Thursday, November 30, 2023

Cardiac Rehab

I am undergoing cardiac rehabilitation at the moment, which is basically an exercise program to get everything repaired by the stents to work properly.  This means treadmilling, arm bikes, and some weight exercises as well.  This is in addition to the treadmilling I have been doing at home.  I am hoping to be finished before they cut me open for aortic valve replacement.  Then I suspect that I will do it again.

The good news was that after today's session my blood pressure was 115/48.  Before the stents it was far higher.

A Case I Have Worked

National Association for Gun Rights v. Naperville.  Justice Coney Barrett responded to a request for an injunction against enforcement of the Illinois AW ban by ordering the plaintiffs to respond to the request for an injunction.  

This is one of the first cases where I wrote declaration rebuttals.  Their experts were horrible.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Intersectionality As Lunacy

The Shekel pointed me to Dan Greenfield's:

The leaders of March for Our Lives and the Sunrise Movement, a gun control group and an environmental protest group, signed a letter to Biden warning that young people wouldn’t vote for him unless he forced Israel to stop attacking Hamas.

How better to promote gun control than by defending mass murderers who used machine guns to kill innocent people and how better to champion the environment than by supporting terrorists who deliberately start fires in Israel. What does Hamas have in common with gun control advocates, environmentalists and abortion activists?

“I think something very bad is happening on the left,” Israel’s Labor leader Merav Michaeli complained. “People who consider themselves to be democratic, progressive, are supporting a totalitarian terror regime that oppresses women, the LGBTQ+ community… The more you go to the left, the more there’s a big mix-up. Something went very wrong on the way.”

"on the way"?

The ‘something’ that went wrong is called ‘intersectionality’. That’s why abortion protesters, gay activists, environmentalists, gun control activists and the entire Left have to support Hamas. But intersectionality is also bait and switch. While gay activists have to support Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group doesn’t have to stop throwing them off buildings. Making sure Hamas has enough fuel to fire rockets at Israeli kindergartens may be a reproductive justice issue, but no one expects masked men armed with RPGs to shout, “Allahu Akbar” at a Planned Parenthood rally. 

Muni Yields Are Getting Attractive

Idaho Health Facs Auth Rev St Lukes Health Sys Proj Ser A

Traded today with a 4.743% yield to maturity.  If that does not seem like much, it is exempt from both federal and state income tax if you are an Idaho resident, so if you are in my marginal tax bracket, that is equivalent to 6.36% taxable yield and I consider Idaho municipal bonds pretty much risk-free.  (There are advantages to having adults in charge of state government.)

I also have a theory that if Uncle Sam defaults on Treasury bonds (which used to seem like financial science fiction or financial horror) munis from grown up states will be where buyers seeking safe havens will go.  This will drive up prices of those bonds perhaps allowing a pretty nice capital appreciation for those who already have such bonds.
Idaho Health Facs Auth Rev St Lukes Health Sys Proj Ser A

Traded at a yield of 5.08% at slightly below par.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Weird Request of the Day

I need a way to securely attach somewhere between one and three pounds to a telescope tube to adjust balance for a heavy camera at the other end.  A Velcro closure to get a tight fit would be nice with a way to add weights in 1/2 pound increments would be nice.  Ankle weights to go around tubes of 3", 5", and 10" diameters am would be good 

Ankle weights are obvious but not obvious how to add weights to get 1.5 pounds in nice even steps.  I would prefer not taking them to take rhem off and put on a heavier one. 

Weights with double hooks would work but they are generally precision devices for scales.  It would be nice if they were not made in PRC.


For my 5" refractor and 8" reflector I turned the problem over to my wife.


We went to Wal-Mart.  We bought two boxes of BB, some "fat quarters" (if your spouse does quilting, have her explain), and some elastic material.


Then we measured BBs into 8 ounce bowls, and she made bean bags to hold the BBs into two one pound and one half-pound packets.


Then she made elastic loops that around the end of the tubes on the other side the balance from the camera/adapter aassembly.


