Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Caveat fissura*

Via I Want A New Left, here's an outstanding London Tube style map of the ancient Roman roads in Britannia. 

And remember, Stanford's Orbis project will tell you how long a trip in the Roman Empire would take.

* "Mind the gap"

Visit Rome's museums from the comfort of your own house

This is pretty cool:

Eight of Rome’s civic museums are offering new virtual tours. Available in Italian and English, to tours allow visitors to explore the museums floor-by-floor, in aerial views, through video, audio and information panels.

It’s a curated approach. Select objects on display and important features of the museums themselves are highlighted. You navigate by clicking on arrows, then click on hotspots targeting an object or area and the label/information pops up. If there is video or audio, clickable icons appear on the screen. You can also bounce around using the map icon in the bottom right.

 If history is your bag, Baby, then you should check this out.  Links at the original post. 

Dad Joke CXXXX: Special Thanksgiving leftover edition

What do you call a turkey that's coming back to haunt you?

A poultrygeist. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Boer War chocolate bar found in attic

This is pretty cool: a 121 year old chocolate bar sent by Queen Victoria to the Tommys fighting in South Africa:

These chocolate bars were a New Year’s present from Queen Victoria to British troops in South Africa ringing in the turn of the century. More than 100,000 half-pound tins of chocolate bearing her embossed profile and New Year’s wishes in her own handwriting were produced by Britain’s top three chocolate companies, Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree. It was an awkward commission because all three companies were founded and run by devout Quakers who specifically sought out an “innocent trade” that would allow them to make a good living without having to compromise their pacifist principles. Victoria wouldn’t let them decline to profit from selling chocolates for troops fighting in an active war zone, so all three companies were strong-armed into it.



What Olympic sport generates the most conversation?


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Range Report: Sighting in an M1 Garand

I've wanted one of these for years, and so I up and ordered one from the Civilian Marksmanship Program.  CMP is an interesting program: it is chartered by Congress to provide DoD surplus rifles to the American public.  They get rifles from DoD (these days there are not a lot coming back from overseas Allies; I think mine may have come back from South Korea but that's just a guess).  CMP armorers refurbish the rifles so you are guaranteed to get a functioning weapon.  Pricing is good (I paid $750 and it came with a nice hard case and free shipping), but what they have is what they have.  Mine is a Springfield Armory Service Grade model (which means that it has some wear) manufactured in October 1943; personally I think that the dings in the stock add to its charm.

It does have a rather mysterious stamping that I haven't had time to research yet.  If any readers have any hints I'd be mighty obliged.

Now this isn't really a range report about the rifle - I posted one quite some time ago and so will just point you to it if you're interested.  Today is about how I sighted it in.  You see, after the armorer is done you have a fully functional rifle; you may or may not have a rifle that hits where you aim - at least out of the box.  You need to zero the rifle yourself, and that's what yesterday was about.

Now unless you have your own private range, you need some sort of spotting scope to look at your target after you fire a shot.  If you're at a public range (as I was) you can't just traipse downrange to get a closer look at your target when the range is hot.  Besides, it's a hundred yards away so that would be a lot of walking.  A scope (or binoculars) is better.

The M1 has a pair of knobs that move the rear sight either right or left (windage) or up and down (elevation).  You can see the knobs on the picture below, one on each side of the peep sight.

Here's a top view.  The sights and knobs are right behind the open internal magazine.

The process of sighting in goes like this:

  1. Fire a single shot.
  2. Look at the target through the spotting scope.  There will be a hole in the target (c'mon - you're shooting at 100 yards off of a bench rest.  Of course there will be a hole in the target).  If the hole is to the right or left of the bullseye then you need to adjust the windage knob.  It if is above or below, you need to adjust the elevation knob.
  3. My hole had the right elevation but was to the right, so I worked the windage knob.  If both windage and elevation are off you probably should adjust one first until it's right, and then work on the other (e.g. windage first until you have it dialed in, then elevation).  This way you only have a single variable that is changing between shots.
  4. Go to 1.
Now I was a dummy yesterday and left the manual of arms booklet at home and so it was a 50/50 coin toss as to whether I was adjusting windage to make the zero closer to the bullseye or further away.  I guessed wrong, and saw the next couple holes appearing further to the right from the X ring.  Sigh.  OK, dial back the other way.  All in all I fired 12 rounds to get windage right, correcting between each shot.  Then I scrounged some Shoot-n-See dots to cover the holes and put two clips down range.

Interestingly, even though I was shooting from a bench rest, I used a shooting sling for the second clip which tightened the grouping up noticeably.  Almost everything went into the red or black when using the sling, as opposed to a bunch in the 8 and 7 rings without the sling.  I'll leave a discussion of shooting slings for another day.

