Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The largest battle in the ancient world

On this day in 324 AD, the Battle of Chrysopolis was fought in a Roman civil war between the rival emperors Licinius (who controlled the eastern half of the Empire) and Constantine the Great (who controlled the western half).

It was a winner-take-all deal, and had essentially all the troops in the Empire on hand.  While ancient sources are notoriously inaccurate on army sizes - the chronicles tell us that Licinius had 170,000 men and Constantine 130,000 - we know that both the Rhein and Danube defensive limes had been stripped by Constantine, and the eastern legions all collected by Licinius.  We know this because there was no raiding into an undefended Empire by the barbarian tribes in the west, or by the Persian Empire in the east.

The reason is that both the barbarians and the Persians had been hired as mercenaries by the two rival Emperors, and so rather than raiding were being paid to fight for an Augustus.  Like I said, it was a winner-take-all deal, and neither Constantine nor Licinius were of a mind to not bring every sword in their field of influence to the party.

Of course, Constantine won, which is why we call him "Constantine the Great".  He went on to establish the christian religion in the Empire, which is why he is know as "Saint Constantine" in the Eastern Orthodox liturgy; indeed, he is counted there as "equal to the Apostles".

But it was a bloody day, with more men at arms gathered in a single place until likely Napoleon's day.  The Romans were excellent at organizing, and determined as all get out.

Red Flag gun laws aim to disarm rural America

So says Colorado Congressman:

Short and to the point, about why Democrats voted down an amendment to target gang members.

And so we see that Red Flag laws are stupid and useless, if they're not also malicious:
FEBRUARY 25, 2018
THEY CAN’T EVEN GET PEOPLE TO COMPLY IN CONNECTICUT: What Will Gun Controllers Do When Americans Ignore an ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban?
But since the point of gun control is to humiliate and grind down flyover people and demonstrate that the Ruling Class is ultimately the, well, Ruling Class — not to control crime — the appearance of submission is probably enough. Plus, a seldom enforced and often ignored law is ideal if you want to be able to target troublesome individuals later.
hat tip: Brock Townsend.

Exploding in a shower of radioactive clowns

Lawrence has a good summary of the New York Times story on Brett Kavanaugh.  Err, no fair peeking at the post title to see how it ends.

He covers the bases quite nicely.  Really the only question left is "why did they think they could get away with it?"  I think it boils down to the poison that the media has fed to the Democrats has now infected them.

UPDATE 18 September 2019 09:50: Two very old posts of mine are pertinent here:


Biased Media makes Democrats stupid

That last one is interesting.  Doing a Google search for " Biased Media makes Democrats stupid" does not include this post in the search results.  The same search on Duckduckgo has it as the #1 search result.  Bias is making Google stupid, too.


Maybe the people in Hong Kong know something about communism that the people in Portland haven't learned yet.

Monday, September 16, 2019


And one for desert, too:


Yes, yes, a million times yes.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Bruno Walter conducting Gustav Mahler - Das Leid Von Der Erde

Sunday music has focused on composers, but the 20th century in particular should focus on conductors. Partly this is because classical music written in the 20th century is so bad, but partly it is a reflection of the explosion of symphony orchestras and the spread of "mid brow" culture in the post war period in particular.  Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the most famous of these conductors, but most important is without doubt Bruno Walter.

Born on this day in 1876, his name was originally Buno Schlesinger.  His musical education soon focused him on his main interest, conducting.  As the choral director at the Hamburg opera he met Gustav Mahler and ended up becoming close to him for the rest of Mahler's life.  Not only was Walter present when Mahler died, but Mahler's widow asked Walter to conduct the premier performance of the yet-to-be-performed Das Leid Von Der Erde.

But Walter's jewish background was a serious hinderance as the Nazis came to power, and Walter ended up in the United States.  His reputation was such that he conducted - and recorded -all the most important orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles symphonies.  His influence was most felt in the music he selected for performance.

His recordings were mostly done before stereo was available but are generally considered superior to the later stereo versions.  This recording of Das Leid Von Der Erde is famous despite the older technology used in its creation.

