Monday, November 11, 2019

The Armistice from 500 feet over No Man's Land

Eddie Rickenbacker looks back on eleven o'clock.  You forget that the planes flew as slow as cars go today, and he had time to observe things as he flew slowly by.

Troop Greeters

This Veteran's Day, I'd like to point out some folks from the Home Front that made a difference.  The country is full of people who thank veterans; this is the story of two groups who went above and beyond the call of duty.

The North Platte Canteen

Troop trains would stop in North Platte, Nebraska.  The engineers would lubricate the wheels and top off the water in ten minute stops.  The women of North Platte would bring food - at first cookies and later in the war full meals and even birthday cakes - to the trains.

Every single train for the entire war.

Six million troops stopped in North Platte, and every single one was fed.  The government donated exactly $5 of this, and it was a check sent by Franklin Roosevelt when he heard about the effort.  The people who organized this raised almost $140,000 (in 1940s dollars).  The food was gathered during a period of rationing.  The soldiers and sailors who went through North Platte never forgot that day.

The Bangor Troop Greeters

Bangor, Maine has the easternmost international airport in the United States.  Originally built as Dow Air Force Base, the runway once hosted B-52 bombers.  This makes it a great refueling stop for troop flights returning from overseas.

A group of people in Bangor heard that soldiers returning from Desert Storm were going to be stopping.  They showed up with coffee, cookies, and cell phones for the troops to call their loved ones.  A million and a half troops have stopped in Bangor, and they're met at all times of the day or night.  The US Government hasn't had to pay a dime - this is an all volunteer effort.

These people make me proud to be their countryman.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Screw Germany

The German Foreign Minister (!) says that the US had no impact on Germany reunification:
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for more solidarity among European nations in an article published in media outlets across 26 European countries on Saturday. He also thanked Europeans for their contribution to German reunification.
"German unity was a gift from Europe to Germany," Maas wrote in the editorial. "And that was at the end of a century in which Germany brought unimaginable suffering to this continent."
So  Europe did it for Germany, all on their lonesome.  Screw you, Fritz.  We should ditch NATO and set up a replacement alliance with countries that want to be, you know, allies.  And it's not just the Foreign Minister; Germany's damned President took a swing, too:
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the United States to be a "mutually respectful partner" and reject nationalism, in a clear salvo aimed at US leader Donald Trump as Germany on Saturday marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Recalling the United States' key role in helping to bring down the hated Wall separating communist East Germany from the capitalist West, Steinmeier said he still hears the late American president Ronald Reagan's cry of "tear down this wall" at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

But in a swipe at Trump's America First policy and his insistence on building a wall on the southern border with Mexico, Steinmeier voiced a yearning for a return of the transatlantic partner of the past.

"This America as a mutually respectful partner, as a partner for democracy and freedom, against national egoism - that is what I hope for in the future too," said Steinmeier.
Two words were not spoken by either of these gentlemen: Gail Halvorsen.

Germany's gotten so used to sitting at our Stammtisch that they've forgotten that's a privilege, not a right.  What the hell are we doing with troops in Europe?

Thirty years after the Berlin Wall

The Usual Suspects® are ignoring the anniversary, but that's to be expected.  After all, pas d'enemies a gauche, n'est-ce pas?  But the cold reality of that monster regime is ever green, with explicitly socialist presidential candidates and large numbers of this Republic's youth thinking that socialism - and even communism - is the bee's knees.

I wrote this ten years ago on the 20th anniversary of the fall, hard on the heels of the Newsweek Cover story "We're all socialists now".  The Useful Idiots® are still idiots today.  They're also useful, to some.

Originally posted November 10, 2019.

The Line

The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.
- Cicero

I used to be a leftist, proudly "progressive."  No more. I no longer have the stomach to sleep with evil, even evil in the name of the greater good. In all of the retrospectives about the fall of the Berlin Wall this score of years ago, something is missing. Recognition of tyranny is there (mostly). Recognition of how (mostly) the once unfree populations have embraced freedom is there, too (mostly).

What's missing is any description of the depth of evil that was our enemy. Col. Jeff Cooper saw it, and wrote of it in To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak The Truth:

Starting at its western edge, The Line is composed of several strata. First comes the actual linear boundary, surveyed and marked to the centimeter. There is no fence here. Free people can walk right up to it - but they do not step across it. Death looms. Some ten paces beyond the marked boundary, to the eastward, is the outside fence. It is a single barrier some ten feet high, electrified and sown with directional mines set to fire along its inside surface. Beyond the outside fence is a band of dead ground some 100 meters in width, cleared of life and planted at random with pressure-release anti-personnel fragmentation mines. When the snow melts in winter thaws these go off erratically in the sunshine - "Lenin's serenade."

At the inner edge of the dead ground are the dogs - German shepherds chained to an overhead trolley that allows them to run parallel to the inner fence but not back into it (electrocution) nor forward away from it (explosion). ...

At intervals watchtowers loom fifty feet into the air, manned and equipped with enhanced-vision devices, cameras, weapons, and release controls for packs of killer dogs which can be set free at command behind the inner fence. ...

Behind the inner fence lies a belt of Zombie-land five kilometers deep. No one moves here except those whose duties demand it. The fields produce. Roads and roofs are mended. There is an occasional dilapidated vehicle in motion. At first glance it seems a viable countryside. On closer inspection, however, it is death-in-life. There are perhaps two lighted windows where there should be scores. Such villages in which there are lights are inside electric fences. The sickening effect grows as the sun sets. ...

