Monday, August 31, 2015

Your Sins Aren't Original Enough To Make Google A Threat

Let's assume that the paranoids are right and Google is tracking everything you do on the Internet and they know all of the illicit and embarrassing sites you visit. Don't sweat it. As Matthew Kelly says, you're not that original. If they started using that data to blackmail or coerce people, they'd immediately devalue the information until it's gradually worthless by the sheer number of people all committing the same sins. By the time there are 150,000 people who've been caught visiting sports gambling sites at work, #150,001 is going to shrug his shoulders and go back to whatever it was he was doing.

Google is a threat? Meh. Your conscience pangs comes from inside, not from some Internet voyeur.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Caterpillars In Need Of Tums

These two might regret eating our jalapeños. One of them got down to the seeds. Ouch!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Little More On Trump

After yesterday's post wherein I showed my affection for The Donald because he's showing that the progressive cultural gestapo is powerless, I listened to parts of a Trump speech.

He's an idiot.

He said all kinds of sensible things and then he said all kinds of ridiculous things. He's the guy at the bar who wants to talk politics with you after a few beers. Interesting for about 20 minutes and then you want to get away. God help us if he gets elected. Still, he'd be better than bringing in Hillary's organized crime syndicate or the progressive fascism of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. I think. Maybe not.

Peggy Noonan, probably the only political pundit worth reading, has a typically outstanding analysis out today. Her claim is that America is going through seismic changes in the way the elite and the common folk interact. Read the whole thing. Here's a snippet that spoke to me in a way I hadn't expected.
On the subject of elites, I spoke to Scott Miller, co-founder of the Sawyer Miller political-consulting firm, who is now a corporate consultant. He worked on the Ross Perot campaign in 1992 and knows something about outside challenges. He views the key political fact of our time as this: “Over 80% of the American people, across the board, believe an elite group of political incumbents, plus big business, big media, big banks, big unions and big special interests—the whole Washington political class—have rigged the system for the wealthy and connected.” It is “a remarkable moment,” he said. More than half of the American people believe “something has changed, our democracy is not like it used to be, people feel they no longer have a voice.”
I agree with this. What's crazy is that my lunatic progressive friends do, too. Maybe we have more in common than I thought. For me, the watershed week was when the Supreme Court rewrote ObamaCare and discovered gay marriage in the Constitution. At that point, voting became pointless. If the SC can act as editors for Congress and our votes to uphold traditional marriage mean nothing other than our self-identification as hateful bigots then we've stopped being citizens and started being subjects.

Going back to Trump, he may be an idiot, but when he kicked Jorge Ramos out of his press conference, I loved it. Finally, someone stood up to a racialist bully.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why I Like Trump

I don't know that I'd vote for the guy, I think he's a nut with no real convictions outside of his massive ego. However I really like what he's doing in the campaign and I think I'm not too far out of line with why many others like him, too.

I'm tired of being told what I can and cannot say. At work, I feel like I have to watch every word and there are times when I wonder if I've crossed some kind of line with respect to race or sex or politics or religion or whatever. What I'm questioning is invariably something innocuous, but something that's recently been determined to be a trigger or microaggression or God-knows-what.

We're banning hoop skirts on some campuses, for cryin' out loud.

Along comes Trump and he's saying things several standard deviations beyond anything I'd say and he's getting away with it! It's liberating to see a public figure break all of these verbal taboos.

I don't like the guy as a leader, but I like that he's saying the first thing that comes into his head and not apologizing for any of it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dogs Don't Understand Abstract Concepts

More specifically, they can't tell the difference between the printed word and what those words represent.

Here, the new Catican Guard recruits, Lily and Leah, eat cookbooks. They have confused words about food with food itself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Refanging The 10th Ammendment

I'm a huge fan of Charles Murray. Despairing of the incompetence and nearly unconstrained growth of the Federal government, he wrote the book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission in which he makes cogent, yet unsatisfying arguments for civil disobedience that he suggests will throw sand in the government gearbox. He calls for the masses to rise up in litigious revolt, finding ways to use the insanely complicated bureaucracy against itself. His plan is too easy to defeat as the government would find ways to adjust their regulations and defeat his guerrilla campaign.

