Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mom at the Range

Since I had posted about the history of the old Colt Woodsman, here's my Mom shooting it at the range. I know her grip is unconventional. She said that's the way she held that pistol from as far back as she could remember.

She would have first shot that pistol sometime before World War II.

I wasn't going to try to retrain her at this point. Her groups were just fine.

Count Bassie Swingin' the Blues

Because it's Thursday.

Best. Pub. Ever.


Quote of the Day: rich NSA bastard edition

Former NSA Director Keith Alexander is consulting for the low, low price of $1M a month.

For another Million, I'll show you thye back door we put in your router.


How do we know that Climate "science" is terribly weak?

Perhaps insupportability weak?  They don't argue the science, they keep getting their opponents fired:
Earlier in the year, Roger Pielke Jr. was named as a contributing writer for Nate Silver’s newly re-launched FiveThirtyEight site. Shortly after that, Pielke, a climate policy scholar and political scientist at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, published an article at FiveThirtyEight headlined, “Disasters Cost More Than Ever–But Not Because of Climate Change.”

Critics pounced immediately in blogs and on Twitter. That harsh reaction was then reported and commented on at Salon, Huffington Post, Slate, the Columbia Journalism Review, and elsewhere.
Salon, HuffPo, Slate, CJR: all pillars of peer-reviewed climate science.
I recently conducted a Q & A with Pielke about this episode and the aftermath. The links in my questions are from me. I asked Pielke to provide his own links.

KK: It’s been noted on Twitter that you are not listed on the main contributors page for FiveThirthyEight. Does this mean you no longer write for the site? If so, can you explain what happened?

RPJR: That is correct, I no longer write for 538.
Pielke is one of the experts on hurricane damage and economic loss, and was notoriously misquoted in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report:
Remember, one of the scandalous (no other word will do) errors in AR4 claimed increasing magnitude of weather related damage. The scandal wasn't that this was wrong, but that the IPCC was told of this by a reviewer, who was ignored:
It was all but certainly this passage that survived the review process and appear in the final report:
A previous normalisation of losses, undertaken for U.S. hurricanes by Pielke and Landsea (1998) and U.S. floods (Pielke et al., 2002) included normalising the economic losses for changes in wealth and population so as to express losses in constant dollars. These previous national U.S. assessments, as well as those for normalised Cuban hurricane losses (Pielke et al., 2003), did not show any significant upward trend in losses over time, but this was before the remarkable hurricane losses of 2004 and 2005.
What did Pielke think about this? Good question, easily answered. The IPCC never asked, but that did not stop the IPCC from making up an answer for me, which it did in its response to Zwiers (here in PDF, at p. 121):
I believe Pielke agrees that adding 2004 and 2005 has the potential to change his earlier conclusions – at least about the absence of a trend in US Cat losses.

So not only did the IPCC AR4 WGII egregiously misrepresent the science of disasters and climate change, but when questions were raised about that section by at least one expert reviewer, it simply made up a misleading and false response about my views.
If the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming were sound, evidence for it would be littering every street corner.  Instead, scientists are censored if they report an inconvenient truth.  You might wonder why scientists would do this:
How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA

A new report was released today by the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, and it is damning. All this time that climate skeptics are accused of being in the employ of “big oil” is nothing more than a projection of their own greed.

Some excerpts:

Over 7.9 BILLION in funding between these groups. 
You might wonder that it's nothing but filthy lucre.  I couldn't possibly comment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Czar says goodbye to his dog

You will not read a more bitter-sweet story today.

Bloomberg Make The Argument For Us

Here's my comment for my Senators and Representatives:

After watching Micheal Bloomberg's domestic violence video, I felt moved to write you. I want you all to know that I support legislation to make it easier for women to defend themselves. One of the things that the 2nd Amendment is designed to do is allow all those who can't depend on strength to still effectively defend themselves.

I call on you to provide support and training for new gun owners. I would also ask that you remove any roadblocks that make it more difficult for a woman to arm herself. Make those changes immediately effective so that a woman who has to get a restraining order can get a firearm with no waiting period. Ensure that a woman genuinely defending herself cannot be charged with a gun crime, even if she has broken some law about possession in her state or town.

Help make sure the violence depicted in this video never happens to another woman.

Out of the Dojo into the Real World

One of the members of our dojo used the skills he's been practicing for years. It happened suddenly. It happened in his back yard while his wife was outside doing yard work. A car being chased by the police hit a fire hydrant on the corner of their street and the driver bailed out running.

Steven looked out the window at the sound of the crash, saw the guy coming at a run into the yard, and went outside. I don't know if the man was just trying to run past them, but Steven reacted to the perceived threat to his family. The link calls it a tackle. Heh.

No one was hurt, the police were already on the way, the man was cuffed in less than a minute after he was pinned. The suspect has a criminal record stretching back 15 years.

I had been waiting hoping the TV station would post the whole interview, but all the link has is the text of the news article and the 45 second teaser.

The learnings that were shared with me:
1. It unfolded very fast.
2. There was not a lot of thinking.
3. People that don't practice falling don't fall well.
4. The expanded awareness and sense of calm only seemed remarkable after the fact.
5. And I quote, "Aikido works!" (the first words he said to me when he told me about it)

Last crewman of the Enola Gay takes off on his final flight

Stretch emails:
RIP Theodore Van Kirk
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Van Kirk a few years ago. He kindly autographed a photograph for me.
Had it not been for him and the crew of the Enola Gay and the Bock's Car my Uncle Robert, Uncle Jack, Uncle Jim and Father-in-law Joe would have been in invasion of Japan. Operation Olympic, Oct. 1945.
Given the JCS estimated over 1,000,000 casualties (1/4 Million fatalities) my cousins and THEIR children owe a great deal to Mr. Van Kirk and his cohorts.
And millions of Japanese owed their lives to that mission as well.  War Department estimates of Japanese civilian casualties in the planned Operation Downfall ran as high as ten million.  This is a fine tribute to a man who I had not known lived only a few miles from Camp Borepatch:
Like many World War II veterans, VanKirk didn't talk much about his service until much later in his life when he spoke to school groups, his son said.
"I didn't even find out that he was on that mission until I was 10 years old and read some old news clippings in my grandmother's attic," Tom VanKirk told the AP in a phone interview Tuesday.
Instead, he and his three siblings treasured a wonderful father, who was a great mentor and remained active and "sharp as a tack" until the end of his life.
"I know he was recognized as a war hero, but we just knew him as a great father," Tom VanKirk said.
Bravo Zulu, sir.  Bravo Zulu.  Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Marine Corps Way and Institutional Memory

Until after WWII, ammo was corrosive and dirty. Rifles that were not cleaned of the corrosive salts could be ruined by rust sitting on a rack in the armory. Even rifles that had been nominally cleaned might have a film of salts from the corrosive primers.

