Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pwn the police

Because they're arrogant and think that nobody could ever, ever in a million years break into the software that they use to break into you.


Can we all agree that giving more power to the Government is just making a more attractive target for hackers?  From ESR's hacking koan:
A stranger from the land of Woot came to Master Foo as he was eating the morning meal with his students.

I hear y00 are very l33t, he said. Pl33z teach m3 all y00 know.
Master Foo's students looked at each other, confused by the stranger's barbarous language. Master Foo just smiled and replied: You wish to learn the Way of Unix?
I want to b3 a wizard hax0r, the stranger replied, and 0wn ever3one's b0xen.
I do not teach that Way, replied Master Foo.

The stranger grew agitated. D00d, y00 r nothing but a p0ser, he said. If y00 n00 anything, y00 wud t33ch m3.
There is a path, said Master Foo, that might bring you to wisdom. The master scribbled an IP address on a piece of paper. Cracking this box should pose you little difficulty, as its guardians are incompetent. Return and tell me what you find.
Their guardians are incompetent.  So let's give them more power, and military SWAT gear, and armored vehicles.  What could possibly go wrong?

P.S. If you don't know the answer to that last question, then d00d, y00 r nothing but a p0ser.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Your youth is invalid

Or like me, your young adulthood.

AK-47 rounds suck, apparently.  And I had a big fight with a girlfriend over this movie, back in the day.  She really thought it was important or something.

Memory lane

The Big Guy himself points to one here.  Damn, I could find some funny stuff.  And his story is worth the click.

Not sure why, but it made me think of Leninade ...

Thursday, May 29, 2014


This was the motto of the 501 Parachute Infantry, from an old Cherokee word meaning "we stand alone together".  The soldiers of the 501st would help each other when they stumbled, running up the mountain at Camp Toccoa.  Three miles up, and three miles down.  None were ever as strong as all were. 

Someone close to me asked why I was fascinated with the science of bones. I didn't answer him at the time, but I will now. I have studied bones untouched by anything but time. I have studied bones in fragments, co mingled with hundreds of others, burned and broken and laid bare to the elements. Still, I am always fascinated by the strength of that which is unfleshed. They are what lies at the center of us, not the heart, but that part of us that is the last thing to ever be dissolved, even if cut or disassembled or burned. It is the hardest, strongest most unwavering part of us, that which supports us, the last piece of us that remains of this earth, when everything else is lost. It's the surviving remnant of all that was dear to us.
My Brother-From-Another-Mother* ASM826 asked:
And did this revelation still your Muse?
No.  It seems to have summoned her, when my steps faltered and looked to fail.  We are surrounded by more than we can see.  Indeed, this has been known for millennia: the non-canonical (and very possibly heretical) Gospel of Thomas spoke of this 2000 years ago:
The Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the Earth, and men do not see it.
Brigid, you are my Sister-From-Another-Mother, but we've had that conversation before.   Thank you for this timely gift, and thanks to B-F-A-M ASM826, and 2cents, and all the rest.  None of us are as strong as all of us.  Thank you for letting me know that we don't stand alone.  We stand alone together. 

* 2cents is my oldest B-F-A-M.  He also pinged me, as did several of you.  Thank you all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


One of my old Easter posts.  As with Easter itself, it is seemingly evergreen.

(from April 7, 2012)


There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.
- Sir Francis Bacon
Test pilots are a strange breed.  They take a new, unproven airplane up in the sky and force it into impossible situations.  On purpose.  Their job is to make the plane stop flying.

Because then their job is to get it to fly again.  They have a checklist of things to try that are intended to restore controlled flight, and they start working down the checklist.  If one doesn't work, they try the next, and then the next, and so on.  At the extreme, they hit the ground trying the next.  Even if the last thing didn't work - especially if the last thing didn't work - they try the next one anyway.

Life is like that, sometimes.  People all over Dallas are homeless today, because tornadoes flattened their neighborhoods.  Other people find themselves sick, or trapped in dead-end jobs, or seemingly impossible family conflict.  Life sometimes speaks to us, using its Outdoors Voice, and those are the times that can make you want to just give up.  I know this all too well from my own life, when you pray Please Lord, just make it stop.

I think that the Lord must also know that feeling.  It's true that out of the crooked timber that is man no straight thing was ever built, but that's what He wants from us.  It's impossible to know if the Deity gets frustrated with us, but it would be impossible to blame Him if He did.  It would be impossible to blame Him if He gave up on us.

Instead, He sent His son as the ultimate Test Pilot, with an infinite checklist to fly. For us.  Despite everything, He did this for us anyway.  There's a message there: that we have our own checklists, and even when we want to just give up, we can hear His voice whisper to us if we'll listen.

Do it anyway.  I did.

Maybe it won't work, maybe we'll hit the ground. Do it anyway, for your loved ones, for those that need you.  He did.
Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils.  But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God?
- John Wesley

Anyway (Songwriters: Martina McBride, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
You can spend your whole life building,
Something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away,
Build it anyway
You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray;
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway,
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy
And it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today.
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart,
For all the right reasons,
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ‘em anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway,
Yeah I do it anyway

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway,
Yeah sing it anyway

Yeah! Yeah!
I sing, I dream, I love

Saturday, May 24, 2014

This just in

I'm told I'm a dick.  OK, then.

Could be worse, I guess.

The man who saved the Moon landing

And stared down Werner von Braun.

Lee Brice - I Drive Your Truck

Sgt First Class Jared Monti, 1975-2006
Memorial Day is when we stop to remember those who gave that full measure of devotion for this Republic and for their brothers in arms under fire. It has sadly turned from a solemn day of remembrance into a day for grilling and family celebrations, but even at its best it was just a single day.

Jared Monti's father doesn't need a day to remember his son.  He has every day for that.

Monti was awarded the Medal of Honor for his three attempts to retrieve a wounded comrade under intense fire in Afghanistan.  Twice machine gun fire drove him back, but he was unwilling to leave his fellow soldier.  An RPG got him on the third attempt.

That hole in our hearts where our loved ones used to be became all too real for Monti's father.  How do you keep a little part of the loved and lost with you?  How do you keep from forgetting, little by little, day by day, year by year?  Paul Monti did it by keeping his son's truck, and driving it, as a daily reminder.  His simple answer describing this, given on a radio interview, led to this song.

Memorial Day is not about the beginning of summer, or cookouts, or sales.  It's about keeping hold of a memory.  Don't let go of that.  Paul Monti doesn't.  Christian Golczynski doesn't, either.

