Thursday, December 28, 2023

40 years of computing

The first computer I got new, was a Commodore 64.

I'd got a couple of malfunctioning hand me down TRS-80s (from a client of my grandfather's that couldn't get anyone to fix them properly, so they just replaced them, and my grandfather then gave them to me) that I got sort of working before I had the C64, but I consider the C64 my first real computer. 

Though I had played around a little bit with the TRS-80, the C64 was the first fully functional computer I owned, the first I really learned, and the first programming language I learned was Commodore basic on the C64. 

It was also the first computer I got commercial software for (a game, "The Search for the Most Amazing Thing" which I still remember quite well... It was a good game too), or any peripherals for (we started with a printer, and a monitor, and then later bought a datasette, and a disk drive, and were gifted a modem).

As it happens, that was exactly 40 years ago, this past Monday... Christmas of 1983. 

I started learning Commodore basic from the manuals the next day. By the end of the week I was keying in games for it from the back of computer magazines. 

So... Yeah... You could say this week is my 40th anniversary of really working with, and learning, and programming computers. Wow... Weird to think about it in those terms.

I don't think I've been without a computer ever since... Going from the C64, to a C128, to a used Atari ST given to me by a friend, to one of the Apple 2c clones ( a Laser 128), to an apple IIGS that was technically a friends, but he didn't know how to use it so I did... that was around 1986 I think? Maybe 1987?

My first online service access was CompuServe, after getting gifted a modem for my birthday in 1984. 

I also got access to the Internet and to UNIX the first time in either 1985 or 1986, I can't remember exactly... But it was through the state gifted children's accelerated education program, and local universities offering dialpad access... I remember the server was a leftover PDP-11/780 that had been replaced with a VAX, so they had made it available to students to use. 

Then my first MS-DOS PC, a Kaypro 2000 I got second hand from an uncle... Which I think was in '89, at which point it was already 3 or 4 years old... But I also had access to a bunch of tandy 1000s at the school computer lab.
At some point we got a generic 386, with one of the first versions of windows.... I seem to remember the name being "Redline PC" or something similar, but I may have that wrong. It had a turbo button, that usually caused it to glitch if you pressed it while running, I do remember that. 

In 1991 I first started being paid to work with computers, setting up and networking computers for local lawyers and doctors offices, starting with my own grandfather's office, then getting referrals to his friends and clients.... Beginning my now almost 35 year career in information technology. 

Then beginning in '93... 30 years ago this past August... College exploded my horizons into IBM, SGI, DEC, and Sun Unix machines... All of which I would then work on regularly until Linux basically completely displaced them from the enterprise market about a decade ago... Pretty much exactly 20 years, from 1993 to 2013... 

The PC I first got for college in 1993, was a 486... I think it was a dx2 66mhz... But it was defective, and thankfully I had bought the deluxe 3 year upgraded warranty and service package...  After several warranty replacements over the course of a full year (I think I had the thing fully replaced 4 times in a year) in fall of '94 they just upgraded me to an entirely new model; one of the early pentium machines, with windows... 
Which is also when I first started working with Linux... Beginning with Slackware in 1994, installed from downloaded floppy images...(I had tried getting Linux working in fall of '93 but never got it working right), and I've been working with it personally and professionally ever since. I was also working with BSD at a local ISP as a side job as an Internet installer, tech support and assistant admin (eventually I was the primary admin). 

Then  I started working NT and 95, both of which I got academic copies of, through my college... And the replacement Pentium died within a year as well, and they gave me a final replacement in... I think it was early '96? But anyway remember that I got several times my monies worth, as by then the PC that I had originally bought as a 486, had been upgraded multiple times to, I think it was a Pentium 166mhz MMX at that point ? Or maybe the earlier non mmx? I can't remember clearly. 

So... Yeah... I've had computers of one kind of another the entire 40 years since Christmas of '83... And an unbroken line of x86 machines since '93... Wow...

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Overrated, and Underrated, WW2 Fighters

Some controversial positions about fighter aircraft of WW2. 

The P51 mustang is amazingly great... And yet is still amazingly overrated compared to almost every other major fighter of WW2.

The P38 is rated about right... Great but significant issues. The early model variants are a bit overrated, the later vsriants a bit underrated, overall that balances out.

The ME109/BF109 is also generally rated about right compared to allied fighters... Pretty good but with significant flaws. Better than the hurricane, not as good as the spitfire, but with much more range and staying power. Totally outclassed by the P38, p47, and P51, somewhat better than the P39 and P40, but only because it had a great engine. 

HOWEVER... the ME109/BF109 is MASSIVELY overrated when compared to what may be the most underrated fighter of the war, the FW190... Especially the later versionsthe FW190 was the best fighter of the war, period. Yes, better than the P51... 

The problem was the German lack of high quality high octane fuel. When given the same fuel and with it's engines and induction operated to the limits of that fuel, the FW190 absolutely TROUNCES the Mustang. Add in the nitromethane and nitrous systems, and water injection system, that were fitted to some late war FW190s, and you get the fastest prop fighter of the war... Even against the sea fury, bearcat etc... The very late war superprop fighters that never saw much if any action.

The P47 is also vastly underrated... Again, the late war variants, with the big tanks and big drop tanks, and with the turbo systems operated to their limit as they did in the late pacific war, and the '47 was also a mustang beater... Longer range, just as fast, and with more firepower. 

In terms of naval fighters... The F4U Corsair is also amazingly great... And yet still amazingly overrated, just like the Mustang is... In largely the same ways, and for the same reasons of mystique and mythology. 

It was a GREAT aircraft, but it had a lot of issues, it was a maintenance hog, it was EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE, and it was incredibly unforgiving to fly, with a deserved reputation as a killer of inexperienced pilots. 

Both the F4F wildcat and F6F hellcat are vastly underrated... not because they're amazing, but. Because they have an undeservedly bad reputation. 

The F4F is largely regarded as hopelessly outclassed by the zero, which it wasn't... Once the pilots figured out the best way to fight the zero, the wildcat was only moderately outclassed, and the hellcat was basically at parity with the zero... It was better in some ways, worse in others, but overall the quality of American pilots gave it an edge, unless it was caught in a badly disadvantaged position. 

However... It's entirely possible that the Bell P39 Airacobra/P63 King Cobra, and the Curtis P40 Warhawk/Tomahawk/Kittyhawk, are the most underrated fighters of the war. 

Again, not because they were better than ANY of the other aircraft mentioned in this post, because they're not (except maybe the Wildcat)... But they're widely considered to be utter crap...while in reality, they are both VERY GOOD aircraft. 

In fact, as operated by the Brits/ANZAC/Commonwealth, Russians, and Chinese, they performed AMAZINGLY well; and are among the most admired and beloved aircraft of the war, by said ANZACs, Russians and Chinese. 

Both were let down by their engines... they used the same basic engine model, but the P39 used a special variant to allow for the cannon firing through the prop hub... Specifically their forced induction systems/lack thereof, and secondarily, their oxygen systems. 

