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March 2017

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Imagine a Surprise Party...

...where instead of friends and family surprising the guest of honor, he surprises them.

That's what this line in a piece about yesterday's freeway bridge collapse is:

Atlantans already suffered through the fourth-worst traffic in America and the ninth worst in the world, Inrix, a global transportation research firm, reported last year.

And I had to drive in that for a week and a half. Both ways!

Okay, lots of people around here do that for years, but we already knew they were insane.

It isn't just that people here have lousy driving habits -- I actually came to regard most people I was sharing the freeway with as merely responding as rationally as possible to a freeway system designed by Tweedledum and Tweedledee's stupider brother. The real problem is, well, the freeway system was designed by Tweedledum and Tweedledee's stupider brother.

Anyway, the investigation of how the fire started and why it caused such damage has only begun, and will surely be bagged to protect the Bushes and Halliburton. Clearly this was 9/11 all over again -- just ask Rosie O'Donnell.

© Friday,  March 31, 2017  Kevin McGehee


If You're Ever Thinking of Registering Your Web Domain with Google Domains...

Don't.

Update, hours later: Turns out -- and they don't bother to tell anybody this -- the screens for transferring a domain from one Google account to another only work if you're using Google Chrome.

So, I finally managed to get the domain transferred to my non-G Suite account, the one I have to use for my Project Fi phone account. The sacrifices have left me thinking I should limit my media purchases to Amazon, since any such I made on the G Suite (formerly Google Apps) account will be lost -- except music, which I can download -- when I let it die upon expiration of the most recent renewal.

Then again, I have no expectation of creating any more Google accounts. Maybe that'll make a difference.

© Thursday,  March 30, 2017  Kevin McGehee


'More Older Women Are Drinking Hard'

What would we do without studies?

More older American women than ever are drinking — and drinking hard, a new study shows.

Most troubling was the finding that the prevalence of binge drinking among older women is increasing dramatically, far faster than it is among older men, the researchers noted.

193553_5_The difference was striking: Among men, the average prevalence of binge drinking remained stable from 1997 to 2014, while it increased an average of nearly 4 percent per year among women, the researchers found.

Increased drinking and binge drinking can be a serious health problem for women, said study author Rosalind Breslow, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

I'll be on my fainting couch.

© Wednesday,  March 29, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Talking Back to Pop Tunes

Say, um, Bono? Maybe you should try Google.

© Monday,  March 27, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Could Stand Updating

Back in 1994, the late George Jones released a song called "High-Tech Redneck," about a country boy who had all the latest technology at his fingertips.

Today of course, much of the technology described in the song is laughably obsolete. So it seemed to me it could use a bit of an update:

He's got a Duck Dynasty marathon
Binging on Netflix and it's streamin' in strong
A wifi virtual remote control
3D TV with stereo
Football, baseball, NASCAR too
With picture-in-picture it's all in view
And if it comes on just a little too late
With his DVR he can watch it next day.

He's a high-tech redneck
Mayberry meets Star Trek
He's a bumpkin
But he's plugged in
He's a high-tech redneck.

He's got twenty sub-woofers in the bed of his truck
A thousand watts of power and he keeps it cranked up
He ain't into hip hop, he ain't into rap
He likes to rattle them speakers with Ronnie Milsap
CDs and MP3s with gigs to send
CB, radar and SiriusXM
And if he needs to talk to his honey at home
He has Siri dial 'er up on his Apple iPhone

He's a high-tech redneck
Mayberry meets Star Trek
He's a bumpkin
But he's plugged in
He's a high-tech redneck.

I never have heard anybody blasting "It Was Almost Like a Song" out of a truck bed full of sub-woofers. In the immortal words of Jayne Cobb, that would be an interesting day.

© Sunday,  March 26, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Talking Back to Pop Tunes

Okay, Maybe -- but I thought you said your name was Carly Rae.

© Sunday,  March 26, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Coincidence, I'm Sure

Instapundit links ArsTechnica about a study Rand Simberg linked in Time. The quote from ArsTechnica:

The team behind the paper used human embryonic kidney cells (which grow well in the lab) to look at the role of this chemical. The authors found that NAD+ binds to the protein “deleted in breast cancer 1” (DBC1), which—as its name implies—was previously implicated in cancer. DBC1 normally binds to and inhibits another protein that performs DNA repair. But NAD+ blocks this interaction, releasing the inhibition on DNA repair.

