Saturday, November 30, 2013

"If only the National Socialist German Workers' Party was considered a labor union, we'd be set!

Hitler finds out that he can't keep his doctor in his new Obamacare Bronze plan.

H. L. Menken - The Calamity of Appomattox

We are barely 65 years from the end of World War II, and still see that conflict sharply.  Details can be had from the memories of those who not only were alive at the time, but who had fought in those battles.  In another 65 years all will be disappearing into a muddle of dusty history books; readers from that time will view through a glass darkly what we see more clearly today.

And so with what is commonly (and vulgarly) referred to as the "American Civil War".  It was no such thing, as the Confederate States of America were not trying to take over the northern states of the USA, but rather were endeavoring to leave the Union.  The best name I've heard proposed for that conflict is the American War of Southern Independence.  But we look back through the glass darkly to those days.  The history has been written, and a good bit of that shunted off to dusty corners never to be read again.  To be a forgotten, second class history.

H. L. Menken stood at the same remove from 1865 as we do from 1945.  His was a time when living memory gave views that simply are not available to us today.  His thoughts on that late unpleasantness were informed by those views, and so he was resistant to the sepia-hued hagiography that is our sad fare today.  In particular, he was outspoken in his opinion that the outcome of that war was a disaster:
The chief evils in the Federal victory lay in the fact, from which we still suffer abominably, that it was a victory of what we now call Babbitts over what used to be called gentlemen. I am not arguing here, of course, that the whole Confederate army was composed of gentlemen; on the contrary, it was chiefly made up, like the Federal army, of innocent and unwashed peasants, and not a few of them got into its corps of officers. But the impulse behind it, as everyone knows, was essentially aristocratic, and that aristocratic impulse would have fashioned the Confederacy if the fortunes of war had run the other way. Whatever the defects of the new commonwealth below the Potomac, it would have at least been a commonwealth founded upon a concept of human inequality, and with a superior minority at the helm. It might not have produced any more Washingtons, Madisons, Jeffersons, Calhouns and Randolphs of Roanoke, but it would certainly not have yielded itself to the Heflins, Caraways, Bilbos and Tillmans.

The rise of such bounders was a natural and inevitable consequence of the military disaster. That disaster left the Southern gentry deflated and almost helpless. Thousands of the best young men among them had been killed, and thousands of those who survived came North. They commonly did well in the North, and were good citizens. My own native town of Baltimore was greatly enriched by their immigration, both culturally and materially; if it is less corrupt today than most other large American cities, then the credit belongs largely to Virginians, many of whom arrived with no baggage save good manners and empty bellies. Back home they were sorely missed. First the carpetbaggers ravaged the land, and then it fell into the hands of the native white trash, already so poor that war and Reconstruction could not make them any poorer. When things began to improve they seized whatever was seizable, and their heirs and assigns, now poor no longer, hold it to this day. A raw plutocracy owns and operates the New South, with no challenge save from a proletariat, white and black, that is still three-fourths peasant, and hence too stupid to be dangerous. The aristocracy is almost extinct, at least as a force in government. It may survive in backwaters and on puerile levels, but of the men who run the South today, and represent it at Washington, not 5%, by any Southern standard, are gentlemen.
Remember, while the memories were not fresh, they yet lived in those days.  Menken then is a tour guide of sorts to what this continent might have looked like with two Republics, not one:
My guess is that the two Republics would be getting on pretty amicably. Perhaps they’d have come to terms as early as 1898, and fought the Spanish-American War together. In 1917 the confiding North might have gone out to save the world for democracy, but the South, vaccinated against both Wall Street and the Liberal whim-wham, would have kept aloof—and maybe rolled up a couple of billions of profit from the holy crusade. It would probably be far richer today, independent, than it is with the clutch of the Yankee mortgage-shark still on its collar. It would be getting and using his money just the same, but his toll would be less. As things stand, he not only exploits the South economically; he also pollutes and debases it spiritually. It suffers damnably from low wages, but it suffers even more from the Chamber of Commerce metaphysic.

No doubt the Confederates, victorious, would have abolished slavery by the middle of the 80s. They were headed that way before the war, and the more sagacious of them were all in favor of it. But they were in favor of it on sound economic grounds, and not on the brummagem moral grounds which persuaded the North. The difference here is immense. In human history a moral victory is always a disaster, for it debauches and degrades both the victor and the vanquished. The triumph of sin in 1865 would have stimulated and helped to civilize both sides.
He might have been wrong, but if so at least his was an informed error.  Better informed I dare to say than most of today's history "scholars".

Miranda Lambert - Gunpowder and Lead

This song is topical once again, here on Planet Borepatch.  Not only did I post a review of Emily Miller's Emily Gets Her Gun, I'm reloading at a secret off-site secure location.  Gunpowder and Lead are required for both of these.  'Nuff said.

Gunpowder And Lead (Songwriters: Miranda Lambert, Heather Little)
County Road 233 under my feet
Nothin' on this white rock but little ol' me
I got two miles til' he makes bail
And if i'm right we're heading straight for hell

I'm going home, gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
He wants a fight well now he's got one
And he ain't seen me crazy yet

Slapped my face and he shook me like a ragdoll
Doesn't that sound like a real man
I'm gonna show him what a little girl's made of
Gunpowder and Lead

Well it's half past ten another six pack in
I can feel he rumble like a cold black wind
He pulls in the drive gravel flies
But he doesn't know what's waitin' here this time

Hey! I'm going home gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
He wants a fight well now he's got one
And he ain't seen me crazy yet

Slapped my face and he shook me like a ragdoll
Doesn't that sound like a real man
I'm gonna show him what a little girls made of
Gunpowder and lead

His fist is big but m guns bigger
He'll find out when i pull the trigger

I'm going home gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
He want a fight well now he's got one

Slapped my face and he shook me like a ragdoll
Doesn't that sound like a real man
I'm gonna show him what a little girls made of
Gunpowder and gunpowder and lead

Friday, November 29, 2013

Where's Borepatch?

I'm at a secret off-site, secure facility.  Reloading is involved, as will be the shooting of the fruits of that labor.

Err, we're not reloading .22LR ...

As you can see, I have posts queued up, so blogging will appear normal.

If anyone is looking for a houses for sale in Arlington, MA ...

... take a look at this one.  A friend is selling it, and if you want to be in town, this is a great location.

Alternate sites here and here.

The Press as elitist Herd Beasts

It's been knows for a long, long time that the Press is a herd, and that they all view the world the same way, and that only Approved Ideas ever appear as ink on the page.  Nick Steves shows just how long this has been known - since 1978, with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s commencement address at Harvard University:
There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the totalitarian East with its rigorously unified press: One discovers a common trend of preferences within the Western press as a whole (the spirit of the time), generally accepted patterns of judgment, and maybe common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification. Unrestrained freedom exists for the press, but not for readership, because newspapers mostly transmit in a forceful and emphatic way those opinions which do not too openly contradict their own and that general trend.

Without any censorship in the West, fashionable trends of thought and ideas are fastidiously separated from those that are not fashionable, and the latter, without ever being forbidden have little chance of finding their way into periodicals or books or being heard in colleges. Your scholars are free in the legal sense, but they are hemmed in by the idols of the prevailing fad. There is no open violence, as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to accommodate mass standards frequently prevents the most independent-minded persons from contributing to public life and gives rise to dangerous herd instincts that block dangerous herd development.
He has full text and video, but the next time anyone claims that the MSM isn't biased, ask them if they went to Harvard.  And if they didn't, how that would explain how they'd missed Solzhenitsyn explaining precisely how it is.