I Drive Your Truck (Songwriters: Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander, Jimmy Yeary)
Eighty-Nine Cents in the ash tray
Half empty bottle of Gatorade rolling in the floorboard
That dirty Braves cap on the dash
Dog tags hangin’ from the rear view
Old Skoal can, and cowboy boots and a Go Army Shirt
folded in the back
This thing burns gas like crazy, but that’s alright
People got their ways of coping
Oh, and I’ve got mine

I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck

I leave that radio playing
That same ole country station where ya left it
Yeah, man I crank it up
And you’d probably punch my arm right now
If you saw this tear rollin’ down my on face
Hey, man I’m tryin’ to be tough
And momma asked me this morning
If I’d been by your grave
But that flag and stone ain’t where I feel you anyway

I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck

I’ve cussed, I’ve prayed, I’ve said goodbye
Shook my fist and asked God why
These days when I’m missing you this much

I drive your truck
I roll every window down
And I burn up
Every back road in this town
I find a field, I tear it up
Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust
Yeah, sometimes, brother sometimes

I drive your truck
I drive your truck
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind
I drive your truck
 Sgt First Class Jared Monti's Medal Of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Sergeant First Class Monti distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a team leader with the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on 21 June 2006. On that day, Sergeant First Class Monti was leading a mission to gather intelligence and to direct fires against the enemy in support of a squadron-size interdiction mission. While at an observation position on top of a mountain ridge, Sergeant First Class Monti’s sixteen-man patrol came under attack by a superior force consisting of as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Sergeant First Class Monti directed his patrol to set up a hasty defensive position behind a collection of rocks. He then began to call for indirect fire from a nearby support base; accurately bringing the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still calling for fire, Sergeant First Class Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank the patrol. Sergeant First Class Monti then realized that one of his Soldiers was lying wounded and exposed in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol’s position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant First Class Monti moved from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of withering enemy fire. After closing within meters of his wounded Soldier, the heavy volume of fire forced Sergeant First Class Monti to seek cover. Sergeant First Class Monti then gathered himself and rose again to maneuver through a barrage of enemy fire to save his wounded Soldier. Again, Sergeant First Class Monti was driven back by relentless enemy fire. Unwilling to leave his Soldier wounded and exposed, Sergeant First Class Monti made another attempt to move across open terrain and through the enemy fire to the aide of his wounded Soldier. On his third attempt, Sergeant First Class Monti was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his Soldier. Sergeant First Class Monti’s acts of heroism inspired the patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Sergeant First Class Monti’s immeasurable courage and uncommon valor were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, 3d Squadron 71st Cavalry Regiment, the 3d Brigade Combat Team, the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), and the United States Army

Friday, May 23, 2014


Just @$#&!  @$#&*#@$#&!

Man I hate Southwest Airlines

Their stupid boarding procedure is stupid.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Welcome to Austin, the live music capital of the world

But the bar closes at 10:00. Srlsy?

Long day

More later. Strange to be enjoying Austin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Blogmeet, now with moar conspiracy theories!

Last evening's meet up was great fun.  The setting is as spectacular as it was when FOB Borepatch was just down the road:

The conversation was non stop, about guns ('natch), blogging, boats (Cap'n Jan once sailed from Chesapeake Bay to Europe).  And then the topic turned to conspiracy theories.  The crew had a seeming never ending list of goofballs.  Lawrence brought up one of the best - the weird murals in the Denver airport:

He has the scoop at the link.  It involves reptilian aliens, of course.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Achievement unlocked

Thank you, Austin.  It's surprisingly nice to be back.

Rendezvous Austin tonight

Meet at Oasis on Lake Travis at 6:30 tonight. Ask for the Borepatch party.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

You can lead a girl to Vassar

But you can't make her think.

That joke was old when I was young, but (tragically) seems to be evergreen.

The NSA Line Eater

Some old, old conspiracies turn out to be a real thing:
With all the excitement at the moment about the NSA watching your internet traffic, I can't resist adding a bit of folklore from the early days of the internet.

Back in the good old days before web pages, the standard system of community chatter were newsgroups.  In fact newsgroups still exist.  The newsgroup for mystery novels for example is rec.arts.mystery.

There was a bug in the original newsgroup system, so that sometimes one or two lines from a posting might randomly disappear.

This instantly gave rise to the belief that a creature lived inside the internet, and that it survived by eating random lines of text.  The creature was dubbed the Line Eater.  People even added what was called Line Eater Food into their posts to make sure the creature had enough to eat.
RTWT for the geeky Internet history and the connection to the NSA.  Back in the day, we would all giggle.  It'd not so funny now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

B-52s - Love Shack

Love this song.  Not your typical Georgia red neck band.

NSA-resistant phone goes on sale next month

Demand is being driven my the world's largest companies:
Phil Zimmermann has spent his life trying to save an endangered species - human privacy. His new product, Blackphone, allows “two humans to whisper in each other’s ears from across the world.”

Demand, he says, has been "huge” for the customised Android device which offers encrypted phone calls and texts which can’t be unscrambled even by spy agencies.

A majority of the companies on America’s Fortune 50 list - the top companies ranked by revenue - have already ordered. Blackphone will cost around £375 and be on sale in June.
The Fortune 50 have always reliably supported the Fed.Gov.  But this time, its their ox being gored, and so they are taking steps to protect themselves - and particularly, their executives.  Welcome to the land of Unanticipated Consequences, NSA!

Of course, this won't protect you from metadata collection, and ultimately won't protect you from eavesdropping if the NSA really, really wants to.  However, it will make it a lot more expensive for them, which will make their whole "slurp everything" strategy less useful.

I can't wait to see what the next five years brings.  The NSA has galvanized the security community - and corporate America - like nothing I've ever seen.  High five, Internet!

The algebra of grammar

If only it were so easy.


Image via Le Wik
Encryption has been used for a long, long time - one of the oldest known methods is called the Caesar Cipher, after Julius himself.  While there have been many methods used through the ages all involve rearranging the data to hide the message.  One of the cleverest was done my the early Irish republican Arthur O'Connor.

O'Connor was a big fan of the recent American Revolution and was absolutely mad for the French Revolution, in full bruit across the Channel.  He even went so far as to petition the French Revolutionary government for aid in throwing off the English yoke.

Naturally, this sort of activity made him well known to the local constabulary, and he was arrested and tried.  As he was about to be sentenced, he announced a stunning repudiation of his formal radical philosophy, and produced a poem that he had written as evidence for his change of heart.

The poem is reproduced in full here:
The pomp of courts, and pride of kings,
I prize above all earthly things;
I love my country, but my king,
Above all men his praise I'll sing.
The royal banners are display'd,
And may success the standard aid:

I fain would banish far from hence
The Rights of Man and Common Sense.
Destruction to that odious name,
The plague of princes, Thomas Paine,
Defeat and ruin seize the cause
Of France, her liberty, and laws.
As you can imagine, this pleased the judge no end, and seeing the usefulness of the conversion of a man of O'Connor's stature, he was released from prison and walked out of the court a free man.

