Saturday, September 30, 2017

Shana Tovah

To our Jewish readers, צוֹם קַל.

And since we're at the end of Baseball regular season, this is a good time to remember Hank Greenberg.  The Tigers were in a pennant race in 1934, but Greenberg still wouldn't play on Yom Kippur.  You have to respect a man of faith.

Scientific Inanity

T-Bolt finds Yet Another anti-gun article in Scientific American.  He ponders:
Just a quick skim at work and a citation with the familiar name Kellerman jumped out at me and I closed the webpage after copying the URL. Didn't skim for a second cite. I'll wait for someone else to pick it apart and enjoy their efforts.
More scientific fraud in Scientific American?  Knock me over with a feather.  And for those who think the word "fraud" is too strong, Eric Raymond did what T-Bolt asked for almost a decade ago.  ESR spends quite some time on Kellerman.

And as to Scientific American itself, even Hitler was on to them.  It's perhaps gauche to quote myself, but this was almost a decade ago and everyone had a clear understanding of what SciAm really was:
You have to watch all the way through to the end for the punchline. To understand just how brutal that punchline is, you need to visit Scientific American, to see their editorial response to ClimateGate. It's not the editorial which is brutal, but the comments - at least 50% of them are in the "Scientific American should be ashamed of itself" category.
This post is tagged "Biased Media" because, well, it's pretty obvious isn't it?

The inanity of electric cars

OldNFO does the homework I've been too lazy to do.  He has a must-read post that explains why electric vehicles will not (actually can not) become ubiquitous:
If you really intend to adopt electric vehicles, you have to face certain realities. For example, a home charging system for a Tesla requires 75 amp service. The average house is equipped with 100 amp service, meaning you’d have to upgrade to a 200 am service at some not inconsiderable cost. On a small street (approximately 25 homes), the electrical infrastructure would be unable to carry more than three houses with a Tesla. If even half the homes to have electric vehicles, the system would be wildly over-loaded. 
This is the elephant in the room with electric vehicles. Your residential infrastructure cannot bear the load.
What's the cost of upgrading all the residential electrical distribution systems in the country?  Is it a Trillion dollars?  I have no idea, but electric vehicle enthusiasts don't have any idea either.

But it's clear that the cost/benefit calculation of all this is a large negative number.

Quite frankly, if you were going to spend $100B or more on improving the environment would it be this?

But there's more, much more on why it costs you more per mile to run your electric vehicle.  Odd how nobody talks much about that.

Artificial Inanity

Long time readers know that I've been skeptical about Artificial Intelligence in general (and very skeptical about the specialized AI in self-driving cars) for a long time.

The Silicon Graybeard did the homework that I've been too lazy to do.  He has an outstanding post about why HAL won't be refusing to open the pod bay doors.  It's even covered with awesome sauce (I love me some Gartner Hype Cycle charts).

Will AI continue to give impressive demonstrations?  Sure.  But here's the key quote:
One source claims Deep Blue cost IBM $100 million. 
When are those algorithms doing [sic] to genuinely add $1 billion to IBM’s bottom line? Building still more specialized computers to beat humans at Jeopardy or Go is just creating more demos that solve no useful problems and do so in ways that humans don’t.
Yup.  Until AI produces results that return 100x the investment of building the AI, it's a nothingburger.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Watch out ahead

A great illustration of just how fragile computing is

This is oral tradition on why computers crash, but it's a great example of why I am skeptical of (for instance) computer controlled self-driving cars.  Mystery reboots:
One of Rick's customers was a large bank that ordered a pair of SUN E6500 servers [these were enormously expensive - certainly $50,000 each, maybe twice that.  - Borepatch]. Oracle may have hosed out its hardware teams but still has this whopping PDF Reference Manual for the machines. What bruisers they were! Each needed a full rack all to itself to house a 16-slot card cage, something called a “quad fan tray”, memory module, UltraSPARC II module, media tray, a pair of power/cooling modules, an AC power sequencer and even a peripheral power supply! 
Rick told us that bank put the two servers on the top floor of its building, where they hummed away happily until one morning they were discovered to have rebooted overnight. 
And not just rebooted once: they'd been up and down all night like someone who'd topped off a few beers with salmonella-tainted kebab. 
“The customer called and was furious,” Rick told us. And stayed that way for days, because the first technician to visit couldn't figure out what had gone wrong. Nor could other experts over the next week.
You have to read through to see what was causing the problem, but it's a great story that illustrates that computing is no where near as clean and antiseptic as designers claim.  That moral applies to self-driving cars as well.  What are the chances that there's a mystery reboot scenario in you new ride?  Me, I'm not willing to bet that there isn't.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Must be cheap, Chinese-made ammo ...

