Film Noir

I remember this band from when they were new. An interview with them asked after their main sources of inspiration, and the one I remember them naming was 1940s film noir. Well, I liked that stuff too.

It's clearly 1990s from the sound, but there is something that harkens back to those movies. Still, it is subtle enough that I'm not sure exactly what.

New reasons to home-school

From Ace, a link to a Telegraph article claiming that new standards applicable to most American states will require 70% of the public school reading curriculum to be devoted to non-fiction.  Not just any non-fiction, though.  Scintillating non-fiction along the lines of "Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council."

And they say home-schooled kids are nerds.

The Monkeys Have No Tails

If you've seen the old John Wayne / John Ford movie Donovan's Reef, the lyrics are given "the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga." I haven't been to Pago Pago, but I have been to Zamboanga, and I did meet a tail-less monkey near there. He belonged to a Catholic priest, who had his collar attached to a steel ring that ran along a cable, so the thing could climb up and down the church.

Nice guy. Pretty brave ministry, there in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. But most of the Republic of the Philippines' special ops guys are Catholics.

Pearl Harbor Day

The Pearl Harbor surprise attack occurred 71 years ago today.  It is an example of the kind of intelligence failure we would most like to be able to prevent in the future:  a violent and severe attack against a critical American target, in a case when there is a pretty good set of reasons to expect an attack sooner or later.  It is not, to use Donald Rumsfeld's old terminology, an unknown unknown:  we must simply accept that we cannot predict those.  It is an example of a known unknown.

Something similar is going on in Egypt today.  Media coverage of the protests seems to be under the impression that there are three sides:  the Muslim Brotherhood, the Army, and the protesters in the streets.  In fact there are only two sides, because there are only two powers:  the Muslim Brotherhood and the Army.

As recently as a couple of days ago, the Army was tacitly encouraging the protests -- sometimes more than tacitly, according to reports.  This was about showing Mursi and the MB that their thugs weren't really capable of standing up to a full-scale revolt.  Mursi has been very successful at out-maneuvering the Army politically, and has managed to win power and control at their expense several times.

It was clear that a deal had been struck in principle when the tanks surrounded the palace to protect it, and Mursi.  Now the outlines of that deal have become clear.

Once the powers have finished dividing the authority between themselves in a way that both find acceptable, the protests won't be useful anymore. Then it will be time for a "whiff of grapeshot."

If I were an Egyptian protester, I would realize that now was the time to get off the streets. There is about to be an example made. The only question is exactly when.

Blood Mountain

There was a lot of rain on the way up to Vogel State Park today, so that by the time I finished the ride up on the motorcycle I was completely soaked.  The soaking meant that everything I was wearing took on extra weight.  My motorcycle jacket in particular seemed to have turned to iron.  Still, it was worth it.

The trail rises 2,400 feet over the course of about five miles.  The reward is this:

Clouds rising, seen from atop Blood Mountain.

A cairn along the trail.

The stone shelter, built by the CCC in the 1930s.  Today two hikers from Maine were resting before the final assault, and had built a fire within it.  The fire was most welcome.

Clouds mounting against the ridge.

Transportation anarchy

More from Maggie's Farm, a link to a blurb about the attempts of the Taxicab Medallion Bureaucrat Industrial Complex to crush the upstart mobile app livery service "Uber."  Being a country mouse, I hadn't heard a thing about this service, but there are lots of articles out there about it now (here, here, here, and here).  You sign up in advance with an app for your smartphone and put your credit card on file.  When you need a ride, you punch in your position and wait far less time than you'd wait for a normal taxi.  While you wait, you can see your driver approaching on the GPS map, which definitely beats the amusing habit of many taxi companies, which claim your driver is on the way when he's really across town with another fare and planning to drive out toward your area sometime in the next 45 minutes or so.  No cash changes hands; even the tip is charged to your card.  Fares are somewhat higher than traditional cabs.  Users report mixed results.

Municipal taxi regulators hate this service, of course, and are doing their best to strangle it.

Forces of darkness

From Maggie's Farm, some legal drafting tips.

You Know Who Deserves More Money? Like A Lot More?

The Atlanta City Council, that's who. Largest increase in the history of the city -- a $20,000 raise this year. Recession? More people on food stamps than ever before? Nonsense, give these people a gigantic raise at taxpayer expense.

My favorite part:
A spokeswoman for Reed said the mayor wants to review the ordinance before deciding whether to sign it, veto it or let it slide into law without his signature.
Let me slide it on you people.

More and more, I find myself biting my tongue really hard.

Rebel Songs

Just one, for now.

Socialism Is About Respecting People's Dignity

After all, if we believe a person is truly dignified, we know they ought to have health care regardless of their ability to pay, and also a place to live.
Holland's capital already has a special hit squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six month course in how to behave.
Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.
Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam's Labour mayor, has tabled the £810,000 plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often leads to law abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out....

The new punishment housing camps have been dubbed "scum villages" because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.

"Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum," he suggested last year. "Put all the trash together."

Whilst denying that the new projects would be punishment camps for "scum", a spokesman for the city mayor stressed... "This is supposed to be a deterrent[.]"
It starts as "Hey, let's pay for other people to have the things we want them to have." It ends up as, "Hey, those jerks are costing us a fortune by being irresponsible, and saddling us with costs arising from their bad behavior!" So the solution has to be control of their behavior: and control at a level you couldn't employ against someone you respected.

Thus, a movement that began out of a respect for the dignity of humanity turns those same humans into "scum." It will happen here too.

I Didn't Know God Made Honky-Tonk Angels:

The Obama administration said Friday that it would charge insurance companies for the privilege of selling health insurance to millions of Americans in new online markets run by the federal government.

The cost of these “user fees” can be passed on to consumers.
Those federal exchanges aren't even legal, and already they're talking about you paying for the privilege of using them -- and by you, I mean you, because the cost can be passed right on to the consumer.  It's like a tax, for an illegal service that the government commands you to accept.


An aside: this Advent wreath was made by my wife in about fifteen minutes this evening, because I told her I wanted one this year. I'm really quite impressed with her.

Imperial Overreach

There's a pretty solid argument here from Rep. Eric Cantor, which includes something interesting on the link between the rule-of-law and GDP. We were discussing that recently, in one of the Politics sections, and it might be worth revisiting in light of this piece.