Saturday, January 31, 2015

In the Woods Today

A bright sunny afternoon at the end of January, plenty of open space on the woodpile after the last month, and some time to myself. This is wood for next winter, but I'm older now and have to spread out the work, so an early start is a good thing.

Blake Shelton - Don't Make Me

This is one of the saddest songs I know, and one of Blake's best.

Don't Make Me (Songwriters: Marla Cannon-Goodman, Deanna Bryant, Dave Berg)
Girl, when I look at you,
you look through me like I'm not even there.
I'm trying not to give up
to be strong but I'm afraid to say I'm scared.
I can't find the place your heart is hiding.
I'm no quitter, but Im tired of fighting.
Baby, I love you, don't wanna lose you,
don't make me let you go.
Took such a long time for me to find you,
don't make me let you go.
Baby, I'm begging please
and I'm down here on my knees.
I don't want to have to set you free.
Dont make me.
What if when I'm long gone
it dawns on you, you just might want me back.
Let me make myself clear
if I leave here, it's done I'm gone that's that.
You carry my love around like its a heavy burden.
Well, I'm about to take it back, are you sure it's worth it?

Baby, I love you, don't wanna lose you,
don't make me let you go.
Took such a long time for me to find you,
don't make me let you go.
Baby, I'm begging please
and I'm down here on my knees.
I don't want to have to set you free.
Dont make me.
Dont make me
stop loving you.
Stop needing you

Friday, January 30, 2015

By The Order of the Supreme Allied Commander

As a correction to a previous post, it was pointed out that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. True enough, with camps all over Nazi held territory, military units stumbled over them regularly during the closing months of the war. As American and British units began to find some of them, General Eisenhower ordered documentation of the camps. This is the film that was made. It is not easy to watch.

The Germans saw themselves as a civilized people. The pinnacle of all progress. It is a thought to give one pause.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nasty Adobe Flash bugs being exploited

Flash, of course, is the technology that drives most Internet video like Youtube.  It's now officially the Borepatch most Lousiest Insecure Crapware™ ever:
Another exploited zero-day vulnerability has been uncovered and patched in Adobe Flash, 24 hours after a second flaw in the popular web trinket was found being used in attack kits.

Adobe is examining yesterday's zero day, picked up by French researcher Kafeine who spotted it after analysing a version of the popular Angler exploit kit.

The vulnerability affected Flash Player versions up to and the latest

The latest zero-day, now fixed in a rare emergency patch for Windows, Mac and Linux, was being used by attackers to circumvent memory randomisation mitigations in Windows.
Yup, this means everyone needs to upgrade, even Linux nerds like me.  You can upgrade for free here.

Oh, and it seems that targeted malware is being served up via porn sites.  Not that you'd ever browse for feelthy pixels, of course, but pass it on to your friends that do.

I'm really glad I moved to Georgia

This picture is from Framingham, MA - the town next to the old Chez Borepatch when we lived up in Yankeeland:

Ugh.  Good luck to all my readers up there.


We have:
1. An ongoing problem with global terrorism that we refuse to even name.
2. Russia resurgent in eastern Europe.
3. A crumbling infrastructure.
4. An insurmountable national debt.
5. A national security structure dedicated to surveillance at the cost of the our freedoms.
6. A unending flood of people crossing the southern border.
7. Almost half the population unwilling or unable to work.
8. An ever shrinking manufacturing base.
9. ...whatever other important crisis you would like to add here.

This Sunday, if the NFL decided to play the game with a red rubber kickball, would it matter? If they decided to play by flag football rules to protect the brains of the players, wouldn't that be a good thing?

If they played Calvinball, what would be different next Monday?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Deflategate - the Patriots did not cheat

Interesting science experiment:
An experiment performed by a team at Carnegie Mellon provides empirical support for the Patriots’ claim to have done nothing unusual. The Carnegie experimentalists inflated a batch of footballs to 12.5 psi at a room temperature of 75°F, then let the balls equalize to a new ambient temperature of 50°F, resulting in an average pressure drop of 1.8 psi. (They also wet the leather balls to simulate the rainy conditions of the game, surmising that this might allow stretching that would reduce air pressure in the ball, but this seems likely to be a minor factor.)
It seems that the cooler temperature on the field caused some of the water vapor in the ball to condense, reducing the pressure.  This implies that what happened at the Patriots-Colts game happens all the time - any maybe even more for very cold stadiums like Green Bay.  I'd guess that in sub freezing temperatures players fingers start to lose some feeling and so the situation isn't as noticeable.

"Hottest year ever" record relied on data adjustments

The recent announcement by NASA that 2014 was (maybe, kinda sorta) the hottest year on record relied on a big heat wave in South America for the record high global temperature reported.  But if you look at South America, you see a very large part of it is Amazon rain forest where there are precisely zero surface stations reporting temperatures to NASA and the other databases.

As a matter of fact, it boils down to three stations that are used to "infill" data to the bulk of the continent.  There's quite some interesting adjustments being made to the data from those stations:

As we so often see, older temperatures are adjusted downwards and recent temperatures are adjusted upwards:
So we find that a large chunk of [NASA's] hottest year is centred around a large chunk of South America, where there is little actual data, and where the data that does exist has been adjusted out of all relation to reality.
Other than that, it's awesome.

Pwn the drone

Who would have seen this coming?
Hacker Rahul Sasi has found and exploited a backdoor in Parrot AR Drones that allows the flying machines to be remotely hijacked.

