A Visit from Saint Nick, Cowboy-Style

Clement Moore, one hopes, would approve.

As quickly as tumbleweeds blow o’er the high plains,
They started to run as he called out their names.
Then up to the roof of the shed they all flew,
With a tractor full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too.


Merry Christmas

History Repeats...

...first as tragedy,
...then as farce,
...then as slapstick,
...then as a Saturday morning cartoon,
...then as bathroom graffiti,
...then as the long, rambling story told by the drunk uncle at a wedding reception,
...then as a Dad joke,
...then as the word salad in a spam email,
...then as a vaguely amusing one-liner stretched into an excruciating ten-minute skit on "Saturday Night Live,"
...then as a NSFW internet meme,
...then as breaking news.


A Reminder

Mother Nature is not the loving, gentle nurturer some argue her to be. From the very beginning she has plotted to wipe out every living thing in the universe.

Between one thing and another, she always bats 1.000


Some Humble Advice for Today’s Youth

If you want to fix the world, first learn how it works.

For example, if you're concerned about inequality, learn math. Not economics, not sociology, not [insert stupid identity category here] studies. Math.


Criminal Mastermind Alert, 2

So you ducked out of the jailhouse and called your mom to pick you up, just as she was getting pulled over for blowing a stop sign, and you decided the first thing you wanted to do with your stolen freedom was have pancakes?

Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dan Boswell says it just so happened that during that same phone call, Pence was pulled over for running a stop sign, so authorities identified her car, and tracked her phone to the Newnan IHOP.

Gullatt had been slated for work release. Now he’s charged with felony escape and his mother is charged with aiding and abetting.


It seems fitting, since the item from the other day took place in Wyoming, that I should link to this one via a Wyoming news site.


Criminal Mastermind Alert, 1

So you gave a false name to avoid getting thrown in jail for something you did. And you got thrown in jail anyway for something the guy whose name you gave, did. But his sentence was only two days, so it was still a win, right?

While in jail, Sheriffs realized Heller did not match the appearance of the other man. He was immediately charged with perjury, forgery, and interference.


Next thing you know, people with outstanding warrants will start selling their own identities.


Maybe We Should Hold Our Elections in Late September

...'cause as it is now there's way too much Halloween getting into the last weeks of our campaigns.

I have no idea what's going to happen on Tuesday. In 2006 I was in denial over the looming catastrophe for the Republicans (and the country), but deep down I knew it wasn't going to be good. In 2010 I was more hopeful, and by 2014 I was downright confident. Cocky, even.

2018? I just don't know. In past years on Election Day I've shouted at everyone not to believe the FUD that gets floated around about what a debacle the election's turning out to be — it's almost always last-minute psyops by the opposing camps aimed at mobilizing or suppressing turnout one way or the other. If that's what's happening this year it's been going on since Election Night 2016.

Not that that's implausible, given the way the allegedly objective news media have been behaving during all that time.

Like other observers, I just don't have that feeling that there's a strong objection to the direction of the country since Obama left office. After more than three years of exposure to the political persona of Donald Trump, most Americans, I think, have gotten used to it. The most prominent negative consequence most people are seeing from his victory two years ago is that the Democrats are more unhinged and the media are more biased — in favor of the unhinged.

But that may be wishcasting. If the last few years have taught me anything it's that our politics are not becoming less unpredictable. I'd like to think that the prevailing wind this election is going to be a turn away from those who would spend the next two years keeping their preferred Crazy Orange Man caricature of the President even more front-and-center than they've been doing for the last two.

I just don't know.

I do know that whatever dangers we were supposed to have faced from Trump Unchained, they would surely have emerged by now. The danger of giving power back to people who like to shoot at members of Congress at softball practice, who stalk and harass people in restaurants with their families? That's something real, and demonstrated, and to be avoided, if we as a nation have any sense left at all.


Dear Democrats

If you didn't want the Republicans to fight back, maybe you shouldn't have declared war on them in the first place.

Yours truly,
The American People


Guess Who Gets My Vote?

Charles takes the opportunity of linking a Roger Green post about New York's election schedule to remark:

We have so damned many election dates in [Oklahoma]. We might be wise to consider consolidating some, or preferably all, of them.

I cast my first vote in Sacramento, in a primary election in a presidential year. At the time, California's contribution to the presidential nominating process took place at the same time as their state and congressional primary elections — in June. The grumbling about how the nominees had already long since been chosen by then had already become pretty much universal; having the largest population of any of the fifty states, the not-yet single-party Golden State could only influence the outcome with campaign contributions, of which only a fortunate few could give enough to get anybody's attention. As a result, the presidential primary was eventually moved to a much earlier date. And other states moved theirs even earlier, to avoid being drowned out by California.

This meant that for those of us who didn't live in odd-numbered-year voting cities (I moved out after voting in just one round of those), we went from having four elections in a four-year cycle, to five.

Eventually Mrs. McG and I landed in Alaska, which at the time didn't have a primary or even a caucus — we had a GOP straw poll in 1996, which the party stalwarts could heed or ignore as they chose at the state convention where Alaska's national delegates were selected (Pat Buchanan won the straw poll, so take a guess). Thus we had only eight elections in any given four-year cycle. Wait, what?

Well, ya see, the city and borough elections were on a completely different paradigm from state and congressional elections. The terms of city and borough mayors, and city council and borough assembly members, were three years instead of two or four. And while the partisan primaries were held in August of even-numbered years, municipal elections were in October. Every year. So in even-numbered years you voted three times. In odd-numbered years, just once. Except that in 1997 there were so many candidates for borough mayor that none received at least 40% of the vote, and there was a second election that year, a runoff for that one job.

(This was in Fairbanks. Down in Anchorage the municipal elections were held in April. You'd think proximity to tax day would lead to more conservative outcomes, but not so's I ever noticed.)

I've posted before about the runoff rule here in Georgia, which can put us through as many as nine elections in four years — if we're lucky enough not to live in a city that elects its officers in odd-numbered years. What is it with city elections and odd-numbered years? Anyway, thanks to the runoff rule and the federal government, our state primary, which used to be (if I remember correctly) in July, has been pushed up to May — scarcely later than the presidential primary in March.

Oddly, Wyoming — where the two major parties hold caucuses to choose delegates to their respective national conventions in presidential years — only holds a single primary election in each even-numbered year. Even nonpartisan city officials there are chosen in even-numbered years, with the two who received the largest number of votes in August going on to duke it out in November right alongside the county, state and federal nominees. Four elections in each four-year cycle, even if you live inside city limits. Who came up with that cockamamie scheme!?



