Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quote of the Day: Motorcycle edition

Gosh, it seems like teh Intarwebz are collectively telling me to stop being a grownup and just get the bike.  Dave H speaks my language in a comment here with the QOTD:
One nice thing about a motorcycle: the NSA can't hack its CAN Bus and drive you into a tree.
True dat.  That's one persuasive fellow.

Blogmeet time!

It's been a while since the last blog meet-up.  Leave a comment if you're in the Atlanta area this coming weekend.

I'm thinking that we can meet at Mac McGee's Irish Pub on Canton St in Roswell.  They have a couple dozen beers on tap (and others in bottle), including some pretty interesting British ones (Fuller's ESB plus others).  And not just Guinness but Murphy's stout on tap.  Maybe we can get Differ to join us to talk about flying B-17s!

If you're interested let me know whether Saturday or Sunday works better.  Heck, or maybe Thursday or Friday (lots of folks off for the holiday).

Breaking: NSA Internet spying foils NSA plot to attack NSA

Holy cow:
In a stunning development, the National Security Agency (NSA) reports that PRISM, the secret spy program that monitors all internet activity in the US and the world and stores all the data in acres and acres of massive super-cooled buildings somewhere in the desert, has uncovered an active ongoing plot by the NSA to use the PRISM program to monitor, spy on, and collect all the internet activity in the US.

The NSA is concerned that the newly discovered NSA PRISM program is to be used to launch an attack against the NSA and potentially undercut the efficiency of its PRISM program.
They've done gone and pissed off the NSA.  Things are fixin' to get ugly now.

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 8

Cliché is a deadly danger in the world of Art.  Imagine the stereotypical symphonic finale: lyrical, dramatic, swelling to a final triumphant chord - that is the unforgivable sin to modern "classical" music.

That's why modern "classical" music is an arid wasteland, devoid of anything that will emotionally connect the audience.  All is technical trickery, food perhaps for the left brain but leaving the right brain hungry for a real meal.

Nobody delivers a seven course meal of emotional connection and lyrical triumph like Gustav Mahler, and none of his works approaches the triumph of that promise like the finale of his Eighth Symphony.  Yes, it's a cliché of a finale, but we need to remember that all clichés were once new.  This was a sensation when it premiered in 1907 and, to listen to the roar of applause in today's video, it continues to connect to that emotional spring that longs for art - and especially music - to cause an upwelling, to make it bubble over.

Cliché is a deadly danger in the world of Art.  The problem with today's musical establishment is that they fear the scorn of a prissy in-group more than they fear the loss of that triumphant emotional release.  And who forget that it ain't cliché if you can actually do it.

Man, I love this music.  Unusual for a symphony, the main "instrument" is the chorus.  I would have loved singing this, back when I was in the Chorus* at State U, even if it was a full hour and a half (!).  For those interested, here it is in its magnificent entirety.

Cliché my musical ass.

* Baritone, thanks for asking.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I may be losing my mind

Less expensive than I had thought. But there's no rational justification for it.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Hidden Internet

This is a very good introduction to how you can hide yourself - and how much you can hide yourself - from the creepy NSA hooveramatic.  Highly recommended.

The point, of course, is not to participate in the unsavory aspects of the 'Net (like The Silk Road). Instead, it's how a group like the Tea Party can communicate with a reduced risk of retaliation from the Fed.Gov.  It's a bit annoying that the First Amendment means so little these days that legitimate political groups need to use some of the same tools as Internet scumbags.

Where on earth is the Left?

Long ago, the Left actually had a unifying philosophy (class).  Those days are gone, and all that remains is a mishmash of tactical identity-politics alliance building.  And so the Left has nothing to offer regarding this:
It's important to understand the distinction being made here between relative and absolute wealth: if the top 10% own 90% of the wealth, then $90 of every $100 of new wealth flows to them. This is politically acceptable to the status quo as long as the wealth of the bottom 90% expands by the same percentage.

Should the bottom 90%'s share of the new wealth rise at a faster rate than the top 10%'s, that's actually preferable, as over time that shrinks wealth inequality while leaving the wealth already owned by the top 10% untouched.

In other words, the top 10% do not suffer any decline in wealth if they collect $80 of each $100 of new wealth rather than $90. This slight reduction in the rate of growth makes little difference to the top wealth holders but it has a much larger impact on the bottom 90% because they own so little wealth.

Every one of these implicit assumptions has been turned on its head: growth is barely above the rate of inflation; by some measures, it has already fallen below the real rate of inflation.

Debt is increasing much faster than income or wealth.

Virtually all of the recent expansion of wealth/income is flowing to the top 10%.
This is why the status quo is doomed: there is no Plan B or even conceptual alternative to the "more growth forever" agenda.
I think that this is terribly important, and quite frankly lies at the heart of the Tea Party's support.  I suspect that it was Bill Clinton who finally ended the Democrat's support for the Little Guy (in the historical, political sense), but there are so many unsavory changes that he brought about that it's an easy charge to level.

Me, I don't have a good feeling about what's happening.  Balkinization is rampant and we've seen that government officials and politicians no longer scruple to pay lip service to the rule of law and to the Constitution.  The naked use of power is ascendent.

Not sure what to do about it.

The Carter Family - Can the circle be unbroken

Image via Wikipedia
It's possible that this is the most famous country music song ever written.  The Carter Family was really the foundation of country music - while music existed before them, it was heard at tent revivals and local gatherings; the Carter Family brought it to radio and millions of listeners.

This isn't old school, this created old school.  It's the country music of my grandparents (who, it must be said, never quite cottoned to the newfangled "outlaw" music of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard). 

I never much cared for it, growing up on that Johnny Cash (and the Beatles).  This was too old fashioned, too corny, too religious.  Now I have a little more appreciation for the impact of this music.  Everything that came after was made possible by this.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Still beer o'clock

With pork belly sliders, bacon jam, and HP sauce.

And Fuller's ESB on tap. In a proper pint glass. Knottedprop, this one is for you. Salute!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

It's Beer O'clock

Man, what a week.

Interesting firearms shopping site

Liana emails to point out a pretty interesting site, Find The Best which is putting up a firearms comparison analysis engine.  A couple days ago I put up a bleg asking what .22 bolt action rifle is good for teaching newbies.  That was an interesting test for the system, which lets you select a whole bunch of criteria to find what you're looking for.