With exquisite cruelty the very existence of The Line is concealed from those it contains. The east border of the 5 km Zombie zone is marked - from the east - simply as the border. Good slaves do not cross it, not because it is fearful to behold, but because they are good slaves. Bad slaves sometimes do cross it, but because they do not know what they face they usually die.

My staff sergeant guide on this occasion told me of a case he witnessed. A young woman, apparently driven to desperation, dared to cross the eastern 5 km line and lead her small child west towards liberty. As she approached the inner fence, the orcs in the watchtower loosed the dogs.

"I stood there with a rifle in my hands, but I was not allowed to shoot." He said, "I hear those screams every day. The mother's were louder than the child's. They were long and very high. They drowned out the growling of the dogs.

"For a while."
The worker's paradise was not above selling its slaves to the west:
Between 1964 and 1989, 33,755 political prisoners were ransomed. A further 2,087 prisoners were released to the West under an amnesty in 1972. Another 215,000 people, including 2,000 children cut off from their parents, were allowed to leave East Germany to rejoin their families. In exchange, West Germany paid over 3.4 billion DM – nearly $2.3 billion at 1990 prices – in goods and hard currency.[117] Those ransomed were valued on a sliding scale, ranging from around 1,875 DM for a worker to around 11,250 DM for a doctor. The justification, according to East Germany, was that this was compensation for the money invested by the state in the prisoner's training. For a while, payments were made in kind using goods that were in short supply in East Germany, such as oranges, bananas, coffee and medical drugs. The average prisoner was worth around 4,000 DM worth of goods.[118] The scheme was highly controversial in the West. Freikauf was denounced by many as human trafficking but was defended by others as an "act of pure humanitarianism";[119] the West German government budgeted money for Freikauf under the euphemistic heading of "support of special aid measures of an all-German character.
I'm thankfully not the only one to notice this strange amnesia, and judge. And to find today's leftist intellectuals to be wanting:
The first person shot dead at the Berlin Wall was 24 year old Gunter Litfin, as he tried to swim across the Spree River on August 24, 1961. A year later, East German guards shot 17 year old Peter Fechter as he tried to scale the wall, and left him to bleed to death in that barren and desolate area of open land east of the Wall.
The last person known to be killed at the Wall was 20 year old bartender Chris Gueffroy, shot ten times for good measure on February 5, 1989. 
I find it obscene that [New Zealand] National Radio broadcasters Geoff Robinson and Lloyd Scott this morning recalled the Berlin Wall, its twenty-eight years of bloodshed and the 1200 slaughtered East Germans, with wistful nostalgia. They even appeared to excuse the East German secret police, the Stasi, as people just doing their jobs.
Not just judged to be morally void, but intellectually as well:
In 1922 Ludwig Von Mises explained that socialism would eat itself and the people whom it enslaved – that it couldn’t plan, it couldn’t produce, that it couldn’t calculate -- that it was and always would be both morally depraved and economically unsustainable. Sixty-seven years later he was proven emphatically correct when the illusion that was socialist Eastern Europe collapsed, and the symbol of its totalitarian state was torn down.
The barest minimum qualification for an intellectual is to examine and test your first premises. To reject them, if they do not model the world effectively. Philosophers all the way back to Plato would hold today's left in contempt, with their hope that some how, this time it will be different.

Here's a different way of saying the same thing:

Such a strange forgetfulness by the Moral Titans of the left: chattel slavery, Schießbefehl ("Order to fire" - shoot to kill), thousands of dead, the souls of millions crushed. For their own good, of course. The People must be protected from the people.

So strange that the left cannot take this moment to reflect on actual evil, and to condemn it without mistakes were made and for a noble cause excuses, without clinging to that most slippery word "but". They believe - and I generally concur - that they are good people, motivated to do good. But they flinch from examining the actual truth. They are behind their own mental Iron Curtain, trapped by an unexamined world view. Behind their own, intellectually-imposed Line. 

The east border of the 5 km Zombie zone is marked - from the east - simply as the border. Good slaves do not cross it, not because it is fearful to behold, but because they are good slaves.
Tear it down.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

François Couperin - Les Barricades Mystérieuses

Image de la Wik
Louis XIV was the world's toughest music critic, famously muttering "Le critic de musique, c'est moi" (well, I'm pretty sure I heard that somewhere).  The Sun King held the most splendid court outside of China, and so demanded the very best in everything.

François Couperin was Court organist, so we know that Le critique de music thought he was pretty darned good.  The rest of France simply called him Couperin le Grand.

We have a ton of his music, since he was given carte blanch to publish whatever he wanted to.  This made him influential all across Europe, and no less than J. S. Bach corresponded with him.  Later generations much admired his work, notably Brahms and Ravel - whose Tombeau de Couperin we have seen here before.

Long time reader and friend Libertyman suggested Couperin some time ago.  Since today is the composer's birthday it seemed fitting.

November 10th, 1775

Happy 224th Birthday, Marines. Semper Fidelis.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Riley Green - I Wish Grandpas Never Died

All music genres have a formula.  Rock has rebellion, the Blues has your woman did you wrong (or vice versa), Hip Hop has - well, I'm sure it has something but I couldn't tell you what it is if my life depended on it.  Country has family.

The danger of Country's overt sentimentality is that it strays into the maudlin, becoming a self-parody  Remember the ending of Harry Chapin's "30,000 Pounds Of Bananas"?  How he tried to write a country ending and so he added his Mom because the song already had a truck?  It was funny because it's true.