I don't think your eCommerce database is exactly right ...

Weirdest .22 hollow points that I've ever seen.  I guess it doesn't matter - they're out of stock anyway.

The online store will rename nameless to protect the guilty.  You might think that it starts with a word that sounds like "Mall" and ends with a word that rhymes with "fart", but I couldn't possibly comment.

Ah, marketing

Sent by long time reader and Northeast Blogshoot buddy Libertyman.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

And where's the damned hand basket?

Government censors CrimeThink™ web site

The Spanish region of Catalonia is planning a referendum on independence from Spain.  Unsurprisingly, this is extremely unpopular with the Spanish government, no doubt because Catalonia is the wealthiest region of Spain and therefore a major source of tax revenue.

And so the Spanish government has "black holed" the referendum web site, by changing the DNS record for it:
The website of the National Catalan Assembly at was also shut down and for a while displayed a message from the Spanish military police announcing in Spanish and English that the domain has been "seized pursuant to a seizure warrant."
DNS (for non nerds) is Domain Name Service, the Internet protocol that translates site names (say, into Internet Protocol addresses (in this case,  The Spanish government changed the address mapping to point to their own server that hosted their own message.

The problem was that the owners of the domain went to a non-Spanish registrar who got them back up and running in a jiffy:
The domain has since been redirected to, outside the purview of the Spanish authorities.
It's a cat and mouse game of censorship.  The Spanish government is very likely to keep losing this unless they up their technical game.

The Pointy End - A Brigid Guest Post


At the Range, there are many tools of history, among those tools that are new. Some are for daily use, some are for battle.

I like the things of the past.  Though my life is made up of a future I can see, it's housed within a past that looks at me from light glinting off forged hardness. Hardness that's seen battle, if not blood.
A bayonet on the M1 Garand.

What would it have been like to fight up close and personal with such a weapon as the bayonet? A battlefield rising in dark silhouette, a small stream that once sustained peaceful cattle, alight with mirrored fire. Around a black arch of formed earth a man moves around and in towards you. Friend, foe? Creeping between flares, fox hole to crude trench, looking for a light that would lead to a gap in the wire, the straining, determined gleam of wire, strung between remnants of fence. A fence once holding in prosperity and freedom, now nicked with bullets, fragmentary ammo removing rust and mud to where only a small sentient soldier of wood is left. Seeing that darkness advance, holding in your breath, you have no choice but to defend, to leap bayonet-first into yet another trench full of groaning shouts, hammering blows against your body.
Someone is there, too close to get a shot off, an exclamation in a foreign tongue, sung under a rocket glare that lights up the sky, smoky death. The enemy, caught in the act of creeping into your line, no time to think, only a visceral reaction of base survival, your bayonet goes into his throat. Death up as close as it can be, the body shaking, the bayonet advancing seemingly on its own, a thrust, a cry, he falls back. Time stops in that moment, your blade embedded in his crumbling body, pulling you forward as you cling to the only thing keeping you alive, pulling on it, wresting it free, as if shaking a sausage from a fork

That night, while a man lays open-eyed, throat torn, a stray poppy blooming blood red in churned cabbage fields, you write a letter home. A letter written by candle light to your wife, asking her to hold the baby you have yet to see, asking about the farm and telling her things are fine, words in a letter she may never get, or may take four months to arrive. You write after you wipe the blood from your blade.
Warfare of old. Warfare with a bayonet - a thing of historical significance, formed into an instrument of killing. The last resort weapon, for close quarter battle. A weapon as old as firearm warfare.

The term bayonet came from the French baïonnette - a knife, dagger, sword or spike-shaped weapon that fits over the muzzle of a rifle barrel. Typically they are "custom" in that they are made to fit a specific firearm, not much different than the accessories we buy for our modern weapons.

The origins of the bayonet are, like most battlefields, a bit smokey. The Chinese were believed to have first used them in the 13th century when the developer of the musket found they were ineffective in killing at close range. They then introduced two types of firearm, one with an attached knife and the other a spear. Owning more than one Mauser as well as other historical old pieces, there are a few bayonets at the Range.
The term 'Bayonette' popped up in the later 16th century though its origins are still obscure. It might have first referred to just a simple knife and not for a military weapon. Cotgrave's 1611 Dictionary describes the Bayonet as 'a kind of small flat pocket dagger, furnished with knives; or a great knife to hang at the girdle' while a Baionier is given as an old word for "crossbow man". Perhaps the first "bayonette" as described by the French was a contrivance of a hunter who, after having fired his last round at dangerous game such as a wild boar or having missed, shoved his knife into the muzzle of his piece to bring the animal down. That is plausible in that firearms of that day were fairly inaccurate and took a long time to reload. The makeshift bayonet then allowed the hunter further defense or a killing instrument if needed.

