Friday, July 20, 2018

Fake News Friday: Marine Medics choose Australian Cattle Dogs as "official dog"

Just as the SEALs chose the Belgium Malinois, the medic units of the Marines looked around and determined that the Australian Cattle Dog most closely met their needs.

In classified documents that were leaked to Al Jazeera by Imran Awan and then purchased by ERJ News, it was revealed that one Australian Cattle Dog saved approximately 694 Marines in a battle in Falluja, Iran.  Video evidence shows the single dog dashing from one wounded Marine to the next. 

The dog applied compresses, set bones, ran blood transfusions and performed minor brain surgery in the three hours of video. It is estimated that the dog donated 43 units of its own blood (O-) to save fellow Marines.  In most cases, simply touching the Marine was enough to cause wounds to close, bones to knit and for the formerly wounded Marine to arise and take the battle to the enemy.

Expressing amazement, the Chief Commandant for the U.S. Marines asked how it was possible for one dog to bring so much aid and comfort to HIS Marines.  The dog's handler answered with a laconic drawl reminiscent of John Wayne, "Well, it is a Blue Healer."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trump is binary

In case you have not already noticed, Trump is binary.

Things are either "good" or "bad",  "green" or "red", "success" or "failure".

This characteristic is common in chief executives.  "'Yellow?'  'Yellow?'  What the heck is yellow?  Failing with honors?  Is it green or is it red?"

Problem solvers may need "variable data" and nuance to solve problems.  Chief executives only need enough data to properly motivate effective problem solvers or fire ineffective problem solvers.

Enigmas wrapped in mysteries wrapped in...
That model staggers a little bit when it runs into people like Putin.

Let me rephrase that.  That model founders when it must navigate other people's strong biases surrounding Putin and Russia.

I am not sure it fails when dealing with Putin.  I am not sure it has been tried.

Our brains function as binary computers.  A nerve either passes a synapse or it is quiet.  Yes or No.  Nuance is all well-and-good, but our brains function as high speed, interlaced, binary computers.
Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot

Coupled problems are inherently difficult to solve.  Trump's extraordinary effectiveness may be due to his ability to slow down the weft-and-woof of coupled signals so issues can be dealt with in a monotonic fashion.

At the risk of sounding like a Trump fan-boy, I think we need to back off and let Trump be effective (i.e., let Trump be Trump).  It is a management truism that you can either manage for style or you can manage for performance.  Trying to manage for both is to plant one foot in the canoe while leaving the other firmly rooted to the dock.

Trump consistently gets "F" for style and "A" for performance.  He is who he is and America can change that in 2020 if they judge that to be a mistake.

A story collected from elder-care

Mrs ERJ and I have three days of elder-care this week.

My father can now talk about the Depression.  His father died in the mid 1930s after a long struggle with tuberculosis.  My dad was nine at the time of his father's death. His mother was a wee, bitty thing and struggled to make ends meet both before and after her husband's death.

At one point she operated a printing shop out of the house they rented.  They cut a hole through the wall and had a gasoline "donkey engine" outside the building that powered the printer via an output shaft and thence pulleys and belts.  Starting the gas engine was a touch-and-go thing in the winter.

Toward the end my grandfather was totally bed-ridden.  His brothers did various things to amuse him.  One of the things they did was they set up a shooting range outside his bedroom window.  They opened the window and planted targets at known distances.  They loaned him a single-shot .22

In retrospect, I wonder if the target range was a red herring and if the real reason for the armament was to keep rabbits and woodchucks out of the garden and to collect meat for the pot.  It might have seemed cruel to a young boy to shoot bunnies but it kept food in the pot.  If memory serves, there were also game wardens who might not look kindly on out-of-season pheasant showing up on the dinner plates no matter how sick the primary breadwinner.

Even a man who is bed-ridden and within months of his death can contribute to the feeding and defense of his family if he has a firearm.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Suppose you went to a shooting range and were handed a rifle that you had never shot before.

You are shooting at a target that is one-hundred yards away and you are using iron sights.  Your partner is watching the target through the spotting scope so you can make adjustments to the sights.

In one case the only information he gives you is "Miss.    Miss.     Miss...."

In the second case the information he gives you is "Missed high-and-to-the-right.  Missed high-and-to-the-left"

In the third case the information he gives you is "You missed and are eight inches high and a half inch to the right."

Who do you think will converge to a usable setting first?

Be sure to provide the details of what when well

It is just as important to include the things that were done well.  Consider when a new girlfriend invites you over for a home-cooked meal.

