Saturday, February 28, 2015

She's a Barbie Doll

A little weekend fun.

Hillary Clinton is an old, worn-out leftist with an old, worn-out collectivist ideology.

From patriot news

Elizabeth Warren is an old, worn-out leftist with an old, worn-out collectivist ideology.

Credit: Getty

In Poland, they have Magdalena Ogorek as a potential leftist candidate with an old, worn-out collectivist ideology.

From Yahoo
In the end, it doesn't matter much about your choice of wrapping paper if the package contains dog droppings.  She does have a doctorate in history but probably no idea what she does or why.  Because, as Jack Ingram says:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Reminder on Propaganda

Theodore Dalrymple explained propaganda sometime back, and a lot of bloggers have been referencing it in the last few weeks:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

If the FCC is allowed to silence or even throttle back the dissent against any administration, regime, government, or entity on the internet, we will suffer for it.  The insignificant corners like this one with only a few hits now and then don't make much difference in and of themselves, but we are a little like capillaries.  If the body loses a few, it's no big deal.  Lose too many and the cells in that area start to die off.  

The ability to mock and deride the ridiculous pontificating of someone like Harf or Brian Williams keeps us healthy.  We reinforce and encourage one another in our defiance of the official narrative. 

For now, I think, the FCC ruling will only make access more expensive and keep the Netflix business model viable, but it is none of their business, and Congress should stand up and make that clear.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Do You Do with Radical Islam?

Rather like the query about the Drunken Sailor, there are a number of potential answers, including, apparently, putting them in charge of a nuclear weapon.  As is the case with our sailor, none of the solutions seem wholly satisfactory.

You can follow this link to a Washington Times article that asserts the U.S. military has been "decimated" under Obama.  Decimated originally meant reduced by 10% and now is a synonym for being wiped out.  I'm not sure which applies in this case since the defense contract lobby probably has a different view than the rest of us.  U.S. military policy since World War II has been aimed at sustaining the capacity to fight a two-front war or two major wars simultaneously.  The article quotes some experts as saying that we cannot fight a war on the Korean peninsula while at the same time fighting the Russians in Ukraine.

My question is, why we would want to do either?  South Korea is more populous and wealthier than North Korea.  China is not likely to back a Nork attack.  Why are there American troops on the DMZ more than sixty years after the Korean "police action" -- Truman-speak for "kinetic military action" -- ended?  Germany, France, and the UK are military powers.  They have nuclear weapons.  Surely they could dissuade the Russians from advancing too far past Crimea without our help.  

The U.S. can't play world cop any more.  It's not because we don't have the resources, couldn't put together the forces, couldn't efficiently build new and better weapons or re-industrialize for a large-scale conflict, it's because our leadership and most of our people lack the will.

My friends and I used to box for fun.  I was never very good at it.  My main technique was to get punched in the face repeatedly while trying to move in enough to land a right.  Most of the time no one "won" because we weren't fighting to win.  I could have beaten some of the guys I fought; some I couldn't because they were too quick or too strong.  Will wasn't much of a factor.  We were concerned with technique.  On the other hand, the one or two occasions where I found myself in a genuinely bad situation, technique and form went out the window, and will was mostly what got me out in one piece.  Whether or not my dignity was intact is debatable, but rather beside the point as I thought at the time. 

A nation without the will to win a war should never get involved in a war.  America hasn't had the will to win even our bogus, made-up "wars".  We don't have the will to win the "war on poverty" because if we did, we'd stop subsidizing the primary cause of poverty, i.e., single motherhood.  We don't have the will to win the "war on drugs" because if we did, we'd stop making an industry out of the police and prisons and letting illegal drugs finance gangs here and in Mexico and South America.

We don't have the will to win the "war on terror" because, if we did, instead of starting up Homeland Security, we would have established an FBI unit to profile, pursue and track Muslim radicals.  We'd have taken the money we have wasted on the TSA and equipped local law enforcement to do more active surveillance and community policing in Muslim neighborhoods.  We would have sealed the borders and screened visitors and made it more difficult for Islamic troublemakers to enter this country.  We would have wiped out the Taliban in Afghanistan even if it meant pushing into Pakistan.  Fallujah would be Lake Fallujah.

We spent enough money and got enough good men killed to have done exactly what was necessary to make Iraq and other parts of the Middle East stable and hostile to terrorists.  If we had been serious, we would have built a native surveillance infrastructure and struck circumspectly the minute something like ISIS reared its head.  To combat an uprising it is best to, in the immortal words of Barney Fife, "Nip it in the bud."

