Monday, March 31, 2014

The razor's edge

I hadn't thought that my test ride with the windscreen would be to the hospital.  It worked.

And it's good that I was going to the hospital because he said that he wanted clothes, and slippers (and his watch!).  But it made me think on just how narrow is the line - that razor's edge - that we all walk each day, all without thinking.  We should.



Certain of a future, indeed. Kiss all your children.  Dance with your wife.  Tell your husband that you love him, every night.  Don't run from the truth - you can't get away.



Turn up the music.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Update

Thanks for everyone who has left a comment.  It wasn't me, and it didn't involve the motorcycle.  It was one of the kids, and it was a near thing.  Don't even want to think about that.  He'll be in the hospital for some days, I expect.

Damn, I'm worn out.

Hospitalblogging

Life is speaking in its Outdoors Voice right now.  Back later.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

JROTC Military Ball. He looks good in uniform.

I has an annoyed

Did the company that made my "install it yourself" windscreen use lock tight on the bolts they knew I would be removing?  WTF is that red goop?


Whatever it was, it sure didn't make it easy to take the damn bolt off ... 

Cheaters never prosper

The videogame industry is huge, and people spend more money (and time) on games than on movies.  I'm an outlier, as I don't spend time on either, but the kids are typical young men and so are fairly immersed in the gaming world.

That much money attracts people who are willing to skirt the rules, and even pay money for an unfair advantage.  There must be more fame and fortune involved in gaming that I had thought, but cheating is a big enough problem that the gaming companies are coming up with creative ways to deal with it:
Respawn Entertainment thinks that cheaters deserve each other. The developer recently announced that it’s been collecting data since Titanfall launched, but that as of March 21, it has started enforcing bans using FairFight, which Battlefield 4 and other Electronic Arts games use as well. Interestingly, rather than just locking cheaters out of the game, Respawn is forcing them to play with other banned cheaters.

“You can play with other banned players in something that will resemble the Wimbledon of aimbot contests. Hopefully the aimbot cheat you paid for really is the best, or these all-cheater matches could be frustrating for you.” Respawn said on its website. “Good luck.”
Interesting approach.

Chet Atkins - Tiptoe Through The Tulips With Me

Chet Atkins got fired four times because he "wasn't country" enough.  His whole career was a series of musical experiments, which is why his music never got tired like that of many of his contemporaries.  This recording is from 1959, thirty years after the song was written.  If you've only heard the version from the sixties freak parade Tiny Tim, this will be a refreshing change.  It certainly highlights Atkins' skills on the electric guitar.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Roll me away to a small town

Fooling around with the camera.

Well played, tech hipster

So very well played.


The Russians are mocking Obama

This doesn't look like reset, it looks like overload:


"I wonder, after the successful campaign of handing over the Crimea, will Barack be promoted to a colonel?" That was the question Tweeted yesterday by the newly elected Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, shortly after the Russian-speaking residents of the disputed peninsula voted to leave Ukraine with the prospects of joining the Motherland. The Russian-language Tweet was accompanied by a Photoshopped picture of Barack Obama wearing a Russian uniform.

...

As someone who frequents the Russian-language side of the blogosphere, let me explain.

The Crimean PM's question wasn't a standalone joke, but rather a punch line to an earlier anonymous joke with a Photoshopped picture of Barack Obama, seen on various Russian websites and forums since he first became president.

The picture was a mock-up of a KGB personnel file with a photo of Obama wearing the uniform of a KGB lieutenant with three stars on blue epaulettes. The name on the card is listed as Boris Huseinovich Obamov, a spy and saboteur, born in Uzbekistan and of Uzbek ethnicity, a member of United Russia Party, recruited by Vladimir Putin in 1981, currently without a permanent address and working undercover as the U.S. President.

While this is from the People's Cube, it looks like this is straight up news.  That's the sort of standing the leader of the Free World has in Russia.  "Smart" Diplomacy!

Science strikes back at Global Warming nuttery

And by "Science" I mean "the Scientific Establishment" - at least the American Physical Society.  The APS is the professional society for Physicists, and was last seen here in Hal Lewis' spectacular resignation letter to the President of the APS:
Hal Lewis is one of the Senior Statesmen of American Physics.  He's been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years (!).  His bio lays out his bona fides:

...

Hal Lewis thinks that Global Warming is an anti-scientific, money-grabbing scam by scientists, and says so in a brutal resignation letter sent to the president of the APS:

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
It is long, and detailed, and the most damning indictment of the scientific community that I've ever seen.  Coming from someone of his stature, it takes on the weight of Zola's J'accuse.  If the Academy is not entirely corrupt (a big "if", to be sure), this will be taught in History of Science classes twenty years from now, as Richard Feynman's O-Ring experiment in the Challenger Disaster investigation is.
Well, it seems that the APS is not entirely corrupt:
The self-correcting tendencies of real science appear to be emerging.  Thanks to a link from Sense of Events, I found this article from an Australian journal called Quadrant: Finally, Some Real Climate Science.  It opens by saying the APS rules require them to recheck these sorts of support every five years, to make sure they're keeping up with science.  In a bold and completely honest move, they staffed the committee doing the review with three very well regarded "climate skeptics", Richard Lindzen of MIT, Judith Curry of Georgia Tech and John Christy of UAH (Alabama Huntsville).  The other three are prominent members of the IPCC establishment: IPCC lead author and modeler William Collins, atmospheric physicist Isaac Held, and Ben Santer.  The Quadrant article lists some of the questions that they are asking.  This is a real breath of fresh air; real science is trying to emerge here.
These are big guns: Lindzen spent years sending weather balloons into the stratosphere looking for the predicted "hot spot" that CO2 theory requires to warm the lower atmosphere.  He couldn't find it.  Christy runs the UAH satellite temperature data set, the first truly global climate data set.  Curry (seen here before) heads Georgia Tech's school of Earth and Atmospheric science and has published repeatedly on the uncertainties in climate modeling.  If I were to pick three skeptics of stature, these are precisely the ones I'd choose.

Well done, APS.

R.I.P Colonel Tresham Gregg, total badass

Wow:
Colonel Tresham Gregg, who has died aged 94, had an adventurous Army career as a leader of wartime Italian partisans, having already acquired a reputation as a serial escaper from PoW camps.

...

The following month Gregg was surprised by a German patrol near Derna, Libya, and taken prisoner. In an attempt to escape, he tried to sabotage the Germans’ reserve petrol supply with sugar but he was handed over to the Italians too quickly for the ploy to be effective.