But he'd foxed them.  The poem was enciphered.  The "decryption" algorithm was to read a line from the first verse, followed by a line from the second.  Then the next in the first verse, and the next in the second.  You can do that yourself, but it comes out like this:
The pomp of courts, and pride of kings,
I fain would banish far from hence
I prize above all earthly things;
The Rights of Man and Common Sense.
I love my country, but my king,
Destruction to that odious name,
Above all men his praise I'll sing.
The plague of princes, Thomas Paine,
The royal banners are display'd,
Defeat and ruin seize the cause
And may success the standard aid:
Of France, her liberty, and laws.
It was right in front of their eyes, but hidden from view.  O'Connor caught passage to France where be ended up a general in Napoleon's army and lived to the ripe age of 89.  Not the strongest cipher ever invented, but adequate to fool the Upper Class Twit of the Year for 1804.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Border Collies swing dancing

Pretty fun routine, judging by the wagging tails.

Reminder: Austin blogmeet Wednesday evening


I've heard from:
That Guy
Lawrence Person
Cap'n Jan and Mr. Cap'n Jan
If you're in the Austin area, stop by.  Also, please leave a comment so I can get us a big enough table.

Counter terrorism

Some day, that pup will be big enough to not need the dishwasher.

Brendan Eich, Mozilla, and Hasdrubal's wife

Brendon Eich was forced to step down as CEO of Mozilla, the open source web browser organization.  We've seen this before, long, long ago, when Rome defeated Hannibal and Carthage in the Second Punic War.  The unmatched Will Durant describes the aftermath in his incomparable book, Caesar and Christ (pp 54-55):
To Carthage it was the beginning of the end.  With much of its commerce and empire left to it, it might have solved the problem of regeneration.  But the oligarchical  government was so corrupt that it threw upon the lower classes the burden of raising the annual indemnity for Rome and embezzled part of it to boot.  The popular party called on Hannibal to come out of his retirement and save the nation.  In 196 [B.C. - Borepatch] he was elected suffete [roughly equivalent of the Roman Consul - Borepatch].  He shocked the oligarchs by proposing that the judges of the Court of 104 should be elected for one year and should be ineligible for a second term until after a year's interval.  When the Senate rejected the measure he brought it before the Assembly, and carried it; by this law and this procedure he established at a stroke a degree of democracy equal to Rome's.  He punished and checked  venality and pursued it to its source.  He relieved the citizens of the extra taxes that had been laid upon them, and yet so managed the finances that by 188 [B.C.] Carthage was able to pay off the Roman indemnity in full.

To get rid of him the oligarchy secretly sent word to Rome that Hannibal was plotting to renew the war.  Scipio [Africanus, victor over Hannibal in the Punic War - Borepatch] used all his influence to protect his rival, but was overrulled; the Senate accomodated the rich Carthagenians by demanding the surrender of Hannibal.  The old warrior fled by night, rode 150 miles to Thapsus, and there took ship to Antioch. 

He found Antiochus III hesitating between war and peace with Rome; he advised war and became one of the King's staff.  When the Romans defeated Antiochus at Magnesia they made a condition of peace that Hannibal should be turned over to them.  He escaped first to Crete, then to Bithynia.  The Romans hunted him out and surrounded  his hiding place with soldiers.  Hannibal preferred death to capture.  "Let us," he said, "relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man's death."  He drank the poison the he carried with him, and died, aged sixty-seven, in the year 184 B.C. A few months later his conqueror and admirer, Scipio, followed him to peace.
The most interesting accusation about l'affair Eich is  that Hollywood and the RIAA wanted Digital Rights Management (DRM) included in the Mozilla browser, and that Eich, by reputation and position, was effective in thwarting this for months and months.  Mere weeks after his defenestration from Mozilla, it turns out that they have been "pressured" into including DRM in this browser.

"Pressured".  I'll bet.  Cato the elder concluded every speech he made in the Roman Senate with the words Carthago delenda est: Carthage must be destroyed.  The Mozilla organization has forgotten how this plays out.

Durant described it his his book seventy years ago:
When the people of Carthage heard what was demanded of them they lost their sanity.  Parents mad with grief tore limb from limb the leaders who had advised surrendering the child hostages; others killed those who had counseled the surrender of arms; some dragged the returning ambassadors through the streets and stoned them; some killed whatever Italians could be found in the city; some stood in the empty arsenals and wept.  The Carthaginian Senate declared war on Rome and called for all adults - men and women, slave or free - to form a new army, and to forge anew the weapons of defense.  Fury gave them resolution.  Public buildings were demolished to provide metal and timber; the statues of cherished gods were melted down to make swords, and the hair of women was shorn to make ropes.  In two months the beleaguered city produced 8000 shields, 18,000 swords, 30,000 spears, 60,000 catapult missiles, and built in its inner harbor a fleet of 120 ships.

Three years the city stood siege by land and sea.  Again and again the consuls led their armies against the walls, but always they were repulsed; only Scipio Aemeilianus, one of the military tribunes, proved resourceful and brave.  Late in 147 the Roman Senate and Assembly made him consul and commander, and all men approved.  Soon afterward Laelius succeeded in scaling the walls.  The Carthagenians, though weakened and decimated by starvation, fought for their city street by street, through six days of slaughter without quarter.  Harassed by snipers, Scipio ordered all captured streets to be fired and leveled to the ground.  Hundreds of concealed Carthaginians perished in this flames.  At last the population, reduced from 500,000 to 55,000, surrendered.  Hasdrubal, their general, pleaded for his life, which Scipio granted, but his wife, denouncing his cowardice, plunged with her sons into the flames.  The survivors were sold as slaves, and the city turned over to the Legions for pillage.  Reluctant to raze it, Scipio sent to Rome for final instructions; the Senate replied that not only Carthage, but all such of her dependencies as had stood by her were to be completely destroyed, and that the soil should be plowed and sown with salt, and a formal curse laid upon any man who should attempt to build upon that site.
A formal curse has been laid on all who might resist the Roman Progressive imperative.  The city that was once Mozilla has been razed, and its fields salted; all who might build there have been cursed.  Because none who would stand before the Senatus Populus que Romanus RIAA shall live.

The only question is who at Mozilla will play the part of Hasdrubal's wife?  She, at least, denounced his cowardice.  One wonders if any left there can live up to her manliness.  Brendan Eich should have told the RIAA to achieve their victory and then sell his bones:

Because sell his bones they have.  The RIAA is on a crusade against the Internet: Open Source delenda est.  Mozilla used to be one of the front lines in that particular battle between populace and oligarchy.  But they were "pressured" into giving in.  Hasdrubal's wife looks on them with contempt, as should we.

