Saturday, October 24, 2015

Happy Birthday To Meeee ...


Given the inspiration for my pending retirement from my current employment, as well as my lifelong tendencies in general, I thought John Mellencamp's Authority Song would be most appropriate for this year:

If I can't be me* where I am, I'll go where I can ...

*Since "me" keeps changing, I expect I'll keep going 'till I can't.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Updatedness

As mentioned here last month, I am retiring from my current place of employment.  My Social Security is set up to begin on 1 January, 2016 and my last day of work (on this job ... I am looking into an alternative potential option) will be 29 January, 2016.  My willingness to do the job correctly remains in place, but my supply of fucks to give is completely depleted.  I cannot fully express just how refreshing that circumstance is.  :)

In Accordance With The Rule of Tam

Tam writes

"Can you articulate to a jury how someone attempting to draw a gun at you poses an immediate, potentially lethal threat? Can you articulate that it doesn't matter whether the gun they're trying to draw is on their belt or yours?

As I understand the general legal principle (and the actual statute here in Texas), the first question is the only real issue of concern in a legal defense of a homicide*.  If you can demonstrate that someone(s) present a lethal threat to you (or another), the law doesn't care what legal means you select to defeat said lethal threat with.  You should be aware that "legal means" would be any object you use to kill the individual(s) lethally threatening you.  Local ordinances always apply, of course, so the prohibited weapon choice list varies wildly, but as a general principle of self-defense, if you are at risk of losing your life, you can use whatever you have to to not be non-judicially killed (which pretty much rules out nukes, chemical weapons or that seriously irritating toddler whose oblivious mother will not shut up, to beat the guy to death with in just about any non-ISIS jurisdiction around).  Basically, if you are lethally threatened, you can shoot the person making the threat no matter what weapon s/he threatens your life with (to include your own gun).

Similarly, the law pretty much doesn't care what you use if you should prove to be the one offering the lethal threat, so the second question ought to be sorta irrelevant.  Prosecuting attorneys being what they are, you better hope your attorney is well versed in the applicable laws.  I recommend these guys without reservation.  You quasi-ferinners can go with this option until you can get here.

*For the hoi polloi, the term of law "self defense" is an explicit admission that you have committed homocide.  The only remaining issue thereafter is whether or not you were justified in doing so, and the cops don't get to make that call.  Should you ever find yourself in the vicinity of a freshly deceased example of the genus homo sapiens, make absolutely certain that the two words never to exit you mouth at any point thereafter are "self" and "defense".  The way that works is, your lawyer presents evidence of the justifiable nature of your actions to the court, thereby leading the jurist-in-residence to rule "justifiable homocide by reason of self defense".  Self defense is a legal ruling by a judge, not a statement to the police.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blood Moon!

Last night, you couldn't turn around without having to shield your eyes from the moonglare (totally a word).  Tonight, the big show, the one that won't come again until the 2020's sometime, if then ... clouds.

Story of my life.

End of the world, heralded in by dreariness and elevated humidity.

Sigh ...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


So, it's now official; earlier today I fully assimilated myself into the Socially inSecure borg.  As it worked out, this was a surprisingly painless encounter with the .gov.  Beginning next year, I shall be financially dependant upon all of you who remain among the ranks of the employed.  I look forward to discovering the difference in rankness my new station in life provides.

Funny, somehow it always felt like I would have more time to prepare myself for this eventuality.  If only I could honestly use the humor/satire tag.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Right Exercise

Blogging isn't actually dead, but like the people who do it, it is changing.  One of the blogs I regularly read (it says exactly that right there in the right side column) is Borepatch which offers commentary on guns and whatever else twinges his/their attention meter.  Reletively recent co-blogger ASM826 has taken up the load while Borepatch himself attends to too-long neglected motorcycle jockeying (he offers continued Proof of Life here though).  In a series of recent posts ASM826 discusses the concept of "rights" with fellow commenters, beginning with this post which illustrates the distinction of process that exists between the pontificational approach of journalism and the conversational interaction of blogging. 

ASM826 sets out to discuss the recent debates over historical icons and symbols and, in response to commenters posts this discourse about the distinctions between rights and privilege and some of the ramifications of how both those things are and ought to be expressed.  The part he wrote that I found of particular interest was this:

So too, the guy who stands up and says, "I believe in the right to free speech, but..." doesn't believe in free speech. He believes in regulated speech, approved speech, controlled speech. It's the kind of thinking that puts up cattle fences outside a convention hall and calls it a "free speech zone". It's the kind of thinking that creates a law that bans "hate speech".
 My comment (among several others, often focused on something else also said) was:

People who demand acknowledgement of their rights, but refuse to acknowledge limits on the exercise of their rights don't understand how rights work.

