Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Wind River

If you have not seen this movie, you are in for a treat. It takes place on the Wind River Reservation in winter. The location, the characters, the accurate use of firearms, everything about it, makes it a movie you should not miss.

Here's the trailer. Most of the movie is slower than the trailer shows, it builds up, but the violence is always there, just under the surface.


I expect some of you have already seen it. I saw it a couple of years ago. The sense of loss and grief it portrayed was honest and resonated with me deeply. It came up in conversation yesterday and I thought I would share it. If you're self isolating, this will help pass an evening. And it has the best advice I've heard in a movie.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The problem isn't the Democrats, and the solution isn't the Republicans

There's a reason I call the GOP the "Stupid Party".  For example, they keep trying to destroy the Internet economy:
On Tuesday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced yet another bill attempting to poke holes in data encryption, called the Lawful Access To Encrypted Data Act. This bill follows previous US efforts to weaken encryption, including March's proposed EARN IT Act and demands made by US Attorney General William Barr in his 2019 keynote address at the International Conference on Cyber Security.
Sigh.  Here we go again.  I posted about this when Barr first flapped his gums last year:
There are very few things that make me distrust our Law Enforcement community more than the persistent proposal that we destroy encryption.  The mathematics of cryptography is subtle and really easy to screw up in unpredictable ways.   It's impossible to predict, but it's entirely possible that a backdoor that lets the Government read your email could also let them write emails.  The Russians and the Chinese would have a field day with this once the secret inevitably leaks - allowing them to forge incriminating emails about politicians to undermine trust in our political system or forge bogus financial transactions to wreak havoc with the economy.  Among other things.

Quite frankly, this is a glaring example of why the Swamp needs to be drained.
Security guru Robert Graham wrote about this at the same time:
The tl;dr version of this blog post is this:

  • Their claims of mounting crime are unsubstantiated, based on emotional anecdotes rather than statistics. We live in a Golden Age of Surveillance where, if any balancing is to be done in the privacy vs. security tradeoff, it should be in favor of more privacy.
  • But we aren't talking about tradeoff with privacy, but other rights. In particular, it's every much as important to protect the rights of political dissidents to keep some communications private (encryption) as it is to allow them to make other communications public (free speech). In addition, there is no solution to their "going dark" problem that doesn't restrict the freedom to run arbitrary software of the user's choice on their computers/phones.
  • Thirdly, there is the problem of technical feasibility. We don't know how to make backdoors available for law enforcement access that doesn't enormously reduce security for users.
That last point is what I was talking about.  This is Congress saying that "Pi should equal 3 because reasons".  Yeah, well I want a unicorn that pees 87 octane into my tank - and I really want a Congress that isn't filled to the brim with fools.

Think about what this will do - security will be weakened in hard to anticipate ways.  How will this enable Internet-based financial fraud?  How will it make it easier for Bad Guys to, say, get into your Internet bank account? How will this enable Nation State Actors to forge seemingly legitimate "evidence" of scandal against sitting Congress critters?

You ask the folks who proposed this bill and you get a blank-eyed stare.  Dumb, uncomprehending stares from dumb, uncomprehending people.

"This is a full-frontal assault on encryption and on Americans' privacy and security, just when the shift to living much of our lives online from home means we can least afford it," said Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, in an email to The Register.

"The bill unambiguously contains the long-dreaded backdoor mandate for devices and online services alike, from cloud storage to email to apps, such as end-to-end encrypted messaging apps."
So how good a job does the Fed.Gov do keeping cyber secrets?  Remember Edward Snowden?  Remember how the CIA's elite cyber hacking force couldn't protect its own Top Secret hacking tools?  Oh, and the Police don't do any better:
Hundreds of thousands of potentially sensitive files from police departments across the United States were leaked online last week. The collection, dubbed “BlueLeaks” and made searchable online, stems from a security breach at a Texas web design and hosting company that maintains a number of state law enforcement data-sharing portals.
So the Organs Of The State want the ability to decrypt anything, any time, anywhere.  They don't even stop to think that the secret mechanisms that they will require to do so will be public knowledge in about ten seconds.  They have absolutely no idea what the impact to the Internet economy will be.

Philosopher Kings.

Never mind that in today's Cancel Culture this doesn't remotely pass the Jews In The Attic test.

Like I said, Eric Holder never proposed this.  Bob Barr did.
Imagine, if you will, that I am an idiot.  Then imagine that I am also a Congressman.  But alas, I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Rodgers and Hammerstein - Oklahoma!

Richard Rogers was born on this day in 1902.  He went on to write an amazing body of work (with Lorenz Hart and then Oscar Hammerstein): Carousel, South Pacific, The King And I, The Sound Of Music, and (of course) his first collaboration with Hammerstein, Oklahoma!  Here is an abbreviated list of his songs:

With Hart:
Blue Moon
Isn't It Romantic?
My Funny Valentine
The Lady Is A Tramp 

With Hammerstein:
Oh What A Beautiful Morning
You'll Never Walk Alone
Some Enchanted Evening
Bali Hai
My Favorite Things
Getting To Know You

He also wrote twelve themes that Robert Russell Bennet used for the score to Victory At Sea.  Astonishingly, he only won one Oscar and two Grammy, although he regularly cleaned up at the Tonys.

Looking at this musical legacy it's plausible to call him the greatest American composer of all time.


The Queen Of The World is a Kentucky Girl but lived for years in Oklahoma.  Since Rodgers never wrote a song called Kentucky! today's song choice was easy.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hank Williams, Jr. - Red, White & Pink Slip Blues

The Media tells us that the Wuhan Coronavirus is back.  Here in Sunny Florida, the bars are all shut, restaurants are down to 25% capacity, and you have to wear a facemask when you're indoors at a business.  It seems a surprising overreaction by the up-until-now sensible Governor.  I say "overreaction" because official figures from CDC show that it is a stunning overreaction.  While all you hear from the media is that cases are way up, here's what you have likely never seen reported - deaths across the USA are way, way down:



This isn't me saying that the latest lockdown is an overreaction, it's CDCThe nation's top medical experts.  Look at the far right hand side of that graph - and then think on the fact that better testing shows that the virus is way less lethal than we've been told:
Nearly all the studies find between 10 and 100 times the number of total infections as reported infections, with the average somewhere around 20 to 25 times.

