Sunday, January 31, 2016

Well, You Can Cross Macedonia Off Your Vacation Destination List

Dig this.
Europe is bottling up migrants at the foot of the Balkans as its other plans for stemming the migration crisis flounder.

European Union member states have sent border guards, police vehicles and fingerprinting machines to Macedonia, a nonmember of the bloc. The goal: to squeeze the river of people still streaming north from Greece toward Germany into a trickle, turning away all but those from warn-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq.
It's the perfect solution! Tens of thousands of enemy light infantry units are pouring into Europe. Let's pen them up in some country we hate. Hmm. I know, how about Macedonia? They're the rednecks of Europe, after all, or something like that. Screw Macedonia. Let the "refugees" do a number on them for a while while we go back to the real work of holding meetings, drafting resolutions and making pronouncements.

Macedonia is a country of 2 million people and it's already 33% Muslim. One can only imagine what Macedonia is going to be like in a month or so. If I were the Macedonians, I'd be debating whether or not this was an act of war by the rest of Europe. After all, it wasn't Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov who invited them all in, it was that buckethead Angela Merkel.

The per capita income in Macedonia is about $13,000 vs. $46,000 in Germany. If the invasion was starting to swamp German resources, it must have simply blown away Macedonian resources. The place is hosed, make no mistake. Imagine living in a trailer park and having your worst relatives move in with you for an extended visit. Now imagine that you didn't invite them, they were invited by the people that live in the gated community down the road.

Oh yeah, I'll bet the Macedonians love the Germans.

In what little time I had left before the long, dark night of Sharia descended like a shroud on my country, I'd be wondering how much damage some teams of Macedonian saboteurs could do to the German infrastructure. If I'm going down, I'm taking someone with me. Want to know what it's like living in squalid conditions, shoulder-to-shoulder with masses of enemy infantry? Well dig this, you lousy Krauts. KA-BOOM! There goes the German power grid.

By the way, we haven't forgotten about this, either.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The "Why Not?" Election

Taking a break in the office yesterday, we batted around the insanity that is the American presidential election. We're a diverse group with arch-conservatives, leftists, Trumpkins and a Catholic moral scold or two thrown in for good measure. Our unanimous take on the primaries and the major candidates was, "What in the world is going on?"

Hillary has months, maybe weeks to live, unless political levers are thrown. The leaks you see in the press are just the battles in the White House being taken to the public. The press secretary says Hillary isn't a target for the investigation while the FBI is leaking that JWICS (top secret) information was found in her emails.

Bernie and Trump are simply nuts. The remaining Republican candidates aren't getting a chance to be heard and it's not obvious that it would matter if they were.

That last is the key. Everyone has heard their promises before and none of them have been kept. For conservatives, border security has been promised for 20+ years and it's as bad as it's ever been. For progressives, they keep looking outside, but Santa has yet to bring them any free unicorns*.

So why not vote for Trump or Bernie? Yes, they're insane, but what difference does it make? Why not take a flyer this time? We keep trying to be issues-driven and serious and all we get are lies and broken promises.

Jonah Goldberg has a typically well-written column this weekend about how Trump is a boor and being a boor isn't the same as standing up against opponents of free speech. Or something like that. He's right, but it doesn't matter. Who cares if Trump screams the n-word on live TV? We've voted for stable and well-mannered candidates and the deficit is $18T, wages are stagnant, there's no growth and all that.

I think my man Ted Cruz is the only one who could break through this, but he's got to change his message. He's made buckets of enemies by calling out the Republican leadership for being craven liars. He needs to turn that around and keep hammering on the positive version of that same message.

"I know you've been lied to by candidates in the past. I'm not one of them. I mean what I say."
* - I'm paraphrasing here. Work with me.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Shoes As An Art Form

My first and probably last post on women's shoes.

A friend at work has a monthly calendar of women's shoes. I've always been a big fan of beautiful women and many of them wear shoes, but until she and I started going over the calendar together, just for fun, comparing our takes on the shoes, I never saw them as an art form.

Dig these Mojitos from Julian Hakes.

I thought these were really cool.
Are they comfortable? Here's a review that goes both ways on that question.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

And What, Pray Tell, Will Go On Outside Of The "Safe Spaces?"

Longtime friend of the blog, Dean, brought this to our attention.
#SMDH Cologne: 'Safe zone' for women planned ahead of city's carnival | via @Telegraph
Here's the main part.
Authorities in the German city of Cologne are to set up a “safe zone” for women during the annual carnival which begins next week, to avoid a repeat of the New Year sex attacks on women...

