Saturday, August 25, 2012

Use basic computer technology

This unit applies to the use of computers for information processing. It addresses basic information processing operations and the use of basic hardware, software and support resources. This unit is based on unit ICTTC201A in the ICT97 training package. Equivalent UnitsNil



?Display Unit
Reconstruct the unit from the database and display it as a plain HTML page.
Chose 'Save file as...' from the popup and get a personal, stand-alone student journal for the unit.
?Assessment Template
generate a spreadsheet for marking this unit in a classroom environment
?Evidence Guide
create an evidence guide for individual students to fill in

Monday, August 13, 2012


A little over four years ago I started this blog.  I never expected that I'd get 20,000 comments.

Wow.  I feel like quite the salonnière.  Coffee's over on the table.  Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable, because this wouldn't be the same place without you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sometimes Life laughs at you, sometimes it laughs with you

We took Ivan the Terrier to the old Mill dam today, a true family outing where the kids laughed and splashed in the river and Ivan the Terrier got to play with the other dogs.  It was a family outing that I had given up on having, only a few years ago.  It was summer as you'd wish it: gentle temperatures, shade with a breeze, the river rushing past, nearly drowning out the laughter of your kids.
Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
- Henry James
The Roswell Mill dam is a beautiful location, and many young couples have their photos taken there in the days leading up to their wedding.  There was one couple there who for some reason seemed to distil the hope for the future that the moment demands.

To love another person is to see the face of God.
- Victor Hugo

Couples that are lucky find that hope renewing itself.  This little fellow saw a snake which scared him.  Mom and Dad took him on a downstream adventure to safety.  He liked petting Ivan the Terrier, who liked it as much as he.

For a wonderful physical tie binds the parents to the children; and - by some sad, strange irony - it does not bind us children to our parents. For if it did, if we could answer their love not with gratitude but with equal love, life would lose much of its pathos and much of its squalor, and we might be wonderfully happy.
- E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear To Tread
Life is strange in how it changes over time.  That hope for the future gets tested, the candle flickers and sometimes looks to go out.  While we would capture a perfect moment as in amber, time waits for no man.
When a child first catches adults out -- when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just -- his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child's world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.
- John Steinbeck, East Of Eden
I can attest to this truth.  But if you're lucky, that child grows to a Man or Woman who can still look at you with eyes that see you as you would like to be, not as you are.  Today was one of those days for me, one that I had once almost given up hope of seeing again.  A day when you hear the laughter of Life itself, and join in it.
If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.
- Robert Frost

Motorhead Madness

I found out something yesterday: Classic Car owners get together on the second Saturday of each month to show off their wheels.  I ran across this by accident, and spend a very enjoyable hour talking to the owners about their motorized passions.

The owner of this 1931 Model A told me that there are still something like 100,000 of them still on the road.  And that if you tighten the Distributor down too much, you'll short everything out.  Filed under Things I Did Not Know #[SQL Error: Integer Overflow].

This is very similar to the car that brought me home from the Hospital as a baby.  1956 Chevy Bel Air.  The rest of the car is as sweet.

Cars have always been rolling sculptures, and the 1950s were all about the Jet Age.

Muscle cars were of course well represented.  The 'vettes were out in force, as were a couple of GTOs.  But this one stood out to me:

That's the Business End of a 1970 Dodge Super Bee.  Man, a 440 is something like this would have some get up and go.  I was standing behind it when the owner fired it up and rev'ved the engine a couple times.  Suddenly I was 18 years old again.

As I was leaving, a wood sided Panel Van pulled in.  Sweet. 

Some owners had their sense of humor on display with their car.  And while I wonder how many Republican voters there were in Kennesaw in 1964, this was very well played indeed:

If you like old cars and you're in the area, it's worth a detour.  It's the second Saturday of each month between April and October, here:

View Larger Map

I climbed Kennesaw Mountain yesterday

UPDATE: OK, I went downstairs and added the pix. /UPDATE

Man, I need to exercise more.  The mountain is the site of a battle in the War Between the States, where Gen. Johnston's boys gave a whupping to Billy Sherman's Federals.  Not that it really helped them in the long run.

The hike (up Pidgeon Hill) is quite steep, and you go past the old trenches looking down from the crest of the hill.  No wonder the Boys in Blue got their tails handed to them, trying to charge up that slope against dug in defenders.  The whole attack was stupid.