In other words, while the CDC reports 2.34 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, the actual number of infected and recovered people may be closer to 50 million. (CDC Director Robert Redfield told journalists Thursday that the number of cases may be 10 times higher than the earlier 2.34 million.)

Thus, the death rate, which would be 5.2 percent based on that 2.34 million figure, is actually more like one-20th as high — or 0.26 percent.
And the bulk of the cases are in nursing homes and prisons.  It's been made way, way worse by grotesquely incompetent government reaction (New York Governor Cuomo is personally responsible for tens of thousands of deaths because he ordered nursing homes to take in infected patients; he's not the only governor with blood on his hands for this).  It's a truism that there's no problem that government can't make worse.  

In other words, it's a bad flu season, made worse by wretched governance and a hysterical media that is intentionally trying to scare people to whip up ratings.  The Queen Of The World says that they're also trying to hurt Trump and help the Democrats by scaring people and tanking the economy.

What's not shown by the media is the cost of the lockdown.  Waiters and waitresses who had started to go back to work are now getting pink slips.  Tens of millions are still unemployed.  And for what?  A bad flu season.  These are our neighbors.  Their lives, hopes, and dreams have value, just like ours.

At this point if you don't have steam coming out of your ears, you have no heart.  Hank, Jr. has a heart, and sings about what the unemployed are going through.


Red, White, and Pink Slip Blues (Songwriters: Mark Stephen Jones, Bud Tower)
I used to love this town,
and this neighborhood,
the streets were safe,
the schools were good,
the mill was humming 24/7,
I was foreman on the line 3 to 11
but 18 months and 2 days ago
the mill closed down
and moved to Mexico

I paid my bills, I paid my dues
and I paid my share of taxes too
now I can't buy my baby shoes
I got these red, white, & pink slip blues

I hide the pickup truck in Ricky Brown's garage
(over on the next block)
cause there's a repo man to dodge
I slip out the back door
Lord I never thought I'd live to see this day
we're gonna need that truck
when they come to take the house away

I paid my bills, I paid my dues
I paid my share of taxes too
now I can't even buy my little baby shoes
I got these red, white, & damn pink slip blues

You know I love my country
and I'm not wandering away
but there's a lot of us
that feel like we've been stranded here out in the rain

I paid my bills, I paid my dues
I paid my share of taxes too
now I can't buy my kids no shoes
I got these red, white, pink slip blues

Is anybody listening
Hey politicians we're talking to you
(Is anybody listening)
Are you gonna help us pull on through
Yeah, I'm pretty steamed about all this.  Hey politicians, we're talking to you.

Hat tip to reader Richard in a comment to another song on the same subject.

UPDATE 28 June 2020 10:03: Al Fin weighs in on the subject, saying the same things (although less musically).  Cases don't count; deaths do.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Raising a City

Chicago was originally built along the banks of Lake Michigan. It was a low marshy area and as the size of the city grew the lack of drainage created a sewer problem that resulted in a series of cholera outbreaks. By the 1850s the issue became severe enough that a sewer system was proposed. The problem was that everything had been built right at the water table and there was no drainage below the buildings.

The solution was to raise the city. Wooden homes were often relocated, sold and moved out of the new city center so that new masonry buildings could be built on new foundations at the new grade. But the larger buildings were raised. Teams of hundreds of men with thousands of jacks dug out under the stone and iron buildings and jacked them up to a new level. The streets were then filled in to the new grade.

By 1860, confidence was sufficiently high that a consortium of no fewer than six engineers; including James Brown, James Hollingsworth and George Pullman took on one of the most impressive locations in the city and hoisted it up complete and in one go. They lifted half a city block on Lake Street, between Clark Street and LaSalle Street; a solid masonry row of shops, offices, printer shops, etc., 320 feet long, comprising brick and stone buildings, some four stories high, some five, having a footprint taking up almost one acre of space, and an estimated all in weight including hanging sidewalks of thirty five thousand tons.

Businesses operating out of these premises were not closed down for the lifting; as the buildings were being raised, people came, went, shopped and worked in them as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. In five days the entire assembly was elevated 4 feet 8 inches clear in the air by a team consisting of six hundred men using six thousand jackscrews, ready for new foundation walls to be built underneath. The spectacle drew crowds of thousands, who were on the final day permitted to walk at the old ground level, among the jacks.
It wasn't impossible because they believed they could.


12 years of blogging

12 years ago today I put up my first post.  It wasn't very good, but you have to start somewhere.

13,615 posts later, here we are.  I couldn't have made it this far without you, Gentle Reader, or your over 50,000 (!) comments.  It's quite a community we have.

I'd also like to thank co-blogger and Brother-From-Another-Mother ASM826 for keeping the lights on around here.  I almost gave up, back 5 or 6 years ago, and he pretty much single handedly saved this blog.

I'd also like to thank co-blogger and Sister-From-Another-Mister Brigid.  She doesn't post here a lot, but she sure classes the place up when she does.

Twelve years ago I wasn't sure what to expect at the start of the trail that brought us here.  I am very grateful to all y'all who have walked it with me.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Quote of the Day: Explaining the Virus edition

I've written a number of times about Mencious Moldbug, most notably here.  He was instrumental in laying the philosophical foundations for the Dark Enlightenment, the most significant ideological framework that I've seen in my lifetime.  But he really blew it on the Kung Flu.  This I think sums up the political response to the virus:
Moldbug would have seen clearly that the N-COVID-19 narrative, lockdowns and restrictions, and subsequent Antifa/BLM riots that broke open the lockdowns, were all a manifestation of a High & Low versus Middle dynamic, where the elites use the underclass against middle Americans who represent the only real threat to their rule. It is not an accident that the public closure directives fell entirely on small businesses, churches and volunteer civic society. In contrast, the Washington Post owning Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is bigger than ever.
I think that this is spot on, and is actually an indictment of Republican Governors who bought into the hype.  A few didn't, but most let themselves be stampeded into harming their base.  The Democrat Governors who are still keeping up the lockdowns are doing so knowing that they are hurting a Republican constituency, so there's no expectation that they will want to ease up.  But the GOP crowd should have known better.  This is why I call them the "Stupid Party".

