Sunday, May 31, 2015

Harley AAR

I boughtmy first tank of gas for the Road Glide.  It doesnt get the mileage as the Shadow, but 750 cc isn't the same engine as 103 cu in.

Around town it's VERY hard to get out of second gear.  This is new to me.

Riding two up, it seems easier for the passenger to get on while the kickstand is down, and then you stand the bike up.  Any thoughts?

I 75 stinks.  That road surface is torn up but good.  I think I'll avoid that in the future.

Related: how do all y'all do riding back roads on longer trips?  Atlanta to Savannah is around 2 to 3 hours on I 20.  I expect it would be a lot longer on the back roads.

The Harley Owners Group app for Android seems pretty damned cool.

Next weekend I have a business trip, but after that I think a ride to the Georgia mountains is in order.

Riding cuts into blogging time.

Planning On Voting?

Who do you vote for when the game is rigged? The Smallest Minority offers his answers to a survey sent out by the Republicans.

Heel Marks, TINSIWT

Picking up where we left off...

There are some things that are inordinately important to the Marine Corps. Fresh haircuts, sharp creases, and shiny wax on linoleum floors. Doesn't matter if the building is falling apart, field day comes and someone is waxing and buffing the floor. The ex-Lance Corporal, or new PFC, from the last story? The Marine we left on police duty? He was that someone. Wax a section, buff it. Work your way along the hall. Get to the end and go up a deck.


Our squadron's enlisted barracks was fairly new. The squadbays were gone, it was two man rooms, three decks high. We worked three shifts, so the rooms made it nice. Some Marines were always asleep, even mid-day, with shifts starting at 1630 and 2330.

 In those days, we wore black leather boots with black soles. At the top of the ladderwell, where you turned onto the deck, the wax had black heel marks, some of them under a layer or two or eleven of wax. After one of the weekly inspections our intrepid Marine got instructed to get the heel marks off, strip off as much wax as necessary, but clean up the linoleum and re-wax it.

Perhaps more instruction was needed. Perhaps he could have been given supervision. Perhaps that supervisor could have provided wax remover and the correct buffing pad. But once again, if that had happened, we would not have a story.

Lacking supervision and unable to get the heel marks off, he had a moment of inspiration. Over in the hanger there was something that would get the heel marks off, get the wax off too, he was sure of it. It came in metal five gallon cans. He'd seen it used, it would clean up grease, oil, hydraulic fluid, fuel and just about anything else. Wipe off a section of wing with it and it was clean and dry in minutes.

You can't buy this wonder solvent any more, I think it got banned in the Nineties, but back then we used it liberally. In a big open hanger or out on the flightline, it disappeared into the air to go destroy the ozone layer. It was called 1,1,1-Trichloroethane. Click that link and you can see, however, in a closed space, a concentration of the stuff in the air causes dizziness, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, and death.

It will also get heel marks off linoleum. A cupful probably would have stripped the wax off and if he had been quick about cleaning it up, it would have been just the ticket to speed up the job.

But, as I mentioned, it came in five gallon cans. He drove over to the hanger and got one. Came back and poured about a gallon out on the 3rd deck and spread it around with a swab, then went down to the 1st deck to have a smoke while he waited for the wax to soften, leaving the 1,1,1-Trichloroethane evaporating into the closed space of the interior corridor.

A few minutes later, reeling and coughing, a Marine came down the hall and pulled the fire alarm. The base fire department responded, although by the time they had their respirators and air tanks on, everyone was out of the building. A room search was conducted just to be sure. Everyone got checked out and were found to be okay once they were breathing air again.

Large ventilation fans, normally used to push smoke out of buildings, were set up. The solvent was identified and once it evaporated and was vented, the building could be re-entered.

The heel marks were gone, so there's that, but the linoleum was gone, too. Not completely gone, just dissolved to sort of the consistency of peanut butter. You could scrape it up with a putty knife. The linoleum and the glue came right off. After the cleanup was complete, there was bare concrete floor everywhere the solvent had been applied followed by a ragged edge of ruined tiles, and then a shiny, ready for inspection, waxed floor from there on out to the fire exits.

I don't remember what if anything they did this time. I'm not sure that any official action was taken. If I remember it right, he got sent back to the shop under the assumption that it would be better to have him where he could be supervised than working alone in the barracks.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

T.I.N.S.I.W.T.

Matism, in the comments of the last story, suggested the acronym. He's right, they make for a longish tale, but I have lots of them and at Borepatch's urging, I'm going try a few more. This is no sh*t, I was there, now acronymed to TINSIWT.

 This is a two part story. It all happened in about a month, but it is two separate events. F4s have mounting points on the centerline and the wings. All sorts of things can be mounted, external fuel tanks, missile pylons, bomb racks, etc. One thing they all have in common was that they can be jettisoned in an emergency. Electrically detonated explosive bolts clean up the bottom of the plane, releasing whatever was being carried.

Electricity will release just the bombs at the command of the pilot, with switches in the correct configuration and the release pulled. All of this involves wires. Wires that had to be regularly tested. Connect each cannon plug to the box, throw the appropriate switch, press the right button, see the needle move and the light come on. Simple enough. Ordnance checked their own connections. They had written procedures, meant to be closely followed. If a problem was found, they called the electricians. Might be equipment, might be wires.

If an aircraft was going to be moved into the hanger, every cannon plug connection to every explosive bolt was disconnected and connected to a dummy fitting with a red streamer or flag. Safer that way, part of the procedure to prevent bad things from happening in a hanger. Once that was done no electricity could reach the explosive bolts. In it's own way, it was like checking for a clear chamber before trying the trigger on your rifle.
In the cockpit, behind a bit of safety wire, was the trigger a big button with the label EXT STORE EMER REL.One quick troubleshooting step electricians would use in the hanger, if testing showed a fault on any particular station, was to push a screwdriver past the safety wire and depress that EXT STORE EMER REL button. Since the actual purpose of this button was to send an electrical signal to every explosive bolt on the underside of the plane, if the tester lit up with that button pushed, you knew the wiring was okay and the problem was elsewhere in the equipment.  This was a common practice and you can see the screwdriver marks on the face of the button behind the safety wire in this image.



 So, one afternoon, a young ordnanceman was sent out to perform the bomb release checks on a plane on the flightline. Not a plane in the hanger, mind you, just another F4 on the flightline with a loaded centerline tank ready for the next launch. He disconnected all the bolts on the bomb racks and proceeded to run his tests. And when he found one that failed the initial check did he call for an electrician? No. Did he realize that neither he or anyone else had disconnected the cannon plugs on the centerline tank mounting bolts? No. He took the next step, the one he had seen others take. He pushed his screwdriver past the safety wire and depressed the EXT STORE EMER REL button. I don't know what result the tester gave him.

