Saturday, September 29, 2018

Seen while out

It has an Infinite Improbability Drive.  Bungied to the roof, so there's clearly not much thrust.

It looks like this may be the official car of the Senate Democrats ...

Friday, September 28, 2018


This is simply top shelf mockery, on so many levels.

Well played, Internet.  I'm so old that I remember when all the fun mockery was directed at conservatives, not coming from them.

Update on North Carolina being the Massachusetts of Dixie

Remember the woman who saved people's pets during hurricane Florence?  Remember how the NC authorities shut her down and arrested her because she didn't have a permit?  Well, they backed off and dismissed all charges:
A local district attorney's office has dropped charges against a North Carolina woman who was arrested after she took in dozens of pets during Hurricane Florence. Tammie Hedges, founder of Crazy's Claws N Paws animal rescue, was accused of running an illegal veterinary operation before authorities confiscated the animals. Prosecutors decided to toss out the charges on Tuesday. 
Hedges sheltered 10 dogs and 17 cats in a warehouse that she was in the process of converting into a shelter, according to CBS affiliate WNCN-TV. She had been charged with 12 counts of misdemeanor "practice/attempt veterinary medicine without a license." Wayne County District Attorney Matthew Delbridge said in a statement that he was dismissing the charges to "minimize further distraction from my core mission of protecting the public from violent crime."
Gee, ya think?  Betcha got more than a few angry calls and letters on this, didn't ya, Scooter?
However, he noted, "A passion for and the love of animals is laudable but does not excuse unnecessarily putting their health at risk when other, safer resources are available." He said the building failed to meet standards for an animal shelter and that "this defendant... has previously been censured for the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine."
Damn.  WTF is wrong with these Statist Pricks in North Carolina.  Oops, I think I let the cat out of the bag in the post title.

Hopefully the good citizens of Wayne County will vote this sumbitch out at the earliest opportunity.

Thoughts on l'affaire Kavanaugh

Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power is one of the most interesting stories in modern history.  He was lucky, always managing to be in the right place at the right time.  That, combined with his prodigious military skill led him to the head of the French revolutionary government.  One of the lucky breaks he caught was that he was seen by the other European powers as reining in the excesses of the revolutionary terror that had consumed the French Republic.  Basically, while he was a military rival, he was seen as someone they could do business with.

That changed in March 1804, when he sent French Dragoons across the Rhine into sovereign German territory to kidnap Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien.   The Duke was a prominent French royalist and the heir to the house of Condé, in line to the throne of France. Brought to Paris and tried on trumped up charges of conspiracy, he was executed. A European aristocracy who had breathed a sigh of relief that Napoleon had leashed the French Revolutionary Terror instantly became implacably opposed to his rule. While he was able to conquer for a while, he was unable to hold his gains in the face of their continuing resistance. As Talleyrand is said to have explained, It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.

The Democrats committed a crime in how they approached the Kavanaugh nomination, but worse for them, they committed a blunder.  This whole thing was a sordid farce - multiple accusers have recanted, one laughably claimed that she went to ten parties where gang rapes occurred but never reported anything to the police, and the primary accuser - who testified before the Senate yesterday - has scored a cool half million dollar payday for her efforts.

That's just sad.

Now the farce looks to be backfiring on them.  Even squishy RINOs like Lindsey Graham are fighting mad at the Democrats, and there looks to be not only a solid GOP voting bloc for confirmation but they look like they'll be joined by some Red State Democrats.  Polls are notoriously unreliable in this Age of Trump, but the reaction by conservatives on social media has been incandescent anger and each of the Senators will have their own internal polling guiding their vote.  It's only 6 weeks to election day and we're now inside the notoriously short attention span of the American voter.  And this was the high visibility political crisis that the Democrats wanted to showcase?

It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Let's talk about FDR's Supreme Court nominees

Today looks to be a day of High Political Theater, with Democrats taking to the fainting couch because of the lack of moral fitness (or something) in one of Trump's SCOTUS nominees.  So let's talk about moral fitness in SCOTUS nominees.  This post was triggered by this tweet:

Twitter cuts off the key part of the picture, so here it it:

Sal refers, of course, to Associate Justice Hugo Black.  Black was a Senator when he was nominated, and the rules of the time extended the courtesy of confirmation without a vote when the nominee was a sitting Senator.  Instead, the Judiciary Committee held hearings on his appointment, with a particular focus on his membership in the Ku Klux Klan.  He was confirmed anyway, but the KKK connection was hushed up by the heavily Democratic Senate.

Black went on to make history (of sorts) on the Court, writing the majority decision on Korematsu v. United States which found it perfectly constitutional to round up hundreds of thousands of American citizens and imprison them without trial in concentration camps.  Sort of what you'd expect from a President who was America's most notorious fascist leader.*

But Brett Kavanaugh is a stain on the Court's honor, or something.

* See the first footnote at the bottom of the post.  Or you could get a longer bill of indictment for FDR here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Smart Phone voting apps are a terrible idea

West Virginia is going to allow electronic voting via the VOATZ SmartPhone App.  This isn't just a horrible idea, it's more horrible than you can possibly imagine.  It is broken on so many different levels that it's hard to summarize, so let me start with XKCD's cartoon from last month:

Wear gloves about sums it up.  Rubber gloves, which you burn when you're done.  Interestingly, Robert Graham (a bona fide security expert) wrote that this is unfair, although if you read all the way to the end of his post you'll see that it pretty much is fair:
It's like fail-systems in industrial systems, where we are less concerned about whether the normal systems have an error, but much more concerned about whether the fail-safe system works. It's like how famously Otis is not the inventor of elevators, but the inventor of elevator brakes that will safely stop the car from plummeting to your death if the cable snaps.