But we didn't have the will for that.  We thought we could make friends with those who hate us.  We thought it would be fine to depose Mubarak and Gaddafi and Assad, even after we saw what happened in Iraq without Saddam.  Go ahead and blame Bush for Iraq.  Who is to blame for Libya and Tunisia and Syria, and thus for ISIS?  If it hadn't been for the good sense of the Egyptian military, the situation would be even more desperate than it is because we allowed ourselves the luxury of putting the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review in charge of our foreign policy.  We would have been better off with the senior class president from Ridgemont High.

So, if you don't have the will to fight, the answer is don't fight.  Brendan makes a good case for "containment and quarantine".  I agree with him.

Of course, this suits the regime quite well.  They want us to disengage.  My suggestion to the GOP is to out-disengage the disengagers.  Become fortress America.  We can eat.  We can produce our own oil -- albeit a little more expensively.  We can build cheap, safe, clean, low-waste nuclear power plants using thorium.  We can mine our own rare-earth minerals.  Seal the borders, put up a tariff wall, and put unskilled Americans back to work.  Tell Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that they free to work it out amongst themselves.  We are busy.  We have to wash our hair. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Garden Guru Hori Hori Tool Review

It's a preview more than a review.  The ground is frozen, and I can barely see where my strawberries lie buried 'neath the snow.

Obviously I haven't gotten this thing dirty yet.

For years I have used an old cheap stainless steel fixed blade knife that I picked up at a hardware store in the 1970s to dig dandelions out of the lawn, flower beds, or other spots in the garden where I couldn't get with a hoe.  I've also used a cheap khukuri for garden work or sometimes just a broken blade from a pair of pruning shears.  The concept of a longer, narrow piece of steel with one or more sharp edges for use in gardening and landscaping makes sense to me.

I thought it might be fun to try one of these Japanese Hori Hori knives.  Hori means "to dig", and I guess "hori hori" means "dig faster".  Since it is a shovel of sorts, it makes sense for the blade to be concave.  You have a spear-shaped point with one side ground to a smooth, sharp edge, the other side having serrations.

Serrated edges are not saws, to my way of thinking, but they will saw through smaller limbs with relative ease and neatness. 

I would advise against running with the Hori Hori unsheathed as it would likely make a really nasty puncture wound if a person were to fall the business end of it.

Like a lot of shovels and trowels, the blade on the Hori Hori is marked off for use in determining things like planting depth.  Such markings are handy, though for planting I tend to plant "pretty deep" and "not very deep", along with "that looks about right".  The knife as a whole will probably get used more for measuring.  The overall length is almost exactly 12 inches, with seven inches of it being blade.  It should be easy to get the tomato plants evenly spaced. 

One thing I need to add before I forget regards this particular brand of Hori Hori.  I'm sure these are made in some Chinese factory, but Garden Guru Lawn & Garden Tools come from Natan Products, LLC, an apparently American company owned by Charles Botts.  These are sold through Amazon.  Mr. Botts appears to be very enthusiastic about and dedicated to customer service.  I was emailed a PDF sharpening and care guide for the GG Hori Hori after I purchased the product.  This impressed me. 

The blade on the Garden Guru Hori Hori is stainless steel.  It's thick stainless, though I get the impression that it's going to be just a little soft.  Of course, excess brittleness would not be good trait for a tool of this type, so I understand.  Still, it will be interesting to see how this blade holds up to my hard, rocky soil and hard use.  I do not plan on using it as a prybar.  Things happen sometimes.

You can't exactly call it full-tang, but that appears to be a fairly solid set up.  I would also note that the fit and finish of the tool is outstanding.  Everything is smooth with no gaps, and the wide rosewood grip is downright pretty.  It may not look quite so good come September.  We'll see.  In any case, I don't expect to have much trouble with blisters given the comfortable width of the grip.

The sheath is a utilitarian nylon affair with a lining that should stand up to the blade well enough.  It is one of the reasons I chose the Garden Guru Hori Hori.  I definitely wanted a sheath but not a leather one.  I get wet too much.  The belt loop could be stiffer, but I think I'll like it well enough.  I'll probably add a paracord lanyard as the grip has a hole for one.

I wish I had more experiential data.  I also wish I could get outside without freezing.  I hope to be able to give a more thorough follow up in four or five months.  Meanwhile, the price for this tool on Amazon was $25.99, and I don't think I was charged any shipping.  It's not completely unreasonable, though it verges into that near-hipster region of pointless expenditures -- after all, I already have a perfectly good broken pruning shear blade.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Smell the Fear

Professional halfwit and perennial contender for the Brian Williams Award in Journalistic Narcissism, Washington Post writer Dana Milbank calls Scott Walker a coward

Why, you ask?  Primarily because Walker is a frightening-to-the-left frontrunner in the presidential beauty contest at this point.  But, specifically, in Milbank's world because Rudy Giuliani said, in Walker's presence, that Obama does not love America, and Walker did not leap to Obama's defense.

