Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tulip Color Mania

Specifically, a mania about the racial components of the tulips.

A few days back, low-wattage-bulb Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (what a great name for the topic!) was grilling the head of DC police over diversity in his department when it detoured into a discussion of a hard drive that had been seized from an aide of hers who had been shot.

Note: That same aide has been the subject of numerous psychotic breaks by the execrable Sean Hannity. In his delirium, he imagines the aide to be the victim of a massive political conspiracy. Sean's a rabid, partisan swine, so this is "normal" for him.

What fascinated me was not the fact that Wasserman-Schultz ended the interrogation by crudely threatening the chief of police, but the initial discussion about "diversity." I felt like I was watching some small town junior theater put on a play about life in Germany after Hitler's Mein Kampf had come out.
Reichsmarschall Wasserman-Schultz: Sie müssen mehr Deutsche mieten! (You must hire more Germans!)

Chief of police: Ich stelle mehr Deutsche und weniger Juden und Slawen ein, Reichsmarschall! (I am hiring more Germans and less Jews and Slavs, Reichsmarschall!)
Then came this lovely tidbit of news.
Biology professor Bret Weinstein (of Evergreen State College in Washington) was berated by dozens of students outside of his classroom Tuesday morning for refusing to participate in an event in which white people were invited to leave campus for a day. Now, he says police have told him to hold his classes off campus due to safety concerns.
Weißer Mann, raus!

This has reached the level of a mania. It's strictly emotive. There's no logic, no reasoning, no knowledge, no literacy, just a frenzy of agitation. Police are asking the dude to stay away in order to prevent a localized reenactment of Kristallnacht.

I've thought the same thing about the spasms over Confederate monuments. I'm halfway through Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee: As Recorded by His Son, Captain Robert E. Lee and as far as I'm concerned, Churchill was right. Robert E. Lee is the ultimate example of the American gentleman. If our boys could grow into half the man Lee was, most of our social pathologies would simply vanish.

But no one has read Lee's letters. No one is taught who he was outside of his role in the Confederacy. No one is taught how former slave-trader and Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest found racial redemption at the end of his life to the point where blacks paid their respects at his funeral. We're only taught unreasoning hate based on the color of our skins.

I'm back to reading Mein Kampf and I'm at a part where Hitler, ever ignorant like our Social Justice Warriors, is whining that Germany was totally innocent in the First World War. It's similar to the way we neglect the role the Ashanti played in the slave trade or how the Aztecs enslaved and butchered people or how American Indians practiced slavery or ... or ... or. Just like Hitler turned the Volk into a race of saints, we turn whitey into a race of villains.

This has gotten me to wondering. If one reproduced a version of the Nuremberg race laws with modern sensitivities, could you peddle it on campuses and get them to buy in?

Sadly, Elizabeth Warren still isn't an American Indian, even under this schema.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Stay Woke!

... or maybe not. Do you want people with anger management issues to be "woke?"

What happens when:
  • The personal becomes political,
  • We stay engaged like Michelle Obama wanted,
  • We get in their faces and punch back twice as hard like Barack wanted,
  • We confront our congresscritters like all the activists tell us,
  • We decide that words can be acts of violence like the students tell us,
  • We fixate on race like the DNC and
  • We fixate on gender like ESPN where the gave an award to Bruce Jenner for bravery?
Doesn't this all lead to yelling and violence? If everyone is agitated about everything, if some percentage of "everyone" tends to fits of rage, then aren't we just asking for physical altercations, a la the ANTIFA riots?

If I have an anger problem and you're trying to tell me how to run almost every aspect of my life, aren't you risking a punch in the mouth?

Maybe we should back off from this a bit and let people live their lives with as little interference as possible.

This is what occurred to me after the Montana Republican candidate shoved a reporter and everyone took sides. Reporters were aghast that a lot of people approved of the shoving.
I don't understand the surprise. We've been sprinting in this direction for years. The guy's job is to keep his finger on the pulse of society. What does he do all day that he doesn't expect this response? Whoever has been paying him ought to ask for his money back.

And what was the Republican doing shoving the reporter in the first place? Trying out for the Antifa squad? Get a grip, dude. Better yet, see a therapist.

The progression leading to shoving and punching and worse is straightforward. Government is managed through politics. Politics is arguing. Arguing is divisive and can make people angry. Angry people can sometimes get violent. Ergo, bigger government eventually leads to more violence. At least that's what seems logical to me.

I'd say that one of the reasons there's so much rancor in the country is that we're arguing politics over almost everything, thanks to an endlessly growing government.

How about smiling and going to another bakery instead?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lee And Byrd

To ask the question is to answer it...

Why do we allow things to remain named after Robert Byrd, who was an avowed white supremacist, but we take down statues of Robert E. Lee, who was anti-slavery at a time and place where that was a liability?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Do Ideas Have Evolutionary Properties?

That is, do the better ones win out over time while the poor ones die out? Is long existence an indication of competitive advantage?

Example #1: Socialism is about 150 years old. In that time, it's been the Cleveland Browns of philosophies, losing badly almost everywhere. Are we watching its death throes with North Korea and Venezuela? Countries will still back into it over time as government grows like Kudzu until it strangles an economy and needs to be cut way back, but that's not the same as deliberately committing to socialism.

Example #2: Christianity overcame slavery. The idea that each person has equal value because they were created in the image of God may not be universal, but it was the foundation for the defeat of slavery over much of the world. Do we expect slavery to make a comeback? I don't think so. That looks like an evolutionary dead end.

Socialism is a lot like this.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Are Ready-Made Wiring Junctions So Hard To Find?

I'm closing in on finishing my MGB rewiring project. Over and over again, I've come up against the problem of finding a way to splice or create wiring junctions. Because the worst part of building you own harness is getting the lengths just right - too long and things dangle, too short and things don't reach. What I'd really like is a 5x1 or 3x1 or Nx1 junction with quick disconnect tabs so I could make separate connector cables for each item on the circuit.

Ground wires, dashboard gauge lights, there are all kinds of places where I need wires to connect to  each other.
If you solder or use butt connectors and you get the lengths wrong, you're hosed. Too long means you need to cut out a portion and add another connector. Too short and you need to throw away the whole thing and start again. Honestly, it's been the hardest part of the project by miles.

I still don't have an answer. I've taken to measuring distances with string, adding a couple of inches for safety and then cutting my wires to match. I then use butt connectors and shrink-wrap for the junctions. I just wish I had either access to easy-to-use junctions or a way of building my own.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Accepting An Apprenticeship

... as an, err, seasoned American can be difficult.

Once you've worked in a field for a long time, you have developed skills and a reputation. Most people respect you and will at least listen to what you have to say if not act upon it. It dawned on me recently that should I change careers due to retirement or something else, I'd have to be willing to go back to square one and start at the bottom again.

For me, barely-suppressed-arrogant by nature, this will take some effort. Don't you know who I am? will be ringing in my head over and over again. I noticed that in Cursillo where I've only been asked to give a talk 3 times in 7 years. Me! I do this all the time at work! I'm well-paid to do it, too! Don't they know who I am?

Whoops. I did it again.

No, they don't know who I am and it would be a good idea to get off my high horse (more of a giraffe, really) and cheerfully pay my dues like I did when I was 23. I wasn't full of myself back then.

