Thursday, February 28, 2019

Paging Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders to the red commie courtesy phone ...

None so blind as he who refuses to see.

Skynet smiles

Boeing debuts unmanned "wingman" aircraft that flies in formation with military jets:
Boeing has built an autonomous military aeroplane that flies in formation with a manned fighter jet to ward off electronic warfare attacks. Reports say the craft could be modified to carry and use its own weapons. 
The electronic warfare drone was built for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by the American aerospace conglomerate and is roughly the size of a traditional military fast jet, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
"Its primary purpose would be to conduct electronic warfare and reconnaissance missions, particularly in environments where it is considered risky to send manned aircraft," reported the Aussie state broadcaster.
Baby steps towards the End Days.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

I'll drive an electric car when the police drive them

A lot of people resist the idea of "smart gun" technology that the Police won't use, you should be suspicious of electric cars (coming soon in a Green New Deal near you!) if the Police don't drive them:
RIVERSIDE — A probationer who led Riverside police officers on a dangerous, high-speed pursuit in a luxury electric sports car was arrested after the plug-in car’s batteries died Sunday night, Feb. 17. The pursuit, which wound its way from Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood into Orange County, ended in a felony stop on the 91 Freeway.
The owner had an app on his phone that let him track the car's location in real time.  He relayed this info to the Police, who kept the thief on the run until the car's battery died.  Of course, the bad guy looks pretty much like what you'd expect:

Now it's great that the thief was caught but the point is that a lot of folks want to mandate the use of electric vehicles without really giving much thought for what people need or want.  If these cars are such a great idea, why aren't Police cruisers battery powered?

A non-morbid discussion of death and dying

Aesop ponders death, what it looks like from the trenches of the Emergency Room:
Unless you buy it after an IED explosion, or going out like Quint in Jaws, death mainly hurts the friends and family. 
No one ever woke up during a Code Blue and said "Ow!". They were over it, and generally speaking, long gone and well past caring at that point. 
And if they've had their threescore-and-ten, or more, it isn't really necessary to "compartmentalize" their death; someday, it's going to be everybody's time. 
The hard ones are the way-too-early ones, especially kids and infants. No one pulls the plug on those for an hour or more, because kids.
This is a long and thoughtful post, inspired by a post at OldNFO's place.  I'd be interested in the opinions of Tacitus, a retired ER doc who is a sometimes commenter here.

Interestingly, I didn't find any of this very morbid.  It did make me think of  Dad's funeral, but that was (as you can imagine) intensely personal and so had a very different emotional component.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Is Trump de-funding the Left?

Trump is defunding the left and lowering its status
During the Obama years, the EPA packed the CASAC panel. Twenty-four of its 26 members are now agency grantees, with some listed as principal investigators on EPA research grants worth more than $220 million 
Environmentalists, predictably, sued, alleging this policy would change the “science” advice away from environmentalism – as obviously it would. 
In 2016, the World Bank announced it would spend 28% of investments on climate-related projects by 2020, which is roughly three hundred to four hundred million dollars of American taxpayer money per year. All Climate related projects, as near to all of them as make no difference, are scams that enrich political activists, and again, Trump cut this out.
A horde of journalists have lost their jobs, and their status. 
Trump is now taking aim at “Disparate impact” If he succeeds with “disparate impact”, there are going to be mass layoffs of bitter angry aging cat ladies with vast unpaid college debt and credit card debt from Human Resources, radically curtailing the status, wealth, and power of the left.
I'm not sure that I entirely buy this argument, but if Trump does to this what he's doing to regulation (eliminating several for each new one) then in the next 2 (or 6) years there could very possibly be more unemployed Leftists.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Update on the deadly Houston no-knock raid

Here's a quick update on the corruption that has come to light in the Houston Police Department.

It looks like the Houston PD are ending no-knock raids.  Maybe.  Kinda sorta.  If you believe the Houston Police Chief.  I guess you can color me skeptical - the Organs of the State rarely give up power voluntarily - but we can hope.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Stonehenge quarries found

This is a pretty cool bit of archaeology detective work:
Both craggy rock outcrops are the petrified remains of a long-past volcanic eruption. The lava cracked as it cooled and hardened, like mud in a dry lakebed, and those cracks reached well down into the deposit, so the cooled lava ended up in a cluster of vertical pillars. (The Giant's Causeway in Ireland is another well-known example of that process.)
That geological coincidence made the work of quarrying much easier than in Egypt. There, at around the same time, workers were chiseling blocks out of solid bedrock. In Wales, the quarry workers just had to wedge a column apart from its neighbors at the joints (it's difficult not to imagine peeling a really big piece of string cheese, honestly).
Pearson and his colleagues found some evidence of how they did it, thanks in part to the almost-universal human tendency to drop things and forget to pick them up again. The ancient quarry-workers left behind mudstone wedges and stone hammers, which they would have driven into the cracks between the pillars to carefully pry them apart. The wedges were precision tools for delicate work; mudstone is considerably softer than the rhyolite and dolerite columns, and Pearson says that made a difference.
"An engineering colleague has suggested that hammering in a hard wedge could have created stress fractures, causing the thin pillars to crack," he said in a statement to the press. "Using a soft wedge means that, if anything were to break, it would be the wedge and not the pillar."