In it's place, I'd suggest a new ammendment to the Constitution, along the lines of the 10th.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This has been trampled by the courts to the point where semi-literate toads like Congressman Pete Stark can tell you that the Federal government can do anything it wants. Rewrite that amendment and all of a sudden, almost all of the Federal government becomes unconstitutional and is put out of business immediately, to be recreated in the states or not as the citizens see fit.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Maybe Academics Need To Get Out More Often

I've been pondering the idea that there is such a thing as "peak knowledge." That is, for some topics, there comes a point where there's nothing left to know or discuss and academic papers subsequent to that point are repetitive or silly. In support of this concept is Jeet Heer, a senior editor at the New Republic who had this amazing tweet.
Where do you go from this point? I've got this image in my mind of a group of diversity academics on an ice floe, floating out to sea, arguing finer and finer points of racial theory, creating their "formidable body of knowledge" and losing all touch with normal people back on land until they reach this point - where redheads with alabaster skin aren't "white" any more.

Maybe there's a simpler solution to help these strange people re-integrate into the larger culture and get away from their bizarre, university coffee shop theology.

Academics need to pledge to play outside for 60 minutes a day in order to prevent the madness you read above.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dive Report: Wood's Cove, Laguna Beach

Every time we go diving, it's partly sublime and partly a Keystone Cops affair. Yesterday's trip to Wood's Cove was no different.

Dive Conditions

This was our first dive in the Laguna Beach area. We all agreed that it was beautiful and will go back to visit this or another beach nearby. Visibility, once you got away from the surf, was very good, 25-30' or more. If you're comfortable and you take your time, there's plenty to see and enjoy.

The floor is sand with patches of rocks where seaweed grows and fish cluster. The fish are incredibly tame. When I put my hand out to one, he came over to see if I had a treat for him. Clearly, there have been divers who have fed the fish. Personally, I don't have a problem with this although I know ecology purists get fussy over the topic.

Since it's shallow, the water is warm and unless the surf is zero, there will be some surge. The video below gives you some idea of the conditions.

As long as the surf isn't too bad, entrance should be easy. In the Google Earth image below, we went in on the south side of the rocks. Coming back out, I lost track of where I was and ended up coming right in through the slot in the rocks. A lifeguard came out and read me the riot act, but by the time she got to me, I was able to stand up and there was no way I was going back out and around.

Wood's Cove. I came in through the middle of that V-shape set of rocks. Excitement!
Coming in through the slot during surging conditions is interesting to say the least. By the time you get close to shore, visibility is down to 3-5' and it's hard to tell if you're making any headway at all with the water pushing you back and forth.

Lessons Learned

The boys and I don't go diving often enough for us to make prepping and putting on our gear second nature. Every time we go, we make at least one rookie mistake. Yesterday, we made several which led to a somewhat uncomfortable dive in an otherwise very nice location.

First, it turns out you can get seasick under water. Wood's Cove is 30' at the deepest and in surging conditions, which can happen even when the surf is only 1-2', you get shoved back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and bleeaarrghhhh. We ended up cutting the dive about 10 minutes short because two of us got pretty nauseous as we did not take any seasickness medication.

Because the dive is so shallow, you need to go a little heavy on the weights. We went a little light and ended up able to go down only after completely deflating our BCDs. Without the pressure of the depths to compress the air remaining in the vests, every bit of air remaining gives maximum lift.

We made one more mistake that was so stupid that I won't include it here, Sigh.


We enjoyed diving here more than diving La Jolla Cove. For someone my age, not having to swim a half mile or more from the shore entry to get to the dive site is wonderful. Coming in from a La Jolla dive is always a chance to review my life insurance situation, how recently I've been to Confession and say a Rosary or two. Aside from the nausea, this was a pretty comfortable dive.

If you like shore diving, Laguna Beach definitely deserves a try or three. Just make sure you prep thoroughly, but then you already knew that. I just wish someone would tell us that before we go. :-)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Accidental Imperialists

Continuing on with Churchill's A History of the English Speaking Peoples, I'm at the part where England establishes control over India. It turns out that it happened quite by accident. What follows is a very abbreviated version of my understanding of the start of the whole thing.

The British East India Company had several trading bases in India. It maintained its own small army, strictly for self-protection. Its board of directors had no interest in military adventures and only wanted to keep making a very nice profit.

When the ruler of their particular part of India died, a contested succession arose and the land was threatened with civil war, anarchy and destruction. In order to maintain order, the British East India Company supported a particular claimant and gradually backed into a greater and greater role in the country. All the while, their primary interest was order and trade.

Crazy, no?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Aztecs Were A Proud And Noble People

"If you read scientific publications, in which they use the fetal material for some indications, particularly, cardio-vascular, or nerve cell research, they discuss the necessity of having tissue in the digesting buffer solution within five minutes for optimal yields," Deisher explains.

