sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, November 30, 2018

Modern Life

China to Japan: You're my bitch - start acting like it!

China told Japan to do as China says, not as it does. The Chinese foreign ministry said Japan’s decision to convert its aircraft carrying destroyers into aircraft carriers could effectively change the warships’ use from self-defense to military expansion, rather than a simple boost to their combat capabilities.

Current Japanese helicopter carriers - there will be more.
The ministry also warned that if Japan was bent on a military build-up, it could risk putting the recent thaw in ties between the two nations back on ice. "Japan must not forget its infamous history of invading countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region during the WWII," China's Global Times cited experts as saying in a report on the 29th.
“Making an aggressive move like this may drive the country to repeat its militaristic history.”

"By having the F-35B on its carriers, Japan will be asked to play a bigger role in the US' global military strategy to the extent that Japan might be able to deploy its troops around the world," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military analyst, told Global Times.
China’s reaction in tone and substance repeats longstanding Chinese objections to any military changes by Japan. Chinese propagandists always remind the world of Japanese conquests in World War II. 

The idea is preposterous that Japan would fail to challenge the modernization of Chinese armed forces and the commissioning of Chinese aircraft carriers in particular. Both countries need secure access to resources and to secure their territorial sea claims.

Ties between China and Japan had been restored following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Beijing in October. They seem destined to deteriorate.

Cat Blog Friday Entry 

My reaction to the Japanese decision to build aircraft carriers in response to Chinese hegemony.


Now, from the 'man's corner':


Plastic Water Bottles

If environmentalists are to protest something, disposable plastic water (and beverage) bottles might be the first thing to boycott. When I was young, they didn't exist and people drank water from drinking fountains (and survived). There were also canteens (reusable metal (later plastic) water bottles. 

California declared a war on plastic drinking straws, but compared to plastic bottles, their contribution to the detritus mass that covers the landscape, floats in the ocean and degrades over decades or longer - is NOTHING.

Yet not a peep from the environmental left. Why is that?

Yes, of course, they pick on things that they don't use for boycotts, political action, etc. Hypocritical curs.

Glass breaks, glass degrades, glass sinks, and glass is more easily recyclable.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Opinions

Democrats and the Border

They are calling soldiers at the US/Mexico Border "baby killers". What is Planned Parenthood's mission again?


Let's say that you are in Honduras (lower right hand corner of map) and you are seeking asylum in the United States. Further assume that you plan to walk, as the corrupt, elite, sly, mainstream media have asserted. Would you travel the red line or the blue line? The Hondurans chose the blue line, why?

Whale Earwax 

Interesting details HERE. Who knew?

Metropolis



Winter is Coming

(LINK HERE) The British were concerned about global warming last year. This year they are worried about global cooling.

One concern is that ad hoc raiders will attack their unarmed nation like Vikings of old, capturing maidens, treasure and everything else that they want to haul off (including delicious baked goods). I don't know if that's true but the Dallas Light Cavalry (Irregular) is said to be buying up snowmobiles and landing craft...

We contacted the DHC Regimental Horse Sergeant Major for a comment and he didn't say much except that he has legally changed his name to Ragnar. The regimental commandant is said to be buying up winter gear for a campaign in the British Isles...during summer.

The whole Game of Thrones film series will become a documentary.
Riddle me this, Al Gore.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lots of Black Holes

Following articles at Northrop Grumman NOW is an interesting pastime. I refer you to this article. The theory is that thousands of black hoes may orbit Sagittarius 1, the super massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, where we live. Understanding more about them and their existence would help us focus on gravity wave research. Understanding specifically how gravity works (string theory or maybe something else) is key to developing a unified field theory of why and how things work that would apply to the quantum world as well would advance science significantly. And so I'm going to go on a mini science rant.

Going back to August 17, 2017:
More on space aliens - below

The LIGO gravity wave observatory detected gravity waves from the collision of two neutron stars. This was quickly followed by the detection of a gamma ray burst by the Fermi space telescope, and then a host of other observations from other telescopes. This event quickly became the most heavily observed single event in astronomy. There are several good general reviews of what happened that are very accessible to the average reader (NY Times, NPR, Veritasium, and one more in depth from Phys.org.

Gold is very important in astronomy because it is very heavy and hard to make. Usually astronomers ignore the different types of elements, we are usually only concerned about hydrogen and helium. There is a joke in astronomy that the astronomer's periodic table of elements is the simplest one since they only have three elements, hydrogen, helium, and "metals". They refer to everything that is not hydrogen and helium and metals (that includes decidedly non-metallic elements like nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and neon). It keeps things simple.

When it comes to metals, astronomers are concerned with what they call metallicity, that is the relative amount of metals compared to hydrogen and helium. Because hydrogen and helium make up a combined 98% of the mass of the universe, on a cosmological scale everything else is just a rounding error. But on smaller scales (small, as in the size of a cluster of galaxies) the amount of metals becomes important. Except for a tiny amount of lithium, everything that is not hydrogen and helium was produced inside stars, one way or another.

When a star goes through its life cycle it will return a significant amount of mass back into the interstellar medium in the form of stellar winds. For a large star with an initial mass of 10-20 times the mass of the sun, the star may return 80-90% of its mass to the interstellar medium in the form of stellar winds, or a nova or even a supernova. 


While a star may start out as almost entirely hydrogen and helium when it forms, the gas that returns to the interstellar medium will be slightly enriched with metals, that is, the metallicity will go up. This enriched gas that has been returned to the interstellar medium will go on to form a second generation of stars, which will still be almost entirely hydrogen and helium, but now with a tiny fraction more of metals.