As he was marched to the port in Benghazi, Gregg dived out of the column of PoWs and hid in a shop. After two hours he was spotted by two Italian soldiers who were looting the place. They refused to believe his story that he was a German soldier “taking a leak”.

...
Back in PG29 he was serving a third month in solitary confinement when, in September 1943, the Armistice was announced and he was released. He had relations in Switzerland and could have headed north; but he chose to stay with his closest friend, Captain “Donny” Mackenzie of the Cameron Highlanders, who was suffering from malaria.

...

In spring 1944 they were contacted by the partisans. Gregg and Mackenzie led a successful raid on a police station at Ferriere, then ambushed two truckloads of troops sent to flush them out.

...

The Prefect of Piacenza put a price on their heads; but they were in a natural stronghold, and when a Fascist Alpini battalion attacked over the mountains, Gregg not only forced its commander to give them all his heavy weapons as the price for freeing him, but also recruited many of his men.
Just, wow.  Read the whole thing, of which this is only a short excerpt.  The basassitude was strong in this man.  Rest in peace, Colonel.

Hat tip: Jeff via email, who writes:
This chap caught my eye at once, given his general resemblance to TE (of Arabia) Lawrence. I did not expect, when reading on, to find a story almost as astonishing as Lawrence's. You would hesitate to put it into a novel.

A late boss of mine did the same sort of work in Yugoslavia, Greece and finally China which Gregg, without training and preparation, did in Italy with his comrade Donald MacKenzie. Had Ian been alive to read this obit, he would have chuckled and shaken his head in admiration.

For the past three years, I have lived in Italy in terrain south of, but a little less rugged than that in which Gregg and his partisans worked. Before and after the Italian surrender/change of sides in 1943, it was complicated and dangerous to be an Italian. My village had been keenly fascist (Italian style: nothing like the Nazis) before the War, but that did not stop the Germans generating on the War Memorial a list of civilian casualties barely shorter than that of military column.

I may say that I can tell from the photograph of the funeral procession for Captain Mackenzie that every class of Italian is represented in this Resistance group: I am virtually certain that the gentleman in the tie and riding boots is the local Count.

These days the Germans are welcome in Italia as tourists, but residents have to work hard to be liked. It is a little easier for us Brits, and for Americans.

The Daily Telegraph is much reduced from its great days, but its devotion to the Obituary is admirable. Can you tell me, is there a US equivalent? Your WWII and Korea generation are passing on, and you are losing some remarkable men and women; and the Vietnam lads may be beginning to lose a member or two. It would be a shame not to have the chance to read up on them.
Local knowledge, right there.  The Telegraph was my daily read when we lived in Blighty - the Times was too grotesquely anti-American and the other offers were either tabloids (like the Sun: hello, page 3!) or leftie nutcases like the Guardian.  And the obits were a delight to read, written with a panache not seen in the Colonies.  Well, at least these Colonies.

The only place that I've seen the like is (I believe) The Atlantic, which used to run Mark Stein's obituary columns in each issue.  His obit of Profumo was a delight to read, but I believe that Stein got his start at the Telegraph, of all places.

And so alas, the obits on the western shores of the Pond are a pale imitation of those still found in her Britannic Majesty's scepter'd Isle.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Joe Bonamassa with Beth Hart - I'll Take Care of You

Smokin' hot and cool as can be, all at the same time.


Bletchley Park codebreaker passes on

Maybe the Lord will show him decrypts of any he didn't do himself:
Raymond "Jerry" Roberts - one of the last of a top World War Two codebreaking team at Bletchley Park - has died, aged 93, following a short illness.
Capt Roberts, from Liphook, Hampshire, was part of a group that cracked the German High Command's Tunny code at the British codebreaking centre.
Their decrypts made it possible to read Hitler's own messages during the war.
The team is credited with helping to shorten the war by at least two years.
Hat tip: 2cents via email.

If TJIC rides a motorcycle in New Hampshire ...

... his floorboards might look like this.


Want.

Via The Big Guy himself, Uncle Jay.  Who if he was ever in the same room with TJIC might personally cause a rift in the Space-Time contimuum, from all the awesome trying to be compressed into a single temporal place.

Quote of the Day: TJIC Edition

TJIC leaves a comment here on my celebratory post about Georgia making even better gun control laws:
Fired an AR15 off my back porch yesterday. NH is much better than MA.
Welcome back to the United States of America, TJIC.  The air sure smells of freedom.  Now if you'd dust off your blog, I'd get my USDA* recommended daily dose of libertarian snark**.

* What, you need FedMan to give you a Seal of Approval or something?

** Or Anarcho-capitalist snark.  I'd pay cash money to see you and Tam perform this scene, and suspect I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New toy

Just replaced my 4 year old iPhone 3GS, with this:


Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom.  It's an interesting combination of a "good enough" smart phone (phone, email, browser) and a "good enough" camera (13 Megapixel, 10x optical zoom, manual mode, selection of interesting "smart" modes like low light and panorama).

Been too busy to play with it much, but will fiddle with some night pictures this evening.  I have to say that it's been a while since I've seen a phone that I'm actually interested in playing with.

Vladimir Putin's March Madness picks


Looks about right.

I blame Global Warming

Coldest October-March in 102 years in the United States.

And for the folks who would claim "cherry picking", this is using all HCN stations.

From 2cents via email.  Responding to my comment placing the blame on Global Warming, he adds:
Yeah.  And I had a headache last night.  And the Bruins lost a shoot out to those flopping Canadians.  And I got a parking ticket two days ago.  And I spilled coffee on myself this morning.  And . . .

I blame global warming for all that stuff, too.
Since Global Warming can do everything, maybe it can stop by and help me fertilize the lawn ...

UPDATE: Link fixed.  Thanks, B!

The case against STEM

Captain Capitalism argues (correctly) that STEM majors are better investments than liberal arts.  There is a case to be made against STEM, though - STEM stinks for cyber security:
I am getting fed up with the clamor on the part of policy makers for more degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) as the path to success in the United States, especially in cybersecurity. The numbers don’t add up, and the problem of not having enough cybersecurity workers will not be solved in the short term by ramping up four year degree programs in cybersecurity.

...


Yes, we still need degreed engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. But those degrees and the people who earn them are the promise of the future, not the present.