First, Giuliani is, of course, correct.  Obama does not love the America he desires to "fundamentally transform".  Obama does not love the Constitution.  He does not love or respect our history and our heritage.  This makes him the perfect leftist president. 

Milbank goes after Giuliani saying:

But to have a civilized debate, it’s necessary for public officials to disown such beyond-the-pale rhetoric. And Walker failed that fundamental test of leadership.

You mean the way that Obama calls us stupid, fearful racists, xenophobic, islamophobic, homophobic, bitter clingers, and typical white people? Obama is notorious for his attacks on political enemies.  Giuliani called him on it.  Milbank is desperately trying to find a figleaf for his naked emperor. 

Walker is right.  There are Democrats, still, who love America.  Obama, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, et al, are not among them.  Some of the people who hate America call themselves Republicans.  Do you love people that you deceive, manipulate and exploit? 

Obama and his ilk love their fascist buddies like Soros, Buffet and the boys from Goldman-Sachs.  They love power.  They love their beautiful fellow-travellers in the entertainment industry. 

They deride and denigrate the people, like me, who oppose them and their tyrannical agenda.  Obama hates people like me because we do not need him.  Maybe that's not Dana Milbank's America, but it is mine. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

So We Are Not At War With Islam?

"No religion is responsible for terrorism, people are responsible for violence and terrorism."  So says the Muslim-sympathizer a majority of American elected president. 

It almost sounds like "guns don't kill people".  I wonder if Obama is going to join the NRA. 

In that a "religion" is a set of beliefs and practices that forbid or condone certain activities and by which people define their culture and identity, that is a false statement.  It is true that creeds do not behead people of other religions.  Since the worship of Zeus or Baal has pretty well died out, the associated religions are not going to attack anyone.  The acts of religions are all the acts of those who hold the beliefs.

Jimmy Swaggert was/is a Christian, but he was also a pervert.  Jim Bakker and many, many other Christian ministers, some of whom I know personally, have gotten involved in scandals.  Christianity doesn't commit adultery, but many Christians do.  In the case of Christians involved in immoral behavior, we are clearly talking about something that the Bible, Christians of all makes and models, as well as our traditions, creeds, and confessions identify as wrong and openly condemn.

But, if some church builds a Christian school and, in science class, insists on teaching "young earth creationism", even though I, as a devout believer in Jesus Christ and God as Creator, think that is not a valid interpretation, I would hardly be correct in denying that it is a Christian school. 

I disagree with YEC, but it is a belief held by some Christians, and it certainly does not mean the people who hold that belief are not Christians.  Now, it is often the case that YEC adherents will say that people like me are undermining Christianity or that we are not, perhaps, true Christians.  Again, the YEC Christians are still Christians and virtually no other Christian would deny that they are part of the faith.  We may question their interpretation and understanding of that passage in Genesis, but if they acknowledge the deity of Christ Jesus, His virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, bodily resurrection, and so on,  they are Christians.

It seems to me it would be the same with Islam, jihad, and the caliphate.  There are many Muslim believers, perhaps the majority, who reject the violence, the brutal tactics, and the methodology of ISIS.  Nonetheless, the stated goals of ISIS, to create a new Islamic state, a caliphate, through jihad does not contradict the teachings of Islam in the same way that similar violent acts on the part of Christians would violate the teachings of Christ.

Obama is correct in that we are not at war with the words in the Koran.  Further, at the moment, we do not appear to be at war with anyone.  Rather, those who hold to certain interpretations of the Koran are at war with us, with Israel, with the secular nations of Europe, with Christians, and with more secular Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa.

I would be more than a little defensive if the prime minister of Turkey or even the prime minister of Israel told the world that Pentecostals or Catholics or Presbyterians or the people who attended Jeremiah Wright's church are not really Christians (OK, maybe not that last one).  It's one thing for the Pope or the president of the Southern Baptist Convention to say what it means to be a Christian -- and those two are going to have some disagreement.  It's another thing for a non-Christian to tell us whether we meet the criteria or not.

The thugs in ISIS who are trying to build themselves a nice little oil-rich, anti-Israel Islamic state where they can institute Sharia and be in charge are doing so in the name of their deity, their religion, and their prophet.  Obama is an apologist for Islam.  Brendan explained why a couple of weeks ago

Slander in Islam, unlike the west, is not necessarily saying something that is untrue about someone, simply saying something they dislike is considered slanderous even if it is true.
If you go one step further and say something about Islam that Muslims in general dislike, then you have slandered not just one Muslim but up to 1.6 Billion Muslims on the planet.
Essentially what we have here is Obama denying something that is obviously true to anyone -- including Obama -- whose IQ exceeds that of a turnip because to acknowledge that truth, i.e., that the ISLAMIC State is ISLAMIC, would be disliked by the Muslims of the world.  

