Saturday, August 29, 2020

Brad Paisley - Waitin' On A Woman

 Miguel left a funny comment when I posted about my Mom's death:

Our condolences. She is at peace and just like my mom, probably giving your dad an earful about what he has not done while she was not there.

That's funny, but it's also true.  That made me think: there's a Country Music song for that.  Dad's been waiting for her for 9 years and 5 months.  That's a lot of time for him to tick everything off his Honey Do list.


Waitin' On A Woman (Songwriters: Don Sampson, Wynn Varble)

Sittin' on a bench at West Town Mall
He sat down in his overalls and asked me
You waitin' on a woman
I nodded yeah and said how 'bout you
He said son since nineteen fifty-two I've been
Waitin' on a woman

When I picked her up for our first date
I told her I'd be there at eight
And she came down the stairs at eight-thirty
She said I'm sorry that I took so long
Didn't like a thing that I tried on
But let me tell you son she sure looked pretty
Yeah she'll take her time but I don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

He said the wedding took a year to plan
You talk about an anxious man, I was nervous
Waitin' on a woman
And then he nudged my arm like old men do
And said, I'll say this about the honeymoon, it was worth it
Waitin' on a woman

And I don't guess we've been anywhere
She hasn't made us late I swear
Sometimes she does it just 'cause she can do it
Boy it's just a fact of life
It'll be the same with your young wife
Might as well go on and get used to it
She'll take her time 'cause you don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

I've read somewhere statistics show
The man's always the first to go
And that makes sense 'cause I know she won't be ready
So when it finally comes my time
And I get to the other side
I'll find myself a bench, if they've got any
I hope she takes her time, 'cause I don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

Honey, take your time, cause I don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

Movies IV -- Blade Runner

I can't talk about this movie without spoilers. There's your warning if you haven't seen one of the finest sci-fi movies ever made. The original Blade Runner, with the voice over. There are several different releases of the movie and perhaps the one I like best isn't the most artistic but it is the one I saw first.

Science fiction is at it's best when it explores the big questions in a alternative world. Who are we? What is the meaning? What does it mean to be alive, aware, human? Blade Runner might be exploring them all.

In a near future, where modified humans have been created and enslaved to work off planet, the protagonist is a cop that hunts escaped slaves, called replicants. It's his life, and his questions, that we are really exploring. He wonders if he is human and so do we. He wonders about morality, the nature of memory, and love.

The replicants are short lived. Their bodies are over-engineered and they only live about 4 years. They are emotionally children in many ways, but they are smart, self aware, and they want to live. Are they human?

It is film noir, a dirty gritty city, a bitter cop forced to take one more job, and the doomed replicants he is hunting. Late in the film he catches the leader, Roy. Roy is dying, knows he is dying, and now has come to understand that nothing can be done to repair him. Roy nearly kills and then saves the cop and makes a final dying statement.



Put this one on my top 10 list.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Quote of the Year (so far)

 I have often noted record gun sales figures and snarked "those are rookie numbers".  Well, via Insty we see this:

The FBI processed 3,639,224 NICS checks in July, the third highest on record.

That's not QotY.  This is: 

Only June and March of this year have experienced a heavier monthly volume in the entire history of the system. After subtracting administrative use, last month’s figure represents roughly 2 million firearm purchases. [Emphasis from me - Borepatch]


And remember - we don't have figures for August after the riots that have been burning down Blue cities this month.  These aren't rookie numbers - these numbers are Murder's Row.

Hey, 2020: let's slide in to second with our spikes up.

Stolen prosperity

 Remember when Donald Trump asked why we couldn't get economic growth back to 4%?  Remember how all the Right Sort of people mocked him?  All the regulations he's cutting are aimed at getting growth back up to 4%.  His administration is putting a lot of effort into this.  Why?

It's because over time lower growth rates steal prosperity from the future.  It's actually shocking how much lower per capita income is now than it would have been if we had been able to maintain 4% growth.  Captain Capitalism examined this in depth ten years ago:

We were once growing at 4% per year on average, now we're down to 2.25%.  It also brings a cold, harsh and brutal reality to previous generations who voted themselves in a whole bunch of entitlement goodies in making it quite black and white that the economy is simply not going to be able to produce the wealth necessary to make good on those promises 

...

"What would our GDP or "income per capita" be if we had continued to grow at 4%?"

My brain, knowing the power of compounding roughly estimated it to be around $100,000 (click it, see if I was lying) per person per year vs. our $45,000 today.  But I hadn't calculated it out...until now.

Had we continued our traditional, old school, EVIL and OPPRESSIVE 1950's economic growth, our GDP would NOT be the paltry $14 trillion it is today (in 2005 numbers), it would be closer to $26 trillion. [Remember, this is from 2010 - Borepatch]















We take the roughly 310 million Americans in the country today and that translates into a real GDP per capita of about $84,500.  However, that figure is in 2005 dollars.  I was surprised to find out based on the CPI how much inflation has occurred since then (despite what the government tells us) and apparently the US dollar has inflated by about 18%.  You adjust for that and what do you get?

$99,832.

Did I say $100,000 as just a guess?

This is a big problem because that stolen prosperity would be able to fund a lot of programs that are already promised. 