Bid them achieve me, and then sell my bones

Let me speak proudly:
We are but warriors for the working day,
our gayness and gilt are all besmirched
with rainy marching in the painful fields
but by the Mass our hearts are in the trim

Herald, save thou thy labor

come thou no more for ransom, gentle Herald
they shall have none but these my joints
which if they shall have as I shall leave 'em them
shall yeald them little

Brendan Eich and Mozilla should have made this stand.  They likely would have won, or at least would have gone down as men, fighting a fight worth the cost.  And Hasdrubal's wife would not have looked on them with sneering contempt.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness

This has crazy good production values.  And all the Army Of Darkness one liners.

Training A-10 pilots using a coloring book

Actually, this looks like it would have been pretty effective.

Isegoria finds the coolest stuff.  And he does it even though he's been blogging since the Coolidge administration or something.  I haz an envy.

The political bands connecting us weaken

One of the best arguments that Progressives are not very smart is that they cannot deduce the easily foreseeable consequences of their actions.  The Obama years are really nothing other than an orgy of progressive ideas forced on a (mostly) unwilling Republic.  So where does that lead?

Progressives do not suffer from this curious blind spot when discussing what they see as social problems.  They can wax eloquent on "externalities" and the Tragedy of the Commons when discussing pollution.  In many ways they are correct when they do this; it's just odd that they do not see externalities and the Tragedy of the Commons on their preferred nostrums: the firing of Brendon Eich, the canceling the bank account of a couple of christian brothers, the suppression of scientific papers "unhelpful" to the current Anthropogenic Global Warming mania.

This may be happening not because Progressives are stupider than those one or two generations ago, but because Progressives who could (or would) reason this way have been purged:
Earlier this evening an Instapundit reference reminded me of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s insightful essay Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs, in which he uses a clever physics analogy to explain why cult-like groups often respond to strong evidence against their core beliefs by becoming more fanatical.


Here’s a major sign of evaporative cooling: the American Physical Society has since appointed a committee of working scientists (one of whom is Curry herself) to reexamine and possibly reverse its public commitment to AGW alarmism. As well it should; the alarmists’ predictions have failed so massively that they no longer have a scientific case – they’re going to have to rebuild one with a set of models that at least retrodicts the actual data.

Whatever findings the APS committee issues, the very fact that it has been convened at all is a sign that (in Yudkowsky’s analogy) the higher-energy molecules have become excited by the counterevidence and are exiting the cold trap. Or, in the metaphor of an earlier day, the rats are looking for a way off the sinking ship…

This is happening at the same time that the IPCC’s AR5 (Fifth Assessment Report) asserts its highest ever level of confidence that the (nonexistent for 15+ years) global warming is human-cased. What Yudkowsky tells us is that AR5′s apparently crazed assertion is a natural result of the mounting counterevidence. The voices of sanity and moderation, such as they are in the AGW crowd, are evaporating out; increasingly, even more than in the past, their game will be run by the fanatics and the evidence-blind.
So where does this lead?  What will be the easily foreseeable reaction to an increasingly despotic and increasingly unpopular - and, dare I say it, an increasingly foreign - ideology?

The sooner the correction is made, the less jarring the turn.  The longer things drag out, the sharper and more jolting it will be.

The Media used to be a firm brace against any correction, but they are moribund - not dead, but coughing up blood and a shadow of their former strength.  They won't help the Progressive cause.  The Universities have been fiercely Progressive of late, but there's a Bad Moon rising in higher education with unsustainable cost structures and massively online courses that will wipe out the current establishment withing a decade or two.  They won't be able to help the Progressives after that happens.  The government bureaucracies are staffed with what increasingly seem to be political hacks.  There's the problem.

The IRS, the BLM, the EPA, the CDC, the Justice Department, the ATF - all have been on Progressive crusades.  A purge is needed, but is unlikely to happen.  So where do things end?

This will not end well.  If Progressives use the only remaining tool in their toolbox (the Organs of the State) to impose their will on a resistant country, then that road leads straight to secession.  There isn't any question where it ends, only whether one or the other party turns aside before the destination.

Evaporative cooling theory suggests that Progressives won't.  As they increasingly (and rightly) feel under counterattack, they will double down.

This will not end well.

Arthur Foote - Four Character Pieces after the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Image via El Wik
The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

-  Omar Khayyám, Rubáiyát

You are familiar with the Rubáiyát, probably the most popular literary work of the Sufi mystics of old.  Dating to around 1100 A.D. - the same time as the great troubador epics of the West - Omar Khayyám's poetry has entered the English language's great store of popular expression.

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou

Edward Fitzgerald's translations are without doubt the most famous in the Mother Tongue, dating to the second half of the 19th Century.  They caused a sensation, and influenced many other writers including Eugene O'Neill, Agatha Christie, and H. P. Lovecraft (!).

It also captured the imagination of Arthur Foote, perhaps the first American composer who wasn't trained in Europe. Indeed, Foote was a Harvard man, one of the "Boston Six" group of composers. He is entirely unknown today, which is a crying shame because his music has a lush, late romantic style reminiscent of Mahler.  Today's gem was written in 1900, and is offered in celebration of Khayyám's birthday on this day in 1048 A.D.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Caturday nap time

Broken Koans

There's an East-meets-West-meets-snark quality to these.  For example:
Hui Neng once approached a student who was sitting in meditation. "Why do you spend so much time sitting?" he asked. "Because I want to become a Buddha," the student replied.
At this, Hui Neng picked up a brick tile from the floor, and began rubbing it with his robe.

"Why are you doing that?" asked the student. "Because I want to make a mirror," Hui Neng replied.

"But Master," said the student, "no amount of -- oh, wait, I get it! Very funny, very funny."
This one was pretty funny, too:
A student attempted to write an app to interpret the I Ching, but the app did not work. Approaching the master, the student asked, "Does the PolyLine object have Buddha Nature?" And the master spoke with wisdom of RoundRects and filled regions. The student said: "Now I understand Bresenham's Algorithm."

At this, the master unplugged the student's computer.

Oops! The Climate Science Establishment did it again

It appears that a scientific paper challenging alarmist warming predictions has been suppressed because it was "unhelpful".  The Times of London reports:
Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause, it was claimed last night.
(article behind a paywall but available here)

The lead author of this paper is Lennart Bengtsson.  It's important that you know his background:
He was Head of Research at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts from 1975 to 1981 and then Director until 1990; then director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. He is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Systems Science Centre in the University of Reading.

