Thursday, April 30, 2015

Axis of Awesome - 4 Four Chord Song

Just because.  The kids mentioned this at dinner.

No global warming in more than 18 years

The latest satellite data is out, and the "hiatus" (pause in global warming) is now longer than 18 years:

This is satellite data, not the frequently-and-mysteriously adjusted surface data.  But I'm pretty unhappy after digging into the details and finding out that this data is adjusted, too:
One might ask, Why do the satellite data have to be adjusted at all? If we had satellite instruments that (1) had rock-stable calibration, (2) lasted for many decades without any channel failures, and (3) were carried on satellites whose orbits did not change over time, then the satellite data could be processed without adjustment. But none of these things are true. Since 1979 we have had 15 satellites that lasted various lengths of time, having slightly different calibration (requiring intercalibration between satellites), some of which drifted in their calibration, slightly different channel frequencies (and thus weighting functions), and generally on satellite platforms whose orbits drift and thus observe at somewhat different local times of day in different years. All data adjustments required to correct for these changes involve decisions regarding methodology, and different methodologies will lead to somewhat different results. This is the unavoidable situation when dealing with less than perfect data.
This makes me grumpy.

I don't like adjustments to data, and I don't like accepting them because I like the scientists better or because the results agree with my world view.  And the changes seem (to me, anyway) pretty significant:

Bah.  Need to think about this and read more of the fine print.  In the meantime, can everyone please just stop fiddling with the data?

Three views on the fall of Rome

I like the bit about Isaac Asimov:
Asimov being a first rate writer is very adept at retelling the ancient stories, with what he admits as "a little cribbin' from Edward Gibbon".  The tragic, heroic story of Belasarius for instance is taken almost unedited and dropped into Foundation and Empire as the story of General "Bel Riose".
Interesting about George Lucas, too.  I really can't argue.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ever want to just whack the heck out of someone with a sword?

Tired of the wussy "Peace Tied" swords at the Renaissance Faire?  Secretly long to whack someone good and hard with a longsword?  Then this is your cup of tea:

Via Isegoria, who finds the coolest stuff.

You can have your very own Eye of Sauron


Of course, you only use your Powers for good, right?  Thought so.

How the police can break your password

Threaten to throw you off an 18th floor balcony:
After a few hours of this, which involved an attempt to lure one of Cascioli's suppliers to his building, the officers focused on Cascioli's Palm Pilot, which they (correctly) believed contained the information they wanted. But Cascioli wouldn't provide the password. He claims that police then tried to extract the password through intimidation.
Cascioli says [Officer Thomas] Liciardello asked him a question: "Have you ever seen Training Day?"

When Cascioli said yes, Cascioli says Liciardello looked him in the eyes and said: "This is Training Day for f—ing real," and then instructed officers Norman and Jeffrey Walker to take him to the balcony.

According to Cascioli and the indictment, Liciardello told them to "do whatever they had to do to get the password."

Out on the balcony, Cascioli says officers Norman and Walker lifted him up by each arm and leaned him over the balcony railing.
One of the cops involved has confirmed the story.

Quote of the Day: Baltimore riots

From the Orioles Executive VP:
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
Go read the rest, which is just as good.  And remember that tonight's Orioles game will be played in an empty stadium.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Now that's security

Hack the vote

I don't even know what to say about the "security" of this electronic voting system:
The amazing thing is that to find all this, VITA just scratched the surface, and mostly used off-the-shelf open source tools – nothing special. They didn’t have access to source code, or any advanced tools. Or said in other words, anyone within a half mile could have modified every vote, undetected.
So how would someone use these vulnerabilities to change an election?
  1. Take your laptop to a polling place, and sit outside in the parking lot.
  2. Use a free sniffer to capture the traffic, and use that to figure out the WEP password (which VITA did for us).
  3. Connect to the voting machine over WiFi.
  4. If asked for a password, the administrator password is “admin” (VITA provided that).
  5. Download the Microsoft Access database using Windows Explorer.
  6. Use a free tool to extract the hardwired key (“shoup”), which VITA also did for us.
  7. Use Microsoft Access to add, delete, or change any of the votes in the database.
  8. Upload the modified copy of the Microsoft Access database back to the voting machine.
  9. Wait for the election results to be published.
Note that none of the above steps, with the possible exception of figuring out the WEP password, require any technical expertise.  In fact, they’re pretty much things that the average office worker does on a daily basis.
It's getting harder and harder to look at this and not think that the original intent was to rig the elections.