It must have happened enough that it became the Marine Corps way to make sure that there was no trace of anything remaining in the barrels. And once it was the Marine Corps way, it will be thus forevermore.

Never mind that the stocks are plastic, the barrel is made of a stainless alloy, and the ammo is non-corrosive. Never mind that the armory is air conditioned and humidity controlled. Our memory stretches back to rifle racks in open air barracks on Corregidor (and before). That's my theory on the why of how Marines clean their rifles.

That institutional memory can serve a purpose.  If you're shooting old surplus ammo, anything from before 1955 or so, or Soviet Bloc ammo up into the 1970s  1990s, best to beware. Ammonia solutions poured through the barrel, wet ammonia wipe down of metal parts, a selection of proper solvents, a hot water rinse, then a regular cleaning need to be part of the drill. Here, from Scott's Gunsmithing Service, is advice on dealing with corrosive ammo. It includes a slide show you can run at the top of the page of what happens when you fail to respect the power of hygroscopic salts on metal.

You still don't have to wear out the barrel to get it clean, but that's my guess where this all started.

Eat less and exercise more?

Nah.  Give me a pill.

The doctor's office called today with results from the blood work.  Surprisingly, I have an infection (non symptomatic), and so they want me to do a round of low level antibiotics.  I can't remember the last time I took those, which I guess means that I've been generally in good health.

The surprise was that my cholesterol was way up.  Strange, because my weight has been stable and my diet really hasn't changed.  They want to put me on a pill, which I'm resisting.  So their resident nutritionist is going to give me a call.  That can't hurt, I guess, although I can imagine the recommendation will be to watch my intake of things I like.

But this led me to wonder - is there a link between increased cholesterol and stress?  Low and behold, yes:
Stress can have a powerful, indirect effect on your cholesterol too. If you overeat, smoke, or turn into a couch potato in response to high anxiety, you're giving in to unhealthy lifestyle habits that can raise levels of bad-guy LDLs and erode levels of good-guy HDLs. Gaining excessive weight, eating a diet high in saturated fats, smoking cigarettes, and avoiding exercise can all deep-six healthy cholesterol.
Well, well, well.  Looks like I need to do more on the elliptical machine.  Oh, and cutting back on the stress would be OK, too.

New film on J.R.R. Tolkien's and C.S. Lewis' friendship

I many have to go see this:
British fantasy literature has two towering figures: J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. The two were longtime friends, and now their relationship will be the subject of a new movieTolkien & Lewis, an $18 million drama, will be produced by UK-based production outfit Attractive Films and directed by Simon West, known for The Expendables 2Con Air, and a certain Rick Astley music video.

Attractive describes the movie as “a drama fantasy set in war torn Britain in 1941 revealing the faith, friendship, and rivalry between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.”

The two writers had a lot in common: Both taught at Oxford, both fought in World War I, and both preferred not to spell out their names. Their relationship was friendly for years, but turned famously fraught. Through late-night conversations, Tolkien, a religious Catholic, convinced Lewis to return to the faith; Lewis’ writing took off afterward, and he’s now best known for his books that are instilled with Christian themes, like the Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters. But Lewis then became a much-criticized unofficial spokesman for Christianity, which strained his relationship with Tolkien and Oxford. And while Tolkien struggled over the Lord of the Rings manuscripts for years, Lewis’ Narnia books were bestsellers.
The story of their friendship is bittersweet, and neither author would have achieved what he did without the other's influence.  Tolkien described that to his daughter Priscilla, in a letter written shortly after Lewis' death*:
So far I have felt the normal feelings of a man my age - like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe blow near the roots.  Very sad that we should have been so separated in the last years; but our time of close communion endured in memory for both of us.
No offense to Lewis, but I think that the Lord Of The Rings is the greatest (meaning psychologically deepest) novel of the entire 20th century.  Much of that I suspect is due to Lewis' repeated and generous encouragement to Tolkien.

Hat tip: Patriactionary, a blog with a totally awesome name (and dare I say, on that Tolkien might have liked?)

* Transcribed from The Letters Of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Right Way

There is the right way, the wrong way,  and the Marine Corps way. It is known.

When it comes to gun cleaning, the Marine Corps way is designed to cause damage. The goal to remove every molecule of carbon. If reaching that goal removes steel in the process, it's just collateral damage. Steel cleaning rods and a heavy handed application of force will put more wear on the bore of a rifle than shooting thousands of rounds.

I have no proof, but personal anecdotal data suggests that the worst case scenario is when the rifle is refused by the armorer because it's not clean enough late on a Friday afternoon. If the Marine wants to go on liberty he has to get that rifle turned in. If carbon free, completely dry, white glove clean is the requirement and that date with Suzy is the goal, that Marine is now a rifle cleaning machine.

You see the wear at the muzzle and in the throat because that is where the cleaning rod rubbed as it was being pushed ever so vigorously into the barrel. A military rifle that has seen a lot of use will have a battered crown, and the rifling will either be missing or barely visible in the last 1/2 inch or so.

I had to be retrained in a more rational cleaning process when I became a shooter as a civilian. You do want it clean, but it's still good to remember you will be shooting it again soon. Box O' Truth offers what he does when he cleans old mil-spec rifles. I may not do this exactly, but his way is probably better. At least you won't do any new damage to your old rifle.

Data mining tells us that chicks dig good looking jerks and guys like bikini hotties

I'm sure that caught you unawares.  The online dating site OKCupid has been doing some experiments, like not showing any photos of its users to see if it changed dating behavior:
When the site restored photographs to the site, it found those conversations dried up: "It was like we’d turned on the bright lights at the bar at midnight," Rudder said. Those who stuck with it and went on a date generally reported they had as good a time as if they'd met someone with a full profile, although Rudder notes that women who dated attractive men had slightly worse dates – which he attributed to them being more likely to be "assholes."

