Sunday, July 31, 2016

Blake Shelton (with Pistol Annies) - Boys 'Round Here

My wife almost killed me on the John Deere.  That could be a Country song.

We went up to Ohio to get her Dad's lawn tractor.  It was a little exciting using ramps to get it up into the pickup truck, and even more exciting backing it down.  But nothing was as exciting as when she was riding me around and gave it some gas.  It was a good thing that the lawn tractor was on a lawn ...

Every now and again we get our Redneck on.  As you'd expect, there's a song for that.  Blake Shelton said of the song "That song had me from the first, ‘cause I thought about all the guys I know back in Tishamingo. None of them listened to The Beatles. They listened to Hank, or these days you’ll hear Jason Aldean blaring out of somebody’s car coming from a mile away. It’s just how they are, and that song is just written exactly how I live."

Looks like that's how the Queen Of The World and I live, too.  At least this weekend.

The video includes the lovely Pistol Annies, who include the former Mrs. Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert.

Boys 'Round Here (Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, Craig Wiseman):
Well the boys 'round here don't listen to The Beatles
Run ole Bocephus through a jukebox needle
At a honky-tonk, where their boots stomp
All night; what? (That's right)
Yea, and what they call work, digging in the dirt
Gotta get it in the ground 'fore the rain come down
To get paid, to get the girl
In your 4 wheel drive (A country boy can survive)

Yea the boys 'round here
Drinking that ice cold beer
Talkin' 'bout girls, talkin' 'bout trucks
Runnin' them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust
The boys 'round here
Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
Backwoods legit, don't take no sh*t
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

Aw heck
Red red red red red red redneck

Well the boys 'round here, they're keeping it country
Ain't a damn one know how to do the dougie
(You don't do the dougie?) No, not in Kentucky
But these girls 'round here yep, they still love me
Yea, the girls 'round here, they all deserve a whistle
Shakin' that sugar, sweet as Dixie crystal
They like that y'all and southern drawl
And just can't help it cause they just keep fallin'

For the boys 'round here
Drinking that ice cold beer
Talkin' 'bout girls, talkin' 'bout trucks
Runnin' them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust
The boys 'round here
Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
Backwoods legit, don't take no sh*t
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

Let me hear you say
(Ooh let's ride)
(Ooh let's ride)
Down to the river side

(Ooh let's ride…)
Hey now girl, hop inside
Me and you gonna take a little ride to the river
Let's ride (That's right)
Lay a blanket on the ground
Kissing and the crickets is the only sound
We out of town
Have you ever got down with a…
Red red red red red red redneck?
And do you wanna get down with a…
Red red red red red red redneck?
Girl you gotta get down

With the boys 'round here
Drinking that ice cold beer
Talkin' 'bout girls, talkin' 'bout trucks
Runnin' them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust
The boys 'round here
Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
Backwoods legit, don't take no sh*t
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit

(Ooh let's ride)
Red red red red red red redneck
(Ooh let's ride)
I'm one of them boys 'round here
(Ooh let's ride)
Red red red red red red redneck
(Ooh let's ride)

(Ooh let's ride…)
Well all I'm thinkin' 'bout is you and me, how we'll be
So come on girl, hop inside
Me and you, we're gonna take a little ride
Lay a blanket on the ground
Kissing and the crickets is the only sound
We out of town
Girl you gotta get down with a…
Come on through the country side
Down to the river side

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The "Russians hacked the DNC" story is wrong

At the very least, it is journalistic malpractice and we should consider it wrong until proven otherwise.  Robert Graham (an Internet Security bigwig) posts at length about this:
People keep citing this New York Times article by David Sanger that attributes the DNCleaks to Russia. As I've written before, this is propaganda, not journalism. It's against basic journalistic ethics to quote anonymous "federal officials" in a story like this. The Society of Professional Journalists repudiates this [1] [2]. The NYTime's own ombudsman has itself criticized David Sanger for this practice, and written guidelinesto specifically ban it.

Quoting anonymous federal officials is great, when they disagree with government, when revealing government malfeasance, when it's something that people will get fired over.

But the opposite is happening here. It's either Obama himself or some faction within the administration that wants us to believe Russia is involved. They want us to believe the propaganda, then hide behind anonymity so we can't question them. This evades obvious questions, like whether all their information comes from the same public sources that already point to Russia, or whether they have their own information from the CIA or NSA that points to Russia.

Everyone knows the Washington press works this way, and that David Sanger in particular is a journalistic whore.
There's more, and you should read the entire post.  In my opinion, this is exactly right.  I've been skeptical about this, but anonymous "tips" basically say "trust me".  I'm sorry, but the last decades have shown that we shouldn't trust the Press.

The echo of Jackboots

It may be stirring in France, as a frightened population rushes to join gun clubs.  Why?
As a Brit who has lived in France for 15 years, I like to think I know my neighbors pretty well. I've pretty well mastered the language, and have even been elected to the local council. So my observations are not a tourist's snapshot. I talk to a lot of people at every level of French society and I am detecting a change of mood. And the mood is turning nasty.
Normally, it takes quite a bit to excite my neighbors under the languid southern sun, but as one horror has followed another, I am no longer taking for granted that they will put up with this much longer.
Tom Wolfe once joked that fascism is always descending upon America but always landing in Europe.  France has a long history of native grown fascist movements, as a reading of the Third Republic will reveal.  The movements then were driven by the same dynamic we see today:
Traditional politicians are failing France's citizens. The president, Francois Hollande, has so far responded feebly to this. After the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine, he suggested that radicalism could be avoided by making school children recite a pledge of allegiance to the French state. 
Last week, Manuel Valls, the prime minister, further infuriated my neighbors by suggesting that they should just "learn to live" with terrorism. No wonder the extreme nationalist politicians are gaining ground.
I need to point out that this article is at CNBC, for crying out loud.  As you'd expect from a reliably lefty media outlet it does a tip of the hat to the (very real) problems of discrimination faced by France's muslim community.  But the entire article is grim.  People are buying guns - lots of guns.