We are in a mess.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Basic Information

One of my recent book acquisitions is the new Fifth Edition of Dr. Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics.  As I have said before, it is probably a good thing I did not read Bastiat and Sowell when I was young or I might have pursued a career as an economist.  I am happier with computers.  What I may do, though, is review parts of Basic Economics here.  A lot of what Dr. Sowell is saying in the early chapters is commonsense.  We know this; we're just not sure how we know it. 

One point is about information.  I'm an information man.  That's what I've worked in almost exclusively for the last forty years, so it interests me.  We need to make decisions about resource allocation and productivity.  Economics endeavors to answer the questions that lead to those decisions in the most efficient manner. 

If we look at goals, what we are trying to achieve, we are likely to follow one decision path.  However, if we look at results and consequences, we will chose a different path.  Big-government, centrally-planned economies are goal-oriented.  A true free market economy looks at results in the real world.  As Sowell say:  Life does not ask us what we want.  It presents us with options.

Economics is really a lot like climate science.  Both have elaborate models.  Neither has a model sufficiently complex to simulate reality, and, if they did, they could not figure out how to work it. 

Sowell begins by talking about the importance of fundamental concepts such as price.  In a free market, prices contain vital information.  They convey the underlying reality of demand and availability.  Apart from outside interference or manipulation, a higher price reflects the relative scarcity of whatever is sought, from prime real estate to gold to first-class seats on a plane. 

But the information value of prices can be distorted by interference from, for example, speculators or government subsidies.  Price distortions may cause disruptions in profit and loss information as well.  Profit and loss are both of value to producers.  As Sowell points out, they are not merely transfers of money but packets of data which tell the producer to make more of something (profit) or less (loss). 

When governments control supply and pricing, shortages of high-demand goods inevitably develop along with excess supplies of things no one wants or needs -- Chevy Volts, for instance.  Sowell cites cases from the old Soviet Union, but it doesn't matter who or where or even how government gets involved, profit and loss become less meaningful, and producers make bad decisions.  We see it now in the realm of "green energy".  Windmills and solar arrays are great for individual home energy production.  They are not cost-effective in distributed system on a mass scale.  They are too costly, in terms of energy, to build, set up, and maintain for the amount energy they produce.  Neither are they efficacious when it comes to moving electricity through large diameter lines over long distances.  Yet because those who build wind and solar electrical generating facilities can get all kinds of tax incentives, breaks, and government-backed low-interest loans -- in other words, tax-payer dollars -- they are not getting accurate feedback from their profit and loss balance sheets.

The government, though, is anti-coal and pro-"renewables"; therefore, it has no problem altering policy and distorting information in order to achieve its goals.  This is true even when those goals are completely spurious. 

Anyway, Sowell talks more about the inability of even "genius" planners to adequately understand all the ramifications and potential consequences of their attempts to control production and get the world to behave according to their models: 
The problem was not that particular planners made particular mistakes in the Soviet Union or in other planned economies.  Whatever the mistakes made by central planners, there are mistakes made in all kinds of economic systems -- capitalist, socialist or whatever.  The more fundamental problem with central planning has been that the task taken on has repeatedly proven to be too much for human beings, in whatever country that task has been taken on. (* pp. 17-18)

Next, Sowell discusses an example of how the free market works in deciding, efficiently and effectively, how much milk is produced and how it is allocated to various uses such as cheese, ice cream or yogurt:
No one is at the top coordinating all of this, mainly because no one would be capable of following the repercussions in all directions.  Such a task has proven too much for central planners in country after country.  (* p. 20)

There is play in the free market.  People speculate and try to game the system, or corner a market.  There are sometimes shortages and price hikes and other errors.  The difference is that a free market is ultimately self-correcting, and self-correcting in a much shorter time frame than centrally planned economies.  By taxes and deficit spending, governments can ignore their mistakes and miscalculations much longer.  After all, they have a goal.  Results can be ignored.

* Quotes from  Basic Economics, Fifth Edition, copyright 2015 by Thomas Sowell, Basic Books.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow Day

This is the middle of February.  In my youth here on the Plateau, February was a month known for wicked weather.  People seem to have forgotten.

It is the August of winter.  While January is the coldest month on average, that is only because February treacherously throws in a few warmer days to raise false hopes.  The next few days here will not be among those.  This is February's true nature -- six inches of snow over a layer of sleet with another round predicted in the next couple of hours.  The temperature will likely not get above freezing until Friday and Saturday when we will get more sleet.  Single digit lows for the next couple of days while Thursday morning the temperature will be below zero. 

