Friday, May 31, 2019

Slim Harpo - Baby Scratch My Back

He died far too young, after a life of clean living (no joke).  That seems somehow unfair, although worthy of singing the blues.

Bubonic Plague in Los Angeles

Think Calcutta, not a modern American City. Homeless drug addicts, sanitation has collapsed, and the rodent population is out of control.

Maybe they should elect some Democrats.

Oh, wait.

District Name Party (officially nonpartisan)
1 Gil Cedillo Democratic
2 Paul Krekorian Democratic
3 Bob Blumenfield Democratic
4 David Ryu Democratic
5 Paul Koretz Democratic
6 Nury Martinez Democratic
7 Monica Rodriguez Democratic
8 Marqueece Harris-Dawson Democratic
9 Curren Price Democratic
10 Herb Wesson Democratic
11 Mike Bonin Democratic
12 Greig Smith [4] Republican
13 Mitch O'Farrell Democratic
14 José Huizar Democratic
15 Joe Buscaino Democratic

Let's blame the mayor, then.

Eric Garcetti July 1, 2013

Democratic

No, that won't work.

It must be Trump's fault.

Ten years ago on this blog

I may start this as a regular feature.  Or not.  Cathedra mea, regula meae.

From May 31, 2009:

Killing me softly

Telling my whole life with his words ...

Insty points in his usual brevity-is-the-soul-of-blogging way to a must read post from The Other McCain, which absolutely dissects how the Left thinks. I know, because I used to be a leftie apparatchik, and all I can say is that every word is Absolutely. Spot. On.

This vision is what the conservative rejects, and what makes the conservative convert such an effective leader is that he knows full well what he has rejected -- and he knows it personally, first-hand, subjectively. He knows the flattering deceit of believing himself more enlightened, more tolerant, more sophisticated than his fellow man, merely because he identifies as a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive.
And it doesn't happen by accident, either. Although I'm not a conservative, I went through exactlythis in my journey away from the left:
The point is, if you feel like you've been suckered -- hustled, flim-flammed, bamboozled, sold out, ripped off -- and you have both pride and curiosity, you will begin to wonder whether it was all just a scam from Day One.
The only thing I would add is an explicit reference to the Mastodon Main Stream Media. I'd vote for "scam from Day One".

What the heck are you waiting for? Go. Read. It. Now.

Why Government can't bring tomorrow in on time

It's a trueism that government provided services are always worse than privately provided ones because the government is, at it's heart, a jobs program.  The government agency is featherbedding rather than providing services.

This is true of the Military as well.  Since the Reagan years, the "Peace Dividend" has seen the cut of everything except general officers, to the point that the Navy now has more Admirals than it has ships (excluding the Littoral Combat Ship, which is a waste of space and budget and is a death trap for its crew).

The military has been seen as the most effective part of the Fed.Gov for quite some time.  If you think this, you really need to go read Aesop's rant.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

So Robert Mueller had a press conference

It really won't make any difference.

Sure, it will play great for the Beltway Chattering Classes, but they've lost the ability to move the meter of public opinion.  Sure, it will play well with the hard core Democrats and die hard anti-Trumpers, but they won't feel differently about the situation than they did before his presser.   It also won't change any minds among the hard core Trump base.  They stuck with him through a myriad of "scandals" and "gaffes" and so no minds are getting changed here.

Next year is about the people in the middle - blue collar Democrats, suburban Republicans, soccer Moms, Independents.  This group seems to have decided one big thing about all this Russia Investigation brouhaha, and that is that there is something fishy about the FBI.  Something like two thirds of the American public wants the FBI investigated here.  That's up from around half the public a year ago.

All Mueller really has to go on is "Mr. Clean", and his Agency seems to be (at least questionably) dirty. And so yesterday's huffing and puffing was, in the Bard's immortal words, a tale told by a fool, filled with sound and fury but signifying nothing.

And the poll from a year ago is a very interesting one.  People also want an investigation into how the FBI ran the Hillary Email Server investigation.  A picture tells a thousand words on this:


I'm actually kind of surprised how this is all playing out.  $40M and reading through maybe a million pages of subpoenad Trump documents and there's literally nothing.  Trump is either the cleanest President of my lifetime, or he's perhaps the smartest.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The military is in bad shape

I can't disagree with Aesop's righteous rant:
Else we wouldn't have Rangerettes who can't climb a short wall, Navy officers who can't conn a ship without hitting everything afloat, as they dredge up parts from museum pieces to keep their current aircraft flying, Air Force generals pimping for a white elephant plane that cannot fly, missile officers cheating on their proficiency tests, Marine recruits in combat arms who can't throw a grenade without killing themselves, or "combat leaders" who couldn't pass a ruck march, West Point "leaders" who condone open communism from faculty and students, and promote a pack of Affirmative Action cadets who couldn't pass a PRT or meet basic weight and appearance standards, while flashing Black Power signs in uniform. We wouldn't be doing gender reassignment surgeries instead of physical therapy for combat wounded, we wouldn't be spending more money on gender sensitivity counseling than on marksmanship training, and we wouldn't be wavering the insane and drug-addicted into the military in record numbers, just to appease a pack of blue- and pink-haired SJWs.
There's plenty of blame to go around - Obama's vow to "fundamentally change the country" following hard on Bush's deployment of too small a force into too big a mission for far, far too long.  But we have planes that can't fly, ships that keep hitting other ships, and a brass that seems more devoted to their next promotion than the welfare of the troops that serve under them.