Me, I blame Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, and America's lack of an Assault Rifle gun law ...

Hat tip: American Digest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Of Free Trade, Bastiat's "Seen and Unseen", and the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party

Peter has a good post up about free trade. I left a comment about how economists (like everyone) suffer from Bastiat's "The Seen and the Unseen" fallacy - you notice what you measure and you don't notice what you don't measure.  Economists measure the amount of trade, and increasingly do not measure the actual impact of unemployment (not least because the way unemployment is measured has become corrupted by a cynical government.  And suddenly I'm afraid that I found myself in a rant.

It's not Peter's fault - I've done this before, on this topic, and this post is really a combination of two older posts that are suddenly made fresh by the Trump phenomenon.  You want President Trump?  

This is how you get President Trump.

Globalization is presented in a very sterile manner.  That's because the people who benefit from it are the Intellectual Class - the Harvard Business School types, the Banksters, the Intellectual Class hangers on.  Lots of dusty figures and graphs.  It's left to the artists - in this case, a latter day Woodie Guthrie - to give it a human face.

The plant in the video was the Goodyear factory in Union City, TN.  It closed in 2011. When I was a lad, Woodie Guthrie was a hero of the Left, a man who stuck up for the Little Guy who was oppressed by the Powers That Be.  Nowadays, this is called right wing hate music.  Just because.

Quite frankly, there's nothing that more clearly demonstrates the decadence of the Left.  And nothing that more clearly demonstrates why I hold them in contempt.  It's all upper middle class SWPL self-interest, and I say this as someone who's been sort of upper middle class for a long time.  The people in this video are our neighbors.  Where, o where is Hollywood and the Left?  The World wonders.

Actually, we don't.  That's where the contempt springs from.  The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.

HYPOCRITEn. One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
I used to be a Democrat.  I used to hold elective office in the Democratic Party Apparat (County Council, as a matter of fact).  I'm registered Independent - as I've been since the 1980s - but have never been a Republican, and have no plans to change that.

I grew up pretty liberal, as childhood friend 2cents could tell you.  Quite frankly, I'm one of the millions who think that they didn't leave the Party, the Party left them.

And that makes a difference.  While I think that the GOP is the Stupid Party, when I look at what the Democratic Party has shrunk to, the only word that comes to mind is "evil".  I mean that quite literally.

They have sold their souls to those who used to be considered their worst enemies.  They've shaved much of their souls off, and burned them as an offering on the altar of Wall Street and the Banksters.

Where I came from, that used to be called hypocrisy.

I was trained not just as an Engineer, but as an Economist, and so I understand the theories of technological advancement displacing unskilled labor, and the theories of international trade and advantage.  Indeed, I've spent my career in an industry that has benefited from that trade and America's differentiated value as we built the Internet.

And yet I never forgot that Dad was born on a kitchen table, and grew up dirt poor in the Depression.  That runs deep, to my bones - which is why I'll never be a Republican.

And yet I look at the Democratic Party, the party of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the Recording Industry, Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, and I want to vomit.  Bill Clinton destroyed the soul of the Party; NAFTA was only the start of a long and (literally) sordid list of betrayals where bit by bit, the Party's soul was gradually sliced off until the only thing left was appetite.

Democrats love him because he won elections, but he destroyed the Working Class.  NAFTA was intended to pad the bottom line of the Fortune 500.  It came at the expense of the Working Class.  But the Fortune 500 contributed large amounts of money to his campaign, and to the Democratic Party.

Repeat for the Bank bailout.  Repeat for the Federal Reserve monetizing the debt and causing an inflation that the Government no longer tracks (they changed how it's counted to make it go away).  Repeat for the EPA refusing new oil drilling permits and refinery permits, causing gasoline prices to double (oops, energy isn't included in the inflation indices any more).  Repeat for SOPA and the galaxy of Intellectual Property laws that would criminalize the Middle Class, saving the RIAA the expense of suing.

Now add in Obamacare which gutted the 40 hour work week, and the push for "immigration reform" - bringing in between 12 and 20 Million more workers that are willing to work for lower wages than unemployed former Working Class Americans.  Because the Powers That Be in the Democratic Party smell new votes.  Not Middle Class votes, but hey - eggs, omelets, right?

Add in the EPA and a thousand other regulatory agencies making it impossible to build a factory in this country.  The Chinese can have it up and running in six months, just like we used to - but the Democratic Party's environmentalist allies (and their allies in government agencies who benefit from this jobs killing red tape) have a monomaniacal drive for more, more, ever more regulation.  If that kills the working class then gosh: don't they vote Republican anyway?