I'm not too concerned.  I can get to work (ha-ha, as my mom would say).  I have water and heat.  I stocked up additional coffee Friday, and I also picked up a six-pound can of peanut butter.  Food is not a problem anyway.  The pantry shelves are loaded with quarts of apples, green beans and tomatoes, and the freezer is full. 

I hate to drag the tractor out and hook up the blade just for the driveway.  I'll probably just shovel out around the house and see how I feel about the tractor this afternoon.

Keep in mind that a week ago this past Saturday, I was out riding my bike in a t-shirt.  A couple of years ago, Branson -- not too far from here -- was hit by a Valentine's Day tornado. 

Forget it, Jake. It's February.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Getting It

As everyone knows, Jon Stewart is leaving the "Daily Show".  Sultan Knish, as always, has an outstanding analysis at the link.

I admit to having seen a few minutes of the Stewart schtick while stuck in hotel rooms.  Stewart who was born with the name Leibowitz (funny he doesn't look Scottish) used to room with Anthony Weiner back in college.  I think Weiner was the funny one.  My sample size is small -- appropriate for Weiner and Stewart, and I'm not the target demographic, but I found Stewart tiresome in the same way that I find Sean Hannity, with whom I often agree, tiresome.

Both are equally predictable.  Comedy works by being almost predictable.  Except for pinata videos.  Even there, though you know someone is going to get racked, you can't be sure exactly who, when and how -- so I guess it still holds.  Stewart, like most of talk radio and most pundits, lacks even that much surprise. Again, maybe he was just going for the obvious on the few occasions that I watched.  Maybe he was much more subtle and clever most of the time.

Greenfield doesn't think so:

Stewart wasn’t funny and knew little about politics. Unqualified to be in politics, journalism or even comedy, he straddled the line by casting himself as a critic of the media and politics. In his new role, he just had to be funny by the standards of politics and politically knowledge by the standard of comedians. It was a low bar that he just managed to limbo under. All he had to was to go after the right targets. 

This is the tiresomeness of the talkers.  They tell us what we want to hear.  They mock what we want mocked.  They say vaguely amusing things about people we dislike and so we laugh.

I'm generally credited with a mildly effective sense of humor.  That is, I can usually pick up on the humor of something, and I will occasionally say something other people think is funny.  For example, I was in a very distressing situation and state of mind recently.  There is a certain member of the extended family whom my daughter-in-law dislikes, intensely.  This family member was talking, texting, and fakebooking a lot of stupid, pointless stuff.  My daughter-in-law was getting upset by it.  A little short on temper that day, I let my frustration get the better of me, and said that the decisions in question would be made by those who knew what was going on and not by a drama queen.  Actually, I added an expletive in front of drama queen.  The daughter-in-law could not stop laughing.

It wasn't all that funny, but it skewered someone she wanted skewered, and it caught her by surprise,  because, short of slamming a hammer down on my thumb, I don't say those kinds of words.  Even then, I usually manage to moderate them if anyone is around.

This, though, is how people of very modest talent and intelligence, such as Stewart, Colbert, Al Franken, all the people on "Saturday Night Live", O'Reilly, Hannity, Levin, and even, to some extent, Limbaugh make a living.  So long as these things are limited to talk shows and sketches, it is fairly harmless.  When we move into other realms, the attitude is a lot more dangerous.  Greenfield again:

Obama’s fake self-awareness made him seem authentic in a social media society composed of reflective levels of personality. .... [Obama] truly embraced politics without accountability, transforming every issue into a joke or referencing it back to his own biography.

While he may have come out on the stage with a unique personal story, what kept Obama competitive was his skill at refracting everything through layers of irony and self-awareness. His approach was to borrow Stewart’s own routine without any of its ambiguity. Stewart’s pretense of triangulation became Obama’s obsession with turning his radical left-wing politics into an imaginary middle ground.

We have lost the ability, so it seems, to have legitimate political discussions.  Obama argues with caricatures of his opponents, while to argue with Obama is to argue with a caricature.  It is as ineffective as trying to argue with Jon Stewart because all he is going to do is have the fake flower on his lapel squirt you in the face. People voted for Obama and elected him twice because they did not want a "serious" politician in the White House.  Well, congratulations.  You've sent in the clowns.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fat Is Where It's At

You know all those scientific studies that proved fat was killing us?  They never really happened.

I could have told them this:

Guidelines warning people to avoid eating fatty foods such as butter and cheese should not have been introduced, new research has found.
Dietary advice issued to tens of millions warned that fat consumption should be strictly limited to cut the risk of heart disease and death.
But experts say the recommendations, which have been followed for the past 30 years, were not backed up by scientific evidence and should never have been issued.

