Saturday, January 18, 2014

News From Down The Lane

Today was a perfect winter day, in fact the best winter day we can remember having in quite a few years.  There is a beautiful, deep accumulation of powdery snow, the skies were a cloudless bright blue from sunrise to sunset, and the temperature hovered in the middle teens.  Simply perfect.

I walked down the lane to the County Highway, cold snow squeaking under my boots with each step.  It was so still in the woods that I could hear my own heart beating.  The only other noise was the resolutely rapid tat tat tat tat tat of a pileated woodpecker working on a red pine, looking for lunch.

The snow has been quite heavy this year here in the Lake Superior snow belt.  The man who plows our drive had trouble pushing the snow with his straight plow and had friend with a v-plow come over to break open a path.  The snow piles at the end of the drive seem to be ten feet high, and winter is not half over.

Chet is our plow guy; we inherited him when we bought this place some twenty-odd years ago. He plowed the drive for the previous owner, and the owner before that who first built the place.  We don't know how old Chet is - we think somewhere in his early 80s - but when we ask we get a laughing answer from him with a joke.  It's usually something like "How old am I?  Old enough that I have a autographed photo of Jesus!"  Or maybe "Old enough that the Jesuits baptized me here when they stopped for lunch in 1622."  The answer is always followed by a long laugh that ends up in a smoker's cough.

We also inherited a plumber, an electrician, and a septic tank guy.  The electrician retired and moved to Florida a few years ago.  The plumber's son now runs the business, and the septic tank guy is still with us.  They are all hard workers and as honest as can be.  We learned long ago to always pay cash up front for all work, be polite, and never, ever cop a big city attitude.  They trust us; we trust them.  They know where the keys are hidden, and when there is work to be done and we are not here, there is no concern about them letting themselves in.  Cash, a firm handshake, and looking the other guy in the eye when a promise is made still work up here.

I bumped into old Don while I was walking.  He's the kind of man who has always been old; he just looks older every year.  He doesn't look well.  Last summer we were taken aback by his ashen color; it's worse now.  He looks like he's circling the drain. 

Don has always been big, always had a big, sloppy cigar in his mouth.  He doesn't light the cigar anymore, but still chews on it.  Don was walking his mutt, although "walking" isn't quite accurate.  The dog was walking on the end or a leash; Don was in his car with the window down holding on to the other end of the leash and slowly driving down the lane.  He said he's fine, how's the weather, how are you feeling, damn taxes, and how's your wife?

Bill Murray was asked "What was the oddest experience you had in Japan?"

"The oddest… well, I was eating at a sushi bar. I would go to sushi bars with a book I had called "Making out in Japanese." it was a small paperback book, with questions like "can we get into the back seat?" "do your parents know about me?" "do you have a curfew?"
And I would say to the sushi chef "Do you have a curfew? Do your parents know about us? And can we get into the back seat?"
And I would always have a lot of fun with that, but that one particular day, he said "would you like some fresh eel?" and I said "yes I would." so he came back with a fresh eel, a live eel, and then he walked back behind a screen and came back in 10 seconds with a no-longer-alive eel. It was the freshest thing I had ever eaten in my life. It was such a funny moment to see something that was alive that no longer was alive, that was my food, in 30 seconds."

reedit rip-off

Uncovering Coverage

NYT Grey Matter: "Stop Trusting Yourself"

"The psychologist Piercarlo Valdesolo and I have demonstrated this phenomenon (read article) in several experiments. In one of them, we gave participants a coin to flip that would determine whether they would have to complete an enjoyable task or an onerous one. We then left them “alone” to flip it (while secretly monitoring them). Ninety percent of them did not flip the coin (or they kept flipping it until they got the answer they wanted) and unfairly assigned themselves the preferable task."
All the participants in our sample had earlier stated that cheating on the task would be immoral. But when evaluating their actions afterward, most not only continued to view themselves as fair even when they weren’t, but also readily condemned others for cheating in the same way. Their minds quickly whitewashed their own untrustworthy actions. They didn’t ignore what they did; they just created a story for why it was O.K.
This article resonated with me yesterday, so much so, I brought it up in conversation with someone, but, I found I couldn't keep from sounding wishy washy. Maybe there is another way of saying to someone "stop trusting yourself" that would be more palatably substantive. My exit strategy was to recommend the article. I told the guy it was very short, which it is... trust me.


Everyday somebody looks at snail crackers specifically asking for snail crackers. 

I only made them once. They are a pain in the butt. Each one cut and rolled like a croissant. Not worth it.

Otherwise, crackers are the easiest thing in the world. Stunningly easy. They must be the original baked wheat food; wheat sludge smeared on a rock and placed onto smoldering coals is easy to imagine.

Crackers are flour of any kind with fat of any kind and water, rolled thin and baked. 

Cheese crackers are my favorite. Cheese is the fat. So one cup flour, a bunch of remnant cheese bits about 1/3 cup whirred in the processor, water dropped in about 1/4 cup or less so it pulls into a ball. 

Wet dough is easier to roll thin than stiff dough. 

Kids would dig doing this. 

A friend said, "Nobody likes Cheez-It crackers." 

Nonplussed, I never have managed to regard that man the same since. 

You can make them as hot as you like in whatever chile flavor you prefer.

One time I became artistic and made designer crackers by depositing various spices in a row to create variety in colors and flavors. I loved them, but I would not serve them nor even offer them except on a dare, too weird, too unpredictable, not altogether pleasant. 

I like to roll out the dough on a Silpat then trim to its size for convenient handling and perfect sizing for the baking tray. All extra bits back into the processor. Scored with a bench scraper at angles in variance to the spice powder color bars. So you never know which combination of spices you are going to have with each individual bite. Most disconcerting. I like it but I doubt everyone will.