It is also rumored that during the mid-17th-century irregular military conflicts in rural France, the Basque peasants of Bayonne, depleted of powder and shot, shoved their long-bladed hunting knives into the muzzles of their primitive muskets to form a spear and whether by luck or design, created an ancillary weapon. In any case, the first mentioned use of the bayonet as an instrument of war that I could find was in the memoirs of General Maréchal de Puységure, the weapon being introduced into the French Army in 1647 and becoming common in most European armies by the 1660s.
The benefits of this little "add on" were soon apparent, as that early hunter of the wild bore may have found out. The early muskets fired at a slow rate (no more than 3–4 rounds per minute using paper cartridges and down to a slovenly single round per minute when loading with loose power and ball), making them both inaccurate and unreliable. Bayonets provided a useful addition to the weapons system when an enemy charging towards you could advance across the musket's killing field (a range of about 100 yards for even the most wildly optimistic) at the risk of perhaps only one or two volleys from their waiting opponents. Rushing through two volleys only to meet a pointy exclamation likely reduced that urge to "charge" in some folks.

The bayonet was originally a defensive instrument. A good long bayonet, extending to a regulation 17 inches during the Napoleonic period, on a 5-foot tall musket ending up with a reach comparable to an infantry spear. Steady infantry, standing two or three men deep, could adopt a defense "square" formation, a defence to a sudden rush of cavalry with a reach that could defend against a man mounted upon a horse, though the combination was much heavier than a polearm of the same length and would take some real strength, not just skill.
You see the problem here. You plug it, you can't fire it. During the act of fitting the soldier was virtually unarmed. It's like having your 1911 in the bottom of your briefcase when the robber/murderer says howdy. Not a good place to be. Even more annoying, you plug it in too tightly, you won't be able to get it out short of damaging the weapon (anyone got any WD40??. . and. . uh. . duct tape)? Yet, in 1671, plug bayonets were happily issued to the French regiment of fusiliers and later to part of an English dragoon regiment that disbanded in 1674, and to the Royal Fusiliers in 1685.

The outcome of the Battle of Killiecrankiein 1689 was due, in some part, to the use of the plug bayonet; as a sudden rush of Scottish Highlanders overwhelmed them as they were fixing bayonets. Shortly afterward, the defeated leader, Hugh Mackay, is said to have introduced a ring-bayonet of his own design. These "socket" bayonets offset the blade from the musket barrel's muzzle with a bayonet that attached over the outside of the barrel with a ring-shaped socket, secured on later models by a spring-loaded catch on the muzzle of the musket barrel. With the socket bayonet, the blade would lay below the axis of the barrel, leaving sufficient clearance to permit the weapon to be loaded and fired while the bayonet was fixed.
Many of the socket bayonets were triangular in cross-section. It was said in some history books that this was designed so they'd wield wounds "that were difficult to stitch when attended to by a medic, as it is more difficult to stitch a three-sided wound than a two-sided one thus making the wound more likely to become infected". This is more of an urban legend than reality, for surgeons have sewn up jagged wounds using more stitches when needed since field surgery began. Instead, three-sided bayonets were designed to provide flexing strength in the blade without much increase in weight in case a bayonet struck a hard object. For in that event it's better to have it bend and be repairable then to have it be so stiff it shatters on impact.

Shortly after the Peace of Ryswick in 1697 the English and Germans both abolished the pike and introduced these bayonets, but owing to a military cabal they were not issued to the French infantry until 1703. Thereafter, the bayonet became, with the musket or other firearm, the typical weapon of infantry.
The long type of bayonets for early rifles was designed with the same intent as the medieval pike, the rifle and bayonet becoming a long pole with a lethal spear on the business end. As warfare evolved, so did the bayonet. Mass collisions of troops were less frequent, and the blades became shorter, becoming secondary to fighting knifes.