Go read the whole thing.  Some of us were skeptical about the panic from the start.  Others should have been.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Camp Bullowa 1960

Film from visiting day at Bullowa Scout Camp in New York, 1960. It could be my camp, my Troop, me.



I still remember the entire Boy Scout oath. I don't remember the serial number of my gun in the army. I don't remember the number of my locker in school. But I remember that oath. --Tommy Lasorda

They called the Communist takeover, 70 years ago

Looking at the upheaval and rioting in the streets - and the pulling down the statues of Washington,  Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt (so much for Mt. Rushmore), it's amazing just how prescient this comic book from the 1950s was about how Marxists would take over the country.


Is This Tomorrow was a full length (50 page) comic book from the 1950s, describing how a Communist takeover of America might happen.  It's quite interesting reading, as a time capsule of the intellectual wars of the day.  Sure, the details are very 1950s (the current race/class war is pretty different but hard to ignore) but the grand sweep of the strategy was all laid out way back then.

Sadly, the line Wolverines!!!1!! is not to be found in its pages.

Blogroll update

Man, it's been a long time since I've done this.

D.C. Traitors discusses politics from a, well, D.C. Traitor point of view.  You don't need to wonder where they're coming from.

Chuck Pergiel has been blogging for almost 20 years (!!!).  He's commented here before, and is always thought provoking.  You'll learn a lot over there - I have.

Locomotive Breath 1901 has a bunch of fun stuff.

Long time commenter LindaG has a blog.  Her house got heavily damaged by a tornado a while back and there's a GoFundMe for her.  It's within around $500 of the goal, so if you can stop by and donate I'd be very grateful indeed.

Welcome to the blogroll, folks!  And to our readers, check out some of the folks listed there.  It's quite a community.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Dad's last Father's Day

I put this post up ten years ago on Father's Day.  It was Dad's last, and while we still had hope we knew that there wasn't much hope left.  He sure liked this post, though, maybe because of that.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I sure miss you.  And happy Father's Day to my Father-In-Law Bob.  I'm sorry we won't be coming to see you in Arlington as often now.

Originally posted June 20, 2010.

Acadia Mountain

Maine's Acadia National Park contains all sorts of natural wonders, not least of which is the only fjord on the east coast of this land. It's a proper fjord, carved by the ice sheets and partially flooded by the rising seas at the end of the last glaciation. Called Some's Sound, it's deep, and surrounded by steep mountains on each side. Acadia Mountain is perhaps the steepest of these.

Father's Day 1975 saw Dad, me, and my older brother climbing that mountain. It's only about 900 feet tall, but the climb is pretty vigorous. You go up the landward side, and there's not a lot to see other than trees, and the occasional glimpse of trees on neighboring mountains. Other than the exercise, there's not a lot of reason to make the ascent.

Until you get to the summit, when suddenly you see the Sound laid out before you, in all its glory.
It looks like that the other direction, too. If you have a camera that can take panorama pictures, this is the place to take one. The contrast from deep forest to best-view-in-the-world happens in about five minutes, and makes this a memorable hike.

Father's Day made it a memorable hike, too. The three of us went on that hike at least three Father's Days. The panorama of the memory is something to see, too, but you'll have to take my word on that.

We couldn't recreate this today; Older Brother and I are scattered to the four winds, Mom and Dad are in New Mexico, and he's not well. But in a sense it doesn't matter, because these memories of times together are still fresh.

Happy Father's Day to all dads, especially Dad and Older Brother. You're good men, and good fathers, and I'm glad to have these memories.

Dimitri Tiomkin - Suite for The Old Man And The Sea

I have an odd view of Hemingway - sort of a hope for the best but prepare for the worst sort of thing.  His prose is brilliant, his characterization is memorable, but his stories sometime are infuriating*.

But Old Man And The Sea is Papa at his best, and a great story for Father's Day.  An old man and a boy, fishing - but more than fishing: striving and failing and striving again; victory and defeat, teaching and learning what is is to be a man.

The 1958 film was interesting.  Hemingway loved it, perhaps because the script followed his novel so closely.  He even liked Spenser Tracy in the lead role (for which he was nominated for Best Actor); given how much Hemingway disliked Tracy personally, this was quite an accomplishment.  The filming budged kept ballooning, because they kept trying (and failing) to catch a marlin.  They never did, and so the film had to cut between Tracy and pictures of a fish.  But it was not just any fish, it was the world record marlin caught off Peru. 

The music by Dimitri Tiomkin won the Oscar for best score, one of four he received in his career (out of a total of 22 nominations).  He was a prolific composer, writing scores for 57 films in the decade before this one.  This made him the highest paid composer in Hollywood.



* It's said that the unexpected, tragic ending of Farewell To Arms was intentional, because he was still angry at the World War I nurse who broke his heart.  That's not much to ruin a book for.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Trace Adkins - Just Fishin'

Tomorrow is Father's Day.  One of my clearest memories of Dad is him telling me that there was much about him that I would never understand until I had kids of my own.  That's some deep truth, right there.

Country music still has a lot of songs about family, and the old saying applies: all you need is three chords and the truth.  This song brings the truth about fathers - at least as we would like to be.  I watch this and think about all the times I had with my kids when they thought we were just doing whatever.  They may not remember the birthday party with a bunch of six year olds doing the Y-M-C-A dance at the Cosmic Bowl, but I do.

And I realize that I look back through the glass darkly at the times that I spent with my Dad, thinking that we were just doing whatever.  I don't remember the ones that I should, the way I should, and he's been gone these ten years so I can't ask him.  No matter.  I understand Dad now and know what he felt at the time.  You see, I've been there too.

Happy Father's Day to all Dads.  If you are fortunate enough to be a Dad with young kids, seize the day.  Even if they think you're just fishing.


