Friday, August 31, 2018

Yet another reason to love the Red Sox

The Triple Crown is one of Baseball's most challenging prizes.  It is only awarded to a player who has the most home runs and runs batted in, and who also has the highest league batting average.  To give you a sense of just how elusive this award is, there was a 45 year gap between Boston's Carl Yazstremski winning the triple crown in 1967 and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera winning it in 2012.  Most years nobody can top all three of the stats.

This year, Boston's J.D. Martinez is taking a run for it.  He's tied for most home runs at 39.  He leads RBIs with 114.  He's second in batting average with .336 - closely behind teammate Mookie Betts' .342.  That 0.006 is actually more of a challenge than you might think, but it's plausible that Martinez could pull it off this season.  There are still 27 games left, after all.

But what's cool about Martinez is that he's a strong Second Amendment supporter:
"As most of you guys know, I'm Cuban-American," Martinez explained. "Most of my family was run out of Cuba because of a brutal dictator. It's terrible…. My parents still talk about family members that are back in Cuba that I'll never get to meet. And it sucks." It sure does. Here in the United States, though, Martinez can celebrate the fact that a heavily armed citizenry helped repel subjugation. 
"I love my country," Martinez went on to tell the New York Daily News. "I stand by the Constitution and I stand by the Second Amendment."
Here's wishing Martinez success this season, and continued success as an ambassador for self defense.

Photo via MLB/Red Sox


Stolen from Bob's Facebook feed (sure wish he'd start posting more on his blog, too, hint hint) - Cassini's final picture before it entered Saturn's atmosphere and burned up.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
- John 1:4

Quote of the Day: Get offa my lawn edition

The Queen Of The World posted on the Book of Faces:
This week we went to play our usual Monday night Trivia, but this time it was a bit disturbing. The emcee that night was a young lady who, among many other examples, did not know how to spell or pronounce ‘colonel’, had never heard and had no idea what the word ‘fickle’ meant, had never heard of the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ and could not pronounce it, could not pronounce and did not know the meaning of the word ‘synonym’. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have thought too much about these (and the many other) knowledge gaps she displayed, or the fact that she had difficulty reading the questions, but it was especially disturbing when she announced her day job. 
She’s a teacher in the public school system! 
Questions abound:
  • How did she graduate from high school?
  • How did she graduate from college?
  • But first and foremost - how is she even remotely capable of teaching ANYONE???
We knew many schools are ditching cursive, ditching basic math, ditching phonics and grammar, and many teachers are spewing their own personal political beliefs in place of expected teachings, but what a scary eye-opening to learn they’re now ditching intelligence too! This woman actually landed a teaching job! I have to wonder what motivated a school to hire this person as a teacher. 
Parents beware - get to know your teachers, get to know your schools, do whatever you have to, but please ensure your children’s education is a good one!! The future of our world depends on it! 
(P.S. This was not a case of nerves. She has been doing this job for quite awhile and was quite comfortable)

And as a footnote, the county spends over $13,000 per student per year.  For a class of 20, that's over a quarter of a mil.  And for that quarter mil, the citizens get this.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Back to school

Maybe this year she can work on listening skills.

How history is taught is stupid

Do tell.  For what it's worth, I can't find a reference to when she said this, and so it might just be another made up Internet meme.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

With the Upcoming Anniversary of 9/11 - A Must Read from a Ground Zero Chaplain - A Brigid Guest Post

I've made it a point NOT to use Borepatch's generosity in inviting me to guest post to plug my own books. (and I'm working on book #5 so I've not been posting much).  So I don't.  But I read a book yesterday by one of the 9/11 Volunteer Ground Zero Chaplains  (A Chicago Firefighter) that extremely moved me.  Although it was written by a Christian Chaplain this book will resonate with anyone that had gone through tragedy or assumed the role of a soldier or first responder.

Highly recommended. . . .Brigid

If you are a proud American, read this book.
If you are a Christian, read this book.
If you are a first responder, EMT, paramedic, fireman, or police officer, read this book.
If you are too young to truly remember 9/11 read this book.
If you've ever questioned where God was when you suffered some great loss, read this book.

Written by a former Chicago firefighter, rescue diver, and chaplain who volunteered (5 tours) at Ground Zero this is the most amazing story of courage, faith, and humanity as I have ever read. I stayed up well into the night finishing it, even though I had to be at work early. I ended it with tears on my face and a renewed trust in God and the humanity of my fellow man.


Now I'm of a mind that most reporters should be horsewhipped through the public square, so I'm the last person anyone would want as a Press Secretary.  Because I'd talk to them kind of like this.

The Catholic Church has a swamp that needs to be drained

In a time of universal (dare we say catholic) deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.  Click through and read the entire document which is damning.

The response so far is fascinating.  The Pope says he won't talk about it, and Cardinal Cupich says that this whole sorry mess is just a distraction keeping the Church from talking about climate change. That's what a swamp looks like.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Boy, that's some Global Warming

Unusually early snowstorms in the Rockies and Alps.  Jackson Hole, Saltzburg, Italy, and Slovenia.  Man, that Global Warming can do anything.

Remember this the next time some drooling cretin points to a heat wave or summer wildfire as "proof" of Global Warming.

Cop pulls Batmobile over

Wants a selfie with Batman.
The famous caped crusader Batman isn’t often seen on the wrong side of the law. But on Saturday, one driver in Caledon, Canada, captured a video of the costumed superhero getting pulled over in his Batmobile by an Ontario police officer.