There are concerns the large crowds could leave women vulnerable to the sort of attacks seen on New Year’s Eve, when police were heavily outnumbered.
Awesome. If you're a woman. just be sure to stay inside the secured perimeter. Of Cologne. One of the oldest cities in a first-world nation. A nation that's not at war.

Two areas for questions.
  1. Is this permanent? In the coming months, will there be handy maps put on the street corners letting women know where they can and cannot go? Wouldn't it just be easier for women to start wearing hijabs so they can go anywhere in the city? How is this different from total capitulation to the Muslims?
  2. Just what, pray tell, can be expected during "Carnival" outside of these "Safe Spaces?" All I can think of is the old Star Trek episode, Return of the Archons and "Festival." Something like this:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ostrich Awakening

I may be wrong, but it looks to me like the head-in-the-sand routine isn't going to last much longer. Kurt Schlichter, admittedly a racist, homophobic Rethuglican, penned a devastating piece about how classified material got onto Hillary's email server.
If these new revelations are true, then it appears Hillary Clinton systematically conspired with her minions to transmit classified information from secure systems to her unsecure server. It’s not merely hard to see how she is not guilty of multiple violations of Section 1924. It’s impossible.
The Washington Post is starting to dig deeper into this, if only in opinion pieces. A friend told me he'd seen something in the New York Times as well. If the White House was hoping this whole thing would just blow over, they must be despairing now. With a week to go before the first primary, there must be some volcanic arguments going on within the Administration about whether to indict and when.

Monday, January 25, 2016

What If The Hillary Email Thing Was Simple Espionage?

Here's something that I've not read anywhere.

What if Hillary was selling classified material to our enemies? Could that have been one of the purposes for the home email server? Dig this.
The FBI is investigating whether members of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle “cut and pasted” material from the government’s classified network so that it could be sent to her private email address, former State Department security officials say.

Clinton and her top aides had access to a Pentagon-run classified network that goes up to the Secret level, as well as a separate system used for Top Secret communications.

The two systems — the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) — are not connected to the unclassified system, known as the Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet). You cannot email from one system to the other, though you can use NIPRNet to send ­emails outside the government.
There's an air gap between SIPRNet, JWICS and the unclassified system, NIPRNet. That is, there is no way to send electronic data between them. Despite that, data was getting from one network to another. How? I'd been wondering about this for some time for a couple of reasons and this article now states what surely must have been happening. It's simply inconceivable that the Secretary of State could do her job without access to SIPRNet and JWICS information.

So Hillary's cronies were stealing classified information (I can't think of another term for it) and sending it on to their boss who met with plenty of foreign leaders, many of whom contributed large sums of cash to the Clinton Foundation. Everyone assumes that the two events are unconnected.

How would it look different if Hillary was selling us out?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cowboys And Oysters Don't Mix

Stricken man: "I ... shouldn't have ... eaten those ... oysters ... They'd been out ... in the desert sun ... so long!"

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sarah Palin Sounds Like Bernie Sanders. And Vice Versa.

So Sarah Barracuda came out and endorsed Donald Trump. I heard about it on Twitter where everyone on the right was yelling about betrayal and snarking that her endorsement speech was rambling and incoherent. I then listened to a pair of podcasts with the same perspective where they played parts of her speech and I heard it for the first time.

I have no idea what everyone's on about. I know I'm now supposed to hate Sarah Palin from both the left and the right and I'm obligated to sneer at her alleged stupidity, but I just don't see it.

Her speech was indeed rambling and poorly constructed, but all of her speeches have been like that, unless carefully written by someone else. It's who she is. So what? Some of the smartest people I've known aren't able to string three sentences together without mangling grammar and structure.

What was more interesting than her speaking style was the underlying theme of her speech. Removing what little policy talk there was, it was indistinguishable from a Bernie Sanders or a Ted Cruz speech.

Sarah spoke passionately about a political structure that has lost touch with the people. She talked of an establishment that cares only for the lobbyists and big donors and never carries through on their promises to the voters. (How long have we been promised control of our southern border? 20 years now?) It's an elite that has failed to hide its scorn for the average American. How is that different from Sanders or Cruz?

I'm no Trumpkin, but I can't see why I should hate on Sarah Palin over this.