Okay, they look funky (especially the astronomy themed bean bags) but they are fast to remove and install, and I can get 1/2 pound, 1 pound, 1 1/2 pound, 2 pound, and 2 1/2 pound adjustments in tube balance.


I am so glad that I bought her a sewing machine for Christmas a few years ago.



Sunday, November 26, 2023

Too Cold For Outdoor Astronomy

It was even too cold this afternoon to set up my 5" refractor for use in the evening 

So I set up the Televue 85 in the living room pointing out the window.
At first, there was no point above 33x on the Moon.  As it darkened, I was able to go up to 100x before the image softened too much.  The double paned windows reminded me that they exist for thermal insulation, not optical quality.  There was a ghostly double image about 20 minutes removed the real image.

I would not attempt astrophotography from inside but at least I was able to verify that the clock drive is tracking across the sky accurately.

History Does Not Repeat Itself

Comment over at Instapundit:
""History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells, 'Can't you remember anything I told you?' and lets fly with a club."---John W. Campbell Jr."

i Miss California Weather

The only nights in winter that it is warm enough for me to be outside with the telescope is when it is overcast.  In Santa Monica it was clear and warm year round.  In Rohnert Park, it was never freezing and while we often had cloud cover it was not weeks or months long.

If only the billionaires would leave 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Vincent v. Garland (10th Cir. 2023)

I only noticed it because I was cited in it.  The majority upheld the felon-in-possession firearms disability but Judge Bacharach's concurrence was not so sure:
"The answer is debatable. Bruen had no occasion to address the scope of the people as used in the Second Amendment. See N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n, Inc. v. Bruen, ___ U.S. ___, 142 S. Ct. 2111, 2157, 213 L.Ed.2d 387 (2022) (Alito, J., concurring) ("Our holding decides nothing about who may lawfully possess a firearm...."). But Bruen referred fourteen times to the Second Amendment's protection of law-abiding citizens. Id. at 2122, 2125, 2131, 2133-34, 2135 n.8, 2138 & n.9, 2150, 2156. These references proved critical to the Court's historical analysis. For example, the Court searched the historical record and found no historical analogues requiring a special need for "law-abiding citizens" to possess guns. Id. at 2150, 2156 (2022)."

Things That Seem 25th Century

Water from Air Generators. Yes, on Amazon.  They are not cheap but if your solar panel survives the EMP, here is your water source. It used refrigeration to extract water vapor from the air 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

First World Problems: Things to Be Thankful For Today

 I cannot figure out a better return than 4% per annum that isn't subject to income taxes.

The weather is too cold, when the skies are clear, to go outside and do astrophotography.

I do not have enough time to do as much expert declaration work as I would like for three digit per hour wages.

It is going to be annoying to be out for three months after getting a fundamental part of my heart replaced.

Snow Starting to Appear

This was on Bogus Basin a couple days ago.  It will likely be a few weeks before it starts snowing down here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Major Victory in Oregon

I have read the decision as an attachment but I cannot find a link.

The decision was based on Ore. Const. Art. I, sec. 27 not the Second Amendment.  This is unfortunate because it will not go any higher than the Oregon Supreme Court.

The judge ruled the permit-to-purchase license 30 day waiting period violated an Oregon citizen's right to be armed for self-defense and the background check requires the FBI to run a background check that the FBI says they are not legally authorized to perform means the permit-to-purchase is unconstitutional.

He ruled that the assault weapon ban is contrary to the state of firearms technology in 1857, when the Oregon Constitution was adopted and so this part is gone.

He ruled the LCM ban is unconstitutional because it interferes with law-abiding citizens defending themselves.  He used testimony of several sheriffs that LCMs are necessary for their deputies and civilians have the same, or even, greater needs.

Best of all, he pointed out that the mass murder problem is overblown with disproportionate media attention.

Here is the opinion.

Are You Wondering Why Stock Markets Are Rising?

It is generally accepted that the Fed has raised interest rates enough to prevent runaway inflation and likely cooling off an economy in deranged boom.  As interest rates fall, stocks become more attractive investments.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

T-Shirt of Shame

Rosie caught herself on some barbed wire and created a pretty serious cut on her front left leg that required stitches.  Much worse than the tear on her ear a few years ago.

