Saturday, June 30, 2018

Heh, the remake

This meme is hilarious, and this one is even funnier than the last one.

The Charlie Daniels Band - In America

The strength of America is not in Washington, D.C., It's in our people, it's on the farms, in the factories. It's the people out here that make this country work. The truck drivers, the farmers. And these people, that's what they were, and I just felt like if you want to go to war, let me take some of these guys with me. Go lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and you're gonna find out what American anger is, because it's the kind of people they are.
- Charlie Daniels
What's old is new again, but in a new way.  Charlie Daniels recorded this song in 1980, during the height (depth?) of Jimmy Carter's "malaise".  It was a song of hope and confidence in the midst of internal dissension following Watergate, a second oil shock, and the Iranian hostage crisis.  Interestingly, while it did well on the Billboard Country chart (rising to #13), it did even better on the Billboard Hot 100 (hitting #11).

It made a second appearance two decades later, in the months after 9/11 when this video was released and the quote at the top of this post was published.  Repurposed in a new time and under new circumstances, but still singing about hope and confidence.

The last decade has seen stagnation for much of the country, and an aggressive exercising of centralized power from an increasingly imperial Washington, DC.  For much of the country, this has been a very real malaise of declining incomes, increasing taxes, and reduced freedom.  But what's old is new again, once again repurposed in a new time with different circumstances, but still singing hope and confidence.

Next week is Independence Day, the first in quite a while where I begin to hope for increased independence from an Imperial Washington DC.  There's a long way to go on this, but I'm beginning to get a little confidence.

In America (Songwriters: Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, Taz DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, James W. Marshall, Charles Hayward):
Well the eagle's been flyin' slow
And the flag's been flyin' low
And a lot of people sayin' that America's fixin' to fall
Well speakin' just for me
And some people from Tennessee
We've got a thing or two to tell you all
This lady may have stumbled
But she ain't never fell
And if the Russians don't believe that
They can all go straight to hell
We're gonna put her feet back
On the path of righteousness and then
God bless America again

And you never did think
That it ever would happen again (In America, did you?)
You never did think
That we'd ever get together again
(We damn sure fooled you)
Yeah, we're walkin' real proud
And we're talkin' real loud again (In America)
You never did think
That it ever would happen again
From The Sound up in Long Island
Out to San Francisco Bay
And everything that's in between them is our own
And we may have done a little bit
Of fightin' amongst ourselves
But you outside people best leave us alone
'Cause we'll all stick together
And you can take that to the bank
That's the cowboys and the hippies
And the rebels and the yanks
You just go and lay your hand
On a Pittsburgh Steelers' fan
And I think you're gonna finally understand

And you never did think
That it ever would happen again (In America, did you?)
You never did think
That we'd ever get together again
(We damn sure fooled you)
Yeah, we're walkin' real proud
And we're talkin' real loud again (In America)
You never did think
That it ever would happen again

And you never did think
That it ever would happen again (In America, did you?)
You never did think
That we'd ever get together again
(We damn sure fooled you)
Yeah, we're walkin' real proud
And we're talkin' real loud again (In America)
You never did think
That it ever would happen again
Bootnote: This was a great album, and the other hit single from it has been featured here before.

Thursday, June 28, 2018


You think the hollering is loud now, just wait until she joins the Choir Invisible.

Moderates are boiling off from the Democratic Party

This is a ten year old article that seems to offer an excellent explanation for why the Democratic Party seems like it's gone barking mad:
Early studiers of cults were surprised to discover than when cults receive a major shock—a prophecy fails to come true, a moral flaw of the founder is revealed—they often come back stronger than before, with increased belief and fanaticism. The Jehovah's Witnesses placed Armageddon in 1975, based on Biblical calculations; 1975 has come and passed. The Unarian cult, still going strong today, survived the nonappearance of an intergalactic spacefleet on September 27, 1975. (The Wikipedia article on Unarianism mentions a failed prophecy in 2001, but makes no mention of the earlier failure in 1975, interestingly enough.) 
Why would a group belief become stronger after encountering crushing counterevidence?
The shock to the Democratic Party was Trump winning the 2016 election.
The conventional interpretation of this phenomenon is based on cognitive dissonance. When people have taken "irrevocable" actions in the service of a belief—given away all their property in anticipation of the saucers landing—they cannot possibly admit they were mistaken. The challenge to their belief presents an immense cognitive dissonance; they must find reinforcing thoughts to counter the shock, and so become more fanatical. In this interpretation, the increased group fanaticism is the result of increased individual fanaticism.
We see this in spades, as people bet their careers on I'm With Her and now find that the expected payoff is not going to happen.  But while this explains the individual hysteria, it doesn't explain the institutional craziness that seems to have infected the entire Party.  

So what gives?  This seems pretty compelling to me:
In Festinger's classic "When Prophecy Fails", one of the cult members walked out the door immediately after the flying saucer failed to land. Who gets fed up and leaves first? An average cult member? Or a relatively more skeptical member, who previously might have been acting as a voice of moderation, a brake on the more fanatic members?
I think this is it.  The more lukewarm Democrats are either keeping their mouths shut or are disappearing from the Party.  The ones who remain are the ones who are more committed (translation: barking mad moonbats) who are the ones we hear talking about impeachment, banishing Trump supporters from the public square, protesting at Republican's houses, etc.

It also explains why Democratic Party big wigs are losing primary challenges to candidates of the more barking mad persuasion (e.g. Joe Crowley, one of the biggest of the Democratic House big wigs who lost to someone who can only be described as a commie).

Also, I think that this thesis has a certain level of predictability.  If it's true that the short term success of the extremists is a result of moderates exiting, then the November election will be a huge disappointment for the Party - more moderate Democratic voters will be put off my the extremists on offer and will either stay home (more likely) or vote Republican in protest (less likely).  Either way leads to the Blue Wave turning into a ripple.
This is one reason why it's important to be prejudiced in favor of tolerating dissent. Wait until substantially after it seems to you justified in ejecting a member from the group, before actually ejecting. If you get rid of the old outliers, the group position will shift, and someone else will become the oddball. If you eject them too, you're well on the way to becoming a Bose-Einstein condensate and, er, exploding.
The Republicans have their own problems with this (see the Never Trumpers), but unlike the Democrats the establishment GOP doesn't seem able to turn up the heat enough to evaporate off the Trumpians.  We'll see if the opposite will become true.  But the Democratic Party seems to be distilling itself to death right now, as they boil off anyone who appears to be remotely moderate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Here's a helpful protip for creeps who want to come to America to abduct kids

If you pick a kid in Virginia to kidnap, her mom might just shoot your sorry ass:
A New Zealand man who was shot while breaking into a woman’s Goochland County home had met her 14-year-old daughter online and suddenly arrived uninvited after methodically planning his trip to the U.S., Goochland’s sheriff said Monday.