The Citrix engineer developed what he said was the first malware dubbed Maldrone which exploited a new backdoor in the drones.

Sasi (@fb1h2s) said the backdoor could be exploited for Parrot drones within wireless range.
It seems that the developers didn't think about security when they wrote the software.  This is my shocked face.

U. S. Weapons Systems vulnerable

Oh good grief:
An annual report released by the Pentagon's chief weapons tester indicates that a majority of the government's weapons programs contain “significant vulnerabilities.”
Many of the bugs stem from outdated and unpatched software, said Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation for the Department of Defense, in his 366-page report released on Jan. 20.
Due to the evolving threat landscape and upgraded cybercriminal techniques it is “likely that the determined cyber adversaries can acquire a foothold in most (Department of Defense) networks” and could even “degrade important DoD missions when and if they chose to,” Gilomore said. While program managers resolved previous issues discovered in recent years, this year's report has uncovered a slew of new vulnerabilities.
Stalin would have had them shot.  This is basic blocking and tackling, and the Department of freakin' Defense seemingly isn't up to it.

Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Sobibor, Treblinka, and 15,000 Other Camps

It's Holocaust Memorial Day. The Telegraph has a good article with an interview. Arek Hersh was 14 when he arrived at Auschwitz. with a group of three hundred children. He was one of two that survived.

The Nazis intended to kill every Jew in the world. They would not have stopped. They had set up an industrial process, used resources they could not spare to keep on killing right up to the end of the war. Arek Hersh wasn't liberated because Germany decided to stop killing Jews. He wasn't liberated because a merciful god looked down and took pity.

He was liberated by young American men with rifles backed up by the industrial might of an aroused nation that sent bombers, fighters, tanks, ships, machine guns, flamethrowers, artillery, and every other possible weapon to Europe to kill Germans and destroy their ability to wage war.

If you're going to remember the liberation of the Nazi death camps, remember who liberated them and how, and what it cost.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Scratching To Escape

Some writing, some song links, some politics. He's one of us, I think. If we're not handing out enough free ice cream, here's another place to go visit. He joins the blogroll, too.

Stop, Just Stop

If you're at the range and something goes wrong, stop. This video isn't new, but it captures something important. About halfway through, the shooter has a squib. I would guess that the projectile is just partway into the barrel and is still partially in the chamber. The shooter does not recognize what has happened. He manually ejects the spent case and inserts a live round. This is his opportunity to prevent what is coming. If he had paused to ask himself why the empty case had not ejected, even if he didn't notice the light response, he could have checked the barrel.

Instead he loads another live round and attempts to fire. The rifle does not fire because it is not fully in battery. He hits the forward assist, then ejects that round, checks his magazine, and loads another round. This was his second opportunity to fully assess the problem.

This round doesn't fully go into battery either. He strikes the forward assist again, this time managing to get the rifle into battery, likely by pressing the bullet back into the case, and pulls the trigger.

If you ever have a round that doesn't cycle the action, that is a clue.

Just how powerful is government health care?

It is so powerful, it can force even Canada to stop being nice:
An elderly couple that has called Canada home for years is now under orders to leave the country, so they won't be a burden to the health-care system.

Michael and Janet Hollingsworth decided to move to Canada from Britain, after visiting their daughter in Saskatchewan in 2006 and 2007.

In 2012, they settled in Havelock, N.B., where they quickly grew to love their new community.


But now they may have to leave.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Michael's kidneys failed, and when they re-applied for a new visitor's visa, they were denied.
"(On) Christmas Eve, we received it in the mail stating that because of his health and everything else they wouldn't grant us a visitor's visa and we were to leave Canada immediately," Janet said.
If the government pays, this sort of thing is probably inevitable.  Way to go, "compassionate" Canada!

Bootnote: I only snark at Canada because so many people up there like to tell us how backwards and uncompassionate we are because we don't (yet) have national health care.  Sure, our system has problems (as they so often point out).  But if "Government is the things we choose to do together" then all y'all are choosing to throw an old, sick man out of your country because he's old and sick.  Not nice.  There's quite a difference between a sin of omission and a sin of commission.


Al Gore: this Soviet plan for high-density cities is awesome

And it will only cost $90 Trillion!
To stop climate change, Al Gore wants to spend a mere $90 trillion rebuilding all of the world’s cities so that everyone is living in such high-density neighborhoods that they don’t need cars. While a few curmudgeonly types might think that $90 trillion sounds like a lot of money, it really isn’t, say Gore and former Mexico president Filipe Calderon. After all, the world is probably going to spend the $90 trillion on something in the next few years anyway, so what’s wrong with spending it on this?

Gore made the proposal at an economics conference in Davos, Switzerland attended by billionaires who fly in on private jets so they can tell other people they need to get used to consuming less. Of course, neither Gore nor the other millionaires and billionaires at the conference expect to be stuck living in a high-density apartment any time soon.

This reminds the Antiplanner of The Ideal Communist City, the 1965 book that is now available for free download thanks to a group called Agenda 21 Today. In order to avoid the sprawl and traffic congestion found in those inefficient western cities, the book proposed that the Soviet Union build cities of high-density apartments allocating “not more than 225 square feet per person” to each apartment.

Click on the image to read a review of this book.