Seventeen years. It's another Tuesday in September. Al Qaeda has given way to ISIS, and there is now the prospect of a nuclear Iran making war, not only on Israel or the West, but on its Arab neighbors.

Before long our troops will include young men and women who hadn't even been born when the towers fell.

Many of the youngest in uniform even now have no memory of a world in which radical Islam was a regional rather than global enemy. They and their civilian contemporaries already have no useful cultural memory of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, a fact viciously exploited for almost two years now by Democratic Party operatives with and without bylines.

This is how civilizations fall, you know.


Vanishing Americans

If you still haven't seen Wind River, first of all, what the H-E-double-toothpicks are you waiting for?

Second, I'd give the movie at least some credit for increasing awareness of this problem:

Ashley’s disappearance is one small chapter in the unsettling story of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. No one knows precisely how many there are because some cases go unreported, others aren’t documented thoroughly and there isn’t a specific government database tracking these cases. But one U.S. senator with victims in her home state calls this an epidemic, a long-standing problem linked to inadequate resources, outright indifference and a confusing jurisdictional maze.

Now, in the era of #MeToo, this issue is gaining political traction as an expanding activist movement focuses on Native women — a population known to experience some of the nation’s highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Not that it really matters where the credit goes, as long as the disappearances can be stopped.

For many in Native American communities across the nation, the problem of missing and murdered women is deeply personal.

“I can’t think of a single person that I know … who doesn’t have some sort of experience,” says Ivan MacDonald, a member of the Blackfeet Nation and a filmmaker. “These women aren’t just statistics. These are grandma, these are mom. This is an aunt, this is a daughter. This is someone who was loved … and didn’t get the justice that they so desperately needed.”


There are many similar mysteries that follow a pattern: A woman or girl goes missing, there’s a community outcry, a search is launched, a reward may be offered. There may be a quick resolution. But often, there’s frustration with tribal police and federal authorities, and a feeling many cases aren’t handled urgently or thoroughly.

I think this doesn't so much miss the mark as give the federal government too much credit:

So why does this happen? MacDonald offers his own harsh assessment.

“It boils down to racism,” he argues. “You could sort of tie it into poverty or drug use or some of those factors … (but) the federal government doesn’t really give a crap at the end of the day.”

You don't need racism to explain it. The simple truth of the matter is, the federal government doesn't give a crap at all. It is equal-opportunity criminally negligent. The additional factor in Indian reservation disappearances is remoteness. You can get a decent investigation in Denver or Billings, but few reservations are close enough even to those cities for a modern FBI drone's comfort. Authors like Tony Hillerman made no bones about the agency's culture, and the attitude of most G-men toward the wide-open spaces where these disappearances are happening. Perhaps at one time skin color was also a factor, but that was a generation ago or more.

Now, everyone living in those hinterlands is untermensch regardless of race. If we non-Indians needed the FBI to investigate our murders and disappearances, we few, we happy few, we basket of deplorables, would soon expect the exact same assurance of justice as these missing women.

To the extent there is any actual racism underlying the neglect described, it's in the existence of the reservation system itself. Vast numbers of Americans thrive, fully assimilated, while still maintaining and cherishing their ancestral cultures. They don't need to be kept impoverished and hopeless to remain proud of their roots.

I know it's not an opinion that would make me popular with the people who live on the reservations, but for the life of me I can't see any solution to these problems while the system, and the attitudes it fosters, remain in place.



I won't know until next month exactly how much I saved by buying my new phone rather than waiting for something from Google's Pixel line. I do know this phone cost less than half what I paid for my Nexus 6P back in 2016, and while it won't get updated to the next version of Android until after the end of this month, that's not much different than what my wait would have been had I sat tight and paid three to almost four times as much for a Pixel phone.

The new gizmo is from Nokia, a Finnish corporation I remembered most from their ill-fated hookup with Microsoft to make and sell Windows phones. They've recovered from that madness and are now one of the few non-ChiCom makers of Android One smartphones — the guaranteed no-comma-priced line that has no carrier or OEM kludge, and thus gets Android OS updates on roughly the same schedule as the wallet-emptying Pixels. Their 6.1 model also seems to be the only current Android One phone with a version designed for use in the U.S., whereas pretty much everything else I looked at was available only in "international." It's entirely possible one of those would work just as well as mine, but I'm not ready to take the chance right now.

It has shortcomings; I saw all kinds of complaints about the camera, but since I'm not an avid shutterbug I think I can live with it. This phone also won't work on the Verizon network, in the unlikely event we suddenly decide to switch from T-Mobile; however, if we're staying with T-Mobile, this new phone offers the best chance of getting signal from their Band 12 towers in Wyoming (the Nexus has no Band 12 radio).

By the time I do need a phone that will work on Verizon, Android will have gone past Pie and Quickbread (or whatever they'll call the next version) and probably be on Sachertorte or Twix. Plenty of time to find either another Android One U.S. model that can access VZW, or save up for what by then will probably be a $4,000 Pixel 7. I wonder if State Farm will cover it?


Um Diddle Iddle, Um Diddle Aye

There's a trucking company whose rigs I see around from time to time, whose name always makes me think of a song from an old movie. The other day while waiting at a stoplight next to one of their rigs, well, you know how I get sometimes.

First I'll tell you that its name is XPO Logistics. Though I saw no reefer vans I thought of frozen fishsticks, and "When the competition see our rates they go ballistic." It was easy finding rhymes for XPO Logistics.

They could never use my jingle in spite of its whimsy — in fact the whole idea would put their chairman in a tizzy when he learned the royalties he'd have to pay to Disney.

So, I won't be sending it to XPO Logistics.


Yesterday Don’t Matter if It’s Gone

And our local Ruby Tuesday is indeed gone, without so much as a goodbye. Nor is it alone. Presumably this latest wave is part of a process that began a couple of years ago.

We had just received a new coupon a couple of days before we went by there, hoping to use it. The parking lot was empty and so was the dining room. A single sheet of paper was taped on the glass of the front door, apologizing for the inconvenience. There are still locations open within an hour's drive, but that's hardly suitable most of the times we go out to eat. And who knows how long those locations will last?