Therapy For The Overly Woke


Saturday, September 14, 2019

So Bob O'Rourke says he's going to confiscate all the AR-15s

Oooooooh kaaaaaaay.  Solid plan.

Neil Diamond - Porcupine Pie

There's not much to say about this song, other than it's a not-very-country nonsense song from 1972.  But it's fun.

Porcupine Pie (Songwriter: Neil Diamond)
Porcupine Pie, Porcupine Pie, Porcupine PieVanilla Soup, a double scoop please.... No
Maybe I won't, maybe I will, maybe I'll havethe tutti fruit, with fruity blue cheese
Ah but Porcupine Pie, Porcupine Pie, Porcupine Piedon't let it get on your jeans
And though it sounds a little strange butyou gotta eat it with gloves or your hands will turn green
Ah but porcupine pie, porcupine pie, porcupine pieweaves its way through my dreams
I do believe I'm gonna try some andleave enough room for dessert, the chicken ripple ice cream.

Friday, September 13, 2019

"No One Wants To Take Your Guns"

Oh wait.

Beto O'Rourke definitely wants to take your guns.

Understanding liberals

So the Democrats had a debate last night, yadda yadda.  Rather than delving into particulars, it's important to keep sight of the forrest, rather than the trees.  This post from ten years ago explains how:

Nothing I could write would improve on that sentence, part 4

The Czar of Muscovy* looks at Thomas Freedman's wistful "Now why can't our Government act like Philosopher Kings like the Chinese" Op-Ed, and dissects it. It's well worth your time in an intellectual well-balanced-dinner sort of way, but he ends with this delicious morsel for desert
The Czar has said before that if you really want to understand liberals, progressives, the news media, and Hollywood, it helps to learn about how spoiled high school freshmen girls think.

I'd ask what's with all that liberal yearning-for-a-strongman thing, but it's already been explained. At length.

* Not a fake Czar like in the Obama Administration, but rather in an Internet Pseudonym sort of way. All in all, much more respectable and credible, if you ask me.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

18 Years Out

18 years after December 7th, 1941 was 1959. Japan and Germany had largely been rebuilt. The threat they had represented was relegated to history books and movies. The United States had made the decision to eliminate those threats, converted to a war footing, won decisively, and returned to a peacetime economy that was the envy of the world.

18 years after September 11, 2001 is 2019.

We never identified the enemy. We never declared war. We called it a war. The War on Terror. A complete failure to identify the enemy and an undeclared war on a tactic. Invaded two countries inconclusively. Then we decided to start rebuilding before we had won.

As a result, we have incurred 7,000 combat related U.S. military deaths, 54,000 injuries of which approximately 1,700 involved amputations, and there are 6,000 veteran suicides a year, every year.

In the process we have already spent 6 Trillion dollars. We did not tax or sell war bonds for this. It is all done with borrowing and deficits.

We used up the life of our ships, aircraft, vehicles, and weapons systems. We would be currently unable to effectively respond to another war. Our active obligations drive an ops tempo that do not allow for proper maintenance of equipment and push personnel into a continuous cycle of deployments.

We set in motion a surveillance apparatus that continues to grow, watching every move, call, text, click that we make.

We turned air travel into a Kafkaesque system where everyone, from 80 year old nuns to infants are suspects. It's all theater, but it's unpleasant, unconstitutional theater. And we spent a 100 Billion dollars just on that.

We have lost and are continuing to lose. We're negotiating with the Taliban. We don't control Afghanistan. We don't control Iraq. We are not safer than we were in 2001. We don't have any idea who is coming across our southern border. We don't know that the next attack won't be worse. We're far less free than we were.

If Osama Bin Laden wanted to make us bleed, both physically and economically, he won.

BREXIT beer deal

LOL.  Via Chris Lynch, who you do read every day, right?

Liberal "logic"

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Eighteen years of futility

ASM826 posted a moving tribute but I find I find that words for that day mostly fail me.  And so here are some pictures to remember that day.

They call him the Falling Man.  He's not the only one they got a picture of.

There's a reason that we call these men "heroes".  343 firemen and 71 police ran into the building to save people, but never came out.  Rest in peace.

I found this very moving from back then, but some folks complained that it endangered birds.  Same planet, different worlds.