Read more here:

But it turns out the “Brampton Batman” wasn’t in trouble at all. The officer just wanted to snag a picture with him, he said, according to GlobalNews Canada.

The Future is weird.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

By their works shall ye know them

Senator McCain has passed over to that Undiscovered Country whose shores will one day welcome each of us.  Old NFO has some thoughts that are well worth your time.

I'm of two minds.  Old NFO highlights some of the more sordid events in his career, but his passing was a particularly nasty one (I remember what the cancer did to Dad). It brings to mind the passing of Talleyrand, foreign minister successively to French King Louis XVI, the French Revolutionary regime, Napoleon, and then Kings Louis XVIII and Louis-Philippe.  That's quite an odd set of bed fellows, and highlights Talleyrand's (ahem) flexible principles.  But the end comes for all, and Talleyrand was no exception; he fell ill and was in great pain.  It is said that Louis-Philippe came to visit his minister on his death bed.

Inquiring how he was that day, Talleyrand replied "I suffer the agonies of Hell", to which the King is said to have remarked "What, already?"

On the other hand, I recall the words from the Volgi on the event of Senator Kennedy's passing:
I’d instead ask for God’s mercy upon his soul, for if we ask only for justice, we may receive only justice, and even a saint would flinch at that.
May the Lord grant Grace to us all, even such as Sen. McCain.

J.S. Bach - Fugue in A minor performed on Guitar by Julian Bream

A friend got us tickets to the Brad Paisley concert as a birthday present, and the Queen Of The World and I went last night.  Seeing him perform live really underscores what a great guitarist he is.  That made me think of great guitarists, and when you think of that you think of Julian Bream.  Bream took an interest in guitar as a young child after hearing the music of Django Reinhardt, and taught himself to play.  He sparked an interest in Elizabethan music when he formed the Julian Bream Consort, playing the lute.  This is what caused Queen Elizabeth to award him the CBE for his services to music.

But he was always best known (on these shores, at least) for his classical guitar.  I don't know if he was the greatest to ever play it, but I don't know that he wasn't.  Here is a typical example, of a typically complex Bach fugue which really showcases his amazing talent.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Classical music concerts for dogs

This is a spoof, but it's very well done.  I love all the dogs in the audience.

More, please

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama

Ed King died this past week.  He co-wrote this song, which has become so iconic that it's on the Alabama license plates.  Rest in peace.

Sweet Home Alabama (Songwriters: Ed King, Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant)
1 2 3
Turn it up
Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the southland
I miss Alabamy once again and I think its a sin yes 
(ooh... ooh... ooh...) Well I heard mr. young sing about her
(ooh... ooh... ooh...) Well I heard ole Neil put her down
(ooh... ooh... ooh...) Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don't need him around anyhow 
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord I'm coming home to you

In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth 
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord I'm coming home to you
Here I come Alabama 
(Alabama ah-ah-ah)
(Alabama ah-ah-ah)
(Alabama ah-ah-ah)
(ooh. ooh... ooh...) Now muscle shoals has got the swampers
And they've (ooh... ooh... ooh...) been known to pick a song or two (yes they do)
Lord (ooh... ooh... ooh...) they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you? 
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord I'm coming home to you
Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue and the governor's true
Sweet home Alabama 
Lord I'm coming home to you
Montgomery's got the answer

Friday, August 24, 2018

Go Sox!

Having grown up in New England, I've been a Red Sox fan since I was a kid.  In all those years, I've never seen a season like this.  As of today, they have won just shy of 70% of their games this season, an astronomical percentage.  There are 33 games left in the season; if they win 70% of these they will end up with 113 wins (!).

To put that in perspective, the Red Sox have never won more than 105 games in a season, and that was in 1912 (coincidentally, the year that Fenway Park opened, and the year the Titanic sank).  The Sox haven't won 100 games in a season since 1946, and that is a lock this season.  With 90 wins already, they only need to win a third of the remaining games to get into triple digits.  It seems certain that they will break that 105 game record, and very likely will get 110 wins this year.

The Major League record for wins in a season is 116 - this looks to be a stretch.  But the fact that we can even speculate about this in late August tells us that this is a very unusual season.

I feel bad for the Orioles (the local team near Castle Borepatch).  Last year they made it to the post season but this year they're a lock to lose 100 games.  Pretty close to a First-to-Worst season, which has folks around here a little down in the dumps.  I almost feel sorry for the hated Yankees, too (almost, but not quite) - they have the best record in baseball this year other than the Sox and they're around ten games back.

As a long time fan I know the danger of counting chickens before they hatch (I'm looking at you, Bill Buckner!) but I must confess that I am entirely enjoying this season.  Something special is shaping up, and it sure is fun to watch.


A big hurricane may hit Hawaii.  It's been downgraded to Cat 3 and fortunately has been tracking west but the forecasts don't look good at all.

The Queen Of The World has been in touch with a good friend in Honolulu who seems pretty optimistic, but the next 24 hours will tell the story.  Here's hoping that this ends up as just more news hype.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Comments are gold

I love the comments that all y'all leave here, which are typically packed full o' smart.  But the comments to the new Battlefield V trailer are maybe the funniest I've seen in ages.  The users seem to be in full revolt against runaway political correctness.  Here's an example, remarking on EA's decision to make a woman the lead character in a World War II sim:
Just Imagine being squad leader giving orders to a Woman Solider on the deadly frontlines of WWII and she hits you back with the “StOp MaNsPlAiNinG”
Not even a little bit respectful, right there, but funny as hell.  Maybe the kids are all right after all.  Man, if the comments are any indication, Electronic Arts has some very poor sales ahead of itself here.

