Monday, December 10, 2018

A Holiday Charity recommendation

I went on a ride with the local HOG chapter yesterday: Toys For Tots, delivering toys to the Salvation Army.  It was pretty nippy.  But I had a very interesting conversation with one of the SA people who explained the vetting process they do when people ask for help.  Almost all of the people who get assistance are working multiple jobs - they just can't make ends meet.

This holiday season, if you're looking for a group to give money to the Salvation Army is one to think about.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Puppini Sisters - Mele Kalikimaka

They seem to be a young group doing Old School music.

No school like the Old School.

Germany: licenses to carry weapons double

It's Deutsche Welt, so it's backed with "violent American cowboy" references but this is pretty interesting:
Germany has issued nearly 600,000 basic weapons licenses, representing an increase of 130 percent since 2014, according to figures published on Friday by Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND), which supplies a number of German dailies with content. In 2014, only 261,332 licenses were in use.
With the license, Germans can carry gas pistols, flare guns and other weapons not intended for deadly use.
Not as good as a Glock, but better than nothing I guess.  Gosh, what might have led to this increase?
The rise has been partially attributed to a growing sense of public insecurity, most notably with an increase in terror attacks on European soil since 2015.
So Germans are rational.  The Polizei doesn't dig it that people don't feel like the Polizei can't protect them:
"We must be careful not to get American conditions in Germany," said Jörg Radek, deputy chairman of police union GdP, referring to rampant gun violence in the US. "There is a danger that weapons will not be used properly and that their owners will endanger themselves."
[insert "Only Ones" reference]

Germany started turning into America so slowly I hadn't noticed.

This is pretty funny

I must say that I don't look anything like the 1911 guy.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Alison Krauss, Yo Yo Ma, Natalie MacMaster, Shane Shanahan & Cristiana Pato- Wexford Carol

As so often is the case, Irish music reminds us of the reason for the season.  I find that the pipes add a deeply mystical touch.  The lyrics below are a little different, trandscribed by William Grattan Flood from a local singer in County Wexford, and published in the Oxford Book Of Carols in 1928.

English lyrics 
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born. 
The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas,
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall. 
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born. 
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife. 
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet. 
Irish Lyrics 
Ó, tagaig' uile is adhraigí
An leanbh cneasta sa chró 'na luí
Is cuimhnígí ar ghrá an Rí
A thug dár saoradh anocht an Naí.
'S a Mhuire Mháthair i bParrthas Dé,
Ar chlann bhocht Éabha guigh 'nois go caomh,
Is doras an chró ná dún go deo
Go n-adhram' feasta Mac Mhuire Ógh. 
I mBeithil thoir i lár na hoích'
Ba chlos an deascéala d'aoirí,
Go follas don saol ón spéir go binn
Bhí aingle 'canadh ó rinn go rinn.
"Gluaisig' go beo," dúirt Aingeal Dé,
"Go Beithil sall is gheobhaidh sibh É
'Na luí go séimh i mainséar féir,
Siúd É an Meisias a ghráigh an saol."

What is the Republican Party for?

This is a serious question, and I have what seems an answer.  But it diverges pretty sharply from the marketing messages sent out from GOP HQ.  If we look back over the past 8 years at the big picture messaging - why the GOP said that we should vote for them - we see something like this:

2010: We have to repeal Obamacare!  We can't do anything without controlling the House of Representatives!

2014: We have to repeal Obamacare!  We can't do anything without controlling the Senate!

2016: We have to repeal Obamacare!  We can't do anything without controlling the White House!

There's more, of course - run away deficits being one that used to be much discussed.

So what have we seen?  Well, there was a big tax cut.  And Trump has gotten a bunch of Executive Branch regulations killed.  The economy's doing pretty well for a change.  Trump seems to be cutting some trade deals, using tariffs as a big negotiating stick.  And Trump appointed a bunch of judges, at least until GOP Senator Jeff Flake put a stop to confirmations on his way out of the Senate.

Other than the tax cut, it seems like all Trump, all the time.

Other than tax cuts, the GOP seems to be getting in the way: no Obamacare repeal, no immigration rationalization (let alone a wall).  The list seemingly goes on and on.  Flake is putting a hold on new judges to get a bill passed protecting the Muller investigation, for crying out loud.