So there's no magic to sighting in, just a careful and deliberate shoot-check-correct-repeat process.  Now I need to get out regularly at 200 yards - and then 300.  Then a Garand Match, which they run at my club.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Off to the range

CMP came through.  Off to try it out.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Joe Bonamassa - Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Now that we're past Thanksgiving, it's Christmas season.  Here's Joe B to kick it off for us.  If your toes aren't tapping to this, we can't be friends anymore.


Dad Joke CXXXVIII, International Edition

 No matter how kind you are, German children are kinder.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Black Friday ammo deal

Jack from cheapammo.com emails to alert us to a Black Friday sale that they are having tomorrow.  It's a real Black Friday sale - limited qualtities, when it's gone it's gone.  Since nobody has enough 9mm (and since I seem to have bogarted the last deal), here's the info on tomorrow's sale (from Jack's email):

Basically, we have 9mm we’ll be selling below our cost. The manufacturer insists we don’t say who made it because we’re pricing it low enough that other retailers could be a bit sour about it. 

At 10 a.m.(ET)  / 9 a.m. (CT) we’ll make the product available and for sale on the top of our 9mm ammo page (https://www.cheapammo.com/handgun/9mm-ammo). Because the manufacturer could be upset by the price and because we want to reward your readers with it rather than random Google or price comparison bot traffic it’s not “live” on our site yet. Our hope is that any of your readers who stumble across the promotion from you will have a chance to get the deal.

Product details for public disclosure:
  • American-made (Either Federal, Winchester, Blazer Brass)
  • 115 grain
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Priced Below Cost
  • Two Pallets Available Starting at 10 a.m. (ET) Friday
  • Another Batch Live Monday morning at 10 a.m. (ET) on that same 9mm page
  • Standard shipping rates apply (not inflated over our “normal” rate - typically $15-$20 per case.)

It's quite nice of Jack to reach out about this.  He sent me a pic and described the offer and brand and it is quality stuff (he asked me to keep the brand hush hush). Hopefully by the time Google's bots pick up on this tomorrow, all y'all will have snapped it all up.

UPDATE: I forgot to point out that I get no consideration for this post and have no relationship with the company.

The Feast feeds the Soul

The company makes the feast.
- Anonymous
The feast is a very ancient concept, almost certainly pre-historic.  Man is a social beast, and the social grouping requires regular glue to bond its members.  Nothing like an unusually large meal to bring family and friends closer together.

But this utilitarian, cultural anthropological view risks missing the most profound aspect of the feast.  It's not the feeding of the bodies that's important; it's the feeding of the soul.  That's where the glue is found, not in the extra calories.

And in pre-industrial societies, those extra calories were important, as most people lived only a harvest or two from starvation.  And the spiritual aspects were still more important.

The picture is from Peter Bruegel the elder, The Wedding Feast.  Whether because someone was getting married or buried, feasts were for a reason.  Every feast had an event to justify the expense. 

It's not the calories, it's the psychological meaning that bonds us.  Many parts of America, born of the puritan tradition, have a problem with the excess.  Groaning tables seem to rebuke us: do you really need all this?

Yes, you really do.  This has been known since the ancient days; the Greeks had a saying: Moderation in all things, including moderation.  A feast short circuits the usual rules of restraint.  It has to.

Because it's not about the extra calories, which many of us perhaps could stand to avoid.  Don't.  The feast is about stepping outside of the normal flow.  A feast isn't about eating, it's about the glue that bonds us together.  See the glue, not the food - unless your gravy is a little too thick and sticky.  But even that is a meditation on the whole point of the thing.  Calorie guilt misses that point, which is spiritual, the feeding of the soul.

Today I'm thankful for many things, not least of which is all of you who stop by.  I hope that your feast today is a feast of the soul as well as of the body.
The liturgy, like the feast, exists not to educate but to seduce people into participating in common activity of the highest order, where one is freed to learn things which cannot be taught.

- Father Aidan Kavanagh

Dad Joke CXXXVII, Special Thanksgiving Dad Joke

From Granddaughter #3:

Why would you bake stones in your bread?  So you can Rock 'n Roll. 

After that, it got pretty strange ...

Happy Thanksgiving to our readers in the New World  (southern) Colonies (offer void in Canada, as you've already had your Thanksgiving holiday).  This is the quintessential American holiday; quite frankly, you won't find a more American holiday.  Infused with our national DNA, this is a day that the Fed.Gov tells you to give thanks for whatever you want.  And that's where it gets pretty strange, at least when you try to explain things to non-Americans.

Non-American: So this is a holiday?

American: Yup.

Non-American: What's the deal where the Government gives you a day off?

American: It's for us to be thankful.

Non-American: The Government tells you to be thankful?  About what?

