Monday, November 30, 2020

Think Globally, Ruin Locally

This essay is a perfect example of why I'm going to let my Wall Street Journal subscription lapse. It's awful and never should have made it past the editors.

As COVID-19 spread earlier this year, governments introduced lockdowns in order to prevent a public-health emergency from spinning out of control. In the near future, the world may need to resort to lockdowns again—this time to tackle a climate emergency.

And we're done. That's the blog post for today. Unbelievable stupidity posted at Market Watch, which is part of the Dow Jones family of publications.

If You Want More Details

Here's the problem with the article. Scale*. Global Warming Climate Change is a global, long-term phenomena. If you're going to fight it, you will need to fight it globally with long-term solutions. Local or even national lockdowns, like California's idiotic move to "renewable" energy that resulted in massive blackouts, will accomplish nothing. China, India, Indonesia, Africa and South America will see to that.

Second, it's a response that's doomed to fail because no one will be able to stick with it. Back during the 2008 economic crisis, some European countries tried to implement weak-tea austerity programs because their budgets were way out of whack. The populace couldn't stick with it long enough to make a difference because it was painful, so back they went to spending more than they earned.

The essay goes on to pitch the standard Marxist fantasies of paying nurses and teachers more than lion tamers and USMC snipers. Or something like that. Frankly, I lost interest pretty early in the thing. After the first three paragraphs, everything was predictable and what you'd expect from a hysterical high school student who had been thoroughly indoctrinated by the teacher's union. Which is to say, most of them.

Sometimes you just have to live with the world the way it is and make the best of it.


* - Again with the scale! Am I never to be rid of it?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The How And Why Of A Cotton Gin

Last night, I began seeding my cotton bolls. I started with my Red Foliated because I like it the least and it was in the worst shape of the three. I figured I'd learn with that and then do things the right way with my Mississippi Brown and Nankeen.

What a pain, both literally and figuratively. My fingers still hurt. Here's a video showing the crudest way to do it, which was the way I did it.

Note that her thumb is bloody. I can understand that. The seeds are like little rocks and the cotton clings to them for dear life. Imagine that you had a bowl of cotton balls into which you had poured pebbles with glue on them. Once the glue dried to the cotton, your job would be to get the pebbles back out. That's what seeding cotton is like.

It's even worse if you do it while watching the 2020 LSU - Texas A&M game. Good Lord, that was terrible. Both teams could have put their punters in to play quarterback and it couldn't have been worse.

I digress.

The next step in technology is to realize that the cotton is soft and the seeds are hard. It turns out you can roll them out of the cotton by hand, like, oh, I don't know, pushing the folds and lumps out of the bedspread, maybe? Dig this.

I thought this was ingenious. Give yourself something round and hard and something flat and hard and voila!, no more bleeding thumbs! After I watched this and then saw lots and lots of videos of women showing me how to seed cotton by hand, I couldn't figure out why they didn't tell me to do it this way.

Oh well. It's all one to me. This is all about learning by doing, so I didn't mind.

Another thing I noticed was that many of the YouTube tutorial videos were Indian. A lot of cotton comes from India, so it's no wonder they're a treasure house of knowledge on the subject.

Finally, we get to the cotton gin. I had imagined it as a thing with metal tines that somehow combed or teased out the seeds, but no, it is just a machine version of what the lady above is doing with her metal pipe and chunk of 2x4. Here's a hand-cranked version.

I want to build my own, of course. Mine won't be nearly as beautiful. All I need is the functionality. To me, it looks like it's a frame, two gears, two rollers and a hand crank. That looks pretty straightforward.

I hate to say it, but I'm already starting to think about raising Nankeen again next year. While the Mississippi Brown was my sentimental favorite, the Nankeen produced beautiful bolls as well and many more of them.

One Last Thing

After you seed the stuff, the cotton teases up to a much larger volume than what you had with the harvested bolls. I would estimate the ratio is about 3:1 or 4:1. I had read that a pound of cotton will make a t-shirt and I had scoffed at that. "Ha ha!" I said. "That is so scoffable!"

Well, the science of scoffology is pointing back at me now. I consider myself fully scoffed.

A bowl of seeded Red Foliated cotton. Fluffy!

On the plus side, I think I will have enough seeded and teased* cotton to deliver to my daughter-in-law and demand that she spin it into gold**.

* - These days, we're inundated with weak-spined progressives demanding that we not tease our cotton. It's part of their anti-bullying campaign. This is nonsense. Teasing cotton makes it stronger. You don't want weak cotton, do you?

** - I think that's what you do with cotton. I know I read it somewhere. In any case, the details of the procedure will be left to her. I'm more of an idea cat.

Update: Someone on Etsy is selling made-to-order wooden gears. I love it when a plan comes together.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

In Which Rod Dreher Springs A Kafka Trap on Himself

Preface: I really like Rod Dreher. I agree with about 85% of what he says and I've muddled my way through most of two of his books - The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies. I recommend them both, though I find their prescriptions altogether too passive. Those are topics for another day. I'm giving this preface in case Rod stumbles upon this blog post to let him know I'm a fan. 

On with the show.

Writing over at The American Conservative, his blog post from yesterday caught my eye. It deals with the current transgender mania and how sex role expectations have changed. He shows graphics from a feminist Twitter account of women of yesterday raising a family and women of today raising glasses of white wine while dragging rollaboard luggage behind them. "Hurrah for freedom! Down with the drudgery of expectations!" say the images. Here's what Rod says.

So, what unites these examples of the contemporary spirit? A rejection of the familistic ideal, which entails traditional sex roles.

Before we get started here, can we please put aside the idea that I believe that women should be confined to maternal roles, and not allowed to pursue careers? I don’t believe that. But we can’t pretend that there isn’t a severe social cost to be paid for abandoning natural sex roles.