I think the most famous crackers of all are black bean crackers. 

Shortening will make them more tender. Baking powder will make them more airy. If you fail to dock them they tend to puff by steam to form tiny pillows. Wheat flour is an excellent adhesive, including it with any other bean powder or grain powder will aid manageability. 

Things like sun dried tomatoes chopped finely made into olive oil crackers are something quite incredible. This was someone else's idea, so I made them for her and blew her mind.

I have some twenty posts for crackers and they all say pretty much the same thing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Squirrels, Rabbits, Blue Jays, and Mockingbirds

My favorite scene from an old classic:


The clip cuts off too soon and should have included how Calpurnia calls Scout into the kitchen and proceeds to give her a lecture on hospitality: Walter was a guest and therefore could do whatever he wanted to do. The absentee mothering that Calpurnia did was underplayed in the movie, IMO. Maybe it was too controversial/suggestive for movies in 1962?

The Bar Is Open. Pour Yourself A Drink. Lem's Got The Tab.


Sometimes a photo just screams  "Yes! I am pimp from Russia.  How you are knowing this?"

"all for improving relations between these two countries!"

"One message, which appeared to have been directly sent from Ms Tarar's account, said: 'I love you, Shashi Tharoor. And I go while in love with you, irrevocably, irreversibly, hamesha [always]. Bleeding, but always your Mehr.'"

Update : Story takes a tragic turn

A Thing That Changed My Life

What one thing changed your life when you were a child?  Was it that telescope that you first used to see stars and planets, and maybe watched astronaut land on the moon?   Or was it your first rudimentary computer that opened the world of electronics and programming?

Or the first time you were dressed as an adult and taken to an adult event and you saw the world or being an adult?  Or your first airplane ride?  The first time you drove?  Or the first time a physician let you use his stethoscope to listen to your own heart?

What was it that changed your young life?

It was my first minibike that changed my life.  I could twist the throttle, turn the handle bars, and it went where I wanted it to go.  I rode it round and round the perimeter of my parents' suburban lot, driving the neighbors crazy, and wearing a path in the manicured lawn.

 It wasn't much, a bent-tube frame, a 3 hp Briggs and Stratton motor taken from an old lawn mower,  a seat held together with electric tape, a throttle, centrifugal clutch, and one brake.   It was the fastest five-mile-per-hour thing I had ever been on.

I wanted to know why it ran, so I took it apart; an eight year old with his Dad's tools.  I put it back together and it wouldn't run.  So Dad and I took it apart and reassembled it again.  He watched and instructed as I put the engine back together, teaching me how to use wrenches, how not to strip the heads off the bolts and the threads off of the screws.  And after a weekend of learning/tinkering it ran!

I knew that I'd never be without something that had two wheels and a motor, and something I could tinker with.  It turned out that way, mostly.  Motor scooters, minibikes then increasing bigger motorcycles.  And cars to tinker with.  And I learned that if I could fix a carburetor, I could fix a balky toilet flush mechanism.  If I could wire in a radio, I could fix wiring in the house. 

And I learned that I could not fix everything, and equally important lesson.

Five decades later and I still have something that has two wheels and an engine.  It's much bigger than a minibike.  It's tethered to a battery tender now, waiting for Spring.  I pat it on the seat every time I walk past.   And I will continue to have something with two wheels and a motor until my body no longer allows it, even if I have to buzz around the neighborhood on a small Vespa, my cane velcro'd to the side.

A minibike changed my life.

"It was hard at first, to think, 'Who am I?'"

"The University of Utah is investigating a complaint that a convicted felon working at a fertility clinic replaced a customer's sperm with his own, fathering a girl 21 years ago."
The mother of the girl, Pamela Branum, says she and her husband discovered a genetic mismatch in their daughter, and were able to trace her lineage with help from relatives of the now-deceased fertility clinic worker, Thomas Ray Lippert.

"I don't think we're the only ones," Branum told CBS affiliate KUTV in Salt Lake City. "We think we're one of many" victims who used a clinic that was operated by faculty members.

The University of Utah says there is "credible" evidence of semen tampering or mislabeling. On Friday, the university announced it was opening a hotline and offering paternity testing to anyone who used the clinic between 1988 and 1993.
This may sound callous, but, I'm not sure what the fuss it about. Can you guys set me straight? I don't want to walk around in a crooked fashion ;)

'Immigration Reform', or as I like to call it, 'Amnesty'

"A little over a week ago, 16 House Republicans--led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)--stepped forward to write to President Obama about how American workers would be displaced if these immigration reform proposals succeeded."

“Rapidly expanding unskilled immigration – at a time when factory work and blue collar jobs are disappearing – would represent the final economic blow for millions of workers who have been struggling to gain an economic foothold,” the members wrote. “Yet, despite this jobs crisis for American workers, the White House continues to advocate that CEOs and business executives seek lower cost labor. The White House has entertained a parade of high-powered business executives to discuss immigration policy, all while shutting out the concerns of everyday wage-earners who overwhelmingly oppose these measures. You even released an economic report saying that the ‘hospitality and leisure industry’ needs ‘legislation that would legalize workers in the U.S. and facilitate the lawful employment of future foreign-born workers.’”

Momote Village

The school bus brought us the short distance from Camp Drake and we fanned out from the bus stop. I found myself almost home oddly alone in the center of my block. These Monopoly house looking abodes were arranged around the sides of each block creating an open space in the center of each. Luxuriously wide open space at the Northwest edge of Tokyo with the city rapidly encroaching around it. Our block had one of the better playgrounds. A single dragonfly whipped by, then another, then several, then a swarm and I stood there and took it, getting hit by bugs because I was amazed at the spectacle and I knew then this is a one-time thing. A migration!