The process will repeat, and each time it does the gas will become more enriched with metals. In order to have enough metals that rocky planets such as the Earth can form the gas must go through at least 20 star formation and enrichment cycles. To date, the highest metallicity ever observed in a star is about three times the metallicity of the sun.

Because of something called the nucleon binding energy only elements up to iron can be produced in the conventional way inside of stars. Anything heavier than iron needs to be produced in another way because it is en endothermic reaction and requires huge amounts of energy. Some heavy elements are produced in supernovas but there is a subtle problem with that. While there certainly is enough energy in a supernova explosion to produce the heavier elements, most of the mass that is blown off in a supernova is hydrogen. It would take an immense amount of energy and a string of complex, and highly improbably reactions to convert that much hydrogen into elements as heavy as gold, lead and uranium.

In nuclear physics there are two processes which can produce heavier elements, named the r-process and the s-process (unimaginatively the r and s stand for rapid and slow respectively). The s-process takes less energy and a much lower neutron flux, and can happen over long time scales. In the s-process heavy elements are built up slowly one neutron at a time, and allows for neutrons to decay into protons.

The r-process requires huge amounts of energy, and a truly astronomical neutron flux. A parent element is bombarded with a huge number of neutrons to make an extremely unstable isotope. The only thing keeping it from decaying into smaller elements is the rate at which neutrons are bombarding the nucleus. While a supernova has enough energy for the r-process, there is a distinct lack of neutrons to achieve the neutron flux necessary for the r-process to take place. It does happen, just not at a high enough rate to explain the amount of gold, lead, uranium, and other really heavy elements we observe in the universe. So while normal stellar processes can explain the carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen we see, and novas and supernovas can explain the amount of aluminum, iron, nickle, and zinc we see, neither of those can explain the amount of gold, silver, lead, and uranium we see.

This is where merging neutron stars come in. In the collision there certainly is enough energy for the nucleosynthesis to take place, and because there are two massive sources of neutrons being ripped apart, the problem of meeting the minimum neutron flux is solved. But up until now we had no hard confirmation of neutron star mergers, much less finding evidence of r-process production of heavy elements. It has been suspected for years, but only with the LIGO detection and the followup observations of the nova remnant has this been confirmed. With the detection of r-process reactions in the remnant of the merger we can now conclude that almost all of the gold, uranium and other very heavy elements come from neutron star mergers.

Below is an updated periodic table of elements that shows where each element comes from. Some come from more than one source, but you can see just how many elements were detected in the neutron star merger. The purple shows elements from neutron star mergers. It is much more than gold. This is why the detected merger was so important. It showed us where many of the heavy elements came from like gold, silver, lead, platinum, iodine, bismuth, tin, uranium, and many more.

You can see it graphically represented at  the link to wikipedia here.


What really happens when black holes (not neutron stars) collide? Do they just make larger black holes or does something really exotic happen from a science perspective? The answer is that we don't know, but in the presence of thousands of black holes at the galactic center, we'll see some of them crash together. It gives us something else to look for.

The flying saucer graphic at the top of this blog post is just click bait...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Caravan Analysis


The Caravan from Honduras

Living system analysis is useful in many situations. In a living systems analysis, the caravan was a complex living system. Nothing about it looks spontaneous or unorganized. It was well financed and effective as a living system. Its ultimate purpose will not be known until the leaders and backers are identified and questioned. I reached out to friends in the office of the Mexican Secretary of Defence and offered to bring my little group to bear on answering those questions for them, operating ex-officio but with the knowledge and backing of Mexico, on their sovereign territory. I doubt that they'll go for it, but it's worth a try.

Let's talk about the living system for a moment.

The caravan emerged as a living system when it left San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras. There is a history of anti-government unrest and demonstrations in that city. 

In January, anti-government demonstrations in San Pedro Sula were disrupted by the earthquake that month in Honduras. The slow pace of reconstruction appears to be the government’s response to entrenched opposition activity and would explain a lack of jobs and prospects. 

There is a political undercurrent to the caravan that has not been reported. Honduras seems to have exported political agitators. If so, the Tegucigalpa government would have been pleased to facilitate their departure. Their hand may be in some of the funding as may cartel hands. Keep in mind that about 70% of cartel heroin is grown in Honduras (for export to the US and elsewhere). The cartels don't want to see political unrest in Honduras ruin their investment or their cash crops.

The fact that the caravan held together through the journey means that all 20 subsystems of a living system received their share of the information, matter and energy required to sustain the life of the system, the caravan. Inputs of information, matter and energy sustain life in all living systems, from amoebas to the United Nations.

The information requirement for a mobile living system is substantial. People need to be counted, identified and monitored. Special needs must be met. 

The caravan moved purposefully which means that some people were providing guidance and direction and possessed problem-solving authority and resources. No reporters pursued their identities or their motives, but those are key traits of the information processing subsystem of a living system.

It is vital for the leadership to provide information in a living system about the sources of food and water; public health and hygiene; places to camp and find entertainment; the sources of tents, toilet tissue and soap; how and where to obtain essential items and how to allocate them.

Somebody charted the route for the caravan to take and ensured it followed it. 

In terms of matter, a few reporters posted images of the lines of tractor trailer trucks that supported the movement. These apparently contained the supplies, including tents and daily necessities, needed to provide about 2,000 calories per day for each of up to 7,000 people, mostly men.

A key subsystem of a living system is waste extrusion. 7,000 people leave about 3.5 tons of waste every day.

Relative to matter, good walking shoes would be vital for making a long hike, not sneakers or flip-flops, which were common on videos. 