And throughout all of this, you hear an endless litany of "the Democratic Party is the party of the little guy".  The biased Media never calls them on any of this.  And I (and presumably you) are racist wingnut h8trs because we see the betrayal for what it is:

Evil.  These are real people, with real lives and dreams.  Those are being destroyed by the Democratic Party.  The Democratic Party is impoverishing the Middle Class, all the while claiming to be sticking up for it.  I have data.

What's the Matter with Kansas?  What's the matter is that the good citizens there haven't strung up every Democratic politician from a lamp post.
My mother gave birth to me on the kitchen table that I ate off until adulthood.  I have always considered the humble conditions of that birth to be a distinction, one to be proud of.  In spite of the humbleness of that birth, I was able to become a university professor, author of several books and many articles, and to be blessed with marriage to a wonderful woman and father to three fine sons.  Having accomplished that from such a birth had given me bragging rights.
Dad made a shift from being a Republican to a pillar of the Democratic Party because of this.  I've made the shift away from the party for exactly the same reason.  I'm not cynical or evil enough to stomach what the party has become.

Well played, Gardiner.

The Castle Borepatch garden is bearing tomatoes.  They're pretty danged good.

"Smart" lightbulbs are pretty stupid

From a security perspective, that is:
Nine security holes, four of them still unpatched, have been found in the Osram smart light bulb system, potentially giving attackers access to a home or corporate network. 
The issues in the Lightify Home and Pro systems range from cross-site scripting (XSS) to problems with the ZigBee and SSL protocols to insecure encryption key handling. They were discovered by security company Rapid7. 
Some of the programming bugs are pretty amateurish, raising the larger question of what kind of security review the products go through before being put on the market.
Security wasn't an afterthought - it wasn't thought of at all.

My recommendation is to assume that any "smart" appliance is an open door to hackers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yeah, I could get behind this

Must read on the Trump phenomenon

Via Isegoria (you do read him every day, right?) comes this:
... humans appear to have some need to look down on someone; there’s just a basic tribalistic impulse in all of us.  And if you’re an elite white professional, working class whites are an easy target: you don’t have to feel guilty for being a racist or a xenophobe.  By looking down on the hillbilly, you can get that high of self-righteousness and superiority without violating any of the moral norms of your own tribe.  So your own prejudice is never revealed for what it is.
What does it mean for our politics?  To me, this condescension is a big part of Trump’s appeal.  He’s the one politician who actively fights elite sensibilities, whether they’re good or bad.  I remember when Hillary Clinton casually talked about putting coal miners out of work, or when Obama years ago discussed working class whites clinging to their guns and religion.  Each time someone talks like this, I’m reminded of Mamaw’s feeling that hillbillies are the one group you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon.  The people back home carry that condescension like a badge of honor, but it also hurts, and they’ve been looking for someone for a while who will declare war on the condescenders.  If nothing else, Trump does that. 
I grew up comfortably in this "Intellectual Class" but Dad remembered the hard days of the Depression and his Grandfather's hardscrabble farm.  The angriest I remember him getting at me was when I casually tossed out some sneering reference to the problems of the Working Man.  He had no patience for that sort of thing, and so I had a correction to the Class Condescension problem at quite an early age.  Fortunately, it stuck.

And so while I am a card-carrying member of the Intellectual Class (multiple papers published in the technical literature and all that), I feel this same rage at the sneers from people who should know - and behave - better.  There's no mystery to me about what Trump's appeal is, and in fact there is a sense of kindred spirit: he, too, came from this same class.  He, too, rejected the easy prejudices of that class.  He, too, is impatient with those who should know better.

It's quite an interesting interview, and I highly recommend it.

I'm skeptical about the whole "Russian Hackers got into the DNC email"

I'm increasingly skeptical that Vlad Putin hacked the DNC email servers and released the emails to help get Donald Trump elected.  Sure, it could have happened, but a number of things have me saying "Hmmmm":

1. While the Russians certainly have the capability to do a hack like this, I don't see the motive.  If they want to get Trump elected, why not release the emails from Hillary's servers?  That would be much more damaging than the DNC emails which haven't really done anything other than make Bernie Bros angry.  Letting it be known that they were reading her email while negotiating with them would be terribly damaging.

2. The story about Russian hackers came out almost immediately after the Wikileaks announcement.  How on earth would anyone have been able to know who did the hack in that short a period?  The Press picked this up and mouthed the story as you would expect from Running Dog Lackeys of the Democratic Party, but there's very little evidence being offered.

3. There are other plausible actors who would be more embarrassing to the Democrats.  It's not beyond belief that an IT Administrator was a closet Bernie Bro who caught a whiff of what was going on, and leaked the emails to Wikileaks.

All in all, I'm taking a wait and see approach to this.  But for now, I'm not buying the "Hacked by Rookies" thing.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Smart guy

Environmentalism is a scam

It's not about the principle, it's all about power and filthy lucre:
How do humans save nature? By caring for people. Poor nations access cheap and reliable energy to grow more food on less land, create jobs in cities, and reduce fertility. All of this urbanization & increasing yields returns the countryside to grasslands, forests and wildlife. In rich countries — where forests & wildlife are returning — the key to environmental progress is to move to ever-cleaner and safer forms of energy, including nuclear power.
Unfortunately, both of these strategies are increasingly opposed by powerful interests. Using a variety of policy and regulatory mechanisms, large NGOs, European governments, and financial institutions in rich countries are forcing the closure of our largest source of clean energy, nuclear power plants, all while diverting funding from cheap and reliable power to expensive and unreliable off-grid solutions incapable of lifting billions from poverty.
A new group has formed to seize the bull by the horns:
Our ambitions are immodest: we seek to double the rates of both a. electricity growth in poor nations and b. new clean energy generation globally by 2025. Our strategy is to build a grassroots social movement capable of changing minds and policies.
We seek first to stop the premature closure of nuclear plants, restart shuttered plants, and increase the rate at which nations build new nuclear plants, whether Generation III or Gen IV. Second, we seek to motivate policymakers, private banks and public financial institutions to significantly reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for inexpensive baseload electricity in nations where people still rely on wood and dung as their primary energy.
This actually makes enormous sense, and so we can expect that it will be opposed tooth and nail by all Right Thinking People™.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday, Puppy Sunday

Golden retrievers at a water park.