What's lacking in election machines therefore is not good or bad software engineering, but the failure of anybody to create fail-safes in the design, fail-safes that will work regardless of how the software works.
I'd suggest that there is a gross lack of security design standards in software engineering (especially compared with physical engineering).  I've written about this for ten years and none of this has really changed:
So what's the system of the online mobile bank? We need to understand this to understand the risks of the different system components to get a good understanding of the overall risk.

There's the web site itself (logo blurred out here to protect the guilty). My experience is that you'll find the best security in the Defense Department. Very close behind that is security at the major banks. I have made some snide comments in the past about online banking, but the problem isn't that they don't have cutting-edge technology, or skilled operations personnel, or processes and procedures that are backed by executive management. Someone's in charge of the system - you can ask the question who's the online security guy  and get an answer. While there will always be the occasional security vulnerability in the web portal, the risk here is low.

There's the Internet, that sits between you and the web site. Security is lousy here, but the encryption used to scramble your data while it flies over Al Gore's Intarwebz is so good that the risk here is basically non-existent.

There's your phone, and your phone's browser. Technology is moving very, very fast here, which means that security is an after thought. You have many different vendors - one makes the phone, a different one makes the software, and a third one that sets everything up. For me, it's some company in China who makes the phone, and Apple who makes the software (OS X and Safari), and AT&T who sets things up.

So when it comes to your phone, you are the "online security guy".  You need to configure the phone securely and make sure that things are working correctly. Not your bank - after all, it's your phone, not theirs.

So what's the risk of the overall banking system? Negligible risk in the banking web site and Internet transport, but indeterminate risk in your phone.

In an engineering sense, "indeterminate" is a Bad Thing, because you can't estimate costs and risks. It's more than just Ted has a bad feeling going on here, there are serious issues that you need to know before you know if the overall online mobile banking system has unacceptable risk
Now, at this point I need to say that I wrote this about online banking.  In my experience, Banks have very, very good security, and a very, very good understanding of risk and how to manage it.  That means that this is the absolute best theoretical case for online voting, and for the VOATZ app in particular.  Let's break down the three risk areas above by what we know about VOATZ.

The risk of data transiting the Internet is no different.  Yes, it's possible that the VOATZ app has screwed this up, but this is a pretty low risk.  iOS apps, for example, get encryption services from the iOS operating system, so unless you think that Apple has screwed up the crypto, this is likely not bad.

The risk of the back end servers is real.  Banks are good at this, so what do we know about how VOATZ measures up?  What we know does not inspire confidence:
UK-based computer security bod Kevin Beaumont outlined on Monday a list of red flags that he spotted. 
We're told the Voatz website needs patching: it is powered by an out-of-date version of the Apache web server on a box with an out-of-date SSH service and PHP installation. It also apparently exposes NTP, POP3, PHP3, and a 2009-era edition of Plesk to the internet. The site's database, hosted on Azure, has a remote administration panel exposed on port 8080 with no HTTPS protection, according to Beaumont. 
This does not inspire confidence that Voatz can keep miscreants out of its servers, and prevent them from potentially meddling with election results.
All these exposed services suggest a default installation of the web server without any follow up to lock it down.  In short, it is indicative that the VOATZ server farm is administered by incompetents, which shouldn't give the good citizens of the Mountain State warm fuzzies.

Worst is the security of the VOATZ app itself.  There are huge flashing red lights from what we know here:
Very little information is publicly available about the technical architecture behind the Voatz app. The company says it has done a security audit with three third-party security firms, but the results of that audit are not public. Sawhney says the audit contains proprietary and security information that can’t leak to the public. He invited any security researchers who want to see the audit to come to Boston and view it in Voatz’s secure room after signing an NDA.

This lack of transparency worries people who’ve been studying voting security for a long time. “In over a decade, multiple studies by the top experts in the field have concluded that internet voting cannot be made secure with current technology. VOATZ claims to have done something that is not doable with current technology, but WON'T TELL US HOW,” writes Stanford computer scientist and Verified Voting founder David Dill in an email to WIRED. 
Voatz shared one white paper with WIRED, but it lacks the kind of information experts might expect—details on the system architecture, threat tests, how the system responds to specific attacks, verification from third parties. “In my opinion, anybody purporting to have securely and robustly applied blockchain technology to voting should have prepared a detailed analysis of how their system would respond to a long list of known threats that voting systems must respond to, and should have made their analysis public,” Carnegie Mellon computer scientist David Eckhardt wrote in an email. 
Ideally, experts say, Voatz would have held a public testing period of its app before deploying it in a live election. Back in 2010, for example, Washington, DC, was developing an open-source system for online voting and invited the public to try to hack the system in a mock trial. Researchers from the University of Michigan were able to compromise the election server in 48 hours and change all the vote tallies, according to their report afterward. They also found evidence of foreign operatives already in the DC election server. This kind of testing is now considered best practice for any online voting implementation, according to Eckhardt. Voatz’s trials have been in real primaries.
If at this point you're catching a whiff of snake oil, you're not the only one.  And back to the XKCD: They say they've fixed it with something called "Blockchain".