RV Camping blog

Some of our readers enjoy camping and so I'd like to point out an RV blog, RV Life.  Robyn and her husband don't just camp in their RV, they live in it full time.  As you'd expect, there are a lot of topics discussed over there - the most recent is about "Boondocking", camping where there is no campground (i.e., in the boondocks).

If you're interested in camping or the RV life, go check it out.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

BBQ, Beer, And Beach Trips


They were young men.

I was one of them. My fellow Marines were no different than the ones that made the beach landings. It was just an accident of time and place that decided. Even during World War II, the chance that you would be in a combat unit of any sort was about 35%. There were 16 million men in uniform. It might came down to what day you went to boot camp, which put you in one outfit instead of another. You signed up. If that put you guarding a base in Alaska or on a landing craft at Normandy, it had little to nothing to do with what you wanted.

So I know how they felt, at least until the SHTF. If you could have asked them, in those quiet days before they were called upon, they would have answered like any young Soldier, Sailor, or Marine. "If I make it back to the world..."
I want to go home and sit on the porch.
I miss my mama's home cooking.
I got a girl waiting for me and I think I'm going to ask her to marry me.
I'm going to drink some cold beer and have a steak.
I want to have kids someday.
The guys I knew didn't want solemn ceremony. They didn't see themselves as heroes. They lived in sometimes shitty conditions, ate canned rations, followed what orders they received as best they could. They wanted a day off, a keg, some good friends, a pretty girl, a day at the beach.

Go and enjoy those things, and try to remember the price that was paid for us to live in this place and time. That's what gives their sacrifice meaning.





Election 2020 prediction: Trump 522, Whoever 16

I want to be first on the block to call this - Trump will carry 49 States in next year's Presidential Election.  The map will look like this:

This will take some explaining, so here goes.

The Democrats were outraged that Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 but Trump won the Electoral College.  Lacking the votes for a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate the Electoral College, they came up with a sneaky but very clever idea - get individual States to pass laws giving that State's Electoral Votes to the winner of the national popular vote.  I am not a lawyer, so don't know how this would play out in the Courts, but let's run with this idea.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact binds signatory States to assigning their Electoral Votes to the winner of the national popular vote.  The compact comes into force when States representing 270 Electoral Votes have passed the law.  Currently States representing 189 EVs have passed the law and it is under consideration in States representing another 116 EVs.  So there's quite a good chance that it will come into effect, as the Democrats intended.  The States that have passed it or where it has been introduced are shaded light red in the map above. (Note that the dark red States voted for Trump and there's no reason to think they won't next year as well)

So where do I get away with calling a 49 State landslide for Trump?  After all, we haven't seen this since Reagan in 1984.

You see, Trump came within a couple million of winning the popular vote: 62,984,828 (Trump) vs. 65,853,514 (Clinton).  That's a little over 2% of votes cast.  The margin for the Democrats is very thin, and this is using 2016 figures.  Now consider Trump's advantages for next year, when compared to 2016:

  1. He is an incumbent, which is a big advantage.  Only five incumbent presidents lost re-election during the 20th Century, and each faced challenges that Trump almost certainly won't: Taft (Teddy Roosevelt split the Republican vote with his Bull Moose Party), Hoover (Great Depression), Ford (only President because Agnew resigned in disgrace and then Nixon resigned after Watergate), Carter (disastrous foreign policy led to Iranian hostage crisis), George H.W. Bush (Ross Perot split the Republican vote).  None of these seem remotely plausible, so count on Trump to pick up some popular vote simply due to incumbency.
  2. Republicans like him more than they did in 2016.  A lot of Republicans held their noses when they voted for him in 2016, and presumably some more didn't even come out to vote.  Trump was an unknown (from a policy perspective) then; now he has a record to run on, and it is pretty much a solidly Republican record.  Sure, his personal style is very unusual, but from a policy perspective he's not at all out of the Republican mainstream.  He'll pick up some votes here towards the popular total.
  3. The economy is doing well.  Non-Republicans (mainly independents and blue collar Democrats, but count in a bunch of African-American men) will vote their pocketbooks next year.  That's more popular votes for Trump.
  4. A shockingly weak Democratic field will depress Democratic voter enthusiasm.  Each of the Democrats who are running are either non-entities (Castro, Gabbard, Ojeda, Delaney, Yang, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, a bunch of others nobody has ever heard of) or have terrible, exploitable weaknesses: "Creepy Joe" Biden, Fauxahontas, "Lock up the parents when the kids skip school" Harris, Commie Bernie, and the "Fake Hispanic" O'Rourke.  Quite frankly, it's hard to see the Democratic base get wound up on any of those, so count that as fewer popular votes for the Democrat, equivalent to more popular votes for Trump.
Remember, Trump only needs a couple million more votes to get all the Electoral Votes from the Popular Vote Compact States.  Quite frankly, items 3 and 4 above will get him close, and the others will put him over the top.  It's really hard to see that those 4 advantages won't add up to 3 million more votes - like I said, that's 2% of all votes cast.


