March 8, 2015
Never thought we had that much impact on the world.
Enjoy what’s left of your Sunday.
Raving about this and that since New Year's Eve, 2006
March 8, 2015
Never thought we had that much impact on the world.
Enjoy what’s left of your Sunday.
November 2, 2014
Yes, strictly speaking, we set the clocks back now because we set them forward in spring, but I think you get the idea.
September 12, 2014
Somewhere in America, there’s a town where the trains roll down the main street every day.
Happy Birthday to the person who showed me this marvelous sight.
Afterword: No, I don’t know railroad locomotives that well. This site provides information on CSX General Electric locomotives based on their number. A manifest train, according to Yahoo answers, is a mixed-use train. They’re easy to identify, because they’ll usually have different kinds of cars.
May 30, 2014
Andrew Napolitano, in a review of Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place to Hide, which is about Greenwald’s meeting with Edward Snowden and the resulting revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA):
The government has argued that when it engages in all this spying, it is looking for a needle in a haystack. It claims it can only keep us safe if it knows all and sees all. Yet, such an argument cannot be made with intellectual honesty by anyone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution.
The Constitution was written to keep the government off of the people’s backs. The Constitution protects the right to be left alone and the right to be different. The Constitution presupposes the existence of natural rights and areas of human endeavor that are insulated from government knowledge and immune to government regulation, except in the most carefully prescribed circumstances. Those circumstances require that probable cause of crime be possessed by the government about identifiable persons and demonstrated to a neutral judge before the government may engage in any surveillance of that person—and all those NSA conspirators and all their judicial facilitators know this.
The reason is that, as I’ve explained before, there is a danger in not having the freedom to debate and discuss the issues we face as Americans:
Those who maintain that somehow all this intrusiveness and secrecy is necessary to keep us “safe” have clearly never considered what it’s like to not be safe from your own government. They haven’t considered what the cost is of corruption that can’t be punished because it can’t be revealed, or how many lives bad policy and bad government can cost. If they had, they’d know that what they were saying is utterly foolish. We lose more people every month for lack of health care, and for letting people who shouldn’t be near them have guns. We lost more people in Iraq and Afghanistan than we did to terrorism. We lost way more in Vietnam. All that death is due, at least in part, to foolish government policy. While we spend vast sums of money on surveillance equipment that may not even work, we don’t educate our young well enough to operate all those whiz-bang weapons we always seem to have money to build.
It’s surprising how many “progressives” and “liberals” still don’t get it.
April 24, 2014
Sometimes, there’s an odd, sad poetry to what I see on Twitter. Here’s an example from today:
Yes, they really did end up right next to each other.
One Twitter message concerns the children of an American hero who blew the whistle on the torture being done by the Bush Administration. He was sent to prison while the torturers and the people who approved that torture were not. The other message concerns a rancher who thinks he doesn’t have to pay for using public land to graze his cattle, and who needs to learn more and talk less. There’s so much of what’s wrong with America these days in these two messages about the value of fresh air.
April 22, 2014
As part of its Earth Day activities this year, NASA is asking poeple to submit “selfies” of themselves wherever they happen to be today. You know, this sort of thing:
That’s me at one of my favorite places in my neck of the woods, the BPA Trail. Sadly, this photo doesn’t qualify for NASA’s campaign, since I took it last year. Unfortunately, my photos often require, ahem, post-processing before I can publish them. But if your self-portrait photo skills are more timely than mine, feel free to submit something at the link.
Meanwhile, happy Earth Day.
April 19, 2014
Finally, I found a graphic that works for this thought:
Happy belated birthday to someone important in my life. Everyone else, disregard…
April 2, 2014
CBS News identified the shooter as Ivan Lopez, 34.
He was reportedly in uniform at the time of the shooting.
Fort Hood has confirmed the shooting, but has issued little other information.
“Fort Hood’s Directorate of Emergency Services has an initial report that a shooter is dead but this is unconfirmed,” the post said in an updated statement at around 6:30 p.m.
The Associated Press earlier quoted a U.S. law enforcement official as saying the suspected gunman is believed to be dead.
Some of the wounded were taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on post and others to Scott & White Hospital in Temple.
This is why I won’t write anything more than to extend my condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
UPDATE/Afterword: Apparently, another person with a gun is loose at Kent State University, Ohio. All that seems to be known at this point is that at least one shot was fired, and the campus is locked down.
Hopefully, this will be all the damage from that incident.
March 30, 2014
This article is republished from an earlier version on the old Slobber And Spittle. Some minor alterations have been done, but little has changed since then, and a couple of Twitter conversations have brought it to mind.