 Boom, boom! Both charges worked as designed and the centerline tank left the aircraft, jettisoned as it were, to fall a foot and a half to the concrete below. Everyone in the hanger and the shops came running out to see what the sound was. What they found was a stunned Lance Corporal, a cracked centerline tank on the deck, and a wave of JP,  maybe 8 or 10 inches high, rolling down the flightline toward the storm drains. 600 gallons, give or take a few.

 Crash crew responded, although there was no fire. Even back then, there was some environmental reporting and cleanup. The tank was no longer of any value. The plane was down for a couple of days. There was a medium sized tree's worth of paper used in the follow-up reports.

In the end, as part of his non-judicial punishment, the young ordnanceman got to sew different rank insignia on all his uniforms and was sent off to Siberia to the barracks for 60 days of police detail. Away from the flightline and off to somewhere he could do no harm.
And so ends part one.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Seems Like A Good Idea

Let's make a robot that runs like a cheetah and jumps obstacles. It's a DARPA project, so later we can wrap it in Kevlar and add the weapons.

Damn Soccer theatrics

Always trying to draw a foul ...


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Once Upon A Time

If it's fairy tales, the expected opening is "Once upon a time...". If you sitting around with a group of veterans and some assorted libations and the stories start, the opening line is "This is no sh*t, I was there...". So the following story, written at the request of the Borepatch himself, might be true. I was there and personally witnessed parts of it. I heard some of it from one of the pilots, who was also my OIC. And the rest was told and retold around the squadron.

Or maybe not. Maybe I made it all up, even if the statue of limitations is long past. In any case, here we go. I think OldNFO should be sitting here to hear this one.

Man, I hadn't thought about this one in years. This is no sh*t, I was there.

We were deployed to a base in Japan. Twelve F-4J Phantoms, a couple of dozen pilots and RIOs, a couple of hundred enlisted. The planes were 20 years old. They took a lot of maintenance to keep them flying and parts were sometime in short supply. In this case it was generators. The planes had two engines, each engine had a generator. NATOPS, the rules that governed Naval Aviation, mandated that F4s had to have two working generators to take off. Because two is one and one is none, doncha know?

There were no spare generators in the Far East. None. Zilch, zip, nada. If a plane had a generator failure, it sat on the flightline or in the hanger and waited.

This was double plus ungood to the officers, especially the Aircraft Maintenance Officer (AMO), Executive Officer (XO), and Commanding Officer (CO). This being peacetime, more or less, if you ignored the Cold War, officers weren't being rated by combat effectiveness and how much stuff they blew up. They were being rated by things like hours flown, safety, and aircraft readiness. There was no check box for unavailable parts, if a plane was down, it was a negative hit on efficiency.

As in all things, the effluent flows downhill. A down airplane was ungood for everyone. And yet, there she sat, down, waiting for the supply system to bring us generators from across the ocean.

And one day while the generator shortage persisted, above a carrier off the coast of Japan, a pair of F4s were circling and could not land. The decks were fouled for reasons unknown to me, but fuel was still being consumed. Our runways being near enough, the Navy F4s were diverted and landed without incident.

F4s won't self start. They need high volume air to spin the turbines and external electrical hookups until the generators are running. We had these things. The Navy birds were parked on our flightline to sit overnight. We agreed to launch them the next morning.

And now we get to the meat of our little tale. Because there the Navy planes sat, with no more security than what we provided. NATOPS rules provide for paperwork, lots of paperwork and aircraft inspections, and signoffs any time panels are opened. Touching the aircraft of another Squadron simply wasn't done. But still, some Marines unknown went out in cover of darkness and removed one of the good generators from one of the Navy F4s and replaced it with one of bad generators we had waiting. Our plane up. Their plane down.

This could be justified, in it's own way, by saying that the plane wasn't going to fly anywhere. It would get started and then shut down for a bad generator and sit on our flightline until a new crop of generators could be harvested and shipped. The first part of which is exactly what happened. The Navy crews strapped in, everything followed, and then they shut back down for a generator failure.

The pilot climbed back down and walked over to Maintenance Control, walked past everyone into the AMO's office and said, "You took that generator." The AMO, not having arrived on site yesterday, had to have known, his squadron's availability having gone from 91.6% to 100% that morning. But the game must be played, "What generator?"

The game of "What generator?" played out several times, bouncing from location to location up the ranks structure, far above the ranks of the Sergeants and Corporals that may or may not have been involved the possibly fictitious unauthorized appropriation of an F4 generator.  Where finally it came to rest with the command structure on the carrier. Things have taken a bad turn when a Navy Rear Admiral is discussing aircraft parts with a Marine Colonel (Base CO) and a Marine Lt. Colonel (Squadron Commander).

A day goes by, and a couple of Navy personnel show up for a face to face. A Commander and a Chief, if memory serves. And in that extended game of "What generator?", the Chief had the trump card. Because shortly into that discussion, some time before honor and manhood was brought into question, the Chief quietly said, "Sir, I'm guessing that the Marines don't track the serial numbers on generators."

And so the full sadness of all that had gone before was complete. Because the Chief had it true. We did not track serial numbers on generators. They had them, but since they weren't a classified part, those fields on the VIDS/MAF were blank. It had not occurred to anyone that that the Navy was more thorough.

And now, to see all the cards, "Either we get our generator back, or the Admiral calls NIS." Making it time to roll over and bare your throat. The Navy flew in their own techs. A cart with a working generator and the appropriate serial number appeared. They fixed their plane, launched their plane, and left without a goodbye.

Another call from the Navy Squadron Commander came in for the Marine Squadron Commander. The names and ranks of the Marines involved in the initial pilfering, the charges files, this dispositions of those charges, and perhaps pictures of their heads on spikes along the runway would make it all better.

In a short time, the Master Sergeant in charge of Power Plants found himself standing in front of the CO to be held to account and tell what he knew. He was known as a good guy, with almost two decades of experience, always willing to go out on the line and turn wrenches, to teach. A Marine who stood up for his men. He knew that this time, they hadn't thought it through, but they were trying to do what seemed right, and they were going to take a pretty hard hit when they had meant no real harm.

He said what I wish I would say if ever faced with such a situation, "I did it, Sir. By myself. I came in and went out there and swapped those generators. No else knew about until after it was done. I still think it was the right thing to do. I'm a Staff NCO and I request a Courts Martial."

I don't know what would have happened if the actual guys had been identified, but that Master Sergeant jammed a wrench in the gears of military justice. A Courts Martial, with Navy Officers brought in from the carrier to give testimony? The CO and the AMO being questioned by the defense about how much they knew and when? No, no, no. All of this started to look worse and worse the more it got considered.

I don't know what was said, or by whom, or at what level, but it simply went away. Like a puddle of rain on the flightline when the sun came out at Cubi Point, it just dried up and vanished. Leaving a (possibly mythical) Master Sergeant a hero with all the guys in the Squadron. Someone who put his career and stripes on the table to protect his Marines.
No one was there for all of it. What I offer you here is the story as I pieced it together, as it was retold to me, and as best as I can remember it.