All that is gone now, a good part of the complex Grand Heights, Camp Drake, Momote Village, now a park named Showa Kinen, divided into four sections, the D section contains Dragonfly Marsh.

A few years ago I had two ten gallon tanks set up side by side in a bedroom with two chairs set in front of them. The tanks were set up with strong lights and heavily planted. I was sitting there watching when I was suddenly startled by the sight of a large menacing bug in the tank. I had not seen the likes of it. Sinister in appearance. The way it moved through the tank added to its menace. It slithered, making S motions in continuous waves, it undulated across the length of the tank then disappeared in the plants. It was large enough to threaten neon tetras. I wanted it out.

A few days later I hear a fluttering. Turns out to be a dragonfly using the tank as its home. It lived for a couple days.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The BEST Elvis Presley Song

It's Promised Land, written by Chuck Berry.  Best. Song. Ever.

No?  Well, then, which Elvis song is the best?

Robot Bartender Joke

Because a pub with a robot hamburger making machine must also have a robot bartender.

A guy goes into a bar in Louisiana where there's a robot bartender!  The robot says "What'll you have?" and the guy says "Whiskey."   The robot brings the guy his drink and says to the him "What's your IQ?"  The guy says "168".  The robot then begins to talk about physics, medicine and space exploration with the guy.

The guy finishes his whiskey and leaves.....but he is curious about the robot.  So he goes back to the bar.  "What'll you have?" asks the robot.  "Whiskey" says the guy.  The robot brings the guy his drink and says to him "What's your IQ?"  The guy says "100".    The robot then begins to talk with the guy about NASCAR, Budweiser and the Chicago Bears.

The guy leaves, but finds it very interesting and decides to try one more time.  He goes back into the bar.  The robot says "What'll you have?" and the guy again says "Whiskey."   The robot brings the guy his drink and says  "What's your IQ?"  The guy says "uh, about 55".  

The robot leans in and says " people still happy with Obama?"

Study: "Funnymen's personalities are similar to those with mental health conditions"

"Madcap antics may be part of a comedian’s on-stage persona."
But the madness may not be just an act, say researchers.

The ability to make people laugh comes from a personality of the kind displayed by those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Historically, the creativity of painters and playwrights has been linked to madness, but now British experts have found a link with comedians.
Top comment - Lee from London said...
Hence why people make you laugh and you say, you are so crazy! Thank goodness for the crazy people who make you laugh I say.
Historically, painters and playwrights has been linked to madnessNow British experts have found a link with comedians

Ever Get The Feeling That...

...some people would force you to watch certain movies if they could?

I should post a nice clip of Beethoven's 9th, just to hear Sixty Grit's take on it, because I like what he writes about music [see here for example]. As it is, I'll go with Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau instead.

"Senate panel issues harsh report on Benghazi attack"

"The deadly 2012 assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was caused by the failure of the State Department to adequately protect the facility and poor intelligence-gathering by the CIA and other agencies, according to a harsh assessment by the Senate Intelligence Committee."
The report debunks several often-repeated assertions about the attack, including that it erupted spontaneously after protests outside the gates and that the U.S. military could have scrambled personnel and aircraft in the region quickly enough to come to Stevens' aid.

In a scathing separate conclusion, six Republicans on the panel said the report showed that "Americans serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the administration really did anything about it."

Since the attack, no senior officials at the State Department have been fired or disciplined and none of the attackers in Libya have been taken into custody, even though one of them, Ahmed abu Khattala "continued to live freely in Libya while giving taunting interviews to major media outlets," the lawmakers said.

Within hours of the initial attack, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered special operations teams and Marine security to respond, but the only military asset that arrived while the assault was still underway was an unarmed Predator drone, a failure the report criticizes.
Not a word on where the commander in chief was during the attack? I mean, we know there was a failure, 4 Americans died. But what did we do about it?
Would it be premature to call this report a whitewash?

Air Force base tarmac cafe

Sometimes come with mesmerizing sideshows. The high pitched wail and whooshing scream changes with the flame. Composite memory, they're all the rage these days.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Oscar Wilde On The Future Of Machinery

[This post was inspired by Haz's blog post and discussion in the comments here]

Oscar Wilde wrote in his essay "The Soul of Man under Socialism:"
Up to the present, man has been, to a certain extent, the slave of machinery, and there is something tragic in the fact that as soon as man had invented a machine to do his work he began to starve. This, however, is, of course, the result of our property system and our system of competition. One man owns a machine which does the work of five hundred men. Five hundred men are, in consequence, thrown out of employment, and, having no work to do, become hungry and take to thieving. The one man secures the produce of the machine and keeps it, and has five hundred times as much as he should have, and probably, which is of much more importance, a great deal more than he really wants. Were that machine the property of all, every one would benefit by it. It would be an immense advantage to the community. All unintellectual labour, all monotonous, dull labour, all labour that deals with dreadful things, and involves unpleasant conditions, must be done by machinery. Machinery must work for us in coal mines, and do all sanitary services, and be the stoker of steamers, and clean the streets, and run messages on wet days, and do anything that is tedious or distressing. At present machinery competes against man. Under proper conditions machinery will serve man. There is no doubt at all that this is the future of machinery, and just as trees grow while the country gentleman is asleep, so while Humanity will be amusing itself, or enjoying cultivated leisure – which, and not labour, is the aim of man – or making beautiful things, or reading beautiful things, or simply contemplating the world with admiration and delight, machinery will be doing all the necessary and unpleasant work. The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralising. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.
Wilde was writing in 1891, at a time when slavery had been abolished in most of the Western world. Yet there certainly were "wage slaves" then and still are. The American Progressive movement really began to take off around that time (1892).  Make what you will of Wilde's thoughts on slavery -- it's been widely quoted -- I was more interested in his take on machinery ownership.

Just wondering...

