Tuesday, November 29, 2022

David Gogo - Santa Claus Is Back In Town

 It's Christmas season now, and The Queen Of The World found this nifty Canukistan blues.  Merry Christmas, Hosers!

Maybe Blogger won't censor this, eh?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmas Time Is Here

A Charlie Brown Christmas was an annual show when I was growing up, and this was the iconic song from that show.  Vince Guaraldi is forever associated with this composition of his.  It's not really classical, but since we're now past Thanksgiving, it is Christmas.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Ongoing Censorship

 In the ongoing effort to protect the world from Borepatch, the following actions have been taken by The Blogger Team.

https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2008/06/what-smells-good.html has been removed.

http://borepatch.blogspot.com/2011/05/america-do-your-part-to-when-harry-met.html has been put behind a warning wall.

http://borepatch.blogspot.com/2010/06/ouch.html has been put behind a warning wall.

If this continues, I will make a sidebar widget to list the posts that The Blogger Team is protecting you from.

R.I.P. Dr. Frederick Brooks

Dwight posts his obit.  Dr. Brooks wrote "The Mythical Man-Month" which is perhaps the seminal computer science text.  I read it 25 or 30 years ago and it's been useful to me over the course of my career.  Dr. Brooks taught that complexity kills projects, and the way to ensure success is not to throw bodies at the problem but rather ruthlessly enforce clarity in your goals.

Essentially, not all teams are created equal, just like not all cars are created equal.  So what's the best car?  It all depends on what you want to do with it.  A car is not a car is not a car.

I hadn't known that Brooks became a devout Christian in his middle age.  This really isn't remarkable - most of my science and engineering professors were regular church attendees.  Only modern intellectuals think there's a tension between science and theology.  Of course the obit writer is an intellectual and so this part of his life is presented as something mysterious and unusual.  Sigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Censored By Google

 Here's the content of the message we received. It is worth pointing out that this post has been sitting, unloved and unread, since July of 2014. If your curiosity is now aroused, it is possible to visit the Wayback Machine with the URL and read the post unedited. The note mentions that it was the Malware and Virus policy that was violated, so it is possible that one of the links in the post was compromised and that triggered the removal.



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Happy Thanksgiving

Important pro-tip: turkeys can't fly.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Bake like it's 1653

Via The History Blog, there's a Sweet Potato Pie recipe from 1653.  Pretty cool, although it's been updated for the modern palate.  Pretty high end ingredients for the day, so not exactly what the Pilgrims would have had at Thanksgiving, but it sounds pretty yummy.


Good Lord, it's been almost a week since I last posted.  Family things have been front and center, and hopefully are getting worked out. 

A more normal posting schedule will commence.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Gary Clark Jr. - The Healing

Adan Piggott (Gentleman Adventurer) posted this a few weeks back.  It's been quite a while since I've posted Thursday Blues, and this is an artist I'd never heard of.  Adam does a good job introducing him:

I first came across this guy back in 2015 when I purchased his album, ‘The Story of Sonny Boy Slim’. A great album, every track  is a winner. He has a unique sound which is hard to come by these days. And he seems to like to record his stuff analog style. I’m gonna let the music do the talking as opposed to me rabbiting on. Here he is playing one of the album tracks in a live studio session. I love how he is so understated on the guitar, draws you in, and then a killer knock out solo performance.

Killer blues guitar, indeed.  Thanks, Adam!

Artemis/Orion: Pow! Zoom! To the Moon!

Congratulations to NASA for this week's successful SLS launch.  It is (for now at least) the most powerful rocket in history.  The Orion capsule is now on its way to the Moon which is pretty cool.

But you have to think that SpaceX is the future.  Casey Handmer describes just what a game changer the Starship rocket is:

Starship matters. It’s not just a really big rocket, like any other rocket on steroids. It’s a continuing and dedicated attempt to achieve the “Holy Grail” of rocketry, a fully and rapidly reusable orbital class rocket that can be mass manufactured. It is intended to enable a conveyor belt logistical capacity to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) comparable to the Berlin Airlift. That is, Starship is a powerful logistical system that puts launch below the API.

