Sunday, May 20, 2018

Clara Schumann - Piano Trio Op. 17

Image from Der Wik
Most composers throughout history have been men.  Clara Schumann's story tells us why.  She was the wife of composer Robert Schumann.

As you would expect from those times, he was better known than she, even though she was a musical prodigy from an young age.  But they had eight children together (only four of whom survived to adulthood), and she was the primary caregiver for them.  Her husband fell ill (perhaps bipolar disorder) and she became the family's primary caregiver, especially after his death in an asylum.

This left little time for composing.  As her husband wrote about her:
Clara has composed a series of small pieces, which show a musical and tender ingenuity such as she has never attained before. But to have children, and a husband who is always living in the realm of imagination, does not go together with composing. She cannot work at it regularly, and I am often disturbed to think how many profound ideas are lost because she cannot work them out.
Nevertheless, she ended producing a fair number of compositions.  You wonder what she might have created had she had a less hectic family life.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Today was going to be regular yard work, getting my utility trailer tires replaced, and then working on the tree that fell across the yard last week. Maybe even get to the reloading bench for a while.


It's pouring rain here. Has been for 3 or 4 days. Streets flooded. No way to cut the grass. Decide I am not working on the tree, although I did cut enough to get it off the house, porch roof and windows.

About 11 in the morning, I decide on the easy route. I hook the trailer to the truck and take it to the discount tire store. They do one. On the other side, two of the lugs just spin. Can't get the nuts off. We give up. I pay for one tire and come home.

Did I mention the rain? I put on my oldest boots and a full rain suit. Drive the truck and trailer up in the yard. Run an extension cord out to the wheel. Put a fresh disc on the angle grinder. Put on a face shield and hearing protection. And sit there in the rain, showering sparks until I grind down the two offending studs flush with the rim. Then chisel at the remaining metal until I can drive the studs back and get the wheel off. This time I leave the trailer.

The auto parts store had new studs and nuts. The discount tire manager was surprised to see me back, muddy and drenched, but he had a guy put the other new tire on for me right away. I think he was afraid I would sit down.

Come home. The trailer was on a jack. So I cut a large round out of the tree the right height to support the trailer and let the jack down. Trailer is solid and chocked. Trailer is supported by big immovable wood. Look at it for a few minutes. I feel safe enough to get under it.

Lay down in the water and the mud and try to hammer the new studs into the flange. Crawl out, get a bigger hammer and a longer, larger punch, lay back down and succeed in hammering the studs into the flange.

Mount the wheel, tighten the bolts, alternate between tightening and hammering until the studs finally pull up against the back of the flange.

Park the trailer. Put everything away. Use a hose to wash the mud off the rain suit and boots. Take a shower. I am out of the shower a little after 6.

Tomorrow I will have a go at some of the other things. Like the tree.

That'll buff out

The driver walked away from the crash.  And his team was working overnight to get the car put back together for the next day's race (!).

It's high time for some Common Sense Press Control

The Media is all in for curtailing the our Second Amendment rights.  OK, then - maybe we should look at curtailing their First Amendment rights.

After all, this has a better chance of reducing school shootings than any of the gun control proposals that we've heard.  And their publications are commercial in nature - they make money on talking up the school shootings, which likely encourages more school shootings - which leads to higher ratings and more money for them.  Which is more important: Media profits or children's lives?

After all, we're constantly told that if it saves one kid's life than we should do it, amirite?

Go sign the petition.

Hal Ketchum - Hearts Are Gonna Roll

The 1990s saw a flowering of what is called neo-traditional country music, which quite frankly is perhaps my favorite era for the music.  Hank Ketchum was one of the artists riding this wave.  This song charted at #2 when it was released in 1994, but Ketchum's story is more interesting than just a record of his music.

In 1998 he was diagnosed with a neurological condition of his spine that made the entire left side of his body unusable.  Despite this, he relearned how to play guitar.  Adding to his ailments, he also suffers from multiple sclerosis.  Despite this, he is a master carpenter and toy maker, and also paints.