The man, Troy George Skinner, 25, was found with duct tape, pepper spray and a camouflage folding clip knife with a 2.75-inch blade, Sheriff James Agnew said during a news briefing at the sheriff’s office. The duct tape and the blade had been purchased from a Walmart on Friday, the day of the attack.
The creep looks, well, he looks just like what you'd think.  Sort of a New Zealand Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Skinner then reappeared on the back deck and again tried to get inside by throwing a landscaping brick through a glass door. The mother warned Skinner several times that she had a gun. After he broke the glass, reached inside and attempted to unlatch the door, she fired twice. One round struck him in the neck, the sheriff said.
[pauses to let the cheers die down]

I'd like to point out that there was not one, but two 911 calls about this, and the cops only showed up after he had been ventilated.  That's why you need a gun.

The girl played online games with him, but picked on the creepy vide and blocked him.  He flew from New Zealand to Washington DC and then took a bus to her town.  If your kids play online games (and really, whose kids don't), point this out to them.

The only downside to this is that the family gun was a .22 and therefore the Commonwealth of Virginia (or you and me - Federal charges have been filed) will have to pay to throw this pathetic jerk in prison.  A 1911 might have avoided that expense to the taxpayers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Odds and Ends

There's a bunch of good history blogging going on over at Cat Rotator's Quarterly.  For example, how has the civilizing process worked in the past:
Why did the Franks, Saxons, and others work so hard to copy Rome and to adopt chunks of Roman culture (as transmitted through the Christian church?) At first, they didn’t. The Franks of Charlemagne and the Franks that ran the last Romans out of what is now northern Germany and the Netherlands were 350 years apart and very different in some ways. In others, well, it took a great deal of unceasing, patient (and not so patient) work by people who still believed that the old ways were good, and that they had a mission to save the souls of the pagans, which also meant teaching them to read and write. And the pagans came to believe that the old ways could give them power and authority.
There's an interesting question posed at the end, about the assimilation of modern immigrants into their host cultures.  Very interesting reading.

Skeptical Eye has a video made by some Swedes who visited New York City in 1911.  It's a little eerie watching it to see how much has changed - and how much hasn't.

I ran across a photographer named Steven Sklifas who has some amazing pictures of ancient sites around the Mediterranean.  Like this one:

I lost rather a lot of time browsing his site which has not only pictures, but very nice descriptions of the locations as well.  Recommended.

DARPA creates a tracked wheel

This is cool:

Here's the story:
The DARPA Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program has some pretty ambitious goals, all based around the fundamental concept that it’s getting harder and harder for armor vehicles to provide protection against modern weaponry, so instead of heading down a dead-end path to larger, heavier, more cumbersome, expensive, and less maneuverable vehicles, a new path should be taken.

The program lists its very ambitious goals as:
That has to be the most expensive tire ever made, but if they can pull off even half of their goals than it could be cheap.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Also on this day in history

Yes, I started blogging 10 years ago today, but lots of other stuff also happened on this date:

George A. Custer and the 7th Cavalry had a bad day at the hands of Sitting Bull in 1876.

The White Slaver Traffic Act was signed into law in 1912.  It was basically designed to enforce segregation, prohibiting black men from crossing state borders with white women.

The Korean War broke out in 1950 as forces from the North invaded the south.  Maybe that will get wrapped up soon.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 1981 that an all male draft was constitutional.

10 years of blogging

Ten years ago today I put up my first post.  12,000+ posts later, here we are.  Google tells me that there have been almost 7 Million page views since then, but that only started in  2010, and Sitemeter registered 150,000 views or so before that so let's call it an even 7 million or so.

More important to me is the 40,000 or so comments that all y'all have left.  It's hard to overstate how much comments mean to a blogger, so I'm not sure how to thank you..  So thanks, more than I can say.

I'd also like to thank co-bloggers ASM826 (my brother-from-another-mother) and Brigid (my sister-from-another-mister).  They've both been very long time friends who I never would have met without Al Gore's most excellent Information Super Highway.  I've learned a lot from each of them, both about blogging and about life in general.  I don't think that I'm the only one.

The Queen Of The World is another one to thank.  I almost quit blogging a few years back but she helped me realize that I didn't need to blog on a rigid schedule like I had been doing, and that blogging could be done on a more relaxed, as-I-felt-like schedule.  She's been good to me, although in more ways than I can say.

As with you, gentle reader.  Some of you have been reading since near the beginning.  Some of you have been coming here for a while.  I think that this - the people who keep coming back despite all reason not to - is the biggest satisfaction I've had from this.  It's a community.

So thank you, everyone.  Thanks for ten years of community here.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Miklós Rózsa - Overture to Ben Hur

As it turns out, the novel Ben Hur was written by a former Union general, Lew Wallace.  By way of coincidence, Wallaace was the commander at the battle of Monocacy in July of 1864.

Monocacy battlefield is just a few miles from Castle Borepatch.  Frequent commenter (and very possibly the actual Most Interesting Man In The World) libertyman sent the Queen Of The World and I a book on that battle - stay tuned for a review of the book.  The Cliff Notes version is that Wallace's greatly outnumbered troops lost the battle, but fought hard and delayed the Confederates for an entire day.  By the time the victorious southerners marched to Washington DC the previously undefended city had been reinforced.  Wallace saved the Union that day.

But he's best known for this book, and the film that was made 70 years later.  The book became wildly successful and secured Wallace's fortune; the film got a (then) record 11 Academy Awards, including best musical score.

Miklós Rózsa was a Hungarian composer who came to America to write film scoresWorking in Britain on the film The Thief Of Bagdad, the studio brought him to California when they decided to finish the film in the safety of America.  He stayed there until his death 55 years later.  He was the most famous and successful of the studio composers, receiving 17 Academy Award nominations in his career.

He researched ancient Greek and Music music while he composed this, working these stylistic touches into the score.  This score was his high water mark, from the era of "Middle Brow" entertainment where intelligence of the audience was assumed.  Personally, I found this music to be a treat.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Is it time to end the War On Drugs?


Proof that Al Gore was smarter than Albert Einstein

OK, follow the logic here.

Rick emails to point out that a 100 year old Einstein prediction has just been confirmed:
Predictions made about gravity by Einstein more than a century ago have been proved correct on a massive scale. 
In 1915, the German-born physicist claimed that gravity is the result of massive objects warping the very fabric of the universe, what he called spacetime. 
Experts have since been able to test his theory of General Relativity within our own solar system and prove his groundbreaking work holds up to scrutiny.