But when Country is on, it is dead on.  I wrote about this once, a few years after Dad's death and how one song captured her grief - to paraphrase Shakespeare a grief so profound that like the Bay of France it had no bottom.*

And so to today's song, which does the same.  You will have to go read it at American Digest where Gerhard van der Leun writes about the memories triggered by this simple piece of formula that rises above the trope.  The simple becomes deep, aye like the Bay of France which has no bottom.

It made me remember my own Grandpa.  I think he might have liked this song.

Go and read.  This is the finest thing you'll see all day, other than your family.  Oh, and if you don't know the lyrics to Mama Tried, you can find them here.

* In olden times sailors would navigate by, among other techniques, casting a sounding lead - a weight on a long string.  If the weight hit the bottom, you would pull it up counting how much line it took (this is the water depth).  The Bay Of Biscay off of France was notorious for being so deep that the weight would never hit, thus it "had no bottom".

Friday, November 8, 2019

NTSB: Uber pedestrian fatality happened because autopilot software didn't understand that someone might jaywalk

Last year an experimental self-driving car from Uber hit and killed Elaine Hertzberg in Tempe, AZ.  The NTSB has completed its investigation and said that the cause of the crash is that the software did not classify her as a pedestrian because it could not handle the idea that a pedestrian might jaywalk:
Radar in Uber's self-driving vehicle detected pedestrian Elaine Herzberg more than five seconds before the SUV crashed into her, according to a new report from the National Safety Transportation Board. Unfortunately, a series of poor software design decisions prevented the software from taking any action until 0.2 seconds before the deadly crash in Tempe, Arizona.

FURTHER READING: Uber manager in March: “We shouldn’t be hitting things every 15,000 miles”

Herzberg's death occurred in March 2018, and the NTSB published its initial report on the case in May of that year. That report made clear that badly written software, not failing hardware, was responsible for the crash that killed Herzberg. 
Two things are noteworthy about this sequence of events. First, at no point did the system classify her as a pedestrian. According to the NTSB, that's because "the system design did not include consideration for jaywalking pedestrians." 
Second, the constantly switching classifications prevented Uber's software from accurately computing her trajectory and realizing she was on a collision course with the vehicle. You might think that if a self-driving system sees an object moving into the path of the vehicle, it would put on its brakes even if it wasn't sure what kind of object it was. But that's not how Uber's software worked.
I don't find this even a little hard to believe, but you should click through to read the whole article which is simply horrifying.  Computers are really good at some things (like adding up long columns of figures) and really bad at other things (like identifying random objects in real time).  One thing they are terrible at is "common sense" - they don't have any that the programmer doesn't write into the code.  Things like a pedestrian might cross a road somewhere other than at a crosswalk.

I've said for some time that I'll never ride in one of these things, but now I need to expand that - I don't want any of these on the roads where I might be.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

No, we can't just invade Mexico to go after the drug cartels

Well, I mean that we could, but that there is precisely zero chance that we would succeed.

Folks are talking about this and I want to throw my two cents in.  Sure, we would initially blow away the cartel's armored vehicles and heavy weapons, but the initial success would be fleeting.  There are a million reasons for this, but here's a quick summary:

  • The cartels would hole up in rough terrain, just like Pancho Villa's forces did in the early 20th century.  Sure, we have helicopters which mitigates the lack of roads but the last two decades in Afghanistan do not give confidence in quick military success in mountainous regions.
  • The Pancho Villa expedition in 1916 was called off because the Mexican military intervened to oppose American intervention.  Most Americans don't really realize just how viscerally Mexicans would react to US forces on their soil in numbers.
  • Since the cartels have bought off most Mexican politicians ("silver or lead" - take the payoff or a bullet) the last point becomes even more relevant.

So it's not a question of whether we'd inflict a lot of damage on the cartels.  Of course we would.  But ultimately we'd leave with our tails between our legs and this would make the situation worse than it is today.

And don't think that we would be safe, north of the Rio Grande.  The size of the drug market is unknown but RAND says that just the US black market for drugs was over $100B in 2010.  Add in the EU, Asia, the Anglosphere, and South America and this is certainly half a trillion dollars a year.  That's a lot of money.  The cartels have used this to purchase heavy weapons and armored vehicles, submarines and airplanes.  But that isn't where the threat ends.

Consider how much computer hacking $50M or so could buy.  We know that the power grid is already compromised - the hope is that it is by nation state actors.  But what if it is Black Hats for hire?  It's entirely plausible that if the cartels face a truly existential threat from the US military that they could take down big parts of our critical cyber infrastructure.  This threat has been pretty clear for a decade; I've been beating this drum for that long, although I've mostly given up by now since it's getting worse not better.  Someone in the cartels will have noticed this.

And so while the idea of "let's go blow the cartels away" sounds good on the surface, it's an enormously bad idea.  We'd be fighting a 3rd generation war while the cartels would escalate to a 4th generation one - and we are entirely unprepared for this.

I'm at an all day meeting, so more thoughts on just how fragile our cyber infrastructure is will have to wait.  But it's not just bad, it's worse than you can possibly imagine.

You want to hurt the cartels, then you dry up the cash flow.  You end the war on drugs, legalize everything, and give the drugs away for free.  They can't compete with free.  Anything short of this and you're just going to get a lot of people killed and end up right back where you started.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Oldest Iwo Jima veteran reports to final muster

Semper fi:
MACOMB, Ill. — The oldest known surviving Marine from the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II has died.
John Moon, of Macomb, passed away earlier this week, Western Illinois University confirmed. He was 103 years old.
Ave atque vale.

Hat tip: The Queen Of The World.