Pretty neat actually.  And the results can be sorted different ways, for example by price:

And that led me to one that made me go hmmm:

Like I said, pretty interesting.  I hadn't even known about this little rifle, and now I'm thinking of maybe getting it.  Because what I did know was that I think I need a beginner's .22 rifle, and Find The Best helped me zero in on what I was looking for.

They have a decent set of search criteria to filter with.  You could use this to pick a carry pistol, for example.  They also have a neat feature showing all of the gun stores and FFLs near where I am.  I didn't know that there were six within 5 miles.  Heck, that's walking distance.  The have a place for user reviews, although as a new site there aren't a lot.  I might go through and put links to my range reports there.

I think that the site could be improved by questionnaire for new shooters where it asks a series of questions that can help set up filters.  For example, how large are you (small/medium/large)?  How mechanically inclined are you (a little/some/a lot)?  What type of clothes do you typically wear (fitted/loose)?  The idea is that a newbie won't know much about shooting but will know the answer to questions like these.  Then the filters can provide a starting point.  A good filter for a large, mechanically inclined man who wears baggy clothes could include a full sized 1911, for instance.

But this is nit picking.  I spent rather a lot of time fooling around at Find The Best.  Interesting place.

What a difference 5 years makes

On this day 99 years ago, Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.  The entire continent of Europe was spoiling for a fight, or had locked itself in a cage of mutual-defense treaties, and so millions of men started marching towards the abattoir.  Lions lead by donkeys, indeed.

Five years later on this same day, the exhausted powers signed the vindictive Treaty of Versailles, proving that the donkeys had not gained wisdom from the bleeding.  The treaty solved nothing, and hardened the Germans' determination - and gained them no little public sympathy from the world during Hitler's initial rise.  But the world was entirely different from that day 5 years earlier.

I don't expect that there's another day on the calendar that has a higher butcher's bill.

Entertainment for the War On Terror®!

NSAFlix* brings it:

Everyone's getting it**, so come on down!  They've already got your credit card number!

* I can neither confirm nor deny the fact that the NSAFlix pitchman looks exactly like an NSA cryptomathemetician  who cam to my wedding (and whose wedding I went to).  Exactly?  I can neither confirm nor deny, and srlsy, don't ask me about his suit ...

** Except for Bob***.  Stupid old Bob.

*** Err, and me.

Via American Digest.  They know his credit card number, too.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's a fair cop

Well, yeah.  Maybe with bad brakes, even.

Interesting series of questions.  What kind of car are you?  My predictions: JayG is either a Dodge Earthf***er or a Harley, Tam is a Zed Drei or a 911, Rev. Paul is a snowmobile, ASM826 is an F4 Phantom, OldNFO is a C-130, Brigid is a gourmet Food Van, Paul Dammit is a 100' tricked out Party Boat.

Might be wrong on those.  But I thought I was wrong once; I was mistaken ...

Chick Corea - Glebe St. Blues

More jazz than blues, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Beats me

I recall the quote from Col. Cooper:
Let us reflect upon the fact that a man who covers his face shows reason to be ashamed of what he is doing. A man who takes it upon himself to shed blood while concealing his identity is a revolting perversion of the warrior ethic. It has long been my conviction that a masked man with a gun is a target. I see no reason to change that view.
Yeah, me neither.

But remember, these Progressives are so much smarter than you and I

Because they've spent their lives worshipping at the altar of Smart Uber Alles at the leftie Universities.  And so they do smart user alles things like this:

But remember, you like guns and so you're a knuckle dragging wingnut.

Need moar coffee

I'm getting to it, but I feel like my Jeep.  A brake calliper is stuck and there's a lot of extra drag today.

Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee ...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Honorable Warriors

December 20, 1943 saw one of many bombing raids over Germany.  It saw, like many of those raids, bombers shot down or very badly shot up.

Ye Olde Pub, a B-17 piloted by LT Charlie Brown was one of those badly shot up.  His tail gunner was dead and most of the flight crew were wounded by the mauling that Me 109 and FW 190s that tried to finish off what the German Flak had started.

One of those fighter pilots was Franz Stigler, a veteran and Ace who, with 22 kills only needed one more to see his name submitted for the Knight's Cross.  But Stigler was a true knight, in the most chivalrous sense of the term:
Remembering the words of one of his commanding officers from the Jagdgeschwader 27, Gustav Rödel, during his time fighting in north Africa – “You are fighter pilots first, last, always. If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I'll shoot you myself." Stigler later commented, "To me, it was just like they were in a parachute. I saw them and I couldn't shoot them down."
Instead, Stigler escorted them to the English Channel, where they flew back to England and safety.  47 years later, they met each other a second time:

We never know whether we will measure up to our own aspirations until we are tested by flame.  At that moment we find our true mettle.

Once again, Germany screws the rest of the Eurozone

This time, it just got real:

The Irish seem to be adapting.  Probably centuries of survival instincts helping out there.

Funny snark aside, there's a real point here: beer is a proxy for all sorts of prices that impact Yannis on the street.  It's actually ugly, and it's got a whole lot uglier in the 7 months since this data came out.  Quite frankly it's easy to see how neo-fascist parties are gaining strength when parents are increasingly having to leave their children in orphanages because they can't afford them:
As the Greek government prepares new austerity packages demanded by EU creditors, Greece sees its younger generation feel the sting of economic upheaval. Parents are being increasingly forced to abandon their children, unable to support them.
Quite frankly, that's gotten worse in the last 7 months, too.  The eggheads from L'Ecole Polytechnique and the Bundesministerium der Finanzen will find the answer to their mad experiment in the tramp of jackboots, echoing in European cities.

How much is your Gmail account worth to a hacker?


The University of Illinois has a pretty neat web tool that calculates your risk exposure and makes some (pretty sensible) recommendations to help you lock this down:
The brainchild of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cloudsweeper’s account theft audit tool scans your inbox and presents a breakdown of how many accounts connected to that address an attacker could seize if he gained access to your Gmail. Cloudsweeper then tries to put an aggregate price tag on your inbox, a figure that’s computed by totaling the resale value of other account credentials that crooks can steal if they hijack your email.

In a blog post earlier this month titled The Value of a Hacked Email Account, I noted that many people do not realize how much they have invested in their email account until that account is in the hands of cyber crooks. That post quoted prices from one seller in the cybercrime underground who buys compromised accounts, such as hacked iTunes accounts for $8, or credentials to for $5, for example.
If you use Gmail, you should go run this tool.