Why is Jonah Fricking Goldberg appearing on the All Star Panel that runs at the end of Special Report with Bret Baier? I cannot tell; will polemics be our salvation or our doom?

It's Lurking In The Warehouse, Waiting For The Minimum Wage To Be Increased

It sits there quietly, waiting, a soft hum coming from its brain, a dull glow from its LEDs.  Waiting, waiting, patiently waiting.  It knows that before much more time passes it will be called upon to Save The Investments.

It waits for cloying and facile politicians to propose, plead for, nay demand a $10 per hour minimum wage for all base jobs in America.  "Living wage!!" they will scream full throated before cameras and microphones and publishers and editors and cable talkie hosts who never studied economics.

Voters will respond.  Voters will vote.  Unions will fund ad campaigns.  Laws will be made or Executive Orders signed, and a $10 per hour minimum wage will be The Law Of The Land.

Telephone calls will be made, permits and contractors aligned, and fast food stores remodeled.  All so you can get this.....

.....without human intervention.  A credit/debit card, a tap on a few buttons and this is delivered to you.  One hundred percent fresh, perfect, and made by a robot.
Not just any robot, but  the Momentum Machines gourmet hamburger making robot.  Coming very soon to a fast food restaurant near you.  "What do it do?" you ask.
Well friends, we got burgers.  We got burgers right here.  Burgers with a capital B right here in River City.  Burgers with a capital B that rhymes with E and that stands for fewer employees.
*Chorus in the background chants "burgers, burgers, burgers, burgers, burgers, burgers, burgers"*
Let me tell you, neighbors:
Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.
It does everything employees can do except better:
  • It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
  • The next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.
  • Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.
  • It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.
The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.

It slices fresh tomatoes and pickles for every burger.

It grills meat and buns to order, then adds the condiments and toppings to order.

It shows up on time.  It makes the correct change, every time.  It's never hung over.  It's never high.  It never has baby daddy or baby mommy issues.  It never asks for a raise.  It never has its friends hanging out in the dining area.  It has no face tattoos.  It never argues.  It never steals.
It costs $135,000, and it's inventors claim it will pay for itself in two years by saving labor cost, real estate cost, construction cost, and by offering a gourmet burger at fast food prices.
People who want an increase in the minimum wage simply do not understand this, or willfully deny that it can happen.   But it will, just like this happened in the auto industry when wages became too high.
It won't need to wait much longer.

The de Blassio Diaries: “People sort of looking at each other.”

"Two weeks after taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to fill a long list of top administration positions, leading to frustrations and confusion in some corners about how long holdover staffers are supposed to stay on."
“We don’t have an acting commissioner at the moment,” said a Cultural Affairs spokesman when asked who was leading the agency, referring all other questions to the mayor’s office.

“There’s currently no acting commissioner,” said a spokeswoman for the media office, who said that day-to-day operations, such as issuing permits for TV and movie shoots, hadn’t been affected by the gaps.

One deputy commissioner said many commissioners have been told they won’t be asked to stay on but have been given little to no direction about how long they’ll be needed.

“I cannot tell you how scary it is now. Senior staff at a variety of agencies have no clue what is going on,” the deputy commissioner said.

The deputy also complained about a larger lack of communication between agencies and the new administration. “Emails are not being returned and there is already a strong sense of being rudderless,” said the source.

One now-departed Bloomberg-appointed commissioner also said he’d been surprised the incoming de Blasio administration hadn’t taken him and other agency staffers up on their offers of assistance during the transition before they left.

“It’s pretty surprising,” said the ex-commissioner, disappointed that Mr. de Blasio’s team had not sought his input. “I said, ‘I’ll do whatever I need to be helpful.’ I have all our divisions laid out, a big binder with everything … It’s really good. It’s colorful.”
I'm getting a sense my de Blassio tags are going to give my ObamaCare tags a good run for their money. Just saying.

"Inside movie murder: Texting and popcorn made ex-cop ‘snap’"

"A retired cop who police say went ballistic and fatally shot a man for texting in a Florida movie theater was ordered held without bail Tuesday."
Curtis Reeves was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly gunning down Chad Oulson, who was texting his 3-year-old daughter’s day-care center while in the suburban theater outside Tampa Monday.

“He must have just snapped,” said a neighbor of Reeves.
Whatever happened to changing seats? I hardly go to the movies anymore. The last movie I saw was the Alien prequel. To Google "changing seats" means on a plane.

A Pro-Choice China

"Imagine what a couple might pay to ensure that they get the best out of 10 or 50 possible offspring, optimizing over their choice of heritable attributes,” he [Bowen Zhao], wrote on his blog, comparing the cost of a Harvard degree or private school with the few thousand dollars it takes to fertilize and implant embryos."

Bowen Zhao is the head of Shenzhen-based CG B.G.I,, formerly called Beijing Genomics Institute, the world’s largest genetic-research center, currently mapping the genes of math geniuses.
'There are going to be countries that say this is part of our national health-care service and everyone is doing it,” he told the New Yorker. “And eventually it would become unstoppable, because the countries that initially outlawed it would have to come around. How could they not?”
On the bright side, always looking for positive signs from our trade partner, this could mean China is not happy with Dennis Rodman's pal, North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Wild guess.

Chinese firm hunting for the 'maths gene' than could one day allow parents to pick their smartest embryos

Puerto Vallarta

Weather here in the 80's and sunny! I am currently representing a family that has a beautiful home here in the heart of Old Town Puerto Vallarta on a dead end street and quiet. It is three stories and wonderful art work and  2 fountains. It is cleaned three times a week and sleeps up to 10 people--4 bedrooms and five baths. Staff will cook and you need only pay for groceries and tip them if you want them to cook for you. It's close to all the many amenities and the new Act II Theatre. The family lives in Mexico City but is in very good condition. If you think you might have an interest let me send some photos. Price is great $800/week and $2200 a month.  
Hope you are well
He knows what he's hablando about, owns some fifteen places himself. And it sounds like a very good deal indeed. This is a generous offer.  That is $114.00 a day and even less for a month, $73.00 a day. And it is that time of year. It would be fun to take the whole month and settle in. Imaginarse como bien sus español sería si lo hicieras. See? That there is advanced because it is reflexive and it is future subjunctive. That't the thing. You just jump right in and accept corrections. Sometimes the local people will think, "This is all wrong, but he's trying." 

