Friday, January 31, 2020

This guy wins the "Dad of the Year" award, hands down


Found by the Queen Of The World.  We're planning on building one for the grandkids in April, but it sure as shootin' won't be this elaborate.

Rest in peace, Bob Shane

Bob Shane - the last surviving member of the Kingston Trio - has passed away.  Dwight is your go-to guy for obits, and he doesn't disappoint here.  He mentions Charlie On The MTA which was a huge hit in New England when I was a kid in the 1960s.  Of course, every kid asked the sarcastic question: if his wife can hand him a sandwich through the window, why doesn't she just hand him a nickel?

It still is a hit there, actually almost mythical.  In 2004 the MBTA rolled out an electronic ticket card that they named the Charlycard, and the Kingston Trio played this song at the unveiling ceremony.  If you take the T from Logan airport into town you'll get one of these, a bit of the legend become concrete.

Interestingly, it is said that the song is loosely based on the song The Wreck Of Old 97 which we've seen here before.

Rest in peace, Mr. Shane.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Brigid has a chapter of her book up

She's the best writer I know.  Not sure what more you need for a recommendation.

Go read now.

Draining the swamp, Seventeenth Century style

Oliver Cromwell led the Parliament forces which overthrew and executed British King Charles I on this day in 1649.  But no man leaves this life alive, and so it was for Cromwell, who died in his bed in 1658.  The experiment with what was basically a Puritan theocracy fizzled out, and the late King's son was crowned as Charles II.  The new King's problem was that the government was staffed with what were essentially Puritan mullahs.  His Majesty set out to drain the swamp.

Part of that was to execute the men who signed his father's death warrant.  These "regicides" as they were known were the key men in Cromwell's regime (I posted years about one of them who echoes down faintly to our time in the name for a really cool London pub).  But the King was just getting warmed up.  You see, he wanted all his subjects to understand that there was a new sheriff in town.

And so he had Oliver Cromwell's body dug up and executed.  Yup, he executed a dead man.

The execution of Oliver Cromwell, January 30 1661
Afterwards they cut his head off, stuck it on a pike, and displayed outside the Houses of Parliament for 24 years.  It was a not-very-subtle-at-all message.

Fast forward 359 years.  Our swamp desperately needs drained, but to date it seems that only a few disgruntled employees have resigned from the State Department and the EPA - seemingly on their own initiative.  Senior political figures are avoiding felony charges, probably because their friends or allies in the Justice Department are doing an extremely slow and thorough - but no doubt entirely slipshod - investigation of said felonious behavior.  Why?

It may be because Trump doesn't want to unleash a purge until after the election.  Then, when he can't run again he may take off the gloves.  Or maybe not.  Who knows?

But the institutions of the Federal Government have taken a crushing blow to their legitimacy.  I mean, many are run by people who by all rights are felons.  While we no longer display heads on pikes, is it too much to ask for some tar and feathers?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Scientists behaving badly

There is a tendency in today's society to view scientists as secular priests in laboratory coats.  The actual story is that they are every bit as human as you or I:
Hertz served in the German army during WW I, in a special unit commanded by Fritz Haber that for the first time developed and deployed poison gas in warfare.  Pioneer Regiment 35/36 had no fewer than four future Nobel Prize winners in its ranks.  Franck and Hertz won the Physics prize in 1925.  Otto Hahn discovered nuclear fission and won the 1944 Nobel for chemistry despite carrying on his research in Berlin!  (To be fair it was only announced post war).  Fritz Haber topped them all.  He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in a time when the acrid stench of poison gas still lingered in the depths of shattered battlefields.
Haber is an interesting fellow: present on the battlefield when the first chlorine gas attack was launched in World War I, he remained proud of his work for the rest of his life.  On the positive part of the ledger he co-invented the Born-Haber Cycle of creating artificial nitrogen fertilizer from air.  It is thought that half the world's population owe their nutrition to him.

But the Nazis chased him out of Germany because he was Jewish, and some in the scientific community held a grudge for his war work.  Ernest Rutherford refused to shake his hand when they met.

Memento mori.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

In which I endorse Joe Biden's run for President

First, a couple assumptions: Trump is going to win in November, either handily or in a blowout.  We're looking at him in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue until January 2025.  Also, the Democratic Party is coming apart at the seams, in a similar way to what happened to the Republican Party back in 2015-16.  There's a lot of the party that thinks that the "establishment" types sold them down the river.  Frankly, it's hard to argue with them on that - the establishment did sell out every principle they had.

So there's a reckoning afoot for the Democrats, one that will realign their party.  What we can expect is that the socialists will take over, and the old "centrists" will get the boot.  And so to Slow Joe Biden: he's corrupt, he's an idiot, and every time he opens his mouth 80% of America winces.  But he's not a socialist, so he will never be acceptable to the folks who will take over the Democratic Party.

The problem is that the Republic doesn't want socialism.  Now we could all just sit back and watch Bernie do a repeat of George McGovern where he loses 45 States or so, but this begs the question - who will be the GOP replacement for Donald Trump in 2025?

Here's my preferred scenario, which will explain why Slow Joe is now my bestest most favorite Democrat:

1. The Democratic National Committee rigs the primaries (just like they did in 2016).  Bernie gets screwed, and Slow Joe gets the nomination.  The radicals in the Democratic Party melt down with rage.

2. Trump steamrolls Joe in the general election.

3. The radicals in the Democratic Party say "See?  The problem was that the Party wasn't socialist enough!"  They spend the next 4 years purging any remaining "centrists" and turning the Democratic Party into all socialism, all the time.

4. When the 2024 campaign heats up, the GOP mystery candidate (the "Not Donald Trump" guy) simply has to point out all the socialist crazy running the other party.  Presto - the Democrats lose again because America doesn't want to be socialist.

It's important that it plays out like this.  If Bernie wins the nomination then the Democrats will lose in a massive landslide this year.  That will discredit the radicals trying to take over the Democratic Party, and give an opportunity to Democrats to bring back an establishment candidate who's a better liar, and who can convince enough voters that he's a safe choice.  That might be enough to beat Not Donald Trump in 2024.  Seeing what's going on in Virginia, it's pretty clear that the party needs to get burned to the waterline twice to let some actual sanity come back in.

