Thursday, October 31, 2013

That otta keep the little bastards happy*

Three hours ago, this was full:


Man, we had a lot of kids come by.  It ranged from toddlers to super heroes and princesses to teenagers (Zombie Response team was funny; "Naughty Schoolgirl" made me think that I would not have liked this if we'd had daughters.  It also made me think that I might have lost that argument ....).

But they pretty well cleaned us out.  Good.  Should keep 'em happy ....

* Sadly, it seems that this story is busted.

My pumpkin-fu is weak

And my tools (little pumpkin saws) all broke.  That's actually not a surprise, because they were probably ten years old.  I had to finish with a Remington no. 6 knife that I picked up at the Kittery Trading Post.  Sharp and strong, but the 6" blade wasn't made for fine pumpkin work.

It was a little sad, too - the Boys didn't want to carve pumpkins with me like we always do.  I guess they're too grown up for that sort of thing.  I've had this time with them for 15 years or so, and I'll dearly miss it if it's gone.

So just why did Obama postpone the Employer Mandate?

It was supposed to kick in on 1 January 2014.  The President (seemingly without anything in the statute to allow this) arbitrarily moved that to 1 January 2015.  Nobody's really talked much about it, focusing on the 2 Million (and counting) Americans who have seen their health insurance policies cancelled.  Those people were all in the individual coverage market, which looks like it will see at least a 66% turnover because of Obamacare.

But that mandate was for individuals, who make up less than 10% of the public.  People who get insurance via their employer make up the other 90%.  And when that mandate hits, it will be chaos.  The Administration knew back in 2010 that perhaps a hundred Million people would lose their coverage.

How do we know?  They published it in the Federal Register:
If you read the Affordable Care Act when it was passed, you knew that it was dishonest for President Obama to claim that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” as he did—and continues to do—on countless occasions. And we now know that the administration knew this all along. It turns out that in an obscure report buried in a June 2010 edition of the Federal Register, administration officials predicted massive disruption of the private insurance market.

...

“The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” wrote the administration on page 34,552 of the Register. All in all, more than half of employer-sponsored plans will lose their “grandfather status” and get canceled. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 156 million Americans—more than half the population—was covered by employer-sponsored insurance in 2013.

...

How many people are exposed to these problems? 60 percent of Americans have private-sector health insurance—precisely the number that Jay Carney dismissed. As to the number of people facing cancellations, 51 percent of the employer-based market plus 53.5 percent of the non-group market (the middle of the administration’s range) amounts to 93 million Americans.
I think that this will break the Democratic Party.  I wonder what Obama is planning to prevent that.

A scary Halloween post about security and privacy

From security guru Bruce Schneier:
We're in the middle of an epic battle for power in cyberspace. On one side are the traditional, organized, institutional powers such as governments and large multinational corporations. On the other are the distributed and nimble: grassroots movements, dissident groups, hackers, and criminals. Initially, the Internet empowered the second side. It gave them a place to coordinate and communicate efficiently, and made them seem unbeatable. But now, the more traditional institutional powers are winning, and winning big. How these two side fare in the long term, and the fate of the rest of us who don't fall into either group, is an open question -- and one vitally important to the future of the Internet.
I'm not sure that I agree with everything here, but this is a very good overview of where we are and how we got here.  This is certainly correct:
In many cases, the interests of corporate and government powers are aligning. Both corporations and governments benefit from ubiquitous surveillance, and the NSA is using Google, Facebook, Verizon, and others to get access to data it couldn't otherwise. The entertainment industry is looking to governments to enforce its antiquated business models. Commercial security equipment from companies like BlueCoat and Sophos is being used by oppressive governments to surveil and censor their citizens. The same facial recognition technology that Disney uses in its theme parks can also identify protesters in China and Occupy Wall Street activists in New York. Think of it as a public/private surveillance partnership.
This, too:
The truth is that technology magnifies power in general, but rates of adoption are different. The unorganized, the distributed, the marginal, the dissidents, the powerless, the criminal: They can make use of new technologies very quickly. And when those groups discovered the Internet, suddenly they had power. But later, when the already-powerful big institutions finally figured out how to harness the Internet, they had more power to magnify. That's the difference: The distributed were more nimble and were faster to make use of their new power, while the institutional were slower but were able to use their power more effectively.
He recommends increased transparency.  That's where I'm not so sure.  He's correct that we need it, but neither public nor private institutions like it and will resist overtly (public opposition) and covertly (bureaucratic foot dragging).  And what is scary is how the attacks on Internet freedom and privacy increasingly resemble attacks on gun ownership and the Second Amendment:
The more destabilizing the technologies, the greater the rhetoric of fear, and the stronger institutional powers will get. This means increasingly repressive security measures, even if the security gap means that such measures become increasingly ineffective.
Printed guns result in freak outs.  Encryption means you must be a child molester. Objecting to NSA metadata sweeps means that you have something to hide.  As opposed to the Government, who is only hiding things for your own safety.  And the safety of your kids.  Relax, Citizen - the chocolate ration has been increased again ...

This is a thoughtful post, and worth your time.


Offered without comment


I must say that the last decade has been good to Boston sports fans.  And this is quite the turnaround from last season when the Sox went 63-93.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Confession time

All work and no play makes Borepatch a boring and grumpy blogger (you may even have noticed ...).  Lately I've been mostly not drinking and going to bed early during the week - I've been dragging my sorry butt for too long, and this just seemed the smartest move.

But I'm finishing up my third beer while watching what looks to be the final game of the 2013 World Series.  I may even have another. The Cardinals are trying their best to make this an exciting game.

Why I don't shave

It's sort of a Sampson thing.


So what should I do for Halloween pumpkins this year?

I always carve jack o'lanterns for Halloween.  This year things have been so hectic that I don't have any ideas on what to carve.  Any thoughts?

Damn, I hate the way this country is headed

This economy is the worst I've ever seen, in the sheer time that it refuses to rebound from the last downturn.  It's taken its toll, this time on a blogger who while new to some has been a fiercely libertarian voice against the Moloch state:
If you miss me too, don't forget to check the archives. There's some good stuff here that I've posted over the years. For you new readers, start with the 'best of covertress' section on the right.

I guess that's it.

So long, it's been good to know you...


I know that a lot of folks are strapped, but if you can hit the Covertresses' tip jar, it would help one of our own.


A Borepatch blog post from 1983

My favorite class as an Electrical Engineering student was Physical Measurements Lab.  It was nothing but lab work: plasma discharge, nuclear-magnetic resonance, and my favorite experiment of all time measuring the speed of light.  The professor gave us a cardboard box with a laser, a beam splitter, a rotating mirror, and a few clamps, suggested the basement of the Physics Building would be the darkest room we might find, and told us to scram - and not to come back until we'd measured the speed of light.

Last night #2 Son was doing a project for school, and in the course of looking for 3 ring binder clear plastic page holders I stumbled across my lab report from 1983.  It was a real waltz down memory lane.

Our measured value of the speed of light was high by 3.7%.  Not bad for clamping lasers and mirrors to any old railing in the basement.  I was surprised to see that I only got a B on the lab report, and some of the red pen comments were a lot harsher than I'd remembered ("This is NOT a conclusion!" about my conclusion; "Too wordy" which is sadly true today).  The report was typed (yes, on a typewriter) with hand-drawn diagrams much neater than I'd likely do today.