Copyright Borepatch.  Click to enbiggen
These are the trenches dug by the Confederate Missouri regiment, which extend diagonally up to the right of the photo, as it parallels the crest of the hill.  These positions were attacked by the Union Missouri regiment is a very real example of fratricidal war.  The Missouri defenders gave a proper thrashing to their fellow statesmen, who had to charge up something like this:

Copyright Borepatch.  CLick to embiggen
That's looking down what's approximately a 45° slope over broken ground.  Like I said, the attack was stupid.  It's said that Sherman was angry at his Army for something or other, and intentionally sent them against these positions.  I don't know if this is true or not, but he was one cold hearted SOB and so this is plausible.

Now the alarums of those days are long past, and all you have is a quiet memorial trail, if you think on the dead of that battle.  Theirs is a quiet and beautiful memorial.

While I was hiking along the trail, I passed a your teenage couple - typical All American youth - playing chess.  It was an interesting riff on the expected Young Love theme, although that seemed to be there - I could hear her giggles as he moved his piece on the board.  The whole thing was quite unexpected, and made me smile.

Pictures later - the camera is downstairs, and I had quite enough climbing yesterday, thank you very much. [UPDATE: fixed now]

Maurice Greene - Lord, Let Me Know Mine End

Maurice Greene is little known today, which is unfortunate as it's his birthday.  More importantly, he is the father of Anglican church music.  Contemporary with Handel, he became essentially the Court Composer to King George.  His magnum opus, Cathedral Music was unfinished at his death, but completed by his student William Boyce.  Anyone who's spent much time in an Anglican Church (or Episcopal, I dare say) will recognize much of his music.

This is perhaps his best known piece, and seems appropriate for his birthday - his first day, as it were.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Here's a restaurant that is willing to compromise on Gay Marriage

Helpful ProTip for people: The Onion may be America's Finest News Source™, but it's all made up satire.  Srlsy.

Literally Unbelievable cracks me up.

This is how you do security incident response

Blizzard's service got hacked:
Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime confirmed on Thursday that Blizzard's online service was hacked with email addresses, personal security question answers and authentication data stolen.


The list of items illegally acquired by the breach include email address, answers to user's personal security question plus "information relating to Mobile and Dial-In Authenticators."
That's the bad news.  The good news is that Blizzard is aggressively taking the right steps:
Despite these assurances, the company asks that you change your password by clicking this link. If you used the same password else, Morhaime encourages you to change that too.

Blizzard will be releasing an update to in the next few days that forces players to change their passwords if they haven't already, change their secret question and answer and prompt users to update their authentication software.
Yup.  It's not rocket surgery, it's just realizing that bad news doesn't improve with age.

"It's the economy, stupid."

OK, Romney picked Paul Ryan as Veep.  Lots of folks are talking about this (and there's a positive swoonfest going on over at Instapundit).  Meh.

This is a very Romneyesque choice.  He's very good at prioritizing things, and what he has prioritized at the top of the list is the economy.  This isn't earth shaking, it's just management.  Ryan is a top asset for Romney here, and is perhaps more effective as VP than in the House.

Perhaps.  Remember, Ryan is Budget Chairman.  Whoever replaces him in that post will have a high bar to reach.  I expect that the Republican Establishment has a list of their preferred "go along to get along" candidates there.

But fixing this mess will take a long, long time.  This year's deficit is around $1.4 Trillion.  Here's a breakdown of the current Federal spending (you can't really call it a "budget" - we haven't had one of those for 1200 days):

Here's the tl;dr version: yellow, red, green, and (maybe) light blue are off limits - those can't be cut.  That's almost $2.3T out of a $3.6T spend.  The difference between those two numbers?  It's just about exactly the $1.4T deficit.

Even Paul Ryan won't cut the entire Defense Department and all Discretionary spending.

What I don't hear nearly enough from Romney or Ryan is what they plan to do about the regulations that are stifling the economy.  We need growth to close this gap, and the regulatory burden is putting the brakes on the economy.  I'd like to see specifics on the top 10 job killing regulations that he will direct the agencies to abolish.  There's quite a lot of room for a President Romney to maneuver here, as the regulations are crafted by the Executive branch, and can be changed by them without a Congressional vote.

Quite frankly, this would be another stark distinction that Romney could use to show that his philosophy is the antithesis of Obama's.  Obama wants to grow government and regulation, and give companies less ability to employ people and pay taxes.  A Top 10 Job Killers and their impact would fit very well into Romney's strategy.

