Saturday, July 31, 2021

Aaron Lewis - Am I The Only One

Aesop has a post you really need to read.

I'll have some thoughts later.  For now, you should listen to this. 



Friday, July 30, 2021

Dad Joke CVI

I once dated a tennis player but love meant nothing to her. 

Turn, turn, turn 5.0

I took this (a blank of purple poplar):


And I turned it into this:

 


That's a salad bowl made out of purple poplar.  Oh yeah, I made a bunch of wood shavings and dust, too (35 grit sandpaper sure throws off clouds of the stuff).

It came out pretty nice.  Yay, me!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Dad Joke CV

What do the people buying bread have in common with the people selling it? 

They both want each other's dough.

Should you "Believe the science" when you know how the sausage is made?

Ten years ago I posted about how the pace of scientific advancement is slowing down, even with a vast increase in the number of researchers and their funding over the last 100 years.   It adds to yesterday's post about scientific fraud.  This isn't really about fraud per se but rather about how the scientific bureaucracy stifles interesting new research.

"Believe the science" indeed ...

(originally posted 20 February 2011)

The Iron Law and the bureaucratization of science

Something is not healthy about the current state of scientific research.  This isn't a new realization:
The modest output of major discoveries compared with a century ago, despite the huge increase in the scientific workforce, was the theme of anearlier post on this subject, which you can see here http://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/why-is-science-so-sloooow/ . A relevant extract  from the Magic Universe story on “Discovery” included this paragraph about the use of peer review to resist the funding and publication of novel research. 

As a self-employed, independent researcher, the British chemist James Lovelock was able to speak his mind, and explain how the system discourages creativity. ‘Before a scientist can be funded to do a research, and before he can publish the results of his work, it must be examined and approved by an anonymous group of so-called peers. This inquisition can’t hang or burn heretics yet, but it can deny them the ability to publish their research, or to receive grants to pay for it. It has the full power to destroy the career of any scientist who rebels.’ 

Lovelock made those remarks in a lecture in 1989, but the situation remains grim. This month the life sciences magazine The Scientist has interesting articles on peer review. 

One, entitled “Breakthroughs from the Second Tier”, describes five “high-impact” papers that should have been published in more prestigious journals than they were. You can see it here https://www.the-scientist.com/uncategorized/breakthroughs-from-the-second-tier-43172. 
I can't seem to find and data about the number of scientists working today, vs. the number a century ago.  I can't even find decent proxy data for this - say the number of scientific articles published in 2010 vs. the number published in 1910.  But we can all agree that there has been a vast increase in the number of working scientists and the number of published articles (which may be up to 50 Million by now).

And yet we are not seeing any obvious acceleration in the pace of scientific discovery.  Nigel Calder again:


While the modern advances are all impressive, are they really more impressive than those from a century ago?  Especially when you adjust for the army of scientists at work today - perhaps a thousand times as many as at the dawn of the 20th Century - the question becomes why has science slowed down?

Hal Lewis hinted at the rationale in his spectacular resignation letter to the president of the American Physical Society:
I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.
My emphasis.  Lewis was no crank, and indeed was one of the Elder Statesmen of Physics, having been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years.  He said "follow the money".

The billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on scientific research do not seem to be accelerating the advance of scientific discovery.  Well, not obviously, in any case.  However, they do appear to be stunningly successful in creating and nourishing a scientific bureaucracy (as Lewis points out).  Bureaucracies have particular well understood characteristics, most interesting of which is Pournelle's Iron Law:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
Think of the Iron Law, and a representative of each class of people.  Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-Rays (see the chart above), one of the great scientific advances of the 1890s.  Curtis G. Callan, Jr. of Princeton University is President of the American Physical Society.  Who does the Iron Law predict will gain control of the funding, a latter day Röntgen or a Callan?

I can't believe that scientists today are less brilliant than Röntgen.  With so many more of them working today, something must explain the lack of expected progress.  The Iron Law does just that.  Consider all the potential topics that a brilliant young physicist might choose from.  Some of these might threaten Dr. Callan's position and funding.  The Iron Law predicts that the bureaucracy will respond to stifle this threatening research.  