The Cone of Shame kept her from licking the stitches but her rear leg was contacting it so the vet said she needed a T-shirt.

She is so well-behaved when we put her through things like this.

Civil Liberties Are Not Free

A thoughtful article by my friend Josh Blackman about how if the justices decide that Rahimi should be decided by the liberal model "domestic violence is so dangerous that just an accusation should deny gun rights" then lower courts will be tempted to take that same relaxed view about other civil liberties that liberals have historically considered important: free speech, due process, Miranda decision.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Adobe Breaks Reader

 I attempted to buy the full Acrobat last week.  It failed to install properly.  I got a refund.

So I decided to uninstall what was there and just download the free Reader DC.  It insisted on installing Adobe Creative Cloud, which is huge, >300MB, and appears to include lots of Adobe products in the get you hooked by a 7-day trial. Fine, I will just use the Reader.  Once installed, it asked if I wanted to make this my default PDF Reader and Accept the terms.  It just goes into manic sperm mode (as my wife calls it), going around in circles runs for many minutes and never completing.

I am now installing from the Microsoft Store.  It is taking a long time to install.  What had Adobe done to Reader?

From here.  I realize Adobe is a business but a lot of people have become quite ddependent on being able to read PDFs.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

How Old is the Term Green-Room?

I have always seen it used to refer to the room just off stage where guests wait to be called out for a talk show.  I am currently reading a Jules Verne novel The Steam House where he uses the term in the modern sense.  This is an 1860s.. I am unsure how to characterize it.  The only sci-fi element is that the protagonist and hopelessly imperialist British friends are traveling around India in a road locomotive train.  

A steam engine made up to look like a steel elephant pulling half dozen cars in an adventure that I suspect is going to end in a confrontation with a promoter of the Sepoy Rebellion.

Verne is mostly remembered for his sci-fi but he also wrote more conventional fiction sometimes with a political twist.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Link is to a Serious Archaeology Article

But because I roomed with a guy in the Dark Ages whose license plate was I COBOL, it gave me a laugh 

A Message For Officials Who Are Listening

11/16/23 Daily Mail:
"Holton Township, Michigan establishes its own MILITIA to protect second amendment and declares it will not enforce new red-flag laws restricting gun ownership"

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Always Fun Watching Foreigner Reaction to WalMart

My daughter has had several foreign exchange students who have found Wal-Mart an amazing experience.  I just watched a YouTube video titled New Zealand Family Go To Walmart For The First Time.  I have seen some others by Europeans with similar shock and awe responses. Heck, to Americans it is just shopping.  In the 1960s, President Nixon got a lot of flak for saying that American greatness could be seen in that we had just built the largest shopping mall in the world.  I would have picked the Moon landing myself but there is some merit that what would have been unimaginable for all of human history and is still shockingly good to people outside North America is an American institution.

Are Any of You Android App Developers?

I have a security product idea that I rather doubt that I will have time to develop.  I see a market opportunity that might be something that people will pay to have 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

As much as inheritance taxes bug me, if they reduce the opportunity for people who do nothing but promote hatred to continue doing so, it might be worth it.  This, unfortunately, is why every good burst for the American economy is subverted by the generation that grew up comfortable and able to go to college.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

This is Worrisome But Probably Necessary

11/12/23 Eurasian Times:
"Months after Russia’s ally Belarus received tactical nuclear weapons from Moscow, there is indication that the United States is assisting the Dutch F-35A in taking on its role as a nuclear carrier platform.

Amid increased nuclear threat looming over Europe, the Netherlands announced that it had obtained “initial certification for the deterrence mission,” suggesting that some of the F-35A stealth fighters that are part of NATO’s fleet are getting closer to being fully nuclear-capable. 

The F-35A was to be certified as a “Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA)” by January 2024, according to an earlier announcement by the US Air Force, with the capability to carry the B61-12 nuclear bomb. The US Air Force has not yet disclosed if any other country or its F-35As have received certification to deploy the B61-12."