And unlike the "I will abolish Obamacase on Day 1" nonsense he's offered us - he can't abolish a law that was passed by Congress and signed by the President - he can eliminate 10 (or 20, or 50) regulations at his discretion.

Frankly, I'm a little mystified as to why he hasn't tried this.  And that makes me a little bit suspicious.  After all, he's an intelligent man, and has a lot of business experience.  He knows about this.

And so we're likely to end up with a President Romney (remember, Mussolini would beat Obama with this economy), which I don't really find quite pleasing, even with a Vice President Paul.  Romney seems to be flinching from addressing the big issue, which is not a comforting thought.


Simon Grey has an epic rant about the Chick-Fil-A episode, with advice to both conservatives and liberals.  For conservatives"
Furthermore, gay marriage isn’t even ruining marriage.  Feminism, coupled with no-fault divorce and a misandrist family court system have done more damage to the social institution of marriage than Adam and Steve ever could.
For liberals:
The majority of the people that hate you do not hate you because you are gay.  They hate you because you are assholes.  Most straight couples have the common courtesy to not kiss in public, or make awkward public displays of affection.  This is because most straight people are well-adjusted, and not delusionally narcissistic.

Get over your martyr complex.
It's well worth reading the whole thing.  The only thing I'd really add is to point out the hypocrisy of the left preaching "tolerance" while being very selective indeed in applying that to their own political philosophy.  PostSecret hits center mass on that:

And while you're over there, he takes on the "Romney is better than Obama" meme.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Win free (shooty) stuff!

Aaron brings this month's gun giveaways.

How Germany caused the Euro crisis

This is probably the most interesting thing I've read on the Euro crisis:
Merkel's policy under these circumstances was imposed on her by reality. Germany was utterly dependent on its exports, and its exports in Europe were critical. She had to make certain that the free trade zone remained intact. Secondarily, she had to minimize the cost to Germany of stabilizing the system by shifting it onto other countries. She also had to convince her countrymen that the crisis was due to profligate Southern Europeans and that she would not permit them to take advantage of Germans. The truth was that the crisis was caused by Germany's using the trading system to flood markets with its goods, its limiting competition through regulations, and that for every euro carelessly borrowed, a euro was carelessly lent. Like a good politician, Merkel created the myth of the crafty Greek fooling the trusting Deutsche Bank examiner.
RTWT, which is very, very interesting.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Big Walter Horton's blues harp playing could be described as "delicate".  In a good way.

University of Georgia scientists' shocking discovery: Cats like to hunt

Well knock me over with a feather:
Results indicate that a minority of roaming cats in Athens (44%) hunt wildlife and that reptiles, mammals and invertebrates constitute the majority of suburban prey. Hunting cats captured an average of 2 items during seven days of roaming. Carolina anoles (small lizards) were the most common prey species followed by Woodland Voles (small mammals). Only one of the vertebrates captured was a non-native species (a House Mouse). Eighty-five percent of wildlife captures were witnessed during the warm season (March-November in the southern US). Cats roaming during warmer seasons were more likely to exhibit hunting behavior and the number of captures per hunting cat is expected to decrease with increasing cat age. Cat age, sex, and time spent outside did not significantly influence hunting behavior.
I eagerly await the results of their forthcoming study on which direction the sun rises in.  Can't wait for that one.

Guilty Pleasure

Modern Drunkard magazine.  Some people drink to forget.  Me, I can't remember why I drink.

I didn't find the Randy Travis section, but no doubt it will be in the next issue.  We, err, urge you to enjoy this web site responsibly. 


Reader Dave emails in response to my post about why we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  It's something to think about on this 67th anniversary of the second atomic bomb.  Reprinted with his permission:
I highly recommend D.M. Giangreco's Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945 - 1947. BLUF: any invasion would have been bloody, extremely bloody, costing hundreds of thousands (some estimates ran as high as a million) American dead and perhaps ten times as many Japanese.

I also highly recommend Rev. Wilson Miscamble's The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs and the Defeat of Japan.  Rev. Miscamble also calls attention to the additional lives saved in Japanese occupied Asia, where tens of thousands more were being killed every month the war continued.
The truth is more nuanced than we're told, even by people who claim to value nuance.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A fully printable, working .22 caliber pistol

The WikiWeapon Project is working on a downloadable CAD design that will let anyone print a working, single shot .22 pistol:
This project could very well change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let's find out.


