February 15, 2016
DARPA is about to "unveil" a robot ship here in Portland. It's intended as a sub hunter and it has no crew. Nor, apparently, is it remotely controlled. This isn't a drone; it's a completely autonomous killing machine. Ummmm.......
February 06, 2016
I see a great opportunity here for an anime:
One driver, in his 50s, related a story about a woman who got into his cab near Ishinomaki Station. The woman told him to take her to the Minamihama district. The driver then asked her "The area is almost empty. Is it OK?” The woman replied, in a shivering voice, "Have I died?”
When the driver looked back at his rear seat, no-one was there, according to the research.
February 05, 2016
February 03, 2016
Like they do every four years, pundits and "journalists" (sic) are playing the point-spread game during the primary season. The idea is that the press and pundits set up a point spread for each succeeding contest, and a given candidate is a "winner" or "loser" depending on whether they beat the point spread.
Actually getting the most votes doesn't seem to matter.
So Iowa had it's quadrennial 15 months of fame culminating last Monday, and Cruz came in first. Trump was a couple of percentage points back, and Rubio a couple more behind Trump. Between the three of them they got about 3/4ths of the votes, and all the other candidates are back in the dust somewhere. A lot of those are probably going to give up now.
So what are we reading? Oddly enough, Rubio is the winner, according to pundits, and never mind that he came in third in actuality. Because Rubio beat pundit expectations, that's why. More impressive is that Trump was the big loser, we are told, even though he got more votes than Rubio. Why? Because the pundits thought he was going to come in first, and he actually came in second. A huge defeat. He didn't beat the point spread.
What's more amazing is that this is conservative pundits.
A lot of this is due to the fact that the conservative pundits really wish Trump would go away. They've spent months closing their eyes, counting to ten, and hoping he would be gone when they opened them again, and it hasn't been working. His campaign was going to collapse Real Soon Now, folks! Keep watching! Only somehow it never did. And with him getting a quarter of the votes in Iowa, the pundits are now really, really hoping that if they keep shouting "Trump is a loser!" over and over that it will become true.
I've always hated this. This kind of sports-reporting of the primary season happens every four years and has since I've been paying attention (late 1970's) and it's always a crock. A lot of the reason for it is because reporters assigned to this beat need to come up with something to say every couple of days that isn't the same thing as they said in their previous report. But a lot of it is due to a basic disconnect our betters have with how things work.
They think they are leading us. They think they are ruling us.
Deep down they don't believe in Democracy because they feel utter contempt for the majority of Americans, especially voters. They're smarter than us, and better educated. And so it is (they think) their job as reporters and pundits to tell us idiots who we should be voting for, because otherwise we'd be too stupid to pick the right candidate.
That's why Trump has made gibbering idiots out of the reporters and pundits: he doesn't play by the unwritten rules of the self-selected elite. He says things that no one should be saying. He says things that the unwashed masses are thinking, and shouldn't be thinking. That's why the unwashed are flocking to him. It's a true populist revolt.
Some people have been pointing out the disconnect between the elite and the masses and how Trump is saying things that the masses are thinking, and asking why the elite don't pay attention and realize that to the masses, these things are important. He's briding that gap, and he'd go away if the elite themselves recognized the gap and moved to bridge it themselves.
Why aren't they? Because the elite don't really care what the masses think, and what the masses want. Democracy ultimately is an impediment to elite rule; it forces them to pander to the masses every couple of years. It just gets in the way. The idea of listening to the voters and paying attention to what they want and doing something about it is idiocy because the voters are themselves idiots.
Me, I'm a populist. I think that the group-mind created by voters is pretty wise, actually -- wiser, usually, than the elite are. I think that representative democracy is a pretty good system. Not perfect, but then a perfect government has been mathematically proved to be impossible. Anyway, as an engineer I'm more interested in "good enough" than I am in "ideal".
So I've been really amused the last couple of days by all the news coverage declaring Trump's campaign to be dead, and how Rubio is a huge winner. Never mind that Trump got more votes in Iowa than Rubio did.
And in the end, point spreads don't matter. What matters is how many votes a candidate gets. This campaign doesn't end with the Iowa caucuses. It's not even clear it begins with them. Iowa is a small state (in population) and tends to have very parochial issues (Ethanol, baby!) and New Hampshire isn't a lot better.
Trump could still blow it (and today's exhibit of sore-loserness probably doesn't help him, though I think it's probably being played up as part of the same process of trying to deflate him) but the fundamental issue that is pushing his candidacy is still important and won't go away. American voters, especially Republicans, are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more. The self-selected conservative elites can go pound sand.
January 21, 2016
I get weird flashes sometimes. Ask.Metafilter.com:
I'm going into the oyster business! Help me learn more.
And I thought, "You have to watch out for stampedes. When oysters get moving, they're hard to stop."
After all, Clams got legs!
And then I thought about Rocky and Bullwinkle, and the time they were running an earthworm ranch and the worms started to stampede.
Stampedes are really scary, you know that?