What we need in every state is a vibrant VoTech education system while simultaneously working to remove the onus from not having a four year degree.
Yup.  I'd go so far as to say that you don't need college at all, but that's if you're self-motivated.
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame has a lot to say about four year degrees and debt. He founded the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to address these problems. Watch the video in this report.
Here is my prescription for creating a cyber security VoTech, extracted from a proposal I helped put together for the State of Michigan.
“In addition to working with the various certificate organizations we will work with security vendors to teach and award certifications in major security tools. This is the fastest road to creating a work force that will have immediate marketability.”
Notice that phrase: "immediate marketability".  STEM has a better ROI than liberal arts, but a two year certification will have a better ROI than STEM.  And six months of self-study followed by a certification will blow that ROI.

I know that the Captain visits here sometimes.  If he does an update of Worthless, he might want to add a chapter on this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hair of the dog


I have the dog and the cone.  This may be a Halloween costume for Wolfgang.

(original)

The best science money can buy, part 2

As a follow up to this snarky post, Judith Curry has a very thoughtful post on how the current funding model gives us a very incomplete (and a very skewed) scientific output:
What Sunstein and Hastie describe seems very apt in terms of institutional/establishment climate science (e.g. IPCC, AAAS, RS/NAS).  In their drive to develop a consensus around dangerous anthropogenic climate change, establishment climate science has failed to take advantage of knowledge from the broader community of scientists.  More seriously, the process of peer review for funding and journal publication torques research in a particular direction.  Hence there is unfunded and un-proposed research that could provide serious challenges to the orthodoxy of dangerous anthropogenic climate change.  This is not a healthy situation.
This is long and thoughtful, and richly referenced.  It also demolishes the "Science is Settled" argument.

For those following along at home, Judith Curry is Dr. Judith Curry, climatologist and chair of Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Happy Birthday, Norman Borlaug

The man responsible for saving what is likely to be the largest number of human souls from starvation was born 100 years ago today.

Alas, today's Left has made him a non-person, because his work made a laughing stock of Paul Ehrlich's "Population Bomb".  If only Borlaug had the foresight and wisdom to have been born African-American, or perhaps trans-gendered, all would have been forgiven.

J.R.R. Tolkien's 1926 translation of Beowulf to be published

This has just shot up to the very top of my "must read" list:
This week, HarperCollins announced that a long-awaited JRR Tolkien translation of Beowulf is to be published in May, along with his commentaries on the Old English epic and a story it inspired him to write, "Sellic Spell". It is just the latest of a string of posthumous publications from the Oxford professor and The Hobbit author, who died in 1973. Edited by his son Christopher, now 89, it will doubtless be seen by some as an act of barrel-scraping. But Tolkien's expertise on Beowulf and his own literary powers give us every reason to take it seriously.
Yeah, no kidding this is serious stuff.  Tolkien was a genius when it came to languages - not only was he an Oxford Don, scholar of Anglo-Saxon (the still Germanic Old English root of our modern tongue), but he taught himself medieval Icelandic to read their tales in the original, and taught himself Finnish - a language seemingly unrelated to any other and very, very different from Indo-European - so that he could translate (!) their great saga, the Kalevala.

This is a big deal, as the Guardian points out:
Beowulf is the oldest-surviving epic poem in English, albeit a form of English few can read any more. Written down sometime between the eighth and 11th centuries – a point of ongoing debate – its 3,182 lines are preserved in a manuscript in the British Library, against all odds. Tolkien's academic work on it was second to none in its day, and his 1936 paper "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" is still well worth reading, not only as an introduction to the poem, but also because it decisively changed the direction and emphasis of Beowulf scholarship.

...

Tolkien was often criticised by his academic colleagues for wasting time on fiction, even though that fiction has probably done more to popularise medieval literature than the work of 100 scholars. However, his failure to publish scholarship was not due to laziness nor entirely to other distractions. He was an extreme perfectionist who, as CS Lewis said, worked "like a coral insect", and his idea of what was acceptable for publication was several notches above what the most stringent publisher would demand. It will be fascinating to see how he exercised his literary, historical and linguistic expertise on the poem, and to compare it with more purely literary translations such as Seamus Heaney's as well as the academic ones. Tolkien bridged the gap between the two worlds astonishingly well. He was the arch-revivalist of literary medievalism, who made it seem so relevant to the modern world. I can't wait to see his version of the first English epic.
Yeah, me neither.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cool aviation pictures



From OldAF Sarge, 'natch.  He has a lot more.

The best science that money can buy

J Melcher left a comment to this post, pointing to this bit of awesome:


If you wonder why there's a "scientific consensus" about Global Warming, look at how all the grants are to study Global Warming.

Thought crime on display

I ran across a young man who has a company that makes patriotic t-shirts that are made in the USA.  You might want to take a look at their wearable thought crime, which includes things like this:

Awesome.  He's looking at doing the Conan picture as a shirt, too.  I expect that some of you will like what he has on offer.

Huh. It seems that I'm racist.

One of the kids told me last night that I shouldn't use the term "oriental".  My (somewhat non-plussed) self asked why not.  "It's offensive," was the reply.

Huh.  I not so long ago got done reading this:


Our oriental heritage.  I can't remotely excerpt the book, but it qualifies for the much desired adjective "seminal".

Inquiring as to why "oriental" is considered offensive, the response was that some people said that it is.  Oooh kaaaay.  Listen up, children: when I grew up in the 1960s, there were all sorts of offensive terms for people from Asia.  Lots of terms, that I won't list here.  We knew that these were offensive, and only people who meant to be offensive used them.  There was no question as to whether offense would be given, or taken.

Now it's a word game where some people try to guilt trip other people (you know who I mean, and you know who I mean).  Let me spell out my response:

F-O-X-T-R-O-T U-N-I-F-O-R-M

You'll know when I mean to be offensive.  Err, like then, actually.  And like this (although I was raised to know that this was offensive, which is the point).



If you don't understand all this, then get the hell offa my lawn.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The kids are all right

I was out gallivanting around on the bike and stopped at the local pub.  It's my "local" because I know most of the people and most of the people know me.  Don't know if that's a problem or not ...



But the cute barmaid's boyfriend was there, and we struck up a conversation.  He's WAY libertarian, and has a business selling these:

More anon, but I like the cut of this fellow's jib.  He might even do a t-shirt of this:


Like I said, I like the cut of this fellow's jib.  That barmaid can do a lot worse than him.

