Saturday, March 17, 2018

Turlough O'Carolan - Si Bheag Si Mhor

The Dropkick Murphys are Irish(ish), but not traditional.  You want traditional for St. Paddy's Day?  You don't get more traditional Irish than Turlough O'Carolan.  This is one of his most famous compositions, done (as it would have been in his day) on the harp.

Dropkick Murphys - The Wild Rover

Corned beef and cabbage, while delicious (at least, the Queen Of The World's is beyond compare) is not Irish in the slightest.  It was a pure, 100% adaptation by Irish immigrants to the locally available foodstuffs on the shores of the New World.

As are the Dropkick Murphys.  An Irish-punk band from Quincy, Mass, they are Irish in the same way that corned beef and cabbage is.  A tasty, local adaptation to St. Paddy on the shores of the New World.

Country Music is alive and well in Ireland

I don't post much recent Country Music because is American Country Music isn't dead, it's coughing up blood.  It sounds the same: banjo accompanied pop music with lead singers who look like models. It's bland and packaged and boring, and so I don't post much of it.

But Country Music is alive and well in Ireland.  This is a TV show that aired just 3 years ago, one with music that would have been familiar here in the '80s or '90s, sung by people who look, well, like normal people.  It's the opposite of packaged country-pop, and is refreshing as a mint julep on a hot May afternoon.

Today is the feast of St. Patrick.  Here's one more thing to be grateful for the Emerald Isle.  They saved civilization once; it shouldn't be too hard for them to save Country Music.

Friday, March 16, 2018

"But there ought to be a law ..."

Don't forget the light bulbs.

Study: Violent video games do not cause violent behavior

I've posted before about scientific studies that show no link between violent video games and actual violent behavior.  But this seems to be an ever green idea for idiots and gun banners, so here we go again.  Now it's a new study from the Max Plank Institute in Berlin:
A new, longer-term study of video game play from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Germany's University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf recently published in Molecular Psychiatry found that adults showed "no significant changes" on a wide variety of behavioral measures after two straight months of daily violent game play.
In other news of the obvious, Quentin Tarantino films don't lead to increased murder and Rock n' Roll lyrics don't lead to satanic worship.  Tipper Gore hardest hit ...

You'd think that people would finally catch on to this.  You'd think wrong, I guess.

Boot note:  I've posted rather a lot in the past about the Max Plank Institute.  Most surprisingly when their scientists told politicians to cool their jets on Global Warming, but most humorously here where they really screwed up the cover page of their magazine.  Whoo, boy.

Interesting prepping videos

$5 buys you tools to make a camp, making Roman concrete, casting a bronze skillet.

Not exactly my thing, but pretty cool

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Massachusetts colluding with Russia?

Look!  Collusion!
‘Puter was perusing the Wall Street Journal this morning, as all rich oligarchs do, when he stumbled upon this piece. Why is Russian gas in Boston Harbor? ‘Puter expected to get an article on cabbage and bean eating Russian sailors.
Much to his surprise, ‘Puter learned Massholes were importing Russian natural gas despite being only a few hundred miles from the natural gas rich Marcellus shale in Pennsyltucky. ‘Puter assumed something catastrophic must’ve happened to the pipeline between the shale gas producing region and Mass-backwards-ass-achusetts.
Well, yes and no.
Turns out nothing physically happened to the pipeline. Also turns out there is no pipeline because elite genius enviroweenie do-gooders decided all fossil fuels are evil so they put the kibosh on the Access Northeast Pipeline which would’ve provided Massholes all the clean-burning natural gas they could ever want.
Now, ‘Puter’s a simple man, but there were a few questions he had about Massholes killing a project which would’ve provided domestic energy in favor of importing Russian natural gas and lining kleptocrat Vladimir V. Putin’s blood-stained pockets.*
Questions like, “Why are Massholes happily funding Putin’s war on the West instead of creating jobs in economically depressed areas of their own country?”
Or, “Do Massholes really hate the poor so much that they’re willing to make them choose between high-cost Russian natural gas and feeding their children?”
Dang.  I thought this whole Russia! Russia! Russia! thing was a bit lame, but it looks like maybe there is a Russian under every bed.  At least in Boston.

Toys я Gone

Before Amazon and Wal-Mart, and after Sears Christmas Catalog, there was Toys  я Us.

Nerd humor

Hawking actually had a pretty good sense of humor.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

Yes, I had his book.  Everyone remembers him from his life in a wheelchair after being struck with ALS, and how long he lasted (not years but decades).  His many cameo appearances on "Big Bank Theory" didn't hurt his fame, either.

What I remember is the first time I heard of him.  Jerry Pournelle (no doubt in his "A Step Farther Out" column in Galaxy Magazine) described a 1970s lecture at Cal Tech as "An evening of Lovecraftian horror" as Hawking described Black Holes that evaporate due to quantum leakage, leaving behind naked singularities.  His description of Hawking's wit in the days before he was struck by that disease was vivid, and has stuck with me all these years.