1. The Soviet Union sent people to the Gulag for possession of unlicensed mimeograph machines.  It didn't help save their bumbling, corrupt, evil regime.

2. Gun crime won't change one whit when this was widely deployed.

3. TOR and CryptoCat are your friends.

Freedom is by its very nature, Open Source.  Personally, I find rich irony in seeing how people who back in the day thought themselves to be True Revolutionaries are horrified when they see something truly revolutionary.  I'm not sure that I'd every want to shoot one, but the idea that I could if I really needed to.


Leftie Professors take Seniors' Social Security checks

The Universities are reliably leftist, filled with intellectuals who despise the free market:
The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher's smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards.

The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued. Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority "entitled" them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?
And so what do these leftie intellectuals do?  They set up a system of student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.  In theory, your Social Security check will be garnished to pay for your Post-Modernist Gender Power Studies degree.

Oops, did I say "in theory"?  I meant "it's happening now":
According to government data, compiled by the Treasury Department at the request of, the federal government is withholding money from a rapidly growing number of Social Security recipients who have fallen behind on federal student loans. From January through August 6, the government reduced the size of roughly 115,000 retirees' Social Security checks on those grounds. That's nearly double the pace of the department's enforcement in 2011; it's up from around 60,000 cases in all of 2007 and just 6 cases in 2000.
But remember, it's those evil greedy capitalists who are making Seniors have to choose between buying food or buying their medications.  Did I say "evil, greedy capitalists"?  I meant "leftie University Professors":
The government's withholding power also extends to Social Security disability benefits. Tammy Brown of Redding, Calif. says that the government has been taking $179 out of her Social Security disability check each month for the past five years. Brown, 52, became disabled in 1986 after being involved in a car accident. Unable to work, she fell behind on her student loan payments. She says the Social Security check is now too small to cover her food and medical bills, so she quit taking prescription pain pills. "It's kind of hard to live on this amount of money," she says.
OK, look - maybe some disabled people can't afford to eat every other day or so, at least there's money for a new Diversity Vice President!  And Americans weigh too much, anyway.

Hey Progressives - I'll believe that your Righteous Rage at the market is actually moral when you direct an equal rage at your own institutions.  Otherwise, I'll just assume that you're being tribal - and not even being particularly smart about it, either.  Right now your howls about the heartless market sound like, well, drivel.  I'd like a higher caliber drivel, please.

Back up your data

Most of you have heard about the hack where the Apple and Amazon cloud services and people lost their data.  The attack wasn't technical, it was "social engineering" - phoning up the services and convincing tech support that you needed your account info ungraded.  Of course, the new infor allowed the attacker to get in to the accounts, and locked the legitimate user out.

Quite frankly, there's nothing that you can do to prevent this.  But this was the part of the article that should never happen to anyone:
Had I been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos, covering the entire lifespan of my daughter, or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location.
Backups address rather a lot of security problems, and everyone should be doing them.  You should really back up to multiple different locations, so if you lose your account or machine, and you lose a backup, you're still covered.

I like this sort of thing for quick backups, and there's a deal going on right now*:

32 GB flash drive - you can back up a lot of data onto that.  $20.  FOr that price, you can get a couple, and not worry about losing your kid's pictures.  Or you could get this to back up all the computers in your house:

2TB external hard disk.  $129.  For not much more you can get one that attached to your network, and you don't have to schlep the drive from computer to computer (if all you computers are near each other, you could do this with a USB hub).

Also, remember that your smart phone can also be a backup for music and pictures.  Even if your house burns down and you lose all your backups, you might have all your pix on your phone.  More backups is better, because two is one and one is none.

Just a word to the wise.

* I don't have any relationship with TigerDirect, just bought a bunch of stuff from them in the past.

Blog later

Computer no computing. Blog when the IT guy unwedges it and I dig out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Last year I was fixing birthday dinner in the apartment in Austin. Now I'm watching "Greatest Ever: Bombers" with #2 Son, after dinner at the Food Court (because that's where he wanted to go).

Not a bad birthday present, actually.

True dat


The end of the Obama administration approaches

The Silicon Graybeard brings our attention to the Republican controlled House of Representatives giving the President unprecedented power to appoint officials.  Now why would the Republican House ratify something passed by the Senate 2 years ago?

Because they expect that Barack Obama will will the election?


The irony could only get thicker if Mittens actually loses the election in November.  Or maybe if this fellow wins.