I'm not sure where life will lead post-retirement, but that date is now only low single digit years away, so some thought and experimentation will have to be devoted to answering that question. Posts dealing with it will start to show up from time to time here. In any case, working on true humility as opposed to well-masked arrogance will be a good start.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Curse You, Rationality

Data point #37,216 showing that post-modernism is a religion: Dig this synopsis of an article discussing common traits of those who reject feminism. Here's the payoff if you don't want to click.
The author argues that a regime of rationality still operates in the academy and is made evident when feminist course content is met with continual dismissal or disavowal.
The best part is that the article is in Science Direct, presumably a journal which embraces, you know, science. That it even deigns to publish something attacking rationality shows just how far down the rabbit hole we are.

Bonus phrase: "a regime of rationality still operates in the academy." Err, despite our best efforts?

Keep trying, post-modernists. We'll be sacrificing cows to propitiate the wind gods any day now, thanks to you!

Oh, wait. We already are.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Is The Scientific Method Passé?

There's a series of posts to be created from analyzing this post-modern profession of faith, but for now, let's start with the most basic part. Here is the premise of the post, written by a mathematician and approvingly commented by many on that same site.
I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion. Statistically speaking, you are probably taking up room that should go to someone else. If you are a white cis man (meaning you identify as male and you were assigned male at birth) you almost certainly should resign from your position of power...

(M)ost success happens on the backs of others who did not consent. You have no idea how successful you would have been if you were still you, but with an additional marginalization (not white, or not male, or not cis gender, or with a disability, etc).

Right now, I want to talk about gender equality because the fact that women aren’t actually a demographic minority makes certain arguments easier, but please know that actual solutions require women of color and trans people. Remember having white cis women run the world is no kind of solution.
So, to make it short, white males should resign faculty positions and hand them over to a cornucopia of diverse peoples, selected on the basis of their epidermises and groins.

When you put it that way, it's like describing the mating habits of some birds where plumage and strutting land the babe. It's probably not a bad analogy as this kind of increasingly common drivel is becoming more widely accepted. It's like watching civilization crawl back into the crib and grab its stuffed animals.

But I digress.  Like I said, the post and the approval it has received is a treasure trove of content.

The post was published on the American Mathematical Society blog. (The AMS! Look at the level of approval!) One presumes that at one point in time, the AMS had some connection with science and might have chosen to nod, at least casually, to the concept of the scientific method. Here's my question that is unasked in the intersectional feminism sect of post-modern religion.

With what we know from biology, would one expect to see performance differences between the sexes?

Biology shows that male and female brains differ in architecture, size and activating body chemistries. Could this explain the difference in outcomes? Evolution suggests that there should be differences as the two sexes have different roles to play in the propagation of genetic material through time.

That this question isn't addressed, even in passing, is the most telling part of the whole thing. Biology and evolution have been utterly discarded on the website of the American Mathematical Society.

It's stunning, really.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Properly Placed Skepticism

It's roughly 2 AM San Diego time and I'm in a hotel room in Bloomington, IN about to head to the airport to go home. Politics is always low-hanging fruit for a blogger, so we'll go there again, just for the sake of making it easy on yours truly today. Sorry for the tl;dr post with no graphics.

Yesterday, I approvingly quoted Kurt Schlichter's latest rant which was about the media's screaming hype of some scandal or other wherein it's obvious they're trying to bring President Trump down.
This is a coup against us. It’s a coordinated campaign by liberals and their allies in the bureaucracy and media to once and for all ensure their perpetual rule over us.
 And now for an opinion that's completely different.

I didn't vote for the guy because I thought he was mentally ill. The lies, the name-calling, the sneering, the intellectual shallowness, the narcissism - he should be in therapy, not the Oval Office. I still think that.

All of the chaos we're seeing was perfectly predictable during the election. If you take a nut like Trump and put him where a hate-filled press can whack him like a piñata, this is what you get. The press would be attacking President Rubio, too, but Marco wouldn't be throwing gasoline on the fire every fifteen minutes.

So I'm conflicted. It's like I want both sides to lose. More accurately, I want both sides to go away. If you made me choose, I'm more sympathetic to Trump than I am to the media. I still can't get over the way they licked the sweat off Obama's body for 8 years and then ran interference for Hillary in the election.

"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan" - that lie cost me thousands of dollars. The press didn't care. Instead of going completely bonkers like they have over whatever this trivial scandal with Trump is, they grabbed the bottle of lotion and went back to rubbing it on Barack Obama.

Hillary sold out the country as Secretary of State for more than $100,000,000. She knowingly mishandled classified information so she could run her scams without fear of detection. Her crimes blow Trump's incompetence out of the water a hundred times over. The press spent the entire election blow drying her hair and doing her nails.

Trump is an idiot. I am unhappy he was elected. We are going to pay for that stupidity for years. The best we can hope for is that he finds something to occupy his time and keeps him quiet while the excellent people he has chosen for his cabinet run the place.

But I still keep coming back to the conclusion that the media simply hates us and that's bigger than the idiocy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Misplaced Optimism

I had expected that at least some elements of the media would be introspective after the election. I had thought that they might reconsider their blood-oaths to the Democrats and perhaps ponder life outside of the coastal bubbles. I was wrong.

I'm in Indiana right now, the heart of the Trumpian Rebellion. People are doing normal things. Working backhoes, farming, driving trucks, brewing delicious Upland Brewing Company Coastbuster Imperial IPA in Bloomington. These are the folks who make the nummy-noms that are served in the Beltway Starbucks, ship the tires that go round and round on the wheels of the Priuses that take the news people to their offices and provide the taxes that Nancy Pelosi has sold her soul to spend.

Walking around hotels and offices where TVs are ritually tuned to the news, I have seen nothing but breathless, orgasmic reporting of some Trumpian scandal. As far as I can tell, no one here cares. I certainly don't. Still, the TVs are running wall-to-wall with the thing.

Kurt Schlichter is a fire-breather whose material on townhall.com is fun to read, but it's typically over the top. Today, however, he perfectly captured what the moment feels like to me.
This is a coup against us. It’s a coordinated campaign by liberals and their allies in the bureaucracy and media to once and for all ensure their perpetual rule over us.
When Hillary's 9-digit sale of her office as Secretary of State didn't rise to the level of any crime, turning whatever tomfoolery Trump performed into a national scandal simply reeks of, well, just what Kurt said. A coup against us normals.

Dude was elected. The people voted. They knew who he was. They didn't care what George "former Hillary cabana boy" Stephanopoulos and the other DNC lackeys thought. Instead of honoring our selection, they've gone totally over the edge and are engaged in open war against Trump. Rather than trying to get in touch with the bible-toting bigots in flyover country, perhaps even hiring some to staff their offices, they climbed into their bunkers and closed the hatches.

They hate us. That's the only thing I can think as I watch this national meltdown evolve. They simply hate us.

Update: Peggy Noonan is similarly unhappy.
(H)e was duly and legally elected by tens of millions of Americans who had legitimate reasons to support him, who knew they were throwing the long ball, and who, polls suggest, continue to support him. They believe the press is trying to kill him. “He’s new, not a politician, give him a chance.” What would it do to them, what would it say to them, to have him brusquely removed by his enemies after so little time? Would it tell them democracy is a con, the swamp always wins, you nobodies can make your little choices but we’re in control? What will that do to their faith in our institutions, in democracy itself?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trumpian Poor Judgment

So I guess the Donald said some things to the Russians that shouldn't have been said. Or maybe he didn't. Or maybe he did, but they weren't a big deal. Or maybe they were a big deal, but we were going to tell them at some point in the future anyway. Or maybe it's a huge deal and it's proof positive he's unfit.

