Buggy Whip Makers Herald The Death Of The Automobile

Oh, no, wait... wrong title there.

It's the NYT, Buzzfeed, and Andrew Sullivan who are announcing the Death of the Blog.
On November 2011, Politico's most prominent blogger, Ben Smith, declared the advent of the "the post-blog blog." "The dusty old form of the personal political blog has required some updating. Twitter has replaced any individual blog as the place the political conversation plays out," he wrote. "Other successful bloggers—from Andrew Sullivan to Michelle Malkin, Chris Cillizza to Ezra Klein—have been edging in different ways toward institutionalizing what works, staffing up and formalizing their beats to better serve their audiences." Smith was announcing that his own blog, which dated back to Politico's beginnings nearly five years before, would undergo a similar sort of change. About a month later, though, he announced that he would become editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, a website where nearly every article is, in a sense, a blog post, but there are no actual blogs, and whose traffic model depends in no small part on discovery via social media. In other words, a post-blog blog.
A couple of quick comments.

First, as it's been years since I've followed the news through anything but blogs and social media, I find this terribly amusing.  Citing the closing of Google Reader as a death knell for the blog is kind of like citing the closing of your local gas station as the death knell for the automobile.

Second, blogs and social media provide a very independent voice for much of the discourse in America and the world.  Compared to the MSM and new media houses, conservative and libertarian voices in the blogosphere aren't just loud, they're raucous and - even worse! - unruly.  They have a disturbing tendency to routinely dissect and dismantle the carefully crafted view of events that authoritarian  media wants to disseminate.

So it's easy to understand why the NYT, Buzzfeed, and much of the authoritarian media would love to see blogs fade away.  Because an army of Davids makes their lives a living nightmare.  Heck, the couldn't even handle one Breitbart.

Will there be changes?

Sure. We've seen major changes in news, social media, and blogs happen in just the last decade, and frankly, I'd be shocked if they didn't continue to come at a pretty good clip.

Will the "age of the blog" fade away?

Possibly.  If it does fade away, though, it will only be because it is replaced by something that is better at accomplishing the exact same thing.

That "exact same thing" being, of course, driving thorns into the side of NYT editors.

It's That Darn Mylar Balloon Lobby, I Tell You!

President Ronald Reagan tried to get rid of it. So did President Bill Clinton. This October, their wish is finally set to come true.
The Federal Helium Program — left over from the age of zeppelins and an infamous symbol of Washington’s inability to cut what it no longer needs — will be terminated.
Unless it isn’t.

The Final Frontier

A billionaire-backed asteroid-mining company aims to start putting its big plans into action soon, launching its first hardware into space by this time next year... 
Planetary Resources, which counts Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt among its investors, plans to loft a set of tiny "cubesats" to Earth orbit in early 2014, to test out gear for its first line of asteroid-prospecting spacecraft. 

In other space-related news, SpaceShipTwo went supersonic for the first time during a test flight.

I wonder if there were pioneers in the colonial days who would gather together and debate the implications of new wagon-wheel technology, and what it might mean for the drive out west...

Sometimes it's awesome living in the future.

Yo Ho Ho

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.
– H. L. Mencken
If you find yourself in agreement with Mr. Mencken this Monday morning, then you might be interested in this posting I can across at gCaptain - a Pirate Ship for Sale:
A customized Gibson houseboat up for sale in St. Louis.
Built on 50' 1988 Gibson houseboat. Brand new twin 454s, Kohler generator, V drives. Holds 30 people, looks like a Hollywood set! Great as a live aboard...and an AWESOME party boat! 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Just surveyed for $110,00, will sell for $79,000 - trades considered.
If you're interested, the Craigslist entry includes a phone number, and a snappy photo:

If you're willing to spend more (on the order of three-quarters of a million), then there's an much more authentic ship available in Honduras.  The total package includes six bronze cannons, but no pirates.  There was no mention of colors, but I'm assuming that you'll be expected to provide your own black flag.

Finally, if money really is no object, you may be in the market for the fully restored S/V Miraka.  No cannons and no pirates, but an interesting history:
S/V Miraka was built in Hong Kong by American Marine, also known as Grand Banks.  She is a Hugh Angleman/Charles Davies design  "Mayflower Ketch".
She is #8 in a series of 10 ships constructed  between 1957 and 1962.  Her completion was in 1961.  She was commissioned  by and delived to actor Neville Brand, her most celebrated owner who is well known for his roll in the "Birdman of Alcatraz" playing the prison warden and  rolls in many other famous films and TV programs.  She became our passion in 1992, and was discovered moored in  Friday Harbor, Washington in her original condition and in need of someone to love her.  From that day to now she has been completely restored from the keel to the top of the mast.  For 7 years she was constantly being refurbished by Galmukoff Marine in Port Townsend, Wa.  who employed only the best shipwrights and artisans available.  Wooden Boats such as Miraka require only the finest craftsmen available and they are to be found in the wooden boat capital of the West in Port Townsend.
Definitely the most beautiful of the lot, even though technically she was never really a pirate ship...

Because NOBODY Takes A Knife When Going CAMPING. EVAR.

A fifth-grader in Cupertino, California was suspended and threatened with expulsion for bringing a small Swiss Army knife on a school-sponsored, science-oriented camping trip.

Come Quickly, December

After the success of their desperate mission to Salvation's Reach, Colonel-Commisar Gaunt and the Tanith First race to the strategically vital forge world of Urdesh, besieged by the brutal armies of Anarch Sek. However, there may be more at stake than just a planet...
GOOD: New Gaunt's Ghosts novel!

BAD: Not until December 19th.

Sigh.  I suppose it's far to much to hope that some aspiring film maker would get hold of Abnet's Warhammer 40K novels and make an Eisenhorn or Ghosts movie or three...