So do we see this in action?  We do indeed:
Regardless of this complete demonstration of unanimity of outlook and commitment by ACS executives and leadership to AGW doctrine and disregard for the scientific method, many of us felt we could effect change within the organization. One member, Peter Bonk, took it upon himself to articulate the disparity between the ACS official Policy Statement regarding AGW and scientific reality titled:


Regarding the American Chemical Society Public Policy Statement On Climate Change:
An Open Letter to Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society
After Peter got 150 members to sign the petition, a commitment from Rudy Baum that the letter would be published in C&E News, and met with you, Rudy and others in Washington DC to discuss this matter, you all went back on your word and refused to publish the letter. The validity of 25 signatures was questioned as a cover for this reversal. No documentation was ever provided to support this claim despite repeated attempts to obtain such by Mr. Bonk.
This is from Steven J. Welcenbach's equally spectacular resignation letter to the president of the American Chemical Society.  Unlike Lewis, Welcenbach wasn't an Elder Statesman; rather, his complaint was the suppression of views dangerous to the scientific establishment.  It's not the first time we've heard this complaint, either - Dr. Phil Jones' notorious ClimateGate email indicts the whole IPCC process:
I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!
As a scientist, you can work towards the advancement of human knowledge, or you can work for the advancement of your department - grant funding.  You'd think that ideally we'd like a 100% overlap of those two groups.  In fact, that's exactly what we do have.

And that's what's holding back scientific progress.  The two groups align based on the exercise of raw power by the establishment: acceptance of papers by peer review panels, the issuance of grant funding, the granting of tenure.  Stray too far from the mainstream - and make yourself too much of a threat to the current Eminences Grise - and you'll find yourself cut out of all three.

The bureaucracy protects itself.  That's why you see it considered to be "normal" that data, code, and methods are not required to be published.  That's why you see that dissenting views are not just denounced, but disappeared.  And that's why you see the pace of scientific progress spinning down.

A year ago I posted an anonymous comment left at this post:
Someone left an anonymous comment to my post about Global Warming and the canals of Mars. I'm reproducing it here in full:
I am a scientist, in the alternative energy field. Every conference I go to, people are afraid to speak about AGW - except in their papers and presentations, which invariably use AGW as justification for their research.

Nobody believes in it, everybody knows it's a lie, but that's where all the money is coming from. If a scientist publishes a paper that doesn't affirm AGW, not only is that paper less likely to get published but any other future papers are in question as well. And he can forget about grants, forever.

Who controls the textbooks owns the next generation, and who controls the science funding gets to dictate what "science" says. 
I don't find this at all surprising. While you usually have to take anonymous comments with a grain of salt, if the commenter actually is a scientist, he (or she) certainly would have strong motivation to remain anonymous.
Lewis' complaint with the APS bureaucracy was precisely the same as Welcenbach's complaint with the ACS bureaucracy.  Not similar; exactly the same.  Both were the reactions of scientists sickened with the results of the Iron Law.  I'll end with Lewis, because he sums up the feelings of many of us:
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
The ancient Romans had a saying: Pecunia non olet.  Money doesn't stink.  The problem is that when the terrible need for grant money shuts off new scientific advances, we - and our children and grandchildren - suffer.  That stinks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Social media, the good and the bad

The good:  Dwight has been blogging for 12 years.

It seems that I have been blogging for twelve years as of today.

This is, frankly, a number that astonishes me. I really don’t know what to say, beyond the obligatory anniversary post.

There's more, including his preferred coffee cup.  Go leave him some commenty love.  He's the Go-To place for obituaries which is actually more interesting than it sounds.

The bad: It's, well, social media.

I mean, I just can't even.


Should you "believe the science" even when it's made up?

Via Samizdata, we find something very, very disturbing: a significant number of published medical studies are fraudulent:

As he described in a webinar last week, Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, began to have doubts about the honest reporting of trials after a colleague asked if he knew that his systematic review showing the mannitol halved death from head injury was based on trials that had never happened. He didn’t, but he set about investigating the trials and confirmed that they hadn’t ever happened. They all had a lead author who purported to come from an institution that didn’t exist and who killed himself a few years later. The trials were all published in prestigious neurosurgery journals and had multiple co-authors. None of the co-authors had contributed patients to the trials, and some didn’t know that they were co-authors until after the trials were published. When Roberts contacted one of the journals the editor responded that “I wouldn’t trust the data.” Why, Roberts wondered, did he publish the trial? None of the trials have been retracted.

...

Mol, like Roberts, has conducted systematic reviews only to realise that most of the trials included either were zombie trials that were fatally flawed or were untrustworthy. What, he asked, is the scale of the problem? Although retractions are increasing, only about 0.04% of biomedical studies have been retracted, suggesting the problem is small. But the anaesthetist John Carlisle analysed 526 trials submitted to Anaesthesia and found that 73 (14%) had false data, and 43 (8%) he categorised as zombie. When he was able to examine individual patient data in 153 studies, 67 (44%) had untrustworthy data and 40 (26%) were zombie trials.