And so the Democrat's cunning plan will turn around to crush them next year.  It's too clever by half.  Of course, this all falls apart if there aren't enough other States signing on to the plan to bring the total up to 270 EVs.  We'll have to see about that.

More on Rolling Thunder

This is what it looked like on Sunday.  It is the off-ramp from I-395 to get to the Pentagon.  We were stopped there for a half hour because the Pentagon parking lot was full of motorcycles and there wasn't any place to put us.


Everyone rolled with it pretty well, though.  Pun intended.

Monday, May 27, 2019

It's not about BBQ and car sales

The American War of Southern Independence* is unique in our history, as not one but two national holidays came out of that conflagration.  Thanksgiving is one, which is (almost**) uniquely American.  The other was called Decoration Day until 1967 when it was renamed Memorial Day.  This holiday is seen all over the globe, although usually on November 11.

You cannot understand Decoration Day without understanding that we lost more Americans in that war than in any other war in our history.  We lost more than in either the Great War or the Second World War - the butcher's bill is officially around 650,000 but this doesn't could the civilian toll which raises it to possibly a million.  Remember, the population of the USA was only around 35 Million in 1860, so this represents two or three percent of the entire population - which means around ten percent of the military age population.

The depth of that loss is why today is a holiday.  The trauma branded an entire generation.  We can only get a sense of this from stories.  Pickett's Charge is widely recognized as Robert Lee's only military blunder.  He sent thousands of irreplaceable troops across a mile of open ground against entrenched positions.  As the Yankees shot them down, they chanted Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!  It was payback for the previous December when Ambrose Burnside sent charge after charge up a hill against entrenched positions.  Lee's troops shot them down.  At Cold Harbor one of the Union dead was found with a diary in his pocket.  The last entry read June 3.  Cold Harbor.  I was killed.

In Shelby Foote's definitive history of that war he explained why the US military no longer has units from a single geographic location.  If a unit is recruited from a single town, and then later finds itself in a tight situation, it might be that there are no longer any young men from that town.

Now multiply by a million.  The most amazing thing from that war is that even with the bitterness that resulted from such horrifying loss, a single nation was able to emerge.  The losses are beyond our comprehension, a preview of the War To End War:
In the Battle of Soissons in July of 1918, 12,000 men (Americans and Germans) were killed in four days. Vast crops of white crosses sprouted from the fields their rows and columns fading into the distance as they marched back from the roadside like an army of the dead called to attention until the end of time. American cemeteries merged with French cemeteries that merged with German cemeteries; their only distinction being the flags that flew over what one took to be the center of the arrangement. I suppose one could find out the number of graves in these serried ranks. Somewhere they keep the count. Governments are especially good at counting. But it is enough to know they are beyond numbering by an individual; that the mind would cease before the final number was reached.
To have even a hundredth of those cemeteries in the United States now would be more than we, as a nation, could bear. It would not be so much the dead within it, but the truth that made it happen that would be unbearable. This is, of course, what we are as a nation fiddling about with on this Memorial Day. We count our war dead daily now, but we count mostly on the fingers of one hand, at times on two. Never in numbers now beyond our ability to imagine. This is not because we cannot die daily in large numbers in a war. September 11th proved to us that we still die in the thousands, but many among us cannot now hold that number as a reality, but only as a “tragic” exception that need not have happened and will — most likely — never happen again.
It was not - and is not - about backyard BBQ, Beer, and car sales:
It will come as a shock to the 97% of Americans who never, ever served in its armed forces (but probably not so much to any readers of this blog) but today was not instituted to get you an excuse to BBQ, drink beer, or get great deals on linens and TVs. 
... 
It's the day for people you probably never met, nor ever will, because they gave up all of their tomorrows, so you could enjoy your today. They lie in ranks, row upon row, on at least four continents, covering hundreds of acres of ground. They spoke nearly every language you can think of. They came in every color of the rainbow of humanity. Their average age is probably around 20 years old. Forever.

Growing up in the 60s, me and my friends were immersed in World War II.  Green Army Men played a big part of our childhoods.  The town Dads were mostly veterans, but never talked about it.  My best friend's Dad finally opened up in the late 90s, when he was really old.  He fought across France from Normandy to the Siegfried Line.  I asked him when he had never told us those stories when we were young, and he said that he had just wanted to get along with his life, putting the many bad memories of those times behind him.  But he said he wanted us to know about his buddies and what they had done.

Forever 20 years old.  Remember them today as you fire up your grill.  I don't think they - or the boys from Gettysburg or Fredericksburg or Cold Harbor - would begrudge you your family enjoyment.  But remember them.

That's what Memorial Day is about.

* It is vulgarly called the "Civil War".  It wasn't.  The South didn't want to take over the North, it wanted to leave it.

** Our cousins to the north in Canada also celebrate Thanksgiving, although on a different day.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Rolling Thunder breaks Washington DC

news reports 1.2 million motorcycles showed up for this year's last ever Rolling Thunder parade. The Queen Of The World and I rode down with several hundred bikes from Frederick, MD only to find that the Pentagon parking lots were all full. The cops didn't know what to do with everybody - hey, this was two and a half times as many as had been expected

Oof. So we came back.  It was cool, but enough was enough. I mean, every square inch of grass in DC had a bike parked on it.