Epic tweet is epic

Via Dr. J, we find this tweet di tutti tweets:


Brakes question

The Jeep Wrangler only has something like 45,000 miles on it, but I've had the brakes done twice because they were all worn out.  I don't drive this any differently than I drive the other cars which don't see this same thing.

The last time I had the brakes done was 2000 miles ago, and they're acting up again.  Specifically, one of the wheels has what the dealer says is a locked caliper, which they'll be delighted to change for the low, low price of $161.  Bah.

Anyone have any idea why the brakes stink so bad?  I don't think I'll have the dealer do the caliper job, because it seems like they should have picked this up 2000 miles ago. 

And thoughts that you smarter types have would be very much appreciated, including if you think that I'm being too hard on the car dealer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RSS Reader

Google Reader goes away on Monday, and so I've moved to The Old Reader.  It's been working fine for the last 10 days or so.  It pulls your existing subscriptions in, so the transition will take all of a minute or two.

Admittedly, I don't do all that much funky with Google Reader, so if you have lots of fancy razzmataz there, this might not work for you.  But it seems like a good replacement if you just want an RSS reader.

Oh, and it works in a browser, so it's cross platform.  Works great on both Windows and Linux.  Haven't tried it on a smart phone, but expect it would work.

Have you hacked a Ford lately?

You'll be able to after a presentation at the DEFCON 21 security conference:
Automotive computers, or Electronic Control Units (ECU), were originally introduced to help with fuel efficiency and emissions problems of the 1970s but evolved into integral parts of in-car entertainment, safety controls, and enhanced automotive functionality. This presentation will examine some controls in two modern automobiles from a security researcherís point of view. We will first cover the requisite tools and software needed to analyze a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. Secondly, we will demo software to show how data can be read and written to the CAN bus. Then we will show how certain proprietary messages can be replayed by a device hooked up to an ODB-II connection to perform critical car functionality, such as braking and steering. Finally, weíll discuss aspects of reading and modifying the firmware of ECUs installed in todayís modern automobile..

Charlie Miller (@0xcharlie) is a security engineer at Twitter. Back when he still had time to research, he was the first with a public remote exploit for both the iPhone and the G1 Android phone. He is a four time winner of the CanSecWest Pwn2Own competition. He has authored three information security books and holds a PhD from the University of Notre Dame. Charlie spends his free time trying to get back together with Apple, but sadly they still list their relationship status as "It's complicated".

Chris Valasek (@nudehaberdasher) is the Director of Security Intelligence at IOActive, an industry leader that offers comprehensive computer security services, where he specializes in attack methodologies, reverse engineering and exploitation techniques. While widely regarded for his research on Windows heap exploitation, Valasek also regularly speaks on the security industry conference circuit on a variety of topics. His previous tenures include Coverity, Accuvant LABS and IBM/ISS. He is also the Chairman of SummerCon, the nationís oldest hacker conference. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh..
The smart money is betting that security wasn't an afterthought, it wasn't thought of at all.


Early in Obama's first term, then Secretary of State Clinton presented the Russians with a token showing that the Cowboys were no longer in charge.  Rather than a foreign policy based on conflict, it was a new era of listening and cooperation.  A "Reset", as their gift so plainly said.

Except that's not what the Russian word meant.  Sure, that's how we translated things - when you translate, you don't want to take a literal meaning, you want to use the colloquial.  An American would press this button when they wanted to reset a system - unfortunately, that's not what a Russian would think.  They would press the button when the system was overloaded.


Analogies are difficult to use, particularly when you are crossing cultures.  Different cultures don't use different words simply because they're perverse.  Steve Martin once had a stand-up comedy routine about the problems of being an American tourist in Paris:
Those French - it's like they have a different word for everything.
Imagine that.  And so we see that Hillary's much vaunted "Reset" diplomacy has borne withered fruit:
The Syrian debacle comes in the aftermath of Obama scrapping in 2009 a missile-defense system the Poles and the Czech Republic had agreed to house despite Russian threats, as a way to pacify Putin. (“The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the plans,” CNN reported at the time.)

Add to that Putin’s support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and his crackdown at home. (The Washington Post writes that in “an attempt to suppress swelling protests against his rigged reelection and the massively corrupt autocracy he presides over, Mr. Putin has launched what both Russian and Western human rights groups describe as the most intense and pervasive campaign of political repression since the downfall of the Soviet Union.”). Taken all together, you can see that the Obama “reset”–which at the dawn of the Obama administration was described as a “win-win” strategy for both nations–has been a rout for the Russians.

With the Snowden situation, Vladimir Putin seems intent not only defying America but embarrassing her. It turns out that an irresolute amateur like Barack Obama was the best thing that the brutal but determined Putin could have hoped for.
Overload, indeed.  Remember, these were the people who we were told were the smartest kids in class.  So much smarter than Cowboy Bush or - OMG, do I even mention someone as "dumb" as Sarah Palin?  So dumb.  Dumb dumb dumb.  Nothing like as smart as Hillary! or the Lightbringer and their Overload button.

Because Bush and Palin were so dumb that we might have had Russia really screwing us, all over the world.  I can see Russia from my house!

Gee, maybe it would be good if they could see what Russia is doing from the White House, or at least from Foggy Bottom.

5 years ago yesterday

JayG put up this post:
Okay. I am officially jealous.

Looks like a good time was had by all participants at the Indy Blog Bash.

Unc's always hosting or attending some sort of TN-based gunblogger meet.

Who's interested in a Northeast Blogger meet-up? Any interest in bloggers local to New England/Northeast getting together?

I'm thinking we need to one-up the Indy meet, and rather than get together at some trendy pub, get together at a range...

Let me know if interested...

That is all.
I'd been following Jay's blog for a while, and I'd been thinking about starting a blog for a while.  Dang, I said to myself.  I guess I should get off my lazy butt and do itAnd so I did, 5 years ago today.

Over 7100 posts (!) and over 25,000 comments (!!!!!) later, here we are.  Personally, I blame Jay.  But thanks, Jay, for being the kick in the seat of my pants that I needed.  And thanks to all y'all who keep stopping by.  I'm not sure what I expected when I started, but it sure wasn't this.  That's something that I'm quite grateful for.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It seems that Hitler wants access to the PRISM technology, too

Tell Obama that he can send the Republicans to my camps.  Heh.

OK, I'm not the only one with lousy NSA recommendations

I've posted on protecting your data from the NSA.  Seems to be a popular subject, and (via ZeroHedge) is an 18 page "Black Paper" on how to do an end run around the NSA.  There's a lot of overlap with what I posted, but there's some new stuff as well.  You really should take a look.

