Saturday, June 28, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
A policeman was rushed to the hospital with an inflamed appendix. After his operation the doctors advised him that all was well. However, the patrolman kept feeling something pulling at the hairs in his crotch.Ouch!
Worried that it might be another surgery needed that the doctors hadn't told him about yet, he finally got enough energy to pull his hospital gown up sufficiently, that he could look at what was making him so uncomfortable. Taped firmly across his pubic hair and private parts were three wide strips of adhesive tape, the kind that doesn't come off easily – if at all!
Written on the tape in large black letters was the sentence, "Get well soon, from the nurse in the Ford Explorer you pulled over last week and gave a ticket to!"
- Well, it's about frickin' time! What the heck took you so long, beltway-breath?
- Boehner did this? There must be some reason, other than the obvious...
- Jonathan Turley thinks the suit may prevail, causing progressive heads to explode. More popcorn, please!
- Why didn't Pelosi do this with George W. Bush, who was nearly as bad as Obama in this regard?
- The safe bet would be that this is pure political posturing, and Boehner has no intent to see the lawsuit actually make it through the courts until a judgment is reached. I feel so (justifiably) cynical saying this, but I will be completely unsurprised when some reason to drop the suit magically arises...
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Learning about this adjusted data was the first thing I ran into, five years ago or so, that set off all my bullshit detectors regarding anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Specifically, it was the combination of the fact that the reported global warming was nearly identical to the adjustments made in the temperature data, and that the adjustments were never explained, justified, or even revealed. That was just way too convenient for the AGW proponents – much like the oh-so-convenient “hard drive failures” that wiped out the emails of seven IRS employees. Just those seven – and just for the time period the investigators need the emails. Yeah, right. I felt (and still feel) the same way about those opaque temperature adjustments.
The second thing that I ran into – which amplified my already turned up bullshit detectors – was my discovery that every single model used by both the NOAA and the IPCC used positive feedback loop assumptions for carbon dioxide's effects on global warming. As Warren Myer has pointed out many times, positive feedback loops are exceedingly rare in natural systems – so much so that when someone claims to have discovered one, the universal assumption amongst scientists is that there's an error in the observations, and everybody piles on to figure out what it is. Nearly all feedback loops in nature are strongly negative. What does that mean? It means that as carbon dioxide levels go up, it is much more likely that its effect on global temperatures will decrease (that is, the CO2 sensitivity will decrease). The models all assume that CO2 sensitivity will increase as levels go up.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Sunday, June 22, 2014
I'm stiff and tired after 14 and a half hours driving. I wonder why? :)
After spending three months up in the greenery of northern Utah, Jamul looks remarkably ... dead.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
The definition of the word “conundrum” is: something that is puzzling or confusing.
Here are six conundrums of socialism in the United States of America:
1. America is capitalist and greedy - yet half of the population is subsidized.
2. Half of the population is subsidized - yet they think they are victims.
3. They think they are victims - yet their representatives run the government.
4. Their representatives run the government - yet the poor keep getting poorer.
5. The poor keep getting poorer - yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about - yet they want America to be more like those other countries.
Think about it! And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century.
Makes you wonder who is doing the math.
These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:
1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.
And here's another one worth considering...
2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What's interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn't. Think about it...
and last but not least,
3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping the payments or benefits to illegal aliens.
Am I missing something?
On an entirely different note, the comments on the YouTube video are full of people wishing the worst on that yacht's owner. Sometimes I don't care for my fellow humans very much. No, that's not right. Most of the time, I don't care for my fellow humans very much...
I once needed to bend four lengths of copper tubing identically, with three bends each, none of which were coplanar. That was hard with the conventional “jig” approach. I ended up with imperfect results, and that only after several false starts and much frustration. This little gem would have spit them out lickety-split. Must have tube bender – even though I can't think of a single use I could make of it...
The plan is to spend about a week in Jamul, packing the FJ Cruiser and otherwise getting ready for our vacation to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado (see map at right). Then we'll head up here to Paradise: Debbie, Miki, Race, and I. We'll stay here for a day or two, then head out to Colorado for three glorious weeks in a remote cabin, at 11,000' way up a 4WD road. Then it's back here to Paradise for a day or two, then back to Jamul, then I'm heading back up here to finish off all the remodeling so we can move in...
Just the possibility that she could be elected president in 2016 gives me the willies...
Friday, June 20, 2014
The progress: J.D., Cody, and Neil have several long runs now, all the way across four rooms on the second floor. These runs are critical to get absolutely straight, both for aesthetic reasons and so that the rest of the rooms install correctly. They've got it, as you can see in these photos:
Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").
Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird."
In Canada it is still an appropriate salute to the French today!
And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.
Chief Heather Fong (left), is the first SFPD female, lesbian chief of police.