American: Whatever you want.

After that, it gets pretty strange, in a very American way.  What are you grateful for?  Well, it's your choice - nobody will tell you what to give thanks for.  Even in this degraded age of Social Justice, nobody will tell you where your gratitude should be directed.

It's also a day for fun.  This is one of the classic episodes - dare I use the much desired adjective seminal? - of all American TV.  It is hilarious for American audiences, and yet might take some explaining for overseas folks.

That's just the set-up, of course.  The concluding line qualifies for the much desired adjective iconic:

After that it got pretty strange.

The newspaper humorist Art Buchwald bought a one-way ticket to Paris in 1948.  In the 1960s he wrote the following, to explain Thanksgiving to a French audience.  It's very funny, but funny in a way that offers surprising depth.  The local paper would publish this every year, and Dad (a scholar of Franco-American history) would laugh and laugh, every year.  You see, Dad appreciated the unexpected depth that showed through the fractured French:

This confidential column was leaked to me by a high government official in the Plymouth colony on the condition that I not reveal his name.

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant .

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims ( Pelerins ) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ( le Nouveau Monde ) where they could shoot Indians ( les Peaux-Rouges ) and eat turkey ( dinde ) to their hearts' content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine ) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai ) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn ( mais ). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant :

"Go to the damsel Priscilla ( allez tres vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth ( la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action ( un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe ), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

"I am a maker of war ( je suis un fabricant de la guerre ) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar ( vous, qui tes pain comme un tudiant ), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied ( convenable tre emballe ), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow ( rendue muette par l'tonnement et las tristesse ).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" ( Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance ?)

Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" ( Chacun a son gout. )

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fte and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

2005Tribune Media Services

Kilometres Deboutish.  Le jour de Merci Donnant.  Chacun a son gout (that's particularly hilarious, at least to Dad and me).  After that it got pretty strange.  And As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly.

You won't have as great a jour de Merci Donnant as I will because you won't won't have The Queen Of The World cooking Thanksgiving dinner for you.  But I hope you have a great day, a day of being thankful for whatever you want.  That's very American, wherever you may live. 

(Originally posted 26 November 2020)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


Shamelessly stolen from Glen Filthie.


He has more.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Dad Joke CXXXV

Steak puns are a rare medium well done. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

What is that light in the sky?

NASA has a handy guide to sort it all out. 

The "Lost Battalion" back in the news

Well, the homing pigeon who carried the message that saved them is:

The United States’ bravest pigeon warrior, Cher Ami, of the U.S. Army Signal Corps’ Pigeon Intelligence Service, has been confirmed to have been male, more than a century after Army records labelled the English blue-checked pigeon as a “hen.”

Cher Ami showed the mettle that would make him a global celebrity in October 1918 when almost 600 men from the 77th Division were trapped behind enemy lines during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. After taking days of heavy fire from German forces and once from Allied forces who didn’t realize the Lost Battalion was there, on October 4th commander Major Charles Whittlesey sent his last surviving homing pigeon, none other than Cher Ami, to the American lines with a desperate plea: “We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.”

 Cher Ami got shot up pretty badly but got through.  The link above gives Cher Ami's story, which is worth the read.


What kind of cow is hairy on both the inside and the outside?

The kind that is standing in the barn door. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

J. S. Bach - Now Thank We All Our God

Later this week we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.  It's always been my favorite holiday, having figured out early on that the feast is not just to nourish the body but also the soul.  The Queen Of The World is already in full Field Marshal mode preparing for the feast.  It will be glorious.

An event like that calls for equally glorious music, and what is more glorious than Johann Sebastian Bach as performed on a righteous pipe organ? 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

A musical ode to Kyle Rittenhouse

Self-defense, self-reliance, and doing the right thing are themes that run deep in Country Music  Here is a selection for yesterday's Not Guilty verdict.

On self-defense: Miranda Lambert's Gunpowder and Lead

And to our Yankee readers, yes "bail" and "hell" do in fact rhyme.

On self-reliance: Hogjaw's Gitsum

Lastly, on doing the right thing: Don Walser and the Pure Texas Band - Shotgun Boogie

Friday, November 19, 2021

I Meme to misbehave, Kyle Rittenhouse edition

I got these from a fellow Deplorable.


And now that we have the acquittal ...


I seem to have lost my mood ring.  I'm not sure how I feel about that. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Security Smörgåsbord, vol. 13 no. 8

Here's a roundup of interesting Internet Security news.

Costco discloses credit card skimmer breach.   A "skimmer" is a device that criminals install on ATMs and Point-Of-Sale terminals to steal your credit card numbers (or worse, your Debit Card number and PIN).  I've been posting about them for years (that has a good link to how to spot one in the wild).  Well, Costco spotted some of them at their stores in Chicago.  Let's be safe out there.