Hat tip to Cappy, who comments:
Are you going to become ideologues or SJW's, forcing your politics into everybody's fun? And if you choose the later then realize that not only are you tyrants, but you're also dicks because there's no more of a dick move than ruining other people's fun.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Climate Craziness - So whose data is right?

I've posted at length about the wretched state of the climate databases.  In particular the after-the-fact "adjustments" to the recorded temperatures is a huge source of potential unreliability.  I've posted repeatedly about how the satellite data sets are much higher quality than the surface data sets because they are (a) truly global in scope and (b) unlike the surface data sets, they do not get adjusted (much).

Well, dang:
The least-squares linear-regression trend on the pre-revision RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset showed no global warming for 18 years 9 months from February 1997 to October 2015, though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings had occurred during the period of the Pause. Ted Cruz baited Senate “Democrats” with this graph in November 2015. 
Sure enough, the very next month Dr Mears (who uses the RSS website as a bully-pulpit to describe global-warming skeptics as “denialists”) brought his dataset kicking and screaming into the Adjustocene by duly tampering with the RSS dataset to airbrush out the Pause. He had no doubt been pestered by his fellow climate extremists to do something to stop the skeptics pointing out the striking absence of any global warming whatsoever during a period when one-third of Man’s influence on climate had arisen. And lo, the Pause was gone
RSS and UAH are the two data sets that solely use temperature data collected by satellite.  RSS is now monkeying around with adjustments to the data that the satellites collect, seemingly to a ridiculous level.  How ridiculous?
After the adjustments, the RSS dataset since 1990 now shows more warming than any other dataset, even the much-tampered-with GISS dataset – 

Note that RSS’ warming rate since 1990 is close to double that from UAH, which had revised its global warming rate downward two or three years ago. Yet the two datasets rely upon precisely the same satellite data. [Emphasis from me]
So two satellite data sets that have exactly the same recorded (raw) data produce wildly different outputs after data is aggressively upwards in RSS and not much at all in UAH.  This is new - RSS and UAH used to agree with each other very closely, as you would expect for having identical inputs.

I have about come around to the conclusion that man is indeed causing Global Warming.  But the men are the database administrators who handle the temperature data sets.

How's all that UK Gun Control working out?

Four shootings in 2 days in London:
Two men were arrested Tuesday night after a shooting near Rayners Lane station in London which saw two injured, with Britains’ capital city seeing a total of four shooting incidents in just two days.
The police also busted an illegal gun factory (!).

But I'm certain that gun control will be more efficiently implemented over on these shores ...

Monday, August 20, 2018

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Gone Gone Gone

Today is Robert Plant's 70th birthday.  This song won a Grammy in 2008 and the album won five Grammys in 2009, including album of the year.  It's been a long way from Led Zeppelin.


This weekend was full of chores around Castle Borepatch.  On Saturday we hung a storage shelf from the garage ceiling and reorganized the garage.  It's nice to have all the room and to have everything in its place, but then we followed up yesterday with gardening - digging big holes and planting things.  That wouldn't have been so bad except for all the rocks and construction debris in the ground that had to be dug out and removed.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Craig Chaquico - Sacred Ground

This is a bit of an unusual choice for Sunday composer.  Craig Chaquico is a guitarist and member of the band Jefferson Starship.  While this music isn't exactly classical, but it is nice music for a Sunday morning.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tom Jones - It'll Be Me

One of the things I love about Country music is that it's been around so long that you find some really unexpected things when you look around.  Like a boy from coal country in Wales  who became a huge heart throb star in the 1960s and then took a detour into Country music with his 1982 album Country.

Tom Jones is known for his earlier hits like It's Not Unusual.  In a sense, his version of Jerry Lee Lewis' It'll Be Me inherits much of this.  I particularly like his fringe jacket in the video here.  But this sounds unmistakably Country.  Maybe that shouldn't be a real surprise for a boy from coal country - even if it was from a land a thousand leagues away.

It'll Be Me (Songwriter: Jack Clement)
Well, if you hear somebody knocking on your door
If you see something crawling across the floor
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you 
If you see a head a-peeping from a crawdad hole
If you see somebody climbing up a telephone pole
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you 
I'm gonna look on the mountain and in the deep blue sea
Gonna search all the forests and look and look in every tree
Well, if you feel something heavy on your fishing hook
If you see a funny face in your comic book
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you

If you hear a thought calling out in the night
If you see somebody hanging from a lamp post bright
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you 
Well if you see somebody looking in all the cars
If you see a rocket ship on its way to Mars
Baby, it'll be me and I'll be looking for you

Friday, August 17, 2018

Ike Quebec - Blue and Sentimental

Born on this day in 1918.

Google's location tracking risks a huge fine

Google, which was just fined $5B by the EU for how it abuses privacy is now risking a much larger fine - 2% or 4% of revenue - due to how it, well, abuses privacy:
Privacy campaigners say Google's obsessive collection of location markers violates Europe's privacy laws - potentially exposing the Californian giant to punitive fines. 
Several privacy watchers agree that as it stands, users are misled, and can't give informed consent. That exposes the company to financial penalty under GDPR rules: which could be 2 per cent or 4 per cent of turnover. 
"Burying its stalking settings, while distracting users with a deliberately crippled 'Location history' button, isn't just deceitful - it's unlawful," campaigner Phil Booth opined. "Without proper consent or legitimate purpose, Google is breaching the GDPR rights of every EU citizen it has been tracking.
We'll see if the EU wants to make sure that there are teeth in the GDPR privacy regulation.