Just Fishin' (Songwriters: Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell, and Ed Hill)
I’m lost in her there holdin’ that pink rod and reel
She’s doin’ almost everything but sittin’ still
Talkin’ ‘bout her ballet shoes and training wheels
And her kittens
And she thinks we’re just fishin’

I say, “Daddy loves you, baby” one more time
She says, “I know. I think I got a bite.” 
And all this laughin’, cryin, smilin’ dyin’ here inside’s
What I call, livin’

And she thinks we’re just fishin’ on the riverside
Throwin’ back what we could fry
Drownin’ worms and killin’ time
Nothin’ too ambitious
She ain’t even thinkin’ ‘bout
What’s really goin’ on right now
But I guarantee this memory’s a big’in
And she thinks we’re just fishin’

She’s already pretty, like her mama is
Gonna drive the boys all crazy
Give her daddy fits
And I better do this every chance I get
‘Cause time is tickin’
(Yeah it is)

And she thinks we’re just fishin’ on the riverside
Throwin’ back what we could fry
Drownin’ worms and killin’ time
Nothin’ too ambitious
She ain’t even thinkin’ ‘bout
What’s really goin’ on right now
But I guarantee this memory’s a big’in
And she thinks we’re just fishin’

She ain’t even thinkin’ ‘bout
What’s really goin’ on right now
But I guarantee this memory’s a big’in
And she thinks we’re just fishin’
Yeah, aww, she thinks we’re just fishin’
We ain’t only fishin’
(This ain’t about fishin’)
The young lady in the video is Adkins' youngest daughter, Trinity.

Friday, June 19, 2020

And They've Come for George Washington, too

They wrapped the statue's head in an American flag and burned it, then pulled the statue down. Then the protesters scattered.

The money quote is right in the middle of the article, "Portland police arrived a few minutes later."




 

The Pen is mightier than the Internet

It may be that the first blogger was Robert Southey, Britain's tenth Poet Laureate.  You know some of his many works.  One is the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; another is this:
What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails
That's what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice
That's what little girls are made of
The complete version of that has stanzas for young women, young men, old women, and old men.  It's pretty clever.

Bust of Southy in London's National Gallery  
But Southey was a man of wide interests, who wrote about all of them.  That sounds like a blogger to me.  He wrote the first (and still published) history of Brazil, in which the word "zombie" made its first appearance in the English language.  He wrote epic poems, mostly forgotten today.  He wrote criticism of other's epic poetry, most notoriously a scathing review of his friend's Samuel Coleridge's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner* which he said was like "a Dutchman's attempt at German profundity."

Lord Byron accused him of being a sell-out, giving up his youthful republicanism for a well paid social conservatism.  But Southey was instrumental in getting rid of Dr. Johnson's ponderous and self-satisfied prose style and introducing a clear, direct style in its place.   He wrote many biographies, most famous of which was about Lord Nelson and which was turned into a film.

Oh yeah - he and Coleridge were buddies with scientist Humphry Davies and participated in Nitrous Oxide experiments.  Groovy, baby.

I had never heard of him until this morning.  I remarked that The Queen Of The World truly was made of sugar and spice, and wondered when that line had been written.  She consulted the Oracle of Wikipedia, and then said This would make a good post for you.  Sure did.

* You've heard this as well - Water, water everywhere with not a drop to drink.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

And so they've come for Abraham Lincoln

The Mayor of Boston supports removing the stature of Abraham Lincoln.  It seems that the battle against "Systemic Racism" has now devoured the Great Emancipator himself.

Long time readers will know that I'm not a great fan of Mr. Lincoln, but this is too much even for me.

Or we could just see this as a not-very-smart White Guy trying to figure out how to ride the tiger without getting eaten.

The Erie Canal

This is my 3rd attempt at this post. I am just going to lay out the bare facts and the importance of the Erie Canal.

The first canal was conceived in 1808. A series of hand dug shallow canals and locks connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie. Originally 363 miles long, with 18 aqueducts and 83 locks, it was only 4 feet deep. It was all fed by gravity water flows and the shallow boats, pulled by mules, carried no more than 30 tons.

It was instantly successful. The price of moving a ton of goods west fell by 90%. The canal paid back the investment in the first year. It makes New York City the port it became, with goods now able to enter at New York City and travel up the Hudson, through the canal, and then across the Great Lakes. A series of cities and towns grow up, industries are built to use the canal in both directions, it is hard to overstate how important the canal was.

So important that eleven years after it opened a major reworking of the canal took place. Slightly shorter, the number locks reduced, the Enhanced Erie Canal could carry deeper and wider boats capable of 240 tons of cargo. It was the waterway that linked all the cities on the shores of the Great Lakes to the rest of the world.

At the turn of the 20th Century, there was complete reworking of the canal. It's not really called the Erie Canal anymore, it's the Barge Canal. Electrically operated locks, pumping stations, and larger, deeper locks were built, sometimes removing the original canal system, sometimes bypassing it. The boats became self propelled barges, carrying 3,000 tons, and the number of locks necessary was reduced to 36.

It was a major economic waterway that was slowly being overcome by the railroads as they carried more and more freight, but the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957 really brought the Barge Canal traffic to an end. Large cargo ships could now enter the Great Lakes along the St. Lawrence River in a more direct route.

The Barge Canal and the remaining pieces of the Erie Canal belong mostly to tourists and boaters. The importance of the canal in the 19th Century is mostly forgotten. But in it's day, it opened the center of the country and made New York into the Empire State.

I picked this video because it's short, it shows a map, and it has some great images.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Damnatio Memoriae

Damnatio memoriae. Literally "condemning the memory".

The phrased was not used in Roman times, it dates form the 1600s, but the idea was there. After a king or an emperor died, they could be erased from history. Their names chiseled off the memorials, all mention of their name forbidden, their tomb eliminated. It was not uncommon in Rome for the incoming emperor to do it to his predecessor.

Stalin did it to Trotsky and others

The Taliban did to the Buddha status in 2017.