That’s exactly what the soviets did, with the result that Moscow today is the perfect smart-growth city: high densities throughout surrounded by a rural countryside.
So how'd that work out for the Soviets?  And how will today's young urban hipsters react?
As it turns out, a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders finds that even most millennials don’t want to be stuck in cities for their entire lives, the way most Soviet comrades were. While some may say the home builders are biased, they have a strong economic interest in finding out what kind of housing people are willing to pay for, so they are no more biased to the suburbs than the market as a whole.
I can't imagine what a disaster that man would have been as President.  He lives in Cloud Cuckooland.

Walmart must have started blue light specials or something

Monday, January 26, 2015

Boy, I'm glad I moved to Georgia

It looks like New England is going to get pasted:
Serious impacts from Winter Storm Juno are expected in Boston and the surrounding area early this week. A blizzard warning has been issued for the city of Boston and eastern Massachusetts, with much as 2 feet of snow being forecast.

"We're anticipating a really serious event here," said Peter Judge, spokesperson for Massachusetts Emergency Management, in an interview with The Weather Channel. "We're going to work hard to reach out to folks and make sure they understand the severity of this event."

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is on standby to co-ordinate support for coastal evacuations if necessary. The agency says that it is also ready to assist stranded drivers, provide shelters, and coordinate debris removal and utility restoration.
"This is [a] dangerous and life-threatening storm and mariners should return to port by Monday afternoon," the release said.
Airlines cancelled nearly 2,000 flights for Monday by 5 a.m. as the storm takes aim at the North East Travelers to check with their airlines before heading to Boston Logan International Airport by Massachusetts Port Authority officials because airlines are cancelling flights ahead of the storm and delays are likely.
I did my time up there.  Happy not to need this anymore.

Good luck to everyone still up there.

Keep your eye on Greece

Daniel Hannan says that the danger is not that Greece leaves the Euro and its economy collapses, but rather that it leaves the Euro and its economy thrives - setting an example for Spain and Italy.  The question then is what will the EU do to buy off and/or intimidate Greece's new government?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What do you call a four wheel motorcycle?

A "car"

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I'm (not) Batman

Extra nerd points if you heard Sheldon's voice say that.

From Atlanta Custom Baggers. Seen at the motorcycle show. I liked this one better:

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Off to the motorcycle show

Going to look at more stuff I can't afford.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I think I'm in love

Yeah, baby!

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Outdoor kitchen for the win.

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Going to the RV show today

That will be a new experience, but looks like it will be fun.  Pictures later.

Shotgunning in Chicago

This post started with the March 1956 edition of Guns Magazine. On page 16 is an article about a talented skeet shooter named Carola Mandel. It's a mildly sexist piece, about how this little wisp of a 100 pounds can beat the men at competitive shooting. All the men. She was the National Champion in 1954, two days after breaking her foot, she went out and took the 20 gauge championship with a perfect 100. It was just one day in a long career.

In 1956 she was the National All Gauge High Score champ. 12, 20, 28, and .410, again, not the ladies champion, the overall. She was inducted into National Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame in 1970, the first year there was a Hall of Fame. She continued to shoot until 1985 when a wrist injury ended her time on the range. She passed away in 2002 at the age of 82. Here's her obituary in the Chicago Tribune.

But that is not really the topic of this post. This is. In the closing paragraphs of the Guns Magazine article was this quote:
"Sometimes I would shoot over at the Lincoln Park Gun Club. It is only a short distance from my home. Sometimes I would shoot three or four days in a week. Then I would shoot in some local, friendly match on weekends with people I know."
 What?!? Lincoln Park is in Chicago. In the middle of Chicago. And whaddya know? There was a gun club in Lincoln Park. It opened in 1912. They shot skeet and trap at 2901 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago until 1991.

Someone noticed and looked for a way to put a stop to it. It was made into an environmental issue, lawsuits were threatened, then the city park district came in during the shutdown and bulldozed everything.

It was never about anything but the guns. We lose by inches, one club at a time.

Friday, January 23, 2015

OK, surgery it is then

Collar bone not healing, so surgery will be February 12.  Should have done it 2 months ago.  Bah.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2014: One of the coldest years in the last 10,000

Great overview of many of the flaws in the "2014 was the hottest year EVAH" press release from NASA.  This is a great introduction to the problems in the science and you should RTWT, but it ends with this excellent summary:
Evidence keeps contradicting the major assumptions of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis. As T.H. Huxley (1825 – 1895) said,

The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.

The problem is the facts keep piling up and the AGW proponents keep ignoring, diverting, or stick-handling (hockey terminology), their way round them. We know the science is wrong because the IPCC projections are wrong. Normal science requires re-examination of the hypothesis and its assumptions. The IPCC removed this option when they set out to prove the hypothesis. It put them on a treadmill of fixing the results, especially the temperature record.
I think it's time to start referring to this as the "Democrat's War On Science" ...

Quote of the Day: Why Progressives are idiots

I am always amazed that supporters of such [mass] transit projects call light rail projects "sustainable".  Forget for a minute that they seldom use less energy per passenger mile than driving.   Think about all the resources that go into them.  This at first seems like a hard problem -- how do we account for all the resources that go into transit vs. go into driving.  But then we realize it is actually easy, because we have a simple tool for valuing resource inputs:  price.  Prices are a great miracle.  They provide us with a sort of weighted average of the value and scarcity of the resources (both hard, like titanium, and soft, like labor and innovation) that go into a product.  So if light rail costs 10x or more per passenger mile than driving, as it often does, this means that it uses ten times the value of resource inputs as driving.  This is sustainable?  I do not think that word means what you think it means.
The mystery of the situation, of course, is why these people think that they are smarter than you and I.  RTWT, which is actually much more brutal than I am towards Progressives.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Can't Handle The Truth

Navy Commander at Guantanamo Bay fired; probe involves alleged affair with a woman whose husband was recently found dead in the waters off the base.