IMR Powder Recall

IMR 4007 SSC powder is under a recall. An immediate and apparently serious problem with the powder exists. Here the official announcement:

IMR Legendary Powders is officially announcing a product safety warning and recall notice for IMR 4007SSC smokeless powder. All lots of powder are included in the recall. IMR has received reports that this particular powder, sold in 1 pound and 8 pound containers, could become unstable due to possible rapid deterioration. Use of this product may result in combustion, fire damage and/or possible serious injury.
What to do:
1. If you are in possession of IMR 4007SSC, STOP USING THE PRODUCT IMMEDIATELY! Fill the powder container with water, which will render the product inert and safe for disposal.
2. Mail, email or fax a copy of the powder label with the lot number to the contact information below, and include your name, address, phone and email.
3. You may select a replacement IMR smokeless powder product of your choice, which will be shipped to you at no charge.
4. If you have loaded the powder subject to this recall into ammunition, we recommend that you pull the bullets, remove the powder and wet the powder with water for safe disposal.
IMR deeply regrets any inconvenience this may cause, but we believe in safety first.
Contact information: Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc., 6430 Vista Drive, Shawnee, KS 66218, email,, call 1-800-622-4366 or 913-362-9455 and fax 913-362-1307.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Weekend Canoe Trip

We only had two days this fall.  So we put in on the Cashie River in Windsor, N.C. last Saturday and made the most of it. Perfect weather, clear, high 60s. We camped on one of the platforms that the Roanoke River Partners have built in the area.

 A lot of years and a lot of trips makes for easy paddling and good meals.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Four Years

Reproduction firearms

We picked up a flintlock pistol for my pirate costume at Party City, which meant that it was cheap and plastic.  The Queen Of The World thought it looked terrible, and so she went on Amazon and found this:

It is stunningly beautiful - their claim of "Museum Reproduction Quality" is no joke.  The box had a little brochure of some of the items they sell

Lemat pistol:

Broomhandle Mauser:

Thompson (they also have a drum magazine model):
There are a ton more, also including swords and other such.  The workmanship on my pistol is a delight, and it cost around $45 - a lot more than that piece of plastic junk from Party City, but this isn't going to end up in a land fill.  If you like cool old firearms, you'll enjoy their web site.  They even have a blog.

Denix is a small family-owned business that's been around for fifty years, producing a quality product.  If you are a reenactor you can get some kit from them.  If you are putting together a pirate costume, you can get some kit there.  Recommended.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Jan Josef Ignác Brentner - Hymnodia Divina

What's amazing about history is that any of the sources from centuries ago have survived at all.  For most of history, we actually don't have any history at all because the records from the time haven't survived.  Sometimes it's a mystery how some sources have come down to our day.  It's like this with the Czech composer Jan Josef Ignác Brentner.

We don't know a lot about his life, other than he published four collections of his music.  Likely there were not a lot of copies because many that we know existed (because they were mentioned by other people) have not survived.  What's strange is that much of his music has survived in Bolivia.  How it got there any why it wasn't lost there is unknown.

You have to wonder how many other composers we don't know about simply because their works weren't lucky like Brentner's.

One thing that we do know about hi was that today is his birthday, born November 3, 1689.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Environmentalists are stupid

Imagine a country where Environmentalists take over the government.  They institute mandates on using wind and solar power exclusively for the metro in the capital city, and add a carbon tax on all other electrical generation.  To cap things off, they host an international climate conference.  What do you think would happen in this hypothetical scenario?

Well, Chile did all of this, and riots have crippled the country and forced cancelation of the climate conference:
Climate activists and the United Nations are suffering a major black eye this week as protests and riots resulting from high energy prices have erupted in Santiago, Chile.
Chile, which will host a major U.N. climate conference in December, earned praise from climate activists for recently imposing a carbon dioxide tax on conventional energy sources and switching the Santiago Metro system to renewable power. Now, the people of Chile are rising up and firing a shot across the bow of other nations considering similar energy taxes and expensive renewable energy programs.
Environmentalists are stupid because they refuse to recognize that their upper middle class programs are a big, regressive tax on poorer people.  Poorer people have caught on to the fact that they're getting screwed so that upper class people (who generally look down on them) can feel better about themselves.

And so a million people have taken to the streets.  Nineteen are dead - victims of environmentalism.  They're unlikely to be the only ones.

Remember, these idiots think that they're smarter (and nicer) than you and me.  Morons.

Anne Murray - Snowbird

Today the local Harley Owners Group cleaned up trash along one of the county roads as part of the "Adopt-a-Highway" program.  We got a lot - 14 big bags in half a mile or so - which is a sad indictment of the local drivers.

But it was 33° at 8:00 this morning.  Two days ago it was 70°.  Winter is coming.

Who better to sing about winter than a Canadian, eh?  And who better to represent Canadian country music than Anne Murray - who I was somewhat astonished to find that I haven't posted even once in eleven years of country music blogging.  I mean, she has four Grammys.  Probably the reason was that she was as much pop as country (one of the Grammys was in the pop category).  But she has more Gold and Platinum albums than you can shake a snow shovel at, and this was her very first hit way back in 1970.

And did I mention that it was cold this morning, and that winter is coming?  Probably already there up in Spring Hill, Nova Scotia where she hails from.  Brrrr.