Therein lies the problem. I don't trust Trump. We all know he lies like Hillary in a wind tunnel*. I trust the media even less. They've completely lost their minds and talk about Trump the way an angry woman discusses her unfaithful ex-husband.

So just what is going on here? Who knows? Who cares? All of the data being totally unreliable allows you to step back and realize that Comey being fired, Trump talking to Russians or Chuck Schumer speaking in tongues has no effect on our lives at all.

So Trump said or didn't say something to the Russkies? Whatever. I'm over it.


* - Or Hillary in a grain silo or Hillary at a county fair or Hillary downing shots of Jack Daniels or Hillary reading a book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sympathy For Phobics

Like most people, I have some phobias. I'm not a big fan of heights, although I was able to overcome much of that by brute force of will. I still can't handle cliffs and two-lane roads next to cliffs are a real issue for me.

My big phobia, however, turns out to be bridges over water. Gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges, but for it to affect me, it's got to be over water and narrow. I can handle 4-lane bridges and larger as I can drive on the inside lane, but 2-lane bridges over long stretches, such as US 301 where it crosses the Potomac, are completely intolerable.



Coming into Virginia from Maryland, it looks like this. It sounds like some nut screaming.

I have no idea what it is, either. It's primal, like my internal cave man is having a total breakdown. This bridge is about a mile long.  When I went over it this week, there was light traffic, we were doing 50 MPH, there was minimal wind, it was sunny and there were almost no waves. It was idyllic and I was having to yell at myself to calm down. All in all, it took about 75 seconds to cross the thing and by the end, I was wondering if I was going to black out from the stress. My whole body wanted to shut down and slip into unconsciousness to make the horror go away.

Internally, I was able to watch the psycho-spasm unfold and wonder just what was wrong. I tried reason, but the fear was way beyond that. When I got to the other side, it went away completely.

I've always had compassion for the mentally ill, but as I was going through this, I felt tremendous sorrow and pity for them. I knew that if I made it just another 20 seconds, I'd be completely normal again. What must it be like to have these terrors for hours on end or to have voices in your head that don't go away when you reach some waypoint?

The experience was mentally disjointed and it allowed me a small amount of reflection at the time. Had I been working on a quadratic equation when I got onto the bridge, I might have been able to solve it while 90% of my brain turned into liquid wax and ran out my ears.

I don't know if I can fully describe the raw power of that fear. I think that if I'd been a passenger, I'd have been fine. Maybe that means it was the stress of controlling a car while driving over water.

I know one thing for sure. I'm not going to vacation in the Florida Keys any time soon.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Using Microsoft As A Scouting Service

Re: the most recent mass-hacking.

I read in a WSJ article that the vulnerability being exploited by this hack had been patched by Microsoft 8 weeks ago. It may have been that the hackers didn't know about the vulnerability until Microsoft told everyone in the process of releasing their patch. Knowing the large organizations are slow to apply patches to all of their computers, the hackers could have started working on their attack after the patch had been released.

Brilliant! It's like using MSFT as your scouting service.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Nissan Juke

... is a fun, little car.

I'm on a trip to the East Coast this week and I've got a Nissan Juke as my rental car. 2-doors and nimble, it turns on a dime and has decent pick-up. It's got a back seat, but that's more for show than anything else. I wouldn't put friends back there,

You can feel the road, but it's still comfortable. The instrument layout is clean and easy to understand. It's got reverse camera, which I love.

The only drawback is it wants you to download and use an app called NissanConnect to play media from your phone via bluetooth. Grr. It wants you to create an account with Nissan and sign in and blah blah blah. Why am I doing this? All I want is to play my Newsboys station from Pandora. Very annoying. That and the aux cable input doesn't work, so no music for KT on this trip, at least no music from my phone.

As our president might say, Sad!

It's a cute car. I rather like the styling.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Empowering Women Through Blue Lipstick

One of our sons recently turned me on to Shark Tank. It's a show where panel of 5 venture capitalists are pitched ideas by entrepreneurs. It's loads of fun.

One of the recent shows featured a pair of girls who had come up with a new line of lipsticks, most in non-traditional colors. One of the girls was wearing a blue-green lipstick. Your eyes naturally bled the color into her teeth, possibly through reflection, giving them that just-ate-handfuls-of-raw-seaweed look.

Hideous.

The girls talked about how their lipsticks would empower women by allowing them to transgress the unwritten rules of fashion and express themselves freely. I couldn't understand this at all. I thought the whole idea of lipstick, makeup and fashion was to empower women by emotionally subjugating men. How being deliberately ugly was going to improve on this was a mystery to me.

The interesting thing here is that our notions of beauty are designed to empower women by telling them what men want. Men want to be emotionally subjugated. We want women to be given power over us through sexual attraction. That's why there is a standard of beauty, so we can get more of what we want which is, effectively, the empowerment of women.

My wife and I teach the remarriage class for the Diocese of San Diego. The class always starts with each couple standing up and telling their love story. Every guy we've ever had and I mean every guy has talked about how hot he thought his fiancee was. That was why they proposed in the first place. How much more empowerment can you get than some dude offering you his life?

These days that's not empowerment, I guess. Like I said yesterday, I'm going through life in a constant state of confusion lately.

Raw power. Or is that rawwwrrrr power?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Conundrums In Higher Education

I'm going through life in a constant state of confusion and bewilderment these days. Nothing seems to make sense any more. Take, for example, this editorial in the WaPo, entitled, How to stop racism from winning on college campuses. I wasn't aware there was much of a contest going on between racism and whatever its opposite is. I seem to be wrong. Dig this.
In a rising national tide of racial intolerance, colleges have not been spared puerile, pathetic and threatening incidents, which play on the volatile campus sensitivities of an era defined by trigger warnings and safe spaces. At AU (American University), African American and other students demanded a “sanctuary space” be established for minority students at a campus cafeteria; a policy granting extensions for final exams to minority students; and an open-door policy for outside groups such as the NAACP to investigate hate crimes and racial incidents at the university.
Apparently, someone hung some bananas from some string and did something else with them as well. It all seemed juvenile to the point of being cartoonish. I'm not sure I can see a real racist doing something like that. Given all of the hoaxes recently, racist acts perpetrated by social justice warriors trying to enfrenzy the populace to fight invisible, but somehow real racism, this smacks of another fake hate crime.

The demand for extensions on final exams is a bit of a tell. When I was in college, we would sometimes have bomb threats during finals, presumably made by students who needed more time to study. It's an old gag and this looks like one of those tricks.

What confuses me most of all is the need for racial bunkers into which people of a particular hue can run like they were bomb shelters during an atomic attack. How can things be that awful at the universities where post-modern progressives aren't simply the majority culture, but an utterly dominant and all-pervasive one? If colleges need these bunkers and they're run by Bernie Bros, why don't we have them on every street corner where the odds of encountering crazed, neo-Confederates are orders of magnitude higher?