Mrs. McG and I had become occasional customers of the chain soon after arriving in metro Atlanta, when the Newnan location hadn't yet opened; in those days it was fairly convenient to drive to Peachtree City for many of our favorite places, but PTC has grown unmanageably congested since then and their Ruby Tuesday was razed years ago for a Walgreens.

Over time the menu and decor at the Newnan store had gone through the same sort of changes as other casual dining chains, but the salad bar had kept us coming back even during Ruby's "you'll get broccoli with everything and like it" phase. I guess we should have seen the end coming when they stopped offering those tasty complimentary biscuits.

A couple of local former restaurants — Chili's and T.G.I. Friday's, to be specific — have become phone stores — for AT&T and Verizon, respectively, to be specific. T-Mobile's location nearby is a storefront; maybe they'd like a bigger space?


I’ll See Your Dumpster Fire and Raise You...

...a truck fire on a moving train.

Dramatic footage from the helmet cam of a Uinta County Fire and Ambulance firefighter shows efforts to extinguish a flaming truck, on the back of a train, while the train is still in motion.

The video was posted to social media on during [sic] the morning of August 27th.


Fire crews were notified by personnel on the Union Pacific Railroad, on August 9th, that they had a train with cargo on fire. The cargo was described as an empty “military-type fuel truck,” however Quinney said he was not sure who owned the vehicle.

Officials were notified that the train would be passing the Carter, Wyoming crossing, and fire crews were dispatched to the area.

“We waited for the train to arrive,” said Quinney “we were able to get some water on it and put it out.”

Unfortunately, it's a Facebook video, and not having a Facebook account I don't seem to have a way to embed it here, so you'll just have to click through. It's a cool video though.

It looks like the locomotive crew was able to bring the train to a stop while the firefighters were hosing down the fire. The railroad's investigating how it started.


Is It Just Me?

Or does anyone else think it should be possible to set smartphone contacts so that you get a certain notification tone unique to the contact, and that it work whether the message is a text or an email? Or for that matter, a voicemail.

It seems to me that, as a general rule, the source of the message is more important than how the message is sent. Mrs. McG and I use both text messaging and email, and there's not necessarily any logic to which mode we decide to use (though I suspect she's more likely to email when she's at her desk, since unlike me she can't text from her laptop). I'd much rather know from the tone my phone makes when I receive any kind of message from her, that she's the one who sent it. That way if I hear the default tone I've set, I'll know it's not from her and I can probably put off checking it. When I do check, the notification banner on my phone will direct me to whichever app has the message, and failing that there'll be a notification dot on the icon. I don't need to know how the message got to me until I look for it.

I'm not aware of any smartphone email or voicemail client that even allows setting individual tones based on the caller or the sender of a message — you can identify a saved caller by the ringtone, and assume the voicemail ping means they left the message, but that's as far as it goes, and it ain't foolproof.

Smartphone contact apps have always sucked — even the souped-up popular ones, which are designed to appeal to people who only use social media anyway. It's like there's a secret law that contact apps can't be even as good as a sucky web-based contact manager (and they all suck too). The apps could be so much more powerful and useful if the world's tech-heads would devote their energies to making tech work better instead of doxxing and shadow-banning people who say things that make them uncomfortable about their place in the universe.

You want to feel comfortable about your place in the universe? Earn it. Make a contact app that does what the people who use them, want.


Is There Supposed to Be an Earth-Shattering Kaboom?

Maybe not.

Every so often people get to clucking about the Yellowstone supervolcano. In fact, while I was re-reading some past entries recently in C.J. Box's "Joe Pickett" series of Wyoming-set thrillers, one story I read — taking place in Yellowstone — featured a character nicknamed Doomsayer, who enjoyed scaring people half to death with predictions of imminent global catastrophe from the giant ticking magma bomb underlying the world's first national park.

I recently stumbled on a three-year-old bucket of cold water on all that doomsday talk:

We can't help but notice the comments in social media, and even the ticklers and headlines in the newspapers and blogs. Sometimes, people spread misinformation even when they think they know the facts.

This comes straight from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, the boffins right there in the middle of the giant ticking magma bomb of doom, whose job it is to know what's really going on. And apparently supervolcano doom is a lot like Y2K doom, or climate-change doom. Get a load of these:

Misconception #1: When Yellowstone erupts…. it'll be Armageddon.

[E]ven previous Yellowstone supereruptions did not cause extinctions, and ash fallout on the other side of the continent was minimal.

Turns out, Yellowstone erupts a lot — even leaving aside geysers spouting hot water. Actual non-explosive lava flows are a known event in the caldera. What explosions are seen there usually involve geysers spouting mud and rocks along with the usual squirtage.

Misconception #3: Yellowstone is overdue for a supereruption.

If it does erupt, it need not be a large eruption. Moreover, there's no necessity that there will be another supereruption. Most volcanic systems do not have multiple such events. When they do, the supereruptions are not evenly spaced in time. Finally, it is not valid to calculate a recurrence period solely on two values (the two intervals between supereruptions).

The part where I added emphasis is something that jumped out at me the first time I heard fearmongering about Yellowstone — because I took a college course once about statistics, and like a lot of that college crap it's stuck with me.

There are five points in all, if you still need convincing.


Why Do Environmentalists Hate Science? (2)

"Conservation groups" are ginning up hysteria about a single bear to try to invalidate all of the science already in use for bear management in that same area.

The confirmation of a previously unrecorded female grizzly bear death in 2017 should cause the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to stop part of a hunt planned for Sept. 1, six conservation groups say.

Wyoming set its grizzly hunt rules based on flawed information available in January, the groups said in a letter to the state commission and department director Scott Talbott on Monday. Officials have confirmed that the January information was inaccurate and that at least one more female grizzly bear than previously counted died in a key census area.

The new information “has serious implications for the hunt,” said Bonnie Rice, senior representative, Greater Yellowstone-Northern Rockies regions for Sierra Club. “The department should not be holding a hunt … in the [core Yellowstone] Demographic Monitoring Area,” she told WyoFile in an interview.

The inaccurate count is the cudgel they're using to try to stop this hunt — in an area where they're simultaneously opposing efforts to improve the accuracy of the count.


Let Me Introduce You to a Thing Called ‘Karma’

One way in which karma acts is by holding you accountable in exactly the same way it held other people accountable, who did exactly the same thing you're doing.

Although in some cases "karma" goes by other names, such as "the law."

The new and worrying trend here for people like Monaco is the strategy of repurposing a tactic meant to fight racists for the arrest of people on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum.