So just what's in the report on the Pennsylvania priests?

The Czar of Muscovy reads through it for us.  Wow.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Don't ever change, Main Stream Media

The scandal isn't just in the Catholic Church - it's also in the Media

Peter describes the Catholic Church's situation in Pennsylvania, cutting through the fog of words to the heart of the crimes:
The reality of that abuse in the hearts and minds and souls of the victims is simply indescribable.  I invite all of you to try to put yourselves in the shoes of a child as he or she (in the context of the Catholic crisis, usually he) is stripped naked, fondled, abused, raped . . . and then told, by the perpetrators - those he's been taught by his parents are spiritual authorities - that it's his fault, or that he mustn't talk about it, or that God will be angry if he doesn't allow future abuses.  That reality is so ghastly, in the mind of a child, as to defy description. [Peter's emphasis]
There is a reason that this is a crime.

I was living in the People's Republic of Massachusetts in 2002 when a similar scandal broke, and I'm struck by the difference in media coverage between then and now.  16 years ago, the coverage was almost hysterical, and went on for months.  Today, it looks like this will have dropped from the headlines by the end of the week.  That's something to make you go "hmmmm".

There is a story that is not being told here.  Eric Raymond went into this way back in 2002 in The Elephant In The Bath-House:
That there is a pattern in the national media of political correctness and spin on behalf of preferred `victim’ groups isn’t news, nor is the fact that homosexuals are among those groups. But get this: Richard Berke, the Washington editor of the New York Times recently said “literally three-quarters of the people deciding what’s on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals”. There you have it in plain English; gays run the “newspaper of record”. Berke made these comments before a gay advocacy group — not merely admitting but outright asserting, as a matter of pride, that the Times engages in gay-friendly spin control. And it has already been well established by statistical content studies that the national media tend to follow where they’re led by the Times and a handful of other prestige newspapers, all broadly similar in editorial policy.
If you want to read more about Richard Burke, here's a place to start.  It may be that I remember much more intense news coverage then because I lived at ground zero.  The Boston Globe was all over this story, but perhaps it was considered a local story by the editorial board at the Times.  Pretty clearly, this is going on today.  But there's very likely a reason that the editorial board wants this to go away:
Gay men, or at least the sort of university-educated gay men who wind up determining what’s on the front page of the New York Times and spiking stories like the Dirkhising murder, know these facts. How surprising would it be if they interpreted most victims’ charges of abuse as a product of retrospective false consciousness, implanted in them by a homophobic and gay-oppressing culture? By suppressing the homosexual identification of most of the accused priests, gays in the media can protect their own sexual and political interests while believing — perhaps quite sincerely — that they are quietly aiding the cause of freedom.
Media bias most clearly manifests itself not in slanted reporting, but rather in what is never reported at all.  The murder of Jesse Dirkhising wasn't reported at all, while the murder of Matthew Shepard was front page news for weeks.  But Raymond dissects the politically correct spin and cuts to the heart of the matter, reaching the same conclusion that Peter does:
The trouble with this comforting lullaby is that, even if NAMBLA is right, coercion matters a lot. As Ms. Eberstadt reports, the pederastically and pedophilically abused often become broken, dysfunctional people. They show up in disproportionate numbers in drug and alcohol rehab. They have a high rate of involvement in violent crime. Worse, they end to become abusers themselves,perpetuating the damage across generations. 
It may turn out that the consequences of sympathizing with NAMBLA are almost equally ugly. If a climate of `enlightened’ tolerance for consensual pederasty and pedophilia tends to increase the rate at which boys are abused, that is a very serious consequence for which gay liberationists will not (and should not) soon be forgiven. The homosexual gatekeepers at the Times may be making themselves accessories before and after the fact to some truly hideous crimes.
And this is where we come back to the priestly-abuse scandal. Because a theme that keeps recurring in histories of the worst abusers is that they were trained in seminaries that were run by homosexual men and saturated with gay-liberationist subculture. Reading accounts of students at one notorious California seminary making a Friday-night ritual of cruising gay bars, it becomes hard not to wonder if gay culture itself has not been an important enabler of priestly abuse.
This has been known for decades.  None of this is a surprise to anyone who has remotely been paying attention, whether that "anyone" is a Bishop or on the NYT Editorial Board.  And Raymond now circled back to where Peter stands:
Now it’s time to abandon the catch-all term abuse and speak plainly the name of the crime: sexual coercion and rape.
Speaking plainly is the foundation of communication, and anyone who will not speak plainly presumably does not want to communicate.  The same words and spin are being used today as were used back in 2002.  The fog of words never allows the expression child rape because that would be a strong wind of clarity, blowing away the fog of political correctness.

Let me say again: None of this is a surprise to anyone who has remotely been paying attention, whether that "anyone" is a Bishop or on the NYT Editorial Board.

I agree 100% with Peter that the enablers in the Catholic hierarchy need to go.  But the Media that airbrushes these crimes from the newspaper is as complicit in the crimes as the Bishop who quietly reassigned a priest to a different parish.  Both did it for what they perceived as a higher purpose, and both are just one more flagstone laid on the road to some other child's personal Hell.

I encourage you to read both Peter's and Raymond's articles in full.  The institutional rot goes deep.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On Immigration

Lawrence finds a very interesting article by Mickey Kaus on immigration.  It's worth your time.