Snowbird (Songwriter: Gene MacLellan)
Beneath this snowy mantle cold and clean
The unborn grass lies waiting
For its coat to turn to green
The snowbird sings the song he always sings
And speaks to me of flowers
That will bloom again in spring

When I was young
My heart was young then, too
Anything that it would tell me
That's the thing that I would do
But now I feel such emptiness within
For the thing that I want most in life's
The thing that I can't win

Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day
The one I love forever is untrue
And if I could you know that I would
Fly away with you 
The breeze along the river seems to say
That he'll only break my heart again
Should I decide to stay
So, little snowbird
Take me with you when you go
To that land of gentle breezes
Where the peaceful waters flow

Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day
The one I love forever is untrue
And if I could you know that I would
Fly away with you

Yeah, if I could I know that I would
Fly away with you

Friday, November 1, 2019

Quote of the Day: In which I agree with a Democratic Candidate edition

Tulsi Gabbard has a bunch of policy proposals that I don't agree with, but I am 100% with her on this:
I'm running for president to undo Mrs. Clinton's failed legacy. From Iraq to Libya to Syria, her record is replete with foreign-policy catastrophes. It's a primary reason why I resigned as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to endorse Bernie Sanders. Mrs. Clinton and the powerful media and political network she built up over decades have never forgiven this slight.... Those who are indebted to the war machine and the overreaching intelligence agencies, as well as their cheerleaders in the media, are determined to take me down because they know they can't control me. I'm directly challenging their power.... Democratic candidates adhere to [Hillary Clinton's] doctrine of acting as the world's police, using the tools of war to overthrow governments we don't like, wasting taxpayer dollars, costing American lives, causing suffering and destruction abroad, and undermining America's security.... Only when we recognize the failings of the past -- embodied by Mrs. Clinton and her minions in the media -- can we move forward to a future of peace, dignity, transparency and aloha.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ray Parker Jr. - Ghostbusters

Got to love the '80s big hair.

Civil War approaches - in Britain

The English have a well deserved reputation for politeness.  "Keep Calm and Carry On", "Stiff Upper Lip" and all that.  But the shenanigans around Brexit - where the people voted to leave the EU three years ago, only to see Parliament repeatedly stall and rope-a-dope the result - seems to have the population seeing red:
Violence against MPs is a 'price worth paying' to get the Brexit result they want, say a majority of both Leavers and Remainers in a 'genuinely shocking' survey.
The study, based on polling by YouGov, found 71% of Leavers in England, 60% in Scotland and 70% in Wales believed violence towards MPs was a 'price worth paying' for Brexit.
Among Remainers, 58% in England, 53% in Scotland and 56% in Wales considered violence towards MPs was a 'price worth paying' for Britain to stay in the EU. 
Perhaps this is the reason that Parliament agreed to an election in December, two months before the newly extended Brexit deadline?
Professor Wyn Jones said: 'It's not often that one finds oneself shaken by research findings, but in this case it's hard to not be genuinely shocked - not only by the fact that so many think that violence is a likely consequence of Brexit, but that so many on either side of the Brexit divide seem to think that such events might be "worth it" in order to secure their preferred outcome.
'Given that we appear to be on the brink of another general election in which further polarisation could be a deliberate campaign strategy for some parties, these findings should give all of us pause for thought and underline the importance of responsible and measured debate.'
Alas, Prof. Jones, that ship has fair sailed.  Is it even possible to have "responsible and measured debate" when the democratic institutions have repeatedly scorned the people's stated (and voted) preference?  If Parliament can continue to reject the election result, then why should the people not assemble with pitchforks, torches, and generous quantities of tar and feathers?

Of course, I speak as a filthy Colonial, whose forebears long ago decided what the proper response to taxation without representation was.  Oh, and saying "But you do have representation, only not in Brexit" is weak (and since it's England, likely warm, too) beer.

Oliver Cromwell's statue stands outside the Halls of Parliament.  He ran roughshod over that body, during a divided time in England's past.  Many died, before sanity returned to the land.  We shall see if the British people - and their elected representatives - have an appetite for a repeat.

Cool Halloween costume, bro


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

But, but, but - he was an Islamic Scholar

Err, one that burns captives alive.  But don't ask the Washington Post, because they want this news to die in the Darkness ...

Good Dog.  Do you have a bone to chew?

Nina Simone - I put a spell on you

Get ready for an enchanting Halloween with Nina Simone.

Samsung Galaxy 10 fingerprint unlock is hopelessly broken

It's not just Google's Pixel 4 biometric system that's a security nightmare:
Samsung is reportedly rolling out fixes for a glitch that allowed anyone to dupe its Galaxy S10 fingerprint authentication sensor.

Samsung has reportedly started rolling out a software patch for the Galaxy S10 and Note10, addressing glitches in both phone models that allow the bypass of their built-in fingerprint authentication sensors.
The problem for Android users is that you don't get the security updates from the phone manufacturer, you get them from your telephone carrier.  This means that even though a fix is available from Samsung, it likely will get delayed as the carrier reviews and authorizes the fix.

Note: Apple iPhone users do NOT have this problem - security fixes come directly from Apple.

So just how bad is this fingerprint problem?  Banks are removing the Samsung mobile banking app from Google Play:
A security vulnerability that allows anyone to unlock a Samsung Galaxy S10 protected with a fingerprint has convinced banks that it’s time to enforce new protection rules, at least for this particular model. 
As a result, some banks removed their mobile banking apps for Samsung Galaxy S10, while others released updates to disable fingerprint support when apps are installed on this Samsung smartphone.
Banks do not mess round with security.  This is pretty embarrassing to Samsung, and exposes a pretty big weakness in the Android ecosystem (delayed security patch availability).

If you have a Samsung Galaxy 10 you should disable the fingerprint reader right now.  Oh, and don't use the facial recognition to unlock the phone either.

