Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rammstein - Der Meister

Work's been interesting what with this Heartbleed vulnerability.  Seems I've been able to herd all the cats that needed herding.  Meisterful work, you might say ...

Err, maybe it's a preservative?

2014 is 3rd coldest year on record so far

I blame Global Warming:
US temperatures through April 26 are third coldest on record, just barely behind 1899 and 1912. This week is forecast to be cold, and will likely push 2014 into the #1 spot.
But we have Top Men on this problem.
On Thursday, March 13, 2014, the U.S. National Climactic Data Center switched to gridded GHCN-D data sets it uses to report long term temperature trends – with a resulting dramatic change in the official U.S. climate record. As seems to always happen when somebody modifies the temperature record, the new version of the record shows a significantly stronger warming trend than the unmodified or, in this case, discarded version.
They adjusted older temperatures down so that warming looks more pronounced.  Seriously, I'm starting to think that there's something to this whole "Man made global warming" thing - and that the men work in the National Climactic Data Center ...

So is the Tea Party Marxist?

I say yes, others are shocked and say no.  Make up your own mind.  Err, and leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

WTF are the rules to Australian Rules Football


A shorter (and more honest) Wikipedia

TL;DR Wikipedia:


Double heh.

Via Chris Lynch, who has a ton of other fun stuff.

What can Windows XP users do to get out of the monthly security Hell they are in?

Microsoft's "Patch Tuesday" - releasing all security updates on one day each month - was needed so that IT organizations could manage the patching process.  It let them spend one day a month updating things rather than 10 days a month doing it, and so operationally, it was a Very Good Thing Indeed.

The problem is that security is a game of action leading to reaction.  A good defense will challenge the offense to up their game.  We've seen this, that "Patch Tuesday" has led to "Hack Wednesday" the following day as new exploits are unleashed to maximize the time until Microsoft patches their software.

We're seeing this continue, and expect it will continue because of institutional forces (IT likes Patch Tuesday and won't want to change).  The problem for Windows XP users is that each month will see a new round of Hack Wednesday exploits added to the old Hack Wednesday exploits.  Assuming 3-4 critical vulnerabilities each month, in a year XP users will have fifty critical vulnerabilities for which there will never be patches, and for which there are known exploits circulating.

You may as well just give your credit card numbers to the Bad Guys now and get it all over with.

So what can XP users do?  As it turns out, Tin Can Assassin has blazed the trail for you.  Starting from more or less no knowledge, he's become a Linux Padawan.  His is a journey described from a beginner's perspective.  Go take a look.

UPDATE 29 April 2014 14:51: Tin Can Assassin has an updated post on his Linux experiences.  Worth a read.

Windows XP users, you have to stop using Internet Explorer right now

US-CERT is aware of active exploitation of a use-after-free vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer. This vulnerability affects IE versions 6 through 11 and could allow unauthorized remote code execution.

US-CERT recommends that users and administrators review Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983 for mitigation actions and workarounds. Those who cannot follow Microsoft's recommendations, such as Windows XP users, may consider employing an alternate browser.
The CERT is the Computer Emergency Response Team* which has been around since the late 1980s (!).  Back then there were about 200 of us who cared about security.  These guys have been in the business for a long, long time.

Their point about XP users "considering" using a new browser is just politeness and professionalism.  Others in the press are less restrained: US, UK advise avoiding Internet Explorer until big fixed:
The Internet Explorer bug, disclosed over the weekend, is the first high-profile computer threat to emerge since Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows XP earlier this month. That means PCs running the 13-year-old operating system will remain unprotected, even after Microsoft releases updates to defend against it.
XP users, you've had a long, good run.  It's over now.

"Everybody should be moving off of it now. They should have done it months ago," said Jeff Williams, director of security strategy with Dell SecureWorks.

Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, expects several hundred million people running Windows XP to dump those machines for other devices by the end of the year.
Like the old saying from the bartender, you don't have to go to a new browser but you can't sleep on this one anymore.  The bad guys have been waiting for the last XP security update.  It's like the U-Boats waiting for the escorting destroyers to sail over the horizon, leaving the convoy behind.  Now it's open season.  On you.

XP users, stop using Internet Explorer, effective immediately.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.  If you're reading this in IE, close the window right now.

I can't recommend Firefox, which is coded by fascists or their running dog dupes.  I can't recommend Chrome because it's from Google, and they're evil.  Opera is OK for now, but quite frankly your options are limited and will be worse each month from now on.  As I said, the U-boats are gathering, and it will be the "Happy Time" for them against all the XP users.

You've come to the end.  Now it's time to come to a decision on what to do next.  That will be the next post.

* They call the "R" "readiness", but they've been around so very long that old security hands like me go by their old (and quite frankly, better) name.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Legalize medicinal pine tar!

Background here.

Police Chief: We're headed towards a Police State

Via Brock Townsend, this is refreshing honesty:
errence Thompson, chief of police in my town of Upper Dublin, PA, said that while he understands the need for officers to have adequate weapons because of the heavier firepower of today’s criminals, and even understands why towns want armored vehicles for their SWAT teams, he is also concerned that SWAT tactics are being over-used, and that overall the militarization of police is a dangerous trend.

“SWAT is a necessary evil -- well, I won’t say evil, they’re necessary,” says Thompson. “But SWAT teams shouldn’t be used for serving routine warrants. First of all, if we’re going to serve a warrant at a home, we do a threat assessment. Does the person in the house own a gun, does he have a history of violence? Also, are there other people in the house? Are there children? And you have to make sure you get the address right. When SWAT teams make a mistake about the address, it’s scary.”

Thompson insists that it’s critical for police be part of their community, and that they maintain a polite and professional attitude towards the public. “Someone giving the finger to a cop doesn’t call for a high-speed pursuit,” he says. Nor, he says, is it acceptable for police to be rude or threatening when they are engaged in something like a traffic stop or a minor arrest.

He says, “The scary thing about all the militarization of policing -- the M-16s, the camo for the SWAT teams and so on -- is that you lose touch with your community, and if the police lose that connection, you’re dead in the water.”
Sir Robert Peel set the rules of policing nearly two centuries ago: The police are the public and the public are the police.

The GOP's problems in a nutshell

Simon Grey brings it:
Here’s how representative democracy works:  You vote for people who represent your views and beliefs.  It really is that simple.  The fundamental assumption of representative democracy is that you vote for someone who generally represents your beliefs and views.  If you don’t vote for someone who doesn’t share your beliefs and views, the problem isn’t with the person you voted for; it’s you.
More to the point, conservatives need to realize that if the GOP isn’t going to actually vote in a way that reflects their belief and views, then there is absolutely no point in voting for them.
The problem for the GOP establishment is that the unchecked adventures of the Democrats in 2009 and 2010 gave birth to an actual opposition movement, the Tea Party.  As opposed to a faux opposition, a GOP which wants more or less what the Democrats want only a little slower.  And so people truly opposed to what is going on are incentivized to not vote for the GOP, because more unchecked Democratic adventures will strengthen support for the actual opposition.