Jon Stewart, the King of Ignorant, Dimwitted Sneering, telling me why I should hate Sarah Palin.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ignorance All The Way Up

... not all the way down.

There's a WSJ article on the Fed's new projections for the economy. It's not very good. Embedded in that article is the real story - the fact that the economic modelers at the Fed, who should be some of the very best in the country, are essentially ignorant of how the economy works. Here's the chart that says it all.

Outside of 2013, the Fed's models have consistently missed way high. Morons.
For the last 4 years, the Fed has been unable to project economic growth. I've no doubt their models aren't things they just cooked up, they represent a synthesis of the finest of modern thought on macro-economics.

It's all rubbish. They should have known it was rubbish from the start.

In the last 4 years, government meddling has wrecked the pricing of debt, taken control of the entire healthcare industry and larded up the Federal Register with mounds of new regulations. That they think those actions would lead to growth in the 3-5% range is a tribute to their theology, but not rational, evidence-based thought.

The data is right in front of them, but I doubt the larger lessons are being learned. It's hard to give up your religion, even if what you worship is the State.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Coffee And Potato Chips

... are similar in that by the time you realize you shouldn't consume any more, it's too late. With coffee, when the jitters hit, stopping only shortens how long they'll last. With potato chips, or other greasy snacks, when you start feeling queasy, stopping only limits the duration of the nausea.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Italy Needs To Appoint A Commission!

And double-quick! We've got to find out where all of the bad loans on the banks' balance sheets are coming from!
The increased levels of bad loans confronting the Italian banking system is raising investors’ concerns about the health of the sector, prompting another selloff in local banking stocks on Tuesday.

According to data published Tuesday by Italy’s banking lobby ABI, Italian banks’ gross bad loans, measured at their face value, stood at €201 billion in November, 11% higher than the same period a year prior.

Gross bad loans were 10.4% of total loans in November, the highest percentage figure since 1996.
Let's see if we can get the commission started.
  • The Italian government is deeply in debt. Their loans are probably worthless.
  • The Italian population, less Muslims, is aging and decreasing. Not to be rude, but taking a look at the European Muslim community, I'm not sure I want to be lending them money.
  • Private Italian corporations are strangled with socialist / fascist regulations. I don't think you can expect much of an ROI on loans to them.
  • In an act of codependency, the ECB is constantly enabling basket-case countries all around Europe to borrow more money. Again, more unreliable sovereign debt.
Hmm. Wait a sec. Maybe we need to redirect the commission.

The question isn't what's the source of all the bad loans, the question really is how are there any good loans in the first place?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fried Catfish

I made fried catfish last night without a recipe. I seasoned some flour with paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and a few other odds and ends and that was the hard part of the effort. I used catfish nuggets - they're cheap and since they come in small pieces, are conducive to frying because they can be arranged easily in the oil. The steps were simple.
  1. Dredge catfish nugget in seasoned flour.
  2. Wash the nugget in beaten egg.
  3. Coat the nugget in panko bread crumbs.
  4. Fry in about 1" of corn oil, heated to ~350 degrees, approximately 3 minutes on a side.
The trick that made them come out so well was to bread them all ahead of time so they went into the hot oil as a group rather than individually. 

In the past, I had my breading setup next to the pan and did one at a time, dropping it in the oil when it was done. That meant the cooking time for the nuggets (or the chicken pieces) varied wildly. Some were in for quite a while and some just a short time since I would lose track of which ones went in first. I generally took all of the pieces out at the same time, so some would be overcooked and some underdone. That's bad with catfish and terrible with chicken. No one wants to bite into underdone chicken.

The other advantage of pre-breading was that I could do it in a large space instead of the cramped quarters next to the stove. Once done, I had a plate with layers of breaded catfish separated with sheets of wax paper, waiting to be dropped into the oil. It also gave me time to do the dishes and clean the counter so the post-meal festivities didn't include facing a kitchen that looked like a fish fry bomb had gone off in it.

All in all, a delicious, relaxing meal. Yay!


Monday, January 18, 2016

A Simple Way To End Wall Street Greed

... would be to move the New York Stock Exchange to Toronto.

With a single act, we could put an end to the villainy of the speculative class in the United States once and for all.