Looking back after 18 years, I think this was George W. Bush's greatest moment:

The follow-through lightening campaign driving the Taliban from power was the pinnacle of his presidency, but it was all down hill from there.  18 years later, we're still in Afghanistan, because Bush flinched from what it would take to "nation build" there.  Publius Cornelius Tacitus is probably the easiest of the Roman historians to read.  Son-in-law to the governor of Britannia, he recorded a speech of a vanquished chieftain:
To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain's glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission ... To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.
- Tacitus, Agricola ch. 30
The Romans would have known how to deal with the Taliban, and would have made the Taliban's lands a peaceful desert.  America did not. Bush got us into that mess, and rather than pulling out in 2002 with the message that there's more of that where it came from if you don't behave, Bush dithered with a foreign policy that has led to thousands of American dead and tens of thousands of maimed.  He didn't even go after Osama, holed up under the protection of the Pakistani military.  Obama did, in probably the only positive even of his tenure.  Tacitus would have approved.

But we're still in the Middle East.  We're still hated there.  "Nation building" has been a failure, as has pinprick bombing.  People complain that turning on some lights to commemorate the World Trade Center towers will harm birds, while Dover Air Force Base continues to receive flag-draped coffins.

Nothing symbolizes for me the utter incompetence of both parties than the last eighteen years.  The dead from 9/11 deserve better, as do we all.

UPDATE 11 September 2019 16:56: Well, it has shown us who are friends are, and aren't.  That's a plus.


Christine Lee Hanson was the youngest person to die as a direct result of the 9/11 hijackings. She was traveling with her parents to Disney World. She was two.

Something like 9/11 is too big to take in. I recommend picking one person. Take a name off the list. Learn about that person. I picked Christine. She represents 9/11 for me. The loss, the horror, the senseless stupidity of murdering random civilians.

She would be 20 now. A college student, moving into adulthood.

Instead, she and her parents died  when their plane impacted the South Tower. Christine's paternal grandfather Lee was on the phone with his son Peter right up to impact. They knew what was going to happen. Peter tried to comfort his dad, "Don't worry, Dad, if it happens, it will be quick." His last words were, "Oh my God".

Her grandparents have spent the last 18 years pushing for justice, for trials, for the people responsible for planning the attack to be held accountable. That hasn't happened. Lee Hanson died last November. Eunice continues to push for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be brought to trial.

Not birthdays and vacations, watching her granddaughter grow up, but memorials, visits to federal defense attorneys, waiting for some sort of justice, and growing old alone.

"They took away our dreams. They took away our future,"
--Lee Hanson 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Last Day in the Old World

I have reposted this several times over the years. It always feels right.

September 10th, 2001 was a Monday. I had scheduled a day off a couple of weeks in advance, and we had made plans to go canoeing. The perfection of the day was breathtaking. A Carolina blue sky, a light breeze, afternoon temperature in the low 80s.

We put in at the landing in the primitive camping area in Goose Creek State Park. The marsh grass and trees were showing some signs of fall. The creek runs up through the park becoming narrower as it goes. We slowly picked our way along, stopping to look at birds and wildflowers. When we got to a point where all we could do was turn around, we paddled back out.

Going past the landing, we paddled out into the Pamlico Sound. The breeze was in our faces, so it was slow going, but the water was calm enough for the canoe. We paddled almost all the way across, enjoying the exertion. When we turned around it was a fast run back to the creek, 20 minutes to cover what had taken a couple of hours going out.

We sat in the sun on the landing and ate and talked. After we loaded the canoe on the truck and started home, she fell asleep. I remember it so clearly because it was the last day of the old world. A carefree, gentle day on the water, shared with a fine woman. There will never be another day like it in my lifetime.

Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.
–Wayne Dyer

Happy Palindrome week!

This is cool:

Shamelessly stolen from Gorges Smythe.

Cool business strategy, bro

Bill de Blasio commands the tides not to rise

Image via Wikipedia
There was a day when the Vikings ruled England.  King Ethelred the Unready was defeated and overthrown by a Viking prince, Canute son of Sven Forkbeard.  Yes, I know that this sounds like something out of Game Of Thrones.  Stick with me.