Cholesterol hysteria is bull, too. 

But, of course, global warming is real because of scientific studies.

Anything is bad for you if you have too much of it (except, possibly, coffee).  Most "real" foods are healthy in amounts that do not lead to excessive weight.  Kind is much less important than amount.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Generation Why

Got this in an email from a very pretty Gen X'er this morning.  


  People born before 1946
are called
The Greatest Generation.
  People born between 1946
and 1964 are called
The Baby Boomers .

People born between 1965
and 1979 are called
Generation X.

And people born between 1980
and 2010 are called
Generation Y .

So why do we call the last group Generation Y ?

Y should I get a job?
Y should I leave home and find my own place?
Y should I clean my room?
Y should I wash and iron my own clothes?
Y should I contribute money to the home?
Y should I help buy food?
Y should I get a car when I can borrow yours?
But perhaps this cartoonist explains it best of all:
Just thought you might like to know "Y".

Though amusing, and on the money for some, it's a little unfair.  In my experience, a lot of the kids I am running into are pretty solid citizens.  There is a segment that is starting to understand how this whole mess came into being, and that the government is the problem rather than the solution.  After all, these are the kids who have been fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As a Boomer, I blame the Greatest Generation for electing FDR four times and picking Lyndon Johnson over the near-libertarian, Barry Goldwater.  None of us could vote before 1967.  I was in the cohort of 18 to 20-year-olds that first voted in 1972.  I blame the X'ers for Clinton, but then you have to give them credit for breaking the Democrat choke-hold on Congress in '94.  We all have to answer for Obama.      

Monday, February 9, 2015

Too Nice Not To Ride

Saturday was warm, sunny and slightly windy, especially in the afternoon.  I headed out on the four-lane where the Enterprise is happiest.  The cool morning had me comfortable wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt and a fleece vest under my jacket.  A couple of hours in the saddle took me the through little south central Ozark towns like Mountain View and Birch Tree.  I turned off Highway 60 at Winona for fuel, jerky and coffee.   The jacket went into storage at this point.

Not much goes on in Shannon County anymore, aside from the typical "hogs, dogs, and logs", though it is a factoid that Missouri's first copper mine was located there.  Winona is only about 10 miles from Eminence, the county seat, on what true hillbillies would call the Jacks Fork (no apostrophe) of the Current River, all a part of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways system.  Since I had no canoe on the Enterprise -- an inflatable might be a possibility, I rolled up Highway 19 and on through Eminence in search of 'S' curves.  I found them in abundance. 

I think there's a stretch of about 20 miles miles where it is nothing except double yellow lines.  When the road isn't twisting, it is going up and down.  The bad part about that is that it has been winter, and we've had ice and snow, though not an excessive amount.  The road surface has suffered, and there is loose stuff on it about where I'd usually pick my line.  Once in a while, this caused me sufficient anxiety to generate some wobble.  The Enterprise didn't seem to mind much, though, and it was a good exercise in getting back in form after not enough riding the past few months.

I was tempted to take a detour down to Pulltite but refrained.  I had to admit by that point that I was starting to tire just a little bit.  Lunch at Salem sounded better so I pressed on, settling for a quick Quarterpounder and coffee because I saw the Arches just beyond the intersection of 19 and 32. It is notable that something as nasty and unappealing a a McDonald's hamburger isn't so bad when you are getting tired and hungry. I actually pulled out refreshed and ready for the leg home which meant heading down Hwy 32 to Licking.  By this time, the vest was off and in the hole with my jacket.  

Unlike the previous stretch, the relatively short run to Licking was relaxing.  Most of the turns on 32 were more sweeping without any drop-offs, and the surface is in better shape.  At Licking, I turned south on 63 which now has a lot of that alternating three-lane setup.  It doesn't ruin the countryside like four-lanes while allowing safe passing of trucks and dawdlers.  The Enterprise made short work of the run to Cabool, and I was back to Highway 60 with a final stop for non-ethanol premium at a Signal station and back home.

With the two twenty-minute stops, I made the entire circuit of about 275 miles in 6 hours -- not exactly setting any land speed records but definitely enjoying the scenery.  My face is slightly sun and wind burned below my shades, and I feel like a biker again.

I'm starting to think that an Iron Butt ride on the Enterprise would almost be cheating.  For example, the GPS shows very close to 1000 miles to a friend's house in New Mexico with a time of about 15 hours.  In the summer, with good weather, and adding a couple of hours for the bike versus the car, that's doesn't seem too daunting.  On the other hand, as my older sister reminded me the other night, I am over sixty.