But what struck me was the cheekiness of my young self.  At the end of the report was a three page dissertation related to the experiment, a history lesson of sorts.  I reproduce it here as it strikes me as what may have been my first blog post, from February 3, 1983.  I see from reading it that I had a nose for junk science, even back then.  And a taste for snark, hard as that may be to believe (the seventh paragraph illustrates both of these).
APPENDIX: THE EXPERIMENT THAT FAILED

In the beginning (as it is often said), we may suppose that people thought that the speed of light was infinite - when they ever thought about it at all.  The first person to try to experimentally measure this (as far as we know) was Galileo.  In his experiment, he stood on a hilltop one evening with a darkened lantern.  His assistant stood on a hill a mile away with another - also darkened - lantern.  Galileo would uncover his lantern; the assistant, upon seeing the light, would uncover his own, and Galileo would count the time from when he shown his lantern to when he saw his assistant's.  Unfortunately, the time elapsed was the time it took his assistant to think, "Hey, there's the old man's light."  The experiment was inconclusive, but did convince Galileo that the speed of light was very great indeed.

A half century later, a Danish astronomer by the name of Claus Roemer was working at the Paris observatory, observing the orbits of Jupiter's satellites.  Their periods of revolution had been carefully measured, and it was thought that the exact time of their eclipse behind the planet could be predicted; this, in fact, had been done.  Although the calculations seemed flawless, Roemer discovered that the satellites were disappearing at the wrong time.  He further noted that they were early when the Earth was approaching Jupiter and late when the two planets were moving apart.  He reasoned that the difference was the time it took the light to travel the extra distance.  The maximum distance was when the two planets were on the opposite sides of the sun, and was equal to the diameter of the Earth's orbit.  Using the best estimate of the diameter of the Earth's orbit, Roemer calculated the speed of light to be 138,000miles per second.  He announced this result, but it was burried under a storm of controversy and forgotten.

Fifty years later, in the 1720's, a British astronomer named James Bradley was hot on the trail of the stellar parallax.  This was an old dispute between Copernicus and the older Ptolemians, where the latter said that if the Earth revolved around the Sun, the stars should be seen to move; they don't, so Q.E.D.  Not so, replied Copernicus, for the motions of the stars (parallax) would be very small.  Bradley did not resolve this argument, but he did discover what is called the "aberration of light," and used it to calculate the speed of light.  His value was 188,500 miles per second, only 1.2 percent too high.

In 1849, a Frenchman by the name of Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau decided that the speed of light could be measured in the laboratory.  He returned to Galileo's expiment, but made some major improvements: the assistant was replaced with a mirror, and the light made to pass through a rapidly rotating toothed disk.  If the disk could be made to rotate at just the right speed, Fizeau reasoned, then a ray of light would return just as a blank space opened up on the wheel. If the speed of rotation was known, the speed of light could be measured.  Fizeau's experiment was not of high precision - only within about five percent - but it was a great success for a first try.  His assistant, Jean Bernard Leon Foucault improved Fizeau's method by replacing the disk with a rotating mirror (this was the experiment we repeated).  His accuracy was much better, and he even proved that light travels more slowly through water than through air.  This finally put to rest the particle theory of light.

The Fizeau-Foucault experiment was further improved by and American,Albert Abraham Michelson.  Michelson added some ingenious improvements to Foucault's apparatus, and measured the speed of light to within a fraction of a percent.  The importance of his experiment, however lies elsewhere, the story of which begins two centuries previously.

Sir Isaac Newton, back in the seventeenth century was firmly convinced in the particle theory of light.  He reasoned that a wave could not travel through a vacuum, such as the one above out atmosphere.  Unfortunately, light was shown to have definite wave properties very early on.  Newton struggled for the rest of his life with this problem, and almost united the two theories centuries before Maxwell.  Still, he failed, and the problem was ignored.

Later, it was shown conclusively that light was a wave.  Furthermore, it was shown that it had to be a transverse wave (by experiments with Iceland spar).  This was a terrible blow to the Physicists of the day who had postulated a medium - the "luminiferous ether" - to conduct the waves which pervaded all space.  Unfortunately, it was calculated that the ether had to be more rigid than steel to conduct the wave at that known velocity.  Nevertheless, the concept of a massless, frictionless medium, indistinguishable from vacuum yet rigid as steel was explained away by the slick, snake-oil experimenters, and became the prevalent theory (the above is, of course, not very charitable, but it does stretch the imagination to understand how the scientists who pulled down the Ptolemaic view of the cosmos for being top heavy and cumbersome could turn around and erect one of their own).

Michelson decided to try to measure the motion of the Earth through the ether (the so called "Ether Wind").  He reasoned that if the ether were motionless, then the motion of the Earth through it would be, while small, detectable.  With Edward Williams Morley, he spent a considerable amount of time and effort to eliminate all external vibration from his equipment.  When he finally measured the ether wind he found nothing.  After eliminating all possible errors, he was left with not a thing.  The experiment was a complete failure.

The results caused a world-wide furor. Some of the greatest minds in science, such as Lord Kelvin and George Gabriel Stokes, tried heroically to explain it away.  The game was up, however, and it was shown that no ether wind was detected because there was no ether.

The explanation had to wait until Max Planl in 1900 and Albert Einstein in 1905 showed the complete lack of ether which saved the day.

Michelson's experiment had failed so spectacularly that he won the Nobel Prize in 1907, the first American to win a prize in the sciences.
Too wordy.  Yes, it needed polishing, but was typed on a mechanical typewriter, not tapped into a blog text editor.  But even to this day there's sometimes a whispering about my posts, This is NOT a conclusion!

I was a pretty weird student.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Much of Baseball's charm is in the history

The World Series is now back in Boston's Fenway Park. For better or worse, the Boston fans will see a winner crowned there. With St, Louis or the Red Sox will win the series in Baseball's oldest park.

That's not the history that makes you stop and think. If the Red Sox win the series, it won't be the first time they've won it at Fenway. The last time was in 1918, and a certain Babe Ruth was brought in as a defensive substitution for the Sox.

George Herman's ghost looks on in the fens. We can imagine that he would root for his old team.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I don't think I'll do this with Haloween pumpkins

Just no.


Thumbpress has some pretty funny stuff.

Most Technology savvy Administration ever

They really used social media to their advantage in last year's election, didn't they?  Wait, what?
The Syrian Electronic Army has been up to its old tricks again, this time claiming to have infiltrated president Barack Obama’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts, and re-election web site.

A series of tweets were sent from @BarackObama account and updates were made to the president’s Facebook account on Monday linking to a YouTube video from the pro-Assad hacktivist collective.
Derp.

Ya know, if the Syrians really want to get Obama's goat, they should just take down Healthcare.gov.  Oh, wait ...