 The idea of using a short sword as a bayonet was tried on occasion, but the first regular users of the sword-type blade appear to have been the British rifle regiments in the early 1800s. But, with the onset of breech-loading, and then magazine arms providing infantry with a firepower capable of beating off cavalry, the bayonet evolved even further, from a primarily defensive weapon to one of offense.
For this, a knife-like blade was of more use than a spike blade, and so from the middle of the 19th century, the use of knife or sword blade increased, though a few armies still hung on to spike blades.

All nations boast of their prowess with the bayonet, but few men really enjoy a hand-to-hand fight with the bayonet. English and French both talk much of the bayonet but in Egypt in 1801 they threw stones at each other when their ammunition was exhausted and one English sergeant was killed by a stone.

At Inkerman again the British threw stones at the Russians, not without effect; and one military historian stated that the Russians and Japanese, both of whom profess to love the bayonet, "threw stones at each other rather than close, even in this twentieth-century."

18th and 19th-century military tactics included various massed bayonet charges and defenses. The Russian Army used the bayonet the most frequently in any Napoleonic conflict. Their motto was "The Bullet is foolish, the Bayonet wise." Given that the bullet of the smoothbore musket of the time had Dick Cheney-like accuracy, almost unpredictable beyond 50 yards, they believed that in a bayonet fight you were less likely to miss, though, in actuality, many soldiers reverted to using bayonet-mounted rifles as clubs, primitive fighting at its best.
The experimentation of bayonets continued through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. Prior to the Civil War, the U.S. Navy tried their hand at affixing bayonet blades to single-shot pistols, which soon proved useless for anything but making dinner. Cutlasses remained the preferred flat edged weapon for the navies of the time, though Queen Victoria's Royal Navy gave up the pikes once used to repel attacks by my ancestors in favor of the cutlass bayonet.

The 19th century gave us the sword bayonet, a long-bladed weapon with a single- or double-edged blade that could also double as a shortsword. Its initial purpose was to make sure that the riflemen while holding ranks with musketmen (whose weapons were longer), could form square properly to stave off cavalry attacks, when sword bayonets were fitted. Though the sword bayonet on the Infantry Rifle needed to be removed before firing, as the weight at the end of the barrel affected balance and stability (and you all know what that does to accuracy, it was a decent combat sidearm when dismounted. When attached to the musket or rifle, it would turn almost any long arm into an effective spear, useful for not just thrusting but for slashing.
The inherent problems of fixing bayonets in the middle of a heated battle led some armies to adopt permanently-attached bayonets. These folded above or below the barrel of the weapon and could be released and locked into place very quickly when required. A singularity of the Imperial Russian Army, which carried over into the Soviet Army, was the permanently fixed bayonet; no scabbards were issued, and the bayonet remained on the rifle muzzle at all times. The Soviet blades, now made of steel, were stiffened with a small cross-section in the form of a cross, in order to make them more compact in form and fold better onto the sides of their rifles, such as the 1944 Mosin Nagant. It was said that self-inflicted wounds made by soldiers to get themselves out of the line of battle would be recognized as such and bring them greater disciplinary punishment.
In All Quiet on the Western Front, author Eric Maria Remarque stated that in WWI, French Soldiers killed German prisoners who had serrated blade bayonets, as they assumed they were for cutting off the limbs of Allied soldiers. Whether this was true or not, World War I did see the bayonet being shortened even further into knifed weapons useful for some very bloody hand to hand fighting or as trench knives, so the majority of modern bayonets you will find are knife bayonets. In any case, it was not a weapon you hoped ever to have to use.

Despite the support of military leaders, the practical use of the bayonet was somewhat rare. At Inkerman during the Crimean War in 1854, only 6% of casualties were attributed to the bayonet. In World War I, the ‘Spirit of the Bayonet’ was a mantra of combat instructors, but not popular in its actuality. Of the 13,691 men of the American Expeditionary Force killed in the war, only 5 died from bayonet wounds. Still, for military strategists, the morale that interfaced with the fixing of bayonets was generally considered to outweigh their drawbacks, which included restriction of movement and lack of real utility. Modern bayonets are normally knife-shaped with either a socket or a handle, or are permanently attached to the rifle as with the"SKS". Depending on where and when a specific SKS was manufactured, it may have a permanently attached bayonet with a knife-shaped blade (early Chinese, Russian, Yugoslavian or Romanian)or a cruciform (late Chinese) or triangular (Albanian) spike type, or no bayonet at all.
The development of repeating firearms greatly reduced the combat value of the bayonet though they were still retained through World Wars I and II.

