Friday, July 31, 2020

The Most Popular Drinking Establishment In San Diego

... is the birdbath in our backyard.

Right above it is a dead apricot tree that we keep around so the birds have a rope line where they can queue up to be allowed a drink. We sit out there in the late afternoon and count them as they roost. We set a new record yesterday with 12 in the tree, but weren't quick enough to take a photo of it. The best I got was a 9. Enjoy.

You can't get in without a reservation.

Pondering The World

At some point in time, politics, whose only output is policy, becomes overwhelmed by other aspects of reality. The government in Venezuela can pass all the spending bills it wants, but there's no money. The power of the government has dissolved along with the currency. Venezuelan politics are irrelevant save how it controls gangs of thugs on the street.

This is kind of where I'm at with the rioting and race-mania of the Left. Winning the election becomes less and less important when laws are disregarded, the debt is at unprecedented levels and the population is heavily armed.

Think about this: What is the point of Congress if Federal courts can be firebombed without consequence? Congress passes laws. Laws are enforced by courts. Federal laws are enforced by Federal courts. Whoops! The Federal courthouse was attacked yesterday and the workforce is too frightened to come to work.

What is the point of local laws if there are no cops? The city council can declare what it wants, but if the cops don't or can't enforce it, who cares?

If a legislator passes a law and no cops or courts are there to enforce it, does it make a sound?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

When Fighting Hate, Logic Doesn't Matter

I maintain this blog as a way of working out what I see in the world. It's an exercise in imperfect logic and an imperfect assessment of objective reality. I also realize that while logic can posit and test hypotheses, it doesn't convince anyone.

People buy based on emotions. Selling, as Zig Ziglar said, is nothing more than a transference of feelings. If I can get you to feel about my product the way I feel about it, you will buy it if at all possible.

Listening to my favorite podcasts like Andrew Klavan, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Gad Saad and others, I love to follow along with their logical analyses. It's great fun, but it changes no minds. A video of George Floyd being killed by a cop convinces people. Conservatives like myself can instantly whip out stats about black-on-black crime, but stats are a poor substitute for graphic images.

An Unimportant Election

Perhaps it's an act of denial, but I'm coming to the conclusion that this is not an important election. It doesn't matter who wins so long as a large portion of the country is obsessed with fighting hate. Hate, as far as I'm concerned, doesn't exist. At best, it's a 3rd-order problem. Hate or leprechauns, if a sizable chunk of the people think it does exist and they're part of a Great Movement to fight it, you're not going to change their minds with percentages and analysis. They can't hear you.

Assume Trump wins, but the Left is still fighting hate. Those riots aren't going to stop. The rioters see themselves as warriors in a cause.

Assume Biden wins, but the Left is still fighting hate. Those riots aren't going to stop. The rioters see themselves as warriors in a cause.

Trump may be a lightning rod, but Biden isn't much better. Mayor Ted Wheeler in Portland and that wuss in Seattle are only fractionally different from the rioters and they're still rioting. I doubt more than one person in 200 could name the policy differences between the mayors and the rioters. Whatever it is, there's a huge emotional gulf between them. The rioters hate hate and the mayors are part of a structure of hate. At that point, what can they do but turn to violence?

Change Hearts, Not Minds

The stats are all well and good, but it's the emotional drivers behind them that will make the sale. I rant about black families because I love kids. I don't care about your race, I just want to see happy, little boys playing Little League. I love happy, little girls playing soccer. When I was a younger man, coaching those teams was heavenly for me. 

Ain't nobody playing nothing in the hood these days.

That's the argument to make. Dump the stats and tell the story. I want to see black kids playing sports with their dads because it's full of teh awesome. To do that, you need more dads and less violence. A lot more dads and a lot less violence.

Now tell me I'm racist.

A foretaste of Heaven. Don't you want it for everyone?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Cotton Flowers

... are underwhelming. I mean, they're pretty enough, but they barely open. They only spread wide enough for a bee to get in and that's it. This one is pretty typical of what I'm seeing on my cotton plants.

Well, OK then.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Paper Beats Rock, Brick Beats Camera

Watching videos of the riots in various blue cities, I've been struck by the number of people on the rioters' side filming the event. They're either trying to get a viral video of the destruction or they see it is a way to capture police "overreactions." In the latter case, the camera is a weapon of deterrence. If you hurt us, we'll post this video and you'll be punished.

The rioters don't have that same concern. They can throw bricks at the cops, shine lasers in their eyes or lock them in a building and try to burn it down. The BLM rioters have one set of values - violence in pursuit of social justice is acceptable, but they implicitly assume a different set of values for the rest of us. They think we will always act under Christian morals and place a higher value on life than they do.

Dittos for the times when they block roadways and attack people in their cars. Those cars are weapons far more deadly than anything but a gun. The BLM rioters assume we will not adopt their moral worldview.

In Syria and Somalia, no one brings a camera to a battle. Both sides have adopted the same set of morals.

Viral videos aren't a deterrent here.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Caption The Photo!

I was playing around with my new camera near our birdbath yesterday when I decided to try to get some in-flight photos. I set the camera in shutter-priority mode, set the speed down to 1/500 seconds and blasted away. 

It worked great! I thought this one was particularly funny. Enjoy and leave a comment with a caption if you like.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Part That Lives On Afterwards

A week ago, we went out to dinner with our recently-widowed sister-in-law and her son. Naturally, we talked about the late Chuck. Some of it involved what things of his they were going to sell. The list included many of his favorite toys including a brand new smoker and an expensive pizza oven. Chuck loved his gadgets.

As the two of them discussed what they were going to shed, it hit me that what lives on after you go is the love, not the things. We all missed Chuck, but his costly possessions counted for very little with the rest of his family.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. - Matthew 6:19-21

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Somme Lives Matter

... and Somme lives don't.

Hahahaha! That was ... obscure. Hilariously obscure, to be sure, but definitely obscure.