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The first steam locomotive - 215 years ago

On this day in 1804, Richard Trevithick debuted the world's first self propelled steam locomotive at the Welsh iron mill at Pen-y-Darren.  It pulled five cars loaded with ten tons of iron and around 70 iron workers nine miles, at a speed of five miles per hour.  It was so heavy that after three trips its weight broke the rails and it ended its life as a stationary steam engine.

It was followed with other - and better - locomotives: The Rocket, The Flying Scotsman, The Mallard, the Shinkansen and the TGV.  But it was the first, which is what we remember.  This is a reproduction.

There is a magic to all of this.  Castle Borepatch lies near (but not too near) a trunk line and it's possible in the dead of night to listen to the horn of the Night Train.  It's the sound of nostalgia.  Sure, airliners get you there faster but I'm not sure that anyone ever wrote a song like this for a Boeing.

Even the UN IPCC says we're not headed for climate disaster

At least not any time soon.  Climate scientist Judy Curry testified before Congress, and this is really interesting:
Some people (including one of the Members) took issue with the following statement in my testimony:
“Based upon our current assessment of the science, the threat does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation.”
I referred to AR5 WGII:
“Every single catastrophic scenario considered by the IPCC AR5 (WGII, Table 12.4) has a rating of very unlikely or exceptionally unlikely and/or has low confidence. The only tipping point that the IPCC considers likely in the 21stcentury is disappearance of Arctic summer sea ice (which is fairly reversible, since sea ice freezes every winter).”
In hindsight, I should have hit this a bit harder.
For those who haven't been following along at home, let me give some background.  The UN IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is the body who produces Assessment Reports on the state of the climate every five years.  This collects what is considered the best consensus science.  The last Assessment Report is Assessment Report 5, or AR5.  The section that Curry quoted is Working Group 2 (WGII) which (being to lazy to look up) is the report for government policymakers, providing guidance to those considering new laws.

So Curry quoted the consensus science intended to inform policy makers to Congress, and that guidance says "no disaster any time this century".  I will bring this up next time I'm in a discussion with the Usual Suspects™.

The only people who object are, of course, Climate Change Deniers.  Heh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bill Gates on the utter stupidity of the Environmentalists

Physicist Luboš Motls finds an interview where Bill Gates illustrates why it's simply not possible to provide 100% (or even close) electric power from solar and wind.  He starts with a quote from Gates' embedded video interview and then expands on the math calculations:
Here’s Tokyo, 27 million people, you have three days of a cyclone every year. It’s 23 GW of electricity for three days. Tell me what battery solution is going sit there and provide that power.
Exactly. Just check the numbers, roughly. They talk about some metropolitan area around Tokyo so lots of people are involved. 27 million sounds fine. And each of them needs almost a kilowatt of power at each moment – most of it is not "personal energy consumption", however. 3 days is 72 hours, 72 times 23 is 1656. We need 1656 gigawatthours. Solar doesn't work, the weather is bad. The wind turbines should better be stopped and protected because the cyclone could break them. OK, you need a prepared charged battery with 1656 gigawatthours for those nice three days (or some really long and good cables from another part of the world with generous inhabitants who are willing to share a half of their energy). 
One kilowatthour of Tesla-like battery used to cost $1,000 but the price went below $200 in a recent year or two and the Tesla CEO dreams about $100. Great. Let's use $200 per kilowatthour. 1656 gigawatthours is 1656 million kilowatthours which would cost 1656 million times 200 which is some $330 billion for those batteries whose only purpose is to satisfy some brainwashed morons' view that renewable energy should rule the world (and they probably reject nuclear energy as well because Greenpeace told them to do so). And it's just one Tokyo metropolitan area, some 1/300 of the world population.
But he's not done with the math.  He discusses how many lithium batteries you would need to provide everyone in the world with the same 3 day's electric storage that we're talking about for Tokyo, and how this would take ten times more than the world's entire lithium reserves.  Then he switches to a discussion of how you create the steel needed for all the wind turbines - most of the power for making steel comes from direct coal burning at the steel furnace.  If you don't use coal, where does that power come from?  He closes with a key point:
The production of steel and cement and the operation of airplanes requires a lot of concentrated and reliable energy that is delivered in real time. If there exists no viable alternative physical scheme where the concentrated energy comes from, then no financial schemes or Ponzi schemes can successfully replace the bulk of the existing system with an equally viable but would-be "cleaner" alternative.
Let me elaborate on this point.  The perceived legitimacy of government and social institutions (such as environmentalism) has been collapsing over the last 20-30 years.  That trajectory has a very clear landing point:

This is how you get Donald Trump.