Review: uClear HBC100 Bluetooth helmet communicator system

I got out on the Bike after installing one of these:


My HJC helmet came pre-set up for the HJC bluetooth system, but I went with the uClear one.  uClear sold a ton of tactical comms systems to the military, and the noise suppression technology developed for this has found its way into their commercial offer.  Another attractive option is that this is (as far as I can tell) the only one that doesn't have a boom microphone; rather, the mics are integrated into the speaker units.  As a result, it took all of 5 minutes to install in my helmet.

I haven't tested the phone or intercom capabilities, just the music which works as advertised.  Bluetooth pairs the HBC to my soon to be replaced iPhone 3GS, and firing up the music player gets music in the helmet.

The elongated, teardrop shaped main unit is attached to the left hand side of the helmet, so I can reach up and hit the button to skip to the next song (or go back to listen to a favorite again.  You mount this on the left hand side of the helmet so that you can keep your right hand on the throttle, duh.  I found that I had to lean down to get the helmet close to the pouch where the phone was.  I'm not sure if this was because the iPhone's battery was low, or a limitation of the headset.  I'll update this when I've tested with my new phone.

Works great.  I'd been thinking about getting speakers to mount on the handlebars, but for $200 I got my music right in the helmet.  I also have hands free phone (will test this when I get my new phone which will have better support for this - not to mention a battery that doesn't get drained so fast by bluetooth and music playing).

It also allows you to pair with another HBC headset - say, for someone riding two up.  This gives an intercom capability which also sounds nice (although not tested).  HBC claims that this also works with riders on other bikes up to (IIRC) 500 yards away.  Again, I haven't tested this but will do an update if I get the chance.

Bottom line: even using it just for music on the bike, this is simple and works fine.

ZOMG!!! THERMAGEDDON!!!!1!!eleventy!!!

Jay emails to point out this from the More Of The Same Department:
Paris (AFP) - UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed.

A draft of their report, seen by AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come.
Yeah, it's what they do.  Hype the Gloom and Doom in the hope that someone will turn over a trillion dollars to the UN.  What's interesting is what's later in the article:
It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3-4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5-8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, adding to roughly 0.7 C since the Industrial Revolution.
Highlighting by your humble host.  Think about this range: 0.3° to 4.8°.  That's like saying that my next car will be in the range of a scooter to a Ferrari.  It says nothing. Heck, even a nasty Denier like me can buy into 0.3°.  This is actually where the "97% of climate scientists support warming" comes from.

And 4.8°?  Some of the climate models predict that. So where on the range of low temperature to high temperature model projections is the smart money betting?

The unlabled lines are model projections.  The UAH and RSS lines are the two observed satellite data sets.  0.3° is actually looking pretty good.

The breathless headline isn't backed up by the data, or even the rest of the press release.  That's actually pretty interesting.  My prediction: the World will continue to yawn.

Franz Schubert - "Frühlingsglaube" ("Faith in Spring"), Op. 20, No. 2

Franz Schubert died at the shockingly young age of 31 (as with his contemporary Robert Schumann, likely of syphilis).  In that short time, he composed nearly a thousand works ranging from short lieder (songs) like this to his Symphony no. 9 which can only be described as "Beethovenian" in scope.  You have to wonder what else he would have written with another 40 years to work.



The song is probably inspired by a lyric poem of the same name written by a contemporary, Johann Ludwig Uhland:
Die linden Lüfte sind erwacht,
Sie säuseln und wehen Tag und Nacht,
Sie schaffen an allen Enden.
O frischer Duft, o neuer Klang!
Nun, armes Herze, sei nicht bang!
Nun muß sich alles, alles wenden.
Die Welt wird schöner mit jedem Tag,
Man weiß nicht, was noch werden mag,
Das Blühen will nicht enden.
Es blüht das fernste, tiefste Tal:
Nun, armes Herz, vergiß der Qual!
Nun muß sich alles, alles wenden.

The gentle winds are awakened,
They murmur and waft day and night,
They create in every corner.
Oh fresh scent, oh new sound!
Now, poor dear, fear not!
Now everything, everything must change.
The world becomes more beautiful with each day,
One does not know what may yet happen,
The blooming doesn't want to end.
The farthest, deepest valley blooms:
Now, poor dear, forget the pain!
Now everything, everything must change. 
The Romantics were nothing if not sentimental.  Perhaps we can forgive the short lived Schubert this flight of sentimentality.  And what is springtime if not for wild flights of fancy?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Well that was different

Beautiful day here.  I had installed bluetooth speakers/comms gear in my helmet, and was going to try out music on the motorcycle.  But I wasn't feeling so well, and lay down for a quick rest.  That was 4:00 or so.

I just woke up.  Wow.  Not feeling at all well.  Test ride will have to wait.

British resistance leader passes on

Jeff emails to point out a fascinating obituary of Bob Millard, member of the World War II British resistance.  I hadn't even known there was one of those:
Bob Millard, who has died aged 91, was a teenager in the Home Guard in 1940 when he was approached by a friend and asked if he wanted to join “something a bit more interesting”; the “something” was a secret group, the British Resistance Organisation, also known as the Auxiliary Units, composed of civilian saboteurs who would go into hiding and carry out guerrilla operations behind the lines in the event of a German invasion.
It was shortly after British forces had beaten a desperate retreat from Dunkirk that Winston Churchill ordered a battle-hardened colonel called Colin Gubbins to form the new organisation. At the time German forces were only 25 miles across the Channel and invasion seemed imminent. Unlike other, often poorly disciplined, freelance resistance movements that sprang up across Nazi-controlled Europe, Churchill was determined that the British version would be state-sponsored and meticulously planned in advance.
The whole article is well worth your time, and includes a video of Millard speaking about his time in the BRO.  Jeff adds some background which is equally interesting:
As a boy, I went to a military school. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I heard reference to a "Book of Rules" which would come into effect if Britain were ever invaded. It had all been worked out in WWII, and one of the Masters would take care of selected senior boys who would be given special training. I was very young and would not be called on, at least at first; and in any case I would first have to learn how to fire my Lee-Enfield without being driven back six inches by recoil every time the thing went off. But in the meantime my rural origins were of interest, and would I carry on creeping up on deer and woodland animals to see how close I could get before I startled them?

(Fifty years on I still, without meaning to, arrive at peoples' side without them suspecting, and have to hold them down before they rise into low earth orbit in fright.)

Now I know what the Book of Rules was about.
 It could not be done now, I fear.
Anyhoo, Bob Millard was one of those who formed the British stay-behind Resistance, though they were never called on. 