In case you were wondering, here he is in 1970, in the peak of health.

Rest In Peace, Dr. Hawking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

So General Clapper will not be tried for perjury

The statute of limitations has run out, and so he will remain a free man:
Former intelligence chief James Clapper is poised to avoid charges for allegedly lying to Congress after five years of apparent inaction by the Justice Department. 
Clapper, director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, admitted giving “clearly erroneous” testimony about mass surveillance in March 2013, and offered differing explanations for why. 
Two criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress have five-year statutes of limitations, establishing a Monday deadline to charge Clapper, who in retirement has emerged as a leading critic of President Trump. 
The under-oath untruth was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who sparked national debate on surveillance policy with leaks to the press.
So Clapper is still free and Snowden is still on the run.  America, you see the rules - one set for them, a different one for you.

Rest in peace, LTC Floyd Carter Sr.

Another of the Greatest Generation musters out:
Floyd Carter Sr., one of the last of the Tuskegee Airmen, dedicated his remarkable life to serving his country and his city. 
The decorated veteran of three wars and 27 years with the NYPD died Thursday at age 95, leaving a long legacy as a groundbreaking hero pilot and a city police detective.
He flew in 3 wars, led the first squadron of transports in the Berlin Airlift, and was married 70 years.  Quite a man.

God speed, Colonel.

Lessons from the Road - A Brigid Guest Post

I try not and post too many book excerpts but a friend with a blog had a blog post about learning to drive, asking others to share their stories.  This ended up in my second book and re-reading it brought tears to my eyes.  My brother, a Navy Submariner who was part of Operation Ivy Bells as a teenager, died on Good Friday 4 years ago.  He had a very aggressive cancer.  He couldn't get into the VA, and didn't' qualify for Tricare, he said.  He lost his Navy Contractor job due to sequestration, and the Washington State Obamacare exchange was having technical glitches which didn't allow him to sign up. He died badly.  The end was not good, but his life was one of honor and service and he was my best friend for most of my life.

Chapter 2  - Lessons from the Road

I thought of my late brother tonight as I drove to a work assignment, someplace out where it was cold and barren but for some emergency vehicles waiting for me. I no longer live out West, but with my husband in a tidy little bungalow closer to the Windy City, a place where weather can be just as treacherous. We’re newlyweds, my getting the courage to remarry after twenty years on my own, with an introduction by friends and a bit of help from a big black dog. But that is its own story.

When the visibility is down around a quarter of a mile, that truck in front of me seems no larger than a spool of thread until its brake lights come on, and then it looks enormous. With almost a foot of snow, it looks so peaceful out there, everything blanketed in white, as innocent and smooth as the surface of so much cream. But it’s not a good day for travel; hundreds of flights canceled, probably thousands when all is said and done. Don’t drive if you don’t have to, the radio warns, as under the hood the engine rumbles with threat and promise both.

Allen, being my only sibling, had taught me how to drive; but what I remember most was his teaching me how to drive in the snow out in the West where we grew up, the two of us and our parents. We’d take the little VW Bug I had over to the empty high school parking lot where there were no people or light poles. There I learned all about braking, sliding, skidding, and the physics of stopping with a stalemate of snow and rubber. He’d teach me to recognize a skid, how to immediately pick out a distant visual target and keep your eyes focused on that target, while I steered out of it as he issued commands to keep me pointed in the right direction like a border collie directs cattlehis tone fast and quick and light, words darting in and out of my field of vision.

As I relaxed into well-practiced maneuvers, I simply listened to him talk; about things that angered him, things he wished he could change as he got older, what was right with the world, and what he could to do preserve those things. And I quietly listened, there amidst snow flying as if from a blower and donuts formed of chewed rubber, circles as identical and monotonous as milestones.
I put his teachings to test on hill and valley, letting that little car run like it was a horse, leaning forward with a yell as we got into fourth gear as if by doing so I could somehow outpace it as we both fled the sheer inertia of Earth. That car and my spirit ran free of the fence lines, free of themselves, racing with a quality of movement in our motion totally separate from the imaginary pounding of hooves or the whoop of joy as I discovered flight in four-wheeled form. I put mile after mile on that car, the land stretching out until only darkness stopped her, the heavy scent of pines lying across the road for my trusty steed to disperse as if the scent were tangled skeins of smoke.

I also knew when to rein it in, slowing it down on slippery turns, downshifting through those sharp corners that are judgment and sentence and execution. I knew to stay behind the clusters of bright shiny cars, artificial flowers to which the restless bees of the law would be drawn. I also knew when to drive away, coasting out of a driveway when I arrived at a high school crush’s to find him with someone elsethat long slow tearing that leaves no scar of tire, only an internal lament that is the rending of raw silk.
Those lessons saved me more than once, like when the car slid toward an embankment late one night, that dark space where one’s shadow waits for your death, only to recover and continue on. You’ve likely been there as well. It happens so fast: one minute you’re staring bored at the speedometer, and the next you’re snatched out of your lane in a torrent of rubber and refinanced steel, other vehicles scattering like rabbits suddenly looking for their warren. 