Rumor has it that Trump likes the event and is arranging for the Authorities to be more accommodating next year. We'll see.

John Williams - Hymn for the Fallen

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day for reflection on those who gave everything they hd and everything they would ever be for something larger than them.  That something is us, and the world is filled with the graves of the fallen, and will likely see new ones until the World is remade.

This weekend, we are called to reflect on these men.  Art, at its best is there to help lead the way.  Classical music used to offer many selections for solemn days like this.  Fortunately, Classical music has found a niche where it yet thrives, with talented composers writing new music for the cinema.  Perhaps the greatest of these in our age is John Williams.  He wrote this for the film Saving Private Ryan, where it played during the final credits.  This is a tour of those graves.  Sadly, many Americans have not been to any of these places.


Today and tomorrow think on those that went into that maelstrom of fire and blood.  

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Your Memorial Day must read

PFC Albert Dentino was wounded in action against German tanks on the western front.  He died four days before his 23rd birthday in December, 1944.

He's known as Great Uncle Albert.  You can read his story here.


Radney Foster - Angel Flight

It was the summer of 2011, and I was flying to Dad's Memorial Service.  His funeral had been a few months earlier in New Mexico but now was the last gathering in my home town in Maine.  It was a circuitous route: AUS-ATL-DET-BAN.  I've flown a lot in my life, but I saw something on that Detroit tarmac that I'd never seen before or since.

Photo credit: Borepatch

I'll reproduce here what I liveblogged from my phone:

My flight to Detroit just touched down.  The flight attendants came on the PA asking everyone to remain seated when we reach the gate, so some soldiers returning back from Afghanistan could de-plane first.

Everyone clapped.  Everyone.

Then the Captain came on.  He said we were taking a fallen soldier home.  You could have heard a pin drop.

God Speed, whoever you are.  I can't imagine any thanks can possibly fill the void your family feels.

We're at the gate, and the plane is clapping for the soldiers again.  Out the window, you can see the cars lined up on the tarmac for our fallen hero.  Everyone's crowded around the windows.

It feels like you're in church - that you're in the presence of something holy.
There was a boy no older than ten a couple rows in front of me.  When he saw this, he took off his baseball cap:
Photo credit: Borepatch

All that weekend I thought on what I'd written about how hard the Honor Guard duty must be:
This must be a tough duty, spending all day, every day welcoming home fallen veterans.  It must take a special sort of personality to be continually surrounded by grieving families, and to take that grief as an inspiration to perfect the ceremony.  The respect they showed - especially to Mom - was very moving.

It's strange, but after the months leading up to Dad's death, and three weeks now to process the emotions, that I wasn't ready for what that washed over me when the guard slow-saluted Mom, and then knelt down to present her the flag.

This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service.

The Honor Guard has a hard duty, and one that may seem unimportant.  After all, it's just one more old man leaving his grieving family behind.  The kindness and respect they devoted speaks volumes of them, and the Republic.

This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.
- William Lyon Phelps
But on that Detroit taxiway it wasn't an old man coming home to lie with his brothers, it was someone in the flush of youth.  Someone who didn't get the chance to bury his father; on the contrary, someone whose father met him on the tarmac on his last flight.

I look on this Republic, and wonder how it can possibly live up to that sacrifice.  And then I look at that ten year old boy on the plane, just some random kid on a vacation flight, taking his cap off as a sign of respect, and thanks.  And I look at all the other passengers who would normally be crowding the aisle to get off the flying bus that brought them where they ended up.  All crowded around the windows.  I don't expect that many will ever forget that moment.

I sure won't.


Memorial Day is the traditional start of summer, celebrated with barbecues and the opening of swimming pools across the land.  But that's so, so not what the day is about.  On this holiday, think for a moment about that fallen soldier, met by his father at the end of his Angel Flight.  And think on all the other fallen and what we owe to them, a debt that can never be repaid.



Angel Flight (Songwriters: Radney Foster, Darden Smith)
All I ever wanted to do was fly
Leave this world and live in the sky
I left the C130 out of Fort Worth town
I go up some days I don't wanna come down

Well I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you're with me tonight
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home

I love my family and I love this land
But tonight this flight's for another man
We do what we do because we heard the call
Some gave a little, but he gave it all

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you're with me tonight
(Come on brother you're with me tonight)
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home

Well, the cockpit's quiet and the stars are bright
Feels kinda like church in here tonight
It don't matter where we touch down
On the Angel Flight its sacred ground

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Gotta hero riding with us tonight
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Ave atque vale.  Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.  Amen.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Britain's government collapses

Prime Minister May resigns after drubbing at the polls in yesterday's EU elections.  Nobody cares: viewers were furious that the BBC pre-empted a popular home improvement show for the PM's resignation speech.

Here's the reason she quit, boiled down:


It's that last set of numbers compared with all the others.  May didn't have the leadership to turn Parliament around.  Now she's gone, and may have taken the Tory Party down with her - quite an achievement, really.

