Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Recipe Called For 1/4 Cup Of Spiders

... but this was all I had.

There's An Advantage To Waking Up At 4

... I'm just not sure it's that big of one.

Alternate title: Insomnia Is One Of The Complications Of Cat Snack Fever.

For years, our Maximum Leader and I have had an understanding. She gets one midnight snack per night. More than that and she gets pillows thrown. I used to avoid these by free feeding her, but she overate and ended up looking like a zeppelin. I tried not feeding her, but a hungry cat with nothing but time on her hands in the middle of the night can find all kinds of ways to be annoying.

So I get up once a night and give her a snack. Unfortunately, the smaller of the Catican Guards has discovered she likes the taste of cat food. After I give the ritual petting and snack to our Maximum Leader and then go back upstairs, the little Guard goes downstairs to see if there's some leftovers to crunch. The complication here is that sometimes she decides she needs to use the facilities, but she's afraid of the dark.

When she's being a good girl, she comes back upstairs, jumps into bed and licks me frantically to let me know. When she's being a bad girl, she just uses one of the throw rugs by a door and then comes upstairs, jumps in bed and quivers in fear, knowing she's done something bad. Sometimes you can't tell the two behaviors apart. This morning was one such time. She came upstairs, quivering. Not wanting to punish her, I got back up and took her downstairs to go outside.

That sounds simple, but it isn't.

Going potty outside at night is a ritual, just like Cat Snack Fever. Before we go to bed, trying to avoid night time accidents, I take the smaller Guard outside*. If she does her job, both Guards and our Maximum Leader get treats. It's a cause for great rejoicing. Everyone gets all wound up and runs to their Designated Treat Muster Areas. That's fine right before you go to bed, but it also happens when I take the smaller Guard out in the middle of the night. It's quite the production.

It also wakes me up fully. There's not much more energizing than two dogs and one cat rushing about excitedly. If it's after about 3:30, I'm pretty much done sleeping for the night. And that's how we end up with blog titles like this.

The picture of innocence.
* - I always tell her a story when I do. It always involves a little dog who goes potty outside and gets a treat. It's a different story every night. No, the loony bin hasn't called my house. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Fascism Fails

Under fascism In Detroit, you are allowed to manage your own affairs, so long as you do what the government wants you to do.

There's an awesome piece in the WSJ by the guy who used to run the Detroit Department of Transportation. It's an object lesson in how fascism and socialism fail. Here's a tidbit.
We began staff meetings each morning by learning which vendors had cut us off for lack of payment, including suppliers of essential items like motor oil or brake pads. Bus engines that the transportation department had sent out to be overhauled were sidelined for months when vendors refused to ship them back because the city hadn't paid for the repair. There were days when 20% of our scheduled runs did not go out because of a lack of road-ready buses.

The obvious solution for a cash-tight operation is to triage vendor payments to ensure that absolutely essential items are always there. But in Detroit, no one inside the transportation department could direct payments to the most important vendors. A bureaucrat working miles away in City Hall, not responsible to the transportation department (and, frankly, not responsible to anyone we could identify), decided who got paid and who didn't. That meant vendors supplying noncritical items were often paid even as public buses were sidelined.
Power and authority were taken away from local managers and given to people far, far away from the problem. Their loyalty was to their superiors, not the customers. This also makes graft much easier. Payments go out to favored providers based on their political connections and not their usefulness. In the end, the city was looted and services decayed.

In unrelated news, Kathleen Sebelius' department in Washington has been given a 2,000 health care page bill to implement.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Deconstructing Atheism

So I engaged atheists on Twitter a couple of times in the last week. One of them went off about Mother Teresa being an atheist and another had something snarky to say to a friend of mine. I don't remember what it was. I was going to cut and paste the conversations here to demonstrate the endlessly repetitive "logic" of atheism, but I just can't. I'm so totally sick of the whole thing.

Outside of the nihilists, atheism is simply the act of anointing yourself as God. It's all theist logic with the scale many, many orders of magnitude smaller. And it's utterly pathetic.

This time, when I engaged these guys, I took their position completely and asked them to explain where They lived in it all. You know, "so how did you make any molecule in your body do something against the laws of chemistry?" They had nothing, of course. There's nothing to be had. They'd been so busy insulting theists that they'd never considered the question and it took them by surprise.

The God of the Gaps is the idea that God exists, doing those things science can't explain. Well, thanks to advances in science, the Gaps keep getting smaller to the point where many slay this proof of the Almighty by saying there are no Gaps at all. Of course, if there are no Gaps for God, there are no Gaps whatsoever for you. Indeed, your Gaps disappeared a long time ago.

Pointing this out caused one of three reactions.

1. Hand waving. "I control the Rabbit Hole." In a logical sense, that response wasn't even hand waving, it was more of a total, unconditional surrender.

2. Complaining that my choice of scale (the molecular level is my favorite) is absurdly reductionist. That's idiocy, of course, since they are making themselves into the Easter Bunny. Below an arbitrary scale, reality is reductionist and absurd. Above that scale, the person magically appears and hands out treats in the form of free will and moral choice.

3. Genitalia and sex. I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove, but they do like their genitalia and sex. It gets mentioned, I suppose, as some kind of attempt to shock the prude. Whatever.

Like I said, it's pathetic and depressing. They've got absolutely nothing at all except sneering and snark, deconstructing civilization down to the point where they can rush about in orgasms of self-worship. #2 is the intellectual's version, where they simply replace God with themselves in Aquinas's proofs of God's existence.

By the end of the whole affair, I simply lost all my patience and blew one of them away with logic. After that, I asked him a pair of simple questions:

Why did he believe in something that could be proven to not exist? Was it because it just made sense?