"So, within five minutes of death, you would have to have the heart removed, and flushed of all blood, cleaned of any extra tissue that might be there, and the heart put into a liquid with enzymes that would digest the connective tissue and release the muscle cells.

"Sometimes, they use an apparatus where they hook the heart up and they would flush fluid through it to keep it alive and beating," she continues. "And you can't have a dead heart that's going to work in that kind of process."

In order for the organs of aborted babies to be viable for research, Deisher says that the baby have a beating heart in order to get go through the process.

"Biomedical companies prefer gestational ages of greater than 20 weeks for heart muscle," Deisher says. "This is from reading their publications; so, I have always suspected that the babies in some of these cases were alive until their hearts were cut out."
Well OK then.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Little On Planned Parenthood Video #7

... in which live babies are vivisected.
  1. This comment is one of the most insightful things I've read today. "Certain hardcore gangs require you to participate in a killing before they fully trust you. Everybody must be complicit. In past videos we have seen how even receptionists were required to go in and assist with abortions."

  2. If this is allowed to go on, if no prosecutions are brought, if the Democratic Party continues to support Planned Parenthood, then the division in America is truly between good and evil. If slicing a live baby's face to get at the brain is defensible, then everything is and civilization in America has collapsed into the ultimate, secular, post-modern abattoir.

  3. Many progressives confronting these videos must feel like this:

  4. This tweet captures my thoughts pretty well.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Turning Abject Surrender Into Virtue

I spent a lot of time driving around this weekend with one of our sons. That's always an enlightening experience because the chap is a deep thinker and pretty well-read. In the process of discussing politics, economics, theology and more, this concept started bubbling around in my head.

Hypothesis: Our modern culture is the result of making a virtue out of capitulation. As usual, I've got less time than I'd like to develop this concept, so let me illustrate it instead. Check out this video from a recent Bernie Sanders event where a small number of crazed screamers managed to shut down one of his campaign events. The real fun starts at 0:50.

I'd argue that this has been happening since the student revolts of the late 60s. From that point on, people with power and chartered to defend learning and civilization have given in to ignorant barbarians armed with little more than loud voices.

These self-defeated invertebrates didn't take responsibility for their failings and publicly admit that they weren't as strong as they should have been. Instead, they created a world view that made a virtue out of surrender. Their positions of power in academia gave their whiny self-justifications an air of intellectual respectability that they never deserved.

The result is multiculti nonsense, the worship of youth, racialist dogma and more. What started as a rout of terrified university administrators, particularly in the Ivy League universities, has become the dominant religion in the US. Its catechism is now taught in almost all public schools and is repeated throughout our popular culture.

This interpretation of the situation explains a lot of things to me, in this case how a major presidential candidate allowed his supporters to be forced to go home without hearing his speech and he's not universally called a poltroon.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ginormous Moth

I'm hoping the redoubtable Tim can help out here. I tried to use the Moth Identification Guide on this big brute, but came up short. The wingspan was about 6" or more and once it got into the house it was like trying to catch a small bat. Once I got it in the net and took it outside, it rested and allowed me to take some photos. I left the photos large because the whole event was so unusual.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Spider Silhouette

This creature was hanging in its web. seemingly suspended in space right outside our kitchen this morning. If you click on the image, you can see the hairs on its body. Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Well, This Is Comforting

You've got to hand it to the Clintons and their drooling lapdogs. They certainly can come up with whoppers to amuse you. Dig this from that California airhead Diane Feinstein.
Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton didn't write any of the emails found on her personal email server that were since deemed classified by a government intelligence watchdog, suggesting instead that she received emails with sensitive information.
LOL! Well, that changes everything! You mean she was only receiving classified materials on the Frys $1499 e-mail server she set up in her den? The Secretary of State, 3rd in line for the presidency of the world's only superpower, with access to cataracts of top secret information didn't write any of the allegedly-potentially-no-harm-no-foul emails? That puts my mind to rest! Begone, Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy! Back to the dungeons with you and let the coronation commence!

There ought to be Vegas betting lines on these things. How long until this dodge is inoperative? I'm guessing 18 hours. By then, it will be revealed that she "received" a receipt from the Yemeni ambassador for her services in exchange for an $18M donation to the Clinton Foundation.

