Thursday, November 30, 2023

Lightnin' Hopkins - Santa

He considered this one of his greatest hits.

DoD Education Chief of Staff arrested for human trafficing

Well this isn't good:

The chief of staff for Department of Defense Education Activity schools in the U.S. was arrested last week during a two-day human trafficking operation in Coweta County, Georgia, according to local authorities.

Stephen Hovanic, 64, of Sharpsburg, Georgia, was arrested Nov. 15 in a sting that netted 25 additional suspects on charges related to prostitution as well as drugs, weapons and warrants, according to the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and its Police to Citizen Portal website.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The highest recorded mileage on an automobile

Irv Gordon bought a new Volvo P1800 in 1966 and drove it 3.2 million miles. The car could have gone farther, but Irv died in 2018, so that was it for the mileage streak.

He said he just did regular maintenance on it.  Wow.

About that iPhone security "flaw"

There's a lot of discussion about the security of Apple's iPhone NameDrop feature. Police departments are recommending turning this off.  It's gone viral, and given Apple a bit of a security/privacy black eye.

It's also overblown.  Key things to know:

1. If your phone is locked (say, at the gym) it will not share contact info via NameDrop.

2. NameDrop only works when the phones are unlocked and the phones are physically in contact with each other.  Just being "close" isn't good enough.  Nobody is going to swipe your data by walking past you.

3. Your phone will ask you if you want to share data.  It won't share automatically.

There's more detail on this here.  Here's how you turn NameDrop off if you want to:

Open Settings, then select General.  Select AirDrop and disable "Bringing Devices Together" and "Use Cellular Data".  You're good to go.

That said, you can share contact info via text message with anyone you want to, so this feature seems pretty useless to me.  I have disabled it on my phone, and I strongly recommend you disable it on any child's phone (or iWatch).

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Piano Guys - I saw Three Ships

This was filmed in a neighborhood where two adjacent houses do annual musical light shows at Christmas.  They agreed to be part of this video which is nothing short of wonderful.

Richard Dawkins is a midwit

Aesop brings the Hammer Of Truth down on the good professor:

One cannot have "only a quarter of an eye, only a hundredth of an eye, or half an eye, is better than nothing " (3:50ff).

Basic physiology disagrees:

It doesn't work like that.
In the trade, there's a technical term for what you are when you have a half, a quarter, or a hundredth of an eye (and by this we mean not just the eyeball itself, but the entire cascade of processes enabling vision): BLIND.

There's a lot more in the post, and even more in the comments.  But what I find most interesting is the fact that Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and so he knows this. Aesop has a simple answer to why Dawkins still tells this sort of lie  (he's a lying liar).  Well, sure.

But that's not particularly interesting.  Why does he lie?  Moldbug explained this 15 years ago:

Nonetheless, it’s my sad duty to inform the world that Professor Dawkins has been pwned. Perhaps you’re over 30 and you’re unfamiliar with this curious new word. As La Wik puts it:

The word “pwn” remains in use as Internet social-culture slang meaning: to take unauthorized control of someone else or something belonging to someone else by exploiting a vulnerability.

(At least here at Unqualified Reservations, pwned alliterates with posse and rhymes with loaned.) How could such a learned and wise mind exhibit such an exploitable vulnerability? And who—or what—has taken unauthorized control over Professor Dawkins? The aliens? The CIA? The Jews? The mind boggles.

Ah, those crazy kids and their barbaric slang like pwned.  Good Lord, do I really have over 400 posts with that tag?  Ahem.  

Continuing with Dawkins' failure to adequately explain the difference between Science and Religion:

My belief is that Professor Dawkins is not just a Christian atheist. He is a Protestant atheist. And he is not just a Protestant atheist. He is a Calvinist atheist. And he is not just a Calvinist atheist. He is an Anglo-Calvinist atheist. In other words, he can be also be described as a Puritan atheist, a Dissenter atheist, a Nonconformist atheist, an Evangelical atheist, etc., etc.