Now it is unlikely in the extreme that environmentalists will stop to reconsider their agenda just because it strengthens Donald Trump, but they should at least be smart enough to understand this is what they are doing.

But they're not smart, even a little bit.  They can't do basic math, and quite frankly they don't care.  This is all about upper middle class virtue signaling to other upper middle class types that they're not the horrible declassé Deplorables.  It has a very Ancien Régime vibe to it.  They really don't care about what's happening outside of their sale des miroirs because what really matters is whether they get the proper deference from the Comte de Lyon.  After all, the peasants are revolting, n'est-ce pas?

And so the reaction.  Trump is merely the American manifestation of a world wide rejection of a grotesquely out of touch and clearly stupid "elite".  Doug Ford in Canada, Nigel Farage and Brexit in the UK, the yellow vests in France, the collapse of Angela Merkel in Germany, the unlikely alliance of left wing and right wing parties in the Italian government, and the alliance of Eastern European governments against the EU are all expressions of a rejection of the old norms.

Nothing illustrates the stupidity of the old order more than this obsession with "renewable" energy.  Australia - the most aggressive in implementing a Green New Deal - has the highest electricity rates in the world and spent a billion dollars for a single day's power in a single state because that power simply failed.  A new term has emerged in the European Press - "energy poverty" - describing how escalating electricity rates due to their Green New Deal forces people to choose whether to eat or heat their house in winter.  We've seen where this ends up, and it's not pretty for the "elite".

Quite frankly, the best outcome of a Green New Deal is more Donald Trump.  At worst, the tumbrels will roll again, the better to feed Madame Guillotine.

Image par la Wik
I guess that this is what we should expect from a failed education system that no longer teaches the great sweep of history, an "elite" that doesn't require any actual real world success to qualify for membership, and a hermetically sealed intellectual bubble that rejects facts in favor of status-seeking feelings.  Looking at these idiots, it's impossible to forget Tallyrand's comment about the Bourbons restored to the French Throne after the fall of Napoleon: they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

If we're going to shut down the government again, how about the ATF?

Asking for a friend.

Police corruption in Houston

Lawrence has a very interesting update on the "no knock" raid in Houston that went catastrophically wrong: both homeowners dead and five officers wounded.  It's long and detailed (spoiler alert: it appears that one of the Undercover officers made the whole thing up, lied to the Court to get the warrant, and that this isn't the first time he's done it).  Here's his sum up, but you should read the whole thing:
So it turns out that two people died and five cops were shot in a no-knock raid of an alleged dealer’s house where no significant narcotics were found on information provided by, well, possibly no one. Something obviously stinks here.
There's no word that describes this other than "appalling".  Prosecutions should result.

Top Gun 2: Does the Military hate Hollywood?

om Cruise?  There's a sequel to Top Gun in the works, with a lot of the original cast back (Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer) and even featuring Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" song.  Filming is under way right now.

But there's a lot of scuttlebutt that Cruise has pissed off the rank and file:
Tom Cruise is filming Top Gun 2 on the mighty USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), a US Nimitz class super carrier. The crew has been ordered to not look at Tom Cruise or to talk to the arrogant Scientology OT. Tom Cruise will make a fortune from Top Gun 2 pretending to be a US Navy officer and yet he shows no respect to for the men and women who serve aboard the Theodore Roosevelt.

Tom Cruise has the same arrogant behavior going on in Scientology: No one is allowed to look at him or talk to him unless he grants permission.

Scuttlebutt from the crew of the “TR” has made its way onto social media — and special thanks to my colleague Intergalactic Walrus for making today’s article possible due to his timely commenting at the Underground Bunker.

Now it's probably good to be skeptical of the site since it's strongly anti-Scientology.  However, Cruise has a history of disrespect for the military:
Famed actor Tom Cruise recently said that his job is comparable to being deployed to Afghanistan, according to court documents obtained by TMZ.
 I know people at NAS Lemoore, and will ask what they hear - filming will be there later this month.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The best and worst US Presidents

It's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln's was the 12th, Washington's is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off.  So sorry Abe and George, we're taking it today.  But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up the annual Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.

Top Five:

#5: Calvin Coolidge

Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.

#4. Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase).  He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.

#3. Grover Cleveland. 