These Easter Bunny things never really work out.

Update: The last conversation ended with the atheist claiming that advancements in science do not eliminate uncertainties and he trusted that science would find his free will some day. I told him there was no light at the end of that particular tunnel. He took it to mean life after death and trotted out a cliche.


Update 2: I just picked up Beyond Good and Evil on Audible. It should be refreshingly nihilist after a series of conversations with these self-theists.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Declare Detroit A Free City?

I'm not sold.

Patrick Barron has a bit of a pie-in-the-sky idea for Detroit. Blogging at the libertarian Mises Institute, he wants to turn Detroit into a free city. I've got a better idea. Why not give the Cleveland Browns the Patriots' play book? That's bound to make them winners! First, here's the bit on Detroit.
All that Detroit really needs is economic freedom and secure property rights. Give Detroit its freedom from all manner of government, including the federal government. Declare Detroit a free city. (You can rest assured, Detroit, that America will come to your rescue if those bloodthirsty Canadians attack!) In other words, no one would pay any federal taxes whatsoever or be subject to any federal regulations whatsoever. Wouldn’t it be nice not to pay federal taxes, not even Social Security and Medicare taxes? Do the same with Michigan taxes. No taxes BUT also no federal or state aid either.

A Free Detroit would have absolutely no labor and workplace regulations, including minimum wages, mandatory insurance, equal opportunity rules, occupational safety rules, etc. People would be allowed to work together cooperatively for whatever terms their marginal productivity of labor will secure.
Now let's take some of that text and apply it to the Cleveland Browns.
All that the Browns really need is a good game plan. Give Cleveland the Patriots' play book and opponent-specific game plans. In other words, no one would worry that the Browns were running inferior plays. Wouldn’t it be nice not to blame the Browns' staff for making stupid game plans?
Can't you just see it? The Browns would dominate for years to come!

Err, maybe not. And maybe not Detroit as a free city, either. For the Browns, there's this little problem called "having no talent." For Detroit, there's this little problem called "self-destructive behavior." There are other, ancillary problems such as ruined infrastructure and no raw materials, but even with those, you need a decent workforce to make a free city a success. One that's burning down its own neighborhoods isn't quite up to the task.

For once, Hitler gets it right.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

World of Good, Translation Style

It's been a long, long time since I've done a World of Good blog post. Far too long, according to some of my readers. I stopped them because they I felt they had become formulaic and tiresome. Last week, however, gave me an experience that fit perfectly into the WOGs, so here we go with the first installment in the series since who knows when.

While working at Catholic Charities, I helped big, Hispanic man. He was a really nice guy and we chatted a little bit as we went through the menu. It was all good. He got his food and walked out the door. A short while after he walked out, an elderly, Hispanic woman came in and sat down with me. The big guy came in with her and acted as her translator so she knew what I was saying as I went through the menu.

He didn't know her, but he recognized that she needed assistance and turned around from wherever he was going to come back and help her. We have a written menu in several languages, but as far as I could tell she was illiterate as well. Despite whatever personal traumas he was experiencing that led him to our door, he made sure an old woman got what she needed. Because of him, the interaction easy, pleasant and even a little funny for both of us.

That did us a world of good.

Update: Looking back, we last WOGged in 2011. If you want to read the origin of the WOGs, here it is.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What Was Socialist Becomes Libertarian

... but only because it's run out of money.

MSNBC has a bunch of nincompoops on TV. They frequently say ridiculous things, but in one instance they're getting it sort of right. Detroit is indeed going (sort of*) libertarian. The government bankruptcy is causing a massive reduction in services and spending. Socialism and insolvency naturally lead to this.

Unfortunately, they've got a population raised on socialist expectations. The citizens of Detroit have some catching up to do. It's not whether their spending profile is libertarian, it's whether they are libertarian. I suppose that in some ways, an area that's been wiped out by a hurricane could be said to be libertarian in the sense that MSNBC is using the phrase.

* - They are still getting truckloads of Federal money, so don't get carried away with this whole libertarian line.

Pope Francis Is Rocking Brazil

Man, this guy is good.
Pope Francis, as part of his week-long trip to Brazil for World Youth Day events, today visited one of Rio de Janeiro's shantytowns, or favelas, a place that saw such rough violence in the past that it's known by locals as the Gaza Strip.

Despite heavy security and a cold rain, Francis waded into the crowds without an umbrella and hugged and kissed residents young and old before heading into the shoebox of a church that serves the Varghina community. There he blessed a new altar.
As a Catholic, he inspires me tremendously. I want to be like that. He's made me strive to be better in all kinds of ways, even the way I work with my employees.

Awesome choice, Conclave.

Here's a little more from the source of that image.
RIO DE JANEIRO — They are some of the most dangerous, most crime-ridden places in the world, where even the police and army fear to tread.

But yesterday (Thursday), in one of the most highly symbolic events of his week-long trip to Brazil, Pope Francis ventured - on foot - into one of the country’s notorious favelas, the slum-like shanty towns that sprawl around its big cities.

The 76-year-old shunned the bullet-proof Pope-mobile normally used for such visits, instead walking around the Varginha favela, a poverty-stricken community in an area of Rio nicknamed the “Gaza Strip” for its drug crime, violence and gang warfare.

He went there with a message to Brazil’s poor and oppressed - not to give in or despair in their battle against the “evil” of corruption.
He makes you want to bring your "A" game every day.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seeing The Face Of Mary In A Tree Stump

In many ways, progressivism is a religion in crisis. So many of the things they took as articles of faith are coming apart. Racism, in particular, is getting harder and harder to find. That's why George Zimmerman was such flypaper to the left. After a long dry spell where even some of them might have been having doubts, they finally had a perfect example of a white thug shooting an innocent black teen. It was like he was sent from God to restore their belief.