Via Isegoria, who always finds cool stuff.

A holiday gift for your anti-gun friends: Emily Gets Her Gun

Image via Amazon
This book has two purposes.  The first is to show the thicket of nonsensical gun laws currently on the books, that get in the way of ordinary people who want to buy a gun to protect themselves and their families.  Emily Miller - a Senior Editor at the Washington Times - is one of these people.  She had never shot a gun, and found herself trying to navigate the legal labyrinth of Washington D.C.'s crazy firearms restrictions.  She came to this as a newbie, who had never been involved with this sort of thing and indeed had no idea what she was getting into.

The second purpose is to describe the political landscape of 2013 regarding firearms laws, and in particular the Congressional battles over proposed new gun control statutes in the wake of the Sandy Hook, CT shootings.  In this, she is a seasoned veteran of the political give-and-take, having made her career on Capitol Hill.

These two stories are well told, and interleaved throughout the book.  The two stories are both useful for your anti-gun friends, but probably not at the same time.  However, giving them this book will open their eyes, and maybe open them a second time.

Most people don't have strong feelings one way or another, either pro-gun or anti-gun.  This is preyed upon by the gun control lobby, using terms like "common sense gun control" because it sounds so, well, reasonable.  Ms. Miller's book is an excellent counter to this.  For example, she points out that there are no gun stores in the District because the government will not grant any a license, and that Federal law criminalizes buying a gun in a different State.

Cool "common sense", huh?

And so into the Never Neverland that is the legal way for a citizen to purchase a firearm in Washington D.C.   She recounts how the system is set up, and brings a useful perspective to those who would like to convince others that the current laws are anything but common sense.  For example, the District gives out a (outdated) list of people who can offer the required firearms training.  Most do this from their homes, and this made her nervous:
The [D.C.] police officer said claimed that it didn't matter that the instructors' addresses weren't on the list because they would be teaching the class at a shooting range.  Then why did they all say I had to meet at their houses?  He didn't know.


While I was glad to learn that these men had been given a criminal background check at some point as of 2009, I still didn't feel safe going to any of their houses.

In the whole four months that I went through the gun registration process, this was the only time that I wanted to give up on the idea.  I couldn't find any way to take this mandatory class in a way that didn't scare me.
A "common sense" law that makes it so that a woman have to meet strange men in strange places, or not be allowed to get a gun to protect herself.  The book is filled with examples like this, for example when she filled out the application for a gun permit:
You're also deemed ineligible if you've been convicted of "vagrancy."  I'm not sure why hanging around the 7-Eleven parking lot too long makes you unqualified to have a gun.

For the next question, I had to go back to Google again, this time to figure out what "abrogating strikes" meant.  I went through three pages of search results, and I still don't know.
But you have to sign your name that the information you provide is accurate, under penalty of perjury.   Remember that perjury is a felony, which results in you losing your right to own a gun.

This laying out of the hurdles that must be jumped will be eye opening for people new to this topic.  In fact, this story is entirely toxic to the very claim of "common sense" gun control: none of this is common sense, and it's obvious to all readers that the legal system is quite frankly insanity.

However, it seems that the second story told in the book - of 2013's gun control battles on Capitol Hill - will get in the way of this first message.  I would suggest telling your friend to just skip over the parts about the gun control politics and the NRA, and read through Ms. Miller's epic journey through the bureaucracy.  Once your reader finishes that, the notion of "reasonable gun control" will very likely be a smoking ruin.

Then have them go back and read the politics, because then they'll know how to see the sausage being made.  Rather than injecting some badly needed common sense into the law code, the story of 2013 was more of the same stupid, useless restrictions cloaked in high minded blatherings to fool people not in the know.  Of course by this point your friend will be very much in the know indeed, and will be able to see this for what it was.

Of course, it might not convince them, but it will educate them.  The most compelling parts of the book are when she describes honest people caught in the web of unknowable gun control laws.  And while she now can have a gun in her house, it is illegal to carry a gun to protect yourself when you leave.  She describes her feelings in an incident after she already had her gun but had to leave it home:
A strange man at my apartment building, who turned out to be a non-uniformed mover who was working for a neighbor, took violent offense when I closed the propped-open security door of the apartment building.  I stood in the lobby of my building, where I was not allowed to carry my gun, and was terrified as he violently banged on the glass door, screaming, "What the f--- you doing?  You f---ing bitch open the door.  I'm going to get you, you f---ing bitch."

No one else was around, and I was scared that if I left the lobby, someone would let him in and he'd carry out his threats.  I called 911.  I waited exactly fifteen minutes, but he had not stopped screaming and trying to get into the building.  I called 911 again.  The police finally showed up twenty minutes after the incident started.
It's "common sense" that a man who moves furniture for a living will be much larger and stronger than a woman who works at a white collar job.  "Common sense" says that it evens the odds, allowing her have a gun to defend herself against a man like that making threats against her.  "Common sense" says that putting a myriad obstacles in her way (the Washington D. C. licensing procedure involves seventeen steps and took her four months to complete) will keep her from being able to do that.  You might even call it a "War On Women".
Meanwhile, the city is swimming in illegal guns.  Remember, according to the police department's own data, assaults with a firearm increased 12 percent from 2011 to 2012.
So get this for your anti-gun friends.  Not to convert them and convince them to become gun owners, but to shatter the mirage of "common sense" marketing of ideas that are anything but.  The stories of Emily Gets Her Gun are intertwined with the efforts to keep her from getting her gun.  These twinned stories will change their view of the honesty - or dishonesty - of the political debate.  That's something very much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shaun Smith - Ain't No Sunshine

Thursday Blues is a regular feature here.  This is a spectacular version by an amateur rugby player (you can see some scratches on his face, which is par for the course in the scrum).

It seems that when Bill Withers wrote the song it was unfinished the first time that he sang it with a studio band.  He'd intended another verse but it wasn't done, which is why he sang the part with "I know" repeated 26 times.  The band loved it and told him to keep it in.  Since he was still working a shift at a factory then, he took their advice and something special was born.  Still he initially refused to give up his day job (even when this song hit #2 on the charts) because he was worried that the music industry was fickle and wouldn't be there for him long term.  One Grammy Award later he realized that maybe this was a better career path.

Feast. It's what's for dinner ...

Turkey with ginger teriyaki cure ("rub" for BBQ folks)?  Check.

Aunt Charlotte's dinner rolls rising?  Check.

Cornbread stuffing?  Check.

Cranberry relish?  Check.

Mashed Potatoes?  Don't know - we'll see how much food we need.

Some sort of vegetation?  Yeah, fatherly duty and all that.

Sir Anthony van Dyck, Floris Claesz

Oh, and the family.  That makes it.  Err, and a nice bottle of chilled Blanc de Noir (a French sparkling wine made from the Pinot Noir grape, in the Champagne style).

I hope you all have a similarly rewarding feast.

On this holiday, there's someone to remember

Our troops in harm's way, far away.  Come home safe, and soon.

P.S. Nice 1911.

