Thursday, June 30, 2016

The polls are garbage

I don't feel like I have a dog in the hunt this election season, but the polls are entirely useless:
The polls immediately before the [Brexit] election leaned “Remain” or showed a 44%-to-44% tie, with 12% undecided. The referendum’s result was 52%-to-48% “Leave.” The idea that the undecideds broke 2-to-1 for “Leave”—against the status quo—is not tenable. That said, the pollsters are not at fault. The pollsters cannot conduct an accurate poll because voters are unwilling to tell pollsters how they intend to vote. It is that simple. 

Why are the voters doing this? 

The UK now has its own version of America’s Bradley/Wilder effect: people—decent, ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people—are afraid of abuse and reprisals if they reveal their true political preferences. People are tactically deceiving the pollsters because the pattern-and-practice of British politics is now: 

(i) to demonize opponents; 
(ii) to invade and shut down their peaceful political meetings and conferences (and then to “justify” speech suppression as “free speech” or other lawful protest); 
(iii) to threaten and physically assault their party leaders and members; 
(iv) to destroy their political posters and/or to paint over them (and then to call their vandalism “art”); and,
It looks like the polls were off by 8% because of this.  So what's the percentage here?  Whatever it is, it's not zero.


The latest idea from the Left

Don't let old people vote:
GQ Magazine went all out, producing: “WE SHOULD BAN OLD PEOPLE FROM VOTING”. Writing about “them” as if the older generations are some foreign species, the reasons given by the author included:
“The EU referendum result will have less effect on older people”; “Over 65s read the Daily Mail”; “There was no ‘golden age’ of Britain”; and “We take pensioners’ driving licences away… why not their right to vote?”
It's time for the Government to dissolve the People and elect a new one ...


No, we don't need more STEM majors in Universities

Peter has an interesting post up about IQ and field of study in College.  Unsurprisingly, the STEM fields skew towards higher IQ.  Queue the old joke: Math is hard, mkay?

But the implication that College should encourage more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students is not just wrong, but is actively bad for the students.  Several reasons come to bear here:

1. The population of high IQ students seems to be a fixed proportion of the population.  If STEM enrollment increases, it can only happen by bringing in less intelligent students.  These students will be less able to successfully complete the curriculum: I believe from my own experience as an Engineering student that the IQ is high because there's a high wash-out rate from students who can't hack the complexity.  Bringing in more students who can't hack the work won't increase the graduation rate, but will increase the number of students who drop out after running up a bunch of student loans that they can't pay off.

2. You don't need a college degree to get a job as a computer programmer.  What you need to be able to do is code.  If you know a kid who likes to do this sort of thing, point him towards Code Academy.  This is free online training that employers recognize as valuable instruction (I know this from conversations with hiring managers).  Did I mention that it's free?

3.  I've posted often about how you can teach yourself the fundamentals of network security, leading to a six figure salary.  It's free as well.

Neither of these are rocket science - it's just putting in the time to study and do the work.  If a kid can't do this then they don't need College, they need a baby sitter.

4. We have too many scientists doing too much bad science.  The incredible pressure to get (government) grants and to publish (something, anything) is what's led to sites like Retraction Watch. Eisenhower warned about this in the same speech he warned about the Military Industrial Complex - the "professionalization" of the scientific world has led to a scientific bureaucracy that increasingly isn't making scientific advances anymore.

At this point I need to admit that my items #2 and #3 select for both intelligence and self-motivation. Guilty as charged.  However, that combination will lead to success, and these paths will avoid tens of thousands of dollars of student debt for those who complete the work.  And quite frankly, it will avoid the debt for those who don't complete the work.

And this is what I think about STEM fields.  Imagine my opinion of the rest ....

It's quite odd for the son of a University Professor to write a jeremiad against The Academy, but quite frankly it's pretty worthless these days.  For a lot of students, it has a negative impact on their lifetime earnings (certainly for those who drop out after running up student debt; perhaps for those who major in the "Grievance Studies" who I wouldn't hire if you paid me).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Well Played

Religious war in America

The Volgi is back posting (huzzah!) and ponders the kulturkampf in America:
The central argument is that the decades-old “culture war” is not actually, as it’s usually presented, the forces of secularism against those of religion, but rather a battle of two competing religions. The crux of the book appears here. Go read it. It’s worth your time.
Ok, got that? So, yeah, one can cavil if we’re dealing with a religion, a metaphysic, an ethic, or an ethos (“I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude…”), but yes, like Marxism, Socialism, Nazism, whatever, we’re dealing with a pseudo-religion that provides its adherents with a pretty comprehensive moral system. Let’s call them Venerists for short. (She doesn’t, but I will.)
Here’s the problem. Venerists do not believe—and in my opinion likely cannot be persuaded—that they are acting out of a religious impulse. Indeed, they are often rabidly “anti-religion” in their own minds, believing themselves to possess a superior moral sense derived from something like pure reason. And given that under the Constitution, they probably in fact do not count as a religious group (however metaphysical their convictions are), they therefore cannot fall afoul over the Establishment Clause. You see where I’m going with this.
Consequently, as they seem to be doing (thanks, Justice “Meaning of Existence” Kennedy, Justice “It’s [Not] A Tax” Roberts, and crew), they are in fact establishing Venerism as the official state cult of America, and they will use the full might of the state to suppress dissenters (who are vile, wicked heretics leading souls to perdition—excuse me, “hate”). They will offer no quarter, because error has no rights. Or in today’s cant, “Because hate speech does not deserve to be heard.”
The Left became totalitarian as soon as they felt that they had firmly grasped the levers of power.  This analysis suggests that it's nearer the Nazi's grotesque mysticism (which was explicitly intended to replace the existing religious feeling of the population) than is comfortable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

So what's really going on with the Middle Class?