Hulu + Netflix + Chromecast = Cable replacement

I ditched the expensive cable TV package that we've been getting for the last four years. I've replaced it with a $39 Chromecast and a combination of Netflix and Hulu Plus.

There's a ton of good stuff to watch and I'm saving money each month.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Soldiers with puppies.  Here's an example:

The commentary accompanying the pictures is pretty interesting.

That's how Bubba rolls

Independent audit of adjustments to climate data

My cue for those pieces was the evidence multiplying from across the world that something very odd has been going on with those official surface temperature records, all of which ultimately rely on data compiled by NOAA’s GHCN. Careful analysts have come up with hundreds of examples of how the original data recorded by 3,000-odd weather stations has been “adjusted”, to exaggerate the degree to which the Earth has actually been warming. Figures from earlier decades have repeatedly been adjusted downwards and more recent data adjusted upwards, to show the Earth having warmed much more dramatically than the original data justified.
So strong is the evidence that all this calls for proper investigation that my articles have now brought a heavyweight response. The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry into just how far these manipulations of the data may have distorted our picture of what is really happening to global temperatures.
I've been blogging about the fishy adjustments to the data for five years or so.  There are some heavy hitters on the panel, and so I expect some pretty pointed results to be announced when they are done.

Hat tip: Rick via email, who remarks "They're catching up to you".

Peoplewatching at the Renaissance Faire

If there's a better place to people watch, I can't imagine what it would be.  People come to the Ren Faire to see and be seen.

These people don't work at the Faire (well, if you click to embiggin the picture, her beer suggests pretty strongly that they don't work there).  But "elaborate" really doesn't describe their costumes.

Gotta have cute kids.  This was a maypole dance.  Some of the kids were in costume, and some weren't.

Start 'em young.

It was "Bring your pet day".  I didn't bring Wolfgang, but a bunch of folks brought their pets.

This guy was a riot.

This guy, too.  It's not easy being a Pirate Captain when your little princess wants to play.

Cap'n Jack Sparrow doesn't work there, either.  It seems that he goes there to pick up chicks.  It worked - he got a kiss and a phone number.

All in all, a fun afternoon with #2 Son.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deal alert: Lenovo laptop $199

This is a today-only special from Tiger Direct:

Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook - 59441913 Product Details

Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook
The Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook is crafted with the finest features and powerful technology that deliver excellent computing experience. It boasts a powerful AMD E1-6010 1.35 GHz Dual-Core Processor which gives you a brilliant multitasking performance. This PC runs in Windows 8.1 64-Bit that provides greater security and improved power efficiency, giving you quick access to applications. Plus, get more space for games, HD movies and demos as it comes with a 320GB Hard Disk Drive. Also, its 4GB DDR3L gives you outstanding speed, which enables you to control your applications with ease. Hurry! Get your Lenovo B50-45 15.6" Notebook today!
What It Is And Why You Need It:
  • AMD E1-6010 1.35 GHz Dual-Core Processor; gives you a brilliant multitasking performance
  • Windows 8.1 64-Bit; provides greater security and improved power efficiency
  • 320GB Hard Disk Drive; gives you more space for games, HD movies and demos
  • 4GB DDR3L; provides outstanding speed to control your applications
This seems pretty good if you're looking for a laptop.  I've gotten a number of items from Tiger Direct in the past (including the Camp Borepatch central mainframe) and have been pretty satisfied with them.

Adam Falckenhagen - Fugue in A major

Image von der Wik
We sometimes hear classical guitar, which has survived in modern times mostly via Spain.  Guitar is actually a fairly modern instrument; in ancient times the harp was dominant but by the Renaissance the Lute had taken pride of place.

Since #2 Son and I go to the Renaissance Faire today, lute music seemed somehow appropriate.

Of course, this isn't from the Renaissance, but rather from the Baroque age.  Adam Falkenhagen was a German composer who was considered the master of the lute - so much so in fact that he was made the court lutenist by the sister of Frederick the Great.  Falkenhagen had studied under Johann Sebastian Bach, and this piece is a pretty standard baroque fugue.  Not at all renaissance.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vassar Clements - Lonesome Fiddle Blues

You've heard this tune - Charlie Daniels took it and used it in "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".  If you need to steal a fiddle tune you probably would look to Vassar Clements, the five time Grammy winner who has played with just about everyone: Earl Scruggs, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, and Paul McCartney.  Along the way he had worked as a plumber at Kennedy Space Center near his native Kissimmee, and keen eyed readers will recognize him from his appearances with Earl Scruggs on The Beverly Hillbillies.  Happy birthday, Vassar!