When that happens you may not even know the cause--speed, black ice, or the force of Mother Nature that's as distant to indictment as God. All you know is that for a moment your useless hands are clasped tight to a useless steering wheel, and by only muscle memory you try and keep the pointy end forward, the headlights revealing not your safety but the now-empty road’s abiding denial. When you finally stop all you can hear is your heart and the tick of a watch, that curved turmoil of faltering light and shadow in mathematical miniature reminding you how close you came to running out of time.

Such moments are the reason my last little car was traded in on a truck, though in city traffic a truck would be about as maneuverable as a dirigible. But I don’t mind. I know about weather and idiot drivers, and I also know about fate. Because fate waits, needing neither patience nor appetitefor yesterday, today, and tomorrow are its own. For fate I’ll arm myself, as I look down on a little Smart car scooting along the slick road between semis like a lone circus peanut among a herd of stampeding elephants.

I come to a halt at a rest stop. I get out, stomach in knots, regretting downing the salmon oil supplement with my vitamins and a glass of milk on an otherwise empty stomach. As I walk through the trees an unladylike belch sneaks out, fragrant with salmonand I can only think to myself: I’ve survived the drive, now I’m going to get eaten by a bear in a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.
But I make it back to the vehicle with some animal crackers from a vending machine, none the worse for wear, hoping I can make it through the night without running off the road, wishing I had Allen with me for company.

I hear his voice in my head on that drive, echoes of the phone calls we made over the years. Sometimes he just wanted to vent a bitnot about the particulars of his military work, which he would never discussbut simply other things he’d gone through. Our Mom’s death to cancer when we were barely out of school; a fire that took his home; a bitter divorce. But I’d let him talk without interruption. For one thing he taught me other than slips and skids: that there are things we should never stop refusing to accept. Be it injustice and dishonor and outrage, not for cash for a better car, not for accolades, not for anything. There are things one must continue to be outraged over, to fight for, hands firmly on the wheel of where you want your life to go. His words are in my ears to this day: “You will have regrets, but never let yourself be shamed.
So many words of his as I drive along, words of not just wheels, but a commitment to something bigger than both of us. They are words that got me to change course when I lost direction, words that helped me as well to take on a mantle of duty I never regretted even as I was forced to put it down; words to live that last life that I left behind. Now, years later, I have taken up that duty again, with his wordswords that like a long climb up a rocky road were stepping stones of atonement. All of them words I’ll remember long after he is gone, words that I’ve handled so long the edges are worn smooth; words that will keep me alive.

 “Focus on the target, you can do this. . .”

Monday, March 12, 2018

What's the biggest threat to your privacy?

It's your cell phone.

This is a fascinating talk about how the Italian police identified a CIA operation in 2003.  It points out just how much information your phone gives out, and how the government can use it to piece together way more than you think.  It also points out just how hard it is for even intelligence professionals not to get busted (hint: really hard).

Note: this talk was given at the 2013 Black Hat Briefings (perhaps the world's most interesting security conference).  I was there, but didn't attend this talk.  I did live blog General Alexander's keynote address, though.  My skepticism at the time was perhaps more percent that I'd like:
He talks a lot about internal NSA training and individual auditing. The big concern isn't rogue NSA employees, but a directed program from NSA management. He isn't addressing this at all.
*cough*Russian dossier/FISA*cough*

Your cell phone is the Police State's best friend.

The idiotic war on (some) drugs

It's being waged by idiots:
Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man's garden last Wednesday after a helicopter crew with the Governor's Task Force for Drug Suppressionspotted suspicious-looking plants on the man's property. A heavily-armed K9 unit arrived and discovered that the plants were, in fact, okra bushes.
Now, I know that a lot of folks like to hate on okra, but this is going too far.  Try it deep fried, fellows - it's not slimy that way.  You could have some on April 20th ...


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Louis Moreau Gottschalk - Le Banjo

Image via Le Wik
So who did Frédéric Chopin consider the "King of pianists"?  It was someone that you may never have heard of.  I hadn't heard of him until long time commenter and classical music aficionado Libertyman mentioned him during his current visit to Castle Borepatch.  It's quite a story.

Gottschalk was from New Orleans, born in 1829.  He was a musical prodigy, and at age 13 was sent to Paris for a classical musical education.  In the United States, New Orleans was considered "french" and perhaps a little disreputable for that; in Paris, he was considered more than a little disreputable because he was American: the head of the Piano faculty at the Paris Conservatory sniffed that America was a country of steam engines and that Paris had no need of that sort of nonsense.  Gottschalk didn't even get a hearing.