Generators showed back up the following month. Parts shortages continued to plague us, and we tried a different means to keep some spares around, but that's another story for another day.

Damn kids

Silicon Graybeard lays it out.

Get offa my lawn, punks.

M-1 Carbines

Here's an article in American Rifleman about the M-1 Carbine. Don't just read the article, in this case the comments have a lot to say as well.




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Heh

Lawrence on social justice warriors and Twin Peaks restaurants: there's a business opportunity for the SJWs:




Lots more top shelf mockery at the link.

Breaking the Big Four

Weaponsman has a post up about a young man who decided that only half dropping the magazine out of his Glock and then re-seating it after cycling the slide was a time saving shortcut. This has the bonus effect of making double checking the chamber impossible.  The inevitable happened.

No word on why he was pointing the gun at his leg when he heard the sound of inevitablity. If he had at least pointed the muzzle in a safe direction when he pulled the trigger, he could have learned his lesson with a little less emphasis.

Kudos for sharing this to the Hopalong Kid, though. He deserves our respect for publishing his experience. Perhaps someone else will decide that a bucket of sand in the corner of the shop is a good place to point your muzzle when pulling the trigger.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The science is settled!

An epidemic of false claims in science:
False positives and exaggerated results in peer-reviewed scientific studies have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. The problem is rampant in economics, the social sciences and even the natural sciences, but it is particularly egregious in biomedicine.
Exaggerations and bogus results getting published.  Now how could that possibly happen?
The problem begins with the public’s rising expectations of science.
Ah.  It's all the public's fault.  Got it.
Being human, scientists are tempted to show that they know more than they do. The number of investigators—and the number of experiments, observations and analyses they produce—has also increased exponentially in many fields, but adequate safeguards against bias are lacking. Research is fragmented, competition is fierce and emphasis is often given to single studies instead of the big picture.
Now that's more like it.  Scientists (like other people) are tempted to sometimes shade the truth in order to get their career ahead.  And the scientific establishment is lousy about picking up on that.
Much research is conducted for reasons other than the pursuit of truth. Conflicts of interest abound, and they influence outcomes. In health care, research is often performed at the behest of companies that have a large financial stake in the results.
In climate science there's pressure from politicians to get the right results.  The more right results you get, the more grants you get.

Nah - that's crazy talk!  The politicians are pure as the driven snow and absolutely have no ulterior motives!  And the scientists [who hid the decline - ed] are noble pursuers of holy truth!  Settled!  It's all settled, I say!

Back to Scientific American:
The crisis should not shake confidence in the scientific method. The ability to prove something false continues to be a hallmark of science. But scientists need to improve the way they do their research and how they disseminate evidence.

First, we must routinely demand robust and extensive external validation—in the form of additional studies—for any report that claims to have found something new. Many fields pay little attention to the need for replication or do it sparingly and haphazardly.
Or in the case of climate science, they pay absolutely no attention to how the actual results track the predictions:

And the SciAm article ends with this interesting tidbit:
Eventually findings that bear on treatment decisions and policies should come with a disclosure of any uncertainty that surrounds them. It is fully acceptable for patients and physicians to follow a treatment based on information that has, say, only a 1 percent chance of being correct. But we must be realistic about the odds.
A big complaint about climate science is the lack of discussion about uncertainties.  Perhaps the best article on this is Judith Curry's Uncertainty Monster, but the climate science establishment won't discuss the subject.  Rather, we keep hearing that the science is settled.

Of course, Scientific American won't discuss these issues in climate science, or Dr. Curry without slandering her.  There is something deeply broken about science as it is practiced today.

Dutch town tends American war graves for 70 years

There's a waiting list to get a grave to tend.  Wow.

(via)

Tired, stressed, busy

Work, kids, siblings, the house - everything is hitting all at the same time.  got completely exhausted last week at work, then over the weekend, now looking at more of the same for work plus a family crisis.

Bah.  I'm getting too old for all this.  And I need to ride more, damn it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Heroes Part II

When someone says, "Yea, I was in the service. I was a clerk typist.", and tells you funny stories of boot camp and maybe the stuff he and his buddies did in Japan in 1975, you can believe that.

We've all heard of Stolen Valor and there are groups of veterans that dedicate a lot of time exposing guys who claim to have been super combat vets, SpecOps operators, Navy SEALs, wearing uniforms with rows of ribbons they bought on-line.

What isn't as obvious is the guy who was in the service and just embellishes what he did. Now he can talk the talk, knows the units, lingo and details. Maybe he was on the base in a non-combat role but in a support unit that fixed the boats. It might start out no more than saying, "Yea, I served with the SEALS. No, I don't want to talk about it.", to his friends at the bar. That's true in a way, if you squint. It makes his boring job a little better story.

I ran into this with a WWII vet recently. I am now about 99.5% sure the story he's sharing is bovine excrement. The internet changes how easy it is to check. I heard his stories and it was both believable and a great story, so I went looking. Where he said he was and what he said he did seemed like it would lend itself to a story for the blog, if not a book. I wanted details. I found the unit, found mission histories, found a real live historian in England that I spoke on the phone with last week.

And what I found is that a man with the right age and right name was there, but he wasn't what he claimed to be and couldn't have been. I suspect he made this fiction up right at the end of the war. He started telling it real early and kept telling it until he had it down pat. I don't know what he gained from it and it doesn't matter any more. He's 93. I left out all the details because I am not trying to out him. That 0.5% of uncertainty is enough for me to leave this alone.

What is verifiable, is that he served in WWII in England, came home, worked for 45 years, married and had a family, served in local government, volunteered in the community and in all the small normal parts of his life, seems to have been part of the generation that built the post-war world I grew up in. A likeable, mostly honorable, man.

The English  historian I spoke with told me they find a certain amount of this. He told me about a (deceased) WWII fighter pilot whose family had contacted him with stories of air to air combat, a crash landing in France, details of the ride across the Channel, being returned to the base to fly again, and so on. Great stuff. The family wanted to get it in the historical record.

Well, the man was a fighter pilot. But the mission histories are complete, they all exist, and by the time this man was flying there were no German fighters rising to meet them, no desperate dogfights in the sky over Germany. By the last months of the war, the Luftwaffe was pretty much defunct. He had flown his missions, escorted bombers to targets, and flown back. No record he ever fired his guns in combat. He had wanted to be a hero bad enough to tell pieces of other people's stories.

I suspect it has always been this way. That after the battles between Rome and Hannibal's army, guys who had been cooks and farriers went out and collected swords and armor and took them home to tell great stories of their bravery and how they had singlehandedly turned the tide of the battle.