This gave them poor high altitude performance, which was critical over western Europe... thus the bad reputation (which by the way, was the same reputation of the early mustangs, for the same reasons). However for medium and low altitude use, both aircraft were excellent... And most of the air combat in the Russian and Chinese theaters was at medium or low altitude... Thus, the Brit (who did most of their Pacific flying in China), Russians, and Chinese LOVE them. 

They were incredibly tough, generally very reliable outside of problems with the early variants  (except in the humid Pacific island theater, and the frozen Siberian theater... NOTHING was reliable in those environments), had good firepower (especially on their cannon armed variants... The P39/P63s had BIG medicine in their main 37mm cannon, which the Soviets loved especially, and many of the P40 variants had 20mm cannons, which vastly outperformed the ganged .50 cals common to most of the other fighters mentioned here).

Critically, especially in the P40s case, they were MUCH MUCH CHEAPER than the P38, P47, P51, and the three major naval fighters, the F4F wildcat/F6F hellcat, or the F4U Corsair... Which meant the British/ANZACs, the Russians, and the Chinese could actually afford them in HUGE numbers. 

... And then Allison upgraded the C series engines in both aircraft (and in the early P38s and early model.mustangs) to the F series, with MUCH higher power and much improved forced induction (though they still didn't go to compound or turbo compound induction, which meant they still performed best at 15,000 feet and below)...

At which point, the P39/P63 and P40 became almost entirely new, and much improved aircraft (as did the P38 once they made the L series counterrotating versions for it... At which point the P38 stopped being slightly overrated, and became slightly underrated). 

In fact that was the single biggest improvement that separated the P39 from the P63... They're almost the same aircraft, but with many small improvements, a slight increase in size in all dimensions, and the MAJOR powerplant improvement; making the P63 the near equal, or even the equal, of almost anything in the sky; if operated properly, to it's strengths. 

The early P40s certainly had major issues, but the P40 ended up the third most produced allied fighter of the war (behind the P51 and P47) almost all of them going to the British/ANZACs, the Russians, and the Chinese, and almost all of them the later, higher powered variant, with the better induction and oxygen systems... Many of them armed with 2x and some even 4x 20mm cannon. 

...and they performed MAGNIFICENTLY.... 

First, they absolutely wrecked both the Germans and the Japanese in their respective African, Russian, Chinese, and south pacific/ANZAC/malay theaters, with some Soviet or Chinese pilots racking up kills in the high double digits or possibly even low triple digits (depending on who you believe).

But just as important, both the P40 and the P39/P63 were OUTSTANDING ground attack aircraft. They did more damage to the Germans and Japanese on the ground, than any other allied fighters. The Soviets especially LOVED the giant freaking cannon on the P39/P63.

And again... CHEAP and TOUGH... Which means LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM. 

They made a hell of a lot of difference in the war, as exceptionally effective weapons systems... They just weren't good high altitude fighters, which is how the bomber types judged the utility and quality of a fighter aircraft.... How were they as bomber escorts. Just because they were not good bomber escorts, does not mean they were bad fighters, or bad aircraft. 

... Thus, the most underrated fighters of the war...

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Not Paranoid... Just Prepared

"Oh, why do you carry guns and knives and tools and so much stuff... Are you paranoid?"

No... I'm not paranoid... I'm PREPARED.

Yes, I was a boy scout, and yes I absolutely believe in the motto "Be Prepared"... Mentally, physically, and materially. 

Not just for criminal assault... I try to be prepared for whatever may happen in my life, to the extent I can be. You may not need a weapon or tool or medication etc... Often... But when you need them, you REALLY need them.

... And I need them more urgently, and more often,  than most others.... In many cases a hell of a LOT more... 

I am a long term cancer patient with other serious medical issues. I am significantly disabled. I work on or with cars, motorcycles, electronics gear, and computers a lot... And these things break a fair bit, and I'm dependent on them. In fact, I'm a lot more dependent on what I call my "support infrastructure" than others, which means I both need more of it than others, and I need to have it closer to me and easier to get to than others. When things actually do break, I have a greater need to fix things, faster, than others. 

... And then there's more specific risks and potential dangers... 

I live in a physically very hostile and unforgiving environment... A very hot desert in summer, and a surprisingly cold desert in winter... But always a desert;  where it's very easy to get into a remote area a long way, or a long time, from help.

I also live in an area where home invasion and kidnap for ransom are popular among Mexican and Salvadoran gangs; where we have fairly serious meth and opiate problem; as well as a serious problem with mentally ill and/or substance abusing homeless people. 

Just as an example, a few days ago, what appeared to be a homeless tweaker decided to try walking in my front door.

Because Im seriously ill, and significantly mobility disabled, I may look like an easy target to a stupid, tweaked, jonesing, or mentally ill assailant.

Also because of my illness and disability, I carry up to a weeks worth of opiates, adderall, and other controlled substances on my person at all times (and at times, as much as three weeks worth, more on that below), and may have up to a 90 day supply in my house. And again, accordingly may be seen as an easy, and high value target. 

And again, because of my illness and disability, I have a very high risk of... And in fact several times have needed to be... Hospitalized, without any warning or notice. At any moment I may be stuck somewhere far away from home for days or even weeks. 

Thus, I do my best to be prepared.

I sleep with a defensive AR carbine (and a bunch of mags in a handy package)  about 12 inches from my head, with a defensive carry pistol and 2 reloads next to that, and another one... My pocket gun... about 24 inches from my right hand. 

As it happens, I sleep, work, play, and watch TV all in the same spot all day (yay cancer), so I have three ready defensive firearms within easy reach at all times.

If I have even soft shorts or pants on... anything more than my boxer briefs... I have at the very least my pocket carry gun on me. If I'm wearing any pants heavier than dress slacks, or I have my bailout bag...

...(I don't leave the house without a cross body bailout bag. As noted I am seriously ill and disabled, and I may easily end up suddenly and unexpectedly hospitalized, or otherwise unable to get home for a few days. I also sometimes take long car trips or motorcycle rides that have me far away from easy help or rescue, and I'm not physically capable of hiking out of anywhere. I have to be able to last until someone can come get me out. 

Accordingly, I carry at least 3 days worth of my meds, and up to 7 days worth normally... If necessary , I can easily expand that to up to 3 weeks worth {I take more than 20 pills daily, plus several injections. If I don't take some of them for a few days, I can easily go into a coma or otherwise have to be hospitalized, or I may even die}, my med test kits and accessories {glucosimeter, strips, and lancet; plus my continuous glucose monitor, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure cuff}; a blowout, trauma, and first aid kit; CA superglue, some paracord and a couple of carabineers and clips, and some ranger bands and small bungees, along with a basic "survival kit"; a multi tool and a small but fairly comprehensive tool kit; two very powerful but small flashlights, and a second pocket knife or compact utility razor blade knife {or both. Two is one and one is none}, plus at least two different ways to make fire {usually a classic zippo, plus a modern electronic plasma torch lighter, and a firestarter set in the survival kit}; a sharpy and a pen, a small notepad, various replacement batteries, a large USB battery bank and various cables and chargers; and I usually have a Kindle and an iPad, a headphone amp and some in ear monitor headphones, a set of wireless earbuds, sometimes a handheld ham radio and spare battery etc... 

