20 Jan 2017

January 20th, 2017

Normally I schedule my day so that I can have some coffee and deal with a certain I’m starving to death!! bloodthirsty kitten. Not so today: there was money to be made, and it had to be made first thing. So I missed the theatre down in DC, but with the ALMIGHTY INTERNETS ™ I’ll be able to see it in just a few minutes.

Funny thing though, the sun shone the whole time and there was the normal gentle breezes blowing…no sudden darkness, no quakes, no hordes of screaming people being chased by orcs….there was even an ice cream truck (yes, in January: Dear Florida…) driving down the street sucking money out of the pockets of small children.

Just looked outside, and I note a distinct lack of gigantic flaming rocks flying down from space. On the other hand, there are a pair of squirrels giving me what for because the feeder is devoid of peanuts.

You know, I’m getting the strong impression that the media is lying to us about this Trump fellow. That doesn’t mean that he won’t dump a giant pile of suckitude on us; that remains to be seen, but the promised doom that was supposed to befall us just hasn’t happened.

I wonder what else they’re lying to us about? (/sarc)

But if the period between the election and today has been any indication, we’re in for a very entertaining four years.

This should be good. Maybe they’ll pull their hair and shriek like they did the last time.

Looks Like a Business Opportunity

January 12th, 2017

I’ve made a lot of money fixing, building, and repairing laptops and desktops. Over the last few years, that business has pretty much collapsed because the people that used to buy (and neglect) those devices have largely switched over to tablets and smart phones. It looks, however, that I may have a new and effective advertising slogan:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603348/when-gadget-fixers-turn-fbi-informants

If you send your laptop to be repaired, its contents may come under closer scrutiny than you expect.

A court case in California has revealed that technicians from Best Buy’s repair shop, Geek Squad, have served as paid informants for the FBI. Details from the hearing reveal that its staff identified incriminating evidence in the form of child pornography on customer computers.

Many of the documents from the case, which relates to a California doctor accused of possessing child pornography, are sealed. But one former Geek Squad manager explained in a statement made available by Consumerist that “when technicians in the data recovery department found suspected child pornography on customers’ computers in such a situation, they were to stop working immediately and notify their Supervisor [who] would contact the FBI.”

But wait! There’s more!

He goes on to explains that he “was paid $500 in 2011 by Special Agent Tracey Riley,” but insists that he “did not understand the payment to be given as encouragement to find child pornography on behalf of the FBI.”

I understand that just fine, Sparky, and I’m sure that everyone who reads this will have the same level of understanding.

Final sentence of the article:

So if you’d rather keep your files away from the eyes of law enforcers, it might pay to repair your own laptop.

Or hire me! My new slogan will be: “I won’t rat you out!” That’ll fit nicely onto a business card, too. Win-win. And let’s not forget that I regularly undercut Geek Squad’s rates. Last time I checked, they start at just under $400.

Yes. Next Question?

January 12th, 2017

To borrow (all right, blatantly steal) one of Instapundit’s headers.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/01/10/is-it-time-to-hold-police-officers-accountable-for-constitutional-violations

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a summary opinion in the White v. Pauly case. A police officer was sued for killing a man during an armed standoff during which the officers allegedly never identified themselves as police. The Supreme Court, however, concluded that the officer had “qualified immunity.” That is, he was immune from a suit for damages, because his conduct — while possibly unconstitutional — was not obviously unconstitutional.

As Professor Reynolds notes, “qualified Immunity” is a judicial invention with no basis in the Constitution. (Also a direct quote).

Eugene Volokh has written a paper (available for free download here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2896508 ) entitled “Is Qualified Immunity Unlawful?”

Well, duh. Unfortunately, that’s now how things are done in the court system. From the abstract of the article:

The doctrine of qualified immunity operates as an unwritten defense to civil rights lawsuits brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It prevents plaintiffs from recovering damages for violations of their constitutional rights unless the government official violated “clearly established law,” usually requiring a specific precedent on point. This article argues that the doctrine is unlawful and inconsistent with conventional principles of statutory interpretation.