"That is, 'Imaginarse como aumentado sus español.'" 


And when you come back...

...your fish are all dead. Not really. But best cut the plants back first. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sloopy Seconds

The Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" was a reluctant masterpiece for Brian Wilson. His first reaction to Al Jardine's song pitch was "I'm not a big fan of the Kingston Trio," referring to that band's 1958 cover of an even older West Indies folk tune. But something struck Wilson and within 24 hours from conception to reduction to practice, the song was complete. Hal Blaine (drums) and the incomparable Carol Kaye (electric bass) immortalized the song. Who's ever heard of the Kingston Trio version?

Something funny at the Wiki page for this song: English football fans are apparently fond of singing the song and changing the lyrics. One version -- when traveling to away games:

"[Town]'s a shithole, I wanna go home."


"LA Mayor Garcetti Was Passenger in LAPD Car That Struck Pedestrian"

"The mayor of Los Angeles was a passenger in a police car that struck a pedestrian Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, according to his office."

"Mayor Eric Garcetti was traveling in an LAPD vehicle when it hit a woman about 12:20 p.m. near Second and Spring streets. Garcetti’s office said the mayor was on the phone and did not witness the crash, and has been interviewed by investigators."

LAPD Ride Along


President Obama's Executive Orders 2009-2013

Here are links to Obama's Executive Orders for each year of his presidency.  Click on the year and the list opens.  Click on each title and the full Executive Order opens.

Reading each Executive Order is more work than I want to undertake.  Perhaps we could divide the work, several people look at the Executive Orders for each year, and then post comments when something interesting is found.

Executive Orders 2009

Executive Orders 2010

Executive Orders 2011

Executive Orders 2012

Executive Orders 2013

"Despite 'Bridgegate,' Christie's Approval in New Jersey Still 59%"

"Despite the 24/7 coverage of "Bridgegate" by much of the mainstream media, and the endless speculation about other potential Christie scandals, the New Jersey Governor still has 59% approval among adults in his state, according to a Monmouth University Poll"

Care to speculate as to why people don't seem to be changing their minds about the governor?

CNN is reporting the governor will bring up "Bridgegate" during this afternoon's annual State of the State address.

The speech will be carried live by C-SPAN this afternoon at 3:00 pm ET.

"I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone, and I can use that pen to sign executive orders"

"President Obama held a press conference a short time ago in the White House where he emphasized that he is not waiting for legislation, that he has a pen and he will use it to sign executive orders:
But one of the things I’ll be emphasizing in this meeting is that we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need.

I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone, and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.
Obama is going to "fix it". Meaning the opposite. Obama has been president for 5 years now; doing more of the same is not going to fix anything. He is going to make sure things get worse.

"NM ruling will allow doctors to help patients die"

"Aja Riggs has undergone aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatment for advanced uterine cancer. The 49-year-old Santa Fe resident remembers the feeling of her skin burning, all the medication, the nausea and the fatigue so immense that even talking sapped too much energy."
All she wanted was the choice to end her life if the suffering became too great.

She has that option now thanks to a New Mexico judge's landmark ruling Monday, which clears the way for competent, terminally ill patients to seek their doctors' help in getting prescription medication if they want to end their lives on their own terms.
Who said 'you can't always get what you want'?
Of the song, Jagger said: "'You Can't Always Get What You Want'... I'd also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn't one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, 'That will be a laugh.'"

Richie Unterberger (Allmusic song reviewer) concludes of the song, "Much has been made of the lyrics reflecting the end of the overlong party that was the 1960s, as a snapshot of Swinging London burning out. That's a valid interpretation, but it should also be pointed out that there's also an uplifting and reassuring quality to the melody and performance. This is particularly true of the key lyrical hook, when we are reminded that we can't always get what we want, but we'll get what we need."
And what we need is ObamaCare to work... or something.

How Connected Do You Want To Be?

The news yesterday in the tech world was that Google pulled $3.2 billion out of petty cash to purchase Nest Technologies, a three year old company that manufactures and sells household thermostats and smoke alarms that connect to the internet via wi-fi.

Nest makes some interesting things; take a look at the Nest website.  The thermostat learns your activities and preferences for temperature settings, and after a learning period automatically adjusts heating and cooling for both maximum comfort and maximum efficiency.  A Nest owner can even control household temperature from a smartphone or a pad.

Nest collects energy use data for your home and sends you a monthly report detailing the money you saved via increased energy efficiency.  Google bought Nest because Google wants to enter the meter reading market and Nest is a good fit for that.  Google wants to electronically read your electric and natural gas meters and transmit that information to your utility companies, thus eliminating the utility companies need for meter reader employees.

Because I wrote this on Blogger and you are reading it on Blogger, we are connected to Google. You may have a Gmail address, you probably use the Google maps and internet search engine.  You can buy wi-fi enabled kitchen and laundry appliances.  Wi-Fi enabled home security and electric lighting systems have been on the market for a few years already.  Android smartphones are Google enabled.  Some new cars have Android infotainment systems.  Life is becoming all Google, all the time. 

Google knows where you live and probably what your home looks like from the street.  It knows how much your home costs, and the amount of its property taxes.  In fact, Google knows darn near everything about you.  And Google can use that information as is sees fit.

