Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lies, Damn Lies And Newcastle United Statistics

Here we are at roughly the midpoint in the EPL season and my beloved Newcastle United are underperforming as usual. After spending $50M on players in the summer, the second-highest sum in the league, they still stink and are in the relegation zone at 18th. Deservedly so, I might add.

In most sports, statistics are a good gauge of a player's worth. In American football, basketball and especially baseball, statistical comparisons give you decent results. For example, New Orleans' Drew Brees' passer rating this year is 100.7 Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston's is 86.1. Brees is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Winston has an uncertain future.

In soccer, stats are a bit murkier as soccer is a lot of foreplay with little scoring*. Tracking successful dribbles, completed passes and tackles is all very well and good, but most of them take place during play that's not really going anywhere. Having said that, you'd have to think that stats would be at least somewhat useful in comparing players. Let's see what we can do with statistics in determining where the Toon's biggest needs are.

From watching their games, I think they need to replace Paul Dummett (defender, too slow) and Vurnon Anita (midfielder, too small) at the very least during the January transfer window. As a whole, my assessment is that their weakest spot collectively is midfield.

Squawka is an excellent website which tracks all kinds of crazy statistics for soccer. It has sortable player rankings by position, which I've used for this analysis. With 20 teams in the league, you would expect an average team to have players in 11th, 31st, 51st and 71st places in the rankings for each position. If you want the derivation of this, leave a comment and I'll reply with it.

Here's where Newcastle United stack up by position.

Defense: Average Delta = -50.25

Player Ranking Expected Delta
Mbemba 41 11 -30
Coloccini 80 31 -49
Janmaat 103 51 -52
Dummett 141 71 -70

Midfield: Average Delta = -20

Player Ranking Expected Delta
Wijnaldum 12 11 -1
Colback 55 31 -24
Anita 81 51 -30
Sissoko 96 71 -25

Strikers: Average Delta = -21.67

Player Ranking Expected Delta
Perez 23 11 -12
Cisse 50 31 -19
Mitrovic 85 51 -34

At first glance, it looks like our defense is the worst area on the team. However, let's try a couple of things. First, let's assume that we replace Anita and Dummett with second-level average players. That is, players who would rank 31st overall for their position. Here's what happens.

New Defense: Average Delta = -22.75, Improvement: +27.5. The new player automatically becomes the best defender on the team and everyone in the table moves down one row, facing lower expectations, reducing each player's delta from their expected value.

Player Ranking Expected Delta
Newdude 31 11 -20
Mbemba 41 31 -10
Coloccini 80 51 -29
Janmaat 103 71 -32

New Midfield: Average Delta = -7.5, Improvement: +12.5. Similarly, the new player becomes the second-best midfielder on the team, improving the others' deltas as above.

Player Ranking Expected Delta
Wijnaldum 12 11 -1
Newdude 31 31 0
Colback 55 51 -4
Sissoko 96 71 -25

Those are decent improvements, but I think they understate the effects.

Non-quantitative argument in favor of these moves

Now let's look at some of the players in comparison with their stats.
  • Sissoko. When he wants to play, he's great. When he doesn't want to play, he's terrible. My take on his season is that he is a reflection of the players around him. He needs players who are catalysts to bring out his best. If he sees sloth or indifferent play, he shuts down. Give him a playmaker in the midfield and I think he'll blossom. There's no way he's the 96th-best midfielder in the league. He's much better than that.
  • Janmaat. Because we lack midfield  talent, Janmaat is effectively playing midfield and defense. He's frequently out of position because he's so far up the field trying to help us score. Give him a playmaker to take the ball and he won't be straying so far from the goal as often.
  • Wijnaldum. Don't get me wrong, I love Paul Dummett. He's what Jon Gruden would call a "grinder." I don't think he ever lets up. Unfortunately, he's too slow to get up field, so Wijnaldum has no help advancing the ball on the left side of the field. Get a replacement with some pace and Wijnaldum will seem much better.
  • Coloccini and Mbemba. I hate to say this, but Vurnon Anita is little more than a speedbump when it comes to defense. EPL-level players simply run over him. He's too small to be playing defensive midfield. Replace Anita with a playmaker or a goon like Tiote used to be and I think our defense will improve considerably. They're completely exposed right now and it shows in the stats.
  • Strikers. I don't think they're as bad as the stats indicate. I'm no fan of Cisse - he can't turn around with the ball to save his life, but they've got no creativity or speed behind them in the midfield. I know this is the position everyone wants to fill, but to me it seems like we'd end up right where we are right now - frustrated strikers struggling to make everything happen on their own. I'd be starting Perez and Mitrovic every game and try to give them a speedy winger or playmaker in the middle to help them score.


