Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Suggestion for the President

 President Trump should start talking about packing the Supreme Court. Bring up the idea of making the Supreme Court 13 or 17 or 23 members. Make a series of nominations. Tweet about it.

The Democrats would be appalled, yelling into microphones that the Supreme Court has been 9 Justices since 1869, that it's become accepted. That it would wrong, WRONG! I say, to mess with something with that sort of precedent. That Pr. Trump has no standing to make that kind of change, that 9 it is, 9 it has been, and 9 it shall be.

Then he can drop the idea. And 9 it will be.

Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man

Sean Connery is dead at 90.  He defined movie cool in the 1960s, and made the James Bond franchise into a huge success.  That franchise inspired a million copy cats including a British TV spy series called Danger Man.  CBS bought the US rights to the show which they were going to air as Secret Agent.  The opening riff is one of the most recognizable in music, and the lyrics included a salute to Connery as Bond: they're giving you a number and taking away you name.

"Iconic" doesn't begin to cover this.


Secret Agent Man (Songwriters: P.F. Sloan, Steve Barri)

There's a man who lives a life of danger
To everyone he meets, he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

Beware of pretty faces that you find
A pretty face can hide an evil mind
Oh, be careful what you say or you'll give yourself away
Odds are you won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

Swinging on the Riviera one day
And then layin' in the Bombay alley next day
Oh, no you let the wrong word slip while kissing persuasive lips
The odds are you won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Secret agent man

But Connery was much more than just James Bond, and went on to many outstanding performances.  I particularly liked him in The Wind And The Lion:


I find it charming that, while married twice, he is survived by his wife of 45 years.  I wonder what she thought in 1999 (at their 24th anniversary) when People Magazine designated him the Sexiest Man of the Century.

Rest in Peace, Sir Sean (knighted in 2000).  Thanks for the grace, and style.  They broke the mold when you were born.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Come What May

 The best thing to happen this year was the swearing in of Justice Barret to the United States Supreme Court.

https://ul.causes.com/ul/q_auto/uploads/akW3yomg/a7ee6f/barrett%20swearing%20in.png

Relax. Ignore the polls

 It's time to relax for the weekend.  The Trumpslide approacheth, despite what you hear from the polls.  I was going to write about why the polls are jacked up (again) but Don Surber beat me to it.  I really don't have anything to add to his excellent analysis.

So relax.  Trust your lyin' eyes.  You see it spreading out before you, pretty much everywhere you look.



Thursday, October 29, 2020

I wouldn't want to be at the FBI right now

Tucker Carlson's team had some documents that they were going to use in a story.  The documents went missing in transit - the package was opened and emptied.

Of course, Carlson's team has copies.

From a news perspective, this has been a big win for Carlson.  The original story was about Hunter Biden and the corruption in the Biden family.  That specific story would have died down in a day or two - after all (as the old saying goes) it's called a "Newspaper", not an "Oldspaper".

Now the story has longer legs.  It's now about the Deep State covering for one of its own.  It's about how the Fed.Gov has much deeper tentacles into American society than people thought.  It's about how the Patriot Act has been weaponized by the intelligence agencies against their domestic political opposition.  That's a big story, that will last at least a couple days.

And tomorrow when this enhanced story starts to die down we can expect the original documents to drop.  Now they will have extra credibility - I mean, somebody who is somebody tried to suppress them.  Now the story shifts back to Biden family corruption, with evidence that is stronger than it would have been without the document interception.  PLUS, the weaponization of the PATRIOT act will still be there.

The Sunday morning Talking Head shows will be LIT, or the story will be that the news media simply won't give their viewers any news.  There is no truth in Pravda, and no news in Isvestia.

And the election will follow two days later.  Interesting times.  When Trump wins re-election, I expect people will go to jail over this.  As they should.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Voting saved by paper backup

 Hackers install ransomeware on voter registration database; officials use registration cards to validate signatures:

The Oct. 7 attack on Hall County, in the northern part of the state, hit critical systems and interrupted phone services, the county said in a statement posted on its website. County spokeswoman Katie Crumley did not return multiple requests for comment from The Associated Press.

But according to a report in the Gainesville Times, the attack also disabled the county’s voter signature database. Crumley was also quoted in an online CNN story saying that the attack affected both the signature database and a voting precinct map.

Ransomware scrambles affected computer networks with encryption that can only be unlocked with keys provided once the victim has paid up. Deloitte analyst Srini Subramanian said ransoms local governments pay in such cases average about $400,000.

An update Thursday evening on the county website said “the voting process for citizens has not been impacted by the attack.” However, a county official quoted by the Times said signature verification was slowed because employees had to manually pull hard copies of voter registration cards in many cases.