Islam vs. Islamism

Bassam Tibi’s book Islamism and Islam represents an extremely important contribution to the fight against fundamentalist Islam...
His basic point is that there is a distinction between the religion of Islam and an extremist offshoot of Islam that he calls Islamism that began in Egypt in the 1920s and that includes al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other fundamentalist groups. He argues against three groups that he thinks are deluding themselves in thinking that Islam and Islamism are identical: (1) the Islamists themselves, (2) conservatives in the West, and (3) leftists in the West.
I'm not sure how much weight I would give to this argument, but it certainly seems plausible, and fits what I understand of the rise of radical Islam in the 20th century.  As I am a fundamental Christian who would prefer not to occupy the same mental head space as the Branch Davidians or the Westboro Baptist Church, I am definitely sympathetic to the "don't confuse us with those loons!" argument.  It's just that, well, there are so many of "those loons", and they're so vocal - and so violent - that one starts to wonder if the lack of moderate Muslim opposition is an indication of approval for their actions.

Moloch? Pfft! I'm Voting Voldemort!

In the comments recently I did a brief bit of battle with the "government is just a word for all of us working together" shibboleth....
I am on the record as hating most government. 
Note that this is not because I think that most people serving in government are evil. I think that most people, in most cultures, and across most times, are more-or-less decent. The problem is best analyzed with systems theory, and best fixed with the same tool. 
The government-run horror show that killed Castaneda wasn't because there were mustache-twirling villains; it happened because dozens of people were "just doing their jobs"...
Normal people are perfectly capable of being cogs in machines that engage in madness, if not evil. When pressed, these normal people tend to fall back on the phrase "just doing my job" and a hand-waving version of the just world logical fallacy.
Arguing that we shouldn't be outraged at government because "it's just us" is one of the worst lies we tell ourselves.
Frankenstein's monster was stitched together out of people like us. Nazi Germany was stitched together out of people like us. Mao's PRC was stitched together out of people like us.
And though it's not as bad, the US government is still pretty nasty, and it too is stitched together out of people like us.
We have a terrible capacity, for good or evil.  Our founders attempted to put into place a government that would limit the capacity for evil, and encourage the capacity for good.  The history of internal politics in the US over the last two centuries bears witness to the fact that this was not a one-time decision, but one that must be made over and over again by each generation.

For Want Of A Nail

... the kingdom was lost.

Try this on for size:  "For want of a handgun, freedom was lost."

Ridiculous, eh?  Because, after all, in this era of professional soldiers and technological military might, what good is a handgun against an army?

Much, much more than you might think:
A friend of mine owns an instructive piece of history. It is a small, crude pistol, made out of sheet-metal stampings by the U.S. during World War II. While it fits in the palm of your hand and is a slowly-operated, single-shot arm, it's powerful .45 caliber projectile will kill a man with brutal efficiency. With a short, smooth-bore barrel it can reliably kill only at point blank ranges, so its use requires the will (brave or foolhardy) to get in close before firing. It is less a soldier's weapon than an assassin's tool. The U.S. manufactured them by the millions during the war, not for our own forces but rather to be air-dropped behind German lines to resistance units in occupied Europe and Asia. They cost exactly two dollars and ten cents to make. 
Crude and slow (the fired case had to be knocked out of the breech by means of a little wooden dowel, a fresh round procured from the storage area in the grip and then manually reloaded and cocked. It was so wildly inaccurate it couldn't hit the broad side of a French barn at 50 meters, but to the Resistance man or woman who had no firearm it still looked pretty darn good. 
The theory and practice of it was this: First, you approach a German sentry with your little pistol hidden in your coat pocket and, with Academy-award sincerity, ask him for a light for your cigarette (or the time the train leaves for Paris, or if he wants to buy some non-army-issue food or a half- hour with your "sister"). When he smiles and casts a nervous glance down the street to see where his Sergeant is, you blow his brains out with your first and only shot, then take his rifle and ammunition. Your next few minutes are occupied with "getting out of Dodge," for such critters generally go around in packs. After that (assuming you evade your late benefactor's friends) you keep the rifle and hand your little pistol to a fellow Resistance fighter so he can go get his own rifle. 
Or, maybe, you then use your rifle to get a submachine gun from the Sergeant when he comes running. Perhaps you get very lucky and pickup a light machine gun, two boxes of ammunition and a haversack of hand grenades. With two of the grenades and the expenditure of a half-a-box of ammunition at a hasty roadblock the next night, you and your friends get a truck full of arms and ammunition. (Some of the cargo is sticky with "Boche" blood, but you don't mind, not terribly.)
Pretty soon you've got the best armed little maquis unit in your part of France, all from that cheap little pistol and the guts to use it. (One wonders if the current political elite's opposition to so-called "Saturday Night Specials" doesn't come from some adopted racial memory of previous failed tyrants. For even cheap little pistols are a threat to oppressive regimes.)
They called the pistol the "Liberator." Not a bad name, all in all... 
... consider what a million pistols, or a hundred million pistols (which may approach the actual number of handguns in the U.S. today), can mean to the military planner who seeks to carry out operations against a populace so armed.
Mention "Afghanistan" or "Chechnya" to a member of the current Russian military hierarchy and watch them shudder at the bloody memories. Then you begin to get the idea that modern munitions, air superiority and overwhelming, precision-guided violence still are not enough to make victory certain when the targets are not sitting Christmas-present fashion out in the middle of the desert.
... and that's just part the introduction.

Go, RTWT, if you haven't already.

Red Lined

White House: US believes Syrian regime used chemical weapons
The White House said Thursday that the U.S. believes "with some degree of varying confidence" the Syrian government has used chemical weapons — specifically the nerve agent sarin — against its own people.
WMD.  Wonder where he got the materials.

To The Moon, Achmed!

An off-duty U.S. navy sailor wrestled a Dubai bus driver to the ground and beat him into submission after he tried to rape her at knifepoint on Jan. 19, a courtroom heard Wednesday....
Prosecutors said that she knocked the knife from his hand, broke it in two, bit him in the hand, forced him to the ground and locked him between her thighs, the Daily Mail reports.

It's good to start Friday off with a nice, warm glow.

Go Navy!

Children Abducted By State Sponsored Terrorists

Three marijuana advocates in Boise, Idaho, had their children taken by Child Protective Services this week after police found marijuana in one of the family's homes.
I am sure that they absolutely had the best intentions, and that terrorizing and punishing the parents by abducting their children was the furthest thing from their minds.