So Joe's my guy, until July.  Kind of a catchy slogan, right there.

How Big Business and Big Government get ahead by slowing down the economy

I was saddened to read of the death from leukemia of Clayton Christensen.  He wrote a very influential book titled The Innovator's Dilemma that I posted about years ago:
Clayton Christensen wrote the single most terrifying business book I've ever read. In The Innovator's Dilemma, he says that it's obvious why badly-managed companies go out of business (they're badly managed, duh). He asks a very interesting question: why do well-managed companies go out of business? He says that it's all about managing innovation.

Christensen posits two types of innovation. Continuous innovation (what he calls sustaining technologies) is easy to manage: it's more of what we have, only better. Well managed companies excel at growing sustaining technologies. There are also revolutionary innovations (what he calls disruptive technologies) that change how the game is played. It doesn't matter how much better your buggy whip is, you won't be able to grow your business on that product line.

Companies almost always fail at managing disruptive technology transformations, because they are well managed.  
The entire corporate structure is based on producing and selling at a particular price point. A product that kills your cash cow because it's priced 50% lower probably can't be sold effectively at that company, no matter how brilliantly disruptive it is. IBM sold million dollar mainframe computers. While they certainly knew how to make minicomputers, all the incentives were for them to push customers to bigger and more expensive machines. Minicomputers couldn't become too compelling without undercutting the quarterly sales targets, and so DEC ate IBM's lunch. And then Compaq ate DEC's lunch with PCs.
That's actually a pretty good post, which has stood up well after a decade.  It actually explains a lot about the rise of Donald Trump who is nothing if not disruptive to the well-run establishment political establishment, but that's beside the point here.

But think about innovation, and Donald Trump.  I posted a couple years back about this, too:
What was striking about this was that each industry would exhibit precisely the same growth characteristics. The "S" curve described a slowish initial takeoff, an exponentially rising growth period, and then a slow tailing off. All of these industries followed it in turn: cotton, iron, steel, railroads. What was key to the miracle that occurred between 1720 and 1990 was that as one reached the top of the curve and began to falter, a new industry emerged to drive things forward. Income per capita went from around $450 in what would become the United States (in 1700) to $18,300 in 1989.

In many ways, this seems to be spinning down. More and more industries seem to be in the top flat part of the curve. Fewer new industries are emerging with robust growth to pick up the slack. People look towards the future and do not see a doubling of real per capita national income.
Now go back and think about Christensen's premise: well managed companies excel at managing innovation in the steep and top flat part of that S-curve.  What they don't excel at - because they're well managed - is bringing the next, new S-curve to the market.  You see, the products in that innovation stream very well might undercut their current cash cow products.

So what do they do?  Enter the Regulatory State.  The Government starts issuing all sorts of regulations about this and that, to protect children and kittens and sunshine.  Where do these regulations come from?  Well, a lot of big businesses are happy to help craft these wise and important protections for children, kittens, and sunshine - I mean, who wouldn't?  And along the way the regulations seem to throw up roadblocks to the next set of disruptive technologies.

These new technologies typically come from small companies.  These companies don't have the money to staff up a building full of compliance managers to ensure that the new disruptive products don't kill children and kittens, or block out the very sun itself.
The reason for this is regulation (and its bastard child, litigation). That's the problem. We have buildings full of people that make us stop what we're doing, fill out forms in triplicate, and then wait months or years before we are allowed to pick up where we stopped. Think for a minute what this does. It pushes some of the middle of the S-Curve into the flat part, reducing the overall value of the industry, as resources get sidelined instead of being engaged in production. More damagingly, it pushes the next S-Curve to the right, increasing the time that it takes to bring a new industry online. Most damagingly of all, it possibly completely eliminates some S-Curves from appearing at all, because the risk is too high to attract investors.

It's not the tax rate, it's the regulation rate that's making the economy run down.
This situation is called Regulatory Capture, and is a situation where Big Government and Big Business scratch each other's backs:
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Source: Office of the Comptroller of Currency, as of 31 Dec 2009

The banking system melted down at late in 2008, because weird, opaque transactions like Credit Default Swaps made pricing risk pretty difficult. So what did the shiny new StatistDemocratic administration do? Ensure that these risky transactions are all held by companies that are Too Big To Fail.

As homework and for extra credit, graph the campaign contributions of these same five organizations and their corporate officers by party donated to.
What is ironic (in a funny way) is just how clueless today's young (or old *cough*Bernie Sanders*cough*) socialists are about this.  They think they're really going to stick it to Big Business by having the Government control pretty much everything.  The lack of understanding on display is Epic.

They should read Clayton Christensen.  Rest in peace.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

James Horner and Will Jennings - My Heart Will Go On

The Queen Of The World strongly believes that there is great classical music in modern film.  I've posted on this a number of times, but she challenged me to think more broadly about "classical" music. It was the popular music for the theater, and so why shouldn't today's popular music for the theater fit that same category?  She (rightly) says that I've been discriminating against perfectly fine music just because it's recent.  And so today will be a step further out than I've done before in these Sunday classical music posts, with a choice that literally everyone reading this will have heard (and may even be able to hum along to).

This is a song that was almost never made.  James Cameron is a filmmaker with a reputation for swinging for the fence,  In 1997 his film Titanic worried pretty much everyone in Hollywood, because it was fabulously expensive and in fact was the most expensive film made to that date.  Cameron obsessed over each detail, including the music.  He and composer James Horner had collaborated on the film Aliens but had hated working with each other.  Cameron convinced Horner to write what would be the Academy Award winning score.  Horner sensed that with the financial risks facing the film, it needed a signature song.  He wrote this, and Will Jennings wrote the lyrics.  Cameron didn't want a song with lyrics, but Horner convinced a reluctant Celine Dion to record it which she did in a single take.

Horner waited until Cameron was in a good mood to play the song to him.  Cameron listened to it several times and then gave the go ahead.  It may be that he thought that having what seemed like a potential hit song would help him calm the Studio executives who at this point were convinced that the film was going to lose $100M.