Therefore, as NAD+ concentrations decline with age, it’s possible there is insufficient NAD+ to bind to the DBC1 protein, leaving it free to block DNA repair.

To test this proposed mechanism in a living organism, the authors used aging mice. As expected, NAD+ concentrations declined as the mice aged. With its decline, DBC1 was increasingly binding to and shutting down the DNA repair enzyme. The authors then gave the mice the chemical precursor to NAD+, which should restore their NAD+ concentrations. Once the mice were given this treatment, their DNA repair activity increased, and the levels of DNA damage were reduced.

On the strength of Rand's link and comment, I headed over to one of the local pill stores yesterday and got a bottle. This morning I noticed a great deal of improvement in my overall energy level -- but it's way too soon for this stuff to have made a difference.

Isn't it?

© Saturday,  March 25, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Sequences

The first bloom of the azaleas has come and gone, and now the dogwoods are aflower. The grasses in the field out past the front yard are taller than I left them last fall. April is a week and some hours away and I still haven't gotten around to seeing if the mower will start.

When I do get it started, I'll find out soon after whether the can of bug repellent I bought last year still has the potency to keep ticks from latching on.

And then I'll find out if my Claritin pills still work.

"If you do a job right you won't have to do it again."

"Even mowing the lawn?"

© Friday,  March 24, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Bada-bing

Once upon a time, there was an item known as a cash register. Many of them were made by a company known as National Cash Register. Now...

The NCR Corporation (abbrev. National Cash Register) is an American computer hardware, software and electronics company that makes self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, automated teller machines, check processing systems, barcode scanners, and business consumables.

"Point-of-sale terminal" is the fancy 21st-century term for cash register. They don't make that "cha-ching" sound that persons of a certain age associate with cash registers, so I suppose the new name is apt enough. The beeping of UPC scanners is cacophonous enough, especially when mixed with the gasps of horror at the final totals.

NCR is a bigger player these days in ATM manufacture. Just once I'd like to make a deposit at an ATM and hear a cheery "cha-ching" as a kind of cybernetic congratulation to my bank account. Lord knows most bank accounts these days could use cheering up.

© Thursday,  March 23, 2017  Kevin McGehee


That Would Make a Good Opening Line to a Country Song

I am, as promised, reading the new C.J. Box novel, Vicious Circle, and in it April -- adopted middle daughter of Joe and Marybeth Pickett -- says, "I might have had my fill of rodeo cowboys."

In the days when country music still went by "country and western," there would have been dozens of female singers who could have sung that line and a whole song flowing naturally from it.

Maybe there are now, but who today could get away with writing it just like that? In a song destined for radio, I mean.

In a way it's good, I guess, that music has so many more ways to find an audience than a big-label recording contract. I just wish I knew where to find new music in the classic, mid-20th-century country-and-western style.

Now that I have room on my phone for actual new music...

Anyway, back to my reading.

Update: Also as promised, I finished the book before sundown. Now I have to wait until next March 21 for the next book

'Nother update: Now that I have room on my phone for actual new music, I'm no longer using my phone to stream music over Bluetooth in my car.

Okay, that's a lie. I actually quit 'Toothing music in my car long ago. It requires using the music app on my phone, which I have to wear my reading glasses to work with -- whenever I get into my car, and again when I get out, but not in between because I can't drive with them on. And since I will not 'Tooth music on my phone on battery power, and since the charge cable for this phone isn't compatible with the USB port in the car...

You see where that's going.

So for fun I tried copying my music library -- 1,300-plus tracks -- onto an 8GB thumb drive and plugging it into said USB port. I had to select it as the media source, but then it was off to the concert.

I've since reformatted a thumb drive containing a 128GB microSD card (the sound system's OS is by Microsoft, so it needs FAT32 rather than NTFS or whatever) and successfully played the music off that. And this means I can collect more music to play in my car than my phone could hold.

Which at the moment means amassing about 120GB of additional music.