The link I talk about in the paragraph above points to security journalist Brian Krebs.  Krebs has a new post up explaining how the FBI's email system got hacked.  It's pretty interesting stuff.

If you use Microsoft's Edge browser, DO NOT turn on the "synch" feature.  It synchs all sorts of data that you may not want it to - like bookmarks - and all sorts of data that you really, really do not want it to - like passwords, credit card numbers, and even passport numbers.  Yikes.  Not cool, Microsoft.

Windows XP still makes up between 3% and 5% of all Windows versions in the wild.  This is interesting, but XP has been out of support for years and you can't get security updates for it.  Interestingly, Vista is about the same amount (at least you can pay for security updates there, but you're stuck on Vista).  If you are running XP, I have recommended for years that you upgrade to Linux.  It's free, and will run on your existing hardware.

The state of Coronavirus, a physician's view

Retired ER doc Tacitus muses about what we have learned about the virus.  His take is clinically rational, and highly recommended:

Right about now we are at the two year mark for Covid-19. There are so many things we still don't know for sure, despite spending time, money and other societal resources in unimaginable amounts, but I think it is fair to say that it started in the last few months of 2019.

I should note up front that there are things that you are not permitted to say in various versions of the Public Square. I'll try not to stumble close to any of them, but to be honest in some cases information has gone from Fake! to Misinformation, to Plausible, to Probable....and back again. I'm going to assume anyone who has bothered to read this far is not the mindless sheep that the Guardians of the Internet assume us to be, and is capable of weighing competing viewpoints and actually pondering them.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Prepping: how long do things last?

E. M. Smith has an interesting report on how long things last when you store them - including different types of fuel, but also food, candles, and other stuff. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


What sound does a 747 make when it bounces?

Boeing, Boeing, Boeing ... 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Dad Joke CXXXI

Where do most super heroes live?

In Cape Town. 

Kolbeinn Tumason/Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson - Heyr himna smiður (Medieval Icelandic hymn)

There's a new Medieval Faire in Myakka City, which The Queen Of The World and I will probably go check out.  If you want Medieval - really Medieval - then this song is the ticket.

The roots of Western Civilization go deep.  Only a little over 100 years since the last Viking  conquest attempt of the British Isles, and only 150 years since Cnut sent the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready fleeing to France, a battle took place in Christian Iceland.  Bishop Guðmundur was trying to consolidate temporal power against the ancient Viking (now Christian) chiefs.  Kolbeinn Tumason met him on the field of battle, and was mortally wounded.

But much had changed in Viking lands in the last two centuries, as Christianity had merged with (not replaced) the old Nordic mythos.  Tumason wrote an epic poem on his deathbed, one mingling the Old with the New faiths.  It's been preserved through the ages, put to music by the modern Icelandic composer Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson.

Astonishingly for a modern composer, the music to turn this Epic into a hymn turns out to be something that might have been recognized at Kolbeinn Tumason's death bed.  This is a fabulous performance, in a German Train Station.

It's half Christian and half Viking, just like the epic poem.  The bass (not baritone)  line adds a we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto feeling to this that underlines just how shallow the Christian overlay was in the Scandinavian lands.  It was the frontier, and Americans feel in their bones what that means for orthodoxy.

But this is very, very old poetry.  The music is new, but feels equally old.  It's a virtuoso performance of a simply outstanding cultural salute.

The epic is pretty interesting, and preserves the hopes and dreams of 800 years ago on the European frontier, as if in amber:

Heyr, himna smiður,
hvers skáldið biður.
Komi mjúk til mín
miskunnin þín.
Því heit eg á þig,
þú hefur skaptan mig.
Eg er þrællinn þinn,
þú ert drottinn minn.
Guð, heit eg á þig,
að þú græðir mig.
Minnst þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín.
Ryð þú, röðla gramur,
ríklyndur og framur,
hölds hverri sorg
úr hjartaborg.
Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín,
helzt hverja stund
á hölda grund.
Send þú, meyjar mögur,
málsefnin fögur,
öll er hjálp af þér,
í hjarta mér.
Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
thy mercy.
So I call on thee,
for thou hast created me.
I am thy slave,
thou art my Lord.
God, I call on thee
to heal me.
Remember me, mild one, (or mild king. This is a pun on the word mildingur).
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.
Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Roy Acuff - Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

Roy Acuff was so big in the 1940s that it is said when the Japanese attacked American positions on Okinawa they cursed the three things "most American" - 'To hell with Roosevelt, to hell with Babe Ruth, to hell with Roy Acuff!"   Sure, some folks don't like country music, but that's going a little far.