The second experiment stems from when OKCupid users were asked to rate profiles on the attractiveness and the personality of a stranger. The study found that profile text accounts for less than 10 per cent of the perceived attractiveness of people.

For example, we're told one profile had no text at all, just a picture of a nubile young lady in a bikini. Despite the lack of anything other than a picture in her profile she apparently scored in the top 99 per cent for personality. Yes, it seems we really are that shallow, it seems.
So chicks dig good looking jerks, and men think that bikini hotties have great personalities.  Don't think you needed to do any data mining for those conclusions.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Internet Is People

"It's not real life, it's the internet" is a lie. The internet is part of real life and sometimes, as Borepatch is wont to say, it speaks in it's outside voice.

 If it was just data, banking, commerce, electricity grid management and the like, the internet would still be a revolution. We wouldn't see it, and would neither know nor care that it existed. If you added information, news, encyclopedias, dictionaries and education, it still would only be a tool, like a electronic textbook.

What we think of as the internet, however, is the part that serves as a tool we can use to connect to other people. Email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Skype, and so on. We connect to people we know when separated by time and distance. Sometimes we connect to people we have never met and perhaps will never meet. We only know them as pictures and words on a screen.

Still, it is the human connection that makes it important. Sometimes it's casual, a comment left on a blog while link hopping. Sometimes something you read strikes a chord and you bookmark it, it becomes a regular stop. And once in a while the connection becomes important. You can't explain that, any more than you can explain why someone you met working in a restaurant 40 years ago became a lifelong friend. It's part of the vagaries of being human.

The internet makes the world smaller, more connected, and at it's best, it may be the most marvelous invention humans have yet created.

So Science™ isn't politicized?

Butt-hurt Climate Scientist® is butt-hurt about the political situation:
The climate change debate that has raged in the public forum in Australia—and, in similar form, in the United States—has unfortunately been governed more by politics, ideology, and money than by facts. For example, much to my dismay, after appearing on a television program in Australia, on which I ended up debating a senator from the governing Liberal Party on issues that included climate change, I offered to come to his office to show him data on climate trends, including sea level rise and ocean acidification, with the hope that the data might affect the policies he advocated. He told me that he wasn’t interested in such a discussion, because he had a constituency that supported his current opposition to carbon emission controls, and that is what mattered to him.
You don't say.  And why might that be?  Perhaps the cost to Aussie consumers?
Prime Minister Tony Abbott's conservative coalition government rose to power last year on the promise of getting rid of the tax, assuring voters that removing it would reduce household electricity bills.
Perhaps our brace Climate Scientist® would argue that the cost of energy will not rise when it is taxed?  That argument would be a novel one, and seemingly one that the Australian voters are not buying.  But Our Hero continues:
Of course, as a scientist, I feel particularly strongly that the public is ill served by politicians who ignore empirical evidence while making and speaking out on policy.
Let me fix that for you, putting it into terms that the Australian Senate (and voting public) no doubt considered:
Of course, as a scientist Senator, I feel particularly strongly that the public is ill served by politicians scientists who ignore empirical evidence while making and speaking out on policy.
Observe the climate models, where over 100 different computer simulations have made predictions of rapid warming that simply have not been seen.  These models are increasingly wrong, and essentially none of them have predicted that warming has not only stopped, but has stopped for 17 years:

Policy, meet empirical evidence.  Of course, the Climate Science® establishment has an answer to that:
The publisher of Environmental Research Letters today took the bizarre position that expecting consistency between models and observations is an “error”.

The publisher stated that the rejected Bengtsson manuscript (which, as I understand it) had discussed the important problem of the discrepancy between models and observations had “contained errors”.

But what were the supposed “errors”? Bengtsson’s “error” appears to be the idea that models should be consistent with observations, an idea that the reviewer disputed.
Translation: pay no attention to the models diverging from reality.  The Great and Powerful Climate Science® establishment has spoken.  But please, let's continue with our butt-hurt scientist™:
Oklahoma Republican Congressman James Lankford’s amendment prohibited funding for "proposing or implementing any executive order related to the 'social cost of carbon.'" In this way, the Energy Department would presumably be prohibited from embarking on studies that might calculate the possible benefits of legislation that limits carbon dioxide emissions or the economic risks associated with climate change.  
Maybe the voters in Oklahoma don't have any more confidence in the busted climate models than the voters of Australia, and a similar lack of appetite for Green boondoggles with the corresponding higher costs and higher taxes?  Maybe the voters of Oklahoma think that the scientific research they are being asked to pay for should benefit them, not cost them?
A second amendment by Arizona Republican Paul Gosar prohibited funding for the Energy Department's Climate Model Development and Validation program. One of the things that climate change deniers often pull out of their hats when arguing against acting to stem climate change is a claimed skepticism about the validity of existing climate models. I have recently countered one such skeptic on television here in Australia by accepting this skepticism—and then challenging him to present what his models predicted.  (Of course he didn’t have any).
Err, dude - did you see that graph?  The climate models suck.  All of the climate models suck.  ALL. OF. THEM.

And how to say this politely?  I'm not paid by the taxpayer to make a computer model that doesn't suck.  You (or the other Climate Science® establishment) are.  We pay you a fucking LOT of money to come up with a lot of climate models.  THEY. ALL. SUCK.

And you sneer "So what's your model?  Hee hee, hee hee, hee.  Bevis, he doesn't have a model!"

I want a fucking refund from you, you poser.  But let's continue with the poser's scientist's complaint:
A third science-defunding amendment, this time pushed by West Virginia Republican David McKinley, would prohibit the Energy Department from supporting climate change activities associated with the National Climate Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. 
That's right: The Energy Department would be prohibited from responding to the two landmark reports that reflect the best international scientific scholarship available on climate modeling and the possible impacts of human greenhouse gas production, locally, nationally, and internationally.
The "best international scientific scholarship?"  You mean from the University of East Anglia (lead authors of the IPCC reports)?  The ones who did the whole "hide the decline" thing?

Let's sum up: all of the models are wrong, the Climate Science® establishment waves their hands saying nobody would expect the models to tract to reality, and the "best international scientific scholarship" relied on by the IPCC are busy hiding the decline.  None of this is in dispute.

And butt-hurt Climate Scientist® wonders why elected bodies world wide are reluctant to keep funding this same cluster fsck?  Look, I can understand how some Government funding gets diverted to hookers and blow, but the rest is just wasted on the current establishment.

