Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Democratic Party hurt themselves last night

I expect that we will see much more of this kind of thing over the next week or two.

It's quite interesting to see the Democrats freely offer up this sort of ammunition to the other side.  I believe that Trump planned this, and suckered them right in.

Seen on

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

NFL Ratings just dropped

Again.  Trump called out standing for the national anthem in the State Of The Union message.

Gauntlet, thrown.  If the NFL has any brains, they'll make the players put this behind them (or sit on the bench).  If the NFL has more guts then brains, they'll double down on "take a knee".

Me, I think the NFL is all in on a losing strategy.

UPDATE: 30 January 2018 22:56: Wow, Trump hammered the Democrats.  Err, and the NFL.  He did it by being reasonable, and staking out reasonable positions (meaning positions that a big part of the country will think is reasonable) and daring his opponents to take a different position.

And they did. Time after time the Democrats refused to applaud a perfectly reasonable proposal, just because it was Trump that made it.  Guaranteed that the cameras were running, and their refusal will appear in a political ad later this year.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
- Sun Tzu
He knows them, and how they think, and how they will respond.  They don't get him at all.  Sun Tzu predicted how this will play out 2500  years ago.

And even worse, he had a bunch of times that he got half the Democrats to stand and applaud while the other half sat stone faced and didn't.  It looks like he's split the Democratic Party.  It seems that they don't even know themselves.  This is fixin' to maybe a route in the upcoming election, in a way that nobody is calling.  Maybe not, but tonight we saw a path to that.

Wow.  He planned this, and it played out like he planned it.  I'm struggling to remember a time that a different politician did something like this, live on TV.  It's like listening to a Bach concerto or looking at a Michelangelo sculpture - you know lots of other people did it too, but you realize that nobody did it better.  Or as well.

More thoughts tomorrow, but Democrat politicians should be very, very unhappy tonight.

A lost world

The past is a foreign country, it is said.  This was my past, too, but that seems pretty much gone now.

Take your kids to Appleseed.

Monday, January 29, 2018

That's going to leave a mark

It's funny because it's true.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

We must close the Tide Pods loophole

I mean, just anyone can buy them - no background check or waiting period.  And c'mon - who needs a fully automatic, spray from the hip Tide Pod launcher (with the shoulder thing that goes up)?

I mean, srlsy.  I can't even.

Hat tip: Sal the Agorist.

Augusta Holmès - La Nuit et l'amour

Augusta Holmès was an Irish composer in the second half of the 19th century.  She broke many rules of the day: she moved to Paris and became a French citizen.  Never married, she lived with a poet, one who was a married man.  And she wrote music, in an age when that wasn't done by women.  This ruffled some feathers in the musical world: Camille Saint-Saëns wrote that she was an "extremist".

But she wrote some very nice music.  This tone poem is quite lovely.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

That Show Should Be a Crime - A Brigid Guest Post

Mom!  Mom!  Animal Planet is on!

I watch very little TV, some Discovery Channel,  Mythbusters, Top Gear, Firefly, Castle, Dr. Who, Corner Gas, all on tape as I don't have a TV or cable (getting cheap tapes and watching on the big computer monitor is a lot cheaper than a flat screen and cable).  Mostly I'll join Abby the lab on the couch and watch an action movie with my husband and have fun making fun of some of the technology-

Because I'm the second generation in a law enforcement field, the weapons in the shows ARE fair game and my husband just sits there quietly and chuckles as I pick apart the errors.

Picture the scene, a Sniper setting up on a hill to take out his target.

"The Gun is totally disassembled?"

"The scope is completely off of it, WT. . . ."

"No Free Floating Barrel?"

9 MM. " 9 MM?????"

Then, later on, towards the end.

"Why do all the bad guy guards have short barrelled AR15's? They're going to make so much noise that every cop in the county will be here to arrest all the now deaf people".

"Oh come on! M203 doesn't work that way!!"
There's probably a reason guys, including my husband, never took me to the theater while dating . I almost got thrown out at the last one when a gal friend took me to Twilight and every time the bad CGI werewolves in wolf form talked like humans I'd exclaim like the dog in the Bush Bean commercial  "Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage!

But with the Ph.D., I also have to make fun of the science in the shows.  So once in a while I just can't resist and  I will watch some CSI type shows on tape when my husband is on the road.

It's more entertaining than most of the TV shows out there now, so removed from actual reality that they hardly bear watching. The original CSI Vegas though I actually liked, shelving most of the science and just watching the interactions between the characters which were well acted and crafted. But the spin offs were sometimes painful to watch..

Opening Scene -Young party girl in the New York subway has her face suddenly start to melt while vomiting blood.

In the distant city, Mac the steely eyed investigator, to his date: "sorry" (damn, my beeper went off at the opera. . . AGAIN).

Here comes the CSI Team, back from their night on the town, arriving in terribly expensive fashion wear, from their homes or dates, with all the traffic, in minutes.

Mac (entering the scene with no gloves, no mask, no eye protection, as he bends closely over someone that looks like a sleeping supermodel, except with lots of blood splashed on her and the melted face.

"Detective Angel, What have we got ?"

Detective Angel, (Victoria's Secret Model in tight pants and a skin tight low cut sparkly t-shirt under her suit jacket) "Looks like a Chemical or a Biological ! ! "

Female CSI assigned to the scene: "Oh Happy Birthday Mac!" (giggle, giggle, blush stare at ground, forget to work the scene)

Mac smiles and pokes closely at the body again, steely eyes glinting since he's not wearing any eye protection.

Mac: looking closely:" hmmm. . . doesn't look like small pox or anthrax"

(Time to look a little closer and poke in the blood spatter to make sure it's not something you can GET from exposure to blood spatter)
From XKCD - click to enlarge

Dr. H.: "No pruritic macular or papular rash" (Good thing, as that might be Ebola or Cutaneous Anthrax, which means you're standing in the minefield.)