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"

100 years ago, lads from Australia and New Zealand hit the beach at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli.

It was an ambitious plan put forward by Winston Churchill to take Istambul, the capital city of Turkey, and knock that country out of the war (also restoring a route through the Black Sea for resupplying Russia).  It failed spectacularly, quickly bogging down into the miserable trench warfare that defined most of the Great War.  Eight months and 400,000 casualties later, the forces were withdrawn.

The event was traumatic at the time, and was instrumental in the emergence of a distinct Australian and New Zealand spirit.  April 25 has been celebrated as ANZAC Day ever since.  The pride in how the Lads from Down Under held up under impossible conditions was - and remains - a source of pride.

But the remembrance is bitter sweet.  The impossible conditions were precisely that.  The fine musical tradition of the Antipodes has captured that as well.

Happy ANZAC Day to our readers from Australia and New Zealand.  We will hoist a frosty one to the ghosts marching by the billabong.

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement

Brigid's second book is out, and available at Amazon:
From the Author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller The Book of Barkley - Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever - a story of family, redemption, and hope.
It started with a piece of paper--a birth certificate, sent to the author's parents long after her birth. There is much history in that piece of paper. For she was born to an unwed mother in the generation prior to Roe v. Wade, on a warm day in August-a small, painful beginning in which she had been an unwilling participant, yet one that would shape her destiny. She is adopted into a loving home with another child that would become her beloved brother. She finds herself pregnant; she's a teen and a college student, abandoned at the news. The options are obvious, but there is only one decision she could make: to give her child up to a family praying for one, and walking away. Saving Grace is more than a story of adoption. It's a deep look into family-at hope and faith and why we end our days surrounded by souls that may not bear our name or share our blood, but who are our true family.
Get on over there and get you some of that.  Don't make me change my tone.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Good Night, Cthluhu

Cthluhu for children.  It's actually pretty faithful to the original story.

Shoulder update

The surgeon is very pleased with the progress of the bone, which is closing nicely.  He's confident that it will ultimately be as strong as before the accident.  He even cleared me to ride on the motorcycle again (!).

I don't think I'm up to it yet.  Physical Therapy is going very well, and my range of motion is much better - almost restored to normal, or decently close.  However, I can tell that the strength in my right arm isn't back.  We start strength training in PT next week, and so I expect another 4-6 weeks before I'm confident enough to get back in the saddle.

Still, both the doctor and the therapist are as pleased as can be.  As am I.  Just not planning on getting cocky ...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just because you can doesn't mean that you should

Just sayin'.

Keyless auto entry systems: keep your key fob in the freezer

Last week, I started keeping my car keys in the freezer, and I may be at the forefront of a new digital safety trend.
Let me explain: In recent months, there has been a slew of mysterious car break-ins in my Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles. What’s odd is that there have been no signs of forced entry. There are no pools of broken glass on the pavement and no scratches on the doors from jimmied locks. But these break-ins seem to happen only to cars that use remote keyless systems, which replace traditional keys with wireless fobs. It happened to our neighbor Heidi, who lives up the hill and has a Mazda 3. It happened to Simon, who lives across the street from me and has a Toyota Prius.
Pretty good article in the NYT on something that I've been writing about for a while.  The $30 device that lets people break in to your car is easily available, and keeping your key fob in your kitchen freezer will defeat the attack.  No, this isn't a joke, although the security of the keyless entry system sure seems to be.

Hat tip: Dave, via email who adds: "This one is Face Palm worthy".  Sure is.

Climate Models provably wrong

Good statistical analysis of the implications of the failure of the climate models to predict the "hiatus" - the last nearly 20 years of zero global warming:
We also know that the integrated assessment climate models (IAMs) are deterministic physical models of the climate with built in predetermined physical cause and effect structures. We can say they are wrong based on their ability to explain the data (facts) during this hiatus.