The "elites" - and many College educated middle class people are freaking out about Brexit.  They're freaking out about the idea that more of Europe (France, Italy, The Netherlands among others) are considering their own exits from the EU.  They're freaking out about Donald Trump.  They freaked out about Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

What gives?

Clearly this is a revolt of the middle class, but what's driving that?  We hear that the Middle Class is doing OK, but the numbers are interesting:
As the Antiplanner has previously noted, there is a lot of confusion about the term “middle class.” Surveys show that nine out of ten Americans consider themselves to be middle class, but in fact, six of them are wrong. Class is not distinguished by income, though it certainly influences income. The Antiplanner spent the first 20 years of my career earning a very low income, but I was college educated with college-educated parents and definitely had middle-class attitudes (never mind the fact that many of my peers scorned the “middle class” even as they formed a part of it).
Thus, when you read articles or listen to stories about the “hollowing of America’s middle class,” they don’t mean something is happening to the college-educated middle class. They mean that middle-income families are declining in importance as incomes are bifurcating into those with college educations having upper-middle incomes (or better) and those without having lower-middle incomes (or worse), with fewer having middle-middle incomes
This is in sharp contrast to the 1950s and 1960s, which were a sort of golden age for the middle incomes, and a time when the distinction between middle class and middle income was blurred. After World War II, the United States was the greatest industrial power in the world, as the rest of the world had to rebuild (or build) its industrial capacity almost from scratch. With huge amounts of capital and raw materials, labor was the scarcest of the three main factors of production. This raised working-class incomes, perhaps for the first time in history, to be nearly equal to middle-class incomes.
As Japan, Germany, and the rest of the developed world recovered or (in the case of Korea, Taiwan, and other countries) developed their industrial capacity, working-class labor wasn’t so scarce anymore. This is because it is easy for companies to hire people in other countries for working-class jobs, but much more difficult to hire people in other countries for middle-class jobs. The result, as the Antiplanner previously calculated, was that the difference in incomes between people with no college education and people with bachelor’s degrees or better grew from 65 percent in 1970 to 171 percent in 2009. Figure 5 of this Census Bureau report shows that education today has a far bigger influence on incomes than age, race, sex, or other factors.
This is very, very interesting, especially this:
In other words, what he calls the creative class is really just the middle class. When city officials say they want to attract the creative class, what they are really saying is they want to discourage the working class from moving to those cities. One way of doing that is high housing prices, and urban areas containing around 40 percent of American housing have artificially inflated housing costs thanks to urban policies designed to attract the creative class (and discourage the working class).
And so to Brexit, and the revolt of the middle class.  Class Warfare as it has been waged for the last 15 or 20 years is not openly smoldering.  And the "Elites" have absolutely no idea what to do.

Other than to ramp up the class warfare with gun control proposals and the like.  If everything weren't burning down around me, I'd enjoy the spectacle, in a very Last Days of Rome sort of way.

Windows upgraded itself to Windows 10 without your permission?

Call the lawyers:
A California woman has won $10,000 from Microsoft after a sneaky Windows 10 update wrecked the computer she used to run her business. Now she's urging everyone to follow suit and "fight back." 
Teri Goldstein – who manages a travel agency in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco – told The Register she landed the compensation by taking Microsoft to a small claims court. 
Rather than pursue a regular lawsuit, she chose the smaller court because it was better suited to sorting out consumer complaints. Crucially, it meant Microsoft couldn't send one of its top-gun lawyers – or any lawyer in fact: small claims courts are informal and attorneys are generally not allowed. Instead, Redmond-based Microsoft had to send a consumer complaints rep to argue its case.
Your Honor, for upgrade information press "1" ...

Couldn't have happened to a nicer company.

The Internet Of Things attacks

25,000 hacked closed circuit cameras form Botnet from Hell:
A massive network of hacked CCTV cameras is being used to bring down computers around the world, we're told. 
When the security biz dug into the source of the duff packets, it found they were all coming from internet-connected CCTV cameras – devices that had been remotely hijacked by miscreants to attack other systems. 
Exactly how the cameras were infected isn't yet known, although an early analysis points the finger of blame at a security hole in DVR boxes used by many CCTV cameras. The remote-code execution vulnerability was discovered in March; sadly, CCTVs aren't high on the patching priority list of most admins.
Ah, the "Internet Of Things".  Everything will be so much Internetier when everything has an IP address.  Well, they're here.

Dang it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Brexit vote was more serious than I'd thought

Layers and layers of editors.  Passed spell check, at least.

How to spot a Point Of Sale "Skimmer" device

A "Skimmer" is a device that criminals use to modify ATMs and POS terminals at store checkout lanes.  These are bad because they capture the account information from your card as well as any numbers that you enter on the key pad (e.g. your bank account PIN).  They then pass that to the real POS device that they are installed on top of, while recording your information.

Since skimmers can be installed incredibly quickly, this attack is a real threat when you use your card to buy groceries or whatever.

Brian Krebs has an outstanding article on how to recognize that one of these has been installed.  Highly, highly recommended to all Borepatch readers.

Related: Video of finding an ATM skimmer in the wild.  Also recommended.

Car pr0n

1960 Willy's truck.

Seen at a local auto and cycle show in Frederick, MD.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Well played, Internets

Hat tip: Tim Worstall.

The golden age of American chidren's cars

Do want.

"Kidillac".  Heh.

There are many, many more here going hack to what looks like the 1920s.