So if you were one of the Bad Guys, what attack vectors might you investigate?  Here off the top of my head are what you might consider:

  • Look for App vulnerabilities that would allow using fake/forged biometrics.  Even if the blockchain is secure, if you can feed bogus data into the front end you can potentially cast votes for someone.
  • Look for App vulnerabilities that change the user's vote after it is cast but before it is entered into the blockchain.
  • Look for server-side vulnerabilities that let you block the service (Denial Of Service).  This would disrupt or prevent an election from being completed.
  • Look for server-side vulnerabilities that would cause absurd vote tallies to be reported.  This would reduce confidence in the electoral system ("Denial of Service via Resource Poisoning").
But the mother lode of hacks is where you take over the server and cause small changes to the tallies in a way that throws the election the way you want.  This is not just a theoretical problem:
Nowhere was this more clear than when Georgia cybersecurity expert Logan Lamb accessed at least 15 counties’ election management databases from the central tabulator via the state Center for Election Systems’ public website, the order continued. The white hat hacker notified CES he was able to obtain private elector information and DRE passwords used by polling place supervisors, but the state took no action between August 2016 and February 2017.
The judge in this case was rather tart in her ruling on this case.

NONE of these risks seem to have been addressed by VOATZ - no doubt because the entire company has perhaps a dozen employees and is running off of venture capital funding.  Remember, this is just a quick list of attack vectors off the top of my head.  This looks like it's an exceptionally target rich environment and so the list will certainly be much longer.

But back to Robert Graham's objection to the XKCD cartoon: what's important are not vulnerabilities, but failsafes.  If you have paper ballots then you have a decent failsafe.  That's not what you have here, and handwaving while muttering "blockchain" doesn't change that.

Online voting is a persistently bad idea, one that is only liked by people who are completely ignorant of the security issues, and yet one that seemingly will not go away.  If you are suspicious that Stalin's dictum of it's not who cast the vote that matters, what's important is who counts the vote is in play here, you're not the only one.

Burn it with fire.  Or bury it in the desert.  Wear gloves.

Top shelf snark

Over at Aesop's place.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How good is the Trump economy?

Army misses recruiting target for first time since 2005:
WASHINGTON – The Army fell short of its recruiting goal for 2018, missing its mark for the first time since 2005 as it looks to grow its force strength in the face of growing threats from competing world powers such as Russia and China. 
The Army has launched a large-scale review of its recruiting practices, senior service officials said Friday. The service will pour millions of dollars into revamping recruiting facilities and bolster its recruiting force after falling about 6,500 recruits short of its goal for fiscal year 2018, which will end Sept. 30. The Army had hoped to enlist 76,500 recruits in 2018, a goal that was lowered from 80,000 in April after more soldiers than expected elected to remain in the service.
The Army blames competition with the civilian job market for reduced recruitment.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Family is visiting

The Queen Of The World's sister is visiting, and we're headed out to show them the area around Castle Borepatch.  Blogging will be light today.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - The Seasons, Op. 37a (Autumn Song)

Portrait of Tchaikovsky by Nikolai Dimitriyevich Kuznetsov
Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of Autumn.  The occasion calls for a composition of note, and today's is one that is not just timely, but is particularly interesting.

Tchaikovsky of course needs no introduction (although you can get one from previous posts here, here, and here).  Those posts are some of his most famous music; today's is obscure, but is a little heard delight from the very beginning of his career.

In 1875, Tchaikovsky was commissioned to compose a series of twelve short piano pieces, one for each month of the year.  These were collected in The Seasons, which were published with short poems from famous Russian poets.  The poetic snippet for October (Autumn Song) was from no less than Tolstoy himself, capturing the famous Russian pessimism:
Autumn, our poor garden is all falling down,
the yellowed leaves are flying in the wind.
It is said that it is enormously difficult to translate poetry from one language to another, and this is a great example of that dictum.  Still, the music is very nice, and you almost never hear this performed. Most of the songs are light fare, but a few (including this one) give a glimpse into his soon to be composed epic operas and ballets.  Sergei Rachmaninoff particularly liked the one for November, Troika, and while The Seasons was mostly forgotten in the West, Rachmaninoff's interpretation kept it alive in Russia - from whence it returned to these shores.  We own Rachmaninoff a hearty thank you for this.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

I keep saying that North Carolina is the Massachusetts of Dixie

Here's proof:
Wayne County animal control officers confiscated 27 dogs and cats from a temporary emergency shelter Monday that was being run by volunteers with Crazys Claws N Paws rescue. 
Frank Sauls, animal services manager for Wayne County, said there is an ongoing investigation with animal control services and could not say what the charge would be. 
“If we didn’t feel like anything was being done wrong, we would not have taken (the animals),” he said. “But that is for the courts to decide.”

Tammie Hedges, who runs Crazys Claws N Paws, signed the dogs over to animal control. 
All of them were taken to the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center.
“We were trying to help abandoned animals,” Hedges said. “We knew North Carolina didn’t have any regulations or laws regarding shelters for animals. 
“So a group of us got together to do something to help those animals is why we opened our building to them so they’d have a safe dry place to go until their owners returned to get them.
So where does Massachusetts come in?  Remember Martha Coakley, the former Attorney General?
Tekmage has great post about Massachusett's idiot Attorney General, Martha Coakley. For those who haven't heard, here's the Cliff Notes version:
  1. Pervert molests 4 year old in public bathroom.
  2. Kid's (ex-Marine) dad catches him, and goes all Semper Fi on perv's ass.
  3. Police show up, take one look at situation, and arrest the dad.
When Atty Gen Coakley was asked WTF was up with this, her reply was "We don't encourage self help." Well now.
Well now, indeed.  Hurricane forcing evacuations?  Pets left behind?  Think that you might want to do something to keep them from drowning?  Frank Sauls, animal services manager for Wayne County does not encourage Self-Help.