Mac: "So no hemorrhagic fever!" ( Wow Mac, you diagnosed with just that steely glance. You didn't even have to isolate the virus from the patients blood and have acute serum samples inoculated into tissue cultures of mosquito cells or directly into live Toxorhynchites or Aedes mosquitoes or try a Immunodiagnostic method such as detection of anti-dengue IgM and IgG by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and detection of hemagglutination inhibition antibody. Good job Mac, you'll have this solved before the hour is up!)

Pretty girl in a $700 outfit playing with something that I swear is an Etch a Sketch: "It's OK now! This subway tested negative for all hazmat and biologicals!"

Mac: " great!"

Watching any more would have made me laugh so hard I'd spill my beer. Besides they'll have their DNA evidence in oh, like 10 minutes.
Forensic Science Dog will hold the deaded pose until you get the chalk outline drawn.

TV is fantasy, what remains of a life is seldom so pretty. If you don't suit up properly, to protect yourself from elements, the terrain, or a hoard of nasty biologicals, you will likely join them on the next table. But then again the TV scientists never discovered that if you have a linoleum floor, some chalk, and liquid nitrogen you can make little hovercraft. . .

Schooner Fare - The Mary Ellen Carter

I wrote yesterday about my misspent youth, and how buddy 2cents and I would hang out in a local pub listening to sea music (it was Maine, after all; think of it as Country music but with boats instead of tractors).  Schooner Fare was famous in New England for this kind of music.  This will give you a feel for the music, but you need to imagine the smoky basement of a pub with glasses of Guinness on the tables to really get the feel.

Sadly, Tom Rowe lost his battle with cancer in the 90s, passing far too young.  The songwriter of this song - Nova Scotia's Stan Rogers - dies in an airplane fire at the shockingly young age of 33.  The song, interestingly, seems to have saved a sailor's life.

The Mary Ellen Carter (Songwriter: Stan Rogers)
She went down last October in a pouring driving rain.
The skipper, he'd been drinking and the Mate, he felt no pain.
Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow,
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low.

There were just us five aboard her when she finally was awash.
We'd worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost.
And the groan she gave as she went down, it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again.

Well, the owners wrote her off; not a nickel would they spend.
She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end.
But insurance paid the loss to us, they let her rest below.
Then they laughed at us and said we had to go.

But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock,
For she's worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock.
And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Rise again, rise again,
that her name not be lost
To the knowledge of men.
Those who loved her best
and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

All spring, now, we've been with her on a barge lent by a friend.
Three dives a day in hard hat suit and twice I've had the bends.
Thank God it's only sixty feet and the currents here are slow
Or I'd never have the strength to go below.

But we've patched her rents, stopped her vents, dogged hatch and porthole down.
Put cables to her, 'fore and aft and girded her around.
Tomorrow, noon, we hit the air and then take up the strain.
And make the Mary Ellen Carter Rise Again.

For we couldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.
She'd saved our lives so many times, living through the gale
And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave
They won't be laughing in another day. . .

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Rise again, rise again
though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you've lost,
be it a home, a love, a friend.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Bootnote: I posted about a different Schooner Fare song a few years back, about the man who saved Old Ironsides.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bachelor night with Wolfgang

The Queen Of The World is visiting one of her daughters and so it's Wolfgang and me turning Castle Borepatch into a wild and crazy bachelor pad.

It's quiet.  Too quiet.

Normally, this place is filled with life, and laughter, and good conversation.  The Queen Of The World is a lot of fun to be around (not to mention pretty as a picture), and so the Castle is filled with casual, unremarked upon good company.  Until now.

Not that Wolfgang isn't good company, just that he's pretty quiet.  That's actually not a bad thing in a dog - he's pretty steady and even keeled.  I also strive for steady and even keeled.

But it sure is quiet.  And so to a musical interlude, dedicated to the Queen Of The World.

Old friend 2cents and I used to go to the local pub* to listen to Schooner Fare, do this, back in the day.  Long time reader and all around good guy libertyman also ran across them, although neither of us knew that we'd meet 30 years later due to the miracle of Al Gore's most excellent Internet Superhighway.

Ah, well, she'll be back on Sunday.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that, and it's quite nice to find that I miss her so.

* Barstan's in Orono, Maine.

Finally - a Trump Administration scandal that will stick


That's hard to explain away.  Just sayin'.

Wolfgang approves of this message

It's funny because it's true.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Trains of Thought - A Brigid Guest Post

I carved our names upon a tree
simple words marked a plaintive plea
The text incised on darkened wood
with trembling hand as best I could
But in so writing tears would fall
For the bark's surface was far too small
Still, my hand etched away in vain
with faith that it would be seen again
hope that these small woundings of a stem
might speak to someone who passed by them
I hope they see past the mark or stain
to small etched cuts of the heart that remains
LB Johnson

Did you ever cut your initials into a tree? (and no, it's not a great idea tree-wise). Or etch the name of a secret crush back in school days, absently in a journal, not being able to think much beyond the words that made up the name of your beloved?

Short words are easy. It's the long strings of words that can break us, or make us. In the middle of a presentation today I had a blank moment and what came to me was "I lost my train of thought". Where did that expression come from? Though we use it for everything from absentmindedness to excusing our disjointed ramblings by its loss, it was elaborated four hundred years ago by Thomas Hobbes in a somewhat different meaning:

By Consequence, or train of thoughts,
I understand that succession of one thought to another which is called,
to distinguish it from discourse in words,
mental discourse.
When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever,
his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be.
Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently.

Hobbes was quite the thinker, probably why Bill Watterson chose the name for his sardonic tiger in my favorite comic strip.