Most folks will remember this song sung by Willie Nelson in 1975, which was his first #1 hit as a singer.  But he was only the latest of a long line of artists to cover the song; both Conway Twitty and Slim Whitman had recorded it, but Roy Acuff was the first.  He recorded it in 1947 so the Imperial Japanese Army presumably were more appreciative in their assessment.

Fred Rose wrote this song.  He and Acuff formed Acuff-Rose Music in 1942.  Initially this was to record Acuff's music but they soon signed Hank Williams who said of Acuff's drawing power in the south that it was Acuff first, then God.

Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Songwriter:Fred Rose)

In the twilight glow I see her
Blue eyes cryin' in the rain
When we kissed goodbye and parted
I knew we'd never meet again

Love is like a dyin' ember
Only memories remain
Through the ages I'll remember
Blue eyes cryin' in the rain

Some day when we meet up yonder
We'll stroll hand in hand again
In a land that knows no partin'
Blue eyes cryin' in the rain

Bootnote: A lot of people have recorded this song, including Jim Neighbors, Elvis, Olivia Newton-John, and UB40 (!).  Most interesting to me was a never published recording by George Jones discovered after his death.  There were other songs, too which were included on the 2017 posthumous album George Jones & the Smoky Mountain Boys - he recorded the songs with Acuff's old band.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Dad Joke CXXX

What type of magazines do cows read?


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thoughts on Veteran's Day

I originally posted this eight years ago, but it bears repeating again.

The citizens of the United States have a different relationship with the Military than many countries do.  The Military is seen as being part of the citizenry (and actually vice versa, as a reading of the Second Amendment will show).  In many countries the military is seen as separate and distinct from the populace.

This isn't unique - the same dynamic has long been in play certainly in the Anglosphere, and other nations as well (c.f. Switzerland).  This has resulted in the Military being seen as high status, and commanding broad respect through society.

It's the soldier, not the reporter who has given us 
Freedom of the Press.  
It's the soldier, not the poet, who has given us 
Freedom of Speech.  
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the 
Freedom to Demonstrate.  
It's the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the 
Right to a Fair Trial.  
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves under the flag and 
whose coffin is draped by the flag, 
Who gives the protestor the right to burn the flag.

And so in the United States, today is the celebration of Veteran's Day.  The rest of the Anglosphere (and other places) hold today as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day, recalling the Millions slaughtered in the Great War which ended 95 years ago today.  America does not need a Remembrance Day, as we have our own Memorial Day holiday (an outgrowth of the American War of Southern Independence a half century earlier than the War To End All Wars).

As a result, there's less sadness here.  On these shores, today is a day for the living, not for the dead.  We see signs at small restaurants saying "Veterans Eat Free", which would be difficult for those asleep in Flanders' Fields.

But even here it's worth a moment's reflection on the War where Europe committed suicide, when a whole generation was butchered and damned.  And how they nearly took us with her, then and 20 years later.  It's rarely the politicians who caused the problem who bleed.

Thanks to all who served, including Grandpa, Dad, Uncle Dick, nephew Daniel, The Queen Of The World's son, our Son-In-Law (now back from deployment), and last but by no means least our very own ASM826.  The citizens - of whom you were once part and to which you returned - are grateful indeed that this nation does not fear its own Armed Forces. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Oh, foo

I've been chewing over an uberpost for a few days and am kind of caught on the horns of a dilemma.  On one hand, I think this explains why "Woke" isn't going away anytime soon.  On the other hand, while I think I understand the situation - really, really - this is very complex stuff.

Tam points out that this isn't the 2010 blogosphere anymore - 300 word clickbait posts are what rule the 'nets - and this would be actual work to write, edit, condense, prune, and work the complexity down to something understandable in less than (dare I say it?) borepatchian length.  Heck, I may need to actually print out and highlight the posts that triggered this.

I dunno - sounds like work, not fun.  Like I said, foo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Dad Joke CXXIX

 I met a taxidermist who wasn't very talkative.  I asked him what he did for a living and he just said "Stuff".

Monday, November 8, 2021

Pay attention to the Check Engine light



I don't tell many knock-knock jokes, but I adore them. 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

John Williams - Overture to the film "Hook"

John Williams needs no introduction, being probably the biggest name in film music in the 1980s and 1990s.  Only Walt Disney himself has more Academy Award nominations than Williams whose 54 nominations were limited to music.  His 25 Grammy Awards surprisingly is not a record - that goes to Sir Georg Solti.  But Williams is a treasure, and his 1991 score to Hook is a delight.  It wasn't nominated for the Oscar that year but that's probably not a big loss as the winner was Beauty And The Beast and nothing was going to beat that.

The film itself is a mixed bag.  The "Peter Pan grew up" concept comes across as obvious and Robin Williams didn't really pull it off.  But Dustin Hoffman was brilliant in the title role - I guess you can't really steal the show when you're the lead actor but it's one of my favorite performances by him.