Only it didn't turn out that way at all. George wasn't white, at least not in the sense of "do I qualify for Hispanic status on this government form." They made up a new racial category to cover this, white-hispanic, but that was kind of disappointing, too. As more details about his "innocent" victim, George's political and community activities and the altercation that led to the shooting emerged, the less this seemed like the miracle they longed for to restore their faith in American racism.

Finally, they resorted to faking images of the face of Mary in tree stumps.

You know those weird, iconic religious images people say they see in shadows or cracks in teacups or mountainsides? The ones that draw hundreds of pilgrims to gaze upon them and meditate? Well, Kristinn Taylor, blogging at Gateway Pundit, found what looks to be one of the last gasps of the Zimmerman Racism Miracle for the left. Renee Vaughan was caught drawing the icon in the tree stump.

Sorry, folks. Time to go home. It was all faked. All of it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who Knew Wheat Thins Could Be So Full Of Awesome?

I'm still laughing from this one. Full screen it so you can catch the look on Ted's face.

Middle Out To Where?

I spent much of this morning playing with PHP scripts, so this will be brief.

President Obama has started laying out his economic vision, a mere 5 years into his presidency, and it's called middle-out. It's supposed to be this huge rebuke to supply-siders and libertarians. Whatever. Google the thing if you're interested. It's more of the same within his I-am-my-brother's-keeper theme. It's also typically ignorant and clearly came out of the same Ivy League bubble as all of his advisers and underlings where they think everyone is just like the people they meet in the faculty lounge.

In Detroit, some 47% of the population is functionally illiterate. Here are the details from that frantic, right-wing, racist, teabagger rag, the Huffington Post.

Honestly, what's the plan here? Middle out to where? "A rising tide doesn't lift all boats!" yells our president. Well, of course it doesn't, not when they've chained themselves to the sea bottom. It's never been easier to learn how to read. There has never been more funding for schools. And yet, 47% of the population of one of our major cities took a pass on the project.

There's no economic plan in the world that's going to lift those boats until they do something about the problem themselves. Middle-out is doomed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Link of the Day

Just because I think the walrus and the Russian sailor make a great pair.

For Happier Christmases And Birthdays Don't Buy Google Music All Access

As I get older, it gets harder and harder to make Christmas and birthday lists for my wife and kids. I'm not much for having material things in the first place, so it's become a gigantic chore to give them ideas for presents. Music is the exception. I've always got CDs I'd like to add to my collection. Google Music All Access eliminates all of those gift ideas for the family.

I've been trying it out for almost a month now and found two things.
  1. There are some interesting artists whose music I'd love to have available to me. Helen Kane and George Formby, for example.
  2. There is a lot, and I mean a lot of really terrible music out there. Many albums and artists that I used to like have turned out to be truly awful. Almost everything, as a matter of fact. Just like painting, sports and algebraic topology, there are a few superstars and then there is everyone else. Iron Butterfly, for one. Please, no more Iron Butterfly. Ever.
This means that there will always be a few albums I'd like to have, but it also means that most of the material available on Google is stuff I'd rather never hear again.

So I'm going back to Pandora and putting CDs on my Amazon wish list when I hear something new and interesting. It will give the kids options when it comes time for gifts and take the stress out of their lives. It's always panic time when you have to buy a gift for someone and have no ideas at all. All Access may or may not be cheaper in the long run, but not everything is about money. I'd rather have more fun on my birthday and Christmas.

As an added bonus, here's a very nice fan video of Electric Light Orchestra's Yours Truly 2095 off of their Time album. Previously, I had blogged that I saw them on the Time tour and had heard they had lip-synched at least some of their songs. Someone had recorded one of those concerts and uploaded the music to YouTube. After hearing a few of them, there's no way they were lip-synching. Instead, they might have layered recorded music over the top of their playing to give us the rich, orchestral ELO sound.

Monday, July 22, 2013

In A Nation of 300 Million+ People

... if you can only get a few tens or even hundreds for your marches, you might not be representative of the general population.

Last week, I worked downtown distributing food to the needy. It was after the Zimmerman verdict and after the protests had begun. We had clients of all races, some who were homeless, some who were struggling and some who just had too much month for their refrigerator. Everyone got along and chatted as they waited to be seen. They were all grateful and reasonably happy, considering the circumstances.

In the larger world, the press was spinning like a top over the Zimmerman thing. It was the Center of the World and You Needed to Be Concerned! It had Big Implications for race relations! Articles were written, editorials were penned, talking heads argued, photos were taken of protesters.

Meanwhile, we all got along just fine.

On Twitter, the racial-obsessives attacked blacks who wondered if maybe the whole thing wasn't being blown out of proportion as "tokens" who "weren't in touch with the street." Where I was working, the people were in touch with the street, many of them quite literally. None of them cared about melanin, or if they did, they weren't fussing about it with each other.

Dean from Beers with Demo, chatted with me on Twitter and said that at the shipyard where he worked it was the same thing. Everyone was just getting on with life.

So what we had were two semi-random samples where no one seemed bothered by the whole thing. These went unreported. On the other hand, the self-selecting groups of agitators got front-page coverage.

If I didn't know better, I'd say someone had an agenda to push.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Race Is The Go-To Excuse

It's because the alternative would be to blame behavior and no one wants to be judgmental.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Citizens Of Detroit As House Pets Or Peasants

The smaller of the Catican Guards, Ellie, is a nine-pound, chihuahua-cocker mix. She is one of the sweetest dogs ever. On occasion, she can also be timid. While she doesn't mind mixing it up with friends' dogs that are ten times her size, she doesn't like going out into the dark alone and she's a little bit scared of the dogs next door, who are psychotic*. When she has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, if she can't wake us up, she sometimes goes on the carpet downstairs. We show her we're disappointed, but we understand why she's doing it and don't punish her severely.