This cladistic taxonomy traces Professor Dawkins’ intellectual ancestry back about 400 years, to the era of the English Civil War. Except of course for the atheism theme, Professor Dawkins’ kernel is a remarkable match for the Ranter, Leveller, Digger, Quaker, Fifth Monarchist, or any of the more extreme English Dissenter traditions that flourished during the Cromwellian interregnum.

Frankly, these dudes were freaks. Maniacal fanatics. Any mainstream English thinker of the 17th, 18th or 19th century, informed that this tradition (or its modern descendant) is now the planet’s dominant Christian denomination, would regard this as a sign of imminent apocalypse. If you’re sure they’re wrong, you’re more sure than me.

Now I must warn you, Moldbug is pretty thick going.  Fosetti has a very accessible overview that will give you 95% of Moldbug's arguments.

One other interesting comment at Aesop's place concerned science as a process.  As I've pointed out repeatedly over the last few years, science as practiced today is very, very sick, and the reason is The Iron Law of Bureaucracy in action:

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?

The post about how sick science as practiced today is gives the reason:

Nothing is moving in the foundations of physics. One experiment after theother is returning null resultsNo new particles, no new dimensions, no new symmetries. Sure, there are some anomalies in the data here and there, and maybe one of them will turn out to be real news. But experimentalists are just poking in the dark. They have no clue where new physics may be to find. And their colleagues in theory development are of no help.
This is a long and detailed discussion which is hard to excerpt.  This bit seems very important as to the institutional rot:
Developing new methodologies is harder than inventing new particles in the dozens, which is why they don’t like to hear my conclusions. Any change will reduce the paper output, and they don’t want this. It’s not institutional pressure that creates this resistance, it’s that scientists themselves don’t want to move their butts.
How long can they go on with this, you ask? How long can they keep on spinning theory-tales?
I am afraid there is nothing that can stop them. They review each other’s papers. They review each other’s grant proposals. And they constantly tell each other that what they are doing is good science. Why should they stop? For them, all is going well. They hold conferences, they publish papers, they discuss their great new ideas. From the inside, it looks like business as usual, just that nothing comes out of it.
This is not a problem that will go away by itself.

The people who run the institutions of Science don't see that there's a problem.  I mean, hey - there's a ton of grant funding coming in and nobody can be allowed to rock that boat, amirite?  And so it's all gatekeeping and name calling.

The result? Scientific Progress has essentially ground to a halt.

Note that this doesn't apply to Engineering, which we can call "science that works".  SpaceX is Exhibit 1 for the Prosecution here.  But Science as currently practiced is a game for fools and liars. And Richard Dawkins, but I repeat myself.

Retractionwatch is Exhibit 2 for the Prosecution.  A few minutes thought will produce another dozen Exhibits.

And yes, I was an Engineer not a Scientist by training back at State U.  Because of that, I haven't been (intellectually) pwned, like Dawkins has.  But good gravy, it's getting to where the term "scientist" is almost as pejorative as the term "intellectual".  The last word goes to Aesop, who explains why:
I doubt, with Dawkins being so invested, intellectually and morally, in the lifelong lie, he'd ever be intellectually honest enough to admit that he, just like Darwin, had a grudge against the idea of the divine or supernatural, and both had therefore sunk their spurs into the idea that there is no god, because it makes the rest of their pathetic existence tolerable and comfortable, not to mention lucrative.

He's entitled to go to hell in whatever way he sees fit to do so; that's free will in action.

But to make it his life's work to try and bamboozle others by deliberately ignoring the utter lack of any scientific underpinning for his delusions, and furthermore the evidence to the exact contrary, and outright lying about both in support of his line of twaddle, is quite inarguably and inexcusably monstrous and damnable.

Radio Security news

Not to steal any thunder from The Silicon Graybeard, but this is pretty interesting:

A set of encryption algorithms used to secure emergency radio communications will enter the public domain after an about-face by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The algorithms are used by TETRA – short for the Terrestrial Trunked Radio protocol – and they are operated by governments, law enforcement, military and emergency services organizations in Europe, the UK, and other countries.