This refers to laws like one adopted in New York in 1845 or, as Monaco complains, ones adopted in the South in the early 20th Century against members of the Ku Klux Klan. One of the latter was used last April to arrest masked counter-demonstrators in Newnan, Georgia — and inspired almost identical whining from Antifa cadres.

If you don't want to be treated like the Democratic Party shock troops of a hundred years ago, don't behave like the Democratic Party shock troops of 100 years ago. It's as simple as that.


The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

In honor of the holiday, and of the courage of those who made it possible, a classic:

In Congress, July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

WE, THEREFORE, the REPRESENTATIVES of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


"Don’t You Roll Your Eyes When I’m Shaking My Finger in Your Face!"

What must it feel like to be an attorney arguing a case before the jury, knowing that every single one of them has tuned you out — not just you and your side of the debate, but the debate itself? The whole topic?

Increasingly, that's how this nation's ruling elite feels, especially since November 2016. Instapundit has pointed out repeatedly in the past week or so that "there’s a huge gap between elite and mainstream opinion" on immigration policy, but if you look at the survey results going back many, many years, it's also true of, for example, climate policy. The elites keep arguing, trying to win over the public, and nobody's listening.

That's why they were already going off the rails even before the last presidential election, and it's why they've gone positively berserk since then.

Their pre-2016 behavior is, of course, why 2016 happened, and afterward they've acted as if it's their mission to justify the election result. When Hillary Clinton called half of all Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables," it was positively mild compared to what they're saying now.

Getting back to my attorney metaphor: if you've ever watched lawyer shows on TV you know that an attorney who senses that he's losing the jury comes up with some way to change the momentum, to regain their attention and refocus it in a way that benefits his client. What he doesn't do is climb up on the table and start yelling insults at them. He doesn't track them down at home and stage demonstrations on their front porches. He doesn't ambush them in their yards and beat them up or try to shoot them at softball practice.

That would get him disbarred and — one should hope — thrown in jail.

The Democrats and certain elite Republicans have spent the past 20 months trying to persuade America to restore them to power by acting like people who should never again be given even as much responsibility as a middle-school hall monitor.

This is why people like Roger Simon say the Democratic Party must have a death wish. I'm not so sure about that; I think it's the natural consequence of emptying and closing down all the maximum-security mental institutions.


Why Do Environmentalists Hate Science?

The science deniers are at it again, this time at Yellowstone.

An effort to refine Yellowstone-area grizzly bear population estimates is disturbing conservationists who fear it could lead to increased hunting and other bear deaths.

Why could it lead to more bear deaths?

A federal scientist told Yellowstone area grizzly managers this spring he is developing a method to more accurately count grizzly bears and hopes to present his “integrated population model” to them next year. Members of the Yellowstone Grizzly Coordinating Committee could then consider whether to use it instead of the existing formula, called Chao 2, which some have argued underestimates bear numbers by up to 50 percent.

It could lead to more bear deaths because it could lead to more accurate population estimates, meaning the bear population may prove to be larger than the ecosystem can properly sustain.

Conservationists see potential liabilities in the agreed-to plan for states to manage grizzlies. That conservation strategy refers six times to “best available science.” The strategy also states that the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which reviews the bear’s status regularly, “may continue to investigate new methods for population estimation as appropriate.” But, the strategy adds, “the model-averaged Chao2 method will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.”

Continuing to use a consistent method of estimating population would ensure that managers are comparing apples to apples, Wenk told WyoFile in 2016. But changing methods could indicate there are 300 or 400 bears more than agreed-to objectives. That could put something like 400 bears at risk, Wenk has said, potentially altering the entire ecosystem.

By making it more sustainable. For some reason this bothers the greenies, who would rather the government continue using bad science, potentially putting other animal populations, as well as park visitors and ultimately the bears themselves, at greater risk.

Environmentalism is not about science, and never has been. It's increasingly clear it's not even about the environment, and never has been.


They Don’t Want You to Think for Yourself

And so they pretend you already can't. Gideon Resnick writes in The Daily Beast:

Trump’s apparent stranglehold on Republican voters has also led them to buy into the notion that the mainstream media is out to get him in their coverage of the administration.

No, Gid, you have that backwards. The media's inability to maintain even the semblance of objectivity about Trump, Republicans, or the American people outside of coastal enclaves — in evidence long before Trump decided to run for office — accounts for what you call "Trump’s apparent stranglehold on Republican voters."


Flag Day

Yeah, she's got a little wear on her, but we're mighty damn proud of that ragged old flag.


Things Abraham Lincoln Didn’t Say (on the Last Monday in May)

The dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg took place on November 19, 1863. Decoration Day didn't originate until a few years later and President Lincoln was gone by then. Still, these are powerful enough words of remembrance that they seem appropriate.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Injudicious Temperament

Dissent in a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court:

In dissent for the court’s liberals, Justice Ruth Bader called the decision “egregiously wrong” and likely to lead to “huge underenforcement of federal and state stautes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers.” Ginsburg said that the individual complaints can be very small in dollar terms, “scarcely of a size warranting the expense of seeking redress alone.”

But wait. Here's what the majority opinion says:

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the contracts are valid under the arbitration law. “As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear,” Gorsuch wrote.

Why do the Court's liberals hate the law?

This is why Trump won, and why Neil Gorsuch is on the Court instead of Merrick Garland: the American people are tired of law being made by an unaccountable robed shamanry rather than by their elected representatives. If the application of law in this matter is unsatisfactory to the American people, they need only elect a Congress willing to change the law as the Constitution provides.

Unfortunately, that would also mean electing Senators who would confirm hyperactivist nominees like Ginsburg. The larger implications may sufficiently overshadow the short-term consequences to make that unpalatable to the electorate. I wonder why.


Thoughts My Brain Made, 11

Never brake-check a vehicle that weighs more than your house.


This Is My Shocked Face

That one you see over there in the sidebar. Yup, that's the one — at least, it served the purpose as I read this (h/t Watts Up With That?, via Gail Heriot at Instapundit):

Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue "opposed policy solutions," but at the same time, they "were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors," writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall.

Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment "were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions."

Anyone who's seen photos of the aftermath of an Earth Day rally — as compared to anything staged by conservatives, from a Tea Party event to "Dan's Bake Sale", in which venues are routinely left cleaner than the participants found them — already knew this.