Hat tip: American Digest.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Slaid Cleaves - Voice of Midnight

Slaid Cleaves is a good ol' boy from Maine.  He moved to Austin where he writes and sings.  It's honest, workingman's music, and Country enough for me.

Voice of Midnight (Songwriter: Slaid Cleaves):
Don’t want to go too soon
Don’t want to stay too long
Don’t want to go too quick into the night
Don’t want to linger on and on
Don’t want to leave you a mess
Don’t want to cause a fuss
Roll me into the hole
And cover me up
I’d like to know when it’s coming
Just a little time to prepare
When the voice of midnight comes
And into oblivion I stare
There’s no one waitin’ on me
No heaven or hell
The only vow I make
To live true and die well
And when I’m gone, that’s all
I’ll be blowin’ in the wind
Up to the great beyond
Back to where we begin
Will I hold onto the courage
To say goodbye to a life so dear
When the voice of midnight comes
Will grace overcome fear
I was born under a lucky star
And I’m thankful every day
And I know that in the blink of an eye
It will all be taken away
Maybe an open field
Under the stars and moon
With the smell of the land and the air
And not some hospital room
I’ll take my comfort in song
To the bittersweet end
I’ll gently take my leave
Safe in the memory of friends
I’d like to know when it’s coming
Just a little time to prepare
When the voice of midnight comes
I hope you will be there

Eight years of blogging

I put up my first post 8 years ago today. Co-blogger ASM826 also started posting at his old place around the same time.

Seems a long time ago.

But all y'all have left nearly 40,000 comments (!) here, and I'm very grateful for that.

Update and addition:

Borepatch commented and linked to my 3rd post. I had just started blogging and had no idea if I was writing a personal journal or if I would find a voice that people would read. I wrote that day about the rifle range at Parris Island and my memories. 

My youngest son was in boot camp and I was thinking of him and the experiences he was having. Eight years have passed. In that time that son completed his enlistment, graduated from community college, and recently moved to Colorado.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Elle King - America's Sweetheart

The Queen Of The World quite likes this song, and this singer.  While it's not really country, it's toe tapping.

Yeah, but where are the smokes?

Preference Cascade in Britain

The Warsaw Pact regimes collapsed with astonishing speed in 1989.  Within a matter of two months the goverments were just simply gone.  Nobody saw it coming, because propaganda (both official behind the Iron Curtain and unofficial in the major western news outlets) showed very little in the way of weakness or unpopularity.

And so, everyone thought that they were the only one that despised the governments there.  Once people started to to realize that other people - a lot of other people - felt the same way then the end was suddenly at hand, as a crisis of legitimacy swept the entire communist system into the dustbin of history.

Perry de Havilland writes about his experience in the sea of propaganda in the UK:
I have been in Dover for the last week and a bit, and it is like a different world compared to my usual haunts in London (and by the way, I heartily recommend the Allotment restaurant).
And as I walked down the street wearing my LEAVE badge, I was constantly getting nods of approval or thumbs up gestures from complete strangers. As I headed back to London yesterday, the chap sitting behind me patted me on the shoulder and launched into a friendly diatribe about “accountable government!”, and the driver of the bus (rail replacement service actually) grinned broadly and gave me a thumbs up as I entered the vehicle! And I found myself doing the same to others when I saw them wearing a similar badge.
And yet the media was constantly telling me we had already lost, and we might as well not bother, and thus I went to bed last night with a heavy heart.
I should have believed what I saw in the streets with my own eyes, and not what I read in the media.
It seems that many bastions of Labour Party support went hard for Brexit, because of the twin issues of immigration and jobs.  Over on our side of the Pond we hear that Trump is in trouble.  Trouble, trouble, trouble.  So much trouble.  Yooooge trouble.

And yet Trump leads Clinton in the polls on immigration and economic issues (jobs).  And terrorism.

Life long Labour voters abandoned their party over these issues, voting for Brexit, and the polls didn't give any inkling that this would happen.  How many life long Democratic voters will do the same here?  Will polls here give any inkling that this is coming?

The fact that these questions can be so easily asked is bad news for Clinton.

Congratulations to the British people

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

- William Blake, "Jereusalem"

Thursday, June 23, 2016

German Shepherd sings the blues

So why is he singing the blues?  Whatever you do, don't mention the War ...

(Shamelessly stolen from Irish)

The cynic speaks

Today's vote in the UK is properly known as a plebiscite.  Ambrose Bierce included a definition for that in his Devil's Dictionary:
PLEBISCITE, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.
I guess that we'll know soon.

Tech support and the Turing Test

The Turing Test dates to the very earliest days of computing.  Posed by pioneer Alan Turing, the test says that we will be able to declare the existence of Artificial Intelligence when a person talks to a computer and can't tell whether they are talking to a computer or a person.

Robert Graham thinks that this AI will appear in Tech Support first:
The idea is that in the future, tech support will be replaced AI bots that use natural language processing to answer questions like. But that's what we already have: tech support search text, finds plausible answers they don't understand, and regurgitates them back at us.

In other words, when the Turing Test is finally won, it's going to be in tech support, where a well-designed bot will outperform humans on answering such questions.
Replicating annoying and not particularly helpful people with annoying and not particularly helpful computer programs seems a low bar.

Is today a prelude to the November election?

Britain votes today on whether to leave the EU or not.  The campaign there sounds suspiciously familiar to the one here:
Permanent wage suppression is just a fact of importing cheap labour, and it's only in the past month that people have felt able to raise this (and the lid has now been shut firmly back down on that again) without being shouted at.
Policies that favor the rich and worsen the lives of the middle class?  Check.  Objections to those policies shouted down as "racist"?  Check.  This all sounds familiar.