Good riddance, eh?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Little Bit Of Thinking Out Loud About The Markets

So oil is in a tailspin and the markets, particularly in Asia, are getting hammered. Here are a few odds and ends swimming around in my head that may or may not connect to make anything valuable or coherent.
  • As I understand it, the Saudis and Russians are pumping more oil to maintain cash flow in the face of falling prices. This pushes prices down even more.
  • The Chinese are finally seeing the end of government stimulus-related demand. After all, you can only build so many empty cities.
  • The Baltic Dry Index is way low. That means that shipping is very weak, which means that international trade is shrinking.
  • Every major nation has destroyed their equity and debt pricing mechanisms by printing huge amounts of money.
Where does this leave one of my favorite basket-case economies, Japan? 
  • They've shown a willingness to print money to buy things that the market won't buy, be they stocks or roads and bridges. 
  • Their debt is monstrous, but pretty much internal. 
  • As Japan's economy is very dependent on exports, if international trade falls off, their exports will fall off and their big companies will see reduced profits or even losses.
  • That will cause ... the Japanese Central Bank to print more money and buy more things?
When does this lead people to dump the yen and cause a full-blown currency crisis? Does anyone outside of Japan hold enough Japanese anything (bonds, stocks, etc) to cause a Yen-dumping?

More broadly, countries all around the globe have masked the effects of recession by printing money and creating false demand. What does the end of this cycle look like? How can you see it coming? Is this market drop the start of it as people and firms sell off assets to get cash to pay bills they can't pay as they no longer make money through business transactions?

Hmm. Maybe in a future post, I'll look at a family budget analogy and see how far that takes me. This one has too many moving parts and is too far outside of my ken to make sense.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

What Husbands Say, What Wives Hear

Continuing along with some tidbits I picked up from listening to the surprisingly good How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, here's the problem with talking from the woman's point of view.

While men are triggered by shame - the shame of failing as providers and protectors - women are triggered by fear, the fear of losing relationships and the support they provide. If they don't feel safe in the relationship, for whatever reason, when their man criticizes them, their fear response overrides rational thought and they can't hear what you're saying. Instead, what they hear is: "Blah blah blah I don't love you blah blah blah I won't be there for you blah blah blah I might even hurt you."

It's like this, only with fewer hairballs.
The different reactions between men and women can result in a vicious cycle.
  1. The woman feels insecure in the relationship, so she wants to talk about it like she does with her girlfriends.
  2. When she talks, all the man hears is that she thinks he's a failure.
  3. The man withdraws even more, so the woman redoubles her efforts to get them to talk things out.
  4. The man finally has had enough of his manhood being questioned (it isn't, but that's how he's designed to react when he feels unsafe in the relationship) and he criticizes her.
  5. Already nervous, her automatic reactions take over and all she hears is that he doesn't love her any more and her fear increases.
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Yay! Let's talk about our relationships some more!

As long as both parties feel safe in the relationship, this cycle is unlikely to happen. When it starts and you feel like your wife is telling you you're a failure, you've got to recognize it and fight through it. Instead of reacting by sulking or yelling, you've got to make an effort to show her she's loved and you won't abandon her. Don't question her reactions because you think she's overly sensitive, just accept them. It's the way she's wired. Conversely, the woman needs to take care not to shame her husband.

I would argue that the book only works if both of you read it. If you don't, one side or the other will pretty quickly begin to feel like a doormat as you'll react with love to defuse the situation and they'll still be thinking your reactions are childish or crazy and keep doing the things that trigger you.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What Wives Say, What Husbands Hear

Audible had a $4.95 sale recently. Most of the titles didn't turn me on, but one, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, seemed like it was worth a $5 bill, particularly because my wife and I teach the remarriage class for the diocese. I just finished it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

The premise is that because men and women communicate differently and have very different triggers, talking about your relationship is probably a bad idea. Instead, you need to understand how your partner sees things and what causes fear/shame responses and then change your behavior. Talking is likely to lead to negative responses.

In the case of men, we hear any criticism as an attack on our abilities as a protector and provider. It's like the old Far Side cartoon.

When wives want to talk about the relationship or when they criticize, that means we've failed to make them happy and we're doing a bad job. Women try to tell us what they'd like to see changed, but all we hear is "Blah blah blah failure blah blah blah not good enough blah blah blah can't meet my needs blah blah blah." Our reactions include anger, resentment and withdrawal.

There's much more to it than that and the book has some weak spots, but I picked up quite a bit from it. The whole concept of trying to avoid talking about the relationship is new and different and the techniques suggested deserve consideration.