Emphasis mine because I wanted to emphasize it.

What Rod is doing here is springing a Kafka Trap on himself. I didn't understand what one was until I read this thread on Twitter. A Kafka Trap is best shown by this example:

"You're a racist!"

"No, I'm not"

"That's just what a racist would say."

The other person defines you and then traps you into the definition when you deny it. A good response might be this:

"You're a racist!"

"No, I'm not"

"That's just what a racist would say."

"It's also what an innocent person would say."

I didn't know the term Kafka Trap before, but I have heard examples of it over and over again from people like Rod. It commonly happens in conjunction with expressions of concern over black illegitimacy or murder rates.

"It's really sad that so many black children grow up without fathers. Now before I go farther, let me assure you I don't think that all black children are fatherless or that some black mothers don't do heroic jobs and produce wonderful young adults ..."

What drives me batty is that the speaker is anticipating the trap and that reinforces its use. Instead, I'd like to see it left alone and if someone else tries to spring it, the response should be very aggressive. Like so.

"It's really sad that so many black children grow up without fathers."

"So, are you saying that black mothers aren't any good?"

"No, I said it's sad that a lot of them don't have dads. Are you deaf? Or is it that you think you can read minds? Here, what number am I thinking of right now? It's between 1 and 100. WRONG. So you can't read minds, can you? Maybe you ought to try listening more and not inserting words into people's mouths, you jerk."

Whammo.

Note that in this exchange, I'm dealing with what was really said and they are not. I didn't say blacks are inferior. They did suggest that they could read my mind.

The Kafka Trap is destined to fail in the face of a solid counterattack because it's a hollow fraud. It's the act of someone telling you what you meant. That's being a jerk in my book. If they're going to accuse you of sexism / racism / The Phobia Flavor Of The Month, that's an act of aggression against you. You might as well give them a dose of that medicine and see how they like the taste of it.

Hint: It tastes yucky.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Forget The Turkey, Next Year, We're Having Roast Corgi

Wow. That was a deafening Thanksgiving. It sounded a lot like this.

A relative of ours whose husband recently died came to Thanksgiving at our house yesterday. She's got a young corgi who will wreck her house if she leaves it alone for any length of time, so she brought it along.

Corgis are the worst dogs in the world. The. Worst. They have no sense of dog protocol and will get right up in the faces of other dogs, hoping to play. Even if the other dogs are clearly expressing their displeasure, corgis will still jam their snouts into the other dogs' grills like the total idiots they are.

Our dogs, even the usually calm and accepting Bodie, took a dislike to this and tried to let that moron know how he should behave. Instead of taking the hint, he figured this meant he needed to bark, too. He ran around the house, shoving his face at people and dogs and barking loudly.

I have no idea if the food was any good. I don't know what we discussed at the table. I do know the Washington Football Team beat the Cowgirls, but our son and I didn't have a chance to enjoy it because BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK.

When he got home, our son texted me. It just said, "*BARK*."

Our relative will always be invited and she's always welcome. She's a lovely person. The only way to have avoided this would have been to let her stay home alone on Thanksgiving and that would have been unacceptaBARK.

One More Thing: BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Came Early This Year

... in fact, it came around 0330. That's when I woke up. I couldn't get back to sleep, which was fine because I normally get up around 0400 and an extra 30 minutes of sleep isn't going to make that much of a difference.

We're deep-frying the turkey again this year. This will be the fourth year in a row we've fried the bird and every time the results have been spectacular. Each year, I try to add an improvement. I brined it overnight in the water and vegetable stock mix recommended over at Deep South Dish. Last year, I used store-bought stock, which is always inferior to homemade, so this year, I used a recipe from Southern Living and made my own.

The only drawback to frying the gobbler is the difficulty making gravy. There are no drippings to speak of, although I just thought of something. If I put a pan under the turkey as I pull it out of the fryer, I'll get some drippings that way. Genius! You've got to get up pretty early in the morning, probably at 0315, to do better than this cat! :-)

Anywho, the other problem is the lack of a turkey stock for the gravy. This year, I bought two pounds of frozen turkey necks from Food 4 Less and when I got up this morning, I started browning them to make the stock described in Terry Thompson's irreplaceable Cajun-Creole Cooking. The necks are done and now the veggies are browning in the oven.

It has begun!

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone, and know that one of the things I'm most thankful for is you.

Browned necks. Yum!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

When Pork Chops Attack

... it's best to throw some stuffing in their mouths to prevent escalation. Pork chops can administer a painful bite, you know.

In this case, I just happened to have some stuffing handy, made from onions, apples, ground pork and Gorgonzola cheese. To further entice the chop, I added sage, thyme and oregano.

Fortunately, I was able to react in time to the crisis and no one was harmed.

Pork chop attacks are one of the most dangerous things about cooking. While not as vicious as a fully-enraged rib roast, the fact that chops are so unpredictable means you need to be especially watchful around them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Mobius Strip Of Distrust

Just like clockwork, about half the country thinks the election was a fraud. That's kind of what you'd expect if you used mail-in ballots in a whisker-close election.

A mere 3% of voters for President Donald Trump think President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election, while 73% think the incumbent was the victor, according to a CNBC/Change Research poll.

Not to worry. CNBC reassures us of the "truth" in the very first paragraph of that article.

Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. Nearly every supporter of President Donald Trump thinks otherwise, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll.

So Joe won, did he? Well, that's good to know. And just who is telling us this? The news media. The same news media that thought it likely that Russia intervened in 2016 to elect DJT in the first place. Right.