Earth Day

An annual observance touted by the American news and entertainment media, on which environmentally conscious Americans gather in public places and pollute them.

Founded by a man who murdered his girlfriend and composted her.


Speaking of California...

Apparently one can accurately say "pew" about more than just drought alarmism.

Forget the Golden State. California should be called the Smoggy State.

Eight of the USA's 10 most-polluted cities, in terms of ozone pollution, are in California, according to the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report, released Wednesday.

The Los Angeles/Long Beach area took the dubious distinction of being the nation's most ozone-polluted city as it has for nearly the entire 19-year history of the report.

Overall, the report said about 133 million Americans — more than four of 10 — live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, placing them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.

"We still have a lot to do in this country to clean up air pollution," said Lyndsay Moseley Alexander, director of the Association's Healthy Air Campaign.

"In this country"...? When did California secede? I must have missed the raucous celebration in the other 49 states.


Doom Sells

That's the only justification I can come up with for this bit of "new normal" alarmism from Pew.

Nearly a third of the continental United States was in drought as of April 10, more than three times the coverage of a year ago. And the specter of a drought-ridden summer has focused renewed urgency on state and local conservation efforts, some of which would fundamentally alter Americans’ behavior in how they use water.

In California, for example, officials are considering rules to permanently ban water-wasting actions such as hosing off sidewalks and driveways, washing a vehicle with a hose that doesn’t have a shut-off valve, and irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians. The regulations, awaiting a final decision by the California State Water Resources Control Board, were in force as temporary emergency measures during part of a devastating five-year drought but were lifted in 2017 after the drought subsided.


The picture of a coastal metropolis going without water once seemed inconceivable. But as a waterless Cape Town has become a potential reality, its story has sparked new concerns over the growing scarcity of the planet’s most basic resource.

Their basis for implying WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE is California — where the Legislature has also been the state mental institution for decades — and South Africa, where they have come to regard Zimbabwe as a utopia?

There have been legitimate resource failures in mankind's history, but most "resource failure" consequences, especially in the last hundred years or so, have been due to corruption, stupidity, and/or malice. California and Cape Town encompass elements of all three (in California's case, that includes electing Jerry Brown to his third and fourth terms as governor; hell, even his second was inexcusable).

It never occurred to me "Pew" wasn't just a name, but a perfectly reasonable reaction.


Thoughts My Brain Made, 10

There's a reason why cowboys don't like to follow the herd.


Uneven, but Watchable

This is not your grandfather's "Lost in Space." In fact, I'm still not sure whether I'm watching "Lost in Space" or just "Lost" ...in space.

The Netflix reboot makes the Alpha Centauri project admittedly more realistic by involving more castaways (a real colonization project wouldn't send families as early in the process as depicted in the 1965 series — or for that matter in the 1998 movie — and surely never just one).

Then again, the idea of a cast of regulars numbering in the dozens is also a consequence of 21st-century sensibilities, in that a plot line without a large (and of course diverse) variety of social entanglements seems too far outside the range of experience for the half-mythical millennial viewers who inhabit Hollywood's stereotype factory. How can you relate to characters who aren't constantly sidetracked from grubby issues like survival by trivial interpersonal drama? Who could live like that??? At my age, I'm more inclined to sympathize with the robot.

If you haven't watched any of the show yet though, Easter egg alert: look closely at the actor in the first-episode scene where the Dr. Smith character steals an injured colonist's jacket. Even on second replay I hardly recognized him.


You Dirty...

...rat snake.

Mrs. McG and I got back from a set of errands that included finishing up our state and federal tax returns for 2017, and as she returned from a home weather-station chore in the front field Mrs. McG spotted the above, a respectable sized serpent, making a meal of however many bird eggs were in that nest.

In my effort to coax said at-the-time-unidentified snake out into the open for a better portrait, I wound up instead causing it to retreat into a burrow under the gardenia bush that contains the nest. You can't really tell from this picture, but instead of being black all over, like a racer, this specimen had subtle markings on his sides and belly that point to the after-the-fact identification made above: eastern rat snake.

Normally a pair of birds that lays eggs and comes home to a raided nest will lay a new clutch, but we think these tragic parents and any future potential offspring would be better off if they were to nest somewhere else.


We Have a Winner

In the sweepstakes for Most Incompatible Observances on The Same Day, the winner is: TODAY.

Imagine Mary Magdalene bursting in on the mourning Apostles with the news that He is risen from the dead — only to follow it with, "April Fools!"

No. Just no. Today is Easter. If you absolutely must observe April Fool's Day, wait until tomorrow.

Update: Charles looks into how Easter is scheduled.


Well Toned

I don't remember how long ago I ordered the toner cartridge for our laser printer, but I'm pretty sure it's been over a year.

I got it because at the time, the printer's intraweb page was showing the level of black toner in the cartridge as alarmingly low, compared to the cyan, magenta and yellow toner cartridges. Given that of course we use a lot more K than CMY, it made sense the former was running out sooner than the rest. So, just to make sure I had it on hand for when we needed it, I ordered it — and let it sit until "needed it" came along.

Technically, it never really did. Mrs. McG has been successfully printing documents without a complaint even as the indicator on the printer's web page looked utterly empty.

But today, she needed to go to an office supply store where we could be sure there would be The Best Paper to print a thingie for her newborn cousin-once-removed down in Tallahassee, and I decided that rather than risk wasting a sheet of The Best Paper I ought to finally go ahead and switch out the cartridges.

Try procrastinating like that with an inkjet printer.

Sunday,  March 25, 2018  McGehee

It’ll Be Somebody's. Bet on It.

Mrs. McG and I were driving home and passed a gas station whose sign had, for the last couple of months at least, read $0.009 per gallon for all grades of gasoline. This time, though, there were actual prices displayed.

Me: "Looks like they finally got a shipment of gas."

Mrs. McG: "Homebrew."

Me: "Bathtub Ethyl?"

Mrs. McG: "That will not be my band's name."

Saturday,  March 24, 2018  McGehee

To Paraphrase Dashiell Robert Parr

If everyone is Irish, then no one is.

My surname may be Scottish, but my most recent previous two generations include two Irish surnames from distaff ancestral lines.

Go ahead and wear green, and say "Erin go braw" — even most Irish-Americans don't pronounce bragh correctly — and drink green beer. But don't pretend it makes you Irish.

Although, I suppose just being drunk will get you close enough. Sláinte.