A scene from The Long Run comes to mind...
"They keep pushing, Johnny.”
“I know, Boss.”
“Every time I’m ready to let it go they push again.” Trent stared forward. “I’m standing here with my back to the wall and they ... keep ... pushing.”

Background Noise

In The Atlantic on Monday, Bruce Snheier commented on the Marathon bombings in particular and terrorism in general:
A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random -- in this case involving an innocent child -- senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact.  
But our brains are fooling us. Even though this will be in the news for weeks, we should recognize this for what it is: a rare event. That's the very definition of news: something that is unusual -- in this case, something that almost never happens. 
We "exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random"; we react to them with fear, and fear causes us to change our responses.

And that is why progressives are coming unhinged.

Oh, not because of the bombings, though you can see evidence of the root cause in the media commentary about that event.  Nor because of the defeat of the recent raft of gun control legislation, either - though again, you can see evidence of the underlying problem that progressives are running into now.

Their problem is... we don't care anymore.

We have stopped being afraid of their accusations.

The constant litany of invective has finally become so commonplace, it has reached the point of background noise.  The net result has been to remove the effectiveness any such accusation might once have had.

Remember when an accusation of racism was a serious matter? When it could destroy lives, end political careers and leave broken men huddling in shame?  When such an accusation was "rare, spectacular"?

Such accusations aren't rare any longer.  Oppose the ACA?  Racist.  Favor immigration control?  Racist.  Disagree with anything that the President proposes?  Racist.  Think that we should be able to read and debate legislation before it's passed?  Racist.  Consider radical Islamists to be a serious security threat?  Racist.  Support school vouchers?  Racist.

Remember when referring to someone as a terrorist was a serious matter?  Not any more.  Support the second amendment?  Terrorist.  Member of the Tea Party?  Terrorist.  Think that the government should lower spending?  Terrorist.  Want to reign in pensions for public sector unions?  Terrorist.  Think drilling for gas and oil is a good way to achieve energy independence?  Terrorist.

Remember when an accusation of sexist behavior was a serious matter?  Fast forward to today.  Think that maybe we should regulate and inspect abortion clinics so that monsters like Kermit Gosnell can't kill women with impunity?  Sexist.  Oppose a female progressive politician?  Sexist.  Have some doubts about women in front-line combat positions?  Sexist.

Where we once recoiled in horror, now we just shake our heads and move on.  We even joke about it.  We've heard it so often, so repeatedly, that it has almost ceased to be worthy of notice any longer.
"Oh, I got called a tea-bagging racist supporter of the patriarchy on Facebook?  That's the third time.  Today.  Where's that 'unfriend' button again?"
And that is why progressives are coming unhinged.

Like a junkie building up a tolerance for their favorite drug, they've had to up the dosage of hate and vitriol to get the same response... and like a junkie, they've finally reached the point where no matter how much they pour it on, no matter how much they up the dose, they just can not get the reaction that they crave.

The Barbarians Are Rising

I recently read H. Beam Piper's Space Viking.  One passage in particular stood out to me...
"You think it'll be like that?" 
"Don't you?  You were there; you saw what's happening.  The barbarians are rising; they have a leader, and they're uniting. Every society rests on a barbarian base. The people who don't understand civilization, and wouldn't like it if they did. The hitchhikers. The people who create nothing, and who don't appreciate what others have created for them, and who think civilization is something that just exists and that all they need to do is enjoy what they can understand of it — luxuries, a high living standard, and easy work for high pay. Responsibilities? Phooey! What do they have a government for?" 
— H. Beam Piper, Space Viking, 1963
That's right.  Published in 1963.

The barbarians are here.  It just took them 50 years to find a leader.

I wonder what Mr. Piper would have to say if he were writing today?

The Swords Trilogy

No, not the Saberhagen books.  The news stories.

Book The First: Samurai sword-wielding Mormon bishop comes to aid of woman being attacked

A Samurai sword-wielding Mormon bishop helped a neighbor woman escape a Tuesday morning attack by a man who had been stalking her.
Kent Hendrix woke up Tuesday to his teenage son pounding on his bedroom door and telling him somebody was being mugged in front of their house. The 47-year-old father of six rushed out the door and grabbed the weapon closest to him -- a 29-inch high carbon steel Samurai sword.

Book The Second: Samurai sword pulled out over Internet theft dispute
A Bethlehem Township man is facing assault charges after allegedly wielding a 3-foot-long Samurai sword in a dispute with a neihgbor he suspected of stealing Internet services from him, township police said.
Book The Third: Wallingford police: Stratford man had drugs, sword in car

WALLINGFORD — Police said they found drugs and a sword in a Stratford man’s car today during a traffic stop on North Colony Road near Parker Street. 
Sgt. Joseph Cafasso said police stopped the car, driven by David McCurrey III, 25, at about 1 p.m. because he didn’t have a certification sticker for the tints on his windows. Police found 10 small bags of heroin, 2.5 grams of cocaine and a 24-inch samurai sword in the vehicle, Cafasso said.
Lots of Samurai sword fu going on today.  I'm just going to chalk it up to being too close to a full moon and be done with it.

China (Naval) Air

China Plans New Generation of Carriers as Sea Disputes Grow
(Bloomberg) — China unveiled plans to build more aircraft carriers after commissioning its first last year, as the country extends its influence amid territorial disputes with neighbors including Japan and Vietnam.
As expected, their first carrier - a refurbished Soviet unit - is just a stepping stone to developing their own carrier fleet.
“This only adds publicly to what many believed to be the case: that the Liaoning is a training or ‘starter’ carrier and eventually China would build larger and more capable ones,” Taylor Fravel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who focuses on China’s relations with its neighbors, said by e-mail. “It suggests that today’s PLA is much more confident than in the past regarding its willingness to talk about future military programs.”

But What Of The Counter-Counter-Indicator Approach?