Well because starting with the baby boomers and passing this philosophy on to successive generations we started ridiculing, mocking, criminalizing and villainizing that things that gave us such a luxurious standard of living - Capitalism, freedom, liberty and all that is America. 

You wanted social programs and "The Great Society"

You got it.

You wanted to help out the losers of society?

You got it.

You wanted to reward people for their idiotic mistakes?

You got it.

You wanted to lower standards so to save people's feelings?

You got it. 

But hey, a lot of great, high paying government jobs were created to write and monitor compliance with all the regulations that are choking the economy.  And 93% of the people filling those jobs vote Democrat* so it's all good, amirite?

* Hilary Clinton received 93% of the 2016 ballots cast in Washington, D.C.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Rest in peace, Mom

Mom Borepatch, April 24 1929 - August 23 2020.  Finally reunited with Dad.

This music meant a lot to me when Dad died, and it's even more poignant now.




And she always was a woman of faith.  I can't think of a better send off than this.




Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.

- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Movies III - Moonstruck

 ASM826 has posted two outstanding westerns, Tombstone and The Outlaw Josey Wales.  Today's selection is a shift in gears from serious, life-and-death issues to light romantic comedy.  Now the term "light romantic comedy" is the kiss of death to some, but there may not be a better example of the genre than Moonstruck.  It was nominated for six Oscars and won three - Best Actress (Cher), Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Dukakis), and Best Original Screenplay.  It was a commercial success, costing $15M (1987 dollars) and grossing $80M. 

It was also a critical success.  Rogert Ebert has it in his "Great Movies" collection.  His TV partner Gene Siskel said that it was the funnoest movie to come out in a long time.  Both had it on their top en lists for films from 1987.  And it's not just funny, it's memorably funny.  The line from this scene - I love ya awful/Aw, that's too bad - is heard often around Castle Borepatch.

Performances are great throughout the entire cast.  John Mahoney (you'll remember him as Frasier Crane's dad) was hilarious as a lecherous professor, and Nicholas Cage showed his funny side throughout the film.  But what strikes me is how brilliant the musical score is.  Yes, the music is about opera, but it is fiendishly difficult to write a score around some of the greatest opera arias ever written.  I posted about this early this year:

Continuing the film soundtrack theme suggested by The Queen Of The World, an interesting compositional challenge was for the 1987 film Moonstruck.  It was a surprise critical and box office success, where the romantic comedy story was hung around some serious classical music (to wit: Puccini's opera La Bohème).  The music he had to compose needed to fit in with and enhance this:



This is one of the most famous arias in history.  How do you top that?  Dick Hyman was trained not only classically but in jazz.  He combined classical/old world themes with light jazz throughout the film score which fit in perfectly with the light romantic comedy.  It's actually quite an achievement, and in fact similar to Puccini's master work: you wouldn't listen to most of the opera bits by itself, but they connect the grand arias.  The theme to the film gives you a distinct flavor of the soundtrack:



The Queen Of The World and I love this film.  It's funny and smart and a great way to fill a cold and rainy winter weekend afternoon.

Or a hot and rainy summer weekend afternoon.  The Queen Of The World and I give this film two thumbs way, way up.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Movies II - the Outlaw Josey Wales

There's no shortage of western themes movies to talk about, so for now, let's stick with westerns.

In the comments last time, there was a mention of older, classic, westerns, as compared to the more modern offerings. Where's the line? Is it when they went to color film? Is it the move away from having having a clear hero? I think of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns as the dividing line, but I can't exactly say why. Where would you draw the line? And what are your favorite classics?

Let's pick another one I've always liked and I think stands the test of time. The Outlaw Josey Wales.  It's the tale of a man who sees his world destroyed and the quest it takes him on. There's a lot of interesting things about this movie but one of the best is the portrayal of Native Americans. Chief Dan George plays his role with some self depreciating humor. Geraldine Keams is more silent and is no nonsense throughout. The best of the featured native actors is Will Samson who plays the character 10 Bears.

This isn't a clip from the movie, it's a series of interviews and a bit of a documentary about the making of the movie. It captures the story in a way that makes me want to watch the movie again.

The Democrats have learned nothing and forgotten nothing

Lawrence finds a fabulous article that explains the Trump phenomenon in terms even a Liberal Arts Major can understand:

The Bronx of my childhood was a paradise. My street ran parallel to a section of the old Croton Aqueduct, by then long disused, which we kids called the Ackey. Along its banks grew trees and bushes and wild flowers forming a ribbon of thicket in which we played, and through which we “hiked.”

...

In this urban sanctuary I grew up safe, loved, happy, and unmistakably working class, yet somehow I slipped away. I was reared to become an ironworker or electrician, but I managed to pass through a posh New England liberal arts college and end up a tech journalist and author. I’ve worked unsupervised, chiefly from home, since the 1990s.

Most of my relatives and old neighborhood friends hate people like me. And I don’t blame them. Most are lifelong Democrats, yet they voted for Donald Trump, and will again, and I can’t blame them for that, either. Let me explain.

...