But the Gottschalk family had connections in Paris, which got him an invitation to perform.  His creole flavored music captured the imagination of the Paris musical society, leading to the great Chopin himself attending one recital.  Chopin was impressed enough to predict great things for the young Louis.  That's quite a recommendation, one that opened doors.

When Gottschalk returned to America he began a tour of the Caribbean and South America, where he picked up even more "exotic influences" that diffused in his compositions.  He traveled all over (100,000 miles on trains, it was said) and performed over 1,000 concerts.  He became certainly the most well known pianist in the Americas - fulfilling Chopin's prophecy.

Le Banjo is his best known composition, sometimes performed by as many as 40 pianos at the same time.  This performance by Cecille Licad gives the exotic flavor and high energy of Gottschalk's works.

The final irony of his life was that he died after playing a song called "Death" at a concert in Rio de Janeiro.  He was only 40.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

On Chivalry - A Brigid Guest Post

If life is a battle, then my inner scars are medals for valor,
for swiftness, for courage, for passion.
Evil is the dark-haired brother of Good;
they walk hand in hand– always. Calanthe - Wraeththu

Honor, Chivalry, words that seem old-fashioned to today's generation, but words that previous generations literally died for.

I got thinking about those words again when I received a coin in the mail.  I recognized the sender, one of a number of people known as Lexicans, people who were friends and followers of a well known Navy Aviator blogger, Neptunus Lex.  I, like many, quietly read his blog, but through a mutual friend we ended up meeting and over the years shared many an online chat about flying. Unlike many people's perception of a fighter pilot, Carroll was humble and unassuming, willing to quietly listen to others rather than do all of the talking, a man that loved his family and the Navy more than anything.  He was also an incredibly gifted writer, one that could quote Yeats as he crafted another story about flying that was as much poetry as a string of words can be.  He was one of the key people who encouraged me to write my first book though sadly, he never got to hold it in its finished form.

We lost him March 6, 2012, in a crash of an Israeli built F-21 Kfir, while working, post Navy retirement, as a Navy contractor.  He is deeply missed by his family and those that were proud to call him a friend.  For you this week, Capt. LaFon - What is Chivalry.
What is Chivalry? A knight was expected to have not only the strength and skills to face combat in the violent Middle Ages but was also expected to temper this aggressive side of a fighter with a chivalrous side to his nature. There was not an authentic Knights Code of Chivalry as a prescribed document - it was a moral system which went beyond rules of combat and introduced the concept of Chivalrous conduct - qualities such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women. Documented in 'The Song of Roland' in the Middle Ages Knights period of William the Conqueror who ruled England from 1066, it consisted of these tenents -

To fear God and maintain His Church
To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
To protect the weak and defenceless
To give succour to widows and orphans
To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
To live by honour and for glory
To despise pecuniary reward
To fight for the welfare of all
To obey those placed in authority
To guard the honour of fellow knights
To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
To keep faith
At all times to speak the truth
To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
To respect the honour of women
Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
Never to turn the back upon a foe
The "code" is written in slightly different form in different pieces of literature,  but it all has these things in common - courage, loyalty, respect, honor, finishing everything you start and never refusing a necessary battle regardless of the odds.

Widows and orphans were cared for. In days of old, the helpless were looked after, but you worked or you did not eat. There were three orders in society: oratores (those who pray), bellatores (those who fight), and laborares (those who work). Those that prayed, lived beyond simply, not riding around in limos in $1500 suits while telling their followers on national TV to "send more money". The welfare class, that's rapidly becoming a huge chunk of our "modern" society, didn't exist. If you were physically capable, you pulled your weight. Or you died. The knight did not fight for the lazy, but for those who by station, age, or gender were not able to fight for themselves.  There was faith in a higher power, but not so heavenly driven, that a man was useless on earth.
A sword was a tool, to defend and protect. Lesser weapons were considered dishonorable. The dagger was considered a weapon of a sneaky assassin and an arbalest (fired from a distance) was a brutal weapon used by the untrained. A knight's code of chivalry demanded that he face his enemy openly, honestly and with skill - it was a "let the best man win" situation. Battle was more than the desire to pursue and kill, but endurance, the conviction and longing to endure beyond all imaginable limits of the flesh to protect and preserve.

There was a difference between aggression and self defense, a difference between being devoted to justice and being a school yard bully. It is a self-awareness and self-restraint and differs as night and day from apathy, the concept of which Christians might refer to as meekness, a trait often associated with Christ, and clearly as misunderstood.

There was the ability to think before one speaks, to consider the gravity of words and actions; and even to know when inaction or silence is the best avenue. Such things, many, including myself, have failed at. Such things we can still strive for if we can recognize them.  For some are so bound by their ego or the expectation as to what society owes them that they are no more capable of shame, then they are of courage and honor. What they are left then is the emptiness of loss, of something they could almost touch but didn't know how to grasp.

