a little after 14 minutes in where Hitchens describes the "pornography of power" - people who exercise power not because of an excuse (for your own good, for society's good, etc), just just because they like it:
We're in power because we like it.  We're in power because we enjoy punishing people.  We're in power because we enjoy owning people.  We enjoy telling them what they can do.   

Somehow it made me think on the current scandals - IRS, investigating journalists, Fast & Furious - and wonder what Hitch would have to say.

Actually, I don't much wonder.

This performance is a delight to watch - Hitchens talks for 90 minutes with no notes.  His death was a huge loss.

Quote of the Day - how health insurance should work

Nothing I could add could possibly improve this:
The banning of catastrophic-only plans infuriates me the most. Those are the only plans that are actually financially sensible for a healthy individual to purchase. Everything else on the market is a perverse by-product of the employer-based insurance system.

Worst case scenario with a catastrophic-only plan is you end up with $10,000 in debt. That’s a debt load many times smaller than what the Federal government thinks students should take out to get a college degree. We’ll let you borrow $100,000 to get a sociology degree but, we think that $10,000 is an unconscionable amount to pay for medical expenses? So unconscionable that we have to FORCE YOU to buy a plan with more extensive coverage?

Of course, we all know the real reason for this. it’s meant to force healthy young people to subsidize healthcare for older sicker people. Just force them to pay more for insurance than they ought to, and force them to buy more extensive coverage than is rational.

The incompetence of the MSM

It's one thing to be biased.  It's a very different thing to be so incompetent in your bias that everyone sees you making the sausage:
In the USSR's military, there was the military commander and then there was the 'Morale Officer' which is a kind way of saying Communist Party hack.  The military commander would make decisions and then would have to run them by the Morale Officer first for approval.  That often meant sound military decisions were changed and suborned to stupid party ideology.  

How is what Peters did to Weisman's article any different?  Sound reporting was 'massaged' until it reflected Party Ideology.  There is no way anybody can call that revised article anything but propaganda. 
And by "sees you making the sausage" I mean "has screenshots of the original unbiased reporting and the updated biased reporting side by side.

Newspaper of record, indeed.

I'm reminded of the great scene in the great film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where the con man Steve Martin is pleading with the French cop that the woman who swore out the complaint against him was jealous because she'd caught him with another woman.  After all, he's French, isn't he?  He can understand that?  The cop's reply is priceless:
To be with another woman, oui, that is French.  To be caught?  That is American.
The Times wasn't just biased here, it was incompetent.

A rant about CAPTCHAs

No, it's not what you're expecting.

Remember the Golden Age of CAPTCHAs?  The years when the CAPTCHA was a word that was somehow mysteriously (and ironically) linked to the contents of the post?  The kind where people would leave comments like this?*
Your rant about Hitler and jazz music reminded me of the time those NAZI bastards surrounded Duke Ellington's train which was taking him from Belgum to Denmark.  Damn racist NAZI bastards.  Bastards bastards bastards!

Word Verification: "Gestapo".  Man, how ironic was that, huh?
How you get either an easy word and a picture of a street number taken by Google's Streetcam-o-matic car,** or an easy word and a squiggle of hieroglyphics worthy of a Pierre Francois Bouchard.  They're taking away all our fun.

* Any resemblance of this comment and a real comment is coincidental.  If this were a real comment, you'd, err, see it in the comments section.

** Now why doesn't the CAPTCHA ever show the dudes who mooned the streetcam?  Asking for what he was doing could have, like 10 or 20 valid answers.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I'm sitting on the screened in porch, drinking in our current mild-temperature/low humidity weather that will be here for all too short a time.  I'm also drinking a French 75 (cocktailblogging to follow).   The honeysuckle smells delightful.  Instead of music, I have the birds singing in the yard here in Camp Borepatch.  And someone in the neighborhood is practicing "taps", no doubt for the coming Memorial Day weekend.

For a short, delightful instant, it's peaceful.  I dare say that will change soon, but for now it's a welcome respite.
... some moments happens in your life that you say yes right up to the roots of your hair, that makes it worth having been born just to have happen. laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. waking up to the first snow. being in bed with somebody you love... whether you thank god for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to business as usual, it may lose you the ball game. if you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may save your soul.
- Frederick Beuchner

The reason that you can't block the signal

You can't block the signal.