Don’t get all giddy on me and start thinking that a well-researched article or two is going to change things. Another idea that floats around our Judiciary is stare decisis which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t occur in the Constitution either. The way it is applied is to enshrine earlier decisions, even when they’re wrong, because of the mess it would make if the Court admitted its error. You’re not supposed to point out that judging the Law is their only job, and sorting through the mess that overturning something is squarely in their remit. After all, that would be rude and impertinent.

It Couldn’t Last Forever

January 9th, 2017

As you’re aware, America’s Greatest Gun Salesman ™ will leave office on the 20th. That gun sales are tapering off a bit because the next President isn’t anywhere as hostile to private gun ownership shouldn’t be any surprise. So, if you were a lefty news outfit, how would you make note of this? Like this:

http://fortune.com/2017/01/09/donald-trump-gun-sales-stocks/

Got that? That outgoing President Obama was (and is) a fan of gun control (that would be total disarmament in plain English) is not worthy of mention. Plus, we cannot even think about the reasons that all those people went out and spent their money on things that the outgoing Administration wanted to outlaw (Hint: it wasn’t to turn around and turn them in when ordered, kids). Plus we get to take a shot at TrumpHitlerStalinSatan.

The article itself doesn’t tell you anything that you couldn’t surmise on your own, so you don’t need to click the link if you’re not inclined to do so. But I couldn’t resist the unintentional hilarity of the lede.

Speak for Yourself, Mate

January 7th, 2017

http://www.livescience.com/57407-zombie-apocalypse-would-take-100-days.html

The zombie apocalypse won’t take long.

A new article in a peer-reviewed student journal finds that the zombie hordes would take Earth’s population down to a mere 273 survivors in 100 days.

The paper, published in the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics, was a fanciful use of the so-called SIR model, which is used in epidemiology to simulate how diseases spread over time. It’s not the first time zombies have been used as a public health metaphor. In December 2015, for example, the British medical journal The Lancet published a tongue-in-cheek paper titled “Zombie infections: epidemiology, treatment, and prevention.” And a viral blog post from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged zombie-apocalypse preparations as a a metaphor for real-life disaster preparedness.

In the new analysis, the University of Leicester undergraduates assumed that each zombie would have 90 percent success at finding and infecting one human per day — a rate that would make the zombie virus twice as contagious as the Black Death, the plague that devastated Europe in the 1300s. [Zombie Animals: 5 Real Cases of Body-Snatching]

The researchers further estimated that each zombie could live 20 days without braaaaaains.

OK, fine. Of course this is based on assumptions and not documented facts, but OK.

If you hadn’t already realized that the University of Leicester was in England, read this:

“We have also not included the possibility for the humans to kill the zombies,” they wrote.

There’s your problem, mate. Here in America, there would be a reality show within days that would give out prizes in such categories as “Zombies taken out at 500 yards”. Sure, we Americans can be described as “gun crazy”, but we’ll be the ones laughing (and breathing) after the rise of the zombies.

Rules Are For Others

January 6th, 2017

What have we got here? An American cop in the UK who seems to think that the rules don’t apply to him. Fortunately, the bouncer isn’t going to put up with that. Please note how the Hero (/sarc) tries to bluster his way through, and then waves his tin around, a mere 3,000 miles outside any relevant US jurisdiction.

And for once, let us thank the idiotic gun control laws in Blighty: had this turd been carrying, that bouncer would be dead right now, and his murderer would be enjoying a paid vacation while his Department was figuring out if they needed an updated way to say “his actions were within Departmental protocols”.

Kratman

January 3rd, 2017

It being Tuesday, the good Light Colonel has published his regular column over at Every Joe:

http://www.everyjoe.com/2017/01/02/politics/trump-inauguration-all-your-base-are-belong-to-us/#1

Now, you have a choice here. You either follow the link right now, or you can wait a few hours and follow the link that Jeffersonian is sure to post, as is his wont.

