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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Challenge accepted!

Ghost?

I'm normally skeptical of this sort of thing, but it looks pretty real to me.

Heh



This is apparently a source of irritation among the younger crowd. Which is fine, since "text-ese" is a source of irritation for me.

Language is not a static thing; it changes and evolves. The Oxford comma (item, thing, and stuff -- it's the second comma) was once a hard-and-fast rule but is now considered optional. I've no problem with one or two spaces at the end of sentences, and either is acceptable in modern business communications. I use two spaces because it's hardwired into my brain after thirty years of touch typing. I average 90 WPM and type every day. After doing it for that long, I could no more stop double-spacing at the end of sentences than I could stop blinking.

Hates them, he does!

Wrong Turn



Training new school bus drivers during the summers is always trying, but I'm pretty certain this one failed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who's Your Daddy?



Popular in Detroit and Chicago, I'm sure.

Honeymoon: OVER

DURRRRRRRRR:

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen is not mincing words about President Barack Obama.

Risen has been fighting the Obama administration's efforts to get him to testify about his sources for six years. The Department of Justice has ordered him to testify against former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who it believes leaked information about a failed CIA operation in Iran that Risen reported on in his book. Risen recently lost his bid to have the Supreme Court revisit his case.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd spoke to Risen for her Sunday column "Where’s the Justice at Justice?"

"How can he [Obama] use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who 'tortured some folks,' and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it?" Dowd wrote.

Risen had one word to describe Obama's actions: "hypocritical."


Oh, so you've finally awakened, have you? The rest of us figured this out six years ago; y'all are kinda late to the party. Still, better late than never. Have a hat.

Self-Assembling

Some foolish whitecoats at Harvard have created a replicator swarm. Somebody call Stargate Command.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Leaning to the Middle

Are Millienials leaning towards Constitutional originalism? This article argues that they may be doing so. It's quite well-written and a good read in general:

The way our republic is supposed to work is that our would-be Ruling Class can neither seize power nor wealth, nor keep it, except by the active, ongoing consent of the people. So the congressman who goes native loses, the CEO who approves New Coke gets fired, and so on. The secret sauce of American exceptionalism is that in every sector of life, success depended on service, mostly service to each other. But today the elites have figured out how to mercantilize the economy, and deployed the Administrative State as a paternalistic substitute for civil society. Look at any law, and you’ll find that the Ruling Class consistently benefits, directly or indirectly, by severing the links between the elites’ success and public approval.

What Republicans have forgotten, or never really knew, is that the free market and constitutional republicanism and federalism (localism) were all specifically designed to empower the little people over the big. They can’t get it through their heads that, yes, the point of the Constitution and of America was to reject the remnants of mercantile feudalism and all its side effects. The point of America is not that a single mom in Nevada and a mechanic in Ohio are just as important as Harry Reid and John Boehner, but in the ways that matter most, they are more important. It is by their consent that they are governed, not the other way around.


This is of course blindingly obvious to people of our generation and older, because we were taught as much in school. But civics, history and government have been reduced to mere nubs of their former selves in the public education system. Whether it was intentionally conspiratorial or simply more Unintended Consequence of leftist gullibility is now irrelevant; the fact is accomplished, the damage done.

What is certain is that a great many Americans of all generations are fed up with business-as-usual in the District of Columbia. We're tired of being treated like illiterate serfs who aren't bright enough to learn Latin and are therefore ignorant of the greater mysteries of Law, Science and Religion. We're annoyed by watching blithering moron trust-fund babies like John Kerry strut around in imitation of nobility, their entitlements hanging disgustingly out of their pants. We're frustrated to the point of murder with men who tells us whatever they feel they have to tell us to get elected, then renege on every promise as soon as power is theirs.

Whether a new generation can relearn the principles of exceptionalism, limited government and the responsibility of freedom in time to save the Republic is a matter for debate. I'm not hopeful, but anything is possible.

We're all... dead?

8 Reasons Children of the 1970s Should All Be Dead

On Jarts:

No one ever obeyed the actual manufacturer’s rules, we just flung these damn things everywhere. We threw them. They stuck where they landed. If they happened to land in your skull, well, then you should have moved.


Our parents were not "helicopters":

My mother routinely left me alone in the car at a young age while she ran errands. Today, this will literally get you arrested. You see, once upon a time it was okay to leave your kids for long periods without supervision (remember the so-called “latch-key kids” of the 70s?), or let them free roam without constant surveillance. Today, parents won’t let their kids go out to get the mail alone, and any fun with friends has to be scheduled, closely monitored “play dates”.

On summer break or weekends in the 1970s, parents kicked their kids out the front door and didn’t let them back in until the sun went down. “Go play,” were their only words, and you were left to your own devices for hours upon hours. Neighborhoods looked like Lord of the Flies.


Go read the list. If you're over the age of 40, every one of them will elicit a "yup" from you.