I still don't know what to make of our new manager, Steve McLaren. There's no pace and not much size on the team, so I can't tell if he's any good or not. Further, with the way Mike Ashley runs the team - the manager has almost no say in player recruiting - I can't see anyone wanting to take the job outside of McLaren. Certainly none of the big-time managers would come to Newcastle under these circumstances. They all want total control.

I know I've contradicted myself in this post with my fantasy midfield player - I want both defense and playmaking, but I'd settle for either, allowing Colback to either go forward or become the midfield goon. I saw a stat on Colback that said he was really fast, which surprised me, so maybe he's just playing out of position right now to make up for Anita being such a defensive liability.

The team doesn't seem to me to be relegation-worthy. They just look like they're two players from comfortable safety.

Comments are welcome.

* - Yes, I came up with that one myself. I'm rather proud of it, to tell you the truth.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why I Could Easily Vote For Donald Trump

My evolution from "I would vote Libertarian before I would vote for Trump" to "I could easily vote for Trump" has taken place over the last month. I was going to blog about it when this excellent post by Don Surber led me to free-write it into a comment, shared below.


Great post. I've also enjoyed reading what I have of Scott's. I would add this: The vulgar trick only works in this very recent era.

Microaggressions made this all possible. I hate them, I hate the speech codes, I hate everything about political correctness. I hate that rap music says things I can't. I hate it when misogynist Hillary claims she stands for women's rights. I hate it all.

I've always thought it was all a house of cards and all we needed to do to blow it down was speak plainly and clearly over and over again. I loved the "schlonged" comment for just that reason.

That last comment and his return fire where he said what we were all thinking - Hillary as a feminist is like Goebbels as a Rabbi - was marvelous and it portends truly glorious things to come. A debate between the two would be pay-per-view worthy just to see the queen of the PC movement get obliterated by a guy who sounds like he drives a cab.

I know that my reaction has become emotional, but I don't care. I hate all of these speech and behavior codes that much. I don't really care what his policies are any more - mostly because I don't think the other Republicans are saying anything important. We're in the same fiscal boat as Greece, just a bit farther away from the waterfall and everyone's talking about immigration or no fly zones.

So what difference does it make who I vote for? $60K debt/person is going to become $70K is going to become $80K is going to become a monster, global currency crisis. I might as well vote for the cab driver so I can finally be free of speech codes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Last Stop: East Germany

A very short one today as I spent the morning moving one of our son's last odds and ends back from his successful college years.

Hillary Clinton recently said she would impose a tax on companies who left the country. It would be a punitive one to flog them for going somewhere else. Someone likened it to the tax the Nazis placed on Jews who wanted to emigrate.

I thought that a bit much, but it did put me in mind of East Germany. Instead of making the country a place people wanted to live, they turned it into a giant prison camp. In this case, the barbed wire would take the form of high taxes.

Why do these progressive workers' paradise things always end up with walls and guards?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Do You Want To Write A 5,000-page Paper That Will Be Rejected Or Would You Rather Move To Another State?

Dig this from the WSJ. It's behind the paywall, so if you don't have a subscription, here are some of the salient facts.
Earlier this month California Gov. Jerry Brown promised to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050...

The Newhall Ranch project in north Los Angeles County, which aims to provide housing for nearly 60,000 people as well as tens of thousands of jobs at stores, schools and recreational centers, is the most recent target...