I'm still noodling on the bigger issue, which is similar to the problem of how you drop off the grid while staying connected.  The process is a lot more than just using Tor or encrypted email - you have to be able to form social networks, or it's basically back to the 1960s.  Good luck with any sort of group action.

Still working, but it's not an easy topic.  I need to simplify without losing the layers of subtlety.

Yeah, like that.

Quote of the day: Immigration edition

And by "immigration" I mean "illegal immigration amnesty":
... part and parcel of the case for allowing unrestricted immigration is that immigrants are poorer than the average American. They’d have to be, wouldn’t they? After all (or so we are told):
  • Lots of American employers ‘want to hire’ immigrants. Why would this be?
  • Because, presumably, immigrants are cheaper/more efficient to hire. Why would this be?
  • Because, presumably, they’re willing to do the same job(s) at a lower wage than natives would. Why would this be?
  • Because they’re poorer.
I mean hey, if you’ve got a better explanation, let’s hear it.
For added they're lying to us points, there's this:
Okay, so again, we see that if we take pro-immigration arguments to heart, they make sense only on the assumption, belief, expectation, or empirical observation that the immigrants we’re allowing to enter are poorer than the average native.

Poorer. But at the same time they don’t use social services at any higher rate.

How can this be? Why would it be? What is the open-borders explanation? Do you believe it?

Do immigrants, as a rule, have social strictures or taboos against making use of government services? That’s almost like you’re saying that immigrants are somehow culturally-different than Americans, which would be Racist.

Is the idea supposed to be that in the U.S., government social-service providers are, as a class, really good, motivated and efficient at weeding out immigrants and withholding taxpayer-funded benefits from them? (RELATED: IRS Sent $46 Million in Tax Refunds to 23,994 ‘Unauthorized’ Aliens — All at the SAME Address in Atlanta.)
This whole amnesty issue has scraped layers of libertarian coating off of me, exposing the core of liberal values I grew up with.  From a liberal perspective, this amnesty is horrible public policy because it further impoverishes the poor.  And quite frankly, it's all the evidence you need to refute the dumb What's The Matter With Kansas silliness.

The Democrats have breath taking contempt for poor minorities - especially African Americans who like Rihanna keep voting for their Democratic Chris Brown - and care only about new potential votes rather than their existing clients.  The Republicans are stunning in their stupidity here - if they can't cause some internal fractures with the Democrats, they deserve to go the way of the Whigs.  Of course, they don't do this because the Chamber of Commerce donations to the Gang of Eight would dry up.

Teach yourself computer security: Free training

Here's a site that has a bunch of open source lectures (some recorded) focused on computer and network security.  I haven't looked into these, but a lot of the topics seem pretty on-point.

Well, I have taken a skim on the Introduction to Vulnerability Assessment course (this is really my deepest area of expertise, and where I've published in the technical literature) and it passes the sniff test for usefulness.  The structure seems pretty coherent and complete for an intro course:
This is a lecture and lab based class giving an introduction to vulnerability assessment of some common common computing technologies.  Instructor-led lab exercises are used to demonstrate specific tools and technologies.

Course Objectives are
- Learning a general methodology for conducting assessments
- Scanning and mapping network topology
- Identifying listening ports/services on hosts
- Fingerprinting operating systems remotely
- Conducting automated vulnerability scans
- Auditing router, switch, and firewall security
- Auditing UNIX and Windows configuration and security
- Performing Web application and associated database security assessments

This class will serve as a prerequisite for later class on vulnerability assessment which dive deeper into specific areas such as Windows VA or web application VA.
There are slides in PowerPoint or PDF - 474 slides in the case of this course.  There's real training info here.

Given the state of the economy, anyone looking to switch career paths to a field where there will be long term (and well paying) demand, this is a good place to start.  Perhaps the most useful part of this is that it will gauge your interest - if this is boring or impenetrable, you should look at a different field.  If it's interesting and comprehensible, do more of the classes.

In particular, the CISSP Common Body Of Knowledge course is probably the most important if you want to break into the field.  CISSP is a general security certification that is recognized and accepted pretty much anywhere.  It will open doors for you even if you don't have any experience at all.

I must say that the Internet is truly a wonderful place.  Free knowledge.  It's raining soup, all you have to do is hold out a bucket.

Long lost Roman concrete formula rediscovered

Concrete has been used in the modern era for only 300 years or so.  It is based on "Portland" cement, so called because it can be cast into smooth forms reminiscent of fine limestone quarried in Portland Head, England.

The problem is that modern cement begins to crumble after 30 years, and won't generally last much longer than 50-70 years.  It's a big reason why we continually rebuild bridges.  The Romans built all sorts of structures that are still standing after 2000 years.  Why?

Their concrete didn't fall apart like ours does, because they didn't use Portland cement.  They used volcanic rock:
The researchers now know why ancient Roman concrete is so superior. They extracted from the floor of Italy’s Pozzuoili Bay, in the northern tip of the Bay of Naples, a sample of concrete breakwater that dates back to 37 B.C. and analyzed its mineral components at research labs in Europe and the U.S., including at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. The analysis, the scientists believe, reveals the lost recipe of Roman concrete, and it also points to how much more stable and less environmentally damaging it is than today’s blend.

That’s why the findings, which were published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society and American Mineralogist, are considered so important for today’s industrial engineers and the future of the world’s cities and ports. “The building industry has been searching for a way to make more durable concretes,” Jackson points out.


The secret to Roman concrete lies in its unique mineral formulation and production technique. As the researchers explain in a press release outlining their findings, “The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms. The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated—incorporating water molecules into its structure—and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.”
This isn't just dusty history, this is something that can make a big difference to modern construction.  Not often you can get that from an archaeology dig.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Looks like Sebastian didn't wait until the sun was over the yardarm

The hermit crab fell over backwards. They say it happens all the time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

Sleep with the fishes

Well, OK - you can't sleep with them. The Aquarium closes at 6:00.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Persistence of Memory

It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us.  A year impairs, a luster obliterates.  There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment - but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?  
- Lord Byron
My earliest memory is from right around my 3rd birthday.  #1 Son's memory is better - not quite photographic, but really astonishing - and his first memory was from when he was maybe 2 and a half.  #2 Son's isn't as good, even as mine - his first memory was from when he was around 3 and a half, when we took him here:

It's the Aquarium in Barcelona, Spain.  It's quite good, and having the sharks swim overhead made a big impression on him.  That was a long time ago in a land far away (and by that I don't mean "Spain is far away", but you already knew that).