I recognise the chaps in the two group photographs as if I knew them personally: competent toughs from my childhood.
It's said that the past is a foreign country.  Fair winds and following seas to Mr. Millard.

Mmmmm, coffee!


Need more coffee.

Kip Moore - Motorcycle

Somehow the "New Nashville" came out with a flashback to the days of my youth*.  There's something timeless about this song, that captures the dance that's come down through the generations, from a time that's lost in the mists of time.  Perhaps that's what you's expect from a guy who had one of his first gigs in Valdosta, Georgia.  There's a hint of bubblegum to this, but it'd be very, very old bubblegum.



How did something with this much depth get through the Nashville marketing droids?  Oh, yeah - it has a motorcycle.  And a girl.  And the timeless dance.  Yeah, that could get even the droids tapping their toes.

Motorcycle (Songwriters: Kip Moore, Brett James)
The sky, don't think that I've seen it this bright
It's a perfect night to go for a ride
Stars are lined up for you and I

I know, I know you got a boyfriend but so
Don't tell him girl and he'll never know
I'll be there in five, baby, be ready to go

'Cause oh,oh,oh, I got a motorcycle baby
Oh,oh,oh, come on take a ride with me
Oh,oh,oh, I promise you a hell of a ride
'Cause I got a motorcycle tonight

I won't crash and I promise not to drive too fast
I'll be sure the ride is smooth on your ass
No time to waste, girl this night won't last

'Cause oh,oh,oh, I got a motorcycle baby
Oh,oh,oh, come on take a ride with me
Oh,oh,oh, I promise you a hell of a ride
'Cause I got a motorcycle tonight

Come on girl, it ain't a crime
Ain't talking 'bout a lifetime
Everything will be alright baby wrap your legs
around me tight

'Cause oh,oh,oh, I got a motorcycle baby
Oh,oh,oh, come on take a ride with me
Oh,oh,oh, I promise you a hell of a ride
'Cause I got a motorcycle tonight

'Cause oh,oh,oh, I got a motorcycle baby
Oh,oh,oh, come on take a ride with me
Oh,oh,oh, I promise you a hell of a ride
'Cause I got a motorcycle tonight

Yeah, eh
Everything will be alright just wrap your legs and hold on tight
Got a motorcycle tonight

* No, not that long ago.  Just stop.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gimme Back My Bullets

Seems that the Georgia Legislature likes them some Skynyrd.



I can't imagine this in Massachusetts.  The air smells of freedom down here, even more than it used to.

Conan says "Molon Labe, bitches!"



Boy, I'm a jolly fellow today.

"Common Sense" Gun Control breaks out in Georgia

Moms Demand Action hurt the most:
This bill was actually called “the most extreme gun bill in the country” by Mom’s Demand Action and other anti-gun groups, so you know it has to be good.

...

Tonight, literally in the 11th hour (GA’s legislative session ends for the year at midnight), the Georgia legislature passed HB60. The bill ended up with some compromises in it, but will expand the number of places Georgians can legally carry their firearms, legalize suppressors for hunting and cleans up/strengthens several other components of Georgia’s gun laws.

...

The bill will now go to Governor Nathan Deal, who can either sign it immediately, veto it, or do nothing, in which case the bill will become law after 40 days.
Deal is up for re-election and is moderately unpopular; vetoing this will kill his chances, so I expect him to either sign it or most likely do nothing (i.e. the law goes into force in May).

RTWT for the list of everything that passed, but it includes CCW in bars and Churches and provides an absolute defense for the use of lethal force when violently attacked.

What is it that is best?  To crush your enemy's ideology, to see his laws driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of his Professors.  Drink deep of the sweet, sweet tears of the gun banners.

Next time we'll get it right

That day when everything clicked and you could actually see the rotation on the seams of the curve ball, and you parked it over the left field fence - that became your new "average".  That series of years where success led to success and the performance review was always ticked "exceeds expectations" - that became your new "average".

But those are all personal.  The goals - and achievements - come from within.  Not everything in this Vale of Tears is so neat and simple.

I remember New Year's Eve 1999.  2cents and his family had come down from Yankeeland to visit.  We were sitting on my front porch as midnight struck, marveling at the 70° weather.  At midnight.  As the neighbors lit off fireworks to welcome the new Millennium*.

I remember thinking, things are going too well.  It can't last.

And it didn't. But it became the new "average".  The benchmark for "normal".  That's hard when you are by temperament a "fixer".  I've had success in my career because I can get things back on the rails.  But you can only fix things that you have control over.

Kids, parents, the economy, none of these are controllable, and yet the new "average" is never far from your thoughts.  The Buddha says that all unhappiness comes from two sources: fear and desire.  Desire to live up to the new "average" is something that he would have clearly understood these two and a half millennia ago.

The other day the lovely and mystified Mrs. Borepatch said that she just didn't understand this whole motorcycle thing.  She also said the nicest thing she's said about me in a while: we met up for a drink after work, and I rode the bike.  She was there first and saw me walking up in boots, motorcycle jacket, carrying the helmet, and said I looked "hawt".  Very nice to hear, but that's not what this whole Motor Madness thing is about.

It's that you can't control what you can't control.  It's that when things are beyond you, and it's not you, then let go of the fear and desire.  It's that if you are the only one who can see that you are happy, then be happy.  The road whispers, Roll Me Away.



She doesn't understand this, but I expect that she'd be horrified if she did.  And we rode clean out of sight.

For now, I'll settle for "hawt".  Not sure if I can control that, but that's personal, under my control.  Maybe it's even the new "average".  I can hope, can't I?

But this seeing the spin of the curve ball, and knowing I can hit this isn't just something from the past.  Joel hit that ball.  Tony Cassie sure did.  Looking at them, in the dark of the night I suspect I could, too.

Mrs. Borepatch would be horrified by that.  That new "average".
Just then I saw a young hawk flyin'
and my soul began to rise
And pretty soon
My heart was singin'
Some day.  Maybe.
Next time
We'll get it right
Because it's the new "average".

* Yeah, I know.  They lit them off the following New Year's Eve to welcome the new Millennium, too.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Huh. Youtube looks like it's Tango Uniform

I was going to post Sonny Boy Williamson's "Springtime Blues, but every computer I try to use to get to Youtube doesn't get any media.  Weird.

Are Credit Monitoring services worth it?