While the Netherlands has no nuclear weapons it appears that there is a program in which the U.S. will hand off nuclear weapons to our NATO allies as part of the nuclear deterrent against Russia.

This makes unfortunate sense.  Russia keeps rattling the nuclear sword.  Having multiple air forces capable of destroying Russia in the event of invasion or at least making that a realistic threat with stealthy planes like the F-35 should be a strong deterrent.  That is the point of it; make nuclear war so unimaginably destructive that only a madman (which I do not think describes Putin) would try it.

I really think if Putin ordered use of strategic nuclear weapons (or maybe even tactical nuclear weapons), a few adults in the Russian military would recognize that few Russians would be alive in two decades and give Putin a chance to reach room temperature.

Not only would tens of millions of Russians die in initial explosions or fallout, but millions would starve to death from the inevitable collapse of food and fuel infrastructure.  The existing population decline caused by the Stalinist purges, World War II losses, and the 1990s refusal to have children would be turned into an astonishing death spiral.  People stop having children if they lack confidence in the future.  Post-nuclear war Russia would likely be a frozen Road Warrior disaster.

The U.S. faces a similar disaster if things go hot.  We are already below replacement fertility.  We are not as dangerously concentrated as Russia but our major cities would be heavily depopulated.  A substantial loss of Americans would doom us long term.

Getting a solar system for the house looks better and better.  I have found a pretty decent water storage solution.  The 5.3 gallon plastic container I bought on Amazon is tough and a week and a half in, the water is very drinkable.  I do not plan to keep these constantly filled.  If things started to look bad, I would fill about 50 gallons at once.  If our solar system keeps running, water will continue to be available.  There are EMP-resistant inverters.  Even if the solar panels were destroyed, the battery backup and inverter would likely keep water pumping from the well for some weeks with no other electricity demands.  Sorry, you will not be seeing any new blog posts in that case.

I still have not found an indoor cooking solution.  Once radiation levels fell enough the grill would provide a solution for cooking rice and warming chili.  For a couple of weeks, that will not be possible.  The chemical heaters I found on Amazon seem to not be capable of even warming chili adequately much less cooking rice.  Of course, a couple weeks of not eating would be annoying but put me and most other Americans in much better health.

8th Grade Final Exam

I am sure that you have seen this exam that most college graduates could not complete today:

Arithmetic (Time Limit - 1.25 hours)

  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
  2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
  4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
  5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
  6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
  7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at 20 per metre?
  8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
  9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
  10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
That is the arithmetic section.  Some of this is sort of obsolete.  Few people know or need to know how long a rod is.  Revise it using feet and many college graduates in the whining degree fields would still never get the right answer or even know how to set up the algebra.

I see stuff like this and I get skeptical for two reasons:

1.  At the high school level, such exams overlook that high school was a fairly elite education.  My father went to high school after eighth grade.  His brother went to sea.

2. A big chunk of Americans were attending schools of very inferior level; blacks in the South were given educations markedly inferior to whites. The assumption was that they were not going to college.  I doubt black schools in Alabama expected this much from kids who were expected to go into the fields.

I found this exam on a NASA web site, so I find it plausible.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

You May Remember This Courageous Woman

11/11/23 Unheard:
"In 2002, I discovered a 1927 lecture by Bertrand Russell entitled “Why I am Not a Christian”. It did not cross my mind, as I read it, that one day, nearly a century after he delivered it to the South London branch of the National Secular Society, I would be compelled to write an essay with precisely the opposite title."

Racism and Bird Names

11/9/23 Yahoo News:
"Last week, the American Ornithological Society said it would change the name of any bird whose name referenced a historical figure: Cooper’s Hawk, for example, or Townsend’s warbler. Birds will no longer be named after people but, instead, after each one’s physical traits or native habitats.
I had no idea after whom these birds were named.  Someone needs to grow up and stop looking for reasons to be offended.

Interesting Conversation

I am helping a public defender in Cincinnati with help on Ohio's ban on gun ownership by under 21s.  I mentioned the racist history of gun laws of which she was aware.  She then told me that she could not recall ever having a white client on a gun carrying charge.