Starship is designed to be able to launch bulk cargo into LEO in >100 T chunks for <$10m per launch, and up to thousands of launches per year. By refilling in LEO, a fully loaded deep space Starship can transport >100 T of bulk cargo anywhere in the solar system, including the surface of the Moon or Mars, for <$100m per Starship. Starship is intended to be able to transport a million tonnes of cargo to the surface of Mars in just ten launch windows, in addition to serving other incidental destinations, such as maintaining the Starlink constellation or building a big base at the Lunar south pole.

SLS has a different motivation.  The return to the Moon is a Prestige Project (not to mention a way to funnel Federal money to favored suppliers).  That road is a dead end.  I posted this years back, before SpaceX was really on the radar.  Looking at what they are doing, they look very much like Columbus.

(Originally posted Monday, July 20, 2009)

Jack Kennedy's Treasure Fleet

I was 11 years old, and it was late. We simply weren't allowed to stay up that late - after 11:00. But this was no normal day. We all huddled around that old Black-and-White television set, watching a terrible picture that showed the first man on the moon. Dad was in Paris finishing his PhD research, and watched it projected on a huge screen at the Place de la Concorde. This was maybe the last time that an American's money was no good in Paris.

We haven't been back, since Gene Cernan climbed back aboard the LEM in December, 1972. Some folks think this is a crying shame. I used to be one of them. Now I recognize that there could not have been any other outcome. We've seen this before.

Between 1405 and 1433, the Chinese Ming dynasty sent a series of exploration voyages to southeast Asia, India, and even Africa. While the Portuguese under Prince Henry struggled down the western coast of Africa in their tiny caravels, huge Chinese treasure ships sailed to Calicut and Mogadishu.

And then they were gone, as if they had never existed. Why?

The historian David Landes spends considerable time on this question in his indispensable The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations. The Chinese voyages differed in one critical way from those of Diaz and Columbus: the Chinese voyages were motivated by a desire to glorify the Middle Kingdom, while the European ones were motivated by the desire for filthy lucre:
In the 1430s a new emperor reigned in Peking, one who "knew not Joseph." A new, Confucian crowd completed for influence, mandarins who scorned and distrusted commerce (for them, the only true source of wealth was agriculture) and detested the eunuchs who had planned and carried out the great voyages. For some decades, the two groups vied for influence, the balance shifting now one way, not the other. But fiscality and the higher Chinese morality were on the Confucian side. The maritime campaign had strained the empire's finances and weakened its authority over a population bled white by taxes and corvee levies.


So, after some decades of tugging and hauling, of alternating celebration and commemoration on the one hand, of contumely and repudiation on the other, the decision was taken not only to cease from maritime exploration but to erase the very memory of what had gone before lest later generations be tempted to renew the folly.


At the same time, [the Chinese] desire to overawe meant that costs far exceeded returns. These voyages reeked of extravagance. Whereas the first profits (the first whiff of pepper) and the promise of even greater ones to come were a powerful incentive to Western venturers, in China the pecuniary calculus said no.


The vulnerability of the program - here today, gone tomorrow - was reinforced by its official character. In Europe, the opportunity of private initiative that characterized even such royal projects as the search for a sea route to the Indies was a source of participatory funding and an assurance of rationality. Nothing like that in China, where the Confucian state abhorred merchantile success.
So why did we leave the Moon, never to return? Why is NASA wandering in the wilderness? Let's update Landes, shall we? In Europe America, the opportunity of private initiative that characterized even such royal Government projects as the search for a sea route to the Indies low-cost way to orbit was a source of participatory funding and an assurance of rationality. OK, then.

The heroism of the Astronaut corps doesn't change the fact that NASA will not - and can not - ever do what Columbus did. If they want to make a difference, to make it possible for people to live in Space, they should declare that they will purchase X kilograms of orbital launch delivery at $Y per kilo, and get out of the way. Unlike the X-Prize and Spaceship-One, NASA's pecuniary calculus will always be a football game, played between the Johnson Center Eunuchs and the HHS Mandarins.