Someone wants a Golden Retriever puppy.  Not sure how you say "no" to someone whose title includes the word "Queen" ...

Adolphe Adam - Overture to Si j'étais Roi

You have heard one of his compositions, and likely can sing along to it.  Here's the song:

Adam was what you might call a "natural".  As a child, he didn't like his structured music lessons, preferring to improvise.  He was a prolific composer of operas and ballets, and a professor at the Paris Conservatoire.  His music is very listenable, and he really deserves to be know for more than a single Christmas carol.

Today's classical composition is the overture to the comedic opera Si j'étais Roi (If I were King):

Friday, July 22, 2016

I, sharpshooter

The local volunteer fire department put on a carnival to raise money.  The Queen Of The World and I rode over on the Harley for an evening of small town summertime fun.

One of the sideshow stalls was a shooting gallery.  It was just BB guns, but full automatic BB guns.  You had to shoot out the red star on the tiny card (click to embiggen).

Everyone around me was just blasting away, and getting nowhere.  But the Queen Of The World was needing a big furry stuffed thingy, and so I handed over my $3 and took aim.  I did short bursts, gradually chopping out the entire center of the card.  When my 100 BBs were all expended, the carnie reeled the card in.  The red star was entirely shot out.

We rode home on the Harley with a purple gorilla in the trunk.  All the spectators were impressed with my shooting; the Queen Of The World was thrilled that her beau had won her a prize at a feat of skill; I'm unreasonably self-satisfied with myself.  Trigger control FTW!

I was glad to win her a big prize, but was glad it wasn't any bigger - would have had to lash it down to the top of the bike's trunk.

Hitler heckles at a Trump rally

Pretty ironic, because Trump is Hitler, amirite?

I mean, Hilter is heckling himself!

Wait, what?

I think these guys may have taken a wrong turn on their wait to the Plateau of Leng.

Uncle Jay could not be reached for comment.

Green energy = prices increase by 14,000%

Who could have seen this coming?
The South Australian Government been forced to beg fossil fuel operators to bring mothballed plants back online, to contain wild swings in electricity spot price caused by unstable renewable production, prices which last month peaked at $14,000 / MWh – up from more normal prices of $100 / MWh which prevailed before political favouritism towards renewables messed up the market.
Well, knock me over with a feather!  You mean that there's some sort of law of "Supply and Demand", and if the supply tanks because of unreliable generating capacity then the price will spike? Whodathunkit?

Boy, it's pretty amazing that a few dirty hippy tree huggers can bring a nation's factories to their knees, huh?  It's almost as if there's someone else behind "political favoritism".  Now who might that be?
According to the Financial Post;
Climate change initiatives a $7-trillion funding opportunity for capital markets: Carney
TORONTO The trillions needed to fund global carbon reduction commitments in the coming years is a big opportunity for investors, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Friday in a speech to Toronto’s financial community.
Huh.  The banksters see a multi trillion dollar opportunity that just oh by the way requires factories to pay a bazillion bucks more, which they pass on to us in the form of higher prices (or higher unemployment if the factory can't compete in a globalized economy)?  Whodathunkit?

I must say that it's odd to find environmentalists to be corporate shills for big banking, though.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Regarding Pokemons ...

About right, actually.

Trump 366, Clinton 172

I'm much more emotionally disconnected from this election than previous ones (I've more or less come around to the sense that the American Experiment has run its course, for better or worse).  However, this election cycle is pretty intellectually interesting.  So here's my projection of how the November vote will come out.

The following state-by-state breakdown is based on current poll numbers from here along with two assumptions that adjust these figures.  I could be wrong, but have found that people don't really dispute your calculations, they dispute your assumptions.  I lay them out here for your, err, disputation.

Assumption #1: There is a large Bradley Effect in play here, just as there was in the UK Brexit vote, and for the same reasons.  People are continually told that if they support Trump (or Brexit) that they are miserable racists, the lowest of the low, and unfit for civilized company.  Some notice this and lie to pollsters.  In the UK it looks like the effect was enough to skew the polls by around 8%.  I conservatively estimate that the effect here will be slightly less at 5%.

In other words, the current polls understate Trump's support by 5%.

Assumption #2: Trump will increase his support, as reflected in the polls.  We are already seeing this, where Clinton seems to have lost around 5% over the last 4-6 weeks.  Several things are in play here. Trump has been remarkably silent lately, and this has hurt Clinton's efforts to paint him as a lunatic - he hasn't said much that is looney lately, perhaps because he hasn't said much.  I expect that Trump is smart enough to stay "Presidential", undercutting her best argument against him (I could be wrong here: remember I said this was an assumption).  Trump has also been keeping his powder dry, not really attacking Clinton other than the odd tweet or so.  She is simply a terrible candidate, and I believe that we will see a 2 month long series of pretty devastating attacks against her that target her perceived incompetence and dishonesty.  Her defenses here are weak, and her team has showed that they are slow to respond.  A series of attacks keeping her on the defensive, struggling to respond to plausible criticisms will be a slow acid bath eating away some of her support.  I give Trump another 5% that he will pick up here.