The Krat posted an excerpt from Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints. It’s around, but you would need to search for it, but as a Public Service, I’ll post it here:

Camp_of_the_Saints

The one bone I have to pick with LTC Kratman is this:

…governorships. And that, o, most blessedly, is why we, not the left, are going to set the immediate tone for the Supreme Court and quite possibly create a supermajority within it that will last generations.

srsly

Ah yes, the supermajority. Like the one Karl Rove gloated about in around 2001. Like the one the Dems gloated about in 2009. You can see where I’m going with this, right? Take a moment and recall the colloquial definitions of our major political parties: the Democrats are the Evil Party and the Republicans are the Stupid Party. Do any of you reading this doubt for longer than a microsecond the ability of the GOP to totally and completely f*** this up?

The problem here is that we have to rely on that group of narcissists and sociopaths better known as politicians. It’s not as though we have to worry that some/many of them will be dipping their wicks where they shouldn’t or taking money under the table because they’re doing that as I type. And yes, the Democrats are doing the same, but they have a currently unassailable asset: they own the media. And just as they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to even admit the existence of Fast and Furious, to admit that our Dear Leader Obama was using armed drones as if they were free, to even concede that the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua might have a health issue or two, the media will go out of their way to ignore any and all misdeeds by their allies in the Democrat Party. The GOP has no such advantage.

And the GOP, stupid to the very end, will hand them all the scandal they can shriek about and on a silver platter no less.

Keep in mind that the revolution in the Republican ranks, beginning with the Tea Party in 2009 and continuing with the rise of the alt-right today, is by no means complete and has no guaranteed success. We will need to worry about the Republicans snatching defeat from the jaws of victory until the day that their heads are mounted on pikes along the Mall in DC.

Still, enjoy the day. Enjoy the month. Enjoy the year. It will be difficult (but by no means impossible) for the Repubs to screw this up by 2018. Or, perhaps by 2020.

2024? All bets are off, and we need to proceed in the certainty that the Dems will find some issue to lie and misrepresent by then. And don’t forget their ability to pull another Obama out of the weeds. Remember him? Who amongst you had even heard of him before 2005?

There’s no such thing as a supermajority that will last more than two years, and we had all better operate under that reality.

PS: I know that LTC Kratman was specifically referring to SCOTUS in his quote. But where do Supreme Court justices come from? First from the Executive (the nomination) and then the Senate (the confirmation). And do remember that Dirty Harry’s rule change removing the requirement for 60 votes for a confirmation doesn’t apply to a Supreme Court confirmation. About the only “easy” appointment to the High Court will be that of Ted Cruz (assuming that’s not rumor/wishful thinking): Sen. Cruz, according to reports, is well-hated in the Senate, and a number of Democrats might be convinced to vote for his confirmation just to be rid of him. That’s only one slot, the one needed to replace Fat Tony Scalia. The very best of them, Clarence Thomas, has reportedly made noises about retiring while he’s still young enough to enjoy that retirement. Beyond the extremely difficult (if not impossible) task of finding another jurist of his caliber, you may be assured that the Democrats will stop at nothing to prevent that confirmation.

Read This

December 30th, 2016

http://thesilicongraybeard.blogspot.com/2016/12/have-tea-partys-killers-hit-gunnies-too.html

Nope, no quotations, go and read it all.

For the record, I believe that if you’ve got money to donate to some organization, you’ve got money to purchase more ammunition.

Q: How much ammo is too much?

A: When you’re downstairs and notice that the ceiling is starting to bow from the weight.

It’s A Start

December 29th, 2016

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/abolish-the-department-of-energy/article/2610421

Why would anyone want to abolish the DOE? According to one liberal commentator, it was because the department “was established during Jimmy Carter’s administration and it perhaps sounds like it might have something to do with solar panels.”

Jimmy Carter created it, all right, but solar panels were only a symptom of the real problem. The DOE was conceived in dark and pessimistic beliefs and forecasts that have proven totally wrong. As Obama might say, the DOE is on the wrong side of history. As it stands the department needs to either be rethought or retired.

The original legislation justified a Department of Energy because, 1) we were rapidly running out of fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas; 2) as a consequence of this we were becoming increasingly dependent on energy imports — dependence that made us vulnerable to embargoes and political blackmail; and 3) so therefore we needed “a strong national [read government-directed] energy program.”