There are multiple possible explanations: poor people are usually black, and this end up with public defenders; racism by police stopping and frisking blacks more than whites; higher levels of crime by blacks increases police interactions that result in arrests.

I mention this because I see screeching on X that ATF seems to exempt blacks because of pictures of black guys in Chicago in their high school graduation regalia with Glocks.  ATF may be too busy in Chicago to go for the low-hanging fruit, but what I see suggests that if there is a problem, black privilege is not the explanation.  I see lots of news coverage out of Texas about Glock switch arrests and the names suggest many are black or Hispanic.

What I read indicates that a cottage industry has developed making Glock switches and many are shipped here from China.

I have a problem with the National Firearms Act but punks carrying full auto pistols are unlikely to make all their shots hit their targets (who are usually fellow punks).  Spraying lead needs a solution.  I suspect prosecuting thugs young and removing them from the street is an obvious solution.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Lillie Pulled a Muscle

Ordinarily she can jump onto the couch or a bed with extraordinary ease.  But she seems to have pulled a muscle and cannot do that, so we got her a little bed to sleep on until she recovers her pretty amazing athleticism.

Recovery.  It was not elegant but during the night she took a flying leap, put her front paws on the top of the bed, and pulled herself onto the bed.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Hatpins As Arms

 History Facts:

At the beginning of the 20th century, elaborate hats were ubiquitous in women’s fashion. Hat brims were so wide, they often extended out past a woman’s shoulders, and the tops of the hats were adorned with taffeta, ribbons, and lots of feathers. Hatpins, themselves often decorative and sometimes as big as a foot long, were required to fasten the large hats to a woman’s hairstyle — but they also became inadvertent tools of self-defense for women who were gaining more independence and venturing out into the world alone.

The use of hatpins for self-defense dovetailed with a growing culture of “mashers,” as they were known at the time. These were men who leered at, catcalled, or unwantedly touched women in public. Suffragists and other women’s rights groups became increasingly vocal about the need for female safety, autonomy, and self-defense in the face of “masher” culture, but their efforts had the unintended effect of bringing negative attention to the female victims. Newspapers across the country reported stories of women using hatpins and umbrellas to fend off attackers, and by 1909, hatpins were considered dangerous around the world. Some regions attempted to regulate their length; in many U.S. states, women could be fined up to $50 for wearing hatpins that were more than 9 inches long. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

What The Biden Administration Paid Iran to do

Not just rape, torture and murder.  11/8/23 Business Insider:
"But Hamas officials say the mounting death toll, believed to include thousands of children, has not caused the group to regret its own slaughter of 1,400 people in southern Israel last month.

"In fact, Hamas leaders say their goal was to trigger that very response and that they're still hoping for a bigger war still. It's all part of a strategy, they say, to derail talks over Israel normalizing relations with regional powers — namely, Saudi Arabia — and draw the world's attention to the Palestinian cause.

"Hamas, these officials said, is more interested in the destruction of Israel than what it sees as the temporary hardships faced by Palestinians under Israeli bombardment....

"With the October 7 attack, Hamas revealed that it was less interested in merely governing the Gaza Strip and its more than 2 million inhabitants — some of whom protested its authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement in the weeks and years ahead of the latest war with Israel — than it was in fighting a war in the name of Palestinians everywhere.

"Hamas's goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such," al-Hayya said. He credited the October 7 attack with having "woke the world up from its deep sleep" and forcing it to confront the plight of Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, where — in recent weeks — Israelis in illegal settlements have stepped up deadly attacks on their Palestinian neighbors."

When U-Haul Runs Out of Trucks Leaving California

U-Haul Introduces Armored War Rigs For Californians Trying To Flee State's Post-Apocalyptic

I am not going back except leading a column of APCs to rescue survivors.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

I Love Surprises!

It turns that if you make money after you retire, the Social Security taxes you paid increases your retirement check.  It was not a huge difference but even another $100 a month was pleasant.