The NSA has seriously damaged the War On Terror

Tam got me thinking with a post of hers on the hypocrisy of the Europeans about the Snowden revelations:
Angela Merkel is all finger-wavy over finding out that the U.S. government has been listening in on her phone conversations as though she were Russian or something
What's interesting about this is that Frau Merkel is a politician, which means that she knows very well that politics ain't bean bag.  This posturing on her part says that she sees upside in the German electorate which viscerally reacts to "spying" by thinking "Stasi".  The NSA has painted themselves with Erich Mielke's brush.

The first take away is that the NSA's broad surveillance policies have inflamed anti-americanism among the population of Germany (also France, and likely other European countries).  Euro politicians will be quick to exploit this, and in fact are already doing so.

But even more interesting is the dynamic of Edward Snowden's political journey.  He was radicalized by the broad surveillance policy towards Americans and the Obama Administration's lack of desire to rein it in.  And so he's spilled the beans.



Lots of beans.  The ripple effect of that is playing out in Europe, and in Congress. The NSA is responsible for this, too.

The NSA will see less cooperation from Europe and other countries in the future, because that will be politically undesirable for European Politicians.  While the old game of say one thing in public while doing another behind closed doors would have allowed full cooperation, with the Snowden leaks the questions everyone will wonder is who will leak next, and what will they leak?  The risk will be high for a policy of domestic lying.  We can expect less cooperation than in the past on the War on Terror.

Similarly here in the USA.  Broad parts of the security community are disgusted with PRISM and the other programs, and will cooperate less with the Fed.Gov.  Politicians here are seeing an opportunity to take Big Brother down a peg or two - perhaps motivated by no small amount of fear.  The War On Terror has suddenly gotten much more difficult for the NSA to prosecute, because of their reckless surveillance policies.

The dialectic is much older than Marx, who stole it from Hegel (via Kant).  It goes way back to ancient days, where Plato used it in the Socratic Dialogs.  The concept is that action begets its own reaction.  We're seeing that today.  There's a certain poetic justice in that, if that's the right metaphor.

No doubt the Government would say that this will make it harder for them to fight terrorism.


Unfortunately, they don't have a lot of credibility.  They haven't stopped terrorist attacks (The NSA contributed nothing in the successful Boston Marathon attack and the unsuccessful Times Square attack), so there's not a lot of evidence that they're effective.  The NSA and Intelligence management have repeatedly lied (including under oath) to Congress and the public, and the FISA court.  Why should we  give them the benefit of the doubt?

And quite frankly, this is the NSA's fault, too.  Quite frankly, this doesn't look very much like what I'd imagine a successful espionage program to look like.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I hadn't known that Alec Guinness played Hitler in the Bunker

The script is very similar to the one used in all the parodies.



Very similar indeed.  This is the original with subtitles, not a parody.



Guinness plays the role with a less passionate outburst than Bruno Ganz, and the contrast is pretty interesting.  It may say less about the actors than how the style of films changed between 1973 and 2004.

Hitler: The Last Ten Days vs. Der Untergang.  It's not a cage match, it's a Fuhrerbunker match!

Privacy is dead

Robert Cringely is not usually one to fall for hype or get overly excited.  He's been around the tech world for 3 decades now, and has pretty good instincts.

This is a good read.

I think I've been on that boat a couple times.

Or three, even.


Win.  And this is OT* but made me laugh out loud:

Is the error code something like "402: More postage required"?**

* Like there's really a "topic" in this post.

** Actually a 402 error is "Payment Required".  Maybe that's COD ...

Sunday AAR

#2 Son had early morning SAT prep, then I had a conference call (the work week in Israel starts on Sunday, and if there's a hard deadline you work when the engineers are there).  Since this is a video conference call, when Crash the Wondercat jumps up on my lap everyone cracks up.

Then fiddling with the Jeep's battery which seems not to hold a charge, then cooking a chicken and fresh bread for Sunday dinner.  And cleaning up. Then walking the dogs.  It's pretty funny how Dudley and Wolfgang rough house - Dudley weighs 8 lbs and Wolfgang is around 108, but they wrestle and Dudley is absolutely fearless.  It's pretty funny how he goes after Wolfie's ears and face.  Wolfgang is very patient with the little guy, and it's amazing just how tired he gets after that tiny little Toto dog gets done with him.

#2 Son was beat - he was on a nighttime orienteering outing with his JROTC on Saturday (which sounded awesome).  Fortunately I had compass and flashlight (both MIL Spec, 'natch, which the Colonel thought was a nice touch).  But we all sort of got worn out.  His team didn't win, but placed high up the rankings.  And you're scrambling around with maps and compasses out in the middle of the night.  Good times, good times.


But Yowser, I'm tired. Ah, welcome to Monday ...


Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Greatest Plane of WWII?

It was certainly the most unlikely.



Certainly it drove Hermann Goering to distraction:
It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked.

– as cited in “Pathfinder Aircraft” published by the RAF
I wonder if he had a British radio in his cell after the war?

A musical ode to the NSA



Don't let Snowden give yourself away.  Odds are tomorrow will be interesting indeed:
"We're going to keep fighting and we're going to pass something to rein in the NSA," [Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan] said, adding that the "NSA is fighting back, the establishment is fighting back."
Looks like the NSA ia acting as a uniter, not a diver, bringing what looks like a majority from both parties together!

How the NSA has screwed Silicon Valley

They don't even know how badly they've been screwed.  But they will:
When I explained I was originally from America, the man made a face, held his hand up to his ear like a telephone, and said, "USA? Why are you listening to my mobile phone? Why are you listening to my phone calls?" He was joking, of course, as he promptly laughed, slapped me on the shoulder, and provided directions to the field, but it really startled me to discover that in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, the immediate reaction to an American would be to bring up the NSA.

And the more elite Europeans aren't blind to the opportunities presented by the scandal either. I spoke to several high-level investment executives over the last few weeks, and to a man, they see the scandal as being a reason for Europe to make a serious effort to break away from the technology chains of Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Twitter, Facebook, and other American companies that have dominated the world. The larger the corporation, the more determined they are to keep the US out of their emails and servers.
Sure, this all started under Bush.  But if anything it's accelerated under Obama's "Smart Diplomacy".  Just get the right sort of "Smart" people in charge, and they will realize that Chancellor Merkel would immediately think "Stasi" when she found out that the NSA was tapping her phone.  The right sort of "Smart" people who would realize that the Cold War was over, and so espionage programs and goals should be re-thought to fit the new geopolotical reality.  The right sort of "Smart" people who could make tradeoffs favoring the long term strategic, not the short term tactical.

Pretty smart, right there.  And Vox sums it up to a "T":
This isn't merely a diplomatic or political scandal, it is probably an economic one as well.

Heinrich Marschner - Overture from the opera Der Vampyr

Image via Wikipedia
Halloween is an interesting challenge for classical music blogging.  At first it's a delight - you're surrounded by choices (Night on Bald Mountain, Toccata and Fugue, you get the idea).  But you go through the easy choices, and then the interesting exploration begins.

Because classical music is filed with great choices for Halloween.  Like today's offering, a shockingly early piece from 1828.  It sounds like it could have been written 60 years later - high romantic classical music from the year after the death of Beethoven himself.

It also has a particularly interesting take on vampires.  This opera was written a full seventy years before Bram Stoker's classic, Dracula.  Stoker (an Englishman) placed the haunt of the undead in far off Teutonic (or past Teutonic) wilderness.  Marschner (a German) placed the haunt of the undead in far off Scottish wilderness.