Newhall’s (environmental impact) report, which the Department of Fish and Wildlife approved in 2010, was more than 5,000 pages, with hundreds of pages dedicated to analyzing its greenhouse-gas emissions as required by recent regulatory amendments to the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The state wildlife agency projected that Newhall would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 31% by 2020 relative to the California Air Resources Board’s 2008 “baseline” model. This was a larger reduction than the 29% cut that the board has mandated statewide.
The California Supreme Court has now rejected the report after suits by a variety of ecowarrior groups. Newhall Ranch is on hold. Here's the real bomb buried in the article.
The (California Supreme Court's) majority nitpicked the report’s methodology, conjecturing that perhaps a greater than 31% reduction in greenhouse emissions from new projects might be needed to meet the 29% statewide mandate because it could be harder to achieve efficiencies from older, already-constructed developments.
That makes sense, but it also makes it insanely difficult to get anything new built in California. If you want to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by n% and you're not going to rebuild everything, whatever gets remodeled or built will have to reduce emissions by 2x or 3x that amount in order for you to hit your target. That's hopeless.

One of our sons just graduated with an EE degree, good grades and plenty of summer experience in the EE field. He couldn't even get an interview with the power companies in California, never mind a job. And that was with plenty of contacts inside SDG&E, too.

On the other hand, why would he expect to find jobs in the power industry? Only a complete idiot would try to do more than maintain their existing power plants and perhaps not even that. Sure, you might build some transmission lines so you could buy power from Arizona or Mexico, but generate more power locally? Ha! Never!

Dude! Saving the planet is like totally righteous!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Can A Scientist Be An Atheist?

Just a quick one for a Sunday morning.

Whenever I've got a question about something in Catholicism and I dig into what's behind it, I always find a reasonable proof of the practice or article of faith derived from basic first principles. The recent hoo-hah about marriage is a good example. Since the days of St. Thomas Aquinas and his mentor, St. Albertus Magnus in the 1200s, Catholicism has reconciled classical philosophy, science and theology. Our definition of marriage is based upon a few, basic principles.
  1. Theology cannot contradict science.
  2. Biology shows that babies come from the union of one man and one woman.
  3. Babies are human beings which are created as distinct from other animals and are the apex of Creation as they have souls*.
Ergo, one man and one woman is a unique and special relationship above all others as it creates that which is above all others. We call that relationship, "marriage." You may not agree with it and you may prefer a more expansive definition, but you have to admit the Catholic position holds together logically.

Dittos with creation and existence. All of those nasty empirical constants that just happen to have values exactly what were needed to sustain life were created by a loving God who designed the Universe for us. Again, you don't have to agree with it to admit that it holds together.

As a scientist, if you're faced with a theory that works, in order to dispute it you need a superior theory. I've yet to encounter one in atheism. Atheists always get tripped up by the empirical constants, free will, consciousness and more. 

Money-grubbing charlatans like Sam Harris provide no defense as they wave their hands at these things while sneering at us. Nietzsche himself, perhaps the most honest atheist of all, struggled with (among other things) the concept of art in a Godless world. What the heck was it and why did we do it? I've consumed a bit of Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens, but once you strip away their scoffing, you're left with ... what?

It would be an interesting experiment to bring one of their books into Google Docs and delete all of the sections critical of religion, leaving only the parts where they posit an alternative theory of things. I wonder what would be left. Anything? "Science is great!" perhaps? I've already got that, thanks to St. Thomas Aquinas.

Where's the competing, superior theory?

If your opponent throws down a full house, you're going to need four of a kind or a straight flush to beat it. Holding a pair of jacks and yelling isn't going to work.
* - I'm butchering this one, but I hope you get the point.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Big Short And The Upcoming Huge Short

We saw the movie The Big Short yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite it being an indictment of some greedy people, the protagonists*, with one exception, were greedy and nihilistic themselves. Then again, nearly every movie these days is nihilistic. The movie felt like it was directed by a combination of the Communist Workers Party and Hugh Hefner. Having said that, I still really enjoyed it.

These days, if you're a traditionalist, you have the choice of accepting the popular culture's descent into decadence and enjoying what you can of it or not engaging with the culture at all. I figure you might as well enjoy some of it.

The movie tells the story of the guys who realized there was nothing of value behind the mountains of mortgage-backed bonds. There are some really chilling moments where they make one discovery after another showing that it's all a giant house of cards. As I watched, I thought about the much, much bigger house of cards that are national finances.

