Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What are the Debates for?

The debate last night: meh.

The Queen Of The World and I went to some friend's house last night for a "Debate Party".  This is Trump land and so the atmosphere was a whole lot different than back in Maryland.  Trump threw lots of red meat to the home crowd, which everyone enjoyed.  But Biden did the same for his supporters, which they no doubt enjoyed, too.  Overall, I don't think that either candidate changed any minds at all.

This made me wonder what debates are all about.  Way back in the day, it was really the only way for citizens to size up the candidates.  The Lincoln-Douglas debates are justly famous for this, where the debate would go on for hours.  It was really the only time that the crowd could get direct, unfiltered access in a pre mass-market media marketplace.

That's changed, but the debates continue.  Why?  What do we get out of this whole brouhaha?

Partly this gives us a chance to see the two candidates in a highly stressful situation.  It may be the only time we see them in a highly stressful situation.  Neither candidate has any control over the other and needs to react to unanticipated circumstances.  Quite frankly, this is a pretty helpful insight into how someone ticks - especially someone who will have his finger on the Doomsday Button.

I'm not sure how many people realize how important this is, or pay attention to it.  Certainly there are a lot of political analysts who are talking about how Biden didn't react well to Trump, and even asked moderator Chris Wallace for help controlling the President.  There may be a lot of people who didn't consciously pick up on this but who got a bad vibe about "leadership" and "strength", but this is pure speculation on my part.  As far as I can tell nobody is polling or focus grouping this so all we have is conjecture.

My scoring is that Trump did much better than Biden did on this point last night.  He had to react not only to Slow Joe but also to Chris Wallace who was clearly trying to help Biden.  His reaction is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney who rolled over to Candy Crowley in 2012.  Now it didn't really tell us anything we didn't know - that Trump is much more adaptable and thinks better on his feet in unpredictable situations - but this is confirmation that we saw with our own eyes.

Anyway, I can't see anything else that comes from the debates, but this seems pretty valuable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Blogshoot location: Manatee Gun Club?

 OK, people have been saying they might come to a blogshoot depending on where it is.  So let me open the discussion with my gun club: Manatee Gun and Archery Club in Myakka City, FL.

It looks to be about an hour from Sarasota, Tampa, and a little more to Orlando.  It has 25, 100, 200, 300, and 600 yard ranges.  It's $15 for a half day (afternoon, 1:00 - 5:00).  It also has a (small) campground if people want to bring their campers/RVs/5th Wheels.

If someone has a different venue please drop it in the comments.  If you'd be willing to go to a blogshoot at Manatee, please leave a comment.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Who is up for a West/Central Florida Blogshoot?

 The weather is cooling off (soon now - real soon) and so who would be interested in a blogshoot in the Tampa/Orlando/Ft. Myers area?  Some weekend in the next 6 weeks or so.

Vincent Youmans - Overture to No, No, Nanette

Every Red Sox fan recognizes the name of this musical.  The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees to finance this musical leading, triggering 86 years of baseball humiliation at the hands of the Bronx Bombers.

Except it seems that this isn't actually true.  Ruth was sold to finance a forgettable musical "My Lady Friends", not No No Nanette.  Presumably the latter was included in the "Curse of the Bambino" because it was one of the most successful musicals of the 1920s (Ruth's glory days in pinstripes).

Vincent Youmans was a young man whose plans of becoming an engineer were derailed when he was drafted into the Navy in World War I.  Rather than seeing combat, he found himself in charge of putting on entertainments for the sailors.  After the War, he became one of the "Tin Pan Alley" composers, penning this song along with collaborations with Ira Gershwin and Oscar Hammerstein among others.  He became one of the most successful composers for Broadway - and wrote all the music for Fred Astaire's and Ginger Rogers' first film, Flying Down To Rio.

Sadly, his career was cut short.  After only 13 years he came down with tuberculous and died at the age of 47.  You wonder what other music he might have written if he had been spared that fate.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Kenny Chesney - It's That Time of Day

Even here in Florida it's getting clear that summer is coming to an end.  Days are getting shorter and nighttime temperatures are dropping into the (gasp!) 60s.  You can (almost) feel the chill of autumn.


This is a song for Summer's end, if you listen.