Therefor; if you take the counter-indicator approach, how should this influence planning? At first glance it is clear: 
1. We need to expand HUMINT in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa and to ensure that we have the light, expeditionary, high-impact/low-overhead forces to act there if/when needed in partnership with friendly nations (USMC and SOCOM call your office). 
2. Domestic sources of terrorism traced to radial Islam will grow. 
3. Any threat to India from China or the Islamic world could go nuclear very quickly. Remember - India could lose the equivalent of the population of the USA and still have a population almost 3-times our size. 
4. If we do not have a Fleet that can digitally quarantine itself and fight - or cannot fight offline - then you open yourself to being defeated without a shot being fired - condemned to float impotent as you are picked off defenseless at your opponent's leisure. Blinded by 21st Century technology - and sunk by mid-20th century weapons. Be robust, be multi-mission, be ready to lose that which you think is safe and still fight and win at sea.

At Least It's Not The Smurfs

I’ve said this before but it’s been awhile, so let me say it again: The Aquaman movie is coming. Not now, maybe not soon, but eventually. It has to, if only by process of elimination.
As predicted by Howard Tayler... so it is written, so shall it be.  The eventual Aquaman franchise will be one of the few that survives into the 31st century.

Besides... are talking Old Aquaman, or New Aquaman?  Because I think a Peter David inspired Aquaman movie would have some great potential.

Oh, wait, I forgot - Aquaman is a D.C. title, not Marvel.  So, yeah.  It'll stink on toast.

You Hacked My Battleship!

(Bloomberg) — The computer network on the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship is vulnerable to hacking, according to findings by Navy cybersecurity specialists.
I'm assuming it must be a remote vulnerability, though they don't mention it or classify it as such.

In any case... oy.

Update: As friend in the Navy pointed out, this really isn't that big of a deal, since "... the thing has no freaking sensors or weapons anyway."  True dat.

"The cow says moo, the sheep says baa..."

I have a completely unsubstantiated theory that my social media feeds have moods. Sometimes, everyone is happy and debates are civil. Other times, people are ragged and nasty... 
What’s so nice is that these tweets just pop up in my feed right alongside The Daily Outrage and breaking news alerts, reminding me, "Hey, other people are birthing lambs in a field. There is life outside the scrum."

Happiness Is...

A Sig-Sauer P226.  Finally.  Very lightly used, in very good condition.

I haven't had the chance to take it shooting yet.  And ammo?  Oh, my... at ~ $50 a box (when you can find it, that is), I doubt that I am going to get the chance to do a whole lot of shooting past familiarization, at least for a while.

Still, I have to say, I'm very satisfied.  Next up: practice; concealed carry training; then a permit.

Well, no, I lie.  Next up is almost certainly getting the lovely Mrs. her own 9mm - she seems to like a S&W she's had a chance to look over.  Then on to the practicing, the training, and the permitting for the both of us.


When seeking to place an attack like the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing into context, it is helpful to classify the actors responsible, if possible. Such a classification can help us understand how an attack fits into the analytical narrative of what is happening and what is likely to come.
Jump straight to the conclusion if you don't have time to RTWT:
As we've previously discussed, the best defense against the grassroots threat are grassroots defenders. These include the police and alert citizens who report suspicious activity -- like people testing bomb designs -- a frequent occurrence before actual bomb attacks. The slogan "If you see something, say something," has been mocked as overly simplistic, but it is nonetheless a necessity in an environment where the broad, ambiguous threat of grassroots terrorism far outstrips the ability of the authorities to see everything. Taking a proactive approach to personal and collective security also beats the alternative of living in terror and apprehensively waiting for the next simple attack.
Maybe I'm reading into it here, but to me, "proactive approach to personal and collective security" means "armed, trained citizens".  Of course, I could be wrong, and they could be advocating that we all practice advanced cowering in basements as preparation for the next terrorist incident.  Seems to me like that wouldn't really accomplish much, but hey, I hear it's all the rage among the current crop of Subjects.
It is also very important for people to maintain the proper perspective on terrorism. Like car crashes and cancer and natural disasters, terrorism is part of the human condition. People should take prudent, measured actions to prepare for such contingencies and avoid becoming victims (vicarious or otherwise). It is the resilience of the population and its perseverance that will ultimately determine how much a terrorist attack is allowed to terrorize. By separating terror from terrorism, citizens can deny the practitioners of terror the ability to magnify their reach and power.
Hmm... "deny the practitioners of terror". Where have I heard that before?

Apparently I can add "As wicked smaht as them there guys over at STRATFOR" to my resumé.

Om Nom Nom Nom

This video footage of metallic putty eating magnets is super freaky.
Indeed, it is. 

Bloodied But Unbowed

“Think globally, act locally” could be taken as the slogan of any radical ideological cult, but it applies with special force to Islamist terrorism...
And think about it. Think about all Boston huddling indoors until one young immigrant Chechen psychopath was found. The enemy knows what he is doing, & he is doing it well.
As a friend pointed out, it is not necessarily that they are doing it well - but that we are doing it badly.  We know what reaction they want out of these acts of terrorism, and yet, we give it to them.

The terrorists who hijacked Flight 93 would have been happy if those on the plane had simply sat in their seats and waited for the end.  Unfortunately for them - and fortunately for us - the passengers did not do that.  When the people on that flight finally realized what was happening, they decided, instead, to act in a way that would deny the terrorists.  They decided to refuse to give the hijackers what they wanted and what they expected.

We Americans... we are just a bit unruly that way, aren't we?

Dealing with, and eradicating terrorism, is a long-term plan.  While we are carrying that out, we need to survive terrorism; not as individuals, but as a culture.  The only way we can do that is by following the example of Flight 93.  Never give up, never give in, and never... ever... give them what they want.  

When they act to instill fear, show them bravery.

When they try to claim honor, expose them as a disgrace.

When they proclaim their power, mock their weakness.

Never allow them a victory.  Not one time, not one foot, not one inch.


Drones To The Left Of Me

On Monday, Keppel Corporation announced the formation of Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte. Ltd. (OMS), a joint venture with UK Seabed Resources and Lion City Capital Partners, which intends to search and recover polymetallic nodules several kilometers beneath the ocean’s surface.
How will they accomplish this, you might ask? 
Nodules can be brought to the surface using a combination of remotely operated or autonomous underwater vehicles, pumps and riser pipes.
I was recently considering the possibility of using seaborne drones to test/debug eventual semi-automomous units for deployment outside the atmosphere.