Perhaps unsurprisingly compared with his feckless predecessor, Canute was one of the most effective kings in English history.  His reputation was such that he was able to get his daughter married to the man who would later become Holy Roman Emperor.  Not bad for a "barbarous" Dane.

Such a ruler attracts the flatterers that naturally gravitate to a powerful royal court.  The chronicles tell us that King Canute had his throne erected on the shore of the sea, and commanded the tides not to rise. Of course it did and the king admonished his courtiers, telling them to put not their faith in the commands of mortal men.

Alas for the degraded age in which we live, with politicians so much less wise than Canute.  Miguel posts about how New Your City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to ban robots:
What he is talking about is increasing the costs of doing business.  That makes America less competitive on the global market.  Which in turn will harm American businesses.
To try and save some jobs from being lost to robots, he is going to cost America many more jobs when companies can’t be cost-competitive and go under.
True, but what he is really doing is commanding the tides not to rise.  You see, New York State passed a law raising the minimum wage to $15/hour:
As part of the 2016-17 State Budget, Governor Cuomo signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 minimum wage plan that will lift the earnings of more than 2.1 million New Yorkers, in all industries across the state.
Well, businesses do what businesses do when the cost of one of the factors of production rises - they look for substitutes that are cheaper (hence, robots).  Oops, unemployment goes up!  Dang, the tide is coming in and everyone's feet are going to get all wet and their shoes will be ruined!

But have no fear, gentle reader!  Mayor de Blasio is on the scene to command the tide not to rise!  All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds!


You'd think that these morons would learn from the past, but you'd think wrong.

A simple cure for Ransomware?

We've seen a rash of ransomware attacks against small towns.  This is malware that encrypts all the files on the computer and demands a ransom for a key to decrypt them.  Most recently we saw a bunch of towns in Texas succumbing to the attack.  But not all towns submit:
The City of New Bedford, in Massachusetts, has found a way to deal with ransomware without paying: shoring up defenses, restoring from backups, and rebuilding systems.

The attack on the American city's systems was identified on July 5, after employees noticed unusual network activity upon returning from the July 4th holiday, Mayor Jon Mitchell explained in a press conference on Wednesday.

"We haven't seen any interruption in municipal services at all," said Mitchell.

The city's Management Information Systems (MIS) staff identified the presence of the file-scrambling RYUK nasty, a sophisticated form of ransomware, and through prompt action managed to limit its impact.


Unwilling to pay $5.3m, Mitchel said he made a counter-offer of $400,000, based on cyber-insurance proceeds available to the city. The cyber-crim declined and the city continued negotiating, buying the IT staff the time needed to bolster defenses and restore files from backups, to the extent possible.
Good on them.  A good data backup strategy cures a multitude of security sins.  You can find ASM826's and my recommendations here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Saying goodbye to a horse

The Czar of Muscovy movingly posts about a friend who had to say goodbye to a much loved horse.  Anyone who has every had a dog will recognize the moment.

Some day, I will have to do this with Wolfgang, when he is in a constant pain that will never end.  Not looking forward to that day.

Why there will be no gun control bills passed this year

The reason is that Donald Trump wants to get re-elected:
... reports suggest that Trump’s internal polling is highlighting the danger of proceeding with gun control measures, measures it should be noted that target the law-abiding and would not stop criminals from committing gun-related crimes.
As President Donald Trump has mulled acting on gun control legislation in the wake of a string of mass shootings, data gathered by the president’s campaign showed that supporting any gun control measures would pose a problem for him politically going into the 2020 election season, according to sources familiar with the results.
To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, when a man knows he is to run for election in a year it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

"Public Safety" means anyone can get the key to your business

The problem with many (perhaps most) laws is that the people who write them cannot think through all the consequences of their law/regulation.  As a result, the world is awash with examples where a law had exactly the opposite result of what was intended.  A great example of this is the Superfund law.  It made all parties to a polluted site individually responsible for 100% of the cleanup, even if they were actually only the cause of a trivial amount of the pollution.  This made each Superfund case essentially a death sentence to all companies involved, and so the strategy has been to stonewall each case as much as possible.  This has led to a lot of Superfund sites remaining polluted, which was precisely the opposite of what the original intent was.