Kaus, for those who haven't been following along at home, was one of the early bloggers (of KausFiles fame) and ran against (IIRC) Barbara Boxer in the Democratic Senatorial primary in California.  For a California Democrat, Kaus makes some excellent points.  As does Lawrence, as you'd expect.

The only thing I'd add is that without this issue, Donald Trump would not be President today.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Aretha Franklin is dying

Damn.  Man, she did some good music.

More on Voting Machine hacks

ASM826's post from yesterday is a quick starting point, but there's a lot of interesting discussion (well, interesting to me; your mileage may vary) out there.

As you'd expect, The Register is all over this story with a lot of background.  If this story interests you, you should spend some time here.

But the situation is complex, and even security experts disagree on just how significant this is.  Bruce Schneier links to a funny XKCD comic on the subject and says (in a brevity is the soul of wit manner) that it's true.  But Robert Graham disagrees, in an interesting manner.  His post slides into what really is a discussion of system robustness - the ability of the system to function properly even when under attack.  I think he's on to something here, particularly the idea that the voting machine print out a paper ballot that the voter can check to make sure is correct.  The paper ballot is then filed for situations where you think you might want a recount.

For robustness, you should probably require recounts of paper ballots anytime the margin of victory is below a particular threshold, say 5% or so.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Seen around the 'net

The Archdruid is blogging again, at Ecosophia.  It's long, but he covers a lot of what's happening right now and will make you think.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber - Sonata IV in C Major for Trumpet and Strings

Today is the birthday of Franz Biber, one of the greatest composers for violin.  His reputation in the 17th Century was unsurpassed, as he not only was a virtuoso performer (playing for the Emperor Leopold among others) but as a composer and publisher.  He was noted for his technique on the violin, opening the door to a new approach that allowed baroque violinists to reach new heights.

Much of his music was sacred, written in his post as Kapelmeister of Salzburg Cathedral.  This means that the style is somewhat out of place for today's ear (well, not mine so much, but you know how strange I am).  Today's selection includes baroque trumpet which shows a range of his music that you don't often hear.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Blake Shelton - I Lived It

Today is Hulk Hogan's 65th birthday.  As a birthday shout-out to the Hulkster, here's a song about wrestling.  Hollywood was fake, wrestling was real ...

I Lived It (songwriters: Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley, Ben Hayslip, and Ross Copperman):
Daddy drove the wheels off a flatbed Ford
Flies found the hole in the old screen door
Granny said the dress that my sister wore
To church wasn't long enough 
Momma poured grease in a Chrisco can
Put a hundred thousand miles on a Sears box fan
Uncle Joe put tobacco on my hand
Where them yellow jacket's torn me up
And I ain't making this up 
Oh, you think I'm talking crazy
In a different language you might not understand
Oh, that's alright
That's just the kind of life that made me who I am
Just taking my mind on a visit
Back in time 'cause I miss it
You wouldn't know how to love it like I love it
Unless you lived it
And man, I lived it 
Granddaddy smoked Salems with the windows up
Drove me around in the back of that truck
We drank from the hose and spit in the cup
We all survived somehow 
Them old Duke boys, they're flattening their heels
Hollywood was fake, wrestling was real
Wouldn't dream of spending that two dollar bill
From pushing a lawnmower ‘round
I go back there right now 
Oh, you think I'm talking crazy
In a different language you might not understand
Oh, that's alright
That's just the kind of life that made me who I am
Just taking my mind on a visit
Back in time 'cause I miss it
You wouldn't know how to love it like I love it
Unless you lived it
And man, I lived it
Oh man, I lived it 
Oh, you think I'm talking crazy
In a different language you might not understand
Oh, that's alright
That's just the kind of life that made me who I am
Just taking my mind on a visit
Back in time 'cause I miss it
You wouldn't know how to love it like I love it
Unless you lived it
And man, I lived it
Oh man, I lived it

Friday, August 10, 2018

More surgery

The Queen Of The World is in for dental surgery (again) this morning. Posting will be light.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The scientific crisis of reproducibility

I first ran across the Journal of Irreproducible Results back in the 1980s, but it was already 30 years old then.  It was a funny science spoof magazine publishing goofy pseudo-scientific papers like The Optimum Number Of Friends In The Information Age.  It ranged from chuckle worthy to belly laugh, but only if you were a nerd.

The premise of the magazine is that some papers could only be published there, as they could never be replicated.  Well, it seems that this may be standard operating procedure for much of the scientific literature:
An ambitious project that set out nearly 5 years ago to replicate experiments from 50 high-impact cancer biology papers, but gradually shrank that number, now expects to complete just 18 studies.
It seems that it's expensive to replicate experiments and so the project is scaling back in the face of lack of funding. This during a period where there is increasing discussion that perhaps a majority of the published papers are spurious, and when scientific paper retraction is at an all time high.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


$43M in cash found in Nigerian apartment.  And I thought that all those emails were fake ...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

You may not be interested in birthdays

But birthdays are interested in you.  Well, me at least.

Bah.  As Doc Holiday once said, I'm in my prime.

The post title, of course paraphrases Leon Trotsky's rather blood-soaked saying that while you might not be interested in war, war is interested in you.  I wonder what old Leon thought of birthdays?  I'm sort of okay with someone redistributing mine to someone who needs them more ...

Monday, August 6, 2018

Money does grow on trees after all

At least for this dog:
It all started when Negro discovered the school’s store on campus. Students will go there during their breaks and purchase things. 
This included cookies that they would feed to Negro. 
But the students weren’t the only ones learning things on the school grounds. Negro discovered what commerce is in that store. He figured out by watching the students that if you give something, you get something in return.
The dog put two and two together, and started showing up at the store with a leaf.  To buy his own cookies.