That's a saying about the Internet, which was designed to be massively decentralized and self-healing when some of the nodes are taken out.  While that idea was originally born of the Mutually Assured (nuclear) Destruction days, it turns out that the designers did their work well.

Another saying is the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.  It's made Open Source possible, destroying old business models and giving rise to a myriad of new in an explosion of creative destruction.  Microsoft crushed Netscape because there was a single entity to attack and drive out of business; they could never do the same to the Apache Foundation or Kernel.Org because both of those are massively decentralized.

And so when we look at how the Fed.Gov made Defense Distributed take down their plans for the 3D Liberator pistol, we grasp in an instant that theirs is an old mind set, similar to the mind set at Honeywell Computers or CBS News.  They don't get it, that the toothpaste is out of the tube and not going back in.

Just how out of the tube is it?  This much:
Now look at that highlighted blue line. Liberator. 1647 seeds. I am not one of them. (I’ve halted that particular torrent.) We’re into this some relatively long time since the original release of the .torrent file onto the internet. The first night I grabbed a copy. More as a political statement than anything else. I wanted to “be heard” stating “this is OUR freedom of speech and we choose to talk to each other in bits and bytes.” as I’ve never seen a “3-D printer” the content is actually useless to me. I expect that is true for most folks. The simple fact was that there were SO many folks with 100% of the file actively seeding it, and with high bandwidth, that I was just not getting any “share” of the upload requests.

Bittorrent has a method of finding the best source for you. It prunes out sites that are far away (topologically) and with low speed. You tend to get the most bits from the sites that are fastest and best connected to you. I was just not “important enough” when compared to big servers in large data centers with massive internet connections. (Many .torrent servers are sited at co-location facilities. Pirate Bay is reputed to be done with a cluster of Virtual Machines such that any Co-Lo site could be shut down and the ‘standby’ servers would detect that, and bring themselves up again in a different legal jurisdiction.) So after a while of watching me get “polled” (a 1 size or 0.1 size momentary ‘upload’) and then be dropped for a ‘better source’, I just turned off that seed. Notice that my “ratio” is zero.

Now the big question is just how many more folks are there “like me”? Discouraged that we were “too small” to matter? Just waiting “For that day” when the number of seeds drops down? Add in the slightly paranoid folks who have a copy and are NOT sharing (since your IP address shows up in the window of the person doing the download and “agencies” can run ongoing downloads to identify the sources… or some of the sources since not everyone connects to all of them…)? I’d guess a couple of orders of magnitude more. Heck, I want to be a seed for it, and it’s just too crowded right now to bother!
There are thousands and thousands of computers that are or could host the design specs.  These computers are dispersed all over the world, and while some could be shut down by friendly governments, some other governments are more than happy to flip the bird to Uncle Sam.

This is a long but very interesting article about the intersection of the programming community, the firearms community, and the pro-freedom (for lack of a better term) community.  My experience is that this is typical in high tech: it may be that 75% of the computer security guys I know have concealed carry licenses.

And quite frankly, that intersection is indispensable to the Fed.Gov itself.  It simply cannot live without these people, unless it wants to scuttle the economy is a doomed attempt to impose a rigid, 19th Century control model on a bunch of people who are smarter and more creative than the folks who inhabit the Civil Service.  And that last isn't an insult, but an observation of the selection process in place in both government and high tech: one selects for people who will follow procedure while the other selects for people itching to shatter the procedures into a million shards and create something a thousand times better.

You might say that high tech selects for people who want to make something insanely great.  People who think different.

Sorry, that's the signal, not the Liberator design torrent.  Nobody at the State Department has the foggiest notion of how to turn that crazy contraption off.  And never will.

(image source)

Well, when the dark night of fascism falls on Europe ...

Maybe it will be ironically funny.

Hipster Hitler brings the snark.

How long until the streets of Europe echo to the tramp of jackboots?