More climate hookers and blow, please.  Let me sum up once again:
Of course, as a scientist Senator, I feel particularly strongly that the public is ill served by politicians scientists who ignore empirical evidence while making and speaking out on policy.
No need to thank me, Dr. Krauss, it's all part of being a full service climate blog.

A century ago, a whole generation was butchered and damned

Image via Der Wik
One hundred years ago, the Empire of Austria-Hungary declared war, which started Europe's slow suicide.  Four years and an hundred days later, the guns fell silent on the Western Front, after a whole generation was butchered and damned.

You are about to be bombarded with a maelstrom of history, which means Generals on horseback.  There's no worse way to learn what happened than from historians* - rather, you should listen to songs that sing the unwritten history that really matters.  As a public service, here is the Great War as a song cycle:

Act I: Man's essential humanity has not yet been suppressed:

The first is a song about the human feeling which had not yet been extinguished by the Powers That Be. December 1914 saw something unique in trench warfare: the Christmas of 1914 showed that the human heart still beat on the front lines:
All our lives, our family our friends told us it we were crazy.  Couldn't possibly have happened to us.  Then we heard your song on the radio and said "See? See? We were there."
That the ones that the ones who call the shots
won't be among the dead and lame,

and on each side of the rifle we are the same.

Act II.  Futility.

So many men died for so little gain that the ANZAC invasion day is a national holiday in Australia.  The invasion became a cliche of wasted effort and wasted lives, as this song captures in its full bitterness:

So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
and they sent me away to the war.


And in five minutes flat we were all blown to Hell.
Nearly blew us back to Australia

I see the old men marching, all tired stiff and sore.
The forgotten heroes of a forgotten war.

Act III.  Cynicism. 

What do you say to the dead?  Only the poets can answer.

But here in this graveyard it's still no man's land
the countless white crosses in mute witness stand
to Man's blind indifference to his fellow man
and a whole generation who was butchered and damned

 Act IV.  Wie sagst die auf Deutsche?

Just remember that "All Quiet On The Western Front" was written by a man with the nom de plume Erich Remarque.  His christian name was Erik Kramer.  He was a kraut, through and through.  Just remember, they bled the same color as we did.

Weit in der Champagne im Mittsommergrün
Dort wo zwischen Grabkreuzen Mohnblumen blüh'n
Da flüstern die Gräser und wiegen sich leicht
Im Wind, der sanft über das Gräberfeld streicht
Auf deinem Kreuz finde ich toter Soldat
Deinen Namen nicht, nur Ziffern und jemand hat
Die Zahl neunzehnhundertundsechzehn gemalt
Und du warst nicht einmal neunzehn Jahre alt

Ja, auch Dich haben sie schon genauso belogen
So wie sie es mit uns heute immer noch tun
Und du hast ihnen alles gegeben:
Deine Kraft, Deine Jugend, Dein Leben

Hast du, toter Soldat, mal ein Mädchen geliebt?
Sicher nicht, denn nur dort, wo es Frieden gibt
Können Zärtlichkeit und Vertrauen gedei'n
Warst Soldat, um zu sterben, nicht um jung zu sein
Vielleicht dachtest du Dir, ich falle schon bald
Nehme mir mein Vergnügen, wie es kommt, mit Gewalt
Dazu warst du entschlossen, hast dich aber dann
Vor dir selber geschämt und es doch nie getan

Ja, auch Dich haben sie schon genauso belogen
So wie sie es mit uns heute immer noch tun
Und du hast ihnen alles gegeben:
Deine Kraft, Deine Jugend, Dein Leben

Soldat, gingst du gläubig und gern in des Tod?
Oder hast zu verzweifelt, verbittert, verroht
Deinen wirklichen Feind nicht erkannt bis zum Schluß?
Ich hoffe, es traf dich ein sauberer Schuß?
Oder hat ein Geschoß Dir die Glieder zerfetzt
Hast du nach deiner Mutter geschrien bis zuletzt
Bist Du auf Deinen Beinstümpfen weitergerannt
Und dein Grab, birgt es mehr als ein Bein, eine Hand?

Ja, auch Dich haben sie schon genauso belogen
So wie sie es mit uns heute immer noch tun
Und du hast ihnen alles gegeben:
Deine Kraft, Deine Jugend, Dein Leben

Es blieb nur das Kreuz als die einzige Spur
Von deinem Leben, doch hör' meinen Schwur
Für den Frieden zu kämpfen und wachsam zu sein:
Fällt die Menschheit noch einmal auf Lügen herein
Dann kann es gescheh'n, daß bald niemand mehr lebt
Miemand, der die Milliarden von Toten begräbt
Doch finden sich mehr und mehr Menschen bereit
Diesen Krieg zu verhindern, es ist an der Zeit

Act V.  You have no idea.

Remember, they were young once.  Full of dreams and ambition.  And then the whistle blew, and it was over the top ...

And then it was over, with the armistice. And yet it wasn't.
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
will you come a waltzing, Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the Billabong.
Will you come a waltzing, Matilda with me?

* That's a hard thing to write given that Dad was a historian, but he would be the first to agree with this post.  He had a different three songs, but those were from the Vietnam War, and the cycle of awareness that captured the American pubic from those artists. That was the inspiration for this post.  I think he would approve of this post.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ten years ago in baseball history

Jason Varitek sparks what would end as the greatest come-back season in Baseball history.

I'd forgotten just how short the fight was.


When Guns Are Outlawed II

Feng Liu, age 59, was a research professor at UNC. He had a regular habit of going for a walk at lunchtime. While walking near campus last Wednesday, he was targeted for a robbery. 

He was murdered by one of the oldest methods known. He was beaten in the head with a rock.

Guns are banned on campuses in North Carolina. Dr. Lui would not have had the option of carry a means of self defense even if he had wanted to. His attackers had long criminal records. As felons, they were banned from owning firearms.

It going to be a paradise when all the guns are gone.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - scenes from the Nutcracker ballet

Image via La Wik
A lot of all y'all may think that ballet is frou-frou.  Well, it did keep Degas in business, but there's more to it than that.  Consider: the ballerinas have steel-toed shoes.

A friend was telling me about her niece who had once danced with the Atlanta Ballet.  It's quite a hard business to get into, actually a lot like professional sports - many start training as children and put in long hours because of the love of the thing.  But few make it to the Big Leagues.  A lot drop out along the way because injuries can be quite serious, ending promising careers before they even begin.