Now we are going to do it. Once we get started it will be easy. The hard part will be stopping.

Monday, June 15, 2020

More lousy data

I've written for years and years about the terrible state of the climate databases - you know, the ones that are used to justify a $50T (that's Trillion) looting of middle class wealth.  Lawrence emails to point out that it's not just climate data that is lousy.  There are really interesting things going on with Kung Flu statistics as well:
Accord to the Texas DHS coronavirus tracking map, as of today there are1,098 “estimated active” coronavirus cases in Walker county.

However, when you go to the website for Walker County itself, it shows precisely 223 listed cases, which it breaks down as “233 reported – 8 duplicates – 2 not county residents.” Indeed it breaks down those number into individual cases, anonymized into case numbers, sex, and age range.

Moreover, it says that 113 cases have “graduated out” (which I take to mean they’ve had it long enough to be considered recovered and not infectious), meaning there are only 110 active cases, which suggests that (depending on the culling boundary for graduated cases), the state statistics are off by a factor of 5 to 10 times compared to county statistics.
There's a lot more, including really interesting things happening with death data that suggests (to me) that the State government agencies are trying to hide a massive screw up in the Prison system.

Figures don't lie, but liars can figure.  Now extrapolate this to the entire country.  Heads should roll.


Vignettes of Old America

When I started the Old America series I had an idea of what I was doing, but not a tag for it. That was weeks ago. History is speeding up now as we rush toward dissolution. Now we have a minor warlord in charge of a six block area in the heart of a major city. They are calling it a separate country and the United States, the State of Washington, and the local governments haven't figured out how to respond to this secession .

So today we will look at Seattle. In 1955. Sixteen millimeter home movies taken by a Naval Reservist showing scenes of the city as well some aerial footage during operations. It looks like it was quite a city.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Seen Yesterday

There's a new park in a nearby town. It's down in the floodplain on the site of an old farm. There are still hand built stalls, a chicken house, the remains of a house and several barns. There are also, set back in the brush and obscured by brush and vines, the remains of some farm equipment. I was hiking there yesterday and noticed a logo on what I think is what's left of a small harvester.

I took these with a cellphone.


Minneapolis-Moline. I had never heard of the company. They made tractors, combines, plows, and assorted equipment from 1929 to 1963. Pioneered the idea of an enclosed cab. Made a tractor with a bench seat, a cab with doors, and a radio in 1938. They were pricey, double what a regular tractor was going for, and only about 150 were sold.  Looked like this.


 That's the paint color they used so I assume the little harvester I saw was originally MM Prairie Gold.

There's a club, a website, and a magazine for fans. The company has been gone for 60 years.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Peggy Sue Wright - I'm Dynamite

If I asked you to name a famous singer from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky you'd say "Loretta Lynn".  You'd be right, of course.  If I asked you to name another famous singer from Butcher Hollow you might pause a moment before answering Crystal Gale, Loretta's baby sister.  Not many people know that the list of Butcher Hollow singers doesn't end there.

Peggy Sue Webb was Loretta's younger sister, second of four girls (and four boys).  She began performing with Loretta as her big sister's career started taking off.  She also started writing songs, collaborating with Loretta on Don't Come Home A' Drinking (With Loving On Your Mind).  She started her own recording career in 1969 with this (ahem) dynamite single, followed by an LP with the same title.  Over the next dozen years she had a baker's dozen of songs that reached the charts.

Married twice, she goes by Peggy Sue Wright.



I'm Dynamite (Songwriter: Loretta Lynn)
I know you see that don't touch sign all over me
My paint is wet and you'll get hurt all over you
I'm another man's woman to you I'm just bad news
I'm dynamite so please don't light the fuse

You turn me on but I can't turn me off 
I guess the switch is buried in my mind
The flame of love is burning just begging to be used
I'm dynamite so please don't light the fuse

You cannot undo the damage that I'll do 
and the first thing I'll destroy it will be you
Too many other hearts and vows that I can't stand to lose
I'm dynamite so please don't light the fuse

You cannot undo the damage...
I'm dynamite so please don't light the fuse

Friday, June 12, 2020

Getting Out

A company called 7-Sigma was one of the thousand commercial properties burned out during the Minneapolis riots. They are leaving.

They won't be alone. It's happened before with similar results.

“They don’t care about my business,” said Kris Wyrobek, president and owner of 7-Sigma Inc., which has operated since 1987 at 2843 26th Av. in south Minneapolis. “They didn’t protect our people. We were all on our own.”

Hammering the Idea

There was a time when children's playgrounds looked like this. The survivors were tougher kids.

Does the American electorate want ideology, or does it want good governance?

This is what the election will be about.  Blue State Governors and Blue City Mayors have established a track record of what happens when ideology controls governance.  Red State Governors have shown what happens when good governance is the priority.  There is a real difference between the two in terms of economic activity, employment, personal freedom, and law and order.

I've never in my life seen the choice laid out in such a technicolor difference.

I guess we'll see which way the voters lean, but outside of the Faculty Lounge, the professional leftist agitator class, the New York Times newsroom, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, my money says that Americans want good governance.

Add in Joe Biden's many, many weaknesses, and the many uncomfortable laws he sponsored in his 40 year political career, and it looks like it will be a wave election.  We're already seeing signs.


The interesting question is what happens after the election?  I think that the Blue Cities will burn again.  No Federal bailout for rebuilding, though.  If their Mayors won't do what's necessary for their cities then we shouldn't either.

Man, I'm glad we left Maryland.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Old New York

I am working on an über post on the Erie Canal. In the midst of creating that, I found this video. New York State in 1960. It really gets going about 9 minutes in when it starts talking about industry and manufacturing in New York. You might wonder how much of what you see is still manufactured in the State.

So is America insane?

The question needs to be asked.  I'm not sure what the answer is.  Two things are clear, that frame the discussion:

1. The Media are gas-lighting the public, spinning a narrative that may have a grain of truth to it, but only if you squint hard.  All of the news we get about both the virus and the riots protests is slanted in a particular way - to convince you that Orange Man Bad and that the riots protests are perfectly fine, nothing to see here.

