Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Do We At Least Get A Participation Trophy?

When my kids were in rec soccer and the lower levels of Little League, they'd get participation trophies at the end of each season, even if their teams were terrible and they got pounded every game. America is in the same situation now, losing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and so on. You wouldn't know it from the news as winning and losing seem to be terms from the 19th Century and completely inappropriate to the post-modern elites. In the meantime, we're losing wars like mad.

Just to be clear, I consider a lost war to be an event where we say we want X to happen and we shoot and bomb people to make X happen, but the other side makes Y happen and prevents X. It's a war because we're shooting and bombing and it's a loss because our goals are thwarted and the enemy's goals are achieved.

Is that too simplistic these days?

On the other hand, we tried real hard. That counts for more than winning and losing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Man, I'd Hate To Be On The Wrong Side Of History

... like Iran is. Here's what lecturer-in-chief President Obama had to say about them.
“That path is now available to a nation like Iran, which, as of this moment, continues to deploy violent proxies to advance its interests,” Obama said. “These efforts may appear to give Iran leverage in disputes with neighbors, but they fuel sectarian conflict that endangers the entire region and isolates Iran from the promise of trade and commerce. The Iranian people have a proud history and are filled with extraordinary petition, but chanting ‘death to America” does not create jobs or make Iran more secure.

“If Iran chooses a different path, that would be good for the security of the region, good for the Iranian people, and good for the world.”
That's telling them! Going back to the old ways of doing business, like using tanks and infantry to crush an enemy, isn't going to make you more secure. Oh sure, you may kill most of your opponents and drive the survivors into Europe, but that's only superficial security, not real security, the type that comes from diversity and inclusion.

Nope, it's all about dialog. And trade and commerce.

Well, dialog, trade, commerce and an occasional ZSU-23-4 (see 3:05 and after).

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Mystery Suited For The Scooby Doo Gang

Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia are forming an alliance.
Iraq joined Russia, Iran and Syria in a new agreement to strengthen cooperation against extremist group Islamic State, extending the Kremlin’s reach in the Middle East as it rivals Washington for influence...

Iraq’s Defense Ministry said Sunday that the country had signed an intelligence and security cooperation pact with Russia, Iran and Syria, pledging to cooperate in collecting information about Islamic State. The deal effectively formalizes years of military collaboration among the four nations, which have intermittently been allies since the 1980s.
Just what this means is a complete mystery to the diversity consultants and LGBT social justice squad in the White House and State Department.
“We’re just at the beginning of trying to understand what the Russians’ intentions are in Syria, in Iraq, and to try to see if there are mutually beneficial ways forward here,” said a senior U.S. official who attended the Kerry-Lavrov meeting. “We’ve got a long way to go in that conversation.”
It's a good bet that the Russians' weapons and the Iranian chants of "Death to America!" are some kind of red herring and this alliance is likely to be an inclusive cultural outreach program involving local, organic cuisine and colorful, native dances.

Once these guys are on the case, we'll get to the bottom of this mystery in no time at all.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Now All They Need Is A Robert E. Lee

In A History of the English Speaking Peoples, Churchill claimed that Virginia seceded over Federal government overreach and not simply over slavery. Catalan is voting today in an election that could be the precursor to secession from Spain for similar reasons. Dig this.
At one polling place in Barcelona, the Josep María Jujol school, 15 voters were lined up before the doors opened at 9 a.m. Marcos Gutiérrez said it was the first time he had been animated to vote in several years, and he intended to back Together for Yes.

“We’ve been mistreated for a long, long time,” said Mr. Gutiérrez, who works in pharmaceutical sales. “Our money flows to Madrid and then the courts there make decisions that interfere with our way of life.”
Hmm. To those of us that value limited government, religious freedom and traditional moral values, that sounds pretty familiar.

Update: And here we go!
Separatists have won a clear majority of seats in Catalonia's parliament, preliminary official results showed on Sunday, in an election that set the region on a collision course with Spain's central government over independence

"Catalans have voted yes to independence," acting Catalan regional government head Artur Mas told supporters, with secessionist parties on track to secure 72 out of 135 seats in the powerful region of 7.5 million people that includes Barcelona.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Backstreet Boys Or The Monkees?