And before you tell me that yes, but it's still frou-frou, let me just say Louis XIV, the Sun King himself danced the ballet.  L'etat, c'est moi: I am the State and the State damn well better dance if it knows what's good for it.  Err, the translation is a little bold, but you catch my drift.

And so instead of frou-frou, it's perhaps better for the casual ballet observer to think of the dances as baseball innings, or football downs.  You have great athletes (yes, there's no other term for the performers), great music, and - especially in today's selection from the Nutcracker - a set of different dances that you can think of as third and long (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) or first and goal (Russian Dance).  While it might seem declassé to analyze the art on display this way, this gives the dancers the due that they've earned for the really brutal training and weeding out that they've been through.

And steel toe shoes are hot.  If I'm lying, I'm dieing.

Hopefully my friend will still talk to me after this post ...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bullet Lube

Bullet lube. People make their own, they try and discard various mixes, they buy it from guys who make it up in a shed in the woods. Here's a list of ingredients that people use for bullet lube along with a very detailed analysis of what lube does and how it works. Does the lube have a positive or negative effect on accuracy? Not that I can tell, but I am a casual shooter. How much testing do I have the time and money to do? If I get good accuracy with the bullet and powder combination, the lube on the bullet has one job. It's there to prevent leading. One side consideration is that it not make the gun so dirty I can't get through a day at the range.

Some old lube came my way recently. I haven't used any of it, but the next time I cast and lube, I may to load up a tube of the Lyman. It's not a decision to take lightly, as anyone that uses a Lubrisizer can attest.

Your moment of Zen

There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.

- Baruch Spinoza, a totally badass philosopher

Who says nerds don't know how to partay?

Well, for some value of "partay" ...

Recommended Reading: The Book Of Barkley

The finest writer that I know is my friend (actually my sister-from-another-mother) Brigid.  Her's is a quite unusual talent which can not just touch your soul but which can make you think, all at the same time.  The simultaneous fusion of both right brain and left brain action is why she's a daily read for me.  Sui generis, indeed.

Her book of stories about her late, faithful companion Barkley is now out.  It's a cycle of life, one that starts at the beginning, with puppy Barkley's lonely evening in a strange and different place:

The power was off all night, but we were OK. I cooked burgers out on the barbecue, and with a breeze blowing off one of the Great Lakes, we were reasonably cool, even those of us wearing fur coats.

With the house in darkness but for a camping lantern and candles, and good ventilation from outside, I just decided to go to bed early. I put him in his crate, all fixed up with a soft shirt inside that I'd worn so it would smell familiar, and I climbed into bed. The window was cracked open; the only sound was the soft silver tinkle of glasses, as the neighbors cleaned up from their impromptu cookout in the shared drive. A flash of faded light broke the space between us, not the power coming back on, just someone's headlights, and he stirred with a gentle cry.

There was no ignoring that sound, a plaintive little cry of loneliness, the anguish of a helpless creature who doesn't understand what he so terribly misses. He'd never slept in a crate, always with his Mom and brothers and sisters.

I wasn't sure exactly what to do; it had been a long, long while since I was around a puppy, and I wasn't sure exactly what he needed. Food, water, go outside? What is it when we grapple with our pet’s innate needs and we perceive how congruent and consistent they are, those canine companions with which we share a future, a home, and all the stars above it. They just want to be safe and be loved, no different from us.

I got up, opened his crate and picked him up. I lay down on the sofa, Barkley on my chest, nuzzled up to something making him think "well, these don't come with food, but they are soft" and went contentedly to sleep.
And ends, well, at the end, with Brigid's lonely evening in a strange and different psychological place:

But those first few weeks, there were no dreams. Last night, alone while my husband was on the road, one finally came.  In my dream, I got up from sleep, wandered out into the hall and there he was, standing there in the bright morning light.  I knew I was dreaming, and I also knew he was gone from this world, I stared at what, to me in my slumbering musings was a ghost Barkley.
I felt tears well up, then I noticed that look on his face, a look of guilt and somewhat pride, an, "Oh No, look what I just did!”  and "Wow, that's the biggest one yet," all in one expression.
There in the shadowed corners of the room, where the rug was indelibly stained from such earlier occurrences was a big fresh pile of dog vomit.  Ghost Barkley had come back to leave me a little gift.
I woke up, to an empty room and clean floors, laughing as, from outside, the sound of the winged birds of morning began.
But the best part of the book is in the middle.  It's about Barkley, of course, but more importantly it's about life, and love, and loss, and all those things that make us fully human.  Parts of this book have a beauty that is almost painful to read, as they play on those Great Questions: what is it fully to be human, as we would wish to be?  What is it to live the Good Life?  What is it to leave that Good Life?

The Great Questions, of course, do not have answers.  That is not their purpose.  They exist to break us out of our mundane, daily existence, to fuse that left brain challenge that makes us really think with the right brain song that touches us in that part of the soul that tells us who we are.
I've not read many books that do this as well as Brigid's, and I envy those of you who have yet to read this - you have all of the anticipation that I felt when Brigid sent me a review copy.  If you don't enjoy it as much as I did that I'm afraid that we can't be friends anymore.

The Book Of Barkley is available through Amazon.  If you hit that link then you'll also help support this blog.  But even if you don't, get the damned book.

Vince Gill with Alison Krauss and Union Station - High Lonesome Sound

Bluegrass for the win.

Friday, July 25, 2014

When Guns Are Outlawed

When guns are outlawed it will be a paradise, I'm sure. Like New York City today. 

Have a plan. Even when you're not carrying. Then have a backup plan when it gets all pear shaped anyway.

Cheap technical education

#1 Son is almost all the way through his Cisco CCNA book, and we're getting ready for him to actually take the exam.  He still has a little trouble with subnetting/route aggregation, but that means he's not converting the IP addresses into binary (everything becomes simple then).

But as a reminder to my readers who may be looking to break into an industry that has high pay, if you are a bit technical this is something that you can do, too.  No need for fancy College (or the tuition for same).

Here are some posts I've done on the subject:

Why and how to teach yourself security

Free Technical Education

I, nerd

Not exactly a poker face

Someone in Camp Borepatch has been getting up on the kitty condo and eating Crash the Wondercat's food.  The investigation continues ...