Oh and molle loops where I can hang other pouches on the outside of the bag, including straps/bottle carriers for up to two 32 or 48 oz nalgene water bottles. I usually just carry one, usually in my off hand (though I could have up to three if I use the bottle carriers, I usually don't)... Because I live in a desert, I need to take pills a lot, and my meds both make me sweat a lot, and give me dry mouth... And hitting someone upside the head with a 48oz water bottle is a pretty handy emergency backup self defense method, to give yourself time and space enough to get a more effective defensive weapon into play. I also walk with a cane, which again, is a good tool to get time and distance to better respond to a situation)... 

... Then I probably have my primary defensive carry gun with me as well. Either in a holster on my belt, or in a holster in a hidden compartment in my bag specifically designed for a holster; along with two reloads. 

... (Yes, I absolutely strongly prefer on body carry, but I have to go into and out of a lot of doctors offices, hospitals, medical testing centers, and other non-permissive environments etc... I have to take my clothes off a lot, or to wear clothes without metal etc... for medical exams and tests. I carry in the bag for that, rather than on the body, so I can either keep the gun in the bag, in sight and in hands reach at all times, or easily lock the bag with the carry gun in secure storage in my car, or in a secure locker etc...)... 

... I think you get the picture...

Yes, if it sounds like all of that weighs a lot, it does... About 12 pounds not including the water, and then if I carry three nalgene jugs, another up to 9 pounds of water.

... But everything I carry... EVERY SINGLE ONE of the things I carry... Is something that I have absolutely needed, several times. Often something I badly needed but didn't have. I don't carry any of it just to have it. I carry it because there's a decent chance I'll need it, and if don't have it when I need it, I could be in serious trouble, up to and including dying. 

I absolutely AM at a much higher risk than others, and my responses are much more limited than others, so I have to think about, prepare for, and give myself the tools, to have better response options than others. 

When it comes to potential criminal assault...  I'm too crippled to run away, so standing and fighting back is my only option. I'm damn sure prepared to do so if I have to.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Best Beef Per Buck

Did you know, that if you just need a whole crap ton of actually pretty good beef burger, you can order a McDonalds double quarter pounder... With or without cheese or toppings... As up to a QUADRUPLE quarter pounder?

Is it cheap? Not exactly... It's like $11 or $12 with tax at my nearest McDs

BUT it's probably the cheapest way to get a full pound of fresh, never frozen, and well seasoned beef, in the shortest time. 

If you didn't know, a few years ago, McDonalds MASSIVELY upgraded the beef on the quarter pounder. Since 2018, in the U.S., the quarter pounder has been made on special griddles, with fresh never frozen beef, with no preservatives, and no other ingredients in the patty, except a shake on seasoning applied to the burger while grilling; with salt, black pepper, and a small amount of "other seasoning", which I think is a tiny bit of paprika, and a tiny bit of garlic powder (not enough to taste on its own, but just a little bit as part of the overall flavor). 

Also, it's now actually 4.25oz of beef precooked, which cooks down to appx 3oz... But Quarter pounder plus quarter ouncer, isn't exactly a good name for a burger. 

It really is fresh never frozen beef, that's well seasoned, and properly cooked to a medium well... They have an entirely separate grill and cooking process, and separate meat and supply chain, just for the quarter pounder... At least if the McDs you're ordering from is any good... Just like any chain, some stores are better than others. 

I mean... A double quarter pounder with cheese is up to $7 around here , and as high as $10 or $11 in some places (or even more in like, an airport), and it's between $2.20 and $3.00 for each extra 1/4 pound patty, depending on where you are again. Because yay inflation.

So as I said above, it's not exactly cheap, but I think it's a great deal. $12 for a full pound of actually decent beef, in an actually decent, well cooked burger. And you can have just the beef, beef and cheese, and if you want to bring it out with pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, bacon... Even jalapenos and nacho cheese sauce... Thats like $2 more. 

Basically, everything you get when you order a TGIMcFridayChiliBees double cheeseburger, only more meat, and served in like, 4 minutes, for like, $6 less. Or if you want fries and a large drink too, that's like $16 plus tax, vs. like $24 plus tax, AND tip, so like $8 less, and like 15 minutes less time. 

It's a great way to protein load... Or if you're a normal human who weighs less than 220 lbs and doesn't need 96 grams of protein at a time... To get multiple meals worth of burger at once (I don't eat the buns).

Saturday, August 05, 2023

The OTHER all time aviation genius

Most aviation enthusiasts, and probably most military history enthusiasts, and a lot of engineers and other geeks, know who Kelly Johnson was, and what the Lockheed "skunkworks" were.

It's a shame... almost a crime against aviation history... but I'd wager most of those same people have no idea who Ed Heinemann was.

What Kelly Johnson was for Lockheed, and the Air Force; Ed Heinemann was for Douglas, and the Navy.

Heinemann took over as Chief Engineer for Douglas in 1936, and shared duties as Chief Designer with Arthur Raymond ( the designer of the DC3, who had been chief engineer before Heinemann); leaving Raymond to focus primarily on large transport aircraft, and Heinemann to focus primarily on small and medium military aircraft... Fighters, attack planes, and light bombers.

His first aircraft as Chief Engineer for Douglas was the SBD Dauntless (which Heinemann had begun at Northrop, before Douglas took them over), and he went on to be the Chief Designer of all the Douglas fighters, light and medium bombers, and attack aircraft, not just for WW2, but for the next 25 years.

Those included the Invader, the Havoc, the Skyraider, the Skyhawk... and really, about half the aircraft the navy flew for about 40 years.

In his long and accomplished career, he was chief designer for more than 40 aircraft (including more than 20 combat aircraft), and contributed to the designs of many more; including most Douglas aircraft designs between 1936 and 1960 (and many Northrop designs, which shared engineering resources with Douglas).

After leaving Douglas, he became the Chief Engineer, Vice President of engineering, and director of new aircraft development, at General  Dynamics; contributing to most GD aircraft designed between 1962 and 1976.

After a full 50 year career designing aircraft, Heinemann retired in 1976; his last major role having been to head the development of the F16 at General Dynamics.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Metallica... The Last 32 Years...

Metallica... The last 32 years...

Christ it's hard to believe it's been that long since the black album. I remember buying it and listening to it the first time, quite well. 

Anyway... A friend posted the question, what is the best song that Metallica has released AFTER 1991... And while I do have an answer for that, I wanted to really dig into it more than just flatly stating one song. Because I think most people... Even most people who still consider themselves huge Metallica fans (which I absolutely am)... Just skip over a LOT of material, that's actually not bad, or is even good, and is certainly worth including in your playlists.

One thing I find I always have to say during discussions about post '91 Metallica... "Load"  and "Reload" are actually a lot better than people remember. They're not great, they aren't even solidly into "good" territory, but they aren't awful either; maybe "not good", but not awful...and most people seem to remember them as being actually awful.

There are a few genuinely good songs, and a couple actual very good to great songs (or at least their live versions, as they play them currently... Which in some cases are VERY different, and much better, than the original album cuts)

The biggest problem... with a lot, maybe most of, their post '91 output actually, not just "load"  and "reload"... Is that most of the tracks should have been about 1/3 shorter... There's a bunch of just screwing around that doesn't add to the song, on a LOT of tracks.