Theresa Sparks (center), a former male, is president of the San Francisco Police Commission, CEO of a multi-million dollar sex toy retailer, and a transgender woman.
Sgt. Stephan Thorne (right), a former female, is the first transgender male SFPD police officer.
Their Representative in Congress is Nancy Pelosi.
ANY QUESTIONS ?
More photos of these interceptions here...
You know, there are days when I think a revolution is exactly what we need...
I don't think it's quite so simple.
An equally supportable explanation is that general American ignorance of the Iraq (and larger Middle East) situation – both then (2003) and now – means that the only metric most Americans have is the success or failure of any American action there. Both the invasion and the withdrawal were clear failures, so (generalizing very broadly) we Americans don't like it.
If the circumstances were otherwise identical, and Bush's invasion did produce a working, viable, strong representative democracy, I have no doubt that Americans would see the invasion positively – simply because it was successful, independent of the competence of the action. Likewise, if Obama's withdrawal had left a viable state (even if it was a sectarian thugocracy) behind, we Americans would be positive about it as well.
The reality of both adventures is a complex mixture of success and failure, and the wisdom of both the invasion and the withdrawal really must be evaluated in the context of what was known at the time – not with the advantage of hindsight we have today. The failure of the Iraq invasion wasn't entirely due to incompetence (though that certainly played a part), nor was the failure of the withdrawal caused entirely by incompetence (though one could plausibly argue it played a large role in it).
Where Noonan gets it right, I think (though she doesn't say this straight out), is that such simplistic explanations (like blaming it all on incompetence) is about as much as we can expect as analysis by the average American.
And that I find quite sad...
Thursday, June 19, 2014
As I enjoy my twilight years, I am often struck by the inevitability that the party must end. There will be a clear, cold morning when there isn't any "more." No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat.Via friend, reader, and former colleague Simon M...
It seems to me that one of the important things to do before that morning comes, is to let every one of your family and friends know that you care for them by finding simple ways to let them know your heartfelt beliefs and the guiding principles of your life so they can always say, "He was my friend, and I know where he stood."
So, just in case I'm gone tomorrow, please know this: I voted against that incompetent, lying, flip-flopping, insincere, double-talking, radical socialist, terrorist excusing, bleeding heart, and narcissistic, scientific and economic moron currently in the White House!
Participating in a gun buy-back program because you think that criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you think your neighbors have too many kids.
Mark Steyn says the IRS is now “openly sneering” at us. I think that captures it just about exactly right. They're practically daring us to do something about their coverup. I'm also in agreement with numerous other commentators who note that a coverup this obvious, this blatant, this sneering ... can only mean that what's being covered up is even worse. In the context of this scandal, the obvious possibility is that the IRS targeting of conservative groups was directed by someone at the White House. At this point, I think the safest assumption is that that is what happened.
It's tempting to agitate for impeaching Obama – but that would leave us with President Biden, and I'm not at all sure that's any better. At this point it's probably more prudent to hang on for 30 more months of Obama's gross incompetence and corruption, and hope that Americans don't do something stupid (like vote in Hillary) and that the Republicans nominate someone more credible than McCain Perry Christie Huntsman a putrefying marmot carcass...
I was very surprised to read this morning that a strikingly similar tree grows on a remote island (Réunion) in the southern Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar – 11,000 miles from Hawai'i. Then I read something even more surprising: by means unknown, the trees on Réunion are descended from a single individual (presumably a seed) from Hawai'i. The most likely mechanism that anyone's thought of is a seed somehow hitching a ride on a bird, but that's speculation. You might think of a seed floating there, but koa seeds soaked in salt water won't germinate, so that's not likely to have been the mechanism.
The linked article calls it a “giant fluke”. I'll call it another fine example of the power of time – even a very low-probability event becomes likely if enough time passes...
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The flooring guys have been working in the house for a week now. The basement rooms (other than the cattery) are now floored in a beautiful hickory; they're all done down there. They've now started on the most challenging room on the second floor: the TV room. It's challenging for several reasons, but there are two particularly odd things. First, there's a “ramp” about 3 feet long that rises about 2 inches over that length. This ramp connects the main part of the second floor to the large TV room, whose floor is 2 inches higher than the rest of the second floor. Wood floor systems are designed to be laid on flat surfaces, so this requires some ingenuity and cleverness. The top transition is done and looks great! The second odd thing is that we have a steel brace (for the end of a stair railing) that is about 3/16 of an inch thick, and has four lag bolt heads protruding about the same amount further. The wood is 3/4 of an inch thick, which means that a carefully routed out matching hole in the wood should leave plenty of wood above it (especially if we fill the cavity with glue). But this calls for some tricky hand routing. They should be attempting this today...
