Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Opposite directions

Two items in the news this past week draw into stark comparison the directions in which our leaders wish to take us.  One of these examples is at the Federal level - Leviathan incarnate.  The other is (I hope) a nascent States Rights movement to fight Leviathan.
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.

That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.
You read that right: the government -- Leviathan -- can send its minions to plant a tracking device on your vehicle while it's on your property. If this doesn't fall into the category of a Fourth Amendment violation, then nothing does. It's just one more example of Leviathan wiping its ass with the Constitution.

On the other hand, Texas has just about had it with being Leviathan's bitch.
The EPA, determined to move forward anyway, is attempting to rewrite the Clean Air Act administratively via a "tailoring rule," which would reduce the number of regulated sources. The problem with that approach? It's illegal. The EPA has no authority to rewrite the law. To pull it off, the EPA needs every state with a State Implementation Plan to rewrite all of its statutory thresholds as well.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan W. Shaw saw the tailoring rule for what it really is: a massive power grab and centralization of authority. They are fighting back, writing to the EPA:

"In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency's recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations - regulations that are plainly contrary to U.S. laws. ... To encourage acquiescence with your unsupported findings you threaten to usurp state enforcement authority and to federalize the permitting program of any state that fails to pledge their fealty to the Environmental Protection Agency. On behalf of the State of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions."
"I got yer tailoring rule RIGHT HERE!"

Mind you, I'm generally no fan of Texas, home to notorious bigots Ron in Houston and the head bigot, the case law-worshiping Caput a Palos. But if Texas shows the stones to stand up to what is, in effect, a power grab by unelected bureaucrats, then all I have to say is, "Go Texas!"

Now if we can just get 49 more states to follow suit....


Monday, August 23, 2010

Is there anything they haven't screwed up?

I've been down this path before, but I'll go there again: I am NOT a baby boomer!  Oh, sure, I'm part of that 18 year population surge that took place in the post WWII years.  But I am not one of those pot smoking hippy MFers who have spent the last 45 years effing up the world.  I've said it before and I'll say it again -- if you were still in elementary school at the dawning of 1970, you are NOT a boomer.  For the record, I was still in the 6th grade at the dawning of 1970.

So why go (off) down that road again?  Because once again the boomers are effing up the world.
America's baby boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—face a problem that could weigh on the economy for years to come: The longer it takes for the economy to recover, the less money they'll have to spend in retirement.

Policy makers have long worried that Americans aren't saving enough for old age. And lately, current and prospective retirees have been hit on many fronts at once: They have less money, they earn less on what they have, their houses aren't rising in value and the prospect of working longer to make up the shortfall has dimmed significantly in a lousy job market.

"We will have to learn to make do with a lot less in material things," says Gary Snodgrass, a 63-year-old health-care consultant in Placerville, Calif. The financial crisis, he says, slashed his retirement savings 40% and the value of his house by about half.

Banks, home buyers and bond issuers are all benefiting as the U.S. Federal Reserve holds short-term interest rates near zero to support a recovery. But for many of the 36 million Americans who will turn 65 over the next decade—and even for the 45 million who have another decade to go— the resulting low bond yields, combined with a volatile stock market, are making a dire retirement picture look even worse.
So....the boomers have spent their entire sorry lives in an orgy of materialistic gluttony...and now the rest of us are going to pay the price....AS USUAL.

That generation can't die off fast enough.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Daisy, commenting as guest, asked that I resume my position high atop ye olde soapbox.  Correction: Daisy, commenting as guest, demanded that I resume my position high atop ye olde soapbox.  That's exactly the sort of attitude I expect from readers of this blog.

Daisy specifically asked that I comment on China.  For those of you not paying attention, China:

So what does this all mean?  Nothing, per se.  However, it does loom large as a potential changing of the guard in terms of who is the big dog on the world stage.  For the past 20 years the US pretty much stood alone in that spot.  Now.........not so much.

If I were a young person contemplating a choice of foreign language to learn, Chinese would be my first choice.  It's so much easier to assimilate and gain the favor of your new masters if you speak their language.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Comfortably numb

For reasons that I can't quite put my finger on, I've been exceptionally indifferent to the political and social goings on of late.

The Ground Zero mosque?  Whatever.  Yeah, it's an intentional thumb in the eye of America.  Yeah, it's like pissing on the graves of those killed by Islamic extremists on 9/11.  Nonetheless, I can't seem to muster any indignation.  And those who know me well know that there is no shortage of indignation in this bird.

What about Il Duce and the corrupt Congress pushing through yet more useless stimulus?  Nothing.

The administration's latest swindle to enrich the bankers?  Again, nothing.

Is it the doldrums of Summer, a time when blog readership drops to roughly half of normal?  Maybe.

Is it the stress and increased workload in the wake of a change of prime contractors at my client site?  Perhaps.  I've gone from responsibility for 2 major systems to responsibility for 4 major systems AND assisting new developers in coming up to speed.  Additionally, I need to learn a new proprietary coding language OJT ASAP to support the two new systems.  I hate learning proprietary coding languages.  Talk about useless knowledge!