Four Seasons, by Hal Ketchum

Hearts Are Gonna Roll (Songwriters: Hank Ketchum, Ronny Scaife)
Ever since she was a baby
Settin' on her daddy's knee
Had him wrapped around her finger
Doing anything she pleased 
She had a way of getting what she wanted
But Daddy knew in his mind
The pretty soon the boys would come runnin'
It's just a matter of time before 
Hearts are gonna roll
Heads are gonna turn
Tears are gonna fall
A bridge is gonna burn
Hearts are gonna roll
Hearts are gonna roll
Now she changes like the weather
Never stays in love too long
She'll take you to the limit
Just to leave you hangin' on 
Drop dead looks and a mind for trouble
That's all the girl's ever known
Leavin' behind a path of destruction
No matter where she goes 
Hearts are gonna roll
Heads are gonna turn
Tears are gonna fall
A bridge is gonna burn
Hearts are gonna roll
Hearts are gonna roll 
Don't fall under the spell of her eyes, boy
She's not looking at you
Take it from somebody who knows
She's movin' right one through

Friday, May 18, 2018

Do Gun Controllers even listen to themselves?

I guess not.

Quote of the Day: Brits and Yanks edition

The Czar of Muscovy ponders a fundamental disconnect between the opposite sides of The Pond:
One of the British princes is getting married to a former American, and thousands of Americans will be glued to the events in rapt fascination; the rest of us won’t remotely understand the appeal of this. Wasn’t despising royalty the whole point of 1776?
Meantime, the United States will feature some gun show which will be attended by a couple hundred British subjects out of thousands of American attendees; the British visitors will love putting their hands on new pistols and rifles, and happily debate the merits of one brand of ammunition over another. The rest of Britain will shake their heads in befuddlement. What’s with the fascination over firearms?
I confess that I do not understand the American fascination with Royalty, but that's just me.  The Queen Of The World, on the other hand, does like the glamor of the Court (although she - and I - finds Miss Markle's anti-Trump rants annoying and un-Royal).

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Researchers discover the obvious

They have discovered a "paradox" where people employed in more physically-demanding occupations don't benefit from the exercise:

But new research claims that those who are in more physically demanding jobs aren’t in a vastly better position. 
Researchers in the Netherlands claim that a ‘physical activity paradox’ exists, where exercise may only be good for you if it’s done outside of your job. 
Manual labourers may be physically active all day but that doesn’t actually help them. In fact, the research claims that it might actually increase their risk of dying early. 
‘While we know leisure-time physical activity is good for you, we found that occupational physical activity has an 18% increased risk of early mortality for men,’ says Pieter Coenen, public health researcher at UV University medical centre in Amsterdam.
Researchers apparently don't know that 8 out of the top 10 riskiest professions involve tough, manual labor.  Actually, maybe they do:
Professor Kay-Tee Khaw, professor of clinical gerontology at the University of Cambridge says: ‘Sedentary work compared to work that requires heavy physical activity is hugely confounded by education, social class and all the other associated behaviours. 
‘It is quite possible that very heavy labour may be associated with adverse health. It may also be that these occupations lead to higher accident rates and early mortality without the physical activity itself being the relevant factor which the authors do discuss and I am sure that we need to understand this better.’
But if you re-ran the numbers taking into account occupational mortality, you might not get a Press Release worthy result, amirite?  Bah.  The one thing that we can conclude from this study is that there is too much public grant money flowing to "Researchers".  As the Researchers might say (in any study they would publish), p < 0.05.

I'm too damned wordy

I mean, I have a whole tag here for "Decline of the Progressive West" with hundreds of posts and this guy goes and sums it up with this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Progressives hate hate hate people in the Third World

We see this all the time.  Here is just the latest, from no less a Progressive Icon as the New York Times:
The number of air-conditioners worldwide is predicted to soar from 1.6 billion units today to 5.6 billion units by midcentury, according to a report issued Tuesday by the International Energy Agency. If left unchecked, by 2050 air-conditioners would use as much electricity as China does for all activities today.
If left unchecked.  Think about those words.  The implication is that all right-thinking Progressives should want to keep Third World, dark skinned people stuck in stifling heat and humidity.  Remember, these are the same people who so earnestly moan about how Global Warming will be so bad for everyone's health.