In 2005 he was awarded the René Descartes Prize for Collaborative Research[2] together with Prof. Ola M. Johannessen and Dr. Leonid Bobylev from the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre in Norway and Russia for the Climate and Environmental Change in the Arctic project. In 2006 he was awarded the 51st IMO prize of the World Meteorological Organization for pioneering research in numerical weather prediction.[3]
So you have a distinguished (award winning) scientist who specializes in the area of climate sensitivity, writing a paper on climate sensitivity.  The paper gets spiked in suspicious circumstances.  He was also pressured to resign from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a skeptic think tank.  Judith Curry (chair of Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Science) writes:
... I deeply regret that any scientist, particularly such a distinguished scientist as Bengsston, has had to put up with these attacks.  This past week, we have seen numerous important and enlightening statements made by Bengtsson about the state of climate science and policy, and science and society is richer for this.  We have also seen a disgraceful display of Climate McCarthyism by climate scientists, which has the potential to do as much harm to climate science as did the Climategate emails.
Bengtsson is no nutter; on the contrary, he is a scientist of considerable standing and reputation.  And yet not only is his science suppressed, he is suppressed by the Climate Science Establishment.  The Times captures the situation perfectly in its front page report:

Oops, they did it again.  Remember "hide the decline"?

I will post more about this, because this is a very big climate story.  It's big because of the suppression of "unhelpful" science.  It's big because of the suppression of scientists who deviate from received orthodoxy - just as in the Climategate emails saying that they would redefine how peer-review works.

As with Watergate, it's not the crime, it's the cover up.  Something is rotten in the state of Climate Science, and the stench is making its way to the very front page.  They won't be able to hide the decline in the public's respect for Climate Science.

Col Tennessee Ernie Ford - Ballad of Ghost Squadron

I grew up listening to Country music, which (back in the day) included regular appearances by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  I hadn't known that this was Colonel Tennessee Ernie Ford, Colonel of the Confederate (now Commemorative)  Air Force in Texas.  He recorded this in the late 1970s, and I somehow entirely missed it at the time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Measure twice, cut once

Wait until you see what they did in the videoconference room ...

I, nerd

I used to be one, Back In The Day, and it looks like my chops aren't entirely decayed.  #1 Son was reading through his Cisco CCNA training book and got stuck on subnetting.  Conceptually, he wasn't getting the mechanics.   So I sat down with him and explained the background (the why/so what/who cares), and suddenly saw the light bulb go off over his head.  Go team nerd!

Well the next day he said he didn't get route aggregation.  Oops, I thought - didn't know this, and so sat down to read his book.  Turns out I *did* now it, just that we used to call it "supernetting".  And so I explained the background/why/so what/who cares, and suddenly saw the light bulb go off over his head again.

Go team me.

Interestingly, in both cases the trick was to get him to stop thinking in decimal and to write all the addresses down in binary (seriously).  As I told him, you have to think like a router to understand why this works.

UPDATE 16 May 2014 14:28: There's a neat shortcut for calculating supernets here.  Triple propeller head stuff, but nifty.

Austin Blogmeet next week

Date: Wednesday, May 21

Time: 6:00

Location: Oasis on Lake Travis.  It seems that Uncle Billy's BBQ and Brew Pub (my favorite haunt there) has closed.  But the view from Oasis is the same.

Please leave a comment if you are going to come, and I'll call ahead and make sure that we have a table big enough for the group.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Best Miami Vice* episode ever

And with the best sound track.

* Ask your parents, kids.

Captain Obvious clearly isn't a Poll Watcher

Estonian e-voting system is hackable and shouldn't be used:
Estonia's internet voting system should not be used for the European elections in May because its security vulnerabilities could lead to faked votes or totals, say independent researchers.


As one of the highest-profile countries in its adoption of the internet, Estonia intends to use the e-voting system for its European elections in May, and already uses it for national parliamentary and municipal elections. Up to a quarter of votes are cast online in elections.

The attacks could be carried out by nation states that wanted to compromise elections, or a well-funded candidate who hired criminal hackers with the capabilities to alter the vote, the researchers warned.
This is such an astonishingly bad idea that the only explanation is that the Establishment wants this to prevent Tea Party style voter revolts.  While that sounds like it's tin foil hat territory, nobody who put any thought into this would fail to ask "So what about security" as the very first question.

Dang it

Kevin Baker is (mostly) hanging up his blogging boots.

The best way to describe Kevin is as the scholar of the gunblogging world.  This is perhaps the finest example of his work, assembling a complete reference work for the RKBA world.  Enjoy your time off from blogging, Kevin, and thanks for posts like that.

I gotcher "White Priviledge"

Right here, bitch.

Make sure you read all the way to the end.  The last three sentences explain everything.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Judi Dench as Lady MacBeth

This is why she is more properly referred to as Dame* Judi Dench.  Few captured the evil that the character embodied.

He should have told her You shall not pass.  But then there would not have been a play.

* For readers in the Colonies, this is the female equivalent of being knighted by Her Britannic Majesty. As in Sir Ian McKellen:

Good news, Comrades!

The chocolate ration has been increased from 3 ounces to 2.5 ounces!

Shadowstats tracks the inflation and unemployment rates like they used to be, before the Fed.Gov changed them.

I just got back from a Fundraiser

It was quite a success, with perhaps 75 of us in attendance.   The organizers were quite pleased with the event.

By "Fundraiser", of course, I mean "Traffic Court".  I must confess that my respect for the explosive growth of picayune laws that are arbitrarily enforced has gone way, way up.

The end of "Peak Oil"?

A picture is worth a thousand words:

The nature of tight rock oil wells means that each well is limited in how much oil it can produce over its lifetime, but the number of wells that can be drilled and fracked is immense.
The US shale plays have been a bonanza for smaller oil companies. The huge multi-nationals have been late to the game.
Smaller, independent North American oil producers own five times more land in the major U.S. shale plays than Big Oil companies like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil. Shale reservoirs from South Texas to North Dakota are dominated by names like EOG Resources, Continental Resources and Pioneer Natural Resources. The diverse array of competitors from private equity firms to independent producers has made it tougher for Big Oil to compete. __
Smaller companies are more nimble, and often have the advantage in developing new industries — as long as government interference is kept to a minimum.
The implication is that the only hope for Peak Oil is an alliance of environmentalists, government, and Big Oil to squash the small oil companies driving the petroleum revolution.

Remember nostalgia?

I remember when it was possible to state your opinion without being said to be a jerk.

OK, then.  Duly noted.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Faith Hill - Paris

If you didn't know who she was, there would be no way to tell that this song was on a Country album.  There's not a scrap of country in it, rather, it's a throwback to the great songs from the 50's and 60's.  Sinatra would have killed on this.

The CIA were a bunch of idiots

2cents emails to point out this stunning Cold War idiocy from the Lads in Langly.  Modern Art was a CIA "weapon":
For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.


Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.
So why is this idiocy (other than the obvious)?  Because it shows that the CIA was playing checkers while the KGB was playing chess:
But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.

The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya. A classic example is the rumor that AIDS was the result of research aimed at building a ‘race bomb’ that would selectively kill black people.