Saturday, November 6, 2021


What do you call a dog that does magic tricks? 

A labracadabrador.

Everly Brothers - Cathy's Clown

What is - or isn't - Country Music?  This is a much discussed topic these days.  This discussion isn't new, dating back at least to the 1950s when the Everly Brothers exploded onto the airwaves.

Rock n' Roll was the hot new sound, and Country record sales were crashing.  Chet Atkins discovered the pair who were fresh out of Nashville High School, and gave them as their first record a new song that had been rejected by 30 other performers.  It was "Bye Bye Love" and went straight to #2 on the charts, only losing out to Elvis himself.

But is this Country Music?  Sure, there's the Chet Atkins connection, but it lacks the twang and slide guitar and banjo we associate with Country.  And yet the Everly Brothers are in the Country Music Hall Of Fame.  Rockabilly is at least a first cousin to Country music, I guess.

This song was wildly influential, inspiring no less than The Beatles ("Please Please Me").  Don Everly passed away in August.  His brother in 2014.

Cathy's Clown (Songwriter: Don Everly)

Don't want your love anymore
Don't want your kisses, that's for sure
I die each time
I hear this sound:
"Here he comes. That's Cathy's clown."

I've gotta stand tall
You know a man can't crawl
But when he knows you’re tellin’ lies
And he hears them passing’ by
He's not a man at all

Don't want your love anymore
Don't want your kisses, that's for sure
I die each time
I hear this sound:
"Here he comes. That's Cathy's clown."

When you see me shed a tear
And you know that it’s sincere
Don’t you think it’s kind of sad
That you’re treating me so bad
Or don’t you even care?

Don't want your love anymore
Don't want your kisses, that's for sure
I die each time
I hear this sound:
"Here he comes.
That's Cathy's clown
That's Cathy's clown
That's Cathy's clown."

Friday, November 5, 2021

Dad Joke CXXVI

Did you hear about the boy who went to mime school?

He was never heard from again. 

Security Smörgåsbord, vol. 13 no. 7

Here's a collection of interesting computer security news from the last month or so.

When there's never any good news, some good news is always welcome. Port of Houston successfully blocks cyber attack

The Port of Houston, a major U.S. port, was targeted in an attempted cyber attack last month, the Port shared in a statement on Thursday.

“The Port of Houston Authority (Port Houston) successfully defended itself against a cybersecurity attack in August,” the statement reads. “Port Houston followed its Facilities Security Plan in doing so, as guided under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), and no operational data or systems were impacted as a result.” 

I think this may be the first time in 13 years that I've posted a success story.  I have a post tag called pwned; maybe I need one called "Not pwned"?  Anyway, chalk one up for the good guys.  Ports are very much part of critical infrastructure.

Let's Encrypt allows root and intermediate certificates to expire:

Websites and apps are suffering or have suffered outages around the world for at least some netizens today due to connectivity issues.

Though the exact causes of the IT breakdowns are in many cases not fully known right now, there has been a sudden uptick in downtime right as Let's Encrypt, which provides free HTTPS certificates to a ton of organizations, let one of its root and intermediate certs expire.

This expiration should be invisible to software, services, and users relying on the certificates for encryption, tamper-proof communications and whatnot, however not all systems appear to have handled the expiry well. 

[facepalm]  There are two ways to look at this.  The first option is that an Internet Certificate Authority doesn't really know how to manage their own certificates.  The second is that programmers who write code using these certificates don't really know hoe to manage their certificates.  I'm not sure which is more terrifying. 

Ransomware attack leads to baby's death:

A U.S. hospital paralyzed by ransomware in 2019 will be defending itself in court in November over the death of a newborn, allegedly caused by the cyberattack.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, the baby’s mother, Teiranni Kidd, gave birth to her daughter, Nicko Silar, on July 16, 2019, without knowing that the hospital was entering its eighth day of clawing its way back from the attack.

According to court filings, health records at the hospital – Springhill Medical Center, in Mobile, Ala. – were inaccessible. A wireless tracking system for locating medical staff was still down. And, in the labor-and-delivery unit, staff were cut off from the equipment that monitors fetal heartbeats, which are normally tracked on a large screen at the nurses’ station and in the delivery room.

Those monitors should have informed the staff of what was a life-threatening situation, alleges a medical malpractice lawsuit that Kidd has filed in the Circuit Court of Mobile County. Nicko was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, choking off her blood and oxygen. She suffered severe brain damage and died nine months later.

I'm going to have to borrow J.Kb's wood chipper ...