With the adoption of modern short assault rifles, the utility of the old style bayonet as a weapon was doubtful, the combination is simply not suited to fighting, yet modern versions of bayonets are still in use. The British Army performed bayonet charges during the Falklands War and the second Gulf War. United States Marine trainees at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego still get their first instruction in using the bayonet as a lethal weapon on their 10th day.
In a modern concept of warfare, bayonets are used for controlling prisoners or as a "last resort" weapon for close quarters combat, such as when a soldier is out of ammo or has a weapon jam. However, they are not normally fitted to most weapons, as the bayonet impairs long range accuracy even more so in modern weapons.

Bayonets, whether you consider them a hindrance or a lethal fighting tool, many of them are rapidly becoming collector's items. I've just a few, as the bayonets for some of these weapons cost more than the weapon itself. But I still like to hold onto them.

Pieces of history that point to freedoms still threatened

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Remembering Jerry Pournelle

His son's eulogy is up, and worth a read.

But it reminded me of when I met him, installing a firewall at Chaos Manor.  He was a great story teller, and was reminiscing about when he had gone to Greece.  They drove to the ancient battle site of Thermopolae, which is today a super highway.  They stopped at the turn out to visit the site, which had the usual array of multi-lingual signs telling the tale of the battle.

But he said that something was wrong.  He remembered his classical education, and how in the tale the 300 made their final stand against the Persian host on a low hill.  There was no hill.

Looking around, he spotted a low hill across the motorway.  Crossing the super highway, he walked to the hill and climbed it.  There he found a simple stone plaque with an inscription only in Greek.  It was the location of the battle, but marked only for the locals.  And visitors educated, smart, and determined enough.

So if you ever go to Thermopolae, remember this story.  If you go to that hill, tell the 300 that Jerry sent you.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Wow. Trump is smarter than I thought

That's some top shelf mockery, right there.

Why cats and dogs don't live together

With apologies to Bill Murray.

Be wary about what you read on Wikipedia

They use (ahem) interesting sources.  Check out footnote number 1.

I mean, the source is pretty interesting and everything, but does this rise to the level of expert opinion?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Screw the NFL

They made their call, which is to flip the bird to the Republic.  Fine - their league, their call.  And I can make my call, too.  Long time readers will recall all the times I've live blogged the Superbowl.

No more.  Screw them, and the horse they rode in on.

The Steelers are an interesting case.  The owners supported the player's protest, as they all remained in the locker room during the anthem.  All except one:
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and graduate of West Point, visibly stood outside the tunnel at Soldier Field with his hand over his heart during The Star-Spangled Banner while his teammates remained under cover inside the stadium.
One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson
The rest of the players?  Screw 'em all.  It's still baseball season anyway.  Go sawks!

UPDATE 24 September 2017 21:13: The Queen Of The World found this on the Book of Faces, memories of when taking a knee meant taking a knee:

The classical influence on rock and roll - Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale

Procol Harum's biggest hit is without doubt A Whiter Shade Of Pale.  The tune has essentially cribbed 100% from J.S. Bach's Air On The G String.  First Bach:

Now Procol Harum:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Are You a Proper Range Chef - A Brigid Guest Post

Our home is simply known around the Blogosphere as "The Range".  The original home was out in the country and now is in a small village within a big city but still, the atmosphere inside has never changed. On weekends there is always activity in the Range kitchen, experimenting, baking or just laughing with my Partner in Grime while we try something new, between tearing our walls and floors as we renovate this (as is!) 100-year-old Mission Bungalow.
No one ever formally taught me how to cook, I just learned a bit by watching Mom and my Swedish Grandma who lived with us until her death, and I read a lot of cookbooks.  A cookbook is just like a Aircraft Operating Manual.  If you follow the directions and stay pointy end forward you usually have a successful mission.  But over time, I realized my cooking style had sort of evolved, to what friends call Home on the Range cooking.

 How do you know if you are a Range Chef?  Take our simple quiz.

1.  Your apron looks like.


2.  You are served a bowl of vanilla/bacon ice cream.  You:

a.  jump up and shout "Bacon Ice Cream!  It's a crime against nature!" and look for plain yogurt.
b.  mutter nervously, prod it with your spoon and ask "is that BACON?"
c.  wonder if this would make a better ice cream sandwich with Devils Food or molasses cookies.

3.  Last nights dinner came from:

a.  a bio-sustainable farm where the crops are sown according to the phase of the moon and the tofu is slaughtered to the soothing melodies of Yani while being massaged with aromatherapy oils.
b.  a gas station.
c.  500 acres a friend owns in Indiana

4.  Which of these foods can blow up?

a.  popcorn
b.  popovers
c.  gravy

5.  You join Weight Watchers to lose 10 pounds before that holiday party.  The first food you look up to see how many "points" it has is:

1.  an apple.
2.  a 100 calorie pack of crackers.
3.  bacon wrapped lamb shank with bacon garlic smashed potatoes.