I've been saying this for quite some time now:
The GOP in general, and Mitt Romney in particular are big-government, big-spending, big-intrusion-into-our-business.  The Republic is facing a fiscal crisis - the nation's credit has been downgraded, the Entitlement programs are just now tipping into a bottomless sea of red ink, the middle class has been hammered with collapsing housing valuations, persistent unemployment, and a higher education bubble that is ensuring that our children graduate with so much student debt that they will never be able to marry.

And where are the bold reforms from the GOP?  The best on offer is Paul Ryan's plan which won't balance the budget for three decades.
 And so people are (rightly) looking for people to vote for who will act in their interest.  Which, by the way, is why exactly there is no President Romney.

Daniel Patrick Moynahan: worst person in history?

In the past I've had luke warmish complimentary things to say about him as possibly th elast first rate leftie intellectual.  I hadn't known just what the complete bill of indictment was against him:
3) Moynihan drafts the "final submission" of the interagency commission that recommends the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. Result: social disaster. Thousands of pathetically ill people are freed to wander the streets and cause harm to the social order, to themselves, and to others.

 4) Moynihan writes a 1965 speech for President Johnson to deliver at Howard University, in which LBJ calls for "not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result," pregnant words that lead to what we now call "affirmative action." Result: American society is riven by a rancorous ongoing debate over racial preferences.
There are eight or nine.  I hadn't realized just how much of an influential slime he was.  Perhaps not the worst in history, but certainly responsible for crushing millions of lives.  The more you centralize power, the more likely it is that sweeping, fascist programs will wreak havoc.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chard with onion, sweet peppers, and bacon

3 - 4 big handfuls of chard, washed, stemmed, and chopped into finger sized slices

2 red or yellow sweet bell peppers, sliced into thin strips

one half a sweet onion, chopped moderately fine




2 tsp Rice wine vinegar (or more to taste)

2 bacon strips
In a very large skillet, fry the bacon strips until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.  Reserve the bacon, chopping into bacon bits (you wouldn't ever use bacon bits from a jar, would you?). 

Saute the onion in the bacon fat.  When well wilted, add the peppers and continue cooking for 2 - 3 minutes to soften and bring out the sweetness.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds and then turn the heat up to medium high.  Add the chard, and cook until it wilts and shrinks considerably in volume, at least 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste, and add the rice wine vinegar.  Serve to your teenagers who will complain that they don't like peppers.

Hot dog

That would be Wolfgang.  It's mid-80s here in the ATL, and I took him to the dog park for his Sunday constitutional/doggie play date.  Then it was off to the Alpharetta Art Fair where they blocked off most of the downtown streets and got artists and restaurants to set up booths.  Fun (and yummy - Vietnamese food trucks ... mmmmm!) but that was a lot of walking around in the hot sun for a dog that takes his, err, Wookie Suit everywhere with him ...

Damn racists

They're everywhere.

Deputy shoots man's dog. Deputy gets fired.

But none of the news organizations will print the Deputy's name:
A Rains County, TX sheriff's deputy accused of shooting and killing a farmer's dog for no reason has been fired, officials with the county sheriff's office confirmed Thursday.

The deputy argued that the dog, Candy, threatened his safety.

Candy’s owner, Cole Middleton, is a third generation dairy farmer. After Candy died, Middleton began a campaign on Facebook that is getting national attention and said she was killed for no good reason.
You know, I expect that if I shot sumd00d's dog like that, they'd print my name.  Ah, but the Deputy had been sprinkled with magic Government dust, and so was one of the Only Ones who can't be named.  Because you wouldn't want the poor dear to not be able to get another Po-Po job where he can shoot up some more pets, right?

Via Claire.

Ludwig van Beethoven - Für Elise

This is one of the master's most famous works, and he had a lot of famous works.  It's a dead certainty that you've heard it, and if you took piano lessons as a child, there's quite a good chance that you've played this.  Beethoven composed it on this day in 1810.

The proper title of the piece is "Bagatelle No. 25 in A Minor"; "Für Elise" is the dedication: for Elise.  The interesting question is who was Elise?  One theory is that the title was mis transcribed; the piece was lost for 40 years, and the original once rediscovered was lot again so all we have is the transcription.  In this theory Elise was Therese Malfatti, whom Beethoven proposed to in 1810.  She turned him down.  Other women have been proposed as the mysterious Elise, most of whom were sopranos who Beethoven knew, but none had as close a relationship with the maestro as Fraulein Malfatti.  In the end, her identity is as lost as the original score.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Music bloggging

I was off the grid today and didn't get any thing posted, but Goober is picking up the music blogging slack.  Good stuff.

Been out

Relaxing. Still out, and still relaxing. Feels pretty good, actually.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 25, 2014

Get that damn dubstep offa my lawn

Foamy brings the rant.  You go, brother.

Err, it's Foamy the Squirrel so the audio is NSFW.  You knew that, right?

Admittedly, it's not the world's fastest motorcycle

But you have to admit that it would cut down on the number of stops.

Internet Security is broken

The classic tradeoff is security vs. operations - one group tries to make things hard to break in to, the other just tries to keep things running.  This has been summed up as "Keep the bad guys out, let the good guys in, and don't make the wheels fall off."

The problem is that really good security guys are typically good at looking at the trees, not at the forest.  When you're creating encryption algorithms that's exactly what you want, but security often fails because a good idea can't scale to hundreds of thousands or millions of systems.  Operationally, nobody bothered to figure out how to make it work.

The Heartbleed security bug is showing this.  Since the attack can compromise your encryption keys, everyone is rushing out to get new X.509 certificates issued (these are essentially the "ignition keys" for the crypto systems used on the Internet).  This is bogging down the companies that issue certificates, but everyone will work through that.

The real problem is that when you get a certificate reissued, the old one gets revoked (i.e. "Nobody should trust that old one, mkay?").  The people who designed this system never seem to have stopped to consider what happens if everybody's certificate gets revoked at once.

Something like half a million web servers are effected by Heartbleed, and all of them will get new certificates.  Half a million old certificates will get revoked.  The Certificate Revocation List (CRL) will grow to unimagined size - some people are talking maybe over a gigabyte (!).

What this means to you, gentle reader, is that when you take your browser and go surfing to Amazon, there will be an increasing lag that you experience as your browser downloads the latest monster sized CRL.  There are protocols that let you look up certificates for validity (OCSP), but we don't have any idea how those will scale when a billion people are hitting the servers.  Probably poorly.

Oh well, mustn't grumble.  Job security for the security teams, what?

You Americans are all bastards!

This is the greatest line of the greatest Foamy The Squirrel episodes (language NSFW).  I'd always treated it a a source of laughs.  Well, it's actually true.