Paper backups for the win.  There's a lesson here for electronic voting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Good summary of why Trump is increasing his lead over Biden

The Czar of Muscovy has a typically insightful analysis of last week's debate, and particularly of Joe's comment that he would kill the oil industry.  Many people have pointed out that this will cost Biden Pennsylvania (at least), but the Czar says it goes much deeper and highlights why Joe is such a terrible candidate:

He announced that he would seek to end the oil industry. Trump wheeled around and asked him to repeat that. Biden did, and announced he would—as president—end America’s use of fossil fuels. Trump was handed gold, and he made sure Americans recognized this as big news, especially folks living in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

Biden had a definite look of panic on his face as Trump named those states. Even he realized he just gave Trump 83 electoral votes, mumbling something about “on public lands” and “subsidies,” but Trump drowned out his babbling by reminding voters in those states what Biden just announced. There would be no walking that back, even with the media’s certain (and ultimately proven) covering for him on Friday. It was said, and at this point, if polls in other states stay where they are, those 83 votes will put Trump over.

Bear in mind, this doesn’t affect just four states. Shutting down oil and fossil fuels in this country will put nearly one million Americans out of their current jobs, in the form of drilling, mining, trucking, piping, distribution, distillation, manufacture, plasticization, and more. The Depression here will crush world markets that depend on us. Did Biden mean for all this? Probably not, but he reassured America that Biden, after 47 years in government, has literally no understanding of how the economy works.

My emphasis added.  This is the key point - after a half century in office, Joe is the one who is supposed to be "Presidential", to know "how to get things done".  Well, that's the marketing - and why Obama picked him as Vice President back in 2008 (to add some gravitas to people worried about a very new face).  And what we see put on display for the world is a confused old man babbling obvious nonsense about an enormously important topic.

The question in everyone's mind right now is what other enormously important topics will we get a bunch of nonsense babbled at us?  To ask that question two weeks before the election is to explain the entirety of Trump's juggernaught.  The group of voters who thought that Joe was the safe, bland choice are now breaking for Trump, choosing competence over marketing fluff.

And kudos to the moderator for asking the question.  Likely Biden would have answered very differently if it had been the first question rather than the last (he clearly was running down mentally by the end) - but this was also a very revealing moment.  After all, the presidency is a grueling job and it takes considerable stamina to hold up under the strain and to make good decisions under stress.  Joe showed that he entirely lacks that capacity.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Your moment of Zen - Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata” for an old Elephant

 This is sweet, and shows that in this political silly season that there is a human decency that crosses species boundaries.  From the notes to the Youtube video:

Mongkol is a 61-year-old former logging elephant. His captive-held life was spent hauling trees in the Thai forest. His body shape is deformed through hard labor, he lost his right eye and tusk in this brutal logging practice. Mongkol was rescued and brought to Elephants World to spend the rest of his days relaxing peacefully in freedom by the River Kwai. I discovered Mongkol is an extremely gentle, sensitive elephant who enjoys music, especially this slow movement by Beethoven which I play to him occasionally in the day and night.

This video is awesome, and 100% non-political - which adds to its awesomeness.


There are more, like Debussy's Clair de Lune.  Maybe Mongkol likes moonlight.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Blake Shelton - Some Beach (Official Music Video)

One of the nice things about being in Florida is that The Queen Of The World and I can run out for a beach weekend.  We're at Sanibel Island which is pretty darn nice.  This is the view from the hotel balcony.


It's a nice escape and here in Florida it's not just a day dream.  An hour or two and you're in paradise.  Back up north, it would just be a dream.  Yeah, there's a country music song for that.


Some Beach (Songwriters: Rory Feek, Paul Overstreet)

Driving down the interstate
Running 30 minutes late
Singing 'Margaritaville' and minding my own
Some foreign car driving dude
With a road rage attitude
Pulled up beside me talking on his cell phone.

He started yelling at me
Like I did something wrong
He flipped me the bird
And then he was gone.

Some beach somewhere
There's a big umbrella
Casting shade over an empty chair
Palm trees are growing, warm breeze is blowing
I picture myself right there
On some beach, somewhere.
I circled the parking lot

Trying to find a spot
Just big enough
I could park my ol' truck
A man with a big cigar
Was getting into his car
I stopped and I waited for him to back up
But from out of nowhere a Mercedes Benz
Came cruising up, and whipped right in.

Some beach, somewhere
There's nowhere to go
When you've got all day to get there
There's cold Margaritas
And hot senoritas
Smiling with long dark hair
On some beach, somewhere.

Well, I sat in that waiting room
Seemed like all afternoon
The nurse finally said the doc's ready for you
You're not gonna feel a thing
We'll give you some novacaine
That tooth will be fine in a minute or two
But he stuck that needle down deep in my gum
And he started drilling before I was numb.

Some beach, somewhere
There a beautiful sunset burning up the atmosphere
There's music and dancing, lovers romancing
In the salty evening air
On some beach, somewhere.