Dig this.
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet approved on Thursday (Dec 24) a record fiscal 2016 budget that counts on higher growth and tax revenue to achieve his aim of reviving the economy and reining in huge public debt.
The atomic bomb that went off in 2007 was contained by the Fed, the ECP and the BoJ printing mounds of unbacked money to buy up the worthless bonds and rescue the banks. There is no similar backstop for Japan, Europe or the US. I've blogged many times in the past about this, but watching the movie was somewhat frightening as I tried to envision what's coming.

Oh well.

Personally, I'm preparing by doing something I'd do whether a global currency crisis was coming or not - I'm paying off my mortgages so that I can live completely debt-free. I'm at a loss as to what else to do.

* - One can't call them heroes. These days, most movies have no heroes.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

... from all of us here in the luxurious Catican Compound to all of you out there in Internetland!

This changes everything,
I'm slogging my way through the King James Version of the Old Testament on Audible and it's confirming everything I learned from several readings of G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man. There was nothing like Jesus Christ before Him and I can't see that there will be anything like Him after. He brought personal salvation and, in a way, personal civilization to the world. His birth and life and death changed everything, everywhere for all time.

More on that in another blog post, perhaps. Now it's back to the family and fun. I hope you and yours have a blessed and fun-filled day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another Modified Christmas Carol

Oh the weather outside is frightful
And I am under my bed
Because I'm afraid of the weather
As I told you in the first line.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Modified Christmas Carol

Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
waiting for the light
waiting for the light
waiting for the light
waiting for the light
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Catch A Wave

... right when it starts to break and you might get a good photo.

I stopped on the way into work yesterday and shot some surf photos along Sunset Cliffs. This one spoke to me for some reason. I hope you like it, too. I left if fairly large, so it might be worth a click.


Monday, December 21, 2015

A Different Take On Rotherham

In Rotherham, England, Pakistani Muslim men took advantage of English girls on an enormous scale.

After reading another round of pro-Muslim immigration posts on Facebook, I wanted to post this video as a reply and ask if their daughters should go through this as well so they could show how open-minded they were.

Then I started wondering how Muslim women avoided these fates. Of course, they avoided it because they were raised in that culture and they knew how to behave so that they weren't preyed upon. Islamic women knew the rules. The British girls didn't.

Maybe Rotherham is what happens when you mix these cultures without educating the Westerners first on how to behave around the Muslims. If I add sodium to water, it combusts violently. It's not the fault of the sodium or the water, it's mine because I put them together in the first place. If I add Western girls to large groups of traditional Muslim men, maybe this is the reaction we should all expect.

See also: Sweden, descent into anarchy of.

This reads like an excuse of the rape gangs. It isn't. Instead, I'd suggest that it ought to be a lesson on just how different our cultures are. If you don't respect those differences, if you don't understand and appreciate them, truly terrible things can happen.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pick Your Incoming Citizens

... carefully because they're going to affect your future.

A while back, I wondered if we should just merge with Mexico. After all, to suggest that any Hispanic anywhere should not be allowed in is just plain racist. In all seriousness, if there really is a limit on immigration, not in word, but in deed, we're going to have to pick which people are allowed to become American citizens.

Donald Trump, curse him, actually made some sense with his "stop Muslim immigration" comments. Dig this.

I'm thinking, right off the top of my head, I probably don't want immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia or Niger, just to name a few. Sharia's not my thing, man. Life without beer and pork products is unthinkable.

If you click on the link above, you'll see where the locals believe in the death penalty for apostasy. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinian Reich Authority Areas top the list. Since I'm not into watching people get beheaded for deciding to abandon Islam, either, I might not want to bring those guys over here.

Note that Iran and Syria aren't on the list. No doubt they were washing their hair when the polling service called and couldn't make it to the phone.

The belief that these immigrants would Americanize once they got here is probably a fantasy. See also: Rotherham, Pakistani rape gangs of.

Islam holds that men are nearly incapable of suppressing their sexual urges. In order to prevent rape, women must dress modestly. If they don't, they are encouraging men to sin. If something comes of that, well, don't say you weren't warned. That goes for Western Infidel Whores, too. (If your neighborhood brings in a couple thousand of these guys, it might be best to start wearing a veil, just to be on the safe side, ladies.)

As for conversion to a local culture in general, I know that if I emigrated to, say, New Zealand, I'd still be a crazy Catholic and all the secularists and protestants in the world wouldn't get me to change. Thinking that Muslims are any less devoted is insulting to the Muslims.