What Stops a Bad Guy With A Gun?

A good guy with a gun.

Disarming the good guys leads to a kill zone for the bad guy. Yesterday in Pennsylvania it didn't happen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On life

It can be bittersweet.

An 18th Century English folk ballad sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter.  Doors open, doors close; only we remain sometimes.
Fare thee well
My own true love
Farewell for a while
Im going away
But Ill be back
Though I go 10,000 miles

10,000 miles
My own true love
10,000 miles or more
The rocks may melt
And the seas may burn
If I should not return

Oh don’t you see
That lonesome dove
Sitting on an ivy tree
Shes weeping for
Her own true love
As I shall weep for mine

Oh come ye back
My own true love
And stay a while with me
If I had a friend
All on this earth
You've been a friend to me.
I like to say that nobody sings sad like Emmy Lou Harris.  Except maybe Mary.

Charlie Musselwhite - The Blues Overtook Me

Fast women and whisky made this po' boy wild.

Guns Magazine Classics 1955 to 1964

Guns Magazine has scanned and posted full copies of some of their magazines from 1955 to 1964. You can pick through and download them as PDF files. Articles about everything, some sort of dated, others as timely as if they were just written. I like the ads and the letters. It's like a window into America people have forgotten.

Pick one and open it up. Come back and share in the comments the most interesting thing you find. We'll make up some posts if it seems worthwhile.

Worldwide survey: 58% think that climate change is being used as an excuse to raise taxes

Government and Scientific Establishment legitimacy collapses; Mother Gaia and Hippies hardest hit:
People all around the world, responding to a survey by Ipsos MORI, have generally agreed with the ideas that scientists don't really know what they're talking about when it comes to the climate – and that governments are using environmental issues as an excuse to raise taxes.

These not-so-green views were transmitted as part of Ipsos MORI's new Global Trends 2014 survey, which can be seen here. Respondents were asked to respond "agree", "disagree" or "don't know" to various statements.

On balance the people of the world concurred with the statement "even the scientists don't really know what they're talking about on environmental issues", with only 42 per cent disagreeing and 48 per cent agreeing. Disbelief in scientific climate expertise was strongest in China, Japan and Germany. In Britain, the US and Australia, people were less sceptical, with those populations pretty much evenly split as to whether scientists know what they're on about regarding the environment.

The survey respondents also strongly endorsed the idea that "the government is just using environmental issues as an excuse to raise taxes", with 58 per cent in agreement and just 31 per cent disagreeing worldwide.
Americans are not even as skeptical as Europeans.  For once I agree with our Ivy League nobility that we should be more like Europe.

This is  my shocked face.

Greenpeace supporters in open revolt over executive who commutes by Jet

Props where props are due:
More than 40 staff members and campaign leaders from Greenpeace Netherlands are still demanding that international program director Pascal Husting be dismissed. Husting came under fire last month for his choice to fly between his home in Luxembourg and his workplace in Amsterdam, the Volkskrant reports.

The staff members penned a letter to Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo and Husting, writing that Naidoo should “considerate his position”, adding that the damage they have caused to the environmental organization can only be remedied by their departure, the paper writes.

The letter was not published, but spread amongst employees and signed by almost all important campaign leaders and staff members. The only missing signature is that of Dutch director Sylvia Borren who believes that dismissal is unnecessary.
Actually, good for them.  I don't agree with most of their policy proposals but I respect the integrity they are showing here.


Record cold in Australia

I blame Global Warming:
If you are lucky enough to be reading this from the comfort of your blankets, it might be best to stay there, as Brisbane has hit its coldest temperatures in 103 years.
Not since July 28 1911 has Brisbane felt this cold, getting down to a brisk 2.6C at 6.41am.


“The average for this time of year is 12C, so Brisbane was about 9C below average, it is pretty impressive really, to have the coldest morning in 103 years is a big record.”
The coldest place across the state was Oakey which got down to -6.1C, which was the coldest temperature for the town since 2011.
Warmists roll their eyes when we post this sort of thing, muttering "weather, not climate", and then turn around and breathlessly post hyperventilating hysterics for every record high.  So I'll just pour a nice hot cup of schadenfreude and serve with a hot buttered mockery.

Hat tip: 2cents via email

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I am so doing this

Crash the Wondercat could use a little exercise.

Final thoughts on Halbig and Obamacare

Now that they passed the bill, Nancy Pelosi is finding out what's in it.

I crack myself up sometimes.  If I ever tweeted, I'd tweet this.  For a longer, in-depth (dare we call it "Borepatchian"?) analysis, this is outstanding.  Borepatchian, in fact.

At the doctor

Just for my annual checkup.

Doc: "You need to eat less, drink less, and exercise more. "

Me: "I want a second opinion."

Doc: "OK, you're ugly, too."

I'm here all week. Try the veal.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

UPDATE: Damn, I like this doctor. That's a new experience for me.

Halbig v. Burwell, en banc hearing, and the future of Obamacare

Buddy 2cents (an actual bona fide lawyer, but don't hold it against him) emails to point out this:
President Obama’s old Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, said that he “wouldn’t bet the family farm” on Obamacare’s surviving the legal challenges to an IRS rule about who is eligible for subsidies that are currently working their way through the federal courts.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tribe told the Fiscal Times. “But I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”
Tribe, of course, is famously progressive in his views, and he's not exactly all sunshine and kittens about Obamacare's chances.  My thought was that the DC Court of Appeals is one of the most left leaning in the land, and an en banc hearing (where all the judges sit on the case, not just three) might give a different result.  I asked his opinion, and here is his opinion as a lawyer:
Moot point.  And if anything, I would put more money on the 4th Circuit taking THAT case en banc.  The 4th Circuit is more conservative than the DC Circuit is liberal.  Either way, there will be a split of the Circuits before too long.  The Supremes will end up deciding this one.  And I cannot see how this Court could do anything other than decide the same way as the DC Circuit did.  The statue is clear on its face.  Harry Reid’s office kept submitting the same language.  No one ever questioned it.  On top of that, as you may recall, SCOTUS only upheld HCA as an exercise of Congress’s power to tax.  The IRS has no power to interpretively impose new taxes.  They have NO power to tax.  Finally, revisionist history aside, the language of the statue very much fits Congress’s intent.  Let us not forget that, when the passed Obamacare, it was assumed by one and all that the States would jump right in and set up exchanges.  The Federal exchange was only envisioned as a stop gap back up plan.  Of course, politics, the economy and everything else intervened.  As a result, the obvious rush to participate has ended up with only 16 states setting up their own exchanges.  And Lord knows that this is not the first time that Congress wrote a law screwed up because they drew an erroneous conclusion resulting in a failed prediction.
So there you have it.  Things are not looking good for Obamacare at all.  It's not dead, but it looks like it's coughing up blood.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Casting Ingots II

When I'm casting I dress up like my life depends on it. Heavy cotton shirt, heavy cotton pants, leather calf high boots, a firehose canvas apron, gloves, a hat and a face shield. I assume that there will be a spill. I assume that water will get in the pot. I assume the worst.