On some beach, somewhere...
A weird thing about Florida, though - I've been flipped off a couple times already in only a few months.  That never happened up north.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The election is over

Stick a fork in Slow Joe - he's done

 


Sure, the polls show Joe ahead by 5000%, but let's look at the evidence.  It doesn't support poll results showing Joe winning; on the contrary:

  • Republican enthusiasm is off the chart.  There are something like 2 Million volunteers knocking on doors and calling on the phone.  They've contacted 100 Million voters.  It doesn't look like there are any Democrats doing this.  By way of comparison, a little over 60M voted for Trump in 2016 - now there is a measurable fraction of that working for his campaign.
  • Biden gives rallies to a dozen people.  Trump gives rallies to tens of thousands.  Even more importantly, a big fraction of the people in the audience are not Republicans, and a big fraction didn't vote last time.  Now they're standing in line to hear The Donald.
  • We see "Trump Trains" all over the country - parades of thousands of cars flying Trump flags.  We see them in historically Democrat strongholds: 30,000 cars paraded in "deep blue" Miami.
  • Trump's outreach to the black and hispanic communities has paid off.  His support is a lot higher than 4 years ago - maybe two or three times as high.
  • Trump's job approval rating is over 50%.  I can't remember any president with a 50% approval rating losing reelection, ever.
  • What I find most interesting is the Gallup poll showing that a majority of people expect Trump to be reelected.
If Joe really were ahead by 5000%, would we see any of this?  No - all of these signs would point in the opposite direction.  So who are you going to believe: a bunch of pollsters who blew it bigly last time, or your lyin' eyes.

Like I said, stick a fork in Joe, he's done.  Just get out and vote.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Is Texas really about to turn Blue (or Purple)?

Lawrence looks at the huge TV ad buys that Silicon valley billionaires are making for the Democratic Senate candidate - something like $28M in the last 2 weeks of the election.  He picks this apart and says that no, Texas is not turning blue.

It's an interesting read.  Recommended.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

When civilization collapses

We may (or may not) be on the brink of civil war.  There are no external enemies who can take down this Republic, but history is clear that civil war is the fastest way to political, social, and civilizational collapse.  It almost always starts because the center becomes too strong, and so the rewards to seizing control in a winner-take-all situation become too enticing.

We saw this in ancient times, where the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire fought each other at the Battle of the Frigidus River.  The eastern army under Theodosius the Great won, temporarily reuniting the empire.  However, Theodosius died four months later, leaving the empire to his young sons.  Both were hamstrung because so many soldiers had killed each other that the western empire never recovered, and the eastern portion just held on by a thread.

The rewards were too great for Theodosius to ignore, too great to even allow him to leave his empire in good shape when he shuffled off the mortal coil.  In the west, civilization fell apart so completely that it took a thousand years for it to recover.  Louis XV's well-quoted epigram from 1400 years later applies in spades: Après nous le déluge.  After us, collapse.

I don't know whether we are looking on that today, but it's possible in a way that seemed beyond belief five or ten years ago.  The stakes of our winner-take-all imperial government have been exposed as too enticing to ignore for the Left.  The stakes are too high for the rest of the country increasingly feeling hemmed in by the Left: you can't speak your mind, you can't worship as you please, you're forced to "social distance" in a way that the Left's pet street terrorists don't.

Maybe there's still a chance to turn this around.  If not, then it doesn't seem like there are alternatives to political, social, and civilizational collapse.  When Civilization collapses, it falls hard.  I posted before about the Fayum Mummy Portraits from the Roman Empire and how portrait painting was a thriving (and stunningly competent) part of their civilization.  Then that civilization fell and it took a millennium to recover.



I wrote back then:

My opinion is that this was the greatest portrait (that we know of) for 1500 years, faded by 1900 years.  It dates from around the reign of Emperor Claudius, or possibly Nero.

Then it was all gone, along with all the rest of that civilization.  Here is a very good video about these portraits and just how sophisticated the society that created them was.


In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Southwest Florida Blogshoot - November 14

I checked with my gun club and they can handle a group coming to meet and shoot.  So here are the details:

When: Saturday, November 14 at 12:30 PM

Where: Manatee Gun and Archery Club, Myakka City, FL


The date is far enough out to give folks tie to plan.  It also will be after the election and whatever post-election excitement we see (hopefully) but before Thanksgiving gets too close.

The range will charge $20 for a half day's shooting.  There are 100, 200, and 300 yard ranges, plus a 25 yard pistol range.  The Queen Of The World is planning to make some sandwiches.  If we get enough people (15) then we can reserve a private range at the club which has 25 - 200 yard ranges.

Leave a comment if you want to come.  TQOTW and some of her girlfriends are planning on coming, so bring your better half.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Getting freaky at the Tiki

 Things are getting fun on the patio.



Sunday, October 18, 2020

Gioachino Rossini (attributed) - Duetto buffo di due gatti (Humorous duet for two cats)

 Old NFO has a hilarious read comparing the diary of a dog to the diary of a cat.  There's much truth there to go along with the humor.  It's funny because it's true.  Interestingly, there is a funny classical music piece said to be by Gioachino Rossini (of "Barber of Seville" fame) where a duet of sopranos sing to each other - and ever word in the song is "miau" (Italian for "meow").