2. The riots protests are clearly organized by persons unknown.  They are as spontaneous as astroturf.  Sure, there are a couple of actual spontaneous protests, but these are a vanishingly small percentage of the total.  Motivations of the rioters protesters run the gamut from justifiable outrage to Free Stuff Army.  The motivations of the organizers are unknown.  Of course, the media only talk about the justifiable outrage.

So where does this go?  What will be the outcome?  There is an election this fall, and there is still a widely acknowledged belief that legitimacy comes from the result of elections.  Yes, the Democratic Party (and their partisans in the Civil Service) have so far refused to accept the outcome of the last election.  I can't see anything changing this time around although it looks plain that Trump will comfortably increase his victory margin.

My sense is that America still has a fairly deep well of sensibleness, despite two generations of agitation to drain that.  My sense is also that the increasingly desperate attempts to divide this Republic along class, race, and gender lines is a reflection not of the divider's perceived strength, but that they see themselves as increasingly weak.

It's also beginning to be clear that there is a real divide in this country, but this divide is between Blue State public policy and Red State public policy.  The Governors of many Blue States are actively destroying their State's economies, and actively immiserating their populations.  You don't see this in Red States.  You also see a stark hypocrisy on display in the Blue States, where you are not allowed to go to church or to your grandma's funeral, but you are free to riot protest.  The fact that grandma died from the Kung Flu because the Governor made her nursing home accept infectious Kung Flu patients only adds to the whole ambiance.

But I'm not sure how this plays out.  I expect we will see more self-separation, where people who are sick of Blue State insanity move to more sane locales.  Heck, The Queen Of The World and I just did that, and we haven't had an ounce of regret about it.  Sure, we miss our friends, but they need to decide if they want to continue living in that mess.  They can move, vote the idiots out, or keep their status quo.

I guess we'll see in November.  Remember, Adam Smith famously said that there's a lot of ruin in a country.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Altar of Victory and Robert E. Lee

The Altar of Victory was erected by the Divine Augustus himself in the Roman Senate house.  Raised in commemoration of his victory over Marc Antony and Cleopatra, the altar saw regular use - not least of which was the ceremony where the Senators swore loyalty to the Emperor.  You might say that it was at the beating heart of the Roman political order.

The statue of Victory on a coin issued under Augustus.  Nobody knows what the altar looked like.
The statue of Victory on a coin issued under Augustus.  Nobody knows what the altar itself looked like.

But time and tide waits for no man, and the Roman political order changed over the centuries.  Constantine the Great ended the persecution of the Christians and funded the new religion.  His son Constantius II removed the altar in 357 AD, thinking that the old pagan rituals had no place in the "modern" Rome.  For the next 50 years it was back and forth - restored to the Senate House under one emperor, removed under another.  Finally in 408 AD it disappeared entirely.  "Modern" Rome had won.

We see the same playing out today in Richmond.  Governor Blackface has ordered the statue of Robert E. Lee removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond.  A judge has put a temporary halt to this - it seems that the land was donated to the State decades ago under the provision that the State would protect the statue.  The great grandson of the people who donated the land filed suit to stop the removal.

But like the "Modern Roman's" view of the Altar of Victory, many in Richmond today think that the statue represents an outdated, nay pagan past.  Its presence is a blasphemy against the Revealed Progressive Truth.  We shall see how things play out.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Pete's Question

In the comments, Pete asked if the United States even made steel anymore. They answer is yes. Not as much as before and a lot less steel from raw materials. U.S. Steel Corporation has survived and has several mills. This chart is thousands of tons by year for steel made in the United States since 1970. What appears as a sharp drop in 2020 is just because we are only to June.

From a high of almost 12,000,000 tons, we have stabilized around 7,000,000 tons for the last several years. We do import steel, about 17% of steel used in the U.S. is imported.



source: tradingeconomics.com

There are 9 operational integrated mills. Those are mills that can start with raw ore and process it into iron and then into steel. From there, further working of steel into various shapes from I beams to thin sheets in huge rolls can either be done on site or sent on to manufacturing plants elsewhere. This is a more modern process than the direct reduction blast furnaces of the past. The last one of those shut down in 2012.

There are over a hundred specialty or mini-mills running in the country.  These mills normally use scrap steel and iron as a source material and the furnaces are heated with electricity.

And just because I found this, here's U.S. Steel in it's heyday. There's no date on the video, but near the end they show a stamping press turning out a fender with a big fin on it, dating it to the late 1950s. This is the whole process from ore to soup cans.

Conquerers of the Impossible 2

Just to amplify ASM826's posts about what America used to be, here are some statistics about US military production during World War II.  We manufactured:

108,000 tanks and self-propelled guns;
250,000 artillery pieces plus 100,000 mortars;
2.6M machine guns;
2.3M trucks and other vehicles;
300,000 aircraft;
124 aircraft carriers;
23 battleships and 72 cruisers;
over 800 destroyers, destroyer escorts, and frigates; and
34M tons of cargo sealift capacity;

The numbers are a little hard to grasp in this day of $100M fighter planes.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Conquerers of the Impossible

A detailed look at the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. Another look into the America that was.

The numbers of pounds of material that came from Bethlehem Steel , the amount of cabling, the hundreds of thousands of rivets, all those details are mentioned in the video.  It is the men who envisioned a bridge across the headlands and skills of the engineers and workmen that made it a reality that I want to point out.

The video doesn't begin to show the history  until about 4 minutes in.


Sunday music: Hoagy Carmichael and Lauren Bacall - Am I Blue?

When you think of classical music, Florida doesn't quite spring to mind.  What does spring to mind is Ernest Hemingway and his many novels set in the Sunshine State.  "To Have And Have Not" is one of his best, made into a memorable film in 1944 staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  Their long term romance started here.


At 18 years old, it was her first film.  Her screen test was the unforgettable "You know how to whistle, don't you?"  That wasn't intended to go into the film but, well, the director knew when he had a winner.