The story is silly (hey, it's an opera) but the plot is wrapped around vampires and pretty girls, so score one for Marschner.  It has a happy ending (hey, it's an opera), so it's perhaps a little lighthearted for the spirit of Halloween, but it's wonderful music.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Is there any reason not to buy this morotcycle?

2008 Yamaha V-Star 650 Silverado, 14,000 miles, under $3k.

The local Harley dealer has it marked down by $750 to get rid of it.  Test rode it today.

It has some fancy after market (LOUD) pipes that I'd want to get rid of.  Yes, I know the whole "loud pipes save lives" thing; I also know the whole "loud pipes make you go deaf" thing.  Maybe someone would swap me for stock pipes because these seem to be worth something.

The price seems pretty good for a decently late-ish bike with not too many miles.  I'd be able to meet up with the Big Guy in Apalachicola, and he wouldn't kick my butt for passing this up.

It still seems like an intermediate bike between the Rebel and a full sized bike, but I still don't feel comfortable on the 1300s.  At the price I could get rid of it in a year or two on a bigger model.

Thoughts?

I actually watched this ad all the way through

Up on Youtube, this ad started to play.  Uncharacteristically I didn't hit the "Skip Ad" button, and ended up watching the whole thing.



Man, I'd get one of these.

The inevitable failure of the Healthcare.gov "surge"

Failure is inevitable and in fact it has already started, 2 days after the announcement.  You see, the analogy is entirely wrong: the "surge" in Iraq (especially in al Anbar) was a dynamic of introducing additional, independent assets.  The key word is "independent".  The Healthcare.gov folks aren't.

This was explained nearly 40 years ago in Fred Brooks' software development classic, The Mythical Man Month.  Brooks expounded at length on the challenge today confronting Healthcare.gov, and summed up their agony with what has come to be called Brooks' Law:

Adding manpower to a late software project makes the project later.

This will seem counter intuitive to non-Programmers, people like Health and Human Service Secretaries.  But it's a core concept of software, and one that's fundamentally different from most of the physical world.  In the physical world, there is a much greater degree of independence.  If I need a rush job for a big order of widgets, I can open a new widget factory.  The widgets are independent from each other, and so the manufacturing process can proceed in parallel.

The surge in al Anbar was precisely like this: multiple units acting in parallel.  It worked pretty well, because it was the physical world.

Not so with software.  The design is really an integrated whole.  Essentially, healthcare.gov itself is the widget.  There's only one widget, and it's massively complex.  And this is where we get to the heart of the matter, and Brooks' Law.

You see, there are a few people who actually understand how the widget works.  These, of course, are the ones who wrote the code.  Maybe the code is terrible and maybe its not (it is very plausible that the programmers simply weren't given enough time to do it properly; this is shockingly common in software projects even in the private sector, and is an almost universal constant in the government).  But this set of people quite simply are the only ones who know what the code does, and why it does it.

Now let's double the size of the team.  Sounds like we'll make good progress, right - after all, twice as many seems twice as good.  But the new guys don't have a clue about how the code works, or why the code was written the way it was.  The only thing that they really can do is trivial tasks like documentation or fixing trivial bugs.  Remember, Healthcare.gov's problems are not trivial bugs, it's fundamental breakage in architecture and design.

The new guys simply cannot help with that.  There's no schedule benefit they can provide, no way to accelerate the project towards completion - at least until they learn the architecture and the code.  Then they can actually help.

So how do they learn the architecture and the code?  They ask the existing core group of programmers.  And so the existing group now finds itself not fixing the fundamental architecture and design breakage, but acting as mentors and tutors to a bunch of (hopefully) smart but new team members.

And the schedule slips further, because actual work isn't being done.


It's actually worse than this.  Coordinating a large software team is much harder than coordinating a small one.  Having worked with both as a Product Manager, the small teams seemed to almost direct themselves in a delightful manner.  With large teams, you find your schedule filling up with Core Team meetings and Test/QA meetings and tracking meetings and meetings to brief the higher ups.  One wag once said to me that we were keeping excellent track of the progress we weren't making.  Morale on a big, high visibility project that is seriously off track is a big problem.  The danger is that the good people get fed up and leave (they're good, and so they will have options) because the team leans on them for more than their share of the progress.


And so the statement from Jeff Zients, the project honcho, that the site would be functional ahead of the deadlines is without doubt wrong.  Zients may or may not know this; he is, after all, a management wonk who took a company public during the dot com bubble - but it wasn't a software company.  So the hype* about him as a "Tech Savior" is just hype.  He can't change the dynamics of how software is developed.

And so my prediction is that Healthcare.gov will not really work for another year.  It will take 90 days for the "surge" programmers to become useful, and by then the project will be another 90 days behind.  60 days after that the surge project will get a timeline "break even" - i.e. will be at the same point that it would have been without the surge.  That's April 1.

And so the only question then is just how bad is the architectural and design breakage?  We don't know, but the government's track record on large software development efforts is miserable.  The FAA famously wrote off a $1.5B effort to computerize the air traffic control system.  I myself as a fledgling Electrical Engineer was involved in a government program that ended up $200M over budget and facing Congressional Hearings.  That project never worked, even after the Government "declared victory".

That may in fact be the fate of Healthcare.gov.  Certainly victory will be declared, likely repeatedly.  And the system will collapse repeatedly, shortly after the declarations.  Eventually nobody will care, because they will all mentally write the thing off as a lost cause.

* Who on earth thinks that Zients is some sort of tech guru, anyway?  This is nothing but White House spin, desperately served up to a compliant press.  But as with Obama himself, high initial expectations will not be met, and this will go down as yet another case of over promising and under delivering.

Zac Brown Band - Colder Weather (with James Taylor)

The weather is changing.  Even here in Georgia we're in for colder weather.  What Yankees may not know is that cold can bring new blossoms, like this camellia from inside the Camp Borepatch secure perimeter.  Pretty.

But always bitter sweet.  The world is contracting, going dormant, to wait expectantly for the stirrings of Spring.  Winter is a harsh time for plants and animals.  Some survive, by luck or persistence.  Some find the cold and loneliness too much.

It can be like that, sometimes.  Luck and persistence can see a couple through a hard time, love surviving to a new spring's glory.  But some find the cold and loneliness too much.

Well it's a winding road
When you're in the lost and found

Zac Brown gives me hope for Country Music.  At his best, he reminds me of the great old balladeers from Country's finest days.  He captures a mood of bitter sweet, one well known to far too many.  This isn't the first time.