My personal lumbering boxcars of thought, speeding on through this railway station we call the Internet, is fueled by very early mornings, and a couple of cups of coffee, needed to get me moving as my days often start well before the sun has risen.

Train of thought. The term just doesn't seem to fit our new age, when abundant discourse is set forth in the click of a mouse, words and ideas flirting between computer terminals in nanoseconds, with voluminous paragraphs abbreviated to simple text messages. In an age where entire freight cars of words are reduced to tiny particles of matter, the term "train of thought" seems to be a disappearing trail of smoke in our vocabulary. Sonnets and poetry reduced to :-) and "luv ya" in our rush to our next appointment. People spend hours each day texting and twittering without as much as a spoken word to someone they care about. If Hobbes were given a blackberry instead of a quill, would he have written Leviathan?
Log trains passed behind my house when I was a child. Passed down through the forested hills where we romped, grew up, fell in love and carved our names on trees. As they traveled down those hills towards the timber mills at night, their path would cut shadows across our neighborhood. I remember as a small child how the sound would intensify as my Dad would read to me at bedtime, as shadows would slide over the wall above my bed, over the model boats and planes and trains my brother and I played with. And with the shadow came one of the first sounds of my memory, the mournful wail of a train, competing with my Dad for sound, so he would speak louder and more clearly, forcefully driving each word outward, the phrases connected and intact and uninterrupted and in that moment I discovered my love for words. And for trains.

In the daytime we'd ride our bikes along the tracks, looking for diesel smoke in the cold air, throbbing engines, hoping for a quick glimpse. The yard at the timber mill had more than one track running into it, and as two trains would arrive, you'd hold your breath in fear of a collision, only to have one veer off and stop, while a long line of cars safely passed. I think of the missing man formation, in which a squadron of fighter planes performs a low pass, one separating and flying off to the heavens. A ballet of mighty machinery.

I'd memorize the names on the cars going by, forming the words in my mouth while smelling the fresh smell of wood going into the paper mill. So many cars, so many words. Each leaving a memory, branding my thoughts with its impression, burning into my head with the sunlight streaming through the slats. Carrying it's a load of mighty trees fallen to make paper for which the words will one day affix themselves. Paper clean and bare with promise.
Behind my house, a new train, miles of unexplored tracks to walk, tracks crossing across the landscape of this new life, when viewed from the air, almost forming letters, writing of new adventures. A poem composed of ancient ties and abandoned depots, a sad lament to the forgotten forms of old trains, to lost thoughts and the art of speaking in deep clear sentences, now reduced to emoticons and abbreviated texts. How do you reduce your feelings to 3 or four letters and quick clips of syllables that mean so little? Words sent through space, silently with no weight.

My Dad no longer reads to me at night, but he sends me letters, real letters, as his house has neither email or a cell phone. The letters are written in clear, flowing script that belies his 97 years and in which he talks with steady and unflinching repose, of watching all his friends pass on, of navigating life in a body that aged long before his mind. He writes of the family and of his days of laughter and prayer, words of humor, of inspiration, of compelling faith. Sheets of paper that for years have charted a course for me through adulthood. Sheets that lie carefully tended, fragrant and dry in a drawer, where I will have them years after he's gone, abiding strength still radiating from his descriptions of love and loss, the papers having a weight to them of his life. A weight that will keep me anchored.
How do you do that with a text message, how do you convey such feelings of a family in a smiley? How do you explain what it feels to live, to breathe, to love, to fly, in a Twitter message? For those thoughts make up boxcar after boxcar of the steady motion of thought, sturdy boxes of space and time, their spaces containing the heavy load of lust and longing, pride, fear, and desire. A train barreling forward in steady progressions as moving clouds fly overhead and shafts of sunlight peer through sliding cars, into their depth. As others transmit through satellites and space, I watch the landscape from the viewpoint of the train. Structures of iron lace, the suddenness of buildings, clouds of morning mist all crossing my line of sight, my muscles straining with the curves through corn shrouded fields, moving with the train, thundering through empty fields of past loss into meadows washed with light. I rush into the rain as the cars gain speed, waters cleansing the windows on which I look out on life. I hurl words into the darkness of an upcoming tunnel and wait for their echo back.
Train of thought rushing on. Life viewed as a passing landscape in which I live in the midst yet best write about it only as it has passed my window, a memory behind me trailing in the smoke of the engine. I don't have a blackberry.  Only on rare occasion do I text. I write books.  The stories captured in them may be too long to catch the interest of the masses looking for quick, short entertainment, of which there is plenty among the white noise of the Internet.   They are lengthy strings of words, heartfelt messages splayed out on paper, their sincerity driving their movement, under my pen, the words stringing out behind me.

But the words will always be my own, the track they follow a mystery until that next bend is rounded. Words composed of past journeys on ancient rails washed clean by wind and rain and tempered by time. A story that was written to the mournful sound of a train whistle echoing through abandoned dreams and ancient memories, waiting for the echo of my words. - Brigid



Seen on

Senator to FBI Honcho: What the hell do you know about encryption

A little while back, head FBI G-Man Christopher Wray proposed mandatory law enforcement back doors to encryption products, "for teh childrenz".  Now Senator Ron Wyden has sent him a letter saying that he's heard from many security experts saying that Wray doesn't know what he's talking about and that such a backdoor would have a "catastrophic" impact on security.

But he doesn't stop there:
The Democratic senator also demanded that Wray release a list of the cryptographers he’d met with to form his opinions on encryption, specifically identifying which experts advised backdooring encryption:
I would like to learn more about how you arrived at and justify this ill-informed policy proposal. Please provide me with a list of the cryptographers with whom you’ve personally discussed this topic since our July 2017 meeting and specifically identify those experts who advised you that companies can feasibly design government access features into their products without weakening cybersecurity. Please provide this information by February 23, 2018.
We’re guessing it’s a short list.