Russia gets almost all of its income from petroleum products. There was simply no way on Earth they were going to try to tip the election in favor of a guy whose policies were going to lower the price of oil. There was no Russian collusion, there was no chance of it ever happening, there was never even a moment where anyone in any position of power in Russia who was even vaguely sober would have even started to begin to think about the possibility of getting going on a plan to ponder doing it.

Whatever.

I'm Over It

My faith in the press ended with the Hunter Biden story. I'll admit I had next to none before that, but the way they covered for Biden when the Hunter scandal broke was the steamroller that smushed the camel flat after a thousand pounds of straws were dumped on its back.

When I see or hear stories about news media dishonesty these days, it's like being asked to go see Friday the 13th, Part 76 where Part 75 ended with Jason being thrown into a wood chipper whose outflow was directed into a blast furnace.

"No, Jason survived that, really! It's like this. When the wood chipper gears looked like they were grinding him up, he was actually dodging them and ..."

Geeze, Louise, guys, just stop. It's simply impossible to even fake excitement about it. The trust / belief is D-E-A-D, dead.

Seriously, the news media refused to cover the vice president's family making millions selling access. Then when Big Tech effectively censored the story, a direct attack on the most crucial freedom of a free press, the First Amendment, the news media all rallied behind the censorship.

I can't even pretend to get wound up about it any more.

So now a news media which has incinerated my trust is telling me a practically anonymous voting system gave results we can believe.

I'm a big fan of the surreal, but I have my limits.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Get A Lawyer

... is all you can do when you need something enforced in the law. And before you get a lawyer, set aside 5 figures of cash, or more, to feed said lawyer. In my neck of the woods, they run $400 an hour.

The lawsuit against my parents' estate has been settled and fully recorded in court, so I can now share some of the wisdom and some of the wounds. I learned quite a bit from this ghastly exercise, so I thought I might blog about it in the hopes that some of you can avoid what happened to us.

Short take: What I learned is that you probably can't, but let's share the story anyway.

The suit was brought by a drug-addict relative, we'll call him Fried, who thought he deserved a bigger piece of the pie. Having zero cash, he still found a lawyer, we'll call him Scum, who was willing to work for part of the take. 

Lesson 1: All the lawyers in your community know each other. They've worked together or faced off in court. Scum was universally regarded as a scumbag. He had accumulated a long list of disciplinary punishments from local judges. So what? He was still a lawyer and could file papers. That's all you need to attack someone.

My father had been severely burned as the executor of his mom's estate a few decades earlier. Determined to save me from this, he consulted the best trust attorneys he could find and together, they wrote what they thought was a tightly-locked document.

Lesson 2: There are no tightly-locked documents, only documents that are strong, but still subject to indirect artillery fire. Like the suit that Fried brought.

Scum did not attack the trust directly, he attacked wife kitteh and me. He claimed elder abuse and manipulation. That meant that, had this gone to court, we would have had to defend ourselves from our own money and couldn't use the trust's funds to pay our lawyers. He had no proof, he just made the accusation in a court filing.

And so it began.

Clever as foxes, my father and his trust attorney wrote the trust such that anyone contesting it in any way would be disinherited. They then left Fried enough money to make its loss painful, thinking it would deter him from attacking me. It didn't. Had the lawyers involved told us, none of us would ever have expected it to protect us.

Lesson 3: Words don't mean what they say. The trust said, in plain English, that if you contested it, you were automatically disinherited. Hahahaha! What a laugh. In order to make this stick, the executor of the trust would have to ... get a lawyer. That's right, the clear language of the trust was not going to be enforced by the court unless I counter-sued Fried. At $400 an hour. Not gonna happen.

Just like the Supreme Court cases on abortion and gay marriage, which took matters out of voters' hands, local judges are members of the Elite and they look down in scorn on the Normals. "You pathetic, little peasants, you think you know what you want, but we know better. We rule over you and will tell you how things will work regardless of your stated wishes." Over time, case law, built on precedents, accreted all manner of unspoken rules such that the words of a trust meant less than the whims of long-dead judges.

What this meant to us was that Fried's lawsuit was never going to go to trial unless we forced it by spending upwards of $100,000 and two years defending ourselves. Like the "justice" system cares. No, it's all designed to go to settlement. You'd be an idiot not to settle. Enforcing my parents' well-crafted wishes? Nope. Get bent, you little worms.

And so we settled. Fried got more coin than the trust had allotted him. What else could we do? The whole suit was idiocy from the start as Fried's share of the estate had increased over time at the expense of mine. That meant he had no standing to sue as there were no damages to him. That made no difference at all. If we wanted to make a case on that, we'd have to ... keep our lawyers at $400 an hour and stay in court.

So a lawsuit with no basis against a trust explicitly written to punish such attacks resulted in a payday for Scum and Fried, 5-figures of cost to us and 6 months of time lost, not to mention plenty of stress and unhappiness on our end.

Lesson 4: If it's written anywhere in the law or in an agreement, it only means as much as you're willing to defend after you ... get a lawyer.

I don't know why I was surprised. I've seen plenty of examples of law enforcement blowing off minor crimes because it's not worth going to court to apply the law. Dig this story from SF where reductions in shoplifting penalties are driving stores to close.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Odds And Ends

Gadgetry

I spent some time learning my new Arduino kit. It's pretty straightforward. If you've got a smattering of programming and circuit building experience, you can do it with ease. I didn't get to the programming part, but I connected it to my PC and downloaded the programming app. The Arduino board connected via USB, first try. If I put a little more effort into it, I might be ready to make my time-lapse camera, version 1, in a couple of weeks. I'm still working on my parents' estate, however, so no promises.

Politics Are Worse Than Before

Tim made a good point that we've had worse presidents in the past and worse election controversies, but I'd argue that we've given our leaders more power over our lives than ever. They're still the same C-student morons they've always been, but they can do so much more damage than in the past.