Very interesting article:
Having purchased credit monitoring/protection services for the past 24 months — and having been the target of multiple identity theft attempts — I feel somewhat qualified to share my experience with readers. The biggest takeaway for me has been that although these services may alert you when someone opens or attempts to open a new line of credit in your name, most will do little — if anything — to block that activity. My take: If you’re being offered free monitoring, it probably can’t hurt to sign up, but you shouldn’t expect the service to stop identity thieves from ruining your credit.

,,,

Normally, I place fraud alerts on my credit file every 90 days, as allowed by law. This step is supposed to require potential creditors to contact you and obtain your permission before opening new lines of credit in your name. You merely need to file a fraud alert (also called a “security alert”) with one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or Trans Union). Whichever one you file with is required by law to alert the other two bureaus as well.

Most consumers don’t know this (few consumers know the names of the three main credit bureaus), but there is actually a fourth credit bureau that you should alert: Innovis. This bureau follows the same rules as the big three, and you may file a fraud alert with them at this link.
There's a lot more, all good info.

If Google was just a guy

Worst. Job. Ever.


Happy spring!

Looks like Al Gore is visiting my old stomping grounds outside Boston:


The Sun is at the equinox, so I guess all y'all up in Yankeeland have six more weeks of winter or something.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ah, that "Reset" button

Seems to have worked rather too well.  Nyet, tovarich?



Seems that reset was an overload ...

Watch out, New Hampshire

The "Free State Project" is a lot more dangerous than you think:


Let's be careful, out there.  And winter isn't over yet, and Scott Brown is on his way ...

Another crummy Science Press Release?

Seems the recent "good news" about fusion power isn't:
The actual news behind the recent fusion press release is no cause for rejoicing. NIF isn’t be something we should be lionizing in the press; it’s a national embarrassment. The people who made the press release certainly know this. Unfortunately, the people who read the press release couldn’t be bothered to understand anything about it.
I'd love to see commercial, cost effective fusion power.  But I'm not at all surprised to find a Government Laboratory sending out "don't worry, be happy" pressers trying to cover up a multi billion dollar screw up.

Ooh rah, Robby! Sit!

Good boy:
Air Force Technical Sergeant David Simpson of Mulberry flew all the way to Germany to reunite with his four-legged partner, and the video of their reunion will touch your heart.

The two worked side by side for four years in Iraq, patrolling the streets and conducting security checks at military bases.

Sgt. Simpson retired last year, while Robby, his dog, continued in service. Now, Robby is retiring as well, so Simpson flew to halfway across the globe to adopt him.
Here's the reunion in Germany:



At ease, Robby.  Dismissed.  Now go play!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bing Crosby - Ain't Got A Dime to my Name

A musical ode to the dying Middle ClassEnjoy the decline!


Prediction is hard, especially abou the future

NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Government's weather bureau.  In November, they released this video predicting what the winter weather would be like.



Those of you who are heartily sick of Old Man Winter are a bunch of Anti-Science Deniers.  Who you going to believe, the Climate Modellers at NOAA or your lying eyes?

It's important to be green

Remember, there's a difference between compost and recycling.


The Democratic Party's war on the Middle Class

Wags like to say that in Washington D.C. a "gaffe" is accidentally saying what you really think:
[Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan] Greenspan, in an appearance at the National Association for Business Economics conference (See video), said the U.S. has an "unbelievably deteriorating" public school system.

"If we're not going to educate our kids, bring in other people who want to become Americans," said Greenspan, in arguing for an increase of H-1B workers. Greenspan told attendees at the conference that the H-1B visa "subsidizes the income of everyone in this room, including you and me."

In the context of income inequality, Greenspan put the H-1B program in his light: If the program were expanded, income wouldn't necessarily go down much, "but I bet you they would go down enough to really make an impact, because income inequality is a relative concept. People who are absolutely at the top of the scale in say 1925 would be getting food stamps today," said Greenspan.

"You don't have to necessarily bring up the bottom if you bring the top down," said Greenspan.
H-1B visas are work visas that allow a company to bring a non-citizen to the USA, provided they have a needed high tech skill set.  But unlike a Green Card, the visa is not permanent, or a path to citizenship.  Worse, the visa is held by the company, not the worker.  If the worker changes jobs, he has to leave the country (potentially to return under a different H-1B visa).

As you can imagine, this makes for a very compliant workforce for tech companies:
The other half of the story is that there aren't enough Green cards to give out for the H1-B's that are in line for them. So you end up with H1-B workers in essentially indentured servitude to their employer with no bargaining power driving down wages for everyone else.
Increasing Green cards for existing H1-B workers currently in the US will help the US economy a lot more than creating more indentured servitude.

A little background: The number of Green cards is set by Congress. In 1999 congress increased the number of H1-B's to 190,000 but left the number of employment based Green cards at 135,000. The rule of thumb is that you need 2.2 Green cards for every H1-B issued to satisfy demand (because H1-B workers normally come with spouses and kids). To satisfy demand, they should have increased Green cards to 400,000 when they increased the H1-B numbers to 190,000 - but they didn't.

This created a huge backlog of people waiting for their Green cards - including me. I am 31 years old, I did some math, I will be 62 by the time I get mine at the current rate.

The corporations LOVE the idea of creating more H1-B's but you don't hear a peep about increasing the number of Green Cards. They claim that increasing H1-B's will increase innovation and so on - but without a commensurate increase in Green cards, that is complete nonsense. Someone who has been stuck at the same job for decades can hardly innovate.
What is interesting about this episode is that Greenspan felt comfortable enough to let the mask slip.  Framing the issue in terms of income inequality is also a tell.  Greenspan is married to the famously liberal Democrat and former broadcaster Andrea Mitchell who described Virginia voters as "rednecks".  If Greenspan is thinking in these terms, it's a dead certainty that the rest of liberal Washington is, too.

This is perhaps the greatest damage that Bill Clinton did to the Party: by courting the campaign cash from Big Business, he sold out the Middle Class that used to be the Party's core.  So the Party seems to be willing to sell out the Middle Class (high tech jobs seem to now be "jobs Americans won't do") and sell out the poor (Illegal Alien Amnesty to permanently add 12 Million resident non-citizens to bid down wages).

It's quite strange to find myself continually in agreement with Pat Buchanan - the two political parties are simply the two wings of the same bird of prey.  Maybe Marx was right - the Proletariat is immiserated because business squeezes it to maintain their profit rate.  With help from both the Democrats and Republicans.
You don't have to necessarily bring up the bottom if you bring the top down.
- Alan Greenspan

Monday, March 17, 2014

Putin is worried about Obama?