The most important unanswered question about matter is by whom and how was this caravan financed. Some videos showed unidentified individuals passing out cash to caravan members at road stops, but the source of the funds was never reported by open source reporters

Concerning energy, the line of tractor trailers means that access to motor fuels was as essential as food and water. It also suggests that the caravan members relied on motor transport in making the trek.

There has been a lack of responsible reporting on the caravan. One can opine that there may be no responsible reporters left in the media (entirely possible) or on the other hand, the mandarins in the media don't wish the truth to be told. Maybe it's both things, taken together? No matter how it turns out, living system analysis requires that elements of that living system be 'interrogated' to determine how it is being nourished (paid for).

I doubt that the Democrats are behind the caravan. Its arrival in conjunction with the election and with post election spending that will go to the border wall (before the new Congress is seated) does not aid their occasionally stated aim of facilitating illegal immigration to bolster their numbers in elections. It can be argued that the Democrats may have done better in the mid-term where their tepid performance could be said as a partial victory for President Trump, were it not for the caravan and President Trump's concerns about illegal immigration coming home to roost.



Divergent Thoughts

Seven Minutes of Terror?

The news feeds are awash with the Insight Lander's seven minute entry envelope and descent down onto the Martian surface. It worked, so there will not be a lot of work re-engineering on Mars 2020 (the next Mars flight). 

I expect that the drama queens at JPL don't know much about horror and moral terror, or they wouldn't have advertised this event the way that they did.

It got me thinking about what is and what is not heroic. I'm sure that the dweebs at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and I would have different definitions. Could the contraption that they build survive seven minutes without burning up or breaking? Somehow transmutes into 'heroic'. It's all in the eye of the beholder. 

There was a situation many years ago when I was standing on a beach/shingle and things went horribly wrong beyond the surf line. I jumped in the water, swam out, and saved the situation and supplies that were due on shore. While it was in no way heroic, the medical officer and other ranks ashore thought so. None of them were combat swimmers. They recommended me for a gong/Navy Commendation Medal, and I told my CO what happened, and explained that it didn't warrant a medal. He agreed. "You just swam out there, fetched the overboard boatswain, boarded the craft and brought it through the surf." That was it. Not heroic. Just a swim in very cold water. 

I've seen things that I felt were heroic and through my lens, they were superhuman and self sacrificing. John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this..." sort of heroic. It makes the terror that the dweebs at their consoles feel look sort of anemic. But that's our modern world. Everybody knows the names of the championship ball team players, but nobody knows the names of service men and women who die every day in service of their nation.

Can you Have Too Many Cinnamon Rolls?

My granddaughter, Olivia Rose (age 2), would tell you, "no". She was apprehended inflagrante delicto, absconding with her AND sister's rolls.

It may be a defective gene, passed down.

I have the same reaction every time that I pass a Cinnabon retail outlet. That I don't act on it the way that Olivia, who I call "Livvie", did is a function of culture and age.

Should Livvie be punished? Who could? 

Sometimes I Ask Myself

What were Vikings really like? We know that the Nordic people went Viking as raiders before the last mini-ice age. Will the Norwegians take to the seas again and raid the English coast again as the ice sheet connects the to Britain in the coming ice age? Some of you might ask 'why'. I ask 'why not'?
During the period 1645–1715, in the middle of the Little Ice Age, there was a period of low solar activity known as the Maunder Minimum. The Spörer Minimum has also been identified with a significant cooling period between 1460 and 1550.
___________________ 

My friend, John D. (posts here as "Valuism"), from Norway, comments: "What matters is the sun and the Milankovitch cycles. The average time span in between the ice ages, small or big is 10k and we are heading towards the next one." 
John D. has not yet commented on any plans to raid the English, but if he does, I think that I'm in.  John, the English people have disarmed, and it should be easy to take what we want. They have even turned in their pocket knives. I'm sure that they don't guard their military bases for the same reason that they want an unarmed population - somebody might get hurt. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Surf Report


The Jaws surfing competition at Pe'ahi, Maui was called today because the waves were too big. After it exceeded a 50' face all of the big wave surfers were getting hurt. It's a long damned drop on a thin, maneuvering triple fin board. Even with a goofy foot in the crew, nobody split the curl in two directions. Those sorts of wave sets are not for the feint of heart.

Tomorrow it's the Van's competition at Sunset Beach, where the waves may get nearly as insane at the Maui waves. 

So what do you do when the surfing competition is called for the day?

bacon cheeseburger in paradise
Maui onion rings
Making do as best I can.

The Prisoner (commentary)


I'm lounging on an island and that brought to mind The Village on The Island, and the old series, "The Prisoner" (1968), a seventeen episode series starring Patrick McGoohan.

In the series, a British case officer/spy quit and the Brits tossed him into the Village to try and figure out why...and to determine if he "knew too much". The standard gripes common to people who leave the service were never fully explored. 

He was #6 (but didn't like the number for some reason) and kept wanting to know who #1 was. The #2's were assigned to break him and everyone who failed left the show and were replaced by a "New Two"). Every time he ran, The Rover, a large bouncing ball/soap bubble went after him, sucked him inside of it, and deposited him back in the Village.

#6, the Prisoner, wasn't the only one in the village but he seemed to be the only one who counted.

AMC aired a re-make episode in 2009, but it didn't do well enough for a re-made series to come of it. I always thought that re-making The Prisoner should include elements of Bay Watch if you want to get the viewership interested. There were no women in the Village who could entice The Prisoner (in the series). Then again, he was never faced with the Bay Watch cuties, was he? If you wanted to keep our friend CW, from the Daily Timewaster blog on the island, she'd have to be a freckle faced redhead.

So there you are. It's on Netflix if you want to review episodes.