Saturday,  March 17, 2018  McGehee

Lamb, Slaughter, Some Assembly Required

So, everyone is studying the chicken entrails to ascertain what Democrat Conor Lamb's victory in a Pennsylvania congressional special election means for this November. I'd like to know if this had any bearing on the outcome.

Shortly after the new year, Rep. Steve Stivers, the House GOP campaign chief, delivered a stern message to Rick Saccone, the party's special election candidate in Pennsylvania.

You need to start pulling your weight, Stivers implored Saccone, the mustachioed 60-year-old state legislator who is carrying the weight of the Republican Party in a crucial contest next week.

Stivers’ warning, described by two people familiar with the discussion, was intended to put the candidate on notice. The national GOP would be helping him out substantially, Stivers said. But if Saccone didn’t start upping his fundraising game and getting his sluggish campaign in order, he could lose a race that should be a gimme for the party.

I remember wondering when I saw this piece, how did the party let such a bump on a log become its nominee in this special election?

I'm less curious why this fact about Lamb's opponent has suddenly vanished down the memory hole after the votes have been counted. Saccone, despite being a lousy candidate, still managed to almost win — but Teh Narrative leading up to this fall's midterm elections has been decreed to be OMG BLUE WAVE GOP IZ DOOOOOOOOMD!!!!1!!

Every damn time. No matter what part of the Republican Party they belong to, no matter what sector of the media, legacy or new, they dwell in, they fall for it every damn time.

Friday,  March 16, 2018  McGehee

The Master Race

So, this happened. Repeatedly.

Neanderthal genes supply between 1 percent and 4 percent of the genome in people from homelands on several continents, from Britain to Japan to Colombia.

DNA from another human-like primate, the Denisovans, lurks in modern genomes, too. A molar and a chip of pinkie bone found in a Siberian cave provide what little information we have about this species. DNA extracted from the fragments previously revealed cross-species breeding. Yet a new study in the journal Cell shows the ancient hanky-panky did not stop in Siberia: Humans who traveled across South Asia mated with a separate group of Denisovans as well.

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists might as well pack it in, since this proves the notion of "white racial purity" is a joke. A very, very, very old and (ahem) off-color joke. The only people walking around on earth today with pure Homo sapiens blood are those whose ancestors never left Africa.

But I still want to remind everyone: the origins of agriculture, of civilization, and of philosophy occurred in lands occupied by those with Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in their genome. Clearly "racial purity" is not all it's cracked up to be.

Friday,  March 16, 2018  McGehee

Remember When Coders Had to Be Detail-Oriented?

For a while I've been using apps from the Microsoft Store on my laptops to handle email and text messages. The default Windows 10 Mail app has worked acceptably well, and the multi-device SMS service I use has an app in the store for use on desktop systems in place of the web browser interface.

I've been pretty well satisfied with them, but lately I've noticed the email and texting apps on my phone haven't been notifying me of new messages like they're supposed to. It finally occurred to me what the common thread might be: these Metro apps on Windows 10 for some reason preempt the Android apps if either of the laptops is left running when I'm away from the keyboard.

The Windows apps notify just fine — in fact Windows 10's notification center is a tad on the naggy side — but it's on my phone that I actually need notifications. So, on Windows I'm back to the web interfaces for both mail and SMS. The coders ought to have prevented these kinds of detrimental interactions, but apparently app development is no longer a team effort. Solo coders don't get the pre-release, "sanity check" feedback that used to come from team members.

Unrelated: I became disenchanted with the javascript searchbox service I initially tried. DuckDuckGo doesn't charge, as Google now does, to have its site search box on the site (plus, it's not Google) so that's what I'm using here now.

Thursday,  March 15, 2018  McGehee

Twice a Year, Like (ahem) Clockwork

...I complain about Daylight Saving Time. Or more accurately, about the 52-year-old twice-yearly ritual of changing clocks.

As suggested here, I'm of the opinion that we could shift the time zone boundaries 7½ degrees west and do away with daylight saving time altogether. In this I dissent from those who would rather go permanently to DST across the country, because doing so would, in some places, have sunrise occurring well into the work day. I had enough of that in Fairbanks even without wintertime DST; not looking forward to it here in Georgia.

After all, the Tally Book is published less than an hour's drive by diagonal interstate from Alabama, which is in the Central Time Zone; if I could do 70 on two-lane state highways I could get there in under half an hour. We're about as far west as you can be in the Eastern Time Zone at this latitude, which means winter sunrise is already quite late enough, thank you very much.

Under my proposal, nothing would actually change here where I live. We'd be on Eastern Standard Time all year round because of where we are in the time zone. Our summertime sunrises and sunsets would both be an hour earlier, by the clock, than they are under the current system. The beneficiaries — in summer — would be those in the eastern parts of the existing zones, who would find themselves in the western parts of the new zones. The thing about time zones is, there are always western parts with later sunrises and sunsets than the eastern parts. Shifting the boundaries less than the full 15-degree width westward would have the same effect domestically as going to a nationwide plus-30 (something I'd previously espoused), without the downside of having the U.S. permanently a half-hour off from most of the rest of the world.

Now, when I say shift the zones 7½ degrees west, the actual shift would be approximate. The current boundaries jump all over the place to follow state boundaries as much as possible, and then adding fiddly bits to help keep certain stateline-straddling metro areas on the same time. New fiddly bits would no doubt appear with the new boundaries. But the end result would be to make Central time more central, and to limit Pacific time more to the coastal states. Southwest Oregon's Boise-adjacent fiddly bit could be joined by all of trans-Cascadian Oregon and Washington, and Idaho itself would no longer be divided, north from south. El Paso could be brought into time conformity with Austin and Dallas.

Best of all, though: we'd finally be able to absolve Alaska and Hawaii from the necessity of a time-change ritual that has no rational basis at their respective latitudes.

Friday,  March 9, 2018  McGehee

Thoughts My Brain Made, 9

If a man can shower, towel off, comb his hair, and get dressed — and his hair still isn't dry, either his hair is too long, or he's forgotten to put on his pants.

Wednesday,  March 7, 2018  McGehee

What Would We Do Without Astronomers?

Well, in fairness, it was from astronomers I learned enough that the following strikes me as one of the 21st century's quintessential "Duh!" moments.

We know Proxima Centauri has a great deal of flare activity, so this wouldn't be entirely out of character for the star. But it also lowers the chances for finding life on Proxima b, a rocky planet about 1.3 times the mass of Earth.