And I love you but I leave you
I don't want you but I need you
You know it's you that calls me back here baby




Colder Weather (songwriters: Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, Coy Bowles)
She'd trade Colorado if he'd take her with him,
Closes the door before the winter lets the cold in,
And wonders if her love is strong enough to make him stay,
She's answered by the tail lights
Shining through the window pane

He said I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
She said you're a ramblin' man
And you ain't ever gonna change
You gotta gypsy soul to blame
And you were born for leavin'

At a truck stop diner just outside of Lincoln,
The night is black as the coffee he was drinkin',
And in the waitress' eyes he sees the same 'ol light a shinin',
He thinks of Colorado
And the girl he left behind him

He said I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
She said you're a ramblin' man
And you ain't ever gonna change
You got a gypsy soul to blame
And you were born for leavin'(born for leavin')

Well it's a winding road
When you're in the lost and found
You're a lover I'm a runner
And we go 'round 'n 'round
And I love you but I leave you
I don't want you but I need you
You know it's you that calls me back here baby

Oh I wanna see you again
But I'm stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then
Cause I'm a ramblin' man
I ain't ever gonna change (I ain't ever gonna change)
Gotta gypsy soul to blame
And I was born for leavin' (born for leavin')

And when I close my eyes I see you
No matter where I am
I can smell your perfume through these whispering pines
I'm with your ghost again
It's a shame about the weather
But I know soon we'll be together
And I can't wait till then
I can't wait till then

Friday, October 25, 2013

You have to be very well educated to be this stupid

PhD level stupid, in fact. University of Colorado at Boulder tells students to avoid costumes including cowboys ...
But what's offensive about cowboys?

A university spokesman called cowboy costumes a "crude stereotype."
Okay, I'll just go as a university spokesman.
Heh.  And can someone please explain to me what's offensive about this?






Mrs. Borepatch sure was a doll, wasn't she?  But some idiots in Ivy Covered Halls tell us that she's offensive.  Of course, it's because they think that European Intellectuals are the shiznit, and since European Intellectuals use "cowboy" as an insult, it must be something bad, mkay?

It takes a PhD program to compress that much stupid until it becomes weapons grade.  And a really impressive inferiority complex.  Just sayin'.

Seen inside Camp Borepatch


It's cold outside, even here in Hotlanta.  Not just below freezing, but in the 20s.  A fire brings comfort - not just the warmth, but the snap, crackle, and pop.  Crash the Wondercat is content to warm my lap.  And good music adds to the feeling.



And perhaps bourbon has a warm comfort.  You might think so; I couldn't possibly comment.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nobody home

I've been feeling under the weather for a while now, and feel terrible now. I'm going to watch an hour of the World Series and then go to bed. I very much doubt there will be any posts tomorrow.

I dunno - even my 1911 weighs less


Besides, I'm not sure that meat shields even work.


University "Diversity" needs to get Photoshop lessons ...

Via #1 Son, we find this:


The University "Diversity" team is doing high fives (although where is the asian chick?  C'mon - we're looking for "Diversity" here).  But if you look closely, you'll find that the African American grad didn't seem to wash up after the weekly cross burning ...



No doubt your Captain will be shocked, shocked that "Diversity" organizations are staffed by idiots ...



Next thing you know,
Major Strasser the "Diversity" program will be shot ...



#1 Son seems to be resisting the Bulls**t fed to his generation.  I hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship ...

Butt-hurt Federale is butt-hurt

Everybody say "awwwwwww":
... you should be troubled by these two letters, written by Chief Judge Walton of the FISA court.  They say,  in essence that the government’s 99% success rate before the FISA court fails to take into account the frequent and intense negotiations between the court and the government, negotiations that result in modification or withdrawal of roughly a quarter of all FISA applications. The most recent letter promises that in the future the court will keep track of all the modifications or withdrawals of FISA orders that the court negotiates and will report the court’s track record to Congress and the public.

In my view, nothing better illustrates the error behind the popular bien-pensant meme that the FISA court is just a rubber stamp. The reverse is true, and for obvious reasons.
Stewart Baker (onetime #2 or #3 man at the Department of Homeland Security) thinks that it's an outrage that people are calling the FISA court oversight of the spy-a-palooza a "rubber stamp" because 99% of the requests are approved.  He says that the real number is that only 75% of the requests get rubber stamped.

I feel so much better.  Here, NSA-man, have some more metadata.

Interestingly, comments to that post are closed.  You wonder why - after all, NSA is monitoring all of the comments, right?  And the chocolate ration has been increased yet again, Citizen!  And you don't have anything to worry about unless you have something to hide, nyet?  I mean rightRIGHT???


"In God we trust; all others we monitor."  That was a lot funnier 20 years ago ...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That's one pimped out car seat, yo

This one is for Weer'd.


Just how inefficient are government services when compared to private ones?

Modern mass transit rail worker productivity is worse than railroad worker productivity from 100 years agoIt's due to the unions, of course:
The Wall Street Journal points out [note: behind a pay wall - B.](search for “Bay Area Shutdown” if this link doesn’t work) that the BART employees who are on strike represent an industry that has seen one of the steepest declines in worker productivity in history. By just about any measure–transit trips per worker, revenues per worker-hour, costs per passenger mile–the transit industry has gone backwards more than a century in both labor and capital efficiency.

The really scary thing, at least if you are a transit rider, is that the result of this strike will be that BART, along with other transit agencies, will sacrifice safety in order to politically accommodate its workers. Many public employees have fat pensions and guaranteed health-care for life, but if paying for these things forces your local planning department to not pass a few new rules or your local library to buy a few less books, no one is going to be particularly damaged.

However, transit agencies–and especially rail transit agencies–can and do cut maintenance budgets in order to keep the money flowing to workers with cushy jobs. This is because of the asymmetry in union-employer negotiations when the employer is a public agency that reports to elected officials who depend on union support to get elected. In the case of transit, this asymmetry is both local and national in scope, as federal law requires that transit agencies keep unions happy in order to be eligible for federal grants.
Now explain to me again how a government run health care system will be more efficient than a private run one.

The futility of the NSA's data monitoring program

This is a very good overview of the fail inherent in the system:
A property of that information reality is that 'meaning' is relative to other items of info, and that any single item can change the interpretation of a big set of facts. E.g., "Muslim, bought pipes, bought gun powder, visits jihadi sites, attends the Mosque weekly, tithes ..." can be completely changed in meaning by a fact such as 'belongs to the Libertarian Party', even 'is a plumber, 'is a target shooting enthusiast'".
This will continue to be true no matter how much info the NSA gathers: it will be a small subset of the information needed to answer the question 'possible terrorist?'.

Thus NSA's tradeoff of privacy vs security is inconsistent with reality: no matter how much info they gather, no matter how sophisticated their filters, they can never detect terrorists without a false positive rate so high that there will be insufficient resources to follow up on them.
This has been known for a while.  I actually posted on this five years ago:
There are roughly 700 Million air passengers in the US each year. One chance in a million means the system would report 700 likely terrorists (remember, this thought experiment assumes a ridiculously low false positive rate). The question, now, is what do you do with these 700 people?

Right now, we don't do anything, other than not let them fly. If they're Senator Kennedy, they make a fuss at budget time, and someone takes them off the list; otherwise, we don't do anything. So all this fuss, and nothing really happens? How come?

Cost. If we really thought these folks were actually terrorists, we'd investigate them. A reasonable investigation involves a lot of effort - wire taps (first, get a warrant), stakeouts, careful collection of a case by Law Enforcement, prosecution. Probably a million dollars between police, lawyers, courts, etc - probably a lot more, if there's a trial. For each of the 700. We're looking at a billion dollars, and this assumes a ridiculously low false positive rate.