Passwords are still lousy

The most popular password is "123456":
The most popular passwords in 2014 were also the most obvious —leading security experts to once again urge people to change their passwords.

As with 2013, variations on passwords like 123456 continue to be the most popular passwords. Other obvious choices such as “password” and “qwerty” are also in the top five.
Actually that one can be a pretty good password if you're dealing with H4x0Rz like this:

Of course, you're far too smart to fall for that.  You use strong passwords, right?  I knew you did!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Camera Attachment

We get attached to things. Cars, bicycles, rifles, houses, cameras, and on and on.

I boxed up an old camera tonight. Happy to see it going to where it might be used again.

But as I held it for the last time, it was a letting go. I held it up one last time and looked through the viewfinder. I thought of all the miles and days that camera traveled. When I took it to Korea, I was committed to carrying it with me all the time. It went everywhere with me for a couple of months. In Japan, I could lock it up in the squadron area, but I had it with me most of the time.

After I got home, it went to the beach a couple of hundred times. It chronicled births, birthday parties, funerals, Christmases, camp outs, and all the days in between.  There are thousands of prints and slides semi-organized and now awaiting the scanner.

This was taken looking out from Elliot's Beach. It's on the far end of Parris Island. Probably about 1984.

I love it

Irish asked.  OK, here was my last fill up.

At the QT in Roswell, GA.  I saw a Kroger that was $1.95 a gallon, plus you get savings for your Kroger points.  You could probably get gas regularly for $1.75 to $1.85.

Add in the fact that it's 65° here, and life is pretty dang sweet.

Snipers, Heroes, and Michael Moore

Michael Moore weighed in on the inflated controversy that has been generated by the new movie American Sniper. His argument is that snipers are cowards because they don't believe in a "fair fight".

It's war, not a boxing match. There are no referees. The object is to kill the enemy and destroy his ability to make war. If you do this well enough, it's called victory.

There aren't many living Americans that know about victory, we haven't had one since August of 1945. The end of the last war where we decided that killing the enemy and destroying his ability to wage war was important.

I don't know if we even have to decide if Chris Kyle is a hero. That's pretty subjective. He was a damn fine sniper. I might think he meet my idea of what a hero is. They made a movie about his life. It's an extremely popular movie.

I will tell you one thing I know beyond a doubt. If I had to go into combat and was told to choose between Michael Moore and Chris Kyle to join me, I could make a snap decision.

Insurance Company's techno snitch entirely lacking in security

And when I say "entirely", I mean entirely:
Thuen, a security researcher at Digital Bond Labs who will present his findings at the S4 conference in a talk titled Remote Control Automobiles, has been figuring out how he might hack the vehicle’s on-board network via a dongle that connects to the OBD2 port of his pickup truck. That little device, Snapshotprovided by one of the biggest insurance providers in the US, Progressive Insurance, is supposed to track his driving to determine whether he deserves to pay a little more or less for his cover. It’s used in more than two million vehicles in the US. But it’s wholly lacking in security, meaning it could be exploited to allow a hacker, be they in the car or outside, to take control over core vehicular functions, he claims.

It’s long been theorised that such usage-based insurance dongles, which are permeating the market apace, would be a viable attack vector. Thuen says he’s now proven those hypotheses; previous attacks via dongles either didn’t name the OBD2 devices or focused on another kind of technology, namely Zubie, which tracks the performance of vehicles for maintenance and safety purposes.
This is my shocked face.  "Wholly lacking in security" is no exaggeration:
“The firmware running on the dongle is minimal and insecure. It does no validation or signing of firmware updates, no secure boot, no cellular authentication, no secure communications or encryption, no data execution prevention or attack mitigation technologies… basically it uses no security technologies whatsoever.”
Security wasn't an afterthought; it wasn't thought of at all.  Other than that, it's awesome.

Me?  None of those are coming anywhere near my cars.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunny and 50

Sunny, 50, and a holiday Monday. Must be time to to go to the range.

Took a father/son set of guests with me. Two other members joined us. Had a fine time, everything from my Savage .22 to a Russian M-38. Took one of my personal favorites and the 14-year -old shot every bit of 9mm ammo I had with me.

Update: added bolded text for clarity.

So was 2014 the hottest year ever?

If you wonder what the answer is, you haven't been reading here long:
Nature trumpets “2014 was the hottest year on record” and cites the Japan Meteorological Agency, the World Meteorological Organization, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, NOAA and several other principal terrestrial temperature datasets – which are subject to measurement, coverage, and bias uncertainties and have been repeatedly revised in a questionable fashion over the past year to show ever greater rates of warming– have not yet reported their December 2014 values.

It is immediately apparent that 2014 was not “the warmest year on record.” Several previous years had been warmer, including the El Niño years 1998 and 2010.

Figure 1 also shows the rate of global warming since 1979 is the equivalent of just 1.3° Celsius per century – hardly anything to worry about.