The Battle of the Somme was an infantry assault on entrenched German positions by British and French forces in 1916, during WW I. It was also the single greatest military disaster in British history. Something like 60,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded in a single day. They went over the top right into barbed wire and machine guns.

The British newspapers, heavily censored by the army, dutifully told of the great success of the battle, but it wasn't long before citizens discovered the truth as the casualty lists came in and they heard that their boys were dead.

The stories of victory were all lies.

30,000 were killed or wounded in the first hour.

Fast forward to today. We've just finished about 8 weeks of Black Lives Matter mania and it's still running, getting stronger as it goes. From riots and looting to giant words painted on streets to monuments destroyed to corporations kneeling to the BLM movement to every major sports league pledging their loyalty to BLM, this thing has raced through society.

What's the result?

We've sent poor blacks right into the machine guns.

The cops have left, local businesses are boarded up and crime is out of control. This has been a disaster on the order of the Somme. For the poor blacks living in the inner cities, their lives are demonstrably worse. Day-to-day functioning is more dangerous and difficult now than it was before.

The comparison hit me when I saw this tweet from Hollywood celebrity Rob Reiner.

Like the people living back in peaceful England, his life is utterly unaffected by the violence, chaos and deprivations in the inner cities. He can shop where he likes and has no fear of crime where he lives. In fact, his position is much better than that of the civilians on the Home Front in 1916. Their brothers, sons, husbands and lovers were being killed. No one Rob knows is endangered at all. Using Twitter, he can cheer on the slaughter from his mansion.

Rob lives in the world of the Evening Dispatch, above. It's all going splendidly! The German lines have been overrun and many prisoners have been taken. Since no one he knows has been hurt, he can cling to his fantasy for the rest of his life. He supported the Great Cause of Racial Justice, you know. Hurrah! Good show, old boy.

CNN, NPR, the AP and all the rest will keep feeding him the Social Justice narrative. Victory over police brutality and white supremacists is right around the corner, Rob! We just need to smash a few more statues, cancel a few more people, root out a little more unconsciously-biased racists and we'll win. Don't give up now, lean forward! This is no time for weakness. Find those racists and expose them. Fire them, harass them, humiliate them.

Victory depends on you!

Well done, Rob. Well done.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Oklahoma Joe Smoker Maiden Run

Coffee Trial Update: I'm trying different supermarket coffees. This morning, I sampled some Yuban. Two sips and it went down the drain. The can went in the trash. Horrific.

Racism Update: I have completely lost the bubble on what we're doing. The hypothesis was that we needed to restrain the cops, support Black Lives Matter and talk, talk, talk about race. Several weeks of data is now in and by any objective measure, the results have been disastrous. I have no idea what the goal is here. I don't mean the Democrats' goal, that's obvious. Power. I mean the average American's goal, the person who unconsciously buys into the race narrative because they marinate in it every day, thanks to the news media, the academy and the entertainment industry. What's the plan?

The Smoker

Wife kitteh and I just celebrated our anniversary. As a mutual gift, but really more for me, we bought an Oklahoma Joe's Rider DLX pellet smoker / grill combo. It arrived on Tuesday. Since I'm teleworking, I can putter around the house at lunch and accomplish small tasks. By Wednesday evening, the smoker was assembled and had its first burn-off. Yesterday, for my first effort with it, I smoked a chicken. We wanted to do ribs, but there wasn't enough time. Ribs take 6 hours, the chicken was supposed to take 3, but was done in 2.

It was fantastic. It was the best chicken I have ever made that wasn't covered in a sauce.


I followed a simple recipe on the Oklahoma Joe's website which had a rub and then I used my Buzz and Ned's sauce to mop it at the very end. Cooking was trivial. I split the bird, turned on the smoker and placed it on one of the racks with a disposable aluminum pan underneath. I put beer in the pan at first and when that boiled off after an hour or so, I put in water to keep the bird moist. Other than that, it was set it and forget it. Trivially easy.

It was moist, too. And utterly delicious. Wife kitteh raved. She went along with the smoker idea because she loves me, but after this chicken, I think she's a true believer. The meat fell off the bones, but didn't have that greasy feel you get when you cook a chicken in the over and it sits in its own rendered fat. The skin crisped nicely, too.

Tonight, we're having friends over and we're going to make ribs.

The only drawback is that the smoker is a great brute compared to our old Weber kettle. We're not yet sure where we will store it when it's not in use.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Tracking A UFO

... or maybe it was an airplane with blinking lights and my camera had a shutter speed of 20 seconds.

Nah. It was definitely aliens.

A couple of notes from Monday night's photography.

An ISO of 1600 is way too high. I had thought it would make things pop, but instead, it washed them out with visual noise. Bringing my ISO1600 photos into Photoshop, I wasn't able to adjust the curves or levels sufficiently to see the Milky Way while keeping the interstellar void inky black. This photo is ISO 800, but it took some work, too, to keep the black looking black. ISO 400 might be best.

This is my fifth attempt at night sky photography and I feel that if I can get the focus issue under control, I can start doing more interesting things like playing with the ISO and trying to frame shots better. Right now, my aim is very crude. I'm relying on the Milky Way showing up somewhere in the photo to give me drama.

It dawned on me that photographing the Milky Way is like shooting the same model over and over again. It's never going to change, so in the end, all of my shots will look the same. The difference will be how crisp they are due to the darkness of the sky and my own technique getting better. At that point, it's all about the surrounding terrain lending some geometry to the scene.

That's enough blather. I left that image quite large, so click away, my friends. Enjoy!

Addendum: I found a couple of helpful blog posts that taught me how to use the back viewing screen of the camera to focus on the stars. I'll give it a try on some other objects tonight after work, but I think that problem will be solved by the end of the day.

Transferring images to the tablet is still useful, though. That will give me the ability to determine if I've framed my shots properly. Without the need to agonize over focusing, I can concentrate on composition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Living As A Buddhist

... is something I've never tried. For all I know, it would be a vast improvement over my current life. I think it would require me to change some deep-seated beliefs and certainly force me to start new habits. I've not done it, so I don't know where it would lead.