Heroes Part I

Since 9-11, the default position on people in uniform is that they are all heroes. It's wrong. They aren't all heroes. People in the military may be hard working, honorable, and dependable and still not be heroes, except maybe to their kids. But even that isn't what I mean. People in the military are just people.

Smucks, some of them, slackers that do just enough to skate by. Some are guys you couldn't trust not to empty out your wallet while you're in the shower. Others are guys that will hit on your wife the weekend after you leave on deployment. Some are drunk as often as possible, rowdy troublemakers that make the towns outside the bases what they are.

Even the ones that are recognized heroes, like a guy that got up off the ground and attacked a group of pillboxes, shot and blasted an opening in the enemy's position, managed to both be seen doing this by people that survived, and survive himself, and have the paperwork go through so that some politician could hang a light blue ribbon around his neck might not be someone you'd want to leave alone with your daughter.

The one thing they have in common, from the best to the worst, is how young they are. Most of them are just kids, a year out of high school, that's who goes to war.

It's also who just goes to boot camp, puts on the uniform, and ends up issuing gear out of a supply depot in Alabama. Or serving as an MP on some big base full of the rowdy drunks I mentioned. Or fixing radar, radios, computer systems, trucks, tanks, jet engines, and so on. Even if you have one of the cool jobs like being a fighter pilot, what percentage of fighter pilots ever even see an enemy plane in the air?

When I was a Marine, I worked on radar on F-4s. I got a lot of electronics school. I went to Japan, Korea, and Philippines on 3 West-Pac tours. I wasn't a great Marine. I drove my boss nuts because I would be the guy to ask "WTF" when the truly stupid was being served to us. I was just there a lot of the time. And sometimes I skated. I was not a hero. The other Marines I served with, many of them far better Marines than me, were not heroes.

I did 6 years active and got an honorable discharge. I have my paperwork, lots of pictures, certificates, etc. I did exactly what I say I did and have plenty of proof. It was all during the Cold War. The riskiest thing I did was work on a flightline, not a zero risk location by any means, but nowhere near dangerous as going on liberty in Olongapo.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Motorcycle ride: success!

More to follow, but scooting around the block led to going around town.  It's much heavier but is very stable.  The weight makes me ride differently but that's likely a good thing.

I need to keep upping the miles I ride, but this works nicely.

Johannes Ockeghem - Requiem

Memorial Day honors the fallen soldiers, and nothing quite brings a tone of reflection like the Missa Pro Defunctis, the Requiem Mass for the Dead.  This version by Ockeghem is the oldest surviving Requiem that we know.  It is an a capella performance in the newfangled (at his time in the 1400s) polyphonic style with multiple singers singing different notes at the same time (as opposed to the old Gregorian style where all singers sang the same note).



This Memorial Day weekend remember the fallen.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat aeis.  Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

If the ACLU has any cojones at all ...

... it will file suit on June 1 for force an immediate end of the bulk collection of metadata from Americans.  We'll see.  IANAL, but this would seem an open and shut case, as it looks like the PATRIOT Act will expire then.

And we'd see if a Court would have the cojones to stop a program with no legal authorization.

Hat tip: In the MIDDLE of the RIGHT

The Statler Brothers - More Than a Name on a Wall

Image via Wikipedia
A lot of people seem to think that Memorial Day is "thank a veteran" Day.  I guess that could work, but only if you were at a cemetery.  The roots of Memorial Day go deep, all the way back to the American War of Southern Independence, where "Decoration Day" was reserved to take flowers to the graves of the Fallen.  Late May was chosen because flowers would be in bloom in every corner of the Republic.

Nowadays it's the long weekend that starts the summer season.Trips to the lake, grilling out, and cold beer push the original meaning aside.  Few take flowers to the graves anymore, which is a damn shame.  The Fallen deserve a day of remembrance.

As you'd expect, there's a country music song for that.

The Statler Brothers are old school country from the 1960 to the 1980s, before the new pop-crossover sound got popular and pushed everything off the airwaves.  Johnny Cash gave them their big break* and they ended winning a bunch of CMA awards as well as three Grammys. Now you hardly ever hear them except if the radio station plays Gospel on Sunday.   They sang a lot of that.

This song came at the very end of their career, but shot up to the top of the charts.  Timing no doubt had something to do with that - the song was released the month before Memorial Day in 1989.



More Than a Name on a Wall (Songwriters: Jimmy Fortune, John Rimel)
I saw her from a distance as she walked up to the wall
In her hand she held some flowers as her tears began to fall
And she took out pen and paper as to trace her memories
And she looked up to heaven and the words she said were these

She said Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me
And oh I'd love to see him just one more time you see
All I have are the memories and the moments to recall
So Lord could you tell him that he's more than a name on a wall

She said he really missed the family and being home on Christmas day
And he died for God and country in a place so far away
I remember just a little boy playing war since he was three
But Lord this time I know he's not comin' home to me

She said Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me
And oh I'd love to see him but I know it just can't be
So I thank you for my memories and the moments to recall
So Lord could you tell him that he's more than a name on a wall
* They wrote a funny tribute to Cash, We Got Paid By Cash.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why do people hack?

Because that's where the money is:
Hackers have struck one of the world's largest internet dating websites, leaking the highly sensitive sexual information of almost four million users onto the web.

The stolen data reveals the sexual preferences of users, whether they're gay or straight, and even indicates which ones might be seeking extramarital affairs. In addition, the hackers have revealed email addresses, usernames, dates of birth, postal codes and unique internet addresses of users' computers.

...

Within hours of the data being leaked, hackers on the forum said they intended to hit victims with spam emails, and Mr Harper has been targeted with virused emails since his information was made public.

Online crime experts believe the after the initial spam email campaign, hackers will now begin trawling through the data for potential blackmail targets.
Blackmail seems to be the big win here, although there's obviously more risk than your usual hacking situation.  But organized crime has been a big player in the black hat community for ten years or more, so this is just a new source of data that they'll use the same way.

And I love this part:
Shaun Harper is one of those whose details have been published. "The site seemed OK, but when I got into it I realised it wasn't really for me, I was looking for something longer term. But by that time I'd already given my information. You couldn't get into the site without handing over information.

"I deleted my account, so I thought the information had gone. These sites are meant to be secure."

You keep using that word.  I do not believe that it means what you think it means ...

At the Going Down of the Sun

Perhaps Memorial Day seems like a time to put flags on old headstones and remember our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Perhaps it seems to be just a day off form work to mark the start of summer. It’s not. It’s about remembering the sacrifice made by very young men to preserve our country. Day by day, year after year, we send young men into harm’s way and not all of them come back.

We cannot repay their service, we cannot do or say anything to ease the loss to their families, all we can do is remember.


They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.
–Laurence Binyon

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who is up for a ride this weekend?

The bike awaits.  Time to cowboy up.