Ellie, awaiting a glass of Deaver Zinfandel.
Which brings me to Detroit.

Both Charlie LeDuff and Steve Rattner have the little dog attitude towards the residents of Detroit. Here's what Steve has to say about them, echoing a passage in Charlie's Detroit: An American Autopsy.
No one likes bailouts or the prospect of rewarding Detroit’s historic fiscal mismanagement. But apart from voting in elections, the 700,000 remaining residents of the Motor City are no more responsible for Detroit’s problems than were the victims of Hurricane Sandy for theirs
That's simply untrue. First, from the destructive side, the citizens of Detroit are the ones burning their city and shooting, beating and raping each other. No one is deliberately going into Detroit to wreak havoc on these people. They're doing it to themselves.

Second, think of it from the constructive side. To say that the citizens of Detroit aren't responsible for the condition of their city is to ignore the construction of the city in the first place. Did someone from outside Detroit come in, build the city for these people and then leave? How do cities and businesses start and then grow?

It's like the people of Detroit are house pets, of whom nothing can be expected. They can't be expected to not hurt each other, to not burn their own city, or to elect anything other than grievance-mongers and gangsters who then loot them. Dig this scene from the Detroit city council, well-documented in the Charlie's book.

Now go back 100 years and think of the people of 1913. They're the ones who built the city. To Charlie and Steve, those people are like aliens from another planet. It's inconceivable that we would expect the people of 2013 to be able to do the same thing, despite the wildly disparate resources between the two eras.

If that's the way we're going to view the people of Detroit and other such places, then we're implicitly creating an American aristocracy. The people of Detroit are the commoners and Ivy Leaguers, I suppose, would be royalty. One could hardly expect the common rabble to be able to conduct themselves in a civilized manner or provide for their own welfare. They clearly need those of royal blood to watch over them.

House pets or peasants, do you want to be paying to feed them and clean up after them? Do you really think they need that?

* - The dogs next door are a pair of 15-20# lunatics who never get walked. In essence, they've been given a life sentence in their yard without the possibility of parole. Just like prisoners in the same situation, they've dispensed with civilized behavior and have become violent psychotics, rushing the fence at the slightest noise from out side.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Twerk Bone Is Connected To The Detroit Bone

I was going to lay off the Detroit bankruptcy and a few more thoughts on Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy, but fate conspired against me. This morning I bopped around the Interweb Tubes and came across this LOLcat about twerking.

I didn't know what twerking was, but it took no deductive power at all to quickly figure it out. A YouTube search led me to this video, which has had over eight million hits.

Which brought my thoughts to Detroit where they are shocked to discover that a city full of single moms can't pay its bills. David Freddoso has laid out the gory details for all to see.

Because Mr. Freddoso's outstanding Storify piece on Detroit, shown below, is so long, I'll put my punchline here and close with Dave's tale of Motown woe.

Twerk away, kids. In a few years, come on back to the twerking craze over a bowl of ramen and marvel at what we all did to ourselves. You'll be amazed that we ever thought civilization could be maintained by a society obsessed with sex.

Take it away, Mr. Freddoso.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Bothers Them Is That He's 16 And Can Do Their Jobs

Dean, one of our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings, has an outstanding blog post up about the modern press corps being lackeys and lapdogs. In related news, Presidential Spokescreature Jay Carney got schooled by a high school junior yesterday, freaking out the Washington press establishment.
“Because of the death threats being received by George Zimmerman and his parents, is the president going to take any action for their security or are they on their own?” Gabe Finger asked.

Carney responded that he wasn’t aware of the threats and that Florida authorities would be responsible for handling them, but that Obama opposes “any violence of any kind” in response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.

“So they’re on their own?” Finger asked again.

“You can editorialize all you want and I have no doubt that you will, but that is a ridiculous statement,” Carney replied.
The ridiculous statement is that Major League Toady Carney wasn't aware of the death threats. Please.

Final score: Gabe Finger one zillion, Jay Carney zero.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Camaros Can Overpower Styrofoam Rocks

That's what I learned today.

Want To Drive The MSM Completely Out Of Their Minds?

... then show extra charity and kindness to people of other races this week.

Dave Burge of Iowahawk blog fame has a great tweet yesterday:
The endless coverage of a particular murder case when this kind of thing happens all the time has only one cause and we all know it: the media's fascination with racial animosity, whenever and wherever they can find it. They love it. They live for it. Even if they have to invent it like they did here with the all-new racial category "White-Hispanic." I'm sure many of them were supremely disappointed the verdict didn't result in riots and burning cities.

Well, screw them.

If you're sick and tired of the media playing us all like so many cheap violins, then go out of your way for the next week (and more) to show people of other races love and charity. When you come across others who have been sucked into the manufactured hate, don't respond to their baiting and hostility except with kindness. Ask them why they let some subnormal script reader on the TV dictate their feelings.

Don't let the swine at MSNBC and elsewhere play you any more.

You'll make Rachel Maddow's head explode. That alone will be worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Al Sharpton Is A Dinosaur

... or, What if they called for race riots and no one came?

Al Sharpton and packs of jackals in the MSM have been beating the drum on TV, radio and newspapers for months trying to get us to fall in line. I'm on this side and you're on that. If my team wins in the Zimmerman / Martin trial, I'll celebrate, if my team loses, we'll riot. I may not know you from Adam, but if you're on the other side and I see you at the gas station or the supermarket, I'll glare at you in hatred or leer at you in triumph. I'm supposed to see you for your race, not your humanity.