Music for Thanksgiving Day

There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American. 
- O. Henry
There quite frankly is no better music to convey the sheer joy of living, and yes, the gratitude of the moment than this, conducted magnificently by that Leonard Bernstein.  I never thought that this particular piece showed off soprano talent particularly well, but this is perhaps the loveliest and most ethereal soprano performances of Ode To Joy that I've heard.  I'm thankful for his art, and her's, and Beethoven's, and for a day that prods us to reflect on it.  The part at about 6:15 makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  And at 7:55.  And 10:05.  And most especially at 14:55.  And that only takes you half through this video.  

May your day be similarly spectacular. 
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
- Psalm 95:2-3

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Simon Cowell is a genius*

I was never much of an American Idol fan, because it seemed too scripted and predictable.  However, I've been repeatedly fascinated by Cowell's Britain's Got Talent series because it casts a wider net. It might be a cell phone salesman singing a magnificent Puccini aria, an 80 year old great grandmother singing a classic french hit, or a hausfrau performing a beautiful song from Les Miserables, you get a broader selection of music, from a broader selection of contestants (not everyone is good looking and between 20 and 26).  It's much more interesting, repeatedly.  It's much more a show of ordinary people with extraordinary talent - something that American Idol never really had.

The latest is a shy young woman who had such a case of stage fright that she didn't even tell her family that she was going to the audition, not wanting to "let them down" if she failed.  She killed on My Funny Valentine.

An ordinary person, not aware of just what an extraordinary talent she had.  This is what Britain's Got Talent does better than anything here, and that is Simon Cowell's fingerprint.  I don't watch American Idol, but I keep my eyes open for these.  The story is always interesting and usually inspiring.

* OK, maybe not always a genius: Cowell to propose to pregnant mistress.  At least he's doing the Honorable thing.

Those Black Friday "deals"?

Mostly scams.

I smell 2014 skunk

News from that right wing Republican media bastion, CNN:
A new CNN/ORC International poll indicates a dramatic turnaround in the battle for control of Congress in next year's midterm elections.

Democrats a month ago held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates.

That result came after congressional Republicans appeared to overplay their hand in the bitter fight over the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling.

But the Democratic lead has disappeared. A new CNN/ORC poll indicates the GOP now holds a 49%-47% edge.
The Democrats saw an 8 point lead evaporate into a 2 point deficit* in a month.  Gosh, why might that be?
The 10-point swing follows a political uproar over Obamacare, which included the botched rollout of and controversy over insurance policy cancelations due primarily to the new health law.
And which of those is likely to get fixed in the next ten months? 

Fortunately for the Democrats, there's the Greatest Orator Ever to come up with a plausible explanation why 90 Million voters are losing their employer-provided insurance plans 3 months before the elections:
My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.
Yeah, I guess it's pretty serious.  As Sarah Palin might say, you betcha.  So what's the over/under on when absolute stinking panic breaks out in the Democratic ranks?  My guess is six weeks, after most Democrats have their constituents rip them a new orifice over the holiday recess.

* Full disclosure: I haven't read the poll details.  Lots of ways for someone to play games with sampling percentages and the wording of questions.  Given CNN's track record of supporting every Republican no matter how evil and trashing every Democrat no matter how virtuous, no doubt the Democrats are comfortably in the lead.  No need to panic, Donks.  Go back to sleep.  All is well.

Can anyone now seriously argue that the NSA is not making us enemies where we had none before?

Dutch news: NSA has infected 50,000 computer networks with malware:
The American intelligence service - NSA - infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information. Documents provided by former NSA-employee Edward Snowden and seen by this newspaper, prove this.
A management presentation dating from 2012 explains how the NSA collects information worldwide. In addition, the presentation shows that the intelligence service uses ‘Computer Network Exploitation’ (CNE) in more than 50,000 locations. CNE is the secret infiltration of computer systems achieved by installing malware, malicious software.

One example of this type of hacking was discovered in September 2013 at the Belgium telecom provider Belgacom. For a number of years the British intelligence service - GCHQ – has been installing this malicious software in the Belgacom network in order to tap their customers’ telephone and data traffic. The Belgacom network was infiltrated by GCHQ through a process of luring employees to a false Linkedin page.
The article claims that NSA has implanted malware that can be remotely activated at will, implying that it is not targeted at specific targets, but rather at places where information might be swept up if it is thought useful in the future.

Now this is particularly interesting, since the Netherlands has been a staunch ally of the USA ever since World War II ended - there's a reason that NATO headquarters is in the Hague rather than in Strasbourg.  The fact that the Dutch are publishing this sort of story says that patience in the US Government's mania for world wide spying is wearing thin, even among our closest allies.

Given that the NSA's massive monitoring program hasn't identified a single terrorist plot, is there any reason not to do a diplomatic cost/benefit analysis on the entire Agency, and shut down the parts that cost us more than they're worth?  Wouldn't that be some actual, you know, Smart Diplomacy?

And the same goes for the FBI.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Got to love Honest Trailers

About spot on, if you ask me.

Which reminds me of this old bit of mockery.

Some people walk in the rain

... other people just get wet.
- Roger Miller

Wolfgang and I went for a walk in the rain, down by the old mill dam.  The water was rushing because of the rain; nobody was there because of the rain.

All those people are missing out.

"The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated."

A group of Democratic Senators published this today in the New York Times:
The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security. In spite of our repeated requests, the N.S.A. has not provided evidence of any instance when the agency used this program to review phone records that could not have been obtained using a regular court order or emergency authorization.
Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct warrantless searches for Americans’ phone calls and emails.
This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the American people want. It is preserving business as usual.
Emphasis added.  When Senators of the President's own party use the NYT to tell the country how much they do not trust the administrators of the NSA, then the game is well and truly changed.  The Senators end on this note:
But this trust has been undermined by the N.S.A.’s domestic surveillance programs, as well as by senior officials’ misleading statements about surveillance. Only by ending the dragnet collection of ordinary Americans’ private information can this trust be rebuilt.
They're tired of the spin, by people who think they're dim bulbs.

Plat stupid games, win stupid prizes

Thug playing "knockout game" gets shot twice:
One teen playing the Knockout Game in Lansing, Michigan, got more than he bargained for when he attacked a concealed carry permit holder.

The teenager, Marvell Weaver, attempted to attack a father who was waiting for his daughter at a bus stop.

This particular father was well-prepared. At first, the middle-aged man tried to use a taser on Weaver.

When that failed, he pulled out a .40 cal handgun and shot the teen two times.
[Pauses to let cheers die down]

Code Yellow is your friend.  And being prepared.

I guess it's good to be learning

I came back from the motorcycle ride pretty tired.  Even bundling up against the cold saw me burn a lot of calories to keep warm.  It actually feels a lot like apres ski, only without the sore legs.  A couple of commenters mentioned electrically heated suits, but (a) those are pricy, (b) the Honda wouldn't crank out the Amps to heat things, and (c) there aren't all that many really cold days here in Atlanta.

Just like Mom used to say on those cold Maine winter days, put on a sweater.  But I've put on a thousand miles since getting it, which is not bad for only riding it around town (no highway trips).

I keep coming up snake eyes looking for an intermediate bike (say, in the 650 - 750 range).  The thought was to step up incrementally, but I just am not seeing a selection of bikes I might be interested in.  What do all y'all think about making the jump straight to a full sized bike (say, a Yamaha Fjr 1300- I know that Uncle Jay rides one of these).  Heck, or even a Harley, although I'm leaning more towards a metric with a more upright riding position.  Just not one that's 18 feet tall like the V-Strom.