There are on the order of a hundred thousand people in TSA's no-fly or watch databases. Not 700. If you investigated them all, you're talking a hundred billion bucks. So they turn the system off.
This explains why the NSA program hasn't identified any actual terrorist attacks.  In the midst of grabbing everyone's metadata, a couple of whackos who went to jihadi summer camp in Chechnya - and who the Russians told us to watch out for - waltzed some bombs into the Boston Marathon.  The two links above will explain why the NSA will never catch this sort of stuff.

So what's the point of the whole effort?  Alan brings the cold eye of logic to the situation:
It also proves my theory that government (NSA) snooping isn’t about finding terrorists because it can’t. It’s about digging up dirt on political enemies, which is what secret police have ALWAYS been about.
The secret courts and double hush up National Security Letters sure fit the "Secret Police" mindset, too.


Do your part to help the NSA!

You have to feel sorry for them, what with NSA Director Alexander resigning.  They'll be wandering, headless, milling about aimlessly even though they're making us all less safe:
By weakening encryption, the NSA allows others to more easily break it. By installing backdoors and other vulnerabilities in systems, the NSA exposes them to other malicious hackers—whether they are foreign governments or criminals. As security expert Bruce Schneier explained, “It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create.”
RTWT, which is detailed and persuasive.

So what can you do to help out?  Your Country calls you to your duty, Citizen.  Pitch in:
Now that we know the NSA has a bit of trouble with spam, a nasty little thought has occurred to me. Sure, people like to append standard sig lines, chock full of "terrorist" keywords, to all their emails to screw with them. But just maybe...

Imagine a few hundred people creating Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and so-on-and-so-forth accounts for "Al-Qaeda of New Hampshire (and every other state, county, and city in the country(ies).
RTWT, which is detailed and delicious.  Up the system!



Note to Dianne Feinstein: no justice, no peace.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Worked late

Also took Wolfgang to an extra long play at the dog park.  He lost out over the weekend because I was working.  So my blogging isn't up to scratch.

But I have a happy dog, at least.  Wolfgang thanks you for your patience.


And the kids had gotten themselves dinner.  Win!

Vote Democrat - get eternal life!

Andrew emails this gem:
A guy is walking along a beach when he comes across a lamp partially buried in the sand.

He picks up the lamp and gives it a rub.

A genie appears and tells him he has been granted one wish.

The guy thinks for a moment and says, "I want to live forever."

"Sorry," said the genie, "I'm not allowed to grant eternal life."

"OK, then, I want to die after a Democrat government balances the budget and eliminates the debt."

"You crafty little bastard," said the genie.

An interview with Bill Waterson

Via The Honest Courtesan, here's the first interview with Bill Waterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) in years.  Here's a taste:
Purely for trivia and posterity’s sake, if you could indulge some (even more) inane queries: One story that’s made the rounds is that a plush toy manufacturer once delivered a box of Hobbes dolls to you unsolicited, which you promptly set ablaze. For people who share your low opinion of merchandising, this is a fairly delightful story. Did it actually happen?
Not exactly. It was only my head that burst into flames.

I has a tired

A great weariness has been building for months, and now (for me; last night for you) has me in its grip.  Just worn out.  It's more than just not bouncing back like I did even 5 years ago.


Uncle Jay is making noises about getting together for a long weekend in Apalachicola, and maybe kx59 will come out I-10 from Houston.  It'd be cool to hang out with some salt air, and it would be the opposite end of the Chattahoochee river, whose source is not far north of Camp Borepatch.  Or maybe something like thisL



But I think I need longer, like a couple weeks off by myself.  The batteries are drained.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Epic GIF is epic


I rather expect that this is what might happen if Uncle Jay every took his dog to a dog show ...

Ten foods that taste way better with bacon

Because bacon.

Made Man is an interesting site, perhaps to be a less urban (and online) GQ.  There's quite a lot of "Top X" lists - top five sport-touring bikes, that sort of thing.  But there's also a mix of actual manly stuff that you'll never see in GQ: How to set Kawasaki Bayou 300 Valves, How to set the timing on a '79 Harley, How to make Motorcycle tires sticky, that sort of thing.

Plus, they have a regular Friday cocktail blog.  It is pretty heavy on the snark, with the last several being focused on the theme of the Government shutdown.  For example, the Washington on the rocks:
Washington on the Rocks
3 ounces dry vermouth
1.5 ounces brandy
1 teaspoon simple syrup
3-4 dashes bitters
Glassware: Rocks glass
Method: Pour all ingredients into the glass, stir gently, fill to the top with ice, turn off the news, and enjoy.
Pretty interesting mix of stuff, and way less precious than you might think.

Awesome videos on how the Enigma Machine worked

This is the best demonstration and explanation on the German encryption machine that I've ever seen.



And this is the best explanation on how Alan Turing and the team at Bletchley Park broke it.  I hadn't ever heard what the Enigma's fatal flaw was until I watched this.


Kolbeinn Tumason/Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson - Heyr himna smiður (Medieval Icelandic hymn)

The roots of Western Civilization go deep.  Only a little over 100 years since the last Viking  conquest attempt of the British Isles, and only 150 years since Cnut sent the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready fleeing to France, a battle took place in Christian Iceland.  Bishop Guðmundur was trying to consolidate temporal power against the ancient Viking (now Christian) chiefs.  Kolbeinn Tumason met him on the field of battle, and was mortally wounded.

But much had changed in Viking lands in the last two centuries, as Christianity had merged with (not replaced) the old Nordic mythos.  Tumason wrote an epic poem on his deathbed, one mingling the Old with the New faiths.  It's been preserved through the ages, put to music by the modern Icelandic composer Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson.

Astonishingly for a modern composer, the music to turn this Epic into a hymn turns out to be something that might have been recognized at Kolbeinn Tumason's death bed.  This is a fabulous performance, in an Iceland Train Station.



It's half Christian and half Viking, just like the epic poem.  The bass (not baritone)  line adds a we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto feeling to this that underlines just how shallow the Christian overlay was in the Scandinavian lands.  It was the frontier, and Americans feel in their bones what that means for orthodoxy.

But this is very, very old poetry.  The music is new, but feels equally old.  It's a virtuoso performance of a simply outstanding cultural salute.

The epic is pretty interesting, and preserves the hopes and dreams of 800 years ago on the European frontier, as if in amber:
Heyr, himna smiður,
hvers skáldið biður.
Komi mjúk til mín
miskunnin þín.
Því heit eg á þig,
þú hefur skaptan mig.
Eg er þrællinn þinn,
þú ert drottinn minn.
Guð, heit eg á þig,
að þú græðir mig.
Minnst þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín.
Ryð þú, röðla gramur,
ríklyndur og framur,
hölds hverri sorg
úr hjartaborg.
Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín,
helzt hverja stund
á hölda grund.
Send þú, meyjar mögur,
málsefnin fögur,
öll er hjálp af þér,
í hjarta mér.
Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
thy mercy.
So I call on thee,
for thou hast created me.
I am thy slave,
thou art my Lord.
God, I call on thee
to heal me.
Remember me, mild one, (or mild king. This is a pun on the word mildingur).
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.
Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

Go Sox!