What I'm Hoping For In The Election

I truly want to see the legal fight over this election turn into a Cat 5 Disaster. It's the only thing that's going to put an end to this positively idiotic vote-by-mail insanity. They sent out ballots using a hopelessly out-of-date voter registration list and then accepted the ballots back with nothing more than a signature on the envelope, a signature they were never going to check. No one who committed vote fraud has much fear of being prosecuted, so there's practically no risk to doing it. 

It's not who wins or even if there was fraud, it's the fact that we can't trust the results. I will go to my grave convinced that no one has any idea who really won. Show up in person, show an ID and vote. It's not that complicated.

Me, I'm rooting for chaos.

The Moral Of The Story

Since you always end up having to take care of yourself, it's best to give the politicians as little power as possible. The more you keep for yourself, the more degrees of freedom you have to deal with the unexpected.

And tell me honestly, what new programs and benefits have shown up in, say, the last 10 years that you couldn't have obtained for yourself without getting our kindergartners to pay for them?

A Picture

Out for a stroll the other day, I ran into this walking zeppelin. It's one of the fattest chihuahuas I've ever seen. It's not one of ours. It was very friendly and appreciated pausing in it's laborious, trundling perambulations to stop and get some petting.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Trump, Biden And Arduino

Super short thought today.

Maybe the worst thing about politicizing everything in life is the way it diverts people's energy from improving their own lives to talking politics. That's also a feature of having a massive government and regulations that reach into almost every aspect of our lives. When you step back and think about what makes a difference to you and your family, it's what you and your family choose to do, not who wins an election. That's why all those ads saying that voting was the most important thing you could do drove me nuts.

The government is huge and politics is the dominant topic on the airwaves, but it's not where any of us should be trying to make the most difference in our lives. Crazy.

On the plus side, my Arduino learning kit showed up and I'm hoping to have some time to play with it this weekend. It was bought so I could create a time-lapse photography thingamabob and film my plants as they grow next year, but looking through the materials, I've already got some more ideas.

One idea would be to install photo sensors in my MGB so the headlights would turn on whenever it got dark. This is going to be fun.

In other news, I made Smoked Chicken with Alabama White Sauce again last night. I can't get enough of it. It's sublime.

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Gap Is Everywhere

My recent post describing how the website of the Diocese of San Diego was all over the social justice thing, but not all that interested in that Jesus fellow was more about the gap between the Normals and the Elites than anything else. In it, we found that the D of SD site mentions Jesus 97 times and justice 1,390 times. Our diocesan website has the following word counts as well.

  • Racism / Race / Bigot / Hate: 56
  • Freedom: 4
  • Porn: 0
  • Transgender: 0

Here among the deplorable, racist laity, our biggest daily issues deal with our children leaving the faith, our inability to express Catholic opinions at work and the scourge of porn. While the bishop is off fighting racist leprechauns with the Social Justice Squad, we're getting killed.

Our parish church is having Mass again. We have to wear masks and practice social distancing, but that's OK. There's only 50-60 of us there these days. It used to be 3-400. Are they coming back when it's all over? Not all of them, to be sure. Still, we need to be concerned about white supremacists more than anything else.

At work, I cannot say that men don't have babies. I will be punished and perhaps fired if I say that. Not to worry, the diocese is all over that. Or it will be, once we open the borders.

One of our sons has a circle of friends from his Catholic high school wherein none of them date. Not one. Any guess as to why? What would make it so that a young man in his 20s wouldn't feel the need to find a girlfriend? Hmm. That's a tough one.

If you guessed affordable housing for the homeless, our bishop will give you a gold star.

And so it goes. The Elites in the news media, the academy, entertainment, much of politics and now the church sit and talk with each other, agreeing that the real problems in life are racist leprechauns, homophobic gremlins, judgmental hobgoblins and high prices at Whole Foods. 



Where we hate-filled bigots live, in Ignorant Klansville, the problems are a little different.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

With Any Luck The Idiots Will Soon Be In Charge Again

Over the last couple of days, I've seen various members of the Elite gloating about Biden's probable win. Neocon warmonger Bill Kristol tweeted that the "experts" would soon be in control of our foreign policy. Sorta-kinda-Republican presidential and Hewlett Packard flameout Carly Fiorina tweeted about competence taking the place of incompetence in the White House.

And on it goes, one loser after another crowing that our long, national nightmare will soon be over. Meanwhile, the press is positively giddy and I believe that the percentage of positive news stories has jumped considerably.

Taking away the ongoing Twitter catfights of the last four years where members of the Harvard, Yale and Berkeley glee clubs tried to scratch each others' eyes out in public, I didn't think things were all that bad. Up until the Wuhan Flu struck and we all lost our minds following SCIENCE!, my 401K had been doing great and my neighbors all had jobs. None of our sons were at risk of being drafted into a Krisotological war in the Middle East and, in fact, those money-grubbing Jews seemed to be getting along with the Koran-crazed Arabs better than ever.

So what was the big deal? As far as I can tell, what bugged Kristol and Fiorina and Kerry and NBC was the fact that not only were they not in the saddle, but they were being revealed as the complete failures they were.

As I've said before, I'm less interested in the outcome of the election than in the way the Kristol / Fiorina / Biden / Schumer morons have managed to obliterate trust in all of our institutions, now including our elections. Faith in nearly everything was sacrificed so they could gain power again.

Enjoy it while it lasts, guys. Things built on sand seldom last long.

Quick, take a picture while it's still up so we can remember this moment!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

San Diego May Not Be Big On Jesus

 ... but, by Jove, we're all over Social Justice.

And by San Diego, I mean the Diocese of San Diego.