Bolded text is my emphasis.  The problem seems to be institutional: researchers must "publish or perish" and it's the most eye-catching studies that get published because publishers are trying to increase subscription revenue in order to survive.  Neither researcher nor publisher are incentivized to not make up data, because there is very little reputational risk involved here - only 0.04% of studies get retracted.

If this analysis is consistent across all medical fields, then it's a coin toss as to whether a random medical study has made-up data.

And notice that this only considers the motivation of individual advancement or profit; there's another whole political motivation that can apply in the cases of, say, the safety and effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquinine.  Or Climate Change.  In both of these cases, the more you know about the actual science and the more you examine the data, the less trustworthy "consensus" science appears.

But none of this will stop morons who know none of this from sneering that they "trust the science".



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Dad joke CIV

 They put in all new white boards at work. Everyone treats them like they are nothing special, but I think they are remarkable.

Welp, that about says it

 


Via Sal.

Ahhhhhh

The air conditioning is working again, after almost 2 weeks of (partial) outage.  Makes me think we'd solve half the Republic's problems by banning air conditioning in Washington, D.C. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Congratulations to my Son-In-Law

 Just promoted to Senior Chief.


Bravo Zulu, Steven.  It's a really difficult job ...



Dad Joke CIII

If superheroes started a baseball team, who would hit more home runs?

Batman. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Time Passes

There are many life changing events. 44 years ago today I embarked on one of them.

It's impossible to imagine what my life would have been if I had not gone to Parris Island. Not that I didn't regret the decision at the time.

--Good night, Chesty, wherever you are!

Friday, July 23, 2021

The weather today around Borepatch's place

Best wishes to co-blogger and brother-from-another-mother ASM826, and I hope that Glen Filthie doesn't murder him with a fork for his last Dad joke. I'm told that the needed part is in-hand, and that the techs will be around to install it tomorrow morning.  Hopefully this time it will work for sure, because the last time it didn't.


But this time, for sure.  In the meantime, how are we feeling?  Hot, hot, hot ...


Yeah, I've posted this recently.  Dang, it's hot.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Dad Joke ICII

 

I know Borepatch can't wait to have his air conditioning repaired and switched back on.

It will give him vent elation.

Bah

AC no workee.  Jury rigging things with rubber bands and bailing wire while waiting for folks to call me with ETA on parts.

Not happy. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Dad Joke ICI

 I went out in the kitchen and saw a group of 10 ants running around on the counter. I felt sorry for them so I made them a small cardboard house out of a box.

I guess that makes me their landlord because they are my...

 tenants.

Quote of the Day: Peak Western Civ edition

Aesop's post on the anniversary of the Moon Landing is a must read on many levels.  This part jumped out at me, as he remembers the even as he experienced it as a kid:

But on the day, that summer Sunday afternoon in 1969, when Armstrong stepped out the door to rendezvous with destiny, there wasn't one single car on the streets, anywhere. I was there, and I went outside, and I saw it with my own eyes, kids, from a house just up the street from where Rocketdyne made the Saturn V engines that took us there, again and again.
Nothing outside moving, anywhere. Not. One. Single. Person.

Every single human on the planet with access to one was huddled in front of black-and-white or color TVs, back when TV had those choices, and each holding their breath waiting for the moment that the cream of 1969 video technology broadcast the shadowy moment to the waiting world.

It made me remember huddling around a TV with family and friends, back in 1969.  Dad wasn't there - he was in Paris researching a book in the French national archives.  He said that the State Department set up an enormous screen in the Place de la Concorde where they projected the landing live (at Oh-My-God-30 in the morning, Paris time).  The place was packed, and he said that as an American, his money was no good in Paris that evening.  France and America have always had a complicated relationship, but not that day.

Go read Aesop's post.  You're welcome.

Dad Joke IC

What do you call a Mummy with a cold?

Sir Cough, I guess. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

When you erase history it's awfully easy to look like an idiot

So General Lee's statue has been removed from Charlottesville's main drag.  People have been tossing the word "traitor" around quite generously.  Of course, to these folks it's Year Zero, and there's never been any history until today.  Or something.

And so they look like morons.  They literally know nothing.