I expect it would feel like too much bike for 3 months, but then I'd grow into it. So what do you think?

Monday, November 25, 2013

What really happened to Lincoln at Ford's Theater

This has been floating around for a while:

#2 Son says that's not how it really happened.  It was more like Mary is dragging me to some dumb theater show. #JustKillMeNow.

Is the Senator trolling us?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) must be trolling us, because I can't believe that even a politician is this stupid:
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) warns sports stadiums are at risk from the "sea level rise effects of climate change," and that climate change specifically threatens hockey and skiing.

"We see significant sports facilities, the palaces of - of sport that are at risk from the storm, climate, sea-level rise effects of climate change," Sen. Whitehouse said today following a closed-door climate discussion with executives from the NFL, NHL and NBA.
[blink] [blink]

So tell us, Senator: will the loss of life be mitigated because the stadium parking lots will flood first, reducing the attendance as fans cannot find a place to park their Earth F***er pickup trucks?

Mark Twain once said Friend, assume for a moment that I am an idiot.  And assume also that I am a Congressman.  But I repeat myself.

And Hockey will be a victim of Climate Change®* because no kids will be able to find a pond to skate on.  Yes, he really said that**:
"Without cold enough weather for frozen ponds, the kind of hockey that you play out of doors with your friends gets a little bit harder to achieve."
But it's not Global Warming that melts the ice.  No, no - it's "Climate Change".   So hockey is doomed, because of Glob^H Climate Change. 

That's right, sister - we're talking about you.  Well, and the Good Senator.

The stupid - it burns.


* No, not "Global Warming".  There's been no warming for almost two decades, so they can't call it that.  But we're doomed, I say!  Doomed!  No more ice because of Global, err, change (or something).

** What, you don't believe me?  Click through the link - they have video.

Scenes from vacation

Bike and Boddington's.

Chilly today.

In a way it reminds me of skiing. Boots and gloves are the first to get cold. Still, there's a certain satisfaction (dare I say smugness?) in being the only bike on the road.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Obamacare for your car

I laughed and laughed.

Mockery achievement: unlocked

There's a Big Wig climate conference going on, with the Usual Suspects® doing their usual stuffed shirt ZOMGTHERMAGEDDON!!!1!eleventy!! shtick.  Sadly at these sorts of conferences, there's been a noted lack of mockery.

Cue the Austrailians:
For this year’s UN climatefest in Warsaw, Poland, Tony Abbott’s government didn’t even bother to send the environment minister, much less the Prime Minister and his pre-teen fan mail.

Instead we sent some delegates who quite properly treated the whole exercise as a lark, much to the consternation of Gaia’s little Gracies. “They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation,” fumed Ria Voorhaar, a spokeswoman for the Climate Action Network. “That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in.”
Oh noes!  They ate snacks!  And presumably not the Approved® sort of snacks like tasteless organic crudites, but probably crisps and biscuits (chips and cookies to readers from the Colonies).  But it gets even worse in the lese majeste department:
“Their behaviour caused over 130 developing nations to abandon discussions on the controversial issue of climate compensation at 4am,” seethed Sophie Yeo of the activist group Responding to Climate Change. “It is one thing to be tired in a negotiation meeting, another to turn up in pyjamas,” huffed EU negotiator Paul Watkinson on Twitter. “Respect matters.”
P.J.s?  Awesome.  And Tim Blair sums it up with pithy Aussie aplomb:
With all due respect, the EU and the UN can shove it.
[stands] [clap] [clap] [clap] [clap]

RTWT for the whole shadenfreudalistic effect, including what happened Down Under when a bunch of animal rights kooks showed up at a meat packing plant and chained themselves to the gates in an attempt to shut it down.  Not trying to toss out a spoiler, but power tools were involved.  Awesome.

Good on ya, Mates!  Those Cobbers can mock the Stuffed Shirts, fair dinkum!  Now just ditch your insane gun laws and you're the most awesome place on the planet.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Snowden leak: Video from inside the NSA Operations Directorate

It's worse than I feared.

Overheard in the Borepatchmobile

I'm driving with #1 Son.  He's reading the 'webz on his phone and suddenly busts out laughing.
Me: What's so funny?

#1 Son: There's this joke I just saw.  Why do sumo wrestlers shave their legs?

Me: Dunno.

#1 Son: So that people won't mistake them for feminists.
Snap.  Pretty nuclear, that.

H. L. Menkin on the Gettysburg Address

I've been emailing back and forth with 2cents, who says that I've been too harsh on Abraham Lincoln.  I must confess that I'm not the only one, and among those others is the great H. L. Menken.  He wrote a scathing analysis of the address, perched about the same number of years removed from Appomattox as we are from V-E Day.
The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost child-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of everyday! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — “that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i. e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all. Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg address? If so, I plead my aesthetic joy in it in amelioration of the sacrilege.
RTWT, particularly the bit about historians turning him into a plaster saint.

Native American music for Thanksgiving

We are coming up on my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  This is the sole time when individual citizens are allowed to decide what the holiday is about.  What are you thankful for?  Whatever it is, there's no government functionary between you and your family.

But remember that this holiday came out of the neighborliness of the Native American nations, who were, well, neighborly to the strange newcomers who had splashed ashore at Cape Cod.  They acted as a generous people would act, and the annals of the first Thanksgiving recall that the natives of these shores brought five deer to the feast.  It's not recounted in the annals what out response was, but King Philips's War gives a suggestion that these peoples did not settle down to a "melting pot".

But the Nations were here, before Europeans arrived on these shores.  Their music is mostly lost in broader society, but some artists are trying to preserve it.  In 2008 I bought a CD at the Grand Canyon which had this song on it.  I suspect its authenticity, but it is a flavor of the music that might have been heard on these shores in 1619.

For anyone interested, Mom is an enrolled member of the Pottawatomie Nation.  I'm thinking of enrolling, if they'll have me.  It's quite odd thinking in terms that would have been familiar to the Third Reich, on precisely how much of the blood of your ancestors you have in your veins.  It's very odd indeed.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


The Elder Scrolls Online beta that #2 Son is doing is pretty cool.  The challenge for Bethesda was to take their enormously successful Elder Scrolls franchise (Skyrim most recently, but Oblivion before that) and put it into an online, massively multi-player format.  The results show a great protection of their franchise - it looks, well, it looks like Skyrim.  The graphics are great, and the NPC interactions look like they should.  The question is what the Player Character interaction will be.

Interestingly, #2 Son is always on his headset, yakking with his online buddies while he plays.  My suspicion is that Bethesda will want to coopt this, to get the players off of Skype and put real time voice into the game.  If you say something, people within "hearing distance" should hear you, and be able to reply.

Quite frankly, this is just VOIP (Voice over IP), and is a well understood technology.  I'd think it would add to the game play, but that's just me.

The superstitions of the Left

In a brilliant post that starts with Carl Jung on what used to be call "Primitive Man" (in a less enlightened age), Ace hits center mass on one of the biggest blind spots of the secular left:
Magical thinking reasons not just from cause to effect (my fetish doll will give me control over the target), but from effect back to cause: if an extraordinary event occurred, such as a crocodile eating a woman, it must be due to an extraordinary cause, such as conclave of sorcerers using their Words of Power to manipulate the crocodile into its lethal bite.

Modern Man and Primitive Man are hardly any different at all. Modern Man likes to think he's given up on magical thinking, of hokum and superstition and dream-logic somewhere between "mythology" and "sustaining lie," but in fact they think precisely the same way. They just call things by different terms.