Nevertheless, the lousy R squared³ and apparent zero “fit” does allow us to conclude that during the hiatus, the assumption that CO2 is the major thing driving global mean temperature is not just a lousy hypothesis, it’s wrong and unsupported by the data (fact). We can also say that all of the variability (scatter) in the data is due to “not CO2.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Every day is Earth Day

In North Korea.

Android: no malware problem?

That's what the head Android security d00d says:
[Lead Android engineer Adrian Ludwig] said that while impressive software security exploits surface often enough, their use in actual attacks is small: “I don't trust humanity any more than you do, but the scale of exploitation is small … in the meantime it feels like we may have a chance at wining the exploitation battle in mobile.”

In illustrating the low exploitation figures, he said of two "beautiful" exploits in wild, one was leveraged less than eight times per one million devices, and the other once per million, even though 99 and 82 percent of Android users, respectively, were at risk at the time of disclosure – and that's according to stats from BlueBox.
I'm not sure that I believe that the data sources he's relying on are comprehensive, but this is pretty interesting.

Make big money doing computer security

It seems that the Fed.Gov can't get enough computer security people:
Rigid hiring processes and low pay for specialized employees have kept the U.S. government from developing the type of cyber workforce it needs to keep up with growing attacks, according to an independent analysis.
The Partnership for Public Service released a report on Tuesday saying the federal government has positioned itself poorly for recruiting cybersecurity personnel at a time when the nation as a whole is already facing a shortage.
OK, so Uncle Sugar has shot hisself in the foot (this is my surprised face ...), but industry needs security guys (and gals).  The money is good, and by the looks of things the problem will be around for decades.  I've been writing about this for a while now. There's lots of good free training.

One great thing about this field is that nobody cares about which college you went to (or even if you went) - there are industry certifications that carry much more weight.  Young readers (or children of older readers) can get good paying jobs without a ton of student debt.

100 years ago

Poison gas was used for the first time:
NEWSER) – As a spring breeze wafted into his trench, commander Georges Lamour of the French 73rd infantry saw something almost surreal drift his way. A yellow-green cloud. He barely had time to react. "All my trenches are choked," Lamour cried into the field telephone to headquarters. "I am falling myself!" Foaming at the mouth, crazed and blinded, the French soldiers fled in all directions—sucking for oxygen, finding instead poison that seeped into body fluids and ate away at eyes, throat, and lungs. World War I, and warfare itself, were never the same. Chlorine gas—sent crawling in favorable winds over Flanders Fields from German positions—sowed terror and agony for the first time on April 22, 1915. The era of chemical weaponry had dawned.
Nasty business.

Hat tip: Rick, via email.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pets looking at food.

No confirmation on whether this is Murphy or not ...


Epic T-shirt is epic

Party on, Garth.

Hat tip: A Large Regular, who finds tons of cool stuff.

Security advice: get paper statements from your bank

Everyone wants you to go paperless, because it saves them the cost of printing and mailing you a monthly statement.  With your bank, this is a bad idea.

iOS vs. Android: it's a knife fight

Err, literally:
Tulsa, Oklahoma, TV station KTUL is reporting that two men were left with “cuts all over their bodies … covered with blood” after an argument over the merits of Android and iOS “escalated”.

The station's report suggests the two were discussing the competing merits of the iPhone and Samsung's new offering – probably the Galaxy S6 - within the confines of their shared flat. A few drinks later, the conversation kicked up several notches.
I'm not sure that there's anything I can add that will improve on this story.

Monday, April 20, 2015

GAO report on hacking airplanes: incompetent and irresponsible?

The US government released a report yesterday warning of security threats facing modern aircraft, leading to stories from major publications claiming in-flght Wi-Fi could be hacked to take control of a passenger plane. But according to Dr Phil Polstra, a qualified pilot and professor of digital forensics at Bloomsburg University, the report contained much erroneous information.