I work for a tech company that is global, and by "global" I mean engineering teams in Israel, Massachusetts, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, San Jose, Beijing, and Bangalore.  Guess which hours of the day conference calls get scheduled?

You Americans are all bastards ...

Well yesterday I had to brief the global field force on somethingorother.  The global field force.  Meaning, I had to do it twice, once from an all American, God fearin' time zone and once at Ohmygodthirty for the folks in Asia.

Forgive me, those of you across the International Date Line.  I had no idea.

Glurb.  Blogging will be (hopefully) a bit humbler today ...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

When our blood stained the sand and the water

Today is ANZAC day, a holiday that recalls that day 98 years ago when the Tommies from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) hit the beaches at Gallipoli.

Muscle, blood, and valor were matched against machine guns.  Nearly a century has passed since that terrible day, and all the veterans of the Great War ANZAC have mustered out of this mortal coil, but their courage reminds us that the first rule of war is that young men die.  If you have to do it, make sure it's worth it.

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?

Ever had one of those days?


Republican Establishment fears Republican voters, not Democratic ones

Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal signs gun liberalization law:
Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation today that would vastly expand where Georgians can legally carry firearms, a proposal that has drawn heaps of praise and scorn from outside groups.

“People who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from people who don’t follow the rules,” said Deal, adding: “The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should reside at the forefronts of our minds.”
"Outside groups" are calling this the "Guns Everywhere" bill.  Neal Boortz had a good line on the radio, saying that this bill "lets a permitted citizen carry a concealed firearm anywhere a non-permitted thug or gang banger carries a concealed firearm today."

I must confess that I didn't think that Hiz Honor would sign the bill.  So the Governor thinks his reelection chances are improved by throwing Moms Demand Action under the bus.  This is an interesting data point into what the Establishment thinks that 2014 is shaping up to be.

Markadelphia hardest hit.

Interestingly, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker seems not to fear the Republican voters:
Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker passed three new laws, addressing domestic violence. The laws include a mandate that police track the incidents where no arrests are made when dealing with a domestic-disturbance call.
The laws also make it very clear that there will be a process for seizing an “abuser’s” guns.


This is one more big step toward trying to make sure that for every gun you take away, it’s that much better for (a victim, their) family and friends and loved ones who care about that person,” Walker said.
 Because we can trust that this wouldn't ever be politicized to seize people's guns.

The inevitable collapse of the Washington DC bureaucracy

The spirit of secession is alive and well, and is global in scope:
THE list of organisations withdrawing from CBI Scotland over its stance [opposing] the [Scottish independence] referendum grew yesterday, with two more universities among those quitting.
Scotland will vote soon on whether to leave the UK.  A friend in Edinburgh tells me that it's all over but the vote counting.  The periphery is, for better or worse, poised to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with the sassenach.

They're joined by Catalonia:
Catalonia’s president has vowed to press ahead with a fiercely contentious referendum on independence from Spain, warning that he now saw little chance of a negotiated settlement with Madrid that could tackle the region’s economic and political grievances...
And the restive populations of Wales, Brittany, and Northern Italy watch with increasing impatience.  Belgium looks fair to break apart within a decade, as the unnatural marriage of french speaking Walloons and dutch speaking Flemings continue to keep that national government vapor locked.

Europe, for all its grandiose centralizing plans to counterbalance the American hyperpuissance is falling apart before our eyes.  Devolution is the game.  Here, we call that secession.  The path to that end is not (quite) inevitable, but is where the smart money is betting already in Edinburgh.  Soon it will be betting that way in Dallas.

I first broached this topic four years ago:
Kings of [Dark Ages Britain] were Ring Givers, as described in Beowulf and echoed in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels. Simon Schama writes about how the system worked in his A History Of Britain:
Their political power rested on the spoils of war and on the unwritten custom of the clan. The blood feud and the inhumation of bodies were standard practice among them. This does not mean, however, that the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were places of sub-human brutality and ignorance, perpetuated by thugs in helmets. War was not a sport; it was a system. Its plunder was the glue of loyalty, binding noble warriors and their men to the king. It was the land, held in return for military service, that fed their bellies; it was the honour that fed their pride; and it was the jewels that pandered to their vanity. It was everything.
And so it is today.  The modern Kings - David Cameron, Barack Obama, M. van Rampouy - are failing because they struggle to be Ring Givers.  Europe has led the charge down this blind alley, and so are running out of rings faster than here in the Colonies, but the plain fact is that Scotland and Catalonia wouldn't even be considering striking out on their own if the political establishment could buy them off.  The used to be able to do this, for the last two decades.  Now an enormous and enormously expensive bureaucracy in London and Strassbourg has consumed the surplus while tamping down economic growth with stifling regulation.  We've see on these shores where that leads.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

The European centralizing experiment is collapsing.  You'll watch it happen this year.  Sic transit gloria mundi, and good riddance to bad rubbish.  And so to our shores, and the inevitable collapse of the Washington centralizing bureaucracy.

Inevitable is the proper term, and this isn't just me being long on sunshine and kittens.  Barack Obama is without doubt the most European US President in history.  His use of power is straight out of the playbook of the European "Elite".  They're running into massive resistance in Europe and Obama is running into it here on these shores:
“I am about ready,” [Texas Attorney] General Abbott told Breitbart Texas, “to go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.”


In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, General Abbott said, “This is the latest line of attack by the Obama Administration where it seems like they have a complete disregard for the rule of law in this country ...And now they’ve crossed the line quite literally by coming into the State of Texas and trying to claim Texas land as federal land. And, as the Attorney General of Texas I am not going to allow this.”
In a more prosperous day, Washington would have just bought him off.  But they can't now, any more than David Cameron can buy off the Scottish politicians or Señor Rajoy Brey can buy off the Catalan politicians.  There's no money left.  It's all been spent on the coalition that supported each of these leaders ascent to power - the notorious "Stimulus" program was essentially a Trillion dollar payoff to Obama's allies, and he certainly would have not been reelected without that.

But that's all spent now.  And to the Dark Ages reference above, plunder is the glue of loyalty.  In that post I predicted the current conundrum for the leaders of the Western world:
The modern Regulatory State has a more subtle (and less brutal) method of getting plunder, but at its heart the system is the same: politics is still about feeding bellies, vanity, and pride. Regulations need Regulators, which gives ample opportunity for patronage. New regulations can be crafted with the help of powerful allies, which gives ample opportunity to flatter egos and let them show their followers that they too can deliver results. Plunder must be distributed, even it it takes the form of intellectual booty.


The Regulatory State has led us, step by step, vanity project by vanity project to a massive bubble of Sovereign Debt. Like someone who refinanced their house to take a vacation, the industrialized world is facing a crisis caused by a dynamic that Rædwald understood: the need for rulers to cater to their supporter's money, pride, and vanity.
What I missed in that post is the bureaucracy as the natural ally of the centralizing power.  The bureaucracy has shown itself to be the creature of the centralizers, with the IRS and the BATF as the poster children for intrusive politization of the organs of the government.  And they have been well rewarded for it as 7 of the 10 richest counties in the US are in the Washington DC area.