On a different level, in the 1930s members of CPUSA (the Communist Party of the USA) got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.

Americans hearing that last one tend to laugh. But the Soviets, following the lead of Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, took very seriously the idea that by blighting the U.S.’s intellectual and esthetic life, they could sap Americans’ will to resist Communist ideology and an eventual Communist takeover. The explicit goal was to erode the confidence of America’s ruling class and create an ideological vacuum to be filled by Marxism-Leninism.
Remember, these are the people who thought that the Soviet Union was the third largest economy in the world in 1989, right before the Warsaw Pact collapsed.

So in my book it is entirely plausible that the CIA secretly backed vacuous wastes of wall space like Rothko.  Given what we know about penetration of the Western Intelligence community by the KGB, the only question is whether this program was run by double agents.

All you need to know to understand Afghanistan

Peter gets an email from a friend that traces the history:
Soviets leave and the bandits take over. An all time low. The Crips control one area of town and the Bloods control the other. They tax every one going through.

Every one leaves to be Gastarbeiter.

Some one I know was the only guy left on his block. Kandahar was a ghost-town.

Finally, every one has had a-stinkin-nuff of the bandits and the Taliban take over propelled on a wave of every one who had not left yet.

The Taliban take over, and its like Stalin's Russia: Food & order. But you have to toe the line. His line.

Every one leaves to be Gastarbeiter.
Yup.  We should have gotten out in 2002.  2003 at the latest.

John Hinckley now out of prison

Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin is now out of prison:
John Hinckley, Jr. who shot former President Ronald Reagan in 1981 was found to be insane and has spent majority of his years in a mental facility after conviction.

There had been conflicting views with regard to his conviction. While psychiatric reports listed him as insane, the prosecution still believed he was sane enough in legal terms to serve his sentence in jail.

Hinckley's attorneys have been working for the past 10 years to free him. Finally in December 2013, a recommendation to free him was granted by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.

From 10 days per month, Hinckley will now be allowed to leave prison for 17 days per month to stay with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia. Judge Friedman also issued a 29-point order laying out the conditions of Hinckley's release.

This included the terms about Hinckley's travel, volunteer work, Internet use, strolls within the subdivision, medication and therapy. Hinckley can now roam around unsupervised as long as he avoids government centers and has a GPS-enabled mobile phone with him all the time.
There is no question that he was nuttier than a fruitcake, back in the day.  It also seems that 30 years of treatment has managed to stabilize his condition.  It seems that he has a girlfriend now, a fellow patient at the facility they both occupied for years.

There's a message here worth thinking on.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Photobombing: X-Ray edition

Someone explain to this dude what ionizing radiation does to nerve cells ...

I smell photoshop ...

Things get screwed up when you remove the profit motive

Duh.  The UK Labour party wants to renationalize the rail transport system.  Anyone with two brain cells to rub together sees how this will play out once the "greedy profit" is gone:
If this were true, then Amtrak, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, and pre-priviatization BritRail would all have generated plenty of revenues to fund their operations and maintenance. But they didn’t and don’t; instead, they require huge subsidies and even then offer poor service due to unfunded maintenance backlogs.

Profits serve the important purpose of giving people and companies incentives to provide the services that consumers want. In contrast, when government run things, the needs of consumers are soon obscured by demands from public employee unions, manufacturers, and other suppliers to the government agency. The mission of providing transportation is soon replaced by such multiple missions as providing jobs, boosting economic development, and protecting the environment. The result is that profitable operations become money-losing operations and the needs of consumers are forgotten as unions and suppliers capture most of the revenue.
The left hates profit, but doesn't realize (or perhaps want to realize) that profit more than anything is a signal on what customers want.  Eliminate profit by putting the government in charge and the signal will shift to what politicians want.  Always.  The Antiplanner concludes his post with why that fails:
But politicians are more concerned about getting elected today than the negative impacts of their policies tomorrow.
No wonder lefties don't want to think about this.

In Soviet Russia, Television watches you!

Who didn't see this coming?
Smart tellies with built-in microphones and storage can be turned into bugging devices by malware and used to record conversations, security experts at NCC Group said. And they demonstrated exactly that just down the road from the Infosec Europe conference, held in London.

"Installing the bugging software requires physical access to the device, which is how we did it, or by installing a malicious app," said Felix Ingram, principal consultant at NCC Group.
"Malicious apps could be downloaded from the manufacturer’s app store. The TV does have the option for auto-updating, so releasing a legitimate app, then releasing a malicious update, is another attack vector."

In other words, Ingram's research shows smart TVs can be abused in much the same way that dodgy apps on Android software stores hijack smartphones and tablets.

In the NCC demo, the internal storage of a smart TV was used to hold 30 seconds of audio, but a far longer buffer could be set up.
And so it seems that Smart TVs have all of the security (ahem) capabilities of Android:
In 2013 Android grew to a very large number: 87%. This was its share of the global smartphone market. It also grew to an even larger one: 97%. This was Android’s share of global mobile malware.
So go ahead and pay an extra hundred bucks (or two) for a "Smart" TV whose security was designed by incompetents.  Actually, that likely does not describe the true situation: security wasn't an after thought, it wasn't thought of at all.

NCC are pretty sharp guys - I've dealt with them several times and have been impressed.


The Silicon Graybeard looks at the whole hashtag fiasco and brings down the hammer of logic:
Just like the Moms Demanding Disarmament, demanding someone else do something, and then going back to your coffee (or wine) isn't accomplishing anything, it's demanding someone else accomplish something.  It's something lazy people do to make themselves feel better.  

Somehow I really doubt that Boko Haram, the girls' kidnappers, are really influenced by American social media.  In the vile, violent, disgusting world of Jihadists who want the world to be just like it was 1200 years ago, Boko Haram stands out as the scumbags of all scumbags.
And what do the "Elites" do?  They pay attention to what is trending on Twitter.  What does Boco Haram do?  Sells the girls into slavery.

If there were a clearer explanation of how much attention we - and the World - should pay to Barack Obama's State Department, I haven't heard it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In Spring, a young man's thoughts softly turn to ...

A proper ale.  Wells Bombadier, recommended for those who are not satisfied by Miller Light.

A mother's work is never done

Especially around these kids.

The perfect gift for Mother's Day

Assuming you have a rather strange Mom ...

A T-shirt as a reminder of all the powdered, colored, sweetened drinks she used to make for you.

Leopold Mozart - Toy Symphony

Mozart Pere, via Der Wik
Traditional familial themes are de regeur for Mother's Day, but are surprisingly hard to find in Classical Music.  Perhaps art has always been hostile to traditional themes, even when it was patronized bu aristocrats.  That would be a depressing thought indeed, especially for Mother's Day.