But hey, this is all crazy talk, right? I mean, NASA would never skew things because of politics, right? Right?


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Sunday, November 13, 2022

And Now There Are Eight

 A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra were involved in a midair at an airshow in Dallas yesterday. Both aircraft were completely destroyed and the pilot of the P-63 and the entire crew of five on the B-17 were killed in the resulting crash.

The investigation has scarcely begun, but it looks like the P-63 was following it's lead aircraft in a sweeping turn to port and had no view of the B-17 below and starboard of it's flight path. The B-17 was flying straight and level and had no view of the P-63 which came in from behind and overtook the B-17. It may be nothing more than that, but time will tell.

Update: Comments are closed for this post.

Danny Elfman - Theme to "Dick Tracy"

Maybe this is New Wave meets Classical.  Danny Elfman was front man for the 1980s New Wave band Oingo Boingo.  If anyone has ever wondered just what the heck happened to this "one hit wonder" there's a simple explanation: he's been composing award winning scores for more films than you can shake a stick at.  Suffering hearing damage from touring with the band, he was hired by his fan Tim Burton to write the score for Pee-wee's Big Adventure in 1985 (the same year as their one-hit wonder Dead Man's Party)  Then the film score gigs came fast and furious: Back To School, Beetlejuice, Schrooged, Batman, and today's selection, Dick Tracy.  And that was all by 1990. Oh, yeah - he also wrote the theme to The Simpsons.

The Queen Of The World and I really like the film Dick Tracy.  It is highly stylized which is easy to mess up but succeeds brilliantly in the same way that 300 succeeds at it.  And the music is great all the way through, including Oscar and Grammy nominations.

And he has real non-film compositional chops as well.  Here's his Violin Concerto "Eleven Eleven":

Not bad for a one-hit wonder, amirite?  All right, all right - here it is:

Madonna's performance of Sooner Or Later (I Always Get My Man) was awesome, even thought it was written by Steven Sondheim.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Country Joe McDonald - Save The Whales

52 years ago today, the Oregon Highway Division tried to remove a whale carcass.  With dynamite

Now there's a country music song for just about anything, but not this.  The closest I could find was this one from Country Joe McDonald (front man for Country Joe and the Fish).  It's very 1970s earnest but that makes it a bit of a time capsule.  Looking back, you can see just how much has changed in the last half century.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Thank you, Veterans

Thank you to all who have served, especially:

Grandpa (USA - RIP)

Dad (USA - RIP)

Uncle Dick (USMC - RIP)



Our Son-In-Law the Chief (USN)

Nephew Dan (USMC)

My Brother-From-Another-Mother, our very own ASM826 (USMC)

Big Country (USA)


DiveMedic (USMC)

OldAF Sarge (USAF)

Beans (USN)

Peter Grant (Seffrican, but now a Yank)

Just about everyone who came to the Southwest Florida blogshoots

Just about everyone who comments here.

Thank you all for your service.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Things that make you go "hmmm"

Midterm elections are always bad for the President's party.  The only two exceptions in recent history prove this rule: 

  • 2002 when the country was united after 9/11 and a blitzkreig special forces operation to remove the Taliban.  Does anyone think that this country is united?  Oh, and the contrast to the 2001/2002 Afghanistan war and Biden's botched pullout speaks for itself.
  • 1998 when the economy was roaring and the GOP was making all sorts of noises about impeaching a popular President.  Is the economy roaring?  Is Biden popular/

Other than these two elections, you have to go all the way back to 1934 - in the midst of the Great Depression to find a midterm election where the President's party didn't get clobbered.

A President's popularity is a key factor here - see Bill Clinton in 1998.  Joe Biden is under water by double digits, and 75% of the country think that it's on the wrong track.

And yet Democrats did well last night.  They did very well.  Hmmmmm ...