Since 1990, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) first predicted how temperatures would evolve in the short to medium term, the measured rate of global warming – taken as the mean of all five principal global-temperature datasets – has been just under half of the warming IPCC had predicted with “substantial confidence” that year (Figure 2).
Not to mention that the Satellite data sets report no warming at all over the last 18 years.

Given that not all of the data sets have updated for December, this might seem premature to you.  I'm certain that it's entirely coincidental that the report was issued immediately before the State Of The Union Address.  Oh hum - just more politicized junk science from the Democrats.

Steam, Steel and Dreadnoughts

A history of the Royal Navy.  Not bad.  The impact of the force draw down after the end of the Napoleonic Wars was pretty interesting - I'd never heard that before but it's really not surprising: you really don't need dozens of Ships Of The Line once old Boney was shipped off to St. Helena.  Also, a good discussion of the difference between H.M.S. Warrior (the  world's second ironclad) and the U.S.S. Monitor (the third or fourth).

The part I thought was most interesting was the lost of individual Captain's initiative between Trafalgar and Jutland.  The only explanation that makes sense is that this instinct was suppressed during the long period of peace.  There's a lesson for us there.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rainy Day Reading

I don't know what your weather is today, but ours is wet and cold. 40 maybe, steady rain, and everything looks brown and grey and muddy. A good day to stay inside by the fire, drink coffee, read, and maybe do some reloading later.

One of my older manuals is a Lyman Reloading Handbook from the 1970s. It was given to the guy who gave it to me. It has notes, some typed, taped into the pages on certain cartridge loads and powders. It speaks of a history of reloading and tells me something about the original owner, a man I never met.

I can't share that copy with you, but here, in PDF, is the same book. You can view it online or download it from the upper right of the grey frame once the page loads. I don't know that I would use the load data without verifying it elsewhere, powder formulations change over time and a lot of recipes have been dialed back in the newer books.

Emmanuel Chabrier - Bourrée fantasque

Born on this day in 1841.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why the GOP won't fix the country

They never have:
After reading the book, I don’t believe that Ike was a commie, however I believe that if I had been a Commie in the US in ’52 or ’56 that I probably would have voted Ike. Or as Welch puts it: "In April, 1957, Norman Thomas, six-time candidate for President of the United States on the Socialist ticket, stated that ‘the United States is making greater strides toward socialism under Eisenhower than even under Roosevelt.’"
There's a lot on Ike here, most of which is very unsavory.  The GOP has been a bunch of lying hypocrites for two thirds of a century.  What would make anyone believe they will change today?

Quote of the Day, Paris Terrorism Edition

How do you defeat terrorism?  Don't be terrorized.
- Salman Rushdie

I'd think he'd know something of this.  Think on this when you look on the works of Leviathan, and wont to despair.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cameras, No Comments, and E-Mail

Tam at View From The Porch (You read her blog every day, right? If not, why are you wasting time with my scribblings? Go and read her recent stuff, then plan on spending the weekend in the archives) recently put up a post about a film camera, an Olympus OM-10, that puked up it's mirror and is now an interesting paperweight.

For reasons good and true, Tam has no comments. I don't have an e-mail address for her. I know she stops by here from time to time. Here's my message:

In 1980 I went to Japan. Lacking the ability to drink as much as most Marines, I got into photography. I bought an Olympus OM-1, a manual camera that required you to set the aperture, the shutter speed, and even focus it. I learned to use this, bought some lenses, a big flash unit, and more accessories and crap than I really needed.

Later I got another camera body. For a while I had an OM-10, too. The lenses fit all the OM cameras, and it gave me an automatic body, even if it was a plastic consumer camera. The OM-10 died years ago. I moved on to digital cameras later than most and it was with the sense of abandoning an old friend. I kept one of the OM-1s and a couple of the lenses because I just couldn't part with it.

If you want a film camera in the OM series, I have one, and lenses to go with it. I would give it to you. All I can say is that it still worked fine when I stopped using it.

How do we make that happen? Email Borepatch and have him forward it to me?

The mirage of Technocratic planning

It's about prestige, not efficiency:
In particular, both Friedman and Epstein think we need to build more high speed passenger trains.  This is exactly the kind of gauzy non-fact-based wishful thinking that makes me extremely pleased that these folks do not have the dictatorial powers they long for.   High speed rail is a terrible investment, a black hole for pouring away money, that has little net impact on efficiency or pollution.   But rail is a powerful example because it demonstrates exactly how this bias for high-profile triumphal projects causes people to miss the obvious.

Which is this:  The US rail system, unlike nearly every other system in the world, was built (mostly) by private individuals with private capital.  It is operated privately, and runs without taxpayer subsidies.    And, it is by farthe greatest rail system in the world.  It has by far the cheapest rates in the world (1/2 of China’s, 1/8 of Germany’s).  But here is the real key:  it is almost all freight.

As a percentage, far more freight moves in the US by rail (vs. truck) than almost any other country in the world.  Europe and Japan are not even close.  Specifically, about 40% of US freight moves by rail, vs. just 10% or so in Europe and less than 5% in Japan.   As a result, far more of European and Japanese freight jams up the highways in trucks than in the United States.  For example, the percentage of freight that hits the roads in Japan is nearly double that of the US.