Today the voters in Her Britannic Majesty's Scepter'd Isle go to the polls to cast their vote as to whether they want to remain Her Britannic Majesty's Scepter'd Isle, or become Euros.  The arguments there map the arguments here.  The debate runs hot there as here.  The elites there are in a panic, as they are here.

This looks like a global insurgency.  Today (and November) will show whether or not the insurgency is yuge.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Your thought for the day

You know the guy who does this?

Try not to be that guy.  It's not always easy.

Jimmy Doolittle as Ulysses S. Grant

Interesting look at the 8th Air Force under General Doolittle in World War II.  Most interesting is the idea that he realized that victory would come only by destroying the Luftwaffe, just as Grant realized that victory would only come by destroying Lee's army:
The tactics Doolittle chose to employ during the early stages of his 8th Air Force tour bore striking resemblance to those used by Ulysses Grant when he took over the Army of the Potomac in mid 1864: attack, attack, and then, attack again. Grant had the men, the weapons, and the logistical tether to sustain him, while his enemy did not. Doolittle found himself in a similar situation; American logistical support was increasing each month of the war, and he was accumulating a vast armada of aircraft, the likes of which had never been imagined. 
He could replace his losses, which were horrific:
The 8th Air Force onslaught began in earnest on Black Monday,March 6, 1944, when814bombersand943fighterssortieedforBerlin. KnownasthefirstdaylightraidonBerlin by the Americans, it was technically-speaking, actually the second, as 300-odd bombers had made an attempt to bomb Berlin two days earlier. Up till that time, the March 6th mission constituted the largest combined effort of the war by American forces, and 69 of the 702 bombers that stayed the course that day were shot down, equaling the worst single day losses of the war  
To his airmen’s horror, Doolittle ordered the entire 8th Air Force back to Berlin two days later, on the 8th, then, incredibly, again on the 9th. Yet another mission to Berlin followed on the 22nd. On these second, third and fourth trips to Berlin clouds did not obscure the city, and most of the intended ground targets were at least damaged. During the month of March 1944 the U.S. 8th and 15th Air Forces mounted 18 such combined attacks deep into the German heartland. Although we lost just over 400 bombers and fighters, these losses were replaceable because of the war material and training pipeline coming in from a fully-mobilized United States. American manufacturing capacity was outstripping our adversaries in ever-enlarging numbers.
But as with Lee after the Wilderness when Grant kept coming after him, it was the beginning of the end for the Luftwaffe:
For the Germans, it was a similar story, but they could not sustain the losses. In March 1944 they lost 357 fighters with another 163 damaged. More importantly, they lost over 300 skilled pilots, all killed in action. These combat-experienced pilots could not be replaced, especially in terms of their valuable experience, which served to erode combat leadership in the air. Between January and June 1944, when the allies landed at Normandy, the German Day Fighter Arm was to lose over 1,000 experienced pilots.  The Luftwaffe never recovered from this staggering loss. Unlike our training pipeline, the German training syllabus was hampered by lack of combat-experienced instructors, too little fuel and, therefore, insufficient flight time to train up anything but easy targets for the more well-trained Allied airmen.

This is the best explanation of how the Allies came to have complete air superiority by D-Day.  There's quite a lot here (including the shocking decline in German aviation fuel), but the idea of Strategic Bombing as effective only when targeting prestige targets (like Berlin) because it forced the defending fighter groups into the air where they were shot down by the escorts.  The bomber crews were essentially bait.

It's quite an interesting article, that shows just how ugly war is.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The scientific purges commence

Of course, it's "Climate" "Science":

Ridd was punished by James Cook University for “not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues.” The university even warned that if he does this again, he’ll be tried for serious misconduct.
The latest perversion in research ethics comes to us from James Cook University in Australia. The Australian has the scoop, but it is behind paywall. Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller has an article on this University Censures Science Prof For Fact-Checking Global Warming Claim. Excerpts:
An Australian university recently censured marine scientist Paul Ridd for “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution,” because he questioned popular claims among environmentalists about coral reefs and global warming.
What was Ridd’s crime? He found out two of the world’s leading organizations studying coral reefs were using misleading photographs to make the case that global warming was causing a mass reef die-off. Ridd wasn’t rewarded for checking the facts and blowing the whistle on misleading science. Instead, James Cook University censured Ridd and threatened to fire him for questioning global warming orthodoxy.
Things have gotten to the point where the best way to think about the community of scientists is like a scene from some Edwardian Frock Coat drama like "Upstairs, Downstairs" or whatever that new one is.  The scientists all sit around enjoying their social perks and complaining about how that damned interloper just doesn't Play By The Rules.  Not our sort, old chap.  Just not done.  Something must be done, dontcha know ...

And not one of them sees the coming upending of their cozy little world.

Coke Party, Pepsi Party

So the Republicans voted down a bunch of gun control bills yesterday, protecting our freedom.  And then put forward a massive new spying bill to, err, [redacted] our freedom:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the Federal Bureau of Investigation's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. 
The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday.
"[Redacted] freedom.  Because Terrorism!"  Choose the form of your Destructor.

"The Second Amendment is not much of a right ..."