It's That Time of Day (songwriter: Kenny Chesney)

It's that time of day
That we all knew would come
To pay for all the rum
And pull up anchor cause we're done
It's that time of day
I see a cotton candy sky
So many colors in my eyes
Proof again God's alive

This ain't a goodbye
It's a "till I see you again"
What a wonderful time
We've all shared my friends
Another day at sea
Has come and gone away
So adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
It's that time of day

It's that time of day
When we bottle up the sun
Let our inhibitions run
Feeling courageous and numb
It's that time of day
When we take a leap of faith
Hand in hand as we pray
In this moment we could stay

This ain't a goodbye
It's a "till I see you again"
What a wonderful time
We've all shared my friends
Another day at sea
Has come and gone away
So adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
It's that time of day

Adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
It's that time of day

I see sails in silhouette
A sailor's sky turning red
So many I love you's said
Toasts are made
It's that time of day
It's that time of day
It's that time of day

Adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
Adios to Jost
It's that time of day

"Jost" is a reference to Jost Van Dyke island in the British Virgin Islands.  Jost is a small island with only 298 inhabitants, but they seem like good folks.  Hurricane Irma hit them hard but they took things in hand:

With little aid from the British or territorial governments during the week following the storm, Jost Van Dyke's 298 residents set up a recovery and command center Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Restaurant.[4]Food from other restaurants and residences were brought to Foxy's, which housed the island's only major, surviving refrigerator and generators before others were repaired by the Royal Marines later that month.[4] Residents used a salvaged chainsaw to clear roads and connect remote parts of the islands.[4]

Chesney filmed an earlier music video there.  It sounds like a fun place:

Included in the video were several scenes at One Love Bar and Ivan's Stress-Free Bar where it is common for patrons to mix their own drinks and leave their payment in the register.


Friday, September 25, 2020

More Boeing 737 MAX problems

 The British Airline Pilot's Association does not like Boeing's proposed fix to the MCAS system, and I don't blame them:

The NPRM, published here, proposes various fixes to the 737 Max design, its software and procedures for pilots to follow in the event of a problem. One of those procedures includes disabling the airliner's automatic trim system, operated by MCAS when the software kicks in, and having the two pilots use a manual backup trim wheel instead of the aircraft's powerful electric motors.

BALPA said: "Requiring both crew members to turn the trim wheel simultaneously in a non-normal scenario is extremely undesirable and goes against all philosophies of having one pilot fly and one run the QRH[quick reference handbook: reading out the emergency checklist]. No flight control system should require both pilots to operate it at any stage, let alone in an emergency."

Holy cow, Boeing looks like they're trying to get an automated system as confusing and likely-to-kill-everybody-on-board as Airbus.  Making both pilots do an emergency synchronized swim to keep from crashing sure seems suboptimal to me.  And if you click through and read the whole article, it looks like the pilots tried something a lot like that in one of the crashes that did kill everyone.

Damn, I'm starting to think that I never want to fly on one of the damn things.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Why the polls are wrong, part CCXIII

 The polls show a tight election race.  It won't be close I still stand by my prediction that Donald Trump will get 354 electoral votes to easily win the White House.  The argument is that polling at this point is driven by the organizations that are funding the pollsters, so there's a lot of Democratic Party cash flowing and the pollsters take the attitude that the customer is always right.  This statement is testable - as we get within 2 weeks of the election the polls should swing to a Trump lead as the pollsters shift focus from cash intake to a desire to be close to the actual results (to maintain their reputations).  We'll see in a month.

But there's also a lot of evidence of a Trump lead all over the place, if you look.  Here are a set of links and data points for your consideration - all of which point to support for Trump.  None of them make you think that the polls show Biden to be ahead.

Item the first: here in Sunny west coast Florida the TV airways are bombarded daily with dozens of adverts for Joe Biden.  I think I've only seen *one* ad for Trump in the last 3 months.  Now, we live in deep red Trump country, but you'd think if Trump were tied with Slow Joe that you'd see a more aggressive advertising schedule.  You don't.

Item the Second: Linda Fox (writing at Bastion of Liberty) points out that people who didn't vote for Trump in 2016 look like they're going to vote for him this time:

How have ordinary citizens reacted [to Trump's achievements since 2017]?

With support. With a willingness to consider voting for him. With increasingly suspicious of media 'narratives' (which will come in HUGELY when the inevitable October 'surprise' is released). With lessened hostility.

The tepid and sparse crowds for Joe Biden are a reflection of his weak appeal (as well as disinclination to vote for an obviously addled candidate).

Harris was a surprise to me. I didn't really like her, but I thought others might.

Surprise, surprise. People DON'T warm up to her. She looks like a lightweight, who got their the old-fashioned Leftist way - on her knees.

Even my husband, a man with an eye for hot women, and a reliable Dem vote, doesn't like her - at all.

Black men don't like her. At least, the ones I've talked to.

The Democrats say that people don't like Donald Trump but they don't seem to recognize that this applies to their candidates as well.

Item the Third: People are sick of the riots and want a crack down on rioters:

The post about the [Florida Legislature's] future bill to deal with rioters is getting all the attention while other posts are getting the usual amount of traffic, And I am going to opine that the reason is not because I am cute or popular or even know how to write pretty. The reason is simple: People are sick of protests and somehow the post reflected what they were feeling and they shared their frustration among their friends with links to the post. It became a lightning rod.