You see, passenger rail is sexy and pretty and visible.  You can build grand stations and entertain visiting dignitaries on your high-speed trains.  This is why statist governments have invested so much in passenger rail — not to be more efficient, but to awe their citizens and foreign observers.
A lot of the whining that we need to put the Technocrats in charge comes from people who couldn't find the actual solution if you gave them a GPS pre-programmed with waypoints.  The problem is that the Thomas Friedmans of the world don't know as much as the people actually, say, building and running railroads, but they think they do.

Technocratic government?  As Gandhi is said to have remarked about Western Civilization, that would be very nice indeed.

The Overprotected Child

From the Atlantic Magazine, an article of the cocoon we have put around children and how it completely has changed the experience of being a child. This is an in-depth article, but well worth your time. It is sad, in a way, what has been lost.

In Maryland, this week, one set of parents have been investigated for letting a 10 year old and a 6 year old go walking without supervision. The parents want the kids to have what they think of as normal freedom, expanding as the children get older. Child protective services are now involved in a neglect investigation.

I remember riding all over town on a bicycle, going to the library, to little league games, to the city pool. Going out the door on a Saturday morning and a promise to be home for supper, taking off into the woods with a sandwich and a pocketknife. Building a dam on a creek to make a swimming hole one summer (It took us weeks to make it chest deep, we moved hundreds of rocks, tried different configurations).

We climbed too high in trees, got dirty, muddy, cut up, half-lost. We formed friendships, got in fights, and had a life our parents were only dimly aware of. They had done the same in their time. It is in the last couple of decades this all changed. Children today don't have that freedom, and while they may have less risk, their lives are diminished.

Maybe this makes them more suited to the brave new world we all live in now.

Dyslexics of the world, untie!


Quote of the Day

From a while back, but still relevant:
The core concepts of moving away from the free-market to a governmental run system are 1) bribes , corruption and favors being built in to the system to make it work 2) general impunity of workers for participating in this sham “rights based’ process.

My advice is to befriend governmental workers and medical care professionals in the future as our system moves more towards the “Greek” model of over-promising care to everyone and under-funding and not incenting the hard work necessary for quality care to occur. And be prepared for a wall of government workers who can rule with impunity based on arcane processes and standards not tied to the free market or any sort of accountability based system as our “investment” in government increases; the first thing these workers will do is build a system where they are put “first” before the mission that they are trying to accomplish.
The three years since this have shown that if anything, this is even more relevant in Obama's America.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Doubling Down on teh Stupid

Sometimes the stupid comes screaming.

The Kentucky policeman that managed to shoot his finger off in a gun store is suing the store.

Let's go over this again.

1. Every gun is always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you don't intend to destroy.

We can skip the other two this time. He broke these two. He did it. No one else. He lost a finger. I have zero sympathy for his lawsuit and hope a collection of gun owners familiar with Col. Cooper are on the jury.

Should the clerk have checked the gun and magazine? Yes, of course, because every gun is always loaded. But when the clerk finished checking it and handed to the officer, what is the first thing the officer should have done? Correctamundo. He should have checked it himself.

And after he had checked it, checked the magazine, and was sure the weapon had no rounds in it? He should have pointed it at something he didn't love, like the wall or a corner of the room where no one was standing, before he tried the trigger.

Instead he did not check the gun, and he then put one boogerhook in front of the muzzle and the other boogerhook on the trigger. And now he wants it to be someone else's fault?

Whose fault would it be if he had shot another customer in the spine? Once you stop handling guns with the care and respect they warrant, the outcome is truly up to chance.

I hadn't thought about that


Four years after l'affair TJIC

Four years ago a storm was brewing in Massachussets:
I've linked several times to posts over at the blog Dispatches from TJICistan.  TJIC is an outspoken (some might say extremely so) advocate of smaller government.  He's also a firearms owner in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.  While he owns guns, it appears that he's no longer allowed to possess any:

ARLINGTON (CBS) – A blog threatening members of Congress in the wake of the Tucson, Arizona shooting has prompted Arlington police to temporarily suspend the firearms license of an Arlington man.

It was the headline “1 down and 534 to go” that caught the attention. “One” refers to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in the rampage, while 534 refers to the other members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Police are investigating the “suitability” of 39-year-old Travis Corcoran to have a firearms license
TJIC's blog is still down after all these years.  The bureaucrats won.

Foseti had a post a month previously that ironically quoted TJIC on the dynamic in play:
TJIC linking to a piece on bureaucracy:
In the long run the rule of aristocracy has been succeeded not by the rule of democracy but by the rule of bureaucracy. Let us examine this pallid aphorism a little more closely. If one does not like aristocracy one is, most probably, a democrat by preference; or the other way around. But one’s exasperation with bureaucracy is a different matter: it is at the same time more superficial and more profound than our dislike for either form of government. The democratic exercise of periodic elections does not compensate people sufficiently against their deep-seated knowledge that they are being ruled by hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats, in every level of government, in every institution, on every level of life.
These bureaucrats are not the trainees of a rigid state apparatus, or of capitalist institutions, as their caricatures during the nineteenth century showed them. They are the interchangeable, suburban men and women of the forever present, willing employees of the monster Progress
Progress!  I mean, you don't want to stand in the way of progress, do you?  Do you?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I want to vote for this guy for President in 2016

He even can discuss Adolf Hitler without triggering Godwin's Law.

Dang. I'm not going to shop there anymore ...