From Law Prof and blogger Ann Althouse, who does not make a value judgement but rather describes what she sees as the way the courts are working:
It's just not much of a right under the current workings of the law

I got that phrase "current workings of the law" from Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, who was on TV yesterday talking about denying access to guns to people the government has put on its list. As I said yesterday:
The current workings of the law... what a phrase! What does it mean? I, a law professor, think it means: We'll meet the standards the courts impose, but we're part of the process of defining those standards, and if we can get a bill through Congress, we expect the courts to interpret the Due Process and the Second Amendment in a suitably responsive manner. 
And now, today, we see more evidence that — whatever fans of the Second Amendment may think or hope it means — in court, it doesn't mean very much. But Heller did win his case, so it means something. 
And so it makes me think of Judge Kozinski's view:
The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees*. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Somehow this seems much more ominous to me this morning.  The Courts have not lost the courage to oppose, they've lost the desire.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Electric car batteries, charging time, and how far you can drive

Interesting post from Robert Graham on how far you can really drive your Tesla and when you can expect to get stranded (and for how long).

The only thing that seems to be missing is the impact of climate control on your range.  Air conditioning draws amps from the battery, and heat draws even more.  You will drive furthest on a beautiful spring or autumn day than in the hot summer or freezing winter.

Shorter post: green philosophy gets pwned by engineering constraints.

My Father's Day was uneventful.

Maybe a good thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Father's Day parable

This from a couple years ago captures precisely the spirit of Father's Day:
My wife calls me at work, and we have the usual end-of-the-day chat. Then:
"Oh, by the way, Guy wants you to take him to the hardware store, he wants to get some tape."
"What kind of tape?"
"He says he wants 'wood tape'."
"Wood tape?"
"Wood tape."
"Uhhh, ok. When?"
"Sometime this weekend. He is really looking forward to going."
Guy is my four-year-old son.
This might not be the best thing you'll read all day, but it will be in the running.

Classical music with Borepatch and his Dad

When I was young, there was always music on in the Borepatch household.  I got quite a good musical education, because there was all sorts of music that got played.  My love of the Blues may go back to the Leadbelly records Dad would play.  My friends were pretty impressed that he had bought The Beetle's album Revolver when it came out.  Mom didn't like them so much, but Dad's musical taste was eclectic and catholic (although not Catholic).  Long time readers will know that I inherited that from him.

But mornings were always for classical.  Dad would say that while he was a morning person, even he liked to start the day with something soothing.  Around our house, that was always the radio show Morning Pro Musica.  Through the miracle of the Internet, one survives from the mists of time.

I hadn't known just how unusual this show was.  It was sui generis - one of a kind.  This was a reflection on the host, Robert J. Lurtsema.  He hosted the show live every day - seven days a week.  The show would start with a recording of birds that Lurtsema had recorded himself - he said this was the oldest music in the world and so was fitting as the introduction to the show.  Dad always liked this - probably it played into "his start the day with something soothing" philosophy.

Morning Pro Musica no doubt was my real classical music education.  Even only hearing it for part of a day or two (weekends, really) exposed me to what you've found here in the Sunday Classical posts. It wasn't for everyone, but you know how weird I am.

But it was often something that I'd listened to with Dad, especially when I was in my late teens and drinking coffee.  We'd sometimes talk about the music and the composers while we listened to the music (well, he would talk; after all, he was the history professor).

Maybe it's because I just did a lot of gardening here at Castle Borepatch, but it made me realize that he approached fatherhood like a gardener approaches a yard.  After all, you can't make a plant grow; all you can do is give it what it needs for growth.  He never forced a view down my throat, but rather planted seeds in what I hope was fertile soil.  Looking back, I see that I have had a very similar approach to my sons.  I've only rarely had classical music discussions with them (#2 Son did quite like Holst's The Planets), but that's OK.  Neither of my two brothers really became classical music buffs either.  I had a quite unusual relationship with my father, and perhaps it was that with me the apple did not fall far at all from the tree.

And so to all my readers, happy Father's Day.  Enjoy the memories if you (like me) are separated by geography or (like me) by that great veil we must all one day pass.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Charlie Parker - Now's The Time

Some Yardbird for Friday afternoon.

Man, he died young.  Not the years, but the miles.

Why are gun banners so racist?

Oh, the shame:
A group of Muslim-Americans filed a class-action lawsuit against the United States’ use of a terrorist watch list, which they say has created “an injustice of historic proportions”.
Eighteen plaintiffs, including a four-year-old known simply as Baby Doe, say their constitution rights were violated after being placed on the federal terrorist watch list.
The lawsuit, initiated by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan Chapter (CAIR-MI), was filed against several high-ranking US officials, including Christopher Piehota, director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).
The plaintiffs, all of whom are American citizens, have been “falsely stigmatised as ‘known or suspected’ terrorists” and “denied a meaningful opportunity to challenge their designation on the federal watch list,” the lawsuit states.
Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Middle East Eye that being on the watch list has turned thousands of Americans into second-class citizens.
Now we know why Obama won't say the words "radical islam".  His people maintaining the Watch List think that 4 year old Baby Doe is a radical muslim ...

And so we must ask: why do Democrats want to deny Muslim Americans their second amendment rights?

This moment of schadenfreude is brought to you at no additional charge.  It's all part of being a full service blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The World's cutest terror suspect

So who would be prohibited from buying guns because they're suspicious - if the Democrats get their way?  I covered this seven years ago.


The world's cutest terror suspect

Todd Brown is the proud dad of an adorable little girl. A little girl that he found out, is on the TSA's list of potential terrorists.

It seems that if you're willing to do a fair amount of leg work, this sort of silliness actually gets cleared up. So well done to Mr. Brown, and I guess to the TSA for making the skies safe for cuteness.

Mr. Brown makes a good point, that there's nothing to tell you that you're on the list, and need to grovel your way through the TSA's unhelpful web site to find the required form. You could plausibly claim that this is a security feature - if the special someone on the list actually were a terrorist, you wouldn't want to let them know.