Now, researchers have conducted the largest scale experiment ever conducted and found that the same forces affect entire galaxies.
Pretty cool, right?  So you'd think that old Albert was a bit smarter than young Al, right?  Except that the science of Global Warming is settled, amirite?  And that isn't more than 30 years old or so.  So young Al was 3 times quicker to "settled science" than old Albert was.

Of course, Einstein could have done it faster if he had $100B in research grants to hand out.

Quote of the Day: Laser Pointer edition

This (about Trump's Executive Order on immigration and detaining families together rather than splitting them up), while impossible to argue with, is only the set up:
The EO is rope-a-dope trolling at the Master Class level. 
1) Trump issues EO.
2) Court overturns it, because it violates the consent decree agreed to by the Clinton administration.
3) Trump shrugs and says, "See? I can't break the law. So either fix it yourselves, congressional sh*tweasels, or f**k off, idiots. I don't care which. Mid-terms are coming for you @$$clowns. Go do nothing somewhere else." 
And the federal courts are triple-boned on this:
either they decline to review the EO, and cede their authority to the President (not going to happen),
or they overrule their prior ruling, and cede their authority back to the executive branch (not going to happen),
or they strike down the EO, and we go right back to throwing the illegal little bastards right back in the same cages into which they've been placed non-stop since the early 1990s, by three prior presidents before Trump came into office.
(That's a win-win-win hat trick, if you're keeping score at home.)
And here's the delivery:
If you get worried, realize that the average sh*tweasel in Congress (either house, but the Senate is generally far dopier) has the IQ, at best, of a housecat, and that President Trump has proven, thus far, to be a Jedi Master of the laser pointer , in this analogy. It's really only that complicated.
That's some top shelf snark, yessir.

But I'm certain that next time they'll totally have Trump outsmarted, yessir.  Next time for sure.  Smartest kids in class.

It's starting to look like it's redundant for me to have a post tag for both Donald Trump and for My Little Troll.

Now that's a marketing guy who gets results for his company

Too bad his company didn't ask what kind of results he would get them.  Oof.

The most annoying sound in the world

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Color me unimpressed with the Solstice

I wrote about this 7 years ago, but it's still fresh.


Neolithic SWPL

My sister-in-law took this picture, nearer the Winter Solstice than the Summer one.  It was a cold day in England, with a wind howling out of the north.  The result was a brilliant photo and a tag line just as good: It looks just like Stonehenge, but without all the people.

Today, of course, the freaks are out in force (well, here; the show's over by now over there).  Now you have to pay big bucks (err, pounds sterling) to go there on the summer solstice, and brave the freaks trying to recreate a sanitized and sepia-hued imaginary Neolithic.

The times, of course, were brutal.  The stones were all brought to the site and assembled by hand, using stone tools.  Whatever you can say about that society, "freedom loving" is not part of it.  It must have been rigidly hierarchic, as were all of the very ancient agricultural societies.

For a small class of people to be able to devote the time needed to accurately predict the solstice, and then design the Henge to capture that meant that most of the society must have lived by the sweat of their brow.  The surplus was skimmed to support ancient Neolithic SWPL vanity projects.

Now it's High Speed Rail, but the game still involves skimming the surplus from the productive to fund the schemes and dreams of an elite parasite class.  And so here's a Midsummer's Day monument to the actual workers, who produce the surplus that's traditionally skimmed:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

May it not be that the days are shortening from this point onward, in the ways that count the most.

The longest bridge for 1000 years

In 105 AD an amazing engineering project was completed.  The Romans built a bridge over the Danube river.  This wasn't a temporary structure like previous pontoon bridges, this was 20 masonry piers that towered 60 feet above the water, high enough to allow boats to pass beneath.  It was 50 feet wide and reached an amazing 3700 feet long, spanning the river.  For 1000 years it was the longest permanent bridge in history.

The Roman Emperor Trajan was called Optimus ("The Best") by the Senate.  He embodied the great Roman virtues, not least of which was determination combined with careful planning that allowed him to push the Empire's borders to their maximum extent.  He had decided that the Dacians living north of the Danube had given Rome enough trouble, and that their lands (and especially their gold mines) would make a very nice addition to the Empire.  And so he sent the Legions across the new bridge.

As they say, amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics.  Previous invasions by the Romans had faltered because it was too hard to keep the armies supplied.  The bridge took care of that, and Dacia was soon added to the list of Roman provinces.  If you go to Rome, you will find Trajan's Column in the Forum.  It depicts the events of the invasion, including showing the bridge itself:

This is the only depiction of the bridge from the time, but from descriptions we have a pretty good idea of what it looked like.  This is a pretty cool fly by video showing what it would have looked like at the time.

Trajan's Bridge from Dan Marino on Vimeo.

Designed by Trajan's favorite architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, it was built with famous Roman determination.  The entire Danube river was diverted via a canal while the piers were sunk into the river bed.  Once the piers were done, the river was returned to its course - except it was improved, as some rapids were bypassed by a new canal to improve navigation.  The Romans were nothing if not doggedly determined to remove all obstacles in their way.

But the new borders north of the Danube were, you might say, a bridge too far.  Trajan's successor Hadrian is now famous for his wall, but that was just one part of his effort to cement defensible borders.  He wanted to retreat from Dacia, but while he was successful withdrawing from others of Trajan's conquests, he was forced to keep Dacia.  There had been too much Roman blood spilled to take it (and the gold mines were far too profitable) to be able to leave.  It would be another 170 years before Aurelian finally withdrew south across the river, tearing down the bridge.  By that time the mines were exhausted and the Empire couldn't defend the exposed province.

A couple hundred years later the Romans began to lose the expertise needed to build a bridge like this, as the lamps began to flicker and go out across Europe for a millennium.  But the column in Rome is a reminder that the Grandeur of Rome was pretty grand at the time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Odds and Ends

Here are a bunch of interesting things that might interest you.

I just ran across Total Survivalist Libertarian Bitchfest, which may be the greatest name for a blog ever.  Added to the blogroll.

Alexander the Great and how he beat the Persians at Arbella.  Ancient Military History FTW!

Good tip on what it means when you see a service dog without a handler (hat tip: A Large Regular):

[UPDATE 20 June 2018 16:56: IMPORTANT! A contrary view is here. Thanks to Unknown in the comments for this pointer.]

Via Ann Althouse, this is a brutal line of questioning of the FBI Inspector General about what bias in the FBI really means:

And via American Digest, this is hilarious:

OK, this is a cheap shot

But it's a funny cheap shot.

When Hollywood made films about evil crony capitalists

The Queen Of The World and I watched a really interesting film the last movie night.