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the swing states the same way Barack Obama had: by characterizing her as disdainful toward blue-collar Americans. It was a potent message among those who once had seen decent wages in return for honest work, lately reduced to Walmart greeters and Uber drivers. Humiliated by a labor market in which they had nothing to trade, the former working class understood that they also had nothing to lose. Liberal democracy and its supporting institutions shed their veneer of sanctity when dead-end employees can aspire only to dead-end management gigs. Call them “associates” and “technicians” all you want; they know who they’ve become and what others think of them. They are why Trump won in the swing states; he was propelled to victory by disillusioned Obama voters. They gleefully chanted “lock her up” not because they thought Hillary was an actual criminal, but because they knew what her election would bring them: four or eight more years of economic and social stagnation to top off the twenty they’d already been through.

He points out some things that the author left out, but those are details.  The big picture is spot on, and Lawrence sums it up well:

All that said, he’s right about the overwhelming contempt the Democratic establishment has shown toward the very people who used to make up their base. In the 1950s, Democrats aimed their political pitch at blue collar guys who brought a lunch pail to work every day. In 2020, they seem to be aiming their political pitch at woke liberal arts majors screaming obscenities into cops’ faces.

The only thing left to add is that a primary reason that the Usual Suspects hate Donald Trump is that Trump is a class traitor: Wharton Business School grad who prioritizes the working class instead of the swells.

And Biden should be the candidate to do the same except the lights are on but nobody's home.  And if someone were home 50 years of graft and corruption would keep him in line.  There's no plan to do anything but lose bigly, but they still have the hate.

2020 Election Prediction: Trump 354, Biden 184

So the Democrats have had their shot, and it looks like a wet firecracker.  This is the high water mark for Joe Biden, and it will all be down hill from today.  Quite frankly things look grim for Biden/Harris.  So the question isn't whether Slow Joe will lose, but by how much.  Here's my prediction:

This map has the wrong counts for some of the State electoral votes; both Trump and Biden will get an additional EV that the map didn't correctly count (there are 538 electoral votes).

Here's how I arrived at this result: I started with the State-by-State vote percentages that Clinton and Trump got.  Then I applied the following adjustments:

  • +1% to Trump because he's the incumbent.  This is probably low.
  • +1% to Trump for his outreach to Blacks and Hispanics.
  • +1% to Trump because of concerns about Biden's mental health.
  • +1% to Trump because of high GOP voter enthusiasm and low Democrat voter enthusiasm.  This is probably low.
  • +1% to Trump because of the riots and the Democratic Mayors' response to it.  This is terrible branding for the Democrats.  The Queen Of The World suggested this voter reaction to the riots.  She's absolutely right that the Democratic Party has shot itself in the foot here.
  • -1% from Trump because of the virus and the economic damage of the lockdown.  This is unfair, but the buck stops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
So adding 4% to Trump (and subtracting 4% from Biden; this is a zero sum game) gives us the map I showed.  Actually, New Mexico is a tie; I awarded it to Trump because like I said I think the incumbency advantage is probably more than +1%.

What's interesting is that you have to add a lot more to get the vote totals to change much from here - another 1% doesn't change anything at all, 2% only swings 10 electoral votes (embarrassingly for Biden, 3 of them would be from his home State of Delaware), and it's only when you add an additional 3% that you start swinging some serious EVs like New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington.  I just don't believe that Trump will increase his vote percent from 47% to 53%.  It's possible - Joe is a terrible candidate - but this is landslide territory and would mean serious GOP pickups in Congress as well.  I'm not seeing those vibes.

So there you have it.  I may be wrong, but at least I show my work.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A New Series For Borepatch - Movies

With social restrictions in place, all of us are spending more time at home, and a lot of us are spending more time looking at our screens. I was talking with Borepatch the other night and we got to talking about old movies, favorite movies, and our personal top ten lists. That last one is tough. Ten all time favorites? Don't hold me to it. But I can pick out some favorites and write about them.

I will lead out with Tombstone. Made in 1993, this movie is my first pick building a list of Westerns. It's not completely historically accurate, but it is a epic western in almost an older style. And the cast is spectacular. Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, Powers Boothe, Bill Paxton, and more.

Val Kilmer, as Doc Holliday, steals this movie. I don't know if they set out to make the role of Doc Holliday so central, but it becomes the character you follow, seeing Wyatt Earp and the others from Doc's perspective.

Here's a scene.


Information Slips Through

The MSM controls so much of what we hear that even when you know they are lying it hard to sort through toward the truth. But every once in a while you see something that is so clear, so obviously true, that it says more than just the facts of the story.

The headline is: Movers in N.Y.C. Are So Busy They’re Turning People Away.
According to FlatRate Moving, the number of moves it has done has increased more than 46 percent between March 15 and August 15, compared with the same period last year. The number of those moving outside of New York City is up 50 percent — including a nearly 232 percent increase to Dutchess County and 116 percent increase to Ulster County in the Hudson Valley.
“It felt like move-out day on a college campus,” said Bobby DelGreco, who recently vacated his apartment in Stuyvesant Town after nine years and is now living in a long-term Airbnb in Los Angeles. “All the doors were propped open, and there were moving trucks and furniture everywhere.
Matt Jahn, who owns the Brooklyn-based Metropolis Moving, said he has been inundated with customer requests. It’s more demand than he can handle. “We are turning people away because we just don’t have the capacity,” he said. “Normally, in a given summer, we spend a bunch on advertising. But we cut it this year because we couldn’t afford it. And we have still had amazing demand.”
Some of it's Covid-19. Some of it is the tax rates in New York. Some of it is unease about what has been happening with the violent protests in the cities. But it adds up to a tidal wave of people going somewhere else. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Do want

 


You can get it here.