Remember when the Democrats took over in 2009?  They had an agenda ready to go.  The GOP in 2016?  Err, not so much.

So what's going on?  I believe that the answer lies in Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law Of Bureaucracy:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration. 
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
The Iron Law says that the GOP will function to preferentially advance itself, rather than its stated goals.  If you look at the money flowing into its coffers (and more importantly, who is paying that), it becomes clear that the GOP will work towards crony capitalist, big business, globalist goals.

Just like the Democratic Party.

No Obamacare repeal?  Of course not, because Obamacare was only the first step towards European style government provided healthcare.  Big business loved this because it would reduce their bottom line (health insurance benefits are a big annual cost to them).  No wall?  Of course not, because illegal immigrants depress wages, improving their bottom line.

The costs of their policy preferences are somewhat or largely borne by others: if doesn't hurt the big business if 60% of illegals go on welfare.  Sure, taxes go up and government services go down for citizens in these locales, but the company's bottom line improved, didn't it?

You can go on an on with these examples, but it all boils down to how both parties have sold out to global business.  The hypocrisy is as strong on the Democratic Party's side - the idea that they will do anything for the "Little Guy" is a laugh - but that's really a post for another day.  For now, we'll just leave it at this:

Which brings us to Donald Trump who seems more than anything to be a reactionary, trying to roll back the last 30 years by force of will alone.  Looking at how messed up things have become, that's maybe not a bad thing but he's more or less on his own.

None of this looks sustainable to me.  Trump is Trump, but no man lives forever.  He doesn't seem to be remaking the party, and so once he's gone it seems that we'll be back to the march towards immiseration by the Big Government/Crony Capitalist alliance.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dangerous Work

In the long ago I was a RADAR tech working on F-4J and F-4S fighters. One of the primary deployments we went on every 18 months was a 6 month stint in Iwakuni, Japan. There are always a couple of fighter squadrons in Iwakuni. Nowadays, those are F-18 squadrons.

Fighter squadrons are an interesting unit because the enlisted man fix the aircraft and the officers fly them into combat. And even when it's not combat, it's dangerous work. Those aircraft operate at the edge of human design and human performance limits. We would fix the planes, then suit them up, strap them in, and watch them go. Every time they landed safely was a good day.

Yesterday, an F-18 stationed in Iwakuni collided with a KC-130 refueling tanker and both aircraft went down in the Sea of Japan. As I write this, two survivors have been located and rescued. While the articles aren't saying it yet, I can assume that the survivors are the aircrew of the F-18. They would have had the opportunity to eject.

I expect the aircrew of the KC-130 did not survive. Whatever damage they incurred, the crew would have been trapped in the aircraft as it crashed in the water.

This is what that refueling evolution looks like from the fighter on a clear day in good visibility. Practicing this at night in scattered clouds would make it much more difficult and dangerous.

Semper Fidelis.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Happy Anniversary

Three years ago the Queen Of The World and I got hitched.

I love the cake topper we had:

Although someone pushed it over.  Even at the wedding there was a motorcycle accident.  Man, she sure is pretty.

But it's more than that - she's an extraordinary woman, and I'm lucky to have her.  And not just because she makes the world's best tiramisu. but because she's my pride and joy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Seen on reddit/r/The_Donald:

This is funny enough for me to dig up my old post tag from the Obama years ...

The French people bring the French government to its knees

France has been burning, with riots over pretty much the whole country and hundreds of people injured and/or arrested.  The trigger for all of this was a big gasoline tax increase - ostensibly to control "climate change" but really just another big ol' tax on the working population by the limousine liberals.

And so the country went up in flames as tens of thousands of citizens threw up barricades on the Champs-Elysées.  Seriously:

The protesters all wear yellow safety jackets, which in the last year or two were made mandatory for all drivers.  That was just one of many petty tyrannies that seem to have led up to the current explosion.  There are a LOT of protesters in yellow jackets:

All in all, 36,000 people are protesting across France, and over 5,000 in Paris alone.

Fuel tax rises which had led to weeks of violent protests in France have been suspended for six months.
PM Edouard Philippe said that people's anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.
The protests have hit major French cities, causing considerable damage for the past three weekends.
The "gilets jaunes" (yellow vest) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government.
Three people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism - notably when statues were smashed at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris last Saturday - have been widely condemned.
"Yellow vests" are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.
As the Lefties like to say, I guess that this is what Democracy looks like.  Remember, Donald Trump was not a cause, he is a symptom of a reaction to an increasingly aloof and disconnected ruling class. That reaction isn't limited to the United States by any means.