Top UK Gov't Scientist: NASA may have faked climate data

The guy is retired, which you'd pretty much have to be in order to blow the whistle on this sort of thing:
Retired Principal Scientific Officer (PSO) for the British Government exposes “discrepancies” in NASA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) which serve to make recent temperatures seem warmer.
The “mistakes” point to possible fraud intended to give scientific credence to tax-raising UK and US climate policies.
Nothing new to long time readers, of course.  But this is a very high level disclosure from inside what is frequently referred to as the "scientific consensus".
Our insider source reveals that global land temperature anomalies estimated as high as 1.23°C today were actually occurring routinely as far back as 1934. These temperatures were only surpassed again in 2015.
Persuaded by the raw data he examined, the former top UK government expert is adamant there is nothing abnormal about recent global temperatures.
Remember all those temperature records set in the 1930s heat waves that still haven't been surpassed:
You want to see a real heat wave?  Look at July 1936.  ElevenStates set high temperature records that stand to this day.  That Wikipedia page is a little shifty on this, trying to hide the decline in record temperatures.  You'll see an asterisk next to South Dakota, which the Wiki page says means Also on earlier date or dates in that state.  So what was that earlier date for South Dakota?  July 1936.

Oh, and three more States set high temperature records the next month, August 1936.  That makes 14 out of the 50 States suffered record high temperatures in the summer of 1936.  That's almost 30% of the States.
A suspicious sort of person might wonder whether the scientific evidence for global warming was so strong if all this manipulation, misdirection, and hiding the decline is such standard operating procedure.  And I've been posting for a decade on how the sausage is made:
You read in the press about how much the temperature has risen in the last 100 years. There's an interesting story in the data, but the press doesn't know it.

The data has two components: the raw measurements themselves, and a set of adjustments.

Adjustments are made for a bunch of reasons: time of observation adjustments (you didn't take a reading at exactly the same time each day), environmental changes, weather station site relocations, urbanization, etc.

An interesting question is how much of the 20th century's temperature change is due to adjustments? As it turns out, the answer is all of it.
They keep moving the shells around, but keep your eye on the one covering the marble.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Ten years of annoyance with the NRA

Well, I've been posting about it for ten years.  Sadly, it doesn't look like much has changed.

Posted on October 28, 2009.

Dear NRA ...

I signed back up when your folks called last night. Yes, I know that I let my subscription expire - I'll give you another try. I even signed #2 Son up, because he might even read your kids magazine. But now that we're BFF again, let me give you some advice.

When someone lets their membership lapse, you really should ask them why.

I even tried to tell your folks, but they weren't interested in much more than my credit card number. I guess that's what you pay them for, so I don't have a beef with them. But your membership department lost an opportunity for figure out why one of your members thinks he may drop you like alfredo.

But as I said, we're like totally BFF again, so I'll tell you anyway:

When I look at the legal battle around the Second Amendment, you're not a leader - you're a follower. Leaders lead.

So lead.

Love, Borepatch

P.S. Maybe if you can work to get the Second Amendment incorporated, we could celebrate! I mean, Mom and Dad might even let you come to a sleepover!!!1!

P.P.S. Lead.

Pirate Cove at Castle Borepatch

Click to embiggen.  The Queen Of The World had a vision of Halloween and it came out pretty well.  We went a little overboard but it's fun to see families come around with their kids to look at it.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Ghost of World Series Past

The teams in this year's World Series are pretty evenly matched, and it looks like the series can go all the way to game seven.  It's not always like this.  Fifteen years ago today the Boston Red Sox completed their four game sweep of the St. Lewis Cardinals, capping the most spectacular comeback in Baseball playoff history.  Down 3 games to none to the New York Yankees, they rallied to sweep the Yanks in the next four games to win the American League pennant, and then stomped the Cardinals in the Series.

The "Curse of the Bambino" was over.  All New England celebrated, including your humble host who carved the box score in Jack-o-lanterns.

André Caplet - Masque Of The Red Death

Edgar Alan Poe achieved fame in France before he did in America.  He influenced Jules Verne and several composers wrote music on his stories.  Claude Debussy started an opera on The Fall Of The House Of Usher but died before completing it.  Debussy's assistant André Caplet wrote this about one of Poe's creepiest stories.  The 1964 film with Vincent Price scared the bejeebus out of me when I was a kid.

But today is about Caplet, not Price.  Caplet was a musical prodigy and beat Maurice Ravel for the 1901 Prix de Rome.  Debussy hired him and they collaborated successfully for a decade - even four years when Caplet was conductor for the Boston Opera.  He returned to France in 1914 when the War broke out and enlisted in the Army.  He was gassed in the trenches and while he survived it wrecked his health.  He was only 46 when died in 1925.

He was a prolific composer and you can only imagine what he might have produced had the War not devoured him.  You can say that about lots from his generation.  Today's work is fittingly creepy for the story and the Halloween season.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Not that kind of pirate ...

I have a ship.  It's the annual Halloween party at the local watering hole, and so the Queen Of The World and I are getting on our pirate best.  Pictures anon, if folks care.  Here's one from days of yore.  The costumes are considerably more elaborate now.

Dang, she sure is pretty.

Alan Jackson - Midnight in Montgomery

Alan Jackson owned the airwaves in the early 1990s, so much so that this single was a bit of a disappointment - it only made it to #3 on the charts.  But Halloween is coming and what better country music for Halloween than a song with the ghost of Hank Williams?