6.  Which root vegetable is not put into mirepoix?
a.  carrot
b.  potato
c.  Slim Jim

7.  What is chipotle?

a.  a popular chain restaurant that makes burritos the size of a raccoon
b.  a cross between a chihuahua and poodle
c.  a smoke-dried jalapeno pepper

8.  You have a whisk in your bug out kit.

a.  What's a whisk?
b.  false
c.  true

9. Your spice cabinet is organized in:

a.  newest in the front.
b.  alphabetical.
c.  binary.

10.  You've cooked dinner with:

a.  liquid nitrogen.
b.  an acetylene torch.
c.  a Bunsen burner.

11. The way to a man's heart is thru his stomach?

a.  false
b.  true
c.  girlfriend, you need an updated diagram.

Honey - can you whip up some liquid nitrogen?

12.  Frozen Swanson pot pies are good for:

a.  a quick and easy dinner.
b.  door stops.
c.  replacements for bowling pins at the pistol match.

13.  Your cooking style is:

a.  Martha Stewart
b.  Julia Child
c.  Alton Brown meets Red Green

14.  The menu at the Cajun place says "blackened on request".  You respond

a.  "I've got an envie for some blackened fish!"
b.  "Huh?"
c.  "Heck, I can do THAT at home!"

15.  You like making popovers because:

a.  They're warm and filling
b.  They impress guests
c.  It's like making your own personal edible steam engine!
16. You wish Pillsbury had a can that popped out an inexpensive "Poppin' Fresh":

a.  donuts
b.  muffin
c.  biscuit
d.  1911

17.  You know the difference between:

a.  a steak and tofu
b.  a bag of flour and a bottle of juice
c.  solid foams, gels, sols, and suspensions

If you answered mostly "c's" and "d's" you are well on your way to being a Home on the Range cook.  To know for sure, ask yourself this final question. . .

Have you ever made a foot long hot dog with two regular dogs and a long piece of bacon to wrap it with?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Idiots with chainsaws

I quite frankly can't understand how some of this didn't end up in the Darwin Awards.

A summary of Trump's speech to the UN

In 97 points:
1. Welcome, thanks for being here.
2. Thanks for offering help with hurricanes, but we don’t need any.
3. I’m the best President
4. America FUCKING ROCKS!!
5. It’s the current year!
6. I know some of you bitch-ass bitches in here support terrorism. I got my eye on you motherfuckers.
This is pretty funny, in a "Ha Ha Only Serious" way.  Language warning, though.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How not to land a rocket

The eagle-eyed Queen Of The World spotted this - SpaceX created a blooper video of their failed rocket landing attempts.  It's pretty funny, and shows that they have a good sense of humor - and more importantly, a sense of confidence from a long string of successful landings.  They can afford to poke a little fun at their past "learning events".

NSA has made its job harder

This is big, big news:
An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies. 
In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.
Germany, Japan, Israel - these are our allies.  They clearly do not trust the NSA.  One of the researchers is quite explicit on this:
“I don’t trust the designers,” Israeli delegate Orr Dunkelman, a computer science professor at the University of Haifa, told Reuters, citing Snowden's papers. “There are quite a lot of people in NSA who think their job is to subvert standards. My job is to secure standards.”
There is an old saying in the Intelligence Community: there are friendly governments but there are no friendly foreign intelligence agencies.  I don't think that they really believed that applied to them, at least Back In The Day.

I suspect that we've reached Peak NSA.  Even our friends no longer trust it.  This likely will greatly compromise its effectiveness.

This is a very good article.  Recommended.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Koala goes for 10 mile joy ride

Luckiest Koala in Australia:
There’s at least one animal from Australia that won’t poison you or bite you in half and it is as durable as it is cuddly. This koala, a lactating mother, rode in this car’s wheel well for 10 miles. It must have been very stressful. 
The unidentified driver of the car didn’t notice anything until he started hearing“crying,” which is when he stopped and discovered the animal. He also called for help. Firefighters showed up and took a wheel off in the course of the rescue.

Well done to our keen eared hero, who pulled over.  The Koala has been released back into the wild.