The whole thing boggles my mind. From reading the mainstream media, consuming popular culture and simple observations, the data points connect something like this:
  • Trump's election has revealed massive racism in the US
  • Universities are almost monolithically progressive
  • Conservatives are racist, progressives are not
  • Universities need safe spaces to escape wild outbreaks of racism
  • Outside of universities, where Trumpkins make up half of the population, safe spaces are not required
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to make of that. I think my brain just broke writing it. It's almost like the people at the WaPo haven't pondered any of this and are almost completely ignorant.


Maybe we should start producing educational films like this one to prepare students for racist acts.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fury And Outrage

... will have to wait until tomorrow. Today, we have this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Love Trumps Hate, Jesus Music Concert Edition

Just so you have your scorecards right, make sure you know that I and others like me - almost everyone who attends Christian concerts - are on the side of hate.

At least that's what we're told by the popular culture.

Last night, my wife and I went to the Chris Tomlin Worship Night in America concert. I'm not a big Chris Tomlin fan, but she's seen some hard rock Christian concerts with me, so I went along happily. Plus I like being with her, so there's that. The bands were excellent and we had a good, hate-filled time. Two anecdotes to show how hateful we were.

Trigger warning: If you experience PTSD episodes from being exposed to pure hate, you might want to stop reading here and go somewhere more loving. Like this.

If you've never been to a Christian pop/rock concert, you need to understand they all work like this: There's music from one or more bands and then before the headliners come out, there's a testimonial and request for donations to some charity. When I say "request," I mean something on the order of a 15-minute infomercial. Last night it was for Compassion International. Talk about a name for a hate group! Can you get any more hateful than "Compassion International?"

The testimonial followed the normal lines. The speaker had traveled to one of the places where the kids were sponsored, in this case, Ethiopia, and seen first hand how sponsoring some charming moppets had transformed their lives from utter degradation to hope and a bright future. The speaker talked about having been in our shoes, full of skepticism that the whole thing was a racket to get our money. He assured us it was not and had tearful stories to prove it.

Volunteers then handed out sponsorship agreement forms to everyone raising their hands. It was about 1,000 people out of the 5,000 or so at the concert. Pure hate in it's more pure and hatey form.

Second, during Chris' concert, he stopped and asked if there were any teenage youth group leaders who could play guitar in the audience. A 15-year-old young lady was found and brought on stage. She was given a guitar and when she heard what song she was going to play with Chris and the band, she happily said she knew it. Everyone cheered. More hate.

They played the song and this shyly smiling girl got to be on stage with a fairly big-name Christian band and strum and sing with them. She started out pretty timid, but got into it as the song went along and by the end, she was more relaxed and having a good time. It was so beautiful that my eyes welled up with tears of hate.

At the end of the song, Chris thanked her and then gave her the guitar. She almost started crying with joy. And hate, too, of course. The crowd went wild. If Leni Riefenstahl had been there, she'd have been filming for insertion into Triumph of the Will: the Director's Cut.

I can't find a clip on YouTube of the event, but here's my poor-quality photo from where we were sitting in the Das Reich seats*.

The girl in the jeans right in the middle was the lucky fraulein.
If by now you're not frothing with rage at the pure hate of this event, you might want to take notes and write to your local university so that they can organize a protest against, err, something or other to stop this kind of thing from ever happening again.

After all, we must make sure that love trumps hate.

* - I wanted to sit in the Totenkampf seats, but, as you know, those are crazy expensive.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

When The Holy Spirit Talks

... it's a good idea to listen.

Someone told me something recently that I desperately needed to hear. What they said was kind, generous and humble. It came completely out of the blue, too. I've been in a huge funk lately due to a confluence of bad events and this brightened everything and will have an effect far off into the future.

Thanks, someone. I needed that.

My theology isn't all that good, but as I understand it, when that little voice inside your head suggests you do something Christ-like, something difficult, something unusual, we Catholics attribute that the Holy Spirit.

Thanks, Holy Dude. I needed that.

If you get a chance to say something nice today, to apologize for a past wrong, to take responsibility for something going sideways or to give a compliment to someone, take it.

Monday, May 08, 2017

What Is Feminism?

Honestly, I don't get it at all.

My wife is one of the most impressive people I know. In terms of where she started and how far she's made it, if you picked any 100 Americans at random, her story would put her in the top 3, no question about it. When it comes to the tactical and the practical, when she speaks, the wise man listens and takes her suggestions very seriously.

What does she want more than anything else? Grandchildren, done the right way. She would love it if our children found loving spouses, got married in the Church, moved in together after they got married and then made plenty of beautiful babies.

Why aren't things like that the cornerstones of modern feminism?

Grandchildren? I'm all in, too!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Yelling At The Sky

Short post today, but an important one (to me, at least).

Have you ever had those times when someone has betrayed you severely? At work, in your family, or maybe a friend? In the past, I hung on to slights like they were life rafts in the middle of the ocean. There was nothing better than righteous fury. It filled my lizard brain with the delightful energy of anger. There wasn't any payoff in it, of course. Whatever the betrayal might have been, it had passed and the job was now to pick up after it, like recovering after a hurricane. Still, I would cling to my status as a Victim of Evil.

I finally realized that whoever betrayed me had chosen that path for a reason that was good enough for them. I had no more control over it than I did the weather. That weather analogy broke my habit of clinging to rage. I felt silly when I realized I was effectively standing outside, atop the ruins of some aspect of my life, yelling at the sky for a hurricane that had passed long ago.

How stupid is that?

It made me feel so ridiculous that I quit the habit then and there.

Hope that helps you in some way.

Don't rebuild, don't plan, don't dream. Just stand outside and yell at the sky for months or even years!

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Living In A Vacuum

So the Republicans passed a semi-replacement of ObamaCare and the press is full of stories of controversy, inadequacy and people losing their health care. I have to admit that I only read a few of them. When I did, I wasn't reading for details, but for a sense of the narrative. What I found didn't surprise me save for its completeness.

The stories lacked any sense of context. It's as if ObamaCare was just cruising along and sick children were being given lollipops by smiling nurses who cheerfully treated them for scabies, croup or dropsy, whatever their sad case might be. With bouquets of daisies on their bedside tables, the hopelessly charming little moppets were saying, "Mommy, this medicine tastes yucky!" to which their transgendered caregiver would reply, "Now you must take the medicine, dear, it will make you all better. After you take it, I'll tell you a story." "Mommy, make it the one about the kind bureaucrat who brought the orphans milk!"

Or something like that.

Meanwhile, the reality of the situation was quite different. ObamaCare was collapsing in on itself as insurers ditched one market after another. Premiums and deductibles had reached insane levels.
Deductibles for individuals enrolled in the lowest-priced Obamacare health plans will average more than $6,000 in 2017, the first time that threshold has been cracked in the three years that Affordable Care Act marketplaces have been in business...

Families enrolled in bronze plans will have average deductibles of $12,393, according to the study by the consumer insurance comparison site HealthPocket...

HealthPocket also found that that average premiums, or monthly payments, for bronze plans nationwide will increase 21 percent next year for people who earn too much to qualify for Obamacare subsidies. A 40-year-old unsubsidized bronze plan customer would pay $350.23 each month for their health coverage, compared to $289.88 per month this year.
A $12,000 deductible isn't a health insurance for anything other than catastrophes. Add that to $4000 or so of annual premiums and you're out a whopping $16,000 a year before the thing starts to pay off in earnest.