Fortunately, we have a Mozart piece to restore our hope (as embodied in the concept of motherhood) for future generations.  It's not from the Mozart, nor from his mother (of whom I know precisely nothing), but it is from his father.  And it's playful - written for symphony accompanied by toys, ratchet, nightingale, and cuckoo.  Somehow, this made me think on all mothers who found themselves dealing with toddlers all day and hoping for some sort of adult diversion.  And of me watching all that. 

A very happy Mother's Day wish to all mothers, and to everyone who had a mother.  Here's a performance that covers you and your children both.
May the day remind you of the silly but unforgettable moments your shared those many years ago.  And if you are lucky enough to be experiencing those days today, then I envy you.  May the day be a delight, and a source of memories for years to come.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Everything Wrong With The Fellowship Of The Ring In 7 Minutes

Awesome, in a film-nerd-nickpicky sort of way.  Make sure you watch all the way to the end for some surprise hilarity.

Progressivism is the Scientology of political philosophies

This hashtag idiocy got me to thinking: why would nominally intelligent (if not well educated, at least credentialed by the Ivy League) people do something so publicly that is so empty of any hope of positive result?

The idea struck that these Hollywood people aren't used to actually doing anything.  They read other people's lines while standing in front of a camera.  That's their job.  And so it likely felt natural to put some words in front of a camera.  It's an easy gesture that is intended to make themselves feel good about themselves, without having to do anything actually difficult.  Without having to challenge their own too-easy and too-comfortable ideas about themselves.  Without having to grapple with real challenges, whether mental or geopolitical.

It's the Scientology of political philosophy.  Just repeat what you are supposed to, pay your money, and you'll be one of the insiders.  Easy peasy.  None of that challenging "give things up for Lent", or that mentally challenging Day of Atonement stuff - that's hard work, work that can make you uncomfortable.  Easier to be a leader with a trending hashtag.


Jennifer points to Larry Correia's brutal mockery of the "hash tag diplomacy" that we're seeing:
Seriously folks? Signs and hashtags and selfies? Really? I’m sure those big bad kidnappers that had no problem abducting innocent girls with the plan to sell them are kicking themselves now. I mean, their evilness is totally trending. They’re never going to bring up their Klout score now. #unfriend #unfollow #uncool

I bet they are totes going to give those girls back now. And they’re going to film it so it goes viral on YouTube. #winning

Dance Monkey makes pouty face, changes world. #filmat11 #firstworldsolutions
It's the diplomatic equivalent of gun control.  It's what you do instead of doing anything.

Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner - The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Mom and Older Brother, 1957
This weekend is Mother's Day, where we express our appreciation for that walking incarnation of Grace that is embodied in our Mothers.  You bet there's a Country song for that.

The roots of the lyrics run deep, all the way back to 1865 and a poem by Ross Wallace.  His poem contained the phrase "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the World."

A sentimental expression from a sentimental time, one that seems old fashioned in today's jaded and cynical age.  Me, I've long thought that jaded and cynical are over rated, and if you can't be sentimental on Mother's Day then there just isn't any justice left in the world.

Glen Campbell and Steve Warnier took this song and rode it to just about the top of the Country charts in 1987.  It still has that old school Country feeling to it, an unselfconsciousness that doesn't apologize for being human.  Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (Songwriter: Ted Harris)
He got here and wrinkled scared and cryin'
The she took him up and held him to her breast
And he sure was glad to get what mama offered
Then he went to sleep and put his fears to rest

It didn't seem to matter what he needed
He could always count on mama to supply
And regardless of the sleep she might be losin'
He always found a twinkle in her eye

There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation's most unique and precious pearls
And heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

She taught him all the attributes of greatness
That she knew he couldn't learn away from home
And by the time she wore the coxer off her bible
Her hair was gray and her little man was gone

There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation's most unique and precious pearls
And heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

Yes, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

Friday, May 9, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes ...

A parable on the climate change debate

Background here.

The perfect gift for that nerdy hard-to-shop-for person

The joystick from the Apollo 15 lunar module.

Bidding opens at $10,000.

Recording your sexcapades is seemingly easy

This is not my usual cup of tea, but it seems so, so easy:
"If it's possible to have sex in a feminist way, it's possible to record it in a feminist way," says Pandora Blake, a 29-year-old London-based sex worker, pornographer and porn performer.
Wait, what?  This is the taxpayer supported BBC?

Well, yes.  And so to my (younger) gentleman readers, you can get all the (BBC-approved) female attention you need if you just give up your manhood and support the "feminist way".  Because chicks are said to dig that (well, the BBC says that, and they're about as, err, feminist* as they come).  Besides, it seems easy to record your, err, workout.

No doubt that my (unmarried) lady readers will await this new crop of feminized men with baited breath.  Because men who want "feminist sex" are manly men.**

* Ahem. I was going to use a different word but Brendan Eich told me to shut my pie hole.  I'm sure glad we've evolved to the stage where people aren't burnt at the stake because of their ideology.

** So much for any career advancement hopes I had ...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spyro Gyra - Havana Moonlight

I must admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for Spyro Gyra, even though it's perilously close to being elevator music.

Someone needs to be fired

Maybe prosecuted.

If you laugh at this, you're really a nerd

I laughed and laughed.

And then laughed some more.  The only thing that would have been better would have been if Kirk had replied "Yer leg's off!"

Unemployment rate drops to zero

Last unemployed American stops looking for work:
President Obama today became the first to achieve a milestone coveted by enlightened central planners everywhere, as the Bureau of Laborious Statistics announced the much-followed meaningless headline: "U3 unemployment rate for last month was ZERO PERCENT," which clearly implies that the glorious economic recovery he engineered after the disastrous Bush years has now resulted in full employment.


Naysayers were quick to note that the labor force participation rate had also dropped to zero percent, which, according to them, was not a good thing as it meant no one was employed. Rep. Nancy Pelosi brilliantly countered their racist, straw-man argument by observing that it also meant no comrade was any longer "job-locked" and each was free to be an artist, writer, or hooker, pursuing their passion.
The People's Cube serves up top shelf snark.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


There's no doubt that the Obama Administration is the most lawless of my lifetime.  They embody what Christopher Hitchens aptly called the "pornography of power":
We're in power because we like it.  We're in power because we enjoy punishing people.  We're in power because we enjoy owning people.  We enjoy telling them what they can do.
And so there's a little frisson of schadenfreude in seeing the escalation:

The House on Wednesday voted to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt for her refusal to answers questions about the agency's conservative-targeting scandal.

Lois Lerner headed the agency's Exempt Organizations division when it controversially targeted conservative nonprofit groups applying for tax-exempt status. But she has repeatedly refused to answer questions when called before Republican-led House committees investigating the scandal, citing her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination.
She likely deserves to end up behind bars.  But.