This morning, I wrote a PHP script to scrape diocesan websites from across the country and count the instances of the words Jesus, justice, racism, porn, freedom and transgender. It does a recursive search based on the URLs in a-href tags. I don't claim it's perfect, but it seemed to do a good job of crawling the sites.

From this scraper, I discovered that San Diego has the fewest mentions of Jesus, including the words Lord and Christ, per page, but has a positively staggering number of mentions of justice. Here are the relevant tables.

Jesus

JesusJesus / Page
San Diego970.57
Boston750.68
Biloxi1230.94
Chicago1650.95
Washington, DC2681.18
Cheyenne1191.25
Jackson, MS2401.42
Portland3331.52
Nashville2481.54
Mobile3361.62
Los Angeles2501.82
Baltimore6251.84
Bridgeport, CT5433.00
NYC8413.01
Oklahoma City40964.79
Richmond107710.07

Justice


JusticeJustice / Page
San Diego1,3908.13
Bridgeport, CT5943.28
Richmond3032.83
Los Angeles1761.28
Chicago910.53
Baltimore1460.43
Washington, DC530.23
Boston220.20
NYC430.15
Jackson, MS200.12
Cheyenne90.09
Portland140.06
Nashville80.05
Oklahoma City400.05
Mobile80.04
Biloxi20.02

I'm sorry, but 1,390 mentions of "justice" is simply insane for a diocesan website. I think the laity need to stage an intervention. 

"Really, Bishop, this is for your own good."

"I...I just can't accept this. Your intervention team isn't diverse enough!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trans Heroin

The video below is aimed at girls who want to pretend they're boys, but whose parents have strange notions about chromosomes and body parts. As you watch it, translate trans into drug use. Let's say heroin.

The message is to climb into a bubble of friends who support your heroin use. It's a real downer to have people who are, like, telling you stuff, like, "Heroin is bad," you know? So, like, you should surround yourself with people, who, like lift you up and support you as you do heroin.

The advice makes sense and jives with all of the addicts I've known.

At no point in the video does this chick suggest that you might be mistaken and you might not be a guy after all. It's simply assumed that teenage girls are right and the adults who oppose them are wrong and that's that.

Anywho, this stuff is all over the place. It took no time at all to find dozens of these along with plenty more that told you how to get testosterone. 

Parents of girls who want to transition are totally outgunned. By the time their daughter comes to them and tells them she thinks she's a guy, she's been equipped with all kinds of sophisticated arguments and support from the Female-To-Male (FTM) community. Their ambush has been well-planned by people who have coached it so many times that they can anticipate all possible reactions.

If you want to see what it's like, just search on FTM, either alone or with any question you might have.

Unreal.

Monday, November 16, 2020

How Much Is A Gram Of Sulfur?

These days, I've been riveted to Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier*. I know one of these girls and what Abigail describes in her book fits the young woman I know to a T. I highly recommend the book. If you've kept up with the trans mania sweeping the country, you won't be surprised by a lot of it, but it's still an excellent read as the book gathers together a comprehensive description of what's going on in a well-organized and elegantly written way.

Still, there's the sense that something is missing from the whole debate. I've thought a lot about this and I think the reason it feels so insane is that in the 73-step process of arguing that we need to accept, affirm and support transgendered people, step 2 was skipped entirely.

What if you didn't know what a gram was? That unit of measurement has an objective definition

A gram is a unit of mass in the metric system defined as one thousandth (1 x 10-3) of a kilogram. Originally, the gram was defined as a unit equal to the mass of one cubic centimeter of pure water at 4°C (the temperature at which water has maximum density).

Our collective agreement to this definition of a gram is what allows us to conduct scientific experimentation and come to conclusions that others can believe. If I add 7 grams of sulfur to a solution and heat it to 212 degrees Centigrade, everyone knows exactly what I mean. If I only felt like I added 7 grams and only felt like I had heated it to 212, no one would have any idea what I meant. Me screaming at people who wanted proof and crazed progressives protesting until the objectors had lost their jobs wouldn't change anything.

For this reason, the whole transgender craze falls apart almost immediately in the argument chain.

Rachel: I feel like a boy. My new name is Ricky. Call me that. And use the pronouns he and him.

Me: How do you know you feel like a boy? 

Rachel: I just do.

Me: Actually, you have no idea how boys feel. You have no frame of reference for it. You lack their body chemistry, their brain structure and their body parts. For all you know, you feel like an otter or an end table or a flatworm.

Rachel: You are denying my reality!

Me: There's no reality to deny. You lack an objective measure to guide your decision making. It's not possible for you to conclude you feel like a boy. I will not call you Ricky and I will not acknowledge you're a boy.

Rachel: I will contact HR.

(later)

HR: You're fired.

The whole thing seems like madness because very first response step in the logic chain has been omitted. "I feel like I added 7 grams of sulfur" is no way to start an experiment upon which major decisions will be made. All steps after that are irrelevant. The entire experiment has been ruined because you didn't adhere to objective definitions.

Well, I feel better now that I've had my say. If you'll excuse me, security is on the way. I need to collect my things and leave before they frog-march me out the door**.

We added precisely 7 grams of it, but to tell you the truth, the Sulfur was actually Boron that identified as Sulfur. If you claim that the substitution will invalidate the experiment, it's only because you're full of hate.

* - I discovered this book only after I saw on Twitter that Target had removed it from its stores because it was full of bigotry. Target later reversed that decision, but the damage is done as Target has shown that it's perfectly willing to join the mob. Thanks to millions of such actions, both large and small, people who believe in objective reality now live in fear.