Dog interrupts soccer game

This is hilarious.  The pup just wants to play with the ball.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Global Warming - not so much of a problem after all

Climate Scientists and Environmentalists - still as much of a problem:
An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook.
Experts now say there is a two-in-three chance of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the ultimate goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
OK, so the good news first: a newly published (peer-reviewed) article in Nature Geoscience says that warming has not been as fast as predicted.

Now the bad news: we've known this for a long time, so it's very strange to see Science™ only now catching up:
So a full half of the historical record of the most reliable global temperature data set [satellites - Borepatch] shows zero warming, despite enormous increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  None of the climate models have predicted this, which is a layman's way of saying that the scientific predictions from the models has been falsified. 
Now the worse news: there is simply no data to suggest that the 'unexpected "revolution" in affordable renewable energy' has anything at all to do with the situation:
Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.... 
So the significantly lower warming is due to a "revolution" that supplies less than a percent of the global energy output?  I'd sure love to see any sort of data to back that up.   But let's look at that "revolution" and what it means in the Paris Accord context:
Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours. 
If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s. 
At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs. [My emphasis - Borepatch]
What's the environmental impact of covering Russia with wind farms?  I'd love to see some data on that, too.  But wait, we're not done with the "revolution" in "renewable" energy.  What does that do to electricity rates?

The countries that have been most aggressive in their "renewable" energy targets have electricity prices two to three times the price we pay in the USA.  Who pays that?  The citizens, of course.  This is a particularly regressive tax on the poor and lower middle class to fund upper missile class prestige "Green" projects.  It's so bad that there's a term for the social damage done by these programs -"fuel poverty":
European Carbon emission agreements combined with an unsustainable "sustainable" power initiative have led to energy prices increasing 150% in the last decade.  Now the Brit.Gov is shutting generating plants, reducing excess capacity (read: "emergency capacity") from 15% to under 5%.

Next up, winter:
Spiralling energy bills contributed to 24,000 deaths last winter, as many elderly people cut back on their heating.
The shocking toll will increase fears that the number will be even higher this year because of further increases in energy bills and warnings of a particularly cold winter.
The figures for ‘excess winter deaths’, published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, reveal the majority of victims were over 75.
And now let's look at what I consider to be the worst part of the whole situation.  All the poverty, all the deaths, the lack of any sort of real results (less than 1% of the world's energy budget), what's the justification?  How can anyone recommend the death and misery?

Because the computer models predicted a high rate of increase in the temperature.  A rate that we aren't seeing, according to Nature Geoscience.  What do we call a scientific prediction that is not backed by experimental observation?

Generally to be considered "scientific", something has to be falsifiable - where anyone can try to duplicate your observations or results. If there's no way that this can be done, then the thing cannot be held to be scientific.
When after-the-fact justifications are frequently made to explain why your prediction did not pan out, that is a huge, huge warning sign.  And that's exactly what we are seeing - the heat is being absorbed by the oceans or some such thing.  No data are presented to back this up, of course.  The problem is that a lot of people (including your humble host) have been saying for years and years that the Science doesn't hold water.

Bad science leading to disastrous public policy that kills and impoverishes without achieving its own stated goals, there's your modern environmental movement.

Arrrrr! Ye scaliwabs!

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day!  Even if you're a little unclear on what pirates did ....

Monday, September 18, 2017

ZZ Top - La Grange

How can I have been posting music for over 9 years and never posted ZZ Top?

The Queen Of The World is teaching me to be cool.

Road Rage, shotguns, and Go-Pro

Note to Oklahoma Good Ol' Boys (of the bad persuasion): if you let your road rage lead to bushwacking bikers using a shotgun, they may have a Go Pro and post it to YouTube.

Fascism started earlier than I had thought

General Lundendorff had absorbed (even more than Kaiser Wilhelm II had) the moral relativism and historicism that had become fashionable in the German elite in the decades running up to the First World War – ideas that can be traced all the way back to (in their different ways) such philosophers as Hegel and (far more) Fichte, whereas General Falkenhayn still clung to concepts of universal justice (morality) and rejected such things as the extermination or enslavement of whole races, and the destruction of historic civilisations such as that of Russia. Lundendorff, and those who thought like him, regarded Falkenhayn as hopelessly reactionary – for example thinking in terms of making peace with Russia on terms favourable to Germany, rather than destroying Russia and using the population as slaves. In the Middle East Falkenhayn came to hear of the Ottoman Turk plan to destroy the Jews (as the Armenian Christians had been destroyed), and he was horrified by the plan and worked to frustrate it. Advanced and Progressive thinkers, such as Ludnedorff, had great contempt for Reactionaries such as Falkenhayn who did not realise that ideas of universal justice and personal honour were “myths” only believed in by silly schoolgirls. Falkenhayn even took Christianity seriously, to Lundendorff this was clearly the mark of an inferior and uneducated mind. And Falkenhayn, for his part, came to think that his country (the Germany that he so loved) was under the influence of monsters – although while their plans to exterminate or enslave whole races and to control (in utter tyranny) every aspect of peacetime (not just wartime) life remained theoretical, he never had to make the final break.
We are taught that something went horribly wrong under the Nazis, where they corrupted the Germany of Beethoven and Schopenhauer.  It seems that the corruption was complete decades earlier.