Midnight in Montgomery (Songwriters: Alan Jackson, Don Sampson)
I was on my way to Mobile, for a big New Year's Eve show
I stopped for just a minute, to see a friend outside of town
Put my collar up, I found his name, and felt the wind die down

And a drunk man in a cowboy hat took me by surprise
Wearing shiny boots, a Nudie suit, and haunting haunted eyes
He said friend it's good to see you, it's nice to know you care
Then the wind picked up and he was gone, was he ever really there?

'Cause it's midnight in Montgomery
Just hear that whip-poor-will
See the stars light up the purple sky
Feel that lonesome chill
'Cause when the wind is right you'll hear his songs
Smell whiskey in the air
Midnight in Montgomery
He's always singing there

Well I climbed back on that Eagle, took one last look around
Through red tail lights, a shadow moved, slow across the ground
And off somewhere a midnight train is slowly passing by
I can hear that whistle moan, I'm so lonesome I could cry

'Cause it's midnight in Montgomery
Just hear that whip-poor-will
See the stars light up the purple sky
Feel that lonesome chill
'Cause when the wind is right you'll hear his songs
Smell whiskey in the air
Midnight in Montgomery
He's always singing there

Yeah, he's always singing there
Oh, Hank's always singing there

Women's Sports Is Dying

There is no longer any reason for women's categories in sports. In some ways they've been saying it anyway. If we are that equal and gender is just preference and a pronoun, why have these arbitrary categories in sports?

Since the boys are competing as girls anyway, who's kidding whom?

Biologically Male NCAA Runner Named Conference Female Athlete Of The Week

 "The House of Representatives voted in May to pass the Equality Act, which would require schools to allow male athletes who identify as transgender girls to compete on female sports teams. The bill had unanimous support among House Democrats and is supported by every Democratic presidential frontrunner."

Friday, October 25, 2019

Jackie Gleason - Music For Lovers Only

If all you remember of Jackie Gleason is "The Honeymooners" and "smokey And The Bandit" then this may be a surprise: This album still holds the Billboard record for the longest stay on the Top Ten chart - 153 weeks, which is basically three years).

Gleason composed music.  He got the idea for this album when he was watching a Clark Gabel movie and had the thought that the film was terrible but the music made it tolerable.  He left the theater thinking that if Gabel needed a good music score then what hope does a guy from Brooklyn have?  And so he wrote this.

It's pretty good.  It's background music for you and your Lady, but that's what he wrote it for.  He can set the mood, but you need to do the rest.

Fake climate data

There is a lot of complaining about the climate databases (I do this all the time), but most of it is about how existing data is changed.  It's not quite right to call this "fake" - it's "changed".  But there is fake data out there, and quite frankly nobody quite knows how much there is.  This post from ten years ago explains how that's done.

Ripogenus Dam

The science is settled.

OK, so what's with the Ripogenus Dam?

You don't get much more rural than that. Way, way up the west branch of the Penobscot river in Maine, it's the sort of place that Boy Scouts go for week long canoe voyages through the wilderness. In 1972, a dozen fellow teenagers and I from Troop 47 spent a week a hundred miles from any other living soul.

In 1972, there was a Weather station at the Ripogenus Dam. It collected temperature readings every day. Those readings were included in NASA's GISS temperature reading data set. Its readings were included in GISS until 2006, along with data from thousands of other weather stations. There's really only one little problem.

The Ripogenus Dam weather station was decommissioned in 1995.

So for ten years, GISS reported temperature readings from a station that didn't exist. How? Filnet.
Part of the USHCN data is created by a computer program called “filnet” which estimates missing values. According to the NOAA, filnet works by using a weighted average of values from neighboring stations. In this example, data was created for a no longer existing station from surrounding stations, which in this case as the same evaluation noted were all subject to microclimate and urban bias, no longer adjusted for. Note the rise in temperatures after this before the best sited truly rural station in Maine was closed.
"Urban bias" is the technical term for when a weather station reads artificially high temperatures because the station is situated in an urban location where there are lots of buildings and parking lots to absorb the heat from the sun. Filnet took temperature readings from other weather stations - stations in urban locations where reading are higher because of the surrounding asphalt heat collectors - and used it for the most rural station in the state.

Remember how 1998 was the "warmest year in a millenium"? Well, it was warmer than it would have been if the Ripogenus Dam's readings hadn't come from Millinocket.

The question is: just how unreliable is the data? Lots.
How can we trust NOAA/NASA/Hadley assessment of global changes given these and the other data integrity issues? Given that Hadley has destroyed old original data because they were running out of room in their data cabinet, can we ever hope to reconstruct the real truth?
Given that there are only 30 or 40 stations that have been providing temperature readings from the Civil War up to today, given that "adjustments" are made to the temperature data via an arcane and opaque process and may represent most or all of the warming in the 20th Century, given that scientists refuse to release their data (or the raw - unadjusted - data has been destroyed), given how some of the data sets rely on tree rings from a single tree, how can we trust the data?

The Ripogenus Dam weather station was giving ghost readings for a decade. How many other non-existent weather stations are still generating new data? The World wonders.

The rules for The Blues

While it might seem a little fussy to have a set of rules for The Blues, it's OK if they're hilarious blues.  For example:
Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass
Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom’s
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League colleges
d. golf courses
LOL.  There's much Truth in this list.  I have proof.  Go read the list and then listen to this.  It's kind of uncanny.

The Overmountain Men

The Overmountain Men were settlers west of the Appalachians in the decades before the American Revolution. They lived beyond the reach of the British Crown, forming their own confederations, and living a rough independent life.