How "settled" science is performed

This is a blast from the past, but is strangely current:
For over a century, Einstein’s theory of relativity has been one of the unimpeachable pillars of science, so much so that the statement “nothing is faster than light” is often taken as a simple fact of life. It is a theory upon which much of modern physics is based.
Several weeks ago, scientists in Europe came across something they shouldn’t have:
…They had measured particles called neutrinos which traveled around six kilometers (3.75 miles) per second faster than the speed of light, determined by Einstein to be the highest velocity possible.
Further experimentation gave similar results.  This doesn't mean that relativity is wrong but it does suggest that what was "settled" physics is less well understood than we had thought.
What’s interesting, of course, is how much more mature physicists seem to be than climatologists.  Dissent from a scientific paradigm much more firmly established than anything in climate science isn’t greeted with howls of rage, fury and charges of heresy.  Many physicists are skeptical, as well they should be, of evidence that seems contrary to decades of experiment and analysis, but the overwhelming mood seems to be one of curiosity rather than rage.  Could these new results possibly be real?  What would this mean if it is true?  How can we check these results to see how fast these neutrinos are really moving?

This is how real science operates.
Physicists don't "hide the decline".  This tells you everything that you need to know to understand just how pitifully weak climate "science" is today.

Computer attack wrecks steel mill

Joe emails to point out the large dollar losses that can be inflicted with the click of a mouse:
Amid all the noise the Sony hack generated over the holidays, a far more troubling cyber attack was largely lost in the chaos. Unless you follow security news closely, you likely missed it.
I’m referring to the revelation, in a German report released just before Christmas(.pdf), that hackers had struck an unnamed steel mill in Germany. They did so by manipulating and disrupting control systems to such a degree that a blast furnace could not be properly shut down, resulting in “massive”—though unspecified—damage.
There are other types of plants where the consequences would be equally grave - Plexiglas polymerization in the piping would be a Very Bad Thing Indeed, for example.  Chemical plants might even go boom.

And it doesn't look like the Security Team were asleep at the switch, either.  The plant wasn't exposed to the Internet like a lot of the Power Grid:
The report, issued by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (or BSI), indicates the attackers gained access to the steel mill through the plant’s business network, then successively worked their way into production networks to access systems controlling plant equipment. The attackers infiltrated the corporate network using a spear-phishing attack—sending targeted email that appears to come from a trusted source in order to trick the recipient into opening a malicious attachment or visiting a malicious web site where malware is downloaded to their computer. Once the attackers got a foothold on one system, they were able to explore the company’s networks, eventually compromising a “multitude” of systems, including industrial components on the production network.
My feeling is that the future will see the segmenting of networks into "ordinary business users" and "mission critical" with no connections whatsoever between them - exactly like the DoD unclassified and classified networks.  While this is no panacea, it makes it much, much more difficult to penetrate, and very likely requires physical access.  And a shout out to the retail industry: your Point Of Sale terminals should be separated from the rest of the network in exactly this way to avoid a repeat of the Target credit card breech.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Heh heh


Rethinking Interfaces, Microwave Edition

Most of us have microwave ovens in our homes. Touchpad interface, a clock, a timer, limited ability to customize the cooking process.

Consider what it would take to run a cook sequence like this: 2 minutes on high, 5 minutes at 70%, 17 minutes at 40%, rest for 3 minutes, then ring the bell.

Then add in a voice command like some most cell phones now have. Customizable buttons for functions you use a lot. Internet clock so you don't have to set the clock every time the power goes off. The ability to reference a microwave cooking database online and auto program a cooking sequence.

This is available on no microwave oven ever.

So this guy made one. Used Raspberry Pi. The link has the technical details, if you're interested. Here a video demonstration of how it worked out.

Actually, that would make a pretty funny fortune cookie

Climate databases contain lousy data, vol XVII

Another day, another warming bias in in the data:
MISSOULA – In a recent study, University of Montana and Montana Climate Office researcher Jared Oyler found that while the western U.S. has warmed, recently observed warming in the mountains of the western U.S. likely is not as large as previously supposed.

His results, published Jan. 9 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, show that sensor changes have significantly biased temperature observations from the Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) station network.


Oyler and his co-authors applied statistical techniques to account for biases introduced when equipment was switched at SNOTEL sites in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s.

His revised datasets reduced the biases to reveal that high-elevation minimum temperatures were warming only slightly more than minimum temperatures at lower elevations.
Pay no attention to that statistical technique behind the curtain!  The great and powerful Oz IPCC has spoken!

Is it too tinfoil-hattish to wonder why all the biases discovered result in warmer data?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Suggestion For The Corporations

As they begin to consider their interface designs and button positions, I have a suggestion for the big soulless corporations. Since everything seems to have a mic, a speaker, and a computer in it, they need to set up some protocols.

Write some software that filters the audio in the area looking for phrases like, "I hate corporations", "corporations are evil", "I support Occupy Wall Street", and so on. Have it trigger a response where the device says, "Right on, brother, I'm with you! Stick it to the man!" and shuts off and will not restart for an hour.

Since they can already shut off cars, cell phones, and Apple devices remotely, all that is needed is the software to filter the words and the tie-in to the power.

 I'd even be okay if the devices came back on after an apology, "Ohhh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean Apple, I love Apple. Who's the good little iPhone? Please come back."

Ford recalls SUVs because of bone headed User Interface design

Someone put the "Off" button right next to the shift buttons:
Ford has issued a recall for its Lincoln MKC SUVs, because drivers trying to operate the gearshift are shutting the car down by mistake.