And just to reinforce that, they still regularly play "Fuel", "King Nothing", and "The Memory Remains", in most of their live sets.... And play them MUCH faster, and much more aggressively than the album cuts. 

I'm excluding S&M, because it's not original studio releases... Otherwise half of S&M would be the top half dozen they've released post '91, simply because they're among the best songs Metallica has ever released, from all their albums to that point, compiled. It's not a fair or valid comparison. 

"St. Anger" is almost all hot garbage... I don't think there's any question, it's the worst album Metallica have ever released...but they still play "Frantic" regularly live. Personally, I don't like the album version that much, but their live version ain't bad. It's definitely hard rocking thrash at least (which you can't really say about anything from "Load" or "Reload").

I can't stand the "Death Magnetic" release mix, or the drum sound generally, but if you download the properly mixed version they licensed for "Rock Band" it's actually decent. Again, not great, but on balance, I'd say it's a good album overall. Also again, most of the songs are too long without good reason, and could probably be cut by a third and be a lot tighter, more focused, and generally better. 

Tightening the whole album up, might even have made it into a very good, or great album... Or maybe not... It would certainly be well into the good territory at least. 

"Cyanide", and "All Nightmare Long" are solid tracks (though once again, ANL is too long and needs more focus)... And "Cyanide"  is still in a lot of their live sets. Again, both live versions are better than the album tracks, because they're played faster and more aggressively, and with way more feel and energy. 

"That Was Your Life" would be good if it were judiciously trimmed. At 7:08, it meanders too much, not enough focus. A tight 4:30 to 5 minute version would just be concentrated classic thrash. "My Apocalypse" is only 5:08, but at a little under 4 minutes would absolutely thrash hard, and I think be very good to maybe even great. 

Also, I really WANT to like "The Day That Never Comes", but again, it needs to be trimmed and focused. As it is, it's mediocre at best 

So, I'm not ready to render an opinion about "72 seasons" yet, or even any particular tracks from it. 

So far I've only listened to the album straight through once, and have only played a few tracks any more than that. It's going to take me at least a few months and a few dozen listens to really "get" the album and it's songs. 

Now, we are finally back to what I consider to be at least a very good album... Maybe not truly great, when compared to their best...but very good at least, and the best original studio album they've released post '91 for sure... "Hardwired to Self Destruct"... 

I know it's been 7 years... which really it doesn't feel like it's been that long .. the last few years have really screwed with my sense of time... but I feel like I'm going to need a few more years of sitting with it and appreciating it to decide whether I think it's a genuinely great album or not... But it's at least very good. 

"Hardwired", pretty damned good, straight thrash like they haven't released since "Ride the Lightning", and their best title track since "... Justice...". 

"Atlas, Rise" feels a LOT like their attempt to do an Iron Maiden song... It doesn't QUITE work, but I still like it a lot. 

"Halo on Fire", I dunno, it's like... It feels like it shouldn't be as good as it is, but when I think about it, I always find myself liking it way more than I expect to. That said, at 8:05, its the first song on hardwired that I think would be better if it were significantly trimmed. I think it would definitely be much better, maybe even great, at around 6 minutes or maybe even less.

"Confusion" is a solid good to maybe very good. Not great, but really good. It's quite reminiscent of some of the songs on the last really good "Deep Purple" album, 1993s "The Battle Rages On" (also the last album recorded with the Mk II lineup). Actually, several songs from the album have a lot of that "harder end of Deep Purple" feel, which I really like. I also noted a lot of similar feel with the Testament album from the same year, "Brotherhood of the Snake" (when I first heard the track "The Pale King", I actually thought it WAS Metallica for a minute)... Which again, I think is a good thing. 

"Man Unkind" is the first song off the album that I think isn't at least good. It's like... Bits and pieces of the song are good in isolation, but as a whole the whole, it just falls apart and doesn't work at all. 

"Here comes Revenge" is... It's kinda "generic Metallica song" that could have been from any year of the 80s... Which means it's at least good. Nothing original or outstanding about it, but it's decent straight ahead classic Metallica. I find myself thinking again, that if the song were 4-5 minutes instead of 7, it would have been much better.

"Am I Savage" isn't GREAT, but it's got a cool, kinda funky, almost Pantera like groove to it, that I like... I'd call it good based on that. 

"Murder One" has a solid kinda "God that Failed" feel to it, which I dig, and again I'll call it good, based on that feel. Not great, not original, just solidly into the "good" category. 

"Spit Out the Bone"... Straight up, '83-'89 style thrash. Blistering galloping rhythm and riffage. It's this albums "Whiplash"... Very good, almost great, and genuinely great live (they're a bit looser on this song live... It's got more feel and energy and breathing room to it). 

And finally... To answer the original question... 

I skipped over it, because it's my final answer as it were...

"Moth into Flame", is actually just straight up a great song, period. 5:50 of straight high speed, pounding and driving, yet still nicely melodic, thrash metal...

...Best song on the album, and that's saying something, because there's not much on the album that isn't at least good, with several tracks very good to great... 

...And as far as I reckon it, the best song they've released after 1991.

Monday, May 01, 2023

"It's just normal"

I was talking about how hard it can be to get people to understand that yes, really, they actually are being racist, when they just don't think of themselves in that way at all... 

...Their idea of racism being the KKK or similar, and since that's just not them at all 8n their minds, they think "I'm not racist"... 

Even though they may say ignorantly and casually racist things, and believe ignorant racist stereotypes, etc... Because they grew up withmost people around them saying the same things, thinking the same things... And they just think that's normal, not RACIST... They're good people, and only bad people are racist right? 

... There's really a whole hell of a lot of folks like that... In fact, almost everyone has some of it unconsciously in their head somewhere... That's true whether you're white, black, puce or magenta... 

As it happens, my family presents a particularly interesting historical example. 

My Grandfather, was actually the attorney who represented the community group from south Boston, in their legal efforts to stop forced bussing of public school kids in Boston, for purposes of better racially integrating Boston public schools (which a court had determined were effectively racially segregated). 

He didn't think of himself as racist in any way. And in fact, he didn't consider being anti-bussing to be a racist position; though he acknowledged that there certainly was a lot of racism from that side of the issue.

He considered it a matter of parents choosing the environment and neighborhood they wanted to raise their kids in, and often chose those based on the quality of schools in their neighborhood. Then, some lefty judge was sticking his nose where it didn't belong, and taking kids out of their community, and sticking them on busses for up to 4 hours a day, to some school far from where they lived... Both black and white... And that it was harmful to the kids... Both black and white... 

... All of which was absolutely true... It WAS harmful to the kids, both black and white... and it was taking kids and acting against their parents choices, by force, by some crusading dogooder lefty judge, who happened to live in a very rich all white town, and sent his own kids to private school. 

... But it was also true that Boston public schools were effectively segregated, as in fact most neighborhoods of Boston were effectively segregated... 

... Which my grandfather acknowledged... He just believed it was wrong to do harm to the kids, and taking control away from their parents... in the name of addressing racial inequity.