Polstra believes the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was put together by people who didn’t understand how modern aircraft actually work. He took umbrage with the claims that as airplanes are increasingly connected to the internet, the control systems on planes are in danger of being remotely compromised. He told FORBES over email that the avionics networks, which deal with flight controls and coordination, were simply not connected to the internet like Wi-Fi services. “To imply this is irresponsible.”
This story broke while I was on vacation and ignoring the 'net, and so I didn't comment then.  Now the plot thickens.  The Government Accounting Office has a history of misinterpreting cyber risk:
GAO staffers have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not understand how attacks and networks and operating systems work - at the deep technical level. That means their reports have been forcing government agencies to spend money in precisely the wrong ways - so much so that a close analysis will show that GAO is culpable in enabling the deep and pervasive cyber penetration that has occurred across many elements of the federal government. GAO staffers blame OMB's regulations for their errors when they are called to account. Isn't it time for GAO leadership to take a hard look at the damage caused by its findings and the people they have making those findings?
I hadn't considered inter-Agency budget rivalry as a driver for Press Release driven bogus security news, but that's something that will play a part in my analysis from now on.

UPDATE 22 APRIL 2015 11:28: More here.  I'm not a fan of having critical systems and passenger/entertainment systems on the same network, and so will try to avoid the Airbus 350 and 380, and the Boeing 787.  But there is good analysis at this link.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beach memories

I'm back in the ATL watching the TV Newscritters foaming at the mouth in excitement at the tornado warnings.  We're not in Punta Cana anymore, Toto ...

Not a tornado in sight.

View from the beach chair.

It was pretty nice to decompress.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Things I've learned in Punta Cana

Una fresco is local lingo for "a cold one" (beer).  The bartenders all grin when a gringo like me orders one.  Heh.

When you go for a walk on the beach all the way to the point (end of the picture), your legs complain about the workout.  Water has a lot more resistive force than air ...

It's hard to get away to the WiFi zone without getting my butt kicked.

Flying back tomorrow, and so blogging (by me) will be back to normal soon.  Of course, ASM826 is doing a fine job of keeping the free ice cream machine stocked with cold, yummy pixels.  Thanks, buddy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's weird to unplug from the 'net for 36 hours at a time

I could be on more often, but quite frankly I don't want to.

I have better pix on the camera, but need to upload them to the laptop. Might get to that here, but I might not.

"Here" is Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. It's pretty easy to unplug here, which was the point.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 13, 2015


Better pix coming when I get them loaded onto the laptop, and the laptop on the WiFi network. A lot of the charm here is that this isn't trivial.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Airport musings

I had to check in at the brand new International Terminal because I'm, like, flying international. The building is new and pretty swanky - still has that New Terminal smell!

And then I'm headed to my gate, C1.

In the old terminal.

[blink] [blink]

Clearly we have Top Men working on this. Top. Men. I'm thinking that it's after 5:00 somewhere. Kazakhstan, probably ...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 10, 2015

Instead of going to the NRA conference

I'm leaving for the beach.  Posting will be about what you'd expect from the beach.

But I'll drink something with an umbrella in it for all y'all.

Tax day came early for me

Since I'm going to be on vacation all next week, I'm sending my taxes out today.  It's annoying writing a check to Uncle Sam, but would be much more annoying getting a check back (and knowing I was giving him an interest-free loan).

Oh well, mustn't grumble.

Found on the shopping list

Cat food. Check.

Milk.  Check.

Hamburger.  Check.

The Blood Of My Enemies.  Lolwhut?

I see that the boys had an argument ...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vacation is coming

Wonder if this is where I'll be going.

Cyber crime is getting worse

And it's because Internet users are in Condition White:
The volume of malware threats is actually on the decline despite the increase in breaches, according to a study from Websense Security Labs.

Websense Security Labs logged 3.96 billion security threats in 2014, which was 5.1 per cent less than 2013. Despite this, the number of high-profile breaches increased.

Hackers have switched from spray and pray tactics to more "quiet, targeted and unique attacks" that Websense reckons are far more effective.
I reckon that is true, too.
Around one in three (30 per cent) of end-users click through a malicious URL in an email even though they have been warned of the danger. "End users are increasingly desensitised from the warnings, don’t feel responsible and still lack enterprise-driven education," according to Websense.
Don't click strange links, m'kay?

Maine to go to Constitutional Carry?