That reality was completely ignored in the stories I read. It was as if the Republicans passed the bill for no reason other than to kill Americans. Which is exactly what many editorials said in so many words. One that I read this morning actually swore vengeance on the Republicans. It was like something out of war propaganda.

This is insane. This isn't a news media, this is a party organ. Which, I guess, we already knew. Thank God fewer and fewer people trust these swine.


Update: Here's a typical response to the bill.

This guy is no pipsqueak. He has 337,000 followers.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Why Steven Colbert Isn't Funny

It's not because he's political or even a raging, snarky partisan. Sometimes they can be funny, too, even when you disagree with them.

Steven Colbert isn't funny because his jokes don't make sense.

His recent anti-Trump spasm culminated when he accused the president of having an intimate relationship with Putin. Ha ha ha?

How does that make any sense at all? Why not charge him with being in love with, oh, I don't know, the star of Hamilton? Trump was clearly Putin's worst outcome of the election. Russia gets most of its money from oil and Trump has taken dramatic steps to increase American oil production. This lowers the price of oil and takes billions of dollars out of the pockets of the Russian oligarchy. It's not that complicated.

Meanwhile, if anyone was kneeling to Putin it was Obama and Clinton. They gave away Crimea, part of Eastern Ukraine, did nothing when the airliner was shot down and let the Russian proxy, Syria, run wild.

If comedy is going to have any bite at all, it has to at least be based partly in truth. Colbert's rant was utterly unmoored from reality. It was so deranged that I'm not sure a religious fundamentalist analogy would do it justice. It was more like complete cognitive dissonance of the type Scott Adams describes.
When your self-image and ego get annihilated ... you can’t simply admit you have been ridiculous all along. Your brain can’t let you do that to yourself. So instead, it concocts weird hallucinations to force-glue your observations into some sort of semi-coherent movie in which you are not totally and thoroughly wrong. That semi-coherent movie will look like a form of insanity to observers.
Colbert isn't funny, he's just kind of odd.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Upside To Steven Colbert And Donald Trump

... and ANTIFA and the pussy hat marchers and the DNC chair swearing in public speeches is that we won't have to put up with political ads like this any more.


Now that we've all completely discarded any sense of right and wrong in speech, action and writing, the ammunition is gone for ads where we attack a politician's character. Now that we've elected a liar and the losers are pining for an alternate reality where an even worse liar would have won, there's nothing left at which we can point fingers of shame and not find them pointing right back at us.

Doesn't it feel good to be liberated from judgment?

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Jean Goldkette Plays At The White House Correspondents' Dinner!

Or was it Watergate superstars Woodward and Bernstein speaking? I get them and Goldkette confused.

Woodward and Bernstein did their best work in 1973. That was roughly 45 years ago.

45 years before Wood and Berny was 1927ish. Who was hotter than a firecracker back then? Why Big Jean Goldkette, of course. Who could forget this toe-tapper?


Man, that record swings!

And here some people are saying the White House Correspondents are irrelevant dinosaurs! Ha! What a hoot!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Pushing On A Japanese String

I used to wail and gnash my teeth about Japan's debt problem, and it's still staggering, but somehow, they just keep on keepin' on.
TOKYO—The Bank of Japan pushed back against speculation about an early interest rate increase Thursday by mixing an upbeat assessment of the economy with a further lowering of its inflation forecast and a rejection of the need to unwind its ultraeasy policy.

Mr. Kuroda reiterated that the time isn’t ripe to start talking about a policy reversal. He pointed to the distance of the current inflation rate, 0.2% in February, to his 2% target.
0.2% is no inflation at all. That economy isn't going anywhere. Meanwhile, their citizens owe about $71,000 USD apiece on their federal government's debt. Ouch.

And, of course, there's the demographic issue with more adult diapers being sold than baby diapers.

Having issued my Cassandra Call one more time, I can't say that I've got any clue as to when or how this all comes crashing down. Weird.

Bumblebees aren't supposed to fly, either, but they do.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Who's The Worst?

Nathan Bedford Forrest or Margaret Sanger?

Wandering around the Catican Compound yesterday, preparing for a party, I had my headphones on and was listening to Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography. To recap, Forrest was a brilliant, if unorthodox, Confederate cavalry general. He was also a slave trader before the war and after the war, became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

As I enjoyed war anecdotes where he won improbable victories - one with mostly unarmed recruits and another by moving his only two cannon around the field to make it seem like he had many, it dawned on me that, unlike campus Social Justice Warriors, I was capable of appreciating the genius of an utter moral reprobate despite his deep flaws. Generalizing it further, I could appreciate all kinds of historical figures, whatever their shortcomings. I wasn't applying modern moral purity tests on them to detect heretical beliefs and my life was richer because of it.

Note to Confederate apologists: The book has completely convinced me that war was over slavery and everything else was incidental. Further, I'm at the point in the story where Forrest ordered the massacre of surrendered Union troops, many of them new black volunteers. He was a total scumbag.

Anyway, it then occurred to me that many of the same people agitating for the removal of Confederate war memorials support Planned Parenthood which was started by Margaret Sanger, a genocidal racist. Why the double standard? Probably because, as Peggy Noonan recently noted, they're ignorant.
When I see tapes of the protests and riots at schools like Berkeley, Middlebury, Claremont McKenna and Yale, it doesn’t have the feel of something that happens in politics. It has the special brew of malice and personal instability seen in the Salem witch trials. It sent me back to rereading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Heather Mac Donald danced with the devil! Charles Murray put the needle in the poppet! As in 17th-century Salem, the accusers have no proof of anything because they don’t know, read or comprehend anything.
This then led me to wonder, who was worse, Forrest or Sanger? Forrest saw blacks as livestock, to be sold at $30,000 (2017 USD) apiece. Sanger, from her article, A Plan for Peace, had this point of view.
Minorities crammed into impoverished areas in inner cities should not be having so many babies. And, of course, these minorities (including most of America’s immigrants) are inferior in the human race, as are the physically and mentally handicapped. We should require mandatory sterilizations of those less desirable and promote easy access to abortion. And since sex should be a free-for-all, we must provide birth control and abortions to teenagers too. It’s all for the greater good and for a more intelligent, liberated, healthier population.
There's more. Lots more. Whereas Forrest exists only now in statues and namesakes, Sanger's work continues apace.
Here is the simple truth. The intent of Sanger’s Negro Project is firmly intact. Nearly 40% of all African-American pregnancies end in induced abortion. This is by design. Abortion kills more black people than the seven leading causes of death combined (heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases) according to CDC data. The African-American abortion rate is 3x that of the white population and over 2x that of all other races combined.
 Personally, I find them both despicable, but Sanger seems to have fewer redeeming qualities and her downside is much, much lower than Forrest's.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Deep South Dish

I recently added this blog to my sidebar and it's given me one success after another in the kitchen. I think I've tried four of her recipes and each one has been a real winner. Last night I made Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Cut Up Chicken. Absolutely fabulous.

Thyme, tarragon, rosemary, garlic, lemon ... Yum!
When people go to her blog, they end up happy and full. I suspect that when people come here, they edge towards the door, mumble something about having left their glasses in the car and then bolt, wondering as they drive away what the laws are regarding involuntary institutionalization.