But power exists to be used, and the bureaus are either slipping beyond Obama's control - running on the autopilot which is the Iron Law - or it's all part of the plan to subjugate the hinterlands.  In any event, it's not working as a self-organized Nevada militia stared down the BLM and the states become increasingly restless.  This means that smart State politicians see a way to get ahead by getting tough with Washington.  Increasingly, it pays to flip the bird to the king.

The Center cannot hold, because a wildly expensive bureaucracy is stifling the Periphery.  The Periphery doesn't like it.  The cost of the people who keep the Center in power makes it impossible to buy off enough politicians to defuse the Periphery's unrest.  It's a dialectic in action.

The natives are restless, and are increasingly so.

And so the smart politics is increasingly one of defiance to the Center.  We shall see it later this year in Edinburgh and Barcelona.  We will see is to a lesser - but growing - extent in Austin and Pierre.  But the trajectory is locked because Obama needs every scrap of his base for this (and the next) election cycle.  He'll double down because he has to.  That will be throwing gasoline on the fire. And it won't be enough now, as it wasn't in the Dark Ages:
War was not a sport; it was a system. Its plunder was the glue of loyalty, binding noble warriors and their men to the king. It was the land, held in return for military service, that fed their bellies; it was the honour that fed their pride; and it was the jewels that pandered to their vanity. It was everything.
To keep a large kingdom's fighting men in booty, you had to fight a lot. You also had to fight smart - a king that loses a lot of battles loses his men's loyalty and ultimately his life. The chronicles tell us that the Merovingian boy king Sigebert wept in his saddle as his army was routed. That's what led to the Mayors of the Palace becoming the war leaders and Ring Givers, and that led to the replacement of the Merovingians by the Carolingians. You might say that the Merovingian bubble burst.
As is the centralizing bubble.  In the end, Washington DC will collapse because there is no alternative.  There's no plausible scenario where the growth in power and control over the States is sustainable.  Things that can't continue don't.  I believe that the Class Warfare in this Cold Civil War have so weakened the bands that have bound together the Red and Blue States that the easiest solution will be a split.  The Blue States will get Washington, and its bureaucracy, and its cost.

I don't expect that they will ultimately enjoy that.

Bootnote: if you believe that the two political parties are but the two wings of the same bird of prey, then this suggests that President Romney will see this same dynamic continue in 2017 ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


They always try to take my stuff.

Wolfgang and Abbey "sharing" at the dog park.

Best pre-flight safety briefing EVAH

Awesome.  Via Theo.

She was just the receptionist

"Just" the receptionist:
[Time] magazine had assigned a reporter named Virginia Bennett to find out about “automation in America.” She went to see Remington Rand, whose UNIVAC product was then the epitome of computing coolness…but, “fortunately for us, they weren’t very forthcoming that day.”  Walking back to her office, she passed the IBM building, saw the “Defense Calculator”  (IBM 701) in the window, and decided to see if IBM would be interested in doing the interview. When she asked the receptionist who she could speak with, the receptionist was smart enough to say, “Well, the head of this company is Mr Watson. He isn’t in the building today, but his son Tom is the president and you can certainly see him.”

The resulting article was very powerful publicity for IBM, and surely no help at all for Remington Rand’s relative industry standing.  If the receptionist had greeted the reporter with the all-too-typical bureaucratic approach (“The Watsons are very busy men, you’ll have to call Public Relations and make an appointment.”) the outcome would likely have been quite different.  Tom Jr notes that his father considered the receptionist position very important, and always chose those women himself.
You can't buy that kind of marketing exposure, and most marketing departments can't deliver it reliably - even IBM's.  But someone who was "just" a receptionist - but smart and savvy and given decision making authority - made a big difference.

Devolve authority.  Push it down all the way to the front line troops.  Then watch as you run rings around your Pleistocene competitors.

What you were never taught about fascism

Benito Mussolini was the founder of the fascist movement (not to be confused with the Fascist movement in Italy, which he also founded).  His is a much more interesting story than you've been told:
The youngest prime minister in Italian history, Mussolini was an adroit and indefatigable fixer, a formidable wheeler and dealer in a constitutional monarchy which did not become an outright and permanent dictatorship until December 1925, and even then retained elements of unstable pluralism requiring fancy footwork. He became world-renowned as a political miracle worker. Mussolini made the trains run on time, closed down the Mafia, drained the Pontine marshes, and solved the tricky Roman Question, finally settling the political status of the Pope.


Mussolini was showered with accolades from sundry quarters. Winston Churchill called him "the greatest living legislator." Cole Porter gave him a terrific plug in a hit song. Sigmund Freud sent him an autographed copy of one of his books, inscribed to "the Hero of Culture." The more taciturn Stalin supplied Mussolini with the plans of the May Day parades in Red Square, to help him polish up his Fascist pageants.
Cole Porter's original lyrics are deucedly hard to find in any recording: You're the top!  You're the great Houdini!  You're the top!  You are Mussolini!

Nowadays, that would earn you an ewwwww from your sweetheart.  So what happened?  How did the most famous man in the world end up as, well, what we think of when we think "Mussolini"?
In the 1930s, the perception of "fascism" in the English-speaking world morphed from an exotic, even chic, Italian novelty into an all-purpose symbol of evil. Under the influence of leftist writers, a view of fascism was disseminated which has remained dominant among intellectuals until today. It goes as follows:

Fascism is capitalism with the mask off. It's a tool of Big Business, which rules through democracy until it feels mortally threatened, then unleashes fascism. Mussolini and Hitler were put into power by Big Business, because Big Business was challenged by the revolutionary working class.  We naturally have to explain, then, how fascism can be a mass movement, and one that is neither led nor organized by Big Business. The explanation is that Fascism does it by fiendishly clever use of ritual and symbol. Fascism as an intellectual doctrine is empty of serious content, or alternatively, its content is an incoherent hodge-podge. Fascism's appeal is a matter of emotions rather than ideas. It relies on hymn-singing, flag-waving, and other mummery, which are nothing more than irrational devices employed by the Fascist leaders who have been paid by Big Business to manipulate the masses.

As Marxists used to say, fascism "appeals to the basest instincts," implying that leftists were at a disadvantage because they could appeal only to noble instincts like envy of the rich. Since it is irrational, fascism is sadistic, nationalist, and racist by nature. Leftist regimes are also invariably sadistic, nationalist, and racist, but that's because of regrettable mistakes or pressure of difficult circumstances. Leftists want what's best but keep meeting unexpected setbacks, whereas fascists have chosen to commit evil.
The actual situation is much more complex, and subtle, and interesting.  Lenin was a great admirer of Mussolini, who started out as a fierce Marxist.  But while we are continually told by the Ivy League types that nuance and shades of gray are the key to a true intellect, all this goes out the window when talk turns to fascism.
The consequence of 70 years of indoctrination with a particular leftist view of fascism is that Fascism is now a puzzle. We know how leftists in the 1920s and 1930s thought because we knew people in college whose thinking was almost identical, and because we have read such writers as Sartre, Hemingway, and Orwell.