Rick emails to point out more progress:
AUGUSTA, Maine — Sen. Eric Brakey, an Auburn Republican serving his first term in the Legislature, is bullish about rolling back restrictions on carrying concealed handguns in Maine, despite several similar efforts that failed in recent years.
His bill, LD 652, would make Maine the fifth state to establish “constitutional carry” — a universal right of all legal firearm owners to carry concealed handguns on their person or in their vehicles. The bill has a whopping 96 co-sponsors, more than half the state Legislature, including leaders from both parties.
“We have a lot of support,” Brakey, the bill’s sponsor, said Friday. “A majority in the House has signed on as co-sponsors and a near-majority in the Senate. We have a very strong coalition.”
Maine law allows legal gun owners to apply to their local police chief or to the state for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The process involves a fee, a mandatory gun safety course and a finding that the applicant is of “good moral character,” which mostly means being free of serious criminal charges or convictions.
But Brakey and others say the law is unnecessary. Maine already allows for the open carrying of handguns without any rules other than that the person displaying the weapon is legally entitled to own it. They ask: Why should such a citizen be deemed a criminal simply for putting on a coat?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Epic Guitar is ...

... well, kind of dumb.

How badly managed is Washington D.C.'s Metro system?

So badly run that other government agencies think it's badly run:
he Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is increasingly dysfunctional. DC’s subway system is designed to run eight-car trains but due to lack of equipment two-thirds of the trains operating during rush hour have only six cars even though they are packed full of people. WMATA has asked Virginia, Maryland, and DC for nearly $1.5 billion so it can purchase new equipment and upgrade its system to allow a return to eight-car trains.

The Maryland secretary of transportation, Pete Rahn, says the state is reluctant to give hundreds of millions of dollars to an agency as poorly run as WMATA.
If you can't get buy-in from the Maryland secretary of transportation for a major public transportation system, you're system is pretty danged messed up.

Nice costume, Sir Ian

Ian McKellen was in rehearsal and while taking a break, someone mistook him for a homeless man and gave him some loose change.

Or he was taking tolls.  You shall not pass!

America's first Communist President

It's not who you think:
Eisenhower enjoyed incredibly favorable media coverage. "Just suppose that some real anti-Communist general, like Albert Wedemeyer, had had the smelly liaison with his female chauffeur that Eisenhower enjoyed with Kay Summersby. Do you suppose that half the press of the country would be constantly playing up Wedemeyer (even if he were president), by pictures and by articles, as a wonderful family man? Or suppose MacArthur, as Supreme Commander in Europe, had been drunk and unavailable the night the Battle of the Bulge began. Can you imagine how many times that story would have been retold by the Communist- inspired columnists? Or suppose Taft, at the 1952 Republican Convention, had made the dirty undercover deal with a candidate for the Vice-Presidency that Eisenhower made."
The (long) post opens with this throwing down of the gauntlet:
Your mind is almost certainly not open enough for this book.
Some might object that the first Communist President of this Republic was the latter Roosevelt.  I beg to differ: he was a fascist.  The distinction is a subtle one, I grant you.

Of course, this whole thing is purely of historical interest.  All our Presidents are communists now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Getting a hard to track cell phone

In this world of Metadata, it's not easy to make yourself hard to track.  Not easy at all.  But it's not impossible.

How to get a phone.  It's not easy, or quick, but you will end up with one that isn't clearly associated with you.

How to use it.  This is harder than you might think.  It's all about Opsec.

You won't be off the grid, but you'll be a lot more private than most people.  Whether that will attract attention or not is unclear.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Progressive heads exploding in 3 .. 2 .. 1 ..

They don't like this because they're racist and sexist.

No global warming since December 1996

Warming, warming, who has the warming?
Since December 1996 there has been no global warming at all (Fig. 1). This month’s RSS temperature – so far unaffected by the most persistent el Niño conditions of the present rather attenuated cycle – shows a new record length for the ever-Greater Pause: 18 years 4 months – and counting.

This result rather surprises me. I’d expected even a weak el Niño to have more effect that this, but it is always possible that the temperature increase that usually accompanies an el Niño will come through after a lag of four or five months. On the other hand, Roy Spencer, at his always-to-the-point blog (, says: “We are probably past the point of reaching a new peak temperature anomaly from the current El Niño, suggesting it was rather weak.” I shall defer to the expert, with pleasure. For if la Niña conditions begin to cool the oceans in time, there could be quite some lengthening of the Pause just in time for the Paris world-government summit in December.

Figure 1. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset shows no global warming for 18 years 4 months since December 1996.
You can see the 1998 "super" El Niño event. It was a one-off anomaly (otherwise it would be appropriate to say that there's been a half degree temperature decrease since 1998).  But remember, it's a crisis.

