Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jimmy D Lane - Bleeding Heart

Usually I post blues on Thursday, but this Heartbleed vulnerability from hell is making my life blue.  Gettin' bluer every day.

All will be well when the Government votes in a new People

Stupid old Democracy standing in the way of Climate Change action:
Nations need to take aggressive action in the next 15 years to cut carbon emissions, in order to forestall the worst effects of global warming, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Expect a certain part of our political class to insist that man-made climate change is not consensus science, and that until it is, nothing should be done. The problem there is obvious: By the time all the skeptics are persuaded, it will be too late for an effective response. In that regard, climate change poses a test of our democracy’s ability to address a threat pressing enough to require a relatively prompt response but too complicated for a lay person to assess on his own authority.
Man, those rubes just don't get the importance of them paying more taxes and having lowered standards of living.  Don't they understand that this is Science® from Top Men?

Fortunately for Those In Charge, the United States is not a Democracy but rather an Oligarchy:
study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs? Who really rules?" in this country, is:

"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
Top Men working to keep themselves on top, you might say.  There's actually a more specific political definition for this:
When it comes to the real world, the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is semantic. Let's start with everyone's favorite hot-word, fascism, which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini defined as "the merger of state and corporate power." In other words, the state and corporate cartels are one system.

Real-world communism, for example as practiced in the People's Republic of China, boils down to protecting a thoroughly corrupt elite and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The state prohibits anything that threatens the profits (and bribes) of SOEs--for example, taxi-apps that enable consumers to bypass the SOE cab companies.


How else to describe this other than the merger of state and corporate power? Any company the state doesn't own operates at the whim of the state.

Now let's turn to the crony-capitalist model of the U.S., Japan, the European Union and various kleptocracies around the globe. For PR purposes, the economies of these nations claim to be capitalist, as in free-market capitalism.

Nothing could be further from the truth: these economies are crony-capitalist systems that protect and enrich elites, insiders and vested interests who the state shields from competition and the law.

The essence of crony-capitalism is of course the merger of state and corporate power. There are two sets of laws, one for the non-elites and one for cronies, and two kinds of capitalism: the free-market variety for small businesses that are unprotected by the state and the crony variety for corporations, cartels and state fiefdoms protected by the state.

Since crony-capitalism is set up to benefit parasitic politicos and their private-sector cartel benefactors, reform is impossible.


That's why the answer to the question, what's the the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is nothing.
And so never fear about those beastly old Global Warming Deniers.  If spending Big Ca$h on IPCC mitigations will benefit the Oligarchs, it will be made to happen.  So let it be written, so let it be done.

And ignore the murmurings from the peasants.  After Immigration "Reform" there will be a new People, more congenial to the Top Men than the current one.
RABBLE, n. In a republic, those who exercise a supreme authority tempered by fraudulent elections. The rabble is like the sacred Simurgh, of Arabian fable — omnipotent on condition that it do nothing. (The word is Aristocratese, and has no exact equivalent in our tongue, but means, as nearly as may be, "soaring swine.")
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
Hat tip to 2cents for the first link, which brought the whole post together.

The Bureau of Land Management's Bastille

Image via La Wik
July 1789 was a tumultuous time in Paris.  Discontent with the Royal regime had been building for decades and had reached the point where the King was forced to call a Constitutional Assembly.  But as the nobles, clergy, and bourgeoisie harangued each other, the people of Paris were growing increasingly restive.

And by "restive" I mean that mobs were spontaneously forming.  The most important of these was the mob that stormed and sacked the notorious Bastille prison on July 14.  The Bastille had an evil reputation and was seen by essentially everyone - educated and uneducated alike - as a symbol of a despotic and tyrannical government.  And so the mob broke the doors down and sacked it.  They paraded the head of its commander on a pike through the streets.

Image via La Wik
What is odd is that the perception was very different from the reality.  The Bastille had almost no prisoners housed in it.  Conditions for the prisoners were actually fairly comfortable, and fine dining among its noble prisoners (most of those incarcerated there) was the norm.  But the air was filled with discontent, and so wildly exaggerated books like Simon-Nicholas Linguet's Memories of the Bastille painted a lurid (if untrue) portrait of the place.  And so it was torn down.  Today's Place de la Concorde is all that remains of the site.

We have just see the US Government's Bureau of Land Management go through an experience similar to Louis XVI.  What was essentially a mob driven by a long-building sense of grievance stared down the King's Men in Nevada.