Which ignores the issue that it's idiotic to have someone so dangerous that they shouldn't be allowed to fly, but not dangerous enough to arrest. That's a discussion for another day. Today, the issue is false positives, the erroneous report that someone or something matches a particular categorization, when they actually don't.

This is why you get a second opinion when your doctor tells you that you have a serious disease. Any diagnosis will be less than 100% accurate, and you don't want to go on an expensive and invasive regime if you're one of the 2% that don't actually have the disease.

An anonymous commenter left this, over in Brown's comments:
They efficiently shifted the cost of false positives to you.

A long time ago, I posted about false positives and why the TSA doesn't go after everyone on one of its lists:
If we really thought these folks were actually terrorists, we'd investigate them. A reasonable investigation involves a lot of effort - wire taps (first, get a warrant), stakeouts, careful collection of a case by Law Enforcement, prosecution. Probably a million dollars between police, lawyers, courts, etc - probably a lot more, if there's a trial. For each of the 700 [people in our thought experiment]. We're looking at a billion dollars, and this assumes a ridiculously low false positive rate.

There are on the order of a hundred thousand people in TSA's no-fly or watch databases. Not 700. If you investigated them all, you're talking a hundred billionbucks. So they turn the system off.

And that's actually the right answer. The data's lousy, joining lousy data with more lousy data makes the results lousier, and it's too expensive to make it work. How lousy is the data? Sky Marshals are on the No-Fly list. No, really.  5 year olds, too.
Actually, they haven't turned the system off. Rather, they've shifted the cost of the investigation to Mr. Brown and people like him.

From the TSA's perspective, this makes sense. From our perspective, it's annoying. It's double-plus annoying when there's nothing that tells you that you're likely a false positive in their system. There is, of course, a sure-fire way to reduce your chance of triggering a false positive in the TSA's system to zero. Guaranteed to work every time.


The futility of using the "No Fly" list to restrict firearms purchases

Politics aside, it cannot possibly work - technically speaking.  At least not "work" to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.  This post from nearly eight (!) years ago explains why.

And an added note: the Democrats aren't pushing the No-Fly list for gun bans.  There are around 70,000 people on that list (including, at one time, the late Senator Edward Kennedy).  Instead, they're pushing the Terrorism Watch List, which has on the order of a million people on the list.  The number of people on there for no good reason (or for no reason at all) is certainly astronomical.

And so, to the motivations in play.  Eric Raymond explained what was up a couple years back: Destroying the Middle Ground.  The system and politics are corrupt, and the Agencies tasked with implementing the law will do so corruptly.


Anti-terrorist data mining doesn't work

One of the biggest problems in Internet Security is getting the "False Positive" rate down to a manageable level. A False Positive is an event where your security device reports an attack, where there's no actual attack happening. It's the Boy Who Cried Wolf problem, and if it's too high, people turn the security off.

Apple had a hilarious ad that spoofed Vista's UAC security a while back. The security is so good that the whole system is unusable:

Surprise! Seems that identifying terrorists by mining a bunch of databases isn't any better:
A report scheduled to be released on Tuesday by the National Research Council, which has been years in the making, concludes that automated identification of terrorists through data mining or any other mechanism 'is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts.' Inevitable false positives will result in 'ordinary, law-abiding citizens and businesses' being incorrectly flagged as suspects. The whopping 352-page report, called 'Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists,' amounts to [be] at least a partial repudiation of the Defense Department's controversial data-mining program called Total Information Awareness, which was limited by Congress in 2003.
The problem is not so much one of technology, as it is of cost. Suppose you could create system where the data mining results gave you only one chance in a million at false positive. In other words, for every person identified as a potential terrorist, you were 99.9999% likely to be correct. This is almost certainly 3 or 4 orders of magnitude overly optimistic (the actual chances are likely no better than 1 in a thousand, and may well be much less), but let's ignore that.

There are roughly 700 Million air passengers in the US each year. One chance in a million means the system would report 700 likely terrorists (remember, this thought experiment assumes a ridiculously low false positive rate). The question, now, is what do you do with these 700 people?

Right now, we don't do anything, other than not let them fly. If they're Senator Kennedy, they make a fuss at budget time, and someone takes them off the list; otherwise, we don't do anything. So all this fuss, and nothing really happens? How come?

Cost. If we really thought these folks were actually terrorists, we'd investigate them. A reasonable investigation involves a lot of effort - wire taps (first, get a warrant), stakeouts, careful collection of a case by Law Enforcement, prosecution. Probably a million dollars between police, lawyers, courts, etc - probably a lot more, if there's a trial. For each of the 700. We're looking at a billion dollars, and this assumes a ridiculously low false positive rate.

There are on the order of a hundred thousand people in TSA's no-fly or watch databases. Not 700. If you investigated them all, you're talking a hundred billion bucks. So they turn the system off.

And that's actually the right answer. The data's lousy, joining lousy data with more lousy data makes the results lousier, and it's too expensive to make it work. How lousy is the data? Sky Marshals are on the No-Fly list. No, really.  5 year olds, too.

So the Fed.Gov sweeps it under the rug, thanks everyone involved for all their hard work, and pushes the "off" button.

As expected, the Slashdot comments are all over this:
I'd take their "no fly" list and identify every single person on it who was a legitimate threat and either have them under 24 hour surveillance or arrested.
The mere concept of a list of names of people who are too "dangerous" to let fly ... but not dangerous enough to track ... that just [censored - ed] stupid.
At least everyone's looking busy. The analogies to gun control pretty much write themselves.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Andrey Dobrovolskiy - Slide Guitar from Russia

Pretty good.