For some they learn this early, taught by their fathers or mentors.  Others learn it simply the hard way.  For the dictates of chivalry are not some formal guide to etiquette. I hope I die before I see a "Chivalry for Dummies" book. It's not a checklist, it's an understanding of things for which a man needs no checklist. It's not bowing before your nation's enemy, it's never turning your backs on them. It's not holding the door open for a women because she's weak and lesser than you, but as a sign of courtesy  It's a way of thinking, not an era or a specific rule.

I often hate how men are being portrayed on TV, as if just being a man is a crime  .Being a strong man does not mean you are completely closed off to emotion, treating love like something that's common and a woman as a somewhat lesser accessory. The strongest man I know can convey in one look, one touch, what I mean to him. But one can understand where the mixed signals come from. The view from the media is one of abject consumerism, relationships that manipulate, duty as control and the worst "if there's a man involved, it's his fault". Our nation has more material comforts than the knights could ever imagine, but for many people, it's prosperity without purpose, it's passion without principles.

People espouse the Middle Ages as being little more than Pestilence, Black Death and no YouTube with the concepts of that day being outdated, or worse, by their own basis, misogynistic. What do we have now to replace it? Materialism without ethics or effort, and baby daddy's, greedy trophy wives, teen moms, and uncouth, plastic infused bimbos who get their own reality TV shows without any bit of skill or talent. This is our alternative to "the Dark Ages", a generation of people who fail to understand the difference between "can" and "should"?

Epictetus said it best "for it is better to die of hunger, exempt from fear and guilt, than to live in affluence with perturbation."

But the spirit of chivalry has not been entirely eradicated from the human heart, even in our pacifist, feminist, age. A chivalrous man today is a warrior with something to live for - and is willing to sacrifice his life either to protect or further it. Being a warrior does not necessarily make him a man of war, but a man prepared to do battle for that which he loves. The battle can be one of ideology, not weapons, his life simply marked by preparation for something worthwhile, and thus is lived pursuing those ideals and interests which for him hold true value.

If this man is willing to die for something he loves, it is because he loves deeply and with great passion. Romantic love may well make the short list, but it's not the sole occupant of his soul, there are other causes and objects of a man's passion, that make him truly rounded.

Chivalry is not dead, it is simply dormant in many, for all things that are excellence can be as difficult as they are rare. In my writing I've referred to the knight as he, for it was a manly profession. Yet the ideas that define chivalry know no gender; it's a way of thinking expressed in form by both men and women who hold true these concepts of defense and accountability.
Some will call me hopefully old-fashioned. Feminist and those more liberal-minded will decry it as a way of life that is simply bloodshed, war, and women seen as a possession. It's not. A chivalrous man has no desire to control and direct a woman's thoughts, but to allow her to live without constraint, loved unconditionally, free from pesky dragons and telemarketers. He will not only arm himself with the tools he as to protect her, he will smile when she takes up her own. He will fight for her. He will fight with her.

Chivalry is NOT dead.

Look at our military personnel, look at those people who responded after the terror attacks. Firemen, EMT's, the police. Nurses, doctors. A post-September 11 nation's no place for milquetoasts. We are living in a fallen world with entire societies that wish us harm, religions of "peace" that dictate to embrace them or die. This is not a time to sit home watching reality television when the dragons aren't just bigger, they're almost nuclear ready.

It's a time for heroes. Big Damn Heroes.

In the Battle of Maldon, a few Englishmen have been attacked by a fierce army of Viking invaders. Although the Vikings are between two branches of the river and thus separated from launching their full strength at the Anglo-Saxon army, Beortnoth nobly allows them free passage to do battle on equal terms. Vastly outnumbered, Beortnoth and his brave men are slain until only a small, unflinching band of warriors remain:

“Byorthwold spoke; he grasped his shield; he was an old companion; he shook his ash spear; full boldly he exhorted the warriors: 'Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener, courage the greater, as our might lessens. Here lies our leader all hewn down, the valiant man in the dust; may he lament for ever who thinks now to turn from this war-play. I am old in age; I will not hence, but I purpose to lie by the side of my lord. . ."

In these few words, a better description of heroism, of unwavering dedication and loyalty I've not read in a while. The lines “Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener, courage the greater, as our might lessens" are a thousand years old, a pre-Christian heroic spirit which author J.R. Tolkien, a crafter of worlds where chivalry roared, himself called "Northernness".

Chivalry exists, and heroism stands. Heroism and chivalry live not in might and size and power, but often in the smallest places and quietest moments.  Look at the people who serve in hard times, hard areas, death a shadow on the wall so the masses can be safe. But you don't have to be a member of the military, a protector of the weak, or a fighter of the worst nature can throw at you to embrace these concepts. Chivalry gives us something to strive for, something to hold up as an ideal and an understanding that throughout history there are those who have risen above the standards of the day to truly be called brave.