Unfortunately, almost no one out there seems to be aware of Muslim views on Sharia or examples like Rotherham. Certainly no one in the media knows about these things. Instead, they cling to their religion of tolerance, diversity and all-cultures-are-equal. Everything is defined in American terms as if no one else has a different point of view. It's all about racism and bigotry because we can't see that significant differences exist between our culture and anyone else's. Their cultures are not defined by distinct ideas about life, but by superficial things like food and clothes.

On that point, watching the Muslim immigration debate unfold on my Facebook timeline, it's made me think that we've got a new generation of Ugly Americans, ones who dismiss other cultures by projecting their belief systems on them. Islam as "The Religion of Peace" is rubbish, not because Islam is evil, but because Islam has its own ways of defining the world and dealing with life. Some of those are violent, like stoning adulterers and beheading apostates.

No, really, that's what they do and it makes perfect sense to them. All the diversity coordinators in the bureaucracy and multiculturalists in the Ivy League aren't going to change their mind. Islam holds together as a well-constructed philosophy, faith and political system. You may or may not agree with it, but it's not the Des Moines Rotary Club under a different name.

So getting back to the original point, do we let everyone in or do we pick and choose? If we pick and choose, do we want Sharia supporters? That's the debate to have, not the one we're having now which is based upon a let's-pretend view of Islam.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's Getting Hard To Keep The Christmas Tree Green

... because every time I get down to pour some water into the tree stand, I get this little girl snuffling in my ear.

"Whatcha doin', Dad? Watcha doin'?" (snuffle snuffle snuffle)

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Simple Lesson In Jurisprudence

I love this guy. So natural. So relaxed. Seriously, he's a great extemporaneous speaker. Particularly when it comes to enslaving your enemies.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Praying To Global Warming, Err, Climate Change

A friend of mine posted some global warming climate change twaddle on Facebook recently. It was a screed of incomprehension at anyone who didn't treat global warming climate change like a civilization-ending threat. I didn't reply, but if I had, it would have gone something like this.
Actually, I kind of like what global warming climate change has accomplished. Oh sure, it might have made selective people in Syria and Iraq go crazy and blow things up (a selection process that seems to be limited to a particular group), but it's done wonders in keeping down the number of hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. What's that? It only makes bad things happen? Oh. Sorry. I didn't know that.
That global warming climate change only makes bad things happen and that it can cause anything it likes to occur makes it malevolently omnipotent. I feel like we should start sacrificing animals on a forest altar to the thing in the hopes of calming it down. Doesn't it seem like some kind of demon or devil? If we don't pile of corpses at its feet, it will kill us all!

No, not the sun-god, global warming climate change.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sleep Apnea All Star

So I've had sleep apnea for a while now. I can't remember the last time I got good sleep on consecutive days. It's a real bummer.

Two days ago, I went to the sleep apnea testing training class where they showed you how to use the overnight sensors that would record your sleep patterns to decide whether or not you really had sleep apnea.

I fell asleep in the class. Twice.

Why I still had to go through with the testing at home that night is beyond me. If someone falls asleep at the sleep apnea training session, that should earn them a gold star and a trip to the front of the line to grab the nearest CPAP machine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Violent Extremism" Means Never Having To Change Enemies

A little more on yesterday's post about "senseless violence."

The term, "violent extremism" fits the same mold. If the threat is "violent extremism," then you're not dealing with a coherent ideology or world view, you're dealing with crazy people. Crazy people can't really be classified into a group which then becomes an enemy, they're more of an amorphous blob of hateful loons that you can deal with one by one.

If an emerging threat has no shape, no center of gravity, no plan or goals or strategy, then you're free to cling to the enemies you had in the past. In this case, it's racism, sexism, homophobia, global warming climate change and income inequality. You don't have to rethink your view of the world because nothing has changed.

"Violent extremism" and "senseless violence" bring with them all kinds of benefits besides encouraging intellectual sloth. You can apply these labels universally to any group that happens to bother you at the moment. Hence we end up with Obama yapping about the Crusades, implying that mainstream Christians are just as prone to "senseless extremism" (or was that "violent violence?") as the Sunnis and Shiites. This is great, because traditionalist Christians are the ones he really hates with all their sexism and homophobia and judgmentalism.