I don't think that I'm a prisoner in The Village on The Island. Then again, I haven't tried to run, invoking pursuit by a large soap bubble.

I'm content to crack open the I-Pad and read from the Kindle. In years past, I hauled paper books and they were heavy. The I-Pad is lighter and contains all of the Jim Curtis classics, should I wish to re-read them yet again. He's threatening to release another edition of Rimworld, but I haven't seen it yet. If Curtis doesn't get the novel into the cue, I have some other science fiction to read:

Fallen Dragon, by Peter F. Hamilton
Thin Air, by Richard K. Morgan
Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky
Nelf Rings, Mervyn Miller
The Murderbot Diaries (series) by Martha Wells
Ancillary (series) by Ann Leckie

The Caravan

If the British could come up with a giant bouncing ball/soap bubble that sucked up fleeing people in the 1960's, the US should be able to come up with something similar to handle the vagaries of the Border Wall in 2018/2019. Of course we'd need more than one. It would send a message wouldn't it?
Juan and Maria splash across the Rio Grande just to be swallowed in a cool bit of Yankee tech and spit back out on the other side, still wet from the intended crossing. 
I'm sure that DRJIM and SIGREAYBEARD (who haunt this blog from time to time) could come up with something between them that would deal with the issue in a creative way. LSP could bless each giant soap bubble (invoking the Almighty) to find success.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday Sermonette


While I'm in the air on my way to Hawaii, I wanted to share this with you. Courage such as this needs to be recalled from time to time, because such men did exist.

"Jumpin' Joe" Beyrle (right) was an American paratrooper who also served in the Soviet Red Army. He might qualify as one of many ultimate 'wild men' in US military's history.

After being assigned to OSS and being captured during clandestine missions with the French resistance, he made seven escape attempts and was sent to an Eastern camp, from which he also escaped. 

Jumpin' Joe managed to link up with Captain Aleksandra Samusenko's 1st Battalion of the 1st Tank Guards (read more about her here), greeting the famous female commander with a pack of Lucky Strikes that he received in the camp as part of his Red Cross Package before his escape.

He was allowed to serve in the battalion as a machine-gunner aboard a T-34 until he was injured in a dive-bombing run and evacuated to Moscow. There, he was awarded medals for heroism by Marshal Georgy Zhukov and discovered that he was listed as KIA by the United States Army. 

His uniform had been used by a German infiltration unit months previously, the wearer killed by a landmine and rendered unidentifiable. He returned home in April of 1945, and in 1994 was decorated by both Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin at the 50th D-Day anniversary ceremony. 

He passed away in 2004. RIP

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Political Polemic

If it sounds like I'm on a bit of a rant, I am.

Freedom is dangerous. If you don't believe me, ask the mandarins at Facebook or Twitter. Your unregulated actions may cause harm to yourself and others. A generally unenlightened public is voting for politicians who promise ever-increasing protections against harm, to regulate guns, food, and speech. The rules on what one may and may not say change regularly as norms of political correctness ebb and flow. Naturally those norms also change from tribe to tribe as the progressive left works to isolate people in their own balkanized culture. Thus what a black/negro/African person may say about black people to others has different limits than what a Hispanic or Asian person may say about the same black people, to others. Social appropriation holds that a white person shouldn't drive-through a Taco Bell and order food because they are somehow demeaning Mexicans by their actions. Non-Italians who choose to eat pizzas are not condemned in the same way nor are Asians who stop somewhere for a hamburger. The social finger of condemnation is very fickle and unpredictable.
The US long ago chose freedom over safety; as Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” 
He should have been more specific — small liberties have been given up one by one, so that now most citizens could be prosecuted for some violation. The lack of enforcement of laws and regulations on the wealthiest and high-level machine politicians leads to cynicism and acceptance of lawlessness at the highest levels of government, while at the same time everyday life is more and more micromanaged by busybodies who want to control how others live.

Guillotine

The French Revolution had its governing Committee of Public Safety. Notice the language — no longer focused on protecting the citizens from hostile external powers, but policing safety — that is, finding enemies both internal and external. These ideologues came to a bad end as the revolutionaries were, one by one, found to be “problematic” and executed in service of the higher goal of perfecting and protecting the new State. The modern and humane guillotine made quick work of disposing of anyone who got in the way of Progress. 

The Mob, the sans-culottes who could reliably rounded up on the streets of Paris to put muscle behind the Reign of Terror, were the power base of the factional leaders in the struggle to control the day-zero government which would overthrow all vested interests and rethink all customs. Today’s equivalent is the Twitter mob, ready to condemn, disemploy and socially disembowel anyone accused of harming a member of an oppressed class. But it is far easier in social media than it used to be in the physical world to destroy reputations and end careers. And the gusto with which the Twitter mob sentences its targets to punishments is related to the selective empathy employed — instead of recognizing each human being as an individual with goals and emotions that can be understood, targets are dehumanized and abstracted. 

The killing fields of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge government are arguably the most horrific example of a real-world pogrom in recent history. The daughter of Cambodian genocide survivor, discussing the deaths of any who disagreed with the communists, was recently censored by Facebook. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cutting for Sign

The Mexican Border with the United States on both sides, but more particularly on the American side, is covered with trash. (more HERE from Lagniappe's Lair) The trash and human detritus is left behind by millions of illegal aliens who cross the border illegally every year.

You shouldn't be surprised to find the trash because they treat our country in very much the same way as they treated the various countries that they are leaving. 