The temperature of the food and the room was perfect.  The plates and silverware were clean and the candles were elegant.  She served pot-roast, salt roasted potatoes and your favorite pie.  The coffee was fresh and the wine was a rare treat.  She was attentive and laughed at all of your stories.

What would many guys tell her?

"I hate cauliflower." or "The wine glasses weren't the right ones for a 2011 Estate bottled Nebbiolo." perhaps "Bach's Ave Maria is not my favorite music."

Those kinds of responses are eviscerating and greatly diminish the chances of her ever feeding you again.

Much better to emphasize the things that she did well.  She is much more likely to replicate the things that you tell her were "perfect".

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

From the ugly to the sublime

Today's work involved the picture window on the east side of the building.  It consists of six panes.  Three lights across and two lights high.  In total, 120 inches across and 52 inches tall.

The sill consisted of two 2-by-4s.  Forty years of rain leaking onto them resulted in the wood being the color and texture of stale graham crackers.  I gouged out as much as I dared and tapped a 1-1/4", 6' piece of perforated angle iron across the gouged out region.

I installed the trim board and, by virtue of the perforations, was able to inject expanding, urethane foam into gap behind the angle.
 It made an ugly mess.

While prying off other trim boards that were rotten and needing replacing I encountered some wasps.  That necessitated a trip to Ionia to buy some bug spray.  While driving there I noticed an unusual steeple.

There is a Russian Orthodox church in tiny, Woodbury, Michigan.

The pastor and his wife live kitty-corner from the church (Map).  The pastor's wife was working in the yard and she agreed to accompany me over to the church so I could take pictures.

The church will be adding another row of icons above the existing row, hence the ladder in the frame.  Darla explained how great care was taken to select saints from a wide range of cultures and eras so everybody would feel welcome.

Just a sampling of the gorgeous icons.

Services are at 6:00 PM on Saturdays and 10:00 AM on Sundays.

One thing that was notable about the sanctuary is its small size.  The Russian Orthodox worship standing up.  That accomplishes two things:  It compresses the need for space from 15 square feet per worshiper down to 5 square feet (or less).  It also makes it warmer.  The only parts touching cold surfaces are the soles of your shoes...oh, and it is more crowded also making it warmer.

The bookstore

Like the Catholics, the Russian Orthodox are "big" on blessing everyday items.  Blessing them dedicates them to God's purpose and helps us to remember to use them for God's greater glory and honor rather than for purely selfish reasons.

The visit to the St Herman of Alaska Russian Orthodox church must have inspired me.  My craftsmanship cannot hold a candle to the artistry with paint the paintbrush or the wood carvings in the church but this ended up better than my usual hash.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Persimmons, Chokecherries, Footballs and Cargo Planes

Two leaves from American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and one of Japanese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki).

The leftmost leaf is from a variety called Juhl (aka, Yates) and the middle leaf is from Morris Burton.  The rightmost leaf is from a Japanese Persimmon named Saijo.

The American Persimmon leaves are flatter, narrower and a darker green.

The Japanese Persimmon leaf is "savoyed" like spinach, rounder and a bright spring green.

Gratuitous photo of chokecherries.
I was mowing some tall grass when the push mower inhaled this football.  Sporting equipment makes effective brakes for rotary equipment.
We had thunderstorms blow in around sunset

Can you see the contrail of the jet that just cleared the clouds?  I bet it was a cargo plane and I bet it was a bumpy ride.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A modest proposal to decentralize the Federal Government

I have some cousins who work inside the Beltway.

Their father worked inside the Beltway.

Their children work inside the Beltway. It has become a generational thing.

Sometimes, when talking to one of them, I get a whiff of "The White Man's Burden" It is not 'White Men' anymore but the sense of righteousness by virtue of birthplace is the same.

They assure me that it does not matter where they live and work because the Internet makes us all neighbors.  They can "feel my pain" through the Internet.

Of course, the sword cuts both ways.  Due to the Internet, their place of employment could very easily be anywhere other than the Washington D.C./Baltimore metro area with the high property prices, traffic and high crime rates.

Based on this article I propose that

The Treasury Department be moved to Casper, Wy.

The Department of Education be moved to Fort Worth, Tx.

The Justice Department be moved to Rutland, Vt.

The Department of Labor be moved to Fargo, ND.

HUD be moved to Fremont, Ca.

Transportation be moved to Tallahassee or Jacksonville, Fl.

The EPA be moved to Billings, Mt.

Lower costs, better performance and it drains the swamp.  Why would Trump NOT do it?