Over at his blog, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Oscar, James Ala wrote this in response to a comment I’d left at his site:
Since I am, or at least was, an engineer, let me explain the political system to you.
it really begs the question “why bother contesting for a leadership position if you are not going to lead?” From Poppy Bush onwards we have been inflicted with empty suits that captured the Executive as resume padding. It has been all about blind ambition linked to ego gratification; with no real desire to do the heavy lifting the job required. You can see the downward spiral from Pappy Bush, to Bill Clinton, to Shrub and, finally, to Obama.
Each iteration, each candidate, was ever more solipsistic, ever more nihilist, ever more ego driven, ever more the unprincipled political hack. Each was ever more the dog chasing the bus; totally lost when said bus ended up in the dog’s possession.
I wish I was a systems engineer, or someone who could discern how systems work. I do not have the mental discipline or the framework to achieve that kind of analysis. I just know that our system of government, especially [its] political process is fundamentally flawed. I keep looking at the results of the process and keep being amazed on how badly it fails at delivering a more perfect union.
It’s not a system.
At least, it’s not in any sense that means anything. A system is designed to accomplish something, whether it’s a documentation system, a refining system, or a computer system. Whether that something is making a project’s design understandable, processing ore, or delivering porn and kittehs to your screen, the goals are clear enough that the people designing them can figure out how to accomplish them. What is the goal of our political “system”? Beyond electing candidates, I don’t see any. We as individual voters set those goals, and as any thorough survey of the blogosphere will demonstrate, there is no universal agreement on what those goals are, nor even what categories of goals there might be. Even progressives of like mind find it hard to agree, and we’re but a vanishingly small portion of the electorate.
I do, however, see an evolutionary process. Evolution isn’t a system. It doesn’t have any goals beyond surviving long enough to reproduce. As long as a type of organism can do that, it continues. There is no ultimate goal to achieve. There is no perfect ocelot or flawless poppy. There are only ocelots and poppies that survive long enough to spread their DNA around, and those that don’t. That’s how politics works, pretty much everywhere. Only the details, the environment if you will, are different.
And that’s the little bit of understanding I can offer. Politics is an evolutionary process, and survival is getting and staying in office. Understand the environment, and the reasons politicians are the way they are will be more clear. From what I’ve noted, the politicians who are most successful are those who somehow manage to convince voters that they’re all about whatever the voters are about, which usually entails not actually being about anything in particular. That’s certainly Barack Obama’s modus operandi, and it appears to be Mitt Romney’s, as well.
As any decent introductory biology text would tell you, biological evolution has two basic drivers – variation and natural selection. “Variation” is the ability of organisms to be somehow different from their parents. Mutation and sexual reproduction both create variation. “Natural selection” is the environment’s job. The conditions that exist in an organism’s environment determine whether it will survive long enough to reproduce. If the organism is able to produce offspring, its DNA is passed on.
In the area of politics, we the voters are the environment. The money, the news, the personalities, and all the other stuff that goes into shaping what the candidates offered do and believe, is the variation. Our choices as voters determine what politicians succeed and which ones don’t. In the end, if voters choose their leaders for fatuous, self-centered reasons, then what we will end up with is fatuous, self-centered candidates.
This is why there’s a series here called “The Price of Freedom”. It’s about why it’s important to understand the issues, to understand who the candidates are and what they really believe, and to not leave your thinking to the cool people on television or radio who, often as not, are also in the business of telling you what you want to hear.
In the end, whatever we as voters choose is what we will end up with. If you choose evil, you end up with evil. What’s worse is that the evil is what you’re selecting for, so it will almost certainly get worse. There are plenty of other choices available. If the ones the main parties offer aren’t good enough, I’d suggest choosing the one who best represents what you want. If enough of us do that, the variation will change. The Tea Party proved that.
In this environment, if you select what you want, you might get it. If you don’t, then you certainly will not.
Afterword: I think it should go without saying that the picture of Dr. Evil, a character in the Austin Powers movies, is just a reference to something that’s become a cultural icon. It does not represent an endorsement of this article by the producers, cast, or production staff of this movie.
The title of this article is, of course, the title of a bad Star Trek episode. Still, like the Enterprise crew members trying to survive on the same planet with Lee Meriwether’s homicidal avatar, we seem to be stuck with a problem we can barely understand, let alone deal with intelligently. Needless to say, the creators of Star Trek aren’t in any way responsible for the contents herein.
It’s humor. Get over it.
March 9, 2014
Yes. Today. It’s time to put the clocks ahead one hour, and sleep one hour less if you’re doing anything on Sunday.
Why? Our politicians couldn’t do anything useful to curb our energy use without risking the wrath of their masters in the carbon-based energy business, so they did this instead.
On the bright side, Spring is only a couple of weeks away.