It is too hard to accept that the Great Progressive Hope could have been killed down by such a pissant little loser of a malcontent crocodile, I mean communist; therefore, he wasn't.

No, no piddly little crocodile, I mean communist, decided to kill Kennedy on its own; rather, it was bidden to do so by a conclave of Rightwing Sorcerers, sorcerers who poisoned the very air with Magic Words, Magic Words of great power, like "socialist" and "Anyone But JFK."

These Magic Words commanded the crocodile, I mean communist, to kill the King.
And thence to Global Warming, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party.  The hysteria is a religious hysteria, from people who pat themselves on the back about how they have left all that idiotic superstition behind, not realizing that they have simply given it free rein.  As he sums up:
You don't need God to be religious hysteric.
All you need is a Dogma and a Devil.
This is absolutely brilliant.

It's not fan fiction, it's fan film

Fan fiction is interesting in that among the vast bulk of dreck is a shining nugget or two of quite good story.  As an example, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a delight.  It turns out that a group of people in the UK made a film set in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, Born of HopeThe story of how it got made is pretty interesting:
The idea for the film was born in 2003 when director/producer/actor Kate Madison wanted to submit a film for the Tolkien Fan Film Exhibition. Originally a modest plan, it grew until April 2006 when the first test shoot occurred. Principal photography started in June 2008, and continued through 2009. The goal was to debut at Ring*Con 2009, which it did. It was later streamed for free on various video websites including DailyMotion and YouTube.

Madison spent her life savings of £8,000 on the film. An extra £17,000 was generated by posting a trailer online, raising the budget to £25,000. Born of Hope was made over a period of six years, using a cast of 400, who would camp in tents so as to be able to shoot early.
The plot is based on a paragraph or two from the Lord Of The Ring's Appendices, which mentioned the adventures of Aragon's father.  The script expanded this into an hour long film, all made essentially by people volunteering their time.

It got quite good reviews, and won the "Best Micro-Budget Feature" award at the 2010 London Independent Film Festival.  I quite like the music, written and performed by nearly a dozen musicians, which is faithful to Howard Shore's LOTR scores.  The whole effort is a very impressive achievement.


Today's Saturday Redneck is over at Pistolero's place: She Left Me For Jesus.

LOL.  That's quite funny.  I love the "Shroud of Turin" reference.

Friday, November 22, 2013

404: Post Not Found

It's been insane at work for months.  I was going on vacation starting today but I didn't get everything done.  So I'll start on Tuesday, I guess.

Meanwhile, I seem to have mislaid the post that was going to go here.  I'll go look for it when I have a bit of time.

I hear that the XBox One is coming out

I saw one of these once

Car driving with no tire.  It was in Paris, of all places.  Messed up the road.

Smartness protip

Hang out with people smarter than you.  Shut your pie hole.  Listen.  Stifle the urge to be sarcastic, and listen.

Repeat until you think you're smart.*

Fortunately, there's an easy way to do this.  Go to Youtube.  Type "Christopher Hitchens gun control"** into the search bar.  Watch what comes up.

Repeat until you think you're smart.*

I don't by any stretch of the imagination think that Hitch was right about everything, and I expect that if you confronted him with this idea (over Martinis, 'natch) he would have laughed.  The point isn't about being right or wrong.  The point is thinking. Few people have made me think so much as Hitch did.  Maybe Tam and Sabra.

But if you want to challenge yourself intellectually, he's not a bad start.  His discussion about Thomas Paine is maybe the best intro to the American Revolution that I've heard.  Newt Gingrich is maybe the secondHitch and Newt together is not to be missed.  Repeat until you're smart.*

* When you think you're smart, contemplate Socrates' reply when told that he was the wisest man in Greece.

** The mention is brief, at about 25 minutes into the discussion.  It's actually good advice he gives, which I would translate as "don't scare the white people".

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Duke Ellington - Autumn Leaves

This is my favorite version of this song.  Everyone has recorded this (including Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, and Diana Krall), but this one stands out in the crowd.

And yes, I've covered this in more depth.  But that was a couple years back, and it's autumn again ...

The Unintended Consequences of Obamacare

There's quite an interesting discussion going on in the comments of yesterday's post about the Obamacare Death Spiral.  The back and forth is on the nature of the unintended consequences of the law, and is worth a read.  I was going to comment there but it seems worth a post of its own.

My take is that the elections of 2006 (when the Democrats captured Congress) and 2008 (when they won the White House and a Supermajority in the Senate) gave the Democrats an excess of confidence.  The Congressional debates in the lead up to the law's enactment strongly suggested that the Democrats had bought into a set of beliefs:
  • They thought that they could ram through a massive entitlement program along party lines and take all the credit for the great new free stuff, locking up voter gratitude for a generation.

  • They thought that they could say anything to get the law passed, because once passed they could take credit for all the great new free stuff, locking up voter gratitude for a generation.
  • They thought that if there were any dead ender bitter clingers who didn't like the law, that once it was implemented it would be too late to go back and the dead enders would give up and go along in resignation.
Now, things aren't looking too good for them.  And so to what I think the real unanticipated consequences of Obamacare are:
  • Voters are furious that the "great new free stuff" is screwing their current health insurance over, that they have to pay higher premiums and deductables, and that they may not be able to keep their doctor.
  • Voters are furious that they were lied to - repeatedly - by all the Democrats at all levels of the party up to Obama.
  • Voters with insurance via their employer have yet to find out that now that the bill has been passed, they'll get a chance to see what it does to them.  They will be furious, and will outnumber the currently furious individual plan voters by a factor of 10.  Their anger will peak immediately before next year's elections.
  • Seniors have not yet realized that Medicare was robbed of half a Trillion dollars to fund healthcare for people other than Medicare enrollees.   They will be furious, and are well known to have perhaps the highest election day turnout of any demographic.
And it was passed along straight party lines.

The Democrats did not intend any of this, and were so buoyed by the elections of 2006 and 2008 that they through caution to the wind.  Nobody in the party seems to have asked the question: do we really think that we can take a Trillion dollars from the middle class and from seniors and still keep their votes?

I don't think there's any way to look at this as anything other than a Greek Tragedy.  Elektra comes to mind, with the bloodletting in the final act still to be seen at the voting booths next year.  The landslide has begun - everyone can see the first slipping from the top of the mountain.  It's still small but everyone knows what this will turn into, and how quickly this will happen.

And everyone knows what is going to happen to the Democrats standing at the bottom of the mountain.  They can run, but everyone knows that there's no way they can run fast enough.

They should have seen this.  They didn't anticipate it.  Now it will play out in an 11 month agony for them.

Epic smackdown is epic

Goober is on fire.  Nice use of graphics to enhance the post.  Nice double barreled shot into the wahmbulance, Goober.

Oh, and this is pretty epic, too.  Check it out while you're over there.

Quote of the Day: Get A Life edition

Jennifer gets her dudgeon high:
Listen, I know you’ve been told all of your life that you’re a special snowflake, and I’m sure it’s all very true. You know what the guy that signs the checks doesn’t need? Special snowflakes.
Note to self: do not get on Jennifer's bad side.  Because the Epic Rant would be aimed my way.

What, you still here?  Didn't I mention the "Epic Rant" part?  Scoot on over there.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why are so many old actors so douchy?

Srlsy - two washers?  Dude ...