Frank Sauls, animal services manager for Wayne County is a statist prick.  The same reasoning applies to him as what I pointed out applying to Martha Coakley:
At first blush, it seems that the $64,000 question is "Why would the authorities not want the public's help?" Suppose that the Mass.Gov really wanted to reduce child abuse. They'd give the dad a medal, and haul Mr. Feely off to durance vile. Then everyone would retire to the local saloon: Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses.

That's sure not happening. So the real $64,000 question is "Why not?" The answer is ugly.

It's not ugly because the idiot police let the molester go free, although that's pretty ugly. While the molester is a threat to the community, he is not a threat to the authorities.

What is a threat to the authorities? Mr. Marine Dad, who wasn't a good victim, who didn't go running to the Nanny State for help, who handled things.
And so we see that North Carolina is the Massachusetts of Dixie.  Q. E. D.

Eddie Rabbitt - I Love A Rainy Night

Eddie Rabbit got his start writing a song for Elvis.  He tried to pattern his style after the King - not too fancy, just straight up, upbeat songs (remember, this was the early Elvis).  He, like Elvis died far too young, taken by lung cancer. His career was brief, but burned brightly with twenty #1 hits between 1976 and 1988 - and this span was shortened by a hiatus after the death of his infant son in 1985.

Rabbitt was best known for his crossover sound, which included movie soundtracks (Every Which Way But Loose) and TV themes (Days of Our Lives, All My Children). This crossover appeal took this to #1 on both the Country and Hot 100 Charts in 1980.

I Love A Rainy Night (Songwriters: David Malloy, Eddie Rabbit, Even Stevens)
Well, I love a rainy night
I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good

Well, I love a rainy night
It's such a beautiful sight
I love to feel the rain
On my face
Taste the rain on my lips
In the moonlight shadow

Showers washed
All my cares away
I wake up to a sunny day
'Cos I love a rainy night
Yeah, I love a rainy night
Well, I love a rainy night
Well, I love a rainy night

I love a rainy night
I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mel Torme - County Fair

The Queen Of The World and I are going.

Your Friday grin

Seen on

Also seen on Gab:


Hey, maybe that will work ...

A Gun Control Oopsie

Well, well, well:
The National Rifle Association demanded Phil Bredesen, the Democratic nominee in the 2018 Tennessee Senate race, retract an ad touting an outdated rating from the organization. 
The gun-rights group called on Bredesen to retract the ad he posted yesterday touting his A rating from his time as governor. 
"It's not 2002, you're not governor and you're not A-rated by the NRA," Cox tweeted at Bredesen in response to the ad. "It's 2018, you have earned a D rating for turning your back on self-defense and supporting the Hillary/Schumer/Bloomberg gun control agenda. @VoteMarsha is a 2A champion. You're not."
You might think that if the Gun Control folks had all the arguments on their side, they wouldn't have to lie.
HYPOCRITE, n.   One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he depises.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Electronic voting machines - still unsafe at any speed

The user interface for some of these is confusing and may lead voters to cast a ballot without printing/verifying it.  In other words, allow unauditable votes to be cast.  These, of course, are the ones that Bad Guys will tweak to change elections.

Stalin would have had the designers all shot.

Why do Hollywood dimwits love socialism?

The Czar of Muscovy explains it with a parable.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Shana Tovah

To our Jewish readers, a thought for the Day of Atonement:
Man's days are as grass, it blossoms like a flower of the field.
The wind blows and it is gone, and its place it knows no more.

- Psalm 103

Actually, it's not a bad thought for all our readers.

At this point, does the Justice Department have any credibility left?

I'm hugely skeptical about the charges against Cody Wilson:

It would be different if the whole DoJ didn't seem to be so politicized and willing to bring bogus charges to a court.

Now this is what #Resistance looks like

Not some dumb political thing, but deadly serious defense of your country:
A World War II heroine who used her harmless appearance to gain the trust of Nazis before executing them has died in The Netherlands, aged 92.

Freddie Oversteegen was born in Haarlem, near Amsterdam on September 6, 1925 and raised by her communist mother. 
She was just 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance.

Together with her older sister Truus and their friend Hannie Schaft, she blew up bridges and railway tracks with dynamite, smuggled Jewish children out of concentration camps and executed as many Nazis as she could, using a firearm hidden in the basket of her bike.
One of her girlfriends was captured and executed by the Nazis.  She always felt sorry for the Germans she shot, but she did it anyway.

Rest in peace, Freddie Oversteegen.

Avast, me hearties!

Chris Lynch reminds us that today is Talk Like A Pirate Day.  I guess that today we call call his blog "A Larrrrrrrrrge Regular"!

Maybe it's just me, but this doesn't seem like it's as big a thing as it used to be.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Poor kid

OK, maybe the Media is heroic

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Quote of the Day: Government inefficiency edition

Government is inefficient even when it is trying to be efficient.  Marcel Bich (creator of the Bic ball point pen) saw that clearly:
We are fiercely anti-technocratic. The way to keep the price of beef down is not by government price regulation, but by producing beef efficiently. 
Technocracy is a widespread disease today. Starting at the top with the ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration ), it reaches all levels. It is particularly attractive to French people, Cartesian by nature. It results in a large number of administrators and organizers, but when it comes to rolling up your sleeves and doing the actual work there is nobody. Technocracy results in high production costs and, much more critical, low morale among employees who become discouraged and bored with their jobs in which they cannot take any initiative. By placing confidence in workers, employees and executives, everything becomes simpler. Contrary to popular belief, private enterprises have a greater chance of success today than they ever did. As proof, just look at the increasingly serious difficulties in which large state -owned companies find themselves.
That's as true today as it was when he wrote it in the 1970s.  In fact, it's all Rich People's Leftism.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Damn those sneaky Russians

Those sneaky bastards.