Of course, it didn't.  It became the first film ever to gross over a billion dollars, and spent 12 years on the top of the all-time earning list (only being surpassed by Cameron's Avatar; he always swings for the fence).  This song has been massively popular, and in fact is the second best selling single by a female artist of all time.  It also won the Academy Award for best original song.

But Borepatch, I hear you ask: sure it's pretty and everything, but why is this classical music?  well, it's music of the theater.  It uses the same instrumentation that Beethoven used.  It's really as classical as Wagner.  I think that this compares nicely with the Liebestod from his opera Tristan und Isolde.  There are a surprising number of similarities: nautical theme, doomed love, hauntingly beautiful melody, emotionally gripping.

The Queen Of The World* suggested this particular song to show that classical music is alive and well at the box office.  She's right about that.  Boy, howdy.

She's way more than just a pretty face, although I sure like that.  I'm a lucky man.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Burns Night

Tonight is Burns Night, where Scottish culture is celebrated across the world.  There's a quite interesting Wikipedia page on the ceremony.

The centerpiece of the feast, of course, is haggis.  It sounds gross - heart, lungs, and other "parts" in a sheep's stomach - but is actually really tasty.  Maybe it's the onions.  Twenty-five years ago I flew into Glasgow for a business meeting and asked the cabbie where I could go for a good haggis.  "To a butcher", he replied (although it sounded more like "boot-cher") is his native Glaswegian.  It's been a long time since I've had haggis.  Long time since I've worn my kilt, too.

The haggis is really the centerpiece of the feast, and is brought to the table with great ceremony.  And bagpipes.

If you (like me) are of Scottish extraction, tonight is a fine time to hoist a wee dram an hum Auld Land Syne in honor of Robbie Burns.

Enter The Haggis - One Last Drink

Tonight is Burns Night, and while I haven't run across any Scottish country music bands, there is a thriving Celtic Rock scene.  Since the roots of country music are Scots-Irish, this makes Celtic Rock and Country Music cousins.  And since it's Burns Night, it's appropriate to have Enter The Haggis.  They're a Canadian band sort of reminiscent of the Dropkick Murphys or The Pogues.  If you like that, you'll like this.


Courtesy of Aesop, regarding yesterday's post:

Gen. Patton looks down on this and smiles.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Donald Trump reads Borepatch

Well, that's my explanation for this:
President Trump on Tuesday announced the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative launched at the World Economic Forum as world leaders seek to combat climate change.
Trump made the announcement during an address to global business leaders gathered for the annual event in Davos, Switzerland.
So why do I say that he reads this blog?  Well, back in July I posted this:

A simple and cheap solution to burning fossil fuels?

Plant trees:
OK, the study simply argues that by adding 10 million squared kilometers of forests – the area equal to the territory of the U.S. (or Canada, if you wish), 2/3 of the man-made emissions of CO2 since 1800 could be removed from the atmosphere (they apparently pre-decided that the elimination of 2/3 of a problem is a good plan). Planting a tree costs $0.30, they claim, and because one needs about one extra trillion of new trees (the number of trees would be increased by 1/3 in this project – they did use the same estimate of the number of trees in the world as I mentioned above), the total cost would be $300 billion. This is the overall amount, not an annual one.
So for $300B over 30 years we could eliminate the excess carbon dioxide that we've put into the atmosphere.  Even if this figure is off by an order of magnitude, this is a huge win compared with the $122 Trillion that the UN wants to "fight Climate Change".

Alas, planting forests does not allow the industrial scale graft that the UN has come to expect.
$10B/year is a bargain compared to what everyone else is talking about, and will give us a bunch of pretty forrest to hike in.  I can't see how anyone can possibly oppose this, unless they're a bunch of statist pricks trying to boss everyone around.

A note to President Trump: it would be awesome if you started referring to her as "Snippi Longstockings", amirite?

UPDATE 25 January 2020 08:31: Courtesy of Aesop in the comments, LOL:

Troll level: God Emperor

The Trump campaign just released this commentary on the impeachment proceedings:

I'm a bit in awe.
The devil…the prowde spirite…cannot endure to be mocked.
- Sir Thomas More

Thursday, January 23, 2020

That was the end of my war

So you're a brit (well sort of, back in the day), and you get captured very near the end of the war.  What happens?  Well, if you are a Spitfire pilot name Peter During, you convince Jerry to give up.

This interview is from seven years ago.  That's a World Age for these men.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Peter, Paul, & Mary on The Jack Benny Program

This is hilarious, and really shows the depth of both Benny as well as the group.  They sing one of their regular songs, but then after some banter with Jack they sing a song they wrote about his background and cheapness ("Waukegan").  Jack then invites them to his house to sing a really horrible song that he wrote.  The whole thing is really, really funny.

It's also a blast from the past.  As they say, the Past is a foreign country because they do things differently there.

R.I.P. Terry Jones

In High School I was a huge Monty Python fan.  That's continued to this day, even to re-writing a scene from their classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Terry Jones co-wrote that, but has sadly passed away at 77 from dementia.

This scene, where he explains the Scientific Method to a bunch of villagers is shockingly applicable to how climate science is done today.

The world is a less funny place today.

How Charles Martel turned back the Caliphate

Charles the Hammer
The Islamic Caliphate exploded onto the world scene in the 630s AD.  In thirty years they took the wealthiest 75% of the Roman Empire, leaving the rest to huddle behind the mountains of Anatolia.  They entirely swallowed Rome's greatest adversary, the Sassanian Persian Empire.  By the end of the century, they pushed all the way to the Indus valley and to the straights of Gibraltar.  They crossed those straights and ended the Visigoth kingdom which for 250 years had ruled Spain.  In 717 they marched to the gates of Constantinople, the Roman capitol.  Only the massive Theodosian Walls and their secret weapon Greek Fire stopped their expansion into Europe from the east.

But the west remained, and Islamic raiders began crossing the Pyrenees into the kingdom of the Franks.  In 732, Charles Martel crushed the invaders at the battle of Tours.  This ended the invasion, securing Europe from the west.  It was the high water mark of the Caliphate and while it would achieve new heights in art and literature (notably the 1001 Nights), they never added more territory.  They had peaked in 100 years and the long slide to fracture had begun.