Meanwhile, the world evolves as it always has. The Nazis are gone as are the Confederates (well, now that we've done away with that hateful flag of theirs). The Huns are no longer slaughtering orphans in Belgium and the Visigoths aren't coming over the Seven Hills of Rome, bent on rape and pillage right now. Instead, we've got new threats and new enemies.

The compound interest table is one. That's what makes an $18T debt so fearsome. Fertility rates and the destruction of the traditional family is another. To add a third, Islam really is a problem. It doesn't even need to be extremely extremist or senselessly senseless. It could by fuzzy and warm and benevolent like those goofy Saudis dressing their women in potato sacks or cheerfully zany like our new friends the Iranians hanging gays from construction cranes.

So what's the plan to deal with the largest debt ever seen? What's our take on the Pandora's Box of social pathologies opened by an explosion of "alternative" families? How are we going to live with a growing global power that by its very nature cannot separate religion and politics?

Oh, pah. Those aren't out real problems. Our real problems are "senseless violence" and "violent extremism."
Well, those and the Confederate flag, of course.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Senseless Violence And Cultural Bigotry

Yesterday at Mass, our super progressive priest (think Bernie Sanders with a collar) gave a homily in which he lamented the "senseless violence" in the Middle East and points emanating therefrom. It wasn't until that moment that it hit me why that term bothers me. To say their actions are senseless is to suggest that they have no motives, no thought, no plan and no goals. That's not true at all as Dinesh D'Souza so eloquently says in the video below.

Calling an attack by Islamists "senseless violence" also absolves you of having to identify and understand an enemy. Hey, man, these guys are just crazy! Who knows what they're going to do next or why? "Senseless" means you don't have to develop a strategy outside of taking all sharp objects away from everyone.

In short, this is the attitude of people who think that their way of thinking is the only way. They're on the "right side of history." Anyone who disagrees with them is clearly crazy. That list of crazy people includes you if you don't buy into their view of the world.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Climate Change Agreement In A Nutshell

As I understand it, fossil fuels and coal are on their way out. This means that Mr. Mobutu of Equatorial Guinea is not going to have that power plant built in his region. He's going to have to keep putting up with intermittent or non-existent power to his hovel because the Americans are afraid the temperature is going to rise one degree.


Link Of The Day

You may have already seen this, but here's Jonah Goldberg's weekly G-File. My favorite bit:
(F)or some reason despite being inexorable law in our own lives, and an indelible lesson of human history, this rule (standing up for oneself) is somehow suspended when it comes to a bunch of savages in the desert. We must not do what ISIS wants because a bunch of barbarians have the gift of perfect foresight into how events will play out.

The refusal to contemplate that we’re stronger and smarter than our enemies strikes me as a kind of crisis in confidence. It’s related to all sorts of notions – violence doesn’t solve anything, “blowback,” etc – that people only invoke to impose limitations on America’s scope of action.
Emphasis mine.

I have no interest in putting infantry into the region, but I'd have no problem at all with waves of B-52s blotting their cities off the map. Yeah, yeah, I know. Collateral damage. Like I care. If you continue to be passive in the face of terror and attacks or if you wait for the locals to stir themselves to some kind of ineffectual action, you'll never get what you want.

If we want to smash ISIS, then use your strengths and smash ISIS.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines

Drink Tray

“Enemy-occupied territory---that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” - C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 


Christian high schools denied prayer before football game


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Not Choose Your Own Adventure, Choose Your Own Hero And Heroine

Back in the day, I loved to watch The Wild, Wild West. My favorite character was not Robert Conrad's Jim West, but Ross Martin's Artemus Gordon. I wanted to see more of his guile and cunning, but that wasn't going to happen. West was the focus of the show and that was that.

In choose-your-own-adventure stories, you make decisions for the hero or heroine and the plot unfolds as you do. What if instead of choosing their actions, you had some way of signalling which character(s) you liked the best and the story followed them? Instead of a preselected hero ending up either dead or standing atop a pile of treasure at the end due to your decisions, the romance ended up with two people not originally intended as the focal points of the story?

As this would create a massive decision tree for the narrative arc, I don't think you could do this with a static set of scenes. Instead, I would do it procedurally, with a computer program pushing the story along according to your choices.