Most are in search of jobs, some are hauling drugs, some are freeloaders in line for the many financial rewards available (particularly in California) for the newly arrived wetbacks/illegal aliens/undocumented guests/Democrat voters. Only in California are the illegals invited to vote early and often. You don't need any ID to register to vote in the Golden State, only a name (not necessarily yours) - one or many names, all OK in CA. To accommodate homeless voters, you no longer need an address. How can a nation function with rules like that? It can't, but don't worry. The coming Ice Age may force all these illegals south again...
(LINK - house.gov) There is considerable damage done to the environment according to the US Dept. of the Interior. "National parks and forests have been turned into personal landfills for illegal border crossers, etc."

If you take your short wheel base/high clearance vehicle down to the Southern Border you are likely to see signs like this one (left). You'll be encouraged by the sign and by the Border Patrol to use public lands north of I-8, because the area south of that is a sort of no-man's land.

Cutting for Sign when tracking illegal aliens is a difficult proposition for US Government employees involved in securing the border from those aliens. There is so much trash and there are so many illegal aliens crossing, that tracking one alien or a specific group of aliens is challenging.

The question of why this has been allowed to exists is a complicated one. The Democrats want more illegal alien voters and many Republican Party supporters want inexpensive labor for their farms, factories and ranches. I submit to you that both parties have dirty hands where this situation is involved. We owe a lot to President Trump, who has taken flack from his own party as well as the donkeys for wanting a wall and effective border enforcement. The caravan waves that we see on the Southern Border are in large part due to conflicting messages sent out by liberals in America.

Should we close the US Mexico Border? Maybe it will come to that. But it will certainly impact the economies of the border areas. Hundreds of thousands of people who work legally in the US cross the border every day to go to work. It's less expensive to live on the Mexico side and "border crossing cards or so-called Laser Visas" are used to expedite crossing. Lawful agricultural products from Mexico would rot on their side of the border and you would note that the produce you're accustomed to seeing on your market shelves wouldn't be there.

We need an effective barrier, a wall. We need more immigration prosecutors and judges to EXPEDITE all legal situations within 30 days for each wetback/illegal alien/undocumented guest, and we need to expand the US Border Patrol's numbers. Essentially putting an army at the border.
Meanwhile in California - Gov. Jerry Brown has set aside an extra $15 million in the state budget to expand legal defense for people battling deportation. This brings the total of the state government’s financial aid for those in the country illegally to approximately $33 million. There is considerably more focus on saving illegal alien voters in CA than there is fighting wild fires.

Cat Friday


For those of you who suggested that I post a Cat Friday blog, here it is.

When I was up at the White Wolf Mine last weekend, there was a bobcat (which I named "Bob" - but it might be a Roberta) on the driveway near the front door when I drove up. I fumbled with my phone to get a picture, and Bob posed for me, but I stopped and just enjoyed nature rather than taking the photo. There will be time for photos in the future.

Domestic cats don't have much of a future up in the high country, but we have other predators to keep the rodents in check, and you don't have to worry about feeding them. They're fine on their own.

Thanksgiving (aftermath)

My oldest daughter has a photography business and she always sends out photos like this (left) of her boys/three of my grandsons.

I'm thankful for family.

And friends become "family" don't they?

Therefore, by extension, I am thankful for those of you who drop by this blog.

Take a couple laps today to work off the dinner, the pie, the ice cream, the cake, and so forth. Left overs are usually pretty good, so get the work out in before you turn to the remnants of turkey, and stuffing for breakfast, in a skillet with a couple fried eggs on top.

Things may be different when the new ice age sets in. A few extra pounds and a layer of blubber may become the fashion, so don't get too obsessed with the work out. Sit back, have a cup of egg nog and think on that.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Sermonette

In Honor of the Day

Thankfulness is important. Humility is important. A sumptuous meal followed by football and then a nap is critical to surviving the day intact. Only after the nap do I usually start on desert. Is that selfish of me? Yes, but I'm thankful all the same. In the event that you need an excuse for gorging, bolting down your dinner, 2019 is the year of the pig.  Celebrating early is acceptable. It's still the Year of the Dog through February of the coming year. After your food coma subsides, you can do it doggy style with the one you love in honor of the year - as if this blog's readers needed any encouragement. That sort of sagely advice will always be available here, at Virtual Mirage. You're welcome.

Conspiracy Theory

I was quasi-jumped with some weird conspiracy theory stuff and it made me want to blog about it. 

(1) Most of the illegal aliens among us are not from beyond Earth.

(2) Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that they're NOT out to get you.

(3) Rule of Thumb - Nobody is that well organized. The US Government can't keep a secret. The so-called "black sites" where enhanced interrogations took place outside of the US after 9/11 were among the most closely guarded secrets in the nation (right up there with the alien bodies at Area 51 that were frozen and preserved after they landed at Roswell, NM). People couldn't hold their mud for 4 years. Then it was out. There is no big evil State that can keep its shit wired together long enough to pull off a decent conspiracy. There is no corporate plan to enslave humanity. There are a bunch of conflicting interests making a mess everywhere they go. There are the drunks that hang out at the country club with JEB!, and the drunk witches and warlocks who hang out with Hillary, plotting and planning and it looks like a conspiracy. But Hillary couldn't get elected even when the fix was in. Barack couldn't keep control of the legislature after his first two years in office. 

So if they're master conspirators, they're incompetent. Barack did succeed in selling many millions of firearms and billions of rounds of ammunition into private hands. There are always unintended consequences. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Heading into an Early Weekend

The Back Yard

I was up at the White Wolf Mine and they're still not finished with it, but they should be, once I'm back from Hawaii. The photo (right) is a panoramic view taken from the deck. The evergreens are ever-green even in winter while the brush and grass has lost its vibrant colors. 