More on this in later posts.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Donald Trump Is Having A Blast

I've like to use clipconverter to turn YouTube recordings I don't have time to watch into MP3s that I can listen to in the car. It's a really neat tool.

Recently, I've been picking candidates' speeches from YouTube and sampling them as I drive. These speeches give you a really good sense of what the person believes and who they are. Yesterday, I listened to this Trump speech and this Cruz speech. It was enlightening.

First, I'm warming to Trump. I don't think he's got a platform you can really put your finger on, but he's having a really good time out there. He's a very happy warrior, soaking up all the attention and just riffing on whatever it is he wants. People are eating it up because it's so genuine. As a president, I think he'd be the same guy - having a ball with whatever came his way and basking in the attention of millions. That last is what gets him going in the morning. He's an egotist from the word "Go!" His cheerfulness and enthusiasm is infectious.

Cruz is now my first choice even though he's pretty dour compared to Trump. That speech linked above takes a 2x4 to the Republican leadership, something that's long overdue. When it comes to substance, I think Cruz has it in spades. I know I'm supposed to hate Cruz, but I can't figure out why. All I know is that my progressive friends think he's the devil incarnate and the Republican poohbahs and pundits (like David Brooks) despise him.

In both of these cases, Trump and Cruz, I think I like them for the enemies they've made.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Want My Phone To Be Proud Of Me

I've got a Samsung Galaxy S5 on Verizon and recently turned on the S Health fitness app. Just to get a quick start, I picked what seemed to be the default goals of 6,000 steps a day and 60 minutes of activity. Now I find myself getting chastised by my phone on lazy days to the point where I'm almost nervous that my phone is going to yell at me for sloth.

It's so bad that I don't take it out of my pocket and plug it in to charge unless I know I'm going to be sitting down so that I get credit for every step I take.

One of our sons does the same thing. He recently said, "I don't want to disappoint my phone."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bernie Sanders Has His Fingers On The Pulse

... of snot-nosed college kids who think everything can be had for free and cliché-loving progressives. My favorite of his quips was where he showed confusion about secured and unsecured loans. "Why do we pay 3% for mortgages and 8% for student loans?" or something like that. It was breathtaking in it's ignorance and stupidity.

Close behind that gem is this one, seen on a friend's Facebook stream.

Err, dude? When you wipe out the traditional family, you end up with a tidal wave of social pathologies which lead to more criminals which means more prisons. On the flip side, without two parents, kids don't do so well in school and don't go to college.

Oh, what the heck. Why not join in? After all, if we can put a man on the moon, we ought to be able to come up with interesting and catchy clichés.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cologne: Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own

... said Josef Stalin as his massive, but qualitatively inferior Red Army rolled the Nazis back all the way to Berlin even though they took massive casualties along the way.

Here's a new tidbit on the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Cologne.
The men (who attacked the women), speaking Arabic and seemingly either drunk or high on drugs, moved around in large groups among a gathering of around 1,000 male migrants and deliberately targeted women. The men easily outnumbered the 190 police officers on duty, who were quickly overwhelmed.
5-1 odds can be dealt with only if you've got superior firepower and are willing to use it. If you're not willing to use it, it's light infantry close combat and overwhelming numbers will, well, overwhelm you.

Meanwhile, at the Mall St. Matthews in Kentucky, there was a similar situation.
Chain-reaction brawls involving up to 2,000 people erupted in one of Kentucky's largest malls Saturday night, forcing the entire mall and businesses in the surrounding area to shut down, police said.
In that case, there were 50 cops and 2,000 rioters. That's 40-1 odds. At that ratio, unless your superior firepower involves mass-effect, standoff weapons (think AC-130 gunships), you're toast. In fact, at that ratio, the last thing you want to do is draw your sidearms and fire. Escalating the situation is not a one-sided affair. As soon as the 2,000 think they`re threatened, it's going to go from a riot to a massacre followed by a sacking of the mall.

Bonus bit from Cologne:
The report by a senior officer added: ‘When we arrived [at the square] our vehicles were pelted with firecrackers. On the cathedral steps were a thousand people, mainly of immigrant background, who were indiscriminately throwing fireworks and bottles into the crowd.

‘Women literally had to run the gauntlet through the mass of drunk men in a way you can’t describe ….many came to officers shocked and crying to report sex assaults. We were unable to respond to all the offences. There were just too many.’
The Cologne attacks made me think of my previous objections to allowing the immigrants into Europe - you were essentially importing large numbers of enemy light infantry. Now we can see what the results of that look like.