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Chinese Will Help Combat Global Warming

... as soon as they can find their way to work through the smog.
Tuesday marked the first day that Beijing initiated an emergency red alert for toxic smog. The move shuttered schools across the city, ground construction to a halt and left the Chinese capital’s roads unusually quiet, with half the city’s cars ordered off the streets.

Still, that didn’t stop pollution from spiking as high as 367 on the air quality index as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a monitor maintained by the U.S. Embassy. China’s air-quality index has a maximum reading of 500, with the government describing anything above 300 as “severely polluted.”
Let's see here. The air in China is so toxic that people are being forced to stay indoors, inert, like some bad, 1970's, dystopian science fiction movie, but the real threat is a 0.2 degree increase in temperature at some unspecified date in the future which will bring about nothing but calamities, none of which have shown up yet. Right.

This is one more example of living in the religious fantasy world of our academics, politicians and media. According to them, we should be handing over power and money to stop slight warming while people just like them in China totally wreck their environment. Brilliant.

Like the US Navy, China is haze gray and under way! Err, well, maybe not completely under way. Most people should stay home. But they are haze gray!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Link of the Week (Link of the Year?)

This one blew me away. It's what I wish I could write. Here's a teaser. Read the whole thing.
(I)t is a meaningless question to ask whether President Obama or anyone else ‘actually’ believes that Global Warming causes terrorism, or ‘actually’ thinks we should not pray for the victims of a mass shooting because Caesar is more potent than God. There is no ‘actually’ with these people: there is nothing below the surface appearance.

The surface appearance, by design, is all that there is. Intellectual honesty and introspection are what their mental system is designed to avoid.

So, yes, the Left ‘actually’ believes (1) if only given control over the economy, that the State has the power to stop the weather from ever changing again and (2) the fact that weather changes makes Muslims (but not Christians or Jews living in the same villages, same area, same clime) plan and carry out large-scale sneak attacks against random innocent civilians and (3) we, and not Mohammed, are responsible for what Mohammedans think, say, believe and do.

From this, the Left ‘actually’ conclude that, ergo, if only we gave Caesar more control over our money, time, property, speech, press and inward thoughts, then Caesar would force us to do the right things and say the right things, and then the Mohammedans, who are actually controlled by us, would all become yuppie Democrats as peaceful as campus protesters and race rioters and occupy anarchists and the KKK and whatever other movement Democrats have started and maintained.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Fried Pork Chops

I played around with some pork chops the other night and the results were spectacular so I thought I'd share them.

It's pork chop go time!
Ordinarily, you season some flour, coat the chops in that and then wash them in beaten eggs and then dredge them in bread crumbs before frying in vegetable oil. I made a few, simple modifications as follows.
  1. The chops were frozen when I got home, so I thawed and brined them at the same time. I added salt and sugar to a pot of water, heated it to about 125 and then added the frozen chops. You're supposed to brine in cold water and for a much longer time, but I figured every little bit of flavoring and tenderizing helped.
  2. I used fresh herbs where I could instead of dried. I diced up some rosemary and thyme from our garden for the seasonings. Salt, pepper and garlic powder rounded out the mix.
  3. I rubbed the seasonings directly on the meat instead of adding it to the flour. I figured this would be a more direct method of seasoning the pork chops and the flavor would be sure to stick.
  4. I then did the flour - beaten eggs - bread crumbs bit.
  5. For the first time ever, I fried in corn oil. A few weeks back, I stood like a nerdy dufus in Costco in front of the oils, consulting my phone as to smoke points and flavoring of the various oils. I'd never bought corn oil, but thought I'd take a chance. What a winner! I'll never fry in anything else again. Fabulous! It added a subtle sweetness to the food with no bitter or burnt taste at all.
The results speak for themselves. Tender and delicious!
One more thing. I highly recommend getting an infrared thermometer. I use it for frying and warming water for thawing. It works like a champ. You can get your oil or water or pan to the right temperature with no guesswork and then turn the heat down to stabilize things. No more burning food!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Leaving The "Elite" Far Behind

Yesterday there was a homepage article on the WSJ on the San Bernardino attacks claiming that the motives for the attack were still undetermined. This is as it should be if you're an Ivy Leaguer, diversity coordinator, multiculturalist or progressive political figure. We can't leap to conclusions and Islam is a religion of peace.