The year could be 1066, it could be 2006, it could be today. A hand on a rough shovel, flinging the dirt with an effortless fury, the mound of soil rising of its own volition, not crafted by man but as if flung forth by the earth itself, until the grave is readied. A warrior has fallen, medals scribed on ore or heart, small things insignificant to the view, but mute with profound meaning.
The earth waits but a moment. Shadows fall with the moon's curve, no sound but the labored breath of form of one who engaged without arms, this single combat. Laying a warrior to rest.  There is now but a shield to be picked up and carried on. So, man or woman, we never forget.
 - Brigid

Delayed posting

Long time commenter Libertyman is visiting Castle Borepatch, and we're off to Gettysburg.  Posting will be sporadic, but he and I will collaborate on a Sunday Classical post for tomorrow.  Back later.

Friday, March 9, 2018

And Now We're Terrorists

But in 1963, President John Kennedy had this to say to the National Rifle Association.

President Trump: NASA rocket launches "40-50 times" the cost of Falcon Heavy

It seems like his numbers hold up: $90M per launch for Falcon Heavy vs. $3B for NASA's new Space Launch System.

We've known since the '70s that NASA would end up like Amtrak if they tried to be StarTrack.  40x more expensive puts Amtrak to shame.

I must give Obama credit where credit is due - he had his administration get pretty much completely out of the way of commercial space exploration.  We are seeing a dramatic reduction is price/pound to low earth orbit, which Trump recognizes.  Maybe Moon colonies are back on the table, with commercial launch taking the well understood portion of the problem and NASA focusing on what they did so magnificently in the 1960s - pushing the technology envelope.

But we've known for a long time that space exploration would have to be done by private commerce.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Karen Ballard For Congress

Teacher and Congressional candidate Karen Ballard tells the BATFE to f' off. She's making a short barreled rifle and she's not waiting for a background check and a tax stamp. Yea, 'Murica! Go Karen!

Ignorantia juris non excusat

So a couple of SWAT members responded to the Parkland shooting and they got suspended?

Obviously the answer is more gun control.

Is there anything that the government did right here?

My Local Guy Says Thanks!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Through The U.S. Mail

In the comments on Coyote Point, there was a mention of an company that used to advertise in the backs of gun magazines called Klein's.

There were a number of them,Ye Old Western Hunter, Numrich Arms, Potomac Arms, and more. When you ordered from them, they sent your the products by U.S. Mail. In Old America, people were called citizens and they could purchase firearms without governmental oversight.

The picture is from Klein's. Before you start drooling over the prices, remember that $100.00 in 1963 is comparable to $815.00 today. Add to that the availability of mil-surp guns in the decades after WWII and  the prices are not that remarkable. It's the freedom you should be remembering.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Sense of Thrift - A Brigid Guest Post

During a fair bit of the last 20 years, I have been a  sponsor or volunteer at local shelters for the physically abused, many also homeless. People ask why I do it, as it is often depressing, and sometimes futile.

The women there who have been abused (though abuse goes both ways, men also a victim of it) present an image to the world that is often one of stone, hiding the pain, hiding the bruises, until eventually, one night, the stone is shattered by the fury of a long fall or a storm surge. Sometimes it's simply eroded away, what is unique, distinct, worn away over time, as if by water, drop by ceaseless drop. Perhaps with those who will listen and support, some of whom have been there, a little of what is left can be reclaimed, still capable of beauty.

Some of them will go back, the fear of the unknown overwhelming, the knowledge that someone, otherwise, will wish them, forever, anything but peace.  Peace is not often plentiful.  I could almost always guess which ones would go back, they wore that quality of outworn violence like perfume, drawn back to the evangelical zeal of their abuser, simply too tired to fight any longer. It was often a fatal mistake, realized too late, as they were borne beyond the hurt and harm of man, into the ground.

Better they said, to go back, then live homelessly. Some escape, but live for years with their scars.  Those scars are apparent to some, who try and offer a healing balm, but to others, they are but a rattlers warning, a bite to those that don't understand their pain.
Many of us already live homelessly. Not in our dwelling, but in the neighborhood of our true self. We spend years trying to change someone, only to realize the only thing that could change was ourselves. We spend so much time chasing after things, that we ignore what we have here now.

Some of the unhappiest people I know have the most expansive and expensive of possessions. I sold or gave away most of mine several years ago, downsizing to a life much simpler. When I had my taxes done today, the tax guy said "congrats, you are now in the 33% tax bracket, and then looked out on my 12-year-old rusty truck with a wry smile.  After doing my taxes for years, he understands why we live as we do, giving generously to non-profits and veterans groups, helping those in need who after years of hard work, have a family disaster, and giving joyfully to our church. I don't miss the days of big house and BMW, and not an extra cent for anyone but myself.  I have all I need, a family, a warm house, enough food to eat (OK, and a nice collection of Single Malt)

I sometimes look at pictures of that former McMansion home, the two-story entryway, the three car garage, and have a twinge of regret, but it's rare. I could have stayed in that house and my world would have revolved around its upkeep while its value just went down in a crashing marketplace and the people that might have been impressed by it weren't worthy of the efforts.  Or I could pay off debt, learn to do the things to sustain, not just consume. I  could ensure Dad could stay in his home with a nurse as his health declined. I could spend time with people who were important, not just labor for the upkeep of those walls.  It was an easy decision.