Alternate Take

What if you were a Sioux Indian, living in South Dakota in 1880, but then you took a trip to London? London would have so much more to offer than Paleolithic life on the Great Plains. Living in Britain would require you to completely change your internalized view of reality. Would you dive into the science, literature and modern conveniences of Victorian England enough to make a real comparison or would you run back to eating burnt buffalo and digging in the dirt for tubers?

I'm not sure I wouldn't run back to the tubers. It's what I've been doing for decades.

I have habits I've been working to change for a long time. I try in a rather desultory fashion and so I've been largely unsuccessful. My efforts are half-hearted even while my intellectual understanding of habituation in humans has grown significantly. One requires long-term immersion in a new world, the other only requires reading and thought.

The Indian can live in South Dakota, but subscribe to Macmillan's.

If I read this regularly, I'll know what it's like to live in Victorian England!

Err, no. Not really.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Comet Neowise - The Toad

I call it that because it was pretty much a toad of a comet.

We went out to the desert last night to see the comet after being harassed online by people asking if I was going to photograph it. Frankly, I had no intention of doing so, but I figured I ought to because I'd been doing way too much Facebook bragging about my star photos. So wife kitteh and I dragged ourselves away from the TV set and drove in a sullen silence 90 minutes out to S2 where it meets the I-8 in Ocotillo and then cruised north until we found a place with good visibility.

OK, to be honest we had a great time and I'm really thankful people suggested it. Wife kitteh climbed onto the roof of our X3 and lay in the warm, desert night breeze, looking at God's Jewelry Store while I played with my camera. It was lovely. Wife kitteh said she hadn't felt that much peace since the Wuhan Flu started.

As for the photography, the hardest part was still the focusing. I had pre-focused the camera at home, but that all went out the window when we saw the comet and realized we needed to zoom the lens. On the plus side, I now have a Nikon app on our tablet that will Bluetooth-download photos from the camera, so I could shoot, look at the picture on the 10" screen, try a different focus and then repeat the process.

I swear, well over half my time was spent trying to get the focus right. The D3500 has a video out connector and I'm going to see if it will show you what the lens sees if you connect it to a big video screen. That would make star photography incredibly more rewarding. In any case, the tablet connection was way easier than using the memory card as a transport to and from a laptop.

In retrospect, I also failed on my focus search algorithm. The D3500 manual focus ring doesn't have a stop. You can spin it endlessly. When it gets to maximum-infinity, which is past infinite-focus, it simply ceases to change the lens, it just spins. What I should have done was start at infinity+ and slowly dialed it back until I got something good. Instead, I started at what I thought was good and went up and down, trying to find something better.

All those years writing search algorithms in applied math classes and I still can't get this right. Sheesh!

Anywho, as far as the comet goes, it's kind of small and far away. With the naked eye, it looked like a cobweb or dust blob. With binoculars, it looked like a bigger cobweb or dust blob, but you could see the head. Here it is, in all its toad-like glory, photographed to the best of my search-algorithm-challenged ability. I left the photos quite large, so they might be worth a click.


Monday, July 20, 2020

You Simply Have To Watch This - It's Hilarious

Ryan Long is an American hero. He should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for this.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

How To Invest During A Currency Crisis

Your best bet is to take your money out of the stock market and put it into plane tickets and moving services.

As the US debt grows, I've been wondering what a good strategy might be during a serious currency crisis. Dump cash and buy property? Invest in raw materials like oil and soybeans? Maybe it would be a good idea to pick up some rental units because you'd have to think you could index the rent with inflation.

All of that is wrong and the events of the last 60 days in Portland show why. It's not the wild swings in prices and valuations that will get you, it's the social instability. When the crazed mobs, drunk on hatred of America which was fed to them by our teachers, go bonkers in the streets, your net worth won't mean a thing. Your only option will be to find a safe haven and flee. You'll doubtlessly take a financial beating on the transition to New Zealand, Australia or Poland, but you'll live to see another day.

The title of that video says it all. "Police declare riot in Portland after union headquarters briefly set on fire." If they're occupied fighting off the left wing goons at their precinct houses and union headquarters, they're not likely to respond to your calls for help as other left wing goons pillage you house or business. Having guns will help, but how long do you want to live like that? 

Given that the left wing goons have left wing goon political leaders supporting them, how many times do you want to gamble that you won't be carted off to jail for defending your property and life?

No, in a currency crisis, you'll want to leave.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Wasted Time

... is mostly what Twitter, podcasts and news sites are.

I'm only two days into my digital fast, but it's dawning on me that all of the current hyperventilating about race has two important characteristics.
  1. It's not a topic I'd discuss if left to my own devices.
  2. It offers nothing of value.
I blogged before that this is all pagan in nature.
Like sacrificing goats to Demeter, the riots and demonstrations are an act of paganism - they are useless appeals to things that don't exist. That much was instantly obvious when no one rallied on the side of the Minneapolis cop what killed George Floyd. If there's only one side in a shouting match, you're not having a heated argument, you're having a mental breakdown like a schizophrenic drug addict screaming at the sky.

While people marched and held signs and knelt and begged for forgiveness, I wondered what we'd do 6 months from now when it all happened again. There is no Demeter and all we did was kill some goats. What's our encore, throwing virgins into volcanoes? Nothing changed because the underlying culture didn't change. There are no more intact, traditional families now than there were before. Without them, civilization crumbles.
Yesterday, it dawned on me that the demand for racial purification means the progressives want us to sacrifice monuments, buildings, businesses and symbols until couples get married before they have children. Since the sacrifices have no connection to the desired outcome, this is going to go on for a long, long time. 