Fortunately, we can count on the fact that the immigrants are to stupid to take any lessons from these attacks and see that with localized numerical superiority, they can get away with practically anything.

Err, we can count on that, can't we?

Wehrmacht soldiers in Russia, ca 1941. The finest army in the world at that time.
They lost.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

The Confederate Flag Is Conducive To Racial Harmony

A while back, we were at a dinner party with friends. One of them got pretty hammered and, as he always does when he's drunk, he started talking politics. He's an orthodox atheist progressive and his topics are pretty predictable. This time he went off on the Confederate flag and how racist Southern whites were. Not being drunk, I just smiled and nodded my head, grateful that he hadn't gone with his favorite topic, Watergate.

A day or so later, I stumbled across this page from the Census Bureau which gives a measure of racial integration by city. Here's their definition of the "Dissimilarity Index," their measure of integration.
The dissimilarity index is the most commonly used measure of segregation between two groups, reflecting their relative distributions across neighborhoods within a city or metropolitan area. It can range in value from 0, indicating complete integration, to 100, indicating complete segregation.
Looking at the data, I noticed something right away. All of the top 10 most segregated cities are in the Union. Looking farther down the table, only 2 of the worst 20 are in Dixie. Check it out.

Rank Metro Area Side Black Pop White Pop Total Pop Dissimilarity Index
1 Gary, IN Union 122,686 428,791 631,362 87.9
2 Detroit, MI Union 1,012,262 3,096,900 4,441,551 86.7
3 Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Union 232,247 1,116,150 1,500,741 84.4
4 New York, NY Union 2,118,957 3,684,669 9,314,235 84.3
5 Chicago, IL Union 1,541,641 4,798,533 8,272,768 83.6
6 Newark, NJ Union 440,597 1,196,664 2,032,989 83.4
7 Flint, MI Union 88,356 323,136 436,141 81.2
8 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY Union 134,645 965,233 1,170,111 80.4
9 Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH Union 412,782 1,697,660 2,250,871 79.7
10 Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, MI Union 40,875 332,429 403,070 79.1
11 Nassau-Suffolk, NY Union 223,122 2,105,352 2,753,913 79
12 Johnstown, PA Union 5,492 223,066 232,621 78.8
13 St. Louis, MO-IL Union 474,549 2,014,776 2,603,607 78
14 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Union 212,452 1,375,267 1,646,395 78
15 Birmingham, AL Dixie 276,044 611,574 921,106 77.4
16 Kankakee, IL Union 15,942 80,829 103,833 77.3
17 Gadsden, AL Dixie 15,120 84,919 103,459 77.1
18 Philadelphia, PA-NJ Union 1,008,173 3,583,090 5,100,931 76.9
19 Bergen-Passaic, NJ Union 104,677 890,640 1,373,167 76.8
20 Benton Harbor, MI Union 25,729 126,798 162,453 76.6

Since the Stars and Bars are really only displayed in the old Confederacy, this would suggest that flying that flag leads to integration in some way. At the very least, there's a correlation.


Just doing my part to bring us all closer together.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Dog Is My Copilot

I'm sorry, I know it's an old gag, but I couldn't help it. I stopped at a chef supply store briefly on the way back from the Fiesta Island dog park with the Catican Guards and came out to find this situation in my car.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Cologne: Who Are The Authorities Protecting?

Yesterday, we looked at the crazy thought that women might need a man to protect them when it comes to close combat. After laying down with a cool, damp washcloth on my head for a few hours, taking some aspirin and practicing deep-breathing exercises, I think I'm ready to take it a step further.

Dean left this comment on that post:
I think the real question is, why was this allowed to happen? Why were these predators allowed into Germany without proper vetting?
The underlying question to me is this: Who are the German authorities protecting here? Clearly, it's not the German women. They were instantly dismissed when it came time to draw conclusions about the attackers who were "North African or Arabic men." The media rang with cries of "No, no, no! We must not generalize!" from the authorities. Instead, there were recommendations to German women on how to not provoke sexual assaults in the future.

Just in case you haven't been following along, here's a decent summary with these key grafs:
Dozens of women trying to see in the New Year in the centre of Cologne found themselves trapped in a crowd of some 1,000 men, who groped them, tore off their underwear, shouted lewd insults and threw fireworks at them.