In other words, the two assumptions understate the support that I think Trump will get by 10%.

At the Election Projection site, they break down states as weakly favoring a candidate (5% or less), moderately favoring a candidate (10% or less), or strongly favoring a candidate (more than 10%).  Moving "Weak Democrat" and "Moderate Democrat" to Trump (reflecting the 10% understatement of Trump's support detailed above) gives Clinton winning California (55), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (12).  Everything else goes to Trump.

As I said, I very well could be wrong.  However, I show my work.  Feel free to pick apart my assumptions.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Rest in peace, MSGT Robert Garrett

Veteran of Korea and Vietnam, no nonsense and curmudgenly like many of his generation, salt of the earth.

I liked him, even though I didn't know him very long. I'm very glad that we came up to see him last fall.


They turned the life support off for my Father-In-Law on Saturday.  Now it's waiting.  The Queen Of The World is doing pretty well, considering.

Lots of memories of when Dad passed lurking in this hospital.

There's a meditation here, that life is for the living.  Dance with your wife.  Tell your husband you love him, every night.  Turn up the music.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Father In Law update

The prognosis is poor and the family is gathering.  The Queen Of The World and I are driving to Ohio, and I've packed a suit and tie.  Blogging will be catch as catch can.

She and I would appreciate it if any of you could remember Bob in your prayers, as he prepares for that last voyage that will one day be ours as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This seems like a bad idea

Harley-Davidson to introduce an electric motorcycle:
The iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has said it is dedicated to having electric powered motorbikes on the road within the next five years. 
The company had been touting its LiveWire e-powered concept bike for years, but only within the last couple weeks has the firm committed to a timeline on production of the pioneering vehicle.  
'Harley-Davidson will produce an electric motorcycle for customers within the next five years,' writes Harley Senior Vice President of Global Demand Sean Cummings in the Milwaukee Business Journal. 
What's the reason that someone buys a Harley?  Not "buys a motorcycle" - the feeling of freedom yadda yadda yadda - but "buys a Harley"?

It's the sound.

You can get a quiet performance bike from a ton of other vendors, but Harley is about the noise.  The fact that they already sell a quiet motorcycle (the V Rod) proves this rule: the V Rod is a niche bike, and a bunch of buyers make after market modifications to make the bike sound more like a Harley.

I predict this new product line will fail, not because you can only ride 50 miles before recharging (they can improve this), but because Harley customers don't want a quiet motorcycle.  They can get one of those from BMW or Yamaha.

This is bad planning, bad marketing, and a bad use of development resources.

Why Hillary Clinton is in trouble

This seems pretty spot on:
Trump and Sanders, each in his own way, have shown too many people that it’s possible to hope for something other than an intolerable state of business as usual.  In the wake of their candidacies, a great many voters have decided that they’re no longer willing to vote for the lesser of two evils. 

That’s a point of some importance.  To my mind, it’s far from accidental that for the last few decades, every presidential election here in the US has been enlivened by bumper stickers calling on voters to support the presidential ambitions of Cthulhu, the tentacled primeval horror out of H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of cosmic dread. I’m sorry to say that the Elder God’s campaign faces a serious constitutional challenge, as he was spawned on the world of Vhoorl in the twenty-third nebula and currently resides in the drowned corpse-city of R’lyeh, and as far as I know neither of these are US territory. Still, his bid for the White House has gotten further than most other imaginary candidacies, and I’ve long thought that the secret behind that success is Cthulhu’s campaign slogan: “Why settle for the lesser evil?”
In an election where most of the electorate is restless and looking for a change, not just more of the same, she represents more of the same.
The reason that this slogan reliably elicits laughter, in turn, is that the entire rhetoric of presidential politics in the United States for decades now has fixated on the claim that one party’s pet stooge won’t do anything quite as appalling as the other side’s will, even though they all support the same policies and are bought and sold by the same corrupt interests. Over and over again, we’ve been told that we have to vote for whatever candidate this or that party has retched up, because otherwise the other side will get to nominate a Supreme Court justice or two, or get us into another war, or do something else bad.  Any suggestion that a candidate might be expected to do something positive—that he or she might, for example, reject the bipartisan policies that have crashed the standard of living for most Americans, consigned the nation’s infrastructure to malign neglect, and pursued gargantuan corporate welfare programs, such as the worthless F-35 fighter, at the expense of anything more useful or necessary—is dismissed out of hand as “unrealistic.”
So why is this so bad for Hillary?  Because while we don't know that Trump will make changes here, it's a dead certainty that Hillary won't.  And people are looking for change.

The question is not whether there will be a Bradley Effect, the question is how big the Bradley Effect will be.  In the UK, all of the "you're a racist if you don't vote the way we want you to" led to the polls being off by about 8%.  Will the effect here be the same size?  More?  Less?

We'll see.  But with people wanting change and being told that they're racist to want change, this effect will be real.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Sporadically I am excessively garrulous, but geez:

I'm not sure if any of the posts tagged I am a nerd are as nerdy as this.  And do I really have over 250 of those posts?  Oh, bother.