NSA has released a guide on how to pick a secure VPN.  I'm cynical enough to wonder if NSA isn't trying to lead everyone to poor encryption choices.  Again.  Oh, who am I kidding?  They've never stopped.  Once is coincidence, twice is happenstance, three times is enemy action.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Prepping on steriods

There's building stockpiles of food and supplies to get you through bad times, and then there's building a collection of technologies and machines that can help you keep civilization going if things really get bad.  The Global Village Construction Set is a set of open source designs for the 50 machines most critical to keeping civilization functional.  Some of these are things that I quite frankly would not have thought about - like the compressed earth brick press which costs $4000 for the materials and which can make 6 blocks per minute.

They have designs for a tractor, a 3D printer, a backhoe, a rototiller, and many others.  Essentially, this is a set of plans for low cost machines you can use to reboot civilization.  Impressive.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Dad Joke CXXV

Gaijin email today's Dad Joke:

Why are there no Momtarts?  The Pastriarchy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Glossing the Climate Scientists

Back in the Middle Ages, books weren't printed (the printing press hadn't yet been invented).  Instead, they were laboriously copied by hand.  Monasteries were the chief place that this took place, and you can get a great overview of this in the very enjoyable How The Irish Saved Civilization.

One thing that the Monks would often do, especially on more complex books on theology or philosophy was to add short notes in the margins explaining the more impenetrable passages.  These little blurbs were called "glosses" and were essentially a reader's helper.  If you didn't have a teacher - if all you had was the book - then the gloss would provide a welcome overview to guide the reader to the point of the original book.

Reader Lou emailed:

Hi Borepatch,

I am a longtime reader, this is my first reach out.

Great blog, I learn a lot and it is on my daily read list.

Regarding AGW, I am a definite skeptic.  Though only semi-literate on the subject matter. I try to apply my generic engineer-trained, data-driven analytical approach to issues. 

I have read your posts on it (especially the ones from 2010 and 2017) and appreciate you taking these folks on.

I recently came across this article:

My lack of command of the subject leaves me ill-equipped to critique or rebut. Would you be willing to look at it and unpack/rebut from your perspective?  I know you have already covered the fundamentals, it’s just these people never quit. And they misuse data to deceive folks.

Either way, thank you for all you are doing, please keep it up you have more positive impact than you may realize!

Thanks for the kind words, Lou.  I haven't posted on Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) in quite some time because I think I've written everything I have to say on it.  And so while I won't do a line-by-line fisking of Dr. Weatherhead's article, I will gloss some of my older posts as to how they relate to her article.

We should start with the post that has a permanent sidebar in the upper right hand side of this blog: A Layman's Guide to the Science of Global Warming.  The discussion that is most pertinent to Dr. Weatherman's article is the bit on Carbon Dioxide and how weak a greenhouse gas it is.  Dr. Weatherman repeatedly refers to increasing carbon dioxide but completely skates by the fact that CO2 is saturated in Earth's atmosphere, at least as far as its heat capturing capacity.  The key passage from my old post is this:

The scientific consensus is that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in warming of around 1°C.  We've gone from around 280 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric  CO2 to around 400 ppm an increase of about 50% over the last 100 years or so, so there should have been an increase of around half a degree.  So why do we hear all of this about how we are destroying the planet?  I mean, half a degree doesn't sound like much.

The next post of mine that is pertinent to Dr. Weatherman's article is How to create a consensus on Global Warming.  She points out in her article that climate data show that all continents are warming.  However, she does not address the very serious problems with adjustments to the data that inject a warming signal where none exists.  This is quite frankly the key problem in climate science: the raw temperature data (temperature readings as originally collected by the scientist many years ago) do not show warming, but the adjusted data (what is reported by scientists like Dr. Weatherman) shows considerable warming.  My post is very difficult to gloss because the information is so, well, shocking but this is the summary:

Let me say this explicitly: I used to believe that the planet was warming, and that this was likely due to natural (as opposed to man made) causes. Now I'm not sure that the planet is warming. The data do not show warming over the last 70 years, maybe longer.

If you only read one of my posts on global warming, this is the one.  It is information-dense and has a bunch of links to scientists who dissent from Dr. Weatherman's "consensus science" view.

A related post about non-adjusted temperature data is relevant.  Understanding Climate Data Made Easy discusses how record temperatures (you can't adjust them, amirite?) do not jive at all with the every-year-is-hotter message from Dr. Weatherman.  Here are the key bits:

So we see [only] 9 states (18% of the total) setting high records in the last 50 years. 41 states (82% of the total) haven't seen record high temperatures in the period we've been told is an accelerating and hotter climate.  You would expect to see a lot more states - another 15 or so setting recent high temperature records.  Weird, huh?  It's almost like if you remove the adjustments to the temperature data, you don't see accelerating warming.