"Drones to the left of me, AI to the right; Here I am, stuck in the middle with you..."

Iron Age.

Industrial Age.

Information Age.

Drone Age.

Third Time's The Charm

Antares' successful launch paves the way for eventual cargo flights to the space station for NASA.
Little by little, inch by inch...

Well, Of Course

A disastrous fire in a suburban Virginia warehouse complex has destroyed “a significant portion” of the United States Government’s archive of Paperwork Reduction Act notices, according to a spokesman from the Bureau of Paperwork Reduction Act Compliance. Nearly five acres of warehouses just east of Leesburg were completely destroyed in the blaze, which burned out of control for at least a day and a half, fueled by more than three decades’ worth of dried paper stored in the buildings. According to the spokesman, as many as 10% of the government’s archived Paperwork Reduction Act notices may have perished. Efforts to replace the lost notices are already under way, and the Bureau has asked Congress for emergency funding, citing the requirement that each reissued notice be accompanied by a separate Paperwork Reduction Act notice explaining why it is being reissued.
Experts warn that we are less than two warehouse fires away from reaching "Peak PRA Notice", at which point they expect the rising cost of paper to result in 103% of the GDP of the US going towards the purchase of toilet paper.

Now You Know!

It was really evident from some of the footage, that my fellow Americans watch way too much television and have a false understanding about bullets. So this afternoon's Public Service Announcement is to try and prevent possible harm.
Pure awesome.  If Esquire readers remember absolutely nothing else from the article, though, I hope they internalize his last two points:

7. SO, the bottom line is this: If you are in a place where you hear steady, and sustained, and nearby (lets call that, for some technical reasons, anything less than 800 meters) gunfire, do these things:
  • Go to your basement. You are cool there.
  • If you don't have a basement, go to the other side of the house from the firing, and leave, heading away from the firing. Do not stop for a mile.
  • If you do not think that you can leave, get on the ground floor, as far from the firing as possible, and place something solid between you and the firing. Solid is something like a bathtub, a car (engine block), a couple of concrete walls (single layer brick...nope).
  • If you are high up (say 4rd story or higher) just get away from the side of the building where the firing is taking place. You will, mostly, be protected by the thick concrete of the structure.
8. But for cripes sake, do not step out on to your front porch and start recording a video on your iPhone, unless you actually have a death-wish, or are being paid significant amounts of money, in advance, as a combat journalist/cameraman.


"Drying lumber can be a complex process where accelerating drying without having quality loss often requires extensive knowledge and experience. The design of the Virginia Tech solar kiln is such that extensive knowledge, experience and control are not required..." 

Zero Sanity

An 8th grade Logan Middle School student was arrested Thursday and is now suspended and facing two criminal charges after refusing to change his pro-Second Amendment t-shirt.
Arrested. For wearing a t-shirt.


Doogiie Howser Was A Piker

Seth Harding grabs a two-handed rubber sword, adjusts his helmet made with electrician’s tape, and starts to teach. "Try to block her sword with the base of your sword."

“Why aren’t you wearing shoes?” I wonder.

“We’re peasants.”

“En garde!” Seth yells. The battle begins. He is bringing light to the Dark Ages.

At 7, when many kids figure they might be firemen, Seth announced he would be a military archeologist. His mom, Mona Lisa, encouraged that curiosity. "Wow! That kid was into this!" she marvels.

By 12, Seth was hanging out with students nearly twice his age, studying the Middle Ages at Faulkner University, near his home in Montgomery, Alabama. "How's he doing?" I ask assistant professor Grover Plunkett.
I'm just boggling at the idea of putting six kids through college, regardless of their ages... 

"Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction..."

"Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction, I'll give you that one. But let's do a head count here..."

Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

The Minimum Wage Historian regales us with the tale of Khazaria: A Medieval Jewish kingdom in Asia.
Zach – So, a priest, a rabbi and an imam walk into a yurt…
Anna – What are you blathering about?
Joan – Iz one of his silly jokes, no?
Zach – No, I’m serious. This is history. How a large kingdom converted to Judaism was because of a meeting where representatives from each of the major religion had a chat and debated about it.


No, not that Carnival.  Carnegie Mellon Spring Carnival:
The Carnegie Mellon University Spring Carnival is the biggest annual event in the school year. Student organizations across campus, whether independent or Greek, work very hard to succeed in uniquely competitive events featured during the three-day period.
It's Carnival weekend! And, of course, the forecast is for rain (Friday, at least - Saturday looks like it will be overcast but dry.)

Wait, What?

This is amazing.  Weird as all get out, but amazing.

About 15 Feet Would Do, I Think

Move is afoot to make government less open
Sen. Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw said a mouthful with just 13 words on Tuesday. 
“"I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”"
Them politicians do tend to get a might bit uppity if'n you don't remind 'em who's boss once in a while.

Might I suggest taking his political career and hanging it high?

Or, more colloquially:


Blood, Sweat, and Steel

"When I got this sword, it was completely covered in blood rust.” Sword maker Francis Boyd is showing me yet another weapon pulled from yet another safe in the heavily fortified workshop behind his northern California home.

“You can tell it’s blood,” he says matter-of-factly, “because ordinary rust turns the grinding water brown. If it’s blood rust it bleeds, it looks like blood in the water. Even 2,000 years old, it bleeds. And it smells like a steak cooking, like cooked meat. I’ve encountered this before with Japanese swords from World War II. If there’s blood on the sword and you start polishing it, the sword bleeds. It comes with the territory.”

Blood rust: I hadn’t thought of that. I guess it would turn water red, but the steak comment is kind of creeping me out, as is the growing realization that if these swords could talk, I couldn’t stomach half the tales they’d have to tell.
An amazingly well-written and detailed article.  As a friend pointed out, it starts with ick and gets to nerd fast

Summer Is Coming

Summer is coming - and it looks to be a pretty good one, at least if you're a fan of sitting still in a dark room and not doing anything for 2 1/2 hours:

Paging Chris Rea...

The Door to Hell is a natural gas field in Derweze (also spelled Darvaza, meaning "gate"), Ahal Province, Turkmenistan. The Door to Hell is noted for its natural gas firing which has been burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet petrochemical scientists in 1971...
Which is not to be confused with The Road to Hell.