What a great game. St. Louis, get ready.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 19, 2013

An evening with Richard Feynman

The word "polymath", while accurate, falls short of describing him.  The term "Renaissance Man", while accurate, also falls short.  If there's a word that seems to describe how he ticked, it was always asking "why?"  He had a seemingly inexhaustible curriosity.



I hadn't ever heard the bit about how he would sketch the girls at the topless bar, but the scene (very mildly NSFW) was actually sort of sweet in how the girls remembered him.  What I had heard (actually back at Three Letter Intelligence Agency) - and what's missing from this  - was how he would crack safes at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.



And I'd never heard that he was room mates with Klaus Fuchs in Los Alamos.  It's plausible that he was the most interesting man in the world.  Stay curious, my friends.

If they keep coming out with this sort of Global Warming nonsense, then I shall keep mocking them

There's a new IPCC Assessment Report out, and so it's Global Warming silly season again.  This time, it's the Caribbean nations running out of fresh water:
Yet another anthropogenic global warming alarm, and just in time for IPCC AR5, whose newly released WG1 chapters 7 and 11 say there is high confidence that dry regions will get drier, wet regions will get wetter, and storms will get stormier. “But there is only low confidence in the magnitude.” These Caribbean experts are much more certain—Caribbean water resources will not be available.

Little in this MSM AP news is what it seems. Paragraph 2 starts out saying rising sea levels could contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies. What a curious assertion. Less dense fresh water floats on top of salt water no matter the sea level. Excessive groundwater drawdown can cause saltwater intrusion from below. That is already a problem in urbanized Broward County, Florida despite proximity to the Everglades.  And on the Tuvalu atolls in the Pacific, where government owned tourist hotels have strained its very limited groundwater capacity. Tuvalu is another urban development problem, not AGW. It was caused by Tuvalu’s government itself, eager to develop ecotourism (diving) after their new Funafuti runway was built with World Bank financing.
Math, science, and engineering are hard.  Just gin up some ZOMG THERMAGEDDON!!!11!!! to get some sweet, sweet political support for big money UN projects.  Remember, boys and girls, if the Caribbean nations run out of fresh water, it's the fault of Global Warming - because Global Warming causes everything.


I was going to go riding this morning

But it's raining.  I should have planned ahead.


The real problem with the Obamacare exchanges

It isn't a web programming problem, it's that these are back ordered:


Bob Seger - Roll Me Away

Country music, it's said, sings stories of something that's happened to you.  Or to someone you know.  Or what you might like to happen.  This isn't country music, but Lordy, it's firing on all cylinders.  You'll want to turn the volume up on this.  If you have bluetooth speakers for your helmet, well, that's just icing on the cake.



I don't know that this isn't the greatest motorcycle song ever recorded, but I don't know that it's not.  Now if all y'all will excuse me, it's a beautiful morning, and I'm going for a ride.
Gotta keep rollin, gotta keep ridin',
keep searchin' till I find what's right
And as the sunset faded
I spoke to the faintest first starlight
And I said next time
Next time
We'll get it right

Friday, October 18, 2013

Roadkill Cuisine

Last night's Squirrel Report covered strange and bizarre sandwiches.  Strangely, nobody brought up roadkill sandwich.  Bet you could make a pretty good Brunswick Stew sandwich.

Interestingly, El Wik's page for Roadkill Cuisine is pretty good.


Here's a recipe for creamed fried squirrel.

Why Climate Science is such a mess

It seems that most fields of science are a mess:
In the 1950s, when modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning, scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control. The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat. Full professors in America earned on average $135,000 in 2012—more than judges did. Every year six freshly minted PhDs vie for every academic post. Nowadays verification (the replication of other people’s results) does little to advance a researcher’s career. And without verification, dubious findings live on to mislead.


Careerism also encourages exaggeration and the cherry-picking of results. In order to safeguard their exclusivity, the leading journals impose high rejection rates: in excess of 90% of submitted manuscripts. The most striking findings have the greatest chance of making it onto the page. Little wonder that one in three researchers knows of a colleague who has pepped up a paper by, say, excluding inconvenient data from results “based on a gut feeling”. And as more research teams around the world work on a problem, the odds shorten that at least one will fall prey to an honest confusion between the sweet signal of a genuine discovery and a freak of the statistical noise. Such spurious correlations are often recorded in journals eager for startling papers. If they touch on drinking wine, going senile or letting children play video games, they may well command the front pages of newspapers, too.
Incentives matter, and you get what you pay for.  Now governments are paying tens of Billions of dollars a year for "publishable results".  Well, OK - here are a bunch of publishable results.  Some of them even seem like they are true (although "some" may only be a quarter or less).

Now add in a preference by Government funding agencies for certain results - those that imply a preference for new, big government programs like Cap And Trade - and the desire for reproduceability drops to zero.  For policy makers the desire may even be negative.  The chance of real funding to experiments to falsify Global Warming dogma are slim to none.

And without falsifiability, you don't have science.  You have something that looks to a casual observer like science, but is actually careerism driven by public policy preferences.

The failure of the Conventional Wisdom

As Galbraith described it, the Conventional Wisdom is "adequately predictable".  And so we see today in the discussions of who won and who lost the Government shutdown brouhaha.  The CW is that while the Democrats and Obama lost some popularity, the GOP lost even more and so are bigger losers.

This is adequately predictable given that almost every Talking Head is left of center, or they wouldn't have a Talking Head job (the same argument applies to those who write Op Ed columns).

So what's not being said?  Two items seem to me to be of overwhelming importance:

1. The Shutdown was supposed to be a catastrophe.  Instead, nobody noticed.  Literally, the entire population of the Republic went about their daily jobs without noticing that the Government was "shut down" unless they happened to tune in the TV to one of the Talking Head shows.  Then they must have spent a few moments in confusion trying to reconcile the hyper ventilating from the TV set with their own sense of, well, normalcy.

2. The one thing that people did notice about the shutdown was the thuggish response of the Government, in particular the National Park Service.  This news did indeed get through even to people not paying much attention.  The uselessness and petty vindictiveness of our Government Agents was plain to see.  Those paying more attention realize that this came from the top, in a response to #1, but even those not playing along at home saw the fangs of the Beast, bared at this citizens.

You can demonstrate to yourself that even people who weren't paying attention have absorbed these lessons.  Find a family member, friend, or acquaintance  (perhaps a co-worker) who doesn't pay much attention.  Ask them two questions:
  1. Did the Government shutdown effect them?
  2. What did they think about the government barricading the open air World War II memorial to prevent dying veterans from paying respect to their fallen comrades?
These issues are basic, and very hard for the average citizen to avoid when confronted with them.

And so back to the question of who won and who lost.  This was a complete disaster for the Democratic Party and for the Progressive Movement.  Both are invested in ever larger and more powerful government, acting beneficially to advance the well being of the People.  Both the issues highlighted above show the emptiness of that vision, and indeed the hypocrisy of it.

And the people responsible for this are Senator Cruz and company.  None of this would have happened but for them.

The Progressive brand has taken a substantial hit, with the lesson for any thinking person being "Progressives say to support more useless Government or they'll punish us".  People thinking this have the advantage of being entirely correct.