Now that fellow would at least make this an efficient fascist government.


The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape.
- Samuel Johnson
I never much cared for birthdays at least after young childhood when you don't know any better.  I've never much liked people making a fuss over me which makes the whole cake and singing bit pretty cringeworthy.  This is odd because I love birthdays for other people and making a fuss over them.  Hey I never said that I was consistent.

Perhaps it's the German Shepherd guard dog instinct, that focuses me outwards.  I find it easy to sacrifice for the family, to give u something that I'd like so that they can have something that they'd like instead.  In fact this is usually gives me more enjoyment than them giving up something for me.

This year, I find that I'd like that M1 Garand.  But tuition needs to be paid and college textbooks don't buy themselves, and we need to add #2 Son to our car insurance.  And so I'll reset until Christmas.  Maybe.  There may be other things that need doing then, too.  And in any case, after a year away from the family, it seems that a family dinner will make a fine birthday present.

Well, that's my story.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Just when you thought that the Democrats couldn't get any creepier

Want to know which of your neighbors are Democrats?  There's an app for that:
Curious how many Democrats live on your block? Just download the Obama campaign's new mobile app.

The app, released last week, includes a Google map for canvassers that recognizes your current location and marks nearby Democratic households with small blue flags.

For each targeted address, the app displays the first name, age and gender of the voter or voters who live there: "Lori C., 58 F, Democrat."

This simply makes my skin crawl.  We know that there are people who are willing to target their political opponents.  Not with words, but with violence:
In the ten days following the November 4 election [California's Proposition 8], seven houses of worship in Utah and ten buildings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the Sacramento area were targets of vandalism, such as graffiti and meeting house glass doors shattered. According to the LDS spokesperson for the Sacremento area, the vandalism that they experienced in the ten days after the election was more than they usually get in an entire year.[5][30][31][32] A copy of the Book of Mormon, an LDS religious text, was found burning at the front of a meetinghouse.[30][32] The FBI investigated these events to determine whether a violation of civil rights had occurred.[31]

An affiliate group of the radical trans/queer organization Bash Back! claims credit for pouring glue into the locks of an LDS meetinghouse and spray painting its walls. A Web posting signed by Bash Back!’s Olympia chapter said, “The Mormon church (just like most churches) is a cesspool of filth. It is a breeding ground for oppression of all sorts and needs to be confronted, attacked, subverted and destroyed.”[33]
If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, Citizen.

UPDATE 6 August 2012 20:02: Having slept on this (I queue posts the night before), this seems even more appalling than it did.  It utterly fails Joe Huffman's Jews In The Attic test, and if this sort of thing had been done my Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, liberals' heads would have exploded like the Martians from Mars Attacks:

Actually, this is where a LOT of security bugs come from

"Buffer Overflow"?  What's that?  Abstruse Goose brings it.

Rest in Peace, SEAL Team 6

Lost one year ago.

Every man dies, not every man lives.

Blow it out your ears, Atomic protesters

Today is the 67th anniversary of the first use of atomic weapons.  The day will no doubt be commemorated by the Usual Suspects - those motivated by modern politics rather than sympathy for the souls of the dead*.

We will no doubt hear how this a a barbaric, despicable act, one that was entirely unjustified.  Those who say this will probably not have heard of anything that I relate in this post.  In short, it is the empty noise of ignorance that sees in itself wisdom.  They don't know that there was a moral justification, and a practical one.

The Moral Justification for dropping the bomb

There are people who think that justice requires a response, that karma will be balanced in this world or the next, and that crime and punishment cannot be separated.  We frequdntly hear this from those who seek to establish the guilt of this Republic with charges of crimes committed long ago.  And so the bill of indictment for the Imperial Japanese regime in August 1945 runs like this:

The Bataan Death March

The Rape of Nanking

The Manilla Massacre

Forced Prostitution

Experiments on Humans

This is an abbreviated list, but to those who claim that this current Republic is guilty of past crimes, and that those past crimes demand justice, this list is entirely sufficient to strike the Atomic Bombs from the moral case against us.  Using internally consistent logic, of course, which is not often seen when debating such people.  But the moral case is indeed present and accounted for.

The Practical Justification for dropping the bomb

On November 20, 1943, United States Marines hit the beach on Tarawa atoll, facing 3,600 Japanese and 1,200 (possibly forced) Korean laborers.  Three days later, only 17 Japanese soldiers and 129 laborers were alive; the others had fought to the death.  1,000 Marines died, and another 2,000 were wounded.