Send me an email at borepatch at gmail if you are in the Atlanta area and want to meet up for a short ride.  I'm just getting back in the saddle, so it will be short but could end at a pub.

The NSA is the reason that we can't have nice things on the Internet

It seems that encryption was deliberately broken by the NSA, and now everyone is getting hip to how to read all your data.
Tens of thousands of HTTPS-protected websites, mail servers, and other widely used Internet services are vulnerable to a new attack that lets eavesdroppers read and modify data passing through encrypted connections, a team of computer scientists has found.

The vulnerability affects an estimated 8.4 percent of the top one million websites and a slightly bigger percentage of mail servers populating the IPv4 address space, the researchers said. The threat stems from a flaw in the transport layer security protocol that websites and mail servers use to establish encrypted connections with end users. The new attack, which its creators have dubbed Logjam, can be exploited against a subset of servers that support the widely used Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which allows two parties that have never met before to negotiate a secret key even though they're communicating over an unsecured, public channel.

The weakness is the result of export restrictions the US government mandated in the 1990s on US developers who wanted their software to be used abroad. The regime was established by the Clinton administration so the FBI and other agencies could break the encryption used by foreign entities. Attackers with the ability to monitor the connection between an end user and a Diffie-Hellman-enabled server that supports the export cipher can inject a special payload into the traffic that downgrades encrypted connections to use extremely weak 512-bit key material. Using precomputed data prepared ahead of time, the attackers can then deduce the encryption key negotiated between the two parties.
NSA was involved in all the discussions on export grade encryption in the 1990s.  Their fingerprints are all over this.

This is still developing but looks like it is very bad indeed.  This would let a Bad Guy get your online banking password, among other things.  The idea that NSA could get a back door in important code and that the back door would remain secret was always pretty dumb.

Keep your eye out for a pop up from your browser saying there's an important security fix.  You absolutely will want this one.  As far as I can tell, Internet Explorer is the only one patched so far.

The secret life of a blogger


Heh.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Milkweed

I wrote a series of posts on Scouting on my old blog. Some are personal. Others were more general. I'm going to use some of them here. I want people to remember how it was in America in the mid-20th Century.
_____________________________________________

Milkweed:

Back in the United States of America, Boy Scouting was an honorable activity. Scouting was held up as something to be proud of. Scouts were called upon by the government at that time to do what were called “National Good Turns”.

In 1944, one of those Good Turns was to collect milkweed fluff.



Before the use of synthetic materials, life preservers were filled with a material called kapok. During the war it was impossible to get kapok in sufficient quantities for the demand, and milkweed fluff had been chose as an alternative filler material for the life jackets.

The Scouts collected enough fluff to make 2 million life jackets. They were young, but their country was at war and they wanted to do their duty. They were members of the Boy Scouts of America and they had taken an Oath.

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country…
–The opening phrase of the Scout Oath

Monday, May 18, 2015

Boy, a few good thunderstorms in the ATL sure do a number on flight schedules

Probably a good thing because the roads were a mess and it took forever to get to Hartsfield.

Now I'm in the tender care of the United gate agents. I kind of see what Uncle Jay is talking about.

I could use a good stiff drink ...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Quote of the Day: Biker Gang Hangouts

Lawrence is all over the Waco Biker Gang War like white on rice.  And he brings this about the locale where the (ahem) dispute took place, the Twin Peaks restaurant:
Twin Peaks is a lot like Hooters, but without so much refinement and class.
I shouldn't laugh after this body count, but that's some top shelf snark right there.

HAHAHAHAHA

(gasp, wheeze)

HAHAHAHAHA

Hat tip: Claire

Did GM kill off the streetcar companies in the 1920s?

No.  It was (surprise!) short sighted and intrusive government that killed the street cars.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mad Max

Went to the movies to see the new Mad Max with another shooter. It was certified plot free. Two hours of chase scenes, tremendous accidents and explosions. Giant steampunk machines, incredible moving vehicles made out junkyard finds and supercharged engines. A moving wall of speakers with a rock guitarist chained to the front of it.

As we were walking out, he commented, "She would have never made that shot with an SKS. What was it? 600 yards at a small spotlight on a moving vehicle?


I turned to him and said, 'That's it? Out of all of that, that is what you decided was unbelievable?"

Here's the trailer.




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Who's up for a motorcycle ride in Atlanta?

I think that in a week or maybe two I'll get back on the bike.  As you can imagine, I'm a little nervous.

I know that there are some bikers near here that read this - any interest in a (probably short) ride?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Quote of the Day: Amtrak Subsidies edition

In my recent post on Amtrak, a number of commenters said (quite rightly) that all modes of travel are subsidized.  However, rail is subsidized at a much higher rate per passenger mile than any other form.  How high?  The Antiplanner crunches some numbers on the subsidy on the Amtrak Chicago - Milwaukee route:
In other words, the [Amtrak] subsidy alone would have been enough to give every single Hiawatha rider a free trip on Greyhound or Megabus (at the low cost of $7 per trip).
When the subsidy is high enough to entirely cover the ticket price of a competing mode of travel, you're in a whole 'nother world.  So why do we do this?  The Antiplanner hits center mass:
Until that happens, now you know why you should be happy that your tax dollars are going to subsidize Amtrak: so that a few snobs who won’t ride ordinary buses can get subsidies to ride expensive and mostly empty trains.
Yup.  Class warfare in action.

Deflategate - the legal ramifications of Tom Brady's suspension

By buddy Rick is a lawyer (admittedly not a labor lawyer as he asks me to point out).  But he's looked at the recent suspension of Tom Brady for 4 games by the NFL commissioner (as a punishment for under-inflated footballs) and emails me his analysis.  With his permission, I'm posting it here.
http://www.breitbart.com/sports/2015/05/12/top-10-reasons-why-an-appeal-overturns-tom-bradys-suspension/

Google Jeffery Kessler.  I have forgotten half of the cases he has slammed the NFL on.  I do not believe he has ever lost.  I now think it is never even getting to the “merits” of the case.  Kessler will have it thrown out based solely on the fact that they based the suspension on his failure to “cooperate” by giving them his phone.  Unlike any of all of the talking head analysts on tv and radio, I downloaded and read the entire NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.  There are several sections where the League collectively bargained for the ability to do discovery as part of a dispute.  See, for example, Article XI entitled “Non-Injury Grievance” where the rules for discovery conducted by each side are clearly laid out.  An example of this type of dispute would be one involving the terms/requirements in a player’s contract.  If the player disputes the league’s/teams interpretation, it brings an arbitration/appeal under this Article and per the agreement that has been collectively bargained for, the member of the union must submit to discovery, including one would assume, discovery of his electronic devices.  However, the appeal of a suspension is governed by Article XI entitled “Commissioner Discipline.”  It does not contain any agreement by the players to be subject to discovery.  Put conversely, it does not empower the League to seek discovery of electronic devices.  Of course, the League can always ask as Wells did, but members of the union (i.e. Brady and Gostkowski as opposed to everyone employed by the Pats) do not have to give them anything.  The League expressly sanctioned Brady for his failure to do something the is not required under the CBA and for which they have never collectively bargained.  Kessler is going to slam the NFL.  So much so that I go back to wondering if this wasn’t done by Goodell intentionally.  To everyone else, he appears to be hardassing the Pat’s and Brady, but when the dust settles, his buddy Kraft is at least partially placated in the hopes it will blow over.