A number of people have rightly pointed out that Mr. Bundy is no Saint, and that legally he doesn't have a leg to stand on.  That's quite true.  It also isn't the point that is driving events. 

What is driving events is something that would have been well understood by M. Linguet.  Mobs do not spontaneously form out of nothing, and the spark that lights the fire may have very little to do with reality.  His memoir was essentially a work of fiction; it was enormously influential nonetheless because the Government then had laid the groundwork building widespread resentment.

As has ours in this day.

All that remains of the Bastille is the key to its main gates, currently handing on display at Mt. Vernon (it was a gift to George Washington from the Marquis de Lafayette).  That's all that's left of a feared symbol of Royal power - that and an annual national holiday in France.

Our Government has no idea what they have awakened, any more than Louis XVI had.  So far, it has played out without blood flowing in the streets.  I am pessimistic that this will continue for long.

Wednesday morning link dump

Graybeard on 3-D printed body parts.

So that's what you use Ethernet for?  LOL.

Adverse Possession and the Bundy vs. BLM affair.  I hadn't thought of that.  And Goober scores a double by explaining how to pronounce FLAK.  No, not the nickname, the actual German word.  Yikes.

Why are Texas women so misogynist?

Beer is salad.  Because Science®!

This post is brought to you by General Clapper, who is still not in prison ...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From the department of abusive philosophy

Battle of Britain Ace's decorations going to auction

Stephen emails to point out the upcoming auction of these:

The decorations of Air Commodore Ronald Berry.  Expected price, 120,000 UKP.

The Thought-Terminating Cliche

Al Fin has a link-rich post about groupthink and the hive mind:
A large part of the dominant left’s ideological battle against all others, is keeping alternative thought as far away from “authoritative” public platforms as possible. So no commencement address at Brandeis for Ayaan Hirsi-Ali.
A thought-terminating cliche is a canned response that drops a listener into a default protective mode where challenging propositions can be rejected out of hand.  These cliches have (as all cliches must) a kernel of truth surrounded by vast shades of gray that are skipped over.  The usefulness of the thought-terminating cliche is that the Faithful can resist sin.
When avoiding the group mind, one is not looking for things to believe. Rather, one is looking for provocative ideas capable of jarring the mind into alternative levels and avenues of thought. A mind looking for something to believe is a mind ripe and ready for recruitment into the hive.
This explains the hypocrisy of the Academic Left: in the 1960s and 1970s they were all for free exploration of new ideas, because they were on the outside looking to get in.  Free expression helped them.  Since the 1980s they have become the dominant ideology and so new ideas are most definitely not welcome.  Thus the focus on punishing thought crime (Campus speech codes) as being harmful to diversity.

Of course, "thought crime" and "diversity" are both cliches.  However, only one stops the thought process.

A Playlist for when "He Needed Killin'"

I have all sorts of thoughts on the Bureau of Land Management standoff in Nevada, but tonight was a (blessed) moment of relief from the cares of the last few weeks.  #1 Son and I walked to the local pub for a quick libation.  It turned out to be dead slow, and so we ended up having quite a good chat with the barman and the barmaid.  Not sure how it came up, but we got to the subject of "What would be a good playlist for the Air Force guys to play as they fire the Hellfire missile at the Taliban?"

Like I said, it was slow.  Everyone contributed, and it was a fun bar room conversation.  As a break from Wookie-suited rants, I humbly offer it up for your approval.  Feel free to add yours in the comments.

My suggestions:

Live And Let Die.  I always thought this would have been a good one to play over the intercom of the B-52s unleashing Holy Hell over Tora Bora.  Likely they don't/can't do that, but this was the dream.  Sure wish they had the opening credits to the film for this video, because it was awesome.

Give me back my bullets. Just because it scans better than "gimme back my depleted uranium projectiles.

32 - 20 Blues.  Because you don't get more 'Murican than blues.

The barmaid had an interesting list:

You Rascal You, Hanni El Khatib cover of the Louis Armstrong song.  That has extra irony points.

Weapon Of Choice by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  You need to hear more than that?

The barman had some great choices:

Bombs Over Baghdad.   More for younger listeners than me, but duh.

That Was Just Your Life.  A bit pensive in the opening, but gets to the whole "A-10 Minigun strafing run" feeling.  And quite frankly, that was just your life, Jihadi ....

Symphony Of Destruction - Megadeth.  Somehow, operatic metal seems to have a plethora of great choices here.

And it goes on and on.  This could actually be a decent playlist for riding your motorcycle.  Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.  JayG, I expect you have some great Metal additions ...