In fact, we may be seeing the opposite.  If you look at record low temperatures you see a lot going on in the most recent years.  15 states have set record low temperatures in the last 50 years (once again ignoring dates listed with an asterisk which tells us the year that the previous low record was tied).  This is only 30% of the total, but that's basically twice as many as set record high temperatures.

July and August 1936 saw 14 States set record high temperatures that have not been surpassed in the subsequent 85 years.  This despite the repeated statements that last year was the hottest ever.  This post suggests a fundamental breakdown in the "Carbon Dioxide is killing us" throry:

Now the establishment science story is that average TMin has been increasing over time, while average TMax has not been increasing much (looking at adjusted data).  Left unexplained is how increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases average low temperatures while not increasing average high temperatures.  Also left unexplained is how increasing average low temperatures (without increasing average high temperatures) will lead to ecological disaster.  Maybe it could, but it's not at all obvious how this would happen.

It's also not explained why Urban Heat Island (UHI) doesn't explain the higher average low temperatures (TMin).  UHI is where a weather station that used to be in a nice grassy field is now in the middle of an airport, surrounded by tarmac and blasted with jetwash.  It's surprising just how many weather stations are not sited to accurate data collection norms - only 8% of GCHN stations are accurate withing 1°C.

The data are a mess - you might even say they are a hot mess.

And now we come to the most pointed argument against Dr. Weatherman's article - Science As Practiced Today Is Very Sick.  The scientists themselves have repeatedly shown themselves to be less than trustworthy.  Dr. Weatherman really needs to deal with the Climategate scandal but is unlikely to touch the subject.  The Layman's Guide post above gives an overview of the scandal:

In November 2009,  someone posted 61 MB of emails, computer program code, and climate data from Hadley servers to an FTP server on the Internet.  One of the most notorious of the emails in this release was from Dr. Jones, and contained the following:

I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps
 to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from
 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.

Let's unpack this so you understand each piece.  "Mike" refers to Dr. Michael Mann (of the Hockey Stick graph fame).  "Nature" refers to Nature Magazine, one of (perhaps the) most  prestigious scientific journals.  More specifically, it refers to an article that they published, written by Dr. Mann in which he had a temperature reconstruction.  There is a huge amount of dispute over what "trick" means - skeptics allege sleight of hand while Mann said it just referred to a mathematical technique.  So what was the trick?

Dr. Mann's data sets contained many different proxy series.  This is actually a good thing, because you want confirmation of results from different places and types of proxies (say, including ice cores, tree rings, and corals will probably be more reliable than just using tree rings).  Mann's "trick" (call it a mathematical technique if you want) was to remove all proxy data later than 1960 and replace it with measured temperature data.  The result was a hockey stick shaped temperature graph.  This is what Dr. Jones did in the paper referred to in his email.

The $100,000 question is: why go to the trouble to do this if you have proxy data from 1960 up to the present?  Why replace 50 years of perfectly good data?

Hide the decline.

There is an youtube lecture where Dr. Richard Mueller from Berkeley covers what Jones did and why Mueller won't read any more of Jones' scientific papers.  Dr. Weatherman contributes to the IPCC Assessment Reports so she almost certainly knows Jones personally.  She will know Mueller at least by reputation.  But she is a beneficiary of Government funding, running a department at the University of Colorado.  Which leads us directly to the next - and last - post of mine to gloss: "It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist."

Perhaps the single dumbest argument presented in support of Global Warming is that "the scientific consensus is that it's true".  Translation: all the cool kids do it.  Translation [2]: my scientist is red hot; your scientist ain't doodly-squat.  Oooooh kaaaay.

Of course it's as untrue as it is stupid. And so we get the "you're not qualified"/"we only look at peer-reviewed scientists" expulsion of the Heretics, as the Establishment desperately tries to keep control of the debate.

That's breaking down.  Hal Lewis is one of the Senior Statesmen of American Physics.  He's been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years (!).


Hal Lewis thinks that Global Warming is an anti-scientific, money-grabbing scam by scientists, and says so in a brutal resignation letter sent to the president of the APS:

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.

Lewis' letter is utterly damning, and cannot be dismissed as coming from a crank, or an amateur.  And in it he directly addresses the then President of the APS in a passage that must fit Dr. Weatherman's department like a glove:

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. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I would be much more impressed with climate scientists like Dr. Weatherman if they would address the (it must be said) stink of corruption at the heart of their field.  Or clean up their data.  Of course, as Lewis pointed out there are millions of dollars at stake.

So there you have it, Lou.  There's a lot of reading, but unlike Dr. Weatherman I show my work.  And unlike Dr. Weatherman, I don't say "trust me, I'm a scientist" when so many of her colleagues so clearly are not trustworthy.