I don't own a lot, but if the world falls to ruin tomorrow, I will have enough to survive and the knowledge and means to know enough to protect it.
My parents always helped those that help themselves. Dad, getting his CPA after the military, did income taxes for free for the elderly. He was active in the church and in other organizations, living his life in a brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God, as he would say if you asked him. Mom, as well, volunteered at the church and at the local hospital.

There, she was the Tel-Med operator, where people could call and request recordings on medical topics from a published directory that had the topic by number. There was everything from child illnesses, cancer screening, nutrition and baby care to several on sexual issues and other embarrassing personal topics people might be too shy to ask the doctor about.  Dad would disguise his voice and call when she was there and request those "special" numbers just to hear her stammer "thank you" as she was turning red, then she'd exclaim "Bud, it's you isn't it!" and they'd both laugh. But I know he respected her for that volunteer work, even as she herself was battling cancer.
My early career days were such I couldn't volunteer but I did sponsor a child through one of the Christian children's charities, just enough to provide for some schooling and at least one hot, nourishing meal a day. Sponsors were allowed to give extra money, with the stipulation that it would meet a specific need, not to be squandered. So one time, when bills were light, I sent a few hundred dollars I had saved up, with a specific need in mind.

I got a letter back from the little girl I sponsored in Africa, Louise Marie, handwritten, with colorful crayon drawings of a little house with a roof and a door, with little Crayola cartoon chickens and smiling children gathered around.  You see, before the gift, her family had been living on the ground, in a lean-to, her widowed mother's $50 a month income as a sustenance farmer not enough for real shelter. With the money and the assistance of the charitable foundation, they built a house.  It wasn't a house like you and I expect to live in. But it was a grand house to them, with four walls to protect them from those that would rob or hurt, a floor and a real roof to keep the water and elements out.
Some folks would say I spend too much money on firearms or tools. I don't mind spending money on something that has a use, retains its value and can be passed down to generations. I have absolutely no issues with spending money on those tools that can protect my life and others.  I have a hard time spending money on just "stuff". A woman I knew from a community organization, proudly showed off her $500 designer purse one day.  She has about 20 purses (I'm not kidding), but this one was special because, well. . . . it was $500!

I don't have a $500 purse. Until I was in my late 20's I didn't even have a $500 car.  But I have friends that share my table that would take a bullet for me to keep me safe. I have the openness of the horizon and the strength of my free will. I have freedom,I have my faith in God, I have balance and I have people that share my life that totally understand this. For this, I am grateful and try to do what I can to give some of that back.
Hopefully, most of you won't ever get to the point where you have nothing left of yourself but the letters of your name and what you can shove in a suitcase. Most of you won't give away most of your stuff and totally change how you live when you don't have to. But when you do pare down, by circumstance or by choice, it is quietly liberating, as you discover just what it is that was, still is, precious to you, what is worth your time and attention.

Thoreau once said, "The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.". That meant little to me when I first read it in English class. It would mean little to people who have had everything handed to them, with little effort,  the cost of their education, their sustenance, their lifestyle. After years of sweat, tears and hard work, I understood, having long ago severed ties with things, even people, who gave me only pain for my efforts, for, in the end, such things, by their exchange, violated my sense of thrift.
As snow clouds gather on the horizon, I look out towards the trees, to the chattering of birds as I step outside with a furry little Rescue dog.  On the ground two doves, who when Abby approaches them, run, don't fly away, their brain not sensing the danger.  Fortunately, she shows no interest in their harm.  Above, two cardinals flutter like two tiny flags amongst the branches, then fly away, as if the wind dispersed them like small scraps of cloth.  On the railing, a small sparrow, looking a little worse for wear, looking at the empty feeder, watching me carefully, wondering if I will harm or help. On the air, the echo of all of their cries, mournful and plaintive, barely heard above the wind.

I think of the Bible Verse "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"  I look at the fridge, as I enter my home, to a little picture, drawn with the colors of hope.

Today, I live so much more simply, surrounding myself with those with whom I share a personal history as well as those possessions which I know serve a useful function.  On days where doubt raises its head, as to my worth, as to my place in the world, I simply look at that little picture and smile broadly, no longer hearing the echo of invisible bruises. Life is a risk, never a possession, live, and love, accordingly. - Brigid

Cats and dogs, living together

You can download Kali Linux from the Microsoft Windows Store.

Man, it sure is a long, long way from the Halloween Documents.