It's nice to see pushback from the Senate, but this isn't just an FBI thing.  It is an astonishingly bad idea.

And we're tired of being accused of being child pornographers because we don't want the Federales mandating broken encryption.

DAKs over Normandy

Next year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  Among the events being planned is an paratroop drop from vintage C-47/DC-3 aircraft.  Almost 30 airplanes from 11 countries are confirmed so far.

DAKs Over Normandy has more info, including how to get tickets if you want to see the event.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Congratulations to Chipper Jones

Voted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame today.  97.2% of HoF voters voted for him, putting him at #10 on the list of most voted for baseball athletes (tied with teammate Greg Maddux).

He was one of the last to play his entire career at the same team.  Bravo to a great player who was also a gentleman and an ambassador of the game.

R.I.P. Moore's Law

This seems like a pretty big deal:
The death of Moore’s law is no surprise, because the semiconductor industry has told contradictory stories for years. While it created new process nodes like clockwork, the capital requirements to develop those new devices climbed nearly exponentially. 
The laws of physics were to blame: they created a money pit into which Intel and the other companies threw tens of billions of dollars, with little to show for it. 
Physics was a tough enough opponent, but now computer science itself has joined the fight thanks to the Meltdown and Spectre design flaws first revealed here in The Register
The two mistakes mean that branch prediction techniques, designed to further improve the performance of ever-cheaper silicon, have introduced two classes of security threats - one set (Meltdown) that can be remediated by imposing as much as a 30% performance penalty - and another set (Spectre) that at this point can’t really be remediated at all - except, possibly, by littering code with instructions that suck all the benefits out of branch prediction. 
The computer science behind microprocessor design has therefore found itself making a rapid U-turn as it learns that its optimisation techniques can be weaponised. The huge costs of Meltdown and Spectre - which no one can even guess at today - will make chip designers much more conservative in their performance innovations, as they pause to wonder if every one of those innovations could, at some future point, lead to the kind of chaos that has engulfed us all over the last weeks. 
One thing has already become clear: in the short term, performance will go backwards. The steady and reliable improvements every software engineer could rely on to make messy code performant can no longer be guaranteed. Now the opposite applies: it’s likely computers will be less performant a year from now.
Software has been increasingly bloated for about as long as I can remember - especially since Windows XP.  Linux has seen a noticeable slow down over the past 10-15 years, and Linux has about as pure a performance optimization/old school software hacker ethos as anything these days.

Likely mobile phones will be hardest hit, as the iOS/Android bloat continues unabated and power draw prevents a brute force "turn up the clock speed" approach.  Slower CPUs combined with bloated, slower software will give a lot worse user experience.

We are seeing the passing of an age of innocence.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Happy Blogiversary to Isegoria

He's been blogging for 15 (!) years.  Wow.

He's been a daily read for me for maybe ten years now.  If you don't follow him, you're missing out on a daily dose of Smart.

SEC Chief: Don't change your company name to "Blockchains-R-Us"

He actually said that, LOL:
In remarks delivered at the Securities Regulation Institute, SEC Chair Jay Clayton said “I doubt anyone in this audience thinks it would be acceptable for a public company with no meaningful track record in pursuing the commercialization of distributed ledger or blockchain technology to (1) start to dabble in blockchain activities, (2) change its name to something like "Blockchain-R-Us," and (3) immediately offer securities, without providing adequate disclosure to Main Street investors about those changes and the risks involved.”
The world is a weird place.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What you will not read in the papers about the government shutdown

Daughter in Law tells us that the base grocery will shut down Wednesday, which means that there may not be much food left there by now.  It's 30 miles to the nearest off-base grocery.

The Democrats have chosen illegal aliens over military families, but you won't see this in your newspaper.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Scary Movies - A Brigid Guest Post

Partner in Grime (aka The Husband) is in the UK on business so I've been "bacheloring" it this week with Abby Normal our rescue Lab.  A couple of years ago we gave away our small flat screen TV.  It really looked out of place in our 100-year-old home and there was no wall space to mount it given the sconces and the many windows.  I have an extra large monitor for teleworking  in the office so we stream or watch shows and movies on that through Amazon Prime or our collection of boxed sets as the office (which was originally a very large master bedroom) is also a den with a comfy futon, fluffy rugs and other decor to make it cozy to both two and four-legged family.
But with Partner in Grime gone, Abby and I watched some scary movies.  Partner in Grime  doesn't like them, but I do.

After watching a few of them,  I'm going to teach you what we learned the last few nights.

When it seems that you have killed the monster, never check closely to see if it's really dead.

If you find that your house is built upon or near a cemetery, had previous inhabitants who went mad, flung themselves off the roof, or died in some horrible accident OR inhabitants that dressed in black robes with a giant flaming Pentagram in the yard (I know they said it was a Tupperware party, they lied) move immediately.

Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, especially not as a YouTube video.

Do not search the basement if the power suddenly goes out.
Never ask "is somebody there?" if you live alone and hear a strange noise.

When traveling in numbers, never "pair off" or go it alone.

As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

Never stand in, on, above, below, beside, or anywhere near a grave, tomb crypt, mausoleum or other house of the dead at midnight on Friday the 13th.
If you hear a strange noise in a distant part of the house and find out it's just the cat, leave the house immediately, as it's never the cat.

If appliances start operating themselves, move out. If it's the 1940's stand mixer, call a Priest.

If you find an old farm town which looks deserted, it's probably for a good reason.  Take the hint and turn around. If there are two vacant-eyed kids selling kettle corn at a roadside stand in said deserted town ignore all posted speed limits.
The mutant alien cucumber from "It Conquered the World.