** - This is not an exaggeration. I work for a very large science and engineering organization that is all in on the social justice craze. If I stood up and demanded we apply scientific principles to these assertions, I would face disciplinary actions at the very least and quite possibly end up fired. In any case, I would be silenced. That's what the part of SCIENCE! demands, you know.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Love Separated By An Ocean

I finally understand what my mom said to me over and over after my father died.

My mother died almost a year ago to this day. We're selling their house and these days, I'm going through their photos, letters and personal effects, digitizing some, saving some and discarding some. Yesterday, I came across a cache of letters she wrote to him while he was a B-26 pilot in Korea in 1951. Almost all of them were handwritten and age had made them difficult to read, but I found one she had typed. 

I got two paragraphs into it and broke down, sobbing. For the first time since either of them died, I truly cried. Here's a very short snippet.

Your letter written on our anniversary was lovely, but made me more blue than ever. It takes a great love to keep two people so mad about each other even though thousands of miles of ocean keep them apart. Ours is such a love, darling, we have always known it was great, but as you say we never knew how encircling it was...I never knew what loneliness could be until you left...Without my faith in God's goodness, this would be unbearable.

I'm crying now as I type that. It goes on with the heart-rending poetry that comes from a young wife writing to her husband who is distant and very much in harm's way. So beautiful and so true!

After he died, there were times when I would sit with my mom and hold her hand as she cried over him. She would tell me that before, when he was deployed in Korea or Vietnam, she knew he would eventually come back. Death was different. He was never coming back and that hurt much more cruelly than the pain I read in that letter.

After more than 60 years of marriage, she was still his young bride, so deeply in love with him, waiting for him to come home. Up to the day of his death, he was still her adoring husband, utterly devoted to her.

Taking care of them in their old age was a grind. I went out to their house whenever they called, dropping what I was doing to give them the love and support they needed. When they would speak of things like this, I was always at least partially preoccupied and while I did my best to console them, I couldn't truly understand because I was distracted by chores at home, deadlines at work and hobbies I'd had to forgo.

Now I understand.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

How To Sharpen A Chef's Knife With A Whetstone

I've been trying to learn how to sharpen my kitchen knives with a whetstone for some time now. This morning, while wife kitteh was still asleep, I decided to get this thing down pat once and for all. I watched several very helpful videos on the subject and then I went into the kitchen and gave my new techniques a try. Here's what worked for me. I think it might work for you, too.

  1. Soak your coarse and fine whetstones in water for about ten minutes. You shouldn't see any more bubbles coming from the stone.
  2. Take a piece of printer paper and fold it twice around one of the corners so that the angle of the corner goes from 90 degrees to 45 degrees to 22.5 degrees. This will provide you a decent guide for the angle of your knife as you sharpen it.
  3. Holding the knife handle, thus, and with your fingers on the blade, thus, make sweeping movements across the coarse whetstone at the proper angle. Do this on both sides of the knife.
  4. Turn the whetstone over and polish the edge in the same way with the fine side of the whetstone.
  5. Take your knife and run your finger along the edge, very gently so you don't cut yourself. If you're like me, your sharpening efforts will have turned your knife's edge into something resembling the barrel of a baseball bat. 
  6. Note that you couldn't cut yourself if you tried.
  7. Get your car keys.
  8. Drive to Walmart.
  9. Spend $8.54 and buy an ultra-cheap knife sharpener like the one pictured below.
  10. Bring the new tool home and run your knife through it ten times on each the coarse and fine sides.
  11. Barely touch the edge of the knife. See how sharp it is? That's success.
  12. Stop watching freaking YouTube videos like some kind of OCD maniac and move on with your life.
It's good enough. Good Lord, you're cutting up a whole chicken to dump in a deep fat fryer to eat while you watch SEC football, you're not serving the Duke of Wheedlesbury some elaborately staged French meal.

Friday, November 13, 2020

What A Time To Be Alive!

Not only do I have all the works of literature and science at my fingertips through various computronic devices, I also have access to the genius of lots and lots of people who have blogged, recorded and shared their knowledge.

For those of you only now beginning to discover the wisdom contained in this blog and who have missed the past 14 years of writing, this summer, I raised cotton from seeds. I have now harvested the bolls and pulled the plants, save for a single Mississippi Brown which is still out in the garden with a couple of bolls shut tight.

My Mississippi Brown is a classic, lazy Southerner, you see. For that reason alone, it was my favorite and always made me smile when I went out to visit my crop.

Anyway, when I started this adventure, I hadn't planned on making anything with the cotton. I just wanted to see the life cycle of the plant. Now that I've grown them, I want to at least make some yarn, using techniques you might have found in the Antebellum South. That's where gratitude comes into play. There are many YouTube videos explaining how to make drop spindles and spinning wheels and how to spin raw fiber into yarn. Some of the content is excellent, like the video below.

I think my favorite part is how to make a notched bobbin by cutting three wooden disks, two with a larger diameter than the third, which will be the inner notch.

Had I been a young apprentice in 1850 Alabama, this would have been the kind of thing I would have learned at the feet of an experienced carpenter. Today, I can learn it as an older man at the feet of a young prodigy. How wonderful!

Now that I see how it's done, I'll keep my eyes open for components. I have other things to do before I get to my spinning project, so there's time to forage for pieces. This young man also has a video on converting the base of an old, Singer, treadle sewing machine into a spinner. I'd love to try that, which means I now have a reason to visit antique shops.

What a time to be alive!

Bonus Summary: You Can't Be Happy Without Gratitude

I learned that from Dennis Prager.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

An Oregon Secession Map

On Twitter, I saw an enraged lefty yell that Trump was trying to steal the election and it was time for the blue states to secede. I don't blame him at all. No matter how this ends, thanks to the breathtaking stupidity of mass, mail-in ballots, half the country will be perfectly right in concluding that the election was stolen.