It also calls to mind the epic videos below:





Friday, October 16, 2020

How much voting fraud do the Democrats need for Biden to win?

 This is speculation on my part, based on my model showing Trump winning 355 Electoral Votes and 36 or so States next month.  It basically takes the percentage of votes won by Hillary and Trump in 2016 and makes the following adjustments:

Incumbency benefit: +1% to Trump
Minority voter outreach: +1% to Trump
Biden dementia concerns: +1% to Trump
Voter enthusiasm: +1% to Trump
Riots/view of Democrats: +1% to Trump
Virus lockdown: +1% to Biden

This give us a net 4% added to Trump's 2016 votes.

Now 2016 was won in the Battleground States, and this year will be no different.  And so this is very interesting (via Don Surber):


If we want to quantify the amount of voter fraud the Democrats will have to engage in, we need to add +4 to that middle column (Actual 2016 Result).  Breaking it down, we see the following minimum fraudulent ballots needed:

Michigan +5%
Pennsylvania: + 5%
Wisconsin: +6%

So I went and looked at what the percentages translated into in terms of actual ballots cast.  Here's what's needed:

Michigan: 113, 442
Pennsylvania: 146,322
Wisconsin: 82,952

Total: 342,716

Note that this is net new fraud, on top of whatever was done in 2016.  And this is the best case scenario - there's no margin of error at all for Team Biden here, and so it really needs to be 500,000.  

It also looks to me (based on my model) that Trump will pick up States that he lost last time, particularly Virginia, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Colorado.  Fraud will need to be spread around here to keep the votes from swinging in the "wrong" direction.  That's a lot of States, and some of them are pretty big, so in round numbers let's call it another 500,000.

So Team Biden will need a million fraudulently cast ballots to win.  That's quite a lot to keep secret.  This isn't onesy-twosie fraud, this is industrial scale.  I simply don't think this can be covered up.  A million is a big number, and will require thousands of people to be in on the scam.  The old saying applies: three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Why I'm not on Twitter or Facebook

 They're not even trying to hide the fact that they own you:

Twitter has locked the account of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany because she shared a story about Hunter Biden and Ukraine.

Now in all honesty, I haven't cared for the platforms for quite a while.  I don't like Facebook because it has always been rotten about its user's privacy, and all y'all know that I just can't keep myself to the 17 character (or whatever it is) tweet limit.  It's the same reason that I pretty much dropped off of Gab.ai.

But this underlines the fact that they own their users.  Not cool.  I'll stick with our little corner of the Blogosphere, thank you very much.

But probably the biggest objection that we've heard (and heard again, and again) about Donald Trump is that he violates long standing norms of behavior.  What's interesting is that his opponents are the ones who are now the biggest violators of norms.  Here is a media company censoring the White House Press Secretary.  [blink] [blink]

Heck, even a lefty hack like Jake Tapper sums up the situation:


So no thanks.  It's so bad that a raving libertarian like me is totally down with the Fed.Gov breaking up the Twitter and Facebook (and Google) monopolies and declaring them to be publishers, not platforms.  Let it all fight out in the courts, but just those announcements will tank the stock prices which will make it hard for them to acquire new companies and executive talent.  They're the modern Robber Barons and some Trust Busting is well past due.*

Note: blogger Ann Althouse looks at the story's provenance and is skeptical about the emails.  It's an interesting read - not calling them "fake" but rather suspicious.  But she agrees that Twitter and Facebook haven't covered themselves in glory here.

* UPDATE 15 October 2020 09:37: Interestingly, Miguel posted the exact same idea about libertarians.

UPDATE 15 October 2020 09:47: This is an interesting perspective about why the "Streisand Effect" applies so closely here:

Simply put, there is not enough staff at Facebook & Twitter, and they are neither smart enough nor subtle enough, to censor ALL the “fake news” while also suppressing the politically sensitive (read “damaging to Democrats”) real stories. As a result, they are Ham Handed and focus on the “stuff that matters” (as all major corporation management does). The necessary consequence of this, much like the Streisand Effect, is that attempts to HIDE stores become advertising of the stories AND become strong evidence for the veracity of the Story. Essentially: Their actions are a negative indicator. The more they holler “Fake” the more we hear “Here Be Truth”.

... 

Here’s the original story:

https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/email-reveals-how-hunter-biden-introduced-ukrainian-biz-man-to-dad/

UPDATE 15 October 2020 11:48: Lawrence has the second drop from the New York Post about Hunter's corruption with China.  No doubt the Post is getting a lot more views today because of the Streisand Effect.  Oft evil will shall evil mar, and all that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

So how does a COVID death not get counted as a COVID death?

Remember how the 'rona death count went from "death from COVID" to "death with COVID"?  Remember the guy killed in a motorcycle crash who was listed as a COVID death?*  The panic caused an inflation of the death count, with every death breathlessly reported.  So what does it take to make sure a death is not reported as from COVID?