To help you understand this, here is a parable:

Let me try to make the decline of history more concrete by way of an analogy. Imagine that you had fallen asleep in 2005 and stayed asleep until 2150. Further assume that when you woke up in 2150, everyone loved the Iraq War. Not just Rumsfeld-style liked it, but fucking loved it. They loved it so much, that if you dared to question the righteousness of liberating the Iraqis from bondage, you’d be considered unfit for civil conversation. Intellectuals in 2150 prove their intellectual-ness by signaling to each other they support the Iraq War more than other people. In other words, by 2150, mainstream opinion on the Iraq War would be such that Donald Rumsfeld in 2005 would – by 2150 standards – be considered only moderately pro-war. 
Regardless of what you think about the Iraq War in the present day, you’d have a pretty low opinion of history as practiced in 2150.

We have all sorts of historians today rewriting the history of that period, because Reasons.*  Color me unimpressed.

As it turns out, there are a ton of primary sources from the day that are available to us, that we can use to check today's historical narrative.  That war was a defining event for the people of the day, and like the Greatest Generation's memoirs of World War II there were many, many who wrote of their experiences in the American War of Southern Independence.**  We can use these memoirs to see just how retarded today's narrative is, if we are careful.

We want to choose quality sources, of course.  There are quite a lot that can immediately be discarded as hopelessly biased - pretty much everything from Jubal Early and the "Lost Cause" school, for example.  But how can we tell reliable sources from propaganda?

We want to look for a number of things: We'd like someone who understood history and how it is documented; a professional historian would be ideal, as he would be writing at least in part for future historians.  We'd like someone who participated directly, of course, ideally fighting against the side that he defends in his writing.  As lawyers like to say, this "admission against interest" gives a lot of credibility.  And since the claim here is that modern historians lack credibility, we want credibility uber allies in the memoirs we choose from the time.

Is there such a source?  There is.

Charles Francis Adams, Jr. was a Harvard history professor, and first President of the American Historical Association.  Grandson and Great-Grandson of Presidents, he was from that Massachusetts Adams family,  He is more properly referred to as General Charles Francis Adams, having served in the Union Army during the war.

(Then) Capt. Adams of the 1st Mass. Cav. is second from the right.

And so to today's charge of Treason leveled against Robert E. Lee, what can we learn from General Adams?  After all, Adams ticks all the boxes in what we are looking for in a credible source from the day.

Adams wrote a book (actually the transcript of a speech he gave to the Phi Beta Kappa Society - another box for us to tick!) that is available for free download today: Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?  You can download it yourself (it's a pretty easy read), but Fosetti covered this years ago:

  The essay begins by questioning whether or not England should build a statue to Oliver Cromwell.  The purpose of the essay is really to discuss whether or not the US should build a statue to Robert E. Lee.  (Please keep in mind that Mr Adams fought on the Union side against Lee). 

Adams' answer is unequivocally "yes." 
He goes through a long argument about how Lee was not a traitor.  For if we wish to call Lee a traitor, we would have to call Washington, Cromwell, William of Orange and Hampden traitors as well.  Lee was loyal to his state, which was where he believed his primary loyalty lay. 
Then Adams tries to make a distinction between Virginia's decision to secede and other Cotton States' decisions to secede.  The latter states seceded when Lincoln won the election.  Virginia did not.  Virginia believed in secession (as did everyone who ratified the Constitution, according to Mr Adams).  Virginia was willing to let the other states peacefully secede, but did not wish to secede with them.  Only after the US government tried to re-supply Sumter, an act of war against a sovereign state (i.e. South Carolina), according to the logic of Virginia and the original understanding of the Constitution, did Virginia rebel.  According to Virginia, the North had effectively changed the Constitution at that point and Virginia seceded to defend the original Constitution.  Mr Adams understands this argument but sees it as hopeless outdated and out-of-touch.  Nevertheless, he sees it as consistent.  Lee then went with his state.

They should read Fosetti's review (or better yet, Adams' book) and learn what one of the best sources of the day believed.  Or they can keep calling Lee a traitor and keep sounding like morons.  Alas, my view of the world is so jaded lately that I suspect that I know how many people will choose.  That's why I have a tag for "Decline of the Progressive West".