Vegetables can hurt you.  Eat more Pizza.

If you hear a strange noise outside  Do NOT go out there. Or at least take a weapon, some common sense, or a disposable secondary character to use as a distraction.

Don't babysit - seriously, in scary movies babysitters are psychopath crack. Mow lawns, the psychos never go after the kid mowing the lawn.
When Muppets Do Meth

Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're really sure you know what you are doing.

If you are running from the monster, boogieman, etc, expect to trip or fall down at least twice, more if you are female and scantily clad.  Also note that, although you are running and the monster is merely shambling along - it will still catch up with you
If that house in seemingly excellent condition is SUPER cheap don't buy it.
If your companions or housemates suddenly being to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination with blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness and so on, get away from them as fast as possible.

If your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere do not knock on the door of the nearest dark dwelling for help.  That never ends well.
If your children suddenly speak to you in Latin or in a  deep, dark voice other than their own, pack up their things and drop them off at a relative you don't like.

Don't be a teenager - sure the parties, sex, and alcohol and lack of parents at your rave in Mom and Dad's mansion may seem like fun but it just draws demented ax murderers.  Case in point.  Last night, I watched a movie wearing Cuddleduds with hair color on my roots and munching on popcorn.  I can guarantee there wasn't an ax murderer within 50 miles.

And lastly folks - if you want to survive to the end of the movie - KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!
I'm not scared Mom, let's watch another one.


Suddenly it's not 15° anymore.  That means one thing.

Government shutdown kabuki

What a weird situation.

Hat tip: Sal the Agorist.

Bananas At Large - Da Turdy Point Buck

There are a lot of deer near Castle Borepatch, and Wolfgang and I like to look for them on our walks. We see them pretty often, and Wolfgang is good at flushing them from their hiding places in the thickets.  He's a big dog, but not the fastest, and the deer don't seem like they have to run fast to get away from him.

Wolfgang really seems to come alive - as the Buddha says, he has the dog nature.

Today we saw a really big one.  Of course, there's a song about that.  Even if it is a pretty weird one, from a group of what seems to be Wisconsin Cheeseheads.

Da Turdy Point Buck (Songwriters: ?)
lemmie tell ya dat
and you know it's not so much the heat as it is the gosh darn humidity
you know dat 
you know when you sit there in the bed and you're just
sweaty you know and you go to reach for the water on
the nightstand and ya slide right out of bed, and the wife says
"stop making so much noise you're waking me up, go to sleep" 
well lemmie tell ya
times like that make me feel like movin up north ya know
good idea
yeah i'd do it too 
course then i couldn't watch the Packers ya know, the Packers are
gosh i like the Packers, i'd do anything for the Packers
who can forget Vince Lombardi ya know, back in the glory years, not me boy
ya know 
yeah well anyhow
gettin to be that time of year eh? 
yeah i'm a deer hunter how do you do 
i got this deer huntin rappin tale for you
i'm so excited, it's my favorite time of year
i love to freeze my buns chasin trophy deer
but don't clap your hands to the stompin of the feet
cause ya he's like me he can't keep a steady beat no 
i got this great big knife cause the hunting is my life
it's my chance to drink beer and get away from the wife
it's the boys night out acting stupidly

say now baby baby don't you think maybe how bout you and me yeah
well we partied all night never made it to our bunks and
i was sittin in the tree stand on the tree dead drunk
windmill blowin 45, temp thirty below,
i was freezin to death, then it started to snow
so i got down from the tree stand start headin for the truck
and thats when i seen it there, the turdy point buck
the turdy point buck? 
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck  
well he was eight foot tall,
weighed twelve thousand pounds,
with every step there was a shakin' on the ground
he was so rutiful so beautiful
strutted right out of my dreams,
he was created by God just for outdoor magazines
now i'm not much for thinkin, no i don't do it often
but i had an idea
to put that turdy pointer in his coffin 
turdy point buck
turdy point buck 
i couldn't get to my grenades
the howitzer was in the shop
my stomache was tied into a monkey knot
ya my only hope was betty lou
she was da one
a combination AK-57 uzzie radar lasar triple barrel
double scoped heat-seakin shotgun 
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck 
ya dat the women clappin' the the back dere i gotta make dat
well he was comin for me gettin bigger and bigger but
my fingers were so frozen i could not pull the trigger
i kicked off my boots fired with my big toe
i was Dirty Harry, John Wayne, and G.I. Joe
ya dat turday point buck was only 10 feet away
ya still i couldn't seem to hit him and he wouldn't run away
and after 20 minutes when the smoke cleared
there were hunters on the ground and the world's biggest deer
standing tall and proud, he looked at me and yawned (ohhhhhhh dear)
and then a flash of white, and there he was, gone 
well seven men got up and then one fell down
a big lump of blaze orange, shakin on the ground
at first i thought he was one of the boys
but it was a no brother good in law man from illinois
only cheese-heads in here, right boys?
send him back on the next plane ya know 
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
as we jumped into da truck
sayin i'm gonna get that turdy point buck
yeah i'm gonna get that turdy point buck

turdy point buck

Friday, January 19, 2018

This Will be Next - A Brigid Guest Post

I am married to a millennial (insert cougar joke here). He's pretty smart, had a patent on something most of you have in your home when he turned 30, doesn't buy Lester's ammo, and always admits he's wrong when my red hair is on fire.  I've yet to see him ingest laundry detergent but I think he ate a fried bug in Vietnam once.

With all the viral idiocy of the Tide Pod Challenge I can only imagine that this will be next.

Get off my lawn

It is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others

Image via Le Wik
Admiral John Byng was a Royal Navy officer in the 18th century.  Britain and France were at war off and on for most of the century, and in 1756 commanded a fleet sent to relieve the siege of Minorca.  He lost to the French fleet, one of the Royal Navy's few defeats in that age.