He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now.  He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later.  This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character." 

#2. Ronald Reagan

He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above).  He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash.  It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.

#1. George Washington

Could have been King.  Wasn't.  Q.E.D. 

Bottom Five:

#5. John Adams.

There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment.  It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2. 

#4. Woodrow Wilson.

Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918.  He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy.  The fact that Progressives love him (and hate Donald Trump) says all you need to know about them.

#3 Lyndon Johnson.

An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.

#2. Franklin Roosevelt.

America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, imprisoning US citizens in concentration camps, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle.  At least Mussolini met an honorable end.

#1. Abraham Lincoln.

There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to.  Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history.  Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit.  Needless to say, Progressives adore him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Arcangelo Corelli - Concerto Grosso in D Major

Archangelo Corelli was the one who helped create and popularize the sonata and and concerto, and today's selection is one of his most famous concertos.  Born on this day in 1653 in the Papal States, he had a long career in Rome and directly influenced both J.S. Bach and George Frederick Handel.  He was so famous that people from later ages made up anecdotes about him: for example, Rousseau told how Corelli went to Paris as a young man but was chased off by Louis XIV's court composer, Jean-Baptiste Lully.  Rousseau seems to have thought that this demonstrated the corruption of society, although there seems to be no evidence that Corelli ever went to France.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Rest in Peace, Bruno Ganz

Bruno Ganz, the actor who played Adolf Hitler in the film "Downfall" - and which has the scene of Hitler ranting that has been turned into its own Internet meme - is dead at 77.  I have a post tag for "Hitler Video" because there are almost three dozen of them that I've posted.  Here is the original scene:

This one may be my very favorite parody version of them all (yes, it's about Global Warming):

Or this one abut Global Warming.  I'll have to give back my Nobel Prize ...

And of course, there was one for Obamacare.  Hitler is infuriated that his insurance got canceled even though "If you like your Doctor, you can keep your Doctor."  And he was going to buy a Harley with the $2500/year that Obamacare was going to save him.  Heh.

Of course, there's a Computer Security one, too:

Here's an interview with Ganz on all the parody videos that have been made.  He was pretty tickled by them:

Thanks for the performance, Mr. Ganz, and for all the fun that resulted.  Rest in peace.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Self-Driving cars: unsafe at any speed

A Tesla on autopilot drove itself into a wreck.  The failure mode is interesting:
Yet another example came to light on Monday when a driver in North Brunswick, New Jersey wrecked his Tesla on a highway while the vehicle was in Autopilot mode. According to a report published by News 12 New Jersey, the driver said that the vehicle "got confused due to the lane markings" at a point where the driver could have stayed on the highway or taken an exit. The driver claims that Autopilot split the difference and went down "the middle", between the exit and staying on the highway.

The car then drove off the road and collided with several objects before coming to a stop. The driver claims that he tried to regain control of the vehicle but that "it would not let him".
Insty is skeptical, but I'm not.  This is exactly the kind of situation that you should suspect the software could handle badly: confusing input from signs or lane markers leading to a failure to navigate the car on a safe route.  It's not a software bug, it's a gap in the algorithm used to control the car.

I'm not sure that this is solvable, either.  The way software developers handle these "edge cases" is (a) ignore them if possible (I can't see Tesla being able to do that, or (b) write a special case condition that covers the situation.  The problem with the later option is that there can be hundreds of these special cases that need to be coded in.  That makes the software a huge bloated mass that nobody can really predict how it will work.  Validation becomes really hard and QA testing becomes essentially impossible.

And this is without postulating software bugs - this is all trying to make the algorithm suck less.  Of course, the more code you have to write, the more bugs you will have - remember that validation becomes really hard and testing well nigh impossible?  You'll have an unknown number of potentially fatal bugs that you probably won't know about.

Until we have a different type of computer (probably one that is not based on von Neumann architecture).  If you want to get really computer geeky (and I know that some of you do), automotive autopilot problems are almost certainly NP-Hard.  For non computer geeks that means if you want to code one of the then good luck - you're going to need it.

The bottom line: I have absolutely no intention to ever trust my life to software that is NP-Hard.  I know (and admire) many software developers, but this is flying too close to the sun.  Someone's wings will melt.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

From the Department of Dodgy Climate Statistics

This is hilarious:
Looking at short trends in the global surface temperature data, the analysis shows that global temperature has not increased under Republican presidents, only Democrats.

There's an old saying in statistics that if you can use three variables you can derive an elephant, and if you have four variables you can make him dance.  I posted almost exactly ten years ago about dodgy stats in climate science.  What's funny about this is the same folks who would have disputed the term "dodgy" in that post would absolutely use the term here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The earliest commercially practical color photography

Image de la Wik
The first black and white photos date to the 1820s and the first color one to 1842, but color photography wasn't practical as other than a laboratory exercise until the Lumière brothers patented a strange Autochrome technique in 1907.  A glass plate had various colored starch granules applied; the granules acted as color filters allowing actual practical color photography - as the 1917 Nieuport 23 fighter shows.