UPDATE 9 NOVEMBER 2022 09:52:  Mike leaves a comment:

It looks like either the red side decided voting doesn't matter (possible after 2020, but wrong) or people are largely fine with how things are going. Either is depressing and gives little hope for the future.

But people aren't fine with how things are going.  As I pointed out, 75% of people say the country is on the wrong track.  The top issues (according to pollsters) were inflation/the economy and border security.  Both of these are pocketbook issues.  People continually report that their families are being hurt by these.  I guess it's possible that they all shrugged their shoulders and said "It's all good, brah" but this doesn't seem enormously likely to me.  It's another thing that makes you go "Hmmmm ..."

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Musings on today's election

We continue to live in Claire Wolfe's "Awkward Time" - too late to vote ourselves out of this, too early to shoot the bastards in the face.  But in CHurchill's famous dictum, it's better to Jaw-Jaw than to War-War.  And so The Queen Of The World and I voted.  I know, I know ...

Turnout had been brisk all day.  I don't know if it's like this other places than here at the edge of Tampa suburbia.  If so, this likely means Republicans will do well.  If they do, I'm not sure what that will mean.  Certainly there are a bunch of Young Turks coming into the GOP, but the establishment will not willingly give up their perks, power, and riches.

I have no doubt about the outcome for the House of Representatives.  There are 438 House districts and self-sorting by the population combined with gerrymandering by the politicians means that it's really, really hard for a centralized voting fraud machine to swing more than a handful of districts.  So the Republicans will comfortably control the House, perhaps with their biggest majority ever.  Since the House is the ones that create the spending bills, this is an excellent position to cause all sorts of pain to the out of control Left in this Republic.

Republicans should continue their winning streak with Governor's races, and pick up some Senate seats.  But these races are State wide, and so a small number of Democratic controlled districts could (in theory) upset the vote via industrial level fraud.  We'll see how this looks tomorrow.  If the Red Wave means that Fulton County needs over 100% of the vote to reelect Raphael Warnock, then that is something that you can catch.  I'm not sanguine over this, at least in places like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia - in other words, the places where you can still smell the stench of the 2020 election.

So it's wait and see.  But tonight TQOTW and I are off to Ron DeSantis' victory rally in Tampa.  This will be the first political rally I will ever have attended.  Since Ron is going to smoke his opponents, it should be a fun time, and I'm interested to see if it's different seeing the man in Real Life rather than in Youtube clips.

And I'd be worried about rioters in the street except that Gov DeSantis has made his position on that crystal clear.  And this isn't Chicago or California.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Max Steiner - Suite for "Casablanca"

There are times when a film and its music blend seamlessly into something that is more than the sum of its parts.  There are times when the music steals the show from a mediocre film.  And there are times when the music score - even by the greatest film composer of his day - is simply overmatched by the film itself.

Casablanca is one example of the latter.  Now this isn't entirely fair, because Casablanca is arguably the greatest film ever made.  But there it is anyway.

Max Steiner is someone we've seen before here. 

There's a reason that Max Steiner is called "the father of film music".  As with many composers we've seen here over the years he was a child prodigy.  He was born in Vienna back in the days of the Emperors.  He was named after his grandfather who was the fellow who persuaded Josef Strauss (Jr) to write music for the theater.  Richard Strauss was his godfather.  A composer by ten years old, he enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Music at 14 and completed the entire 4 year program in 12 months.  It likely helped that his tutor was Gustav Mahler.

Unlike many German composers who came to America during World War II, he landed in the New World in World War I.  He was on a concert tour in Great Britain when World War I broke out in 1914 and was interned as an enemy alien.  But he had many fans in His Magesty's Scept'red Isle - not least the Duke of Westminster - and so was allowed to sail to New York.  He was soon writing music for Broadway.  RKO Pictures hired him in 1929 and music in Hollywood was never the same.