We now return you to the wookie-suited rants ...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dutch Swing College Band - Dixieland from 1960s Netherlands

Cool, baby.

Reflections on 20 years of Second Amendment victories

Clair has a very thoughtful piece up about the last two decades and how they have been a disaster for the gun grabbers:
We gun owners have been utterly unreasonable and lacking in common sense for roughly 20 years. And by golly, look where it’s got us! We’ve whomped the enemies of gun rights into quivering submission. These days, they can’t even draw bodies to their rallies or contributors to their bank accounts. Gun haters are reduced to screaming on Twitter about how all gun owners have tiny man-parts (apparently they’d be shocked to realize that millions of gun owners have no man parts).

Anti-gunners have been trounced so effectively—in legislatures, in the courts, in public opinion, in accuracy of information, in economics, in gun and ammo sales, and in the sheer number of new shooters taking up guns as a hobby or for protection—that these days they have to place their only real-world hopes in sneaky, dubious measures like executive orders.
She then lays out the victories of the powers of Light over the powers of Darkness.  It's quite a list.

It was an interesting read for me personally, since in the early 90s I was making my transition from a reliable Democrat to someone who thought for myself.  I was one of the people whose heads would nod when the Washington Post editorialized for "common sense" controls - without knowing or thinking much about it.  You see, I wasn't a shooter back then.

But the Assault Weapons Ban rang hollow, even to one such as me.  It was clear that the black rifles weren't part of any problem facing the Republic, but the level of huffing and puffing made me wonder what is up with these people?

And I remember being on a business trip on election night 1994, and laughing at how all the Talking Heads seemed about ready to cry at how the Democrats had been punished by the electorate.  Nobody mentioned guns, but even I was able to connect those dots.  It was a loose connection, to be sure, sort of well what do you expect would happen to people who spend all their time chasing stupid non-problems?

But it wasn't a black swan event, it was Stalingrad.  Ever since that high water moment, the tide has been flowing in one direction and one direction only.  Each victory has made the situation more and more plain.  We'll see what the local election results are this year in Connecticut, and New York, and Colorado.  I think that the moving finger has already writ that fate; having writ it will move on to the write the next defeat for the Gun Banners.  Because those Blue State "victories" for Gun Control have a heavy cost.
The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.
Go read Claire's excellent article.

I could go with a little relaxation

Never much for fishing, but this is fairly persuasive ...

Shamelessly stolen from Wirecutter.

The USA just took a step towards secession this weekend

It is much safer to be feared than loved because is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.
- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
I really hadn't ever put much credence in Obama's vow to "fundamentally transform" America.  Sure, he's a radical who wanted to; I just never thought he'd be effective leaving that as his legacy.  Now I'm not so sure:
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the victory won in the desert today. While the behind-the-scenes details are not clear yet, it is obvious that something unprecedented in the war on the west that has been waged by the imperial federal government has, against all odds, happened. The feds were routed -- routed. There is no other word that applies. Courage is contagious, defiance is contagious, victory is contagious.

Secession, while still unlikely, is now possible to discuss as a potential outcome.  An arrogant and bumbling Fed.Gov threw their weight around, and the People stared them down.  As it escalated towards gunfire, the Governor of the State made the Federales back down.

Think about that, and about what it means to the attempt to centralize all power in Washington D.C.  The Governor of a State made the Feds stop what they were doing and leave.

Barack Obama is a screw up - he forgot Tip O'Neil's immortal words: all politics is local.  Organizing For America has pull in Chicago and the Northeast; not in Nevada or Idaho or Montana or Texas.  The Feds just showed how weak their hand really is.  The Republic has just seen that Fundamental Transformation is being pushed by arrogant incompetents.

Is a breakup likely?  Certainly not.  However, it wasn't even a possibility to consider seriously last week.  That's changed now, as we see who the Strong Horse is, and who the Weak Horse is.  We're seeing the People's - and the Governor's - calculus on this matter rather a lot lately:
The feds ordered the state of Wisconsin to close several state parks that receive federal funding. However, Governor Scott Walker has decided to ignore that order and a Fish and Wildlife Service order to ban hunting and fishing on federal lands. State officials said that Wisconsin provides more than half the funding for the parks, so they will be kept open with state money.

If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
Oops.  Let the mockery commence:

Hat tip: Claire.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Man, it was a rougher week than I'd thought

After 20 hours (!) of sleep the last two nights, I'm wiped out.  Didn't even take the bike out, and it was beautiful out.

Going to bed.

I love and hate Costco

The prices are great (if you're careful), but man it's crowded on a Sunday afternoon.