It's really not a surprise that Charles stopped him.  The chronicles of his day describe him as an unusually effective warrior, and his army as the best to be found.  His nickname, Martel - "The Hammer" - pre-dated the islamic invasion of his land.  He was a leader who brought victory.

He did this, as the clickbait links say, through this one weird trick: he took his army campaigning each year, every year.  The Franks were a feudal kingdom, where nobles were supposed to bring troops to support their Lord.  But a Lord could only expect as much support as he could enforce.  Charles determined to enforce his claims each year.  If a noble didn't show up when summoned then next year he would find Charles' army camped outside his castle asking why he hadn't come.  After a while everyone sort of fell in line and Charles was able to expand the borders of his realm.

His son and grandson continued this strategy and created the greatest kingdom in the west since the Roman Empire fell.  You've heard of his grandson, Charlemagne, who was so powerful that the Pope crowned him Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in 800 AD.

All because of one weird trick.

The Richmond rally is over.  It was a success in that everyone seemed polite and happy and cleaned up after themselves, but now the narrative is emerging: White supremacists wanted to start a civil war in Richmond.  And Governor Blackface and the Democrats are moving full steam ahead with their reindeer games.  So now what?

Well, you've demonstrated that you can put an army in the field.  Charles Martel can tell you how to use it.

But you need more than rallies.  Here are some things that you can do that will bring the hammer down on your enemies - but only if you can keep the campaign going.

Recall the Governor.  You had over 20,000 people attend the rally.  If each would commit to gathering 25 signatures on a recall petition, that would give you half a million signatures.  The media can't really spin that.  Yeah, this is hard and not as much fun as a rally.  Campaigning to win is hard.

Form a militia under the command of a County Sheriff.  Almost 100 counties in Virginia are sanctuary counties.  As the Legislature starts passing bills, find one of those 100 Sheriffs to deputize a militia to resist confiscation.  The media will try to spin this, but if these are all sworn deputies under the command of the Sheriff, that's a lot harder to spin.  Organize and train, under the Sheriff's authority. Then find anther Sheriff and do it again.  And another.  And another.  Yeah, this is hard and not as much fun as a rally.  Campaigning to win is hard.

Meet with the NRA, the GOA, and the Virginia state Republican Party to target weak democrats (for the general election) and weak Republicans (for the primary).  There are probably 20 or 30 of these, so those 20,000 rally attendees might be able to provide as many as 1000 volunteers for each opponent who will run against them.  For a local election, that's a big number.  It's important to target both Democrats and Republicans to show that this is a non-partisan effort.  It's important to work with these organizations because they have a lot of experience in this sort of work.  The media can't really spin this, other than saying it's politics.  Sure is - that's the point.  Yeah, this is hard and not as much fun as a rally.  Campaigning to win is hard.

If you think about it, there are probably a thousand other ideas that can hammer Governor Blackface. None of them will include putting on a rally.

Of course, this is hard, and not as fun, so you won't get your 20,000 turnout.  That's OK.  Even 2,000 or 3,000 is a really good start, as long as it's focused on a win.  Charles the Hammer kept his army in the field year in and year out until none could stand before it.  We've seen this before; it's not complicated, it's just hard.

It's just one weird trick.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Here's why Boeing fired its CEO

Last month the Boeing Board of Directors fired its CEO over the 737 MAX disaster.  It has been a huge financial loss to the company and he was't getting the bleeding stopped.  Here's how bad it is:
Boeing is aiming to borrow $10 billion or more to help it get through the 737 Max crisis, CNBC reported today, citing people familiar with the matter.
You might say that they need more financial runway to get this bird off the ground.
Boeing's debt load has already increased substantially over the past year. Boeing had $20.3 billion in long-term debt as of September 30, 2019, nearly double the $10.7 billion of long-term debt it had on December 31, 2018, according to a Boeing SEC filing. By contrast, Boeing added less than $1 billion in long-term debt in all of 2017.
So the balance sheet is turning a bright shade of red.
Boeing in October reported Q3 2019 revenue of $20 billion, down from $25.1 billion year-over-year. Revenue for the first nine months of 2019 was $58.6 billion, down 19 percent year-over-year. Net earnings in Q3 2019 were $1.2 billion, down from $2.4 billion in Q3 2018.
In July 2019, Boeing announced an after-tax charge of $4.9 billion to cover "potential concessions and other considerations to customers for disruptions related to the 737 MAX grounding and associated delivery delays."
The 737 MAX looks to be around a $10B drain on the company to date.  No wonder they're borrowing money.  Man, relocating their company HQ to Chicago sure was a genius move, wasn't it?

But the Science® is settled!

Ten years ago today I posted what may be the most humiliating mistake that the scientific establishment has made about the whole global warming boondoggle.  Unlike "hide the decline" it doesn't look like fraud (well, perhaps a little, but only a little).  Instead, it's sheer incompetence on display.

Originally posted 21 January 2010.

Dyslexics of the World, untie!

To Old To Work, Too Young To Retire emails to let me know that I've been delinquent in passing on the latest Global Warming innumeracy. Remember the Himalayan glaciers and how they're disappearing? From the IPCC report (AR4):
Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world ... and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high ...
ZOMG!!1!! Thermageddon!!!!1!one!!

Oh, wait:
THE peak UN body on climate change has been dealt another humiliating blow to its credibility after it was revealed a central claim of one of its benchmark reports - that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 because of global warming - was based on a "speculative" claim by an obscure Indian scientist. 
That's some righteous peer-review right there, Scooter.

But it gets worse. The data was given to the IPCC by the World Wildlife Foundation, an environmental lobbying organization. Anyone check for possible bias in the source? Because there was an interesting mistake.

It wasn't 2035.  It was 2350. And that was still with a bunch of speculative assumptions.