Look again at the screen cap: That is over 400,000 pissed off people who agreed on a set of measures aimed at the stupid dancing the Democrats have been supporting for the past months,

Miguel - don't sell yourself short: of course you're cute and popular.  But you hit the nail on the head.  Boy, howdy.

Item the Fourth: Republicans have basically eliminated the Democrat's advantage in voter registration in Florida.  Remember, this is supposed to be a "battleground" State, and it's probably not possible for Biden to win if he loses here.  But the Democrat's 300,000+ advantage in registered voters here is basically gone.  And this is a very telling data point from someone who is paid to pay very close attention:

Ryan Tyson, a Republican pollster and strategist, said that an electorate with more Republicans could have an effect on polls, some of which model a far-higher Democratic voter base than exists and therefore run the risk of making Trump appear to be farther behind Biden. In an analysis, Tyson's data analytics team found that 119,000 more Democratic voters have switched their registration to Republican or independent than Republicans Party switchers since 2016.

“When we manage to get 57,000 new registrants in a month, It’s historic. And a lot of that is just organic,” he said. “Something’s in the water and with 41 days out of the election, we find ourselves beating the Democrats at their own game.”

I added the key emphasis in the quoted text.  The Democrats are bleeding voters - and for every voter who is so fed up that they go to the Town Office and change their registration, there are more who don't bother - but who will vote for Trump and down ticket Republicans.  Who can say how many, but this is a very, very bad sign for the Democrats.  This is hard data backing up Linda Fox' and Miguel's commentary.

Item the Fifth: Back up at Castle Borepatch (located in deep blue Maryland) we saw lots of Trump signs.  There was hardly a Biden sign to be found.  Now this was back in May but by then everybody knew that Joe was going to be the nominee, and you would have expected to see yard signs going up outside the doors of the Democratic Party faithful.  You didn't.  As Spinal Tap might have said, it looks like Joe's appeal is getting more selective.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

How to read Pravda

Back during the Cold War when I was a newly minted engineer (Electrical, thanks for asking!) I took a job at Three Letter Intelligence Agency.  Everything there was burn-before-reading Top Secret, and the security clearances for some of the new hires hadn't been completed yet.  So what does a big agency do with these folks?  

Well, they sent us to training.  One of the things that the taught us about was Traffic Analysis which is absolutely terrifying in today's Internet Age.  However, some of the things were less techie.  One of these were techniques on how to read Pravda.

Pravda, of course, was the official newspaper of the Soviet Union's Communist Party.  It was well known to basically everybody that it was a propaganda sheet.  Indeed, there was an old joke from the time about Pravda and its sibling newspaper Isvestia, playing on the meanings of both names.  "Pravda" means "truth" in Russian, and "Isvestia" means "news".  The joke went "There's no news in Pravda and no truth in Isvestia".  Good times, good times.

As it turns out, that joke was wrong - at least according to the trainer at Three Letter Agency.  We were taught that there's quite a lot of actual information that you can get from Pravda, if you know how to read it.  Here from memory are some of the techniques for gleaning what is actually going on from the most famous propaganda rag in history:
  1. The Front Page belongs to the Party.  Everything you see on the front page is the Party's most important messaging.  The more prominent the article, the more you can assume that it is pure propaganda.  Front Page above-the-fold articles are nothing but propaganda.
  2. Most of the time there will be actual journalistic facts reported in the story.  You know, the Who/What/Where/When stuff.  This will in general be in articles buried inside the newspapers, and/or buried in paragraph 25 (under the assumption that most people will scan the front page and maybe the first 2 or 3 paragraphs).  Our trainer essentially taught us to read Pravda backwards, starting from the end and working our way back towards the front.
  3. Things that really, really bother the Party will be prominently displayed.  Things that really really bother the Party will be on the front page, above the fold.  While this seems to contradict item #1 above, it really doesn't.  Sure, the actual contents of the article are nothing but propaganda, the information to be gleaned is that the subject is something that the Party hates.
An example of #3 from the 1980s was the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars").  The Party hated this with the fire of a million suns.  It made frequent appearances on page 1 of Pravda, talking about how awful it was.  Duly noted - SDI got under the skin of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

As it turns out, this skill has turned out to be handy in getting actual information out of today's New York Times (and other, lesser news outlets).  There's a lot that you can get from the news today if you ignore the front page.  Lawrence has a great example of this - skipping past the Supreme Court stories (item #3 above - this really bugs the Great and the Good) to things from page A29 - like what's going on with China?  Quite a bit as it turns out, but you need to read our newspapers backwards just like you would read Pravda.