Why I will not buy a "Smart TV", and why you shouldn't either

You pay a premium to have it spy on you:

LG Smart TVs logging USB filenames and viewing info to LG servers

Earlier this month I discovered that my new LG Smart TV was displaying ads on the Smart landing screen.

After some investigation, I found a rather creepy corporate video advertising their data collection practices to potential advertisers. It's quite long but a sample of their claims are as follows:
LG Smart Ad analyses users favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences.
And as an added bonus, the configuration setting to turn it off doesn't actually turn it off.  But wait - it gets even better!
It was at this point, I made an even more disturbing find within the packet data dumps.  I noticed filenames were being posted to LG's servers and that these filenames were ones stored on my external USB hard drive.
Because they buried some text in their End User License Agreement (EULA) saying that you were totally cool with that and everything.  And so what was LG's response when he contacted him about this?
The advice we have been given is that unfortunately as you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer.  We understand you feel you should have been made aware of these T's and C's at the point of sale, and for obvious reasons LG are unable to pass comment on their actions.
[blink blink]

So because you clicked the EULA you need to take it back to the retailer?  Who almost certainly won't take it back, even though they sold it to you without you knowing you were like totally cool with LG spying on you.

One option would be to hire a lawyer and sue.  That would make this the world's most expensive TV set.  A better option is to never buy anything from LG that has an Ethernet jack on it.

Ever.  But hey, that's just me.  Maybe you're totally cool with them spying on you.  And I'm sure it's totally safe to plug a camera into that thing.  Totally.

Yet Another Reason not to watch the boob tube ...

Durn varmints!

Beaver steals hunter's gun:
He leaned his Remington .30-06 rifle against the tree, next to the chair he had been sitting in.
“And when I got back, I couldn’t find the gun,” he said.
Nathan said he stood up from his chair and began looking around in the woods. Then things got interesting in a hurry.
Nature had called again … in a different way.
“There was a stream that was running about 100 feet away from me. I look, and there’s a beaver hauling that gun into the water,” he said.
Let’s take a moment to let that sink in.
Let's be careful out there.

Hat tip: Rick, via email.

Release the kraken Death Spiral!

What, you might wonder, does Obamacare have to do with schlocky aughts cinematography?  Actually, if you are asking this you much be new here.  Bear with me.

The biggest threat to Obamacare (after voter rage at massive increases in premiums and deductibles and restricted selection of doctors) is the "Death Spiral".  Since Insurance companies cannot legally sell policies to sick people at a higher price than to well people (the whole "pre-existing conditions" thing), the fear is that higher premiums will discourage younger, healthier people from signing up.  Since the customer base will skew to sicker (and higher payout) customers, Insurance Company profits will turn to losses and companies will have to raise rates.  This will drive more healthy people away until only sick people are left, when the whole thing collapses.

So let's look at hospitals and uncompensated care.  It's actually wrong - as a matter of law - to say that the uninsured in the USA do not have access to health care.  By law, Emergency Rooms cannot turn people away, even if they cannot pay.  This "Uncompensated Care" is a major existing cost currently borne by the insured (via higher policies).  Ignoring the fact that this more or less guts the entire rationale for Obamacare, what incentives does the Obamacare statute give to Hospitals to game the system?

How about buying insurance for the uninsured patients who make up the bulk of their uncompensated care?
In this case, the Administration was faced with questions from Representative Jim McDermott.  He asked if exchange-sold health plans were considered Federal Qualified Health Plans (QHP) under the law.  If so, he pointed out that several of the things the Administration had discussed (e.g. allowing insurers to offer monetary inducements to customers who maintained good health habits) could be illegal under anti-kickback provisions.

As usual, it was pretty clear the Administration had no answer.  Or more accurately, had five different answers from five different people and agencies.  Kathleen Sebelius wrote back to McDermott that no, exchange sold plans were not QHP's and so the anti-kickback law did not apply.  This tactically solved McDermott's issue.  But it created large new issues, since it is the anti-kickback law that would have prevented hospitals from buying exchange plans for their most expensive patients.  If exchange plans are not QHP's, then hospitals considered that buying such plans was now legal.
Oops.  Now that the Democrats voted for it, Secretary Sibelius is finding out what's in it.  This whole redistribution thing is a lot more difficult than they had thought.

Oh honestly, it really is pointless trying to do this if you're going to cheat ...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm afraid that I'm not a big fan of Mr. Lincoln

He gave a speech 150 years ago that has some degree of fame.  What gets lost in the sepia-hued hagiography is his ruthless bloodthirstiness.  You get a full measure of it in his second inaugural address:
Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
My opinion on his legacy may be found here.

So everyone is moving to encryption to make the NSA's life harder

Yahoo! is the latest:
Yahoo! is going to start encrypting its intra-data-center traffic and will offer a similar service as an option to webmail users next year, CEO Marissa Meyer has pledged.

"I want to reiterate what we have said in the past: Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency. Ever," she said on her Tumblr page – which is now the preferred method of corporate communications following Yahoo!'s $1bn acquisition of the site.

"There is nothing more important to us than protecting our users’ privacy. To that end, we recently announced that we will make Yahoo Mail even more secure by introducing https (SSL - Secure Sockets Layer) encryption with a 2048-bit key across our network by January 8, 2014."
Sure, there is suspicion that NSA has weakened the standards and so can break the crypto if they want.  The problem is that this isn't trivial, or free.  If a big chunk of the Internet traffic becomes encrypted then NSA's job just got much, much more difficult.

Since Silicon Valley companies see their business model at risk, they're lining up to do exactly this.  So what about everyone else?  As it turns out, it may be pretty easy for everyone else to do this, too.

All modern Operating Systems (read: "Post Windows XP which is getting its lethal injection next year") support IP version 6 (IPv6 for short), the next generation Internet Protocol.  It was designed to replace the current IP (version 4, for those keeping score at home) back 10 or 15 years ago.  Rollout has been slow, but there's a very good chance that the computer you are reading this on already supports v6.

What does this have to with NSA?  Well, IPv6 includes encryption of all packets as an option (called IPSec).  All people have to do is enable IPv6 and IPSec.  Even better, you can be backwards compatible with IPv4 by running "dual stack".  Yes, this has it's downsides, but China is moving into v6 is a big way:
The ever-present desire for censorship may be the carrot, but for whatever reason China has a head start on adopting IPv6.  Even as the U.S. moves sluggishly towards the next generation internet address protocol, 3TNet -- China's state-provided broadband internet and public video service -- has made the switch.

The upside of IPv6 is one that's likely highly desirable in China -- more space.  IPv4, the previous standard, only allows 4.3 billion unique web addresses.  With over a billion people, China may surpass that total in domestic pages alone.

IPv6 is also expected to beef up security.  Using a technology called Source Address Validation Architecture (SAVA), IPv6 networks establish a relationship based on multiple trusted interactions across a network.  This can help beat so-called "IP spoofing" attacks, and advances the current version of IPv6 over less secure earlier versions.
So here's the thought: what if Google and a couple of the other big tech firms (the ones that are hopping mad at the NSA right now) put a little popup on their site that showed how easy it was for Joe Home User to turn on v6?  What percent of Gmail or Facebook users would do this, especially if the popup mentioned it would make government monitoring much more difficult?  The number isn't zero.

The more I look at things the more stunned I am at just how stupid the NSA has been.