Even before fracking proved the dire warnings to be utterly wrong, we had for the most part taken care of our energy dependence. We significantly reduced any possible vulnerability to an embargo by diversifying our suppliers; over sixty countries were supplying us with oil in the 2000s. Our No. 1 supplier? Canada. Mexico also has been in the top five. This information makes “foreign oil,” a bit less scary, no?

In the meantime, we’ve endured wasteful, panicked policies such as massive subsidies for the wind and solar power, and electric cars. Worst of all, Congress has saddled consumers with ethanol subsidies and mandates. These boondoggles cost us billions of dollars, and none of them are commercially viable in their own right. In fact, the DOE has produced no dramatic breakthroughs in energy technology despite 40 years of trying (and failing) to pick winners.

The only energy breakthrough of the last four decades has been fracking, and its only connection to government was a tax break for developing hard-to-get oil resources. This was an exemption from the ludicrous windfall profits tax of 1980, which was repealed in 1988 when windfall profits (whatever they were supposed to be) equaled zero for three years running.

Those of you who fiddle with small engines know what ethanol does to them. That we have to search out non-ethanol gas while still having to pay for the subsidies just makes it worse.

There are any number of good arguments to abolish the DoE, but that should be only the start. Recall that my favorite agency (/sarc), NA$A, is a relic of the Cold War, and considering that the USSR collapsed just about twenty-five years ago (26 Dec 1991), it’s past time NA$A was put out of our misery.

And don’t get me started on the FAA.
Or the FCC.
Or BATFE.
Or the Department of (Mis)Education.

Hmmm. It appears to be time for two of my favorite macros:

Truth

NA$A

December 27th, 2016

http://www.space.com/35127-top-spaceflight-stories-2016.html

You can read the linked article if you wish. I merely point out that of the top ten spaceflight stories highlighted, NA$A is the focus of two of them, along with a passing reference to the agency in a third. Quite a return we’re getting on our tax dollars, eh?

Since NA$A isn’t doing a lot of spaceflight, you know, the reason that they exist, just what have they been up to?

https://pjmedia.com/blog/nasa-nonsense//?singlepage=true

The tweet above (not shown here – Ed.) is from @NASAClimate, a real official account from the real government organization that shoots rockets. (By the way, serious question: does anyone know why NASA does this instead of NOAA?)

“If all of Greenland’s ice melted, it would raise sea level ~23 ft. That’s enough to put coastlines throughout the world under water.”

There’s some science-y math stuff in the link which is worth your while. Not for the presented data, although that’s interesting by itself, but to set up the conclusion to the piece:

But now we’re getting to the point: That is a whole lot of energy. It’s more than 200,000 50 Megaton bombs. It’s twice the energy of the Chicxalub asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs. It’s comparable to the total amount of energy released by the sun in one second. It’s — via Einstein — an amount of energy that masses thousands of tons.

So, all of Greenland’s ice might melt, but it isn’t going to be fast. If we go into it, we find that even the most “catastrophic” predictions of sea-level rise are in the neighborhood of a millimeter a year, or a centimeter a decade. An inch every 25 years. Four inches a century.

This 23 feet will take 6900 years.

This tweet is, more than anything else, a tribute to the art of public relations. It’s not exactly false — but by taking about the cities to be drowned, it sure gives the average reader the impression that this drowning is imminent. Instead, well — 6900 years ago would be roughly 5000 BC. That’s before Rome; before ancient Greece; before Minos; before Egypt, before Ur, before Mohenjo-Daro; before domesticated chickens. Before every recorded human civilization. Maybe, in 7000 years, New York will be under water; and maybe, in 7000 years, New York will still be remembered as a place more real than Atlantis. Maybe.

It’s a sucker play. NASA Climate is hoping you’ll read their tweet and take away that New York is in imminent danger, and support their funding and listen with horror every time someone says “climate change.”

My plan for NA$A cannot be repeated enough: keep the engineers, keep the launch sites, fire everyone else, and distribute the surplus to the companies actually pursuing spaceflight.

If there had been an equivalent agency for mechanized land travel a century ago, we’d still be walking or riding horses.