There is a persistent rumor that an even younger Andy Williams dubbed the singing for this song.  It isn't true, but Bacall's very low register was (and is) quite unusual.  It really is her singing with the great Hoagy Carmichael here.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A great D-Day tribute

357 Magnum as a great one posted.  David Hammond (of Top Gear fame) has three people recreate Omaha beach over a period of 4 days, which is then stitched together via clever video editing.  It is quite something to watch, and a respectful salute to the young men who fought there 76 years ago.

Highly recommended.

Welcome to Florida

I've been really busy for the last two months, and it really cut into my blogging. You see, The Queen Of The World and I moved.


It turns out our timing couldn't have been better.  While we will miss our friends up north, we won't miss the insane Blue State politics.  It feels refreshingly normal down here.  And gun friendly, in distinct contrast to Maryland.  With riots as the special du jour, it's reassuring to be in a place where sheriffs publicly say that home invaders should expect to be shot.

And it's very nice indeed to be close to grandkids.  We took one to a spring training game a couple months back (before the Kung Flu insanity hit) and I'm looking forward to a lot more of that sort of thing.  And we don't have as many aches and pains in the warmer weather which is very nice indeed.

So Maryland is a little Bluer today, and Florida is a little Redder.  I suspect that there's a fair amount of this going on, as the people of the country despair of normal politics and sort themselves accordingly.

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Tomb of the Unknowns

In Arlington Nation Cemetery there is a tomb that holds the remains of soldiers whose identity has been lost. It is guarded 24 hours a day by a handpicked unit of the U.S. Army, the 3rd U.S. Infantry, commonly known as The Old Guard.

Here is the history of the Tomb of the Unknowns.


We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.
--James Garfield,  May 30th, 1868

Piggyback B-17s

I had never heard this story before:
Rojohn maneuvered to take a position to fill the void created when a B-17 (No. 43-338436) piloted by 2nd Lt. Charles C. Webster went down in flames and exploded on the ground. ‘I was going into that void when we had a tremendous impact,’ Rojohn recalled. Feeling the bomber shudder, the men immediately thought their plane had collided with another aircraft. It had, but in a way that may never have happened before or since.
 
Another B-17 (No. 43-338457), piloted by 1st Lt. William G. MacNab and 2nd Lt. Nelson B. Vaughn, had risen upward. The top turret guns on MacNab’s plane had pierced through the aluminum skin on the bottom of Rojohn’s plane, binding the two huge planes together, as Leek said, like ‘breeding dragonflies.’ The two planes had become one.
 
Whether MacNab and Vaughn lost control of their plane because they were seriously injured or the planes collided because both Rojohn and MacNab were moving in to close the open space in the formation is uncertain. Both MacNab and Vaughn were fatally injured that day and were never able to tell their own story.
 
Staff Sergeant Edward L. Woodall, Jr., MacNab’s ball-turret gunner, remembered that when a crew check was called just prior to the midair collision, everyone had reported in. ‘At the time of the impact,’ Woodall said, ‘we lost all power and intercom on our aircraft. I knew we were in trouble from the violent shaking of the aircraft, no power to operate the turret, loss of intercom, and seeing falling pieces of metal. My turret was stalled with the guns up at about 9 o’clock. This is where countless time drills covering emergency escape procedures from the turret paid off, as I automatically reached for the hand crank, disengaged the clutch and proceeded to crank the turret and guns to the down position so I could open the door and climb into the waist of the airplane. I could see that another aircraft was locked onto our aircraft and his ball turret jammed down inside our aircraft.’
 
By amazing piloting, half of the aircrews survived.  Most bailed out, but one pilot and copilot pair survived the crash landing unhurt.  Wow.  Go read the whole thing.

The 2008 obituary of CAPT Glenn Rojohn, DFC is here.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The covenant of civilization

There is an unwritten - and ancient - agreement between the rulers and the ruled that underlies civilization.  It is so fundamental that it is basically the bedrock of civilization itself.  Back in the Dark Ages, "justice" was the responsibility of the people - specifically their extended family. Clan feuds were the norm - and this has echoed faintly down to our own times with stories of the Hatfields and McCoys. Government was weak then and so justice was rough. The deal that was negotiated between the states and their subjects over the next 600 years was that the State would administer justice, but do it as fairly as it could, making blood feud unnecessary.

Looking at what has been happening so far this year - the tyranny of Governors putting their citizens under house arrest, followed by those same governors allowing unhindered looting by mobs - makes me wonder when enough of the public decides that the government has reneged on the 1000 year old deal.  What percentage of the population needs to decide this?  My guess is less than 10%.

Looking at the rioters it calls to mind the endless ages of border raiding.  That ended a shockingly short time ago - the 19th Century in the United States as whites encroached on Indian land.  Remember, the deal was that the State would enforce justice fairly so that blood feud would no longer be needed.  

Things are not made any better by the collapse in credibility of the media.  When a majority of the population thinks they are being consistently lied to, that adds fuel to this fire.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Leo the Great and Attila the Hun

The Roman Empire was falling.  The Fifth Century was a disaster for the Empire, but it didn't help when Attila the Hun invaded Italy in 452.  The Empire's armies were exhausted and beaten, and the path to the Eternal City itself lay open.  With nobody to defend the people, Pope Leo rode out to meet the (in)famous barbarian.

Fresco by Raffael showing the meeting of Leo and Attila
Fresco by Raffael showing the meeting of Leo and Attila


Leo faced Attila and his Huns.  All we know for sure is that it was Attila that blinked; the Huns withdrew beyond the Danube river, leaving Rome untouched.  Not for nothing is Leo called "The Great" - the first Pope receiving that much-desired adjective.

But that was then, and this is now.  St. John's Episcopal Church sits on Lafayette Square in Washington D.C., across from the White House.  Rioters tried to burn it down, and Donald Trump took an unexpected walk across the square to stand up for civilization.  You'd think that people trying to burn down historic churches would be, well, barbarians.  If you listened to the Bishop from that church, you'd think you were wrong:

She told Anderson Cooper of CNN, "I am outraged. The president did not pray when he came to St John’s nor, as you just articulated, did he acknowledge the agony of our country right now — in particular, that of the people of color in our nation who wonder is anyone in public power will ever acknowledge their sacred worth and who are rightfully demanding an end to 400 years of systemic racism and white supremacy in our country … We distance ourselves from the incendiary language of this President."
 