Because the star is so cool and dim, the planet has to orbit very close to the star in order to be within the habitable zone. This means that it's much more likely to get lashed by stellar flares, which could strip away its atmosphere, if it even had one to start with.

"It's likely that Proxima b was blasted by high energy radiation during this flare," MacGregor said.

"Over the billions of years since Proxima b formed, flares like this one could have evaporated any atmosphere or ocean and sterilised the surface, suggesting that habitability may involve more than just being the right distance from the host star to have liquid water."

Yes. You also need an active molten iron core to support a strong magnetosphere — though how strong it would need to be to withstand Proxima's flares is beyond my reach, as is whether a magnetosphere that strong might not make the planet uninhabitable all by itself.

This is why I don't consider Fermi's Paradox all that paradoxical. We're here not just because Earth is in the Goldilocks Zone, but also because (according to the prevailing theory) a planet not much smaller than Earth came along and hit our planet, undoing whatever core cooling might already have taken place, and creating a disproportionately large moon that has exerted tidal pressure on Earth for billions of years, slowing the recooling of our molten core and preserving our magnetosphere long enough for life not only to arise, but to evolve to its present abundance and diversity. And in our own case, a semblance of intelligence.

Odds are that in a universe as enormous (and dimly lit) as ours, this serendipitous sequence of events — or some other having the same effect — has occurred in some other, relatively stable, sun's Goldilocks Zone, but the Fermi Paradox assumes that Earth is typical.

Obviously, it isn't.

Wednesday,  February 28, 2018  McGehee

Another Reason Why I Keep My Web Domain

Ever been filling out forms and come to the line for your email address? Notice how little space they usually have?

If you're like some people your email provider's domain name is anywhere from five to twelve letters long, plus .com or whatever. And if you weren't one of the first 500 subscribers to that email provider, your username may be anywhere from twelve to twenty characters long, what with all the additional letters and numbers they make you tack on because so many other people have your exact full name (yes, even mine).

By owning my own domain — and a short one at that — I have the only email address on it.

My email address will fit on any line on any form. And if they still somehow manage to give me too short of a line, well, I can give myself a username of just one letter.

Sunday,  February 25, 2018  McGehee

I Got Yer Meme Right Here

The question was, "Why didn't the FBI realize Nikolas Cruz was a potential threat when he was reported for the crazy things he was saying on social media? Why didn't the FBI connect the dots with all the dozens of times local law enforcement were called on him?

The answer is simple: The feds were too busy surveilling the Trump campaign because of a phony dossier cooked up on Hillary's dime, to bother with trying to protect the lives of some Florida schoolchildren.

Make that trend, and watch the fireworks.

Saturday,  February 24, 2018  McGehee

Can We Stop Electing Them Now?

I'm so old, I can remember when the Baby Boomers' most desirable asset was their youth, which supposedly meant they were less set in their ways, more open to newer and allegedly better ideas.

There are Baby Boomers who are now in their 70s.

The thing about youth is, it has a Sell By date. Maybe it wasn't such a great marketing strategy in the first place but that's a topic for another post.

Saturday,  February 17, 2018  McGehee

Facebook Really Wants to Get to Know My Spam Folder

I actually haven't gotten any mail begging me to go back to Facebook. I think like most spammers, they know better. But apparently other people are getting mailbombed.

It's been about a year since Rishi Gorantala deleted the Facebook app from his phone, and the company has only gotten more aggressive in its emails to win him back. The social network started out by alerting him every few days about friends that had posted photos or made comments — each time inviting him to click a link and view the activity on Facebook. He rarely did.

Then, about once a week in September, he started to get prompts from a Facebook security customer-service address. "It looks like you're having trouble logging into Facebook," the emails would say. "Just click the button below and we'll log you in. If you weren't trying to log in, let us know." He wasn't trying. But he doesn't think anybody else was, either.

"The content of mail they send is essentially trying to trick you," said Gorantala, 35, who lives in Chile. "Like someone tried to access my account so I should go and log in."

That doesn't sound phishy at all.

The article offers an alternative explanation for why I haven't been getting any of these underhanded, passive-aggressive pleas:

Facebook, which has more than 2 billion people logging in monthly, has never failed to grow its user base. To beat investors' expectations consistently on user numbers, it's just as important for the company to retain people like Gorantala as it is to recruit new members. People who are logging into Facebook less often — but aren't fully disconnected — are noticing more and more frequent prompts to come back, sometimes multiple times a day, via emails or text messages reminding them what they're missing out on, according to screenshots and reports from users around the world. Gorantala, who eased off his Facebook usage because of privacy concerns, said his security prompt comes "whenever I don't log in for a few days."

It sounds plausible, but with Facebook's usage rates on the decline in the U.S. and Canada, "a few days" could just as easily be in the triple or quadruple digits as their desperation mounts.

And when that time comes, I'll be ready.

Thursday,  February 1, 2018  McGehee

Triggered by an Elevator Button?

Members of the Norwegian ski team, and some vendors, are being shamed into dumping a uniform sweater because it includes a rune that has been given unsavory associations without its consent.

Designed at a time when public interest in Viking culture is experiencing a renaissance, the theme for Norway's Alpine ski team uniforms this season is "the Attacking Viking," a homage to the team's nickname. But the sweater features a symbol known as the Tyr rune, which neo-Nazis want to claim as their own.

There is little evidence that the rune originally had any symbolic significance beyond its sound value, but the letter shares the name of a Norse deity popularly understood as the god of war, Tyr. Nowadays, most runologists consider it a letter no more mysterious than the letter T.

Even so, the presence of the Tyr rune on the team's sweater design was enough to raise alarms.

The Tyr rune looks like an "up" arrow. Literally. If you've ever stood waiting for an elevator to arrive so you could ascend to your office or hotel room, you've probably seen it over the elevator door, lighting up just before the doors opened.

Yeah. That. European neo-Nazis think that carries some kind of symbolic power that links them with the Norse god of war. Euro-weenies (and probably their American counterparts) are therefore triggered by it.

So, how long ya reckon before the shafted up-arrow is forcibly removed from everything, everywhere, because the neo-Snowflakes can't handle seeing it?

Thursday,  February 1, 2018  McGehee

Thoughts My Brain Didn’t Exactly Make, So Much As Glean from Decades of Observation

If you're not sure what's media spin and what's not, remember this Iron Law: the national news media never err on the side of "everything's going to be okay," unless everything not being okay will reflect badly on a Democrat.