Have you ever read the privacy section of an End User License Agreement?  No?  I'll summarize: You agree to have no privacy, period.  Your information are belong to Google.  You can go here to learn what Google has inferred form your computer usage.  And that's just the part they will show you.  It isn't for nothing that government agencies and advertisers pay Google for information.

So, how connected do you want to be?  You're probably pretty well connected already.  Wait until hackers start messing with Nest and other home control systems.  Come home to frozen water pipes, or unlocked doors, or maybe even theft if hackers determine you've been away the same time every day.

The only way to be unconnected these days it to leave the internet, never use email, get rid of your cell phone, stop surfing, stop shopping, stop reading blogs, stop using inline banking.  In short: cut all the wires with the outside world.

Still want to be connected?


Monday, January 13, 2014

635 Lbs-Ft of Torque, 625 Hp

There is no reason to have this.  There is no reason why I wouldn't immediately buy one if I had a winning lottery ticket.  None

2015 Corvette Z06

It's a street car.  Holy moley.

Now Why'd They Do That?

Sometimes I read an innocent looking news article and get to wondering why someone or something did what was reported in the article.   I get especially curious when some agency of the government is involved.

Don't you?

Most regular news stories can be traced back to alcohol, sex, drugs, anger, money, and stupidity, or some combination thereof.  But government news is different than regular news, most of the time, with a few notable exceptions like Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Rob Ford and whoever that yutz was who was mayor of San Diego.

This article caught my eye,  and made me wonder why they did that. The headline reads

Nuke Fear: US Government Orders 14 Million Doses of Potassium Iodide!!1!!

(I added the exclamation points for emphasis)

There aren't many reasons why the US government would order that much potassium iodide.  Let's assume that the feds haven't developed a sudden concern for goiter prevention in grade school children.  That leaves only one reason:  Treatment or prevention of sickness caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear sources.

The order for the 14 million doses specified that they have to be delivered by February 1, 2014.    The government must know something that we don't know.  Let's speculate, and use some Google-fu

The Super Bowl is in February, by the way.   So is the Daytona 500.    Big crowds in concentrated areas.  Maybe there are reasons for the government to believe that jihadists will try to light off a nuke at one of those events. 

Holy schnikes, you need to keep reading.

The golden child

I have a game to catch

'The very abbreviated worship service'

'Kerry gives Russian foreing minister a giant potato'

Add your own caption
Top comment:
"That's a big fuckin' potato. Do you know what would taste great on it? Heinz ketchup."

'Hillary's Hit List' "The website translates "premium" into "prima," but that Spanish word is more commonly used to mean a female cousin..."

"Mirroring problems with the federal health care website, people around the nation attempting to navigate the Spanish version have discovered their own set of difficulties."
The site,, launched more than two months late.

A Web page with Spanish instructions linked users to an English form.

And the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated — the name of the site itself can literally be read "for the caution of health."

"When you get into the details of the plans, it's not all written in Spanish. It's written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them," said Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator who helps with enrollment in Miami.
"Spanish speakers are typically the ones who need to sign up for health insurance,"

New Middle Egyptian study group

Starting Monday, February 17th, 2014.

* Necessary to join Glyphstudy in order to participate.
* send first/last name, indicate you want the allen 2014 section
 See for AEL resources.

It is an Allen study section. The text is James Allen, Middle Egyptian An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Any edition from 2001 to 2010. 

And then a list of edition-related caveats that exclude both the earliest and the latest and list small problems throughout with all of them.

It is expect that it will take just under 2.5 years to complete Allen.


I'm sorry, that is too long. 

Forget I brought up the whole thing. Apologies.

It is an introduction, it must go faster than that. Here's the thing. I have that book and I don't like it. I should hasten to Amazon and say so. I do not like the physical book. It is ridiculous. It is only 520 pages so not so daunting that it takes 2.5 years, and that is with references, a sign list at the end, sign shapes, as they do but you know those already, dictionary, answers to exercises, and an index back there, so only 400 pages of text. Still, the book is bulky, too heavy, overly dense, too small pages so the typeface is too small, tiny actually, the typeface for hieroglyphs is way way WAY too small. You need magnifying reading glasses plus a proper magnifying glass just to read the glyphs. 

It does not do to merely recognize the general shape of a glyph, you must be able to discern one bird from another and sometimes the differences hardly apparent. The tiny typeface is unacceptable. The tight binding of the book is unacceptable. No thought is given to the reader who uses this book. 

I tore my copy apart, as I do with such uncooperative books, attempting to tame it, for its separate pieces to be more manageable and the book more utile. But nothing short of a magnifying light-table will suffice. Page by page enlargement of the whole thing. 

That is why the class takes 2.5 years, for running a magnifying lens across each line. Line for line, the whole book. Why would a publisher do that?

And it is expensive besides. 



Sort of.  I've been here, what?, jeeze going on seven years. I've been in and out of all the things to get in and out of around here. I am recognized on the street. People around shopkeepers and workers who were at first taciturn are now openly friendly. 

A liquor store at the corner took up in my building street level. They are directly below now so it is convenient to drop in there and pick up a 12-pack of Pepsi, or Coke and here and there throughout the years some types of fortified wine for cooking, Madeira, Marsala, Vermouths, saki, and such.  

So they know that I really cannot handle alcohol and they are pretty much a central attraction for all types so I am not their usual type customer. Now when I go in at odd hours it may be dark all around, not much activity outside, few cars, fewer people, sparse customers. It is a very large bottle shop, brightly lit and only us two.

"There he is."

"You know, when tragedy first befell me and bones were broken in both my legs and feet I was really bummed out."

The guy who works there is a very tall and somewhat odd and imposing man. His visage changed. He prepared for something intimate. Something psychological perhaps. He's not the type of person to listen to that sort of thing. I know that.