First Fruits, Prime Fruits

One of the precepts of Judeo-Christian tradition is that we must sacrifice "First Fruit, Prime Fruits" of our fields and labors. This precept was first enunciated in Leviticus 23 which is in the Old or Jewish Testaments.

The 40,000 foot flyover is that God expects us to have our priorities straight.  We must give to God first.  He also does not want produce heading for the compost pile, it must be our best effort.

A 20,000 foot flyover might ask, "What advantages might there be for the people?"  After all, God does not need prime lambs and goats.  He can raise them up out of dust with the snap of his fingers.

Genetic drift
I expect that the pastoral peoples of 2000 BC had a pretty good, basic understanding of genetics.   The problem with a basic understanding is that you can get into trouble over several generations if you don't comprehend the subtleties.
Suffolk sheep have been selected for large size and "meat".  They tend to throw single births because the breeders inadvertently selected for single births.

For example: Suppose you always choose the biggest ram lamb to use as your stud.  Invariably, the biggest ram will be the oldest ram lamb and it will be a "single" birth rather than a twin.

The primitive sheep-holder does not have the tools to be able to handicap the lambs for age or single-vs-twins.  Two things happen over multiple generations.  The lambing season migrates to earlier in the year when the weather is inclement and the lambing percentage drops.   That is a recipe for disaster in a brittle climate.

The entire lamb crop can be wiped out by a single winter weather event when lambing occurs too early in the spring.
Finn sheep come from a very hostile climate with very long winters.  The breeders selected for multiple births.

And twinning means that the sheep-holder can respond more aggressively to drought.  He can cull more aggressively to match his flock size to the forage base and still have the ability to quickly expand the flock when the rain pattern becomes more favorable.  A landrace of sheep that has only single births will rebound very slowly and the sheepholder must keep virtually every ewe, greatly eliminating his ability to select for traits like finer wool or longer wool or heavier fleeces.

Sacrificing the First Fruit (ram), Prime Fruit to God greatly slows the genetic drift over the generations.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Capital-Gazette shooting revisited

Old NFO wrote, "Did you notice how quickly the latest shooting fell off the media radar..." 

My take is different than Old NFO's.

The Maryland Capital-Gazette newsroom shooting fell off the media radar because media knows that continued coverage of that story makes them a target.

The advertising industry in the United States had revenue in excess of $200,000,000,000 in 2017.  Stated another way, there are 200,000,000,000 pieces of data that support the contention that "advertising works".

What is advertising?  Advertising is the exposure of ideas to decision-makers.  Often those ideas are "solutions".  Effective advertising paints graphic,  vivid pictures in the decision-maker's head.

Simply presenting an "idea" often releases a torrent of ideas that were locked up by the "failure of imagination" that made the original idea "unthinkable".  What really changed between September 10, 2001 and September 12, 2001?  The unthinkable became a reality.

Mainstream media is funded almost entirely by advertising revenues.  They believe in the power of repeated presentation of ideas.

Playing the odds
Media cold-bloodedly covered school shootings because many people in media don't have kids.  Or they figure there are 100,000 schools in the United States and figure the odds are that the next shooter won't choose the school their kids go to.

They don't mind putting other people's kids at risk because it sells advertising slots.

But there are currently 1300 daily newspapers.    The odds of being the next target increases by a factor of 100 compared to school shootings when shooting up newspaper offices becomes imaginable.

Looking at national news there are only three:  CNN, Fox and MSNBC.  The odds of being the next target increases by a factor of 30,000 compared to school shootings.  That is probably why you never hear of unhinged people attempting to penetrate those businesses.  I am sure it happens but you simply don't hear about it.

Sorry Old NFO, it had nothing to do with the shooter and everything to do with the target.

How the bear sh!ts in the woods

One afternoon Mr Rabbit was enjoying a calm, contemplative sh!t in the woods when he noticed a large bear engaged in the same activity.

The bear, noticing Mr Rabbit, asked him in a quizzical, conversational way, "Are rabbits troubled by fecal matter sticking to their fur?"

Delighted to have a chance to explain how rabbits are superior to bears Mr Rabbit replied, "No.  Rabbit feces are small and round, dry and hard.  Rabbits are not the least bit troubled by feces sticking to our fur."

"Good!" replied the bear as he scooped up Mr Rabbit and used him to scrub his nether regions.
The one question that kept coming up regarding my long (+14 mile) walks involved "What did you do about solid waste elimination?"

After hearing that question for the third time I realized it is a topic that I needed to write about.  Sadly, today's youth have had little need to study this topic.