The pagan sacrifices will end, not when the nuclear family has been restored in our culture, but when the people making the sacrifices have finally had enough. I have no idea how many years we'll have to go before a sufficiently large majority finally ask for some kind of repayment for their kneeling, hashtags, lost monuments, suppressed symbols, difficult conversations, race training at work, canceled friends and enforced silence in public, but you've got to figure that's building up, day by day.

In the meantime, why not talk and think about things that matter. Like new smoker / grill combos?

We just bought an Oklahoma Joe Rider DLX smoker / grill from Lowe's. It gets delivered on Tuesday. I can't wait!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Fig Beetles In Flight

We have so many Cotinus Texanas flying around our yard that we might need to request an air traffic controller from the FAA. It's gotten warm here, our days are regularly in the 80s and 90s, so the Fig Beetles can take off. They're sensitive to temperature, you see.

Enough jibber jabber. Let's get to the photos! Many of them are large, but I think they're all worth a click. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Retirement, Twitter, Podcasts And Prayer

Preface: Today, I am suffering from DIMI - Dog-Induced Morning Insomnia. The blasted creatures woke me at 2 AM and I haven't been able to get back to sleep. The post below reflects my state of mind.

On with the show.

I miss retirement. 

I left my job on November 1 of last year after many decades of work. I was off for 6 months and then went back to work. This was the plan all along as the financial change allowed my wife to be fully retired. I don't regret it, but I miss being retired for the same reason I'm learning to loathe Twitter and ponder taking a podcast vacation as well.

Twitter is a distraction. It's a set of tiny dopamine triggers. Outrage! Scandal! Anger! Snark!


Podcasts, as much as I enjoy them, are the same thing, just in a slower format.

All three of these things have contributed to the complete collapse of my prayer life. I'm finding that clearing my mind and reflecting on Scripture or the events of the day or even saying the Rosary is practically impossible. I can focus for work and I'm happy with what I'm doing there, but outside of work, my mind is splattered all over the place.

I think it's time for another digital fast. You'll probably see a lot more photography posts for a while.

Nick Cannon Comment: If you don't know him and haven't seen his now-viral rant, Nick Cannon is a black podcaster with a Twitter following of about 5,000,000. He's an out-and-out Nazi loon and proves my long-standing assertion that Nazism is alive and well in the progs. He had a long podcast discussion with another black dude about how melanin gave you soul and depth and God knows what else and how melanin was feared by whites and that was why whites tried to dominate everyone because they were afraid of the melanated people who were superior and whites were closer to animals and were savages and ...

I swear, it sounded exactly, exactly like something one of the Nazi race "experts" would have said in the 1930s. He got some blowback from it, but he has also gotten support from other Twitter and cultural heavyweights. If you ever wondered how the Nazis rose to power in a 1st-world nation like Germany, old Nick is your case study.

Cotton Update: My cotton is thriving and beginning to flower. One of my Nankeen is about 6' tall now.

This is on one of my red foliated cotton plants. It looks like it will be a beautiful flower.

Anywho, I'm hoping to find time to nap later today. Without the dogs. Catch you tomorrow, hopefully with some good photos to share.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Debt And Dads

... are the only two things that really matter. They are the only first-order problems in America. We're approaching $30T in debt and we're discovering what we should have known all along - that the police can't replace dads.

Our modern Nazi race mania is nothing more than a desperate attempt to avoid change. It's couched in terms like "leaning forward" or "fighting for change," but it's about as changeful as a block of cement sitting on the ground. Black boys grow up without dads and they end up illiterate and violent. If we addressed the marriage issue, we could hardly single out blacks because we're all doing the same thing. We don't want to hew to traditional morality so we don our cosplay outfits and fight nonexistent racism, pretending to help blacks who are only doing what we do. Yay.

Similarly, using deep blue Minnesota as an example, we allow the dadless crew to wreck major cities and then we think we can pay the repair bills with printed money. If we connected having with earning, we'd have nipped the riots in the bud. That would have meant sending in the surrogate dads in body armor to discipline the dad-deprived kids. Then we might have to face what we've done to marriage as well as our debt and we don't want that.

This is all a waste of time. The cancel culture isn't the problem, it's a symptom. The destruction of statues isn't the problem, it's a symptom. Painting words on streets isn't the problem, it's a symptom of a deeply unserious nation.

Notice that none of this has anything to do with politics. I'm coming to the conclusion that this might be the least important election of our lifetime. Oh, sure, I'll vote for Trump because I want to go over the cliff at Trump's sedate 25 MPH instead of the progs' insane 132 MPH. Unless we get serious, we're going over that cliff either way. We've got growing violence and instability baked into the system in the form of wrecked families and insane levels of debt.

What we need is fiscal prudence and dads.

"If I give you these, I can't pay for entitlements. You get nothing. If you want money, get a job."

The Gods of the Copybook Headings are nigh. (Apologies for the poor reading. It was the best I could find.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Law Of Unintended Weapons Consequences

Voting means nothing.
When elections no longer matter because the government can make laws on whim and simply disregard the rules, the voters and logic, then I've got a real problem with that. That's happened over and over lately with ObamaCare, our now-open borders, gay marriage and much more. We voted against all of these things, but they happened anyway.
The cops aren't coming if you call.
MINNEAPOLIS — More than 150 Minneapolis police officers are filing work-related disability claims after the death of George Floyd and ensuing unrest, with about three-quarters citing post-traumatic stress disorder as the reason for their planned departures, according to an attorney representing the officers.
(L)aw enforcement officials in St. Louis served a warrant on Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple that brandished guns when an angry mob trespassed on their property and allegedly threatened them with violence. St. Louis police officers reportedly executed a search warrant and seized the rifle Mark McCloskey held during his confrontation with the mob.
This is not going to end well.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Confederate Centurion

From the Gospel of Luke comes this passage.
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There, a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
We Catholics repeat the Centurion's words at every Mass, after the consecration of the Eucharist. If you're a traditionalist, you strike your breast and say, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

From a previous episode of The Scratching Post.
Moving onto the Europeans, I decided to read Julius Caesar's Commentaries. I was hoping to discover his attitudes towards the Germanic tribes. I did not. Instead, I found an expertly written military analysis of his campaigns in what are now France, Germany and England. While he doesn't bother with sophisticated descriptions of the locals, his analysis is telling.