It's surprising what we have from this period, for example Mark Twain from 1907:

It's interesting just how old some still common technology is.  I posted years ago about Thomas Edison's recording of Brahms himself playing one of his compositions.  The recording comes not on wax cylinder but via Youtube, just as the photos above are on your computer screen rather than printed on paper.  But they are both still recordings and photos, from over a century ago.

Not to mention the first four engine strategic bomber from way back in 1913.

The Laws of the Universe impose limits

Hacker takes over Google Nest security cam

Talks to family's baby:
An Illinois couple said a hacker spoke to their baby through one of their Nest security cameras and then later hurled obscenities at them, CBS station WBBM-TV reports. Arjun Sud told the station he was outside his 7-month-old son's room Sunday outside Chicago and he heard someone talking. "I was shocked to hear a deep, manly voice talking," Sud said. "My blood ran cold." Sud told WBBM-TV he thought the voice was coming over the baby monitor by accident. But it returned when he and his wife were downstairs. The voice was coming from another of the many Nest cameras throughout the couple's Lake Barrington house. "Asking me, you know, why I'm looking at him -- because he saw obviously that I was looking back -- and continuing to taunt me," Sud said. Later that night, Arjun Sud noticed the Nest thermostat they have upstairs had been raised to 90 degrees. He suspected the hacker was behind that too. Nest's parent company, Google, said in a statement that Nest's system was not breached. Google said the recent incidents stem from customers "using compromised passwords exposed through breaches on other websites."
Let me, err, Google Translate that last bit: Google said that if you use one of these damned things you'd better be a security expert or J. Random Hacker will set your house temperature to whatever he wants and teach your baby interesting vocabulary.

Your mileage may vary, but I will never have one of these things in my house.  And I am a bit of a security expert, thank you very much.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Now that's marketing

This is awesome.

What the heck is wrong with the Virginia Democrats?

I was a Democrat in the 1970s and I didn't think that sort of thing was funny.  But that was in Maine.

You know that the Green New Deal has already been tried?

Southern Australia has been trying it good and hard for ten years or more.  The latest madness is a judge refusing to authorize the construction of a coal fired electricity plant because of "Climate Change".  So the GND madness is not unique to these shores.

So what are the fruits of that tree?  You know, no fossil fuels, 100% reliance of "renewable" energy?  That sort of thing?  A billion dollars for a single day's power bill:
The cost of electricity on Thursday in two states of Australia reached a tally of $932 million dollars for a single day of electricity. Thanks to David Bidstrup on Catallaxy for calculating it. 
In Victoria, per capita, that means it cost $110 for one day’s electricity. For South Australians, Thursday’s electricity bill was $140 per person. (So each household of four just effectively lost $565.) In both these states those charges will presumably be paid in future price rises, shared unevenly between subsidized solar users and suffering non-solar hostages. The costs will be buried such that duped householders will not be aware of what happened. Coles and Woolworths will have to add a few cents to everything to cover their bills, and the government will have to cut services or increase taxes. No one will know how many jobs are not offered or opportunities lost. This is the road to Venezuela. 
If Hazelwood had still been open, the whole bidstack would have changed, quite probably saving electricity consumers in those two states hundreds of dollars. Eight million Australians could have had a weekend away, gone to a ball, or bought brand new fishing gear. And this is just one single day of electricity. If Liddell closes, things will get worse, no matter how much unreliable not-there-when-you-need-it capacity we add to the system. Indeed, the more fairy capacity we add, the worse it gets. NSW will soon join the SA-Vic club. 
This is what happens when an electricity grid is run by kindergarten arts graduates who struggle with numbers bigger than two.
$500 per family for a single day's electricity.  There's your Green New Deal.  The only question is why Australians are not rioting in the streets and burning their politicians in effigy.  Maybe the reason is that we see voters going for this madness here, too: Georgetown Texas household electricity bills rise by $1200/year due to "100% renewable" power.

Frankly, I can't think of a more regressive tax - it falls heaviest on the poor and the only benefit is to let smug upper middle class liberals feel even smugger.  Tagged with the post tag "evil" because, well, you know.  What a nasty class war tax it all is.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Republicans and Democrats actually understand each other

A parable:
A woman in a hot air balloon realizes she is lost. She lowers her altitude and spots a man fishing from a boat below. She shouts to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." 
The man consults his portable GPS and replies, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude. 
She rolls her eyes and says, "You must be a Republican!" 
"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?" 
"Well," answers the balloonist, "everything you tell me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you're not much help to me." 
The man smiles and responds, "You must be a Democrat." 
"I am, replies the balloonist. "How did you know?" 
"Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."
Via the Queen Of The World.