"Because I realized I can be tracked so easily."


"The snow outside reminded me. It goes footprint, footprint, footprint, footprint, dot, dot, dot."


"And the thought was depressing, 'There goes my life of hijinks. My future of nefarious activities just gone.' "

I was walking toward him and now turned and walked down an aisle away from him toward the usual spot where the Pepsis are so with no eye contact he yelled at me from behind me down the aisle but throughout the entire place, there was nobody else there, suggestions for how I can cover my tracks.

Now that right there is funny. He is sincerely trying to help me be more comfortable and cover my tracks.

"You can alternate using the canes, hold one up." 

"You can step in previous steps." 

"You can return in your own steps." 

"You can use something else for balance."

"You can drag branches behind you." 

I bought the 12-pack and slipped it into my backpack. The procedure a bit ritualistic.

The next day I was outside walking home from dinner. Hardly anybody outside again, very late. Beautiful night too. The whole street is dark, the street itself actually black. Only a few small places open, and only one providing bright light spilling onto the sidewalk. The whole street reminds one of a Hooper painting having to do with urban solitude.

There is a double glass door in the center of the bottle shop. Two women walk out and turn ahead of me going in my direction. The pair bought something there and passed from the light of the shop into relative darkness. They are more attractive than shown below. Dressed darkly, they are two shadow-figures walking together that glide ahead straight to their car. They are parked directly in front of my front door. As I stepped into the light of the liquor store this happened, it is the sort of thing teenage boys do:

It took me a long moment to realize he is telling me to pursue them. As if. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"There’s a Man Sexually Harassing Women With Swiss Cheese in Philadelphia"

"The Philadelphia Daily News reports that there is "a heavyset white man estimated to be in his late 40s or early 50s" driving around the town of Mayfair and occasionally pulling over to expose himself to women. The thing that makes him slightly different from other perverts is that he "displays a piece of sliced Swiss cheese and offers to pay the women to put the cheese on his penis and perform sexual acts on him using it."

"As if that's not enough, Gabby Chest, who lives in the area and spoke to the Daily News, said that she was sure that the person she called the "Swiss Cheese Pervert" had contacted her on OKCupid: "He said he was looking for someone to perform masturbation on him with cheese. He kept saying how strong his urges were and how desperate he was to find someone to help him with them," she explained. She also forwarded the paper a message from the guy, who creepily wrote about "[Comparing] girls to cheese due to their milky complections [sic]."

Via "I understand that people may think this is funny, but this is no laughing matter."

Gates Duty: 'No Fan of Harry Reid… or Nancy Pelosi'

"At a press conference in April 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid famously declared “This war is lost,” and that “the surge is not accomplishing anything.” That didn’t sit so well with Gates, who writes that when he heard the comments, he was reminded of a Lincoln quote (which he shared with his staff): “Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.” Ouch. He also wasn’t exactly enamored with the idea that the calls he received from Reid had to do with Air Force objections to wind farms in Nevada, and Reid pushing him to spend DoD money on irritable-bowel-syndrome research. Gates writes, “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.” It wasn’t the last time he would laugh about Reid. Gates writes that Reid called him during the 2008 campaign to ask some questions of Gates as a potential vice-presidential candidate."

"Later, Gates went to breakfast with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi days after she said “The president’s strategy in Iraq has failed,” and “The choice is between a Democratic plan for responsible redeployment and the president’s plan for an endless war in Iraq.” Gates argued with her that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus had enacted a change of mission and a “sustainable path forward,” but according to him, she did not care. This led Gates to surmise that, “after all, one wouldn’t want facts and reality—not to mention national interest—to intrude upon partisan politics, would one?” Later, Pelosi is briefed on the timetable for drawdowns in Iraq, during which she was informed that roughly 50,000 troops would remain in Iraq through 2011. Gates describes that she “alternately looked like she had swallowed an entire lemon and like she was simply going to explode.”

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

A Tale Of Two Brothers

Imagine being a kid in the early 1960s, before you had access to your own music. How could you express your choice? One way, for me, was to ask my parents to play certain songs when eating out at a greasy spoon with a jukebox.  

I remember this was my brother's favorite song circa 1964:

I hated that song -- I still do. Why would a grown man sing like that?  I sensed that even then.

This was my favorite song then. I'd ask my parents to play it every time we went out for a Friday night fish fry:

Human Nature And Charity

If you take 20 dollars and give a dollar to every son-of-bitch in a room, and come back a year later, one of the bastards will have most the money. I mean it’s just human nature and you aren’t gonna whip it with a lot laws. I think when you make people conscious --as communication gets better -- of somebody in trouble--starving our something like that--the average person will help. But of course now you’ve got so damn many charities and there’s so much professionalism – you know -- if you have a charity you hire some professionals to work up the charity and by the time you get the money you get 4 dollars for the recipient and 400 dollars for the administrators.
I find something new every time I listen to that old recording.

"Paying for pulchritude... "

"Love of beauty is taste," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, a co-founder of this magazine. His perspective would fit snugly in a modern corporate boardroom. A raft of new research suggests not only that good-looking CEOs are paid more handsomely, but also that they're actually better for their companies in surprising ways."

"Attractive CEOs have “a positive and significant impact on stock returns" when they first appear on television, according to a working paper by Joseph T. Halford and Hung-Chia Hsu at the University of Wisconsin. "Our findings suggest that more attractive CEOs have higher compensation because they create more value for shareholders through better negotiating prowess and visibility," they said. When better-looking execs appear on TV, their stock gets an exaggerated bump. Comely CEOs also snag better terms in mergers with other companies."

The "beauty premium"—and why we pay it.

"There is once in a blue moon where a story comes along that is just so crazy that it makes you really think about where things like dating and sex are heading.
But they've undoubtedly been outdone by a young woman who is auctioning off her virginity not for the first time — but for the third time!"