As computers invade the world of motor vehicles, and car-makers replace the old ignition key assembly with a start button, it seems they're having to relearn the basics of interface design.

In the case of the Ford recall, the salient detail is: “don't put the 'gearshift sports-mode button' next to the start-stop button”.
[blink] [blink] [blink]

I'd add some snark, but this comes pre-snarked.  There are pictures at the link.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

AK Pattern Rifle Kaboom

Don't have any details yet, but here's the video.

The failure of the financial institutions are not by accident

They're by regulation:
I will oversimplify here, but basically it categorized some assets as "safe" and some as "risky".  Those that were risky had their value cut in half for purposes of capital calculations, while those that were "safe" had their value counted at 100%.  So if a bank invested a million dollars in safe assets, that would count as a million dollar towards its capital requirements, but would count only $500,000 towards those requirements if it were invested in risky assets.  As a result, a bank that needed a billion dollars in capital would need a billion of safe assets or two billion of risky assets.


Anyway, what assets did the regulators choose as "safe"?  Again, we will simplify, but basically sovereign debt and mortgages (including the least risky tranches of mortgage-backed debt).  ...

And for most banks, this was mortgage-backed securities.  So, using the word Brad DeLong applied to deregulation, there was an "orgy" of buying of mortgage-backed securities.  There was simply enormous demand.  You hear stories about fraud and people cooking up all kinds of crazy mortgage products and trying to shove as many people as possible into mortgages, and here is one reason -- banks needed these things.

So with this experience in hand, banks moved out of mortage-backed securities and into the last "safe" asset, sovereign debt.  And again, bank presidents told their folks to get the best possible yield in "safe" assets.  So banks loaded up on sovereign debt, in particular increasing the demand for higher-yield debt from places like, say, Greece.  Which helps to explain why the market still keeps buying up PIIGS debt when any rational person would consider these countries close to default.  So these countries continue their deficit spending without any market check, because financial institutions keep buying this stuff because it is all they can buy.
When Greece (and Portugal, and Spain, and Italy) leaves the Euro and defaults - as it certainly will, sooner or later - it will be the sub-prime mortgage crisis all over again but ten times bigger.

Good thing we have such smart regulators working on this.  Top Men.

Getting This Out Front

The GOP treats fiscal conservatives and libertarian/Tea Party people like an cruel husband treats his wife. The guy just does whatever he wants and if she dares to complain, he says, "What are you going to do? You got nowhere else to go".

In the last few days, the names that are being floated are Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.


Just no.

I would not vote for Gov. Romney last time. Nothing he has done remotely begins to change my mind.

It's time for the Republicans to turn their thinking over. If they want to win, it's going to take some fresh thinking. It's going to take a candidate that sees the debt as a threat to the country's future. It going to take a candidate that recognizes that the collapse of U.S. manufacturing and industry needs to be addressed by legislation that makes moving production to the U.S. more attractive, not less, both for in terms of taxation and regulations. It's going to take a candidate that stands up and says he sees the Bill of Rights to the Constitution as an expression of rights guaranteed by God (or natural law, if you prefer), not rules that can be changed or ignored at whim.

Otherwise, they can continue to lose and in 2016, once again they can wonder why they can't attract enough votes to beat whatever socialist the Democrats nominate. Because the day comes when that wife I mentioned in the opening metaphor decides she would rather live in a cardboard box under a highway overpass than put up with any more of her husband's arrogance.

This is Gov. Romney's answer to a gun control question in the second 2012 debate. This alone was enough to cost him my vote. Here's the whole transcript, if you want to remember what cost him the election.
ROMNEY: Well, Candy, actually, in my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation. And it's referred to as an assault weapon ban, but it had, at the signing of the bill, both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted.
There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that haven't previously been available and so forth, so it was a mutually agreed- upon piece of legislation. That's what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now in Washington is a place that's gridlocked.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

History May Not Repeat

History may not repeat, but it rhymes.

100,000 Jews Flee Paris.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making and Editing the Rules

This has been an interesting, if difficult exercise. Our club is revising the safety rules for the ranges. Most of them are pretty straight forward, but the committee keeps finding itself tripping over the details.

Here's an example. One general safety rule for all the ranges is that if anyone is going downrange, to change targets for example, everyone on that range has to clear their firearms, put them down on the bench and step away. No one is to handle firearms, ammo, or magazines while anyone is forward of the line. Seems simple enough, right?

What constitutes a safe weapon? How detailed does it need to be? We ended up with this:

6. Prior to anyone going downrange, all firearms should be cleared, made safe,  and grounded on the bench.
    a. Clearing a firearm and making it safe means all ammunition has been removed, removable magazines are out of the firearm, the action, bolt, or cylinder is open, and it is laid on the bench in such a manner that the safe condition of the firearm can be seen without touching the firearm.
    b. While anyone is downrange, DO NOT handle firearms, magazines or ammo for any reason.
    c. If you arrive at a range and people are downrange, do not unpack or handle your firearms, magazines or ammo until all people downrange return. Likewise,  if you wish to leave a range, do not collect or handle your firearms, magazines or ammo while there are people downrange.

I think part c. is redundant, but other felt that it was important to leave that in. We talked about requiring empty chamber flags like the Garand Matches require, whether or not it was necessary to remove magazines if the firearm was already clearly empty with the action open, and so on.

If making laws is anything like this, no wonder they get so muddled up.