And so they court marshaled him and shot him.

Europe was shocked at this.  Voltaire wrote a line into his satirical novel Candide that is the title of this post:  Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres ("In this country it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others").  The contempt towards those responsible fairly drips from his pen.  The consensus today is that Voltaire was right and the Royal Navy was wrong.

Fast forward 250 years and we see the same nautical ass covering from our own Pentagon:
Five officers involved in two Navy ship collisions last year that killed a total of 17 sailors are being charged with negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday.

A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.
I'm throwing the "Bullshit Flag" on this.
It seems that there is no mistake that the Pentagon desk jockeys will take responsibility for, especially including the under manning and lack of training time that has been enshrined in Navy policy.
It is hard to train people. It's hard to persuade our skinflint do-nothing Congress to pay for it. It's hard to get funding for enough people to do the jobs, so the fraking in-house MBAs at Ft. Fumble came up with the idea of cross-decking-- "let's train gunners' mates to stand helm watches" and more stupid shit.
As a tip o' the chapeau to M. Voltaire, let me offer up a modern saying that perhaps approaches his in terms of cynicism: enough layers of bureaucracy ensures that disaster is not left to chance.

A ProTip for Millenials

You like to eat dishwasher detergent?  Then you don't know the cornucopia that awaits you in the driveway.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Border Collie pups interview for a job

All together now: Awwwwwww!

If only millennials could do as well ....

Need moar coffee

The Temple of Janus is open for business

The Romans are often accused of "stealing" their mythology from the Greeks: Zeus became Jupiter, Ares became Mars, etc.  But one god that was uniquely Roman was Janus, the two-faced god of gateways (and by analogy, of beginnings and endings).  The first month of the year is named after him, and we even get a faint echo of the two faces in the typical New Year's depiction of the old year as an old man and the new year as a baby.

It's not clear at all how the Temple of Janus on the Roman Forum became associated with war and peace, but the ancient tradition was that when the Republic was at war the doors of the temple were kept open; only when the war was over were they closed.

The historian Livy tells us that king Tulles Hostillius opened the doors in around 650 B.C. when he attacked a neighboring city.  The doors remained open for the next 400 years.  The doors were shut at the end of the first war with Carthage, but were only shut for eight years.  Re-opened in 227 B.C. during a war with the Gauls, they remained open until shut by Caesar Augustus in 29 B.C.

So out of a period of 650 years or so, the doors were only shut for a couple of decades.  If you need a one sentence description of the Roman temperament, that's about as good as any.

The Geek With Guns muses on our modern republic:
A recent poll discovered that a strong majority of Americans oppose the endless state of war that the United States is engaged in:
The headline findings show, among other things, that 86.4 percent of those surveyed feel the American military should be used only as a last resort, while 57 percent feel that US military aid to foreign countries is counterproductive. The latter sentiment “increases significantly” when involving countries like Saudi Arabia, with 63.9 percent saying military aid—including money and weapons—should not be provided to such countries.
If the plebs had any power to influence politics, the players in the war economy might have cause for concern. Fortunately for them, the plebs have no actual influence over politics. At most they can decide which preselected candidate should occupy an office.
The doors of our temple of Janus remain open.  It's good for business.  We pay the cost in coin of the realm; those on the tip of the spear pay the cost in blood.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Are you sick of Telemarketers?

Jolly Roger Telephone Company has an AI bot that will answer the telemarketing calls for you.  It keeps talking to them to keep them on the line, driving up their cost.  It records the call and then emails you a recording "so you can have a laugh".

They post the call of the day on their web site, for your amusement.  They have a bunch of different bots, including the lonely senior citizen, the distracted soccer mom, the alcoholic, and others.  Pretty funny stuff.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Epic troll is epic

Should have said "Hold mah beer" ...

Hawks setting wild fires

From the "The World is stranger than we imagine" files comes this from Australia:
It's pretty hot in Australia right now. A brutal heatwave that's incinerated temperature records threatens devastating bushfires – and to make matters worse, authorities have to contend with an ancient breed of flying arsonists that may as well be miniature dragons.

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called 'firehawk raptors' – birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks. 
These flying firestarters are spread across at least three known species – the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) – but while their hell-raising may be observed in Indigenous knowledge, that's not so elsewhere.
Damn punk hawks, always smoking behind the school ...

How it All Ends - A Brigid Guest Post after Two Much White Wine

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A millennial job interview

Found by the Queen Of The World.  Funny as hell, right there.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Found at Sal The Agorist.  Hat tip (and many thanks) to James for the email pointer.

Warning: it doesn't matter whether you're conservative, liberal, or libertarian - he's very likely to piss you off.  But he's funny as all get out.

Ray Stevens - Gitarzan

I took down the Christmas lights at Castle Borepatch.  Losing my redneck cred, right there.  So here's a good old redneck song to redeem my reputation.

Ray Stevens wrote humorous songs that tickled the country's funny bone back in the '60s (this one and "Ahab The Arab") and '70s ("The Streak").  Guitarzan hit #8 on the Hot 100 chart in 1969.  Interestingly, he had a serious side, and won a Grammy in 1971 for "Everything Is Beautiful".