Ode to Opening Day

And from the immortal "99 reasons why Baseball is better than Football":
Football players and coaches don't know how to bait a ref, much less jump up and down and scream in his face. Baseball players know how to argue with umps; baseball managers even kick dirt on them. Earl Weaver steals third base and won't give it back; Tom Landry folds his arms.
George Carlin's comparison of the two sports is epic.

Play ball!

Retro computing

Make a secure Bitcoin address with a TI-89 calculator.  Cool hack, sort of the computing equivalent of taking an old Ford Model A and turning it into a deuce coupe.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

Each Easter I've posted about the meaning of the day.  For the last six years the Spirit has moved me to reflection, and perhaps some of my best writing.  This year, the Muse has been silent.

I think it's because I'm happy.  I find it much easier to ponder deeply when life is a mess.  It's not, for the first time is a long, long season.

So please accept my apologies, gentle reader, and I hope that you have as happy an Easter as I am.

Jesus Christ is risen today

Yes, I know I posted this on Easter before,  If you're lucky to go to a church with a superior choir and organist, this as a recessional will make the hair stand on end and let you know precisely what Easter is about.

If you're lucky.  The Lord is risen indeed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gene Autry - Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Yeah, I already posted a Saturday Redneck song.  Sue me.

I discovered Vinland today

Pulling out of the Cycle Gear parking lot I was behind a car with two number stickers: Iceland and the New Mexico sunburst. There was a dream catcher hanging from the rear view mirror.

No doubt it was there to catch sweet dreams of Lied Erikson and a Scraeling maiden ...

Pretty far south for a Viking, but I guess those guys get around.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Proper preparation is important

But adapt and overcome works, too.

Johnny Cash - Greystone chapel - Live at Folsom Prison

To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness - especially in the wilderness - you shall love Him.

  - Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces

Image via Folsom Prison Museum
The Lord visited Folsom Prison, we know this for a fact.  His Grace inspired an inmate - Glen Sherley - to write this song.  Sherley was an unexpected landing pad for the Holy Spirit, having been in and out of prison since his teens, and was serving hard time for armed robbery.

You wouldn't think that God had a place here at Folsom ...

The Lord was busy even in the wilderness that was Folsom.

Johnny Cash had been recording songs about prison since the very beginning of his career.  His second song was Folsom Prison Blues, and he was a favorite of inmates across the land.  Sherley was one of these, and made a recording of his song there in the Prison.  He sent it to Cash, and the rest was history.  Cash rehearsed it the night before the concert and it was recorded on his Live At Folsom Prison album.  Sherley became instantly famous, writing songs for Eddy Arnold and recording his own album when he was released from Folsom.

But while Grace is infinite, a man has to reach out and take it.  It seems that Shirley couldn't do that.  Unable to handle the spotlight that comes with fame, he ended up shooting himself.  Spiritually he remained in that wilderness up to the bitter end.

In a sense, all of us are in a prison, a prison of our own making.  The lesson of this Holy Week is that prisons are not for the spirit, unless we will it so.  Grace is infinite, if we will only reach out and take it.
... but He saved the soul of many lost men.

Greystone Chapel (songwriter: Glen Sherley)
Inside the walls of prison my body may be,
But my Lord has set my soul free.

There's a grey stone chapel here at Folsom,
A house of worship in this den of sin.
You wouldn't think that God had a place here at Folsom,
But He saved the soul of many lost men.

Now this grey stone chapel here at Folsom,
Stands a hundred years old made of granite rock.
It takes a ring of keys to move here at Folsom,
But the door to the house of God is never locked.

Inside the walls of prison my body may be
But the Lord has set my soul free.

There are men here that don't ever worship.
There are men here who scoff at the ones who pray.
But I've got down on my knees in that grey stone chapel,
And I've thanked the Lord for helping me each day.

Now this grey stone chapel here at Folsom,
It has a touch of God's hand on every stone.
It's a flower of light in a field of darkness,
And it's given me the strength to carry on.

Inside the walls of prison my body may be,
But my Lord has set my soul free.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Smart Power Meters fry in electrical surge

Older, "dumb" meters unaffected:
Hundreds of smart electricity meters exploded in California after a truck crashed into a utility pole and caused a power surge on Monday.

More than 5,000 homes in Stockton have been affected, according to CBS Sacramento, following a surge caused by a rubbish lorry driver crashing into a utility pole and causing the pole's top wire to touch its bottom wire.