Condolences to the Goober household

He and Mrs. Goober were expecting, but they just suffered a miscarriage.  If you want to stop by and leave some words in their time of sorrow I'd be right grateful.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

- Psalm 139: 13-16
May flights of Angels sing the baby to his rest.

The "Intellectual Elite" as small town bumpkins

By "Small Town Bumpkins", I'm not referring to small towns or the people who live there (both of which I generally find quite agreeable).  Rather, I'm talking about the stereotype so commonly found in literature - close minded, ignorant, uninterested in anything beyond the close and comfortable horizon.  American literature certainly from about 1870 through 1960 is filled with this trope.

There's nothing uniquely American about this, and in many places it's been institutionalized.  Scandanavia has what in Danish is termed Janteloven - the Law of Jante.  The idea was described in a novel in the 1930s, but basically is a set of rules imposed by the citizens on the citizenry.  It's used to maintain social cohesion, unity, and (most importantly) existing power structures.  Some examples of the ten Laws include:
  1. You're not to think you are anything special.
  2. You're not to think you are as good as us.
  3. You're not to think you are smarter than us.
  4. You're not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
 Probably most important was this: You're not to laugh at us.  The novel described the soul-crushing conformity imposed in the town of Jante.  This resonated so strongly that the idea of Janteloven has entered the Scandanavian mindset (or perhaps more accurately it gave a name to what was already there).  But it's here, too, on these shores.

Interestingly, you really don't find it much in small towns.  Instead, you find it in the Faculty Lounge, in the coastal SWPL Intellectual Class, in the New York Times and CBS News.  This is unspoken but brutally enforced.  Need an example?  OK ...

Palin violated all of the ten laws, particularly the rule against laughing at them.  I remember blogging her speech to the Republican Convention in 2008, and that's what stood out most strongly:
Sarah Palin is Mocking Obama


"A mayor is like a community organizer - with responsibilities."

"Send the Styrofoam Greek columns back to the studio set."

"What's he going to do - after turning back the waters and healing the planet?"

"Self-designed Presidential Seals."

Oh, and she mocked the media, too. Looked like she enjoyed it.

Boy, howdy, this is turning into an interesting race.
And the Intellectual "Elite" went into full meltdown mode.  It was full bore Class Warfare, with the "Elites" uniting to punish a violation of the Janteloven.  And then it continued a couple years later:

And once again, the "Intellectual Elite" lost its collective mind in a spittle-flecked rage.

Because the Tea Party is all about repealing the 13th Amendment, or something.  Remember, the people foaming at the mouth at the impudence of the peasants willfully violating the Janteloven are firmly convinced that they're smarter than you, better educated than you, more traveled than you, and nicer than you.  And so, there are some things you need to keep in mind, wingnut:
  1. You're not to think you are anything special.
  2. You're not to think you are as good as they are.
  3. You're not to think you are smarter than they are.
  4. You're not to convince yourself that you are better than they are.
And you must never, ever laugh at them.  Look at the kids in the Tea Party picture, at their signs: Stay Out Of My Piggy Bank.  They're laughing at the "Intellectual Elite".

And the "Elite" acts like you'd expect from a closed-minded small town rube who's climbed to the top of the local power structure.  Well, the literary stereotype, since most small town folks I've met have a lot more common sense than this.  The "Elites" - the New York Times Editorial Board - remind one of the conversation you had with the President of your High School Debate Team back at the 20th reunion.  Remember how you went away shaking your head that he still though that made him smarter than everyone?  That's the NYT Editorial Board on Palin or the Tea Party.

Small minded, insular, untraveled (at least to flyover country, where their mental horizons would get expanded).  Bumpkins.  Angry bumpkins.

Keep laughing.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Over the Iceland glacier.  From the Astronomy Picture Of The Day.

The NSA spying scandal is costing Silicon Valley money

Cisco's disastrous quarter blamed on falloff in overseas sales:
Cisco has seen a huge drop-off in demand for its hardware in emerging markets, which the company blames on fears about the NSA using American hardware to spy on the rest of the world.

Cisco chief executive John Chambers said on the company’s earnings call that he believes other American technology companies will be similarly affected. Cisco saw orders in Brazil drop 25% and Russia drop 30%. Both Brazil and Russia have expressed official outrage over NSA spying and have announced plans to curb the NSA’s reach.

Analysts had expected Cisco’s business in emerging markets to increase 6%, but instead it dropped 12%, sending shares of Cisco plunging 10% in after-hours trading.

This completely unexpected turn, which Chambers said was the fastest swing he had ever seen in emerging markets, comes just as Cisco is trying to establish itself as a bedrock technology provider for of the internet of things, which industry analysis firm IDC says will be an $8.9 trillion market by 2020.

Arguably, the current shift in the underlying infrastructure of the internet makes Cisco and other American companies uniquely vulnerable. The move to cloud services, streaming video and machine to machine communication (i.e., the internet of things) means new standards and new default hardware providers are taking root, and if NSA spying keeps American companies from dominating the market at an early stage, it could mean that in the long run they’ll simply be locked out of these markets while competitors like Huawei and ZTE reap the benefits.
Since our politicians are coin operated, and since there's an election coming up next year, it will be very interesting to see what sort of campaign contributions will come out of Silicon Valley.

BTW, I hear from sources that I trust that Cisco is by no means the only company that is seeing this falloff in overseas sales.

As a matter of fact, I do need a workout for the holidays

Quote of the Day: Class War edition

I may put my libertarian creds at risk, but this really resonates with me.  It makes me think about when I was a Democrat, long, long ago before the Left lost its mind and wandered into the wilderness.  For a brief moment, I even flirted with Marxism (I was young and stupid) before realizing that it was too sure of itself by half and therefore not plausible (I used to pat myself on the back for realizing this by myself; like I said, I was young and stupid).

But I had a fair amount of respect for my Professor of Marxist theory who, while wrong, was rigorous and consistent.  And so I respect the guy who penned these words:
Let me backtrack with a little explanation. Some people out there, perhaps not you, may confuse my radical leftism with the stuff going on out there. They would be wrong. As a Marxist, for me it is class, class, class. Class trumps race, gender, everything. Its all about wealth. The fact that “old white men” are holding alot of it is due to historical forces, not from their “whiteness”. In the 60’s and 70’s, the leftist preoccupation with class was replaced with race and gender issues, to the detriment of all concerned.  Old news, just spelling it out here for clarity’s sake.

So we get to now, and race and gender obsessed “liberal progressives” are such a harmful force in society that I, an actual socialist revolutionary, can enjoy you tormenting them on your blog, even though your political perspective is rooted in basic assumptions that are opposite my own. Strange days indeed. For liberal progressives, this would indicate I am a sexist racist, but as a white male I am already on their shitlist so whatever. I am a Marxist. I believe I am fighting the good fight. I am not going to get on my knees and lick boot, hoping for “ally” status. Eff that. The whole thing is a bizarre repackaging of original sin.
Word.  It's about class.  To this day when I hear someone droning on about "White Privilege" or "the Patriarchy" I immediately tune out, and tally their name on the "idiots" list.  But talk about class and my ears prick up.  I can't help it.  The opening sentences of Dad's memoirs tell you all you need to know about what I learned about life growing up:
My mother gave birth to me on the kitchen table that I ate off until adulthood.  I have always considered the humble conditions of that birth to be a distinction, one to be proud of.  In spite of the humbleness of that birth, I was able to become a university professor, author of several books and many articles, and to be blessed with marriage to a wonderful woman and father to three fine sons.  Having accomplished that from such a birth had given me bragging rights.
Tell me about "White Privilege" or "the Patriarchy".  Go ahead, I dare you.