She was one of those usually unknown people who populate government, who come from throughout the country drawn to Washington and wanting to help, wanting the sense of consequence and drama and meaning it can impart, who do their jobs well for many decades, who know what they know and then, eventually, go home. Those were good days, when everybody went home.That's Rosemary Woods she's talking about, but the important point is that last sentence. That's a good encapsulation of the Founders' notion of a citizen government – where ordinary citizens would temporarily interrupt their life for a few years of government service, and then they would return back to their previous ordinary citizen life. Implicit in that vision is that notion that there would not be a “permanent government class” – a set of “elites” who ruled over the country as their career. In the very beginning of the Constitutional U.S., that citizen government actually was what we had. The erosion started almost immediately, though, and now we've evolved (or devolved, maybe) into almost the opposite – a government where every elected official tries to remain in office as long as possible, where it's possible to get rich in office, and where the actual objectives of those officials is self-enrichment or self-aggrandizement of some other kind.
If George Washington could see what's happening in his namesake city, he'd be very sad indeed. Angry, too, I suspect. He might even start thinking about leading another revolution...
I was particularly interested in his explanation of why, as he puts it, “stealth is a scam”. It boils down to this: all the stealth technology does is to “hide” high frequency radars, the kind that most Western countries have been building since WWII. High frequency radars have many, many advantages – from higher resolution to smaller, lighter components (especially antennae). The lower frequency radars are actually simpler technology, but they are bigger and have lower resolution. Stealth technology, though, hardly affects their operation. I first ran into this phenomenon when reading about the Bosnian war (where the rebels successfully shot down an F-117A, a stealth plane). They detected the plane with a WWII-era Soviet radar, just as this fellow talks about. Later I read about a hobbyist in Nevada operating a U.S.-made WWII radar, along with more modern radars – and reporting that the older radar was seeing planes that were invisible on the modern radars. This video is now the third time I've heard references to that stealth vulnerability – which I find completely plausible, and utterly devastating to the whole idea of aircraft stealthiness...
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
But shareholders of all companies—including employees who care about where economic growth will occur in the future—should know that America's federal corporate tax rate is 35%, which when combined with state and local levies rises to an average of nearly 40%. Ireland, where politicians evidently care about economic growth and as far as we know don't seek to stifle free speech on the topic, has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%.Almost alone among civilized nations, Washington also demands to be paid on a company's world-wide earnings, rather than on money earned in the U.S. This tax is due whenever a company's overseas earnings are returned to America. Medtronic has about $14 billion overseas and rather than bringing it home and triggering the tax, the company will use the money to fund most of the cash portion of its $42.9 billion purchase.
An aside on mass transit... I've heard a great many people blathering on – sometimes eloquently, though usually not – about the wonders of mass transit (including buses). Often these people have only a loose command of those pesky things called verifiable facts, but they certainly don't let that get in the way of their advocacy. If you'd like an example of this phenomenon, I'll just refer you to the public records of speeches by the advocates of the current California “bullet train” proposal championed by the world's emptiest skull, aka California Governor “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown.
But there's another aspect of mass transit that I've never seen publicly discussed: the hell on earth that it is for anyone who is introverted (like me!). Being shoved into a dirty, noisy, bumpy vehicle (train, bus, plane) with dozens or hundreds of poor examples of organisms allegedly of the same species as I – that is a well-designed instrument of torture for an introvert. For buses and trains, you can add the additional horrors of government-run, union-manned “service”. The bottom line: I'll do almost anything to avoid mass transit. I fly only when I absolutely must. I take a bus only to escape some life-threatening situation. The rest of the time I drive or walk. Here in Utah, I just might get me a bicycle (the roads are virtually flat, and off the highway there are few cars). The bus here (which is free) is likely better than others I've been on, but I'm not planning on trying it anytime soon...
Monday, June 16, 2014
There were a lot of fools at that conference -- pompous fools -- and pompous fools drive me up the wall. Ordinary fools are all right; you can talk to them, and try to help them out. But pompous fools -- guys who are fools and are covering it all over and impressing people as to how wonderful they are with all this hocus pocus -- THAT, I CANNOT STAND! An ordinary fool isn't a faker; an honest fool is all right. But a dishonest fool is terrible! And that's what I got at the conference, a bunch of pompous fools, and I got very upset.
These are amazing times we live in...
Sunday, June 15, 2014
I've been amused quite a few times by assumptions people from other cultures or races have made about me. What leaps immediately to mind were my earliest experiences (in the early '90s) driving around Estonia. I often met people who had never met an American before – and when they heard that I was from California, the almost inevitable follow-up was to ask me about various movies stars, with the assumption that I must know them personally :) I also vividly remember a black guy from Chicago who was part of my mess decks crew when I was in the Navy. He was continually astonished at the stuff we white people would eat – especially vegetables. Much of the Navy diet was food he'd never tasted before, and which he associated with white people. And then there was my Indian colleague who was continually amused by (from his perspective) the American/white beliefs about dating, sex, and marriage – he thought we were four or five centuries behind the Indians in those regards :)
This morning I ran across another study, with quite different results – and results that comport more closely with my own experiences. The last sentence in the linked article is one that resonates particularly strongly with me:
As gratifying as Carl's research findings are, it is still a deep puzzle to me why it apparently takes high intelligence to understand that the government should stay out of both the bedroom and the boardroom.If it's true that only people with higher than average intelligence love liberty (of all kinds), then demographics are dooming this country – because at least since the beginning of the 20th century there's a well-documented inverse correlation between IQ and fertility (that is, the higher one's IQ, the fewer children one tends to have). Isn't that the drums of doom I'm hearing?