And this game of rope-a-dope was a catastrophe for the EU as well.  It's certain that the next UK Prime Minister will invoke Article 50 to leave the EU immediately, but the EU Parliament will be stuck with a bunch of euroskeptic EMPs, unless they expel them all.  The optics on that are miserable.

Me, I'm enjoying the popcorn.

Postscript: Heh:


Graduate

The Queen Of The World's daughter graduated yesterday, getting her nursing degree.  I find this especially impressive considering that she did this while raising 3 young kids, helping her husband in his quest to make Chief Petty Officer*, and still ended up with very nearly a 4.0 GPA.

That's quite a lot of hard work, and TQOTW and I couldn't be more proud of her.

* It's really amazing how much the wives of the Chiefs-to-be do.  I guess it's training for how to keep the family support system running smoothly when sea duty deployments happen.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Slow Motion end of the EU has begun

Election results are notoriously ignored in the EU, but geez louise:
  • LONDON (Reuters) - Investors are on edge on the eve of elections to the European Parliament as they weigh the chances of eurosceptic groups grabbing a third of seats, a level at which analysts say they could stir more trouble for governments and the economy.
    The rise of populist, eurosceptic parties has thrust the European elections, normally a dull affair mostly ignored by global markets, to the forefront of portfolio managers' list of concerns.
    ...
    "It's clear that eurosceptics are going to get more votes than they have before," said John Taylor, co-head of European fixed income at investment firm AllianceBernstein.
    "[If they can get a third of votes] they might become a very disruptive influence when you need Europe to come together to fight things like a trade war."
Anti-EU and anti-establishment parties are on a roll in Europe, following similar results in Australia.  The EU Parliament is admittedly an empty suit, but it has to be a major embarrassment to have 30% of the MEPs from parties that despise the EU.

The globalist Left finds itself astride the march of Progress, futilely shouting "stop".

Breaking and entering, Badger style

From Blighty we get breaking news:
Quite rightly, everyone thought 29-year-old Hannah Carver was crazy when she insisted her freezer was being ransacked by the elusive critter nightly. So she set up cameras in what will surely be remembered as Britain's answer to the Patterson-Gimlin film
She was first woken by banging from her kitchen a couple of weeks ago and came down to find the floor littered with frozen food packaging. 
So the trap was laid, and the badger was filmed clawing open the freezer to gorge itself for 50 minutes on "Twister ice lollies, mashed potato, crumpets and Chinese-style pork chops" though, as Carver reported to the Portsmouth News, it snubbed the velvet luxury of scallops. 
The striped intruder, which weighs a stonking 1 Lindisfarne Gospels, gained access through a catflap.
The cat flap has since been sealed up, leaving the Badger to look elsewhere for popcycles.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Puff, puff, puff

I've found the depths of my nerdiness, and am running down trying to finish what I started.  It was this:
I was out on the Motorcycle, and while waiting in traffic saw a hand lettered sign "Used Book Sale".  Well, I'm constitutionally incapable of passing that sort of thing up, and so pulled into the parking lot.  It was the Milton (GA) Library raising money.  It was late in their display time, and so most of the selection was pretty well picked over.

Fortunately, my tastes are a little (ahem) eclectic.  I cruised over to the history section, and saw this:


That's The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant.  10,000 pages of Pulitzer Prize winningoverview of Western Civilization. 
A year ago, I was already running down:
I've gotten through volume IX, The Age Of Voltaire.  Nine down, and two to go.  Unexpectedly, I've started to run down.  I cruised through the first four with relish, and Volume 3 saw me through the convalescence from the motorcycle accident.  The nurses thought I was a little unusual bringing a book like this to the daily hour long antibiotic infusions, but you can make some progress when you're stuck in a chair.  Unless you forget the damn book.  The volume on the Renaissance surprised me at how interesting it was, but that was sort of peak interest.

Since then, it's been slower going, and it's been harder to keep myself focused.  I found myself skipping over a fair amount in volume IX.  I think that it's because the earlier books covered a lot more time, and so were more of a survey - and this is why I got them.  The more recent the time period, the more detail there is.  Quite frankly, a lot of the detail isn't particularly interesting.

I guess this means that I've taken the measure of my nerdiness, and have found my limits.  I think I'm going to take a hiatus on the last two volumes for a bit.  Just not up to wading through 800 pages on Rousseau.
Well, I did take a hiatus for a while, and then got back into it.  I only have around 100 pages left in volume X which really should only be a week (or two, max) and then the final slog.  But it's a real slog.  And we have the Reign of Terror and Napoleon coming up inn the final volume and it's quite frankly hard to get myself motivated.  If I can finish by August then I will have read the whole set (for fun, at least allegedly) in six years.

Bah.  Everything interesting ended around 1600 AD.  1660, tops.  Take it to the bank, kids.

Tesla Autopilot routinely cuts off other cars

"Using the system is like monitoring a kid behind the wheel for the very first time. As any parent knows, it’s far more convenient and less stressful to simply drive yourself."
- Consumer Reports' Jake Fischer
Absolutely scathing review of Tesla's latest Autopilot software by Consumer Reports.  Sample:
Tesla vehicles have a tendency to cut off other drivers when making lane changes, according to CR's tests. After changing lanes in heavy traffic, the Model 3 "often immediately applies the brakes to create space behind the follow car—this can be a rude surprise to the vehicle you cut off,” Fisher said.
Great.  You car is a big old jerk.