 Set up your work space. No children, no pets. Dress out. If you're melting scrap lead, wheel weights, etc., the first pot will be warming up from room temperature. That one will be fine, the heating process will evaporate off any water. It's lead you add later that might have some moisture on it that will cause a problem. Preheat any lead you plan to add. Get it hot enough you can not handle it without gloves before you add it to your melted pot.

It is known as getting a visit from the tinsel fairy. Moisture, even a small amount in a bucket of wheel weights, is a serious risk when casting. A damp ladle, perhaps carelessly set on a wet towel and then dipped into the pot will do it, too. The liquid lead is 650 degrees (F) or hotter. Added water is transformed instantly to steam. That expanded steam will leave the lead pot with authority.

Lead on the ceiling of the garage or the hood of her car may not be pleasing to the spousal unit. Lead on your arms, face, head, or hands will instantly result in severe burns. Here's one more link from the Cast Boolits forum on the topic.

 Here's a video of a guy melting lead pipe sections with a very small explosion at the end. I think he had just a little moisture in that piece he adds to the pot.

Be safe and cast for a long time.

About all that carbon dioxide in the air ...

It's said (by Science™) that we've gone from 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in pre-industrial times to 400 ppm today.  The implication is that industrialization is the cause of the increase.  But is it?

New paper: only 15 ppm (i.e. 15% of the increase) is from fossil fuels.  Hey, you don't want to be a Science Denier, do you?

Quote of the day: open carry edition

Call me crazy, but I feel one of my responsibilities as a gun rights advocate is to show people that gun owners are reasonable, responsible people who aren’t a threat to the innocent. If I were to, say, walk into Chipotle carrying an AK at the combat ready, I’m pretty sure I’d accomplish the exact opposite. And I really couldn’t blame regular Joe for being afraid of me. Think about it, guys. If a cop walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If a soldier walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If some unknown guy walks into Chipotle with a rifle, especially if he’s carrying it at the combat ready, people are going to get scared. In America, carrying a rifle into a restaurant isn’t a normal act. Right or wrong, it scares people. And you won’t make people less scared of guns by intentionally scaring them with guns.


Peaceful open carry rallies where gun owners safely carry long guns slung across their backs on public land? I’m down with that. Blatantly ridiculous, orchestrated confrontations where open carriers walk into private businesses with rifles at the combat ready, just to piss people off, knowing that all they’ll do is create more enemies? No thanks.
So please, open carriers, stop “defending my rights”.
Hat tip: Elusive Wapati, who has some comments of his own.

105 year old throws out first pitch

Her Oceanside retirement community, Fairwinds, had planned an outing a few months ago to Sunday's Padres game. One of the staff members at Fairwinds asked if McKee, their oldest resident, could toss the first pitch since it would be just a few days after her 105th birthday, which was Wednesday.
It worked out perfectly. The Padres honor the military at Sunday home games, and McKee's husband, Harry, was a veteran and a baseball lover. He died six years ago. So now, it will be an honor for both of them. From the U-T San Diego:
“He would be so proud,” she said about her upcoming pitch. “He would not be surprised at all. He always knew I was up for an adventure.”
Hat tip: 2cents, via email

Monday, July 21, 2014

My attitude about the airliner over Ukraine and the border mess

It's the path on the left, for the reason stated.

But hey, that's just me.  I'm a lousy news consumer, and this is also pretty much why I avoid Twitter like the plague.


In which I agree with Thomas Frank

Frank, of course, is the dim bulb who penned the idiotic What's The Matter With Kansas.  But he diagnoses the Obama legacy pretty well:
In approaching this subject, let us first address the historical situation of the Obama administration. The task of museums, like that of history generally, is to document periods of great change. The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the opposite: how to document a time when America should have changed but didn’t. Its project will be to explain an age when every aspect of societal breakdown was out in the open and the old platitudes could no longer paper it over—when the meritocracy was clearly corrupt, when the financial system had devolved into organized thievery, when everyone knew that the politicians were bought and the worst criminals went unprosecuted and the middle class was in a state of collapse and the newspaper pundits were like street performers miming “seriousness” for an audience that had lost its taste for mime and seriousness both. It was a time when every thinking person could see that the reigning ideology had failed, that an epoch had ended, that the shitty consensus ideas of the 1980s had finally caved in—and when an unlikely champion arose from the mean streets of Chicago to keep the whole thing propped up nevertheless.
The rest of the article, of course, is Frank pushing the same tired old leftie nostrums.  But this moment of clarity on the current situation - propping up the whole rotten system - is entirely on target.  Although Thomas would do better if he read Borepatch - especially this.


Movie Review: Dawn of Planet of the Apes

First, to say something nice. Great special effects on the apes.

The special effects must have taken the entire budget, though, because they could not afford to hire anyone to help with veracity when it came to weapons.

First, no one aims, especially the apes. They just throw the rifles up one handed and shoot spray.

Second, no one on either side reloads and they are all firing M-16s on full auto. Seriously, the whole flippin' movie. NO. ONE. RELOADS. The apes spray unaimed rounds on full auto for twenty minutes and overwhelm the humans. The cyclic firing rate for an M-16 is 600 rounds a minute. Hold the trigger down and 30 rounds last 3 seconds.They would have needed to be strong as gorillas to carry the loaded magazines they would have used and they would have been reloading every 3 seconds. Watch how long each magazine lasts:

Third, the humans are supposedly "test firing" all the weapons in the arsenal. Are they zeroing the weapons for accuracy? Are they cleaning and servicing the weapons, then testing firing any that have had problems? No, they're doing mag dumps. Seriously, in a world where all the ammo you will ever have in what you have right now, they pouring it out the barrels for no reason.