Oh... And the folks in that community group trying to stop bussing? Almost 100% democrats, as was my grandfather. He even held several elective offices as a Democrat all the way up until 1976 (he ran a primary challenge against Ted Kennedy for Senate, and was destroyed 86% to 14%, and never ran for anything else again. Oh and his father had been a street level democratic politician as well. A Boston selectman, and one of the Democratic party delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 1912. He actually cast the Massachusetts delegations nomination vote for Woodrow Wilson). 

He didn't actively consciously hate black people, or consider blacks inferior to whites...

... And he really had a lot of good reasons why he believed he wasn't racist... 

He was born in 1931, in the worst white neighborhood in Boston... which at the time was actually much worse than the worst black neighborhood in Boston... as a first generation American. Dirt poor, but damn smart, and hard working.

He ended up getting a special full scholarship from the Catholic archdiocese of Boston, to Brandeis University, to be in their first graduating class... Brandeis of course having been explicitly founded as a university that would not discriminate against Jews or people of color.

 The archdiocese funded two competitive academic scholarships, one for a Catholic boy, and one for a Catholic girl, to be part of the first graduating class; as a gesture of ecumenical goodwill. My Grandfather won the boys scholarship. 

He went to college at a religious and racially integrated, co-ed university, specifically founded on the principles of non-descrimination. Had no issue being students with, and even friends with, black students. Made some lifelong friends there who were black. 

He then served in the newly re-integrated army, towards the end of the Korean war... Had no issue serving with black men, and again made several lifelong black friends while serving. 

He then put himself through grad school, nights, while working two jobs; one as a probation officer, and the other as a municipal road repair crew supervisor.... I honestly have no idea how he slept... But he had no problem working with black folks on probation, or in the road crew.

He got a master's in math, and a secondary certificate in education, and became a high school math teacher for Boston public schools, in Roxbury, where he taught mostly black students... And again, he had no issues teaching and relating with black students and their parents.

He then went back to night school for his JD, while teaching math during the day... and became an attorney. Many of his clients were black, and he never had any problems representing them.

He genuinely believed that he wasn't racist at all... 

But when one of his daughters tried dating a black guy, he went into a blind rage, and beat the hell out of her...

...(he was also drunk at the time... My Grandfather was the most loving, generous, kind, gentle man... When he was sober. He was also an alcoholic, and when he was not sober, he was often violently abusive. He had been a competitive boxer in high school, college, and the army. He knew how to deliver a beating, and just as an example, had broken most of my ribs by the time I was 13... When I finally got to be so big, strong, and well trained, that I could stop him from doing so ever again)... 

To his dying day, in 1996 at age 65, if you asked him, he would absolutely say that he wasn't racist... And actually believe he was telling the truth..

Except that he had a thousand little things, little ways, that he was, all the time, without even thinking about it. Using slurs against blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc... Just as the normal word he would use to talk about them. 

Making derogatory statements like "oh that's just how the" [insert whatever slur name for whatever group here] "are. You know they all" [insert derogatory stereotype here].

Getting angry at the thought of his daughter dating a black man, or Hispanic, or Asian or.. anybody but a white guy, preferably catholic. Or "God forbid" marrying one, or having a baby with one etc... Etc... 

... Not that I need to tell you ... You know exactly what I mean, obviously, you've lived it... 

Unconscious and casual racism was just, normal to him. It's how almost everyone around him was, for most of his life. He never thought about it. 

If he HAD truly examined himself in that way... I think he would have been able to change. It would have been hard, but he was a man who did hard things when he needed to. I'm sure he would have tried... And he would still have failed because a lifetime of ingrained habits is pretty hard to change, and it's somewhere between extremely hard and impossible,  to always consciously examine all those reflexive unconscious things and change them. But I think he would have done a lot better. Because he didn't want to be racist, and he specifically did want to not be racist, whenever he actually did think about it (I tried having discussions with him about it several times when I was a teenager, and he would casually say something really racist... Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't). 

... But there's no denying, he was unconsciously and casually racist, all the time... It was just normal to him, and to almost everyone around him, for most of his life.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Some pain never goes away... it just comes less often

Jesus Christ... If you have ever had someone you love hit with early onset adult dementia, or had someone you love die in a nursing home during COVID, do NOT watch the 2021 Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham film "Help"... Unless you WANT to feel all of that again, all at once, for some insane reason.

I managed... I don't know, 1/4 of it? maybe less? before I couldn't watch anymore (the scene where Grahams character Tony, wanders off out of the care home, and is found... And what he says in that scene... I  broke down and couldn't watch any more). 

Maybe watching that on my birthday wasn't the greatest idea... Because it's those days, that you want to share with them, that are the hardest after they're gone... But honestly, I think it would have hit me as hard no matter what. One line in particular just... Gutted me completely... It's been more than 11 years since my mother died, and I think even in another 11 years it would gut me again just as bad. I shut it off an hour ago, and I'm still tearing up every few minutes. 

The film won Jodie Comer her second BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscars and Emmys combined), and Stephen Graham his EIGHTH ...yes, 8th... BAFTA nomination (without a win... Which is I believe the acting record), and for good reason. Their performances are... Absolutely devastating is the only way I can describe them. The film as a whole was nominated for best drama BAFTA, and won the international Emmy for best film... It's incredibly well done... The writing, the performances, the production values... Couldn't be better if they tried.

 ...But as the son of a mother who started experiencing dementia episodes at age 47 (the same age as Stephen Grahams character in the film), until she died, less than 9 years later, at just 55... It's too painful for me to watch.

Friday, February 17, 2023

... The Faculty Council has Decreed it to Be So...

The thing you have to remember about the left, is that they do not live in the same universe as the non left... Their fictional reality construct simply superficially overlaps with ours... at least in their heads..

The mainstream left, are collectivist paternalistis down to their very core... 

The faculty council has decreed that the sky is tangerine, therefore the sky is tangerine. 

Being collectivist paternalists, they literally cannot conceive of a world where individuals are competent to make their own decisions, about their own lives, without society having a veto... or in fact a right of review and refusal for any and all behavior period. In their universe, someone is always in charge, and always has the power to make and enforce the decisions and dictates of society.

... or at least there SHOULD be...

The rules are set by the good and smart people who are in charge, and if you follow them you will be properly rewarded, and if you don't follow them you will be properly punished,, all as decided by the people in charge. 

The wages will be set, and the prices will be decided on, and if it isn't fair, well, then the people in charge have the power to fix it and change it. If they don't, it must be because they've been corrupted by the special interests, and are rigging the system for the bad guys.

Because the sky is tangerine... The faculty council says so. 

The left live in a world consisting of repeated games of "mother may I", where some grand overseer must give their approval, and the operative question is always "who told you that you were allowed to do that?".

In fact we can simplify this construct... In their fundamental conception of reality, everything is forbidden, unless specifically allowed by "society", where someone is always in charge, and run jjng the game, and setting the rules, and deciding who wins and who loses and what the rules are... and this is called freedom. 

In their universe, "rights" are created and granted by society, through the state, and they mean whatever society decides they mean, which is subject to change any time society decides. Their world is one where the universe is owned and conrolled by "society" and society has to approve of your choices and behavior before they are allowed. 

Essentially opposite to actual reality... which makes their insistence that they are the only people who ACTUALLY want and provide freedom and rights for the individual... 