Hat tip: Brian J. Noggle.

Moldbug is back

Isegoria finds it (of course!), and what strikes me is that it is a lot clearer (well, less impenetrable) than Unqualified Reservations.  For example, the post that Isegoria links to has this about the University takeover of Government, which is much clearer than anything from Unqualified Reservations:

What was happening between 1920 and 1940? The universities were taking power. In 1900, the idea of a professor telling the government what to do was borderline absurd. By 1940, it was normal. By 1960, it was universal—all “public policy” in future would be determined by “science.” 

And, because the Ring works like that, power was taking them—with its favorite toy, money. Federal funding of universities before WWII was negligible. In the prewar period, money came from the great foundations—Carnegie and Rockefeller, generally. Institutions and professors that the foundation managers liked prospered gloriously. Those they disliked vanished without a trace. As did their ideas. And after the war, Washington became the greatest foundation of all.

Most of this “science” was complete woo and balderdash—mainly selected for how much it provoked the townies. And it didn’t just provoke them. “Scientific” public policy turned the Bronx in 1960 into the Bronx in 1970. Strolled the Grand Concourse lately? Its name wasn’t always a sick joke. Nice work, Harvard.

It's really hard to argue with this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sheffield Cathedral disbands its choir

This was done in the interest of "inclusivity" or "social justice" or some such nonsense.  The press stories about this have the usual coat of whitewash (err, so to speak) but call out the anger that this has generated. Natalie Solent describes what's going on:

As some of those [press] titles indicate, the decision to close down the Sheffield cathedral choir has angered people who have not been to church for years and would not normally much care for church music. Why has it resonated so widely? I think I know why, and the knowledge depresses me. Until a few months ago I would have said that the UK had done relatively well in promoting an inclusive, non-racial sense of patriotism in which immigrants were seen as “joining the team” and adding their culture to the indigenous culture rather than displacing it. The maiden speech of Kemi Badenoch, my MP, expressed this idea well. “I chose to make the United Kingdom my home”, she says, and speaks of the British Dream: “It is a land where a girl from Nigeria can move here aged sixteen, be accepted as British, and have the great honour of representing Saffron Walden”.

But that ideal of inclusive patriotism is being eroded by decisions like this one. It is scarcely surprising that white British people begin to see diversity as a threat to their culture when they are told that a part of their culture that has gone on for centuries is to be abolished in the name of diversity.
What's left out of that otherwise excellent summary is that it's not immigrants who are demanding this; rather, it is lily white progressives doing it.  Whether they think they need street cred, or whether they think that the crocodile will eat them last, it's  not Ms. Solent's Nigerian-born MP behind this.  

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Girl from Ipanema

Her name was Heloisa Pinheiro and she never made a dime from the song.  In fact, she got sued by the widows of the songwriters - you see, Pinheiro had a shop called "The Girl From Ipanema".

They won, she lost and had to change her boutique's name.  Seems like a jerk move to me.

Click through to read the whole story of the song and the lawsuit.  And click here for a very nice rendition of the song.

And just let me point out that the first link is to a fifteen year old blog post.  That was back in the Blogosphere's Cretaceous Period, and  ambisinistral is still blogging.  As they say in Ipanema, parabéns!

UPDATE 19 August 2020 15:17: Must read follow up here.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

A Devastating Loss

Working my way through my regular reading and Naval Air Cowman just brought me up short. His fiance, Alexzandra, was killed in a automobile rollover last Monday. You don't have to read back through his blog very far to see some very happy pictures and begin to understand the loss he has experienced.

If you read his blog, and even if you don't, take a moment to go and offer your condolences. Then offer a prayer in whatever way you can.


Your moment of Zen

 


The Queen Of The World went to the beach yesterday to see the sunrise, and took this picture of a Florida beach that was literally deserted.  Me, I was asleep.  Florida Man, amirite?

To The Tune of Monster Mash

Something funny to break up the day.

George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward - Summertime

 Opera remains a European trope.  There's been great music - and great classical music - composed on these shores, but not a lot in the way of Opera.  "Porgy and Bess" - first performed in 1935 - is sometimes described as opera, but it's really something else*.  In Europe it would be described as "Operetta" but here we call it "Musical Theater".  It's very popular as the recent reception of "Hamilton" shows.

The lyrics paint a nostalgic picture that resonates down the 85 years since it was written.  

Summertime, an' the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' an' the cotton is high.
Oh, yo' daddy's rich and yo' ma is good-lookin'
So hush, little baby, don' you cry.

One of these mornin's you goin' to rise up singin'
Then you'll spread yo' wings an' you'll take to the sky.
But till that mornin', there's a nothin' can harm you
With Daddy an' Mammy standin' by.

This is the immortal Kathleen Battle, with the almost equally immortal Charles Dutoit conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

As with Cinema, classical music is alive and well in Musical Theater.

* True opera has no spoken dialog.  Rather, the dialog is all sung.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Blue Angels Look Back

There was a time when they were the Navy Flight Demonstration Team flying propeller driven Grumman F8F Bearcats.