At a party with a wide range of ages (teens to eighties), we were playing the this-or-that where you name two related things and everyone says which they like better. The question in the title got a universal response of "The Monkees!"

There's hope for the world after all. :-) 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Boy, Hotel Rooms Sure Get Cluttered Fast These Days

It must come from not enough mints on the pillows. Or maybe too many mints. Frankly, it's a mystery to me.

As I pack up to leave Seattle (mostly by stamping out the embers and putting the raccoons back in their cages), I'm marveling at how thoroughly I made a mess of this hotel room and how fast I did it. I swear, within about 10 minutes of my arrival, there are clothes everywhere, electronic gadgets plugged in and towels on the floor. It's like my suitcase had a bomb that was scheduled to explode 5 minutes after my arrival at the room. I must have chucked it in, ducked behind the wall and waited for the concussions to die down.

I'm an organized packer. I'm an organized re-packer when I'm leaving. When it comes to unpacking, I'm the Tasmanian Devil and I don't know why.

Maybe it's just a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Salvation Is Personal, Not Collective

Sitting at the airport yesterday, waiting to board a flight, I watched some of Airport CNN's coverage of the Pope's visit. It was thorough and very respectful. I've carped about them in the past, but I was very grateful they worked so hard to produce a quality show for people like me.

The coverage, of course, was very American. As I said yesterday, it focused on politics and sex. Is the Pope coming out in favor of this or that, is the Church going to change its position on this or that. It's sad to see such a wonderful opportunity to spread the Gospel lost on that nonsense. I'm on a business trip and too busy to read his full remarks, so I don't know if his visit was all about global warming climate change, immigration and annulments, but that is dominating what little coverage I've seen.

Leaders, be they political or spiritual or business, often react and move to unseen forces. You don't know what's going on in the board room or the cabinet meetings and so you don't fully understand why this or that topic is the one they choose to act and speak on. If Il Papa wants to talk about global warming climate change, good on him, but in my ignorance of his understanding, I wish his focus had been 100% personal and 0% collective so as to give no fuel at all to the discussions of politics and sex.

One of the things that has turned me away from politics, even though I blog about it - it's such a great fodder for a post - has been my work with fatherless young men and the homeless and poor. That's where change really happens. That's where lives are touched and Christ's love is shared. For me, reality is an individual physically doing something to help others - visiting people in prison, mentoring a young man, distributing food. Voting according to the dictates of this speech or that is all well and good, but nothing of consequence happens until you make it happen, both for you and the people you help.

Of course, I'm writing this from the wealthiest country in the world where our poor have cell phones and clothes to wear, so I certainly don't come at the issue from the perspective of a priest working in the slums of Argentina like the Holy Father. I'm sure there's a wealth of experience there that has created his world view and until I go and work in those places, I can only guess at it. In any case, I wish his visit had been all about you and me spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ through the works of our lives and not at all about global warming climate change, immigration and economics.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Little Bit About The Pope

Dean asked, so I'm blogging. I'm traveling to Seattle today and doing this from my phone at the airport, so it will be necessarily terse.

Pope Francis is a master of Tai Chi. He doesn't resist people who disagree with him, but he doesn't change. It's a beautiful thing.

Lots have people have postulated that Pope Francis would change the Church's position on things like gay marriage. It doesn't work like that. Catholic Catechism is philosophical and logical, derived from some basic first principles and science. Using gay marriage as an example, so long as babies come from one man and one woman, the Catechism isn't going to change no matter who is Pope.

Finally, I fully expect that press coverage will be fully American. That is, the only things they will report on will have to do with politics and sex. Whatever. We Catholics will see more than that and will love having him here.

Update: I'm watching Il Papa drive down the street in the Popemobile with thousands of cheering people and him having babies brought to him to be kissed and I've got tears in my eyes. So beautiful!

Monday, September 21, 2015

White, Cis, Christian, Heteronormative Ancient Treasures Are Being Destroyed? Well, They Deserve It

What's going on is as simple as 1, 2, 3.


The Islamic State has managed to destroy two thousand years of Christian civilization in the Middle East in just a couple of years, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters noted on The O’Reilly Factor last week. And he placed the blame squarely on President Obama’s cowardly, feckless, incompetent foreign policy. ISIS has been spreading across the Middle East like a plague of locusts, and as they have spread, they have targeted religious minorities, particularly Christians, for destruction. In Syria, tens of thousands of Assyrian Christians have been attacked and displaced.