* I think there's something to the idea floated on Instapundit that as long as the South voted Democrat, historians were happy to present a different history.  Now that the South reliably votes against the Democrats, it's book burning time:

But there’s also this: “Don’t overthink this, because it’s quite simple, really. When Democrats’ national position depended on unwavering support from ‘the Solid South,’ we got lots of pro-Southern propaganda: the Lost Cause, Gone With The Wind, Disneyfied Uncle Remus, etc. As a vital Democrat constituency group, southerners, even practical neo-Confederates, were absolved of all sins as long as they stayed in line.” If the south were still a vital constituency today, Democrats would sound like Bill Clinton did in the 1990s.

** It wasn't a Civil War because the Confederate States did not want to take over the north.  "War Between the States" is ambiguous, losing the underlying motivations.

Note: This is a repost from 2017 but is as topical today as then.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Dad Joke IIC

My kid asked me to sync his iPhone, so I dropped it in the lake.  I really don't see what he's so upset about. 

Security Smorgasbord, vol. 13 no. 3

Insurance Industry consortium grappling with ransomeware payments:

Both are signs of the cyber insurance world trying to wrap its arms around ransomware, a phenomenon that is leading to costlier payouts, prompting insurers to demand security improvements from policyholders and in some cases driving companies to step back from what they’re willing to cover.

For instance, the annual growth rate in cyber insurance premiums the past four years has been 20%, while the average growth in claims has been more than 39%, according to a report from credit agency AM Best that warned of a “grim” cyber insurance market. Ransomware, AM Best said, now accounts for 75% of cyber claims.

The dirty secret is that insurance has been negotiating payouts with hacking gangs for years.  Unsurprisingly, this has made ransomeware a viable business model for the gangs.

Western Digital mybook live storage system gets remote data wipe command from factory:

Western Digital, maker of the popular My Disk external hard drives, is recommending that customers unplug My Book Live storage devices from the Internet until further notice while company engineers investigate unexplained compromises that have completely wiped data from devices around the world.

The mass incidents of disk wiping came to light in this thread on Western Digital’s support forum. So far, there are no reports of deleted data later being restored.

...

“I have a WD mybook live connected to my home LAN and worked fine for years,” the person who started the thread wrote. “I have just found that somehow all the data on it is gone today, while the directories seem there but empty. Previously the 2T volume was almost full but now it shows full capacity.”

Other My Book Live users quickly joined the conversation to report that they, too, had experienced precisely the same thing. “All my data is gone too,” one user soon responded. “I am totally screwed without that data... years of it.”

This is exactly why you have more than one backup.  Like with carry guns, two is one and one is none.  And I've recommended Western Digital in the past.  I guess I need to reassess that.

Medicate lacks consistent oversight of Cykbersecurity for networked medical devices:

CMS's survey protocol does not include requirements for networked device cybersecurity, and the AOs do not use their discretion to require hospitals to have such cybersecurity plans. However, AOs sometimes review limited aspects of device cybersecurity. For example, two AOs have equipment-maintenance requirements that may yield limited insight into device cybersecurity. If hospitals identify networked device cybersecurity as part of their emergency preparedness risk assessments, AOs will review the hospitals' mitigation plans. AOs told us that in practice, however, hospitals did not identify device cybersecurity in these risk assessments very often. Assessing hospital safeguards for the privacy of medical records may prompt AOs to examine networked devices. Finally, CMS and the AOs do not plan to update their survey requirements to address networked devices or general cybersecurity.

I've been posting for years about how security for medical devices isn't an afterthought.  It wasn't thought of at all.

Windows Print Spooler under attack:

Microsoft has provided mitigation guidance to block attacks on systems vulnerable to exploits targeting the Windows Print Spooler zero-day vulnerability known as PrintNightmare.

This remote code execution (RCE) bug—now tracked as CVE-2021-34527—impacts all versions of Windows per Microsoft, with the company still investigating if the vulnerability is exploitable on all of them.

CVE-2021-34527 allows attackers to take over affected servers via remote code execution with SYSTEM privileges as it enables them to install programs, view, change, or delete data, and create new accounts with full user rights.

Under active exploitation

The company added in a newly released security advisory that PrintNightmare has already been exploited in the wild. Microsoft didn't share who is behind the detected exploitation (threat actors or security researchers).

This is exactly the sort of attack that you would expect.  The print spooler code is almost certainly very old and not really maintained from a security perspective.  It's deployed everywhere and very often enabled by users who have been burned once too much by clicking "No" to "Do you want me to turn this on?" messages.  And so print spoolers are enabled all over the place when there's very little reason for the software to be running at all.  If you have a modern printer (i.e. 5 year old or newer network attached printer) there is no reason for you to have the printer service enabled.  You can turn this off via the instructions in the link.