Al's one of the poster boys for this, publishing articles like, We Lost the Battle, But the War's Far From Over. Sadly for Al, but happily for us, the riots and violence didn't happen. I guess the battles and wars were all in his head. Oh sure, there were a few incidents, but on a per capita basis, there's more violence at your average Chargers-Raiders game than there was after the Zimmerman verdict.

Maybe Al Sharpton and the loonies on MSNBC have had their day in the sun and now it's all over. Despite the frightening vitriol on Twitter, which is not a scientific sample, maybe we just don't hate each other all that much any more.

Turn out the lights, the party's over.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Helping An 81-Year-Old Blind Man

Recently, I worked at the Catholic Charities Food Resource Center. I do customer intake where I interview the client, give them menu options and help them pick out food that is bagged and given to them by someone else. So this old guy came in, helped along by one of the workers from next door where they do more advanced social work and he had one of those red and white canes reserved for the blind.

He sat down at my desk and handed me his ID. I looked him up in the system and found he was 81. Talking to him further, it turned out he had cataracts so bad that he couldn't see a thing. As it is with many of our customers, you really couldn't tell what his situation was. He said he was sort of homeless, but he didn't have that look and the life span of an 81-year-old blind guy living on the street seemed too short for him to be sitting there in front of me.

Whatever his exact lifestyle, talking to him made me want to bring him home to live with us. I didn't make the offer and instead processed him like everyone else, keeping up a cheerful patter while trying to keep from holding him and crying. He told me he had friends he stayed with from time to time and he was clean and dressed in clothes that fit, so who knows, maybe his situation wasn't all that desperate. Still, I wanted to bring him home and take care of him.

Every time I work this gig, I find someone like this. A few weeks back, it was this lovely young lady who had come in from LA to escape abuse and was living on the street until she could find a place. It was a Friday and the social services offices weren't taking any new customers, so she was going to have to live on the streets until Monday. I pondered giving her a bed in our house for the weekend, but you couldn't tell if she was a druggy or what. Instead, I just did my job.

The more I do this, the more I come to believe that paradise is achievable. There are more of us* - successful people who could help one individual - than there are of them. If everyone who could do so stepped up and adopted one of these unfortunates, we'd have the place cleaned up in no time.

Good Samaritanesque individual action, taken in large numbers, could make a big difference.
* - Well, there should be more of us than there are of them. That's one of the great tragedies of abandoning traditional morality and the traditional family. Kids from wrecked, libertine neighborhoods aren't going to be able to help anyone and instead will only add to the number of people who need assistance.

No Graffiti

Look through these pictures and that's one of the things that jumps out at you.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Detached From Reality

Reuters has an article about arson in Detroit. In the article is this surreal comment.
A documentary about Detroit's fire epidemic, "Burn," received critical acclaim last year for exploring the crisis through the eyes of firefighters.

"Arson is a form of self-expression in a place where you can't express yourself," Brenna Sanchez, co-producer/director of "Burn," told Reuters.
Emphasis mine.

Self-expression? As in artistic self-expression? Must be, given the context. How completely separated from self-reliance do you have to be to consider arson self-expression. Can you imagine the sharecroppers in the 1890s South burning down each others' houses and chalking it up to self-expression? Um, no. They'd get together and beat the tar out of the arsonist because they'd have had no means of replacement short of rebuilding the houses themselves. Houses in modern-day Detroit are artistic canvases to the arsonists because they have no real value. Someone else will pay to replace them, someone else will put out the fire, someone else will pay for the services, someone else will pay for everything.

Can't express yourself? Who is stopping them from saying or doing anything? The police aren't exactly manning every street corner. That phrase is beyond belief. It seems to me that self-expression is at it's peak in a place where civilization has broken down. That's all they're doing all day long - self-expression. It's madness to think that the workaday drudges paying what bills get paid in Detroit have more self-expression available to them than the arsonists.

The more we accept sociopathic behavior as normal, the more surreal the excuses for it become.

Right after this photo was taken, they burned down the house next door in an act of self-expression.

Cheezburger of the Day

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Feminism: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Here's the ad:

Here's the reaction from packs of angry, hairy-legged harpies as reported at Der Spiegel:
Women's sports are often touted as a means of female empowerment, so a number of viewers who tuned in to the start of the Women's Euro 2013 soccer tournament on Thursday night were shocked to see an ad for the event that was steeped in gender stereotypes.

She juggles and then expertly kicks the ball right into an open washing machine from a decent distance. I was impressed. I was supposed to be outraged, if I'd had a scrap of sensitivity. Because, you know, Washing Machine. Washing Machine!


Looks Like Another Tea Party Gang Got Out Of Control

Appalling. Simply appalling. But then, what did you expect from those tea baggers, anyway?

Friday, July 12, 2013

German Wind Turbine Construction Seems Indistinguishable From Commercial Development

Dig this from Der Spiegel:
After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and Germany's swift decision to abandon nuclear energy and embrace renewable energy as part of its so-calledEnergiewende, the country's 16 federal states reacted with a sort of excessive zeal. The northeastern state of Brandenburg plans to set aside 2 percent of its land for wind farms. The western state of Rhineland-Palatinate intends to more than double the amount of wind power it generates. North Rhine-Westphalia, its neighbor to the north, is planning an increase of more than 300 percent.