Guitarzan (Songwriters: Ray Stevens, Bill Everette)
He's free as the breeze,
He's always at ease.
He lives in the jungle
And hangs by his knees,
As he swings through trees
Without a trapeeze,
In his BVD's.
A-hoo hoo! 
He's got a union card
And he's practicin' hard
To play the gitar.
Gon' be a big star,
Yeah he's gonna go far.
An' carry moonbeams home in a jar! 
He ordered Chet's guitar course COD,
Makes A&E an' he's workin' on B.
Digs C&W&R&B an' an' me an' a chimpanzee
Agree that one day soon he'll be,
A celebrity.
Get it!
Get it!
Get it!
Get it!
He's a guitar man!
He's all you can stand,
Give him a hand,
(Tarzan yell)
He's gotta girl named Jane,
With no last name.
Kinda homely and plain,
But he loves her just the same.
'Cause she kindles a flame,
And it drives him insane,
When he hears her sing.
She really does her thing.
It's here claim to fame,
Come on, sing one Jane: 
Baby, baby, Whaooooo Baby!
Whaooooo Baby! 
Well, they gotta pet monkey,
He likes to get drunky,
And sing boogie woogie,
And it sounds real funky,
Come on, yo' time, boy,
Sing one monkey,
Here we go, 
(Monkey grunts)
Lets hear it for the monkey!
(He He He He) 
On Saturday night they need some excitement,
Jane gets right and the monkey gets tight,
And their voices unite, in the pale moon light,
And it sounds alright, yeah, it's dynamite,
It's outta sight.
Let's hear it, right nnnnnnnnow! 
And his jungle band!
They're all you can stand,
Give 'em a hand, Gitarzan!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Watching the Climate Science® sausage getting made

This is nothing that we haven't suspected for a long time, but is richly documented here:
Short summary: scientists sought political relevance and allowed policy makers to put a big thumb on the scale of the scientific assessment of the attribution of climate change.
Bernie Lewin has written an important new book:
The IPCC is the UN organizations that puts together Assessment Reports every 5 years (we're due for AR6 in a couple years).  These reports are supposed to document the current best understanding of climate science.

What is particularly interesting is how long ago all this started.  What's not surprising is that the driving force back then was a scramble for research grant funding by scientists:
The peak of interest in climate among atmospheric scientists was an international climate conference held in Stockholm in 1974 and a publication by the ‘US Committee for GARP’ [GARP is Global Atmospheric Research Programme] the following year. The US GARP report was called ‘Understanding climate change: a program for action’, where the ‘climate change’ refers to natural climatic change, and the ‘action’ is an ambitious program of research.
[There was] a coordinated, well-funded program of research into potentially catastrophic effects before there was any particular concern within the meteorological community about these effects, and before there was any significant public or political anxiety to drive it. It began in the midst of a debate over the relative merits of coal and nuclear energy production [following the oil crisis of the 1970’s]. It was coordinated by scientists and managers with interests on the nuclear side of this debate, where funding due to energy security anxieties was channelled towards investigation of a potential problem with coal in order to win back support for the nuclear option.
This was almost 50 years ago, which is plenty of time for a scientific bureaucracy to grow up around this topic.  Remember, where you have bureaucracy, you have Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration. 
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
Now think about the often repeated "Scientific consensus" on global warming.  Think on the funding that feeds the scientific bureaucracy.  How on earth could there not be a consensus?

Of course, that consensus says precisely nothing on whether global warming is true or not.

RTWT.  It's long, and detailed, and damning.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Sustenance - Home Economics Memory from Brigid

How many of you that visit here remember seeing or taking  home economic classes in school in 70's and early 80's? After that it became gender neutral "bachelor living" where one learned how to make dip out of Velveeta and use Velcro. (I had to figure out Southern biscuits with peppered bacon gravy on my own).

The whole "home economics" idea, which in my day was only for female students, was not intended to make women a slave to the kitchen but rather came about from a change in how women shopped for their family.  Before the 19th century, except for the most privileged of the wealthy, women were producers of household items, including food and clothing, rather than consumers. So the early home economics classes focused on education for purchasing decisions, as well as health and hygiene in the home. What actual knowledge was imparted was often  limited  though, by school budgets and the quality of the teachers.  I have friends of my same age group that learned nothing more than how to make things out of hamburger and cans  Not in my home ec class. We learned to make things the way generations ago did.
I had the grand dame of home economic teachers, Miss Heidenreich. She was in her sixties, never married. She was sparsely thin and about 7 feet tall but perhaps that was just my recollection in 7th grade.  At first, we were all sort of afraid of her, she was so tall, straight and stern, she just loomed at the front of the classroom, there in a grey dress.  But then we watched, at least I did, as she moved as she talked, gathering raw materials of food or cloth, coordinating the efforts.  Then, when she demonstrated the finished product of what she wanted us to do, the look in her sparkling blue eyes was one of not just joy, but quiet triumph.

I recognized a bit of that.  Most of us were lucky in that we were raised by Mom's themselves raised in the 40's and 50's when money was tight and things were made to last. My Mom came through lean times in the Depression, her Dad killed in a logging accident, with no insurance, leaving a widow and three kids to feed. My grandma somehow got my Mom through college, unheard of in that day, wherein Mom got a job that paid enough to put her two younger brothers through, while Grandma worked full time as well.  She and my grandma both then, learned to work with that same efficiency of movement,  that might be considered detached would you not recognize it as simply being the beautiful efficiency of machinery.
My grandmother would not even recognize a grocery store of today and my Mom would be appalled at the quick and cheap clothing made that falls apart within a few months of wear.  She made all of her and my clothes herself, except for jeans and T-shirts, my sweaters hand knitted as well as an assortment of scarves and winter hats.  There was also an assortment of 70's crocheted vests that looked to be more for hanging a houseplant, than for wear, but that was the fashion.  Those clothes did not wear out but were cleaned, pressed and handed down to a younger cousin (except for that one dress that ended up with a bicycle tire track up the back, and no, don't ask).

If an item of wear, needed repair, Mom knew how to do it.  I however wasn't too keen on learning.