When the death is caused not by the virus, but by the government's reaction to the virus.  COVID didn’t kill Rita at age 95, despair and loneliness did:

Rita Thomas was a victim of COVID-19, but she never had the disease.

The vivacious and outgoing 95-year-old, who lived independently until last year and celebrated her most recent birthday in February with friends at a Pasco County diner, willed herself to die two weeks ago because she could no longer handle the pandemic-imposed isolation.

“She said to me: ‘Linda. I’ve had a good life. I am ready to die. I don’t want to live this way anymore. I stopped eating,’ ’’ her daughter Linda Gardner said, recalling the conversation she had with her mother in August. Weeks later, her mother was hospitalized for complications from malnutrition.

The Miami Herald almost called it straight.  She was a victim of Government Policy.  I say that even thought I generally think that Gov. DeSantis has done a better job on this than most Governors.

Her cause of death was listed as "failure to thrive".  In reality, the State killed her graveyard dead with their unreasonable lockdown.  What's unusual about Mrs. Thomas' case was that her story got published.  We should ask ourselves how many other people have died, not from the virus, but from the Government's reaction to the virus.  We should ask if more people are now dying from the reaction than from the virus.  An honest approach to public policy would strive to give us answers to those questions.  Of course, we will never have an honest assessment of the Government's reaction.  

At least we're seeing a little goalpost moving: World Health Organization says lockdowns don't work.  And a new study of infection rates at Amazon show no correlation between lockdowns and infection rates. And more studies show no benefits from masks than show any benefits (hat tip: Lawrence).  Hey, don't be a Science Denier!

But this bit from the article made me see red:

When Rita Thomas finally saw her daughters after more than six months, “She wouldn’t let go of my hand,” said her daughter, Nan Thomas.

We had to destroy the village to save it.  The bastards who did that to Mrs. Thomas have a lot to answer for, in this life or the next.

* Yeah, I know, Snopes.  But even they say that this happened, although they try to spin it.

Monday, October 12, 2020

This is a Columbus Day post I wrote in 2008, but which seems evergreen.  The words that you will not hear by the Usual Suspects today are the "Great Divergence".  This post talks a lot about that.  It's very strange that people interested in "Social Justice" don't seem to be very interested in getting - and keeping - poor people out of poverty.

Obligatory Imperialist Post

Because it's Columbus Power-Mad Dead White Dude Day.  Insty posted about Admiral of the Ocean Sea (great book) which gives you a great Columbus overview, but entirely misses the Power-Mad Dead White Dude thing.

As a public service, here's something that you should read if you really want to make a liberal's head explode like the fembots in Austin Powers. Or understand why the world's economy is the way it is.  The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes. The title is intentionally taken from Adam Smith, but Landes focuses less on describing economics per se, and more on the constraints that a society puts on their economy.

It traces the history of economic development over the last 1000 years, and asks some very politically incorrect questions:
  • Why did China, the world's richest and most powerful country in 1000 AD not only lose her lead, but lose it so badly that it was dismembered by the European (and later resurgent Japanese) powers?
  • Why did India, fabulously wealthy and populous, not conquor the west, rather than vice-versa?
  • Why did England, an undeveloped backwater as late as 1500 AD, ultimately lead the Industrial Revolution and become the world's most powerful country?
  • What explains the vast differences in economic development between the USA and Canada, and other New World countries? After all, in 1700, Mexico's GDP per capita was $450, not far short of the colonies' $490 (1985 dollars). In 1989, Mexico's GDP per capita was $3,500, vs. $18,300 for the USA.
No, it wasn't "western imperialism" by dead white dudes. Landes' politically incorrect thesis is that society counts, and some societies foster faster economic growth than others. He uses many, many examples.

The quote for this [2008] election season, if we're smart enough to listen, is about the post-Cold War economies:
Among the heaviest losers in this period of record-breaking economic growth and technological advance were the countries of the Communist Socialist bloc: the Soviet Union at the bottom of the barrel, Romania and North Korea almost as bad, and a range of satellite victims and emulators struggling to rise above the mess. Best off were probably Czechoslovkia and Hungary, with East Germany (the DDR) and Poland trailing behind. The striking feature of these command economies was the contradiction between system and pretensions on the one hand, performance on the other. The logic was impeccable: experts would plan, zealots would compete in zeal, technology would tame nature, labor would make free, the benefits would accrue to all. From each according to their ability; to each according to his deserts; and eventually, to each according to his needs.

The dream appealed to the victims and critics of capitalism, admittedly a most imperfect system - but as it turned out, far better than the alternatives. Hence the Marxist economies long enjoyed a willful credulous favor among radicals, liberals, and progressives in the advanced industrial nations;
You'll hate this if you think that economics a la John Kerry and Barack Obama is the shizzle flippity floppity floop.

Contradiction between pretension and performance: nice phrase, that. For an example, see Patrick, Deval. For extra credit, compare and contrast Obama, Barack.