President Obama will apparently test just how far Pope Francis’ notorious tolerance will go by inviting a rogue’s gallery of people opposed to Catholic teaching to greet the pontiff at the White House during his visit next week.

In a stunning show of political indecorum, Obama has invited a series of individuals who publicly flout Catholic teaching, including a pro-abortion religious sister, a transgender woman and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, along with at least two Catholic gay activists.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

We'll Be Fine As Long As We Drive 200 MPH

About 2.5 hours ago, we needed to be at Buttonwillow, CA. Now, at 1050, we need to hightail it up to Weed, CA if we're going to stay around 65 degrees.

Looks like the Thermocline Adventure Vacation calls for Godzilla.

It's 0830 And We're Heading For Buttonwillow!

Explanation of the I5 Thermocline Adventure Vacation here.

I discovered I need to set some ground rules. Taking the table below and starting from the top, I go down it until I hit the first city whose temperature is 65 or below. That gives us Lebec. Is Lebec too cold at 61 degrees? Hmm. Not quite sure. Clearly, I need to specify a range, something like the first city with a temperature between 63 and 65.

A second issue is that when Newhall is 71 and Lebec is 61, there must be a point between them where the temperature is 65. Is that good enough or are we going for discrete points on the map?

Hmm. Much to ponder. In the meantime, here's the Interstate 5 temperature table as of 0837 PT today.

City Temperature
San Ysidro, CA 71.1°
Chula Vista, CA 73.5°
National City, CA 75.2°
San Diego, CA 71.8°
San Diego, CA 71.8°
Del Mar, CA 70.3°
Encinitas, CA 70.3°
Carlsbad, CA 78.6°
Oceanside, CA 72.5°
Dana Point, CA 72.4°
Mission Viejo, CA 75.0°
Tustin, CA 80.8°
Anaheim, CA 70.8°
Norwalk, CA 73.1°
Los Angeles, CA 75.3°
Burbank, CA 76.0°
San Fernando, CA 72.3°
Newhall, CA 71.4°
Lebec, CA 61.3°
Bakersfield, CA 73.9°
Buttonwillow, CA 65°
Kettleman City, CA 66°
Coalinga, CA 71.8°
Firebaugh, CA 70.1°
Newman, CA 68.5°
Manteca, CA 62.3°
Stockton, CA 70.5°
Galt, CA 63.3°
Sacramento, CA 56°
Dunnigan, CA 62.6°
Willows, CA 61.9°
Red Bluff, CA 62.1°
Redding, CA 71.4°
Redding, CA 65.7°
Dunsmuir, CA 48.3°
Weed, CA 52.7°
Hornbrook, CA 44°
Ashland, OR 55.4°
Medford, OR 50.0°
Grants Pass, OR 50.0°
Roseburg, OR 55.6°
Cottage Grove, OR 47.3°
Eugene, OR 55.2°
Albany, OR 54.3°
Salem, OR 55.6°
Portland, OR 57.3°
Vancouver, WA 54.7°
Kalama, WA 54.4°
Kelso, WA 51.3°
Chehalis, WA 54.5°
Centralia, WA 56.8°
Olympia, WA 56.2°
Tacoma, WA 58.4°
Tacoma, WA 59.4°
Des Moines, WA 59.3°
Seattle, WA 59.7°
Lynnwood, WA 59.7°
Marysville, WA 61.3°
Mount Vernon, WA 62.6°
Bellingham, WA 60.6°
Blaine, WA 60.1°

Friday, September 18, 2015

How To Take Out A Drone

The old Soviet ZSU-23-4 had 4 23mm, radar-controlled guns. It only has a range of 2,500m, but the idea is still there. Radar-controlled guns would probably do a number on a drone.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Fruits Of Gross Historical Ignorance

... include the elections of Jeremy Corbyn and Barack Obama. The problem is the voters, not the politicians.