... I would say tragically and absurdly amusing...

... but honestly... The amusement fades very quickly, leaving only the tragic parodies of "freedom", and "rights,; wherein we are all nothing but serfs, bound involuntarily to a semi-autonomous collective, the rulers of which decide what we are allowed to do, what we are allowed to be... the basic freedoms and constraints on our lives.... all decided on by the people in charge... 

Which is why it's so important that THE RIGHT PEOPLE absolutely MUST be put in charge, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY... so that way, THE RIGHT PEOPLE can make sure that the game is fair and everyone gets what they deserve, and no-one goes hungry, and everyone makes a living wage... all because THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN CHARGE decree it to be so. 

If it doesn't work out ffhat way, then it simply MUST be, because THE WRONG PEOPLE are I charge, and theyre rigging the game for their cronies and the special interests... 

Remember... They live in a world where the sky is colored tangerine, because the people in charge say so... 

As if this level of control were actually possible... 

Society (in fact, all notional collective constructs are...,but society is the overarching construct of the colllectivists, within which all other constructs must exist) is an illusion... a useful and convenient fictional social construct. It has no more extant substance than any other ephemeral notion passing through any individuals head. It gains form, shape, and power... pseudo-existence,  and the superficial trappings of substance.. from the individuals within it, from which it has no separate existence, and no rights, privileges, or powers not delegated to it by those individuals...

... Though in the leftist conception, it then arrogates to itself ALL powers, privileges, rights, and other things, which it then controls, manages, and distributes as it sees fit, according to the rules of the game, and run for the benefit of the people...

... because tangerine sky, remember?

I can prove to you that society is a collective illusory construct in one paragraph:

Without individuals, there is no society... yet without society, there are still individuals. Society is nothing but a construct of their choices and actions, granting notional existence through the force of collective belief, and collective choice.  It exists nowhere but in the minds of those interacting with it. 

Sadly, this does not mean that society can be whatever we choose it to be... It is still limited by the fundamental nature, and the constraints which lie upon, the individuals that make it up... It can have no powers beyond those of the individuals within it. 

... that is... inconvenient... for the left, as their notions of society require it to have perfect information, perfect reason, and  perfect monopoly over the legitimate use of collective force....

..Which of course, society does not, and can not have, because no individuals have these powers, thus no collective composed of such individuals could have any capacity for such powers, approaching anything near to perfection.... nor any other capacity of such scope and dominion, across all knowledge, skills, attributes, and powers.

As such, in order to preserve the illusion, the left pretends that all they wish reality to be, is either already achieved, or will be, as soon as those stopping it from happening, get out of the way, or are defeated.

Any who challenge these absurd fictions must be first dismissed, then destroyed... because the left are fully committed to the notion, that so long as society BELIEVES something to be right and true and good; this automatically makes it so.

It only takes a few who refuse to play along... or who wish to expose specifically the fundamental impossibility of the social constructs they wish to impose, the powers they do not have. The outcomes they cannot possibly achieve... for their collective counterfactual fantasy construct to collapse.... because no, we don't live on a planet with a tangerine sky... no matter that the faculty council decree it is so. 

There is no better man, evolved and perfected through society... there is no perfect system, driven by perfect information and perfect reason, and there cannot be. Thus, utopian ideals and the constructs they create according to them, always and inevitably must fail.... surely as any castle with its foundation set in shifting sand, must inevitably crack and collapse.

Much as Stalin could never acknowledge the inevitable failure of his five year plans...the left can never acknowledge the failure in their own reason...

.... The ideas and the plans and the constructs MUST be sucessful.. they must, because the faculty council  has decreed that reality is this way and works this way, and because their ideas are good and right, and must be imposed on all .

They must be, because all good people in society believe in them... and because all good people believe them, all people who believe thrm are food... only those who are bad dont believe them, and everyone who does not believe them is bad... ignore the circularity, tautology is perfect argument after all right? There are no flaws, therefore it is perfect and true... all according to the will of the collective and the dictates of the faculty council. 

...if their notions fail it can't possibly be because theyre impossible or stupid... all good people believe in them and insist they must work, therefore that is reality... society has dictated it. If there are failure, it must be because the bad tninkers... The ones who are against the rules of the faculty cohncil... are actively preventing the inevitable success of the superior and more enlightened plan...

... After all... all good and right thinking people believe it to be true... It must be true... right?

... and I MUST be good, and justified, and enlightened, because I believe what all good and right people believe, as dictated by the faculty council... 

...The sky is tangerine... 

...the faculty council has decreed it to be so...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

When all you know is the talking points....

Any time someone starts shouting about the NRA buying people off, or shilling for the gun industry, I know they're an ignorant and lazy fool, simply parroting a party line fed to them by someone else. 

First, the NRA is not an industry lobby, it is a membership organization, acting in the interests of it's 5 million members...  

There IS a "gun industry" lobbying organization, it's called the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the NSSF), and they do a very good job of lobbying for the shooting sports industry as a whole... but they don't actually spend much money doing so, relative to the size of the firearms industry as a whole, or relative to other industry lobbying groups... all of which are utterly dwarfed by the public sector and union lobbies.

The NRA (including the NRA-ILA) is entirely funded by small contributions from it's membership (currently standing at appx. 5 million members), of under $1,000 each. There is no "gun industry money"... if there were it would have to be disclosed, and the FEC filings show nothing at all.

And as far as the "NRA money", the NRA isn't even in the top 500 donors to Republicans or Democrats most years... in fact taken together, individuals and political organizations and lobbyists explicitly advocating for and supporting gun control, give more than 100 times as much money to Democrats and the Democratic party, as the NRA and NSSF combined give to BOTH parties and their candidates combined.

The average donation the NRA gives to any specific candidate or officeholder is just $2,000 per year. 

For the 2016 federal election cycle the NRA and all its affiliates was 488th in donations to parties or candidates... donating just  $1.1 million dollars total for all 470-ish federal races in 2016, with their single largest donation to any candidate being $9,900... and 159th in money spent on lobbying for or against issues or candidates, at just about $3.2 million TOTAL for all federal issues, legislation, or candidates.

Just as a comparison, ONE SINGLE INDIVIDUAL whose primary cause is gun control, donated more to anti-gun activities... $36 million in 2016... including contributions to congressmen and senators, and spends more on anti-gun lobbying every year, than the entire NRA and all its affiliates.... And the Democratic party has a couple dozen of these individual megadonors, and a couple hundred "bundlers" who bundle up anti-gun money. from individuals every year. Another one of their individual megadonors spent 78 million... Though he has TWO issues, climate change and gun control, not just the one. 

The average member of congress.. both house and senate... spends about $2 million a year on campaigning and other partisan political costs. The $9,900 they get from the NRA isn't what sways their votes... it's the FIVE MILLION NRA members who call their offices several times a year, or send letters, postcards, and emails... 

...The NRA sends a lot of postcards and emails to it's members, asking them to call their congressman or senator, about specific issues and legislation... I get several emails a week and a few mailings every month... even the occasional phone call... 

The NRA gives FAR less money total each year, than just as an example, the national dairy farmers association, the national realtor association,  or pretty much any industry lobby...never mind the unions which dwarf all industry lobbies COMBINED... why? 