I'll add to the discussion this post I ran across a while back: basically it shows that the members of the Triple Nine Society (whose members have IQs above 99.9% of the overall population) hold very libertarian views on average. One must add a strong caveat to this survey, though: it's from a self-selected group of triple-niners who want to be in such an organization. I have no idea how that skews the data, but I'm pretty sure it does :)
Saturday, June 14, 2014
- The crash really happened, and the fact that the crash happened to the key personality at the center of the IRS scandal at precisely the time when her emails were of interest is a pure coincidence.
- The crash never happened, and the IRS is covering up the connections between Lois Lerner and high-level Obama administration officials, including officials at the White House.
Friday, June 13, 2014
For the curious, this is an engineered hardwood flooring product, 5/8" thick. Essentially that means it's high quality plywood with a fairly thick veneer of hickory on the side that shows. The flooring folks recommended this for the basement, because the floor is being installed directly to the concrete floor. Because concrete is permeable to water, there will likely be some moisture that gets to the wood. Solid hardwood (the traditional style) is likely to warp in such a circumstance, whereas engineered wood, because the plies are oriented crosswise, will be much less likely to warp.
Hickory naturally has a lot of color variation and a lot of visible grain. The product I selected includes some small knots, which adds some additional variation. The photo at left shows a closeup view of one small section of the floor, to give you an idea what this looks like. I love all this variation, but I'm told that most people – and all right-thinking people – prefer more consistent patterns and gentler variations. To them I say “Fine. Let me have the good stuff!”
Some random related thoughts:
- How on earth did the combined intelligence apparatus of the U.S., Iraq, and their allies managed to be taken completely by surprise? Nobody seems to have known that ISIS had acquired the depth and material that allowed them to run over Mosul about like the U.S. led forces overran Kuwait in Gulf War I.
- Early reports are that the Iraqi army commanders all evacuated before the attack on Mosul and other points. The army regulars were left without leadership and without command communications to Baghdad. In such a circumstance, it's no wonder that the ISIS forces prevailed. It's a perfect illustration of the depth of corruption in the Maliki government – which is not substantially different than the depth of corruption anywhere else in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel and (to a lesser extent) Turkey. I don't know any solutions to this corruption culture other than leveling the whole Middle East and starting over.
- The events of the past few years in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, and Libya abundantly demonstrate (to me, at least) the need for a “world policeman” – and, unfortunately, there's only one effective candidate for that role: the United States. The rest of the world is unwilling to pay the price in either blood or treasure, and increasingly (at the moment) so is the U.S. That may change when the rest of the world deteriorates enough to present a direct threat to us – which is the pattern for the past 150 years or so as we (the U.S.) oscillate between isolationism and activism on the world front.
- Establishing a democratic government is not the same as establishing the rule of law. Iraq and Afghanistan are painful object lessons in this. History's lesson here is particularly distasteful to most Americans (myself most definitely included): the only successful establishments of non-corrupt democracies that have ever occurred happened after countries were utterly conquered and new institutions were established – with transitional governments run by the conquerors. The two most recent examples are Germany and Japan after they were defeated in WWII. The Allies were much less involved with Italy's post-war government, and the result is notably less successful.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
While I was away, the package with the parts I needed arrived, exactly as promised. But it was actually more than I needed: they sent not only the parts that I needed, but a complete second set of those same parts as well. A little hand-written note said: “Just in case it breaks again!”
I'm going to call that extraordinary customer service, and with that I will name the company: Chapin, purchased through Amazon. I see that the price has gone up a bit since I bought mine last month.
I have very little experience actually using the machine. It appears to be well designed and constructed, and it worked well once I got it assembled. Well, partially assembled – but I'll be sure to tighten those bolts this time!
|Some hickory and the guide line|
|Piles of wood everywhere!|
|A pile of hickory|
|A pile of oak in the dining room|
|Oak in every room upstairs|
|Closeup of the oak|
|Even more oak!|
The photos below are from a short hike in Canaan Valley State Park, another short hike near the southern end of Dolly Sods, and a longer hike along Bear Rocks trail at the northern end of Dolly Sods. That last hike had lots of azaleas, a beautiful stream, and even some big ants' nests (three photos of them below)...