First, it was a good flick, with a good script, good acting, interesting characters, and a compelling story.  We give it two thumbs up, and the QoTW thinks it for for a royal command performance.  She remembered the film and picked it for movie night.*

But what I thought was particularly interesting was the choice of villain - a US Senator in the pocket of Tucker's competitors.  The Senator used the FBI and the IRS to go after Tucker's company and shut it down (this story is a little timely, amirite?).

You see, Tucker had designed a revolutionary car, one with enhanced safety features, fuel injection, a padded dash, and a third headlight that would pivot as the car went around corners to light up the road ahead.

And this film wasn't just made in Hollywood - it was produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Remember, the bad guys are the Senator and the corporations donating to his re-election campaign.  It is best described as a polemic railing against the power of the government when it is directed by big business to crush small, innovative competitors.

But the car was sweet:

You can see the third headlight in the picture.  They only built 51, but 48 are still running.  The film asked the Tucker Automobile Club of America for volunteers, and 21 of those 48 cars appear in the film.  Pretty cool.  Martin Landau was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Joe Jackson (yes, that Joe Jackson) was nominated for a Grammy for his composition.

Recommended, especially if you have kids.  This is entirely family friendly, and appropriately subversive.

* She's clearly not just a pretty face, but smart as a whip.  And delightfully subversive, too.  Unexpectedly so for a Queen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

About sums it up

How long would it take for the police to confiscate every gun in America

It's a trick question, of course - a Trillion dollar "War on Drugs" has led to illegal narcotics for sale on every street corner and an epidemic of overdose deaths.  But let's do a thought experiment here.  The left loves their fantasies of rounding up all the guns, so just how long would that take?

A few months back I ran the numbers and the answer is 3 years.  And that was with all sorts of assumptions about how gun owners would just chill out the whole time.  Whatevez, bro.

Eric Raymond comments on a new article that made the same calculation, and came up with a pretty similar number to what I derived (hey, the numbers are the numbers).  But he did some calculation on the expected rate of violent resistance.  The numbers are pretty stark:
There’s a different way to slice these numbers. Applying the 3:1 force ratio military planners like to assume, this means the number of violently resistant gun owners – people willing to shoot a doorknocker rather than watch their country sink into tyranny – needs to be about 249000.
Is this a plausible number?
This is an interesting approach to the problem - take current military doctrine and calculate backwards to see if you have a plausible input.
The NRA has about 5.2 million members. That’s about 1 in 20 NRA members.
According to the General Social Survey in 2013, about 1 in 4 Americans owned guns. That’s 79 million gun owners, and probably an undercount because gun owners are chronically suspicious of the intention behind such questions. But we’ll go with it as an assumption that’s best-case for the doorknockers.
That means that in order to stop attempted gun confiscations dead on a purely force-on-force level, only one in 317 American gun owners needs to remember that our first American Revolution began as spontaneous popular resistance to a gun-confiscation order.
That's 0.3% of American gun owners.  That's ten times less than the Threepers talk about.

The comments are pretty interesting, with a bunch of Europeans telling people that this is no big deal (Whatevez, bro), and getting hammered pretty hard for it.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Quote of the Day: Vulgarity edition

Lone Star Parson cuts to the heart of the matter about why the elites despise Donald Trump: he's vulgar:
President Trump, vulgar?!? You mean he puts ketchup on his steak and builds GOLDEN TOWERS with his name on them?!? How very vulgar, can't vote for him; so much better to have one of our inside-the-beltway, political class elites run the country.

You know, the same crew who've been country club asset-stripping the country for a couple of decades.
There's more, and it's just as insightful.  RTWT.

Damn. Now that's a vicious dog

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Gustav Holst - The Planets: Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

The Romans considered Saturn to be the father of the Gods, and their temple to him on the forum was (and remains) impressive.  The temple is gone except for the columned portico, shown in the left of the picture here.

Saturn was a big deal to them, so much so that the state treasury was housed there.  Saturn also had a somewhat associated with time, and the year end festival of saturnalia was a time for revelry and celebration.  This may be a bit odd for the father of the Gods, but today is Father's Day, so what the heck.

Gustav Holst included a movement for Saturn in his indispensable "The Planets" - unquestionably his most famous composition.  It was ironic; according to his daughter he seems to have hated conducting it, but couldn't really avoid doing so.

But the music is great, so happy Father's Day!

This is an interesting listener's guide to Saturn:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Associated Press: the Democrat's winning strategy

It seems like they're not tired of all the winning they've been through lately:
It’s not one size fits all, with every candidate checking every box wanted by the activists driving the opposition to President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress, and Democratic voters typically aren’t tapping the most liberal choices in targeted districts. But, taken together, the crop of nominees is trending more liberal than many of the “Blue Dog” Democrats swept away in Republicans’ 2010 midterm romp. 
That means voters now represented by a Republican will be asked to consider some or all of the mainstream Democratic priorities that may have been considered “too liberal” in the past: more government involvement in health insurance, tighter gun laws, a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally, reversing parts of the GOP tax law, support for LGBTQ rights.
Ignore that Trump is an effect, not a cause.  Keep focusing on him, Democrats.  It's not eight years of over the top leftie policies, nope, no way, nada, no no no.

Double down of what got Trump elected - this time it will be totally more effective.  Do it again, only harder this time.

Tagged with the post tag "shadenfreude" because, well, you know.

Hat tip: The Queen Of The World, who is not tired of all the winning either.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Damned small cars

Should have brought a friend's car with you to hold up the other end.

Thoughts on the FBI Inspector General's report

You don't become an FBI Agent if you're stupid.  You are trying to catch criminals, so you have to know how to gather evidence that will be enough to convict.  You know how to turn over rocks to see what scurries away.

And so it's sort of mind blowing to see the sorts of text message discussions that are detailed in the IG report.  Go easy on the Hillary investigation because she's going to be President, that sort of thing.  FBI Agents know that text messages can be used as evidence - they've gathered evidence this way themselves.  So why were they so seemingly careless about doing it themselves?

The only answer that makes sense is that they didn't think that any of this would come to light.  They didn't think that anyone would turn over their rock.

The next obvious question, of course, is which other Agencies have this going on?  Are there, say, texts from EPA employees about "hiding the decline"?  Are there texts from IRS Agents about the Tea Party?

I wrote a long time ago (too lazy to find it in the 12,000 posts here) that Democrats should be invested in good governance because they are the party of big government.  The FBI IG report is a disaster for the Democratic Party because what's in the 500 pages of the report will dribble out, chinese water torture like, over weeks and months leading up to the election.  What's there is dirty, although perhaps not criminal.  That dirt will stick to the brand of governance in general, and the party of big government in particular.