It was impossible to keep #2 Son clean.  Good times, good times.  You hope to add to the stock of those as your children grow, for your sake as much as for theirs.  #1 Son is in College, and soon will be gone.  #2 Son will be a senior in High School next year, and my inner ear can hear the tick tick tick as Tempus Fugit.

And so, to action.  He still has his Learner's Permit, and needs 40 hours of practice to take his driving test.  Today we'll practice in the down town Atlanta city madness.  He needs to get a taste of city driving, and Sunday should reduce the level of crazy.  Besides, we'll end up here:

That's the Atlanta Aquarium.  We've never been there, moving up to Yankeeland before it was open.  He's not 3 any more, but hopefully it will be a fun day not just reliving old memories, but making new ones.

We make many mistakes as parents; children come with no Owner's Manual, and so we stumble through doing as best we can.  This leads to many regrets, memories of things we would have done differently.  That is why capturing a moment of magic every now and then is so important.  Important for your children, to be sure, but even more so for you.
The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.
- Canadian poet Alden Nowlan

Jean Baptiste Lully - L' Orchestre du Roi Soleil

We have just passed the Solstice, officially entering the season of summer.  So what better music to celebrate than the royal composer to the Sun King himself?

Jean Baptiste Lully was the composer who established a uniquely French style of Baroque music, freeing it from the conventions imposed by the original Italian masters.  This is pretty ironic since he was born Giovanni Battista Lulli in Florence.  He was a street performer who by incredible chance fell in with the son of the Duke of Guise, who brought him to Paris.

His astonishing musical talents soon attracted the attention of the young King Louis XIV, who appointed him superintendent of Royal music.  He was made a French citizen and assumed the name in its French form.  The final irony was that he used a very long conducting staff which, in an excess of enthusiasm during one performance, stabbed himself in the fool.  He dies of gangrene soon after.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Firearms Advice bleg

My birthday is coming up is a bit, and it's been more than a year since I've added to the Borepatch firearms collection.  And so I'd like to ask your advice on what to look for.

Here is what I have in mind: I want something in .22 lr that I can use to introduce new shooters.  I'm thinking maybe a single shot bolt action rifle or maybe a revolver (say, a Ruger New Model Single Six).  I'd like to keep the price below $400 if at all possible.

It's times like this that I really miss Kim du Toit's blog - his gun list had hours of interesting and useful reviews.  Alas, it's gone.  So help me Obi-wan Reader, you're my only hope.

UPDATE: it seems that someone has Kim's gun list here.

Guns doing the Lord's work

Ralph emails to point out this very cool fundraiser.  A Knights of Columbus chapter in Caspar Wyoming does a weekly gun raffle.  They look like they raise over $100,000 a year for the Catholic Church there:
On April 27, 2013, Council 9917 presented Bishop Etienne and the St. Joseph Society for Retired Priests with a check for $53,000 raised from the 3rd Annual Gun-A-Week Raffle.
Very cool.

Ummm, yeah

Not that I don't try.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Fishin' In The Dark

Yesterday was the first day of summer, a timeless moment that makes you think of long lost guilty pleasures from your youth.  This song is one of those for me.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been around since those days of my youth.  In fact, it dates to the mid 1960s.  Along the way a lot of people have been in the band, most famously Jackson Browne and the Eagles' Bernie Leadon.  They've picked up a couple of Grammys. 

Theirs is an eclectic and hard to describe mix of country, bluegrass, folk, and pop that you either love or hate, or maybe both at the same time.  This hit #1 on the Country charts in 1987, and takes me back to a less complicated time of my life.

Fishin' In The Dark (Songwriters: Wendy Waldman, Jim Photoglo)
Lazy yellow moon comin' up tonite,
Shinin' thru the trees,
Crickets are singin' and lightning bugs
Are floatin on the breeze
Baby get ready.....

Across the field where the creek turns back by the ole stump road
I'm gonna take you to a special place that nobody knows
Baby get ready.....ooooooooooo

You and me going fishing in the dark,
Lying on our backs and counting the stars
Where the cool grass grows.
Down by the river in the full moon light,
We'll be fallin' in love in the middle of the night
Just movin' slow...

Stayin' the whole night thru, feels so good to be with you...

Spring is almost over and the summer's come
And the days are gettin' long
Waited all winter for the time to be right, just to take you along
Baby get ready.....

And it don't matter if we sit forever and the fish don't bite
Jump in the river and cool ourselves from the heat of the night
Baby get ready.....ooooooooooo.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Guitar Fest

Vince Gill with Keb Mo, James Burton, Earl Klugh & Albert Lee.  Earl brings an acoustic guitar to an Electric Guitar fight and kills it.

Great song about the late, great George Jones.  John Deere, heh.

Jan & Dean - Surf City

It's the equinox, which means that it's officially summer now.  OK, here's some summer music.

Quote of the Day

Bruce Schneier parses the Tech companies' denials of NSA cooperation:
A Skype executive denied last year in a blog post that recent changes in the way Skype operated were made at the behest of Microsoft to make snooping easier for law enforcement. It appears, however, that Skype figured out how to cooperate with the intelligence community before Microsoft took over the company, according to documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the N.S.A. One of the documents about the Prism program made public by Mr. Snowden says Skype joined Prism on Feb. 6, 2011.

Reread that Skype denial from last July, knowing that at the time the company knew that they were giving the NSA access to customer communications. Notice how it is precisely worded to be technically accurate, yet leave the reader with the wrong conclusion. This is where we are with all the tech companies right now; we can't trust their denials, just as we can't trust the NSA -- or the FBI -- when it denies programs, capabilities, or practices.
The lawyerly wording in all these denials is, how shall we say, strangely specific.  Each time they kick the can down the road, the trust they deserve shrinks.
LIAR, n. A lawyer with a roving commission.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

The NSA: a uniter, not a divider

The whole NSA "Eye of Sauron" situation has seemingly united the country.  Firefox's's default start page has a link to which is collecting signatures to ask Congress to come clean on what the NSA is up to.  The list of organizations who have signed up is an interesting Who's Who of opposites:
Occupy Wall Street NYC and Mansville North Central Ohio Tea Party
DailyKos and the Tenth Amendment Center and the Competitive Enterprise Institute
Wow - I'm kind of digging this whole "Shoulder to Shoulder" thing.  And the memes continue to satisfy:

And satisfy:

At last we know the answer to the question "Where have all the good men gone?"  They're working at NSA ...