On June 15, 1944, the US Marines moved closer to the Japanese home islands, invading the island of Saipan.  This island would finally put the Japanese home islands within the range of the B-29 bombers, and was defended by nearly 30,000 Japanese.  All but 900 of them died, 5,000 of who were civilians who killed themselves rather than be captured by the American Devils.  3,400 Marines died, and over 10,000 were wounded.

On September 15, 1944, US Marines stormed the beaches of Peleliu.  Of the nearly 11,000 Japanese defenders, all but 200 fought to the death.  1,200 Marines died, and over 5,000 were wounded.

On February 19, 1945, the Marines landed on Iwo Jima's back sand beaches.  Iwo was the only battle in the entire war where America suffered more casualties than did Japan.  27 Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor here, more than any other battle in history.  Of the 22,000 Japanese defenders, only 200 survived the battle; a large number of these committed suicide, although a few hid out in the tunnels until finally captured.  The last of these was captured in 1951.  America lost almost 7,000 dead and nearly 20,000 wounded.

On April 1, 1945, American forces finally touched Japanese soil, in Okinawa, an outlying island.  Not quite 100,000 Japanese combatants and civilians died or committed suicide; only 10,000 survived.  America suffered over 12,000 dead and nearly 40,000 wounded.

This was the situation in the summer of 1945.  Each battle that got closer to Japanese soil became more costly for both America and Japan.  Japanese defenders were fanatically dangerous, mostly choosing to die to the man if it gave them a chance to bleed the American forces.  Looking at an invasion not of isolated atolls but of Japan itself, President Truman asked for an estimate of casualties in the planned Operation Olympic to seize Kyushu and the subsequent Operation Coronet for the remainder of Japan.

The Joint Chiefs told him that based on what had been seen in Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, that he could expect American casualties to be in the millions.  The lowest estimate was 1.2 Million casualties, the highest was 4 million - including 800,000 dead.

Japanese casualties were not well estimated, but were assumed to be ten times the American figure.  Half a million Purple Heart medals were ordered, so many that we have not manufactured any since; the United States still has around 100,000 of these in stock.

It is entirely plausible that none of the protesters you might encounter today will have the slightest idea about this: that two thirds of a century of American wars have not depleted the medals ordered for a portion of the invasion of Japan.

The wonder is not the Truman ordered the bombs dropped, the wonder is that he waited as long as he did.  And that was the right decision.  Millions survived the war because of it.  People who do not know this, or who choose to ignore this are frivolous.

* Think I exaggerate?  Where were these people on March 9?

UPDATE 7 August 2012 10:01: Not just lefties, it seems.  Libertarians, too.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ya see, I heard it from dis guy ...

The People's Cube will be the first ones sent to the camps, Comrade.

Braised short ribs

It was what's for dinner.

Brown 4 lbs of beef short ribs in a cast iron dutch oven.  Remove the ribs, and fry up a quarter pund of bacon, cut into 1" pieces.  Chop an opinion, and add to the bacon and fry until just browning.  Add 1 tbsp of tomato paste and fry another 2 minutes.  Add the ribs, 1 bottle of English Ale, a quarter cup of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in a 350° oven for two hours, until the meat is falling off the bones.

Remove the ribs and defat.  This is easier if you cool the mixture down (say, in an ice water bath in the sink) and refrigerate overnight - the fat will congral on the surface and you'll just scrape it off.

Remove the ribs and reduce the braise sauce by around half.  Serve on grits or mashed potatoes, with freshly baked bread.

Yeah, I guess you could do some sort of vegetation, if you want to.  Hey, did I mention the bacon?

All aboard!

Railroad buffs will want to check out Streamliner Memories, a new blog about the great age of railroading.

Reading some of these posts, it's easy to see how railroads got replaced by air and auto: when it takes almost 60 hours to cross the country, reducing that by 90% becomes a big win.

But nobody will ever be nostalgic for the days of the flying bus, TSA, and surly flight attendants.  Take be right back to 32F, Jack!