Badass - ur doin' it wrong

 


Spotted by the eagle eye of The Queen Of The World.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Cannon Hinnant

Cannon Hinnant was 5 years old. He was going to start school this fall. He was riding his bike with his two sisters when a 25 year old neighbor came out, walked up to him. and shot him in the head. He bled out in his father's arms.

It's not national news. No one is looting stores and shouting "Justice for Cannon". Just a little boy and a family destroyed by grief.

I know about it because it was local news.

 #justiceforcannon

Security Smorgasbord, vol. 12 no. 1

 I used to do these regularly but have gotten lazy in my dotage.  Ah well, maybe we can reboot the series.

Government actually does something smart about election security (yes, it finally happened!)

Ohio introduces election site vulnerability disclosure policy:

Ohio’s secretary of state has established guidelines for security experts to find and help fix software flaws in the state’s election-related websites, the first such move by a state as the 2020 election approaches.

The vulnerability disclosure policy (VDP) covers registration websites for Ohio residents and overseas and military voters, among other sites, and provides legal liability protections for researchers. The program will bolster the efforts of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s security team at a time when threats to election infrastructure “have never been greater,” the policy states. Under the policy, researchers are required to wait four months after reporting a vulnerability to Ohio officials before going public with it.
This is an excellent move by the State of Ohio.  There are a lot of White Hat hackers out there that can help the State find and close security bugs before the Black Hat d00dz find (and exploit) them, but up until now the risk of prosecution by grandstanding District Attorneys has scared off a lot of research.  By encouraging this research - with "responsible disclosure" policies in place, we can hope that the electoral system can get a little bit of hardening.  Well done, Ohio.

Voting machine manufacturer actually does something smart about election security (yes, it finally happened!)

Just hours after Professor Matt Blaze today discussed the state of election system security in America, one of the largest US voting machine makers stepped forward to say it's trying to improve its vulnerability research program.

Election Systems and Software (ES&S), whose products include electronic ballot boxes and voter registration software, said it is working with infosec outfits and bug-finders to improve the security of its products.

Speaking at this year's online Black Hat USA conference, CISO Chris Wlaschin outlined a number of steps his biz has already or will soon take to overhaul its relationship with bug-bounty hunters.

Well done to ES&S.  And sending their CISO to talk at Black Hat is pretty l33t ...

Someone is messing around with Tor Exit Nodes:

Since January 2020, a mysterious threat actor has been adding servers to the Tor network in order to perform SSL stripping attacks on users accessing cryptocurrency-related sites through the Tor Browser.

The group has been so prodigious and persistent in their attacks, that by May 2020, they ran a quarter of all Tor exit relays — the servers through which user traffic leaves the Tor network and accesses the public internet.

This is very bad juju if you use Tor.  I've written a fair amount about Tor - this is a good starting place.  It's a way to keep your network traffic anonymous (well, maybe).  This is an interesting new attack against it.

Boeing 747s still receive critical software updates via 3.5" floppy disk:

Long time reader and commenter (and all around great guy) Libertyman sends a link to this, which has very interesting security implications.  Boeing sends critical 747 software updates via floppy disk:
Boeing’s 747-400 aircraft, first introduced in 1988, is still receiving critical software updates through 3.5-inch floppy disks. The Register reports that security researchers at Pen Test Partners recently got access to a British Airways 747, after the airline decided to retire its fleet following a plummet in travel during the coronavirus pandemic. The team was able to inspect the full avionics bay beneath the passenger deck, with its data center-like racks of modular black boxes that perform different functions for the plane.

Pen Test Partners discovered a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive in the cockpit, which is used to load important navigation databases. It’s a database that has to be updated every 28 days, and an engineer visits each month with the latest updates.
Two key security points here: there's no possibility of "over the air" hacks, and the in-person delivery is probably very security indeed.  However, if nobody manufactures 3.5" floppy disks then you have a real problem here.  That's not a problem (yet) since both the floppy disks and the drives are still available.  Who knew?

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ten years ago

Dad was already sick with the cancer that would kill him 7 months later.  But he emailed regularly, and we talked all the time, and I went out to visit several times.  All that meant a lot, but this particular post from ten years back was special.

Originally posted August 13, 2010.

Links

The great satisfaction of blogging is the inter-connectedness that grows - links, comments, and people emailing you about posts are much nicer than traffic stats. Early this week, I posted about some color photos from the late 1930s. One of the photos in the exhibit (which I didn't post) was this one:


And then the inter-connectness of the Internet kicked in. I got an email from Dad, who as a history professor knows a thing or two about this subject. Specifically, the subjects in the photo:
The first photo in the batch you emailed me is of Faro and Doris Caudhill. They were the main family photographed by Russell Lee in the Pie Town of 1940. They lived in a combination dug out/log cabin on Hometeaded land. When World War II started, economic opportunities lay in places other than Pie Town. They still do, and Pie Town is truly in the middle of nowhere.