But what were Fascists thinking?
This is a very, very interesting article, which includes the five critical facts about fascism.  The two most important (in my opinion) are fascism was a movement whose roots are in the left, and fascism was intellectually sophisticated.  Those two are enough to explain 90% of the hatred that socialists hold for it.  It's a hatred that you only see between brothers.  That and this:
Here we should note a difference between Marxism and Fascism. The leader of a Marxist political movement is always considered by his followers to be a master of theory and a theoretical innovator on the scale of Copernicus. Fascists were less prone to any such delusion. Mussolini was more widely-read than Lenin and a better writer, but Fascist intellectuals did not consider him a major contributor to the body of Fascist theory, more a leader of genius who could distil theory into action.
Fascists didn't need an intellectual "elite" as much as the socialists did.  Not hard to see which the intellectuals would prefer.  Useful Idiots, don't you know?

But the movement was no friend to classical liberalism, or the American ideal of Ordered Liberty:
The fascist moral ideal, upheld by writers from Sorel to Gentile, is something like an inversion of the caricature of a Benthamite liberal. The fascist ideal man is not cautious but brave, not calculating but resolute, not sentimental but ruthless, not preoccupied with personal advantage but fighting for ideals, not seeking comfort but experiencing life intensely. The early Fascists did not know how they would install the social order which would create this "new man," but they were convinced that they had to destroy the bourgeois liberal order which had created his opposite.
You've likely never heard almost any of this, except as rumors handed from blog to blog.  This traces you through the entire history of Marxism, and socialism, and fascism.  It's a long article, but this is quite simply the best thing I've ever read on the subject.  You'll want to bookmark this, not just because it will take more than one reading to digest, but also because you can use it to flog any Progressive idiot who ever uses the term "right wing fascist".

And it will help clarify our own two party fascist system on these shores.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cole Porter - You're the Top

This song foreshadows a post coming tomorrow. 

Why you will always have dead people on the Medicaid and welfare roles

Illinois has spent $12M on Medicaid for dead people:
A Freedom of Information Act request from the Associated Press uncovered a shocking memo from the Illinois state auditor. The AP found that the Land of Lincoln spent millions of dollars on medical services for the dead.
The Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people listed as deceased in other state records, according to an internal state government memo.


“It’s disappointing and somewhat enraging for taxpayers, but it’s not surprising,” Righter said. “I wish this administration would spend more time trying to solve the problems rather than trying to convince taxpayers that they’ve already solved them.”
Never going to happen.  The reason is the incentive structure of the organizations.  Consider a private insurance company: there's a clear incentive to identify people not entitled to receive benefits, as this will directly increase the bottom line.  There's a scoring system in place that, while by no means perfect will cause the institution itself to police the roles of the eligible.

Now think about the government agency that is responsible to Medicaid.  What's their organizational incentive?  It's to maximize the number of people on Medicaid.  This isn't just job security, but it's the organizational mission and over time the bureau will staff itself with people who are enthusiastic about the mission.

And so, Dear Reader, why would anyone expect the government to police the Medicaid roles?  Who wants to do that?  Who gets ahead in their career by doing that?  The incentive structure ensures that money will be wasted in fabulously huge amounts.  In fact, the bureau will do everything in its power to ensure that this waste is not reduced:
Republicans have pressed for the state to use a private company to verify Medicaid eligibility. Maximus Health Services was hired to scrub state Medicaid rolls following 2012 Medicaid-reform legislation. Republicans have said the company was achieving a Medicaid eligibility-removal rate of 40 percent.

But the contract between the company and Gov. Pat Quinn ended last year, and the work was shifted to state employees, after the state’s largest public-employee union objected and an arbitrator ruled the contract should end.
It's so cute to listen to Progressives about how government is the only one who can be trusted to supply critical services.

Rebranding "Kill the Jews"

Residents in the Spanish village of Castrillo* Matajudíos (Castrillo Kill the Jews) will vote on Saturday on whether it's time to change the name of their small hamlet in the province of Burgos to something a little less offensive.

According to the Diario de Burgos, mayor Lorenzo Rodríguez has called a meeting of the 60 inhabitants to put the case for adopting the village's original moniker - Castrillo Mota de Judíos (Castrillo Hill of the Jews) - after which locals will decide one way or the other.
Good grief.  I think it takes Mel Brooks to tell that story.

Other unfortunate European town names here.

The Secession all-you-can-eat buffet

Fondue is a strange thing - it's made from lots (at least three or four) different types of cheeses, along with various spices and other alchemical ingredients.  And yet is all melts into a smooth and entirely consistent dish, suitable for sharing in a crazy-hipster-1960s communal vibe.  It's essentially a socialist dish, from each according to his cooking ability to each according to his hunger.  Which is odd, because it's by definition a melting pot.

Recipes here
Salad is the opposite extreme, and not just because it's veggies instead of milk fat.  Each component keeps its own separate identity - carrots are not tomatoes.  It gets tossed together, but the sum is composed of the constituent parts which remain separate and essentially distrustful of each other.

Image source
The Res Publica Cafe used to feature a melting pot, where people from all sorts of backgrounds came here but blended with a common Americanness.  This worked for two centuries as the bonds that brought diverse people together were strengthened, and those who wanted to remain stand offish were shunned until they joined the common weal.  America was an idea: We hold these truths to be self-evident, whether you came from London or Bremen or Napoli or Dublin.

No longer.  For a generation the melting pot has been double-plus ungood crimethink.  The "Salad Bowl" is now what our moral and intellectual superiors favor.  Each group (never individuals, always groups) remain their own non-American identity as they are tossed together with other diverse groups.  And what we see from this is that the trust required to keep a single society functioning is breaking down.

The Democratic Party's coalition requires a set of victim groups to give it political power.  As a result, their favored policies have tried to inhibit the melting pot and reinforce group differences.  Minorities are penalized from diverging from accepted behavior for the group - "don't act so White", that sort of thing.

And so the feeling that we're all in this together that was so common in my youth is pretty much used up.  The question is, what comes next?

I think that this road that we are on leads to secession.  We've already seen a geographical divergence of governance, with Blue states increasingly pushing the Salad Bowl grievance identity politics (limited growth with government distributing the jobs) and with Red states pushing pro-business, pro-growth politics (i.e. melting pot with enough jobs to go around).  This will not continue forever: a middle class increasingly under financial pressure will flee the Blue states, increasing the fiscal strain that those governance models experience.  At some point the Blue states will demand to be bailed out en masse, and the Red states will refuse.