Dang, I think I must have just got my Hate Speech on, right there.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Florida Man - a different spin

 Florida Man shows up at beach restaurant - with the Stanley Cup:


Photo taken by The Queen Of The World at the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island, last night.  It seems that the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightening likes the restaurant.  He was extremely gracious to the crowd of thrilled diners and everyone (including your humble host) got to have their photo taken next to it.  It was quite something to touch it.

I remarked to one of the security guys who were watching everything that he didn't have to worry.  If anyone tried to steal the cup the crowd would beat them within an inch of their life.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Movies XI - Wind River

 The best movie of 2017. A story of a murder on an Indian Reservation. It captures the bleak beauty of winter in the western mountains. It has the only reloading scene I've ever seen in a movie. It has honest use of firearms. It tells a great story, pulls no punches, and takes no shortcuts.

And it has this. One father, whose daughter has been murdered some time ago, talking to another recently bereaved father. The truest words about loss and grief I have ever heard in a movie.

 

If you haven't seen Wind River, put it on your list.


The Candy Bomber turns 100: Sammy Davis, Jr. - The Candy Man

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field.  Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

- Matthew 13:31-32

This is a little unusual for the regular Saturday country music, because it's not country music.  But stick with me - folks who like country music will like today's story which starts with "Happy 100th birthday, Col. Gail Halvorsen".

He was a kid who liked to fly, joining the Civil Air Patrol in 1942 and then the brand new US Air Force when he was old enough to sign up.  He missed World War II because of his age but found himself in the left hand seat of a C-54 in Germany, 1948.  That's when Stalin cut Berlin off from the Free World and the Berlin Airlift started.

Lt. Halvorsen was at Tempelhof Airport one day when he saw some kids standing on the other side of a chain link fence.  They told him not to worry if the weather was bad and he couldn't bring in food.  You see, they said, they could live on very little food but if they lost their freedom they thought they would never get it back.  Smart kids.

Halvorsen wanted to do something for them and told them that he'd drop some gum from his plane.  They'd know it was him because he'd wiggle his wings.  He and his co-pilot pooled their candy rations for the next day's flight.  Because it was heavy, they made little parachutes out of handkerchiefs.  Over the next weeks the number of kids waiting for his flights grew and grew.  He tells the story about when his Commanding Officer found out about it:

On his return from Berlin, he was told that Col. James R. Haun, the commanding officer of Rhein-Main Airbase, wanted to see him in his office.

Here, Halvorsen, sitting in his Provo backyard and wearing the same uniform he wore back then, picks up the narrative.

“‘Halvorsen,’ the colonel asked when I came in his office, ‘What in the world have you been doing?’

“‘Flying like mad, sir,’ I told him.

“‘I’m not stupid. What else have you been doing?’”

Here, Halvorsen pauses for effect.

“That’s when I knew they knew. I got chewed out real good,” he says before flashing his trademark smile. “But at the end, the colonel said, ‘That’s a good idea. Keep doing it. But keep me informed.’”

The Berlin Candy Bomber had the clearance he needed to carry on.

They called him the "Candy Bomber" and when the word got to the Press it became a sensation back in the States.  School children and candy manufacturers donated candy for the children of Berlin.  In just a few months Lt. Halvorsen couldn't keep up with all the candy and handkerchief parachutes that were arriving in the mail.  Pretty much everyone in his unit was now a Rosienbomber (as the German kids called them - "Raisin Bomber".  Halvorsen himself was known as "Uncle Wiggly Wings" because of his signal that he was about to drop sweets.

Operation "Little Vittles" dropped 23 tons of candy in a quarter million handkerchief parachute loads.  Halvorsen was awarded the Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany's highest award.  He also got some marriage proposals via mail from adoring fans back home, but he went home and married his College Sweetheart.  They had 5 children and 24 grandchildren.

In a very real sense, he represents what is best with America.  Three years before we had been mortal enemies of Germany, now we were trying to take care of their kids because, well, kids.  I'm not the only one who thinks this - he retired to his native Utah and in 2002 for the Winter Olympics there the German team asked him to carry their national standard into the stadium in Salt Lake City.  Bravo Zulu, Colonel.

Like I said, Col. Halvorsen, happy 100th birthday.  You make me proud to be an American.  This song is for you because you've earned it 100 times over.  Sammy Davis.Jr. didn't like it initially because it was too sweet.  It became his signature song, and I think he's approve of it being played for your 100th birthday.  Here's Sammy singing this song in Germany, back in the 1980s.