Another example is how towns sometimes mandate that businesses have a box containing a key to their building.  The fire department has a master key that opens all the boxes, and they can use the key in the box to get into the business to put the fire out.  No need to break down the door, just unlock it.  Simple, right?

Well, not so fast.  It seems that all these boxes have the same master key (world-wide, not just in the town) and it's possible to 3D print this key if you have one of the boxes.  Like, if the company sells you one.


Don't try this at home, kids.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Richard Strauss - "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde

Dad loved opera and introduced me to a great deal of it, but most notable was this piece.  He and Mom took me to the local symphony 18 months or so before he died, where they played this.  I'm not a big opera fan like they were, but I think that this is the most hauntingly lovely music ever written.

It is more poignant for me because this is Dad's birthday, and Strauss died on this same day.  In my mind, they are linked together.

But this piece is very interesting, musically speaking.  As Beethoven announced the beginning of the romantic era, this was its end - and the start of the modern era.  He wrote what is perhaps the culmination of the operatic tradition.

The story of Tristan and Isolde is very old, one of the Troubadour ballads from the High Middle Ages. Tristan is a knight, sent to bring Isolde as a bride to King Mark. Caught at sea in a storm, they drink a love potion, thinking it was a sea sickness cure, and fall madly in love with each other. The love is doomed, and in Gottfried of Strassburg's twelfth century version of the story, one of the travelers with them says, "Tristan, you have drunk your death."

Their doomed love is brought to life by Wagner in his opera, not least because of how he scored the work, and especially the finale here. Liebestod means "Love's death", and it is the Romeo and Juliet simultaneous death scene. Wagner revolutionized opera by his use of harmonic suspension, a repeated refusal to complete unfinished themes. This refusal builds tension which is only released at the final, lyrical completion. This particular scene is striking in how you hear the suspension from the very beginning of the video, and how it allows a very subdued final chord to be magnificent. It takes a full six minutes to reach the "aha" moment where the theme resolves, which makes the resolution even more sweet.

Mom and Dad took me to hear this (they had season tickets to the Symphony). I'd never heard it before, and it led to a memorable chat with Dad about Gottfried von Strassburg, Schopenhauer, inflection points in music, and how they're all bound up in this music. I sure miss those.

Happy birthday, Dad.  I sure miss you.

Besides Neil Armstrong, I Mean

First words on the moon from some of the other missions. 

This will be a blogroll add. It's a science website with focus on "climate change". It has a bad habit of using, ya know, actual data.  But they do post on other areas and this post on the moon landings and what they said as they stepped out of the module is a good one.

There's even a side note on what they wanted to say and didn't.

If you had any balls you’d say, “Oh, my God! What is that thing?” Then scream and cut your mic.

–Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Dream Rovers - Dear Superstar

Image via Wikipedia
There's something about country music that goes beyond "americanness", and sometimes takes it far beyond our shores to places that you might not expect.  I never expected to hear country music from Iran, or watch a country music video that was filmed in Tehran, much less one about a topic controversial to the Mullahs.  But here we are.

Dream Rovers is an Iranian country music band.  Founded by university students Erfan Rezayatbakhsh (elf) and Ahmad Motevassel, their unexpected group sings country music from a long way away from Nashville.  This song was inspired by watching an Iranian television documentary about female genital mutilation.  When Erfan changed the channel, there was a Taylor Swift music video.  Inspired, he wrote a song about a letter to a country music superstar reminding her that she lives a very, very different life than some of her fans.

This song reminds me of just how little I know about Iran and the Iranian people.  What little I do know is pretty one dimensional, because I found it so surprising that a group could record this at what is ground zero for the Iranian revolution.  What's more, this was written on the heels of the massive pr0-democracy protests in Tehran in 2009, and the hard government crackdown then.

This video only has 41,000 views, and that's a shame.  The world is a much more complicated place than we can imagine.

A simplified STEN gun?

It's hard to imagine that - you can see and read about the gun in my recent range report.  But T-Bolt found a simplified STEN.  Who'd have thunk it?