Saturday, July 17, 2021

In Decline

 Let's try some stats on Afghanistan.

  • 32.3 million people
  • Per capita annual income of $2,025 (U.S. dollars)
  • 250,000 sq. miles of area

 The United States spent two trillion dollars in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2019. Troop strength estimates rose and fell. At one point there more than 100,000 troops and an undocumented number of contractors mercenaries. Over 4,500 of those troops died. Tens of thousands more have life changing injuries. 

For all that, the U.S. failed to secure a victory, failed to pacify the populace, failed to even establish what victory was supposed to look like.

The United States was successfully vanquished by a collection of tribal people with no organized army.

All the gee whiz armaments, the fighter jets and drones, lasers, and night vision goggles? Toys unless you have the will to win. 

We spent $60,000 for every man, woman, and child in Afghanistan and then surrendered the country to darkness.

There's a lesson there for those who see and I suspect that China sees it very clearly.

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Persistent Hammer of History

[This is a guest post by Tacitus]

Nobody saw it coming. Well, almost nobody. Gerald Ford mentioned off-hand once that there was “…no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe”. He was ridiculed and it was said he had played too much college football in the days before helmets. No, the Soviet Union would endure forever. Marx, Engels and Lenin, the hirsute triumvirate of Communist saints looked sternly over Red Square. Across 11 time zones the centrally planned economy provided “To Each According to His Needs”, an early form of Equity. Tass and Pravda solemnly reported ever increasing tractor production. The Soviet Union showed both strength (weight lifters! Tanks!) and grace (ballerinas! Chess Masters!).

There was one small problem. Oh, one hardly worth mentioning. It was all a crock and on some level everyone inside the Eastern Bloc knew it.

It took a million small taps of the persistent hammer of History to bring down the largest and most self important empire the world has ever seen. A tired worker standing in line, cheap shoes making his toes cramped and wet, sees a sleek black ZIL limo flash by. With an imperceptible shake of the head another small bit of faith is chipped away. With an inward sigh the worker goes back to his long wait for something only half way shoddy. That is to say, made in East Germany.

In 1989 someone in the Hungarian border police just said, “Eh, screw it”. They stopped trying to keep people from crossing over into Austria. The geriatric Central Committee droned on as usual, and tractor production figures still dominated the news. But oddly no consequences were forthcoming. And in a stunning display of how Immigration Policy Matters, it set of a cascade of disillusioned people saying in many different languages, “Eh, screw it”. Soon the Berlin Wall was being reduced to rubble by the persistent hammer of history and the less abstract hammers wielded by fed up people.

We might be in a similar situation today. Everyone knows that that Equity, Economic Recovery and so much more are inevitable, right around the corner. Our versions of Tass and Pravda assure us of this. The current Central Committee is every bit as sclerotic as their 1980’s soul mates but don’t go in much for statues. Still, they have their own icons looking down across public spaces from murals.

I suppose we should make allowances. A certain percentage of people answering surveys are intentionally messing with their earnest or venal inquisitors. Another percentage, rather small in my opinion, are sincere people who have just not thought things through. But honestly, hardly anyone really Believes you can borrow and spend forever. Or that it makes sense to allow biological males to win medals in Girl’s Sports. Or that the current CRT nonsense is anything more than a veneer of pop morality spread thin over a reparations grift.

Maybe Gerald Ford was not surprised by the Hungarian border guards. Everyone else sure was. And who knows what the equivalent trivial event in our times will be?

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Tacticool casts

It seems that Dwight broke his wrist (The Queen Of The World winces in sympathy).  But every cloud has a silver lining - in this case a tactical cast with MOLLE attach points ...

And I second his recommendation for Revolutions podcast. 

You might want to go leave him a get well comment.

Today's must-read post

It's over at Claire's:

Many histories of the Revolution, IIRC, trace a steady growth of resistance from the Stamp Act through the Townshend Acts through the Boston Massacre through the Boston Tea Party through the Intolerable Acts to Lexington and Concord and on to the Declaration of Independence. Maybe so, but Breen positions the Intolerable Acts as the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. What Britain accurately but inadequately called the Coercive Acts turned ordinary, respectable farmers, lawyers, craftsmen, and housewives from angry — but loyal! — British colonists into an outraged force of active, uncompromising, and sometimes ruthless American insurgents.