Monday, September 21, 2020

15th Blogiversary

No, not here.  Flares Into Darkness has been cranking out high quality content for 15 years now.  While that may not be the Pleistocene Era of the Blogosphere, it sure has to be the Neolithic Age ....


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Beethoven - Symphony no. 5 in C Minor

 The Social Justice Warriors have come for the heads of the Global Elite.  The Elite sure didn't plan it that way, but here it is anyway.  

Beethoven's 5th Symphony is sometimes referred to as the "Fate symphony" - the famous four opening notes is said to symbolize Fate knocking on the door.  That seems fitting; perhaps we should call this music the "Irony symphony" because it's sibling symphony number 9 is the (inter)national anthem of the Global Elite but is being rejected by the street muscle that the Elite has been funding for decades.

You would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.  Rather than being deep thinkers playing 4 Dimensional Chess, they're Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, unwittingly creating a monster beyond their control. 

You see, the street muscle (and the intellectual movement that gave rise to them) were supposed to tear down American Bourgeois culture, leading the way for the Global Elite to impose a benign and (dare I use the word?) paternalistic World Government.  For everybody's own good, 'natch.  Never mind the vast opportunities for graft by the Global Elite ...

Instead, the river of Culture War burst its banks and now looks fair to engulf the Global Elite itself.  No Beethoven for you, you icky White Male, you!  The only Good White Male is a dead White Male, and all that.  The irony is pure, distilled, 100 proof.

But the music is really, really good - and is justly famous for that.  Heck, it was included on the gold record sent on the Voyager space probe.  That's how famous it is.

So enjoy the music, at least while you can.  Ask not for whom Fate knocks; it knocks for you.  At least if the Social Justice Warriors get their way.

Friday, September 18, 2020

FloridaMan does something right

 You go, FloridaMan!

A group of anti-mask demonstrators marched through a Florida Target to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” encouraging others to liberate their faces by removing their masks.

The group reportedly marched through a Target in Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday, encouraging shoppers around them to take off their masks as well

There's video, which is awesome.  And I love this:

“Breathe. Breathe. You’re Americans. Breathe,” one woman said as she marched through the store.

Sure are.  The Authorities should stop and think about that.

Thursday, September 17, 2020


 Department of Education is investigating Princeton University for Civil Rights violations:

The Department of Education has informed Princeton University that it is under investigation following the school president's declaration that racism was "embedded" in the institution.

President Christopher L. Eisgruber published an open letter earlier this month claiming that "[r]acism and the damage it does to people of color persist at Princeton" and that "racist assumptions" are "embedded in structures of the University itself." 

According to a letter the Department of Education sent to Princeton that was obtained by the Washington Examiner, such an admission from Eisgruber raises concerns that Princeton has been receiving tens of millions of dollars of federal funds in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which declares that "no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."


So some stuffed shirt University Prez goes full Social Justice Warrior.  Dude, never go full Social Justice Warrior.  You're looking at felony fraud and tons of violations of the Civil Rights Act.  Oh, and this is delicious:

"Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false," the letter reads. "The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made. Finally, the Department is further concerned Princeton’s many nondiscrimination and equal opportunity claims to students, parents, and consumers in the market for education certificates may have been false, misleading, and actionable substantial misrepresentations in violation of 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(3)(B) and 34 CFR 668.71(c). Therefore, the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, in consultation with the Department’s Office of the General Counsel, is opening this investigation."

This is how you do it.  They say it's about the principle, but it's really about the money.  Take that away and this nonsense will stop.  President Eisgruber will have to testify about all this under oath.  What's the over/under on how long before the Board of Trustees fires him?

Well done, Dept of Education.


Quote of the Day, blogging edition

 It's been a while since Tam has gotten QotD, but this is classic:

What kind of loser still writes a blog in 2020, anyway?

Made me laugh out loud, that did.  This one, too.

Trivia time!

 Here are some music trivia questions that really surprised me.  Answers in the comments.

1. Which artist/group had the most Billboard 200 #1 albums in a single year (extra credit: what year was it?)?

2. Which artist/group had the most albums in the Billboard 200 Top 10 simultaneously?  Who were #2 and #3 on this list?

3. Which album spent the most number of weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart?

Like all good trivia, these are obscure and unexpected (at least they were to me).

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

You may be guilty of hacking

I've been working in computer and network security for literally decades.  During this career I've been at companies that did security research.  We did a lot to help improve the sorry state of Internet Security and you are better off for it.  Now that may about to become illegal, depending on how the Supreme Court rules on an upcoming case:

A US Supreme Court case that could expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to include prosecuting "improper" uses of technology not specifically allowed by software makers will chill security research and could be used to punish other fair uses of technology, a group of nearly 70 vulnerability researchers and security firms said in a letter published on September 14. 

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a 1980s era statute passed right around when I got into computer security.  It was passed to criminalize computer hacking - you know, breaking into someone's computer.  Simples, amirite?