In other news from the "we have the science wrong" department, Australia's "Warmest Summer EVAH" is so warm, they're getting snow:
CANBERRA, Australia – Australia is following its second-hottest year on record with extraordinary snow flurries in its southeastern alpine region, where some towns have recorded their first-ever summer snowfalls.
Who you going to believe - the Australian Weather Service scientists, or your lying eyes? I mean, it's not like the temperature data is being manipulated or anything.  Oh, wait.

UPDATE 21 January 2010 15:43: Holy cow - Roger Pielke Jr. says that the IPCC knew that the Himalayan glacier part of the report was wrong but published it anyway!
Is it really the case that IPCC scientists would have continued to sit on a known error with important policy implications in complete silence until their hand was forced by the focus of public opinion? Really?!
Wow. Maybe I need a new tag. "Junk Science" simply doesn't begin to cover this. Maybe "Fraudulent Science?"

Monday, January 20, 2020

Initial thoughts on the Richmond assembly

It looks like this went about as well as could be hoped.  It ended over an hour ago and Richmond police are reporting no arrests. Good.


The turnout was good.  I haven't seen crowd estimates but WWBT/NBC12 in Richmond repeatedly calls the crowd "massive".

It doesn't look like Antifa showed up.  See "Richmond police reporting no arrests", above.  Maybe they were scared - most of the crowd was outside the Governor's "disarmament zone" and guns were everywhere.

The crowd seemed orderly and generally happy and in good spirits.  That's a big plus.  I quite liked this lady's sign (the following pictures are from the Richmond Times-Dispatch's live reporting):

[UPDATE 20 January 2020 15:52] Miguel finds another great example. [/UPDATE]

Shades of the Tea Party: people clean up stickers that had fallen onto the road.


So like I said, probably as good as we could have hoped for.  The local Richmond news seems to be generally favorable, but this is all live reporting.  The narrative will be folded, spindled, and mutilated as the media spin the messaging over the next few days.  So the news right now is the best that it will ever be, and will start to deteriorate immediately.  I guess we'll see how it ends up.

Of course, the Special Ops Team from the Derp Brigade was there in force:

You're not helping the cause, gentlemen.  Or these guys: they pre-composed the shot for the loony lefty propaganda drive.  Kind of an own goal, right there.  Yeah, yeah, BUT MUH SECOND AMENDMENT!  Whatever, knuckleheads.  You're hurting the cause.

This guy has the right idea - the biased media simply won't give this picture wide distribution.

I really like the way he used his head on this.  Derpy getup to attract media attention with a poison message that will keep him from being used as counter propaganda.  Full marks to the young man.

Lots of pictures and decent video at both WWBT and the Times-Dispatch.  We'll see how this gets spun to the wider country over the next few days.  No way to tell whether it'll be the  nice family or the DERP Rangers.

The British Invasion

It exploded onto these shores 56 (!) years ago today, with the release of Meet The Beatles! the Fab Four's debut album.

In two weeks it had been certified gold.  A week after that, they played Ed Sullivan:

The album spent 11 weeks at #1, only getting bumped off by the Beatles' second album.  By the end of the year it had sold 4 Million copies (!).  Remember, the population of the United States then was around 160 Million, so an equivalent bombshell album - assuming you could even have one of those today - would sell 8 Million or so.

There's a reason that there's an expression "Bigger than the Beatles".  Hat tip to The Queen Of The World, who spotted this anniversary.

A note to people taking video in Richmond today

Don't upload your video to YouTube.  We've seen a long record of them censoring conservative video as a "violation of terms of service".  You're wasting your time uploading it there.

Use Bitchute instead.  I've never heard of them censoring videos.

UPDATE 20 January 2020 10:24: Heh:

The blackface is a nice touch.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Max Steiner - The Charge of the Light Brigade

Michael Curtiz is single-handedly responsible for an Act of Congress.  You see, he directed the 1936 film The Charge Of The Light Brigade.  He organized a huge number of men on horses, to re-enact the charge with the cameras rolling.  While Hollywood then didn't do nearly as many explosions as Hollywood today, the scene called for Russian cannon shelling the charging troops.

But Curtiz didn't think that was enough - he wanted horses and riders falling when an explosion went off.  Tripwires were strung and 125 horses went down.  Curtiz was delighted, but 25 of the horses were killed or hurt so badly that they had to be put down.  The leading man was Errol Flynn, who loved horses.  He was so mad that he got into a fist fight with Curtiz.

Flynn wasn't the only one.  The story about the mistreatment of the horses got out and the public outcry was such that the film was withdrawn from circulation.  Congress got involved, passing a law making it illegal to mistreat animals in the making of a film.  When you watch the credits roll and see the words "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" it's all because of Michael Curtiz.

The scene was spectacular, though.  Just remember that some of those horses are getting hurt or killed:

The score was composed by Max Steiner, one of Hollywood's greatest composers (over 300 films and 24 Academy Award nominations).  And no animals were harmed during the recording of this music.

The Queen Of The World suggested that I pick some film scores for these Sunday posts.  It's an excellent suggesting because I haven't done many of those before.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Johnny Cash - Don't Take Your Guns To Town

Monday is the date for the Derpapooloza in Richmond, as a big demonstration by gun owners against the Virginia government's draconian gun law proposals will turn the Statehouse square into Derp central.  The rest of us watch this unfold and can choose between the philosophy of Democritus who laughed at the folly of man, or that of Heraclitus who wept at the folly of man.

In any case, for those who plan to be there, Johnny Cash has some advice.

Don't Take Your Guns To Town (Songwriter: Johnny Cash)
A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm
A boy filled with wonderlust who really meant no harm
He changed his clothes and shined his boots
And combed his dark hair down
And his mother cried as he walked out

Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

He laughed and kissed his mom
And said your Billy Joe's a man
I can shoot as quick and straight as anybody can
But I wouldn't shoot without a cause
I'd gun nobody down
But she cried again as he rode away

Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

He sang a song as on he rode
His guns hung at his hips
He rode into a cattle town
A smile upon his lips
He stopped and walked into a bar
And laid his money down
But his mother's words echoed again

Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

He drank his first strong liquor then to calm his shaking hand
And tried to tell himself at last, he had become a man
A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down
And he heard again his mothers words

Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

Filled with rage then
Billy Joe reached for his gun to draw
But the stranger drew his gun and fired
Before he even saw
As Billy Joe fell to the floor
The crowd all gathered 'round
And wondered at his final words

Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

Friday, January 17, 2020

Flight Deck Operations

The Queen Of The World found this.  It explains the different types of people who work on what is said to be the most dangerous workplace in the world - an aircraft carrier flight deck.