I Do Not Need It

But boy would I be happy if one arrived at the local gun store with a bow on it.  Browning is again offering the Hi-Power now in stainless steel.  No magazine disconnect.

When I say I do not need it, it is because I had mine refinished in NP3 a couple years back which has most (all?) of the advantages of stainless and it looks sharp too.  Okay, I admit that I like the flash of a reflective gun.

What is interesting is that it now comes with a 17-round magazine.  Traditionally Hi-Powers came with 13-round magazines.  Ram-Line made some very reliable 15-round magazines for it and I have several.  (Wilson Combat also sells a 15-round magazine made by Mec-Gar.)  I wonder if the 17-round magazines work in the older versions?  

Yes, a Hi-Power does a magazine change rapidly, especially with the magazine disconnect removed but having two extra rounds without a change would be useful if a minivan of home invaders showed up.  Like that is going to happen in Idaho.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Righteous Mind

By Jonathan Haidt.  This is an astonishing book about how people are motivated and why different people are motivated along political and religious lines.  One part of the book examines why people who are by nature individually competitive (how can I get more of X. if a chimpanzee (bananas, mates); if a human (Mercedes, mates, jets)
Can also work cooperatively for a common good (think military defense).  He discusses ways that corporations can take advantage of the hivish nature and it struck me that many of these describe the successful startups in which I have worked:

1. Emphasize similarity not diversity.  The races do not matter; what you have in common should be the focus.  He even mentions sharing the same first name!  One startup I was in had about 60 people of whom 9 were named Dave.

2. Exploit synchrony.  The examples he gives are very Japanese: company wide exercise, marching together.  But I think back to our volleyball tournaments where we formed teams and played volleyball at lunch or after work.  (Those were good times.)

3. Groups of up to 150 that were relatively egalitarian and wary of alpha males.

Yes, these describe the two mildly successful startups for which I worked.  We hired an alpha male at one who turned a $300 million company into a $110 million dollar company in 18 months.

There is a lot to learn from this book.

"Societies that forgo the exoskeleton of religion should reflect carefully on what will happen to them over several generations.  We don't really know, because the first atheistic societies have only emerged in Europe in the last few decades.  They are the least efficient societies ever known at turning resources (of which they have a lot) into offspring (of which they have very few)." (p. 323)

The Race Divide Is Vanishing

11/5/23 New York Times:
"Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Mr. Biden’s policies have personally hurt them. The survey also reveals the extent to which the multiracial and multigenerational coalition that elected Mr. Biden is fraying. Demographic groups that backed Mr. Biden by landslide margins in 2020 are now far more closely contested, as two-thirds of the electorate sees the country moving in the wrong direction.
"Voters under 30 favor Mr. Biden by only a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters is down to single digits and his advantage in urban areas is half of Mr. Trump’s edge in rural regions. And while women still favored Mr. Biden, men preferred Mr. Trump by twice as large a margin, reversing the gender advantage that had fueled so many Democratic gains in recent years.
"Black voters — long a bulwark for Democrats and for Mr. Biden — are now registering 22 percent support in these states for Mr. Trump, a level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times.
Add it all together, and Mr. Trump leads by 10 points in Nevada, six in Georgia, five in Arizona, five in Michigan and four in Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden held a 2-point edge in Wisconsin.
In a remarkable sign of a gradual racial realignment between the two parties, the more diverse the swing state, the farther Mr. Biden was behind, and he led only in the whitest of the six."

Trump is still not regarded as a great role model but at least has his "wits around him."

Saturday, November 4, 2023

If the Name Edward Said Rings No Bells...

 Read this introduction at Chicago Boyz.

Strong City, Kan.

 We ate lunch in a restaurant in the nearest "city" (just over 400 people):

The restaurant Ad Astra, had a menu that seemed a bit pricey until my fried chicken sandwich arrived.  I ate no dinner that night.

The Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls was built in 1873:

It has a strong resemblance to the Crook Couty, Oregon Courthouse:

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

 This is a joint project of the Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service.  They have preserved as best they could a big chunk of what the prariers were like when the Europeans arrived.  In wet years, the grass could be eight feet high in summer.  This was not one of those years and we were there in  fall.  They have a bison herd.  To prevent Darwinizing:

Was there ever a cute, sweet bison cartoon character?  How do people get so stupid?

I knew that the Great Plains were not so flat you could watch your dog run away until he became a dot on the horizon, but the amount of rolling hills and tree-lined watercourses was still starling.

The rancher who got rich raising cattle and swine built an impressive house described a mix of Renaisance and Prairie Plain (a Frank Lloyd Wright variant of Arts & Crafts):  

It was a self-sufficient ranch with ice house and meat curing buildings:

Near the house was Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie.  I was waiting for Laura Ignalls Wilder to show up.

Are you enough to remember blackboards?  I am.

Cursive was slightly different.  Reading 19th century manuscript is often difficult.

I was reluctant to open the science book for what it might show compared to today.

A variety of berries grew out there such as Rocky Mountain Sumac:

Friday, November 3, 2023

Toto, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore

My wife and I just returned from a vacation in Kansas.  Weird?  We flew into Wichita to visit Monument Rocks, a chalk formation from I think Mesozoic Era and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.  We had some minor computer issues that required a visit to Best Buy (wrong charger for Rhonda's PC and wrong USB Bluetooth for the mouse) and the prospect of 4 1/2 hours each way after Best Buy opened at 10 AM was not thrilling so went to the Tallgrass Preserve instead and talked to the bison herd.  

We also toured the house of the cattle baron who made his fortune in the Flint Hills, an area too stony for farming.  Interesting combination of Renaissance and Prairie Plain architecture in limestone.  I will have pictures to post tomorrow.  

Kansas is empty and rural in a way that makes Idaho seem crowded and cosmopolitan.  Wichita is a fair sized city, about 394,000 people with a murder problem which I think explains their increasingly relaxed gun laws.  The state as a whole had a 4.9/100,000 murder rate in 2019 which is not good.  Even in towns of a few hundred people some distance from Wichita we saw bars on windows and signs about Meth Watch.

The goal was partly geological study and partly topographical.  (My wife and I have odd notions of fun.)  More tomorrow including the Osage Orange which is not an orange nor particularly edible.  The clever Midwesterners found uses for it nonetheless.

One nice aspect about wealth is not feeling like you are cheaping out on stuff that matters to your happiness as a couple.  Over the salad years, we stayed in some only so-so motels including a Motel 6 once.  Now we stay in Marriotts and Hiltons.

I remember vividly my parents renting a $10/night hotel in Flagstaff on our 1967 37 states and 4 Canadian provinces vacation.  (Seventeen days.)  It was not all that bad of a place but it was not the Holiday Inn. Or the Ramada Inn where we stayed on other nights.  (There were a few nights camping which is probably why I have never been keen on camping. For every warm memory of waking up to bacon and eggs cooking over a camp stove there were at least two others of putting up a tent in darkness at the end of a long drive.)

I think my father was a little sheepish about that crowded, not very nice motel room, but in retrospect that my parents managed to scrape together the money for the vacations we did do says that they considered the broadening experience valuable for us.  My wife's parents did one vacation as she was growing up and they were solidly middle-class.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

A Little Humor to Relieve the 'Horror

 11/23 IEEE Spectrum:

Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station is a permanent scientific research base located at what is arguably the most isolated place on Earth. During the austral summer, the station is home to about 150 scientists and support staff, but during the austral winter, that number shrinks to just 40 or so, and those people are completely isolated from the rest of the world from mid-February until late October. For eight months, the station has to survive on its own, without deliveries of food, fuel, spare parts, or anything else. Only in the most serious of medical emergencies will a plane attempt to reach the station in the winter.

While the station’s humans rotate seasonally, there are in fact four full-time residents: the South Pole Roombas. First, there was Bert, a Roomba 652, who arrived at the station in 2018 and was for a time the loneliest robot in the world. Since the station has two floors, Bert was joined by Ernie, a Roomba 690, in 2019. A second pair of Roombas, Sam and Frodo, followed soon after.