Of course, none of this is a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention.

It's funny because it's true


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Gun Control




Been a while since I brought it up.  So let's have another ...

UPDATE 22 May 2019 09:31: Dick emails to day that the first picture also needs a "No Sheepdogs" sign ...

This Is Why We Built The Internet


H/T to American Digest

Monday, May 20, 2019

Flying with jerks

We've all be on a flight with That Guy - the one who's obnoxious, belligerent, and possibly drunk or high.

This was beautiful.

It's from a few years back but I just ran across it.  Like I said, it's beautiful what happened to That Guy.

Follow-Up on Chernobyl

As many of you suspected, the actual energy available in the potential steam explosion at the Chernobyl power plant was not in the megatons-of-TNT range. It would have been dramatic and it would have been large enough to disrupt the other reactors. It would have ejected a large quantity of the remaining core into the atmosphere and resulted a larger and more radioactive fallout zone. But it would not have been, as reported, in the 3 to 5 megaton range.

The best discussion on the topic I have found so far was at physics.stackexchange.com.

It isn't the show that came up with the reported numbers, though, so I am still open to further explanation. Here's an older interview reporting the high numbers.

The world wide collapse of the Left reaches Australia

Adam Piggot muses on how the Labor party lost an "unlosable" election.  The Greens Sink Labor:
Queensland won the election for the conservative Liberal party, not because of what they did but rather because of what Labor didn’t do. Labor didn’t stand up for its heartland in the face of the Adani protests. Not only that but labor has failed to understand that its traditional working class voters in outback mining towns are more and more in a high income bracket, a situation that is only a fairly recent development. When tradies are on a cool 250K pay packet then Labor’s class warfare tax brackets suddenly don’t have quite the appeal that they once had.
This culminated in the election campaign when a worker at the Gladstone Port in Queensland politely quizzed Shorten on what he was going to do for workers who are now finding themselves in a high tax bracket. Shorten fluffed the question but his real troubles began the next day when the worker had his contract terminated by the company for daring to ask the great Labor leader an awkward question.
Labor has been infected by the Green mind virus and assumed that the majority of Australia would vote like inner-city Melbourne. But with the working class now often making more money than inner-city lefties, a threat to their new found livelihoods in the form of stopping a major coal mine was just the tip of the iceberg, as Labor intended to roll out radical Green proposals to go 100% renewable energy in Australia.
Status is a positional good - there really seems to be a zero sum game at work in status hierarchies (if one person gains status, it is as measured against the other members of that hierarchy who lose status).  This is the vise in which the Left now finds itself: as more and more of their support comes from urban, white collar workers - many of whom find themselves in jobs that have modest pay, like school teachers or government clerks - then seeing higher pay for "lower status" jobs like the trades, mining, and manufacturing (and the resulting higher financial status) is a psychological blow for their core base of supporters.

I mean, here you are with all this student debt for your Masters in Education and some low-life deplorable coal miner is making twice as much as you?

The Left has a built-in preference for policies that will damage the trades, mining, and manufacturing, so that the Left's core support base will be relatively better off as the people in these "deplorable" jobs lose income and status.  Of course, this doesn't do a thing to raise the incomes of the Left's core support base, but nobody ever said that cognitive dissonance ever lead to rational outcomes.

What is a disaster for the Left (in Australia and world wide) is that the Deplorables have caught on to the game, and are now voting as a bloc against the Left.  It's self-defense - there's no ideological congruence with "conservative" parties, but that actually makes it worse for the Left: acting in self-interest is a much stronger predictor of outcome than ideology.

And so the Left keeps losing elections that are "unlosable" - BREXIT, Trump, Brazil, Italy ... the list goes on and on.  The Green Agenda is toxic at the polls.


Quite frankly, the only places you see success for the Greens is at isolated local levels where there is essentially a single party state - California, New York, a few other places.  Unsurprisingly, these are the places facing the biggest fiscal crisis as productive (read: tax paying) members of the Deplorables decamp to friendlier locales.  If anything, this accelerates the coming collapse.  New York and California Democrats are getting short term psychological benefits for their core supporters at the cost of long term lower incomes for those same supporters.

Hey, nobody ever said that cognitive dissonance lead to rational outcomes.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Chernobyl

There's a new HBO drama about the core breach and fire at Chernobyl. The 2nd episode became available today. Here's the trailer.


YouTube will provide you with all the documentaries and information you could possibly watch but this drama makes it real.

Here is the story you need hear. There were huge water tanks under the reactor. They needed to be emptied before the core melted through and contacted them. If that had happened, the resulting explosion would have been between 3 and 5 megatons. Megatons. Remember the Hiroshima bomb was 20 kilotons**. It would have torn open the other reactors at the site and dispersed enough radiation to make the western Soviet Union and most of Europe uninhabitable.

Three men volunteered to enter the flooded basement under the burning reactor to find and open the valves. They succeeded. They took high doses of radiation and some reports suggest they died but from what I can find it appears they survived the initial period of acute radiation sickness.

Their names were Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bespalov and Boris Baranov. They saved millions of lives and a continent.