Things happen in the larger world while the Arizona Highlands let it pass without comment. One change in the world is set forth below:

The Rise of the Mangina

Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) has decided to stop hosting The Vagina Monologues because it excludes some women…such as females who don’t have vaginas. Since copyright laws won’t allow them to change the dialogue, the school has chosen to get rid of it.

Bruce Jenner became woman of the year, with his courting tackle intact, demonstrating that you can be a famous women while retaining your male parts. Now the Vagina Monologues, a program where women stand in front of a group of people and discuss their lady parts - is ending. As it should. Suggesting that women have female genitalia is inherently sexist.

Ok, enough of that. Who cares about lady boys really?

Other things popped up for the weekend.

The Crisis

I received a telephone call from a friend while I was on the road yesterday. "LL, I need your help with a problem:"

LL - Your problem or somebody else's?

R - Somebody else's.

LL - It is Thanksgiving week.

R - I know.

LL - I don't do anything illegal.

R - I know.

LL - What's the problem?

R - A lady is in custody in Tijuana, Mexico, and we need her out.

LL - Why is that my problem.....(tick tock)..... What are the charges? You realize that the border is a mess with the caravans arriving from the interior, and the US has temporarily closed some border crossings.

R - It's an illegal immigration issue - into Mexico. She's in custody and the Mexican officials are trying to extort cash, slapping her in the face and denying soap. It's what they do.

(I don't do immigration issues, but this thing is a can of worms) I can get her made a Mexican permanent resident quickly if that's what it takes, but this situation transcends that.

LL - How much are they willing to pay me?

R - (Quotes a ridiculously high fee + expenses) And they want her out before Thanksgiving. 

LL - For that much, I'm in.

A person is flying into San Diego tonight on a Gulfstream with cash. I get paid up front. So much for the holiday weekend coming up - and maybe Hawaii, following. You see, cash is the universal lubricant. Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Mexico and this problem is a big old mess, that stretches ACROSS the border. I'll be working on the long weekend before I leave for Hawaii.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Big Long Rock from WAY Out There


In November 2017, scientists pointed NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope toward the object known as 'Oumuamua -- the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system. The infrared Spitzer was one of many telescopes pointed at 'Oumuamua in the weeks after its discovery that October.

The new size limit is consistent with the findings of a research paper published earlier this year, which suggested that outgassing was responsible for the slight changes in 'Oumuamua's speed and direction as it was tracked last year: The authors of that paper conclude the expelled gas acted like a small thruster gently pushing the object. That determination was dependent on 'Oumuamua being relatively smaller than typical solar system comets. (The conclusion that 'Oumuamua experienced outgassing suggested that it was composed of frozen gases, similar to a comet.)
"'Oumuamua has been full of surprises from day one, so we were eager to see what Spitzer might show," said David Trilling, lead author on the new study and a professor of astronomy at Northern Arizona University. "The fact that 'Oumuamua was too small for Spitzer to detect is actually a very valuable result."
'Oumuamua was first detected by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii (the object's name is a Hawaiian word meaning "visitor from afar arriving first"), in October 2017 while the telescope was surveying for near-Earth asteroids. The fact that the name may remind you of a US Presidency with a different density is only circumstantial...

Subsequent detailed observations conducted by multiple ground-based telescopes and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope detected the sunlight reflected off 'Oumuamua's surface. Large variations in the object's brightness suggested that 'Oumuamua is highly elongated and probably less than half a mile (2,600 feet, or 800 meters) in its longest dimension.

But Spitzer tracks asteroids and comets using the infrared energy, or heat, that they radiate, which can provide more specific information about an object's size than optical observations of reflected sunlight alone would.

The new study suggests that 'Oumuamua may be up to 10 times more reflective than the comets that reside in our solar system -- a surprising result, according to the paper's authors. Because infrared light is largely heat radiation produced by "warm" objects, it can be used to determine the temperature of a comet or asteroid; in turn, this can be used to determine the reflectivity of the object's surface -- what scientists call albedo. Just as a dark T-shirt in sunlight heats up more quickly than a light one, an object with low reflectivity retains more heat than an object with high reflectivity. So a lower temperature means a higher albedo.

A comet's albedo can change throughout its lifetime. When it passes close to the Sun, a comet's ice warms and turns directly into a gas, sweeping dust and dirt off the comet's surface and revealing more reflective ice.

'Oumuamua had been traveling through interstellar space for millions of years, far from any star that could refresh its surface. But it may have had its surface refreshed through such "outgassing" when it made an extremely close approach to our Sun, a little more than five weeks before it was discovered. In addition to sweeping away dust and dirt, some of the released gas may have covered the surface of 'Oumuamua with a reflective coat of ice and snow -- a phenomenon that's also been observed in comets in our solar system.

'Oumuamua is on its way out of our solar system -- almost as far from the Sun as Saturn's orbit -- and is well beyond the reach of any existing telescopes.
"Usually, if we get a measurement from a comet that's kind of weird, we go back and measure it again until we understand what we're seeing," said Davide Farnocchia, of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at JPL and a coauthor on both papers. "But this one is gone forever; we probably know as much about it as we're ever going to know."

The Mortal Republic (book review)

Aspects of our modern politics reminded University of California San Diego historian Edward Watts of the last century of the Roman Republic, roughly 130 B.C. to 27 B.C. That’s why he took a fresh look at the period in his new book, Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny. Watts chronicles the ways the republic, with a population once devoted to national service and personal honor, was torn to shreds by growing wealth inequality, partisan gridlock, political violence and pandering politicians, and argues that the people of Rome chose to let their democracy die by not protecting their political institutions, eventually turning to the perceived stability of an emperor instead of facing the continued violence of an unstable and degraded republic. Political messaging during the 2018 midterm elections hinged on many of these exact topics.