ADDENDUM: Thinking about the Jarts thing while I worked, I just remembered a game we used to play. My friends Lance, Stevie and I would take a Jart, throw it straight up in the air as hard as we could, then everyone would run and stand in a spot as close as possible to where we thought it was coming down. The guy to whom the Jart landed closest won. Now you might think that's crazy, but it developed valuable skills: spatial orientation, arm strength, and psychotic thrill-seeking -- all of which are very important raw ingredients for successfully making Marines. If you're curious, Stevie is an aerospace engineer with a master's degree in solid fuel propulsion systems (literally a rocket scientist), and Lance is a police detective. And we're not dead... yet.


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Hat-tip to Adam C.

E Pluribus Unum

From Jerry Pournelle:

"For many generations the American schools taught American children that our nation was unique. This is no longer taught in our schools; rather the opposite. The unity of American culture is no longer thought to be desirable. Diversity, rather than unity, is now the modern intellectual goal. Among people for whom Sunni and Shiite opposition has meant defiance and death for centuries this is not likely to work. In the United States some customs and practices common and accepted in Islam are not acceptable to American law and are considered barbaric. We are now engaged in a test of whether the principle of e pluribus unum can survive such diversity.

"History shows that the American Melting Pot can work wonders. It has assimilated Irish, Jews, Poles, Sicilians, Goths, Cossacks, Japanese, Chinese, Polynesians, and a large number of Native Americans and freed slaves into the American mixture, and in two world wars proved that assimilation into a political and social culture derived mostly from English protestants could create a unified force capable of nearly any imaginable military goal.

"History has not shown that this can be exported, nor has it shown that it can survive a deliberate attempt to abandon the principle of e pluribus unum. It has worked well to unite a large and diverse land into the most powerful nation in the history of the world. No outside enemy can destroy it; but it can be disassembled from within. It could not be imposed on Iraq, and the victory in Iraq closely following the collapse of the Soviet Union was not a signal that history had ended and there was nothing left but to cheer as liberal democracy encompassed the world. Liberal democracy was known to be unstable in 1787 when the Philadelphia Convention rejected it. It remains unstable in the 21st Century."


I've nothing to add; just read it again. Or go here to read it within its full context.

Nekoma Safeguard Complex

An interesting Cold War relic in North Dakota. Piclick.



Friday Timewaster

Robocraft is an online arena combat game with a very interesting twist: you have to build all of your own vehicles from a standardized set of modules and blocks. You can build tanks, hovercraft, airplanes, zeppelins, you name it. And put guns on them, of course. Lots and lots of guns.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rationalizations

I have on several occasions observed that Google has a problem: they like to "fix" things which aren't broken. The latest victim of this malicious tinkering was Google Maps. They completely porked a very user-friendly and powerful app, turning it into a confusing mess of bad decision designs and arrogant disregard for end users.

In this article, a current Google employee addresses what causes that problem: they aren't held accountable to reality like the rest of us. Google employees are a lot of smart people living in an isolated and sterile world, a world into which realities rarely intrude, allowing them to rationalize any behavior or idea, no matter how bizarre and pointless.

Working at a large, successful company lets you keep your isolation. If you choose, you can just ignore all the inconvenient facts about the world. You can make decisions based on whatever input you choose. The success or failure of your project in the market is not really that important; what's important is whether it gets canceled or not, a decision which is at the whim of your boss's boss's boss's boss, who, as your only link to the unpleasantly unpredictable outside world, seems to choose projects quasi-randomly, and certainly without regard to the quality of your contribution.

It's a setup that makes it very easy to describe all your successes (project not canceled) in terms of your team's greatness, and all your failures (project canceled) in terms of other people's capriciousness. End users and profitability, for example, rarely enter into it. This project isn't supposed to be profitable; we benefit whenever people spend more time online. This project doesn't need to be profitable; we can use it to get more user data. Users are unhappy, but that's just because they're change averse. And so on.


He goes on to point out that people who work at Google who have a connection to reality and aren't willing to rationalize everything through the lens of their own beliefs are viewed by the majority of employees as having a problem. Confirmation bias, bubble existence, call it whatever you like, it's a very unhealthy sign in a company. If you own shares in Google, you might want to consider shedding them.

Yo-Yoing

Remember how you spent hours as a kid trying to figure out the "walk the dog" trick with your yo-yo? This guy laughs at your pitiful efforts.



Extra Arms



Perhaps the problem with exoskeleton development is that the designers are trying to walk before they can crawl. An engineering research team at MIT understands and has responded accordingly, with limited exoskeletal systems designed for specific tasks, such as the ceiling panel holder-upper thingy shown above. It responds to sensors on the worker's wrists to hold the panel up with the proper amount of force as he screws it into place, then gradually releases as it "feels" the screws beginning to support the weight of the panel. If you've ever installed ceilings, you know how incredibly useful this device would be. Piclick for more info.