Faro and Doris moved to Albuquerque. Faro, a laborer, became business manager of the laborers union. Doris later said that men like wine, women, and song. She added that Faro didn't drink and he couldn't carry a tune. Guess what was left. Doris divorced him, and remarried. In 1993, she responded to the author of Women of New Mexico Depression Era Images that she had been photographed, too, and had written a memoir. Photographer Joan Myers followed up, interviewed Doris and used her memoir to write Pie Town Woman, the Hard Life and Good Times of a New Mexico Homesteader(University of New Mexico Press, 2001). The book accompanied an exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum, but Doris had died of cancer. I went to the opening, got the author to sign my copy of the book, and acted as a fly on the wall overhearing Doris's Albuquerque friends gossiping about Faro.
And so the Internet, working its magic across the miles.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Quote of the Day - The Death of Professional Sports

Chris Lynch is a daily read and a huge sports fan.  He makes some predictions about the future of football, but ends with this:
I'm a big sports fan (or at least I was) but this weekend I didn't watch a minute of a single game although the Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics were all playing. That would have been unfathomable before 2020. Last night I was in a sports bar and it wasn't until the third inning was in progress that someone requested the Red Sox be put on the TV's. There's a big reckoning coming for sports revenue because people have learned that they can live without it.
Strangely, you can survive if your fans hate you.  Hate is a strong emotion and it means that they're still emotionally engaged.  You can't survive if nobody cares.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Queen - Under pressure

ASM826's post about the pressure that inhabitants of Blue Cities must be feeling made me think that there's an anthem for this, an anthem from 35 years ago.  The introduction really shows how fun one of these concerts must have been - although Wembley was special.  Jump ahead to around 2:45 for the song.



Under Pressure (Songwriters: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, Brian May, David Bowie)
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming get me out
Tomorrow takes me higher
Pressure on people
People on streets

Day day day
Okay

Chippin' around
Kick my brains round the floor
These are the days
It never rains but it pours

People on streets
People on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out
Tomorrow takes me high, high, higher
Pressure on people
People on streets

Turned away from it all
Like the blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
But it's so slashed and torn
Why why why?

Love, love, love, love

Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love give love give love?

Give love, give love, give love
Give love, give love, give love?
'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves

This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure
It must be said here that Brian May is a PhD Astrophysicist (and Commander of the British Empire, or CBE).  Not your typical head banger.  The Queen Of The World and I highly recommend the film Bohemian Rhapsody, if you haven't seen it.  Or even if you have.

Pressure

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. How many businesses will permanently close on the Miracle Mile in Chicago? How many people are making plans to move out of Chicago today?



There's precedent, so we don't have to guess what is going to happen. After the Detroit riots in 1967, the outcomes were studied. Loss of taxpayers, loss of businesses and the associated loss of property and sales tax revenue, areas of the city never rebuilt, permanent demographic changes.

In his autobiography, Coleman Young, the first black mayor of Detroit wrote about the impact of the riots.
"The heaviest casualty, however, was the city. Detroit's losses went a hell of a lot deeper than the immediate toll of lives and buildings. The riot put Detroit on the fast track to economic desolation, mugging the city and making off with incalculable value in jobs, earnings taxes, corporate taxes, retail dollars, sales taxes, mortgages, interest, property taxes, development dollars, investment dollars, tourism dollars, and plain damn money. The money was carried out in the pockets of the businesses and the white people who fled as fast as they could. The white exodus from Detroit had been prodigiously steady prior to the riot, totaling twenty-two thousand in 1966, but afterwards it was frantic. In 1967, with less than half the year remaining after the summer explosion—the outward population migration reached sixty-seven thousand. In 1968 the figure hit eighty-thousand, followed by forty-six thousand in 1969."
Portland, Seattle, Chicago and many other cities are going to see an exodus.

The threads break, the fabric weakens.
“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”
Henry Adams

Electronic door locks remotely hackable

It's a truism in the software development industry that if architects designed buildings the way programmers wrote code, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.  Today's example is the U-Tec UltraLoq door lock, sold at many fine retailers including Wally World and the Big Orange Box store.  If costs you $139.99, and you can unlock your front door with an app on your phone.

And here's where the fly dives into the ointment.  The cloud service your app talks to had a bunch of vulnerabilities that allowed any Tom, Dick, and Harry to anonymously get access to the device and user database.  It let researchers unlock the door:

The MQTT data correlates email addresses, local MAC addresses, and public IP addresses suitable for geolocation. This is enough detail to precisely identify an individual. The device is also broadcasting the MAC address to anyone within radio range.

This means that an anonymous attacker would also be able to collect identifying details of any active U-Tec customers including their email address, IP address, and wireless MAC addresses.

  • This is enough to identify a specific person along with their household address.
  • If the person ever unlocks their door with the U-Tec app, the attacker will also now have a token to unlock the door at a time of their choosing.
Emphasis in the original.

Oh, for added coolness, the Shodan search tool will identify all of these, worldwide.

The vendor has fixed the cloud service so this can't be exploited, but my original point remains - any woodpecker that stumbles by could have opened your front door.  We only know about this because the White Hat guys at Tripwire took a look.  Who else has a product like this where nobody has taken a look?

Now think about the "peaceful protesters" coming into neighborhoods to "peacefully protest" outside people's homes.  These "peaceful protesters" have a bunch of mal-adjusted sociopaths who look to me like some of the Black Hat guys we've seen in the past.  What are the chances that some Antifa d00d can get a lot of status on the Island of Misfit Toys by figuring out what people could be targeted for a living room serenade?