Betcha I could. I probably won't, but betcha I could.

© Tuesday,  March 21, 2017  Kevin McGehee


"You Can Say That Again."

I'm revolting. Against daylight-saving time. In a small way.

I have a clock in my Western-decor lair with no numerals on the dial, and a background image on the face that can make it difficult even to see where the hands are in less than full light. So, it being of limited utility anyway I've set it to local sun time -- roughly 48 minutes behind what Eastern Standard Time prescribes, and thus an hour and 48 minutes behind EDT.

Tomorrow being the equinox I think today's reading is as close to the meridian result as human error can achieve for the entire year. Of course, the clock's movement is of less than entirely reliable accuracy.

But I'll worry about that in June.

UPDATE, Monday: I recalculated based on a time-zone width of 15 degrees and the meridian for Eastern Time being 75° West, and found that our solar noon offset should be 39 minutes (1:39 DST) rather than 48, and am adjusting the clock accordingly.

The meridians for other North American time zones are as follows: 60° West for Atlantic (Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, etc.) 90° West for Central, 105° West for Mountain, 120° West for Pacific, 135° West for Alaska, and so on.

You can determine your longitude using Google Earth, and adjust your Standard Time solar noon offset four minutes per degree, or one minute in time for every 15 minutes (0.25°) of longitude, west or east of your meridian. If you're in the Central time zone and your longitude is 91.25° West, your solar noon will occur at 12:05 p.m. CST, or 1:05 p.m. CDT. Conversely, if your longitude is east of your meridian, say 88° West in the Central time zone, your local solar noon would occur at 11:52 a.m. CST or 12:52 p.m. CDT.

My solar noon doesn't hit at exactly 10:21 a.m. EDT, but I rounded it off to the nearest minute. If the clock I'm keeping at sun time had numerals and hash marks, and an adjustable second hand, I might have made an effort to be more accurate, but what the hey?

© Sunday,  March 19, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Jurisprudence from the Far Side

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune comes news that only a talking cow in horn-rimmed glasses would find normal:

Privacy law experts say that the warrant is based on an unusually broad definition of probable cause that could set a troubling precedent.

“This kind of warrant is cause for concern because it’s closer to these dragnet searches that the Fourth Amendment is designed to prevent,” said William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota.

Issued by Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson in early February, the warrant pertains to anyone who searched variations of the resident’s name on Google from Dec. 1 through Jan. 7.

But seriously, folks -- this is hardly the time for state judges to follow the example of their lawless federal counterparts.

© Sunday,  March 19, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Well, It's About Time

Somebody's finally teaching SJW lunatics how to breathe.

"Right now I'm going to ask everyone who's on this call to take a moment and just breathe with me," Johnson began. "This is a simple technique that you can use as we're in the tactics, as we're in the strategy, as we're in the back-to-back actions that we're going to be in we can take a moment to breathe," he said.

 

Step 1.: Inhale.

Step 2.: Exhale.

Repeat as needed.

 

I worry they may be too old to master the technique. People should be taught how to breathe as early in life as possible.

© Friday,  March 17, 2017  Kevin McGehee


It Was Brutal

Today Mrs. McG and I went out to lunch, and between the two of us we et tu Caesar salads.

© Wednesday,  March 15, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Maybe They Should Call It 'Tallybook'

For the last few years I've relied on an outfit called Pitchengine, based in Lander, Wyoming, for news about goings-on out in the Cowboy State (in addition to a local newspaper out there to which I have an online subscription). Until now I've considered it sort of a community news aggregator, but yesterday they went social-media, almost just in time for my latest departure from Twitter.

So far I'm only following channels long since established for the news items, based in Lander, Jackson Hole, and Thermopolis, but as members can post items too, in the manner of Facebook and Twitter, there's a distinct danger I may get to using it for socializing of a sort, with people either in or, like me, away from but interested in Wyoming.

A tally book, by the way, is a cowboy's notepad used for keeping track of livestock and his activities during the workday. If someone ever starts up a general-purpose social network for cowboys and wannabes, Tallybook would be a good name for it -- until Zuckerberg threatens to sue.

Also on the subject of Wyoming, the new Joe Pickett book releases one week from today on Google Books. I will probably have finished reading it before sundown that day.