Cops ask man to breathe into a breathalizer

Hilarity ensues.

I love how the cop cracks up.

Johann Melchior Molter. Trumpet Concerto No. 2 in D major

Johann Molter was a baroque composer well known in his day.  A prolific writer, we have 140 symphonies among his many other works. Here's a baroque trumpet concerto, because who doesn't like a baroque trumpet concerto?

Happy birthday, Johann, born this day in 1696.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Metallica - You're Looking At Country

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in ages:
Welcome to the colliding of your two little musical worlds, where that classic country connoisseur and twang hound in you meets the hard-driving metalhead who punched a hole in your bedroom wall in 7th grade while listening to Master of Puppets. This is what occurred when Metallica showed up in Nashville Thursday night (1-26) for their first show in Music City in 10 years, and were graced by the presence of other than country music legend Loretta Lynn who was there to soak it all in. 
About halfway through the show, frontman James Hetfield took a break, and guitarist Kirk Hammett and bass player Rob Trujillo took the opportunity to play a stripped down version of Loretta’s 1971 hit, “You’re Lookin’ at Country.”
That's so awesome that it's in danger of collapsing into a black hole of awesome - not least that Loretta went to their concert.  The video quality is pretty bad here but it's a cool moment.

And who knew there was a web site called Saving Country Music?

Ode to a pocketknife

This is a tale from a Country long ago:
Growing up in rural Northeast Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachians, I was privileged to catch the tale end of what was an era marked by ruggedness and self-sufficiency. I grew up around men that were willing to fix what was broken and take the time to do it right. My father was a Vietnam veteran and the product of growing up farming the hills of these same mountains where I was raised. He always carried a small pocket knife much like the one pictured. He had an affinity for Case knives, but would carry the occasional “Old timer” or “Buck” or even “Schrade”. One thing was for sure, that he had one with him, wherever he was. You could also be pretty sure that his pocket knife would be so sharp that if you were to stare at it too long your eyeballs would bleed. Now that's pretty sharp.... The pocket knife was an important part of his life. Whether it was to slice a freshly picked apple, or to cut some twine, (coincidentally twine can patch most any broken farm implement until you can get home) he was always prepared. At Christmas time, my father always had his knife waiting to help open those pesky gifts that needed cutting open as only a father can do best.
I too got my first pocketknife from Dad, back around 1970.  I have a new Benchmade one that the Queen Of The World got for me that I keep clipped in my pocket.  It feels weird if it's not there.

And the love affair that men have with their pocket knives goes back a long, long way.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Thoughts on the State of the Union address

Trump is really not very good at delivering prepared speeches - although not many of our recent Presidents were, either.  Reagan was unusually good, but you'd expect that from a Hollywood background.  Trump didn't have the verbal elegance of a truly great speaker,  It doesn't seem to keep him from communicating effectively, though, but it's prose not poetry.  It's been said that poetry is the art of letting the word be heard behind the words, and that's just not his forte,

But the last minute or two of the speech was different - he did bring out the words behind the words.  It was a message that I don't recall hearing, at least not in a long, long time.  The word behind the word was unity.  He struck me as completely sincere about this.

Alas, I am starting to think that there are too many factions that think their path to power is by disuniting these United States - chief among these may be the media.  If Trump means to fight this battle then this is big, big stuff.  That's inspirational, but there's quite a good chance that he will lose, going down in history as a tragic hero fighting a lost cause.

I wish him luck.  I'd never seen him as a Martin Luther figure before.  He sure gave us his 99 Theses of American Greatness last night.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Linky, not Thinky

Several items are worth your time.

I hadn't known that not only could you actually go into King Tut's tomb, but that it had been restored.

The Red Sox and the New York Yankees are perhaps the greatest rivalry in Baseball.  It's cats and dogs, oil and water.  So it's a pretty strong statement of character when a died in the wool Sox fan meets Mariano Rivera.  As a Sox fan, I have to agree - Rivera has always been 100% class.

The EPA's newest science advisor is John Christy.  He runs the UAH satellite climate database - in my opinion the gold standard of temperature accuracy.  This seems like a very good sign.

The Silence of the (Climate) Data

I've posted before (a long, long time ago) about how many weather stations have been tracking temperature.  The whole Global Warming panic is based on world wide measurements, but the measurements are surprisingly (shockingly?) sparse.  The problem is worse, though - the weather stations are very strongly clustered in the Northern Hemisphere, specifically Europe and the United States.  But we're told this is a global temperature.  Just how global is "global"?