The media are largely responsible for the decline in civic discourse

Via Insty, we find a chin tugging complaint that while the whole Harry Reid is a Pederast meme is funny, it's wrong:
Nonetheless, while giving someone a “taste of his own medicine” is no doubt satisfying and perhaps even instructive, wrong is wrong, and spreading intentional lies, even about a public figure as devoid of decency and scruples as the Senate Majority Leader, is unethical. No conduct, no matter how nauseating, by its target can justify this. Stooping to Reid’s level can only further degrade civility and dignity in American public discourse, which is the objective of political sewer-dwellers like Reid, not anyone with the best interests of the nation in mind.
That last sentence strikes me as particularly wrong.  The Media in an earlier and less degraded age actually did act as a referee.  While there was probably never a time when they weren't biased, there was at one time a basic expectation of standards.  Harry Reid would have been pilloried by the media in the 1970s and 1980 for his "sumdood told me that Romney like totally didn't pay taxes" charge.

Quite frankly, when the media enforced basic standards, we did have a higher level of civility in the public discourse.

And then that all turned into 60 Minutes airing 30 year old Microsoft Word documents, and the baiting of Joe the Plumber, and the silence on the media's part towards Reid.  The media have decayed to the point that they see no need to enforce minimum standards of decency on one side, while imposing absurd standards on the other side ("You don't support Obama?  I wonder if it's because you're racist.").

And so to Mr. Marshall's complaint on ethics grounds.  What's interesting is that there's quite a lot of theory about this.  If we are interested in a long term enforcement of ethics norms, can that theory give us guidance as to the strategies most likely to result in higher levels of civility?  It can indeed.

Game Theory is the study of strategic decision making, and has been well studied for generations.  The Prisoner's Dilemma is one of its most famous problems - two prisoners are each offered a choice: give evidence against the other or not.  If neither rats the other out, they both will get light sentences.  If both rat out the other, they will both get longer sentences.  If one rats and the other doesn't, the rat goes free and the other serves a very long sentence:

Prisoner B stays silent (cooperates)Prisoner B betrays (defects)
Prisoner A stays silent (cooperates)Each serves 1 monthPrisoner A: 1 year
Prisoner B: goes free
Prisoner A betrays (defects)Prisoner A: goes free
Prisoner B: 1 year
Each serves 3 months

What's interesting is that politics falls very neatly into an "iterated prisoner's dilemma" model, where a series of incidents are played out, one following the other, in a never ending ethical dilemma.  So what strategy does Game Theory recommend to increase ethical outcomes (in this case, to prevent ratting)?

Tit For Tat is the model that optimizes outcomes.  The rules are as follows:
This strategy is dependent on four conditions, which have allowed it to become the most successful strategy for the iterated prisoner's dilemma:[1]
  1. Unless provoked, the agent will always cooperate
  2. If provoked, the agent will retaliate
  3. The agent is quick to forgive
  4. The agent must have a good chance of competing against the opponent more than once.
In the last condition, the definition of "good chance" depends on the payoff matrix of the prisoner's dilemma. The important thing is that the competition continues long enough for repeated punishment and forgiveness to generate a long-term payoff higher than the possible loss from cooperating initially.
It's a perfect fit, and one that quite frankly used to be played by the media.  In days past, Senator Reid would have found that retaliation for his bogus charges would have come from them, in the form of increasingly disbelieving questioning and increasingly negative reporting about him.  He would have learned not to take that sort of tack in the future, as we see when Tit For Tat computer models run for multiple iterations - they fairly quickly reach a stable equilibrium with a minimum of rats.

Alas, the media have abdicated this role, and so the Internet has stepped up as an alternative channel.  My fundamental disagreement with Mr. Marshall is that he is not advocating for ethics in the long term, but only in the short term.  His quote again:
Stooping to Reid’s level can only further degrade civility and dignity in American public discourse
Tit For Tat disagrees, and in a world where the media no longer enforce the same ethical norms on both sides of the debate, the ethical payoff to "turn the other cheek" is precisely the continued degradation of civility that Mr. Marshall so rightly deplores.  In fact, the Harry Reid is a Pederast meme is precisely the correct response, because it is becoming so successful that the media may have to cover it - and there's simply no way to cover it without reference to Reid's own original charges.  In short, more of these may in fact nudge the media back towards a more neutral referee stance.  If not, the very success of the memes will hasten the media's demise.

In either event, we're likely to see increased levels of civility as one side finds that it is no longer able to rat on the other with impunity.

Playing the Neanderthal Bone Flute Music

Image via Wikipedia
The Divje Babe flute is said to be the oldest musical instrument we know of, although this is somewhat controversial.  I guess that it's not surprising that there's rather a lot of uncertainty regarding Neanderthal artifacts.