Yeah, I know.  Boo frickin' hoo.

Whatever it is, it better end soon, my friend.  A Vulture with no indignation just won't do.  It just won't do at all.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Something different

Too often this blog is nothing but a giant bitch fest.  Bitch, bitch, bitch.  Moan.  Complain.  Grumble.  Kvetch.

Not today.  Today I wanted to share something I stumbled upon while reading Will Griggs's excellent article entitled Shadows and Foreshadowing at Nagasaki.  The "something" to which I refer is this paper written by scientists and engineers detailing their findings in the wake of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings of August 6th and 9th of 1945.  The paper was published on June 29th, 1946, so it contains none of the faux PC bullshit hand-wringing or political overtones we've come to associate with present-day reporting on that topic.

I highly recommend giving it a look.  I found it quite enlightening.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Vulture Droppings - catchup

Vulture Droppings is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It's a kind of "Random Thoughts" post in which I try to quickly summarize a particularly large event or series of events. Think of it being sort of like what a vulture leaves behind after devouring a horse. You don't get the whole horse, just highly processed leftovers.

Given that it has been nearly a week since I last posted (my, how time flies when you're having hell!), I thought I would "drop" a VD to catch up with what has been going on in the world.

The first two items are courtesy of xfloggingkylex.

This comes from an article on a study by UC Berkeley computer scientists.
A new security threat revealed by computer scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, may be enough to drive some people away from their computer keyboards and back to pen and paper. The researchers show that a simple audio recording of those keyboard clicks can betray the text you just entered, from passwords to secret love notes.

The researchers were able to take several 10-minute sound recordings of users typing at a keyboard, feed the audio into a computer, and use an algorithm to recover up to 96 percent of the characters entered.
So the question becomes: is this REALLY a cause for concern? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that the contents of a document or email can be trapped for nefarious use. No for the fact that the software cannot really differentiate the control, alt, or shift keys...at least not yet. But, as the article states, the utility of typed passwords is rapidly drawing to a much-deserved end.
"There are different forms of authentication that could be used, including smart cards, one-time password tokens or biometrics," said Tygar.
Please, make it so. If I have to change one more password, I'm gonna go mental.

This one causes me great ambivalence.
I have told this trick to several friends and it has lead to instant dismissal from the courtroom each time. By the end of this article you’ll understand why it works guaranteed 100% of the time. Knowing will not only empower you, but also disturb you. Judges and prosecutors are wary of the common excuses. Who knew that court turned so many people into racists, caused people to forget the English language and trigger sudden terminal illness! Once you’ve been picked to serve on a jury and the trial is about to commence, the judge informs the jury of its duty. Duty – singular.1) The jury must decide the facts of the case.It should actually be duties though – plural.2) The jury must decide on the law in question.Judges do not inform juries of their 2nd responsibility and if you come into court for the voir dire process aware of it - you will be dismissed from the court.

A jurors right to veto the law is probably the best kept secrete of the court system and is what separates democracies from republics
What disquiets me about this blog post is that the type of person who believes in the concept of jury nullification is EXACTLY the kind of person who NEEDS to be on a jury.  This is NOT the person who need to be skipping out on jury duty.

For the record, I'm a huge fan of jury nullification. There are laws that are, quite frankly, nothing more than excuses for Leviathan to stick its nose into our business; those laws NEED nullification.

Last week those aligned in opposition to the anti-freedom agenda of Il Duce had what they thought was a huge victory in the form of a vote in Missouri to prohibit Big Brother from enforcing the mandatory parts of Obamacare. It was a short celebration.

Just hours later, a Federal Judge threw out the result of the Proposition 8 initiative. This proves, once again, that our ruling class doesn't give a rat's ass what we the people want. They'll get what they want, one way or another. Our "votes", inasmuch as they align with the goals of the ruling class, will be honored; inasmuch as they collide with their goals, an avenue will be found to negate those results.

So Missouri can celebrate now, but their victory will be every bit as short lived as that of the Prop 8 voters.

Elena Kagen was confirmed. Hey, how 'bout that? [/sarcasm] For those of you in the "Vote Republican" crowd, take note that 5 of your team voted to confirm this patently unqualified Harriet Miers clone with a decidedly authoritarian worldview. Hey, how 'bout that? [/sarcasm]

Hopefully life will slow down a little bit for me and I'll be able to blog more frequently. This Summer has been one for the ages. And "age" is what I've done.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Royal Messiah Complex

I used to be amused by the Royals.  I mean, they were a harmless lot, weren't they?  The horse-faced old queen who probably hasn't smiled since 1948.  The jug-eared doofus err (no misspelling) to the throne.  The scandals. 

At worst they were an anachronism, a set of living tourist attractions, right?

But they're apparently not all so harmless after all.  The jug-eared doofus has decided he's the messiah.
The Prince of Wales says he believes he has been placed on Earth as future King ‘for a purpose’ - to save the world.
You can't make this stuff up.

Price Charles, I hate to burst your bubble, but your purpose on Earth is NOT to save the world.  Rather, it's to serve as a cautionary tale: this is what happens when first cousins marry.