Dang, that's not good

Srlsy, that's not good.

Let's be careful out there.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Otis Rush - Gambler's Blues

I don't know if Otis Rush is my favorite bluesman, but I don't know that he isn't.

Rules for Trolling lefties

Fearsome Pirate lists the Seven Cardinal Rules for Trolls
The proper way to deal with leftists is to troll them. They hate reason, facts, and arguments. They will either put you on trial for heresy or dismiss you. The appropriate response, then, is to make them angry while maintaining your superiority. Here are Fearsome Pirate's Rules of Trolling:

1. Keep it short, stupid.
This is quite a good list, and is particularly good food for thought about how to engage in gun control discussions.  In fact, it reinforces my preferred approach of saying that I'm not opposed to gun control laws, just to stupid and useless ones.  A more in-your-face approach would be to ask why your opponent wants to oppress women, gays, and minorities (all of whom are hurt by gun control laws).

RTWT.  And I will have to go back over there, as he has a tag for Aquinas.

Mail bag

A bunch of folks have emailed recently, and I've been sadly neglectful in my replies.  Besides, people only send interesting stuff, and here it is.

2cents emails to point out that even the New Republic is questioning the Received Wisdom of Global Warming:

Especially since scientists themselves aren’t entirely sure what the evidence means.

Damn it, the freaking science is settled!   What is wrong with these people?!
I think that the Press climbed on the ZOMGTHERMAGEDDON!!!1!!eleventy!! bandwagon because if you slice a Journo lengthwise you'll find a reliably leftist Progressive, and the proposed remediations required a massive increase in the power of the State.  They found this to align with their existing preconceived policy preferences.

But what made their stories convincing to the mass of the population was that all this broke out in the late 1990s - Michael Mann and company's famous "Hockey Stick" paper was published in 1998 which was a super El Nino year.  You always see hot and dry weather in an El Nino, but this let the MSM connect with the "Dang, it's hot lately" that everyone was thinking.

The problem today is that there's been no statistically significant warming in something like 17 years, and it's actually been quite cold for the last few.  The "Dang, it's hot lately" has turned into "Will someone turn up the thermostat?" and so we see articles like the one in the New Republic.  Remember, none of the journos are particularly smart, and they certainly don't understand anything about the science, so all they have to do on is their winter heating bills.

James emails to point out the long history of suspicion that the NSA has secret backdoors in popular software and Operating Systems.  This really goes back to the Clipper Chip controversy in the early 1990s where they did have an explicit decryption backdoor in the chip.  You hear rumors that, for example, Microsoft gave the encryption keys or Windows Source code to the Russian government.  My take is that it doesn't really matter - at this point there's so little reason to trust the NSA that you should assume that they can decrypt your data at will.  This is perhaps the strongest reason to use Open Source encryption, because you have the source code if you want.  While a lot of Open Source doesn't get people looking at it, crypto modules do get a lot of review.  I'm pretty confident that if one of these were backdoored, we'd know it.

Dave emails to comment on my post about World War II in the Pacific and the inevitability of American victory:
The one thing the post on the economics in the Pacific overlooks is the political and strategic implications of the Battle of Midway.
I say political, because, had the US lost at Midway, the political pressure would have been immense to shift more effort into the Pacific.  Though the Germany-first strategy made sense to the uniformed types, the citizenry saw mostly the attacks by Japan - and a string of defeats that needed to be avenged.
What if ships and men that were used for Operation Torch in November 1942 had been diverted, due to domestic political pressure, to operations in the Pacific?  How would that have effected events on the Eastern Front in 1943?  (I don't think it would have affected the final outcome, but the Cold War boundary might well have been the Rhein instead of the Elbe, due to the delay in the Anglo-American landings in France.)
Also, if the US had lost at Midway, they would have also lost the ability to challenge the Japanese advance in the Solomons, at least in 1942. (The Guadalcanal landings were in October, 1942.)  This would have left Australia isolated, and quite possibly have removed them from the war.  At any rate, it would have greatly reduced the Allied ability to challenge the Japanese advance in New Guinea, and possibly cancelled out MacArthur's entire SW Pacific campaign.  (Can you imagine the political havoc MacArthur could have caused if, lacking employment in the Pacific, he had returned to DC?)  That would have freed up more resources for the central Pacific advance (the only effort specified in the pre-war ORANGE plan - see Edward Miller's War Plan Orange), but much of what was used in the SW Pacific - especially the short and medium range aircraft, of which 5th AF employed a lot - would have been largely useless in the central Pacific.  'MacArthur's Navy' didn't have any carriers.
The US would probably have ultimately defeated Japan, but the post-war world would probably have looked very different.
I think this is exactly correct.  The political pressure to transfer much of the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific would have been enormous, if only to protect Hawaii.  Long term it wouldn't have made any difference (as my post points out), but it's hard to see a North African front opened up 5 months after the destruction of the American carriers at Midway.  That delay would have delayed the invasion of Sicily, which would have effected the Summer 1943 Eastern Front balance of power.

Tune in tonight to Squirrel Report

I've been writing a series of posts about how to hide yourself from the NSA (well, as much as you can).  It seems that this has attracted the attention of no less than the Cabal™ behind The Squirrel Report.
What's a little annoying to realize (after writing a couple thousand researched words on the subject) is that I've been approaching it completely wrong.

Teh sigh.

Well, I guess that the good thing is that I know what I need to write, although it's going to take me a few days to do it right.  In the meantime, tune in to Squirrel Report tonight, which may be the first ever Secret Squirrel Report.  Call in, and you can either grill me or tell me what a l4m3r I am.  Either way, it should be amusing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Looks like the Army Air Corps is back

Something's taking off, at least ...

North Korea accuses US Government of tyranny

I guess it takes one to know one, but the irony meter is pretty pegged on this:

A commentary in the state newspaper Minju Joson said allegations of monitoring of telephones and emails by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden meant Americans and foreigners alike had been "subject to the espionage that has been applied indiscriminately by the U.S. intelligence institution".

"...This clearly proves once again the U.S. is a kingpin of human rights abuses as it puts the world under its watch network and has conducted espionage against mankind," said the commentary, cited by the official KCNA news agency.
Pretty hard to argue that one, actually.  Ironic irony is ironic.

Hiding your data transmissions from the NSA, Part 3

Part 1 - Sending data without NSA knowing you're sending it.