Short answer: not very.
This is the foundation of the whole Global Warming narrative. Then a huge layer of statistical manipulation is layered over it to attempt to hide the data quality and quantity issues. Kriging, interpolation, homogenizing, “the reference station method” of making up a number based on a temperature up to 1200 km away. None of this can fix the real problems with the underlying data. They can only burry it under a layer of bafflegab.
How bad is it? 
These are the months of data, that is not a missing data flag, for each wmo number in the Antarctic region (country starting with a 7). Note that the very first one has 10 years of data, that’s all. 120 months. THE longest is 1356 or about 113 years, then the next is 1212 months, or 101 years. Long for a human lifetime, nearly nothing in geological time scales and climate cycles. Most of the rest are around one human lifetime or less.
Even worse, these are surface stations (South Africa, Argentina, Chile, and Antarctica).  Almost all of the southern hemisphere south of 45° is ocean.  How many readings are in the climate database from ship reports?


This is a great example of why I put MUCH more trust in the satellite climate data - it's a true global measure.  And it doesn't show essentially any warming in two decades.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Lord forgives

I'm not so sure about Sign Guy.

Well that certainly didn't age well

One week ago:
On the quest to become one of Los Angeles’ most revered sports institutions, a victory Sunday in the Super Bowl is only the start. What comes after will be almost as important for the Rams.
If President Donald Trump invites them to the White House, they have to decline.


Problem solved, I guess.

Why Virginia Governor Northam has to go

And why it's for the greater good that he's going to hang around twisting in the wind for a while before he goes.

Not for nothing is Tam known as the Queen of Snark.  Northam is trying to hang on but that's really just embarrassing and damaging his party now.  Five years ago this all would have been dealt with quietly, with Approved tut tutting and "mistakes were made" noises from the GOP side.  No more:

Northam has done what few pols accomplish - stepping into it up to his chin twice in two consecutive days.  The last time a Governor has been this amusing was when South Carolina Governor Mark Stanford hiked the Appalachian Trail all the way to his mistress' apartment in Buenos Aires.  

The Press is, of course, outraged.  Not at Northam, although privately they're mad that he's peed in their punchbowl - no, they're mad that people like Tam are mocking a Democrat.  And that she's being joined in the free for all by the Mocker In Chief.

What they're really mad at is that the tools that they used to monopolize - mockery of your political opponent - are now available for everyone, and are being used against their political allies.  And quite frankly, this is why Northam has to go after a long, agonizing, and damaging time (weeks?) of twisting in the wind.  You see, the power that the Press used to monopolize was used corruptly, and there are mathematical proofs that using this back at them will tend to reduce their corrupt use of it in the future.

Really.  I've written before about this:
Game Theory is a field of mathematics originally developed to try to mathematically derive optimum solutions for card games in the 18th century.  It has developed into a major field of analysis used in computer science and even the design of crypto systems.  Any of you who saw the film "A Beautiful Mind" have at least a passing familiarity with the subject. 
You probably even know the most famous example of Game Theory: The Prisoner's Dilemma.  Two prisoners are (separately) offered a deal - rat out the other guy or keep silent.  If they rat and the other guy doesn't, they go free and he gets a long sentence.  If neither of them rat, they both get short sentences.  If they both rat, they both get long sentences.  And most importantly to the prisoner, if he doesn't rat but the other guy does, he gets a long sentence while the other guy walks. 
It's a one-time deal, which makes the math simpler.  Real world situations are not so simple, and a variant of the Prisoner's Dilemma has incorporated this.  Tit For Tat is a sequential set of prisoner's dilemma events where the strategy is to play what your opponent played in the previous round.  If your opponent was cooperative, you will be cooperative; if he screwed you, you will screw him back.
What's interesting about Tit For Tat is that mathematical proofs have shown that it leads to the outcome with maximum combined utility.  If your opponent always screws you, you're no worse off playing Tit For Tat, but if your opponent is always cooperative or also plays Tit For Tat then both of you derive the maximum benefit.
Politics has been played as a disconnected series of Prisoner's Dilemma rounds.  The Republicans have pushed their own to resign in the face of scandal, but it's only been the last year that the Democrats have shown a sign of doing the same.  This has been good politics for Democrats over the last 15 years or so.

This is why Northam has to go.  House GOP leader Steve King was stripped of his posts within a day or two of an interview that (depending on who you listen to) may or may not have been taken out of context or misrepresented for political purposes.  If these are the new rules, then Northam has to go because he admitted to (and later changed his story) the events.

I don't think that the Republic is well served by scalp taking, but it is even less well served by scalp taking applied to only one side.  The math tells us that we maximize the Republic's welfare by taking scalps from both sides.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Thoughts on the Superbowl

The NFL clearly laid down the law on taking a knee.  None of the players I saw did.  The NFL knows that this is ratings poison and didn't let it happen.