To make matters worse, a series of sexual assaults that would normally make headline news went almost completely unreported for five days - and the scale of what happened that night in the western German city is only now emerging.
Returning to the main point, I would suggest that the authorities aren't protecting the Muslim immigrants, either. It's all well and good to grope the fraus when you've got numerical superiority, but even with mass immigration and fertility rates that are triple the Germans', the Muslims are still a minority. How long can you whack a nest of post-modern, effete, metrosexual, German hornets before they re-discover the glories of the Reich?

I'm guessing this guy and his buddies wouldn't have put up with mass sexual assaults on the fraus by foreigners for very long.
So who are the authorities protecting? Themselves. Not in a physical sense, but in a religious sense.

Multiculturalism, feminism and subjective morality are religious beliefs that the post-modern left clings to with all their strength. To make the reasonable conclusions from the data in Cologne, Malmo, Rotherham and elsewhere would smash the spiritual foundations of the academic, political and cultural elite. The cries to avoid cultural generalizations and the failure to suggest that men have value as protectors (men and women actually being physically different) are simply them shielding their eyes from reality in an effort to defend their theology.

Just to be clear and repeat something I've said before - to recognize cultural incompatibilities is not the same as hating the "other."
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. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Cologne And The Hunger Games

So by now, you may have heard about the mass sexual assaults that happened in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve. If not, here's one article on the subject. Essentially, "North African and Arabic" men assaulted dozens of German women in the center of town. The women found themselves unable to protect themselves.

Whenever I read things like this, I think of modern cinema with its "powerful women." Action movies frequently show female protagonists beating up men in hand-to-hand combat. Human biology being what it is, it's all nonsense. I've seen that first hand practicing martial arts and observing my daughter's club soccer team getting wiped out by boys' teams 4 years their juniors.

I wonder what women think when they watch these movies and then read about assaults like this. I know it's gauche to suggest that a woman needs a man's protection*, but after events like the ones in Cologne and the ones in England and the ones in Sweden, it's a conclusion that seems warranted.

Or maybe I'm just a little old fashioned.

OK, maybe very old fashioned. Then again, so is biology.
* - Should I have issued a trigger warning before making this blatantly cis-gendered, patriarchal remark?

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

These Look Done, Don't They?

One of our sons brought his girlfriend over for dinner last night and requested my fried chicken. Oh happy days! I love having an excuse to make fried chicken! I made some buttermilk biscuits to go with it. The biscuits were their normal huge success. The chicken ... well ... hmmm.

Golden brown and crispy on the outside ... some of them were still pink on the inside. How mortifying!
Fried chicken is such an art form. It's also an art form I've not yet mastered. You need to walk a fine line between cooking the chicken all the way through on the one side and burning the crust on the other side. I made 10 pieces and probably 4 were underdone. Seriously, it was embarrassing even if no one thought it was a big deal save me.

Having said that, a good time was still had by all. One thing led to another and all of our flown chicks ended up coming back home for the night to have dinner together. The house was full of love and laughter and the smell of Southern food frying in oil. What a joy.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Don't Be Afraid To Fail

... is the corollary to a lesson I made sure to teach our children, which was:
You can recover from almost anything.
A long time ago, I bought a fixer-upper of a house. It needed work everywhere - the yard, the walls, the plumbing, the heating, everywhere. I was totally unskilled as well - I barely knew which end of the hammer to hold. Over the three years I spent restoring that place, I discovered that much success in life comes from simply trying and failing. I also discovered that every home improvement job requires at least three trips to Home Depot because you screw up the first two times.

Really, that last quip is the key. When I tore out the drywall in the living room because the previous owner had installed 2x6s onto the wall as a built-in bookshelf (2x6s!) and ripping those monsters out destroyed the wall, it took me at least three tries to learn how to hang drywall. After that, I knew how to do it. More importantly, I knew how to divorce emotion from the job. Those first two tries were investments in learning and like my spiral notebooks from 7th grade, could be thrown out without a second thought.

Which brings us to my project car, a 1973 MGB, aka The Time Eater or Chronovore. The poor thing has been languishing in my garage with the wiring system half done for years while children finished high school, finished college, got jobs and moved out. That phase of my life is coming to a close, allowing me to get back to some of my passions, like old cars.

To bring you up to speed, the wiring in the Chronovore had rotted out and needed replacement. Instead of buying a wiring harness, I decided to build my own, strand by strand. I've got the rear end done and have been working, after a fashion, on the cockpit. The cockpit has been a real bear, but is now 90% complete.