Monday, August 10, 2020

The more you know about self-driving cars the less safe you will feel

I've been saying this for quite some time, and every so often something else comes out about how the self-driving systems are designed.  It all just reinforces how bad these are.  Another of these revelations is out and it's a doozie.

It seems that testing shows that self-driving cars are running into stopped cars, at least during test trials.  They don't have any trouble avoiding moving cars, just cars that have pulled over partly onto the shoulder.  The reason will blow your mind:

Radar has low angular resolution, so it had only a crude idea of the environment around the vehicle. What radar is quite good at, however, is figuring out how fast objects are moving. And so a key strategy for making the technology work was to ignore anything that wasn't moving. A car's radar will detect a lot of stationary objects located somewhere ahead of the car: these might be trees, parked cars, bridges, overhead signs, and so forth.

These systems were designed to work on controlled-access freeways, and, in the vast majority of cases, stationary objects near a freeway would be on the side of the road (or suspended above it) rather than directly in the car's path. Early adaptive cruise control systems simply didn't have the capability to distinguish the vast majority of objects that were near the road from the tiny minority that were on the road.

So cars were programmed to focus on maintaining a safe distance from other moving objects—cars—and to ignore stationary objects. Designers assumed it would still be the job of the human driver to pay attention to the road and intervene if there was an obstacle directly in the roadway. [emphasis added by me - Borepatch]

This is exactly why I have been saying that I don't trust these systems.  I don't know what design assumptions went into them, or into the components that make up the system.  It may even be that the system designers don't know all the assumptions, at least those in the components they use.

And the assumptions can kill you.


This article describes a test done by the American Automobile Association - well done, AAA.  There's a lot of ass covering by the auto manufacturers saying that drivers are ultimately in charge, yadda yadda.  Here's the problem with that:
This may be a fundamental problem with this approach to driver assistance technology. The ADAS is supposed to do most of the driving, but the human driver is supposed to still monitor the system and make sure it doesn't make mistakes. But our brains aren't wired for this level of monotony. Monitoring a system that works correctly 99 percent of the time is in some ways harder—not easier—than just driving the car yourself. And monitoring a system that works correctly 99.9 percent of the time is even harder, because it's that much easier for our brains to get distracted by something else.
Not to mention that this isn't what marketeers are selling, or what people want to buy.  People want "Drive me to the supermarket", not "do some of the driving to the supermarket while I do some of it, too."  That's a hard sell for a system that must add thousands of dollars to the vehicle's purchase price.

Me, I want to know how to disable these damned things.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Baseball 2020

When I was a boy, it was baseball. The national game. They played the Anthem at the start of the pro games. I lived in Joliet, Illinois  and I was a Cubs fan. Sometimes the games were on TV and I would watch. Sometimes I listened to games on the radio.

When we went to visit my grandparents in New Hampshire, my grandfather watched the Red Sox. A fuzzy 12 inch screen in a big cabinet, but it was good enough to follow the action.


Then we moved to Baltimore. The Orioles were contenders in those years. Games on TV, a couple of games a year at Memorial Stadium sitting in the bleachers. Once I got to go to a World Series game. A friend of my dad had season tickets and he gave us his box seats on the 3rd base line.

Baseball had a history. A national myth and origin story. You could read about the great players, the epic seasons, compare stats and wonder if anyone would ever break the home run records, bat .400, or overtake Lou Gehrig's record of most consecutive played games.

And of course you played ball. Rec League or Little League or just some sandlot games. Baseball, softball, whiffle ball. I would put my glove on the handlebars and ride over the town park in the summer for the city league games. Ride home late under the streetlights. It was America.

In the last couple of decades, baseball sold the rights to broadcast games to cable channels. There wasn't a game of the week anymore. Then the League Championship Series and the Playoffs stopped being televised. The only baseball of TV was the World Series. You didn't know the players, hadn't been able to follow the season, and it was impossible to care who won. I thought that baseball had sold it's future, kids weren't watching, and football had become the national game.

But now it's completely done for me. There are no more lines of players with their caps over their hearts as the Anthem plays over the loudspeakers. Now they kneel. Now they want liberal leftist politics to be the opening of every game.

You can do that. You can't make me pay to watch it, though.

To hell with baseball.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt - High Sierra

The 1980s was a good time for Country "super groups".  The Highwaymen consisted of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.  Their albums were spectacular, as you'd expect.

Well, the Ladies of Country Music were no slouches either.  Trio was a group that consisted of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt.  Their music was equally spectacular.  Normally in these posts I describe the artists and provide some context to the music.  I really don't think this music - or these performers - need any of that.  Enjoy.


Mom and Dad loved this music.

Friday, August 7, 2020

What happens when riots are a normal part of life?

Despite the desperate attempts by the increasingly irrelevant media to call them "peaceful protests", they are riots and they're occurring in most of America's large cities.  Either order will be restored or we will see the re-emergence of what we've seen throughout history when life is precarious.  While history is out of fashion and no longer taught in school, the lessons of history are clear - the Gods of the Copybook Headings did not get their name by accident.

So what happens when people live precariously, under continual threat of violence?  They flee to safer places.


This is an entrance to the underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey.  There were many of these underground cities in the region; Derinkuyu was the largest, supporting as many as 20,000 people in five levels extending 200 feet underground.  You might wonder why anyone would want to live underground in these conditions, or why they would have gone to that much trouble to excavate the city.