Brady should win [if he sues].  He has to go through the charade/farce of an “appeal” to the Commissioner.  After that he will go to the NLRB, I would imagine.  He as a dispute under the NFLPA collective bargaining agreement.  If he really wants to get nasty, he may be contemplating an anti-trust suit.  Kessler cut his teeth on anti-trust.  That prospect may scare the crap out of the League.  And I still don’t think the merits of the case will come in.  The argument would be as follows: The only reason Brady is in the position he is is because the NFL is an illegal monopoly.  I.e. it is acting in an anti-competitive manner.  Since the League is an illegal monopoly, it is a legal nullity.  If the league is deemed a monopoly, then there is no Office of the Commissioner.  No Office of the Commissioner, no power to suspend.  No power to suspend, no Brady punishment . . .

And don’t forget, it was Kessler that won the anti-trust suit that got the NFLPA free agency.

Kraft, on the other hand, agreed to the League constitution and franchise agreements.  He has no right of appeal and a very tough case.
It's a very interesting question as to whether Brady could sue the NFL Commissioner for damaging his reputation in this episode.  I think that's quite unlikely to happen - indeed, I expect that after all the big headlines die out there will be a very quiet resolution of this that revokes the suspension and substitutes some wrist slap as a fig leaf for the NFL.  By the time the season starts this will all have blown over.

Otherwise the NFL would have some very interesting information come out during the discovery process in the lawsuits, information that would almost certainly be very damaging to the Commissioner's office.

R.I.P. B.B. King

Thanks for all the great music.  Sad that the Thrill really is gone.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

You Can't See Where Life Leads

There are always choices in life. Sometimes they take unexpected paths.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thoughts on the Amtrak accident

By now you've heard of the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.  At least eight are dead and many more are hurt.  I expect that this will soon fade from the news because unlike airplane crashes, train accidents seem not to get the 24/7 over hype that you get from, say, a Malaysia Air crash.

Even though as many people are killed by trains.  Maybe more: at least 1400 dead in the last decade.

Passenger rail is a big problem, for several reasons: It's slower than air travel on all but a handful of routes (say, Boston city center to New York city center), and that's mostly because the TSA screening processes at airports add 60-90 minutes to the travel time.  This even applies to new rail technologies, like Japan's new Tokyo-Osaka 500 kph mag lev line. It's less convenient than air travel - the train only goes where there are tracks (duh!) while the airplane can fly to any place with an airport.  There are also many more departures by air than by rail, so the traveler will have many more options on when to go.  Lastly, it's much less expensive.  While rail ticket prices are competitive with air, they are heavily subsidized by government.  After all "sustainability" means "as long as the grants keep coming".

Can you think of any other mode of transportation that is still around despite that it is slower, less convenient, more expensive, and no safer than an alternative?  The question is why is it still here?

The answer is that rail projects give big shot politicians prestige projects where they can, say, entertain visiting big shots in the grand new terminal or on shiny new high speed trains.  High speed rail (and Light Rail) take money away from other transport projects that would, say, help the poor (e.g. increased urban bus frequency) to flatter the egos of those feeding from the public trough.  It's actually the best example I can think of why "Technocratic Government" (management by the highly educated) is a mirage.  A true technocratic government would kill Amtrak subsidies tomorrow and allocate the funds to something that would provide real value.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

24/7 GPS Monitoring

A phone app you have to install, that track you by GPS, to locations, times, even driving speeds. It has a clock in/clock out feature, but does not shut off, allowing your boss to track your movements at all times, day and night.

And they fire you if you uninstall it.

Hidden In Plain Sight

L.E.D. headlamps are a wonder of the modern age.

When I think back to what flashlights were when I was Boy Scout, it was 2 D cell units with an incandescent bulb. A couple of hours of use and then it went dim.

Now it's a couple of AAA batteries, it fits on with a headband, and it's bright enough to hike with, and the batteries last for a week of regular use.

There's a side effect of these head lamps I discovered, though, that gave me pause. It was 4 or 5 years ago. I had just gotten a new L.E.D. headlamp and was camped in a site that had a large grassy field nearby. I had gotten up to go to the latrine and as the light from my headlamp swept the field, I saw thousands of tiny, very bright reflections. They looked like prisms reflecting rainbows, sharp points of multicolored light.

I had to see, so I walked in, following one of them to the source. It was a spider. A small spider with eyes that reflected the light from that headlamp. A moment later came the realization that there where tens of thousands of spiders in that field. Every one defending a territory of a circle about eight inches around.

This only works with headlamps and only of a certain type of lamp I think, but I have shown this to others to my amusement. That dawning moment when they grok the idea of just how many spiders are in every patch of grass and leaf litter is priceless.

I was reminded of this today by an article in the news. A mom took a cellphone picture of her toddler and the reflection of the child's eye was white instead of red. It's indicative of a particular form of cancer that starts in the eye and then can grow out into the brain. That white reflection is a common symptom. It was the light from the flash that revealed what was hidden in plain sight.



Quote of the Day: Goose-stepping Creep edition

Word:
I damn sure didn’t go to war for this country twice to come home and be told by a bunch of homely chicks with daddy issues, effete literary fops scandalized by the notion of resistance to Third World pathologies, and nimrod sons of politicians playing at journalism what I can and can’t say. And I don’t think most Americans are ready to have everything they speak, write, or think perused for possible hate criminality by these same goose-stepping creeps.
Amen.  I must thank Al Gore for his most excellent Information Superhighway which brings this most excellent beat down of his ideological allies to us.  Awesomesauce!

Monday, May 11, 2015

I confess

Image copyright Borepatch, 2011

I watched Taking Chance.  I expect that most of our readers have already seen this, but it was the first time that I screwed my courage to the sticking point to sit through it.  You see, I knew the ending.

For those who haven't seen it, it's the story of a Marine Lt. Colonel who escorts a fallen Marine back to his home town for burial.  I myself have flown with one of our fallen heroes, and I must say that it's not something easily forgotten.  Kevin Bacon won a Golden Globe for his performance which was well deserved.

But there was a part of his performance that hit close to home.  As the officer who escorted the fallen Chance Phelps home, he was invited to a gathering in Chance's home town VFW hall.  Bacon's character ends the evening talking with an old Korea Marine vet, saying that his great regret was that when the war heated up in the early aughts. he chose a desk job at home so that he could spend time with his wife an kids.