Preface: This post is prompted by a tweet from Dean and this article about Corbyn, the new head of the Labour Party in Britain.
This is a historical fact: Evangelical Christians, operating within the British parliamentary system, with the explicit power of the Royal Navy, put an end to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

For the life of me, I can't think of anyone else, ever, for any reason at all, who put an end to a large-scale slave trade. There might be an example or two, but none come to mind. Whatever faults the British might have, this they did.

This was never taught in my daughter's public school history classes even though slavery and civil rights occupied the majority of the lessons. This is just one particularly egregious example of anti-Western bigotry in academia and the education industry. There was plenty to choose from in my daughter's textbooks. The elections of Barack Obama and Jeremy Corbyn are symptoms of an educational establishment in both countries which is willfully historically ignorant in support of a political point of view.

The self-loathing progressives that elect such men are products of self-loathing, slanted educations. Corbyn's election has sent shock waves across Britain and elsewhere, but it's not all that surprising when you consider what the electorate has been taught.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First, I Need To Find Out What The Party Thinks

On Facebook, I posted that people defending Planned Parenthood's harvesting of baby body parts is a good model for how the Germans went along with the Nazis in the late 1930s. One of the comments I got back in reply was that the videos accuracy was difficult to ascertain because of the politics involved. It was the perfect reply.

The defense of Planned Parenthood is based almost entirely on politics. Defenders are rallying to the Party as much as anything else, just as Germans who were behind the Nazis would defend their excesses. Most weren't then and aren't now looking at the data with unbiased eyes, but in terms of what the Party tells them. In our case, it's the Democratic Party.

Here's the latest Planned Parenthood video in case you want to check it out. It's as horrible as any of the others.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oh Those Crazy Hungarians!

First of all, they're building a border fence. As everyone knows, it's impossible to build a fence on your border. Second, they think it's going to keep unwanted people out. Hilarious! We all know that border fences that can't be built but do get built won't keep anyone out. It's insanity! It reminds me of Eva Gabor from Green Acres doing zany Hungarian schtick like this.

Here's a photo of their so-called "fence:"

Look at that preposterous "fence" and their "guard." I'll bet it's only a pretend fence.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thermocline Adventure Update: Google Maps Gives You Everything You Need

Background here.

I made a list of cities along I-5 from San Ysidro, CA to Blaine, WA. It turns out that all I need to do is feed them into Google Maps like so:,+CA

and then look for the div tag with the class "cards-entity-weather-and-time." From there, I can get everything I need. Check this out for Skagit City, WA:

<div jstcache="185" class="cards-entity-weather-and-time">
<a target="_blank" jstcache="186" href="/#q=Skagit City, WA 98273 weather" class="cards-entity-weather-icon" tabindex="0">
<img jstcache="187" src="//">
<div jstcache="188" class="cards-entity-weather-contition-text" jsan="">Mostly Cloudy · 49°F</div>
<div jstcache="189" class="cards-entity-time" jsan="">6:16 AM</div>

The href in the first a tag gives me the text value of the city including the zip code* and the div with class "cards-entity-weather-contition-text" gives me the temperature. Put it in a cron job and have it harvest the data every couple of hours and I've got a database of temperatures along I5 as a function of time.

Since it's real-time and not predictive, we'd be chasing the thermocline instead of surfing it, but sometimes pursuit is more fun, no?

* - I only note this because I don't have the zip codes for my list of cities. This little trick with Google Maps will help me fill out my database in case I want to use a different source for information and I need the zips.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Microaggressions Are What You Get From An Exhausted Science

As any science progresses, it solves successively smaller and smaller problems. For example, in physics, Newtonian mechanics explained large-scale behaviors. For most people, it's all the physics they need to know. From there, physics went on to smaller and smaller problems until now they're looking into subatomic particles. Unless they uncover clean energy sources, most people's lives will never be affected by the results of this research.

When I was taking theoretical math courses at UCSD, I asked my professors where their research was used. Some of them grew angry that I would ask such a question. All of them were confused and none of them gave a real answer. They didn't answer because they didn't know. Their research was so esoteric that it was useless to everyone who wasn't also a theoretical mathematician.

What happens when sociology and related sciences hit the wall? What happens when there's nothing of any real value left to discover? Wouldn't you end up with microaggressions and critical race theory? Utter gibberish posing as research and discovery?