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. (Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Constitution owes a huge debt to ancient Rome. The Founding Fathers were well-versed in Greek and Roman History. Leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison read the historian Polybius, who laid out one of the clearest descriptions of the Roman Republic’s constitution, where representatives of various factions and social classes checked the power of the elites and the power of the mob. It’s not surprising that in the United States’ nascent years, comparisons to ancient Rome were common. When President George Washington lay down his mantle and returned to his farm, it was reminiscent (to him and to us) of the noble Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus. To this day, Rome, whose 482-year-long Republic, bookended by several hundred years of monarchy and 1,500 years of imperial rule, is still the longest the world has seen.

Though he does not directly compare and contrast Rome with the United States, Watts says that what took place in Rome is a lesson for all modern republics. “Above all else, the Roman Republic teaches the citizens of its modern descendants the incredible dangers that come along with condoning political obstruction and courting political violence,” he writes. “Roman history could not more clearly show that, when citizens look away as their leaders engage in these corrosive behaviors, their republic is in mortal danger.”

Historians are cautious when trying to apply lessons from one unique culture to another, and the differences between the modern United States and Rome are immense. Rome was an Iron-Age city-state with a government-sponsored religion that at times made decisions by looking at the entrails of sheep. Romans had a rigid class system, relied on slave labor and had a tolerance for everyday violence that is genuinely horrifying. Then again, other aspects of the Roman Republic feel rather familiar.

Is the book worth reading? It depends on what you're looking for. It's not a comic book. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Controlling Firearms

Many say that Barack Hussein Obama was the greatest firearm salesman that the nation has ever known. I think that he was. There is a pretender to the throne, though. Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a smug, self serving, pimp of a man, whose photo appears in the dictionary under the word "cur" is trying to take the crown from Prez. Hussein. I don't think he will succeed because he's pretty much a mouse, squeaking on a garbage heap.

He suggested on Twitter that the government could use nuclear weapons on its own people if they don’t submit to gun confiscation. John Cardillo of Newsmax tweeted an article about Swalwell and gun control and set up a war between keyboard commandos.

Cardillo responded to Swalwell (D-CA)
"And it would be a short war my friend."

Swalwell (D-CA typed

"Don’t be so dramatic. You claiming you need a gun to protect yourself against the government is ludicrous."

etc.

There was a long twitter chain with others chiming in and you can go to twitter and look at it all for yourself.  I wasn't going to blog about it, but I'm on the road, and I'm tired, and, well, it was one of those things.

Hazing Oligarchs

Reference this article and Executive Order 13661

I'm not getting soft and weepy over Russian oligarchs, who are apparently hated by the US Government. The articles offer an explanation of why individuals were targeted personally and individually by our government.
Russia is a regional power with a lot of nuclear weapons, 9 time zones long, and it freezes solid during winter months (they've been hoping for the miracle of global warming that has yet to deliver them from permafrost). Their gross national product is far less than that of California - somewhere around the GNP of the State of Texas. Their population is decreasing and they pay white women (Great Russians) to have more children, stay home, and raise them (it's considered to be racist in the USA).  
Is there a compelling reason why Russia was said to have been colluding with President Trump in the US Presidential election in 2016? There has been no proof of collusion, though some Russians were convicted in absentia for "meddling". The Russians meddle in our elections and we meddle in theirs.  We've been doing that since the FIRST Russian Revolution. Even though it's shocking to some that they did it, USGOV hasn't commented on what we've done to them. The only reason that it's news is that the news media wants to use it as a cudgel to beat up on President Trump.

To show our displeasure at all things Russia (politically correct today - not politically correct during the Cold War. Explain that one to me.), we cut people off from the world economy because we're the big dog and they aren't. It doesn't matter to people who live from paycheck to paycheck, but it does to people who have money. Since the golden rule is "the man with the gold rules", it's judged to be fair. But is it?

There are two lists, one is public and the other is classified (double secret probation). Neither list includes the Clintons, who had extensive financial dealings with Russia while she was Secretary of State, including the yet-to-be-fully-investigatigated Uranium One scandal. The FBI says they're on it. Don't hold your breath. There is a long list of other American companies and billionaires such as Presidential hopeful (for 2020) Michael Bloomberg. File that one under "All pigs are equal but some are more equal than others".

If we're going to haze oligarchs, the Clintons need to be on the list.

The Russians are in a position to be helpful to the US regarding China - a much larger threat. Why do we treat China so gingerly? They lay down a lot more grease in the halls of Congress than Russia does. When you consider that a lot of that cheddar finds its origin in the US - they're bribing us with our own money...figure that one out.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Update

As we count down the days to Thanksgiving, there's a lot to be thankful for in the USA. Despite the problems we have at home, there are machinations elsewhere that rarely if ever are reported in the news. Here's a brief wrap.

North Korea

On 15 November, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a “Revolutionary Activity Report” entitled, “Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Supervises Newly Developed Tactical Weapon Test.”
“Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, visited the test ground of the Academy of Defence Science and supervised a newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon test.” 
“After seeing the power of the tactical weapon, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was so excited to say that another great work was done by the defence scientists and munitions industrial workers to increase the defence capability of the country and the weapon system whose development Chairman Kim Jong Il had chosen personally and directed step by step with his special attention paid to it was born at last.” 
“He added that the weapon is just like a posthumous weapon and he missed Kim Jong Il very much while seeing the great success of its test.” 
“Kim Jong Un highly praised the officials, scientists, technicians and munitions industrial workers for successfully conducting the test of an ultramodern tactical weapon, to which the Party has attached importance in ardent expectation.” 
“He expressed great satisfaction, saying the great success serves as another striking demonstration of the validity of the Party policy of prioritizing defence science and technology and the rapidly developing defence capability of the country and as a decisive turn in bolstering the fighting capacity of the Korean People's Army.”
This is the first time Kim has visited a weapons test site since the ballistic missile test a year ago this month, on 28 November 2017. The timing is a reminder that North Korean weapons development continues as usual. North Korea has made no commitment to reduce its conventional weapons research, testing or production.