Son-In-Law is responsible for all the guys wearing brown shirts on his carrier.

Toe Jah

I toe jah so.  Here's the New York Times (the loonie lefty's "Newspaper Of Record"):
Alarming calls online for a race war. The arrest of three suspected neo-Nazis. Memories of the explosive clashes in Charlottesville, Va., three years ago. 
A sense of crisis enveloped the capital of Virginia on Thursday, with the police on heightened alert and Richmond bracing for possible violence ahead of a gun rally next week that is expected to draw white supremacists and other anti-government extremists. 
Members of numerous armed militias and white power proponents vowed to converge on the city despite the state of emergencydeclared by Gov. Ralph Northam, who temporarily banned weapons from the grounds of the State Capitol. The potential for an armed confrontation prompted fears of a rerun of the 2017 far-right rally that left one person dead and some two dozen injured in Charlottesville, about an hour’s drive from Monday’s rally.
Nice job, blowhards.  How long is it going to take the rest of us to dig ourselves out of this hole?  I can't wait to see your next genius move.

I got an interesting comment to one of yesterday's posts:
damn I thought you were one of us. 
Well, just which "us" are you talking about?  I see a bunch of different groups descending on Richmond next week:

Antifa.  As if.

White Supremacists.  Oh, hell no.

The "It's Boogaloo Time" types.  I posted about this ten years ago, and have had no reason to change my mind since.  As I said, I will not walk that road with you.  It doesn't lead to salvation and redemption, but to the abyss.

BUT MUH SECOND AMENDMENT types.  I'm actually sympathetic to this group, except they're being so damn stupid.  It's not your passion for your freedom I object to, it's your judgement.  Your despair at the situation is letting the Powers That Be play you like a fiddle.  If you're in this group you should read the link immediately above, particularly the part about despair.  Not only is despair a sin, but it makes you stupid.

What's funny is that Castle Borepatch is only a couple hours from Richmond.  I could go to this.  Not going to happen.  This has had Charlie Foxtrot written all over it for weeks but folks seem determined to push start the damn thing down the hill even though the steering and brakes are wonky.  I'm taking Remus' advice and staying away from crowds.

Because when the dust settles, the fight will go on.  We'll all be in a worse position because the New York Times will gleefully be painting us as Nazis and violent nuts, so thanks for that.  But the fight will go on.  Next time, hopefully we'll be smarter.  That sure as shootin' can't be very hard.

Remember, the first rule of Internet Security applies here, too: sometimes it's easier not to be stupid than it is to be smart.

Note: this isn't a post-mortem, it's a pre-mortem.  But next Monday's outcome is as scripted as a Kabuki play.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

100 years ago

Prohibition became the law of the land.  That sure worked well, didn't it?  But the Black Market and gangster wars that it spawned led to the National Firearms Act of 1934.  They've been taking more slices from our cake ever since.

In other news of Statist Pricks that became famous today, we have the following:

In 27 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus became - by an act of the Roman Senate - Caesar Augustus.  While it's probably not true that his great-grandson Caligula appointed his favorite race horse Incitatus to the Senate, he should have.  After all, the Divine Augustus was the poster child for Statist Pricks to this very day.

In 1547, Ivan the Terrible became the very first Czar of Muscovy.  Not to be confused with your current Czar of Muscovy who - while an Autocrat in the Old School - isn't a Statist Prick like Ivan.

In 1556 (things were busy back then), Philip II became King of Spain.  Philip was the King of the Spanish Armada, not to mention half of Europe.  Good Queen Bess fought the Statist Prick off.

In 1786, the State of Virginia enacted Thomas Jefferson's Statute of Religious Freedom, a very non-Statist-Prick statute.  Maybe the current Governor Blackface could learn a bit from this, amirite?

In 1920, the League Of Nations held it first meeting.  Because it was in Paris rather than in New York City, they could have a legal drink.

In 1969, Czech student Jan Palach burns himself to death to protest the Soviet occupation of Prague the previous year.  The Soviets were the biggest Statist Pricks since Caesar Augustus, even beating out Ivan the Terrible for biggest Statist Pricks, Russian division.

In 2020, the Impeachment Trial of Donal Trump opened.  The House Democrats have shown themselves to be the biggest set of Statist Pricks since at least the League of Nations.  They're certainly as effective.

Hat tip to The Queen Of The World who knew posting about Prohibition would make be a little ornery.

Asshattery on display

Gun owners look like they're their own worst enemies - or at least pro-gun organizations are.  Gun Owners of America and VCDL filed suit to block Governor Blackface's ban on weapons at the Virginia statehouse.  While they may be within their rights, this is the kind of thing that can scare the White Folks.  Sure, it's all MUH SECOND AMENDMENT but an undecided voter could very well look at this and wonder if VCDL is really less about public protest and more about public intimidation.

The point is not which viewpoint is right, it's about which will be spun as the narrative by a press that hates guns and hates hates hates gun owners.  The own-goals have begun, and there are still four days left before the protest.

But wait, it gets worse.  If you click through my link above you will get the GOA press release on the subject.  It looks like this has been edited: Brock Townsend has an extended quote that includes this that  seemingly has been edited out of the original:
Northam specifically listed personal protective gear such as helmets and shields as weapons in his order. Of course, these rules don’t apply to the armed state employees who will confront the protesters.

Are you kidding me?  What is Suzy Suburbanite going to think about this?  Are GOA and VCDL suggesting that people going to a "peaceful" protest at the State House should wear protective helmets and carry shields?  Really?


Quite frankly, Suzy Suburbanite will think that these gun nuts are dangerous and maybe Governor Blackface is right to crack down on them, MUH SECOND AMENDMENT or not.  This isn't going to be spin from the biased media, it's going to be straight reporting - and it's going to make gun owners look like dangerous, violent, intimidating nuts.