Unburdened by Judeo-Christian notions that all men are created equal in the image of God, Caesar is the ultimate, secular Utilitarian. He has a job to do and he gets it done with minimal fuss. If you submit to Roman rule, even after battle, he takes hostages from your royal families and demands a tribute to pay for garrison legions. Your nation is allowed to survive, albeit as a vassal state to the Romans. If you betray that agreement or oppose him through any kind treachery, he defeats you in battle, burns your villages to the ground, slaughters your leaders and sells the population into slavery.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

There isn't a hint of remorse, regret or second thoughts and why should there be? There is no God, there is no objective morality, there are only the needs of the Roman people. It's a simple worldview and it works. It works really well.
A centurion was a Roman NCO. He was the best of the enlisted men. He got that position only after campaigning with the army, doing what the Roman army did - conquer, subdue, loot, enslave. If the euphemisms of the Bible are anything like the euphemisms of the Antebellum South, "servant" might really mean "slave."

At Mass, we repeat the words of a Confederate Roman soldier in front of the consecrated Body of Christ. From the Bible, we learn that Jesus healed the slave servant of a Confederate Roman soldier, knowing exactly who he was helping. He was telling us that compassion is more important than moral judgment, a lesson I personally struggle to embrace.

“Here’s the thing,” said Don Lemon of CNN, “Jesus Christ — if that’s who you believe in, Jesus Christ — admittedly was not perfect when He was here on this earth.”

Or maybe He was and it's Don Lemon who's got things muddled.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

No Police, No Peace

Yesterday, I was wondering if the blue politicians were willing to simply surf the wave of violence in the blue cities, making peace, as it were, with the unstable elements. Is there really a blue civil war going on or is this just a purge of the cities?

Atlanta says, yes, there's a civil war raging.

Atlanta's mayor, Keisha Bottoms, blamed protesters for the death of an 8-year-old girl who was shot as her mother tried to do a u-turn around a BLM roadblock*. There's no question about who killed her, except that there is.
“They told us we were behind the murder of an 8-year-old child,” said Lady A, one of the leaders of the movement. “I have three little girls. We’re not kid killers. We can’t control what happens in the middle of the street. What we can control, we had under control, but they turned us out.” 

Attorney Gerald Griggs, vice president of the Atlanta NAACP, said the mayor ultimately bears the responsibility for the July Fourth tragedy. 

“For Keisha to call you guys out and say blood is on your hands … it’s not true,” Griggs said. “The blood is on her hands.”

“Get off CNN. Get off MSNBC. Get off Fox. Get off ABC!” Griggs continued. “The community is down here. We want an end to police brutality on your watch, Keisha. If you can’t do it, you need to pack up your office.” 
There were no cops involved and it's still all about police brutality for BLM. They have no mercy for Mayor Bottoms. She's in an impossible position, trying to maintain some amount of peace in the city while mollifying BLM.

The only way to surf this wave is to allow anarchy on the streets. Yeah, it's a civil war alright and the blue political leaders are indeed losing.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, commenter MN's assertion that cops are filing for disability is echoed here.
MINNEAPOLIS — More than 150 Minneapolis police officers are filing work-related disability claims after the death of George Floyd and ensuing unrest, with about three-quarters citing post-traumatic stress disorder as the reason for their planned departures, according to an attorney representing the officers.
This is fine.

* - That one still stuns me. BLM is now operating roadblocks in Atlanta?

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Minneapolis Paradise Lost

For a variety of reasons, I am writing this from my phone today, so no points off for missed quotations or other such errors.

In Milton's Paradise Lost, the devil says something to the effect of "I would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven." What if that is the attitude of Minneapolis mayor Frey? What if he really doesn't care whether the city rebuilds or not?

In a previous post, I said the Democrat politicians were losing because their cities were being ruined. If all they care about is maintaining power, ruling in hell, as it were, then whether or not businesses rebuild hardly matters. Michael Tracey, an independent journalist, has chronicled the fact that Minneapolis businesses are not rebuilding and stores are still boarded up.

Does this matter to the blue political leaders?

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Desert Sky At Night

... is better than the mountain sky at night. Well, at least when it's the Anza-Borrego Desert vs. Palomar Mountain.

I did my fourth attempt at night sky photography last night and hit two places - a lookout point on Palomar Mountain and a spot out in the Anza-Borrego Desert. Palomar turned out to have a surprising amount of light pollution and the stars never really got crisp. The desert was spectacular. You could see the Milky Way with your naked eye, despite the presence of a slight haze and some light pollution from nearby towns. 

Someday, when I feel like I've got the hang of the camera settings, I want to try central Nevada. There are spots out there that have no more light pollution than the middle of the ocean.

I was a bit more prepared this time, but I still struggled. This time, the issue was focus. I did this trip alone, so I didn't feel bad taking my time, trying one experiment after another. Wife kitteh is patient, but not infinitely so.

First off, you can't see a bloody thing using the view screen on the back of the camera. I brought along a laptop, so I would shoot a bit, keeping track of the settings in my head, and then stick the memory card in the laptop to see what I got. It took four experiments to get the focus close. 

Each experiment, I'd start with the manual focus ring at a particular point and then shoot five shots, rotating the ring 90 degrees each time. After looking at the photos on the laptop, I'd move the ring to what I thought was the best of the lot and then do it again. It was surprisingly difficult. I really need to work on that skill at home, in the light. My lens doesn't seem to have a focus length readout, so I'm shooting in the dark, both literally and figuratively.

My photo settings, 20 second exposure, aperture as wide open as possible and ISO of 800 were pretty good. At the very end, I tried a set with ISO settings from 100 to 1600 and I think the 1600 performed the best.