The flute is thought to have been fashioned from the femur or a cave bear.  The bone was clearly fashioned by man - no other animal leaves this sort of mark.  It took skill to put these holes in the bone without splitting it.  There is considerable speculation and controversy over the spacing of the holes, and whether it fits any recognizable musical scale.

To me, the speculation is, well, speculation.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating, after all, and the proof of the flute is in the playing.  The music here is modern, of course - the Neanderthals left no known musical inscriptions.  This recording is not the Divje Babe flute itself which is safely ensconced in a museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia/

But it is music played on a reconstruction of the flute, and it sure does sound like a flute.  What ancient man played for music, and whether this was religious or for pleasure, whether it accompanied ancient tales told around the fire - alas, no reconstruction can ever tell.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

A note to the Jaguar dealer ...

... on Alpharetta Highway: If you are going to send someone out with one of your flash rides, you might want to make sure that there's actually gas - sorry, sorry: petrol - in the tank.  Otherwise he might die blocking the turn lane here I want to, you know, turn.

And an extra pro-tip to the guy who's bringing him some gas - sorry, sorry, petrol:  it's bad form to come up so close to me from behind that you're almost kissing my bumper.  Sure, you're trying to get Mr. Bigshot rolling again, but if you had left ten feet I could have backed up and gone around him rather than being forced to wait.

In future if you could endeavor not to live down to all my worst expectations about Jaguar - insufferable stupid rich dudes and the arrogant toadies who tend to their automobiles that are broken down on the side of the road - I'd be very much appreciative.

Love, Borepatch.

MLB Baseball teams' Facebook pages get hacked

Pretty funny stuff, actually.


Jeniffer brings what it is to be fully Human:
The very genuine reaction that I’ve heard is that although the people in the LGBTQ community believe the CEO of Chick-fil-A should have every right to state what he believes.  They cannot in good conscience spend their money with an organization that will use those profits to support anti-gay causes. This is completely legitimate, and I fully support anyone voting with their wallets. It is also understandable that the out pouring of support for Chick-fil-A feels like a slap in the face. Particularly when we tweet and Facebook and write blog posts about it.  Yeah, I want to stick it to the leaders in Chicago and Boston, but I do not want my friends to be collateral damage.  As a Christian, I cannot abide the hate directed at this community.

And so, here is what I propose. I can think of no better organization serving the LGBTQ community than The Trevor Project. For every dollar I spend at Chick-fil-A, I will donate a dollar to The Trevor Project. To me, this seems like a better way to love my neighbors and support what I believe in than slapping them in the face. Join me?
This is what I love about our little corner of the 'Net - this is a simply outstanding idea, filled with the best of both sides of the argument.  I've posted at least twice on this imperfect tense that never quite becomes a present.  I can't think of a better way to try to leave the world a little better place.

Jennifer says what Dr. Donne said, these many years ago:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
That's one smart lady.


Ratus is on a roll.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


computer is a general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a finite set of arithmetic or logical operations. Since a sequence of operations can be readily changed, the computer can solve more than one kind of problem.
Conventionally, a computer consists of at least one processing element and some form of memory. The processing element carries out arithmetic and logic operations, and a sequencing and control unit that can change the order of operations based on stored information. Peripheral devices allow information to be retrieved from an external source, and the result of operations saved and retrieved.
The first electronic digital computers were developed between 1940 and 1945 in the United Kingdom and United States. Originally they were the size of a large room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers (PCs).[1] In this era mechanical analog computers were used for military applications.
Modern computers based on integrated circuits are millions to billions of times more capable than the early machines, and occupy a fraction of the space.[2] Simple computers are small enough to fit intomobile devices, and mobile computers can be powered by small batteries. Personal computers in their various forms are icons of the Information Age and are what most people think of as "computers". However, the embedded computers found in many devices from mp3 players to fighter aircraft and from toys to industrial robots are the most numerous.
DM IBM S360.jpgColumbia Supercomputer - NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility.jpgIntertec Superbrain.jpg
2010-01-26-technikkrempel-by-RalfR-05.jpgThinking Machines Connection Machine CM-5 Frostburg 2.jpgG5 supplying Wikipedia via Gigabit at the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften 2006 in Dresden.JPG
Acer Aspire 8920 Gemstone by Georgy.JPGAcorn BBC Master Series Microcomputer.jpgDell PowerEdge Servers.jpg