It will be made worse by the inclination of the Democratic politicians to down play this as not important.  People want their government to be honest, and hearing the Usual Suspects saying that this isn't dishonest will make them look dirty.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

An armed robber tried to carjack two cars in Florida

Both drivers pulled out their guns and stopped him:
Police say a man who tried to carjack two people was thwarted after the victims both pulled out guns to protect themselves.
According to Fox 30, Jacksonville police officers arrested 36-year-old Christopher Raymond Hill, charging him with strong-arm robbery, carjacking with firearm or deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and trespassing.
Don't mess with Florida.

Top shelf snark



I notice that Google has no doodle for Flag Day.  No surprise.

A Father's Life - A Brigid Guest Post

One thing I made sure was working properly on my last visit out was Dad's chair that lifts him up to the standing position, then, he can lean into it and gently have it sit him back down (and I have to say the DeBeers Diamond  "three months salary" marketing staff have nothing on the folks that sell furniture for older folks).

He loves it, one more thing to help him stay in his home. He recovered from his stroke a few years back better than anyone thought, but he now has a hard time standing and sitting without a little help.  Every morning, he gets up and gets settled in it and reads the daily message from "Our Daily Bread" and then the Bible.  That's something he's done every day since retirement after his morning work out (Dad was a Golden Glove Boxer and still has a very strict exercise regiment that included swimming and Nautilus at the Y with my Step Mom well into their 80's).  Then it's time to get dressed and get about enjoying the day. At 98, he's had some setbacks, and been hospitalized a couple times for infections, but he seems to bounce back pretty well.

But we had one scare, he woke in the middle of the night after dreaming of a home break-in (the house was secure) and called 911.  He then couldn't get out of bed due to a sudden dizzy spell and police broke the door down. They found him having a medical issue and got him an ambulance to the hospital. Bless them for their response and handling of him, as it was really scary for him.  He now has 24-hour care, still refusing to live with family who'd love to have him.

My favorite photo of Dad, taken when he was 92.

Actually, I checked the chair out when he was sleeping in one day, it's quite comfortable and seems to be built better than some of theexpensive yuppie furniture that I used to own.

But dang, I was hoping for an auto-launch feature that would get me airborne. 

Initiate Launch Sequence!  (that's it??)

The family room, where the chair is housed, has barely changed since I was in sixth grade.  My parents built it onto the house over what was most of our huge cement patio.  We took a vote as a family one year when I was in grade school. Vacation to Hawaii with the kids (the parents had already gone on their 25th anniversary alone) or add on a family room?  The kids decided it.  Family room!  We can play!  We can make noise.  We can spill stuff!  We can take the TV set completely apart with tools while they're at the grocery store (oh, dang, busted)

It has the previous living room carpeting down over the original harvest gold linoleum now and the drapes have been updated.  But much is unchanged. The 1970's fixtures for the fluorescent lights that Dad crafted by hand. Still there. That Mexican hat on the Wall?  A VERY embarrassing River dance gone South episode from some tap recital of mine.  The barre built into the wall where I did my ballet warm-ups was removed and replaced with paneling.  It was there under the kitchen window that Mom once took out with a golf ball from the backyard when that was the back window to the house. Fore! (hey, I didn't know Mom knew that other word!)

On the walls are funny tin signs and Montana art.  On another wall are numerous awards and mementos from the community and  Uncle Sam, every single member of our family - Mom, Dad, brothers, sister, serving in Defense, Local or Federal Law Enforcement or the Armed Forces, with the Air Force and Navy battling it out for the best space. And the picture of Jesus, which has witnessed slumber parties, ping pong games (we'd set the table up inside in the winter) Loony Tunes, and probably cursing during that 1983 Minnesota-Nebraska college game.

The couch is new, but the quilt is one my Mom crocheted in the 70's.  There is another one, but it sits in my linen closet at the Range, where I can occasionally hold it, smell the scent of Chanel No. 5 that only exists in my memory.  It's where I can remember her hands working away on it while we kids watched westerns on TV and tried to outshoot Marshall Dillon with our little cap guns under the watchful eye of our Lord.
We've made just a few changes in the house.  The main bathroom, tub and shower were outfitted with handles and bars and a shower chair for ease of bathing. The waterbed was replaced with a quality regular mattress that makes it easier for him to get out of bed, but with a heated mattress pad so it's warm through the night.

The small bath by the family room, though, was in dire need of help.  It was always the "utility" bathroom, old faded paint, bare window, no storage at all, and small and hard to get around in as there was nothing for him to hold onto if his balance or strength waned.  But it's the one he uses the most.

Before he died, Big Bro took care of the construction and I took care of the  paint and the decorating.
Still, with a full-time home health aide I arrange and lawn service that comes weekly I am happy he can stay in his home. He originally said he wanted to move in with me when my Step Mom was diagnosed with cancer and I bought an old money pit of a big house on some property with a view of a small lake, a single story, no steps, "mother in law set up" outside of town, the original "Range." I hoped he'd be happy there. But she went into remission, with great thanksgiving, but was then diagnosed with Alzhemers.

He cared for her in his home through that, until her death, years more than we expected, but not easy years for him.  But as she was his cross, she was also his salvation and he refused to put her in a nursing home, even when she acted out in anger against her children, not recognizing her own life, but somehow, always recognizing him.

But after she was gone, he changed his mind. His Mom was from Indy, and he enjoyed it there, but he didn't want to leave where he's lived all these years.  He wanted to stay where his memories are, good or bad, in his own church, in that old house.  I  understood and sold the place I had bought, at a loss, but one I gladly bore.

This is the home in which his memories reside, in every furnishing that's 30, 40, 60 years old.  There have been other houses, for summer vacations and the old family home in Montana, but this modest little place was always the center of the family.  Outside, is the bed of my Mom's rose garden, replanted with other flowers now, yet still containing for him, those pink and red and coral buds and blossoms, long after they've fallen to dust, no more dead to him than the hands that tended them, the drops of blood they sometimes drew.
In that family room, he sits in his recliner and watches his favorite sports, while around him are the artifacts of loves never lost,  triumphs and defeats, as well as the living laughter of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Not one of them are related to him by blood, but by the strongest bond - family.