Well, it beats being slaughtered or enslaved by invaders.  The eastern portion of the Roman Empire survived the Eternal City's 476 AD fall, but by the 650s was in big trouble from the new Islamic Caliphate.  The Emperor Heraclius had lost the richest part of the empire - Syria and Egypt, perhaps 75% of his tax base - to the Caliph in the 640s, and now annual raids were penetrating the heartland of the empire.  And so the people dug, and hid.  

Or fled.  A new field of archaeology is called Palynology, the study of old, preserved pollen.  It provides insight into the plants that existed in a location at a particular time in the past.  Of course, you need a site that preserves the old pollen, and there are not a lot of them.  Lake Nar is one of them, and as it turns out, one of the best in the world for preserving pollen in a highly datable manner.  The chemistry of the lake - fed by hot springs - causes alternating light and dark sediment bands to be laid down each year, so archaeologists can do exceptionally precise pollen analysis and dating.  Lake Nar is only 15 miles or so from Derinkuyu.  So what do we see, pollen-wise, in the 650s and 660s AD?

We see the complete collapse of the late antique agricultural economy of the region.  The pollens had been representative of a typical late Roman agricultural profile - olives, grapes, and grain production dominated.  Then in the space of ten years it shifted almost entirely to the kind of weeds you find in abandoned agricultural land.  Then later it turned to forest.

Life was too precarious for the population.  They were killed, or dragged off to slavery, or they left - some perhaps to dig more tunnels at Derinkuyu.

Now think about Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland, and New York City.  Crime is way up, riots are a regular occurrence, the people are living precariously.  What will they do?

Well, some will stay, and submit.  For these, life almost certainly will be less prosperous than it had been.  That means that there will be less to loot, or to skim off the top in extortion.  The rioters are eating their seed grain, but having fun while they do it.

Others will fight back.  We'll see how that goes when the Organs Of The State side with the rioters.

The ones who can will leave.  That's happening in New York City, which is losing their wealthiest citizens.  That's a real problem for the local government, since the wealthiest 1% of the population pays half the income tax revenue.  Heraclius lost most of his tax base, too, and the Empire was never the same again.

Civilized society is a very fragile thing.  We've had fifty years where society was peaceful here in this land.  People think that is a normal thing, that it can never change, that prosperity is a pre-existing condition for beautiful Progressive Dreams.  But the rioters and looters are having fun, and are getting loot.  Appetites are being established, appetites that are in conflict with the pre-existing prosperity required for the Progressive Dreams.

But people are people.  History tells us what happens to a land where the government cannot keep the peace.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias

It wasn't much of a storm when it got here. Came through during the night and I slept through most of it. But it was enough to snap off a 30" tree in my yard. That tree pushed over a second tree. It also just did reach the house. Tore off a couple of shingles, broke a small part of the roof on the porch and left a big leafy mess leaning against the side of the house.


A couple of good friends showed up last night. And my next door neighbors, a couple of college students, volunteered. It became a pretty good team and we cleared the tree, all the small limbs out to the road for the city to pick up and the bigger stuff piled on the edge of the woods.

I fixed the shingles and porch roof today. Looks about as good as it did before. Just a reminder of how little it takes to knock a hole in your plans. If that tree had come down more directly at the house, I would have been cutting limbs in the living room and dealing with the insurance company for the damages.

Four centuries of causing trouble in the New World

400 years ago today the Mayflower sailed from Southampton for the New World.  My Great-to-the-9th grandfather was on it, which means that there have been twelve generations of my family causing trouble on these shores.  You're welcome, I guess.

The dock they left from is still preserved in the modern city.  You get to it via this sunken pathway:


Probably four centuries of city living have added a few feet of soil to the ground.  But past the old storage cave you get to a pub on the site of the dock:


You can read the story here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Lockdowns do not stop Coronavirus

That's not really a scientific way to say things, so let's try this: there is no evidence that lockdowns prevent Coronavirus deaths, either world wide or within the United States.  The data show absolutely no correlation between these:
Based on the data, there seems to be no relationship between lockdowns and lives saved. That’s remarkable, given that we know for sure that lockdowns have destroyed economies the world over.
Let's start with world wide figures.  In the graph below the vertical axis is death rate per million population.  The horizontal axis is the measure of the severity of the lockdown in that country:

The dashed red line is the correlation (least square calculation).  It's flat, meaning that there is no detectable correlation between death rate and lockdown severity.  Now let's look at Western Europe:


What's weird here is that there is a positive correlation, but it's backwards from what was promised by the governments: death rates are higher in countries that have more severe lockdowns.  I have no idea what this means, but I do know that it doesn't show that lockdowns save lives.

Oh, and here are the US States:

The four colors are somewhat arbitrary but again illustrate the complete lack of correlation between lockdown severity and death rate.  States in red had few shutdowns and experienced a high death rate; States in green had few shutdowns and experienced a low death rate; States in gray had severe shutdowns and experienced a high death rate; and States in blue had severe shutdowns and experienced low death rates.

It sure doesn't look like there's any correlation at all here.

Now with all the economic damage that's been done by the lockdowns, you would think that if the lockdowns were effective we'd be able to tell.  Is it too much to ask that the "Science-based public policy" should actually be based on, you know - science?

Hat tip: YARGB.