Because, ONCE AGAIN, the NRA is not an industry lobbying group, it's a membership organization promoting proficiency and safety in the shooting sports. The vast majority of the NRAs money... about 80%... goes to it's actual core mission of promoting firearms proficiency and safety. About 5% goes towards fundraising.

The specific legislative action arm, the NRA-ILA accounts for less than 15% of the NRAs spending annually. The NRA-ILA, gives less in TEN YEARS than any of the top 100 donor groups give in a single year... And again, they don't lobby for the firearms industry, they lobby for individual rights. 

The NRA-ILA lobby for laws and regulations, federally, and in all fifty states, which respect and protect the fundamental, inherent, and pre-existing, individual right to keep and bear arms, for all lawful purposes. 

That's not the NRAs language by the way, it's the constitution's, and the supreme court's. Read DC v. Heller if you're confused.

Oh and by the by, the NRA are non-partisan, and historically speaking, in any given year, about 15-20% of their contributions go to Democrats. Which they actually catch hell for from conservative NRA members who tend to forget that we need pro-gun Democrats as well as Republicans. Though in 2016 it was unsual... They only opposed 2 republicans and only supported 11 democrats. 

Since anyone ranting about the NRA can't even be bothered to find out the most basic facts surrounding their fallacious farce of a non-argument; they can, and should be, at best ignored, if not actually mocked.

That Word... I don't think it means, what you think it means....

"Oh those RINOs and NEO-CONS won't do anything... we have to purge the party of these spineless unprincipled traitors"

It's kinda funny... I generally find most who use the terms neo-con or RINO, except ironically or as a joke, to be unable to define either in a meaningful way.

Much as George Orwell wrote about the term "fascism" in "Politics and the English Language",   for almost everyone using the terms, "RINO" and "NEO-CON", are just signifiers for "things and people I don't like".

Thing is... The only current Republican members of congress (both house and senate) who can fairly be called "RINO", are Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Brian Fitzpatrick, Chris Smith, John Katko, and Jeff VanDrew (who actually was a democrat until last year).

Everyone else, is absolutely within the "normal spread" of positions for Republicans... That includes Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey, Fred Upton, Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, and most of the other congresscritters (not on the RINO list above) that voted to impeach Trump.

In fact, several of those that voted for impeachment, are notably far MORE conservative than Trump... The first couple I mentioned above have lifetime ratings over 90%  from the American conservative union, and almost always vote with the party (they're available online from  acuratings dot conservative dot org /acu-federal-legislative-ratings/ )

The first major mistake many make, is in thinking that loyalty to, or agreement with, Donald Trump; is any kind of criteria for being a Republican, or a conservative... Since Trump was and is, neither of those things. Trump is an ACTUAL Republican in name only, and always has been... He was officially a democrat, until he needed to be a Republican, at which point he officially signed up to be a republican... but he never actually changed anything other than the initial beside his name. 

The second, and fundamental mistake however, is in thinking the republican party is actually conservative, or in fact has EVER been conservative, by any meaningful definition of the term (except perhaps, relative to the actual left). 

The Republican party is, and since reconstruction mostly has been, a moderate centrist party about MOST things... Generally averse to change and risk, and generally collegial in reality, regardless of the rhetoric fed to the base for fundraising purposes. 

Even Reagan wasn't ACTUALLY conservative... He talked a good game, but in reality, he was as much a "neo-con" as Bill Kristol.

Barry Goldwater was the closest thing to an actual conservative in the post war Republican party... and he was really more libertarian than conservative by modern sensibilities (though he of course considered himself to be conservative, and was mostly thought of as such in his time). Before Goldwater, you need to go back to Coolidge to get an actual conservative.... and before that... Ummm... 

.... Yeah... Look at the history... The Republican party is NOT conservative, and never really has been. 

Historically speaking, post reconstruction, the majority of the republican party, has been in the mold of Bush the elder, Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, and Herbert Hoover... RELATIVELY conservative compared to "progressive" leftists in the democratic party, they're still for Big Government, just not AS big as Democrats. They're still just as paternalist as Dems, only about different things in different ways. They're in favor of plenty of control, intervention, and regulation, on both social and economic issues... because everyone has their "special" cases, and those "special pleadings" add up. 

Reagan was a near literal revolution in the party, and he wasn't even actually that conservative... He was RHETORICALLY conservative, but in fact he governed as what most who identify as "conservative" today (who, mostly, are very definitely NOT conservative in any meaningful way), would call a RINO... Or if they actually knew what the term means, pretty close to a neo-con. He was a free spending, massive debt accumulating, heavily interventionist in domestic affairs, heavily interventionist in foreign affairs, massively intrusive, NON-conservative; by anything like a reasonable definition of the term. He just TALKED about being otherwise... and how that was better.

... Which it IS... but he didn't even try to actually govern that way...

In fact, the Reagan administration and Republican congressional leadership, essentially made what some might consider a "corrupt bargain" with the Democratic senate majority leader Robert Byrd (for the first and last years of his term... the Republicans had a narrow senate majority for 6 of Reagans 8 years) and Democratic speaker of the house during his presidency Tip O'neil (all but the last few months anyway); wherein the Republicans got most of THEIR spending priorities passed through congress and signed by the president, and in exchange, so did the Democrats... and both knew that was happening, so they were able to freely posture, to raise money off "fighting for their constituency", while in reality, there was always a deal to be made.

Which ACTUALLY meant that the government was doing FAR MORE than it had ever done since WW2... And not coincidentally SPENDING far more than it had since WW2, and accumulating FAR MORE DEBT than it had since WW2. 

The fact is, Goldwater and Coolidge were major outliers, and exceptions to the general run of Republican candidates and presidents... and were largely unpopular within the party because of it. 

For that matter, Reagan was also unpopular within the party, until he placated the southern religious social conservatives after his brokered convention loss in '76 (which happened in the first place, because he offended said southern religious social conservatives, in an attempt to gain broad centrist appeal, by selecting a more liberal Republican running mate, and saying a few things the leaders of that block didn't care for...   Had he not pissed off the southern faction of the leadership, Reagan would have won the nomination in '76... but probably lost the presidency).

The social conservatives have never actually been a majority in the party... Only a plurality... A little less than 40% at peak... but they're a very LOUD plurality minority... and those opposed to them are very LOUD too, about how big and bad the social conservatives are; making them seem like they were and are much more powerful and consequential than they actually are... or for that matter, much more conservative, and much more principled and consistent than they actually are. 

... But every national candidate in the Republican party has to make the southern religious social conservatives at least tolerate them, because said southern social conservatives have enough power and mass to BLOCK someone. They can't actually MAKE the king... as I said, they're less than 40%... but they can keep someone from being crowned, and no other single block is able to do so, because no other single block is more than about 25% of the party... Nor is any other single block motivated and organized enough to do so. 

But that doesn't make the party actually conservative, or actually socially conservative, at the national level (local is an entirely different story... State and local level politics are a totally different beast). 

One other thing the party has very firmly NOT been, along with "actually conservative" is POPULIST... In fact, they've GENERALLY been rather the opposite, at least when it comes to national and international issues and policies (local is a different matter entirely). 