Friday, September 6, 2019

I hadn't known that the U.S.S Missouri was shot at by an Iraqi missile in 1991

I also hadn't known that there is a blog called WW2 after WW2.  There's a detailed post about the missiles used by the Iraqis and how they shot at (and missed) the Mighty Mo during Gulf War I.

I know some of you will dig this kind of stuff, so you're welcome.

Security wasn't an afterthought

It wasn't thought of at all:
An estimated 600,000 GPS trackers for monitoring the location of kids, seniors, and pets contain vulnerabilities that open users up to a host of creepy attacks, researchers from security firm Avast have found. 
Researchers at Avast Threat Labs found that ID numbers assigned to each device were based on its International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI. Even worse, during manufacturing, devices were assigned precisely the same default password of 123456. The design allowed the researchers to find more than 600,000 devices actively being used in the wild with that password. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the devices transmitted all data in plaintext using commands that were easy to reverse engineer.
[My emphasis]

And the punchline is that since everything is unencrypted and the password is, well, what an idiot would use for a luggage combination, an attacker can change GPS coordinates and all sorts of stuff.

Bah.  Dad (a history professor) used to like to say that history repeats itself because nobody listens the first time.

Car Talk

If you know what it was and used to listen to Car Talk, this article is a must read.

It wasn't about cars. It was about life. It wasn't political. It was about cars. I didn't catch it every week, but if I was in the car or near a radio at 10 AM on a Saturday, I would listen. It was formulaic, comfortable, like visiting with friends.

It expressed my own love for automobiles and the cost, the frustration, and sometimes the blood it cost me to keep my relics on the road.

I  miss the show and still think it was the best thing NPR ever aired. Here's one episode I picked at random.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Quote of the Day, Stupid Gun Control edition

Sean Sorrentino brings clarity to the "do it for the children" debate:
How many years in Federal PMITA prison does AOC, ‘The Squad,’ Douche Nukem, and the rest of the Left think should gun owners get for ordinary gun owning behavior?

Make them defend sending Uncle Andy to the Federal slammer for loaning his turkey gun to his neighbor. Make them defend sending Cousin Mike to the Big House for teaching his friend’s wife to shoot. Make them defend it in public and on the floor of the House of Representatives.

What the heck is up with Joe Biden's eye?

This is weird:
Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to have a blood vessel burst in his left eye while participating in CNN's town hall on climate change.

A broken blood vessel in the eye, also known as a subconjuctival hemorrhage, can be caused by several things, including high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, blood thinners, or even excessive straining.
"Can be caused by several things"?  Hmmmm:

How a Mayan volcano caused bubonic plague in Constantinople

Via Judy Curry's climate science web site, we find this:
The ices of Greenland and Antarctica bear the fingerprints of a monster: a gigantic volcanic eruption in 539 or 540 A.D. that killed tens of thousands and helped trigger one of the worst periods of global cooling in the last 2,000 years. Now, after years of searching, a team of scientists has finally tracked down the source of the eruption.

The team’s work, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, lays out new evidence that ties the natural disaster to Ilopango, a now-dormant volcano in El Salvador. Researchers estimate that in its sixth-century eruption, Ilopango expelled the equivalent of 10.5 cubic miles of dense rock, making it one of the biggest volcanic events on Earth in the last 7,000 years.
We actually have quite good sources from the Roman Empire about this event.  Procopius wrote:
And it came about during this year that a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during this whole year, and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear nor such as it is accustomed to shed. And from the time when this thing happened men were free neither from war nor pestilence nor any other thing leading to death. And it was the time when Justinian was in the tenth year of his reign [536/37]. (Procopius, Wars, IV.xiv.5-6, Tr. Dewing).
This was 536 or 537 AD.  The temperature dropped, harvests failed, people starved.  But something much more sinister happened:
In terms of the historical consequences of all this, some have theorized that the climatic shift caused a migration of a certain breed of rats into the ports of Upper Egypt, which subsequently led to the Justinianic plague.
The rats were adapted to a cooler climate in the upper Nile river valley, but the cooler weather allowed them to migrate all the way to the Nile delta.  They brought with them fleas which brought Yersinia Pestis - the bacterium that causes bubonic plague.  William Rosen has a very interesting book titled Justinian's Flea: The first great plague and the end of the Roman Empire.  It describes the plague and how it put an end to Justinian's attempt to reconquer the western provinces that Rome had lost to the barbarians.  5,000 people a day perished in Constantinope, hollowing out both the tax system and army recruitment.  After the plague finally burned out, the Empire simply didn't have the strength to complete the reintegration of the west.