We Need This In Triplicate

Here's something to warm your heart: Yesterday an official in the U.K's Border Agency wrote his resignation letter on a cake in which he announced his plans to expand his cake business.
"Um... yeah, Chris? We, um... lost your resignation letter. I mean, resignation cake. Do you think we could get another one? Maybe marble this time? That'd be really great."

Three Words

Seven years remain.  I wonder if one of the phrases given was "Arab Spring".

The Time Traveler only shook his head. “Quod erat demonstrandum,” he said softly. “I could tell you that the Mississippi River flows generally south. Would your knowing about it change its course or flow or flooding?”
I thought about this. Finally I said, “Why did you come back? Why do you want to talk to me? What do you want me to do?”
“I came back for my own purposes,” said the Time Traveler, looking around my booklined study...
I tried to relax. “What do you want to talk about?” I said.
“The Century War,” said the Time Traveler.
I blinked and tried to remember some history. “You mean the Hundred Year War? Fifteenth Century? Fourteenth? Sometime around there. Between . . . France and England? Henry V? Kenneth Branagh? Or was it . . .”
“I mean the Century War with Islam,” interrupted the Time Traveler. “Your future. Everyone’s.” He was no longer smiling. Without asking, or offering to pour me any, he stood, refilled his Scotch glass, and sat again. He said, “It was important to me to come back to this time early on in the struggle. Even if only to remind myself of how unspeakably blind you all were.”
Go.  RTWT.

EU Giving A New Meaning To "Papers, Please..."

This is totally appalling: "The European Union is quietly pouring millions of pounds into initiatives and groups seeking state-backed regulation of the press, including key allies of the controversial Hacked Off campaign."
I'd suggest a shipment of rope to our friends in the EU, but I am afraid we have an urgent need for it here...

Orbital Mechanics Made Easy

Well, OK - maybe not easy, but at least fun.

It’s been a long time since I found a game this instantly engrossing. Kerbal Space Program is kind of like a… Sim? Sim NASA? That’s as close as I can come to describing it using pigeonhole genre labels. You’re given rocket parts, a space center, a solar system of planets and moons, and you’re left to find your own fun. Orbit the planet? Go to the moon? Throw a kerbanaut into the sun? Build a space-jet? Make a giant tower of fuel tanks and blow them up? Whatever. 
The game devoured last week. I don’t even know what happened. I played the demo on Saturday, bought the game on Sunday, and the next thing I knew it was Friday and I was eyebrow-deep in orbital mechanics and rocket theory. I’m not sure where the time went...
His descriptions of the pace of game play alone makes me want to see what this is like.
I don’t like to give unqualified recommendations because I have no understanding of what people like or why they like it. (I mean, some people play those social Facebook games, or train-driving simulators. They even pay money for them. On purpose. How is anyone supposed to make sweeping consumer advice in a world inhabited by such people?) So I always stick to talking about my own experiences and let you figure things out for yourself. But look: There’s nothing else like this out there. It’s strange, it’s fun, it’s creative, it’s different, and it’s educational. I have no way of knowing if you’ll like it and you have no way of knowing you won’t. You should probably just try the demo.
As an added bonus, there are versions of the demo for Windows, MacOS and Linux.  W00t!

Sounds like a winner to me!

The Need For Speed

My team lead - who is slightly younger than I - just finished the Boston Marathon with a very respectable time of 2:56:56.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the software developer spectrum, I am considering taking the dog for a walk this evening...

Good New, Bad News

Good news: I now own a used (but in good condition) Sig Sauer P266!

Bad news: I'm out around half a mortgage payment.

Good news: The missus is eyeing a 9mm, so we could share ammo!

Bad news: Finding any 9mm ammo right now is... difficult.

Good news: Instant background checks!

Bad news: They require a valid driver's license, not one that expired in January.

Good news: This was brought to my attention by the nice man at the gun store instead of a police officer during a traffic stop!

Bad news: That meant no taking the new gun home today.

Good news: PennDOT has online renewals, so it won't be too long!


Did You Check For Explosive Runes?

A rare manuscript believed by some experts to be the earliest existing version of Dungeons & Dragons will be prominently displayed at the National Museum of Play at The Strong® beginning April 13 as part of Game Time!, a major exhibit exploring 300 years of games, puzzles, and public amusements... 
The Dalluhn Manuscript preserves a transitional set of rules developed during the creation of the game Dungeons & Dragons. It captures the system at around the midpoint of development, with the core concepts of dungeon exploration and fantastic combat in place, but it lacks some features of the mature game and exhibits a few intriguing variations.

The Real Secret Behind Platform 9¾

Every city has its secrets, it’s just a matter of finding them…

On a street in Brooklyn that takes you towards the river, where the cobblestones begin paving the road, there is a townhouse that deserves a second look. Despite its impeccable brickwork, number 58 Joralemon Street is not like the other houses. Behind its blacked out windows, no one is at home; no one has been at home for more than 100 years. In fact, number 58 is not a home at all, but a secret subway exit and ventilation point disguised as a Greek Revival brownstone.


Following the lead of organized crime, the government of California has decided to drop all pretense of governing for the people, and go directly into the extortion and protection rackets:
The State of California has one of the worst proposals of any legislature in the country this year with a new bill that would force every restaurant and food service business in the state to commission an expensive "risk assessment" test for every menu item... 
The introduction of the bill clearly says that the law would require the food service companies to pay the state for the testing in order to fill state coffers. It notes that without the assessment, the state would have the right to shut an offending restaurant down.
In other words.... "Nice place you have here. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it."

"Aaaaaaarmy training, sir!"

When my unit was training for Afghanistan in early 2009, many of our instructors assumed we were going to Iraq. “In Iraq you have to do this. In Iraq make sure you don’t do this other thing.” When we told them we were going to Afghanistan, the almost universal response was, “Oh. . . it’s the same thing.”