One thing that struck me as I read was that both sides labored under delusions in the months leading up to the passage of the Acts in the spring of 1774. After the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, American colonists, especially in Massachusetts, held their breath. They knew punishment would come, but not what form it would take. Because most information about British politics arrived in the form of imported and re-posted newspaper articles, colonists believed the British people were sympathetic to their cause and therefore that punishment would be limited and probably focused only on the guilty. 

That was their delusion. Or one of them. They also held a long-cherished a belief that they were the legal, intellectual, and moral equal of any Englishmen, and that their fellow Englishmen saw them in the same light as they saw themselves.

They didn’t realize how implacably — if ineptly — British power brokers were against them. They didn’t realize that much of the English public, and especially the elite, looked down on them as being barely steps above the “savages” they lived among.

She then uses this history lesson to compare to today's Cold Civil War.  She lays out today's delusions that both sides suffer under.  Yes, it's long - almost Borepatchian in length.  But this is a very, very important post, and I cannot encourage you too strongly to go and read it all.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Clarification

I concur with the comments pointing out the senseless loss of American troops in Afghanistan. It went on and on. There were no goals. We accomplished nothing. I am not suggesting we should have stayed or even went there in the first place without a national declaration of war by Congress.

If we had been willing to declare war and prosecute that war, clearly defining what we were trying to achieve, it should have been over in the summer of 2002. 

I refer you to the wartime leadership exhibited by the Allies during WWII. There was no reason to think that Japan would ever surrender and yet we were on track to use as much force as necessary to achieve our stated goals. That was a war. As horrible and destructive as war is, once in it, the U.S. set about figuring out how to win.

I hope that clarification allows me to return to my point. The Afghani people that put their trust in us are going to die for it.


Taliban Surge

 We didn't go to win and we lost. Anyone who worked with or for us is going to die. 

Along with thousands of others as the Taliban reasserts control. 



Wait, Star Wars had Harleys?

Wow.  Just wow

Dad Joke IIIC

What do you call an elderly person with excellent hearing?

Deaf defying. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Dad Joke VC

What do you call a snobby criminal going down the stairs? 

A condescending con descending.

Dr. Grumpy in the House

 If you're not reading Dr. Grumpy, you're missing out. He's a neurologist with a wicked sense of the absurd. Here's his recent offering on the restorative power of coffee.


Dr. Grumpy: "How did this all start?"

Mrs. Folger: "I woke up, and when I tried to get out of bed, I couldn't walk without holding on to stuff. My right arm and leg were both weak and clumsy."

Dr. Grumpy: "When..."

Mrs. Folger: "So, like anyone else, I figured it was because I hadn't had my coffee yet, so I sort-of-staggered down to the kitchen and brewed a pot."

Dr. Grumpy: "Did you call 911?"

Mrs. Folger: "No, I mean, after my 3rd cup the weakness still wasn't getting better. So that's when I figured I needed something stronger and drove myself to Starbucks. Which wasn't easy with the right side problem, believe me."

Dr. Grumpy: "Did you..."

Mrs. Folger: "Anyway, after I got there, the barista called 911. She wouldn't even let me order."



Sunday, July 11, 2021

Arise, Sir Libertyman

Yesterday's Dad Joke about Beatles music - where I gave props to The Queen Of The World - caused long time reader and FotB* libertyman to leave the following comment:

To the Queen of the world, Thank You Girl, You Really got a Hold on Me for this one, Borepatch, She Loves You so Let It Be, otherwise you will go Nowhere Man or You’re Going to Lose that Girl, When you Turn 64.
I did this with a Little Help from My Friends, and since I did go shooting this morning (not Yesterday) I Feel Fine, after all, Happiness is a Warm Gun. Anyway, Act Naturally and maybe we can Come Together soon.
The End

This made us both laugh out loud, and it's not the first time.  I think that this may actually be the funniest comment ever left at this blog.

And so in consideration to your long and faithful service to the Throne, The Queen Of The World gratefully dubs you Sir Libertyman, OBE (Order of the Blogging Empire).

*Friend of the Blog.  Libertyman is also a FiRL (Friend in Real Life).

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Dad Joke LXXXXIIII

Guy #1: I think I'm addicted to Beatles music.

Guy #2: Do you need help?

Guy #1: Nah.  I already have that one.

(Hat tip: The Queen Of The World) 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

I would SO go here

FOtB Pachydermis2 is tending bar at the coolest bar ever.