No open sources reported the nature of the ‘ultramodern weapon.” The KCNA report states that the weapon was first developed under the direction and guidance of the late Kim Chong-il, to whom Kim Jong Un pays filial tribute. 

One of the major conventional weapons developments during Kim Chong-il’s tenure was the expansion of long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

The list of officials accompanying Kim includes rocket expert Ri Pyong Chol and the commander of the Artillery Command, Colonel General Pak Jong Chon. Their inclusion suggests the weapons involves both technologies. North Korea has rocket -assisted artillery shells but is not known to have precision artillery weapons.

Following two threats to resume the byungjin policy of parallel development of nuclear weapons and socialist economic construction, Kim’s guidance visit is a deliberate provocation to get American attention. It sends the message that the warnings are serious. 

North Korea is waiting for the US to respond to its feel-good overtures by relaxing sanctions. Kim’s best American-handlers know that the use of a weapons test to get US attention is likely to backfire. Kim apparently wants to convey the tough guy image.

Kim’s patience has run out. He just signaled that he can walk away from the dialogue with the US. 

The KCNA article mentioned that the “ultramodern weapon” is a tactical weapon. It did not state who is the enemy in this new era of peace and reconciliation. The adjective “tactical” means the weapon is to be used for warfighting on the Korean Peninsula. That makes South Korea and US forces in South Korea the intended targets.

One strong inference is that the mission of the Korean People’s Army is unchanged. It clearly continues to receive resources to improve its capabilities to accomplish its mission, which is to unite Korea by force. 

South China Sea

On 15 November, the South China Morning Post reported that two US aircraft carrier strike groups with 12,600 personnel are conducting “complex”,” high-end” warfare drills in the Philippine Sea in a show of force and commitment to the region at a time when China is increasing its military maneuvers, the US Navy said on Thursday. 
The Commander of the US 7th Fleet said, “The increased presence of two carrier strike groups in the region highlights the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As it has for decades, the U.S. Navy will continue to provide security in ways that promote regional stability and prosperity."
Philippine President Duterte said that China already is in possession of the South China Sea and wondered why the US was stirring up trouble.

This is the ultimate form of communication about freedom of navigation. The Chinese acknowledge the capabilities of the US Navy but are not deterred by them in defending Chinese claims to sovereignty.

Afghanistan

On 14 November, Taliban forces attacked police outposts in three districts of Farah Province. Members of the Farah provincial council said that up to 40 security force members have been killed and 60 others surrendered to the Taliban during the fighting in three districts in the province.

The Afghan security forces in Farah said more than 40 Taliban fighters were killed in the province in this time. 

In Charsadah District of Ghor Province, situation reports state that the district was under Taliban control for a month. On the 11th, relief forces reached Charsadah and recovered control of the district, killing nine Taliban fighters.

Tolo News reported on the 15th, “Security forces are facing equipment and food shortages in the district. Yesterday there was a fierce battle. Although there is no war now, the situation is still not back to normal,” said Abdul Hamid Natiqi, a member of Ghor provincial council.

Even in remote districts, Taliban groups are defeating local government garrisons. In Farah Province, the Taliban appear to have coordinated the timing of their attacks in order to complicated government relief decisions. 

Normally, the security situation in Ghor Province is dominated by tribal feuds among local warlords. The Taliban increased attacks in October to disrupt the elections. Apparently, they sustained the effort so as to take control of Charsadah District.

Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition has ordered a halt in its offensive to liberate Hodeidah. Fighting and air attacks have almost stopped.

A Houthi spokesman said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are attempting to deflect international pressure. The Houthi official denied a ceasefire was in effect.

The Houthi accusation is accurate. The lull is in response to recent US and European pressure to end the civil war. 

Until the coalition forces capture Hodeidah, peace talks have no chance of success. The US pressure at this point won't help much of anything and it won't normalize the situation into a post-war type environment. The humanitarian crisis will continue.

Syria

Islamist fighters continue operations from the Idlib demilitarized zone. On 14 November, the head of the Russian center for reconciliation, Lieutenant General Savchenko, told reporters that militants have shelled the outskirts of Aleppo four times in the prior 24 hours from the Idlib de-escalation zone.

He said the shelling killed two Syrian soldiers and wounded one civilian.

Libya

On 14 November, fighting flared in Tripoli. Barricades and armed militias from Tarhuna appeared near Tripoli international airport after the arrival of delegations from the Palermo conference on Libya. 

One of the combatants was the Seventh Brigade - the rebel militia that lead fighting in September that caused nearly 120 deaths and over 400 wounded. The other primary combatant was the Abu Salim Central Security Forces brigade. This group supports Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj.

On 15 November, mediators restored the ceasefire.

The 7th Brigade apparently was protesting the failure of the Palermo conference to replace militia units in Tripoli with regular military units, of which the 7th claims to be one.

The Palermo conference was supposed to make progress in disarming militias and in Libyan reconstruction. The major agreement was to consolidate oil revenue in a single central bank to prevent militias from siphoning off the wealth. The crisis in Libya won't end anytime soon. It's part of the damage caused by the "Arab Spring" that Barack and Hillary were so proud of.