No, it wasn’t.
Imagine that.
Outdated, irrelevant doctrine is the reason my old tank unit was still training to counter Soviet tactics in the late 90’s, a decade after the Soviet Union collapsed and years after we saw the new face of war in Mogadishu... Doctrine is the reason I arrived in Afghanistan trained to interrogate Soviet generals, but not trained to handle Afghan insurgents. Doctrine is the reason instructors said to me, “We know this is stupid. We know it’s not realistic. But we don’t have a choice. We have to train you this way, or get shut down.”
I am not surprised that this exists, but I am surprised at the apparent extent of the issue.  I can recall hints of this during my time in the Navy, and that was 20 years ago.  Is this a problem that has gotten worse with time, or did I just somehow miss the military's version of "teaching to the test" in the early 90's?

James Bolivar DiGriz

We've apparently reached the stage at which the rats are starting to go stainless steel.
High-tech burglary suspect nabbed after secret camera found
DALWORTHINGTON GARDENS — The discovery of a hidden camera may help solve a series of break-ins at upscale homes in several North Texas cities.
"This one has already been camouflaged," said detective Ben Singleton, holding what looks like a piece of bark that would go unnoticed in most yards.
It's actually a video camera not much bigger than a matchbox, and it's activated by a motion detector. Such cameras turned up in March planted outside several upscale homes in Dalworthington Gardens.
They have a suspect in custody.  The next iteration?  Wireless access for a remote alarm, or perhaps a "I've been disturbed" ping.  Which would be detectable with the right tools, of course...

And a new arms race is begun.

The Right Kind Of Dead Children

For the media, for the politicians, the infants killed by Kermit Gosnell were the wrong kind of dead children.  Fortunately for them, they have a bumper crop of the right kind of dead children, politically speaking... and they are not about to let anyone forget those particular murders so long as it suits their purposes.

Obama cites the careless, confusing gun control bills hastily enacted in New York, Colorado, Connecticut, and Maryland as models for Congress to follow. "We can't stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen," he said on Monday, as if strong resolve is all that's needed to stop mass shootings. "If there is just one thing we can do to keep one father from having to bury his child, isn't that worth fighting for?"
Contrary to Obama's implication, the question is not whether preventing the murder of children is desirable but whether the policies he supports would do that. Instead of explaining, for example, how background checks can thwart mass killers, who typically do not have disqualifying criminal or psychiatric records and who in any event can use guns purchased by someone else (as Lanza did), Obama simply assumes his plan will work and insinuates that anyone who opposes it does not care about children as much as he does.
Even as he claims to be troubled by a lack of empathy in the gun control debate, Obama refuses to entertain the possibility that his opponents, like him, are doing what they believe to be right.
There are two types of dead children - the politically convenient, and the politically inconvenient. 

Remember this, when Obama, or Biden, or Reid, or Pelosi says that we need gun control "for the children!" and that "this is not about politics."

Remember this, and know that they are lying to you, and that it is all about politics.

Your Silence Speaks Loudly

If a deranged gunman killed hundreds of children, when would we stop hearing about it?

I would hazard a guess and say, "Only after every firearm in the US was confiscated"... and probably for a good few years after that as well.

Now tell me - how much coverage you have seen in national media about the Kermit Gosnell trial?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "virtually none", because to the progressive media, an abortionist killing hundreds of children is... wait, what's that phrase again?  Oh, yes.

"An inconvenient truth".
Abortion Doctor Accused Of 'Snipping' The Necks Of Hundreds Of Live Babies
Gruesome allegations are emerging in Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell's murder trial.
Gosnell, 72, is accused of using unfathomable abortion procedures on inner-city patients who were well into their third trimester at an unsanitary, bloody, and utterly gruesome clinic called the Women's Medical Society.
While he's only charged with killing seven live babies, prosecutors believe Gosnell killed hundreds of infants and destroyed related records, according to a grand jury report.
From the criminal grand jury report:
This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors...
Let us say right up front that we realize this case will be used by those on both sides of the abortion debate. We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion. For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants. We find common ground in exposing what happened here, and in recommending measures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them. He didn’t call it that. He called it “ensuring fetal demise.” The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that “snipping.”
Over the years, there were hundreds of “snippings.” Sometimes, if Gosnell was unavailable, the “snipping” was done by one of his fake doctors, or even by one of the administrative staff...
Most of these acts cannot be prosecuted, because Gosnell destroyed the files.
Understand: even if you are pro-abortion, that is not what we are talking about here.  These were children who were born alive.  They were living human beings.  Defenseless, living human beings who were then killed.

We have a term for that.  It's called "murder".

The national media can't report that, though.  If they did, then people might start associating "abortion" with "murder".

And we can't have that, can we?

"Can you tell us where the nuclear wessels are?"

Vessel positions tracking based on AIS data. Real-time ship locations and port arrivals departures
Very cool use of Google maps.  From the FAQ:

How is the data collected? 
Our base stations are equipped with an AIS receiver, a PC and an Internet connection. The AIS unit receives data, which are processed by simple software on the PC and then sent to a central database by means of a ‘web service’. This software is free for anyone interested, under a GNU license. (Read section 'Cover your Area' for more information on how to install your own AIS base station). 
How is this information displayed on this site? 
The central database receives and processes a large amount of data and stores the most important part of it. It also includes port and area geographic information, vessel photos and other information. Vessels current positions and/or tracks are displayed on a map, using the Google’s map API. Position history, vessel’s details, port conditions and statistics are searchable through our web pages. 

Git Koans

Git Koans by Steve Losh:
The great historian was trying to unravel the intricacies of an incorrect merge that had happened many months ago. He made a pilgrimage to Master Git to ask for his help.
“Master Git,” said the historian, “what is the nature of history?”
Why, yes, I did laugh out loud.  That either says something about Mr. Losh's writing abilities, or how easily I am entertained... though it's probably a combination of the two. 

Mozilla vs. The Weeping Angels

Via /., I see that Mozilla is working on removing the BLINK tag.

At last, our long national nightmare is over, and the good Doctor has won.

For now...

Implements Of Destruction

While I have a pretty good shop, I know a lot of other people are just getting started. A friend sent me this pretty inclusive list of tools you might want to have, and what they're most commonly used for. I have most of these tools and can vouch for the accuracy of this compilation.
One of my favorites:
Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench at the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers.
While I don't own (very many) of these particular shop tools, analogues definitely exist in the software development world...