At this point the split will occur.  I expect it will happen within my lifetime.

We face a crisis of governance, a crisis of trust, and a crisis of philosophy.  Political groups have gotten ahead by fostering these crises: public sector unions with unsustainable pension benefits, race baiting politicians always pushing the "raciss" line, and a post modern university where racism can only come from whites (even, or perhaps especially, if they are poor).  These groups will not try to heal the split; indeed, they have every incentive to make it worse.  The "us vs. them" of the salad bowl will see to it that the greens up and leave to a different table, just because they're tired of hearing the carrots tell them what a bunch of bigots leafy vegetables are.

Notice that none of the typical "culture wars" issues will be the driver of this split, it's all the economics of bailout.  Where a bailout might have been possible in a higher trust melting pot environment, the bank of social capital will have been exhausted.  Long simmering resentments will flare in the strained fiscal environment and suddenly both sides will realize that a divorce will be a relief.

It a massive tragedy of the commons, as the Democratic party squanders the communal capital built up over 200 years.  In the span of 50 years it will all have been used up, and the polity will splinter.  The irony is that the parts left with the Democrats will look a lot like Europe, but not in the good way of fancy aristocratically commissioned architecture with great food and wine; rather, a society of General Strike, zero job growth, and capital flight.

Damn, I'm sure glad I got out of Massachusetts before they built a Wall.
The North has used the doctrines of Democracy to destroy self-government. The South applied the principle of conditional federation to cure the evils and to correct the errors of a false interpretation of Democracy...[and the inevitable result of an unfettered federal government will be] the initiative in administration; the function of universal guardian and paymaster; the resources of coercion, intimidation, and corruption; the habit of preferring the public interest of the moment to the established law; .............. a public creditor; a prodigious budget these things will remain to the future government of the Federal Union, and will make it approximate more closely to the imperial than to the republican type of democracy.
- Lord Acton, correspondence to Robert E. Lee

Monday, April 21, 2014

What's better than giving a punk a boot in the gut?

Giving him a knee in the groin.  I missed this from early in the year, as some college punk tried to photobomb a weatherman.  Hilarity ensues.

That's just beautiful, right there.

The dirty hippies finally find an army they can dig

It looks like the BLM killed 40 head of Bundy's cattle, and damaged a bunch of irrigation infrastructure.

But hey, he had it coming, breaking the law, didn't he?  Just like the kid  sent to prison for a small amount of weed right?  Or not registering for the draft in the 60s, right?

Strange that the Flower Children are now all hip to the Law and Order message.

We can build it better ... out of Lego

James emails to point to this which is not just fiendishly clever, but has exceedingly high production values.



Sunday, April 20, 2014


Wolfgang has been to the dog park, the Easter ham* is prepped and ready.  The new hedge shears work as advertised; nice sharp blades make short work of the overgrown foliage (and at $29 rather than $329 for the gasoline powered job).  And the Spirit moved me for the annual Easter post.

All is well, for a moment.  You can almost feel the Grace hovering over Camp Borepatch.  It's quite an unusual - and nice - feeling.

* Take one picnic ham.  Dust with ground cloves, all spice, and nutmeg.  Coat liberally with mustard.  sprinkle with ground thyme and mustard seed, then with bread crumbs.  Let stand 90 minutes, then roast at 350° for 10-12 minutes per pound along with some cut up potatoes.  Serve with some sort of vegetation because Mom would want it that way.

Pure satisfaction.


All my adult life I've been focused on family.  Raising kids has been a joy, one to be sure that is not unmingled with tears.  But whether this was a needed distraction or whether it was by instinct, it was natural to focus on them rather than myself.  While their birthdays are more fun than a barrel of monkeys, I actually don't like my birthday.  Not because of any fear of mortality, but because I'm uncomfortable with people making a fuss over me.  I'm uncomfortable being in the position of receiving, rather than giving, gifts.

And so to the greatest gift of all, Grace.  I find it's easy to forgive others their trespasses, and while it's my obligation to do so, it mostly comes without too much fuss.  But forgiving my own trespasses, aye - there's the rub.  Looking inward, not outward.  Shunning - at least for a moment - the active in favor of the reflective. That's not so easy.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds ...
- Theodore Roosevelt, the "Paris Speech"
It's hard to stop thinking like that, even for a moment.  Duty calls, and at least with me Duty is not lightly to be shirked.  Especially for family.  This makes it easy to focus outwards, and easy to not focus inwards.  Because that inward gaze is hard, and might lead to the realization that you need to give that gift of Grace to yourself.
Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . .
- Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

That's uncomfortable.  That's receiving, not giving the gift.  So much easier to turn towards Roosevelt's arena.
... who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
 There is a pride to be taken in that, but alas we all know where that that pride can lead.  Men particularly are raised to be this way (or were when I was young).  Likely this is following their natural inclination: to be a man is to be alone.  Suck it up, cupcake, you gotta do what you gotta do.  And besides, looking inwards is uncomfortable.  Better to focus outwards.
But there is another truth, the sister of this one, and it is that every man is an island. It is a truth that often the tolling of a silence reveals even more than the tolling of a bell. We sit in silence with one another, each of us more or less reluctant to speak, for fear that if he does, he may sound like a fool. And beneath that there is of course the deeper fear, which is really a fear of the self rather than of the other, that maybe the truth of it is that indeed he is a fool. The fear that the self that he reveals by speaking may be a self that the others will reject just as in a way he has himself rejected it. So either we do not speak, or we speak not to reveal who we are but to conceal who we are, because words can be used either way of course. Instead of showing ourselves as we truly are, we show ourselves as we believe others want us to be. We wear masks, and with practice we do it better and better, and they serve us well –except that it gets very lonely inside the mask, because inside the mask that each of us wears there is a person who both longs to be known and fears to be known. In this sense every man is an island separated from every other man by fathoms of distrust and duplicity.
- Frederick Beuchner, The Hungering Dark

The greatest lies that we tell, we tell to ourselves.  This Easter day reminds us to stop being so damn selfish.  That Grace was give to everyone, including us.  It's all right to unclench the fists of the spirit and forgive even yourself.

Richard Wagner - Prelude to Parsifal

Nietzsche was Wagner's biggest fan, you you might expect, eating up all the proto Germanic ubermensch themes.  And then Wagner came out with this, his last and perhaps greatest opera.  Nietzsche about had a fit at the Christian themes, and wrote the whole thing off.

As with much from Nietzsche, he was throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Wagner's story is from what is perhaps the most interesting tale in all of Western Civilization: Gotfried von Strasbourg's 1210 A.D. story Parzifal.  Gotfried, like all writers of his age took common stories that dated far, far back.  Starting with something that would be familiar to listeners, the story teller would add depth and make the characters his own.