Until Trump that is... 

Or at least the Republican party hasn't been populist since the FIRST Roosevelt... who was VERY firmly a populist progressive (Hoover wasn't a populist by nature, but he took some seemingly populist... and quite harmful... actions based on some truly epically bad advice from his cabinet and congressional caucus)... 

Actually, TR would have been a quite "progressive" democrat in the post WW2 period up through the late 60s or so, and he had a disturbing tendency towards fascism (seems to have run in the family).

Hell... TR could easily have been LBJ, or his cousin Franklin...

...He wanted strong social safety nets set up and paid for by government, with socialized pensions and healthcare. He was for strong protectionist tariffs and strongly against free trade. He was pro-union and anti-corporation to a shocking degree, and he was pro-government regulation of almost everything. Read "The New Nationalism", and it's like postwar democrats fantasy platform...

...except that TR was personally moral and ethical, unlike the thoroughly unethical, amoral, and frankly evil, racist rapist that LBJ was.

So... if you're an actual conservative or libertarian or "conservatarian", guess what... YOU are the one who is a Republican in name only.

If you're one of those who is using RINO as an insult to describe Republican party members who aren't at all conservative, you've got the perspective reversed, because THEY ARE THE PARTY; not the conservatives and libertarians, who generally VOTE republican, because they are less awful than the realistic alternatives.

... If you think about what the party actually is, as opposed to what you think it SHOULD BE... Well... RINO... isn't an insult, or at least it shouldn't be. It's kinda like that line "Your boos mean nothing, I've seen what makes you cheer".

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Intel Evaluation

I've explained this before based on other intelligence documents and situations such as Manning, Snowden, the Clinton emails etc... seems that it's time to explain it again...

Standard methodology for evaluating the qualify and reliability of information is a matrix.. often a 5x5 matrix with 1 axis numbered 1 through 5, the other axis A through F.

The first axis is the quality of data.... what does the source have DIRECT primary access to, what do they have 2nd order access to... information once removed from direct access, which is confirmable by at least two direct independent sources. What information do they have indirect access to for background information, not considered a primary or secondary source for confirmation. 

Then the second axis of the matrix, is how reliable the data from that  asset or source are likely to be. This is ranked based on the asset or sources provable access to the information they have provided, their motivation, their known biases, and their history of reliability (or unreliability).

In this case, lower numbers and letters are better...something graded as A1 would have have a numerical score of 1, meaning it was considered 100% reliable, and confirmed. Only items graded in the top two grades of both quality and reliability can be considered confirmed or very likely/highest confidence. Only items in the top three grades of both quality and reliability can be considered likely or higher, and then only with multiple independent confirming sources of that grade or better. 

 Anything with a value worse than 3 OR C can only be considered background information unless confirmed with at least 1 independent source of grade B2 or better, and cannot be considered likely or better without two independent sources of grade B2 or better. 

There is an inflection point at the third grades of reliability and quality... even without further confirmation, information graded better than that point is considered to be more likely to be correct and reliable than not. Without further confirmation, Information graded worse than that point is to be considered more likely to be incorrect, deceptive or misleading, than correct. Anything straddling the line is considered to be downgraded unless it is further confirmed. 

For example, something rated C3 can only be considered at most 10% likely without further confirmation, and can never be considered more than 90% likely to be correct, even with three independent confirming sources, unless those sources are themselves better than grade C3. 

Thus simply gathering MORE data cannot upgrade a C to a B, or a 3 to a 2, unless that data is provably of higher quality and reliability. 

Information in the worst two quality or reliability grades... D or f, and 4 or 5... is only be considered as background information, rumor, "buzz" or noise... it may indicated rumors which are inaccurate but commonly circulated or believed among the population for example. An item rated as F5 has a maximum likelihood of only 25%, and that is with at least 4 confirming sources of grade D or F etc.... etc... Items in these categories may also be known to be, or considered likely to be, deceptive, incomplete, or have major errors.

So information  graded as B2 or better, can generally be considered to be likely or better, and thus potentially actionable. Anything below B2 should not be considered to be reliable or likely to be true. Anything worse than C3 should be considered to be at best unconfirmed rumor, and may be actively unreliable and deceptive, unless multiple independent confirmations are available.

Information graded C3 may in some circumstances be considered actionable; if there is both sufficient confirmation of the information to believe it is likely or better, AND the information and action taken in response to it, is sufficiently critical, or the risk associated with NOT acting on that information is sufficiently high... however at all times you must remember you are not action on high confidence data, and caution must be taken to ensure that you do not take action which may not be justified by the information you have available, and its quality or reliability. Thus the action taken should primarily be focused on mitigating risk, and improving the quality and reliability of your data, so that you CAN act on high confidence data as is appropriate.

... You should not be shooting or arresting anyone, or swearing out any warrants, based on C3 data... but if the C3 data is sufficiently important AND there is sufficient confirmation of it that it could be considered likely but low confidence, then it's appropriate to continue investigation to try to confirm or disprove that information... just as a "for instance"... 

Special weight in assessing the quality and reliability of a source or asset and their data;  is given to any  history of intentional or calculated obfuscation, manipulation, or deceptiveness opposed to honest error, or unintentional manipulation (due to personal, or institutional biases for example... often individuals, organizations, government entities etc... lie to themselves, because their personal or internal institutional biases, or their political biases, dictate their view of "reality")... Has the source or asset fabricated, manipulated, or specifically framed the data they have provided to you, to present an inaccurate or biased picture with the data overall. If so, what agenda or biases did they frame the data to, and how did they do so? 

Notably, any history of intentional deceptiveness permanently downgrades a source or asset, such that they cannot be considered a confirmed or confirmable primary source in the top two categories of reliability... on an A to F scale, their data can never be considered higher than a C without at least two independent confirmations. 

Which brings us to the Fusion GPS "Steele Dossier"...

Put simply... the dossier is not an intelligence document. At all. It is a random assemblage of D3-D5 and F3-F5 grade junk, with with a few pieces of actual C3 and better data available from public and open sources, and little bits of other confirmable but only vaguely related data to make it seem more reliable and more significant than it is. 

There are no pieces of useful or actionable information outside of those confirmed in open sources, that can be considered confirmed, reliable, likely, or even of sufficient quality to be included as possible background information. The sourcing is non existent, or even clearly and actively disinformation. Both the quality, and the reliability of the data are actively negative... unclassifiable as anything other than garbage or deliberate deception and disinformation... Further, the document was created by and for parties with known direct and admitted bias, and deceptive and manipulative history... this makes the dossier a clear piece of active disinformation... as anyone who has ever evaluated intelligence... or civil or criminal evidence... could tell you within seconds of looking at it.

That includes congress critters with intelligence oversight, and other politicians and appointees who have such experience. It for damn sure includes FBI agents, and u.s. attorneys looking for legally actionable probable cause.

Anyone claiming any kind of actionable intelligence, or anything remotely like sufficient probable cause for any kind of warrant or court order came from that document, is actively and intentioinally being deceptive and manipulative.... and in the case of any sworn law officer, or officer of the court, they are committing misconduct if they claim any such thing.