I do not like seeing her rights get trampled in an attempt to get justice for trampling other's rights.  Congress cannot repeal the fifth amendment, any more than the IRS can issue regulations nullifying the first amendment.

I'm not sure what the path forward is here, except that it is a political, not a legal path.  But I do not trust the Republican Party to stand up for the fifth amendment any more than I trust the Democratic Party to stand up for the first.  Not in an election year.  And so the assault on the Bill of Rights escalates.

This business will get out of control.  Because someone won't let this crisis go to waste.

Time and tide wait for no man

It's been a long time since 1960:
Check out these photos from the Montgomery Ward 1960 Fall and Winter catalog. Here are some things that I found interesting:
  • nothing could be more wholesome for a mass market retailer than a father and son going out to kill birds with a pair of shotguns (there was no suggestion of mom and sister joining!)
  • a subset of the functions of a modern mobile phone could be obtained at the following costs:
    • Rolleiflex still camera (uses “popular 127 film“): $68.50
    • Movie camera: $100
    • Movie projector: $100
    • Smith-Corona portable typewriter (only 21 lbs!): $119.50
    • Audio recorder (open-reel): $280
    • Portable television (“so light” at only 33 lbs.): $158
(total: $826 or $6594 in 2014 dollars)
Hey, remember nostalgia?

Slow to field, expensive, and feature-poor

Other than that, it's a great weapons system:
The Army’s Comanche helicopter (22 years + $7 billion = zero helicopters) and the Joint Tactical Radio System (15 years and $6 billion before it was cancelled) are just two recent examples. But as the Government Accountability Office helpfully notes, these huge projects overall tend to “cost more, take longer to field, and often encounter performance problems” — not unlike the Empire’s moon-sized battle station. This means there are economic as well as operational reasons not to build them, which perhaps explains why I get a very bad feeling whenever I’m around one.

Real-life performance data shows that the most important and high-impact technologies are not the gold-plated, over-engineered wonder weapons that turn majors into colonels, colonels into generals, and young Jedi apprentices into Sith Lords. Instead, data suggest the real winners are humble, simple, low-cost products made by small, rapid innovation teams — the type of projects that don’t attract much attention from the press or from the brass because all they do is get the mission done without any fuss.

Defense analyst Pierre Sprey has written extensively about these “cheap winners” and “expensive losers,” a pattern which also showed up in my career. As I look back on 20 years in uniform, my most important contributions to national defense came when I worked on small droidish projects where I had no time, no money, and only a few teammates. My biggest frustrations and failures happened when I was in a cast of thousands, spending buckets of money and working towards a distant deadline.
This is a picture perfect example of the Iron Law of Bureaucracy in action in the military.  Crappy weapons systems consume huge piles of funding and may never see action, but someone got his Star.

You might think so. I couldn't possibly comment.

Nice 'stache, bro.  Chick.  Magnet.

Shamelessly stolen from Joel.  You do read him every day, right?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The question was rhetorical

Quote of the Day: Political Correctness edition

Political correctness is about blackmail. It is used to control insiders and aspiring insiders by creating an inevitable tension between private behavior — which soon enough becomes secret behavior — and an unreachable and sanctimonious standard.   PC creates an institutional hypocrisy through which the nomenklatura can be policed. The price of being an “insider” is consenting to have the Sword of Damocles dangle over your head.

Do you wonder why the elite stick together? They have to.
This is just a snippet from a very insightful article by Richard "Belmont Club" Fernandez.  Worth your time.

Antivirus: not quite useless

But almost:
Symantec, a company that has made huge amounts of cash as the largest antivirus software vendor for the last quarter of a century, looks to be getting out of that business and into fixing hacking problems rather than stopping them.

"We don't think of antivirus as a moneymaker in any way," Brian Dye, Symantec's senior vice president for information security, told The Wall Street Journal, adding that antivirus was "dead."

Dye said that modern antivirus software only stops around 45 per cent of attack on computer systems and lets the rest through. That's a bit embarrassing for the firm's Norton team, who are still advertising the software as "secure and reliable," rather than "works less than half the time."
This is no surprise, actually: the effectiveness of antivirus software has been falling for more than a decade.

The end of a melody is not its goal

The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
 This would likely have pissed off Nietzsche.  Not sure that this was a bad thing.  The melody's end is a reflection on who we are, and where we've been, and where we are going.

But what about those inner thoughts, those you don't tell anyone? Think to someone you once loved, or perhaps do now. If you had known then, what you know now, about your desire and theirs, would you have run away from the intensity of their gaze, those eyes possessing a wisdom all their own. Or would you, knowing what you know now, run to them with an ease and a comfort that no random coming together of two people could ever have produced.
Or would you have simply run away? 

Worthy questions.  And the Worthy Questions have no answers.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Weird stuff going on

Not good weird.  Back later.

Austin meetup

If you're in the area, pencil in the evening of Wednesday, May 21 out by Lake Travis.  Details to follow.

¡Feliz Cinco de Cuatro!

Smartest. President. Ever.
President Obama greeted a White House crowd this afternoon gathered for a May 4 premature celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican holiday honoring an upset military victory over the French, whose troops didn't do so well in North America and don't celebrate the same day much.

Anyway, in a well-intentioned attempt at Spanish and a joke about being a day early, Obama said:

"Bienvenidos. Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro -- (laughter) -- Cinco de Mayo at the White House. We are a day early, but we always like to get a head start here at the Obama White House."

Apparently unbeknownst to the president he wasn't saying "Happy May 4th." He was saying, Happy fifth of fourth."
But don't forget, Sarah Palin is too stupid to be Vice President! [rolls eyes]

You see, this is why we can't have nice things on the Internet

It seems like it's more common than you think.  Fortunately, you can download something onto your computer to deal with it.

Jesus wept.

Who's up for an Austin meetup?

The great thing about working for a videoconferencing company is that you don't have to travel much.  But I've been so successful "exercising influence" the last few weeks that there are now so many balls in the air that something's likely to drop.  It's to the point that I'm pulling together a meeting in 2 or 3 weeks so that we can hash this out face to face.

In Austin.

Who out there is up for an evening meetup?  Date is likely sometime the week of the 19th, probably middle of the week.  Venue is open, although I wouldn't mind meeting out by Lake Travis, out of sentimental reasons (that's where my crib used to be).

In particular, I somehow missed meeting Cap'n Jan out there, and would love to fix that.  Plus it would be cool to link back up with Dwight, Pistolero, Lawrence, and the croud.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Yeah, I've been tired

Played hookey today.

Actually, Crash the Wondercat also haz a tired because he got out today.  We keep him indoors (much to his annoyance) partly because there are a lot of coyotes around here, but mostly because we got him from the shelter after he'd run off.  I would be plumb out of Wondercats if he ran off, and so I'm quite happy that he's back and curled up next to me.