Hat tip: Tam, a professional scrivener.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Motorcycle cops <3 Hillary

Via email from the Queen Of The World.

Donald Trump and the Destabilization Of America

Kevin looks at the Obama Administration's efforts to "Fundamentally Change" America:
It has been said that Western societies are "high-trust" societies, that is, members of these societies trust their fellow citizens and the various institutions that keep the systems running.  We trust each other to (in the majority) behave honorably.  We trust the police to identify and apprehend the suspect when our fellow citizens fail our trust.  We trust the justice system to try and punish, if necessary, those suspects.  We trust the banks to hold our money and at least not lose it.  We trust our media to report the facts.  We trust our government to treat us fairly.

And how much of what I just wrote above is true today?
He traces the stages of destabilization as practiced by the KGB during the Cold War.  It's quite interesting, and you should go RTWT.

What's interesting is that Trump's "Make America Great Again" message is targeted precisely at this perceived destabilization effort.   Trump is engaging in memetic warfare - he's the only Republican to do so since Reagan, in fact.  I suspect this is why Obama seems so continually annoyed at Trump, in a way he's not at the other Republicans.

And so they will do everything they can think of to make Hillary President.  Amidst a world wide crisis of governmental legitimacy, they will ensure that if she does go into the Oval Office, she will go in with no ability to govern.  It may be that THAT is the crisis, with Obama waiting in the wings to come and "restore unity".

I'm not saying that it's a particularly good plan.  But I wonder if it is the plan.
Last weekend was a reenactment of the Battle of Monocacy, just a few miles from Castle Borepatch.

Atlanta had a wealth of Civil War historical sites, but the Washington DC region takes pride of place for battlefields.  Unfortunately we missed the motorcycle rally in Gettysburg, but it's less than an hour away so I expect we will make that trip shortly.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

In re: this year's election campaign

Ambrose Bierce wrote in 1906:
PRESIDENT, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom — and of whom only — it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President. 
- The Devil's Dictionary

The decline of the Pentagon

The Archdruid has a brilliant discussion on the repeated failures of the Pentagon's weapons development programs, with a chilling summation:
Those of my readers who’ve read up on the last years of vanished empires—the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires, Romanov Russia or Habsburg Spain, and so on down the list of history’s obituaries—know the results already: the imperial state reduced to a massive but fragile shell, invincible in appearance but shockingly vulnerable in reality, resting ever more unsteadily on a crumbling foundation of ineffective or broken weapons, decaying or abandoned facilities; a political leadership blithely unaware of the gap between its fantasies of invincibility and the reality of accelerating systemic failure; a high command too busy feathering its own nest and playing political games to notice the widening cracks; and a dwindling corps of servicepeople, overworked, underpaid, and demoralized, who nonetheless keep on struggling to prop up the whole brittle mess until the inevitable disaster sweeps their efforts aside once and for all.
It's quite disheartening to realize just how right he is in this analysis.

Delmore Brothers - Freight Train Boogie

The roots of Country Music go way back, to an era before popular music had branched into clearly distinguishable styles.  Some say that this is the first Rock 'n Roll song; while that's almost certainly not true, you can hear rhythms that would appear in early Rock and especially in Rockabilly.

This record was released in 1946, a decade before Elvis.

The Delmore Brothers started recording in the 1920s and were regulars at the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930s, ultimately writing over a thousand songs during their career.  Rabin Delmore died in the early 1950s, when he was in his early 30s.  His brother Alton lived another decade, also dying young.  You wonder what they would have done had they had more time to write more songs during the time when music was evolving at a breakneak pace.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bacon Mary

Bloody Mary made with Bakon vodka. Man, it's good.

Given the name by the Queen Of The World. You might say "knighted", even. Arise, Sir Wilbur ...

Understanding the Trump Juggernaut

Things haven't been looking great for Donald Trump the last couple of weeks, if you listen to the Talking Heads and read The Polls.  It doesn't matter - I've been saying for months that Trump will win in a landslide, and the world of October 8 will look very different than the world of July 8.

To understand why, you need to spend some time at the most interesting blog that I've seen in a long, long time - certainly over a year, maybe the most interesting I've found in 4 or 5.

It started with a Google search for the term "Crisis of governmental legitimacy" and it led me to a 2012 post at The Archdruid Report.  I didn't notice that he had over 3,000 followers because when I read this I was hooked:
Political power’s a remarkable thing. Though Mao Zedong was quite correct to point out that it grows out of the barrel of a gun, it has to be transplanted into more fertile soil in short order or it will soon wither and die. A successful political system of any kind quickly establishes, in the minds of the people it rules, a set of beliefs and attitudes that define the political system as the normal, appropriate, and acceptable form of government for that people.  That sense of legitimacy is the foundation on which any enduring government must build, for when people see their government as legitimate, no matter how appalling it appears to outsiders, they will far more often than not put up with its excesses and follow its orders. 