It's a trick question.  It's happening now:
More than 100 members of far-right group the English Defence League gathered near the scene of the suspected terrorist attack last night.
Many were draped in St George’s flags and wore black balaclavas with the EDL logo on.
Riot police holding shields formed a cordon around the area as the EDL members waved flags and chanted 'no surrender to the Muslim scum', ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘England’
"Suspected terrorist attack".  That's some real Journalism®, right there.  And here is what it looked like:

Ah, those reserved Britons.  A bit under-stated, what?  In other parts of Europe the same impulse is a bit more, shall we say, colorful?

The [Greek Golden Dawn] party’s ambitions go much further, as the move into schools testifies.  Dozens of new Golden Dawn offices in provincial towns stage events designed to attract new supporters. Torch-lit gatherings and talks on Greek history with a fascist slant are popular.  Selected members undergo military-style training at weekends.  Volunteers support a blood bank, only for Greeks.

Nikos Michaloliakos (pictured above), the 55-year-old party leader, surrounds himself with bodyguards in black T-shirts and combat fatigues.  He is greeted with Nazi-style salutes at party meetings. Anti-Semitism is an integral part of its credo.  His claim that Golden Dawn is “nationalist but not Nazi” is thoroughly unconvincing.

Colorful, indeed:

I look on Europe today and see a lot of unfortunate parallels with late 1920s Europe: a political class lacking legitimacy, who are lost in an ocean of minutia while choosing to do nothing about the great issues of the day, elites that flinch from recognizing reality, a mass of the population increasingly desperate and increasingly contemptuous of the "Elites".

The Press, of course, is a junior member of the Political Class.  The news is not news, but slant - click through the links above for their horrified prose, in articles that doesn't mention multiculturalism of the failure of immigrant populations to assimilate - or to want to assimilate.  The U.K. Daily Mail article in particular does not mention the recent revelations that the previous Labour government intentionally ramped up immigration dramatically with the explicit (but not publicly stated) goal of making Britain less British.

Action, reaction.  We've seen this play out before, on the shores of that unhappy continent.  Economies are slowing and school is getting out for the summer.  Temperatures are rising, both literally and figuratively, and we shall see what with the 20 Million unemployed - largely in the hot southern nations.  Europe has been burning for years, and the flames are spreading.  It'll be a hot time in the Old Country tonight.

Meanwhile on these shores, the real unemployment rate is around 12%, but our political class - nearly as lacking in legitimacy as Europe's - fiddles a tune of immigration amnesty as people lose their jobs or see their hours cut in the ramp up to Obamacare's implementation.  The good news is that Europe is further down the road to ruin than we are, but we need to remember that Franklin Roosevelt was America's first fascist President.  It has a different sound on these shores, but the song remains the same.

Time to go long on torches and hobnail boots.

Via Vox, who brings the Kipling.

So how's that gun control working out in England?

Jihadis who beheaded a Royal Army soldier had a gun:
“And then when I went up there was this black guy with a revolver and a kitchen knife, he had what looked like butcher’s tools and he had a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives and he said 'move off the body’.
Sure is a good thing there's all that gun control in the UK, because otherwise a soldier might have been able to shoot his attackers before they cut off his head.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Missus has a pretty nasty stomache bug

And by "pretty nasty" I'll just elide the details, if you don't mind.  But she's up to the toast and seltzer stage, so Excelsior!

Florence Nightengale

That would be me.  The Missus is doing poorly.  Back later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

$25 plastic gun printed on $2000 printer

Video at the link, of the pistol firing multiple shots.  Here's the quote of the day:
“People think this takes an $8,000 machine and that it blows up on the first shot. I want to dispel that,” says Joe. “This does work, and I want that to be known.”
Interesting article.  The pistol is clearly an advance over the Liberator, but still has some considerable refining needed.  But the price point of the printer isn't any more than what a decent laser printer used to be not so very long ago, and the cost of the plastic is what a case of good beer runs you.

Not stopping the signal.

How hard is it to make a gun?

Not very.  They're made in prisons:

But by all means, feel free to freak out over 3D printed guns.  As the saying goes, the Lord truly loves Stupid People - he made so very many of them.

Global Cooling causes Tornados

It's all sciency and everything.  What, don't you believe in science?

Via 2cents in an email.

The Internet Ice Cream machine is still calming down

Blood pressure not back to normal, and so the ice cream will be late.  But since this is the Internet, here's  acute kitten eating bacon.