My room at home is virtually unchanged and that was not by my request, but his will. Photos of family and family and extended family all around.  The rainbow I painted on my walls in junior high. Dad said I could, but I had to use leftover paint which is why my rainbow is every shade of totally tacky 1970's paint we had.  (yes, we had rooms painted those colors!)
There is no view. There used to be a view of beautiful mountains, but they are hidden from where we sit by tall, big box marts. He refused to sell when they literally bought up several blocks, RE-zoned residential and commercial, so we look out the windows to the vast walls of a commercial business, their parking lot lights illuminating the place like Attica Prison during a break. Curtains keep the light out at night, sort of.  Dad realizes the value of the home just went to zip, but he doesn't care. It's his home,  it's our home.  It's where we lived, and it's where he will pass, hopefully and quietly in his favorite chair, his Bible open and a can of cold beer waiting for when the game is called.

He knows his days are short, we all do. But he's very happy, lousy view and all. The pastor comes and gives him communion regularly.  His neighbor's have him over for meals and their children come and play board and card games with him.   I fly out as often as I can, becoming an expert on the cheap air fares (how many stops?)  My step brother and his wife drive three hours to take him to lunch. My cousin Liz drives up from California several times a year (her partner's family live an hour from Dad).  Liz and I oversee his bills and such, removing that responsibility after he sent thousands to shyters that prey on the elderly.

But he's happy. He has friends, good ones, but new ones, as all of his original group has passed on. He still works out each day, including an exercise bike and he eats very well with a hot meal daily from the sweet ladies that are his home health aides and the snacks and small meals I leave for him in little freezer containers between visits.
Around the house are small sayings, quotes that mean things to him, verses from the Bible.  "This is the Day the Lord hath Made, Let us Rejoice and Be Glad in It" is one that always makes me think of him. Each day is a gift from the Lord, he says, and I can't disagree.

I can't say what the future will bring, but one thing my brother and I both agreed on before he left us. Dad has outlived two beloved wives and two children (he and Mom lost a baby when they were first married) and I'm going to fight to make sure he does not experience any more loss of what he holds dear.

- Brigid

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ah, but the year is yet young

Us: This is so goofy we've reached peak 2018.

2018: Hold my beer.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Self Driving Car software is worse than you think

This is kind of jaw dropping.  The cars cannot avoid ramming stationary objects at high speed:
A natural reaction to these incidents is to assume that there must be something seriously wrong with Tesla's Autopilot system. After all, you might expect that avoiding collisions with large, stationary objects like fire engines and concrete lane dividers would be one of the most basic functions of a car's automatic emergency braking technology. 
But while there's obviously room for improvement, the reality is that the behavior of Tesla's driver assistance technology here isn't that different from that of competing systems from other carmakers. As surprising as it might seem, most of the driver-assistance systems on the roads today are simply not designed to prevent a crash in this kind of situation.
This is bizarre, and I strongly recommend you read the entire article.  You would think that this would be a basic capability, but since the system was put together from parts that evolved over time, this is something that seems to have dropped through the cracks.  It's highly doubtful that this is the only think that can kill you that has dropped through the cracks.

Holy cow, what a mess.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Wow, the New York Times is trying to get Trump re-elected

The Times put it above the fold on the front page, which says they think it makes Trump look bad.

[blink] [blink]

After Napoleon's fall, the old Bourbon monarchs were restored to the French throne.  They combined viciousness with incompetence in equal measure.  It was said of them that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

You'd wonder if the Times realizes that a lot of people voted for Trump because he said he would stand up to bad trade deals, but actually you shouldn't wonder.

Dear NYT: the Re-Elect Donald Trump 2020 Campaign looks on and smiles.

Jonathan Leshnoff - Symphony 2, What Is Man?

Libertyman sent this as a suggestion.  My selections of classical music run to the older and traditional, because that's my taste.  I mostly don't care for most modern classical music - it's too often amelodic and dissonant.

But Jonathan Leshnoff is an interesting modern composer, and very widely performed.  My guess is that it's because he goes against the grain of modern composition.  I'm still not sure if it's my cup of tea, but uniquely for modern classical music, it's listenable.

Thanks to libertyman for an interesting suggestion.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

From the place that Great Britain used to be

45 years ago

Via Chris Lynch, we learn that this is the 45th anniversary of the greatest horse race in history, the 1973 Belmont Stakes.  Not only did Secretariat blow away the field, the race resulted in what I believe is the greatest sports photograph of all time.  Photographer Bob Coglianese positioned himself perfectly to capture the moment as Secretariat beat the field by 31 lengths.  The composition is superb, giving both the sense of unbeatable speed and the total domination of what is likely the fastest horse of all time - and what is still the fastest 1.5 miles on dirt ever recorded.  He beat the rest of the field by almost 3 seconds (!).

Chris has video of the race, which is simply astonishing.  More background on Secretariat and the race here.

And the Queen Of The World likes Justified to win today, although not by 31 lengths.  She picked him for both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and picked him for the Triple Crown from the begining.

Friday, June 8, 2018


Time to go out on the boat!

Or not.

More Climate data tampering

This time it's tidal gauges - the devices that measure whether sea level is going up or down.  We're told that Global Warming is making the seas rise and we'll all be flooded out.  Strangely, it seems that some of the reported rise is because the databases no longer record data from sensors that report that sea levels are falling:
In performing todays’ analysis, I visited again the PSMSL and the SONEL web sites, and I discovered how the “adjustocene” progresses within intergovernmental projects.
  • PSMSL does not link any more the Fremantle tide gauge information to the SONEL page of the PERT GPS dome.
  • SONEL, that proposes the computed absolute sea level rises by correcting the relative rate of rise from the tide gauge with the subsidence rate from the GPS monitoring, does not propose any more the absolute rate of rise negative for Fremantle.
If you look at the images of Figure 2, with the same time window for the online graph, with reference to two years ago, the negative absolute sea level rise of Fremantle has disappeared, similarly to the negative absolute sea level rise of a Japanese tide gauge.
As I've been complaining about for nigh on a decade, the data have been fiddled.

NTSB report: Tesla autopilot responsible for fatal crash

It accelerated into a concrete wall:
The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the March crash that killed driver Walter Huang in Mountain View. The report provides a second-by-second description of the events that preceded Huang's collision with a concrete lane divider. 
The report confirms that Autopilot was engaged ahead of the crash, and it appears to confirm that a navigation mistake by Autopilot contributed to Huang's death.
Are you willing to trust your life to a huge software program that nobody really knows how it works?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

US Government: Hacking commercial jets "only a matter of time"

Hard to argue with this:
US government researchers believe it is only a matter of time before a cybersecurity breach on an airline occurs, according to government documents obtained by Motherboard. The comment was included in a recent presentation talking about efforts to uncover vulnerabilities in widely used commercial aircraft, building on research in which a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) team successfully remotely hacked a Boeing 737.
If DHS is working on this - penetration testing combined with working with the vendors on a fix - then this is really good news.
The documents, which include internal presentations and risk assessments, indicate researchers working on behalf of the DHS may have already conducted another test against an aircraft. They also show what the US government anticipates would happen after an aircraft hack, and how planes still in use have little or no cybersecurity protections in place.
I'm not opposed to looking for security holes.  In general, everything is vulnerable, especially if nobody has spent much time on looking for the holes.  What disturbs me is when people refuse to look, or make fixes when someone else looked.