The Coast Guard officer corps needs a shakeup

The Coast Guard relieved a man from rescue duty during the Hurricane because he made the "OK" sign.

Don Surber comments:
In America in the year 2018, burning the flag is acceptable speech while flashing an OK sign is not.
I would add that it is not OK for the officers to throw their troops to the wolves.  The Coast Guard has tried for years to be considered a fifth branch of the military.  They have not learned that loyalty is earned.  The hierarchy that allow this has disgraced their entire service with their cowardice.  They need to go.

Jules Massenet - Meditation (from the opera Thaïs)

Image de la Wik
There is a new Classical Music group on Gab.  For those that haven't been following along at home, is a Twitter-like platform that is dedicated to free speech - they do not censor posts, although they provide tools for users to filter out content they don't like.  You can find me there as @Borepatch.

But the new Classical Music group is a delight.  There is already a fair amount of content there, including today's selection here.  One of the problems I've had recently with Sunday Classical posts is that after 300 or so it's hard to find new artists that I haven't posted before.  The new Gab group makes it a lot easier - see someone interesting, do a quick blog search and voila - new content!  Thanks, Gabbers!

Jules Massenet was (as are so many composers who have appeared here) a child prodigy.  Like most of the French Romantic era composers who have appeared here, he was trained as a child at the Paris Conservatory (he later became a Professor there).  He went on to become a prolific composer of operas, with over 30 to his name.

I simply love this music, but alas it fell out of fashion in fin de siecle France.  Surprisingly, he music was almost never performed for fifty years.  Fortunately for us, his music has made a comeback.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A First Responders View of Natural Disaster - A Brigid Guest Post

With everything happening with Hurrican Florence a post about being a post-disaster first responder from my third book, Gold winner of the Readers Favorite International Book Award for Fiction - Religious Theme.

A Chapter From Small Town Roads - Published by Xulon Press 

We don’t have to speak for our intentions to be read.

Speech seems like a simple thing, a coordination of muscle and bone, nerves and tongue, something within us, just as the ability to control and guide both weapon and machine lay slumbering within the wrists and hands. We can stay silent, but the words are still there.

Man experiences things of great magnitude and cannot speak of them at all. An artist or craftsman creates something that was part of them, honed into art or machine. On completion, they say no words, they call no one, and they simply put down their tool, their brush, and stare at their vision, incarnate.

Veterans come home from battle empty of all words, bound together by only that identical experience which they can never forget and dare not speak of, lest by speaking of darkness, they are wrapped in its chains. First responders and law enforcement officers often relate as they too see so much death that never again, as long as they breathe, will they ever truly go to sleep alone.

Man experiences the mundane, the meaningless, tweeting and texting of it feverishly. It is as if, by doing so, inconsequential acts become more than the passing of time by the imminently bored. The words can uplift but they can also sting like so many insects, their incessant noise, finally dimming to a hum.

We speak in different languages, and even when speaking the same language, we often don’t communicate, and when we do, we often don’t truly mean what we say. Promises can be nothing more than words and oaths empty air, especially when election times near, wherein contests of fierce and empty oratory are somehow, retroactively, supposed to make us believe, any more than they can make us forget.

We speak in the language of the past, chants unchanged in generations hanging in the air as God is placed into a golden cup, there underneath the eyes of angels. We speak in the language of silent prayer, calling upon God and our reserves, saying prayers without words, as we draw near our weapon as we enter what could be hell on earth.

Words can support, they can heal, with gentle utterance after a nightmare in the still of the night, the soothing voice that smoothes the frayed edges of a day with nothing more than the touch of supple prose. Words can injure, cutting like a knife, discharging like a spark of electricity, those words, from someone we love, marking us always with their wounding.

Words, a movement of lips and tongue that can cause laughter or pain; that can divide or conquer. Even in a nation where English is the official language, in parts of our country, there are whole neighborhoods where you won’t hear it spoken.

Sometimes one doesn’t need to speak at all.

On any given day, tragedy and the earth collide, flood, tornado, the plunging of a mighty machine into a peaceful neighborhood. The details differ, but the response is always the same. When disaster strikes, the land itself turns mute and those that remain, stand simply as silent instruments unable to make a sound.

I didn’t fully understand that until the tornado came through our town last night, leveling several homes a mile or so north, leaving others, like mine and most of my neighbors, miraculously standing.  We were lucky, in that there were no deaths, the majority of the homes having basements and a good tornado warning system. But as we came up from our basement, our house untouched but for a tree that took out the front porch, it was as if what I viewed was a completely different town.

Harry, my elderly friend from across the street, was on the sidewalk, Evelyn holding on to him, shaken but unhurt. Ezekiel and Miriam waved from down the block, his shop roof damaged but the structure intact. But just down from Harry’s home, Betty, the widow that lives there stood in front of what remained of her house of 60 years. It was one set further back from the road than the others, the back portion of the house completely missing its roof and some walls, not even a photo of her failed dreams, left where the wind rushed through those rooms. She cried silently, in the faded robe she fled in, as one of the neighbors came over and put her arms around her. Behind all of the homes across the street from us, there were so many trees downed, limbs flung through windows, shattering them as if they were thrown like a lance.