Part 2 - hiding your metadata.

Mostly we've been discussing web surfing.  Today is about other types of data communications.  Take email, for example.  Email is the "killer app" that made the Internet, a full decade before the web was ever conceived.  Email is hugely important to dinosaurs like me, so what can we do to protect it from prying NSA eyes?

One step is to encrypt it.  Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) was developed for exactly this back in the mid-1990s.  It caused a real stir at the time because the Fed.Gov classified encryption software as a military weapon ("munition") and so it was considered that posting the source on the web was a criminal act.  The First Amendment stink raised here cause the formation of privacy and freedom groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

So PGP and email go together like chocolate and peanut butter.  Enigmail has a nice plugin to the Open Source Thunderbird email client.

You'll want to use something like Thunderbird, rather than a web mail because most of the web mail options are hosted in the United States.  We already know that Google gives up their information to the Fed.Gov, and this includes Gmail email data.  Hushmail is interesting, but is hosted in Canada which is presumably cooperating closely with the US Government.  Your data is likely not safe there.  If you use Thunderbird, you might want to keep that on a hidden bootable USB drive, because your email data is stored locally on your filesystem.  I describe how to do that here.

Mutemail claims to be hosted in a country with "strict privacy laws", but I haven't checked into it. Neomailbox is hosted in Switzerland which is no guarantee, but given the increasing discontent in Europe with the NSA snooping (and in Switzerland in particular due to US pressure to eliminate the Swiss banking secrecy) this seems one of the better bets.

If you use Thunderbird/Enigmail rather than web broswer/SSL, you'll want a Swiss email server.  I don't have any recommendations so far, but a web search will find a number of these.  You may have to pay for them, which is further metadata that the NSA will collect.

No matter what you do for offshore email, you will want to use Tor (for web) or the Thunderbird Torbirdie plugin so that your communications will be more difficult for NSA to track.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Christopher Lee: Metal Rocker and total badass

Christopher Lee is perhaps best known for his role as Saruman in The Lord Of The Rings films; lesser film viewers will remember him in the craptacular Star Wars episodes 2 and 3.  He has had a long and productive acting career spanning a range from Wizard and Jedi to Dracula.

But his life is nothing short of astonishing.  He witnessed the last execution via guillotine in France.  He fought in the Winter War in Finland in 1939.  He was in the SAS in North Africa during the War.  He was cousin to Ian Flemming, who tried (and failed) to get him cast as Dr. No (he had to wait until Man With The Golden Gun to play a Bond villain).

But this post is about his musical career which is nothing short of amazing.  He had classical voice lessons to develop a basso profondo operatic capability.  He's continued his recording career, most recently with the Symphonic Metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. 

At 90 years of age, he (and they) have a new Metal album out, Charlemagne: The Omens Of Death. I think that this makes him the oldest Metal recording artist.  As a matter of fact when the first Metal artists were still in diapers he was kicking Nazi ass in the SAS.  The only thing that would make him more badass was if he built motorcycles or something.

And just to show that he refused to get type cast in his music (as he did somewhat in his film career), here he's getting his redneck on with Ghost Riders In The Sky.  Dude - this version's sung by Dracula!

Holster maker extraordinaire Dennis Badurina emails to say that he is going from Internet-only to an actual bricks and mortar shop in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Dragon Leatherworks will be one of only two gun shops in Oak Ridge, and the only one within 3/4 mile of the only (so I'm told) 1000 meter sniper range still operating east of the Mississippi, at the Oak Ridge Sportsmans Association. The big names in this area are Coal Creek Armory, Frontier Firearms, and the Big Box Stores.
As you can see from the picture to the right on the side bar, my carry holster is a Dragon Leatherworks Quantum.  It can only be described as awesome, keeping my 1911 snug and comfortable on my hip even on 14 hour drives between Atlanta and Austin.

But Dragon Leatherworks is also an FFL, and has a tasty selection of firearms.

They will be open by the end of July:
Dragon Leatherworks
1956-B Oak Ridge Turnpike
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

1-865-483-7100 during business hours, 1-865-240-1625 after hours.

Once we are officially open, our store hours will be:

3PM - 8PM Tues/Wed/Thurs
3PM - 9PM Fri
10AM - 8PM Sat
Noon - 5PM Sun
Closed Mondays

Google Glass: let the mockery begin

Hey tech nerds: don't be a "Glasshole".

Srlsy, don't be that guy.

Hiding your data transmissions from the NSA, Part 2

Part 1 is here, and involves a discussion about keeping your data private.  But even without being able to read your data - or even knowing that you're sneaking data through these communications - the NSA is really good at figuring out who is talking with whom.  In fact, it's likely that this traffic analysis technique has been instrumental in identifying the communications hierarchy of Al Qaeda.  If the critical nodes are identified, then those can be eliminated.  If enough of these are removed from the cell hierarchy, the network falls apart.

So how do you hide the fact that you are browsing to a Double-Plus Ungood Enemy Of The State® site like The High Road?  Sure, the NSA might not know what you're saying, but it's bad if they know that you're saying it there, right? 

So use Tor. Tor is a program and a network of servers designed to make Internet use anonymous.  It's not perfect, but it likely will raise the cost to the Fed.Gov in watching where you browse.  Your computer connects to a server called a Tor Router using an encrypted connection.  The router removes your IP address information and sends the data on (using an encrypted connection, 'natch) to another Tor router, which then does the same thing, sending your data on to a third Tor Router.  These routers are more or less randomly distributed geographically, and where the routers are and which will be used for any connection are essentially random.

What's important is that only the first Tor Router knows where you are - none of the others (or even the final destination web server) know where you are or who you are.  It anonymizes your 'Net communications. Net/net (so to say), it's hard for NSA to know that you're hanging with the Gun Nuts at THR by doing traffic analysis.

Tor is open source, so you download for free.  You get extra irony points, because Tor was originally developed to help people in countries where the Government is censoring Intern usage - Iran, Red China, etc.  In fact, 80% of the Tor Project's funding comes from the State Department.  Ironic Irony is ironic.

Now there are some important warnings.  First, your ISP is collecting data that would let the NSA know that you're talking to a Tor Router.  In other words, they might not be able to tell what you're talking to, they almost certainly would know that you are using Tor.  It's shining a big light on yourself.  If you want to keep as low a profile as possible, do not use Tor.  It will give you basically as high a profile as possible.