Just joking.

This is insanely cool

Japanese rice field art.  Wow.

UPDATE 17 March 2014 10:47: Link fixed.  Thanks, Blogbrother!

Things that horrify me

Let me set the stage with things that not only don't horrify me, but which I think are exemplary and praiseworthy: parents (especially fathers) who are engaged in their children's lives, parents (especially fathers) who want to make sure that their kids don't spend their entire lives playing video games and who make sure that they get outside, parents (especially fathers) who make sure that they are a part of their kid's outdoors activities.

Parents who do this (especially the fathers), please take a bow.  You have earned it.  Unless you do this:


That's a child seat for a motorcycle.  The description says all that needs saying (emphasis mine):
Child seat suitable for most scooters in circulation. Is fixed to the saddle through universal adjustable straps. No belt is provided subject to the child to keep the seat as they can be dangerous in case of fall.

[blink] [blink]

I got my kids out skiing, I got them out boating, we did all sorts of outdoors activities.  But Boy Howdy, this seems like an astonishingly bad idea.  Leave your kid behind when you're out on your sweet Midlife Crisis ride ...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Paddy's Day protip

You know you have a drinking problem when your fridge starts looking like this.


Let's be careful out there.

Speculation on Putin's motives in Crimea

Crimea has voted for independence from Ukraine, and no doubt will soon appeal to be annexed by Russia.  Putin's hand is unmistakable in this.  The EU and America will wring their hands and mutter darkly about worsening relations and consequences, and there will probably have to be something, no matter how ineffectual.

So why did Putin do this?  While it must have been fun for the folks in the Kremlin to stick their thumbs into Obama's eye, I don't get the feeling that they do a lot just for giggles.  This strikes me as something carefully thought out.

My take is that Putin thinks that the West was behind the protests, and may in fact have had agents provocateurs causing much of the violence, in a "made for TV" sense.  That Youtube video by Ukraine Girl?  Very professional editing and high production values.  Grass roots or made for TV?

I don't know, but I think I know what Putin thinks.  He thinks that the whole Ukrainian popular revolution was orchestrated from Washington and from Brussels.  And so the Crimea situation is designed to let Washington and Brussels know what to expect the next time.  And to let them know that there really shouldn't be a next time.

Did Washington and Brussels arrange the whole thing?  Who knows?  But there's no question that the Russians think we were behind it.  Their reaction is aimed at shifting our potential future lans to meddle in what they see as their back yard.

How the Science journalism sausage is made

Heh.

Just because it's funny doesn't mean it isn't God's truth.

Turlough O'Carolan - various Irish classical tunes

This post is for Brigid, but that's buried in the post below.

What is the "Classical Music" of Ireland? It's not (Italian) Opera, or (German) symphonies, or even an (English) homage to Ralph Vaughan Williams (who studied under an Irish music professor) "countryside music" in the concert hall. Instead, we find something ancient.

Image via Wik féin
We find something that easily might not have been.  Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738) was the son of a blacksmith.  His father took a job for the MacDermot Roe family; Mrs. MacDermot Roe gave the young lad some basic schooling and saw in him a talent for poetry; when a few years later the 18 year old Turlough went blind after a bout of smallpox, she had him apprenticed to a harpist.  He soon was travelling the land, composing and singing.

This tradition was already ancient by the early 1700s.  it was undeniably Celtic, dating back through the Middle Ages, through the Dark Ages, through Roman times to a barbarous Gaul.  There bards travelled the lands playing for their supper on the harp.

This was O'Carolan's stock in trade.  He rapidly became the most famous singer in the Emerald Isle.  It is said that weddings and funerals were delayed until he was in the vicinity.  One of his most famous compositions - if you have spent any time at all listening to Irish music, you know this tune - was considered too "new fangled" by the other harpists of his day.  Fortunately, he didn't listen to their criticisms.



He married very late, at 50, and had many children.  But his first love was Brigid, daughter of the Schoolmaster at a school for the blind.  He always seemed to have carried a torch for her.



So why is this post in the normal slot reserved for Classical Music?  Listen to this composition of his, and you see the bridge from the archaic Celts to Baroque harpsichord.



And keep in mind how this brilliance might never have blazed, had Mrs. MacDermot Roe not seen the talent in a blind Irish boy and set him upon a path trod by many equally unexpected geniuses, all the way back to St. Patrick.  It is truly said that we never know what our own path will be until we set our foot down on it.

But his was an ancient path and he inherited much from those who trod it before him.  His "Farewell to Music" is said to be more in the traditional mold, and might have been appreciated at a feast held by Vercingetorix before the battle of Alesia.



This music is a bridge between modern and the ancient that disappears into the mists of legend.  Perhaps more importantly, it is a music that is still alive today, after a run of perhaps two and a half millenia.  You don't get more classical than that.

And it is a music where you still hear the yearning of a young blind man for his muse, Brigid.  That is a vitality that should not be exiled to a single day of celebration, even if it is for as illustrious a Saint as Patrick.  On this coming Feast Day, remember just how deep the roots of our civilization run.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Oh, foo

I have custom (faaaancy) forks, and the windscreen mounting hardware doesn't fit.  Looks like I'll have to take the bike to the dealer.

Bah.

Wh00t!

The windscreen I ordered for the bike is in. Pictures anon.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Things I did not know

Downtown Rome, Georgia looks like it could be a set for Mayberry R.F.D.  Think I need to go back for a closer look sometime.

That snorting sound that you just heard is MSgt B, who needs to get him one (or more) of these patches.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Call Me The Breeze

Lynyrd Skynyrd needs no introduction, and the "Is Southern Rock actually Country" will get no attention here.  Instead there's just one of the great motorcycling songs ever.  And why do we skip over these questions?  Because they don't make any sense, as this entire episode of CMT's "Crossroads" with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Montgomery Gentry shows.  Pigeon hole the music at your own risk.  "Call Me The Breeze" opens the show and "All Night Long" rocks it out (starting around 31:00 in the video - don't miss the guitar wars in this one).



Rockin' and rollin' all night long, baby.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Postcards from a less Politically Correct time

Offered without comment.




And no bloggers were harmed (yet) in the creation of this post.




Yet.

Note to readers in the Colonies: Blackpool was the sea side resort in Blighty until there were cheap flights to Tenerife. Imagine Myrtle Beach moved to Detroit, and you're picturing the right thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

No bike trip tomorrow

Duty calls. But I do have a windscreen on order. Probably should order a crash bar too.