And yet, on they trudge, discovering ever smaller angels on ever smaller heads of pins. After all, if you said that we've reached the end of meaningful research in these fields, it would threaten a whole bunch of academics.

Are sociology and ethnic/gender studies the 2015 version of buggy whip manufacturers facing the advent of the automobile?

I own a car, but I still want to support the poor, beleaguered buggy whip industry so I use both.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Swim, EU Ministers Gotta Talk

On the plus side, the migrants have all stopped coming while the EU ministers work this out.
A meeting of foreign ministers from Germany and central Europe Friday failed to bridge differences between the European Union’s east and west over a proposed resettlement of migrants across the bloc, with central Europe continuing its strong opposition to the German-backed plan.
I mean, they have stopped coming, haven't they?

Here, immigrants, having heard the EU ministers haven't come to an agreement, rush back towards Syria and Turkey so they don't enter Europe until the Europeans have everything all worked out.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Fifteenth Air Force Shuts Down Nazi Transportation!

Err, no. The Nazis are gone now, aren't they? And it's not B-24s blasting Ploesti off the map, it's actually bunches of migrants clogging up the highway and rail systems.
Austria on Friday struggled to manage the continuing tide of migrants entering the country, partly shutting down the highway between Hungary and Vienna after hundreds began walking along the road in the early hours of the morning.

The migrants—many of whom are making their way to Germany—are facing a second day of limited travel options after the country’s rail operator suspended train services from Hungary because of what it called congestion on the route.
Well, it might not be the USAAF, but the effects are pretty similar.

If the transportation systems are closed down and the migrants are still coming, that means they're building up somewhere down the line.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Random Thoughts On The European Invasion

As I read and watch about the invasion of Europe, odd thoughts spring to mind that I thought I'd jot down here. I'm sure more will come, but here's a random sample. Enjoy?

  • The video below is probably a very good one to kick off the list. It's not hysterical or edited to show a certain angle on the invasion. In fact, it seems to me to be pretty typical. These are (mostly) young Muslim men crossing the border from Greece into Macedonia. From there, it's Serbia, then Hungary, then Austria, then Germany. Count cops in the video and do a quick ratio in your head. I saw 5 cops and 2 vehicles and a thousand or so young Muslims. That makes the ratio 200-1. Unless you bring out machine guns and start using them, this is medieval infantry warfare and with that ratio, you're going to do nothing but be instantly overwhelmed.

  • I'm sure the Euros in suits holding meetings in Brussels mean well, but they've lost control of the situation as you can see from a quick perusal of YouTube. The invaders aren't respectful of their new countries, they're demanding. They're demanding and pushy and they outnumber the Euros trying to manage them.
  • If you think the ratio is bad today, wait a day. It will get worse as more and more invaders arrive. I would think that the army will eventually be called out, but who knows?
  • The invaders have been through war. They know what dead bodies look like, they know guns and grenades and knives and violence. The Euro cops are used to dealing with Euro criminals and drunks. When you watch videos of the skirmishes, the confidence is all on the side of the invaders. The Euro cops give off a feel of uncertainty - how far should they go in trying to control the invaders? Is this permitted, is that? Will I have to fill out forms when I get back to the station house?
  • If I were a Euro cop, I'd start thinking about calling in sick. Desertion is going to be a problem for the Euros. No one is going to stand up to 200-1 odds day in, day out.
  • If I were a Jew in Europe, I'd be putting everything up for sale and getting out. Now.
  • Terror plots in Europe have been foiled through the interception of electronic communications. How many of these invaders are couriers?
  • The Euros have rules for accepting refugees. Each refugee or refugee family has to fill out forms. No one is filling out any forms as far as I can see. All the hot air coming out of the Euro leaders is dissolving in the face of the invasion. Their writ no longer runs.
  • The southern European countries would be wise to set up mass transport for the invaders. Think of it as a bathtub with a spout and a drain. You don't want these people in your country and you certainly don't want them piling up. They don't give a hoot about you, your museums, your buildings, none of it. Check out the videos of Lesbos where the Greeks made the mistake of letting 20,000 of them collect. The place is a catastrophe. The invaders aren't going to clean that up, the Greeks will.
  • The Euro elite and the Euros in general don't feel, in their bones, that they have any skin in the game. They all live in a fantasy world. No one is talking about what they'll have to give up to house the invaders as they've paid for everything with printed money for so long. The ECB will just print more and the Euros can go back to their porn and weed feeling morally superior.
  • In WW II, the strategic bombing campaign by the Allies against the Nazis was most effective when it went after transportation centers. Think about what's going on here in terms of disrupting transportation. Rail centers are being mobbed, highways filled with hikers, bus systems overwhelmed and so on. If you own a company and need to ship your widgets from Stuttgart to Athens, how much longer will you be able to do that reliably? What happens then?
  • The Euros have no idea who these people are because they're not coming in an orderly fashion. It's guaranteed that they are importing all sides of an intractable, multi-sided conflict. On Lesbos, there was a skirmish between Afghan and Syrian refugees. More of that on the way?
  • There have been some videos of Euro cops with surgical face masks to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. When only 1 in 5000 of the Euros coming in contact with the invaders has even that minimal protection, your country isn't protected at all from microbial invasion.
My synthesis of the situation is that this is the collision of the fantasy world of the secular, progressive, post-modern West with the reality of war and economics. I know I've said that before, but it keeps leaping out at me.