The excellent History of Byzantium podcast has a (typically excellent) episode on Justinian's plague.

The moral of this story (and of others, like how the eruption of Mt. Tamboura gave rise to the "Year without a summer") is that the danger from climate change is not warming - and especially not gradual warming.  Rather, it is sudden cooling that can (and has, repeatedly) killed millions.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Celebrating the Wal-Mart Ammunition Decision

There's one group of gun owners celebrating the Wal-Mart decision to stop selling pistol ammo, .223NATO, and 7.62 Russian.

It's the people who own gun stores. They've never been able to compete with Wal-Mart on price and now they have been given a gift. They'll get more sales of ammo, have more people come through their doors, and possibly sell more guns and other supplies due to the increase customer traffic.

Go visit your local version of Gun Universe and buy a box of 9mm. While you're there, look at what he's got in stock. Buy some full size magazines before the next panic, consider what fills a hole in your safe, and get to know the man behind the counter. He's been waiting for you.

Quote of the Day, Wal*Mart edition

But hey, TrailerParkTrashMart, thanks for opening the market up for every other brick-and-mortar firearms retailer in the country, and eliminating your loss-leader negotiating position to sell firearms below cost just to drive littler guys out of business. Firearms makers can now tell you to kiss their ass when you want their product cheaper year-over-year. That just ended too, whether you figured it out or not. Sam is probably spinning in his grave, and his half-wit kinfolk heirs clearly haven't the wits to run a roadside chicken stand. If he were alive, he'd kick their asses, then disown them all.

I'll still visit your stores though.
Just to use the bathroom.
80-20 my turds land in the middle of the floor though, or in the sink bowl, every time.
Have fun with that. I sure will.
Be a real shame if something that simple caught on nationwide.

Remember, guys, the enemy always gets a vote. ;)
And I'll be eating a lot more ethnic foods, and voting often.
Got a hankerin' for some Panda Express broccoli beef today...

"Cleanup on Aisle 2..."
The whole thing is as good.  The Raconteur Report: purveyors of quality rants since 2008 ...

This is why you go to the shooting range

I posted this ten years ago and it still makes me laugh.

This is why you go to the range

This guy is such a terrible shot, he can't even hit the dumbest creature that the Lord ever put on His good earth.

So go practice your marksmanship. Don't be That Guy. Besides, the deer won't wait around for you.

A bad day for Empire

Today in 476, the last Roman Emperor in the west was deposed by the barbarians.  Romulus Augustulus was aptly named: the "Little Augustus" was only 16 years old at the time.  Emperors had been figureheads for some time in the Roman west, and the Little Augustus was derisively called "Momyllus" ("Little Disgrace") rather than Romulus.  It seems that he lived out his life in some comfort - there is a letter from the Ostrogothic King of Italy Theodoric the Great in 507 to a "Romulus" granting him a pension.  Still, while the Roman Empire survived another thousand years in the east, it was not a great day for Empire.

Also on this day in 1870, Napoleon III abdicated as Emperor of the French.  Confusingly there were only two French Empires but there were three Napoleons.  Only numbers one and three actually reigned, though.  I believe that it was Marx (or possibly Engels) who, when looking on the ascension of Napoleon III remarked that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.  But Napoleon III took on the Prussians and had his hat (err, and his Crown) handed to him.  Again, this date was not a good one for Empire.