Bacon Beauty

"How I rediscovered Faith"

"The Derksens live in a small bungalow in a modest neighborhood not far from downtown Winnipeg. Wilma Derksen and I sat in her backyard. I think some part of me expected her to be saintly or heroic. She was neither. She spoke simply and quietly. She was a Mennonite, she explained. Her family, like many Mennonites, had come from Russia, where those of their faith had suffered terrible persecution before fleeing to Canada. And the Mennonite response to persecution was to take Jesus’ instructions on forgiveness seriously."

“The whole Mennonite philosophy is that we forgive and we move on,” she said. It had not always been easy. It took more than 20 years for the police in Winnipeg to track down Candace’s killer. In the beginning, Wilma’s husband, Cliff, had been considered by some in the police force as a suspect. The weight of that suspicion fell heavily on the Derksens. Wilma told me she had wrestled with her anger and desire for retribution. They weren’t heroes or saints. But something in their tradition and faith made it possible for the Derksens to do something heroic and saintly."

Malcolm Gladwell on "the weapons of the spirit"

The AN/FPS-35 radar was one of the most powerful in the world.

But not foolproof.

It is covered now with a dome but it was uncovered when I lived on the site then called Benton Air Force Station. Shortly after we left everything changed. We went to Green Park and then to Tachikawa and then to Grant Heights. All of them gone. It is like leaving a wake of destruction in one's path, tactical air force bases and stations are gone now, dilapidated as the twin radar in New York that Benton was hooked up to, but not Benton. Benton is still there, the radar intact and presently used by nearby Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International as auxiliary. The whole base is turned over to Red Rocks Job Corp Center, part of Job Corps, itself part of U.S. Department of Labor. Free of charge vocational training for ages 16-24. It is run as a private little fort within the Ricketts Glen State Park, a little fiefdom unto itself. My brother Barry said he went there and was turned away at the first gate. For it is their place now, not yours.

As if Barry does not know how to get into the place. Ha!

All of your bases are belong to us!


Imagine having this in your back yard.

Except the dome was not there when I was there so the radar was exposed. The dome put on later, like the next year. The picture is taken amongst the wild blueberry bushes. When I lived there the top was open and looked like this

Turning continuously. Never stopping. Ever vigilant. Were this a Fitzgerald novel this here radar would be my optometrist's billboard never-blinking all-seeing eye.

Dad worked inside that brutalist concrete box. Inside the box looks like this model.

And smells inside exactly like a Bang & Olufsen demonstration room. It hits you, ozone all over the place, every gray thing lit by eerie green light. Impossibly shined floors.

There were a line of such radar sites along the Appalachian chain .

At 2,200 ft, the mountains are not that high compared to Colorado but the road up the mountain, Rt 487 is treacherous in winter.

A beautiful spot in the middle of somewhere. It is congested with trees. Kind of bare of civilization all around and hardly any pictures pinned through all the nearby towns. Odd, because it is gorgeous at all times of year.

A nine-year old boy has this whole area to explore every day. Pack a sandwich and we're off, from breakfast to dinner. No questions asked. And bare of people as it seems there are still endless thing to get into. Creeks all around, ponds lakes, animals all over, deer, porcupines, turtles, lizards all sorts of strange things. Geography, you're soaking in it. Just sit down somewhere, pick up a nearby rock and something will scramble off. Snakes, insects, reptiles, furry things, dangerous things, hazardous plants, vegetable things to eat. Fish. We have fishing pole and we go fishing whenever we want. Catch worms anywhere.

The X's are things built after we left. They are not part of the station. The top O is apple trees, a proper orchard, and the bottom O is wild blueberries.

You can pick these things and eat them.

A gated community within a gated community. Huh. Apparently Dad was a key personnel. Odd, he is the hero of all his own stories, I'd think he'd have mentioned that. This website says housing was built for key personnel so that in case of all out emergency they will be right there.

My dad talks like this: "And then I said to him, I said..., and then do you know what that ignorant son-of-a-bitch said to me? That ignorant son-of-a-bitch said to me..."

There are two-story barracks. Still there. Barry and I went through everything at will. Nobody ever chased us off. We went through the airmen barracks, the BX, theater, all the things they have there for the technicians and airmen we had access to, pool tables, firing range, small theater, library, cafeteria, officers club, NCO club, airman's club. We walked right into the guard huts, examined offices, every facility with an open door. There was hardly the usual separation because the station is so small, and even so kids get away with everything, military kid discipline notwithstanding. We got into everything possible on and off the site. It is a perfect place to be a boy.  For a year. Two years max. Anything beyond that, not perfect.

I'd go in to a recreation hall and say, "Hey, watch me draw Mickey Mouse flying Minnie Mouse in jet airplane." And the adult Air Force guy goes, "Yeah, I'd like to see that."

Schwing, schwing, circle, circle, circle, oval, oval, oval, crosshatch, crosshatch, blacken, blacken blacken, done. "Let me play bowling ball."

"Okay. Lane 2." There are only two lanes.

Top arrow, our house. Bottom arrow the best playground ever. Now removed.

We did see the radar turning on approach to the place. It is all so martial.

Not foolproof because the radar was jammed regularly. All the scopes lit up making them useless for a half hour each day.

The manufacturers of the new radar and U.S. officials were called in. This was a serious breach. Traffic was stopped on 487, surely someone was driving by jamming. At length the problem was narrowed down to a faulty UHF tuner on a home television. A woman in one of the houses on the Benton site caught a soap opera at the same time each day. They replaced her tuner (his as well, he would be working on the base) and separated the power source for the radar from that of the homes. Duh. See, now you need technicians to tell you the power for the most awesome radar in production needs to be separate from the homes around them.