If you look closely you'll see his paw on a leaf that he'd just brought.
“He comes for cookies every day,” store attendant Gladys Barreto told The Dodo. “He always pays with a leaf. It is his daily purchase.”
They only let him get two cookies a day, to keep him from getting fat.  I love everything about this story.

No really, I'm sure it will fit

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Juán García de Zéspedes - Convidando está la noche

Mexico's first composer is likely to have been Juán García de Zéspedes, born 2 years before Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztecs.  Born in Pueblo, he may have been indian.  But he had a good singing voice and was trained by the Fathers at the Pueblo cathedral where he eventually became the choir director.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A moment of Zen

Last week's ride.

Photo by The Queen Of The World
Off to a Jimmy Buffett concert now.  Hopefully I won't blow out my flip flop ...

Alabama - Mountain Music

Photo by The Queen Of The World
Last weekend the Queen Of The World and I climbed on the Harley and road to Morgantown, WV for the Mountainfest bike rally.  It's a beautiful, scenic and windy ride and the rally was small but a lot of fun.  While we were there we went to the headline concert by the country supergroup Alabama.  I'd forgotten just how great their music was, which is a statement on my fading memory.  How else fo you explain forgetting this:
40 number 1 singles
10 number 1 albums
75 Million albums sold
3 5x platinum albums
3 4x platinum albums
4 double platinum albums
More ACM and CMA awards than you can shake a stick at
A Start on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame
Billboard Country Music artist of the 1980s
ACM Artist of the Decade
And oh by the way two Grammys, including one for this song.  An you can imagine at a venue called Mountainfest in West Virginia (in the hometown of the WV Mountaineers), this song had the crowd rocking.  So much so, in fact, that they sang it again as an encore.

Photo by The Queen Of The World
They are a very likable band.  Over the years they have donated over $70M to St. Jude's CHildren's Hospital, perhaps the single largest donation by a single private entity.

Mountain Music (Songwriter: Randy Owen):
Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway 
Drift away like Tom Sawyer
Ride a raft with ol' Huck Finn
Take a nap like Rip Van Winkle
Daze dreamin' again 
Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway 
Swim across the river, just to prove that I'm a man
Spend the day bein' lazy, just bein' nature's friend
Climb a long tall hick'ry bend it over, skinnin' cats
Playin' baseball with chert rocks, usin' sawmill slabs for bats 
Play some back home, come on music
That comes from the heart
Play somethin' with lots of feelin'
'Cause that's where music has to start 
Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway, hey hey 
Oh play me mountain music
Oh play me mountain music
It was actually less a concert than a singalong.  Everybody knew all the words, and that even includes me although it's been a long time since I've listened much to their music.  I think that's something that I'm going to change, adding them to my playlists.  They had the crowd rocking to May The Circle Be Unbroken, and while that's a song that lends itself to raucous singalong, they did it particularly well.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Maybe they have something on Donald Trump now

The Washington Post gives Trump's statement that he would "bring jobs back" four Pinocchios.

Your Friday feel-good stories

A week or two ago, a story made the rounds about how the entire town of North Platte turned out to feed a National Guard unit that was returning from training:
Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base. 
A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack? 
North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.
During World War II the troop trains would stop for water in North Platte, and the town would feed them.  A couple million of them over the course of the war.  People remembered.

This story made me think of the troop greeters in Bangor Maine near where I grew up:
BANGOR, Me. — Shortly before 11 on a recent Monday night, Cathy Czarnecki made sure the macadamia nut cookies were on the table of treats in a room at Bangor International Airport. The commercial passengers had all left, but 260 soldiers would soon arrive to a welcome that few of them expected. 
“Here they come!” someone shouted, and a dozen or so volunteers went out into the hallway and applauded as a line of soldiers in desert camouflage and tan boots poured into the small terminal. 
“Thank you for your service,” one man said to a soldier while shaking his hand. “Welcome to Maine,” another greeter said.
The tarmac at the airport there was built for Dow Air Force Base, which hosted B-52s.  It's the most eastern major runway in the United States, and so flights returning troops from the Middle East would land there to refuel.  Or planes on their way out.
The plane on that Monday night brought troops from bases in California, Nevada, Utah and Washington, and was headed to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and then to the Middle East. It was the 1,774th flight greeted since May 2003, with 335,195 men and women and 35 military dogs having passed through the airport. 
“Use a cellphone, call home,” Mr. Knight said as he doled them out. “Have something,” he added, motioning to the food. 
Lt. Col. Eric Shalita, 43, did both, helping himself to a powdered donut after calling his wife and two daughters at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. “It was amazing,” Colonel Shalita said. “We were completely not expecting this.”
The troop greeters are there at all hours of the day or night, and in all weather.  PBS did a show about them ten years ago or so.  It may have been the last time I watched PBS, because Dad called me and told me it was on.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

Remember the Usual Suspects® saying that they can ban AR-15s because the Second Amendment only applied to what was available at the time?

Is the 9th Circuit regaining its sanity?