Me And My Posse

Avere is pegging itself as a member in a "wave" of flash storage startups trying to take on the likes (and reach) of networking and cloud enterprise giants.
Lots of storage news these past few days from NAB 2013 in Las Vegas... including a few tidbits from Avere :-)

Safety? How Quaint!

The clean lines, the geometric decorative elements, the seamless blending of indoor and outdoor space... I sure do love mid-century modern architecture. 
Do you know what I love more? My children. And that is why I will never live in my MCM dream home. Because mid-century modern architecture is designed to KILL YOUR CHILDREN. (Also, moderately clumsy or drunk adults).
Some industrial-grade snark here.

Flame... ON

Reading the news should be an essential habit, especially for students and children, yet anyone under 18 found browsing through the news online could hypothetically face jail time under the latest draft of proposed changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which is supposed to be “rushed” to Congress during its “cyber week” in the middle of April...
According to the new proposal floated by the House Judiciary Committee, the CFAA, which was originally passed in 1984 as a measure to thwart hacking, would be amended to treat any violation of a website’s Terms of Service – or an employer’s Terms of Use policy – as a criminal act. Under the proposed changes, users could be punished and possibly even prosecuted for accessing a website in a way it wasn’t meant to be used.
Rope.  Ropety ropety ropety rope.

Seriously.  These people are idiots.

No, I take that back.  They would have to actually be smarter to be idiots.

There are slime molds out there who have a clearer, more cogent grasp of their environment that these mentally deficient, ignorant, recto-cranially inverted lunkheads.

They should be kept away from sharp implements, small children and animals... and any and all writing materials.

Even worse, my representative is on the Judiciary Committee. He has otherwise seemed a decent, thoughtful fellow, so I fervently hope that he is not part of this unbelievable load of bovine effluence.

If he is, believe me, he will be hearing from me.

Da 'burgh

Local Dispatch: It's hardly polite to be outside Pittsburgh

My dad died last month. This has nothing to do with that.

What I have to tell you is how I pulled up in front of my childhood home the day of the funeral and the woman who lives there now stepped outside, looked at me and said, "Are you OK?"

I said, "No, my dad died."

She tilted her head. "You used to live here?"


"Do you wanna come in? I'm just going down to the market, but no rush, come on in."

Much as I am getting to be a crotchety old man who despises the seasons [1], I have to admit that I really do appreciate Pittsburgh.  It's a wonderful place to live.

[1] Most places get fall, winter, spring, and summer.  We get almost winter, winter, still winter and road repair.

But At Least We Still Have Cowboy Poetry Festivals!

I was looking through email archives today, and came across a note I sent to my wife in December 2008 about the size of TARP, based on a post by TJIC:
Summary: 120x the size of the Apollo program.  Not 120 trips to the moon, but starting from scratch and re-building the entire NASA infrastructure for sending a ship to the moon. 
One.  Hundred. And. Twenty. Times.
And that was just the first of many attempts to "stimulate" and "bail out" the economy.

Can we please finally admit that we just do not get any real value from this kind of government spending?


Five. Weeks.

That's how long it took to write the operating system for the Apple II.

I've spent longer than that tracking down single-character logic errors.


The total cost?  $13,000.

Talk to just about anyone intimately familiar with the Apple II, and one thing you'll hear often is that the disk controller Wozniak designed over the 1977 Christmas holidays for the computer was a proverbial game changer... 
But no matter how great its disk controller was, Apple had no DOS. Or any way to build one of its own. "They looked around Apple," Damer said, "and no one could write a DOS."
Obviously, they found someone to do it...
Although he knew little about operating systems, Wozniak is confident he could have built a good one. But his co-founder couldn't wait. "Steve Jobs, who didn't have patience for a project that took more than a week, found [Shepardson Microsystems] and...they sounded eager and knowledgeable...so we hired them." 
As then-Shepardson employee Paul Laughton remembers it, Wozniak came by one day saying Apple had a disk drive, but no DOS, and was wondering what to do. "I said, 'I know about operating systems.' And so he said, 'Cool, let's have you do it.'"

Actually, I'm A Three-Legged Hyena Cicada

Last week, I figured out that I am a part-time locust. Here’s how it happened. 
I was picking the brain of a restauranteur for insight into things like Groupon. He confirmed what we all understand in the abstract: that these deals are terrible for the businesses that offer them; that they draw in nomadic deal hunters from a vast surrounding region who are unlikely to ever return; that most deal-hunters carefully ensure that they spend just the deal amount or slightly more; that a badly designed offer can bankrupt a small business. 
He added one little factoid I did not know: offering a Groupon deal is by now so strongly associated with a desperate, dying restaurant that professional food critics tend to write off any restaurant that offers one without even trying it. 
Yet, I’ve used (and continue to use) these services and don’t feel entirely terrible about doing so, or truly complicit in the depredations of Groupon. Why? It’s because, like most of the working class, I’ve developed a locust morality.

Run Your Car On Water

No - really!
Phinergy demonstrates aluminum-air battery capable of fueling an electric vehicle for 1000 miles
Phinergy, an Israeli developer of metal-air energy systems, has demonstrated a new type of aluminum-air battery that is capable of providing enough energy to power an electric vehicle (EV) for up to 1000 miles at a time—with occasional stops to take on more water.
Interesting.  Nuclear + AL/O batteries sounds like a good combination.

Oh, and be sure to read the comments for some truly entertaining, if mind-boggling, idiocy.

A Marine's Marine

Gen. James Mattis, known to his troops as “Mad Dog Mattis,” is retiring after 41 years of military service. The Marine Corps Times is calling Mattis the “most revered Marine in a generation.
Wonder why he's...
According to reports, President Barack Obama decided to force the Marine Corps legend out early because he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way, and forced them to answer tough questions regarding Iran. 

But of course.  He makes President Mom Jeans uncomfortable.

The article includes sixteen of his best quotes, including one of my favorites:
“I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years."
Oh.  My.

Can... can we clone people yet?  Because we could use 537 Generals right about now...