Because bacon.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sure, sure. A "meteor" is what hit the Moon

The explosion was visible from the Earth with the naked eye, and caught on video:

But "meteor"?  Please.  We all know what happened: Obama needs to show that he's tough on foreign policy to get the Benghazi controversy to die down.  He dusted off IMAO's Nuke The Moon strategy:
Now the world will be pretty convinced that America is frick'n nuts and just looking for a fight, but we need to really ingrain it into everyone's conscious so that no one will ever even contemplate crossing us. This requires making good use of our nukes. I know, nukes can kill millions of people, but they sure aren't doing anyone any good just sitting around. I mean, how many years has it been since we last dropped a bomb on someone? No one even thinks we'll actually use one now. Of course, using nukes shouldn't be done haphazardly; all uses have to be well planned out because the explosions are so cool looking that we'll want to give the press plenty of notice so they can get pictures of the mushroom cloud from all sorts of different angles. But what to nuke? Well, usually the idea is populated cities, but, by the beliefs of my morally superior religion, killing is wrong. So why can't we be more creative than nuking people. My idea is to nuke the moon; just say we thought we saw moon people or something. There is no one actually there to kill (unless we time it poorly) and everyone in the world could see the results. And all the other countries would exclaim, "Holy @$#%! They are nuking the moon! America has gone insane! I better go eat at McDonald's before they think I don't like them."
Well, it makes as much sense any anything going on lately ....

"Swipeless" credit cards getting charged even if you don't "swipe" them

"Swipeless" credit cards use a new technology called Near Field Communications - sort of like a super short range WiFi.  Just wave your card near the reader and the charge gets made.  "Near the reader" is supposed to be "within a couple inches".

Well, it looks like the range is longer than anyone thought:
Analysis High-street socks'n'frocks chain Marks and Spencer is accused of quietly taking money from shoppers' contactless bank cards at the tills.

The accusations come from Radio 4's Money Box listeners, who called in to report that M&S had billed cards in purses and handbags over the air, unbeknownst to customers who had intended to pay for stuff another way.

It seems the money was unexpectedly taken from bank cards that can do pay-by-wave with compatible tills using Near Field Communications (NFC). One simply has to wave the card near the machine - within a few centimetres - for the transaction to take place over the air by radio wave.

But customers complained this was happening over a much greater distance with the tills that M&S recently installed in its UK stores.
Marks & Spencer to their credit have not just reimbursed customers who complained, but actively dug through their database to identify double charges that hadn't been reported, and reimbursed those.  So well done, M&S.

But this whole situation gives me the willies.  Click through for the rest of El Reg's article, which is important stuff if you have one of these Satan's Spawn.

No matter how crummy your day was

You didn't go through this:

How we find such soldiers, I can't fathom.  The Republic is still in good hands, at least in this way.



You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family.

Even when they're insufferable @#$ #&^% $*^@%^& &$#@^*^ $#%^&@# p****s.

Err, excuse me.  I think I need to do more cocktail blogging.  Is it Friday yet?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

You're a good ol' dog, Sergeant Rex

I was at Barnes and Noble and (as is my wont) stopped to look at their bargain book shelves.  A picture brought be up short: a picture of a German Shepherd Dog sitting on a tank.  That's Sergeant Rex.

As you can imagine, I grabbed a copy.  After all, who doesn't like German Shepherds, or tanks, or Marines?  This is a trifecta of win, even without the markdown price.  That's just icing on the cake.

Rex is a Explosive Ordnance Detection dog, and his story is written by CPL Mike Dowlin (with Damien Lewis as co-author).  The story is that of handler and Working Dog, and their adventures in the combat zone that was Fallujah in the spring and summer of 2004.  "Hot" didn't just describe the weather then.

Rex was the first Combat Dog (Devil Dog, indeed: oohrah!) in the US Military since Vietnam.  All that had once been known about military dog handling had been forgotten, and had to be rediscovered.  For example, the M-16 was too big a weapon, and would bounce off of Rex's head when Dowlin and Rex were running towards the objective.  There was learning that went on the whole time of deployment.