It probably needs to be said here that legitimacy is not a rational matter and has nothing to do with morality or competence; great nations all through history have calmly accepted the legitimacy of governments run by thieves, tyrants, madmen and fools. Still, a government that has long held popular legitimacy can still lose it, and can do so in a remarkably short time.  Those of my readers who are old enough to have watched the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellites will recall the speed with which the rulers of several Communist nations saw the entire apparatus of their government dissolve around them as the people they claimed the right to rule stopped cooperating.
At this point, those of you who have been following the voting in the UK are nodding your heads.  That wasn't actually the part that had me fixed to my chair, that was just the set up.  This is what has made me add The Archdruid to the blogroll here:
It’s all too common for the political class of a troubled nation to lose track of the fact that, after all, its power depends on the willingness of a great many people outside the political class to do what they’re told. In Paris in 1789, in St. Petersburg in 1917, and in a great many other places and times, the people who thought that they held the levers of power and repression discovered to their shock that the only power they actually had was the power to issue orders, and those who were supposed to carry those orders out could, when matters came to a head, decide that their own interests lay elsewhere.  In today’s America, equally, it’s not the crisply dressed executives, politicians, and bureaucrats who currently hold power who would be in a position to enforce that power in a crisis; it’s the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, police officers and Homeland Security personnel, who are by and large poorly paid, poorly treated, and poorly equipped, and who have not necessarily been given convincing reasons to support the interests of a political class that most of them privately despise, against the interests of the classes to which they themselves belong.
Some of you have been wondering where Donald Trump comes into this, but that paragraph should lay out the landscape.  Fast forward to the beginning of this year, when the Archdruid called the election for Trump:
Broadly speaking—there are exceptions, which I’ll get to in a moment—it’s from one of four sources: returns on investment, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check. People who get most of their income from one of those four things have a great many interests in common, so much so that it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investment class, a salary class, a wage class, and a welfare class.
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I must say that I find it gratifying when people link to me using terms like "wicked smaht bahstid", but damn - I wish I had thought of that.  It is a conceptual framework that predicts a lot about what's going on politically - both here and in Europe.  And it keeps on going:
Just as the four classes can be identified by way of a very simple question, the political dynamite that’s driving the blowback mentioned earlier can be seen by way of another simple question: over the last half century or so, how have the four classes fared? 

The answer, of course, is that three of the four have remained roughly where they were. The investment class has actually had a bit of a rough time, as many of the investment vehicles that used to provide it with stable incomes—certificates of deposit, government bonds, and so on—have seen interest rates drop through the floor.  Still, alternative investments and frantic government manipulations of stock market prices have allowed most people in the investment class to keep up their accustomed lifestyles. 

The salary class, similarly, has maintained its familiar privileges and perks through a half century of convulsive change. Outside of a few coastal urban areas currently in the grip of speculative bubbles, people whose income comes mostly from salaries can generally afford to own their homes, buy new cars every few years, leave town for annual vacations, and so on. On the other end of the spectrum, the welfare class has continued to scrape by pretty much as before, dealing with the same bleak realities of grinding poverty, intrusive government bureacracy, and a galaxy of direct and indirect barriers to full participation in the national life, as their equivalents did back in 1966. 

And the wage class? Over the last half century, the wage class has been destroyed.
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This is so simply and elegantly stated as to be almost crystalline in beauty.  And you can see where this is going viz a viz Mr. Trump:
It’s worth noting, along these same lines, that every remedy that’s been offered to the wage class by the salary class has benefited the salary class at the expense of the wage class. Consider the loud claims of the last couple of decades that people left unemployed by the disappearance of wage-paying jobs could get back on board the bandwagon of prosperity by going to college and getting job training. That didn’t work out well for the people who signed up for the student loans and took the classes—getting job training, after all, isn’t particularly helpful if the jobs for which you’re being trained don’t exist, and so a great many former wage earners finished their college careers with no better job prospects than they had before, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt burdening them into the bargain. For the banks and colleges that pushed the loans and taught the classes, though, these programs were a cash cow of impressive scale, and the people who work for banks and colleges are mostly salary class. 

Attempts by people in the wage class to mount any kind of effective challenge to the changes that have gutted their economic prospects and consigned them to a third-rate future have done very little so far ...

There’s a further barrier, though, and that’s the response of the salary class across the board—left, right, middle, you name it—to any attempt by the wage class to bring up the issues that matter to it. On the rare occasions when this happens in the public sphere, the spokespeople of the wage class get shouted down with a double helping of the sneering mockery I discussed toward the beginning of this post. The same thing happens on a different scale on those occasions when the same thing happens in private. If you doubt this—and you probably do, if you belong to the salary class—try this experiment: get a bunch of your salary class friends together in some casual context and get them talking about ordinary American working guys. What you’ll hear will range from crude caricatures and one-dimensional stereotypes right on up to bona fide hate speech. People in the wage class are aware of this; they’ve heard it all; they’ve been called stupid, ignorant, etc., ad nauseam for failing to agree with whatever bit of self-serving dogma some representative of the salary class tried to push on them.
Is everyone thinking about Trump right now?  The Powers That Be keep feeding the Beast that is his support:
... he knows that every time some privileged buffoon in the media or on the internet trots out another round of insults directed at his failure to conform to salary class ideas of fashion, another hundred thousand wage class voters recall the endless sneering putdowns they’ve experienced from the salary class and think, “Trump’s one of us.”

And now we come to where the Archdruid closed the deal with me, in his analysis of the mindset of the Powers That Be:
The result in both countries was a political climate in which the only policies up for discussion were those that favored the interests of the affluent at the expense of the working classes and the poor. That point has been muddied so often, and in so many highly imaginative ways, that it’s probably necessary to detail it here. Rising real estate prices, for example, benefit those who own real estate, since their properties end up worth more, but it penalizes those who must rent their homes, since they have to pay more of their income for rent. Similarly, cutting social-welfare benefits for the disabled favors those who pay taxes at the expense of those who need those benefits to survive. 