But the score for Casablanca was workmanlike, not brilliant.  It sets the stage for the actors and while it holds up its end throughout the film, it definitely plays second fiddle so to speak.  Again, the film is so spectacular that this is perhaps not surprising, but while Casablanca was nominated for best musical score at that year's Academy Awards, it lost to The Song Of Bernadette.  In a way, the father of film music had a knack of having his music overshadowed by the film - Gone With The Wind also lost the Oscar to The Wizard Of Oz.

But Steiner's genius is fully on display in the scene that is sometimes called "the duel of the anthems".  That scene would simply not have been possible without the music score, and it is one of the most memorable scenes in a film filled with memorable scenes.

His was a rare genius, even if he didn't win as many Oscars as you'd expect.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Vince Gill - One More Last Chance

So some Covid Karen tells us we all need to forgive and forget about the damage, deaths, and pain inflicted by the Covid lockdowns.  Lots of folks are talking about this - I particularly like Aesop's. Better people than I have written eloquently about the death and destruction, and about how forgiveness requires repentance.  I really don't have anything more to add about that, either.

But one thing struck me about Karen's (actually Brown University Economist Emily Oster) article.  Specifically, this:

The people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat. Those who got it wrong, for whatever reason, may feel defensive and retrench into a position that doesn’t accord with the facts. All of this gloating and defensiveness continues to gobble up a lot of social energy and to drive the culture wars, especially on the internet. These discussions are heated, unpleasant and, ultimately, unproductive. In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing. Treating pandemic choices as a scorecard on which some people racked up more points than others is preventing us from moving forward. [My emphasis - Borepatch]

Whoa, slow down Cowpoke.  There wasn't any luck involved at all.  Case in point, Borepatch, March 22, 2020 - a week after lockdowns were imposed:

There are three very interesting Coronavirus narratives emerging in just the last day or two:

  1. The virus looks to be less bad - and perhaps much less bad - than we had feared.  As we learn more, we learn that the worst case scenario that had been put forward is much less likely.
  2. Government actions have been a factor in making the outbreak or response worse or of using the outbreak to cover up their failures.
  3. The government response is strangling the economy.  By their own admission (i.e. bills being discussed in Congress), there is at least a Trillion dollars of damage so far.
So look at this situation: things are not as bad as we feared, governments are to some extent demonstrably incompetent and untrustworthy, and the draconian crackdown/overreaction is destroying businesses, jobs, and people's lives.

Man, I sure was lucky in that analysis, wasn't I?  But I guess that I'm particularly lucky because a month later I wrote this:

Most importantly of all, we're not tracking (well, modeling) how many of the Kung Flu deaths are people who had severe health problems and would likely have died soon anyway.  Sure, there are stories about young healthy people keeling over from this; we know that this is a vanishingly small minority of the total deaths.

But we know that we are putting the population of the country under severe strain, and that this has very real consequences.  Aesop left a comment from the health care front lines that illustrates this:

And yes, in one night, three of the traumas we had were domestic violence.

Normally, we see one of those a month; at worst, one a week. Not three in one night.

But it hasn't been that way every night. Yet.

Man, that's two in a row for Borepatch!  How lucky can you get?  But wait - there's more!  Posted here September 3, 2020:

A groundbreaking new study commissioned by Revolver News concludes that COVID-19 lockdowns are ten times more deadly than the actual COVID-19 virus in terms of years of life lost by American citizens.

Up until this point there had been no simple, rigorous analysis that accurately and definitively conveys the true costs of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Accordingly, Revolver News set out to commission a study to do precisely that: to finally quantify the net damage of the lockdowns in terms of a metric known as “life-years.” Simply put, we have drawn upon existing economic studies on the health effects of unemployment to calculate an estimate of how many years of life will have been lost due to the lockdowns in the United States, and have weighed this against an estimate of how many years of life will have been saved by the lockdowns. The results are nothing short of staggering, and suggest that the lockdowns will end up costing Americans over 10 times as many years of life as they will save from the virus itself.

Bold in original.  That's some medical response, right there.