You might find yourself needing this information if you are on a long walk.
Or perhaps you were invited to "hunting camp" and ate a breakfast that was far larger and greasier than is your norm.  You find yourself under pressure as you near your stand when you realize the host locked the cabin.

Or perhaps you plan to move to San Francisco and want to experience a carefree, bohemian lifestyle.

Location, location, location
Look around!  You might find a structure suitable for your needs.
If you cannot find a "real" latrine, you will have to make do.

This place would be suitable provided there is material nearby to cover the output.  Tall grass tends to cause blow-back while woods are often buggy.
Personally, I favor corn fields as they are very unlikely to have human traffic either during or after the main event.  They are large enough that any run-off during torrential rains is likely to be absorbed or very diluted.  Corn is tall enough to screen and widely enough spaced to not get in the way.

It is absolutely critical that you consider the ease with which you can cover the evidence.  Covering the output reduces the possibility of flies spreading pathogens.  Covering also moderates long-term temperature and moisture fluctuations allowing biological agents to 'mellow' your contribution to the soil.  Corn fields have bare dirt that is easy to scrape with a shoe or boot.

Another consideration is the proximity of yellow jacket or wasp nests.  Fire ants would be a factor in the deep south.  Yeah, I know your tender regions are pulsating but take a count of thirty and really scope out the immediate area (20 foot radius).

The Stance
Like all performance oriented sports that involve sending small objects flying through the air, stance is critical.

The ideal stance is with the feet fairly close together and the feet oriented in a slightly pigeon-toed manner.

The temptation is to have one's feet widely spaced.  The problem with that is that it does not give the bear the opportunity to push clothing forward and out of potential spray region.

Closer spacing of the feet allows for a more favorable arrangement of clothing.  This is critically important in the winter time.  The closely positioned feet also prevents clothing from migrating back downrange.

Of course my sh!t cinnamon.  The hunter who creates this situation usually realizes their mistake 0.3 seconds after they flip the hood back on their head.
Closing the range
Hunters realize that the key to hitting the target is to close the range to the practical minimum.  Squatting will both close the range and minimize the risk of collateral damages but will also allow your sphincter valve to relax and let nature take care of the rest.  Hence the slang term, "pop-a-squat".

Fiber is not always your friend and to always carry paper towels with you.

---Added later---
I don't want readers to think that I walk out the door with the intention of taking a dump on property that does not belong to me.  That would be disrespectful.

However, our guts are run by a semi-autonomous central nervous system, something like a two year-old toddler.  It does what it wants to do.  Sometimes it just does not matter that you avoided fiber and coffee and did not eat any just gotta go.

Remus is posting updates on his Woodpile Report

His update from Thursday night read

I’m deeply humbled by your prayers and notes of well wishes. My sincere thanks. Wish I could answer each email. Too many. And I’m too drugged up and spacey to manage it. Into O.R. Friday morning. “All out effort,” they say. All else has failed. I’ll stop here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Eye-rolls are a sign of contempt

Teenagers make a big show of it.

Adults "hide it" by making the eye-roll while blinking.  People who study body language call this a micro eye-roll. Except it does not quite hide the eye-roll.  The act still communicates that the person performing the eye-roll considers himself to be vastly superior to the other party...almost another species.

The person who assembled this montage captured several eye-rolls.

If you ever had any doubts about the existence of the Deep State, look at this man, a hireling of the FBI and understand that he KNOWS that Congress (and Trump) cannot touch him. 

That is, the people we elected to run the show are not running the show.

More painting and picture of Tree Swallows


Not the "right" molding but it works.  I opted to have the ends stick out 2-1/4" to kick the moisture out just a little farther away from the wooden frames.

The 2-by-8 plank beneath the air conditioner is rotted out.  The wire brush was eating through it as if it were a bar of soap.  I saturated it with Thompson Water Seal figuring it was better than putting lipstick on a pig.
The corners like to rot out.
Tree Swallows.
I visited the University of Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois as a Michigan State University student in 1981.  It was with great glee that I learned that the bus line in Champaign was named "The Illini Swallow".  That is a memorable name.

That is a great headline.  I wonder if it was intentional.

Fake News Friday: Weapon Free Zones

Fake News Friday: Hoard of weapons found in Eaton Rapids

An arsenal of kinetic energy weapons were found in a home in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Multiple bags were found on the property. Each bag contains 921.052 weapons. Additionally, clips filled with devastating "penetrator" rounds were also recovered.

Close-up of penetrator rounds.

Crack investigative reporters are tracing the path the perpetrators used to import these weapons from Thailand via Framingham, MA.
Second graders across Michigan sleep soundly knowing that the Main Stream Media 'has their back'.