Quote of the Day, Snowflake edition

Chris Lynch brings the LULs:
Article argues "social scientists and humanities experts" will be in demand in the coming age of robots and artificial intelligence. I remember seeming similar articles in the 80's and 90's - I'm reminded of those articles every time a barista at Starbuck's asks me for my order.
It's funny because it's true.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Eddie Vetter - A Room At The Top

This is a touching tribute to the actors we lost last year.  Eddie Vetter brings a great performance of the song from Tom Petty (we lost him, too).

I'm typically pretty impatient with the Hollywood Bravo Sierra that you get at the Oscars, but this was Hollywood at its finest.

Rest in peace.

Actually, this is exactly right

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Coyote Point

This started because I saw the picture on the cover of the April 1963 American Rifleman magazine.  It showed a group of shooters on the line at Camp Perry. They are upright, with their right arms out in what is now known as the chicken wing. I decided I wanted to read the article and went looking for the magazine. One magazine was sort of pricey, but there was an Ebay auction for eleven magazines, all from 1963, and I won the bid.

For ten dollars, sixteen with shipping, I have eleven editions, each one a time capsule to an America that no one remembers. I could start anywhere. So get ready, as the United States works to sell it's birthright in 2018, I am going to put up a series of posts about America as it was in 1963. John Kennedy was President, Vietnam was the answer to the bonus question on a geography quiz, and you could buy a gun out of a magazine and have it mailed to you.

Let's start in August. The article is titled "The County Builds a Range -- Tax Dollars Build a Municipal Safety Range as Part of a Recreation Complex near San Francisco". No, really, that's the title. They built a range on a point of land in San Francisco Bay.

The article has the details of how they built an overhead sand filled baffle system to ensure that no rounds could leave the range at any angle. Safety was crucial to the success of the project. It was designed to be used by law enforcement and the public, handling everything from rimfire pistols to hunting rifles. The one concession that the design required was that shooting could only be done from fixed stations to ensure that the safety barriers overhead would catch any errant rounds.

It was an immediate success. They were open six days a week, had 5600 shooters in the first 3 months. Shooting, hunter safety classes, law enforcement training.

The range was one part of a larger park and it will come as no surprise that the place has been under ever increasing pressure to close over the decades. I found a newspaper article from 1996 citing safety concerns about people transporting firearms to the park, noise issues. Center fire pistols were banned in 1992. The public use times were curtailed, reduced to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings.

But it's still there. Only open 9 hours a week to the public, and currently closed while undergoing a renovation that will create an indoor facility, to my surprise, Coyote Point Rifle and Pistol Club still exists.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Offered without comment

I agree

Keith Richards could not be reached for comment.

Having A Garand Time

Cold and windy, bright sunshine on the sights, we went to the line this morning. Mostly Garands, one M-1 Carbine, 3 modern service rifles.

A couple of hours to forget politics and remember why I like this sport.

Dolly Parton - Coat Of Many Colors

Dolly Parton has donated 100 Million books.  At the Library of Congress, they call her the "book lady".  It all started in Sevier County, Tennessee when she founded the Imagination Library.  Families that sign their child up get a book each month from birth until kindergarten.  It is giving away a million books each month.

Dolly started it in honor of her father, who never learned to read or write.

She is a great performer, one of our greatest songwriters, but is also a national treasure.  This is said to be one of her favorites of all the songs she's written.  She said that the song just came to her; not having any paper, she wrote it down on the back of Porter Wagoner's dry cleaning receipt.  He had the receipt framed.

Coat Of Many Colors (Songwriter: Dolly Parton)
Back through the years 
I go wonderin' once again 
Back to the seasons of my youth 
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us 
And how my momma put the rags to use 
There were rags of many colors 
Every piece was small 
And I didn't have a coat 
And it was way down in the fall 
Momma sewed the rags together 
Sewin' every piece with love  
She made my coat of many colors 
That I was so proud of 
As she sewed, she told a story 
From the bible, she had read 
About a coat of many colors 
Joseph wore and then she said 
Perhaps this coat will bring you 
Good luck and happiness 
And I just couldn't wait to wear it 
And momma blessed it with a kiss 

My coat of many colors 
That my momma made for me 
Made only from rags 
But I wore it so proudly 
Although we had no money 
I was rich as I could be 
In my coat of many colors 
My momma made for me 

So with patches on my britches 
Holes in both my shoes 
In my coat of many colors 
I hurried off to school 
Just to find the others laughing 
And making fun of me 
In my coat of many colors 
My momma made for me 

And oh I couldn't understand it 
For I felt I was rich 
And I told them of the love 
My momma sewed in every stitch 
And I told 'em all the story 
Momma told me while she sewed 
And how my coat of many colors 
Was worth more than all their clothes 

But they didn't understand it 
And I tried to make them see 
That one is only poor 
Only if they choose to be 
Now I know we had no money 
But I was rich as I could be 
In my coat of many colors 
My momma made for me 
Made just for me