In all honesty, this really isn't controversial at all.  We've studied the health effects of unemployment for decades and decades.  We know what happened to employment, and how many people lost their jobs.  Applying known health impacts to those people allows us to quantify mortality due to the lockdown.  It's just math.

What is interesting here is the analysis of age at death.  For virtually all (90%) of Covid deaths, the patient was very old.  This means that there were few "life years" left for that patient.  However, for unemployment caused mortality the age at death was much younger, and so there were many more years for each of these people.

The process of higher mathematics gives the result that is in boldface in the quote.

It's hard to see a more counter productive government response.

Man, I must be the luckiest man on the face of the earth, stringing these analyses and predictions together like that.  I'd better buy a Powerball ticket for tonight!  [/snark]

So what is it that makes me so much smarter than a Brown University Professor?  I wrote about this in the April post linked above, specifically:

Once a government executes a particular power, they will want to do it again.  Most of the country in under house arrest; where does that lead in the future?  To SiG's point that people will answer this by saying that people will die and isn't it heartless to let them die over a hypothetical, let me reply by asking how many people?  Because we don't know the number because we're not measuring the factors that would tell us the answer: how many are very sick and would die within the next 6-12 months?  Sure their lives are valuable but do we wreck 50 million lives to give them and extra 6 months?  That sounds harsh, but that's exactly the tradeoff that we are making.

It's the Unseen.  And the costs are Unseen, too, because no Governor in the land wants to make it explicit to the voters just what are all the many miseries that have been unleashed on them by said Governor.  That it is Unseen is not by accident.

And so our policy makers see the situation poorly, looking through a glass darkly at only a portion of the situation.  Of course the resulting public policy is hideous.  Interestingly, the misery is concentrated on Trump voters (the hourly wage class), not the governing class (who work from home via videoconference).  You can't get to your factory job that way, but the salaried class are doing fine.  No doubt this is all a coincidence.

Even a private University like Brown cannot exist without the generous support of the Government.  Professor Oster has a financial incentive to follow the government with respect to this policy, and when a person's dinner depends upon their support for a particular policy they tend not to see any evidence that runs counter to that policy.

Oh, and no doubt Professor Oster did just fine during the lockdowns while working class people in Providence lost their businesses.  No doubt this was all a coincidence, too.

Moving on is crucial now, because the pandemic created many problems that we still need to solve.

Student test scores have shown historic declines, more so in math than in reading, and more so for students who were disadvantaged at the start. We need to collect data, experiment, and invest. Is high-dosage tutoring more or less cost-effective than extended school years? Why have some states recovered faster than others? We should focus on questions like these, because answering them is how we will help our children recover.

Many people have neglected their health care over the past several years. Notably, routine vaccination rates for children (for measles, pertussis, etc.) are way down. Rather than debating the role that messaging about COVID vaccines had in this decline, we need to put all our energy into bringing these rates back up. Pediatricians and public-health officials will need to work together on community outreach, and politicians will need to consider school mandates.

The standard saying is that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a repetitive doom loop as well. Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward.
Point of order, Professor Oster: it wasn't the pandemic that caused all this damage.  Rather, it was the government imposed lockdowns (supported by "experts" such as yourself) that did.  Some of us called this very, very early: April 21, 2020 to be specific:
There is simply no rational, science-based justification to keep the lockdowns in place anymore.  We see this recognized by Governors (who are starting to end the lockdown) and by the population in general (who are starting to willfully violate the lockdown).  Everybody but the "experts" is starting to recognize this, and the "experts" may be refusing to recognize it so that they don't get blamed.
We knew this from the very beginning, but dim-bulb "Experts" like Professor Oster got this public policy wrong all the time.  They got it was catastrophically wrong. Yet somehow the "experts" keep wanting another chance to get things catastrophically wrong again.  And again.  And again.

Professor Oster wants us to give these same "experts" one more last chance.  There's a Country music song about that.