You see, I liked to cook, because, I like to eat.  I'd spend hours with my Mom, helping prepare the meal, if only to set the table while I watched her work. To me, cooking was like playing with the chemistry set, how fun to see how things are formed, how ingredients interact and take on whole other forms, and even better if you can eat the results.   But I had no interest in sewing, crocheting or knitting, making decorative pillows or embroidering a tea towel. I'd rather be out in the shop with my Dad or playing with model trains or control line aircraft. To say that I discovered that if you don't FEED your Betsy Wetsy Doll, she doesn't wet, gives you some idea of my mindset with "girl stuff".
I did make a valiant effort to knit a winter neck scarf for my Dad. But that was just because I loved him.  After several months, ripping inferior work out and starting over again, and again, I had a piece only 3 x 5 inches square.  I gave up, knitted the edges together and it became a tube dress for someone's Barbie.

Let's just say I was not too excited about Home Ec. that first year, though I respected my teacher as I was taught to.  I just kept quiet, and sewed my silly pink apron with my name embroidered on the pocket.  I did buttons and hems, though I got a D in "snaps" just because I was obstinate.  I learned how to darn a sock.  I sort of giggled at that, as in my home you said "darn" instead of "damn".  Actually "damn" would have been the more appropriate word to what I did to those socks.

But Miss Heidenreich taught us all of the basics. Unlike other classes, we weren't learning how to make casseroles with soup or 101 ways to use canned Crescent Rolls. The cooking was not anything out of a can, and there were some things we learned to make that were not very popular with us.  What 8th grader wants to make and eat stewed prunes or unseasoned boiled chicken for meat and broth.  What about brownies and pizza? But later, many years later, caring for the elderly, such things came in useful.  I could cook for restricted diets, I could make bread, I could make a white sauce instead of an expensive can of cream soup. I could make a variety of economical dishes with just a bit of meat or eggs or beans for protein.  I could make a cake missing key ingredients, butter, milk or eggs. (but not all three, that is known as a hockey puck).
Miss Heidenreicht would watch constantly, bright but insulate, letting us make our way, only stepping in when flames were involved, or there was a need to staunch blood.  But she was not popular with all the students as she was a stern task-masker, expecting you to work hard, to listen and to apply what she had taught you. She taught like my parents taught, but not all kids had the benefit of that experience.

She frowned on idleness and those girls that wore jeans to school, instead of neat slacks or dresses.  She dressed plainly, her dresses unadorned but for a bit of lace or a small necklace of pearls, the fabric starched into submission.  But she was not unkind, not even batting an eye when one jean-clad girl came in with green hair from a "let's add some ash blond highlights at home" disaster, only offering her extra praise for her strudel to keep her from crying.  Based on Miss Heidenreich's age, I only understood as an adult, what hardships she may have seen as a  young woman, Depression-era families sometimes starving, only the strong, resourceful and skilled surviving and thriving. It made me think differently of her home economics class, and what I came away from it with.

She was my teacher just that first year, retired and replaced by Mrs. Potter, of whom I have no real memory but for a friendly smile and the "Dante's Nine Circles of Hems".  By Ninth Grade, I'd learned enough, I thought and put in a bid to take Auto Shop instead of Home Ec.  That was met with a resounding slam of a car door.

I made my case, I knew how to make dinner, I needed to know how to change my oil and pack a wheel bearing. I was told I needed to take the "girl" classes. Shop class was only for boys.  I was told I was stubborn, I believe the term "as a mule" was heard (to which I pointed out to the administrators that unlike a horse, a mule is too intelligent to break its leg for glory running in a brief, pointless circle).  I was shot down, though there was one female friend and classmate, now an engineer, like her father, who won out and got to attend the agriculture class where she castrated a calf in a moment which gave me hope for the next generation.
So I dutifully sewed my outfits, made taffy and tarts and finally in the last sprint for independence, opted out of most of my courses, taking them at the local college, going full time in the summer.I wasn't old enough to drive but I made it there by bike and by bus or Dad's trusty steed.  I was indeed the only college freshman in a "training bra" (don't get me started on how that term started, it's not like you train them for tricks or anything "Sit",  Stay!", though getting older, they do know "roll over").

My days of home ec were over.  At the time I was happy for that, yet now, I wish I'd paid more attention, as more skills of prepping and preparing as well as knowledge and the economies of the kitchen would have served me well as I entered my 20's and 30's.

This Sunday morning, I'll be lighting the fire of a 70-year-old stove that's DIY maintenance and upkeep. The house will be cold, extra blankets used at night instead of bumping up the heat.  As the stove puts heat into the back of the house, activity picks up as if propelled by the increasing warmth. After reflection, prayer and thanks, there will be a plumbing project to finish, bread to be baked, and somewhere, a sock or two that needs damning.  Outside, branches scrape and rasp against the house, the frost on the window a portent to how cold it can be for the unprepared, as winter light lay upon the ground like a pale scrap of starched grey cloth.
But like many things in homes I've lived in before, I could afford to pay to have someone do all of this, buy all this. But I choose not to. I and my family would rather do more for ourselves, with minimal help from others, putting our money into tangibles which will keep us housed and safe, where days of struggle to survive, of sparse broken meals, do not threaten.  I  find such great satisfaction in saying "I made this"  or "I saved this much",  making something out of nothing, building not a house, but a home with pieces of the past, carefully mended, and always treasured
I look at all the blogs out there, many on my sidebar, of men and women, resourceful people, who have learned how to grow, store, can and prepare healthy meals for themselves or their family; manage land, tend a farm, some with help of other family members, some completely on their own, even as they teach these skills to others. Their skills aren't limited to the kitchen but include the field and the workbench. I have learned a lot from them, to add to what skills I grew up with.
Taking care of your family, your needs and safety, with no handouts and your own resources and skills is something to be admired.  All are things I wish were still stressed in school now.  Those that learn themselves, the men and women that do so and then pass on that knowledge to others, give me hope for the future.  I do think Miss Heidenreich would be proud.