In mid-2023, Netherlands-based security firm Midnight Blue disclosed five vulnerabilities affecting all TETRA radio networks that could allow criminals to decrypt and intercept communications in real time.

The saying is that "Open Source makes bugs shallow" - more eyes on the code finds bugs faster, but we shall see.  Linked to this is how easy it will be to update vulnerable radios - my guess is not very.  We will also see if radios will need to support dual encryption schemes - one that is more secure for communicating with updated devices, and the old version for backwards compatibility.

As another old saying goes, the only reason that The Lord created the entire heaves and Earth in only six days was because he had no installed base to support.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Pentatonix - Where are you, Christmas?

The kids are all right. Yes. they're young (hey, they're kids, right?). Yes, they have weird hair - just like you (and I) did when you were their age. It's designed to annoy their elders, just like you (and I) did when you were 18. But these kids have some serious musical chops. 

There's a lot of discipline that goes into A Capella and they do it very well indeed.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

John Williams - Somewhere In My Memory (from Home Alone)

I often say that classical music is alive and well, it's just decamped from the symphony hall to the movie theater. Today's composition from the soundtrack to the 1990 film Home Alone was nominated not only for The Best Original Song Oscar, but also for a Grammy. John Williams needs no introduction - for those of you who have never heard his music, go watch Star Wars for cryin' out loud. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma - The Wexford Carol

Alison Krauss is a national treasure.  So is Yo-Yo Ma.  This song is magical.

Friday, November 24, 2023

The first Christmas Carol

St. Ambrose is often described as one of the four Latin Doctors of the Church*, influential theologians who established the foundations of the church in the fourth century.  Unlike his compatriot Doctors, Ambrose was a most unusual saint.  He was the Roman governor of the province around Milan when he (kind of accidentally) became bishop of Milan.  He was quite popular as Governor and when the crowd was beginning to get rowdy debating who would become the next bishop, someone called out his name as a suggestion.  Suddenly it was a done deal

Except there was this little problem: not only was Ambrose not a priest, he wasn't even baptized as a Christian.  The crowd wasn't about to let minor issues like that stand between them and their new bishop.  So Governor Aurelius Ambrosius became Bishop Ambrose.

He was a force to be reckoned with, even excommunicating Emperor Theodosius the Great (I think that this was the first time this had ever happened).

He also composed the first Christmas Carol, Veni Redemptor Genitum (Come, Redeemer of the Nations).  It is still performed today, 1650 years later.


Veni, redemptor gentium;
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum. 

English translation:
Come, Redeemer of the nations;
show forth the Virgin birth;
let every age marvel:
such a birth befits God.

Now the Christmas season is upon us.  It seemed right to start our annual christmas music posts with the very first Christmas carol.

* The others are St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the Great.  It was sort of a Murderer's Row lineup of the early Church batting order.


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Black Friday ammo deal alert

Jack from emails to point out that they are running Black Friday promotions.  Since you have seemed to like this sort of notification in the past I'm putting this up here.

We’ll push the ammo specials live at 9 a.m. (Eastern time) Friday morning. Like last year, I don’t expect the ammo to last terribly long but hopefully your readers will have an honest shot if they catch your article before mid-afternoon on Friday. To help spread the ammo around make sure some dealer doesn’t gobble it all up, we are limiting customers to one of each caliber. These are priced below our cost so other sellers might be interested in getting their hands on them but we’d obviously rather have real shooters get them and use them.

Ammo Highlights Include:

We’ll have bulk Fiocchi 223 ammo for $375. That’s 55-grain, FMJ, 1,000 rounds with free shipping. 

Bulk 9mm ammo is at $190 per case from a manufacturer that won’t be revealed until Friday morning. This is brass-cased FMJ in 1000-rounds packs and will have free shipping.