Improvements For Next Time

  1. Find a way to connect the camera to a bigger screen so I can review the shots without moving the memory card back and forth. It's a pain trying to insert the memory card in the camera in the dark.
  2. Learn how to set the manual focus with some precision. Those 90 degree rotations were guesstimates at best. My best focus was only within 45 degrees of optimum. I simply gave up trying to refine it any further because moving the memory card back and forth was such a pain.
  3. Continue to search for good spots for night sky photography. As defaults, both Mount Laguna and the desert provide excellent sites, but it wouldn't hurt to keep my eyes open for new places.
  4. The place where I bought my camera will rent you a fisheye lens that is supposed to be the bomb for night sky photography. I really want to try it, but I think I need one more trip to get my system down before I add that complication into the mix.

The Photos

Despite my improved settings and improved camera, I had to doctor the photos in Photoshop. I played with the pixel brightness curves, but nothing else. I've found that those pump up the hidden elements of the sky well enough. All of three of these came from the desert. I left them quite large, so I think they're worth a click.


Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Anime Riots

When I was in high school, a few centuries before the signing of the Magna Carta, I came across one of those nature magazines in the library. The cover said something about animals facing extinction because two legs bad. The articles inside featured pictures of cute animals with anime-character eyes, eyes that were pleading with you to vote for Democrats.

"If you were here, I'd snuggle and cuddle with you. Without your help, Republicans will come and beat me to death!"

I fell hard for it. I was convinced that harp seals and tarsiers and bunnies were all about to be wiped from the face of the earth. I had a heartless, analytical bent even then, but those pictures overwhelmed my ability to reason. The irrationality stayed with me for years. If you weren't willing to sacrifice this or that to save these doomed cuties, you were a monster.

Some of it was true, of course, and it would have been valuable to incorporate that into a more sophisticated world view, but I was young and driven by emotions. My thoughts had that imbalanced quality that comes from youth.

Fast forward to today's blue civil war. On Andrew Klavan's show yesterday, he discussed the open letter that many progressives wrote, pleading for a reduction in the cancel culture. They begged for a partial return to free speech. Andrew pointed out the generation gap between the authors and the social justice mob. The young left is not in favor of free speech.

The older progs thought they were having a discussion. They weren't because the mob is beyond reason. Discussion itself is a problem. The mob is consumed with visions of anime-eyed baby harp seals in the form of oppressed people of color. You, with your "discussion." Bah! You want to club them to death!

Andrew correctly points out that the older progs think they can apologize their way out of the social justice mob's rage, but they can't. They don't understand that they're dealing with unreasoning, hysterical children.

As he talked, I thought of my daughter's public high school, which I have written about before.
At my daughter's public high school, her history teacher preaches racialism morning, noon and night. Almost every time we've asked for extra credit assignments, they've been suggestions to watch racialist movies like 12 Years a Slave, The Butler, Cesar Chavez and so on. In order to gain some extra credit points, my daughter had to go to the MLK Day Parade here in San Diego. The textbook is no better. The chapter on WW II is a wonder to see.

The first 8 photographs in the chapter are of minorities and women. The chapter deals exclusively with WW II, not the lead-up to it nor the aftermath. It's straight-up wartime history twisted into racialism. The white guy with the biggest photo in the chapter is ... President Clinton apologizing to a Japanese internment victim. Eisenhower's photo is 1/6 the size.

My daughter's English class isn't much different. Every novel they're reading this year is racialist. There's one about blacks being oppressed, one about women, one about Hispanics and one about American Indians.

As far as the students can tell, the American past is filled mostly with evil. While the intent of the progressives in the education industry is to indoctrinate the kids in critical race theory, their tools are not nearly as focused as they think. Instead of racialism, the kids learn to mistrust their ancestors. The progressives being ancestors as well, they end up caught in their own nets.
This is exactly what we're facing now. It's the harvest of the raging lunatics who run our education industry. They themselves are driven by incoherent emotions, so they banished all dissenting voices. Without any balance, the children who make up the social justice mob never experienced a counter point to the baby harp seals' eye-pleas. There is no reasoning with them because they don't reason.

The Democrat civil war is as much a generational war as anything else. The mayors and governors think they can have a conversation with the mob. They think that if they just pull down enough statues and have enough difficult conversations, they can regain control of the situation.

They can't and they're about to find out just how bad things can get when they allow themselves to be driven by the mob. Reality is starting to have it's say.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Of Viruses And Parasites


Ohioan at Heart has a typically thorough blog post up discussing the latest Wuhan Flu idiocy in California. Here's a sample.
When Goober Newsom allowed the various counties around CA to 'open up' (albeit slowly), he put some 'metrics' in place to monitor the counties behavior/results.  Now at first blush this seems a reasonable and responsible action.  However, the metrics (set in mid April) have not been modified to account for the changing reality, and as a result are now being applied, I believe improperly, to shut businesses down in San Diego County (and I must wonder if in other counties as well).  I have been saving lots of the historical CoViD data for San Diego County and I dug into it to determine if they are comparing apples to oranges.  And the result is (drum roll)...

They are comparing apples to squirrels.  The data today simply can not be compared in a straight forward way to metrics based on data from back then for a myriad of reasons.  I will now attempt to convince you, dear reader, that I know what I'm talking about.
Which he does. Read the whole thing.

Twitter user Gummi Bear tweeted an excellent and very long thread showing that there is a standard progression to the Wuhan Flu and that we're on the downside of it. I unrolled the thread for you to make it easier to read. Here's a sample.

California is doing exactly the wrong thing with the renewal of the lockdowns. That's no surprise. We specialize in doing the wrong thing. As for sending the kids back to school in the fall, on Tucker's show last night, he pointed out that the Europeans sent their kids back long ago and have seen no problems with it.


This morning, I read an excellent essay from Victor Davis Hanson on the Year Zero aspect of our current insurrection / revolution. I'm still processing it, but I keep going back to my Nazi analogy. A new parallel occurred to me today, one of parasitism.