The winds of change are blowing in Germany -- and hard. Flat-bed trucks laden with tower segments make their way slowly across boggy fields. Cranes crawl up narrow forest paths to set up outsized wind turbines on the tops of mountains. Germany aims to increase its production of wind power from 31,000 to 45,000 megawatts over the next seven years. By the middle of the century, it hopes to be generating 85,000 megawatts in wind power

With the prime coastal locations already taken, operators are increasingly turning their attention to areas further inland. Even valuable tourist regions -- such as the Moselle valley, the Allgäu and the foothills of the Alps -- are to be sacrificed. Sites have even been earmarked by Lake Constance and near Starnberg, where the Bavarian King Ludwig II drowned.
Hmm. Pristine lands being developed by commercial interests to house bird-killing, industrial machines?

Someone ought to notify Captain Planet.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Darwinian Selection Leading To Detroit Sloth

Making my way through Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy, several things have occurred to me, one of which is Darwinian.

During Detroit's boom times, there was an influx of immigrants from the South. People gathered up their belongings, packed their families in cars or trains, and moved to a new life in Detroit, mostly in search of the factory jobs the city offered. As the place collapsed decades later, some of the Detroiters gathered up their belongings, packed their families in cars or trains, and moved to a new life away from Detroit.

Isn't that Darwinian selection in action? In general, can't you say that the active and decisive people left and the slothful and uncertain people stayed behind?

As I listen to the book, I'm struck by the inertia of the populace. I keep wanting to shout at them to get up and do something. If the houses are abandoned and infested with crack dealers, tear them down. If the factory jobs are gone, pick up new skills and change your career or move. There's a telling quote in the book that goes something like, "The rich people moved their factories somewhere else, but left the workers behind." It implicitly posits two castes of people: mobile rich people and immobile workers. That construction isn't consistent with the declining population.

If Detroit has shrunk significantly, which it has, that says that not all of the workers were left behind. Some took control of their fates and moved away. That the remaining ones aren't cleaning up the mess or aren't policing their own neighborhoods isn't totally surprising. If they can't manage to move to find work then you'd think that they're not likely to take the initiative in other things.

Has Detroit just become a nest of sloths?

Not that I have anything against sloths.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

So What Happened In Detroit?

Right now, I'm struggling my way through Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. I say struggling, because it's the audible equivalent of crawling through broken glass. Charlie is a terrible writer, a Mickey Spillane wannabe, and his reader, Eric Martin, speaks in unintentionally hilarious tough guy patois. Charlie wants you to know just how gritty and mean his life has been and he chooses every single word to prove it.


On another level, the book is terrific. Charlie didn't just write the book, he lived the lives of the people in it, to the extent he could. For example, he spent time riding along with a fire engine crew as they go from one arson scene to another in some of the worst parts of the city. Ignoring the cheesy Sam Spade voice-over, what you learn is amazing in its description of a city falling into ruin. More on that in another blog post. There's something much, much larger to deal with first.

What happened? I don't mean in financial terms, I mean in human group dynamics terms. I'm not nearly finished with the book, but so far, Charlie has missed the biggest story of them all. It's not about the firefighters with worn out equipment or the rampant theft and decay, there's something deeper and simpler at work.

For all his protests to the contrary, Charlie is your run-of-the-mill, doctrinaire journalist. For example, he holds all the correct views on race. Both blacks and whites moved from the South in great numbers to take jobs in Detroit's factories when the place was booming, but to Charlie, the whites are "rednecks" and the blacks are just blacks. He summarizes the sad story of Detroit's racial woes, but up to the 1967 riots, the blacks come across as people sitting at the back of the crowd during the Sermon on the Mount, nodding their heads and all agreeing to be meek. Meanwhile, Charlie tells you about Klan membership in the white community. White flight out of Detroit is portrayed as a kind of betrayal of the city.

Whatever the case may be, he's missing the biggest change of all. It's not that the factories went under or the government became Zimbabwe-corrupt, the biggest change is what happened to society.

Did blacks living in, say, rural Georgia in the 1910s burn down each other's shacks just for fun? Did the "rednecks" of 1912 Alabama abandon their children through divorce or illegitimacy? Did either of them sit passively while the worst elements of society wrecked their neighborhoods?

In short, what happened to the finer traits of life such as nobility, chivalry and charity? It seems to me that these were required to have built Detroit in the first place. The Germanic tribes didn't build Rome, they lived in thatched huts, couldn't read and drank a lot.

Charlie spends a lot of time yapping about corrupt leaders, but then Charlie is a fashionable fellow and that's very chic these days. Leaders come from the general population and in a democracy they're elected by the rest of us. You don't end up with Kwame Kilpatrick by accident.

In a society of sex and drugs and rock and roll, isn't Detroit pretty much what you'd expect?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Google Music All Access Update

Iron Butterfly was terrible. I mean really terrible. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida might have been an interesting song, but after that, the quality of their music falls off. Like "into the Marianas Trench" falls off.

Time Convinced Me To Buy Google Music All Access

Google owns everything. Well, almost everything. They don't own Friskies Cat Food and that's one of our Maximum Leader's favorites, so there's that. Anyway, they own a whole bunch of things, the rights to about a zillion songs included. As I'm sure almost all of you know, they now offer this through Google Music via their All Access service. It can be yours for $9.99 per month.

Over the decades, I've collected a substantial library of albums and I figured that with my music and Pandora, I had the situation pretty well in hand. Being a developing fogey and curmudgeon, I'm not interested in new music, so I didn't think All Access would be very tempting. Still, wanting to keep up with the young people*, I gave it a listen with a free month's trial membership. At first, I sat smugly convinced that I would never shell out cash for such a ludicrous service. How much music can you listen to, anyway? I figured I'd be able to buy the CDs I wanted to fill out my music collection for less than I'd pay in a year or so for All Access.

And then I bopped over to the Electric Light Orchestra albums on All Access and listened to Time.