Friday, February 6, 2015


In the summer of 1985, I was riding my motorcycle home.  I was taking a left-hand corner about 11:40 pm, and it was, naturally at that hour, dark.  There were no lines on the asphalt and no street lights.  Going through the corner, I drifted too close to the right edge of the pavement.  My bike dropped off the edge and ended up in the field by a power pole, and I went down the road with sparks flying off the studs on my helmet as it scraped the blacktop. 

That's thirty years past, and I have told that story a few times.  I can remember it quite well.  I certainly know which bike I was on at the time.  I could take anyone to the spot or very near it, even if the landscape and buildings have changed significantly in the intervening decades.  I can tell you what car I was driving for every accident, near miss, and speeding ticket for the last forty-some years.

Of course, I have not lived a life nearly as exciting and adventurous as Hillary Clinton or Brian Williams.  I have never been in a war zone.  I have never been drunk in war zone.  Still, something tells me that if I had dodged sniper fire in Sarajevo (or wherever it was supposed to be), I would be pretty clear on that.  If I had ever been in a helicopter that was shot down, I think I would have a story about that.  I think I'd have a story even if the chopper ahead of mine had been shot down.

I'll bet you that senile, old John McCain can tell you exactly how his plane went down over Vietnam.  I'll bet George H. W. Bush can remember bailing out of his plane in World War II.  There are NASCAR fans that can tell you exactly how Dale Earnhardt died. 

Aside from blacking out or head trauma, I don't see how it is possible to mis-remember a truly traumatic event.  John Kerry never spent a day in the infirmary while acquiring three Purple Hearts, but Nixon sending him into Cambodia at Christmas, 1968 when Lyndon Johnson was still president is seared, seared, I tell you, in his memory.  Barack Obama, over the course of twenty years,  never heard any of the inflammatory, racist sermons that his best friend and mentor, Jeremiah Wright, preached.  Bill Clinton remembers church-burnings that never happened during his youth in Arkansas, but a chubby intern somehow slipped his mind.  Hillary remembered zigzagging across the tarmac to dodge sniper bullets that were never fired but could not recall anything about Rose Law Firm billing records.

To give Hillary the benefit of the doubt, after getting loaded on the plane, it's probably a common thing for her to zigzag across the tarmac.   

False memories seem to be a very common problem in some circles.  Now, I'm not one to be bias against people with handicaps and disabilities.  Still, I don't think it's a good idea to give a driver's license to someone with the visual acuity of Mr. Magoo or Stevie Wonder.  Perhaps it is time to screen people in positions of influence and leadership in the media and in politics to make sure they are willing and able to reliably tell fantasy from reality.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

James Bond Would Probably Have One

Leatherman has come out with the Tread.  Ultimate Motorcycling calls it the motorcyclist's secret weapon. 

It might be just a little bit gimmicky and slightly pricey at $150 to $200 USD. 

I suppose it has potential as a piece of masculine jewelry.  It might sell well in the hipster/urban drug-dealer demographic to take apart iPhones or something.  I don't think it going to be much help fixing my tractor.

Each link is metal injection molded for strength and the bracelet is customizable with slotted fasteners, so the user can rearrange links, add new ones, or adjust for wrist size to ¼”. Even the clasp is functional with a bottle opener and #2 square drive. Other link tools include a cutting hook, hex drives, screwdrivers, box wrenches, and a carbide glass breaker.

I wear a Leatherman Wave most of the time when I ride and never know it's there.  This might be a solution to the problem of what to buy that international spy who has everything on your Christmas list.  Otherwise, it's not clicking for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Jordan Has The Right Idea

What do you call two ISIS jihadis on a gallows?  A good start.

Good for Jordan.  Act like mad dogs; get put down like mad dogs:

Jordan hanged two Iraqi jihadists, one a woman, on Wednesday in response to an Islamic State video showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive in a cage by the hard-line group.
Islamic State had demanded the release of the woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, in exchange for a Japanese hostage whom it later beheaded. Sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack in Amman, Rishawi was executed at dawn, a security source and state television said.

James Taylor was unavailable for comment.

Cold Front, Warm Front, No Front

The weather isn't bad this morning.  The sun is shining and the temperature is a little below freezing.  This afternoon, a cold front will move through with clouds and some snow possible.  Tonight the thermometer will dip down to 14ᵒ F with plenty of wind to whip up whatever dusting of snow falls and make the cold seem worse.  Tomorrow, though, the high will regress toward the mean and be about 39ᵒ.  On Friday, we will hit 57 degrees with sun, Saturday, sunny, again, and 67. 

Friday evening, after work, looks like a good time to get the grime off the cars and out of the garage.

If anybody wants me Saturday, I'll be on my bike. 