First it ruled that the right to keep and bear arms means what it says.  Now it says that the Police have to protect Trump rallies:
The suit's 20 plaintiffs claim in a lawsuit that police knowingly ordered them to leave through an exit where protesters were waiting, despite the existence of a safer route and other exits, the San Francisco Chroniclereported last week. 
On Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said, if the allegations are true, “the officers acted with deliberate indifference to a known and obvious danger” and violated the constitutional rights of Trump supporters.
I believe that this is one of the Signs of the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rest in peace, Captain Dickson

One of the Tuskegee Airmen, lost in action in 1944.  His remains have just been recovered and identified.
All we have of freedom 
all we use or know 
this our fathers bought for us  
long and long ago.
- Rudyard Kipling

Genius Award

Florida man wasn't drinking and driving.  He was only drinking at stop signs:
According to TCPalm, the 69-year-old was pulled over at a McDonald's drive-thru on June 27 after a woman said a vehicle behind her kept hitting her rear bumper.  
Stevens said he’s never had a valid Florida driver's license and deputies noticed an open bottle of liquor in the passenger seat of his car. Deputies said Stevens smelled of alcohol and said he felt "pretty good." He also told deputies he was drinking Jim Beam bourbon from the bottle found in the passenger seat, then gave arguably the worst (or best) excuse ever. 
“He further explained that he was not drinking while the car was moving and only when he stopped for stop signs and traffic signals,” the arrest affidavit states.
The news report does not say if, when he was asked to walk a straight line, he replied "hold mah beer".

It's not "Socialized Healthcare"

It's "Political Healthcare":
The story of Oliver Cameron, born with a deadly heart condition and saved by surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), is an inspiring testament to the refusal of two parents to accept anything less than state-of-the-art medical treatment for their baby. Yet, if you want to know the details of his amazing recovery, you won’t find them in any major U.S. news outlet. Why not? Oliver’s story highlights the abject failure of socialized medicine and the spectacular success of the best health care system on the planet. In other words, it belies an ongoing propaganda campaign conducted by the media. 
Oliver’s story, which was even ignored by the Boston Globe, must be gleaned from sporadic reports in the British press, a few American news sites like the Daily Wire, social media, and the BCH website: Oliver was born in the UK, on the last day of January 2017, with a condition called cardiac fibroma — a large benign tumor of the heart. The term “benign” is misleading, however, indicating only that the tumor was non-cancerous. It was by no means benign in its effect on Oliver’s health. The condition rendered his heartbeat dangerously erratic, often causing his pulse to race at near lethal speeds. 
It soon became evident that, for Oliver to have any chance of reaching his first birthday, the tumor had to be removed. At this point Oliver’s parents were horrified to learn that the UK’s socialized medical system, the National Health Service (NHS), doesn’t employ a single surgeon with the expertise to perform that procedure. All they offered Oliver was a place on a purgatorial heart transplant list, but Tim and Lydia Cameron didn’t accept that. They began researching their son’s condition hoping to find some ray of hope. They found it at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Ah, but remember poor little Alfie Evans?  He also had promises of healthcare far from the shores of Her Majesty's scepter'd isle, but the bureaucrats at the National Health Service refused to let him leave, even posting police to prevent his getting foreign care.  So what hope did little Oliver have?

It turns out, the NHS bureaucrats flinched from the bad press they had been receiving:
Caution was indeed a wise policy. The NHS predictably refused the couple’s plea for Oliver to be sent to Boston where competent surgeons could perform the life-saving surgery. Lydia and Tim then asked if the NHS would agree to bring the American surgeons to the UK to perform the procedure. Inevitably, the NHS refused that request also. In desperation, the couple set up a crowd-funding page on GoFundMe in the hope that the NHS would allow Oliver to go to the U.S. if they paid for it themselves. By the middle of August, the Camerons had raised nearly £150,000 of their £200,000 goal.

Meanwhile, the major media all but ignored Oliver’s dilemma. The BBC, for example, ran a whopping 85-word story. Ironically, the media inadvertently aided the couple with its concurrent coverage of the controversial Charlie Gard case. Just as Oliver’s parents began raising money, public pressure on the NHS was steadily intensifying pursuant to its refusal to allow Charlie to go to the U.S., where a hospital had offered to admit him for experimental treatment. Shortly after Charlie died, the NHS suddenly reversed its position. Oliver could go to Boston.
Charlie Gard was another baby that was killed by the NHS, in a dry run for Alfie Evans.  But while it's very unlikely that the bureaucrats had a conscience or a sense of shame, they did have a bureaucrat's finely-tuned sense of self preservation.  And so they let Oliver go to Boston, where American surgeons saved his life.
In other words, the NHS allowed Oliver to get competent treatment in the U.S. primarily as a way of avoiding further bad publicity. And the American “news” media, having inadvertently given socialized medicine a black eye by devoting so much coverage to the Charlie Gard atrocity, remained silent as the tomb regarding the NHS decision to send Oliver Cameron to Boston Children’s Hospital for surgery. And, when that 8-hour procedure proved successful, it was all but blacked out by the media.
The media blackout is passing strange, is it not?  We are drowning in glowing stories about the newly proposed "Medicare for Everyone" plan that would nationalize every doctor in the land.  Why, oh why is the media not covering stories like Oliver's?
There are three obvious lessons here: First, socialism doesn’t work in medicine or any other human enterprise. It removes the incentive to keep up with the times and it invariably puts soulless bureaucrats in charge of your life. These people couldn’t care less if you live or die. Second, capitalism does work in medicine and every other human enterprise. It provides the incentive to remain state-of-the-art, and it puts you in charge of your own life. Third, anyone who says socialism will render U.S. health care more efficient or equitable than our quasi-capitalistic system is an idiot or a liar.
My one gentle criticism of the author is that last sentence: idiot or liar.  Perhaps we can embrace the healing power of "and"?