Top comments on that story:
  • What difference does it make if she wrote them or received them?   For a normal person not running an organized crime syndicate while posing as US Secretary of State, it makes no difference at all. 
  • The server came from Dell.  When the FBI starts working on it they will need to contact Dell Technical Support.  By the time these calls get routed around all the cubicles in Bangalore, we will be discussing the 2024 presidential candidates, and the question will be moot.
  • The quality of Hillary's shills and their spin is declining even faster than her polls.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Messaging War Against ISIS

Well, this provided unintentional, dark hilarity.
The White House has floundered in its attempt to enlist social media companies in the messaging war against ISIL as Washington seeks to counter the terrorist group’s prowess online.
The only "messaging" war that's going to work against ISIS is: We are going to kill you all.

Like this:

Thinking you can fight a war on Twitter. How absurd.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Helping Your Kids Learn To Set Goals And Make Plans

... is invaluable.

This summer, I went through Bryan Tracy's Goals book with our daughter, newly graduated from high school and new in the workforce and one of our sons, about to graduate with an EE degree. We're not even done and the results are already terrific.

One of the chapters deals with naming your fears, the things that hold you back. My daughter was worried that she'd be fired if she made too many mistakes and my son, after struggling to get an internship with SDGE, was afraid he wouldn't get any full-time offers when he graduated.

My daughter was hired at a local fast food place and quickly discovered that being cheerful, hard working and energetic makes up for any number of mistakes. She's being given more and more hours despite the fact that she's not perfect. By naming her fears and discussing them with us, we were able to help her see that they weren't real.

As my son goes back to college, he now has a concrete plan to land a permanent job, a plan that is much more sophisticated and complete than what he had before. His fears had almost paralyzed him and instead of taking action and dealing with them, he withdrew and became passive. After bringing these out into the open, we were able to share many anecdotes from our own lives that banished most of his fears.

We all gained a lot more from this exercise than just this. When we started, I told them, "Some day you'll turn 30. When you do, you can look back at the things you accomplished or you can regret the years gone by. Why not discover what you really want to do and start going after it?"

So far, I really like the results.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Shakespeare Should Not Be Read

... but these people should be heard? Check out the reasoned discourse starting around 0:50 in the video below and think about this: These are the kind of people who are effectively determining what literature is read in our schools.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Joy Of Rooting For Distant Sports Teams

... got yet another boost for me recently.

I'm a graduate of UCSD. Even if I didn't despise my alma mater for its relentless shift even farther left, it has no sports teams of any consequence. Our kids' schools, the University of San Diego and Cal State Long Beach are both negligible in that regard as well. That leaves me a free agent when it comes to finding a college football team to support.

A lover of all things New Orleans, I've settled on LSU. I've never been to LSU and have only visited N'awlins 5-6 times. Despite that, LSU it is.

Vacationing in Maine, I brought along an LSU ball cap and t-shirt. Wearing them while hiking, I discovered the proper greeting for other LSU fans when a family of 6 walked by us. Here's what they had to say:
  • "Go Tigers!"
  • "Go Tigers!"
  • "Go Tigers!"
  • "Go Tigers!"
  • "Go Tigers!"
  • "Go Tigers!"
I got a big laugh out of that. Later in the day, at a brewery, I got another "Go Tigers!" and shopping at Costco yesterday here in San Diego, someone right near me gave me a "Go Tigers!" and then proceeded to tell me that he was a Georgia alumni and we talked college football for 5 minutes. He never realized I was a Tiger fan wannabe.

If you root for a distant team and you find someone wearing their gear, your instant reaction is to smile and talk to them. That goes for people who root for a rival team. A big Newcastle United* fan as well, when I see people wearing any EPL gear, I immediately chat with them if possible. There's an instant rapport, the same as if an Italian came across another Italian somewhere in the Philippines. Were I to wear a New England Patriots shirt in Maine or a Padres shirt here in San Diego, there would be no comment at all. It's too normal and doesn't invite conversation.

So in exchange for buying a t-shirt or ball cap and following a distant team, you get opportunities to smile and meet new people on a regular basis. Sounds like a winner to me!

* - An English Premier League (EPL) soccer team.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

It's A Choice Between Guavas And Porcupines

... is kind of what I felt when I heard the President try to sell the Iran deal. His "choice between war and peace" rhetoric and straw men bore no resemblance to reality at all. It was gibberish.

How in the world would failing to submit to this surrender to Iran result in war? As far as I could tell, he was suggesting we would go to war with Iran without the treaty. With what and from where? Without bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, your only choice would be an amphibious landing from the Indian Ocean and then a long, slow grind northwards with supplies coming by sea. Since the US has nothing close to the number of ships, both warships and supply ships, necessary to do the job, any suggestion that we would attack Iran was pure fantasy.