The Marines, as you'd imagine, loved having and EOD Dog.  They were taking it left and right from IEDs, and so Rex was seen not as a mascot, but as a comrade.  Well, a bit of mascot, anyway:
Rex gets his front feet up on the sandbagged guardhouse, and barks furiously at anything suspicious.  The marines love it, and the love Rex - just as people do everywhere I've taken him.  He's such a good-looking dog that the marines have nicknamed him "Sexy Rexy".
But it's all fun and games until the RPGs fly:
This second RPG blows me off my perch, and Rex with me, the massive blast wave punching us into the earth.  I must've blacked out for a second, for I came to with Rex on his feet, eyes white with fear and searching wildly in the smoke and dust to find me.  Then he's on top of me, madly licking at my face.  If Rex could talk, I know what he'd be yelling right now: Wake up! Get up! Show me you're alive!
 Highly, highly recommended.  If you pass this up at the Barnes and Noble discount shelf, then you and I can't be friends anymore.  Sorry, that's just the way it is.

As a postscript that is not in the book, one of Rex's subsequent handlers got custody of him after Rex was done with his service:
By the time Rex turned eleven, Megan had enlisted the help of the public and Senator Charles Schumer to push through the adoption papers.  After supposedly being diagnosed with facial palsy, a disease that causes the left side of his face to be droopy and numb, Rex was retired and adopted by Megan on April 6 of this year.  She noted, "I had not seen Rex in three or four years, and as soon as I took the leash, we just picked up where we left off.  It seemed like no time had passed between us."

Unfortunately, dogs do not receive veteran benefits, so Megan would have had to pay for all of Rex's vet bills.  However, she told American Thinker that guardian angels by the names of Mindy and Randy Levine, the Yankees president, came forward, paying for her trip to pick up Rex in California, as well as paying for all of the veterinary bills, both current and future.  She plans on taking Rex to the best vets in New York, where she resides, to get a second opinion about his condition.  Meanwhile, Rex is adjusting well to his new environment, living with his special person and her two other dogs -- Patriot, a Chocolate lab, and Rocky, a Shiba Inu.

It is very obvious in speaking to Megan that she and Rex have a unique bond.  "I love Rex.  We almost died together.  He helped me get through the hardest time in my life. In his last few years he can relax, play with his toys, and we are together."
This is probably the first feeling of approbation I've ever felt for Sen. Schumer, or for the owners of the New York Yankees.  But it was well done.  Well done, indeed.

You know, this is why we misunderstand song lyrics

I must say, though, that he's the only one.

How often can you say both a Frenchman and a German are right about something?

2cents* emails to point out this delightful bit of shadenfreude:

A war of words has broken out in Europe between Francois Hollande's socialist party in France and the Christian Democrats led by Angela Merkel in Germany. The split between the two nations has become so bitter that some papers are suggesting the allies may be "heading for divorce."

The spat began last week when the French socialists leaked a draft of a party policy paper which attacked the "selfish intransigence of Mrs Merkel." The 21 page paper argued that England and Germany were responsible for the problems in Europe and were pushing right-wing politics of "deregulation, deindustrialisation and disintegration."
Perhaps the most strident quote from the socialist paper reads "The [EU] community project is now scarred by an alliance of convenience between the Thatcherite accents of the current British prime minister – who sees Europe only as à la carte and about rebates – and the selfish intransigence of Chancellor Merkel who thinks of nothing else but the savings of depositors in Germany, the trade balance recorded in Berlin and her electoral future."
In response to the French criticism, German Vice-Chancellor Phillip Rösler leaked German reports which gave a scathing assessment of the French economy. One report titled "France: Europe’s biggest problem child" criticized Hollande for not doing enough to reform French structural problems. Another report described France as having the "highest tax and social security burden in the euro zone" paired with the "second lowest annual working time."
Get the popcorn.  This is what happens when you run out of other people's money.  How do you say "shadenfreude" en francais?  I think that it's "salles boches".

* Not sure why he didn't post this himself, it's extra tasty!  I even stole the post title from his email.

Nellie Melba - 1926 Farewell Performance from London's Royal Opera House

Nellie Melba was born on this day in 1861, and became the most famous soprano in the world in her day.  She was the first Australian to establish world wide fame in classical music; her start was (perhaps unsurprisingly) not in the United States, but rather in Australia and especially Europe.  Her stage name "Melba" was a tip of the hat to her native Melbourne (her Christian name was Helen Porter Mitchell).