The bishop sided with the barbarians. I suppose turncoat bishops have done that over the centuries.

Mariann Edgar Budde is no Pope Leo the Great.  The barbarians are trying to sack our Eternal City and the Church is telling us that we're on our own.

The fabric of society 2

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
 Richard P. Feynman

1804 was a bad PR year for Napoleon Bonaparte. In March, he had sent French Dragoons across the Rhine into sovereign German territory to kidnap Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien, bringing him to Paris to be tried on trumped up charges of conspiracy and then executed. A European aristocracy who had breathed a sigh of relief that Napoleon had leashed the French Revolutionary Terror instantly became implacably opposed to his rule. While he was able to conquer for a while, he was unable to hold his gains in the face of their continuing resistance. As Talleyrand is said to have explained, It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.

Napoleon's hubris - his belief that he could exercise power with fewer and fewer restraints was a blunder.  We see this in our own day.  The War On Drugs has led to the militarization of the police forces.  It has led to an ever increasing ratchet of police use of force - including deadly force.  It has led to an "us vs. them" mentality, as police forces face increasing criticism for this increased use of force.  It has led to "no knock" raids, sometimes at the wrong address.

Yes, there's a lot of opportunistic looting going on right now.  Yes, radical leftist organizations like Antifa are using this as an excuse to spread chaos and fan the flames.

But it's hard to see how this happens without the last 40 years of military police tactics.  There's a real distrust between the citizens and the police, one that did not exist when I was young.

All for a War On Drugs that sees record levels of drug overdose deaths, the sale of narcotics on every street corner in the Republic, and a monstrous black market funding Narco-terrorists (among others).  Can we all agree that the War On Drugs is a blunder?  We can argue later about whether it was a crime.



And Now To Resume Our Journey to Old America

Don't just look at the cars. Look at the people, the backgrounds, and the stores. This is the America we left behind.

We had one of those 1965 wagons. It seated ten people. I don't know if there were seatbelts, but I know we never used them. They weighed over two tons and ours had a 390 c.u. high compression V-8. Nine miles to the gallon highway.

I was the only one that didn't get carsick sitting in the far back seat so I had it to myself. I always took a sack of books with me and would make the miles go by by reading. Every year we went on a long vacation, stayed in motels with swimming pools, and saw some part of America.


Clarification 2

You are on your own. You always were. No matter what lit the fuse, when the mob gathers, it is mob mind that rules. No one is coming to protect you or your property. Ask the Korean shop owners in L.A.
...the right to defend one's home and one's person when attacked has been guaranteed through the ages by common law.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Clarification

There is no argument you can make that justifies kneeling on the neck on a handcuffed suspect when there are four policemen on scene and the suspect is already controlled.

None of the rioting or looting or distractions after the fact change the tyrannical nature of the behavior of those policemen at that moment. 

George Floyd was murdered under the color of law.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 
--Juvenal, Roman Poet, 2nd Century C.E.

Quote of the Day: Riots edition

Miguel brings it:
The election this November will be interesting.  It looks like it may be the last time the voters get a chance to reject the party of insane, unhinged chaos.  We'll see if the voters choose to do so.  And if they do, we'll see if the rejected party accepts the outcome.

A Republic, if you can keep it.
- Benjamin Franklin, when asked what would be America's form of government 

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Fabric of Society

As I sat listening to the police scanner (there's a phone app, who knew?) last night, I was musing about my recent series of posts. I am slowly working on using my time in lockdown and YouTube to provide a look at the ways the fabric of American has frayed. I have a ways to go, but let's jump to the present for a moment, because the police in riot gear formed up in the street less than a block from my house last night.

Today's story starts June 18th, 1971. President Nixon gave a press conference. It was a day after his administration had sent a special report to Congress on drug abuse and addiction. We were still involved in Vietnam and the years of the heaviest involvement had just passed. President Nixon's use of words invokes a war mindset in a global fight against illegal drugs and drug use.



And we went to war. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 set the guidelines for how drugs were scheduled and controlled. The Drug Enforcement Agency was created in 1973. On average, we have spent over $50 billion every year on this effort. We involved the CIA and the military in drug interdiction efforts overseas. We sprayed herbicides over large areas of Central and South America.

You have be 60 or so to remember when policemen looked like this.


I am not blaming the officers for what happened. The various levels of government hire and train the police forces. They arm them, set the policies, and enforce those policies or not. And they militarized them. From uniforms to weapons to mindset.

Mindset. If it's police vs. not-police, then you get the Thin Blue Line. You get "any force is acceptable as long we all go home at the end of the shift". You get a bunker mentality where everyone covers for everyone else. You get to the point where the rights of the citizens you are sworn to serve are no longer a consideration. 

And if it's no longer the police vs. criminals and now it's become the police against everyone else, what does the "everyone else" do? If the consent of the governed is dependent on a just and lawful government, what happens to the fabric of society the agents of that government are not seen as just?

Because when a cop is kneeling on the neck of a subdued and handcuffed suspect and the other cops stand by and let it happen while people are filming and pleading with the cop to move and the last words the man says are "I can't breathe", justice has left the stage.

Forget the race of the involved parties. This is tyranny. If that was my son, or yours, that had died that way, what would our response be? The only way it would have looked worse was if it had been his boot on George Floyd's neck. This is not an isolated incident. Minneapolis police have used that same tactic to the point of people being made unconscious 44 times since 2015.

It is time to demilitarize the police. It is time to do away with no knock warrants. It is time to do away with civil forfeiture. It is time to hold the police to the same standards of human behavior we hold ourselves to. It is time to retrain the police about the citizens they serve. It is time to find a higher calling than fighting a lost war on drugs. If we fail, the last tattered remnants of that fabric are going to burn.

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
— John Ehrlichman,  Harper's Magazine 1994