Next week looks to be almost perfectly average temperature-wise.  Weather.  Especially weather on the Plateau.  This is a mild oscillation compared to some of our weirdness.  We used to get some pretty wild swings in Dallas, but the ideal winter wardrobe for the Ozarks is probably a parka over a polo shirt.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


The first time I heard the expression "state raised" it was hurled as a joking insult by one convicted felon about another.  Many of our urban citizens do, in fact, view the state as their source and provider.  It makes sense to them to hear that the government is the one entity to which we all "belong". 

I don't think that way.  I remember watching "Perry Mason" as a kid and wondering why it was always "the State vs. Whomever".  Later, of course, I learned that crimes are offenses against the State, in the sense of the State being that which represents the rule of law, as well as being moral violations in many cases.  There are rules by which we have agreed to abide in order to go about our daily business and live our lives in some order and peace. 

We agree on which side of the road we are going drive, and everybody has to abide by that.  We even put our steering wheels on the center-line side to help us keep it straight.  We should respect the lives, the health and the property of our neighbors.  They, in turn, agree to respect ours.  If someone violates this compact, we all come down on him.  At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

There is a bit of a controversy right now about vaccinations.  We have a measles outbreak in certain parts of the country.  This is probably a result of all the illegal "children" we allowed into the country recently -- though the regime seems to want to claim everybody caught the measles from Donald Duck. 

Some think that parents have the right to make decisions about their child's health.  Others think that government must act to protect the majority from the minority by forcing parents to allow their children to be vaccinated.

When I was a kid, it was required by the local school board we be vaccinated for smallpox, polio, whooping cough, diphtheria, and maybe something else.  I remember being tested for tuberculosis. Meanwhile, every kid that I knew, including me, suffered a bout of mumps, measles, and chickenpox at some point during the first few years of school.  I don't recall any of us dying from any of those.  Some did have their tonsils taken out.  I don't think I did.

There are people who die or suffer some kind of permanent disability as a result of a childhood disease. That's a sad fact.  If I refused to allow my child to be vaccinated, and he or she subsequently died or was disabled or disfigured in some way, I would feel great remorse and guilt.  I'd also feel great remorse and guilt if I bought my child a car in which he or she was killed.

It's a dangerous world.  I've had many close calls myself.  Mortality remains at approximately 100% -- not counting Enoch and Elijah.   

Senator Rand Paul says that parents "own" their children, and, thus, immunizations should be voluntary.    "Own" may not be the best word to use here, but we all know what Senator Paul means.

"The state doesn't own your children," Paul said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell." "Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health."

Frankly, I am sick of the state coming in and telling parents how to be parents.  Bureaucrats have every right to raise their own children -- not mine.  If we're talking about negligence or abuse or neglect, then perhaps there needs to be some intervention.  As was the case with Adrian Peterson, I think the state goes overboard way too often.  There is always going to be a certain amount of risk we have to accept in a free society, a certain  amount of error and bad judgment. 

I would suggest that it is at least as likely for there to be bad judgment and error on the part of big, nanny-state government as on the part of individuals and families. 

The fact is that vaccines are not 100% safe nor are they 100% effective.  I would not get a flu vaccination at gun point.  They are a waste of time and money.  They either give you the flu -- despite what the manufacturers claim, or, more often, they do nothing to protect from the actual virus that is going to attack you.

There are dangers to any vaccine whether for the measles or the flu or anything else.  There are dangers in not getting immunized.  The question comes down to who is wrong most often and where does the greater risk lie.  Most of the time, with regard to childhood immunizations, I would go with the vaccines.  Additionally, I think a local government or local health department should be able to enforce a quarantine if there is an outbreak of a dangerous communicable disease of any kind. 

In the end, though, responsibility for a child's health and safety lies with the parents.  If we, as parents, have lost the ability to love and care for our children more than a politician or some government worker, all is lost.   

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ethanol Is Great

Well, maybe not.  A positive ethanol study touted as independent turns out to have been funded by the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

The study focused on reductions in "greenhouse gases" through the use of ethanol.  In all likelihood, the study ignored all the CO2 produced by fossil fuels needed to grow the corn.  Of course, I am still unable to think of miniscule amounts of something that is an absolute necessity for all plant life on the planet to be a pollutant, but logic and climate science seem to have never met. 

In any case, the role played by the MCGA was covered up by identifying the study as one done by Michigan State University.  Indeed, the research was done on the MSU campus, but, since it was paid for by the MCGA, it could have been considered an "industry study".

Potential bias aside, the study is not without its critics.  As quoted at the link, Emily Cassidy, a research analyst with the Environmental Working Group, says:

[R]egardless of their funding source, the study holds no merit and wouldn’t hold any more merit even if it was funded by the National Science Foundation.

In a related note via Denninger, junk science rolls on.

And maybe 2014 wasn't the warmest year on record after all.