UPDATE 4 December 2018 11:21: It looks like this isn't enough to stop the protests.  At this point you have to start wondering if Macron's government can survive.

And this would have made Dad laugh (he was a Professor of French History):

Monday, December 3, 2018

Wolves protecting sheep

Via Claire (by way of Zendo Deb and  Wirecutter) we find this story of biker gangs providing security for refugees from the California fires:
To the world at large, their leather club jackets mark them as something to be feared, but to the evacuees, it means safety and a watchful eye. On one, a sharp knife sits holstered on his jeans next to a walkie talkie clip. On others, tattoos and heavy skull rings rest around fingers that grip boxes and lug medical supplies around the shelter. “What we do best is to stand there and look ugly,” Strausbaugh joked. “We look hard and we are hard, and if pushed we can push back in a way that isn’t pleasant. But we also have a soft spot for the little guys.” 
Between five to 12 men from the various clubs are on patrol at all times. When they heard complaints about cars being broken into, the men adjusted their patrols to include the parking lot and the dirt lot next door. They found used needles next to an area where children were playing and “gently escorted” those people out, Dunbar said. 
“We saw a need and came and filled it,” Dunbar said simply. “Bike clubs are often involved in things like this but they’re not the type of guys to go and blow their own horn.”
This won't come as a surprise to anyone who's been around bikers.  Zendo Deb muses on Thomas Hobbes:
People say that Thomas Hobbes was an unrealistic pessimist. But I think the state of that church/shelter before the bikers reestablished some level of order was exactly described by Hobbes’ State of War.
During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man.
Well, until some hard but good men show up.  Men with a realistic view of the world:
For Strausberg, it’s simply a matter of putting the club’s skills where it’s needed most. They’re well aware of their reputation and the way they look to the world, but as he puts it, “We’re like the wolves protecting the lambs. Sometimes it takes a wolf to protect people from the other wolves out there.”
But Claire reminds us that prepping is more than building up stockpiles:
It seems “good citizens” are as unprepared mentally as they were physically.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Harry Burleigh - From The Southland

Image from Ol' Man Wik
There was a wave of nationalism that swept through classical music in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  These compositions used "common" themes and folk music as the basis of serious concert hall orchestral music.  We've seen much of this here, with Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, Percy Granger, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and (of course) Aaron Copeland.  Another American was quite famous in his day, and in fact a pioneer who helped open doors for black classical music performers like Marian Anderson.  He broke down doors, and it's a shame that we never hear his music anymore, as it's quite good and his story is fascinating.

He was born in 1866 into a society undergoing big, big changes.  Despite the endemic racism of the day, his singing talent opened doors as he was pretty quickly recognized as the finest baritone in his native Erie, PA.  This led to numerous soloist jobs, and his success there led him to New York City and the National Conservatory of Music where he studied.  He supported himself as a handyman at the Conservatory, where he sang spirituals in the hallways while working.  This brought him to the attention of the Conservatory's Director, none other than Antonín Dvořák (who - unbelievably as it may sound - has never been featured here on Sunday Classical).  Dvořák knew everybody who was anybody in the music world, and not only included some of the black spiritual melodies in his New World symphony, but was likely instrumental in getting Burleigh a job teaching at the Conservatory.

He was considered for the position of soloist at St. George's Episcopal Church but the congregation balked at hiring a black man (the church was segregated at the time).  It was J. P. Morgan himself who cast the deciding vote to hire Burleigh, who held the position for 52 years.  His annual Palm Sunday performance of Fauré's "The Palms" was a 50 year tradition in New York, and Mayor LaGuardia had him broadcast it from the Mayor's office in 1944.

Along the way he composed quite a lot of good music.  This is a great example, with traditional themes (you very well may recognize some) done in a classical format.  The music starts perhaps nine and a half minutes into the video, but there's a fair amount of background on Burleigh there.

Happy birthday, Harry Burleigh!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fair Winds and Following Seas

He was a Navy pilot with Torpedo Squadron VT-51 during the Second World War. Later he entered government service. Fair winds and following seas, Lt. Bush.