What's your take on all of this?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

They Have Reinforcements On The Way. You Don't.

Watch this video and think: The immigrants will have more infantry tomorrow than they did today. The Hungarians won't.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Lutheran, An Atheist And A Catholic Walk Into A Bar

... actually, my bar. At my house.

Over the weekend, we had friends over for dinner including the aforementioned. The conversation turned to the Pope and as it does in cases like this, apparently the only topic the Pope discusses is sex. The discussion was about the Year of Mercy and what this meant for sex. The non-Catholics were all quite happy to hear that sex outside of marriage was something to be forgiven and lots of misunderstanding followed.

I always keep my mouth shut during these discussions because I can't figure out what to say. I sat there trying to synthesize what was going on and I hit upon this:

The Pope is a lightning rod for criticism of the Church.

Because we have a pope and the other faiths do not, secularists included, we have one guy whose pronouncements speak for all of us. There's no analog for the post-modern secularists or the atheists or the Lutherans or anyone else. The Pope is unique. You might be able to make a weak analogy with a political leader of a country, but no one really thinks he speaks for the entire country.

For us, that means we are constantly on the defensive with every utterance* dissected and analyzed and then held up against our political yardsticks and debated. By contrast, secularists can espouse preposterous and contradictory concepts that defy science and lay waste to whole neighborhoods, but there's no one who speaks for them and nothing they need defend. There's no there there.

I might try that line of discussion the next time this comes up and see what happens.

Don't hold that thing too high during a thunderstorm, Your Holiness.
* -Well, not every utterance. Really, the only ones that matter are about sex. Sex and sometimes government spending.

Monday, September 07, 2015

You're Going To Take What You're Given And Like It

I read somewhere this morning that Germany has vowed to accept 800,000 refugees. Or something like that. The number is irrelevant because the number is irrelevant. Until Germany and the rest of the EU decide to control their borders, they're going to take as many refugees as Africa and the Middle East can send at them. Unless they really do something about it, something with physical reality like dudes with guns or a big fence with barbed wire, they're going to have to sit there, accept what comes and like it.

I love seeing pictures of the EU ministers or bureaucrats or secular theologians meeting. A bunch of Very Serious People in expensive suits with degrees from Important Universities who talk in long words and make Deep Pronouncements as if anything they did or said mattered. After checking those out, you can go to YouTube and watch a couple of hundred young, Muslim males running here and there, shouting at people, throwing things, charging gates, waving signs or demanding things. It's the collision of secular, post-modern elite thought with hard, cold reality.

It's glorious.

Look at that dude's tie. You're not going to solve any of the world's problems with a tie like that. Pull it together, man, this is serious!
And now, a group of people not wearing ties and without degrees from Important Universities. (Really, if you're not from an Ivy League school or its equivalent, how can you expect to have an impact on the world?)

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Whistling Past Der Friedhof

This lede from Der Spiegel has got to be a contender for Wishful Thinking of the Week:
Germany is experiencing an unprecedented influx of immigrants who will fundamentally change the country. They represent a burden, but also a chance to create a New Germany, one that is more cosmopolitan and generous.
Oh yeah, that's going to work. They're importing large numbers of cultural aliens from countries that couldn't be less cosmopolitan and generous if they tried and the result will be ... unicorns and rainbows!