Living at the ends of any supply and news chain from the coasts, the Overmountain Men had little concern for the British or the Colonials. That is, until September of 1780. One of Gen. Cornwallis' officers, Maj. Patrick Ferguson, was tasked with controlling the western flank of the British Army in the South. The British had taken Charleston and controlled the eastern Carolinas. Now it was time to bring the rebels in the mountains to heel.
Following Cornwallis’ practice, Ferguson had been pressuring Carolina Rebels to sign loyalty oaths and receive pardons, as about 1,400 men had done in Augusta, Ga. But so many overmountain men had refused to sign the oaths that an angry Ferguson sent a paroled Whig prisoner into the mountains carrying a warning: If the Rebels “did not desist from their opposition to the British arms,” he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and lay their country waste with fire and sword.”
The prisoner brought the warning to a Rebel militia colonel in a part of North Carolina that is now Tennessee. Enraged by the threat, the officer immediately met with a neighboring Rebel leader. They agreed there was only one way to respond to the British threat: muster as many men as possible and strike first at Ferguson. A third militia leader from the Virginia backwoods soon appeared, bringing his men.
It ended at the Battle of King's Mountain with the complete defeat and surrender of the British force under Ferguson. RTWT 

It was unusual for a number of reasons. It was mostly individuals, it lacked a support or command structure for the most part, the men were armed with rifles, and it was the turning point in the American Revolution. Everything after this leads toward Yorktown.


There's an excellent article on the USA PATRIOT Act at  There's lots of background there (I hadn't known or had forgotten that Obama extended the act; thanks for nothing, Democrats).  This bit seems dead on:
Do we still need the PATRIOT Act? Did we ever? All laws are certainly a product of their times. But this seems much more acutely true of the USA PATRIOT Act, which was passed in a rush and under duress without due consideration.
Particularly in light of the revelations from Edward Snowden – that the government is spying on everything they possibly can – it’s worth asking if there’s any walking back. He points out that the police state apparatus was originally for drug dealers, then for terrorists, but ultimately ended up being applied to anyone and everyone.
It's a strange world where I have to post about how to hide your data transmissions from the NSA - if in fact you even can.  The Dread Pirate Roberts saga suggests that you can't.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Requiescat in Pace

Kevin, from The Smallest Minority, and his family, have suffered a great loss. 

His great-grandson died of SIDS.

There are no words.

Wow, this really is an environmental emergency

I had no idea.  Fortunately, there's a plan to address it.

For all you James Burke fans out there

I am a huge James Burke fan, and Google tells me that maybe ten posts here talk about him.  His TV series The Day The Universe Changed and its companion book would make a pretty decent curriculum for early teen kids who would learn more (and have more fun doing so) than 99% of their age peers.

I know that I'm not the only fan, as any post about him gets a bunch of comments with fanboi squees - and interestingly the Amazon link above has people selling their hardcover edition of the book for $100(!!!).

The problem for us Burke fans is that the gentleman is getting on in years and hasn't done anything new in a while.  Well fear not, Gentle Reader, help is on the way.

Dan Carlin produces a very entertaining history podcast called Hard Core History.  He approaches history as a Who Done It mystery, or a crime scene investigation.  He also points out that many (maybe even most) historians aren't really historians, they're screen writers.  They - especially the ancient ones - were writing to entertain an audience.  I find it a very interesting analogy.

Well, it turns out that Carlin is also a Burke fan, and had the man himself on one of the podcast episodes.  You can download the MP3 for free here.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Beat Daddys - Beverly Hillbillies (Blues cover)

You know this song, but probably haven't heard it done this way.  Back In The Day, The Queen Of The World saw them in a hole in the wall in Evanston, IN.  The dance floor was packed.

The lesson of Pope Formosus

Pictura per Wicipaedia
A very strange trial commenced in Rome in 897 AD, a trial of a dead man.  Pope Formosus had died the previous year, but his body was exhumed and he was put on trial in the Cadaever Synod.

His late Holiness was accused of improperly assigning Bishoprics, of perjury, and of serving as a Bishop before he had been ordained.  His corpse was dressed in his vestments and propped up on a throne during the proceedings.  Eventually Formosus was (posthumously) convicted of the charges.  The vestments were stripped from the corpse, his memory was damned, the three fingers he used in blessings were hacked off, and his body was thrown into the river Tiber.

And Donald Trump complains about Nancy Pelosi ...

It seems that some of this spirit remains in Rome and the Church to this day.

But all of them are 100% constitutional

No doubt.

Looks like the Red States are the worst abusers of Red Flag laws.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Google's Pixel 4 face unlock system: Broken as designed

There's a "bug" in the new Pixel 4 phone, one that lets someone unlock your phone even if you're asleep.  Or, say, the Cops want to see what's on it and you're not cooperating.  The fix will take rewriting the code, and so it will take a while:
When the Pixel 4 ships this week, it will be releasing to consumers with a face-unlock security issue that will apparently stick around for some time. Unlike the iPhone's FaceID (and Google's earlier face-unlock system on Android 4.1), the Pixel 4's face unlock doesn't look for the user's eyes, so the phone could be pointed at a sleeping or unconscious owner and unlocked without their consent. This weekend, Google said in a statement that a fix "will be delivered in a software update in the coming months."
What this means is that the design of the system never considered that someone might not want their phone unlocked when they're sleeping.  That speaks volumes to how much Google values your privacy.

Here's a security ProTip: Don't ever ever ever use face recognition or fingerprint reading to unlock your phone.  Unless you want this sort of thing to happen to you.

Here's a second security ProTip: Don't ever buy a phone from Google.