We can go to Walmart, Target, Costco, the grocery store, BLM marches and four, huge funerals for George Floyd, but we can't go vote in person? And what is the issue with not having to show an ID at the polls? There's no excuse for any of this. The only reason you'd set it up this way was so you could cheat.

Anywho, I sympathize with the lefties. If Trump wins, it was stolen because it's impossible to prove otherwise. If Biden wins, it was stolen because it's impossible to prove otherwise. Way to go, idiots.

Getting back to secession, it's a mistake to think the split is going to happen at the state level. Once that genie is allowed to escape, you won't be able to contain individual counties who aren't in sync with the majority of citizens in any particular state. Red Alabama can say goodbye to Montgomery and Blue Oregon can say goodbye to ... well, pretty much the whole state outside of the cities. Dig this precinct-level map from the 2016 election.


What in the world would we do with that? It's in every state, too.

Yep, it's a good thing we didn't vote in person with IDs. That was great. Just great.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Power, Dignity, Sorrow And Beauty

Wife kitteh and I are pondering moving to a new house, once we find one, that is, so I'm starting the process of getting rid of things to lighten the moving load. With the death of my mother, I've increased our load by bringing home memories from the folks' house, so I've got extra work to do.

A lot of the material I need to cull is in the form of photos, which I am scanning and discarding. Yesterday, I came across a set that I thought I had lost. It's from Russia in January of 1998.

Way back when, I traveled alone to Russia to adopt a little girl. Plenty of stories are packed in that sentence, but I won't bore you with them here. Instead, I wanted to share a single photo with you and include two lead-up photos as a bonus.

My daughter came from Astrakhan, which is in southern Russia, y'all. 1998 was shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and times were tight all across the nation, but most particularly any place more than five miles from the center of Moscow.

Moscow in January was and remains the most beautiful city I have ever seen. Well, at least the center of it. At the time, it was celebrating the 750th anniversary of it's founding. For 750 years, Moscow had been a parasite on the surrounding lands, sucking tax money into itself. The result was a gorgeous city center and a horrible country outside of it.

Anyway, on with the show.

This was Detsky Dom, the orphanage in Astrakhan that had cared for my little girl for the first fifteen months of her life.

I was there with a translator, a guide and another couple who were adopting a girl as well. We were shown into the orphanage and asked to sit in a waiting room while they brought out the children. We explored a bit and found this bathroom right off of the waiting room. It gives you a sense of the state of things.

This is the payoff picture. Our translator was Marina, a middle-aged Russian woman from Moscow. Here, she's holding my girl. Take a look at Marina's face. It's filled with power, dignity, sorrow and beauty.

The sequence of events was to meet your child in the orphanage and have a last opportunity to back out. If you still wanted her, you were taken to the local court where you adopted her according to Astrakhan law. While the judge had no problem with the couple adopting, he was dead set against me adopting without my wife (who was not wife kitteh of today, but that's another story).

The judge was going to deny me my child. It was beyond unusual for a man to come alone to adopt and it was totally unacceptable. Marina went into action. She was like a lioness taking down a zebra. The judge was a tough guy as well, so I watched them argue like beasts for what seemed like an hour, but was probably only five minutes. It was all in Russian, so I had no idea what was being said. I sat there in despair, thinking I was going to have to stay in utterly miserable Astrakhan for two weeks while my wife flew out. In the end, Marina won and the girl came with me.

Back to the photo.

I hadn't seen these pictures in nearly twenty years. After scanning them, I cropped them and looked more closely. Look at that face. What stories are written there! When she was a little girl, the KGB roamed the streets, arresting enemies of the State. You can be sure that relatives disappeared into the gulags. After that, what little there was of the economy failed and the country fell into turmoil. Through all manner of trials, Marina ended up helping Americans adopt Russian babies.

How bittersweet that must have been for her. On the one hand, she was saving Russian children from probable death in overworked orphanages*. On the other hand, it was helping Americans, victors over her nation in the Cold War, take them away to live in relative luxury.

What a face.

* - Don't get the wrong impression of the people running the orphanage. The women there were sweetness personified. Angels, every one of them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

And Now, A Word About The Election From Stephen Colbert

Wife kitteh, perusing Facebook on her phone yesterday morning, came across a video of Stephen Colbert calmly and rationally discussing the election results wherein it looks like Joe Biden's team proved their competence at the mimeograph machine and were able to manufacture the votes he needed to, err, "win."

Anyway, it went something like this.

That's not too much of an exaggeration, either. He trotted out the well-worn bromide that all evil needed to win was to have good people do nothing. He shouted, through foam-flecked lips, that Trump was a fascist and that there were most certainly not good people on both sides. He went on like this for a while.

In short, dear readers, most of you are, well, to put it mildly, Ungeziefer, nur geeignet, um unter dem Jackboot der Menschen zerquetscht zu werden, die von einem gerechten Zorn erf├╝llt sind!

I've been maintaining for a while now that the progressives are convinced they are fighting hate and bigotry and this justifies the use of any means possible to defeat us subhuman vermin. That's just one of the reasons I'm convinced that rampant, large-scale cheating occurred in the election. There are tons more, but for the purposes of this blog post, Herr Colbert certainly managed to provide some decent proof.

Jeezey Moe, what a mess.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Pellet Smokers For The Win!

... with special thanks to @psudrozz, who encouraged me to buy one. Mine is an Oklahoma Joe model, the Rider. It's one of the best purchases we've ever made.

This weekend, one of our sons came home from a long visit to Philly, so we decided to hold a feast in his honor. Ribs were prepared with a rub, thrown in the smoker for 3 1/2 hours and spritzed with a vinegar-apple cider-imitation butter mix while cooking. I painted some of them with Buzz and Ned's barbecue sauce near the end.