How about rejoicing that so many of our fellow human beings will be able to enjoy the comforts of a cooler house (and if you read the article, you will notice that stoves and refrigerators also get the tut tut treatment)?

Why shouldn't people want these creature comforts?  Remember, you get children's books from washing machines:

I keep thinking that my contempt for Progressives cannot get any deeper, but they keep coming up with new Bravo Sierra.  Maybe that's the only truly inexhaustible renewable resource.

"American Iron" moving to Thailand

Harley laying off 800 workers and closing Kansas City plant:
Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle company, is set to lay off hundreds of American workers at its Kansas City, Missouri factory while creating jobs in Thailand. 
After laying off nearly 200 American manufacturing workers last year, as Breitbart Newsreported, Harley-Davidson is expected to fully close its Kansas City manufacturing facility, leaving 800 workers out of work. 
Harley-Davidson executives say about 400 jobs will be sent to the corporation’s York, Pennsylvania manufacturing plant, but union workers allege their jobs are being sent overseas to Thailand.
Harley is not doing particularly well.  They have (so far) failed to attract younger riders, I expect because there are high quality alternatives at a much lower cost.  You're looking at $30k for a touring bike, and this is simply beyond the means of lots of younger riders.

And so cost cutting becomes imperative.  But it's sad to see such an iconic American brand struggle like this.


UPDATE 15 May 2018 20:55: Glen Filthie has some thoughts on Harleys and riders, and what riding is really about.  Recommended.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Suck it up, Buttercup

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Good safety tips.

Germany's military may be weakest in Europe

Only 4 out of 128 Eurofighter Typhoons are combat ready.  And the rest of the military is even worse off:
Cost-cutting procurement strategies have caused problems elsewhere over the past year for the Bundeswehr:
  • The German Navy has had to refuse delivery of the first of its new class of frigates after the ship failed sea trials, and only five of the Navy's existing 13 frigates were capable of being deployed.
  • The last available German submarine was pulled out of service for repairs, as all the other submarines in the fleet sit in drydock or sit idle due to lack of replacement parts. (One of those submarines may now be back in service.)
  • The German Army was found to lack enough tanks and armored personnel carriers, or even enough basic equipment for soldiers, to fulfill its commitment to NATO's Very High Readiness Task Force at the beginning of 2019. While 105 out of 244 Leopard 2 tanks were called "ready for use," only nine could be fully armed for the VHRF.
  • Only 12 of 62 Tiger attack helicopters and 16 of Germany's 72 CH-53 cargo helicopters were available for exercises and operations last year; the rest were grounded for maintenance.
  • At any time over the last year, only three of the Bundeswehr Airbus A400M transport aircraft were ready to fly.
But never fear, the Bundeswehr remains confident:
And as Der Spiegel's Matthias Gebauer was told by a Bundeswehr source, "We can say with a good conscience that large parts of the [German armed forces] are mission ready, because there is currently no mission."
Can someone please help me understand why we still pay cash money to protect Europe?

Just how hard is it to communicate without NSA listening in?

I touched on this five years ago, and the answer then was "it's really hard but maybe possible if you're very, very careful".  In the last five years there have been a number of new tools introduced that may make this easier.  Perhaps more importantly, there is a growing tradecraft among leakers and the media that provides some useful techniques.

Robert Graham has a quite interesting article that touches on tools, techniques, and operational security that is worth your time. There's quite a lot of technology that can betray people who don't know how it works:
Photographs suffer the same problem: your camera and phone tag the photographs with GPS coordinates and time the photograph was taken, as well as information about the camera. This accidentally exposed John McAfee's hiding location when Vice took pictures of him a few years ago. Some people leak by taking pictures of the screen -- use a camera without GPS for this (meaning, a really old camera you bought from a pawnshop).
But the discussion on burner phones, tails, and open WiFi is interesting and useful.  It's still hard to hide your transmissions from prying eyes, but it may be a bit easier than it used to be.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Peter Grant's new book is out!

Peter Grant (aka Bayourenaissanceman) has his latest book out.  Get on over there.