Second, it is possible that the NSA is watching both ends of the communications stream: you to the first Tor Router, and from the last Tor Router to the remote server.  It's actually likely that they're doing this.  It's thought that it would be very difficult to correlate these together, but not impossible.  I haven't heard of this happening yet, but it might be doable.  Paranoia runs deep, if you're smart. 

Third, there have been a series of problems identified in Tor over the last 5 years or so.  These have been fixed pretty quickly, but you need to understand that Tor is a big target for a lot of Governments, possibly including ours.  This is a presentation from a couple years ago that gives you a pretty good (if geeky) overview of this.

Fourth, Tor is good for web stuff, but only helps your privacy for data in flight; once the data is received at the server, it's subject to normal data collection.  For example, it doesn't make sense to use Tor with Gmail, because Google will just give your data up to the NSA on request.  If you really want a secure email, you will need to get more apps.  I'll cover that in the next installment.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marianas Trench - Fallout

It's what the young folk are listening to.  At least if you're #2 Son.

A bit angsty, perhaps, but maybe comes as close as anything to showing autotune as an actual musical  instrument.

AAR: Chicken Fried Steak

First, thanks to everyone who left comments and links to yesterday's bleg.

Second, the common theme to the comments (and even the links to recipes that people pointed out) was really helpful: if you're thinking chicken fried steak, think chicken fried chicken.  That was the breakthrough.

And so the breading was decent and the spicing was pretty good.  The pepper gravy was a first for us, Yankee born and bred (to our chagrin).  Tasty, though.  Man, you need a lot of pepper in the pepper gravy (and a lot of salt, too).

But the cube steak was not so great.  Next time I'll take the advice of one of the recipes (Stephen's link in the comment to that post): use good steak cut to one half inch thickness.  Yeah, you may need a steak knife* but unless you do the low temperature braise in the oven variant, you'll need it anyway.  And Jason VanLanduyt points out (again in the comments) that cooking chicken fried steak in the oven is a Class B misdemeanor in Illinois.  All I can add is that it might get me deported from Georgia, and I'd have to go live in Yankeeland.  That would make me sad.
Thanks to all who left a comment.  Next time, I'll do a proper foodblogging post because I sort of know what I'm doing now.

Environmentalists are the 1 percent

This pretty well sums the situation up:
The question, however, comes down to which is more important, jobs for the blue-collar worker or preserving the environment. The environmentalists all say the same sort of thing, that mining companies cannot be trusted, that they will spoil this wonderful and beautiful area, and anyway there are jobs created by tourism.


What’s distressing in this debate is the extent to which the terms are set by the environmentalists. They say that mining companies cannot be trusted, and they don’t seem too interested in jobs for locals. The mining companies are accordingly forced to explain that their processes will not harm the environment, while the environmentalists do not seem as compelled to talk about the jobs that won’t be created. Maybe someday this will be reversed. After all, environmentalists engage in wild exaggerations and so cannot be trusted, and they have a history of not caring about jobs for poorer people.

As a former mayor of Ely put it, “It would be easy to conclude that this effort [by the environmentalists] is really the 1 percent trying to prevent the 99 percent from having a fair shot at a fair share.”
Yup.  And environmentalists are racist, too.  As Orwell might have said, their opposition to good paying blue collar jobs comes is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security.


The Silicon Graybeard find the ne plus ultra of the battle of the sexes.  Do not have a mouthful of coffee when you watch this.

You've been warned.  I'd say that I've had precisely this conversation but can neither confirm nor deny whether this has happened.  Srlsy, that's above my threshold of pain.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What I got for Father's Day

It's a Benchmade Griptilian.  Nice knife, very well made, lifetime warranty.  I like the combination straight and serrated blade, which looks to be pretty handy.  It cuts like a dream.


Wisdom from Dad

Not always what you'd want.

Does anyone have a good recipe for chicken fried steak?

I'm going to make it today because Father's Day demands something artery-hardening.  Never done it before.  I'd thought that I'd dust them with a rub (Rudy's is handy), coat with flour, dip in beaten egg, dredge a second time in flour, and then brown in butter.

But like I said, I've never done it.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Music for Fathers Day

Dad loved this music.  The "Three Tenors" were the top operatic tenors of their day: Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti who toured together in the 1990s and 2000s.  I'm not sure whether Dad was the one who introduced me to Winston Churchill's quote My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best, but this covers that.

Happy Father's Day to everyone who is a father, or who has one.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sad update

Last month I put up a book review of Sergeant Rex, a bomb sniffing Marine Corps dog in the battle of Fallujah.  When I put up that post I hadn't found the sad news that I must report here.  Rex died last Christmas:
A combat dog known as Sgt. Rex who was finally reunited with his ex-Marine handler in Rockland County last spring has died. The German Shepherd died on Saturday at the age of 11, according to Mike Dowling, author of "Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between A Marine and His Military Working Dog."

Sgt. Rex's handler in Iraq, former Cpl. Megan Leavey, was injured with the pup in 2006 while trying to disarm an explosive. Rex is credited with saving lives and uncovering explosives that saved more. Leavey, a Purple Heart recipient, was first denied in her effort to adopt Rex in 2007 because Rex was returned to service after he and Leavey had recovered from their injuries.

When Rex was retired from the military, he and Leavey gained notoriety because she still faced numerous bureaucratic roadblocks as she tried to adopt him.
The story of Rex's last years is quite a ride.  CPL Megan Leavey was Rex's handler on his second tour, and was wounded (along with Rex) in an IED explosion.  Leavy recovered and ultimately left the Corps and when she heard that Rex was going to be retired she started a letter writing campaign to get custody.  After enlisting Senator Schumer (a loathsome toad normally, but who did stand-up work here) and the owners of the New York Yankees (who paid for Rex's travel and all his vet bills), Leavy got Rex.

Bravo, all around, as it gave Rex the chance to live his final year with his former handler.  As a celebrity:
The New York Yankees honored retired Camp Pendleton combat dog Sgt. Rex and his former handler, retired Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey, before Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners. Cpl. Leavey, a New York resident, adopted Sgt. Rex in April.

And this is entirely endearing to me, a Red Sox fan:

It turns out Sgt. Rex has something in common with my husband. Neither is a big fan of Alex Rodriguez. According to the Associated Press, Sgt. Rex protectively jumped in front of Leavey when Rodriguez approached her with a gift - a heart-shaped charm from Tiffany & Co with ''Rex'' written on it.
Oohrah, Rex, good dog.  Rest in Peace, Devil Dog.