Today's Transnational Empire is going through the same wrenching changes.  Britain shuffles towards BREXIT, after 3 years of increasingly desperate rope-a-dope from the imperial Powers That Be.  Last night the imperial hangers-on ignored the quite sensible advice of former Prime Minister Tony Blair:
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is laying an election “elephant trap” for the opposition Labour Party that it should avoid, former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Monday.
You see, the British people are seemingly fed up with the delays and want their will - democratically expressed in the BREXIT referendum - honored.  Parliament at this point may even be less popular than our own Congress, and that's saying quite a lot.  The House of Commons (led by a number of Johnson's fellow Tory party members) took control from the Prime Minister yesterday:
Remainers have won the vote to usurp the Government’s role to control the Parliamentary timetable. To this end, they will use tomorrow to table their anti-No Deal bill (termed by Number 10 ‘Corbyn’s surrender bill’).
Blair was perhaps the smartest politician of his day, and he saw what the Commons couldn't.  Not only has the House of Lords shown up vowing to basically filibuster anything that the Commons passes, but Johnson is springing his trap:
From: Government Whips Admin Unit
Sent: 04 September 2019 11:55
Subject: Today’s Business
Dear Colleague
Thank you very much for your support on what was a difficult day yesterday.
We are on a three-line-whip today from 12.30pm. At midday we will have PMQs, followed by the Chancellor’s Spending Review statement. Your continued support in the Chamber is appreciated.
No later than 3pm we will move on to the Second Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 6) Bill. The Government will be opposing this bill. Should the bill pass its Commons stages today, we will be moving the motion for an early general election at 7pm and we will be voting aye. It is therefore possible that business will run late this evening.
Best wishes
Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP
Government Chief Whip
It looks like they dug a Heffalump Trap and fell right in.  Today is a bad day for the Transnational Empire.  The Globalists are in retreat all across the globe and do not know what to do about it, any more than the Little Augustus did.  And these numbskulls think they're smarter than everyone around (especially in Flyover Country).  So how's that working out?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Future Is Stupid

Tesla owners found themselves locked out of their cars because it takes an internet connection, an app, and a functioning server database to unlock a Tesla.

Man, the Ninth Circuit court is out of control

That's harsh.

Remember how they used to say that George W. Bush was so incredibly stupid?

Yeah, well about that:

[blink] [blink]

I really don't know what to say, other than John Kenneth Galbraith and Daniel Patrick Moynajan are spinning in their graves.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Drinking Game for 2020

Johann Pachelbel - Chorale Preludes

Today is Johann Pachelbel's birthday.  He is famous today for his Canon in D, which has eclipsed Wagner's Wedding March in popularity at weddings.  It has become the subject of parody (I have a few examples at the end of this post for your amusement).  While it's not the point of today's post, I embed it here (mostly because it's a beautiful Sunday morning and because The Queen Of The World thinks it's pretty).  It's an unusual version, with full orchestra.

But Pachelbel wrote a lot of music.  He was one of the great Baroque composers, and had a huge reputation in his day.  He knew most everybody who was anybody in 17th Century Europe - he gave music lessons to J. S. Bach's order brother and was godfather to his sister.

But fashion is fickle, and tastes change.  The high baroque style gave way to Handel, Tellemann, and Haydn.  Pachelbel's music was basically forgotten for two centuries.  Canon in D was forgotten until around 1970.  It was recorded by an artist interested in historical musicology and a radio station in San Francisco played it out of more or less academic interest.  They were flooded with calls requesting it, and the song was saved from obscurity.  It was included in the film Ordinary People, and so we can thank Hollywood for the world-wide resurgence of interest.

But like I said, he wrote a lot of works.  Perhaps half of those were Chorale Preludes - he was employed as organist at various churches and cathedrals (including St. Stefan's in Vienna).  Note that the term is "Chorale", not "Choral" - there are no sung parts here, rather they were a popular form of church music from the day.  As church organist, Pachelbel was expected to write new examples of this regularly.  This is the "real" Pachelbel, assuming that there is such a thing.

Here are some Pachelbel Canon in D takeoffs that are pretty funny.  Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel rant is hilarious, and has gotten 15 million views on Youtube:

And the Piano Guys have a fabulous version (20 million views):

Lastly, who knew that Procol Harum had gotten back together?  Their "Sunday Morning" song from their 2017 album Novus is based on Canon in D.  Rather appropriate for a Sunday morning.