When I was one of the young people, I was a huge ELO fan. I saw them on their Time tour and loved it, even though chances are good some of the show was lip-synched. (Their music was just too heavily layered to perform some of it live.) I'd owned all of ELO in vinyl, but had never replicated that collection on CD. That's when the real beauty of All Access occurred to me. Exploration.

From ELO, I cruised over to The Pointer Sisters' Breakout and from there to The Best Of Katrina and the Waves. All of the sudden I saw that I could dabble, play and experiment. When I first toyed with All Access, I quickly found my new loves, George Formby and Helen Kane and created playlists of my favorites. At the time, I still thought I would buy those CDs and get off All Access after my free month. Not any more. Now I get it.

Anything you want, any time you want. I'm hooked.

Now if we could only get Google to broadcast EPL games.

* - You know you're out of touch when you start using the phrase, "young people." I hate it. The phrase, not the young people. I like young people, myself. They're delicious if cooked just right.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Just How Many Trains Did They Blow Up Making The Lone Ranger, Anyway?

Skimming across Yahoo News today, I discovered that the critic-reviled Lone Ranger is also a box office bomb. It cost $225M to make and has only brought in $49M so far.

A western costing $225M? How on Earth can it cost that much to film a bunch of guys riding around on horses? I knew they were blowing up lots of stuff and wrecking trains, but $225M? And how would like to have been in their production meetings where the ever-growing budget was revealed to the executives at Disney? I'm sure they knew that a western could never recoup the piles of cash being incinerated to make the thing.


Fantastic production values and lots of trains being smashed equals hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Synchronize Folders With Microsoft SyncToy

My Lamborghini laptop has a pair of solid state drives that hold a lot of digital media from my work in Creative Suite. I don't want to pay to back these up to a cloud service, but I would like to preserve them somehow. Since solid state drives can just up and die on you and there's no magnetic media to recover, I was becoming more and more concerned about losing everything in a disk failure.

This morning, I clicked around the Interweb Tubes and came across Microsoft SyncToy. Just why it's called "Toy" is beyond me, but the thing does the job. You create folder pair associations and the thing will synchronize the files in those folders, either bidirectionally or just one way. I just ran it and it seems to work as advertised.

I'm keeping a secondary, backup folder of my work on the slave drive just in case the primary drive croaks. As far as I can tell, you have to run SyncToy manually, but that's fine. I know when I've made significant changes to my projects and my natural paranoia will ensure that I sync the folders then.

Regular readers know I'm no fan of Microsoft, but this is one tool I can recommend for sure.

Plumeria Perfection

If you can't go to Maui, at least find a Plumeria you can enjoy.

Plumeric perfection!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Obamacare: The Only Rules Are The Ones We Make Up On The Spot

The strange follow-up to yesterday's post asserting that there are no rules any more when it comes to the government is that the rules are taking over. Dig this tidbit from a doctor's analysis of Obamacare.
(His patients are) complaining their premiums have risen too high, or that the coverage they anticipate getting looks too complex , or that they expect to lose their employer-based health insurance at any time and be made a part-time employee. Many are worried they will no longer be able to afford the plans their bosses are offering and fear being compelled to seek coverage on the state exchanges, where the policies could be impossible to afford.

As a practicing doctor, I would be inclined to raise a bigger stink about all this, and I know many of my colleagues would join me, but we are too overwhelmed with paperwork, regulations and the growing dysfunctional features of health insurance to engage in a concerted protest.
Now consider the bills that have made their way through Congress - all those 1000+ page behemoths. George Will has a good summary of them and what they mean.
This lesson in the Obama administration’s approach to the rule of law is pertinent to the immigration bill, which at last count had 222 instances of a discretionary “may” and 153 of “waive.” Such language means that were the Senate bill to become law, the executive branch would be able to do pretty much as it pleases, even to the point of saying about almost anything: Never mind.
Finally, ponder the recent Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage. California's Proposition 8 is still in limbo and DOMA was overturned. Just why DOMA was overturned remains a mystery as it, like Prop 8, was legally passed and signed into law. There was some mumbling about the Feds not being able to contradict individual states, but that's nonsense. It happens all the time. Some animals being more equal than others in the eyes of the "compassionate" members of the court, DOMA got tossed.

I guess DOMA and Prop 8 being overturned is not a mystery at all. It's part of being in the middle of a bureaucratic termite mound with the queen pushing out rules at an alarming rate being in a nation with a "living constitution" and a legislature that passes ginormous bills which cede decision-making power to the Executive Branch. Once you start down this road can you ever turn back?

Imagine that tomorrow, Congress stopped passing colossal bills and decided to only pass clear and simple ones. So much power has already been handed over to the bureaucracy that it's a safe bet they no longer need new laws to continue to grow and increase their reach into our daily lives. Take a look at what the EPA feels empowered to do. They believe, under existing laws, they can regulate every aspect of the carbon cycle. How do you stop that?

But why engage in hypotheticals? What makes anyone think that, having crossed the 1,000-page Rubicon, we'd ever go back to simple laws? What's the motivation to do that? Everyone in DC is getting fat off these things - the politicians, the civil servants, the lobbyists, the connected industrialists and so on.

Oh well. At least I can still watch my EPL games on TV. That is, provided I pay the extortion fees demanded by that Voice of the People, NBC.

The shape of things already here.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Obamacare Shows There Are No Rules

The thing that grabs me the most about the decision to delay the fines for businesses not knuckling under to Obamacare is that it's being done by a wave of El Presidente's hand (warning: autoplay video at that link).
(CBS News) After months of complaints and backlash, the administration is delaying what's called the "employer mandate" under the Affordable Care Act.