This program seems to be pointed in the right direction.  It gets ugly when an airliner's computers go haywire.

Lousy Security finally costs a company some sales

A year ago I wrote about the incredible lack of security in CloudPet toys, a set of holes so wide that someone could turn the "smart" toys into recording devices to spy on your kids.  A year later, no security fixes have been released, and retailers are pulling the toys from their catalogs:
Amazon on Tuesday stopped selling CloudPets, a network-connected family of toys, in response to security and privacy concerns sounded by browser maker and internet community advocate Mozilla. 
The move follows similar actions taken by Walmart and Target last week. And other sellers of the toy are said to be considering similar action. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment but CloudPets have vanished from its website.
Let's see: Amazon, Wallmart, and Target - that reduces your addressable market a bit now, don't it?  And this is hilarious (if entirely expected):
Spiral Toys, the maker of CloudPets, did not immediately respond to inquiries.
Not sure how big a hit this is to their bottom line, but their combination of incompetence and lack of diligence in fixing this deserves a big hit.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The most compelling D-Day post today

Old Air Force Sarge has it.  Go, read.

You're welcome.

"Hold mah beer", Military edition

I'd think that stealing an armored personnel carrier is the express lane to Levinworth, but maybe that's just me.

The Persecution of the Deplorables

To the commission chosen to superintend the sacrifices. From Aurelia Ammonous, daughter of Mystus, of the Moeris quarter, priestess of the god Petesouchos, the great, the mighty, the immortal, and priestess of the gods in the Moeris quarter. I have sacrificed to the gods all my life, and now again, in accordance with the decree and in your presence, I have made sacrifice, and poured a libation, and partaken of the sacred victims. I request you to certify this below.
- Certificate of required sacrifice to Emperor Decius, 250 AD
Haec pictura ab Wikipedia
The Roman Empire was massive, and even in the disastrous third century stretched from Scotland to Egypt.  Unlike the old Republic of four centuries before, it was not a single ethnic nation-state.  Instead, its 50 million subjects were from many different groups, all ruled by a single state apparatus.

Quite frankly, even in the 3rd century that state apparatus was pretty effective.  There were surprisingly few armed rebellions against Roman rule - the fighting was mostly civil war style battles between rival claims to the Imperial throne.

What held this vast and diverse population together was not a shared history or common language, but rather a shared acceptance of Roman political institutions as, if not just, then at least a damned sight better than the alternative.  Key to this acceptance was recognition of the office of Emperor as the head of the Roman world.

This is an enormously important point, and you really can't understand the remarkable success of the Roman Empire without knowing a bit of the official state propaganda about the office of the Emperor.  Patrick Wyman goes into this in some depth in episode 5 of his great Fall Of Rome podcast: Just How Screwed Up Was The Late Roman Empire?

You can't understand the persecutions of the Christians without understanding the propaganda about the Emperors.  The persecutions weren't about religion at all; instead, they were a mandatory, public acknowledgement of acceptance of that Imperial propaganda.  It was a matter of state security, you might say, and it's not accidental that you didn't see these persecutions during the height of the empire (Trajan through Marcus Aurelius), but rather during the difficult years of the third century when it looks for a while that things might fall apart.

The fly in the ointment, as you well know, is that the Christians did see this as religious, and a lot of martyrs filled out the list of saints.  Their clinging to their guns and religion was seen as subversive to the state in its hour of need.

We see this happening today.  Roseanne Barr's show was canceled because she sent out a supposedly racist tweet.  Disney's stated reason for killing their top show doesn't have a lot of credibility, because they also canceled Tim Allen's Last Man Standing show a year back.  It was their second most popular show at the time, and he hadn't made any comments like she did.  It was just here today, and gone tomorrow.

And does anyone remember Brendan Eich, the former head of the  Mozilla Foundation?  Gone, because he donated to a political campaign as a private citizen.  Beyond these shores, we see more of the same.  Tommy Robinson has been jailed in England because he speaks HateFacts™.  The EU just tried to keep a nationalist Italian government from forming - the reaction to the Italian election was so dictatorial that even George Soros tried to wave the EU off.  Seventy percent of College students support suppression of free speech on Campus.

It's all quite strange, unless you think about the Decian Persecutions.  The Global Elites are feeling threatened all over, just like the Roman Emperors did in 250 AD.  The elections of Donald Trump, Brexit, and populist revolts across western Europe show that the "glue" holding together the current Western Progressive Empire is breaking down.  The diverse populations that once accepted the rule of the Global Elite are now restive, and questioning the legitimacy of that elite.

And so the people must sacrifice to the Emperor or pay the consequences.

That means publicly mouthing the required platitudes about globalism, progressivism, diversity, and the rest of the pantheon of Imperial propaganda - this is to demonstrate the citizen's allegiance to the anointed rulers.

And those who don't - who, say, have a popular TV show that showcases conservative or libertarian or populist ideas running counter to that propaganda?  They have to go.  The elites must make an example of them, to influence weaker minds that might be wavering from full public support of the official Imperial propaganda.

It won't work, of course, any more than it worked for Decian or his successors.  What it did then was to harden the resolve of the persecuted Christians and build support for them among their non-Christian neighbors who were revolted at the senseless cruelty of the persecutions.  It is doing this today, as the legitimacy of the global elite and its imperial propaganda is rejected  by a growing number of Deplorables, world wide.  We know this because we see the persecutions, which are a result, not a cause.

The Dinosaurs sniff a change on the wind, and roar their defiance.

UPDATE 10 June 2018 16:08: Lots of examples of official and unofficial persecution here.

Thoughts on the anniversary of D-Day

We've come a long way in 74 years.  This is what a united American nation did back then:

Decades of intentionally divisive politics have led us to where we now are, a disunited and fractured American empire:

There is no common identity, no shared polity.  There's only a winner-take-all sense of strife between groups who increasingly have little in common with each other.

More thoughts on this here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Call of the Beguiled - A Brigid Guest Post

The sun was setting, leaving wisps of lavender ribbons across the sky; clouds moving up the mountains, strands through which I could see the last phase of the moon. The bobber moved slightly, a fish, or the wind? I had seen one huge fin slicing the surface of the water, it was either a big carp or Nessie. I was tempted to jerk the line, but I waited. This is what patience is all about, being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that's unfolding, rather than yanking the line to see what's at the other end. Patience is good. I've been going full tilt for so long that it's time.