Smartest.  Kids.  In.  Class.

Internet Security employment is booming - get you some of that

I've written a lot about how an alternative to College is to study Internet security.  The pay is good, you can work wherever you like, and the problem is getting worse - this field will be booming for a while.

Cisco has just jumped into the arena here, with a $10M security scholarship program and an security add-on to their CCNA program.

This isn't a College scholarship.  It is instruction at a Cisco authorized training center, but quite frankly in this field nobody cares where (or even if) you went to College.   The entry requirements for the program don't mention University at all:
Basic competency (one or more of the following):
  • Cisco certification (Cisco CCENT certification or higher) 
  • Relevant industry certification [(ISC)2, CompTIA Security+, EC-Council, GIAC, ISACA] 
  • Cisco Networking Academy letter of completion (CCNA 1 and CCNA 2)
  • At least three years of combined experience in approved U.S. military job roles
  • Windows expertise: Microsoft (Microsoft Specialist, MCSA, MCSE), CompTIA (A+, Network+, Server+).
  • Linux expertise: CompTIA (Linux+), Linux Professional Institute (LPI) certification, Linux Foundation (LCFS, LCFE), Red Hat (RHCSA, RHCE, RHCA), Oracle Linux (OCA, OCP)
If you're young and looking for a change of direction (or if you have a kid who is), you might want to check into this.

How bad is Internet security?

Security on the "Internet Of Things" is so bad that the Government is probably going to step in:
Infosec 2016 Government regulation of the Internet of Things will become inevitable as connected kit in arenas as varied as healthcare and power distribution becomes more commonplace, according to security guru Bruce Schneier. 
“Governments are going to get involved regardless because the risks are too great. When people start dying and property starts getting destroyed, governments are going to have to do something,” Schneier said during a keynote speech at the Infosecurity Europe trade show in London.
Probably right.  He talks about "connected" cars as well.  Recommended for a view into our future.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

NSA "looking at" spying on implantable medical devices

Oh, great:
At the Defense One Tech Summit on Friday, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett said, “We’re looking at it sort of theoretically from a research point of view right now.” 
Ledgett, according to The Intercept, claimed surveillance via biomedical devices might be “a niche kind of thing … a tool in the toolbox.”

Wikileaks: they will publish Hillary's emails

They say there's enough there to indict her, but thinks that the FBI will cut a deal with her in hopes of getting more power under a Clinton administration.  The source site seems down from the traffic load, so this link goes to Slashdot.

Monday, June 13, 2016

So do they have actual geniuses at the Apple Store "Genius Bar"?

Well, this guy seemed pretty smart:
A thief in New York City was able lift more than $16,000 worth of Apple merchandise by dressing up as a store employee. 
The brazen bloke walked into the SoHo Apple Store location at around 5.30PM on June 1, and took 19 iPhones from the store without being detected. 
His clever disguise? A blue t-shirt that police said was "similar" to the uniform worn by Apple's retail store workers. 
We're told the thief was able to pass as an employee long enough to walk through the store and into a repair room, where he accessed a drawer containing the iPhones. He then passed off the plundered handsets to an accomplice, who stuffed them under his shirt. Both of them exited the store without being stopped by security.
The jokes sort of write themselves.



Sunday, June 12, 2016

You may not be interested in war between people from different cultures

But war between people from different cultures is interested in you.  Trotsky's dictum rungs true nearly a century later.  As a bunch of people from regions hostile to gays immigrate here, you can expect a rise in homophobia.

This is as clear as 2 + 2 = 4, which means that the dimwits who run the country are mystified as to how this could have happened.  I haven't heard them blame the NRA yet, but give them time.

Jean Sibelius - Finlandia

Image from Le Wik
Today is Helsinki Day, celebrating the founding of that city.  Likely 100,000 people will turn out for a day celebrating all things Suomi.  When you think of classical music and Suomi, you think of Jean Sibelius.  I'm quite surprised that in four years of sunday classical posts I haven't done this song.

Jean Sibelius was part of the late nineteenth century movement of nationalist composers (broadly including GreigDvořák, and even Vaughan Williams).  Sibeliuswas perhaps the most influential of all in helping to crystalize a national identity as Finland struggled for independence from Russia.

Finlandia is without doubt his most recognizable piece.  It premiered in 1899, in the middle of a career than would best be described at the time as "sleeper".  His reputation grew to the point where in the 1920s he simply stopped composing.  His last thirty years were known as "The Silence of Järvenpää" where his house was).

Saturday, June 11, 2016


The drawbridge at Castle Borepatch (not to scale)

I'm told that I want to add some handing baskets and the like to the drawbridge here at Castle Borepatch.  I'm told that I'll like it.  I'm told that I don't mind that it's 90°.

Okay, then.

Bering Straight - I Could Use A Hero

Country music from Russia?  Da, tovarich!  It's not Bluegrass, it's "Redgrass" ...

Bering Strait was a country music band from Obninsk, Russia - site of the first electricity producing nuclear power plant and sister city with Oak Ridge, TN.  Natasha Borzilova's (the lead singer) father was a nuclear scientist who died from radiation exposure at Chernobyl.    She recounts the band's origin:
Bering Strait consisted of a group of classically trained child prodigy musicians, all born in Obninsk, Russia,  and the children of scientists who came to the United States to pursue their musical dreams. The band was put together by their music teacher who had a love for bluegrass music and introduced them to the genre. As time passed, the band evolved into a country band with bluegrass roots. Natasha was the lead singer and acoustic guitarist.
The band members moved to Nashville after having interest from several major record labels. After being on several labels, they settled down with Universal South Records long enough to release two albums and a few videos. They were nominated for a Grammy in the Country Instrumental category in 2003 and were also on 60 Minutes in a featured piece which aired just before the Grammy Awards and another two times later that same year.
That's a long, long way to the Grand Ole Opry.  Their music is perhaps a little surprising in that it sounds like, well, normal country music.  It's perhaps a little over-produced  but the performances are excellent.