The mandate requires companies with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty - but that rule is being suspended for a year until January of 2015.
Love it or hate it, Obamacare is law, passed legally and signed properly. When the Executive branch simply decides that it's going to change the rules, it circumvents the process of amending laws. If you can do that, what can't you do? Can they simply make rules up out of thin air without bothering to go to Congress at all?

The answer to that last question, of course, is yes. That's the whole point of 1,000+ page bills larded up with suggestions and concepts to be fleshed out by the armies of bureaucrats in the Executive branch. The Executive branch gains enormous power with each one of these monstrosities.

Meanwhile, California's Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment legally voted on and passed, was determined to be unconstitutional by the courts. And you thought your vote counted!

There are no rules.

Note to government agents monitoring this site, particularly those from the IRS, NSA, etc.: This is not intended to question the legitimacy of the government, impugn patriotism or otherwise cause dissent. It is meant to note the capricious nature of a government that doesn't follow any predictable set of rules. There is no need for you to pursue me for criminal actions or monitor my behavior in my private life. If you feel the need to probe things, I recommend you look into possible class action litigation against NBC for what it is doing to Americans who want to watch the upcoming EPL season.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Independence Day

Here's a little Revolutionary War music to listen to while you reach for a Harp.

OK, OK, an American beer, if you must. ;-)

Have a safe and happy 4th of July, everybody!

One More Reason To Hate NBC

So NBC outbid Fox for rights to the English Premier League games. They paid a quarter of a billion dollars for it. That means they are serious, very serious about marketing the EPL, right?


It means the EPL games are in the hands of morons and savages.

A pair of NBC executives pondering how to broadcast EPL games.
With Fox, you could subscribe to FoxSoccer online and watch almost all of the games on demand, through your browser. I loved it. Last season I watched 3-4 games per week, easily. Since Fox didn't put a score ticker on the screen, as long as I didn't go to sites that gave the results, I could watch my games without knowing the outcome in advance. I looked forward to the weekends during the season with delight.

NBC has ruined it all.

First off, there will be no games on demand. Because of the time difference, some games start early in the morning and if I want to catch one, I need to be up and tuned in then. Also, if there are multiple games I want to see going on at the same time, I'll only be able to catch one.

None of this matters, however. I won't be able to see ANY of the games.

NBC is offering them only through cable and satellite providers that have the complete NBC sports package. Mine, Time Warner, does not and I don't intend to get satellite for this. NBC offers online streaming, but only for those people subscribing to the correct cable/satellite package.

Not surprising for a large corporation that has teamed up with the semi-literate idiots at Microsoft and offers the very worst in fascist news and commentary on MSNBC, they don't comprehend modern technology and modern entertainment consumption at all.

The only surprise here is that they don't seem to be hosting their online content on a SharePoint site.

I guess even NBC isn't that stupid.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Edward Snowden Was Seen At My Office

... so we need to close the place down and give everyone the day off.

Hey, why not? It worked for the President of Bolivia. The dude was flying home from a conference in Moscow when some knuckleheads bought into a rumor that Snowden was on the plane and forced it to land  in Vienna*.

It's like Snowden is some kind of leprechaun or unicorn. Everyone is rushing about trying to spot him, thinking he's got a pot of gold, the secret of eternal life or perfect brackets for the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament.


Just looking at his picture makes me want to run in circles, waving my arms and yelling incoherently.
* - Now there's an idea! Everyone who is rumored to have seen Edward Snowden recently should get a free vacation in Vienna.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Gratuitously Beautiful Gerber Daisy

Momma Daisy comes through again!

The Germans Are Freaking Out Over US Spying

I stopped by Der Spiegel's English language site this morning and found a raft of articles about the NSA spying scandal. The Germans are apoplectic. Here's a partial list.

Merkel Furious at US Spying

Friends or Foes?

How the NSA Targets Germany

Experts Warn of Trans-Atlantic Ice Age

Obama Owes His Allies an Explanation

German Prosecutors to Review Allegations of US Spying

So far, it looks like the Obama Administration's defense is, "Hey, we all do it. Calm down." While I'm sure that's true to some extent, it's not the sort of thing that's going to fly, especially in a German election year. Merkel is out to show she's not Obama's lap-Schnauzer, so she's going to make all the political hay she can in front of a population of Germans predisposed to catch the vapors when government agents are found to be (digitally) infesting their homes.

Then there is the sheer magnitude of the thing. While everyone bugs each other's embassies, I don't think anyone else was filling every hard drive at Fry's with captured data from the entire planet. It's mind-boggling.

I guess the scope of this shouldn't be a big surprise. I've argued before that Obama is a Juan Peron fascist - a fellow who believes in unlimited power for the government in pursuit of social justice. It's hard to have unlimited power without unlimited vision.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Don't Be Like That

I came across Helen Kane while listening to my George Formby station on Pandora and now I'm in love with her music.

Pray for me.

Here's another favorite - That's My Weakness Now. It's such a great little number about falling head over heels in love. You can't listen to her without smiling.

I Don't Get Women's Shoes

... well, some women's shoes. I can understand flats and athletic shoes and I certainly understand heels, but recently, I've seen young ladies wearing things like these.
I get the heel, but why the platform? They make the girl look like she's about to fall over.
My wife and I were out and about on a weekend evening recently and came across a bridal shower party walking through the Gaslamp District here in San Diego. They were all young and pretty and having fun. Most of them had on these platform shoes and all I could think was after a few rounds at the bars, they were going to be breaking ankles and falling into the gutters.

Like I said, I understand heels, but these shoes clearly made the girls uncomfortable and it's kind of hard to give a guy a flirtatious glance when you're struggling to remain upright.