The Candy Man (Songwriters: Leslie BricusseAnthony Newley)

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew
Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

Who can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh
Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie
The Candy Man, the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious
Now you talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes

Oh, who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious
Talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream
The Candy Man, the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
Yes, the Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man
Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man
Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man
Like I said, it's not country music.  But I think the community can take a day to salute a veteran who represents the best of this country.  Here's what looks to be an early 2000's documentary of Operation Little Vittles.  It's long but well worth a view.  If you aren't looking for a kleenex between 15:00 and 18:00 then I'm sorry, we just can't be friends.  And the last line in the video hits the nail on the head, spoken by a now grown German kid who remembers catching the parachutes and knows that it meant that someone who didn't have to care, cared anyway: The world needs more Halvorsens.  Amen, and amen

Like I said, Col. Halvorsen represents the best this country has to give to the world.  He is a man who made the world a better place.  Happy birthday, Uncle Wiggly Wings.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Covid lockdowns are the new Global Warming

 I'm struck by the similarities between the 'rona science justifying lockdowns and the whole Global Warming scare.  Consider:

  • Both rely on unreliable model projections to scare the population.  The climate models have been junk for a long time and even the "gold standard" science in the IPCC Assessment Reports shows that the models do not track reality.  About Civid: remember the models that showed 2M people would die?  Remember how amateurish the model was?  But both climate and virus models got big headlines which galvanized policy makers into action.
  • Both rely on dodgy data.  The Climate data have been fiddled for years and years, to the point that we simply can't tell whether the planet is warming or not.  The same with the virus data: first it was deaths from Covid-19, then it was deaths with Covid-19 which added a whole lot more to the death toll (most notoriously a death from a motorcycle accident), and now all the talk is about the number of cases (not the number of deaths) because that's the only number that's going up.  Deaths are way, way down and so using a different measuring stick is the only way to keep the scare going.
  • Research funding comes from the Government and so there is a bias towards research producing "useful" results - useful to the Government, that is.  We've known about the buckets of government funding going towards climate research for a decade or more; there isn't good summary data on Covid funding but we have plenty of anecdotes: field hospitals set up in cities with infection clusters, hospital ships sent various places, virus vaccine funding spread to the four winds, heavy focus on CDC (want to bet what their budget request for next year looks like)?
  • Claims that people differing from the "approved" public policy choices are "Science Deniers".
As I said, the similarities are striking, and do not raise the credibility of people arguing for continued lockdowns.  More on that later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Printed Document Tracking

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an interesting document about color laser printers. It seems that all the manufacturers of color laser printers have entered a secret agreement with the government to add invisible or near invisible markers to all documents. These markers include such information as the date and time the document was printed and the serial number of the printer.

The use of embedded information is printed documents or pictures is not new. It has been used at least since WWII, although it usually involved interested parties that were trying to smuggle information hidden in plain sight. 

 The use of codes in printers is for the purpose of tracking and finding people who created a print. This might be because the document contained plans or a threat. Or it might be to find someone who had printed a classified document and then leaked it, as was the case of a contractor that printed a document at an NSA facility and delivered to a news website in 2017. She had taken a document concerning Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting software during the last election. 

The document included barely visible dots in a pattern that carried information. That information was enough to track the document to the building and then to her.  


 

In the right lighting, the dots become visible information. It is unlikely that all printers use a system that is so easily detected but every modern printer should be assumed to be embedding information of this type.

You are not paranoid enough. Thus ends your security lesson for today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The five worst tanks of all time

 Dwight has it.

Well, it's the five worst tanks of all time that are in the UK Tank Museum.  Still, there are some very unexpected entries of the list.  But they do show their work, and I can't really argue with their criteria - unreliability, obsolescence on delivery, and an unwillingness by the design committee to prioritize features are all a pretty good way to kill a design.

Of course, next week is the tenth anniversary of when I posted about the German A7V and why the British and (especially) the French tanks were clearly superior.  Dwight's video adds depth to that.


And this is a good time to ask whether you read Dwight every day.  I mean, heck - I've linked to him twice in two days.  Are you making me do all your work for you or what?

The NBA will be gone in ten years

 Via Chris Lynch we see this stunning drop in viewership for the NBA championship:

Game 1 averaged only a 4.1 rating and 7.41 million viewers on ABC, “comfortably the lowest rated and least-watched NBA Finals game on record (dates back to 1988),” Sports Media Watch reported.

But if the league thought things might improve for Game 2, it had a bitter pill to swallow because the second in the series did even worse than the first.

Game 2 cratered with just 4.5 million viewers and a dismal 1. 9 in the ratings. This embarrassing showing was down 68 percent over Game 2 in 2019.

Emphasis added by me.  But hey, at least we have good sportsmanship to watch, right?  Wait, what?

[Lebron] James was seen leaving the floor with 10 seconds left and off to the side before the buzzer sounded and the game officially ended.

The NBA's TV contracts expire in 3 years.

The election is over

Donald Trump just closed the deal with the American electorate.

Turn out the lights, the party's over
The only thing that the Democrats had going for them was the lockdown.  The breathless hyping of the 'rona was intended to fan the flames of fear which would justify further lockdown and economic devastation.  They then blamed Trump for all this, while the media shamelessly covered for them.  That's all gone now.
They say that, 'All good things must end'
But stop and think about what they're selling.  Fear.  Who wants to buy that?  Who would  choose to live their lives in fear?  People will only do that if there isn't a better alternative.  Donald Trump just gave the American Public a better alternative.  It's this: Sure, you might catch the virus.  It's not that bad.  I know, because I caught it.  Now it's time to get on with things.