22 Long Rifle ammo from an unknown manufacturer - 5000 round packs for $220 with free shipping. (That’s less than a nickel per round.)

There will be a sprinkling of a handful of other calibers priced to move very quickly as well.

 Good luck, everybody.  And remember, ammo makes a great stocking stuffer ...

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Holidays without Wolfgang

He was a dog that takes some getting over.  We're getting ready for the holidays and his absence is sort of everywhere.  The Queen Of The World got a new tree ornament this year that sums it up:

He sure loved his Christmas stocking.  

UPDATE 22 NOVEMBER 2023 18:23:  People are asking where you can get one of these ornaments.  It's Wanderprints.  Click on "Ornaments" and it's the first item there.  You can customize it lots of different ways.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A limit to anti-gun lawfare?

Lawrence finds an interesting case in Washington state:

Kirk: “Did the Attorney General bite off a little more than they could chew on this one?”

Serrano: “Oh absolutely…It was like here’s a gift from God. Or, you know definitely not God, but from Bob Ferguson. It’s [a gift] from Satan…He’s going to go into a rural small conservative county and sue someone who allegedly sold over a thousand of these magazines.”

In 12 years, Cowlitz County has gone from mild blue to deep red.

It may be that we are seeing the mainstreaming of gun rights in what has traditionally been a hostile judiciary.


Saturday, November 18, 2023


What goes around the world while it stays in a corner?

A stamp.

Friday, November 17, 2023

WWII Thanksgiving from the USS Iowa

The really interesting story is how the military got so much turkey to the front lines.

Clorox hackers take a scalp

Clorox got hacked a couple months back which has led to shortages of the product.  It looks like Management has thrown their Chief Information Security Officer out the door:

The Clorox Company's chief security officer has left her job in the wake of a corporate network breach that cost the manufacturer hundreds of millions of dollars.

Amy Bogac held the title of chief information security officer (CISO) and VP of enterprise security and infrastructure at Clorox since June 2021, per her LinkedIn profile.

While her LinkedIn profile doesn't indicate any job changes, Friday was Bogac's last day at the multinational cleaning product conglomerate, according to Bloomberg News, which reviewed an internal memo and cited two people familiar with the matter.

I'm of two minds on this.  The first is that Clorox undoubtedly underinvested in cyber security, so it's no surprise that they got hacked, and this is management offering up a sacrificial victim to the shareholders.  The second, though, is that Ms. Bogac was in fact the head of cybersecurity and she is understandably in the hot seat.

The third (yeah I know I said "two", stick with me here) is that being a CISO is a no-win situation.


Thursday, November 16, 2023

What to do about Quantum Computing?

There's a good (if geeky) read from the UK National Cyber Security Centre on how to prepare your organization for Quantum Computing.  From the article:

Quantum computers use properties of quantum mechanics to compute in a fundamentally different way from today's digital, 'classical', computers. They are, theoretically, capable of performing certain computations that would not be feasible for classical computers. Although advances in quantum computing technology continue to be made, quantum computers today are still limited, and suffer from relatively high error rates in each operation they perform.

In the future, it is possible that error rates can be lowered such that a large, general-purpose quantum computer could exist. It is, however, impossible to predict when this may happen as many engineering and physical challenges must be overcome first. If such a computer could exist in the future, most traditional public key cryptography (PKC) algorithms in use today will be vulnerable to attacks from it.

Breaking Public Key Crypto is A Very Bad Thing Indeed, and would basically break the Internet.  If you're in the security field, you really should read this.