January 17, 2016
Does there exist a small town in Wales whose name can be pronounced by outsiders? Sometimes I wonder.
The town of Eglwyswrw is in the news because it rains there a lot. Which ain't the worst thing to be known for; it's better than being the site of a toxic waste leak, for instance. I'm just wondering how the hell you pronounce the name of the place.
I think they're doing it on purpose to make English speakers took foolish when they try to say it.
UPDATE: I'm not even quite sure how to pronounce "Portmeirion".
January 12, 2016
January 10, 2016
MAX riders stripped down to their underwear Sunday for Portland's annual "No Pants Day."
Dozens showed up without their pants at the Skidmore Fountain MAX stop and rode for free on the MAX to Pioneer Courthouse Square.
And it wasn't just for show, but all for a good cause.The group is collecting winter gear to donate to homeless shelters.
Fox 12 went downtown to see how everyone was feeling about this year's event.
"I think that it's great," said a participant. "It's keeping Portland weird. You know,people can just be people and it's not obscene, nobody's out here being weird or causing any kind of crime or anything. I love it."
"I think it's a great reason to not wear pants," another participant told Fox 12. "There's always a good reason to not wear pants."
January 06, 2016
If someone does eventually come up with a reasonable self-driving car, what's to keep some bad guy from loading one up with explosives and then programming it to drive to, and park in front of, some juicy target? And then the bad guy detonates the bomb by remote control (i.e. with a cell phone). Or builds in a GPS that detonates the bomb when it's within a small distance of the target.
You say convenience. I say cruise missile on wheels.
December 31, 2015
My fellow Americans... If you don't own a gun yet, why the hell not?
I bought mine 3 years ago, shortly after Obama was sworn in for his second term as President. This was also about a month after I got home from rehab from my stroke, and I said to myself, "I better do this now, while I still can."
Still could, for two reasons: while I was still physically able to do it (and I'm not any more so I'm glad I did it when I could), and while it was still legal for me to do it. Obama has always wanted to restrict gun rights for everyone if he could get away with it, but if not that then incrementally, one small group at a time, until the restriction eventually achieved comprehensiveness.
So I decided to vote with my wallet. Every time Obama seriously talks about gun control, gun sales spike. And I helped. It's happened enough times now to be politically significant, convincing politicians in both parties that gun control is a non-starter with a very large percentage of American voters, at least at the federal level. (And Heller and McDonald helped, too.)
The Gun Grabbers won't rest, though. Whatever they think they can get away with, they'll try. Seattle just laid a huge tax on guns sold within the city, and California has routinely put as many obstacles in the way of gun ownership as they can. Massachusetts has really absurdly restrictive gun laws. DC lost the Heller decision (and a couple more since then) and still has ridiculous barriers to gun ownership.
And if they can't restrict gun ownership then they'll go after ammunition. I've been expecting this.
State Senator Roxanne Persaud (D-19) and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-52) want to pass a law that would limit ammo purchases to twice the capacity of the firearm during a 90-day period (3 months)!
"OK, we reluctantly admit that the Second Amendment protects the right to own a gun. But it doesn't say anything about ammunition, does it? MWAhahaha...."
Yeah, we need to shine lights on this shit, and support legal challenges to it, but that isn't enough. If you don't own a gun you need to do what I did and buy one -- as a political statement, if for no other reason. Because that will get heard.
And once you have your gun, always always always remember the four rules of gun safety:
1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
2. Never point a gun at something unless you want to destroy it.
3. Keep your trigger finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
4. Always be aware of your target and what's behind it.
That's my kind of "gun control".
UPDATE: That proposed NY law is idiotic for a lot of reasons, and of course it's unconstitutional. But if it passes and goes into effect, I don't see how it could prevent NY residents from making bulk ammunition purchases from out of state. States cannot regulate commerce that crosses state borders; that power is reserved for Congress by Article I section 8 of the Constitution.
NY is finding that out right now. They heaped a huge tax on cigarettes, and smokers responded by driving out of state and buying lots of tobacco and driving back home again. NY can do exactly nothing about it, and as a result NY's revenue from tobacco taxes has plummeted. Seems to me that ammunition sales would be exactly the same way.
Now possession is a different matter, constitutionally speaking. Since Colorado recently legalized sales and possession of marijuana, neighboring states have been complaining about it. Wyoming cannot make it illegal for Wyoming citizens to drive to Colorado to buy cannibis, but they can (and do) make it illegal for Wyoming citizens to possess cannibis no matter where it came from.
If they start getting a lot of importation of ammunition, eventually some bright liberal is going to get the idea that they should make it illegal for civilians to own more than two loads worth of bullets.
The only thing that will stop this garbage is for a third Supreme Court decision to state that possession of ammunition is also protected by the Second Amendment.
Frankly I don't think it's going to come to that, because I don't think the "2 loads every 90 days" law has any chance of passing the NY legislature.
And the reason is that the legislators are well aware of just how many guns are being bought every month in the country for the last few years. That is a very powerful statement.
It is also a very powerful deterrent for wannabe tyrants.
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