Amazing what a couple good nights of sleep can do for you

Holy cow, I'm a new man.  20 hours of sleep over two days has me caught back up.  All the feeling annoyed, snapping at the dogs, etc has disappeared after two nights of good sleep.  Problems remain, and it may even be the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine.

Johann Sebastian Bach - St. Matthew's Passion

Holy Week calls for the musical A List, and so we find ourselves with Bach.  It well may be that this is the Master's greatest work, but it went for nearly a century after his death without being performed at all.  Felix Mendelssohn unearthed it and performed it to great acclaim in 1829, nearly 80 years after the composer's death.  Perhaps the best comparison of the piece is to Handel's Messiah, which also tells the story of the passion.

Like The Messiah, this is big music - it is typically performed with two orchestras and two choirs.  Unlike Handel (who wrote much more "commercial" music), this sounds much more "churchy" as you'd expect from Bach's career as a church musician and composer.  In fact, you very likely know the tune that plays at around 34:40, and can hum along.

Youtube typically has a 10 minute rule, not allowing videos longer than that.  They (quite rightly) make an exception for this, and so you have the entire two and a half hour piece.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ever have one of those days?

Or weeks?

It's not free when someone else is paying for it

Cost and Risk are no object when someone else is paying the tab:
Interestingly, two of the three women profiled in the [Daily] Mail story were 50+ when they gave birth. The amount of resources and effort required, and risk borne by their children for them to realize their dreams of being an older choice mommy, is substantial. But no cost is too high and no risk too great when a lonely post-Wall future involving lots of felines looms scarily near:
Carole Hobson became Britain’s oldest mother of twins at 58 after conceiving through IVF at an Indian clinic.


Nine weeks premature and each weighing 3lb 3oz, they spent two months in neo-natal care. The qualified barrister from Kent, said: ‘In Britain we need to be better at providing for women who want to be mothers later in life. It is an indescribable joy, but it’s non-stop – it is like a full-time job.’
[blink] [blink]

Wapati sums this up with admirable restraint:
I have to admire Ms. Hobson's chutzpah, though. She chose to have babies man-not-included, and the overburdened British taxpayer--49% of whom are men of the sort she couldn't bring herself to marry--was stuck with the bill for her operation (low $20s for a C-section) and 60 days for two children in the NICU ($3.5K per baby per day, or roughly $42K). Yet she still complains that she didn't receive enough support. Amazing.
She is he very model of a modern strong and independent woman.  And exhibit A for why government services have to be lousy, because people abuse them for frivolous reasons.

Vince Gill and Carrie Underwood - How Great Thou Art

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week.  Music for the moment demands the magnificent.  Fortunately we have Vince's guitar and Carrie's voice to oblige.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The past

Such a happy place:
PAST, n. That part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. A moving line called the Present parts it from an imaginary period known as the Future. These two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually effacing the other, are entirely unlike. The one is dark with sorrow and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy. The Past is the region of sobs, the Future is the realm of song. In the one crouches Memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Actually, the future is sunshine and kittens, but you know what he means.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Roosevelt Sykes - Security Blues

For all the IT security folks dealing with the Heartbleed vulnerability ...

Rule 2

More important than the Surgeon General's warning ...

The unblinking eye

But remember, if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about, right?

Hat tip: R. Denison via email

NRA proposes national registry of Shit That Doesn't Matter

But which will be used to infringe second amendment rights of people.  For Teh Childrenz™:
"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark," LaPierre said. "A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?"
Glad to see you prove that you're only marginally better than the Brady Bunch*.  Remember, there's no solid science that says that modern psychiatry can reliably predict who will become a mass shooter before the fact.  But you shouldn't have that psychiatric shoulder thing that goes up, because you gunnies are crazy or something.  Jeebus on a motorbike, is there a single strategy from the enemies of freedom that you won't swipe, because you think it's somehow good for the NRA or something?

Screw the NRA.  If they'd had their way Alan Gura never would have taken Heller or MacDonald to the Supremes, and they'd throw everyone who'd ever taken a pill for depression under the Gun Control bus.

Wayne LaPierre, die screaming in a crotch fire, you ignorant, elitist scumbag.  Instead of renewing my NRA membership, I'll send the check to the Second Amendment Foundation who actually care about gun rights and instead of selling even more of them out, are trying to turn back the tide.

Screw you, and the horse you rode in on.  Sideways.

* Yes, I know that this is a year old.  I'm a slow learner, at least when it comes to the NRA.