The Nazis saw the Jews as parasites, feeding off of the labor of German workers. In effect, that's the same sentiment as white privilege and the oppression of people of color today. Whites are parasites who owe much of their status to the consumption of what people of color produce.


Mistletoe is a parasite, too. It leads to sexual assault and misogyny around Winter Solstice.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

On Giving Up

My brother-in-law, Chuck, succumbed to cancer yesterday. From diagnosis to death was about 6 weeks. He wasn't in good shape before the diagnosis so his body wasn't well-prepared to handle the chemo. In the end, the chemo did nothing and it spread to his liver and stomach. He was uncomfortable, but not in tremendous pain when he passed.

Visiting him during his decline, it reminded me of both of my parents and, so help me, little Pepito, our ancient chihuahua who we recently had to put down. In all cases, living became exhausting. Death was a relief. In no case did the patient fight all that hard to keep going. Chuck was the only one of the four with cancer, but the final declines seemed similar.

I've heard that those who fight disease and decline last the longest and I guess this supports that notion.

Rest in peace, Chuck.

Monday, July 06, 2020

How Do You Put A Lid On This Thing?

In Atlanta, where the cops have bailed out, there was a massive street party which featured cars doing stunts and lots of gunfire. See if you can spot the cops in this video of the event.

No? Neither could I. Elsewhere in Atlanta, Black Lives Matter goons shot and killed an 8-year-old girl because her mom drove through one of their check points. Yes, a BLM checkpoint because the cops are no longer in charge of the streets.  

No marches or hashtags for you, young lady! You were a victim of the locals and therefore you don't count.

Mayor Keisha Bottoms decried all the violence and death, but her infantry have left the field. Her writ runs as far as the meeting rooms in the city office buildings. Outside of that, it's wild street parties and gunfire.

The mayor checks all the right demographic boxes, but, strangely, that doesn't seem to be helping.

Meanwhile, the news media, education system and entertainment industry are pumping racial paranoia as hard as they can. Two thoughts on this.

1. Keisha is somewhere on the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. My bet is that she is in the bargaining phase, still thinking that if she can root out the systemic racism in the city, her people will gain control again. LOL! There is no systemic racism, Keisha. While you look for leprechauns, the city is getting whacked.

2. The cops were the last ones to give up on the blacks in the city. Teachers graduated them even though they couldn't read. Entertainers appealed to their basest desires. The news media amplified their fears to gain attention. The Democrats talked race, race, race in order to keep their votes. The cops were the only ones who still had skin in the game and they've checked out. Good luck with that, kids.

The story is the same in other blue cities as the blue civil war continues to rage. Until the news media, entertainment and education decide to promote the virtues of America, the Keishas of the world are screwed.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Black Lives Matter

They matter in Atlanta.
ATLANTA — There has been an alarming rise in violent crime in Atlanta over the past month.

Atlanta police say murders are up 86% over 28 days last month compared to the same time last year.
They matter in Milwaukee.
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett noted a dramatic increase in violent crimes in the city in comparison to last year.

During a press conference, Friday, Barrett and other community leaders addressed racial equity, violence in the community and justice.

As of Friday, there were 86 homicides reported in the city, Barrett said. It's a stark contrast to the 43 homicides during the same time period last year, marking a 100% increase.
They matter in Chicago.
CHICAGO — The City of Chicago saw a double digit spike in crime in the month of June, according to crime numbers released by police Wednesday.

There was a 34% increase in the number of murders over the same period, last year. There were also 45% more shootings.
They matter in New York City.
Gun violence exploded across the city after the NYPD disbanded its anti-crime unit of plainclothes cops on June 15, with three times as many shootings in the last two weeks of the month over the same period in 2019, police stats show.

And the shocking rise in gunfire — to 116 incidents from 38 between June 15 and June 2, a 205 percent increase — meant scores more victims were hurt or killed by bullets this year over last year.

Gunshot injuries skyrocketed to 157 from 47 in 2019, a 238 percent increase.
They matter everywhere. The time is now to fundamentally transform America.
How many more have to die before we take action?

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Coffee And Founding Fathers

Ranking Coffees

In the morning, I make a cup of French press before sitting down to read and write. I had been sampling Black Rifle Coffee varieties, trying to find my favorite. I ended up choosing their Just Black, but it got tiresome having to wait for it to show up in the mail. I recently started working my way through the supermarket brands, looking for something decent. Here are my findings so far. Note that I go for the medium roast styles with no alien flavorings.

Update: As I try new ones, I will continue to add to this list. This post will be my data collection site.
  1. Melitta - An excellent coffee. I could drink this every day.
  2. Community with Chickory - OK, I ordered this from Amazon and bought it because it was from Louisiana. It's good stuff. The chickory mellows out the coffee considerably, but leaves the flavor.
  3. Don Francisco - Perfectly adequate.
  4. Community - It's good enough to drink, but not great.
  5. Folgers - Horrific. I took two sips and threw the rest out along with the unused ground. On the plus side, it came in a plastic container which can be used to store things in the garage.
  6. Chock Full O' Nuts - Utterly undrinkable. The heavenly coffee? No, the heave coffee*.
  7. Yuban - This might actually be worse than Chock. However, there's not enough money in the world to get me to do a side-by-side comparison to find out.

Founding Fathers

Last night, we watched Hamilton on Disney+. It is wonderfully done and the cast is very talented. It is also the most thorough petting of the Elite I've ever seen. If a single, non-conformist idea wandered onto that stage, it would die of loneliness. The show is about two hours of nonstop reinforcement of progressive dogmas. The audience laps it up, no doubt believing that they are brave and righteous and, above all, way above all, morally superior. It's nauseating. You want George Carlin or Lenny Bruce or someone, anyone to add a song or two to the thing to tweak the endless, insufferable stream of self-congratulation.

Hamilton is so culturally orthodox, so utterly anodyne that it could easily have been written by the marketing department of Proctor and Gamble or any of our massive, risk-averse corporations.