Miguel compares it to FDR's first inauguration address: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  Miguel points out that Trump is not an orator like FDR was which is true, but actions speak louder than words sometimes, and Trump checking out of the hospital speaks really, really loudly.

What's even funnier is that the media simply can not not cover this.  It will be front page news for the whole week.  They won't be able to stop themselves, because this is something that people will want to hear about, because they really don't want to live in fear forever.  It will drive ratings, which drive profits.

The end of this week is 24 days from the election.

There's been a cynical joke that the 'rona lockdowns will end on November 4.  The handwriting is on the wall now for the lockdowns - people will start to look for justifications, because there is finally an alternative to the fear.  The justifications are (as I have been posting for months and months) really thin tissues of exaggerations.

And Trump is ready to play his the next card: call out the overreaction by government officials.  Name incidents, describe how innocent citizens were arrested.  Name the officials responsible.  Remember the guy out paddle boarding all by himself?  Remember how he got arrested?  Do you think that Trump can't shine the light of attention on that?  Do you think he doesn't have dozens of other examples, like playgrounds being closed?  Do you think that the electorate won't pay attention to him when he talks about that?


The Press will want to defend the Democrats against this attack but there's really nothing they can do.  I mean, when you see a video of a Mom arrested because she let her kids play outside, who are you going to believe: CNN or your lying eyes?  That's next week gone, too.  Then there are only 17 days until the election.  Does anyone think that Joe Biden will be able to turn things around in two weeks, especially when he's selling fear and Trump is selling hope?

He doesn't even need to talk about the lives and businesses destroyed by the lockdowns.  That's there, and everyone knows all about it.  Trump is going to paint the Democratic Party as the party of tyranny and fear and the Republican Party as the party of freedom and normalcy.  As the song goes, he'll use the 8x10 color glossies with circles and arrows to make his case.  Heck, he'll point out that the (Democratic) Governor is Michigan is ignoring her State's Supreme Court ruling to keep her thump on the public.  There's your tyranny, writ large.  And a whole bunch more, too.

I've said for a while now that Trump will easily cruise to a win next month.  Now it's looking like the down race Democrats are going to get slaughtered, because they'll be selling fear and tyranny against hope.  Good luck with that.

Remember last election with all the Republicans celebrating and the Democrats crying?  Second verse, same as the first.
What a crazy, crazy party
Never seen so many people
Laughin', dancin'
Look at you, you're havin' fun

But look at me I'm almost cryin'
That don't keep her love from dyin'
Misery, 'cause for me the party's over

 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Notes from a Texas Gun Show

 Old friends from Austin Lawrence and Dwight (You do read them every day, don't you?  Thought so.) went to the Saxet Gun Show.  I went a few times when it was in Austin and had very cool stuff like a table where the guy was hawking a free tank school.  Don't mess with Texas, baby - they'll teach you to drive and shoot a tank.

But Austin is weird, and not in the happy fun way.  The City Fathers* banned the gun show, so it went off to San Antonio.  Lawrence has a report from the show which has both good news and bad news for folks looking for guns/ammo/reloading supplies.  It's detailed and I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Oh, and I didn't even know that Beard Oil is a thing.

Man, I need to get back out there for a visit and take The Queen Of The World with me.  Maybe stop in Lockhart for some BBQ as well.

* I just phrased it that way to annoy the Usual Suspects®

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Gregorian Chant - Dies Irae (Traditional)

Today is the 438th anniversary of the Gregorian Calendar.  Introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, it aimed to fix the slow drift in the seasons that was experienced under the older Julian calendar.  The Julian Calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar, and had worked pretty well - its 3 years of 265 days and a fourth of 366 is very close to our current calendar (not bad for 2000 year old science).  But 365.25 is not equal to the actual solar year of 365.24219.  Over the course of 1600 years the solstices had drifed by around 10 days.  The new calendar was designed to fix that.

It was immediately caught up in the wars of the Reformation.  Protestants refused to adopt it because of its "Papist" origin, but eventually the desire for scientific accuracy in the dates of the seasons won out.  In British possessions the Calendar Act of 1750 finally moved the dates almost 200 years after Pope Gregory.  It's actually a myth that April Fool's Day was a day to mock people still using the old calendar.  It's another myth that riots broke out on its adoption, although it gave us this nifty painting by William Hogarth: "Give us our eleven days!".

"Give us our eleven days!"

That's a long introduction to this morning's music which is said to date back to a different Pope Gregory - the first one.  It may be somewhat later than that, depending on on you classify early liturgical chant styles.  But since the difference is that later chants included newer verses in the liturgy (rather than a different style of chanting), I take a broader view and see the history going all the way back to Gregory I.

In the early Roman church the service was sung, not spoken.  Well, chanted.  This is much older than 1582, but a nice start to a Sunday.