These Roombas are at the South Pole to do what Roombas do: help keep the floors clean. But for the people who call the South Pole home for months on end, it turns out that these little robots have been able to provide some much-needed distraction in a place where things stay more or less the same all of the time, and where pets, plants, and even dirt is explicitly outlawed by the Antarctic Treaty in the name of ecological preservation.

For the last year, an anonymous IT engineer has been blogging about his experiences, working first at McMurdo Station (on the Antarctic coast south of New Zealand), and later at Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, where he’s currently spending the winter as part of the station’s support staff. His blog includes mundane yet fascinating accounts of what day-to-day life is like at the South Pole, including how showering works (four minutes per person per week), where the electricity comes from (a huge amount of aviation fuel hauled over land from the coast that will power generators), and the fate of the last egg for five months (over medium with salt and pepper).

The engineer also devoted an entire post to signage at the South Pole, at the very end of which was this picture, which raised some questions for me:...

Ernie, it turns out, has had a dramatic and occasionally harrowing life at the South Pole station. After Ernie arrived in 2019 to clean one floor of the station, lore began to develop that Ernie and its partner Bert (tasked with cleaning the floor above) were “star-crossed lovers, forever separated by the impenetrable barrier of the staircase.” That quote comes from Amy Lowitz, a member of the South Pole Telescope team, who overwintered at the pole in 2016 and has spent many summers there. “I think I made that joke every year when a new group of people comes to the pole for the summer,” Lowitz tells IEEE Spectrum. “There’s only so many things to talk about, so eventually the Roombas come up in conversation.” Happily for Ernie, Lowitz says that it’s now on the same floor as Bert, with the new Roombas Sam and Frodo teaming up on the floor below.

Funny article, which those of you who have worked for startups will recognize and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Is This a Gun Problem?

10/31/23 Washington Times:

D.C. police arrested a preteen and charged the child with armed carjacking Tuesday after authorities said he was with the 13-year-old carjacker who was shot and killed by a driver last weekend.

The Washington Times asked Metropolitan Police if the armed carjacking charge meant they found a gun on the 12-year-old juvenile suspect.

MPD still hasn’t clarified if a gun was located either at the scene or if the preteen boy had a firearm.

The threat of a gun was why the off-duty federal security officer targeted in the carjacking attempt told police he shot and killed Vernard Toney Jr. in downtown Saturday night.

The officer told police that one suspect was holding his waistband as if he had a gun tucked away. 

The victim’s firearm was legally registered, police said.  

To a 13-year-old?  DC must have misunderstood Bruen very badly.


 10/31/23 Washington Times:

A whistleblower has told Congress that special agents at Homeland Security Investigations have been pulled off cases involving child traffickers and sexual exploitation and been deployed to the border to make sandwiches for illegal immigrants.

Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, revealed the allegations during a hearing Tuesday, challenging Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over whether that was a good use of highly trained agents’ time.

“We are being told to shut down investigations to go hand out sandwiches and escort migrants to the shower and sit with them while they’re in the hospital and those types of tasks,” said the whistleblower, whom Mr. Hawley described as a special agent.

This Will Be a Hard One

11/1/23 Fox News:

Police are investigating a vandalism incident that left an ice cream shop with pro-Palestinian graffiti and broken windows as a hate crime, according to the chain's Jewish owner.

"Last week, on October 25, 2023, our flagship ice cream shop in the heart of the Mission District was vandalized, badly damaged, and plastered with graffiti," Smitten Ice Cream owner Robyn Sue Fisher wrote on her company's site. "The graffiti suggests that the shop was targeted because I am Jewish, and it is currently being investigated by authorities as a hate crime."

The officers who responded to the ice cream shop's alarm found the store's windows shattered, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officer Gonee Sepulveda told Fox News in a statement. "FREE PALESTIEN [sic]" was spray-painted on the shop's window, according to Mission Local, a San Francisco-based outlet.

I am leaning towards the "Dairy is rape" crowd as the culprits.  They cannot spell Palestine.  Berkeley or Stanford?  Your pick.