I guess if you've got no concrete definition of who you are as a people, it hardly matters who you let in and how they change the place.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Secular, Post-Modern Self Destruction

Going in a Marxist direction, we've decided that history is moving inexorably towards socially liberal democracy. With this in mind, we helped topple the governments of Libya and Egypt and have sat by idle while Syria and Iraq have collapsed. To intervene with the necessary large numbers of infantry would be so very 19th Century, you know.

We did away with being judgmental so we no longer see wealth and income as markers of behavior. Instead, they're symbols of inequality and we spend lots more than we earn working hard to make outcomes more equal. We borrowed in pursuit of this, so we're now all heavily in debt with most post-modern nations running about 100% of GDP in national government debt.

War is no longer necessary as we've decided that we can coerce other nations into doing our bidding through economic sanctions, so, other than the US, the post-modern west is completely disarmed.

Babies are a choice, pregnancy something to be avoided, sex is beautiful in all its forms and marriage a relic of a bygone age. The post-modern West now has minuscule birth rates and declining populations.

And finally ...

National borders were deemed oppressive and judgmental, so we did away with those in all but the most theoretical sense. We've now got unfettered migration from war-torn and impoverished hell holes into our enlightened, post-modern nations.

And the result is ...

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from places with no cultural similarity to the post-modern West are rushing through undefended borders to populate lands that the West is evacuating through attrition. They are adding financial commitments to countries who can't pay the ones they have right now. Those same nations are currently dealing with the first fiscal domino, Greece, who is both bankrupt and insolvent.

Something tells me that the secular, progressive, post-modern West hasn't much longer to go.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Your Home Is Your Biggest Investment

... and if you're in Japan*, that's not working out so well for you. Dig what's been going on with property values over the last 30 years in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Here's the article on Tokyo's growing inventory of abandoned homes that led me to search for this chart.

If my home's value was declining with no end in sight, I'd be pretty cautious about spending money, too. It wouldn't necessarily be a rational thought, it would be more resigned, inchoate despair.

* - Or, I'm sure, Germany, Greece, Russia, Spain, Italy... heck, anywhere they've decided that babies are an impediment to consuming more weed and porn.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Thermocline Adventure Vacation

The perfect temperature, as innumerable scientific studies have established*, is 65 degrees. What if you decided to take a vacation where it was always 65 degrees outside?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Thermocline Adventure Vacation, Interstate 5 Version.

Last year, I wrote a simple PHP script to scrape a NOAA web page and extract percent-of-normal rainfall data for various California cities. I created a database to store the information and figured out how to chart it. The result, for San Diego, was this.

This year, I'm going to create a table of cities along Interstate 5 from the Mexican border to Canada and use their zip codes to scrape hourly temperature data from the Wunderground weather site. From there, I'll pick the southernmost location (I'm a SoCal boy, after all) whose temperature is 65 degrees for each hour of the day and then plot those locations on a Google map. As an added bonus, I'll include the speed at which you'd have to drive to get from one destination to the next.

The vacation would be designed for nerdy, unmarried guys with no social life, the types who prefer clipboards and charts to girls. You could feel free to modify it if you wish and perhaps choose to visit a series of nightclubs or beer breweries at each location instead. My participants will be listening to science podcasts and discussing color-change mechanisms of Octopus cyanea.

Or something like that.

In any case, the only difficulty I've found in getting started is that it looks like I"ll need to create the table of locations along I-5 by hand. I'm still scouring the web for a ready-made table, but I haven't had much luck with Google. God help me, but my next stop is the Department of Transportation website to see if they've got anything. Blech.

Anyway, onwards and upwards! Or, onwards and downwards if that's where the thermocline leads us.

* - Actually, I can't point to one. Still, the science is settled and if you disagree, I'll just scream at you that you are a denier over and over until you give up and go away.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Juvenile Fence Lizard

... found (where else?) on a fence! Dig the size of the guy relative to the screw heads on the hinge in the photos below.

I left the images fairly large, so they may be worth a click. More details on fence lizards can be found here.