A young woman, her face growing older by the minute, stumbled from the walkout basement of the home that had sold when I moved in, a solitary figure, clutching only a stuffed animal, making a path towards what is known. Her brother, off in military service, was letting her live there to care for the place while she attended a community college in a town not too far east of us. We beckoned her to come over to us, and though I am probably only ten years older than she, like Evelyn does with me, I hold her in a mother’s protective embrace.

The older couple from the corner of the block lost a brand new outbuilding they had painstakingly constructed behind their house. They now could only look at the work of their sweat and tears strewn about for miles by the force of nature, the wind thick and warm, like blood spilled, pooling around what little remains. A lone tree stood among so many that were downed, torn out by the roots, its nervous branches bent down as if hoping not to be noticed.

The first responders arrived, standing for just a moment, still and mute, hands unmoving beneath the invisible stain of what was, always, needless blood. For just a moment they stopped, as if by whispered breath or the movement of disturbed air, what little remains, would crumble.

They gathered, moving in and around, the firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement officers, wearing blue and black and yellow. Such garments, solemnly worn, exchanged for lives that used to be ordinary, worn as they shape something from chaos, coercing that terrible blood wind to give up a sound, the forlorn echo of someone who might have survived underneath the carnage. I waved at an officer I worked with, seeing the relief in his eyes that I was unhurt, feeling like I should be doing something more to help. I realized that I was still in shock as I held my neighbor to me to comfort as beneath my bathrobe my precious child lay safe.

It’s surprising how much noise there was in the silence, of hope, of grief, of disbelief. It was a sound which one could almost, but not quite, capture, receding like dwindling song until there were only the shadows and the quiet. And then a small voice, “Can anyone help me?” low and faint as the Vespers of sleep. It came from a home that didn’t have a walkout basement, and a tree had gone through the sunroom. I had been there, and that would have blocked the basement stairs. Hopefully, the person is fine and can get out once the tree was moved.

Survivors and saviors, moved without sound, sending a message as loudly to the heavens as if they were one voice. People were helped from the rubble, the injured accessed, the grief-stricken comforted as best as one could, if only by a touch that resonated straight to the heart, bypassing a brain that could not accept its fate. There were no Teleprompters, there were no cue cards, and there were no words for boundless grief and regret. There was no language for this, no word, no sound; it’s defiant and imminent life, holding on.

The World's oldest brewery

It's a lot older than we used to think.  Aaron finds it.

They also remember, far across the seas

An Italian friend posted on Facebook about the small town of Galliate in northern Italy, and how they have put up a memorial to 9/11:

Their memorial includes a piece of the World Trade Center:

To the good citizens of Galliate, let me just give a heartfelt Mille grazie.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Bill Wharton - Hurricane Blues

It's headed for Carolina.  Good luck to our readers there, especially frequent commenter Rich in NC, and Bob (who I really wish would blog more).

Why Donald Trump is so successful renegotiating Trade Agreements

Washington Post: Trump is responsible for hurricanes.*

So all he has to say is "Play ball, or else".  If they don't play ball, then it's time to stock up on bottled water and batteries.  It's going to be ugly come election day - areas that vote against his guys better start piling up sandbags and putting plywood over their windows!

* You can't make this up.  I've just inaugurated a new post tag: "Climate bullshit" because, well, you know.

International Criminal Court and Gunboat Diplomacy

We never ratified that treaty (in fact, we may never have even signed it) and now US National Security Advisor John Bolton has made some not so thinly veiled threats to take action against it if the ICC tries to arrest Americans:
"Today, on the eve of Sept. 11, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the president of the United States. The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," Bolton continued. "We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own."
He was clear in why we were doing this:
"In theory, the ICC holds perpetrators of the most egregious atrocities accountable for their crimes, provides justice to the victims, and deters future abuses. In practice, however, the court has been ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous," Bolton said. "Moreover, the largely unspoken, but always central, aim of its most vigorous supporters was to constrain the United States. The objective was not limited to targeting individual U.S. servicemembers, but rather America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure."
This made me think of a set of posts that the late Steven den Beste wrote way back in 2002 about the ICC:

Comments on the ICC as it relates to the US Constitution (hint: the legal system in the USA is explicitly defined by the Constitution and changing this would almost certainly not be able to be done by treaty, but rather would require a Constitutional Amendment.  Good luck with that)

Comments on the laws it will enforce (hint: no American voter will be allowed to vote on these laws)

Comments on how its judges will be elected. See the first article on the Constitution which specifies this in detail for US Courts, but it's way worse than judges having power over Americans while Americans have no ability to vote against those who appoint them:
If the laws that the International Criminal Court will enforce inspire no confidence, the process by which judges are selected inspires frank terror. There are all sorts of words about how candidates must be of good moral character, experience in the law, integrity, and so on and so forth, but the bottom line is that they're selected by secret vote amongst the signatory nations, with each nation having one vote and candidates requiring a two-thirds affirmation to be selected. (Andorra and Brazil each will get the same size vote.) 
As I read through the description of the process, what it reminded me of more than anything is the kind of process that International Figure Skating uses to select its judges for major competitions such as the Olympics. (And we all know how that turned out, don't we?) 
The process is loaded with safeguards which guard nothing, and what you'll end up with is a tribunal made up primarily of people from all over the world who will, in the main, look out for their own. Decisions will be based on horsetrading and mutual back-scratching, not on the basis of justice. And since the majority of signatories will be poor, powerless third-world nations, that's where the majority of the judges will be from, just as soon as they realize that they can form a voting bloc and use it to take over the mechanism. This is going to end up being just about as impartial as the UN General Assembly.
All in all, I think that John Bolton was quite restrained in his words.  If the ICC ever got jurisdiction over Americans the only redress would be Carrier Strike Groups off of the coast of enough of the Judges' home countries to make sure that the expected outcome was, well, expected (our way, not theirs).