And finally, the hero points his rifle at some other humans. After some posturing, they move toward him, and he pulls the charging handle to work the bolt. If it was already loaded, all he did was dump a round. If it wasn't already loaded, what was he doing pointing it at anyone with intent?

I usually give movies a pass on gun handling, shooting while running, etc. This one worked hard to get fully into teh stupid.

International Cat Diplomacy

Nixon famously used "Ping Pong Diplomacy" to normalize relations with Red China* in the 1970s, sending a ping pong team to the PRC and using the good will from the resulting television reports to thaw international relations.

Well, I've been busy on this, too.  I've been having a lot of videoconference calls with the team in Beijing.  Since I work from home (and they mostly do too - at least when the call is late in the evening their time) Crash the Wondercat has been making a habbit of hopping up on my lap and so appearing in the call.

Well, on the last call a cat there in Beijing jumped up on a lap there, and Crash and he engaged in a bit of International Cat Diplomacy.  It's a strange and wonderful world we live in, sometimes.

Happy birthday, air conditioning!

Living as I happily do in the heart of Dixie, this is a big deal:
In Buffalo, New York, on July 17 [conflicting dates, July 21 is given also - Borepatch] , 1902, in response to a quality problem experienced at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company of Brooklyn, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as the world's first modern air conditioning system. The 1902 installation marked the birth of air conditioning because of the addition of humidity control, which led to the recognition by authorities in the field that air conditioning must perform four basic functions:

1.) control temperature; 2.) control humidity; 3.) control air circulation and ventilation; 4.) cleanse the air.
I can't imagine what things would be like without AC.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Casting Ingots I

Before you can cast bullets, you need clean lead in a usable size, at a known hardness.

Lead is often gathered by working a berm at a range, gathering the bullets that collect there over time. Those bullets are dirty, mixed lead, some with copper jackets.

Another source is tire weights. The alloy that tire weights are made from makes pretty good pistol bullets. They are also dirty, with metal clips. When you get a bucket of weights, it has cigarette butts, air valves, and unfortunately, some newer weights not made from lead.

Sometimes large blocks of pure lead can be found. Medical lead blocks for shielding radiation, old sailboat keels, old plumber's lead are all possibilities.

Pure lead is very soft. People add various tin or antimony blends to make the lead harder. Sometimes casters use linotype, a lead alloy that was used in newspaper printing until the 1980s, to make a hard alloy. If you can find some linotype, it is a known hardness. It can be used by itself or mixed with pure lead in known quantities to make consistent alloys.

You have to melt the lead, clean the melted lead of the debris, flux it and remove the dross, then pour the ingots. Safety is a huge issue. Lead melts around 620 degrees. any contact with the lead results in a burn. Lead is a heavy metal, ingesting the lead in any way is serious health risk.

And the end product is only an intermediate step in casting bullets.

Getting older is a bitch

The Geek in Heels finds sequels describing mid-life crises for literary characters.

Heh.  Lots more.

Johann Christoph Pepusch - Concerto for Violin, Strings & Basso Continuo in A minor

Sometimes it seems that all the English composers of the early 18th century were actually German, come to the court of the new Hannoverian monarchs.  John Christopher Pepusch was one such, born Johann Christoph in Berlin.

Perhaps best known for his arrangement of The Beggar's Opera, he represented the best of the late baroque.  He also founded the Academy of Ancient Music, dedicated to performing pieces that were at least 100 years old.  That organization petered out, but has been revived and is active today.

Honest Wear

Honest wear, you see it on a lot of older guns. They weren't safe queens. They were working guns. Carried in all kinds of weather, rubbing against a holster, exposed to sweat.  It's not abuse, it's the accumulated results of a lifetime of use.

In a previous post, I commented on the difference in the wear on the grip panels on my grandfather's Colt Woodsman. The wear is a result of having being carried in a right side hip holster for years. Whenever my grandfather went hunting, the Woodsman was with him. The outside panel tells the tale.

In the comments, New Jovian Thunderbolt asked for pictures.

Here's the right side.
And here's the left.
Just to show you what they can look like, here's one of the best sites I found for information and pictures: Bob Rayburn's Colt Woodsman Page. Here's a link to his photos, the first one is a beautifully factory engraved and lovingly kept 1917 pre-Woodsman. It goes from there. If you want to look at some wonderful and interesting pistols, scroll through some of these.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My NSA mix tape

Claire asks:
Via jed: Artist sends the National Spy Agency a super-encrypted “mixtape.”


So what would be on your freedomista mixtape?
Well, Okay then.

Johnny Rivers knows their secret pain - that they'll never look as good as he does:

Wynonna knows that you're up to something.  So does Ft. Meade.  They know the truth when they look into your eyes read your metadata ...

Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned, or the NSA looking at a Linux geek running a TOR exist node.  They know what you did last night:

And no school like the Old School.  You got me in a tizzy, little busy body:

Self-driving car failure modes

There's quite an interesting discussions in the comments section to yesterday's post about self-driving cars.  A number of people are clearly doing more thinking than the technologists and bureaucrats pushing this concept on a (mostly) unwilling public.  It's worth your time to see what a good security brainstorming session looks like.

I want to expand on this here, because it seems that the biggest obstacles are not technical, but rather social.  Here are some, in no particular order:

1. Self-driving cars will never be cool.  The lure of the open road has left Americans spellbound for generations.  The nerd playing X-Box 2025 will never be as cool as this, ever:

The Rebel lacks a cause, but meekly complies with all traffic ordinances.  I think it's quite a serious mistake to bet against cool.

2. You can't get rid of non-self driving cars.  Look at this car:

This car is not cheap, and more importantly is only driven infrequently as a hobby.  So think about who owns a car like this - it's not some backwoods redneck, it's someone with serious wealth.  If there's one thing that is abundantly clear it's that rich people don't take well to the Government taking away their hobbies.  So the self-driving car systems will be forced to deal with non-self driving cars.

3. Government Agencies exist to collect power for the Government Agency.  We can expect that they will be the biggest backers of mileage limits.  Make people fly more, so you will need more TSA screeners.  The proof?  TSA is already trying to get into the train travel and roadblock business. 

None of these are technology objections, they are societal limitations on deploying a system that will live up to the billing.  The system simply cannot improve road use, or mileage, or safety, because society won't let this happen.