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

More old climate records

When we point out that things aren't as hot as expected (predictions of 5 or more degrees increase being more like half a degree), we are told that the climate is changing in a way that we will experience more extremes.  The problem is that we're not seeing these extremes.  Case in point, the Great Blue Norther of 1911:

On November 11, temperatures in Kansas City had reached a record high of 76 °F (24 °C) by late morning before the front moved through. As the cold front approached, the winds increased turning from southeast to northwest. By midnight, the temperature had dropped to 11 °F (−12 °C), a 65 °F (36 °C) difference in 14 hours.[5] The next day would have a record low of 6 °F (−14 °C) and a high of only 21 °F (−6 °C).[10] In Springfield, the temperature difference was even more extreme. Springfield was at 80 °F (27 °C) at about 3:45 p.m. CST (21:45 UTC), before the cold front moved through. Fifteen minutes later, the temperature was at 40 °F (4 °C) with winds out of the northwest at 40 mph (64 km/h). By 7:00 p.m. CST (01:00 UTC 12 November) the temperature had dropped a further 20 °F (−7 °C), and by midnight (06:00 UTC), a record low of 13 °F (−11 °C) was established. It was the first time since records had been kept for Springfield when the record high and record low were broken in the same day. The freak temperature difference was also a record breaker: 67 °F (37 °C) in 10 hours.

And it wasn't just Kansas City, it was all over - Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Peoria, Columbus, Lexington KY.  So these records are really old.  If the climate were getting more susceptible to extreme weather events, where are the new records?

It's almost like what you read in the Press is biased or something.

Monday, November 13, 2023

.303 at 3000 yards

ASM826 found this, about a fellow who used the Lee-Enfield WWI Volley Sights to shoot at a target at 3000 yards. Iron sights at 3000 yards.


Nice shooting, cobber.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Patrick Doyle - St. Crispin's Day from "Henry V"

Yesterday was Veteran's/Remembrance Day, a day we honor those who have served.  Many don't, and for those we have the words from the Bard of Avon, who described the bond between veterans better than anything ever written in the English language.

The 1989 film is a masterpiece.  If you haven't seen it you are in store for a treat.  Not only was it an all-star Shakespearean cast, but Patrick Doyle's score is a tour de force. one made more impressive because it was his very first film score.

Film critic (and notorious grump) Roger Ebert wrote of Kenneth Branagh's St. Crispin's Day speech:

There is no more stirring summons to arms in all of literature than Henry's speech to his troops on St. Crispan's  Day, ending with the lyrical 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.' To deliver this speech successfully is to pass the acid test for anyone daring to perform the role of Henry V in public, and as Kenneth Branagh, as Henry, stood up on the dawn of the Battle of Agincourt and delivered the famous words, I was emotionally stirred even though I had heard them many times before. That is one test of a great Shakespearian actor: to take the familiar and make it new.

I've posted this scene many time here on this blog, and it never gets old or stale. It is, after all, the best description of the bonds between veterans ever penned in the English language.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The end of the War To End War

This day is less somber in the USA - we have our remembrance day in May with Memorial Day (which pre-dates Remembrance Day by some 50 years).  Today on these shores it's "Thank a Veteran" Day.

But in Europe and the ANZAC nations, this remembers when a whole generation was butchered and damned.

You can visit young Willie McBride in the Authuille Military Cemetery, grave A.36.

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

WWII video of the Bismark firing on HMS Hood


The most interesting comment at Youtube is this:

You can clearly see the inacurate opening salvos of Hood well ahead and aft of Bismark, using the slow and fatally time losing Royal Navy technique of stradling the target.

Using the Ziess optical range finding system Bismark opened up very accurately almost on target with her first salvos. This was referenced by Esmond Knight, who was fall of shot spotting for Hood, from his position on the bridge of Prince of Wales.

Mr Knight said the first falls of shot from Bismark on Hood were "far too close for comfort."

Having "disposed of the Hood, Bismark turned her devastating fire power on Prince of Wales and a 15 inch shell from Bismarck passed directly through Prince of Wales' bridge killing everyone except the Captain , a couple of other crew" and blinding Lt Esmond Knight RNVR.

In the film Sink the Bismark (clip available on You Tube), Knight (an actor before WW2 ) actually was asked by the Director to act the role of Captain of the Prince of Wales, and duffle coated in the film on the bridge of the Prince of Wales removes the binoculars from his blind eyes having watched the destruction of Hood. Immediately after this moment he was blinded in the real action.