In the same way, encouraging unrestricted immigration into a country that already has millions of people permanently out of work, and encouraging the offshoring of industrial jobs so that the jobless are left to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of jobs, benefit the affluent at the expense of everyone else. The law of supply and demand applies to labor just as it does to everything else:  increase the supply of workers and decrease the demand for their services, and wages will be driven down. The affluent benefit from this, since they pay less for the services they want, but the working poor and the jobless are harmed by it, since they receive less income if they can find jobs at all.
Again, this is the setup, which is more or less impossible to argue against.  The close is this:
The enduring symbol of the resulting disconnect is the famous Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, where the last three French kings before the Revolution secluded themselves from an increasingly troubled and impoverished nation in order to gaze admiringly at their own resplendent reflections. While Marie Antoinette apparently never said the famous sentence attributed to her—“Let them eat cake”—the cluelessness about the realities of life outside the Hall of Mirrors that utterance suggests was certainly present as France stumbled toward ruin, and a growing number of ordinary Frenchmen and Frenchwomen turned their backs on their supposed leaders and went looking for new options.


Fast forward to the Brexit campaign. In polite society in today’s Britain, any attempt to point out the massive problems with allowing unrestricted immigration onto an already overcrowded island, which can’t provide adequate jobs, housing, or social services for the people it’s got already, is dismissed out of hand as racism. Thus it’s not surprising that quite a few Britons, many of them nominally Labour voters, mumbled the approved sound bites in public and voted for Brexit in private—and again, the pollsters and the pundits were blindsided. That’s one of the downsides of the schism between the dominant minority and the internal proletariat; once the dominant minority loses the loyalty of the masses by failing to deal with the needs of those outside the circles of affluence and privilege, sullen outward conformity and secret revolt replace the mutual trust that’s needed to make a society function. 

The EU, in turn, made a perfect target for disaffected voters among the working class and the poor because it’s entirely a creature of the same consensus of the affluent as the Labour party after Tony Blair and the Democratic Party after Bill Clinton. Its economic policies are guided from top to bottom by the neoliberal economics that came into power with Thatcher and Reagan; its unwavering support of unrestricted immigration and capital movement is calculated to force down wages and move jobs away from countries such as Britain; its subsidies inevitably end up in the pockets of big corporations and the well-to-do, while its regulatory burdens land heaviest on small businesses and local economies. 

This isn’t particularly hard find out—in fact, it takes an effort to avoid noticing it.  Listen to people bemoaning the consequences of Brexit in the latest reports from the British media, and you’ll hear a long list of privileges mostly relevant to the affluent that the speakers worry will be taken from them ... If they were willing to talk, though, I suspect you’d hear a long list of burdens that have mostly landed on the ordinary working people so many of the affluent so obviously despise. 


Meanwhile, a very similar revolt is under way in the United States, with Donald Trump as the beneficiary. As I noted in an earlier post here, Trump’s meteoric rise from long-shot fringe candidate to Republican nominee was fueled entirely by his willingness to put himself in opposition to the consensus of the affluent described earlier. Where all the acceptable candidates were on board with the neoliberal economics and neoconservative politics of the last thirty years—lavish handouts for the rich, punitive austerity for the poor, malign neglect of our infrastructure at home and a monomaniacal pursuit of military confrontation overseas—he broke with that, and the more stridently the pundits and politicians denounced him, the more states he won and the faster his poll numbers rose.
The Establishment in the UK took the "Let Them Eat Cake, the damned racists" strategy to the extreme.  People noticed.  That dynamic is alive and well here on this side of the Pond.
It has apparently not occurred to those who parade up and down the Hall of Mirrors that there are many more people outside those gates than there are within. It has seemingly not entered their darkest dreams that shouting down an inconvenient point of view, and flinging insults at anyone who pauses to consider it, is not an effective way of convincing anyone not already on their side. Maybe the outcome of the Brexit vote will be enough to jar America’s chattering classes out of their stupor, and force them to notice that the people who’ve been hurt by the policies they prefer have finally lost patience with the endless droning insistence that no other policies are thinkable.  Maybe—but I doubt it.
There was a huge Bradley Effect in the Brexit vote: the polls were off by maybe 10% - even the bookies didn't see the private repudiation of the Political Class that was building.  The same dynamic of what is allowed to be said means that there is a Bradley Effect in play here as well.  Whether that effect is huge or yooge remains to be seen.  Me, I think that the combination of the working class overwhelmingly voting for one of their own and people like me who are sick of the existing political hypocrisy means that this will be a yooge win for Trump, one that will be as big a surprise to the chattering classes as Brexit was.

This post is already far too long, so I will end by saying that The Archdruid is the most interesting and intellectually challenging blog that I've seen since Moldbug, only without all the opaque terminology and am I serious or not sub theme.  It's been two or three years since I've been intellectually excited about blogging something.  Highly, highly recommended.

And blogrolled.  Did I mention this is recommended?  So why are you still here?  Go read all the posts.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Smartest Kids in Class

Spotted by the Queen Of The World.  You could add that she takes money from foreign governments that deny rights to women and execute homosexuals, but there isn't room for all the hypocrisy in the caption.