Update, about two weeks later: Now there's a banner on the Streams page saying they've ended support. Not sure exactly what it means but it sure sounds like somebody's pulled the plug on an experiment.

'Nother update, April 29: As of now the only account still posting to Pitchengine Streams is a Lander, Wyoming funeral home. I don't know if their information team set that up automatically along with (probably) other social media outlets and just haven't removed that line of code, or what.

'Nother Other Update, May 5: Now Pitchengine Streams is not merely dead, but most sincerely dead. Oh, well.

© Tuesday,  March 14, 2017  Kevin McGehee


My Daylight Account Is Almost Below the Minimum Balance

So it must be time to start saving it up again.

In our house we have a handful of clocks that have to be reset twice a year (as opposed to those that automatically reset, such as in computers and phones) thanks to the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (which goes to show you how recent the stupid ritual is in America), but we only look at a couple of them to actually find out what time it is -- others are appliances like the microwave oven or the coffeemaker.

Okay, I don't actually even adjust the one on the coffeemaker. I'm just glad there isn't one on my toothbrush. Besides, the coffeemaker clock can't even keep time accurately despite being computerized.

I'll go ahead and set the ones in our cars sometime this afternoon; ordinarily those would be left unadjusted for a few days after the time change, so having them reset so early won't make any more of a difference. Fortunately I don't need a refresher on resetting the clock in my own car, having had to pull the battery a couple of weeks ago to take it to Autozone, I had to reset it when I hooked it back up.

You know, you'd think automakers could make a sound system that wouldn't lose all the presets when the battery has to come out...

© Saturday,  March 11, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Boing

Azaleas began blooming weeks ago while I was in the habit of driving into Atlanta to see Mrs. McG during her time in the poky.

She called it that, by the way, for three reasons, the first having to do with all the needles she had to become acquainted with. The others were less literal: the sense of confinement, and the slow pace of things (including delays in getting transferred to the hospital in Atlanta where the surgery would be performed, and in the actual date of the surgery). Fortunately there were no significant delays in her getting sprung once the procedure was completed.

Anyway, next to bloom were the Bradford pear trees, many of which have since moved on to sprouting leaves.

Springtime means the resumption of certain regular outdoor chores, starting with -- as established in recent years -- replacing the battery in the lawn mower. However, a recent battery hiccup in my car finally inspired me to buy a new battery charger that I hope will prove reliable, and while I didn't need to use it that day, thanks to Autozone, I hope it will revive the mower battery.

We've had this mower for several years and previous battery hiccups were addressed using jumper cables attached to the battery on whatever motor vehicle I had handy. I have since learned that whatever alternator/generator/doohickey trouble the mower may have had that was causing the battery troubles, apparently jump-starting from a car battery makes hugely worse.

I'd been wanting to haul the mower to the usual repair place for an estimate on fixing the alternator/generator/doohickey, and see if it's more cost-effective just to replace the mower, but it's too late for that now until much later in the year. Mower repair shops tend to get backlogged as soon as the grass starts growing again, and once they had this mower for a month and a half.

Other things I'll want to try to do include clearing out pine seedlings that have been sprouting up too close to the house in the last couple of years, and cutting down the non-pine seedlings that have been growing up out of a big hole in the back yard too big to ride the mower over. I can let trees grow out of holes in the field out front, but this backyard hole is both too close to the house and -- I believe -- right over the septic tank.

There are other, much bigger jobs that need doing but I need to bring in a service to make sure it's done properly.

It's nice to once again have the luxury of thinking about home chores...

© Thursday,  March 9, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Bones

I have one to pick with Jim Geraghty's "Morning Jolt" from yesterday, which I sadly can't link because it's only available by email. Discussing options for actually fixing the health coverage problem in America, he says this:

Health savings accounts? They’re a terrific idea. But a lot of people don’t have good impulse control and don’t save money the way they should. They don’t save for retirement, they don’t save for their children’s college educations, and they don’t save for unexpected expenses. A certain percentage of the public simply won’t save for health expenses.

So therefore, those who do save should be deprived of the option? Bullshit. I know that's not Geraghty's position, but it is the political class's.