That one hit home for me.  I was 43 years old when the planes hit the twin towers, and almost 45 when we went back into Iraq.  But I thought long an hard about signing up.  The service wouldn't likely have wanted me at that age, and certainly wouldn't have sent me to the sandbox (likely if they would have taken me it would have been for a boring old computer security posting).  In any case, I heard the call of home and hearth, just like Bacon's character.  I didn't go.

But the words of the Bard echo in my dreams every now and then.
And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
- William Shakespeare, Henry V,  Act 4, Scene 3


Strange to find my youth to be peaceful and my middle age to be the time when I heard - and passed by - the call.  Bacon's character says something similar in the film, which hit home.

This is quite a film, but one that may make you think longer than you like on things that strike close to home.

The 20th Fighter Group Project

The 20th Fighter Group was attached to the 8th Air Force. They went to England in late summer of 1943 and came home after the war was over in the fall of 1945. Starting in P-38s and the then flying P-51 Mustangs, they flew as fighter cover for the bombers over Germany.

There is a project to capture that history, The 20th Fighter Group Project. They are making a major effort to capture the history of the men, the planes, the missions, and what their lives were like during those years.

If you know anyone who served, or who's father, grandfather, or great-grandfather served with the 20th and has written or oral history to share, they want to hear it.

There are only a few of the veterans of the 20th left. I met one this weekend, got to hear fragments of his stories. He's 93, widowed after 59 years of marriage, a man who went and served and then came home and like millions of others, helped build the post-war America I grew up in.

I found the project doing some follow-up research, trying to get some background to fill the story and the notes I took.

The 20th Fighter Group lost 132 pilots during the war. 73 were killed in action, most of the rest became POWs in Germany. They flew 312 missions. 28 of them became aces. Most of of this happened while flying of the most iconic airplanes of the era, the P-51 Mustang.


The Seven Year Itch

Next month this blog turns seven years old, and it's increasingly hard to get motivated to post.  I'm not sure what's causing that.

People have said that my writing is at its best when it's about personal things - it was a great comfort to write about Dad's final struggle with cancer.  But that really can't be the whole thing: life hasn't suddenly turned into sunshine and puppies, and in fact a year ago this month was bad enough that for a while I just simply stopped posting.

I'm not sure why the muse doesn't hang around here much anymore.  This used to be an outlet for me, but now is increasingly a chore.  Not sure what to do about that.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Damn. I came back from Washington D. C. a day too soon

I missed one of the largest flyovers of World War II airplanes in history.


That's the only flying B-29 in the world.  It participated in the tribute over the National Mall yesterday at noon.  Damnitall.

More pictures of the war birds here.

Shocker: Smart Power meters have lousy encryption

It's a basic axiom of cryptography that you should not create your own encryption cipher (for real use; it can be pretty interesting doing this just to learn crypto).  After all, as they say, everyone can design a cipher that they can't break.  The implication, of course, is that someone else might be able to break it, perhaps without much work.  In other words, for anything other than a toy application, use known secure encryption.

The people who designed the "Smart" power meters didn't listen to this, and rolled their own crypto system.  And guess what?
In the three years since its inception, the Open Smart Grid Protocol has found its way into more than four million smart meters and similar devices worldwide.

And like its SCADA, industrial control system, and embedded system brethren, it’s rife with security issues.
This is me, with my surprised face one.
The weaknesses discovered by Jovanovic and Neves enabled them to recover private keys with relative ease: 13 queries to an OMA digest oracle and negligible time complexity in one attack, and another in just four queries and 2^25 time complexity, the paper said.
Picky, picky, picky.  Other than being able to read all the data, spoof data, and pretend to be a different device (jacking someone else's power bill up), the system is like TOTALLY secure.

Or something.

I see lawsuits against the power companies in the future.  Or unscrupulous consumers getting a lot of free power while the power companies slowly go bankrupt.  Idiots.

Neil Diamond - You're So Sweet, Horseflies Keep Hangin' Round Your Face

I hadn't realized that Neil Diamond wrote some Country music.  He had already gotten a lot of success as a songwriter (The Monkee's biggest hit I'm A Believer was penned by Diamond) and had just started recording on his own.  As a lark, or as a challenge, he wrote this as a Country song.  It appeared on the Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show LP which went Gold.  Next came Sweet Caroline, and Diamond never looked back.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and nobody is sweeter than Mother.  May your Mother's Day be so sweet that horseflies hang around your face.




You're So Sweet, Horseflies Keep Hangin' Round Your Face (Songwriter: Neil Diamond)
You're so sweet,
Horseflies keep hangin' 'round your face
Kentucky moonshine
Could never take your place
And your eyes
Could give me goose bumps down to my toes
Feel like the only rooster in the hencoop,
And I guess it shows.

Mary Lou Jane (oh Mary Lou Jane)
Oh what a fine name (what a fine name)
And you're nothing like them females
From Dover City
(nothin' at all)
Front teeth missin'
(hee, you got your front teeth missin')
And that's fine for kissin' (oh, feels so good)
You're more loyal than my dog Sam,
And twice as pretty (and that's goin' some)
You're so sweet,
Horseflies keep hangin' 'round your face
Kentucky moonshine
Could never take your place
And your eyes
Could give me goose bumps down to my toes
Feel like the only rooster in the hencoop,
And I guess it shows.
I can't forget (oh, no)
When we first met (first)
Well, it was bull wrestling time
At the county fair rodeo
(or is it ro-de-o)
And I almost cried (wept)
When you took first prize
(first prize, sweetheart)
Well,
You just looked them critters in the face
And down they'd go
(they never had a chance)
You're so sweet,
Horseflies keep hangin' 'round your face
Kentucky moonshine
Could never take your place
And your eyes
Could give me goose bumps down to my toes
Feel like the only rooster in the hencoop,
And I guess it shows.
You're so sweet,
Horseflies keep hangin' 'round your face
Kentucky moonshine
Could never take your place
And your eyes
Could give me goose bumps down to my toes
Feel like the only rooster in the hencoop,
And I guess it shows

Friday, May 8, 2015

Why the rich vote Democrat

It's not because they're for "social justice". It's because they're greedy bums.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why do you need a gun?

Because "give them what they want" looks really different when they have a shotgun pointed to the back of your head:

According to a spokesperson with DeKalb County, two men tried to rob a check cashing store before eventually attempting a robbery at the Paradise Island Smoke Shop in Lithonia around 1 p.m.

One of the robbers put a shotgun to the back of the employee's head, according to police.

The employee turned around, grabbed the shotgun, pulled out his own gun and fired several shots the robber, killing him, according to police.


[pauses to let cheers die down]

The late perpertator's partner in crime is now in custody.

Bravo.