Except nothing is simple, at least when the Legislature is in session.  Or when a District Attorney is prosecuting a case:

The original case that ended up at the US Supreme Court seemingly has little to do with election systems or even hacking. The case originates in the prosecution of Nathan Van Buren, a police sergeant in Cumming, Georgia, who had accessed the state records system to get information on a license plate in exchange for money. In addition to being found guilty of honest services wire-fraud in May 2018, the court also found him guilty of a single charge of violating the CFAA for accessing state and government databases for an improper use.

Now there's no doubt that Mr. Van Buren is a scumbag and a dirty cop.  But it's hard to see him as a computer hacker - he had a legitimate account on the computer system and he accessed it with his legitimate username and password.  Sure, he abused it once he was logged in, but this isn't at all what we think of when someone mentions the word "hacker".  Fraud, sure.  Probably other charges but hacking seems to be a category error.

But here's where Internet Security could be fatally crippled - legitimate security research by legitimate organizations could be made a criminal offense if the Supremes uphold the hacking charge:

A US Supreme Court case that could expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to include prosecuting "improper" uses of technology not specifically allowed by software makers will chill security research and could be used to punish other fair uses of technology, a group of nearly 70 vulnerability researchers and security firms said in a letter published on September 14. 

This letter didn't come out of the blue.  It came in response to an Amicus brief filed to the court by Voatz, a manufacturer of voting machines and software.  Voatz has a, ahem, checkered reputation when it comes to security:

The letter — signed by computer scientists from the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University, as well as security firms Bugcrowd, HackerOne, and Trail of Bits, among others — is a response to a legal filing by e-voting firm Voatz in a case that could expand the definition of "exceeds authorized access" under the CFAA to include violations of user agreements and software licenses. While Voatz has participated in bug bounty programs granting participants legal protections, the firm also has reported a student researcher to state officials, dismissed serious vulnerabilities found by three researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and even downplayed a third-party audit of their entire systems by security firm Trail of Bits that both confirmed the MIT findings and also found even more critical vulnerabilities. 

It's like a car company threatening criminal prosecution of Consumer Reports for publishing repair statistics they collected.  Sure, it may be embarrassing to the company, but is it criminal?  According to Voatz, the answer is "yes:

The letter took shape following a September 3 legal filing, known as an amicus or friend-of-the-court brief, in which Voatz argued that testing laboratories, security reviews, and bug bounties are all authorized forms of security testing and should be enough to guarantee security. Independent code reviews and penetration tests, the company claims, are not authorized and the CFAA's language "exceeds authorized access" should apply.

So this is the point that you should start wondering if you yourself are guilty of hacking*.  After all, you just merrily click "I Accept" without reading any of those boring old License Agreement notices, don't you?  That agreement specifies what is permissible use according to the software maker.  If you go beyond that, does that make you a criminal?  According to Voatz, the answer is "yes".  Especially if you publish security information that embarrass the company.

Know your place, peon.  Or do the time.

I've posted often about "Regulatory Capture", where large companies try to use government regulations to stymie dangerous competitive startups.  I've written at length about how this is very damaging to the economy, although it is financially advantageous to the company.  This is worse.  Not only will it stifle legitimate security research that makes companies (sometimes reluctantly or unwillingly) improve their security, but it will stifle security improvement in an area that is critically important for the health of the Republic - voting.

And besides, it might make you guilty of hacking.  I wish I had more faith in the intelligence and wisdom of the SCOTUS.

* Yes, yes - you only use your Powers for good.  I know that, but does the District Attorney?

Monday, September 14, 2020

The breakup of the Democratic Party coalition

The Democratic Party is made up of various groups that do not have much in common.  Blacks are not hispanics, and vice versa.  Private sector unions are not public sector unions.  A lot of effort has gone into trying to convince suburban women that it's mean to vote Republican.  Meanwhile, there is a set of elite power brokers pulling everyone's strings.

One problem with this is that the hypocrisy has gotten too blatant, opening the door to Bernie Sanders and AOC and the radical left of the Party.  The other problem with this cozy arrangement is that the power brokers have essentially gone insane in their attempts to get rid of OrangeManBad.  Now consider what actions the Elite has taken and what they have done to the members of their coalition:

  • The Elite has stiffed Bernie (twice), alienating his supporters.
  • The Elite has sent their (white) radical street muscle into Black neighborhoods, burning and looting black businesses.
  • The Elite hasn't really done anything at all for the hispanic community.  Their support for communists has hurt them in Florida where Donald Trump is outpolling Joe Biden among hispanics (!).
  • The Elite has pushed outsourcing (most recently the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty which Trump killed).  Private sector unions have noticed.
  • The Elite has pushed the virus lockdown which has thrown millions of restaurant employees out of work.  Many of these folks belong to SEIU.  Now that emergency unemployment benefits have run out - and restaurants are going out of business because of the continuing lockdown - you have to wonder if these people will start to wonder why they support the Democrats.
  • Public Sector employees have done well, but the areas that locked down hardest are the areas where the government budgets are most in trouble.  New York City is going to lay off 40,000 employees.  The Elite has hoped that Biden will win and bail out the states and cities.  Good luck with that.
  • Lastly, suburban women are hit with a Democratic Party double whammy: schools remain closed in many (especially Blue) areas.  Women see their family lifestyles massively disrupted, and potentially are forced to consider giving up their own job to home school their kids.  At the same time they see radical rioters entering suburban towns.  Rioters are filmed telling people to get out of their homes which will be taken as "reparations".
Good job, Democratic Elites!  It looks like you've angered every single constituency that makes up your party, six weeks before the election.

These ideas are shamelessly stolen from an outstanding post at William Briggs (Statistician to the Stars!). I'm not entirely sure I agree with the conclusions but maybe that's just me.  Go read the whole thing.  It proves that sometimes Monday mornings get off to a good start.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Observe the power of this fully operational MiniTru

 George Orwell's prophetic 1984 had a dystopian future where everything was controlled by the government.  The agency charged with rewriting history was called the Ministry of Truth, or MiniTru.  Lawrence has discovered that Orwell wasn't a novel, but rather an instruction manual.

Mozart - Piano Concerto No 3 in D major, played by 5 year old Elisha Mysin

 Classical music is filled with child prodigies - heck, Mozart was writing symphonies by the time he was five.  But the greatest names in classical music were almost all child prodigies: Camille Saint-Saëns, Claud DebussyGabriel Fauré, and many others (as a search of the archives here will show).  A more recently prodigy was pianist Van Cliburn who won the very first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow back in 1958 - the judges had to ask Khrushchev himself for approval.  The response: "Is he the best?  Then give him the prize".  Cliburn started playing piano at age 3.

We may need to add to this list.  Elisha Mysin is a Russian prodigy.  Now six (there is some question about this), this performance of his was recorded when he was five.  It is, as you'd imagine, quite impressive.

The Queen Of The World spotted this on the Book of Faces and brought it up, along with the idea of talking about child prodigies.  She's pretty dang sharp (not to mention pretty as a picture).

Thursday, September 10, 2020

It's September 10 all over again

 Co-blogger ASM826 posts about the last day that was normal.  Then Al Qaeda flew the jets into the buildings.
We were asleep that day, and had a rude awakening.  In a sense, it seems the same thing is happening now with Antifa and how people keep underestimating them.  Adam Piggott has a must-read post telling us to stop all that:
Every Antifa member that has been killed or unmasked in the past couple of weeks has been revealed as a convicted criminal, some with quite disturbing rap sheets. In other words, they have nothing to lose. They are highly trained to reach demonstrable objectives on the ground of their own choosing. These guys are not the cartoon idiots that we were encouraged to believe. They are far from it.
Most disturbing is his discussion of the local government authorities actively working to support Antifa, specifically in the courts.  This is quite disturbing.  Really disturbing.  It makes me glad that The Queen Of The World and I got out of Maryland.

Read the whole thing.  It feels like September 10, 2001 all over again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Save the planet: clearcut the forest

"Green" energy causes forest to be cut down:

The ARD’s “Das Erste” reports how satellite images show deforestation has risen 49% since 2016 in Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries. The reason: “Because of the CO2 targets. That sounds totally crazy but precisely because of the trend to renewable energies is in part responsible for deforestation in Estonia,” says the Das Erste moderator.

Having spent some time working for the EU, Liiana Steinberg explains in the report how she recently returned to her native Estonia and was shocked to see how much deforestation had taken place over the recent years (2:25). “I discovered how the forests no longer exists here left and right.”

You grind up the trees to make wood pellets which count as a "green" "carbon-neutral" energy source.  Except the forest is gone (hey, it will grow back in 30 or 40 years, although it will be fast growing pine and fir rather than old growth hardwood - but eggs, omlets, amirite?).

It seems that wildlife has declined by 25%.  Yay, environmentalists!

What's funny is that this keeps happening.  It seems that this has been going on for years.  Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence.  Third time is, well, you know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Very cool story about Jerry Pournelle

 I knew that he was the most interesting man in the world, but didn't know just how interesting he was.  Like "Plan the overthrow of the Communist government of Albania" interesting.