I learned to fish, up here on the Gray's river, within eyesight of an old wooden covered bridge that's still here today. The waders and equipment are still stored in Dad's garage if the urge to go out on the water, arises. Steelhead fishing isn't for the impatient, or the truly hungry, for we would come home without a fish more times than with.

I've had more than one female friend say"  "Aren't you bored?"
Then there was the salmon fishing,  early mornings in the back of a boat, making the treacherous trip across the Columbia River Bar, glad we went with a more expensive ride out to sea, rather than the one handed dude with a boat named "Roll of the Dice". On such trips, we usually brought home a fish but that was after being drenched with water that shot up against the bow like a geyser, the colors of the sea's rainbow glittering on the hull, as only slow deliberate movements are made, lest one get tossed into a white, hissing eternity.

I've fished both saltwater and freshwater salmon, the freshwater moving in from the oceans of their life into the rivers to spawn. There's nothing like it, that fixed spot in space when you think maybe you've snagged a rock on the bottom and suddenly the whole bottom begins to move and shake and you've got a freight train on your line. While your vision is clouded with bacon wrapped salmon and the hickory smell of the smoker firing up, your muscle memory is having a boxing tournament with a fish as big as a 3 year old, jumping out of the water, dancing on his tail like a washed out celebrity, then diving back into the water.

The male salmon is, as they say, all show and no roe, cocky and overambitious, The female, though, not inclined to bite, when she does will liein with a heavy and placid stubbornness that begs you to start something. Like arguing with any female of strength and persuasion you had either be prepared for a long drawn out test of will or simply get out the scissors, cut the line and admit THAT was a mistake

Bored? Never.
Patience isn't stressed, rushed; it is a steady strength we apply to life as we face it, be it staff to train, forms in quadruplicate or aging parents. As I waited, the call of a loon brought me back into the moment and I thought things happening back at home, rather than why I came here. And then the sound of it reminded me. "Can you hear that?" I whispered to the old dog sitting by my side, poised to strike in case I reeled in a pound of bacon. "That" being the sound of a small bass jumping on a small span of water on a planet spinning through space. This is what fishing is all about, not catching anything for supper, but simply a time with nature to be savored, when delight imbibes through every pore with the gossamer cast of a line. I really don't care if I catch anything tonight. I just enjoyed the communion of elemental waters.
This is why I hated the modern version of camping. Huge motor homes, where roughing it means doing without ESPN. Neighbor's closer than found in any subdivision. My camping was a fire built with magic and swear words, burned wienies and good beans, wood smoke and bug spray, paper plates that fell apart. My camping was the sound of a hoot owl as the sun sets, itw dying rays reflected in a cup of beer as a black lab snoozed happily by the fire. I'm here, for those times when I don't wish to sacrifice the wonder of the present moment to work, society or noise. A loner always, I want a broad margin to my life. I can sit in the fading sunlight of a doorway between two trees from dinner til dark fall, rapt in a revere in undisturbed stillness and solitude.

As dusk settles in, I wonder about the lapse of time, the evening seeming like a mere moment, time like a season in which I grew like flowers in the night.
Philosophers talk about contemplation and the forsaking of work and out here I realize what they meant. The day advances as the light comes into it, it's morning, and now it's evening, and nothing memorable is done. My days are not minced into deadlines of a ticking clock or the perusal of things no longer breathing. Let mornings be lazy, afternoons pass by in long walks or a flip of a fishing pole and if the day becomes wasted in the warm rapture of a sunset as nature sings its song in my ear - what's the harm?
Poets talk about "spots of time," but its only been flying and on the water where I've experienced eternity compressed into a moment. A moment where in an instant you can see your whole life and make a choice. No one can even explain to you what this "spot of time" is until your whole horizon is a fish and then the fish is gone. I thought of one large fish up in Alaska. I shall remember that fish when I'm an old lady. When I brought him up and saw the sun glinting off his back, rainbow diamonds of light against the waves, I was so enamored of him I couldn't even take a breath and in that instant, before he was gone time stopped. Only then did it hit me what I had lost.

I thought back to fly fishing in Montana, watching the fly fisherman standing, rod in hand, in the rushing water. His movement the languid strokes of a lover, making the most beautiful movements, a ballet of line and wind and hook. A ritual of the chase, the cast like a tease to the unsuspecting trout, content in their world, until he pulled them into his. As the trout took the bait, the man would smile, that quick knowing smile, and pull with a quick flick of his fingers and hands, like light strokes on a keyboard, touching yet pulling, desire planted, hook in place. Then after reeling the trout in, he ever so gently pulled the hook from the mouth of the trout, gently cradling her in his hand, a tender goodbye. Without a sound, just a quick unemotional tickle of her belly, he released her back downstream. He never looked back.

Catch and Release.

This was the outdoors. Splashes of daylight that recharged what you came here with. This was our outdoors. Unidentifiable sounds in the darkness that made you hold your breath at the bottom of your sleeping bag. A good book read with a dying flashlight, shadows dancing on the wall of a small canvas tent, and the musty smell of freedom and adventure. A quiet prayer to my God over a meal garnered by my own hand and cooked over a campfire.  A time when growth may not be on the surface but may be internal, and the weekend quietly drifts by in the warm embrace of the woods. But even in the woods, any good day must end.

As the last of the daylight seeped out of the sky, I thought back to work, but only briefly, for my mind now is rippled, not storm-tossed. These small ripples of water raised by the evening's wind are the only hint of turmoil in the calm. As the day pulled out of the sky, taking the wind with it, I cast one last time out into the still center of the water. There, utter and complete stillness, holding my breath, because even inhaling and exhaling was like a cacophony. The animals of the day were hunkering down for rest, and the night creatures not quite yet stirring, there was no breeze, no recognition of air even; it was the sound of nothing and everything. It felt like all my life past and present was contained in one space, and I was not just casting into it, I was part of it. Where for just a brief moment in the universe, the clock stopped ticking, and the world hushed.
The last night I went fishing back West I didn't bring a trout home for dinner, my true catch was as intangible as the starlight now playing on the water. I think of Thoreau's words "many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after". To fish it to flirt, to flirt, we fish, dancing with fate. Icy water and warm lips, we thirst, we reach with that last translucent breath, closing our eyes to softly bite the secret barb. We are drawn in with a soft gasp of breath, chest softly heaving, as we look into the unknown, up into the eyes that desired us.

This was my catch. Some nights in the woods, where I was able to pull the barb of civilization from my lips and swim rapidly to where the wild called to me. Where my heart is always at home.