UPDATE: In the comments, the physics and math question of the potential size of the explosion is generating some thoughtful questions. It may be like the old game of "telephone", where the actual risk was of the steam explosion ejecting the core material into the atmosphere along with all the radioactive water, resulting in a down wind radiation fallout equivalent to a 3-5 megaton bomb. If it had done that as well at causing the other reactors to fail, the outcome would would have been bad enough. I am genuinely curious now and want to understand. If I find a definitive answer, I'll post it.

**Edited to correct yield per Old 1811
 

LOL


Yes, I am a nerd - I still remember the mnemonic for the colors on the resistor.

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.

Under appreciated talents: Doris Day and Christopher Lee

Both Doris Day and Christopher Lee got type cast, and it hurt both their careers.  Day was seen as the Virgin Queen; Lee as the great Hollywood Bad Guy.  While they both excelled in these roles, their talents went much deeper.  Here are a couple of (perhaps unexpected) examples of their deeper and less remarked on capabilities.

One of Day's greatest films was, Love Me Or Leave Me.  She was so, so not the Virgin Queen:



Ten cents a dance.  Oof.

And Christopher Lee - cast as Dracula, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Saruman - his basso profundo (and very classically trained voice) never failed to impress.  He really was the actual Most Interesting Man In The World:



The world is diminished by their passing, Day this past week and Lee these four years ago.  But a short time on Youtube listening to Lee's Heavy Metal or watching Day's finer performances will be a breath of fresh air in this later day of jaded "entertainment" options.

Requiescat in pace.

Lee Moore - The Cat Came Back

Grumpy Cat is dead.  But since cats are said to have nine lives, we can hope that Grumpy Cat will be around for a long, long time.  You bet, there's a country song about that.

Lee Moore was Yankee born and bred, an Ohio boy.  He found himself in radio in West Virginia playing for coal miners in the 1930s before settling down for a long stint as a late night entertainer on WWVA AM in Wheeling.  WWVA could be heard across most of the eastern USA at the late night hours when Moore was on the air, and he built up a following among truckers and other night owls from Newfoundland to Bermuda.  Nighttime AM travels a long, long way.

Moore retired to Troy, New York and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, three years after his death.  This was a song that he popularized (and which I remember from my youth).



The Cat Came Back (Songwriters: Harry S. Miller)
Well old Mr. Johnson had troubles all his own
He had an old yellow cat that wouldn't leave home
Tried everything he knew to do to get the cat to stay away
Even took him up to Canada and told him for to stay
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well they give a boy a dollar for to set the cat afloat
And he took him up the river in a sack and a boat
Well the fishin' it was fine till the news got around
That the boat was missing and the boy was drowned...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well the farmer on the corner said he'd shoot him on sight
And he loaded up his gun full of rocks and dynamite
The gun went off, heard all over town
Little pieces of the man was all that they found...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well they finally found a way this cat for to fix
They put him in an orange crate on Route 66
Come a ten ton truck with a twenty ton load
Scattered pieces of the orange crate all down the road...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Now they gave him to a man going up in the balloon
And they told him for to leave him with the man in the moon
Well the balloon got busted, back to earth it head,
And seven miles away they picked the man up dead...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well they took him to the shop where the meat was ground
And they dropped him in the hopper when the butcher wasn't 'round
Well the cat disappeared with a blood-curdling shriek
And the town's meat tasted furry for a week...
But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
Well, they took him to Cape Canaveral and they put him in a place
Shot him in a rocket going way out in space
Well they finally thought the cat was out of human reach
Next day they got a call from Miami Beach and...
And the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away
This song dates to 1895 (!) but was updated for the Space Age.  The song had nine lives as well, it seems.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Rest in Peace, Grumpy Cat

Found dead on May 16.  Cause of death is under investigation.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Goodbye, Doris Day

Doris Day has passed at 97.  The Guardian has a good obituary here.  I think that she was under rated both as a singer and as an actress - not at the time of her peak fame, of course, but when the revolution of the 1960s made her "girl next door" appeal passé.  She was no longer "sophisticated" enough for the Baby Boomer world.

Bah.  The lack of self-awareness among the Boomer generation is epic.  Day had a great, expressive voice as you can hear in this.



She (and Rock Hudson) starred in what is perhaps the finest Romantic Comedy of all time, Lover Come Back.  She is really funny in this - somehow she never got credit for her comedic timing.  This is an excellent New York Times review of the film.  If you haven't seen it, you're in for a real treat.



I always enjoyed both her music and her films, and thought it was a shame that she didn't get the recognition that she deserved.  Rest in Peace, Doris.  Thanks for all the great times.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Obit watch

Dwight has two for you:

Tim Conway, perhaps the funniest man to ever live.  The Queen Of The World and I are sad about his passing - we really enjoyed his comedy.

Medal of Honor recipient dies at 98, 75 years after falling on a grenade to save his buddies.

I'm on the road and crazy busy, and so will post a retrospective on Doris Day in the next day or two.  She was terribly under rated, both musically and as an actress.

ASM826 Edit: Tim Conway was one of the funniest comedians. Here's two examples from the Carol Burnett show. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

The song almost writes itself, doesn't it?