The Iron Law of Bureaucracy and the Democratic Party

 I've posted frequently about The Iron Law of Bureaucracy here:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

So how does the Iron Law apply to the Democratic Party?  Just like to every organization:

I had an interesting discussion over the weekend with an acquaintance of mine, a building contractor.  He's Black, and he and his family have voted in lock-step with the Democratic Party not just for years, but for decades.  Now?  Not so much.  He's so angry at this latest nonsense that he told me openly he's going to vote Republican in November.  He believes the Democratic Party is trying to manipulate him and "his people", deliberately lying to them in the expectation that they'll respond in blind obedience.  "They want me to jump when they say 'Frog'.  Well, this frog ain't gonna jump for a lie!"

He's not a veteran of military service, but he has some (of all races) among his workforce.  He told me their discussions about the matter on job sites have been really angry, with almost nobody believing the talking points being circulated in the mass media.  They're such obvious, blatant propaganda that they can't pass the "smell test".  Anyone with half a brain knows they're contrived.  They're such a clumsy smear attempt, with no evidence whatsoever to prove them except unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations, that it's almost embarrassing.

This made me think of Theodore Dalrymple's famous quote:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. 

Now think on today's Democratic Party, withered by the Clintons and then the Obamas and now Slow Joe Biden.  Think about the obvious lies.  Think about how loyalty uber alles has shaved off bits of their partisans' souls, burned as offerings on the altar of someone else's political ambitions.  Think of the small death that takes place each day among those (supposedly) most fervent partisans.

It's no wonder that the Democratic Party is being taken over by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa rioters.  The Iron Law says that they're the ones who will rise to the top.

You see, all paths other than radical revolution are closed, at least for advancement.  Who even talks about John Kerry anymore?  And the media covers for all of these people so there is no possible correction.  The result is over determined, as Peter points out:

When even its long-term supporters can see that, and openly resent that they're expected to believe such brazen fabrications, then the Democratic Party has a major, major problem on its hands.

Sure does.  It's fixin' to go the way of the Whig Party.  Even with the industrial-scale cheating they're going to do.  It won't help them - not when even their "base" is leaving them en masse.

 It's going to be a blowout, but the Democratic Party apparachicks can't allow themselves to see that.  Not if they have hopes for advancement in the Democrat Party Apparat.  Instead, they have to repeat the most obvious lies about this election.  Crude lies.  Lies that everyone knows are lies.

But lies that they cannot allow themselves to recognize as lies.

The Left used to call itself "the reality-based party".  That's quite funny, given how crude their propaganda is.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Unknown - The World Turned Upside Down


I'm re-listening to the episodes on the American Revolution from the excellent Revolutions podcast (highly recommended; the American Revolution is season 2, episodes 2.1 - 2.15).  In the episode about Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown, the story was told about how the band played "The World Turned Upside Down" and it occurred to me that I had never listened to that song.  That's not unusual for someone who grew up in the 1960s - our school didn't even have a listening library until the 1970s, but heck - this is the Youtube Age and so it was off to the song.

It's an interesting song.  It dates to 1640, and so was old in 1781.  It was written to protest the British Parliament's policies towards Christmas.  You see, the Puritans had taken over and Christmas was considered to be Double Plus Ungood and so Parliament passed some laws restricting the traditional celebrations.  Interestingly, Revolutions podcast season 1 covers the English Civil War from this time and goes into this very topic.  It's really interesting, and so when you're over there getting your George Washington fix, check out the Puritans too.

And so to the song.  It was published - anonymously - as a protest.

The lyrics are interesting:

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before.
Holy-dayes are despis'd, new fashions are devis'd.
Old Christmas is kickt out of Town.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

The wise men did rejoyce to see our Savior Christs Nativity:
The Angels did good tidings bring, the Sheepheards did rejoyce and sing.
Let all honest men, take example by them.
Why should we from good Laws be bound?
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
Command is given, we must obey, and quite forget old Christmas day:
Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain, we will give thanks and praise amain.
The wine pot shall clinke, we will feast and drinke.
And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
Our Lords and Knights, and Gentry too, doe mean old fashions to forgoe:
They set a porter at the gate, that none must enter in thereat.
They count it a sin, when poor people come in.
Hospitality it selfe is drown'd.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
The serving men doe sit and whine, and thinke it long ere dinner time:
The Butler's still out of the way, or else my Lady keeps the key,
The poor old cook, in the larder doth look,
Where is no goodnesse to be found,
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
To conclude, I'le tell you news that's right, Christmas was kil'd at Naseby fight:
Charity was slain at that same time, Jack Tell troth too, a friend of mine,
Likewise then did die, rost beef and shred pie,
Pig, Goose and Capon no quarter found.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

So there you have it: the British surrendered to the Americans (and French) to the tune of a song protesting a crackdown on Christmas.  Now you've heard it, too.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Queen Of The World's Mint Julep

Today is the Kentucky Derby, and so favored daughter of Kentucky (and Kentucky Colonel) The Queen Of The World's Mint Julep comes to mind.  Her recipe follows:

Open a nice bottle of wine.