There's something deeper to it, though. The play positively shreds Thomas Jefferson as a slave-owning, self-promoting coward. That's no surprise as it fits perfectly with the modern zeitgeist, but, like the introduction of Madame Guillotine into the French Revolution, in the back of your mind, you suspect that things have taken a serious turn for the worse.

The slander of our Founding Fathers and the progs' hard work to destroy fundamentally remake America has at it's core the assumption that in the absence of those slave-holding racists and God-delusion rednecks, we'd still have freedom and security. The progs cling to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's belief that Man is inherently good. Cancel Thomas Jefferson and the rest in a spasm of racialist purification and we'll finally be able to have peaceful, deep and meaningful conversations where we redesign society in the faculty lounge.

Err, maybe not. Take away the foundations of civilization - the traditional family, the Christian faith and the legacy of the American Founding Fathers and I think you'll end up with something quite different. I suspect we're going to get to see this in many blue cities in the coming months.

Me, I'm sticking with 'Murrica. Have a happy 4th of July, everyone.

* - I got that one from an old Mad Magazine.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Cancel Shakespeare, Cancel SDSU

Stop taking the Democrats' lead. Stop letting them dictate the conversation. Because they control the news media, sans Fox, the education industry and entertainment, it's easy to let them choose what we discuss and how we discuss it. Stop it. Oppose all slavery and racism instead.

Mimicking the Democrats' obsessive pursuit of social justice purity, Jesse Kelly recently began a Cancel Yale movement. Elihu Yale, the founder, made his money in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Similarly, pressure was brought to bear on Princeton and they finally removed the name of racist Woodrow Wilson from buildings and departments at the school. These were hailed as brilliant counter strokes. Finally, Democrat institutions were being forced to live under their own rules.

Shakespeare is still problematic.

Shakespeare, Dickens, Kipling and other giants of the arts have been banished from campuses, not because the Democrats claim they benefited from racism and slavery, but because they supposedly benefited from a certain brand of racism and slavery. This doesn't go nearly far enough. We need to oppose all slavery and all racism. Anyone in the arts who comes from a culture that exploited others through slavery need to be banned.

The Aztecs not only practiced slavery, they engaged in massacres of their slaves as well. San Diego State University needs to change its name. The legacy of the Aztec Empire needs to be explored and removed from our culture. Let's start with banishing the Mexican flag. The eagle devouring the serpent pays tribute to Aztecs such as Montezuma who, like Hitler, was an aggressive warlord that enslaved and slaughtered his foes.

The Confederates wanted to keep their slaves alive. The Aztecs wanted theirs tortured and then killed. No Rebel flag? OK. No Mexican flag, either.

Slavery was nearly universal in Africa. After all, where do you think African slaves were bought in the first place? All African influences need to be rooted out if they are tainted with the sin of slavery.

American Indians owned slaves, both in the form of conquered enemy tribesmen and blacks they bought in the Antebellum South. Change the name of the Redskins? Of course we should, but let's do it for the right reason.

Don't get me started on slavery in Islam.

How about socialists? How is John C. Calhoun's 1837 speech in defense of slavery any different from the Democrats' embrace of an all-powerful State? 
"(L)ook at the sick, and the old and infirm slave, on one hand, in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind, superintending care of his master and mistress, and compare it with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poor house" found in Europe and the Northern states.
With just a few changes, we can turn this into a Bernie Sanders campaign speech.
"Look at the sick, and the old and infirm citizen, on one hand, in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind, superintending care of the government, and compare it with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper found under capitalism."
The Soviet Union and communist China were the biggest slave states in the history of the world. If you wave their flags or spout their dogma, you should lose your job. Maybe when you visit a restaurant, you need to be kicked out or at least loudly harassed.

It's not enough to burn Yale to the ground over it's name. Yes, by all means, let's do just that, but it's small potatoes compared to what we should be doing. If we're going to blot out the stain of slavery from our nation, let's blot out all of it, every last, little bit.

Stop letting the Democrats tell us what kinds of slavery were bad and what kinds were good. Burn it all down.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Of Moons And Lunacy

The Moon

Following the excellent, recent advice of Tim Eisele*, I shot the moon last night. Well, actually, I shot it many times, but with my new Nikon D3500 Artillery Piece and it's 300mm telephoto lens.

Almost all of the photos came out horribly.

The problem is my inability to focus. No, not my penchant for Pachinko posting here, where topics bounce all over the place, but my old eyes' inability to focus on much of anything without glasses. Taking his tip on manual focus with insect shots where he blasts away while changing the focal length, I did the same trick, blasting away while making small adjustments to the camera lens.

I managed to get one semi-decent shot, but it was at the beginning of the sequence, indicating that I needed to overshoot the focus on both sides of the adjustments. I left the photo rather large, so I think it's worth a click.

My goal with this photography is to get myself educated before I go out to the desert to take some more Milky Way photos. I'm learning, slowly.


I have to admit to a certain amount of pleasure watching the blue civil war evolve. We've gone from Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Christopher Columbus to General Ulysses S. Grant to Abraham Lincoln and now ... to elk.

Yes, elk.

Somewhere up in Heaven, Jefferson Davis is giving Abraham Lincoln a wry grin and shrugging his shoulders, saying, "Dude, you might as well have let us be." And yes, Jeff is in Heaven. If you don't think so, you're a racist. After all, Barack Obama said sin was being out of alignment with one's values and old Jeff might have been a lot of things, but he wasn't out of alignment with his values.

I thought the Lincoln statue removal was the craziest thing, but now the official Democratic Party Twitter account and the NYT are taking stands against Mount Rushmore. Wow. Can it get worse?

Yes. Elk. Because elk.

Maybe the elk was racist. Maybe the elk held slaves. Maybe the elk wasn't sufficiently pro-black. Who knows? Who cares? This has become so deliciously surreal that you almost don't care what they destroy next.

* - When isn't his advice excellent?