Today she is best known for the desert created for her by the greatest chef of the day, Auguste Escoffier.  Peach Melba involves peaches and vanilla ice cream, covered with a raspberry coulis.  Interestingly, Escoffier created several other dishes for her.

Her fame was perhaps due to the fact that she had perfect pitch.  She became wildly successful and quite wealthy, recording a large number of the new fangled gramophone records.  Her reputation was such that at this farewell performance, King George V and Queen Mary attended.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Two words


Damn, it's good. I'll do some cocktailblogging later, but if all y'all will forgive me, it's been a long week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

It's a great day (for me to whoop somebody's ass)

Bah.  It's one of those days (and weeks).

End the War on Drugs

I mean, you can find it on every street corner.

Quote of the Day - Stupid Party edition

Ann Althouse wonders why the GOP wasn't aggressive on the scandals during the election, back when it would have done them some good:
Obama's prime target was the Tea Party (which had crushed him in the 2010 midterms), and the establishment Republicans were at odds with the Tea Party movement. I'm not saying I believe this, but sober reflection tells us we need to redraw the line between paranoia and vigilance. The theory is that establishment Republicans appreciated the suppression of the Tea Party.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The greatest pistol caliber of all time


Double heh:

What happened to the Greenland Norse?

The Vikings settled Greenland around 1000 A.D. and lived there for centuries before vanishing.  It has been thought that they died out around 1430 A.D. as the climate changed and brought seriously colder winters.  Interestingly, there's a new hypothesis: they left:
In the final phase, it was young people of child-bearing age in particular who saw no future for themselves on the island. The excavators found hardly any skeletons of young women on a cemetery from the late period.

"The situation was presumably similar to the way it is today, when young Greeks and Spaniards are leaving their countries to seek greener pastures in areas that are more promising economically," Lynnerup says. "It's always the young and the strong who go, leaving the old behind."

In addition, there was a rural exodus in their Scandinavian countries at the time, and the population in the more remote regions of Iceland, Norway and Denmark was thinning out. This, in turn, freed up farms and estates for returnees from Greenland.

However, the Greenlanders didn't leave their houses in a precipitous fashion. Aside from a gold signet ring in the grave of a bishop, valuable items, such as silver and gold crucifixes, have not been discovered anywhere on the island. The archeologists interpret this as a sign that the departure from the colony proceeded in an orderly manner, and that the residents took any valuable objects along. "If they had died out as a result of diseases or natural disasters, we would certainly have found such precious items long ago," says Lynnerup.
However, a new book suggests that they didn't return to Scandanavia, but rather tried to settle Labrador or Newfoundland, under the auspices of English and Portuguese explorers in the post Columbus era:

That would still have left the problem of persuading the Norse Greenlanders to join such an overseas scheme willingly. T he Greenlanders would have known about Vínland, Markland and Helluland, but in order to pull up stakes and move westwards they would have had to be persuaded by someone with the leadership and organisational abilities of Eirik the Red – qualities that had also enabled John Cabot, the Corte Real brothers and João Fernandes to arrange their enterprises.

In addition,the Greenlanders would have had to be convinced that they were going to something better than what they would leave behind. If the Norse Greenlanders had adjusted both their domestic and export economy to English demands for stockfish and other fish products that had now dwindled to the point where the Greenlanders were facing complete isolation, they would primarily have required assurance abouttransportation and help to get started with a new life, just as theirancestors had done when opportunity called. Conditions in the Eastern Settlement would not have had to be unspeakable for a new colonising venture to appeal; the first Greenland colonisers had certainly not beenthe most desperate people in Iceland.

Those who probed the Labrador coast for new economic opportunities could not foresee the disasters that became the invariable lot of Europeans when first trying to settle year-round on shores they had experienced only during non-winter conditions. They did not know that the isotherm dips way south in that region, with winter temperatures substantially lowert han at a corresponding latitude in Greenland. If the Norse Greenlanders migrated west to a stretch of Labrador chosen by others, as it appears likely that they did, they may have ended up on the bottom of the Davis Strait before ever reaching the other shore, or they may have perished during their first winter in the new land from new diseases, from starvation or simply from the bitter cold. For them and for any who had stayed behind in Greenland, it would have been the beginning of a rapid decline – and of the end.
The Last Vikings by Kristin A. Seaver is an exhaustive, 250 page history of the Greenland Norse.  It's entirely thought provoking, and on the Internet for your reading and learning pleasure.