This is shaping up as a bigger Charlie Foxtrot than I had feared, and I thought it would be pretty bad.  It sure would be nice if GOA and VCDL could take aim at something other than their own damn foot.  Thanks, guys.  Thanks a million.

Virginia's Children's Crusade

Everyone has heard about the Great Crusade, preached by Pope Urban in 1095.  It had captured the Holy Land from the surprised saracen inhabitants and had set up crusader kingdoms there.  But it started going down hill pretty quickly, with Saladin re-taking Jerusalem in 1186. Christendom felt a sense of siege, and people wanted to do something about it.

Enter Nicholas of Cologne, a charismatic shepherd from Germany.  in 1212, he preached a "Children's Crusade" where God would cause the sea to part before them and muslims would peacefully convert to Christianity.  The chronicles say that thousands of young people followed him.  The sea didn't part before them, but many ships offered them passage.  Of course, it was passage to the slave markets of Tunisia.  None made it to the Holy Land.

It was a disaster, one bred of over confidence and a, well, childishness sense that the world was other than it actually was.

We're seeing a Children's Crusade in Virginia unfolding before our eyes.  The Virginia Citizen's Defense League is preaching that the sea of Antifa blocking their path will part by some sort of miracle, and that the Democratic state assembly will see the light and be peacefully converted to MUH SECOND AMENDMENT.  That really looks like the plan.

Instead, the world is the way that the world is, rather than the way that the VCDL would like it to be.  How much blood will be shed is unclear, as is how many agents provocateur will bring Nazi and Confederate flags.  The police may or may not herd the VCDL crowd through the Antifa throng as occurred in Charlottesville and at the Trump rally in Chicago.  The Media may not go out of their way to show them in the worst possible light, and might not broadcast this from coast to coast for days on end.

Maybe.  But the VCDL is putting a lot of trust in their opponents to act with restraint.  It's touching.  Kind of sweet, really.  Just like the Children's Crusade.

Of course, the rest of us will suffer collateral damage.  If it blows up like it looks like it will, other States will be emboldened to take similar draconian measures.  Trust in the Supreme Court seems equally child like - as the saying goes, the Supreme Court reads the election returns.  If the great undecided middle buys into the propaganda that will follow the Children's Crusade ("ZOMG!  Nazis and White Supremacists!") then gun rights will take a bullet in Maryland, the Northeast, Florida, and other places.

Thanks for thinking this through, guys.  Real mature of you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


My son-in-law shipped out today.  He made Chief a year or so back, but that came with the proviso of another tour at sea.  His wife and kids are great, and the military families at home look after each other.

But deployment is deployment, and it's a long time to be away from hearth and home.

Remember that they do it for us.

Major League Baseball rocked with scandal

The Houston Astros fired their General Manager Jeff Luhnow and also their Manager AJ Hinch over a sign-stealing scheme.  This is a big deal - the Astros went to the World Series last fall, and you would expect the team to try to protect their management.  But they're not just gone, they're banned from Baseball for a year.

And Red Sox Manager Alex Cora is also out, agreeing to resign his position.  The Red Sox won the World Series two years ago, but Cora is said to be the one who came up with the scheme when he was coaching for the Astros.  

The post-season chances for both the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox have just taken a hit.  The teams only have a month to come up with replacement managers, which isn't time enough for a very thorough search.

Smart baseball fans are waiting to see who else is implicated in the scandal - who else did this but hasn't been caught yet?  So what (I hear you ask) is sign stealing and why is it a big deal?  This video is pretty good about sign stealing as it has been done for years and years.  There's nothing illegal about any of this, but it will set the stage:

That's not what the Astros did.  They didn't use a base runner to steal signs, they used a camera.  That's a huge No No:

Costas spends some time on the fact that only managers have been punished.  Lots of players knew all about (and even participated in) the scheme, but nothing is happening to them.  Pete Rose - who was banned for life from Baseball for betting on his team when he was a manager - had some interesting thoughts on this:
“So they fire the GM, they fire the manager, and (MLB) probably is going to get (Red Sox manager) Alex Cora, who was the (Astros) bench coach at the time,” Rose said. “But what about the players who were behind this and taking the knowledge? Should they get off scot-free?
"Don’t you have to do something to the players who were accepting the stolen signs? Nothing’s been done. Is that fair?”
When Pete Rose says that more people should have been banned from baseball, that's something.

UPDATE 15 January 2020 13:49: I should have noted that (as you'd expect) Sports Firings is all over this.

A most unusual (but critical) Windows security update

There is a nasty security bug in Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.  You will want to update your operating system today.  Here's a handy guide on how to check if you already have the update, and if not how to get it manually.  This covers Windows 7, 8, and 10; if you have an older version then it's no longer supported and you don't really have any good options.  Skip to the end of this post for some thought on what to do.

But this is a really interesting security bug, not because of the nature of the bug itself but from how it was reported.  The bug is in the cryptographic subsystem, the library that does all the encryption routines.  This is pretty critical - not only does it handle the encryption of your browser traffic, but even more importantly (WAY more importantly) it verifies that you are talking to the actual web server that you want to and not some skeevy H4x0R site.  Most importantly of all, it verifies that the software you download (including, say, Windows security updates) are actually from Microsoft (and not from some skeevy H4x0R site).

Yeah, this is important.

But the interest here is that this was reported to Microsoft by the NSA.  Remember the Edward Snowden revelations?  NSA is ground zero for collecting attack techniques and code that the Fed.Gov can use against its enemies, foreign and domestic.  Here was a vulnerability present on literally every modern Windows computer in the universe, and they up and tell Microsoft to go build a patch for it.

Remember, these are the same guys who weakened the elliptic curve encryption routines so they could break all the web traffic, and these are the guys who paid RSA Data Security, Inc. tens of millions of dollars to slip weaknesses into the most popular encryption code sold at the time.  Now they're giving away the farm, so to speak.