When I read it, early in the morning, there were over 4000 comments on the thing, 98% of which were people howling at how stupid the thing was. It was patently obvious to the common folk that Islam was the motive. The chasm between right-thinking people and the dimwitted brutes that make up the bulk of America was huge.

One of the idiots in the comment thread even had the gall to link to the Koran, Chapter 47 which contains this. The payoff comes near the end, in italics and bold from yours truly. Think about what it means.
47:1 Those who disbelieve and turn (men) from Allah’s way, He will destroy their works.

47:2 And those who believe and do good, and believe in that which has been revealed to Muhammad — and it is the Truth from their Lord — He will remove their evil from them and improve their condition.

47:3 That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the Truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah set forth their descriptions for men.

47:4 So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make (them) prisoners, and afterwards (set them free) as a favour or for ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (shall be so). And if Allah please, He would certainly exact retribution from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never allow their deeds to perish.

47:5 He will guide them and improve their condition.

47:6 And make them enter the Garden, which He has made known to them.

47:7 O you who believe, if you help Allah, He will help you and make firm your feet.

47:8 And those who disbelieve, for them is destruction, and He will destroy their works.

47:9 That is because they hate that which Allah reveals, so He has rendered their deeds fruitless.

Friday, December 04, 2015

The NRA And The San Bernardino Attack

... have no relationship at all. The Democrats have held a supermajority in both houses, the governorship and everything else in the state long enough to have enacted any gun laws they wanted. They could have made it practically impossible to by a gun, ammunition or anything else associated with weaponry at any time, but they didn't. They could have instituted gun buy back programs, created massive, strict re-registration drives and gone house-to-house with warrants from the Democratic AG and some arch-liberal judge looking for guns. None of that happened.

So the next time someone online raves about gun control as a result of this act of terrorism, the proper response is, "Well, why didn't the progressives do something to stop it?"

Err, Chris? Your party runs the whole state, lock, stock and two smoking barrels. Not sure why you're yelling at me for praying.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

What Comes After "It's Not About Islam?"

So a very religious Islamic couple shot up a place in San Bernardino yesterday. Everyone trotted out their favorite talking points and hobby horses. Some were more successful than others. As this continues to happen and many of the perpetrators leave behind videos and manifestos and trails leading to mosques, the "It's not about Islam" line is going to be harder and harder to sell to the average person. There are large chunks of the Koran dedicated to whacking infidels and that's just the way it is.

So what comes next from the "It's not about Islam" crowd? How about, "All religions are the same." The Crusades will be brought up and Westboro Baptist Church and who knows what else. Everyone will be tarred with the same brush of superstition, xenophobia and hatred. That's already done to some extent, but it's going to get louder when one can no longer write off this kind of terrorism as being completely divorced from Islam.

The only other choice will be to pass judgment on the different worldviews out there and find some better than others and that's not going to happen.

Update: On a related note, Mollie Hemingway has a great piece up at The Federalist. Read the whole thing. Here's my favorite bit.
Theodicy attempts to defend God’s goodness and omnipotence in light of the existence of evil. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” the question goes. (To which a Lutheran might reply, “Trick question! There are no good people!”) There are various schools of thought and debate, rekindled with every hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, act of terror, and mass shooting. Progressives seem to begin their response to tragedy with the question, “Why do bad things happen to good governments?”

The theodicy of federal government seeks to defend the goodness of government in the face of tragedy. So just as some religious groups might blame a weather event on insufficient fealty to the relevant god, some progressives blame — before we actually know what is even going on in a given tragedy — insufficient fealty, sacrifice, and offerings to the relevant god of federal government. And so they explain that the god of good government would have been able to take care of us if only we’d given it sufficient power to do so.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Watercolor Dogs

... at least that's what this photo looks like to me. I shot with my phone at night, lit only by the stairway light. I was at a distance, so the details are fuzzy. Of course, the dogs are fuzzy, too, but that's a different story.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Little Old Testament Fun

... from Twitter.

I've got a couple of posts rolling around in my head, but I don't have time to do them justice, so I'll leave you with this little bit of silliness.