(Link)

Stupid airport is stupid

Dulles, of course.




Just try to get from Concourse B to Concourse C without riding the stupid bus or taking the train back to the terminal. I dare you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

While I Entertained Family

Last weekend I had family in from out of town. We went canoeing, saw the new new Avengers movies, ate too much, and had a great visit.

Meanwhile, a friend and occasional reader of the blog went to shoot the Eastern CMP Games. He shot four different courses over a three day period. His best was the smallbore.

581 out of 600, with 23 X.  Here's his score sheet, minus the names.


This was good enough for a silver medal. The top shooter, 16 years old, shot a 600. Here's the course of fire. I would point out that it includes 2 strings of standing fire, one of them rapid.




Mmmmm





Beignets for desert last evening at Mokomandy'sin Sterling, VA. Recommended.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Quote of the Day: War on Terror

Word:
Granted, it's more than just a little disappointing to be paying jillions of dollars for a giant surveillance state with a microscope up everybody's butt and double-secret probation lists that you can't even find out if you're on, only to have one of those listees turn up in Garland with guns blazing. Still, we pay jillions of dollars for a gigantic war on crime with an incarceration rate that boggles the mind and you still can't leave your car unlocked most places, so the inefficiency of the terrorism watch list thing shouldn't come as a surprise. If government is competent at one thing, it's incompetence.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Quick, When Did You Last Do a Full Back-Up?

If you're not backing up data regularly, you do not care about it. That's what I tell my business users. So I'm sharing that idea with y'all. Computers get stolen. Hard drives fail. And then there's this new malware.
Rombertik goes through several checks once it is up and running on a Windows computer to see if it has been detected. That behavior is not unusual for some types of malware, but Rombertik “is unique in that it actively attempts to destroy the computer if it detects certain attributes associated with malware analysis...effectively destroys all of the files in a user’s home folder by encrypting each with a random RC4 key.

The Difference

Heard this from a friend today, "The difference between Texas and Paris is guns."

I did not expect that

I'm in Washington DC for meetings. My drive to the Airport in ATL yesterday was delayed by an accident. It seems that a semi carrying a load of composted cow manure caught fire and they shut down the highway.

I wouldn't have expected a delay from that until I got here ...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 4, 2015

460,000 People Sent To the Hospital

In 2012, 460,000 people were injured by exercise equipment badly enough to to go to the hospital. 19,000 of them from treadmills alone.
"Injuries included broken bones, abrasions, rectal bleeding and people developing chest pain while working out on the machines, according to a review of the CPSC data base system."
Why isn't exercise equipment regulated? Where is the permit system to get a treadmill? Shouldn't you have to keep these dangerous devices locked up away from children? What about required training? Maybe a written test?

If you doubt the necessity of those things, here's 5 minutes of YouTube proof.




Jihad, Texas style

Lone Star Parson tells it like it is.  Not everywhere is as tough as Texas, I guess.

Global Warming science explained in one picture


This may be the most famous science cartoon ever.  The humor comes from the explicit inclusion of Bravo Sierra in the proof scrawled on the chalkboard.  Even someone who never got no highfalutin edumacation can see the BS for what it is.

Interestingly, people are.  The kids are alright:
Consequently, young Americans are often unsupportive of government measures to prevent climate change that might harm the economy. Less than a third of those surveyed agreed with the statement, “Government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth,” and only 12 percent strongly agreed with it. Again, the youngest survey respondents were more conservative than any other age group, with only 28 percent of 18 to 20-year-olds in agreement and eight percent in strong agreement with that statement. In contrast, other age groups varied between 30 percent and 34 percent in agreement and 11 percent to 14 percent in strong agreement. Not only are the newest voters less convinced of climate change as a reality; they are also less likely to support government funding of climate change solutions.
Maybe it's because they've heard too much of this:
Governments are running out of time to address climate change and to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures, an influential UN panel warned yesterday.
Greater energy efficiency, renewable electricity sources and new technology to dump carbon dioxide underground can all help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the experts said. But there could be as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more. [Emphasis mine- Borepatch]
The date that last one was published?  Eight years ago.


Prediction is hard, especially about the future.

Inspired by an email from Rick.

How do you define "Lack of Governmental accountability"?

DEA under cover agent gets a job at a trucking company.  His boss asks him to take a truck to the garage.  Agent was going to fill the truck with weed (without his boss knowing anything, 'natch).  Los Zetas ambush the truck, killing a driver and causing $100,000 damage to the truck.

The DEA says that they're not liable for the cost of the damage or the death.  Ooooooh kaaaaaay.

Hat tip: Phil via email.

Hey CNN - your bias is showing!

The mug shots of the Baltimore police officers who were charged in the death of Freddie Gray:


Here are the mug shots that CNN put on their "news" report:


You know, I'm starting to wonder just how straight they report the news ...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Joan Ambrosio Dalza - Renaissance Lute music

What kind of music would be played at a renaissance court, say, of Henry VIII or Francois I?  It would be something like this. 

Joan Ambrosio Dalza was a composer in the Italian renaissance around 1500 A.D.  Almost nothing is known of his life - no birth or death dates on record.  All that's known is that he was from Milan and that he wrote songs for the Lute that were popular enough that they were collected in one of those new fangled books from Herr Gutenberg's new printing press.

In fact, we wouldn't know anything at all about Dalza if it were not for his contemporary Ottaviano Petrucci who published probably the second book of sheet music in history, and included Dalza's music in his 1508 book Intabolatura de lauto libro quarto.  It was influential enough that it spread across much of Europe and has come down to our day.

This accident of fate makes you stop and think about what great music existed in prior days.  Never written down, it survived only in the musician's head and went with them to their grave.



Back again to the Renaissance Faire where I no doubt will not hear this type of music.  The Faire isn't so much about historical accuracy as about dressing up and having fun.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

The ultimate Borepatchian film

I just watched National Treasure and enjoyed it more than I've enjoyed a film in a long, long time.  It's the perfect Borepatchian film: full to the brim of history nerd clues and puzzles to figure out and with the happy story about happy people with happy problems ending that I like.  It also has Sean Bean (who doesn't die in this film; go figure) and is perhaps the most I've enjoyed Nicholas Cage since Moonstruck.  It's kid-friendly, too (as you'd expect from Disney).



If you haven't seen this then you're in for a real treat.  Highly, highly recommended.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The sweet tears of hipsters

Ironic irony is ironic:
A number of early Apple Watch adopters have complained that their tattoos cause an interference with many of the new product’s key features.


According to multiple tattooed sources, inked wrists and hands can disrupt communication with the wearable’s sensors installed in the underside of the device leading to malfunction.

Owners of Apple Watch have taken to social media to voice their frustration using the hashtag #tattoogate and sharing their disappointment over the newly discovered Apple flaw.
"Tattoogate".  LOL.

Hipster got to hip.