The result was deliciousness.

Before.

During.

After.

I can't recommend a pellet smoker highly enough.

Upcoming Project: Once again, I have regrets about my annual planting experiment and once again, it involves photography. I keep wishing I had time-lapse photos of growth. Usually it's of the plants. This year, I wish I had photos of the development of individual cotton bolls. Each Spring, I commit to being disciplined and taking the photos by hand, but it never works out that way. I need to make an Arduino-powered camera to take my pictures for me.

Election Ranting: I've gone off the political grid. I don't see that I have anything to add and the whole thing was driving me to distraction. I don't have a big following, so nothing I say will make a difference. That means ranting does nothing but cause me heartburn. 

Suffice it to say, I'm convinced there was massive voter fraud. My bet is that Trump won and the election was stolen. If that's the case and we keep this method of voting, then both sides will use it for mass fraud. At that point, arguing politics becomes a complete waste of time because outcomes will be determined by the best cheater. Your vote will mean nothing.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

When The Math Doesn't Work

... things get stolen, things get smashed.

I'm convinced something was stolen. You can find out more about it here. I'm hoping Ohioan can add some commentary in the comments.

What gets smashed is trust in institutions. Unless you've got the East German Stasi on your side and an unarmed populace, you kind of need that trust if you're going to get anything done.

It's simply amazing to me how almost all of our institutions have managed to vaporize their good will with the public over the last, oh, I don't know, 15 years. Of course, the Catholic Church was at it a good deal earlier, but now it turns out that they were simply a template for everyone else.

I'm guessing that the police and the military have managed to hold on to a decent amount of trust and goodwill, but a whole bunch of other groups have incinerated their reputations.

Bonus Question: Just what was won on Tuesday?

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Is This Belgium?

Is it an elegant garden from the Old World? Perhaps it's a field of flowers from another of the Low Countries. Or maybe it's from the Cotswolds in England, which are known for flowerbeds like this.

Nope. It's from the garden section at the local Home Depot. You gotta take your photos where you can get 'em.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Getting Old

... isn't for the weak, as my mother used to say.

Nor are long, intimate blog posts. I'm sorry for the length of this one. I hope it's worthwhile to you. I wrote it to describe failures in my personal thought processes. This is about love, it's not another Cassandrafest.

As I near full retirement, I keep wondering what I'm going to do with my life. I'll have time to delve into a new career. My father retired from the Air Force, built a house, most of it with his bare hands, and then became an artist. Our home is full of his paintings. When I retire, I'll be a bit older than he was, but I'll still have time to explore new things.

More important than a second vocation is my true vocation. What is it that God is calling me to do with my time? Up until recently, that's really troubled me. In my career, I've always tried to accomplish big things and sometimes I succeeded. Sometimes I got fired. Sometimes I succeeded and then I got fired. It was all good fun. 

I tried to fit serving God in my retirement into that model. I was going to something really big for Him. Writing, lecturing, pestering people on the street, I was going to change things. I kept using that as my template for my planned service and I kept coming up dry. Oh, I've got book and lecture ideas a-plenty and I could see myself weaseling my way into one of those Catholic evangelism companies, but it didn't feel right.

I was never a big one for miracles or angels or even the Holy Spirit. The whole mysticism part of the faith was difficult to the point of being balderdash for me. Then I experienced a miracle and it changed everything. Since then, I've experienced one more. I promise I will share them here some time soon.

What I discovered from those two miracles was that they made me feel a certain way. That's what was missing from my plans to be Mr. Super Important Catholic when I retired. My plans were logical, but they weren't True.

Driving through one of San Diego's druggy haunts last week, I saw a woman drawing something in the gutter with a stick. I was stopped at a light directly across from her, so I had a chance to watch her. She drew for a bit, then she groomed the stick, removing some peeling bark, then she talked to the stick or perhaps just into the air. She was clearly blasted out of her mind.

I've had family members blow their brains out with drugs. I've watched it up close. I have Catholic friends who serve the addict community and I wondered if that's what I should do, but it didn't feel right. I have other Catholic friends who visit people in prison. I've felt guilty that I wasn't doing it with them, but it didn't feel right, either.

The incident with the addicted woman made me realize what my calling was. I knew what did make me feel deep emotions. I want to spend time with lonely, old people. 

I devoted a large part of my life to making my parents feel loved. My siblings were 1960s radicals with all of the ignorant, hateful, judgmental selfishness that went along with that. I guess that's why I blog the way I do here. Anyway, I was the one who loved the folks. As they got older, their emotional needs became greater as their other faculties faded. They were a pain in the neck sometimes, but loving them was its own reward.

After my father died, my mother fell and broke her neck. She spent time in ICU and then time recovering in a nursing home. We visited every day. There were folks there who had no one to visit them at all. They moved my heart in a way that the addicts and the prisoners have not. That's what God is calling me to do.

Visiting the lonely elderly meets exactly zero criteria of my plans to be a bigshot, Catholic bloviator. It's all about giving love to single individuals, people who won't influence a thing. They'll have no followers on Twitter, no connections for speaking opportunities, no chances to parlay their relationships into future growth. Loving them will be as small an act as it is possible to imagine, but there you have it.

Just like I know I experienced miracles, I know this is what I am called to do in the future.

Hmm. I wonder if I can find a lonely, old literary agent and kill two birds with one ... NO! Stop it, you idiot! ;-)

Love you guys. Hope you have a great day.

Totally unrelated to the post, here's a big, fat, Nankeen boll. I love how they're so soft and fuzzy. They're like rabbit fur. This was the last of two bolls on my final Nankeen. I plucked it and then pulled the plant. I'm down to my last three cotton plants now, hoping the cayenne will take advantage of the lebensraum to produce more fruit.