She's not a Mint Julep fan, although she makes a fine one (as co-blogger and Brother-from-another-Mother ASM826 can attest).  But really - she says get you a nice bottle of wine instead. I think that's kind of funny - you might be able to get yourself deported from Kentucky for disliking the cocktail - but the number of things about her that I think are adorable is a long list indeed.

If you're betting, then the best of luck to you.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The futility of voter fraud

Peter has been on a roll lately (you do read him every day, don't you?)  Today he writes about the Democrat's rather transparent plans to commit massive voter fraud in November:

I must confess that from my perspective, looking at how the progressive left has warped and manipulated anything they could get their hands on in recent months, I'm inclined to agree with Bracken.  When postal votes are issued en masse, with few if any safeguards to ensure they reach those they're supposed to reach, and even fewer safeguards to prevent their manipulation and misuse before they're returned, that's far from a remote possibility.

Yup.  But it doesn't matter, this is just the latest in the Democratic Party's Wile E. Coyote campaign against Donald Trump.  It hasn't worked so far, and it won't work this time.  Let's just look at the current political situation as a proof point, shall we?

The Democratic Party unleashed a summer of riot, arson, and looting through their Antifa and Black Lives Matter street muscle.  The thought that they had Trump on the horns of a dilemma - that he had only two choices, both bad:

  1. Send in a military response resulting in a Kent State moment and convincing the American public that he was a dictator-in-waiting, or
  2. Sit back and watch the cities burn in which case the Democrats and the Media (but I repeat myself) will paint him as heartless to the plight of the cities.

Trump was smart enough to choose option 2, but things didn't play out like the Democrats had planned.  While the media pushed and pushed, and huffed and puffed to paint the rioting as Trump's fault that didn't stick.  People from sea to shining sea saw that it was Democratic politicians who were egging on the rioters, and Democratic Mayors and Governors who were forcing police to stand down in the face of street thugs.  Trump is now riding high in the polls on his consistent, strong Law And Order platform and the Wile E. Democrat has figured out that he ran out onto thin air ...

Oops.  So now it's on to ACME Plan #493, vote by mail fraud ...

This is the plan that Peter posts about.  Basically it's mail a ballot to every registered voter, have street muscle raid mailboxes and fill out the ballots, complain that Trump's "Landslide" is only because the mail hasn't arrived, and bingo - Slow Joe Biden becomes President as Trump fades quietly into the sunset.

As if Trump would fade quietly into anything.  The whole scheme relies on something that is absurdly unbelievable (Peter's quotes from the article he links to):

Journalists can also help people understand that voter fraud is extraordinarily rare, and, in particular, that there’s nothing nefarious about voting by mail.

Who believes this?  The only reason that these people even say this is that nobody has ever done a systematic nation wide search for voting fraud.  But Trump would have every reason to do that.  Remember, voting rolls are public records.  Let's look at the massive amount of data that would be easily discovered in a public records search:

  • Voters registered at the wrong address
  • Voters registered at clearly fraudulent addresses
  • Votes cast from the above voters
  • Voters who voted in person, but for which a ballot was also received by mail
  • Voters who voted in multiple States

This is only off the top of my head; there will be lots more here.  Within a month of starting this analysis, the Trump campaign will have identified and quantified the scale of the fraud and the Justice Department will have opened criminal investigations in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.  The election will be on hold.

And here is where we see things fall apart for the Democrats, just like they have in this Summer of Arson.  Even with the Media pushing, pushing, pushing that there's nothing to see here, nosiree, move along folks, people will absolutely see that there's something going on there.  The Democratic politicians will discredit themselves by claiming that nothing is going on (when something is clearly going on).  Some politicians will discredit themselves by refusing to release voting rolls and records.  Some politicians will be discredited when they are criminally charged by the Department of Justice.  Al of these politicians will be Democrats.  It will be worse if there are more riots by the Democrat's street muscle.

It's all exactly like the "peaceful protester" claims, and it will work out exactly the same for the Democrats.  And so their attempt to paint Trump as a Dictator-in-waiting will boomerang.  I'm not sure how this Republic will handle the upcoming political crisis, but a solid majority in this country will think that the Democrats tried to steal the election and got caught red handed.  I just don't see how the population will consent to being governed by the Democrats under those circumstances.

In all honesty, I think the result would be for the Democratic Party to fall apart like the Whig Party did - seen as unfit to govern.  Not that I'm keen on one-party government run by the GOP, but that's exactly where this will head.  Donald Trump knows all of this.  It's simply not credible that plans are not already going into place.  Unlike the milk toast Republicans of days past, Trump is out to save America and won't settle to being a graceful loser.

Beep beep!