THEN it's road trip time.

Bitcoins: on not getting the concept, but getting the concept


That's a lot of bits.  And coins.

Solving the NSA's PR problem

Reason says (probably correctly) that the incoming head of the NSA doesn't mind what they're doing, he just wants to address the PR fallout from the programs:
The problem, though, as Defense One notes, is that [Vice Admiral Michael] Rogers doesn’t seem to think there’s an issue with what the NSA is doing, but rather a problem with the general public’s understanding of what the NSA is doing. He’s a firm resident of the “If the people understood what we’re doing better they’d agree with us, not Edward Snowden” camp.
In the interests of helping the good Admiral out, I propose an analysis technique that he can use which will help his move the needle on public perception.  It has the advantage of being quantifiable.  It has the disadvantage of suggesting that some of the programs should be eliminated.

Let's imagine that we want to graph the NSA's programs.  The graph will show where each program fits in the space of usefulness against the Republic's enemies as well as public unhappiness with what the program does.  The area we will plot the programs into looks like this:


The NSA will have all sorts of internal metrics of effectiveness for their programs.  These will be questionable, but will also be useful (we'll see this in a bit).  Controversy can't be judged by the NSA, but rather by one of the external organizations that is unhappy with the current programs.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has the visibility and stature to be credible here.

Note that there's independence between the two axes.  The NSA is not competent to determine how the world perceives their programs, and the EFF is not competent to judge how effective the programs are.  We are joining together two independent data sets, and that's already an advance over where we are today.

Each program gets mapped into the graph using these metrics, appearing as a point somewhere in the graph.

The next step is to segment the graph space to identify where we need to spend our energy during the debate.  A crude way to do this is splitting each measure into a "high" and a "low" value: high usefulness vs. low usefulness, high controversy vs. low controversy.






We can label each of the four quadrants based on the public policy debate that we need to have.


We see that this shrinks the area of disagreement by a huge amount.  The lower right hand quadrant is a clear win - uncontroversial programs that protect the Country.  Nobody is going to argue about these.  Likewise the upper left hand quadrant are programs that should be ended - controversial programs that do not clearly add security value to the Country.  The lower left hand quadrant represent useless programs that nobody cares about, and so we don't have to waste any time of these.  Maybe we should cut them in the interest of budgetary savings.

All the discussion will be over programs in the upper right hand quadrant.  This is where reasonable people can disagree, which is why that quadrant is labeled "hard choices".

We don't know much about the programs, other than what the Snowden leaks revealed.  What we do know is that the metadata collection is very controversial (high on the Y axis).  We also know by NSA's public admission that their programs have stopped very few terror attacks - perhaps none.  That suggests that the metadata collection program is in that upper left hand quadrant.

Of course, we don't know.  However, this analysis technique could actually help Admiral Rodgers with his PR effort, assuming that it was done honestly.  It could also help the Congressional Oversight Committees with their efforts, assuming that they are interested.

My suspicion is that neither Admiral Rodgers not Congress are interested, in which case the corrosive mistrust that is our day to day view of the Intelligence Community will continue.

Recommended Reading - Worthless by Aaron Clarey

It's not often that you find a book on an important subject that is written with a light-hearted, breezy, funny prose that keeps you turning the pages and laughing, while your hind brain is continually saying hmmmmm.

Worthless is just such a book.

I got a copy because #2 Son is looking at College, and I want him to pick a field where he can make a living. Because I'm his Dad, it's not clear how much he'll want to listen. A second opinion seemed called for, and the book's opening sentence set the tone:
You are lucky. And the reason you are lucky is because somebody cares enough about you and your future to have given you this book.

The title is somewhat a misnomer, as the book covers both the worthless pursuits and the worthwhile ones. Both the ones where you will end up working for tips and the ones where you make twice the median national salary.

More importantly, it uses simple, dispassionate logic to show why. Clarey's examples are all accessible and unarguable; for example, his chapter on supply and demand and the mismatch between what you want to buy tomorrow (gas, iPads, flat screen TVs) and most College majors (Education, Sociology, Finance) is pretty much the last word on why we import so much from China while PhDs work as baristas.

Clarey is quick to point out that he is not being judgmental about these majors. Rather, he is just pointing out what your Admissions Officer and your Advisor won't: how much money you can expect to make when you get out with your degree.  He points out that a University is a business, with typical business goals:
Plus, as you'll find out, there are a lot of professors, teachers assistants, administrators, college deans and other people whose paychecks depend on getting students to spend tuition dollars on their particular programs or departments.  In other words, nobody is going to be forthright and honest with you and say,

"Oh god no! Don't spend your tuition dollars here! You'll never make any money.  Go next door to the engineering department. They'll be able to help."

But I will be, and we'll start with liberal arts programs.
That's the opening to the chapter on what NOT to study.  Now as a recipient of a B.A. in History from Ole State U, I can testify that he is entirely correct here.  That's why I also have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, which opened doors precisely in the way that he said it would, and in precisely the ways that he said that the History degree wouldn't.  And I was in School in the early '80s - it's much more expensive now, so this book is more important that it would have been then.

But the recommendations in this book continually delight the intellect.  Rather than major in Chinese at a cost of $4500 a semester, why not go to China?  You can live cheap ("go native") for quite a while on $4500.  There are a lot of ways to get an education.



It's nice (but not required) to read this at your local pub. I spend a most enjoyable evening here with Clarey - better known around these parts as Captain Capitalism - who is every much as clear minded and witty in real life as in this book. Funny, too. The humor will keep people turning pages as his point continually gets hammered home:
This is an important decision for you. This will effect your whole life. Don't screw it up.

Quite frankly, that's a message that anyone you care about needs to hear. The one gentle criticism I might add is that Clarey doesn't go far enough sometimes.  Some degrees are not worthless, they're actually less than worthless - they make it harder for degree holders to get a job than if they had no degree at all.  In other words, after the time and expense of getting the degree, it adds negative value to the career trajectory.  The "grievance" studies (Women's Studies, Minority Studies, etc) are a red flag to many potential employers that this person is a professionally trained troublemaker, with a well honed skill for searching out problems where they likely don't exist and creating a disruptive work environment.  Other than government agencies and groups like the SPLC, it's hard to see who would want to hire this skill set.

If you have a friend or relative thinking about going to College (or who are thinking of going themselves), run do not walk to get them a copy of this book.  They may or may not take its advice, but it's a sure bet that nobody is giving them this advice at all right now.