I would totally have a drink there.  Oh by the way, his mask was because they were excavating rock.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Seen near Borepatch Lenai

1957 Chevy Bel Air.  Pretty sweet restoration job.

Pontiac Fiero.  Not sure the year, looks like the 6 cylinder model.  Restoration seems to be a work in progress, but it was unusual enough seeing one of these that I pulled over and snapped a photo.


Florida, baby.  They don't salt the roads here.

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Huh

It seems that I missed the 13th blogiversary here which was like 2 weeks ago.

I really am a lazy blogger. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Celebrating the Old Republic

A Cold Civil War is here, one that seems to be flipping over to a hot Civil War.  The artists of our time will record the passions of the day for future generations, just like artists in the past recorded theirs.  For us.  The resistance has, I think, shifted from mocking to angry.  Those who think that their vision is a one way ratchet should think on what happens when a bolt is over tightened, or a pressure vessel sealed with no pressure escape.  Those, too, are one-way ratchets.

For a while.

Up until now, I've kept some psychological distance.  Humor has helped here, as has the old standby that we're all Americans at the end of the day.  Far be it for me to question someone's patriotism - after all, we all have that same common heritage.

But I'm not so sure now.  What an ugly realization.

Some of these people are bound and determined to turn this Republic into something I won't recognize, and don't agree with.  Some of them tell me that if I argue with them I'm a hater, a racist, a fascist.

Screw that noise.  I remember the saying back in the early part of the last decade about the anti-war protesters: they're not anti-war, they're just on the other side.  That may have been a slander, but I wonder where they are today with the continuing (and vastly accelerated) war by drone, the continuation of Guantanamo, the expansion of same to include American citizens arrested on American soil.

I suspect that I know: they're on the other side.  They don't care about any of this, they care about their side in this Cold Civil War.  They care about ultimate victory for their philosophy.  They care about remaking this Republic into something I won't recognize.

OK, then.  The lines are drawn.  The game, afoot.  If that's how it will be - with a political class (all three branches of Government) in disrepute, with the People believing that the Ruling Class lacks the consent of the governed, then so be it.

The Cold Civil War is arrived.  If it is time to line up on one side or the other - to choose the ever tightening ratchet or to choose the sudden break of that philosophy - then that's worth knowing.  For me, and for my house, this decision is easy.

Personally, I'd like this day to be one where we celebrate our common heritage.  But we seem to disagree on fundamental principles of what that means.  Sadly, I do question their patriotism, because if they win this Cold Civil War, I will question my own patriotism to their stunted vision of the Republic.  I wish it were not so, but a man must recognize reality.  If that's how it must be, then OK.  So be it.  I choose.
Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!

- Samuel Adams

Me and my House, we will serve the Old Republic. 

I originally posted this 9 years ago, and it seems even worse today than it was then.  But enjoy your fireworks and cookouts.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride - Trip Around The Sun

Today is The Queen Of The World's birthday.  Her best friend from High School is visiting, which is nice.  Feel welcome to celebrate with some fireworks if you'd like.

Birthdays are not just a time for celebration, however - they're also time for reflection on where you've been and where you're going.  While our move to Florida has been a smashing success, The Queen Of The World has had a few health challenges these last 12 months.  Not just the three surgeries, but a month on crutches as well.  And I'm probably leaving something out.

I must confess that she's kind of fun on the knee scooter.  Dangerous, but fun.

Of course there's a country music song about this.  Happy birthday, sweetheart.


Trip Around The Sun (Songwriters: Stephen Bruton, Al Anderson, Sharon Vaughn)

Hear 'em singing happy birthday
Better think about the wish I make
This year gone by
Ain't been a piece of cake.

Every day's a revolution
Pull it together and it comes undone
Just one more candle and a trip around the sun.

I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control.
If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go.

No you never see it coming,
Always wind up wondering where it went.

Only time will tell
If it was time well spent.
It's another revelation,

Celebrating what I should have done
With these souvenirs of my trip around the sun.

I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control.
If there's one thing I have learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go.

Yes I'll make a resolution

That I'll never make another one.

Just enjoy this ride on my
Trip around the sun.
Just enjoy this ride
On my trip around the sun...
Trip around the sun.

 


Thursday, July 1, 2021

Another successful surgery

The Queen Of The World had a third surgery for her broken wrist.  She's resting comfortably and we're cautiously optimistic that this will be the last.  But holy cow, this has been a mess.

She's been a trooper, but it would sure be nice for her to finally be out of the medical weeds.

UPDATE 3 July 09:25: Thanks to everyone who left a comment or emailed, she is very grateful for your good wishes.  She's doing pretty well.