"The top lines are considered our freeways. The bottom lines are our distribution lines taking power directly to homes," a Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson told CBS. "So when the two collide, they’re at different voltages and the higher voltage wins out, causing an overload."
The "Smart" meters are naturally more fragile to this sort of thing:
The Register notes that smart meters have to communicate with their corporate overlords outside the home. One commonly used method of doing so is powerline networking, which could mean a more direct connection between the meter's electronics and the mains feed into a home than would otherwise be the case.

Alternatively, it could be that non-smart meters which survived the surge were simple electromechanical models, and as such less likely to be affected by a surge than the smart meters. The latter would naturally contain relatively sensitive modern electronics.
But Governments like them because they can remotely turn off your air conditioning when their pie-in-the-sky wind power isn't generating electricity because there's no wind.

A conservative shifts to libertarian

I think conservatives have long been overly trusting of corporate and social power, usually assuming we'd be in control of it, so that we would be protected from any misuse thereof.

I think we are now suddenly discovering that was a terrible assumption to make, and that we should have been asking ourselves, all along: What if this power to gin up the forces of social conformity and legal bullying were not in our hands, but in fact used against us?

Well, if any conservatives were previously unaware of the danger of empowering scolds, busybodies, bureaucrats, and police to Make You Behave As The Group Thinks Is Proper, surely none can still be ignorant.
And a reflection on his transformation:
This is a time for clarity, and this is a time for choosing. This is a time to discover who it is who really supports Liberty and Freedom, and who it is who is really all about Control and Conformity.

For many years, many conservatives have really been more about the latter than the former. I have admitted, and I will continue to admit, I was among them. I have long had pronounced authoritarian and statist tendencies.

I fight against them now, like an alcoholic fights his lust for drink.
A long, but very interesting read.

Only two Howard Johnson's restaurants remain

And one - where I had my first regularly paying job - may soon close:
The orange roof and telltale spire have long been gone from the Howard Johnson Restaurant and Lounge in Bangor. But for regulars at the 49-year-old restaurant, it’s still that familiar, cozy place where they’ve eaten for decades.
It also is one of the last two Howard Johnson’s in the country, after the Lake Placid, New York, location closed Tuesday. However, in the coming months, the Bangor HoJos may close as well.
It was in High School, and the restaurant had only been open maybe ten years.  It was always busy, busy enough to hire a high school student dishwasher.  Now on it's way to the Great Beyond.

Hat tip: Rick, via email.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Government healthcare stinks, part 1,385

Government dehumanizes everything it touches:
But the economics of this kind of place are such that every body through the door is nothing but a drain on resources, and no-one is making any effort to conceal this fact.

Truly it is a miserable place to be. I do not expect a medical waiting room to be jolly, but I saw not the merest hint of a smile from any staff, and the receptionist was very grumpy about my address being out of date on her computer. There is no welcome; no sympathy; no bedside manner.
Read the whole sorry thing.

Well played

Which Presidential Candidates own guns?

And how many?

I love Rick Perry's answer.

Quote of the day: Battle rifles edition

 Mosin-Nagant 91/30 or M44: Hello and/or duh. The only way you're going to get an actually military-issued surplus rifle cheaper than this is if one falls out of your Cheerios box tomorrow morning.
Her's is quite a good list, and includes the Lee-Enfield.  By a strange coincidence, someone found my Enfield Range Report from 4 years back and left a comment.  The Youtube video of the "Mad Minute" seems to have succumbed to Internet bitrot.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Letting go, holding on

Which you choose to keep and which you choose not to.  This will be the best thing you read today.

It hits close to home for me.  I have a house full of memories of a 26 year marriage that ended last year.  I had thought that it would be quick to sort through the things, to clear and down size, to make this my place as opposed to our place.

That proceeds, but not as I had expected.  Life is not as we would have it, but if we live it right, the unanticipated path leads to where we can be happy.

Nice shock wave

Thug life comes to suburbia

I live in a nice, quiet suburb not far north from Atlanta. It's well to do and did I mention quiet?

Well, not so much anymore:

Police say a burglary suspect being chased by police struck a pedestrian and then crashed his car.

Police say the man first carjacked a Honda from Perimeter Mall, then shot at an elderly woman during an attempted burglary on Alpine Drive in Roswell Tuesday afternoon.

They said the driver died Tuesday night.

Damn punks.