Oh well. I stand by my choices.

:-)

Friday, April 28, 2017

How To Reconcile Feelings And Logic

A follow on to yesterday's post.
(F)inding a balance between feelz and logic ... it's all hogwash in the end as feelz must win out, otherwise what's the point?
Let us take as an example, finding the perimeter of a triangle.

Logic: The perimeter is the distance around the outside of a shape. Since a triangle has 3 sides, this is simple. The perimeter is the sum of lengths of the three sides.

Feelings: 


How to resolve this: If you stand your ground and insist that the perimeter is equal to the sum of the lengths, you will be accused of hate speech, lagomorphophobia, a denial of bunny's reality, be excoriated on social media, have panelists on CNN and MSNBC drag your name through the mud and, in all likelihood, will be assaulted by members of ANTIFA and have your car set on fire. Since it's not often that you need to do anything with the perimeters of triangles, it's not like holding the line will bring you much benefit. Certainly nothing equivalent to all the costs.

In the end, your best bet is to issue a statement about the validity of bunny's sad and demand changes to our vocabulary as well as more funding for the study of sorrow in rabbits.

If that really bothers you, when you go home, you can always get drunk.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Learning Is Overrated

This is a follow-on to yesterday's sewer dive color commentary.
Race is comparatively trivial. A few cherry-picked stats showing your race is being mistreated and voila!, you've got an argument that can't be beat, so long as race is your differentiating factor. Depart from that and you might need to learn something.
In an NYT opinion piece, written by some professor whose head is filled with puffed rice cereal, lurks these tidbits.
During the 1980s and ’90s, a shift occurred in American culture; personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument...Widespread caricatures of students as overly sensitive, vulnerable and entitled “snowflakes” fail to acknowledge the philosophical work that was carried out, especially in the 1980s and ’90s, to legitimate experience — especially traumatic experience — which had been dismissed for decades as unreliable, untrustworthy and inaccessible to understanding...The philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, best known for his prescient analysis in “The Postmodern Condition” of how public discourse discards the categories of true/false and just/unjust in favor of valuing the mere fact that something is being communicated, examined the tension between experience and argument in a different way.
There's a fig leaf of mumbling about finding a balance between feelz and logic, but it's all hogwash in the end as feelz must win out, otherwise what's the point? If you're going to listen to someone kvetch and then go with logic and knowledge, then the kvetching will have been dismissed as, well, "overly sensitive, vulnerable and entitled."

Giving traumatic experience the power to trump logic devalues knowledge, That's the beauty of our obsession with race and gender whether you're a black, lesbian Social Justice Warrior or some shaven, white ape longing for the Reich. You win the day when your side can muster more decibels of complaining than the other. At no point in time do you need to read, discuss or think. Meanwhile, Professor Puffed Wheat nods his head and talks about new directions in philosophical thought valuing "traumatic experience" more than ever before.

If that's the way things are going to go, it might be a good time to ditch the books and stock up on self-defense tools. Victory through yelling is just a hop, skip and a jump away from victory through gang fights.

On the plus side, less reading will give us more time for enjoying video games, weed and porn after we, err, resolve our differences.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Left, Right, It's All The Same

I hadn't planned on blogging about this today, but I spent about 20 minutes over coffee this morning sewer diving into a sequence of neo-Nazi timelines on Twitter. I clicked on one, just to get a flavor of it and then after scoping out his, scanned a few more for a while. It's no different from the racialist progressives I've been yelling about, living in Mein Kampf.

These guys were literally trying to live in Mein Kampf, each having at least one tweet wishing der Führer a happy birthday on that benighted anniversary.

I tried to step back and see what they had in common with their dance partners on the left and this was the best I could come up with: Arguing about race is easier than understanding ideas.

Islam is an idea. Judaism is an idea. Skin color isn't an idea. Debating ideas, even superficially, requires some amount of comprehension and opens you up to attack by people who know more than you about the subject. Race is comparatively trivial. A few cherry-picked stats showing your race is being mistreated and voila!, you've got an argument that can't be beat, so long as race is your differentiating factor. Depart from that and you might need to learn something. The horror.

And so it went in this particular sewer. Data taken from the census bureau or law enforcement sites was repeated over and over again along with ghastly images. Yep, the white race was oppressed or superior or something. It was hard to tell just what the point was. The only plus side was that these cretins had under 1000 followers each. The race-crazed dervishes on the left typically have at least an order of magnitude more reach on Twitter, due to their brain-dead narrative being repeated in the media and arts ad nauseam.

In any case, no one on either side has any need to think or learn so long as they stick with the melanin.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why Han Solo Wasn't In Corporate Life

... because he solved his problems as they arose vice planning for them.

In the movies

(Millenium Falcon dodging asteroids and TIE fighters while Han tries to repair the hyperdrive)

Han: I don't know how we're going to get out of this one.

In a large corporation

(Han standing in the office of his manager)

Manager: SOLO! I want a presentation on how you're going to get out of this one on my desk for review by tomorrow at 9! It needs to cover schedule, budget, quality assurance, risks and process improvement iterations!

Han: (Sigh)

Monday, April 24, 2017

This One's A Real Drag

My cold is still dragging me down. The best I have to offer today is a Maddi lolcat. Enjoy!

Maddi may be on the job and eager to work, but I'm just hanging on today. Blargh.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sphinx Moths Sipping

Thanks to our unusually wet winter, we've had an abnormally large springtime insect bloom. In addition to the Crane Flies I've photographed recently, there are Sphinx Moths a-plenty. I caught some of them sipping on flowers in our back yard last night. I shot it in 1080p and then edited it down to 720p to focus on the moths. It might be worth watching in full-screen mode. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bill O'Reilly And Celebrity Psychosis

I'm listening to Mike Nesmith's autobiography, Infinite Tuesday, these days. Mike was one of the Monkees, in case you didn't know. The book is painfully honest and that gives it tremendous charm. More on that in another blog post, perhaps.

Mike coins the term, "Celebrity Psychosis," to describe what happens to you when you become a big star. You turn into something of a psychotic and it comes to dominate your life if you don't fight it tooth and nail, which most people can't. It's what causes celebrities to park their cars in fire lanes and be deeply offended when the car gets towed. It makes then scream at paparazzi and then pose for photographers to make sure their face is seen in all the right places. You take advantage of those around you because you feel entitled, entitled to everything.

Bill O'Reilly seems to have succumbed to CP. I have to admit that I never watched him, save for catching some Dennis Miller clips on YouTube. I loved his book, Killing Jesus, but I thought his rants and his show to be insufferable. As the stories come out about his behavior, which I must admit I'm watching only tangentially, they're echoes of stories Mike tells in his book about his own horrible actions. Bill O'Reilly never stopped himself because, well, "Don't you know who I am?"

One wonders who Mike or Bill or Bill Cosby, for that matter, might have become in the absence of celebrity. Decent people, probably. Mike Nesmith finds redemption and one hopes both of the Bills will as well.