Anyone who is enamored of socialized medicine might productively read through my posts tagged "Killed by socialized medicine" which go back nine years.  There are lots of examples that the media generally doesn't report.

A River Song - A Brigid Guest Post

Frost on the window turned to fog as the heat kicks on.  It was a trip to my Dads, taken in the fall, the growl of the furnace waking from hibernation, waking me too early from the rapture of deep sleep, as I roll over and sigh with its loss.

Dad was still sleeping - going to bed around 7:30 pm waking about the same time in the morning. For myself, a cup of hot coffee and freshly baked bread, consumed at the table that's seen several generations pass.  A sip of liquid, the tear of bread, a communion with the morning, as I said a prayer of thanks.  Elsewhere, the world rushed ahead, gathering like seagulls at a fast food place, eating their microwaved food thrown at them out a window. Few wish to get up earlier just to have this quiet time, the language of yeast and oven and hands being a foreign tongue, a Mass for the dead, the generations gone, whispering from the walls around.  That morning, I sensed them, the history in this house, even as I knew they are not there, the words I spoke, head bowed, a whisper in the mist.
Each time I visit, weeks apart, I wonder if it will be my last, but for a funeral.  It's a thought that's never far from my mind as I arrived back home, the clock showing a new day has started, even as I exited the terminal from a delayed flight.  Cabs waited, hovering around the doors, like stray cats, seeking warmth and sustenance. I hailed one, my husband being told to not wait up when I realized I'd be landing just a few hours before he got up for work.  The driver was an older man, cordial and polite. After ensuring I was buckled in, and an obeisant glance at the cross on the rear-view mirror,  he takes off into the night, uttering a torrent of Greek into his hands-free phone, a cheerful animated conversation with a friend, by his tone.  Though he's totally attuned to the road, his words rush past with emotion, a smile, a gesture of futility, a pondering frown, and more smiles.  Of the rapidly flowing language, I only caught one phrase in English "walking dead" and I had to stifle my laughter.  We are a nation as bound by the old as we are the new.

Each time I go home to see Dad, things change. Small businesses closed, a big box mart type store replacing a row of houses that used to line the small highway in a nearby town.  Dad's house itself is largely unchanged, but for fresh paint and a good roof, something my brother always took care of. The only thing that changes as I come in, is my Father, the man slowly and carefully coming to the door, still the man I remember chasing me down the street when those training wheels came off the bicycle and I realized how fast I could fly, unfettered. Yet, even as he's approaching a hundred years on this earth, his spirit is as strong as the staff in his hand, to be raised when one needs help to fight, to be leaned on when one is weary. Yet even as he has aged, he's remained a constant, and even as my own faith at times foundered, I saw his strengthen in his eyes.
On the table by his chair lay a well worn Bible, something to be read each day before his meal. On the wall, certificates and flags, photos of submarines and airplanes, markers of duty that stand above a table on which sit two children's toys, sturdy little vehicles a generation old, one commanded by a small, well-loved teddy bear. Dad has outlived two wives and two children in this house, an older sister, lost before I was adopted, and the reason this family became mine. As I sat each day and listened to him read, I was aware, dimly and without regret, of the silent sundering of this family, too soon, only one of us remaining.

But the words of the Book of Psalms call me back into the present  This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. And we will, taking every moment we can out of the time remaining, like the savoring of a fine meal, one flavor upon another, sweet diffusing the bitter, the spray of warmth against the tongue, the velvet of oil, that binds but does not subdue. We are not shy guests at the feast the world offers, breathing deep of the day. Like the freshly baked bread, the air is full of the breath of sweet warmth, comforting long after it has been consumed.
After the breakfast dishes were washed, we would make our way into town for gas and supplies, taking the ferry. It's a ritual journey that's been made a hundred times. Sure, one can take a small bridge to the other route, then a huge span of metal across the river some miles further, but it's not nearly as fun. Passing the Nordic Hall, we get to the ferry in time to be first on, where Dad can sit in the vehicle sensing the motion, and I can lean against the front barrier, the wind in my hair, stray raindrops on my face.

The river looked like steel, the wind coming from the mouth of the river, humming as if through wire. I remembered another ferry ride, the last one with my big brother, as he stepped off the boat back to land, to have that silent cigarette he thinks I don't know he'd smoke.  I watched him in the faded fabric of the shore, his form, a thin piece of steel unbending before the wind, the embers of his cigarette fraying away in fiery shreds, carried on that biting wind like sparks of ice.
That day, everyone now on board, we moved away from the dock. The ferry moved with the aged motion of service, the rituals of grace, the tending of the fires of an altar, burdens born secretly, yet even in its cumbersome age, moving towards the light on the horizon.

A ferry has been making this run for almost a hundred years, and will a hundred after we are all gone. The faint leap of my heart reminding me of how much I missed the water, the faintly metallic scent of the sea, evoking pale images of silent hopes, the fragrance of forgotten tears.  The other riders probably thought I'm was daft, standing out there in the cold and the wind, the throb of the engine a song within me, of history and a name which lies on the edge of memory beyond capturing, falling behind, left in the churning wake. The sound of a ship's horn brought me out of my pondering, cleaving the air like a star does the secrecy of night.  I turned and waved at my Dad, and went back in the vehicle to keep him company.

I would make this trip again, the intervals between, shorter and shorter, as is time. Even when the last trip is made, the ferry will continue to run. From island to shore, from the past to the future, the span of distance is small.
 - Brigid