What Gotfried did was to create what was the first truly modern psychological view of Western Man (certainly this was Joseph Campbell's claim).  It was one that synthesized Classical Greco-Roman, Christian, and native European Celtic and Germanic themes into what is unmistakeably modern Western thought.

Nietzsche, of course, hated the Christian aspects of spiritual rebirth.  But the synthesis that comes from repeated failure leading ultimately - if we are lucky - to a breakthrough in our own realization of our lives, that is perhaps uniquely western.  And quite appropriate for Easter.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I don't want you to go

Brigid has lost her brother.  Her sendoff is what you'd expect, and I expect that the Ferryboat Man will take that in lieu of the expected obol.  And make change.
I missed him. I remember walking in the woods with Dad's old Savage and seeing an elk crash into flight from a stand of small trees, the sound curving around the whole earth it seemed. I couldn't move, frozen by the sound. I simply stood, open mouthed, gun at my side, incredulous as to how big he really was close up and all the thoughts flowing through my head, turning to follow his now invisible running. For lack of any other response to his leaving, I picked up a rock and threw it hard and deep into the forest in which he ran, the stone, glinting like a knife, disappearing into the last copper ray of sun before it dipped behind the trees.

"I don't want you to go" was all I could say, as I stood there in the fading light, sounding very small and alone.
But while I never knew him nor him me, her words remind us of the common community in which we find ourselves.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. 

- John Donne
Our community is diminished, because Brigid shares with us that which is precious.  The bell tolls for all of us.

Quote of the Day - Camels and needles edition

James figures out Michael Bloomberg's theology:
I have to tip my hat to Bloomberg.  That shriveled old runt sure does aim high.  Imagine how much clout and wealth it must take to bribe God.
Quote of the week, actually.  Holy Week.

Holy Weekend prayer request

If this is your thing, please add one for Brigid.
Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.
- Leo Tolstoy

Ralph Stanley - I Am The Man, Thomas

Ecce homo, behold the man.  Nothing sings that more clearly than Bluegrass, and nobody sings that more in the bluegrass style than Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.  Not even the epic Bill Monroe who more or less founded bluegrass.

I Am The Man, Thomas (Songwriter: traditional?)
Oh, I am the Man, Thomas, I am the Man
Look at these nail scars here in my hands

They pierced me in the side, Thomas, I am the Man
They made me bear the cross, Thomas, I am the Man

They laid me in the tomb, Thomas, I am the Man
In three days I arose, Thomas, I am the Man

They pierced me in the Side, Thomas, I am the Man
They made me bear the cross, Thomas, I am the Man

Friday, April 18, 2014

He descended to the Dead

Good Friday is always a day for reflection - as it (and indeed all of Holy Week) is intended to be.  If we are strong of heart, we will do that uncomfortable grappling with our own psyche, to glean scraps of wisdom for our own spiritual enlightenment.

The Great Questions are worth study.  What is it to be fully human, as we would wish to be? What is it to live a good life?  What is it to leave that good life, as we all know will some day be our fate?

Hard questions.

The older I get, the more moving I find the story of Holy Week.  Psychologically, we all experience triumph.  Psychologically, we all experience betrayal.  Watching your spirit descend to the Dead is something that I personally have experienced, in the cold, dark, silent hours.  Knowing that a Grace beyond understanding is coming is something that I've experienced more than I've deserved these last years.  That knowing is a special gift, one that has kept me moving forward.

That wasn't there for Kang Min-gyu.  He was the vice principal of the South Korean High School who set up a class trip that ended when the ferry boat ripped it's hull apart on rocks.  Hundreds of his pupils are missing, many no doubt ending their short lives in the dark and cold waters.

He was overcome with grief for his charges, and doubtless no little guilt. And so yesterday, his spirit descended to the Dead.  And when that journey was complete, he hung himself from a tree outside the school.

Today is a Holy Day, not a holiday.  Today is about Mr. Kang's journey, and our journey, and His who this day is about.  What can we learn from others that can aid us on our own journey?  It's said that the longest journey a man will ever take is the eighteen inches between his head and his heart.  Some don't survive the trip.

This reflection is hard, as must be anything truly worth while.  I hope that you - and I - make good use of this pondering.

Pimpin' the minivan, yo

I built an awesome tree house for the kids, yo.

When border collies dream of electric sheep

Most awesomest picture you will see all day

T-Bolt rocks it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A third of a Century of "Climate Change is going to kill us!"

I'm totally cereal.  But this time it's actually going to happen!

Impressions of Spring

Seen in high places.

Seen in low places.

Of course, all this comes at a cost.

Yes, that's pollen collected in the cracks of the sidewalk.

Family is important

Even somewhat strange families.

Core memory, Old School style

And nobody does Old School stylin' like Tacitus.  Looks like that stuff is even magnetic.

Srlsy, what's the information density on that?  I mean, it's readable by the human eyeball ...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jimmy D Lane - Bleeding Heart

Usually I post blues on Thursday, but this Heartbleed vulnerability from hell is making my life blue.  Gettin' bluer every day.

All will be well when the Government votes in a new People

Stupid old Democracy standing in the way of Climate Change action:
Nations need to take aggressive action in the next 15 years to cut carbon emissions, in order to forestall the worst effects of global warming, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Expect a certain part of our political class to insist that man-made climate change is not consensus science, and that until it is, nothing should be done. The problem there is obvious: By the time all the skeptics are persuaded, it will be too late for an effective response. In that regard, climate change poses a test of our democracy’s ability to address a threat pressing enough to require a relatively prompt response but too complicated for a lay person to assess on his own authority.
Man, those rubes just don't get the importance of them paying more taxes and having lowered standards of living.  Don't they understand that this is Science® from Top Men?

Fortunately for Those In Charge, the United States is not a Democracy but rather an Oligarchy:
study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs? Who really rules?" in this country, is:

"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
Top Men working to keep themselves on top, you might say.  There's actually a more specific political definition for this:
When it comes to the real world, the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is semantic. Let's start with everyone's favorite hot-word, fascism, which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini defined as "the merger of state and corporate power." In other words, the state and corporate cartels are one system.

Real-world communism, for example as practiced in the People's Republic of China, boils down to protecting a thoroughly corrupt elite and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The state prohibits anything that threatens the profits (and bribes) of SOEs--for example, taxi-apps that enable consumers to bypass the SOE cab companies.


How else to describe this other than the merger of state and corporate power? Any company the state doesn't own operates at the whim of the state.

Now let's turn to the crony-capitalist model of the U.S., Japan, the European Union and various kleptocracies around the globe. For PR purposes, the economies of these nations claim to be capitalist, as in free-market capitalism.

Nothing could be further from the truth: these economies are crony-capitalist systems that protect and enrich elites, insiders and vested interests who the state shields from competition and the law.

The essence of crony-capitalism is of course the merger of state and corporate power. There are two sets of laws, one for the non-elites and one for cronies, and two kinds of capitalism: the free-market variety for small businesses that are unprotected by the state and the crony variety for corporations, cartels and state fiefdoms protected by the state.