In Infinite Tuesday, I've just reached the point where MTV was created. Interestingly enough, the genesis of it was this music video that Mike put together to play on European channels as a promo for one of his albums. Up to that point, pop clips, as they were called, were just the artist lip-synching to the song and had no action or plot at all. By comparison, Rio is positively inspired. Enjoy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spanish Flu

My cold is really dragging me down right now. One of my coworkers is starting to get it, too. Sometimes when this happens, I wonder if it's the start of an epidemic and we'll be patient zero in something like the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. We won't, of course, but it makes you wonder what it was like as it started. You've got to figure that the first people who came down with it blew it off as just another flu or cold.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Living In Mein Kampf

From an article by Republican political operative Ed Rogers on the recent special Congressional election in Georgia wherein the Democrats, funded lavishly by outside money, fell just short of taking the seat, comes this sentence, the 4th one into the piece.
It seems strange, but today’s liberals invested a huge amount of money, media attention, and hopes and dreams in a 30-year-old straight, white Southern male.
Mein Kampf is a horrible book, and not just for the meat of its content. It's ignorant, bombastic and badly written, accurately reflecting the lousy mind from which it sprung. It also shows that no one felt comfortable editing der future-Führer's work. Had a decent editor taken a whack at it, they might have asked him to do more research, add counter-arguments and debate them and, for the love of God, delete whole sections of utter bollocks.

I feel like we're in that world right now, one of unedited, histrionic, race-crazed rubbish. When Ed Rogers, a guy who probably thinks oatmeal is too spicy, feels the need to whip out the white male card four sentences into an utterly forgettable piece, you know we've entered Spandau Prison and are all pacing back and forth in front of our secretaries, waving our arms and ranting wildly about der Volk.

All of us.

I have the beginnings of a cold today. Praise Jesus for Nyquil because that wonder drug helped me sleep last night and I might avoid the worst of the sickness. I just bought a spring suit (short-limbed wetsuit) and am looking forward to getting back into boogie boarding. At work, I'm thoroughly enjoying being more technical again and have found that I enjoy server configuration and programming. Newcastle United is threatening a late-season collapse that could keep them out of the English Premier League next year, which would be tragic for me.

There is nothing, nothing at all in my life that has anything even remotely to do with der Volk, be they schwarz, weiß oder braun.

What kind of strange, surreal world do we inhabit these days? It's like every story, every opinion piece has to trot out racial facts in the first few lines. Meanwhile, our daily lives are almost completely unaffected by it.

It's enough to make you stop reading and watching the stuff. Which I have done, save for some guilty pleasure time wherein I consume it like I would candy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Prayer And Used Cars

So my friend who had cancer, for whom I was praying and had given up beer, turned out to be alright. The tumors were benign. The affected organ had to come out no matter what, but the results were the best possible. That got me to thinking.

Have you ever bought a used car and later wondered if you could have gotten it for less?

Maybe I didn't need to say a Rosary every day and give up beer. Maybe a Rosary every other day and just give up double IPAs...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ayn Rand And The KKK

How's that for a click-baity title?

I'm currently thoroughly enjoying this biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest (NBF).

NBF was perhaps the most successful Confederate general of the war. If I recall the quote correctly, General Sherman once said, "Even if it took the lives of 10,000 men and bankrupted the Union, that man needs to be caught and killed!" NBF fought with crazed ferocity and was personally credited with killing 30 Union troopers in hand-to-hand combat. NBF's cavalry was feared and rightly so.

That's interesting, but it's not the point. Prior to the war, NBF was a slave trader in Memphis. With the supply of new slaves from Africa cut off as of the early 1800s, slaves were extremely valuable, fetching over $1000 each which today would be on the order of $30,000. The book details his trading and treatment of the slaves and it's quite illuminating. For example, he very rarely separated mothers and children. This was not due to a kind heart, it was a strictly business decision. Young children separated from their mothers did poorly, lowering their price. The same went for mothers whose children had been sold away.

Slaves were seen as livestock. Just as you wouldn't mistreat a prized horse, you certainly didn't mistreat a slave if it could be avoided, slaves being worth many multiples of almost any horse. That's not to say that punishment for infractions wasn't severe, it's just that the slaves were one of the largest investments, if not the largest investment of any enterprise.

Therein lies the connection to Ayn Rand's philosophies. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a true Randian. He did things for money and family and not much else. Up until his last years, he was an unbeliever and there's no indication in the book that he possessed any moral framework outside of his self-interest and his love for his family.

From an Objectivist point of view, why was what NBF did wrong? He was working to maximize economic value, wasn't he? He acted out of cold, impersonal logic and followed no superstitions. That it led him to trade in slaves, defend the Confederacy and become the first Grand Wizard of the KKK after the war seems immaterial to any objections a Randian might raise.

Wouldn't it have made for a more interesting novel if, in Atlas Shrugged, some of the people of Galt's Gulch had owned slaves? Without God and objective morality from a source outside ourselves, why shouldn't they?

Nathan Bedford Forrest fighting to defend his right to make dollars at the expense of human lives. Today, he might have been a board member at Planned Parenthood.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Peaceful Repose

I have a different post written in my head comparing Nathan Bedford Forrest and Ayn Rand, but I don't have the time to type it out, so this lovely photo of our Maximum Leader, Maddi, lying on a cherry floor will have to do. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

What could be more Easter-y than a huge patch of lovely, yellow wildflowers? We saw these while taking the Catican Guards out for maneuvers at Mission Trails Park.

Enjoy and God bless!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Why Even Bother With A DSLR?

... when you can get shots like this with your phone.


I tried getting crane fly shots with my Nikon D60 Artillery Piece in macro mode and ended up disappointed. I took two hipshots with my Galaxy S7 and got this one.

I left it big, so I think it's worth a click. You can really see the structure of the wings and the segments on the body. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ladies, It's Important To Let Your Man Pick The Restaurant

... and it should go something like this.
Wife: "Let's go out to eat tonight."

Me: "Great, let's do it!"

Wife: "You pick this time. What sounds good to you?"

Me: "How about Japanese?"

Wife: "No"

Me: "Southern?" 
Wife: "No."

Me: "BBQ?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Indian?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Korean?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Steak?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Cajun?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Brew pub?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "Chinese?"

Wife: "No."

Me: "How about Italian?"

Wife: "But you hate Italian."

Me: "Yes, but I know it's something you like and at this point, I'm more worried about starving to death."

Wife: "OK, Italian it is!"

Me, under my breath: "Well, at least I got to pick. (Sigh)"
And that, my fairer readers, is how it's done. ;-)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Plastic Bags And Surgery

A dear friend of mine just went through kidney removal surgery. It had shown masses in it and, as organ cancers are really nasty, the doctors insisted on removal. He went through the surgery easily, still has one good kidney and, best of all, his pathology report came back benign. Woot!

He described the surgery to me. They make an incision under the kidney, wrap it in a plastic bag and then pull it out in the bag.

A plastic bag?!? How did they discover that? Can't you just see the whiteboard at the experimental surgery hospital?

Options for Kidney Removal

  • Turkey baster
  • BBQ tongs
  • Garden hose
  • Plastic bag
Yep, that's the one!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Uncertainty Is The Policy

Jonah Goldberg, whom I respect immensely, approves of the the missile strike on Syria, but doesn't see anything but chaos, confusion and unfocused behavior after that.
If I may extend Krauthammer’s metaphor a bit: A staple of nearly every Western with a new sheriff in town is the nefarious saloon full of scoundrels and women of easy virtue. The new lawman comes in and fires a warning shot in the air. The piano player pauses. The bartender freezes.