No Fly

Lovely place:

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, instituted on Tuesday a no-fly zone over the suburban town where tensions have been high in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer. The off-limits airspace, which extends to 3,000 feet over the town north of St. Louis, was requested by the St. Louis County Police Department, which is investigating the killing of Michael Brown, 18, by a Ferguson Police Department officer.

No aircraft have been hit, but police chopper pilots did see shots fired from various locations during looting and riots that took place on Sunday night from about 10 p.m. to midnight


There is absolutely nothing wrong with that suburb that can't be fixed with a mid-yield tactical nuclear warhead. It's kind of like the Fifth Ward in Houston: the only reason we haven't burned it to the ground is the fact that the denizens would flee the fire and infest surrounding areas. You have to get the whole nest.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Metro Moscow



A tour of the surprisingly ornate stations which comprise the Moscow subway system. Piclick.

NATO No More

Victor Davis Hanson argues that NATO is on the way out:

According to the alliance’s first secretary general, Lord Hastings Ismay, NATO was formed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

Western Europeans were terrified of the Soviet Union, which had just gobbled up all of Eastern Europe. They feared that the American army would go home after World War II, just as it had after World War I, consistent with its isolationist past. And the war-torn democracies were scared that Germany might quickly rebound to prompt yet another European war for the fourth time in less than a century.

Sixty-five years later, the Cold War has been won and has now been over for a quarter-century. Germany is quite up. The Russians are not so out. America seems not to want to be in anywhere.


In other words, NATO has lost direction because the mission objective has become murky.

It is said that Putin fears provoking NATO. More likely he will soon seek to wreck it by deliberately bullying weak and distant NATO members like Estonia, over whose independence Europeans are unlikely to start a war.


Put in that context, Putin's actions over the last year start to make a lot of sense, do they not? He knows that NATO is wobbly, the United Nations is less effective than ever, (surprising to me, as I thought that impossible), and the Chinese are becoming cunning Asian versions of Yankee traders with dreams of empire. Europe and America have had enough of each other, like a couple who get back together every few years and have a brief, torrid affair before somebody's car gets the windows knocked out and there's a dead rabbit in the kitchen.

Putin knows all of this. He knows he doesn't have to start a war, all he has to do is orchestrate the break-up and then sell himself as the man on the white horse. As I said, he's a crafty bastard.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Friday Timewaster

It's the amazing Transcopter! No, it's not a helicopter with a sexual identity problem, it's one of those flying games. Like in transport helicopter. Perv.


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ReallyLongName Comet



The Rosetta probe snapped this close-up photo of the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (which we're just calling 'comet' for short). The image resolution is 8 feet per pixel at original size. The probe will also drop a lander on the comet to take direct samples. More info behind the pic.

Lurking Bear

A few weeks ago, Russian air forces began probing European airspace. Now they're doing it to us as well. As I stated previously, it's blatantly obvious reconnaissance work, and you don't conduct reconnaissance because you're thinking about sending flowers. If you do it day after day, week in and week out, it also desensitizes the responders, reducing their efficiency and fighting edge as the situation becomes routine. That's when you pounce.

Putin is a crafty bastard and utterly outclasses our monkeyshines morons in the White House. He's up to something and the only thing you can be sure about is that it's no good.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Red

Two of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders have been sentenced to life in prison for "crimes against humanity." That's good... I suppose. I'm having difficulty believing that justice was done, as the crimes committed by these men outstrip the ability of the justice system to render punishment. They ordered the murders of hundreds of thousands of people and deliberately allowed a million more to starve. They created a Communist state of the worst sort and enlisted thousands of teenage thugs to harass and kill their own citizens.

Today these monsters are octogenarians, having far outlived even many of the relatives of their victims. How do you punish such evil men? I hardly see simple execution as adequate. Keep them alive and in pain? While I don't condone torture as punishment, (information extraction is another matter), it's very tempting in this case. The Christian practice of turning the other cheek is woefully inadequate in such cases. We're not talking about a mere playground bully; these men are on a par with Stalin and Hitler.

As with so many of my questions, I've no answers. But it seems ridiculous to me that these men will be placed in a prison where they will be fed and clothed and provided with medical care. Perhaps the wardens have something special in mind; I certainly hope so.

Dumbfounded

I can't even begin to describe to you what a waste of oxygen is the author of this article; you just have to go read it. This blinkered bimbo holds forth on why a popular children's show is evil and sexist and racist and environmentally unsound. I'm still having a difficult time believing it's not satire... but it isn't. She's serious.

In an internet rarity, the commenters are actually smarter than the person who wrote the article. A lot smarter. I would say she's mentally outclassed by retards, but that would be a grave insult to retards everywhere. I imagine her as a female version of John Kerry -- if John Kerry fell on his head and received a full-frontal lobotomy. Unfortunately for the human race, she's already spawned.

Thursday Tunes

Coast Road Drive by Peter White. Delicious and creamy-smooth jazz guitar. If the great Chuck Mangione played strings instead of horn, this is how it would sound.




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