This weekend, I'm going to tear it all out and start again. It turns out that doing the cockpit wire by wire is a mistake. You can't get the wires the right length, so you cut them all long to give yourself play so you can install the switches and instruments. The end result is a rats nest of wires behind the dash instead of an elegant, wrapped trunk with leads coming out at the appropriate spots.

Here's where I went wrong. I had spent too much time thinking of the car as an MGB. No one in their right mind completely rewires an MGB, so all of the online advice in the British car forums was circuit-specific. "I keep blowing a certain fuse, how can I figure out where the short is?" and that sort of thing. Hating the mess I had made with the cockpit wiring, I've been wondering how to make a decent cable harness for a long time. Finally, this weekend, I had a brain-wave* and asked myself the right question.
Who else builds automotive wiring harnesses from scratch?
Hot rod enthusiasts, that's who! Once I fed "hot rod wiring harness" or something like that into Google, I found all kinds of resources. Here's my favorite, how to make a MIL-SPEC wiring harness for a hobby car.

The solution was pretty straightforward. You make a 1-1 scale map of the cockpit on cardboard or a big white board and build your harness, complete with connectors, on that. You wrap it and then install it. Voila! All done!

I've done a first draft of the cockpit on a piece of cardboard too small for the whole job and it's already taught me a lot. For example, many of the wire runs are local within the cockpit and can be pre-assembled and then removed from the drawing or perhaps never drawn in the first place. Reduced to just the lines that go into the engine compartment, the drawing becomes manageable.

I've got new enthusiasm for a job that I had begun to question. I can see how it's all going to work out. Even if my first cockpit harness is a failure, it doesn't matter because I can throw it out and begin again. Jobs like this go faster the more often you do it.

The real key, however, was being willing to admit failure without guilt and move on.

My 1973 MGB on the road! Err, in a manner of speaking.

* - Brain-wave is a favorite phrase from The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Doubting Global Warming

... err, climate change.

I thought this article was outstanding, definitely worth reading the whole thing. It provides 10 well-considered arguments against global warming climate change. As a teaser, here's the part I found most interesting.
7. The CO2 cannot, from a scientific perspective, be the cause of significant global temperature changes:

The CO2 molecule is a linear molecule and thus only has limited natural vibrational frequencies, which in turn give this molecule only limited capability of absorbing radiation that is radiated from the Earth’s surface. The three main wavelengths that can be absorbed by CO2 are 4.26 micrometers, 7.2 micrometers, and 15.0 micrometers. Of those 3, only the 15-micrometer is significant because it falls right in range of the infrared frequencies emitted by Earth. However, the H2O molecule which is much more prevalent in the Earth’s atmosphere, and which is a bend molecule, thus having many more vibrational modes, absorbs many more frequencies emitted by the Earth, including to some extent the radiation absorbed by CO2. It turns out that between water vapor and CO2, nearly all of the radiation that can be absorbed by CO2 is already being absorbed. Thus increasing the CO2 levels should have very minimal impact on the atmosphere’s ability to retain heat radiated from the Earth. That explains why there appears to be a very weak correlation at best between CO2 levels and global temperatures and why after the CO2 levels have increased by 40% since the beginning of the industrial revolution the global average temperature has increased only 0.8 degrees centigrade, even if we want to contribute all of that increase to atmospheric CO2 increases and none of it to natural causes.
I'd never considered looking at the behavior of CO2 before.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Yes, ISIS Is Islamic

... and you can tell by the targets they consistently choose.

To be Muslim is to do what Mohammed told you to do. Mohammed told you to slay the infidels, not knock out their power grids, blow up railroad bridges, wreck their water system or take down the Internet. It's no good to fire a few, damaging rounds into power relay station, destroying transformers and causing surges and shorts across the system, you need to kill infidels.

This is why Germany has a couple of train stations on lock down and not their entire infrastructure.

Yes, ISIS is Islamic and it's a good thing, too. If they weren't, we'd really be screwed.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Adventure Dog!

Happy New Year's!

Yesterday, we took the Catican Guards for a long walk in Penasquitos Canyon. A good time was had by all and I was able to get a decent shot of Leah, aka Adventure Dog, with a backdrop of the wild scrub along the trail.


* - There are too many exclamation points in this post! Especially for such a short one!