Top Equifax IT execs out

It's a start:
Equifax's chief information officer and chief security officer “are retiring” and the company has admitted it knew Apache Struts needed patching in March, but looks to have fluffed attempts to secure the software.
No word on whether they sold stock in the weeks leading up to the disclosure.

Remember, here's what you need to know about protecting yourself after the breach.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

St. Hildegard of Bingen - Spiritus Sanctus

Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard.  Hildegard was born around 1098 AD and began having visions at an early age.  Likely due to this, she entered the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg young, part of a community of women attached to the monetary).  The education that she received there helped her flower.  Particularly interested in medicine, she wrote some of the earliest botanical texts in Germany and is considered the founder of German natural science.

But she is best remembered as a composer of sacred music.  It is very old but has a serene beauty that I find quite compelling.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Brigid Computer Advice - A Guest Post

You know me, safety forced. 
 - Red Green

Borepatch is your guy for computer stuff.  I'm just the forensic scientist that has a homemade computer made out of a 1940's Analytical Balance.  That is the total extent of my computer knowledge - what the basic components are (and yes, the big button is on/off).
I'm lucky that I have an admin assistant at work that was administrative in the Army or I'd not be able to get anything done without him.

So sometimes even the basic stuff is a challenge

Like when I tried to upload Windows 10. The last laptop I got had Windows 8. To say I hated Windows 8 was an understatement.  Using it as I did to capture and sort photos for the blog was about as user-friendly as the U.S. Tax Code.

The intent I guess, was to meld together the desktop and mobile platforms to try for a single operating system that would work on the desktop, notebooks, and tablets.  What I got was a system that just screamed for flaming torches and pitchforks.  The tutorial was no help at all, simply telling me to move my mouse to any corner. . and then. . WHAT?   What is it supposed to do, to be?   And all I could think of was SNL's The Church Lady with "could it be. . . SATAN?"

It just leaves off right there and apparently, I was supposed to just cognitively know that although most scroll wheels go up and down, Windows 8 wants you to scroll sideways.

So I muddled through, scrolling through screen after screen of run on photos, only to find the one I wanted to add to the blog, only to have something go "zap" like Samantha of Bewitched was in the room and the next thing you know my picture was missing and there was a pony in the room.

See, that's my computer skill.  So tasks that are basic for everyone under the age of 50 are more a challenge for me. Like, what do you do if you have a hard drive you want to get rid of.

Sure you can take out all your data, compress and encrypt using a strong encryption and then format the hard disk drive. Even if the bad guys recover the encrypted file, trying to decrypt the recovered file would be a difficult task (think the average politician and a really hard level of Angry Birds).

But you can't just delete a file from the hard drive, it doesn't go away.  When files are erased  (and that's a pretty loose definition of the word) from a hard drive, they don't really disappear, only the file location information is removed. In other words, the file(s) are invisible to the operating system (like Windows or Linux) but not impossible to recover (especially for geeky folks that have nothing else to do)
"Me, mess with my colleagues?"

So what do you do when you've replaced a hard drive, to make sure someone doesn't get the info off of the old one and you're really not a computer whiz.

I'll offer some Brigid ideas from the past few years.  Then you all can come up with one of your own. 
No, not going to cut it.
There's an assortment of shop tools and stuff out in the garage.

You can bury it. With enough old computers around, you can have your own "Hard Drive Body Farm".

There's blunt force trauma.

You might want to check with your homeowners association first. 
 Ve haf vays of making you talk.
There's heat (but there's that whole harmful volatiles issue).

What's this?  

"Product warranty void if drive experiences shock in excess of 350 G's."

350 G's?! What on earth would have that kind of destructive force?


No, with Barkley gone, the current "mandibles of death"- Abby Normal the Labrador  -couldn't do any significant damage, and she might injure herself.

I could use an extra coaster.