Too much policy is based on the idea that everything has to be designed for the lowest common denominator. You and I may know that "Harrison Bergeron" is no more a how-to manual than 1984, but the wonks like everyone and everything neatly classified and catalogued -- and the shorter the list of categories, the better.

Which explains why all during the Obama years the wonks' category list got whittled down to "Us" and "Them."

It's the sum total of justification for single-payer: reduce the number of checkboxes to "one," and the wonks and the bureaucrats can spend their days doing nothing while still getting paid.

Anyway. Today's Jolt asks the rhetorical question, "How Many Consecutive Good Months Do You Need to Make an Economic Boom?"

I don't know about booms, but I remember from 2008 and earlier that when a Republican is President it only takes about half a nanosecond of bad economic news to make a recession, despite economists' standard of two consecutive quarters. It makes sense, then, that it may require nine years of good news to justify calling a boom a boom if it started under a Republican.

Unless he's succeeded, like Reagan was, by a fellow Republican. Then it's thirteen. However long it lasts, it will of necessity be credited to the first subsequent Democrat to win the White House. However long that takes.

© Wednesday,  March 8, 2017  Kevin McGehee


March

The last President of the United States to assume the office for the first time on the fourth day of March was Franklin Roosevelt, in 1933.

During his presidency, the Twentieth Amendment -- ratified on January 23, 1933, while Herbert Hoover was still President -- took effect, shortening Roosevelt's first term by 43 days.

Roosevelt was re-elected three times, and then died in office on April 12, 1945, whereupon his Vice President at the time, Harry Truman, assumed the office. Truman was re-elected in 1948.

Thus the first President of the United States to assume the office for the first time on the twentieth day of January was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1953.

Also: the first President of the United States to assume the office for the first time on the fourth day of March was John Adams, in 1797. He was also the first, in 1800, to live in what would become known as the White House.

© Saturday,  March 4, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Criminal Deflection

I was so "triggered" by this sentence...

They have disrupted and destroyed institutional constraints on what can be said, when and where it can be said and who can say it.

...that I had to read the entire piece.

The author, Thomas B. Edsall, clearly believes that extralegal means of preventing people from exercising the full scope of their free speech rights are not only good, but essential to preserving his notion of democracy -- one in which everyone has a voice, but can only use it in approved ways.

He blames the internet for the breakdown of political parties, but the seeds of the present mess go back much further than that. I saw signs of it, I'm sure nowhere near the earliest, in the 1980s as student activists marched through college campuses chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go!"

When you deprive your citizenry of a logical grounding in the history and meaning of the body of laws under which they live, you make inevitable an electorate that believes wholeheartedly that it is illegal to question the morality of political correctness; that threatening to jail people who openly disagree with a chosen clique of scientists is virtuous; that if you don't like the outcome of a presidential election you can declare it illegitimate and demand a do-over.

It doesn't help when the body of laws is itself a rat's nest of picayune and contradictory regulation incapable of rational enforcement.

Edsall's perspective on said mess is betrayed in the lead paragraph, even before the sentence that I've quoted above:

As the forces of reaction outpace movements predicated on the ideal of progress...

Of course, "reaction" is the pejorative term leftists throw at efforts to prevent, mitigate, or repair the damage they do in the name of their idea of "progress," which has as much to do with improving civilization and the human condition as their idea of democracy has to do with ensuring every citizen's voice is heard and heeded. After all, the marchers decrying Western Civ were part of a movement predicated on "the ideal of progress."

© Thursday,  March 2, 2017  Kevin McGehee


"I'd Like to Talk to You About Reverse Mortgages..."

nortonperegrinegyrfalcon

(Photo from here.)

© Wednesday,  March 1, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Signs of a Full Recovery

Doing 70 on the interstate, headed to Atlanta for Mrs. McG's follow-up office visit with her heart surgeon, we passed a certain Volkswagen model.

Mrs. McG said, "I wonder if he named that car 'Leonardo'."

Me: "Huh?"

Mrs. McG.: "Leonardo, the Cabrio."

Doing 70 on the interstate, I facepalmed.

© Wednesday,  March 1, 2017  Kevin McGehee



 
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