And so Vox's correspondent, while very likely wrong in his political philosophy, gets a lot of respect from me.  Certainly more than your run of the mill "adequately predictable" "progressive"* these days.  The recently deceased Norm Geras is another**.  Perhaps wrong, but consistent and honorable.  That's a standard that I strive for myself.  Reading Vox's commenter it was quite strange the surge of adrenaline, the feeling of yes, I'm not alone in this!  It's even seen in what might be thought of as "the other side".

What a strange, debased, withered intellectual fruit of thousands of years of civilization.  It's almost as if that even though they stand on the shoulders of Giants, they cover their eyes.  And these people think that they're smarter than me?

And Vox replies in words worthy of being carved in marble and then gilded:
That an avowed Marxist would enjoy my fiction is less surprising than it might sound. I am, after all, a radical, merely one with very different assumptions and objectives. And I've always gotten along much better with the hard left than with the soft, squishy, bourgeois progressive left; one of my independent studies was done under a hardcore Canadian socialist who regarded McDonalds as the capitalist devil incarnate.

Of course, this may be because the hard left is about the only group that hates the progressive left more than I do. One of the great satisfactions about being on the right-wing is the knowledge that even if we lose and the revolution finally arrives in its fullness, the useful idiots are going to be the first ones lined up against the wall and shot. And who can look at the way Wall Street has been raping the country and not feel the urge to raise a revolutionary flag; if that is capitalism, then I don't want any part of it and I'm a libertarian!
Word.  Come the Revolution, Progs, you're going to be the first ones up against the goddam wall.  I may be next, but I'll have the satisfaction of watching you go first.

* Sneer quotes absolutely, positively intentional.

** Geras, an Englishman writing in England, has what is perhaps the definitive  review of Emmylou Harris.  It's about class***, people, not race or gender.  Duh.

*** Don't believe me?  Where is Hollywood and the rest of the Liberal Establishment on the topic of unemployment?  Why is it that we only get this from Flyover Country?  Because so many of the newly unemployed are white men?  It's an admission of startling degeneracy from the Progressives if so.

This song sings my Grandfather's life, one that marked my Dad when he was growing up and got passed down to me.  It sure would have been nice for a little white privilege or Patriarchy to help out back in those days.  Yeah, there's not much other than contempt that I feel for "Progressives" who are almost always wealthy, white, and SWPL.

Yeah, I guess I'm a little mad about this.  Not sure why it has my blood pressure up.  Probably the intersection of wasted talent among the SWPLs, the infuriating smugness, and the destructive policies.  I hope that Dad would understand.

Bootnote: I usually queue these up for 0701 Eastern Time.  Posting early by popular demand.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Broke Back Mount Doom"?

I laughed and laughed.

I was going to post, but it got lost in a rant

My goodness, something that started as a mocking blog post degenerated into something resembling, well, rage.  Damn.

I won't bore you with the details (and you can stop by tomorrow morning for the full spittle-flecked thing), but my reaction shocked me.  I've been sort of merrily cruising by on the self-destruction of Obamacare and the Democratic Party, and then a deep anger came boiling up from somewhere I didn't even know I had.

I wonder if this same sort of thing was felt by the ancient Romans observing the decadence and collapse of former greatness, looking on the frivolity of an Intellectual Class so hollow that if you tapped them they would ping.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, we are told.  And so I offer up as penance a picture of a cute dog.  But one with a message for our day.

I shall endeavor to be more cheery in my mockery, as opposed to blackly ranting in it.  Promise.

In my liquor cabinet

Act the First:
Take one bottle of a-step-up-from-bottom-shelf bourbon.  I like W. L. Weller which is decent and goes for around $12 a bottle in these parts.

Take one ginger root (not the yucky powered stuff).  Peel a thumb sized piece with a vegetable peeler.

Put ginger slivers into the bourbon.  You may need to pour off a shot before you add them, to make sure there's room in the bottle.  Don't let that shot go to waste.

Let steep for at least a week.  Presto!  Ginger bourbon, which is just another example of why 'Murica kicks butt.
Act the Second:
Take one bottle of a-step-up-from-bottom-shelf vodka.  I like Stravinski Polish Vodka - it had a sign saying it was distilled 5 times.  It runs around $10 around here.

Take one grapefruit cup - you know, the ones that come in a plastic cup at the local supermarket.

Put grapefruit sections in the vodka.  You may need to pour off a shot before you add them, to make sure there's room in the bottle.  Don't let that shot go to waste.

Let steep for at least a week.  Presto! Grapefruit vodka, which is just another example of why 'Murica kicks butt.

How the MSM hurts the Democrats

I'm been sort of flabbergasted for the last few days at just how sudden and complete the collapse of Obamacare and the Democrats' 2014 hopes have been.  I can't remember anything this sudden - in the space of three days the President was forced to give a (sort of) apology, his party went into open revolt against him, and he was forced to (likely illegally) impose some sort of (maybe window dressing, maybe not) change on his signature achievement.

How did the Democrats get to this place of rubble and dry bones?

The Media brought them here.  The MSM were cheerleaders for the Democrats in general, and for Obama and Obamacare in particular.  I keep saying that the clearest evidence of bias is not what (and how) it's reported, but what's not reported.  The clear implications of Obamacare were simply not reported.  When some J. Random Republican said things like "people won't be able to keep the insurance that they like because we need young, healthy people on new, higher cost plans to provide the money to subsidize older and sicker people", well the MSM just dropped that down the Memory Hole.*

And so four years of Memory Hole led to a series of tactical victories for the Democrats - the passage of Obamacare and the re-election of Obama to name two.  But now the law is fair upon us, and millions of people are losing their plans.  And since there are no Republican fingerprints on this mess, the Democrats who are up for re-election are now panicking.

And worse is to come.  Things were memory holed that describe what has not yet come to pass: "Doctors will drop out of practice because this law results in them making less money, and so supply and demand says that you'll get less supply of doctors".  How's that one going to play out in 2015?

The Democrats simply never would be in this fine mess if they hadn't had enablers in the MSM.  An actual real debate, honestly reported, would have  prevented this mess of a law from being passed and the disaster of the 2010 elections and next year's looming fiasco would not be on the table.  But rather than instilling some much needed caution, the MSM egged on Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

Obama has never been personally very popular among Congressional Democrats.  Quite frankly, he doesn't seem much like a very likeable person.  Now we are seeing just how little hold he has over his party.  This is another example of what the MSM never reported, which turns out to have hurt Mr. Obama very badly indeed.

The Czar of Muscovy sums it up:
Observers are carefully noting that Congressional democrats are dividing between those who believe the President is calling the play and those who think he’s about to torch the party. Everybody is aware the worst news about Obamacare should be hitting Americans in late summer of 2014 in time for the elections.
And so, the collapse.  Like the sudden snapping of a cable under tension.  The energy that had been slowly stored in the line, and gradually built up to the breaking point is now unleashed.  The ends of the now free wire propels it at ruinous speed towards any objects nearby.  What's closest right now are the Congressional Democrats.

* Their preferred method of doing this is reporting this in paragraph 13 on page A23.  That way they can claim that they did actually report it.  If your child used this sort of excuse to you, you would send him to bed without supper.