(Best country music cameo ever)

One More Last Chance (Songwriters: Vince Gill, Gary Nicholson)
She was standing at the front door
When I came home last night
A good book in her left hand
And a rollin' pin in the right
She said you've come home for the last time
With whiskey on your breath
If you don't listen to my preachin' boy
I'm goin' to have to beat you half to death

Give me just a one more last chance
Before you say we're through
I know I drive you crazy baby
It's the best that I can do
We're just some good ol' boys, a makin' noise
I ain't a runnin' 'round on you
Give me just a one more last chance
Before you say we're through

First she hid my glasses
'Cause she knows that I can't see
She said you ain't goin' nowhere boy
'Til you spend a little time with me
Then the boys called from the honky tonk
Said there's a party goin' on down here
Well she might've took my car keys
But she forgot about my old John Deere

So give me just a one more last chance
Before you say we're through
I know I drive you crazy baby
It's the best that I can do
We're just some good ol' boys, a makin' noise
I ain't a runnin' 'round on you
Give me just a one more last chance
Before you say we're through

Friday, November 4, 2022

If you use Signal ...

Someone (maybe LindaG?) left a comment a week or two back about how "Signal is removing support for Android".   There seems to be some confusion about this, enough so that Signal put up a good blog post that explains what's going on.

Short answer: Signal is still going to support Android, but they are removing the SMS feature from their Android app.  This is overall A Good Thing.  So keep using Signal on Android.

Longer answer: SMS (Short Message Service, generally called "Text" by everyone normal) is what phone companies use to allow short, text based person-to-person or group chat messages.  It's been around for a long time - at least 20 years and probably longer.  It was a clever hack to the telephony protocols that allowed short messages to be sent without setting up a circuit (i.e. phone call), so it gave users something they liked without really adding much stress to the phone network's capacity.

The fly in the ointment is that SMS really isn't very secure.  We've known about this for a long time; I posted about this probably almost ten years ago (too lazy to chase this down in the almost 14,000 posts here).

Since Signal is all about security, they've finally dropped their SMS support feature.  I think this was just used as an add on to their login mechanism - you not only had to enter your password but you had to have a second method of verifying that you are actually you.  Signal would send your phone (well, the Signal app on your phone) a text with a secret code that you'd enter to complete your login.

Since SMS is not secure, this isn't a great way to add this second authentication step.  So Signal has added their own mechanism where their server sends a (secure) message directly to the Signal app.  In general, this is a security improvement over SMS.  There's more detail at their blog post, but as I said earlier, from a security perspective this is A Very Good Thing.

So I hope this clears up the confusion.  Signal is still there, on Android, and more secure than ever.

Thursday, November 3, 2022


Did you hear about the guy who drove his German luxury car into a tree?   He found out how his Mercedes Bends.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Blogger HTML Access - Now With Pictures

Since Silicon Greybeard asked in the comments, here's how to access the HTML code in Blogger. Having created written instructions for users many times over the last 30 years I have learned that instructions with screen shots are understood more clearly and are better received than text only instructions. 

1) Log into Blogger.

2) Select "Design" in the upper right hand corner.

3) Select "Theme" from the menu on the left.

4) Click the drop down arrow attached to the "Customize" button.

5) Select "Edit HTML" from the drop down menu.

6) The code that appear is the structure of your primary page. Here there be dragons. You have all the editing power, including the power to make an unusable mess. If you want edit the widgets, like blogrolls and text boxes in the margins, click the icon with the four little boxes in the top right.

7) Select the desired item from the drop down menu. Since we have our blogroll broken into categories, there are several in our menu, named "Bloglist1" and so on.

8) If what you are doing is trying to restore your full blogrolls, open each "Bloglist" and find 'numItemsToShow'. You can search the page or just scroll until you find it. Change that number from 10 to a number large enough that your blogroll is no longer truncated.

Anything else you want to do could be done in the HTML. You could copy the page out into an HTML editor, make changes, and copy it back. Blogger works fine for what we use it for and this is the first time I had made a change at this level. No one I know designs pages in raw HTML, it's all done in some WYSIWYG editor, like Dreamweaver, but if you're comfortable in the code, any text editor can be used.