Tuesday,  January 23, 2018  McGehee

Official Washington Invents the Weekend

The federal government shut down on Saturday and reopened the following Monday.


Monday,  January 22, 2018  McGehee

Enough With the Social Experimenting

Children of both sexes need parents of both sexes.

A boy needs to learn from someone who knows what it was like to be a girl. A girl needs to learn from someone who knows what it was like to be a boy. That way each has some basis for understanding the other. When either example is missing from a child's life, he or she grows up lacking an important perspective on how men and women are supposed to get along. Even when the relationship they grow up watching is dysfunctional, vital lessons are learned — even bad examples are valuable.

We are where we are because highbrows thought they knew better than the evolved outcome of thousands of generations of trial and error.

Sunday,  January 21, 2018  McGehee

If Norway Has What You’re Looking For in a Country...

...then by all means, stay there.

Twitter users, some of them from Norway, quickly lashed out asking Trump: Why would Norwegians want to come to America? ‘I’m confused — why the f*** would anyone migrate to the US from Norway? Why would you give up healthcare free at the point of access, living wages and reliable public services?,’ one tweet read. ‘I live in Norway and would never move to USA. We have free health care, free higher education, 5 weeks vacation 8 hours work a day. No thanks Trump,’ another user tweeted.

Just as you Norwegians like Norway just the way it is, I and millions of Americans like America just the way it is. I agree with you that if socialism is your definition of good government, America should be the last place you ever want to go. Forever and ever.

H/t: The Other McCain

Friday,  January 12, 2018  McGehee

No, Why Do You Ask?

The Guardian wonders, "Is deep-red Texas ready for a gay Latina Democrat?"

It would rank as one of the greatest political upsets of 2018 and a stunning rebuke to Trumpism: a gay Latina Democrat grabbing hold of the country’s biggest red state.

But is Texas ready for Lupe Valdez?

The question was first posed in Dallas in 2004, when Valdez scored a surprise victory to become the nation’s first openly gay female Hispanic sheriff on the same night that George W Bush secured a second term in the White House. She won re-election three times in Dallas County before announcing last month that she would resign to stand for Texas governor.

Her ethnicity and sexual preference are less problematic than her political affiliation. The last Democrat elected governor in Texas was Ann Richards in 1990 — whose quest for a second term was undone in 1994 by the 48-year-old son of a man who spent his free time in Maine. You may have heard of him. Since then only three people have sat in the governor's chair, all Republicans.

It's not impossible for Texans to elect a Democrat as governor; I'm old enough to have seen them do it. But the last few unsuccessful Democrats have all been "gimmick" candidates aimed more at motivating a dwindling base than attracting broad-based support, and if they play up Valdez's sexual preference she'll end up perceived as just another "gimmick" candidate.

Worse, they'll be treating her like the Democrats have always treated their non-white and female candidates down through the years, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — using them to score moral superiority points rather than to put competent people in positions of huge responsibility.

Never elect the learning-disabled.

Friday,  January 12, 2018  McGehee

Where Snow Miser Is At His Most Disagreeable

Wyoming has been declared the most dangerous state to drive in when there's snow.

The online resource that provides information on safety for communities compiled stats from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2016 crash data to make a calculation that put Wyoming far out in front of any other state for winter driving hazards. Safewise calculated the likelihood of crashing during snow per 100,000 people in each state with Wyoming receiving a 1.5 chance compared to the nearest state: Vermont (0.8).

Montana, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Nebraska rounded out the top ten most dangerous states for snow driving.

But do you know what you find when you search, say, Youtube for videos of car crashes in Wyoming? The same thing you see in the image at the link: Interstate 80 — choked with out-of-state drivers. And usually it's a particular stretch of I-80, running roughly between Rawlins and Laramie. The Snow Chi Minh Trail.

The newly constructed stretch of I-80 was dedicated Oct. 3, 1970, but residents had warned highway officials of the adverse weather conditions around the Elk Mountain area and advised them not to build a road in that location. Wyomingites who knew their history reminded highway officials that the Union Pacific Railroad looked at that same area 100 years earlier when planning and constructing the nation’s first transcontinental railroad and decided against the shorter, more direct route.

But, just four days after the highway was dedicated, a winter storm wreaked havoc on motorists traveling on the new highway, which Wyomingites referred to as a “monument to human error,” Waggener says.

I've driven that stretch twice — both times in the summer — and though it's scenic as all get out, it can also be nerve-wracking when unprepared car drivers are sharing just two lanes each way with the constant stream of big rigs. At one point in 2016 I was trying to pass a big rig behind a driver whose car apparently lacked the necessary power to climb that grade. I was driving a Ford Escape, so you can just imagine what must have been wrong with that guy's car.

In blowing snow, that guy would almost certainly have caused a pile-up like those seen in the aforementioned videos.

Part of the problem is that Wyoming is windy pretty much all the time, and that means mere snowfalls become blizzards. Wyoming's snow season, at the elevations on the Trail, can include summer months. Your typical transcontinental trucker knows this. Your typical vacation motorist, not so much. And conditions there can close in faster than the Highway Patrol can react.

Of course there are crashes, and fatalities, elsewhere in Wyoming, and they can involve lifelong Wyomingites. But the statistics naming the Cowboy State the most dangerous in the nation stem mainly from that one stretch of interstate. And remember, the ranking is based in part on the state's population — where Wyoming ranks 50th. This, coupled with the presence of a major transcontinental artery, can't fail to inflate the statistics.

I promise you, when Mrs. McG and I have at last relocated to Wyoming, we will avoid that stretch of I-80 in the fall, winter, and spring months.

Afterthought: If you scroll down to the map of most and least accident-prone states at the first link, you'll notice Georgia and other Southern states are among those with the least. That's because when snow falls down here, life stops. But it can only do that where snow falls rarely.

Update, February 15: Imagine that!

Saturday,  January 6, 2018  McGehee

Happy New Year!

Looks like the world survived 2017 after all. Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) hardest hit.

I am aware some people have proclaimed that 2018 has got to be better than either 2016 or 2017, because it couldn't possibly be any worse. Excuse me? Hello-o-o! Have you met the universe??

I'm approaching 2018 the same way I did the Trump presidency: expecting the worst, but willing to be pleasantly surprised. It's worked so far with him, so who knows?

New Year's Day,  January 1, 2018  McGehee