Aside: This deal was signed as soon as he took all the troops out of Iraq. Without that as a staging base and launch point, there was no credible military threat to Iran and they knew it.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Time To Head South

... pretty soon, at least. Particularly if you've got this beauty out in the ocean.

I left the image fairly large, so it might be worth a click.
The ocean rarely freezes off Maine, but even so, after the leaves started changing, I'd be outfitting the boat and heading down to the Caribbean.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Progressivism Dissolves Upon Prolonged Contact With Adulthood

Perusing some Twitter feeds of people who are supporting Planned Parenthood's experimente an lebenden Menschen durchgeführt*, the pattern I noticed was that the most strenuous defenders were young, unmarried, college-indoctrinated women. There were plenty of their male counterparts as well, but their family status wasn't as obvious.

My Twitter stream, being predominantly Catholic, is enraged by PP's slaughter and harvest program. It's also rich in married moms.

I considered engaging with some of the PP supporters, but going through their content, it was light on reflection and heavy on shrill shouting. Like my engagements with Twitter atheists, the odds of having them even recognize what you were trying to say looked to be near zero. They had their catechisms down pat and you weren't going to get past them with mere words.

I then wondered what it said that married, middle-aged moms were against PP and college-age, single, grievance-primed women were pro-PP. As a big believer that parenthood is the real rite of passage into adulthood, I've concluded that progressive thought tends to dissolve upon contact with adulthood. As an adult, you find that the world is much more interested in outcomes and much less in intentions. That, to me, is a big difference between the two camps.

Pine needles shot in macro mode, trying for a perspective angle. It has nothing to do with the rest of the blog post, I just like the photo and I didn't have any other image to throw in here.
* - Planned Parenthood's activities always sound better in the original German.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Coast Of Maine

... it's forested crags shrouded in fog. I left this a bit large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Tired Of Being The Villain

In modern Hollywood movies, I'm almost always the villain. Straight, white, traditionalist, conservative, male = bad. I realized recently that this is the reason I almost never watch movies or TV, even comedies. I've gotten tired of being the bad guy.

Note: Good friend Renee Aste blogs about something similar frequently.

Two nights ago, I watched Meet the Fokkers. The whole thing. It had to be one of the worst movies I've seen in years. The characters were cardboard cutouts, the jokes were telegraphed miles in advance and they were essentially the same joke over and over and over again. The straight, white, traditionalist, conservative male was a reactionary jerk who needed to be evangelized into the One, True Faith of sexual liberation and general libertinism. Yay. His character was the only one who developed throughout the movie. Everyone else stayed the same because they were already perfect.

Maybe that's why I find them so boring - there's no character development at all, save for someone gradually becoming more progressive. That's true of the endless stream of racialist movies as well. The Butler, Selma, The Help and on and on, there's almost always some straight, white, traditionalist, conservative who sees the error of their ways and learns to Stop Hating.

Meanwhile, Baltimore is suffering under racialist rule like there's no tomorrow, but let's not let the lives (and deaths) of real people interfere with the racialist catechism of the progressives.

What's more, the movies don't jive with any of the things I see in real life. I work in a pretty diverse environment and I volunteer at a place that serves a very racially diverse set of clientele. I just don't see any of the things the movies are telling me are out there, at least not as first-order problems. They're more like third-order problems. The really big problems caused by the progressive, libertine lifestyle aren't addressed at all.

My conclusion is that the entertainment industry is a pack of evangelists for a self-contradictory religion. It can be interesting to have conversations with such people, but these are never conversations, they're a one-way lecture series that never ends. That's boring. That's why I watch sports.

You want drama? Try watching Crystal Palace games. Awesome.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Camden, Maine

... reminded me of the little towns in Italy like Cinque Terre. A cluster of buildings around a curved inlet filled with moored boats. Not quite as dramatic in geography or colorful paint on the houses, but the similarity still leaped out at me.


I still haven't pulled out my Nikon artillery piece yet. I will starting today and see if I can get some comparison shots. My Samsung Galaxy S5 has superior resolution, but it can't touch the Nikon's optics.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

New York City From The Air At Night

Flying to Maine, I took this shot of the Big Apple from the airplane window using my phone. I wish I'd set a manual shutter speed to be a bit faster, but the problem with airplane window shots is that by the time you recognize the opportunity and unlimber the phone's camera, there's usually not enough time to play with the settings.

Oh well. Enjoy!