The Talking Heads will continue being adequately predictable, but the message has been sent, and it has been received.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bobby "Blue" Bland - Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City


Yeah, OK then


Security experts and the Press working together to protect whistleblowers

This is interesting:
SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower support system, originally written by Aaron Swartz and now run by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. The first instance of this system was named StrongBox and is being run by the New Yorker. To further add to the naming confusion, Aaron Swartz called the system DeadDrop when he wrote the code.
Aaron Schwartz, of course, was the security expert driven to suicide by a District Attorney aiming to bring the full weight of the law down to crush anyone putting large organization's copyrighted material at risk.

It's particularly interesting that it's being run by the New Yorker.

Obama Agonistes

Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.
- Thomas Jefferson, words inscribed on the (closed) Jefferson Memorial
It has been a simply terrible year for Barack Obama, a year of disaster following disaster.  From gun control to immigration to the Middle East and Syria to the Government Shutdown, nothing has worked out like he had planned.  The ancient Greeks wrote of hubris, the pride that goeth before a fall (indeed, they wrote of little else).  The fall was a direct result of the foolish pride.  So with Agamemnon, so with Oedipus, so with the great surviving ancient plays.  This theme was picked up in the Enlightenment, with Milton's Samson Agonistes and thence to philosophy down through Nietzsche.

And so down to our day, where Obama finds that his foolish pride, his hubris, has chained him to a rock, with an Eagle tearing at his liver.  An American Eagle.


Obama, living inside the Media-Progressive Bubble doesn't realize what will result from his policies.  And so we find that this Administration (egged on my its Media Allies) has picked a fight with the Republic's veterans.  Jefferson echoes down through the ages, and the camera shutter goes click.

The Media exhibit this same hubris.  Long used to being the ones who control the "Narrative" - mostly by preventing certain views from getting any air time - they find that not only is it impossible to suppress Ungood stories, but that their transparent attempts to do so have cost them half or more of their customer base.  In a decade they will be out of business, selling pencils on the street corner.  A Media Agonistes, if you will.

Because the camera shutter goes click.  The red recording light shines.  And it's all ones and zeros, uploaded to a still uncensored Internet.


Senator Cruz has done a great service to the Republic, drawing these battle lines.  The Republican Party is struggling to find its way, caught up in a civil war for its soul, a war between the Establishment and the Nation.  The GOP's fight is weak, and Obama is indeed beating the Republicans.

But that's not where the fight is.  The fight is with the Veterans at closed memorials.  The fight is with cops tearing American flags from the grasp of Veterans who fought and bled for this country.  The fight is with bikers who descend of Washington D.C. in their tens of thousands, sporting Gadsden flags.  The fight is with American citizens who throw orange traffic cones to the side of the road, cones that tried to block off Mt. Rushmore on a public highway.



And the camera shutter goes click.

Obama's problem is that he believed the Media, that they could protect him from the easily expected consequences of his decisions.  Like Bluto in Animal House, he f****d up - he trusted them.  And so he sent the Agents of the State, Gestapo-like to apply some muscle.  To put a bit of Stick about.


And the camera shutter goes click.

The sheer number of images, the number of videos, the mass of citizen-recorded media showing the Federal Government with its fangs bared at the citizenry, is Legion.  This citizen-recorded media is not going away, and will stick to Obama and the Democratic Party like napalm.  The Republican Party may be caught in a civil war that paralyzes the party Apparat, but the burn will continue.  Indeed, the same insurgency that is trying to claim the GOP's soul will use these images - fanning the flames - to succeed in that civil war.



Most grotesquely of all, the Administration (dare we call it "the Regime"?) has denied combat death benefits to the families of troops who fell in the line of duty, far from home.  What's next, forbidding the Honor Guard to attend these funerals?



But the camera shutter goes click.  The Political Ads write themselves.  A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.  All the King's Talking Heads can't put the Obama Mystique back together again.

This battle isn't over, we're still at the beginning.  But the story of 2014 has been written and we can watch a slow motion unfolding of the Agonistes of the Democratic Party next year.  Shockingly, it seems that neither they nor the Media understand this.  Obama doesn't get this.

Samson pulling down the Temple

They will.  The Prophets have foretold the ending.
With winged expedition
Swift as the lightning glance he executes
His errand on the wicked, who surprised
Lose their defence, distracted and amazed.
- John Milton, Samson Agonistes
Get the popcorn.  This is fixin' to be good.

Hat tip: James via email.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Man, this government shutdown is getting out of hand


The People's Cube rules.

Back then, Giants strode the earth

A long lost interview by Vin Scully of Sandy Kofax after the end of the amazing Game 7 in the '65 World Series has been found:
Last week, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw came back on three days’ rest (gasp!) to start the team’s decisive Game 4 win over Atlanta in the NLDS. 48 years ago today, Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax pitched a complete game shutout in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series in the team’s 2-0 win over the Minnesota Twins -- on just two days’ rest. Koufax faced Twins’ ace Jim Kaat, also returning to the rubber on two days’ rest for this critical Game 7.

...
Koufax admitted to Scully that he struggled with his curveball, so he had to rely on his fastball. No problem. The World Series MVP twirled a complete game gem, allowing three hits, three walks and striking out 10 Twins to lead the Dodgers to their fourth World Series title. It was the perfect capper to a Cy Young Award-winning season in which Koufax led the National League in wins (26), complete games (27), ERA (2.04) and innings pitched (335 ⅔). Oh, he’d also pitched a perfect game in September.
Wow.  You can watch the interview at the link.

The United States - Leading Europe once again

Smartest tools in the shed:
The closure of nearly two thirds of Europe's gas-fired power generation facilities by 2016 will lead to regional price hikes and make outages inevitable, Cap Gemini has warned.

UK households are already feeling the squeeze of soaring energy bills but a particularly cold winter this year could mean that 1970s style blackouts start to become a more regular occurrence again.

The consultancy's annual European Monitoring Centre for Energy Markets briefing encapsulates much of the crisis in European energy policy - one almost entirely of its own making.
Aggressive "Green" (read: "unreliable") energy targets and subsidies for the same have led to the impending shutdown of much of the UK's natural gas fired generation plant as non-economic.  Translation: government subsidies to alternative energy is so enormous that the fuel that powers fully a third of the US grid is withering on the vine in Old Blighty, as electricity prices skyrocket.

Philosopher Kings in action, right there.

But that's not the part that's so shadenfreudalicious.  This is:
Cheap gas in the USA has had a related consequence in Europe, the report notes.

"With this low price, gas has replaced coal as fuel in fossil fuels creating a surplus of coal in the U.S. market. This surplus was exported to Europe resulting in lowering coal prices by 30 per cent between January 2012 and June 2013. This decline has promoted the competitiveness of plants coal in Europe which has resulted in a much better utilization than gas-fired plants".
UK "Green" energy targets combined with the US boom in shale gas has led to where the UK is reverting to coal - with its higher CO2 output.  So "Green" policies designed to reduce carbon emissions have led not just to much higher electrical costs, but to increased carbon emissions.

Philosopher Kings.  But pay no attention, Citizen.  All will be well when these sorts run your health care.  And we have always been at war with Eastasia.  Fortunately, the chocolate ration was just increased ...