Since crony-capitalism is set up to benefit parasitic politicos and their private-sector cartel benefactors, reform is impossible.


That's why the answer to the question, what's the the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is nothing.
And so never fear about those beastly old Global Warming Deniers.  If spending Big Ca$h on IPCC mitigations will benefit the Oligarchs, it will be made to happen.  So let it be written, so let it be done.

And ignore the murmurings from the peasants.  After Immigration "Reform" there will be a new People, more congenial to the Top Men than the current one.
RABBLE, n. In a republic, those who exercise a supreme authority tempered by fraudulent elections. The rabble is like the sacred Simurgh, of Arabian fable — omnipotent on condition that it do nothing. (The word is Aristocratese, and has no exact equivalent in our tongue, but means, as nearly as may be, "soaring swine.")
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
Hat tip to 2cents for the first link, which brought the whole post together.

The Bureau of Land Management's Bastille

Image via La Wik
July 1789 was a tumultuous time in Paris.  Discontent with the Royal regime had been building for decades and had reached the point where the King was forced to call a Constitutional Assembly.  But as the nobles, clergy, and bourgeoisie harangued each other, the people of Paris were growing increasingly restive.

And by "restive" I mean that mobs were spontaneously forming.  The most important of these was the mob that stormed and sacked the notorious Bastille prison on July 14.  The Bastille had an evil reputation and was seen by essentially everyone - educated and uneducated alike - as a symbol of a despotic and tyrannical government.  And so the mob broke the doors down and sacked it.  They paraded the head of its commander on a pike through the streets.

Image via La Wik
What is odd is that the perception was very different from the reality.  The Bastille had almost no prisoners housed in it.  Conditions for the prisoners were actually fairly comfortable, and fine dining among its noble prisoners (most of those incarcerated there) was the norm.  But the air was filled with discontent, and so wildly exaggerated books like Simon-Nicholas Linguet's Memories of the Bastille painted a lurid (if untrue) portrait of the place.  And so it was torn down.  Today's Place de la Concorde is all that remains of the site.

We have just see the US Government's Bureau of Land Management go through an experience similar to Louis XVI.  What was essentially a mob driven by a long-building sense of grievance stared down the King's Men in Nevada.

A number of people have rightly pointed out that Mr. Bundy is no Saint, and that legally he doesn't have a leg to stand on.  That's quite true.  It also isn't the point that is driving events.

What is driving events is something that would have been well understood by M. Linguet.  Mobs do not spontaneously form out of nothing, and the spark that lights the fire may have very little to do with reality.  His memoir was essentially a work of fiction; it was enormously influential nonetheless because the Government then had laid the groundwork building widespread resentment.

As has ours in this day.

All that remains of the Bastille is the key to its main gates, currently handing on display at Mt. Vernon (it was a gift to George Washington from the Marquis de Lafayette).  That's all that's left of a feared symbol of Royal power - that and an annual national holiday in France.

Our Government has no idea what they have awakened, any more than Louis XVI had.  So far, it has played out without blood flowing in the streets.  I am pessimistic that this will continue for long.

Wednesday morning link dump

Graybeard on 3-D printed body parts.

So that's what you use Ethernet for?  LOL.

Adverse Possession and the Bundy vs. BLM affair.  I hadn't thought of that.  And Goober scores a double by explaining how to pronounce FLAK.  No, not the nickname, the actual German word.  Yikes.

Why are Texas women so misogynist?

Beer is salad.  Because Science®!

This post is brought to you by General Clapper, who is still not in prison ...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From the department of abusive philosophy

Battle of Britain Ace's decorations going to auction

Stephen emails to point out the upcoming auction of these:

The decorations of Air Commodore Ronald Berry.  Expected price, 120,000 UKP.

The Thought-Terminating Cliche

Al Fin has a link-rich post about groupthink and the hive mind:
A large part of the dominant left’s ideological battle against all others, is keeping alternative thought as far away from “authoritative” public platforms as possible. So no commencement address at Brandeis for Ayaan Hirsi-Ali.
A thought-terminating cliche is a canned response that drops a listener into a default protective mode where challenging propositions can be rejected out of hand.  These cliches have (as all cliches must) a kernel of truth surrounded by vast shades of gray that are skipped over.  The usefulness of the thought-terminating cliche is that the Faithful can resist sin.
When avoiding the group mind, one is not looking for things to believe. Rather, one is looking for provocative ideas capable of jarring the mind into alternative levels and avenues of thought. A mind looking for something to believe is a mind ripe and ready for recruitment into the hive.
This explains the hypocrisy of the Academic Left: in the 1960s and 1970s they were all for free exploration of new ideas, because they were on the outside looking to get in.  Free expression helped them.  Since the 1980s they have become the dominant ideology and so new ideas are most definitely not welcome.  Thus the focus on punishing thought crime (Campus speech codes) as being harmful to diversity.

Of course, "thought crime" and "diversity" are both cliches.  However, only one stops the thought process.

A Playlist for when "He Needed Killin'"

I have all sorts of thoughts on the Bureau of Land Management standoff in Nevada, but tonight was a (blessed) moment of relief from the cares of the last few weeks.  #1 Son and I walked to the local pub for a quick libation.  It turned out to be dead slow, and so we ended up having quite a good chat with the barman and the barmaid.  Not sure how it came up, but we got to the subject of "What would be a good playlist for the Air Force guys to play as they fire the Hellfire missile at the Taliban?"

Like I said, it was slow.  Everyone contributed, and it was a fun bar room conversation.  As a break from Wookie-suited rants, I humbly offer it up for your approval.  Feel free to add yours in the comments.

My suggestions:

Live And Let Die.  I always thought this would have been a good one to play over the intercom of the B-52s unleashing Holy Hell over Tora Bora.  Likely they don't/can't do that, but this was the dream.  Sure wish they had the opening credits to the film for this video, because it was awesome.

Give me back my bullets. Just because it scans better than "gimme back my depleted uranium projectiles.

32 - 20 Blues.  Because you don't get more 'Murican than blues.

The barmaid had an interesting list:

You Rascal You, Hanni El Khatib cover of the Louis Armstrong song.  That has extra irony points.

Weapon Of Choice by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  You need to hear more than that?

The barman had some great choices:

Bombs Over Baghdad.   More for younger listeners than me, but duh.

That Was Just Your Life.  A bit pensive in the opening, but gets to the whole "A-10 Minigun strafing run" feeling.  And quite frankly, that was just your life, Jihadi ....

Symphony Of Destruction - Megadeth.  Somehow, operatic metal seems to have a plethora of great choices here.

And it goes on and on.  This could actually be a decent playlist for riding your motorcycle.  Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.  JayG, I expect you have some great Metal additions ...

We now return you to the wookie-suited rants ...