And the sheriff says . . . ?

Well that’s just it, isn’t it? Trump got everyone’s attention with those 59 Tomahawk missiles. But he doesn’t seem interested in telling us how to interpret them.
As much as I love Jonah, I think he's missing the point. He's right in that there's no Trump policy; inconsistent statements by his people show that conclusively. What he's missing is that Trump's lack of core beliefs is itself a policy. His policy is whatever he wants right now. His willingness to use the awesome power of the US means his whims have enormous weight, hence China putting 100,000+ troops on the North Korean border.

To continue Jonah's analogy, the sheriff shoots some bad guy's horse, glares around, makes some crazy statements about not liking this or that and then goes back to his office. What does it all mean, the townsfolk wonder. Who knows? Just don't get on his bad side! You have no idea what might set him off, but you know he's perfectly willing to shoot your horse, your dog or even you.

Now I think it's unfair to say Trump has no policy. He doesn't work in detailed policy statements, he works in broad directions. If you doubt that, check out his appointments. They might not know the details of what he wants, but it's clear that jobs is the most important thing domestically and respect is the most important thing internationally.

Is that so bad?


Something like this.

The Great Crane Fly Invasion Of 2017

... is almost over. Due to our extraordinarily wet winter, we had a huge bloom of crane flies. I tried to get photos, but only a few turned out even halfway decent. The camera had a hard time focusing on their tiny bodies and I didn't manually focus because I'm lazy. Here's a selection of 6 photos, 2 from a live one on the wall and 4 from a dead one.

To me, they look like little caterpillars with wings and spindly legs. Which they are. As I understand it, as flyers, all they do is mate, lay eggs and die. They last for about a week in this state.

Aside: For those who have been kind to me and concerned about my recent catastrophe, I've managed to work it down from a grand piano being dropped on me to being hit in the head with a thrown brick. The key to defusing the problem was to be honest and gentle and realize that I could always get angry and vengeful tomorrow.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. Well, as much as anyone can enjoy pictures of dead, spindly insects.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reading Linux Logs Is Easy

Have you ever thought something was black magic and available solely to experts only to discover that it's pretty straightforward? I just had that experience today with logs in Linux.

Back in the day, I was very technical - mathematics, programming, technical writing, etc. These days I'm far less so, but once in a while I need to pitch in and it's good to find out I can still do it if required.

Moral of the story: Don't sell yourself short! Sure, some things will be beyond you, but at least give yourself the opportunity to succeed.

Monday, April 10, 2017

How To Know You've Turned The Corner

... it's when you can start empathizing with others again.

I got whacked with a staggering setback late Thursday afternoon and have been blogging my recovery experiences since then. I apologize to my regular readers who are looking for my normal, hypocritical, uninformed snark. I promise I'll get back to having opinions on things I don't understand soon. For right now, as this blog is a learning tool for me, I want to share the journey from grand-piano-falling-on-me to emotional and mental normalcy.

As blows go in my life, this is in the top 10, maybe as high as #5. It's been a long, strange trip from birth to today. The really big blows have given me perspective and balance, so this one was devastating, but, taken in proportion with the others, not the end of the world.

I tell our kids not to sweat failure because you can recover from almost anything and this is no different.

By the way, next time you have to face a personal hurricane in your life, check out this reddit thread wherein people share the worst things that have ever happened to them. I've got two events in my life that can match most of these examples for sheer horribleness, but some of these are just over-the-top crazy awful. All you want to do is hug and listen to these people and let them know they're loved.

Therein lies the corner-turning.

I was at Mass with my lovely and supportive wife last night, in the pew behind a good friend and his wife. I suddenly had an overpowering urge to take him out for beers and have him tell me about the worst thing(s) that ever happened to him. I didn't want to unload on him, I wanted to learn of his intimate sorrows and comfort him in whatever they were.

I started looking around, particularly at the older parishioners and imagined what they might say. Children lost to disease or drugs, marriages that had failed, abuse by parents, the church was full of people who had experienced deep sorrows. I wanted to hear them all and give them love.

I thought of my own friends and family. A son who had been sick recently. A personal sorrow my wife was experiencing. A dear friend who had just lost her mother. My own parents and their physical ailments. When we left church, I texted our son and asked him how he was doing. I texted another of our sons and asked about his weekend. I thanked our daughter for coming over for dinner on Saturday night. We then went out to dinner with our recently-bereaved friend.

The readings last night were all about those times when you feel God has forsaken you. In my current case, I didn't think for a second that God was somehow behind all of this. He was there for me, I just needed to get past my animal, limbic reaction to the event, calm down my lizard brain and get back to what mattered - being more like Christ.

As an aside, I realized that was what was going on. The shock of the thing had triggered a limbic response and I was simply incapable of spiritual sophistication, hence the difficulty praying. That's a higher-order function and requires stability in the layers below.

This has reached tl;dr territory, so I'll close with this - it's when you can feel for others again and focus on giving them love and support that you know you've turned the corner.

Last night, I finally wanted to be back giving the hugs, not receiving them.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Fasting And Prayer In A Time Of Stress

I blogged in the past about advice given me by a dear friend, re: fasting in crisis.
My friend talked about using alcohol as a pain killer and how you get trapped by it. When you're going through bad times, it's easy to have a drink or three or four to get through it. His bad times were worse than most by a good margin so his analgesic needs were substantial. He said what happened was that when the pain went away, the booze was still there. Just as Screwtape said, the pain-relieving nature of pleasure had turned into a hunger for that pleasure that outlived the need.

My friend said that it's in the bad times when you need to fast more than ever. That shocked me, but it made sense.
That's all well and good, but to put it in practice, you have to be coherent enough to remember to do it.

Almost there.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

God Is My Comfort

This week, I suffered an unbelievably unjust and damaging blow. I won't go into a description of it, but I'm hoping that in time, with patience and honesty, I'll be able to rectify the situation.  This portion of Kipling's If sums the current state of things up nicely.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
It's taken me two days to get my head back together from the impact. It so took me by surprise that I've been reeling ever since. My sleeping and waking schedules have become completely random from the stress. It wasn't until last night around 1:30 AM when I sat down and actually put pen to paper* in composing a response that I've been able to have any kind of peace.

I don't know how secular people deal with things like this, but for me, I was able to turn to prayer. Admittedly, it's taken two days to even get to the point where I could pray and meditate coherently, but now that I've started, it's made a big difference. I started to a Novena to the Holy Spirit and from the start, I saw that all injustices and destructive actions in life are the same.

Each setback is alike, spiritually. It's just another opportunity to turn to God and realize that through life you are given these trials and through mortality there will only be a finite number of them. Setbacks which seriously damage personal accomplishments or put life-goals at risk can be intensely painful, but they do not harm your reason for existence. Being more like Christ is why we're here. Spreading the Gospel is why we're here.

Speedbumps, punches to the face or even grand pianos dropped on you from a great height are only shadows of what really matters. They are phantoms, as temporary as your corporeal body. They will die and fall to dust, but you will not.

I'm still a bit incoherent from the shock of the thing, so I think I'll close this out. My faith gives me solace in a way that nothing else can, as far as I can tell.

I hope you don't find yourself in a similar situation, but if you do, I hope you can find peace in God.
* - Actually, it was fingers to keyboard, but "pen to paper" sounds so much better.