I Could Use A Hero (Songwriters: Tammy Wagoner, Billy Montana)
Who will rescue my heart?
Who will save my soul?
Who will give me strength?
Fill my cup with hope?

I could use a sunrise, I could use a rainbow;
Someone on a white horse, I could use a hero.

Who will light my way?
Take me through the night?
Who will hear my voice?
Hold me when I cry?

I could use a sunrise, I could use a rainbow;
Someone on a white horse, I could use a hero.
I could use an angel to guard against the shadows;
I could use a strong heart, I could use a hero.

Is there a dream (Is there a dream)
waiting for me (waiting for me)?
Is that too much to ask?

I could use a hero.
I could use a hero.
Yeah, I could use a hero.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Luther Allison - Living in the House of the Blues

Performed four months before he died from brain cancer in 1997.  He didn't even know that he had it when he played this.

To the prayer at the beginning of the video, all I can say is "amen".  Rest in peace, Luther.

World War II OSS Sabatoge Manual

The Office of Strategic Services was the precursor to the CIA.  Their WWII Sabotage Manual makes for interesting reading.


How to spot an email scam

Great writeup showing what you should look for to keep yourself safe.  Simple and it looks pretty effective.

Any Macintosh experts out there?

I just got a printer for Castle Borepatch.  The Queen Of The World started a new job and will be doing some working from home, and our old printers were, well, old, slow, and drank lots of expensive ink.  And so we got a nifty new color laser printer.

Alas, that's where my problems started.  When I changed jobs last fall I chose - no doubt in a fit of curiosity or whimsey - a Mac instead of a Windows laptop.  And while the Mac sees the printer over the WiFi, and while the print queue says that everything is happy happy, it won't actually print.

It appears that the print jobs are being sent to the queue as PDF, and from there are going to /dev/null (they sure as heck aren't going to the printer).  The little pull down that says "PDF" below has all sorts of PDF options, but nothing else - and there doesn't seem to be any option along the lines of "Screw PDF, just print the dang thing".

Any thoughts, Oh Mac gurus?  I did have to pull down the newest driver from, but the laptop found the printer just fine via bonjour.

Of course, the Queen Of The World is printing up a storm from her Windows laptop.  And reminding me that technology choices maybe shouldn't be made from whimsey.  Oh bother.

UPDATE 10 June 2016 15:15: Success!  It turns out that configuring the WiFi from the printer's front panel doesn't enable AirPrint, which is what the Mac was looking for. When I downloaded Brother's WiFi setup utility and ran it to set up the WiFi on the printer, it suddenly showed up in the Add Printer selections.  It supposedly will let me print from the phones, too.

So the lesson is that Apple has "Insanely great" but pretty obscure ways of doing basic stuff (like wireless printing).

Thursday, June 9, 2016

More on self driving cars

It's full speed ahead:
[Networkworld reports: "Qualcomm today announced its Connected Car Reference Platform intended for the car industry to use to build prototypes of the next-generation connected car. Every category from economy to luxury car will be much smarter than the connected luxury car of today, creating a big opportunity for Qualcomm to supply semiconductors to automakers and suppliers. Qualcomm described the following features of the Connected Car Reference Platform in its release:

Scalability: Using a common framework that scales from a basic telematics control unit (TCU) up to a highly integrated wireless gateway, connecting multiple electronic control units (ECUs) within the car and supporting critical functions, such as over-the-air software upgrades and data collection and analytics. 
Future-proofing: Allowing the vehicleâ(TM)s connectivity hardware and software to be upgraded through its life cycle, providing automakers with a migration path from Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) to hybrid/cellular V2X and from 4G LTE to 5G. 
Wireless coexistence: Managing concurrent operation of multiple wireless technologies using the same spectrum frequencies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy. 
OEM and third-party applications support: Providing a secure framework for the development and execution of custom applications."]
"Secure".  You keep using that word ...

The comments at the link are gratifyingly horrified.  This one pretty much sums it up for me:
Problem is matey, I have bought so much high tech junk over the last few decades that has routinely fucked up, in fact software programmers claim it as the norm and seriously, what do you expect perfect software. Well, yeah, when going 100km an hour down a road I expect perfect software, you can't deliver, well then, no thanks. 
Yeah, pretty much.  That '67 GTO is looking better and better.  Hack that, bitches!

In other news of the connected auto world, it seems that major computer security vendors see automotive computing as a sucking chest wound of security fail - in other words, a market opportunity:
Just shy of a year after the infamous Jeep Cherokee hack by a pair of researchers, the automobile industry is quietly testing cybersecurity features from IoT startups and traditional security companies for its networked vehicles. 
Symantec today added what is now its fourth car security product -- an anomaly detection system for automotive vehicles that is based on its existing technology as well as its Internet of Things line, timed with the TU-Automotive connected car conference in Detroit this week. The security vendor also sells Symantec Embedded Security, which includes Critical System Protection, Code Signing, and Managed Public Key Infrastructure for the auto sector.
So the security of the automotive sector is so stinkin' bad that the computer security companies see it as a way to shore up their bottom lines.  I'm not sure whether I'm reassured that someone will at least try to mind the store, or horrified that ineffective Symantec bloatware will be riding shotgun ...