Seen on the Book of Faces by the Queen Of The World, who is patient when I rant about self-driving cars.

Friday, May 10, 2019

AirBnB: Let the buyer beware

Spycam found in AirBnB rental:
An Airbnb "superhost" has been arrested and jailed after a guest discovered a camera hidden inside an internet router placed in the bedroom. 
The perv had picked on the wrong woman. Yunfei (her online alias) works in IT security and always checks hotel rooms that she stays in. She became immediately suspicious when she arrived at the apartment in Qingdao in China's Shandong province. 
"I found a motion sensor monitor at the flat's entrance and two in the two bedrooms, which is odd since the flat had not been renovated for smart-home automation," she told the Beijing Youth Daily. 
She stuck stickers on the sensors and turned them toward the wall before embarking on a deeper search, checking the TV and smoke detectors for hidden cameras. It was when she spotted the internet router in the bedroom, facing the bed, that she began to get really suspicious however. 
One of the lights that indicates an Ethernet connection to one of the ports in the back was slightly different to the others. On closer inspection it turned out that the four-port router had five lights. She found a picture of the same router online: it only had four lights.
Ugh.

Wolfgang gets a raincoat

The Queen Of The World got Wolfgang a new raincoat, since it's now far too warm for a winter coat but the smell of wet dog is not our favorite.  She calls him the "Morton Salt Dog" which I think is hilarious.


Actually, it's what we call a "slicker" up in Maine.  Of course, they say "slickah" but that's because it's Down East.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

World War II Field Kitchen

Via #2 Son, here's a great overview of the WWII Field Kitchen.  It's a lot more interesting than you might think.  As they say, amateurs talk strategy but professionals talk logistics.  A logistics system that gets hot chow in the troops even at the front is something that will help you win.



I hadn't known that they ran on gasoline.  That would eliminate the need to find firewood and would almost eliminate smoke (don't want the Bad Guys to use your kitchen chimney to walk the artillery in), but you obviously need gas.  Nobody had a gasoline supply like we did, so I expect other army's field kitchens were very different.

Adam Corolla explains the Big Bang to Neil deGrasse Tyson

LOL

Linux on the Desktop - it's finally here

For the last 20 years we've heard that the next year will be the year that Linux comes to the desktop - each and every year, we heard it.  Well, it actually looks like it's here, because Microsoft is shipping it:
The biggest news of Microsoft's annual developer get-together, Build, this year was the arrival of the Linux kernel as part of Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. Oh, and a new tab-happy Windows Terminal? It's in GitHub. 

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 

The Windows Subsystem Linux (WSL), which lets you run Linux programs on a Windows box, has seen some serious love from Microsoft as its engineers attempt to demonstrate their commitment to open source and Linux.
And it's even GPL'ed.  By Microsoft.
Just stop and think about that for a second. It means when you come to run a program, the Windows kernel will either interface with it directly if it's a Windows application, or allow the Linux kernel to manage it if it's a Linux application. Now you can run Linux software truly natively on the world's largest desktop OS platform, developed by a company that once declared Linux "a cancer."
I did not expect the future to be so weird.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A dozen years of bloggy goodness

Old NFO has been blogging for 12 years.  Go leave him some commenty love!

The Boeing 737 MAX situation, explained

In the beginning was the plan.
And then came the assumptions.
And the assumptions were without form.
And the plan was without substance.
And darkness was upon the face of the Engineers.
And they spoke among themselves saying,
"It is a crock of shit and it stinketh."
 
And the Engineers went unto their supervisors and said,
"It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof."
And the supervisor went unto their managers and said,
"It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
 
And the managers went unto their directors, saying,
"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
And the directors spoke among themselves saying to one another
   
"It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong."
And the directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another
"It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong."
And the directors went unto the vice presidents, saying unto them,
"It promotes growth and is very powerful."
 
And the vice presidents went unto the president, saying unto him,
"The new plan will promote the growth and vigor of the company, with powerful effects."
And the president looked upon the plan and saw that it was good.
When I was a newly minted engineer, this was one of the things passed around (as photocopies - kids, ask your parents).  I was pretty green, and so thought it was breathlessly cynical.  I had a lot to learn about how information deteriorates through an organization structure.

It looks like this happened at Boeing:
Boeing engineers knew about the problem in 2017 – months before the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways crashes. The company only revealed this to US Federal Aviation Authority regulators after Lion Air flight JT610 crashed in October 2018, claiming in this week's statement that "the issue did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation". 
"Senior company leadership was not involved in the review and first became aware of this issue in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident," added Boeing.
Reading between the lines, it seems pretty clear that Boeing expects major lawsuits, and is preparing to try to throw their software vendor under the bus.  I expect that this won't work - after all, it's really saying that "hey, we really don't know what our vendors are up to" - and quite frankly is shouldn't work.  If Boeing's lawyers are successful and their software vendor gets sued into bankruptcy then Boeing has a whole bunch of critical software without a supplier to do changes and maintenance on it.

It looks like Boeing itself is in panic mode here.  Every move they make to try to get out in front of this seems to be digging themselves into a deeper hole.  Err, or deeper into their vessel of fertilizer.


But self-drivign cars will be totally safe.  This sort of thing would never happen there.  Nosiree.