The election of 2016 was the revolt of a significant number of voters against the exercise of unelected and unaccountable power.  You don't see a more stark example of that than the ICC which is (like the United Nations) a cynical power grab swaddled in a lot of feel-good platitudes.  I highly recommend den Beste's articles.

Hat tip: Kim du Toit.

Bootnote: den Beste's USS Clueless archives can be found here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The American people at their very finest

America's Dunkirk: hundreds of private boats spontaneously organized a rescue of 500,000 people from Manhattan island on 9/11.

Nobody organized anything.  People just did what needed done.  It was the largest maritime rescue in history.

There's also a book about the rescue.

My thoughts on 9/11

Since September 12, 2001 we have lost 6800 combat dead and almost 60,000 wounded.  I'm not sure where this war is going, what the goals or victory criteria are, or how much longer to expect dead and wounded troops to come back from over seas.

Photo copyright Borepatch.  You can see these at Arlington far too often
It's been 17 years since we were attacked, and here we are.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Damned Facebook

Seen on  All the Cool Kids hang out there, because nobody censors you there.

Why the Cathedral hates Donald Trump

The Cathedral is one of the most important concepts to emerge from what is called the Dark Enlightenment.  It is a loose grouping of the Universities, the Media, and Non-Governmental Organizations.  People employed by these groups are essentially pseudo governmental employees and direct funding, education, and publicity towards efforts supporting larger and more powerful government.  A quick overview of this philosophy as stated (vs. what it really means) is here.

The Cathedral has benefited greatly from this dynamic.  People employed by Cathedral organizations have gotten more money, power, and social status over the last 40 years, while the working class has stagnated or shrunk towards poverty.  Interestingly, the Cathedral has offered an out to the working class, one that has simply reinforced the dynamic of an ascendent Cathedral and a sinking middle class:
It’s worth noting, along these same lines, that every remedy that’s been offered to the wage class by the salary class has benefited the salary class at the expense of the wage class. Consider the loud claims of the last couple of decades that people left unemployed by the disappearance of wage-paying jobs could get back on board the bandwagon of prosperity by going to college and getting job training. That didn’t work out well for the people who signed up for the student loans and took the classes—getting job training, after all, isn’t particularly helpful if the jobs for which you’re being trained don’t exist, and so a great many former wage earners finished their college careers with no better job prospects than they had before, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt burdening them into the bargain. For the banks and colleges that pushed the loans and taught the classes, though, these programs were a cash cow of impressive scale, and the people who work for banks and colleges are mostly salary class.
Donald Trump ran on this issue - the resentment of the formerly middle class and now increasingly immiserated - and suddenly it looks like his enconomy is reversing the dynamic:
Blue-collar jobs are growing at their fastest rate in more than 30 years, helping fuel a hiring boom in many small towns and rural areas that are strong supporters of President Trump ahead of November's midterm elections. 
Jobs in goods-producing industries — mining, construction and manufacturing — grew 3.3 percent in the year preceding July, the best rate since 1984, according to a Washington Post analysis. 
Blue-collar jobs, long a small and shrinking part of the U.S. economy, are now growing at a faster clip than those in the nation's much larger service economy. Many factors collided to produce the blue-collar boom. Some are linked to short-term boom-and-bust cycles, but others may endure. 
The rapid hiring in blue-collar sectors is delivering benefits to areas that turned out heavily for Trump in the 2016 election, according to the Brookings Institution, a shift from earlier in this expansion, when large and midsize cities experienced most of the gains.
And this will be particularly galling to the Cathedral types:
Rural employment grew at an annualized rate of 5.1 percent in the first quarter. Smaller metro areas grew 5 percent. That's significantly larger than the 4.1 percent growth seen in large urban areas that recovered earlier from the Great Recession, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program of a separate set of Labor Department data released Wednesday.
No wonder the Cathedral hates Trump with the fires of a thousand suns.  Why would a young person go into debt (hello, Banksters!) to go to College (hello, leftie Professors and Deptartment of Education!) when he can get a good paying blue collar job?  What happens to the money, power, and status for Cathedral employees when high school graduates can start making decent money in traditional blue collar professions?  What happens to the Coastal Cities without a continual influx of people from the Heartland who no longer have to move to expensive and highly regulated Blue cities?

The money, power, and status enjoyed by the Cathedral is under threat by Trump's reforms.  Of course they hate him.

Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Carl Czerny - Fantasia for piano, flute and cello

After seven years and hundreds of classical music Sundays, it's getting harder to find composers whose music I haven't already posted.  In particular, I've just about mined out the Romantic era (say, from Beethoven through Mahler).  But not quite.

Carl Czerny was an Austrian (actually Czech, which was ruled by the Austrian Emperors back then) piano virtuoso - his 101 Exercises is still part of piano instruction today.  Pupil of Beethoven himself, he taught Franz Liszt while composing over a thousand pieces in the finest Romantic tradition.  A 1927 Etude magazine article showed that his teaching (and pupils) basically were the pantheon of great piano instructors.