Hmmmmm.  Here's the story and the interesting bit:
The NSA’s Neuberger said in a media call this morning that the agency did indeed report this vulnerability to Microsoft, and that this was the first time Microsoft will have credited NSA for reporting a security flaw. Neuberger said NSA researchers discovered the bug in their own research, and that Microsoft’s advisory later today will state that Microsoft has seen no active exploitation of it yet.
What's weird is that this is how you're supposed to do things - find a bug, report it to the developer, developer creates a patch, developer gives you credit for finding the bug.  But NSA actually did this, rather than keep the exploit secret.  Maybe some foreign government had discovered the vulnerability and somehow NSA found this out.  Who knows?    In any case, well done to NSA for doing it the Right Way.

But if you have Windows 10, go patch now.

If you have old Windows - say, XP you don't have support anymore.  It's no longer being maintained, so no more security patches.  You really have three choices here:

1. Stay on XP, and realize that some day you're going to get pwned.  It's sad to say, but it's not if you will get something take over your computer, it's when.

2. Upgrade to a newer version of Windows, which probably will mean buying a new computer.  Windows is famously resource hungry, and Windows 10 will be slow as molasses on a computer that came loaded with XP.  ASM826 and I put up a series of posts on backing up your data, so you can move everything over (you do back up your data, don't you?)

3. Load Linux on your existing computer.  Linux is a lot happier on old hardware then modern Windows is, and the backup techniques in the posts linked above will work just dandy on it.  Here's an old post recommending Linux Mint.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Clarence Carter - Patches

Burt emails about the new ZOMG crazy critical Microsoft patch that's out today (yes, it's important; yes, you should run Windows Update; yes, you will have to reboot; yes, I know that's a pain; yes, you need to do it today).  I'll post about this tomorrow because it's a first that I can remember in Security.

In the meantime, here's soul musician Clarence Carter singing about patches.  Heck, he won a Grammy for this song.  And as it turns out, it's his birthday, so happy birthday, Clarence!

And so it comes

The Virginia Legislature is a bunch of busy bees:
Senate Bill 35 will destroy Virginia’s firearm preemption laws by allowing localities to create new “gun-free zones” in and around public buildings and parks. Criminals will ignore these restrictions, leaving law-abiding citizens unable to defend themselves and their loved ones.
Senate Bill 69, commonly referred to as “one-gun-a-month,” would impose an arbitrary one gun limit on an individual’s right to lawfully purchase a handgun within 30 days.
Senate Bill 70 would ban many sales and transfers between private individuals without first paying fees and obtaining government permission. Firearm sales between friends, neighbors, or fellow hunters, would not be exempted. Transfers between family members are also likely to be banned based on the vague wording of the proposed legislation. This proposal would have no impact on crime and is completely unenforceable.
Senate Bill 240 looks to create so-called “Red Flag” gun confiscation orders. This bill will take your constitutionally-guaranteed rights and throw them out the window with insufficient due process in place.
It looks like they can't agree on wording for an Assault Rifle ban, but they're still working on it.

Monday, January 13, 2020


Stolen from HMS Defiant, which you do read every day, don't you?  Thought so.

I'm not going to fly on a Boeing 737 MAX

It seems that it was "designed by clowns":
The release of a batch of internal messages has raised more questions about the safety of Boeing's 737 Max.
In one of the communications, an employee said the plane was "designed by clowns".
Apparently Boeing is all butt-hurt about the content of the documents but disclosed them in the interests of transparency.  I guess that's a good thing, but this is really bad for the company:
One unnamed employee wrote in an exchange of instant messages in April 2017: "This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys."
And this is really, really, really bad for the company:
In February 2018, a Boeing worker asked a colleague: "Would you put your family on a Max simulator-trained aircraft? I wouldn't."
"No," came the reply.
Woah.  Boeing employees who built the aircraft won't let their families fly on it.

I don't know if the MAX needs to be a write-off, but I really can't see how you get people flying on this, other than by tricking them.  At least, those who pay attention.

Prediction: the first airline that puts them into service and then suffers a crash will be sued out of business, and these documents will be prominent in the legal actions.

And this has the ring of God's Own Truth to it:
"I don't know how to fix these things... it's systemic. It's culture. It's the fact we have a senior leadership team that understand very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives," said an employee in an email dated June 2018.
I wonder if criminal indictments are in the leadership team's future?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

On Permanence

Earlier this year The Queen Of The World and I went to Albuquerque for Mom's 90th birthday.  While we were out there we went on a hike in Petroglyph National Monument.  Ten years ago, Mom and Dad went on that same hike.

The Queen Of The World is no stranger to petroglyphs.  She took a photo of this one in Death Valley.

But the meaning of the glyphs remains the same: I was here.

Originally posted 12 January 2010.

Kilroy was here

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone, 
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." The City's gone,
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
There is something basic in the human spirit about building, or at least marking the landscape. Making something permanent. Life is fleeting, and making something that will withstand time and the elements better than our poor selves seems to come from deep in the soul.

Albuquerque is built on volcanoes. Long extinct, the horizon is marked with a chain of cones, and the landscape is littered with black volcanic rock. This makes the site unique in the area, and the ancient Anasazi people used it as a landmark.

They also took the opportunity to leave something personal. As the molten lava cooled, a thin black lacquer formed on its surface. Chipping off this layer revealed a lighter rock underneath, making it a natural medium for graffiti.

The origins of these petroglyphs are lost in the mists of time. They certainly pre-date the current Indian inhabitants, who migrated south from Canada in the 15th and 16th centuries - perhaps looking for warmer climes during the depths of the Little Ice Age. Both they and the Anasazi lacked writing, and while they have great epic tales, those tales say nothing of the petroglyphs. The Anasazi certainly had tales like these, but they are gone, and the tales lost with them.

Only the petroglyphs remain. Permanent, they will be here likely millions of years from now, long after we are gone ourselves.

I prefer stone (and brick) for my building, and have developed my poor skills to the point where I can build a wall that is (mostly) straight, plumb, and square. Dry Stone has a particular magic to it; lacking mortar, all that holds it together is gravity and the friction between the stones themselves. Done right, it will last far longer than I, or will take more work to disassemble than most people will care to do. It says that I was here. I made this thing.

We wonder, and some Hunter may express 
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

- Horace Smith