Despite what the haters will want to say, this should pretty much end the debate on who is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time.

It probably should (but won't) end the debate on what the greatest NFL franchise of all time is.

The Halftime show was idiotic music, but there wasn't anything politically controversial.  The Queen of the World recognized him but I didn't have a clue until they played that song that was covered by the Axis Of Awesome.

A lot of the commercials were hilarious.  Michael Bubble and T-Mobile had us laughing out loud.  The Verizon commercial with the guy meeting the EMTs who saved his life was touching.

All in all, we did not expect a Superbowl with basically no political bull***t.

Johann Georg Albrechtsberger: Konzert für Maultrommel, Mandora und Orchester F-Dur

Image von der Wik
Some different concepts often don't seem to go together.  "Beethoven's music teacher" and "composer of the Jew Harp" seems a great example.  But actually, there's a whole tale here that involves some pretty interesting music.

Johann Georg Albrechtsberger was an Austrian composer who became so famous that Ludvig van Beethoven sought him out for composition lessons.  Beethoven had originally studied with Josef Hayden but Beethoven's temper kept disrupting the study and so Hayden recommended his friend Albrechtsberger as a replacement.  Since Albrechtsberger had published the (to that time) definitive book on music theory and composition, Beethoven eagerly agreed.

What was a surprise to me was that music for the Jews Harp was a thing in late 18th Century Vienna, and that Albrechtsberger was considered one of the greatest composers for it.  It's not at all what you're expecting, although today's musicians don't seem to play multiple Jews Harps at the same time as did musicians of the day.

Johann Albrechtsberger was born on this day in 1736.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

A Groundhog Day prediction

Harold Bradley - too many songs to name

Harold Bradley died in his sleep this week, after 93 years on this good Earth.  He was one of Nashville's greatest studio musicians and the co-founder of Music Row.  His obituary in Variety makes an attempt at listing the hits that he played on:
Bradley was a part of Nashville’s recording scene for more than seven decades. A member of Nashville’s famed “A-team” group of studio musicians, Bradley played on many of Nashville’s greatest hits. His staggering list of credits includes Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces,” “Crazy,” She’s Got You” and “Sweet Dreams,” along with Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise,” Roy Orbison’s “Crying” and “Only the Lonely,” Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry,” Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” Eddy Arnold’s “Make the World Go Away,” Alan Jackson’s “Here in The Real World,” Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” Red Foley’s “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy,” Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans,” Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John,” John Anderson’s “Swingin’,”  Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man,” Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’,” the Everly Brothers’ “Ebony Eyes” — and so many more that a complete discography would turn this piece from an obituary into a book.
Add in Hank Williams, Burrell Ives, Perry Como, Boan Baez, Buddy Holly, and Connie Francis.  I don't know that this makes him the most important studio musician in history but I don't know that it doesn't.

Interestingly, he was a fan of Django Reinhardt, who we've seen here before.

In any case, here are some of the hits that he played on.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Bradley.  Thanks for all the great music.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Wolfgang didn't do this

But he likes to bite up a mouthful of snow.

Should you use a GPS watch to track your kid's location?

Oh hell no.  Only if you want every perv on the planet to be able to track them too:
the Norwegian Consumers Council published the excellent ‘WatchOut’ research that demonstrated trivial access to kids GPS locations through vulnerable tracker watches, including the Gator.
It received plenty of press coverage and resulted in several kids tracker watches taking swift action to secure their systems.
A year on, we decided to have a look at the Gator watch again to see how their security had improved as a result of their actions.


Guess what: a train wreck. Anyone could access the entire database, including real time child location, name, parents details etc. Not just Gator watches either – the same back end covered multiple brands and tens of thousands of watches
The bottom line is that these watches (including but not limited to brands Gator, Tinitell, and Xplora) have NO security in their database and allow ANYONE to access ANY USER'S DATA without having to log in.  This is a year after a Norwegian government report on this, and NOTHING HAS BEEN IMPROVED.  This is perhaps the worst example of a saying I frequently roll out: security wasn't an afterthought, it wasn't thought of at all.

In short, if you think it's really cool to be able to know where your kid is at any given moment, realize that Joe Blow can do it, too.  And the watch company simply doesn't give a damn.

My recommendation is to throw the damned things into the garbage to keep someone from accidentally using it in the future.

It's funny because it's true

But if you torture the data it will confess to anything.

I must say that I'm digging this meme.  For those unfamiliar with it, back during the days when government policy encouraged off-shoring of manufacturing jobs there were a lot of articles in the press that laid off factory workers should learn to code.