Hey, remember how the IRS used to be BFFs with ACORN?

Didn't have any problem with that non-profit organization, until they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar:
The IRS says it is severing ties with ACORN, the community activist group involved in a scandal after employees were caught on video giving advice to a couple posing as a prostitute and pimp.

The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday it would no longer include ACORN in its volunteer tax assistance program.
But hey, at least they weren't palling around with those racist teabaggers, right?

Is it Friday afternoon yet?

This week is kicking my butt.  The Lads have what they call FADC - Friday Afternoon Drinking Club.  Can't come too soon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Global Warming knocks Earth on its side

Women and minorities likely hardest hit:
Melting ice in Greenland may have helped to shift the location of the North Pole.


Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, report that increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet — and to a lesser extent, ice loss in other parts of the globe — have helped to shift the North Pole several centimetres east each year since 2005.
Oops, there's that pesky tell again: "may have", "have helped".  I didn't catch the "perhaps coulda" but no doubt it's in there somewhere.  And peer-reviewed!  Because Science!  But thanks for all the sweet, sweet grants, American taxpayers!

Global Warming: is there anything it can't do?

It's not easy being green

Wind farms kill 83,000 endangered eagles and hawks each year:
The Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a windfarm for killing eagles and other protected bird species, shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret, an Associated Press investigation has found.

More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country's windfarms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.
It's peer-reviewed, so Science!
Each death is federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind energy company has been prosecuted, even those that repeatedly flout the law.
The law is applied equally, Citizen.  It's just that some animals are more equal than others.

In other news of "Green" power, there's so much "Green" power deployed in the UK, and it's so unreliable (no wind power when the wind doesn't blow, right?), that the power company is going to start shutting people off:
Fridges and freezers in millions of British homes will automatically be switched off without the owner’s consent under a ‘Big Brother’ regime to reduce the strain on power stations.

The National Grid is demanding that all new appliances be fitted with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for electricity.

Electric ovens, air-conditioning units and washing machines will also be affected  by the proposals, which are already backed by one of the European Union’s most influential energy bodies. They are pushing for the move as green energy sources such as wind farms are less predictable than traditional power stations, increasing the risk  of blackouts.
So the political philosophy is leading not to building actual generating capacity, but shutting people off.  All in the name of reducing CO2, right?  And it will lead to hundreds of thousands of people buying dirty, inefficient CO2 belching generators, right?

Epic fail is epic.

The smartest TV show that ever aired

This show had a huge influence on me, back when I was a teenager.  Readers with a good memory* will remember that I once posted on Martianus Capella before**. 

The Day The Universe Changed is on Youtube, and this will be a week's viewing that will noticeably move the needle of the IQ.  The companion book if excellent, although I recommend this for a second dose of Teh Smart.

* OK, maybe that was a little optimistic.  It's a reflection of my admiration of you, gentle reader.

** In a RKBA context.  Like I said, this was huge.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

10 years is like a World Age

Kevin Baker has been blogging for ten years.  That's since the Neolithic Period of the Blogosphere.

Congrats, Kevin!

More on DEFCAD, the ITAR, and cryptography

Adam Shostack has a very interesting post exploring the history of cryptography and the ITAR, and what is going on with 3D printing:
Cory Doctorow has said “Impact litigation — where good precedents overturn bad rules — is greatly assisted by good facts and good defendants. I would much rather the Internet-as-library question be ruled on in a less emotionally overheated realm than DIY guns.” I think that’s reasonable, but recall that Shaw claimed that all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Doctorow also refers to Bernstein, who did good work, but his lawsuit was the last nail in ITARs applying to crypto, not the first.
There's some history there, including the Applied Cryptography floppy disk incident.  Needless to say, I agree with his analysis (and have said so here), but he gives some background that is added richness to the discussion.