The famous magazine The Etude, a U.S. magazine dedicated to music, which was founded by Theodore Presser (1848-1925) at Lynchburg, Virginia, and first published in October 1883 and continued the magazine until 1957, brought in its issue of April 1927 an illustration showing how Carl Czerny should be considered the father of modern pianistic technique and base an entire generation of pianist that extends to the present day.
Interestingly, he was one of the first to notice Beethoven's growing deafness

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Glen Campbell and Carl Jackson - Dueling Banjos

It's easy to forget just how great a guitarist Glen Campbell was, and he filled his band with top notch musicians like the Grammy winning banjo player Carl Jackson.  This is just pure fun.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018



Nike: Believe in something

Seen on Gab.  People say that there's no such thing as bad publicity; it looks like Nike is fixin' to find out whether that's true or not.

Karma just ran over the New York Times' dogma

The NYT is actually taking a lot of flak from fellow lefties over publishing an anonymous Op-Ed against Trump:
An op-ed written in the New York Times by an anonymous "senior official in the Trump administration" has drawn harsh rebuke from both sides of the aisle and beyond - after everyone from President Trump to Glenn Greenwald to the Los Angeles Times chimed in with various criticisms.
Their Dogma, of course is to get Trump by any means, fair or foul.  Whatever - it's a free country after all.  But Karma has just bit them in their butts.

Specifically, the Times did not take a stand against the whole NSA/PRISM spyapooloosa back when their guy was resting his loafers on the Resolute Desk.  Back then, enormous and unaccountable power to track all Americans' communications was no big deal.

Well, guess who has all the metadata of everyone who works for the New York Times?  It is likely a morning's work at Fort Meade to pull together a traffic analysis map of everyone in the White House who has communicated with the fine folks at the Grey Lady.

Will they do it?  Who knows.  Maybe they've already done it.  Maybe the Op-Ed was a three dimensional chess media leak from the Trump Administration that suckered the Times.  Maybe it's something else entirely.

But some of us spent eight years warning about the danger of increasing government power and just how difficult it is to hide from that.  It would sure have been nice to have had a free press fighting that fight with us.  There's some schadenfreude in watching the Press get caught by what they thought was No Biggie under Obama, but that's cold comfort.  And so Leviathan stirs.
Everybody likes to get as much power as circumstances allow, and nobody will vote for a self-denying ordinance.
- Lord Acton

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


I corresponded with George Austin over the years - he was a frequent commenter here any I was a sometimes commenter there.  His passing made me think on epitaphs, and that his was written by no less than Hemmingway himself, who once said:
You can tell a story with six words.  "For sale, baby shoes.  Never worn."
George once wrote nine that hit me hard at the time and which remain with me today:
Father’s Days are no longer happy days for me.
There's an entire book captured in those words.  Rest in peace, George.

Climate change ship of fools

The Press has given us 20 years of "hottest year EVAH" stories which, while not convincing governments to tank their economies via a huge carbon tax seemingly has convinced a lot of people that the world is, well, hotter than it's ever been.  The wages of listening to scientists these days is sometimes high indeed:

Ice crushes sailboat trying to navigate the Northwest Passage; two people had to be rescued by the Canadian Coast Guard. (article in German, but Google Translate will give you the gist)

The Northwest Passage is the sea route across the top of North America.  People have tried for centuries to find a reliable way to sail there because it would vastly shorten the distance a ship must go between Europe and east Asia.  Henry Hudson (of Hudson's Bay fame) died in 1611 looking for the Passage, as did the entire crew of the two ship Franklin expedition in the 1840s.  It took until 1906 for Roald Amundsen to successfully navigate it, and remember that he was the first man to get to the South Pole and return alive.

So even with all of these "hottest years EVAH" this latest ship was crushed by the ice and sank, in the middle of summer.

Ya know, if all this Global Warming science were as settled as everyone tells me, you'd think you'd see evidence falling off the trees supporting warming.  Strange how I keep seeing all sorts of evidence that nothing is really changing much.

Interestingly, they went down in the ice a day's sail past Baffin Island.  Schooner Fare did a song about a whaler locked up in the ice off Baffin Island, back in the day.  Libertyman for sure will recognize this.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Trump Economy continues to disappoint

Well, it is disappointing Democrats.  New Harris poll of blue collar workers says they think that they're better off than they were 5 years ago and that the economy is on the right track:

This part is particularly interesting:
Blue collar workers are slightly more likely to identify with the Democratic party, 35 percent vs. 31 percent for Republicans. By a small margin, they think Republicans do a better job of helping blue collar Americans than Democrats, 39 percent vs. 36 percent.
I'm so old, I remember when the Democratic Party used to actively support the working guy.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hmmm ...

I'm beginning to suspect that voting might not change anything.

Epic trolling is epic

The lunatics at PETA have rented a billboard in Maryland, with a message aimed at convincing the good citizens not to eat the local delicacy blue crab.  The caption is "I'm ME, not Meat".  Well it took only a blink of an eye before an adjacent billboard went up mocking the PETA loons.

Whoever you are, Mr. Billboard Man, a grateful Internet thanks you.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Arthur Bliss: Overture to Christopher Columbus

On this day in 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail with three tiny ships from the Canary Islands, his last port of call in the Old World on his way to the New.  1949 saw the release of a staggeringly expensive film about the explorer.  It was a box office disappointment but featured a score by Sir Arthur Bliss, a fairly prolific composer for the British film industry.  Bliss had experimented with the modernist movement but found the revenue stream more reliable with more accessible music for stage and screen.  There's a moral for modern composers in there somewhere.