People who object to other's exercise of their rights because they find such exercise offensive also don't understand how rights work.

People who think that the exercise of rights can ever be anything but contentious, or occur equilaterally without the threat of third-party force, don't understand how exercise works.

Pop quiz: Stipulate that everyone has the same rights; whose rights go first/farthest? Who says?

I'll wait. 
I felt confident that my observation had struck at least a minor chord when I read the follow up post in which ASM826 made mention:

The pop quiz? We only have the rights and freedoms we are willing to defend.
While I don't disagree with this sentiment, as I noted in reply it doesn't really address the issue I was commenting on:

Rights are the sole property of individual human beings, and all humans possess rights. It is the exercise of those rights, both individually and in groups, that is the contentious issue.

Human social constructs like nations or religions are all efforts to regulate the exercise of individual's rights in a pluralistic setting utilizing various methods. Again, the contention arises from the degree and partiality of the regulation on the exercise of the rights. Efforts to claim ownership of others rights are merely efforts at regulating expression of those rights.

No claim is being made by me as to the propriety or effectiveness of any particular effort at regulating expression of rights, but it seems less than useful to argue about what isn't occuring (your rights cannot be taken from you) while ignoring the necessity for the existence of what actually is being abused and misappropriated (who gets to exercise their rights, how).

Much like jokes, if you have to explain a quiz the hoped-for effect is largely destroyed. That noted, to the exact degree you are unwilling to defend other's exercise of their rights, you are actively working against the exercise of your own. The resulting mutual loss of freedom is merely the to-be-expected outcome, also often referred to as Bad Luck. To engage in disputation over the existence or ownership of rights is to miss the point of the exercise entirely.

Yes, puns are a terrible personal failing.
I've only just very briefly excerpted ASM826's words here, you really do need to follow the links and RTWT to understand his point(s) and place all the comments in their proper context.  Also, if you would like to read a truly sterling example of "miss(ing) the point of the exercise entirely", I direct your attention to the Paul Bonneau comment immediately following mine (and quoted here):

"That noted, to the exact degree you are unwilling to defend other's exercise of their rights, you are actively working against the exercise of your own. The resulting mutual loss of freedom is merely the to-be-expected outcome, also often referred to as Bad Luck. To engage in disputation over the existence or ownership of rights is to miss the point of the exercise entirely."

So, even if they are non-existent, just memes, our liberty depends on accepting this fiction?

No. There are no rights. There is only self-interest and will and action. The concept of rights has been usurped and turned to the benefit of the ruling class. They are thrilled to have you believe their job is to protect and define what rights you have. That is the modern-day function of rights, just a tool for the ruling class to keep us under their thumb.

Every expression of a right is made stronger and clearer by eliminating any mention of right. What is the stronger statement? "I have a right to bear arms", or "I won't be disarmed."

I realize most people find it impossible to think outside the box.
At this point, I wish to make clear that the purpose of this post is two-fold; one, to more widely disseminate the discussion of rights and their expression being conducted on the Borepatch blog page, and two, to allow me to dissect the statement I quote above separately from the Borepatch forum.

I assert the position that the existence of rights within human beings is a thoroughly discussed and long since universally established condition inherent to humanity's existence.  I further assert that modern debates about rights actually involve the exercise of rights, and the restriction on exercise of rights.  As demonstrated by M. Bonneau, discussions regarding rights are frequent targets of efforts to rehash long settled debates concerning the existence of rights by, from the evidence quoted above, people either unfamiliar with children or themselves examples thereof.  Case in point, his question regarding the relative rhetorical strengths of the two cited statements is irrelevant.  The former asserts an established fact of human nature, while the latter challenges the expression of other's rights and implies threat to those who might wish to do so themselves.  Should any feel so inclined, feel free to Fisk further in the comments.

Rights could be considered analogous to the existence of human hair or skin coloration in the same way that expression of those rights could be compared to expression of human conscience.  The right to kill another human may or may not be wrongful behavior, but that the right and the impulse to exercise it exists within all humans is beyond contention.  Thus any further discussion of merit should address the development of processes whereby such expression of rights (all rights) can be most widely distributed between all humans with as little damaging impact upon one another as can be provided for in advance.  Development of a process whereby such impact can be mediated after-the-fact should be the minimum requirement for any human association laying claim to the title "civilization".

Rights are.  Exercise of rights will and, I think necessarily must be, a matter of unresolvable contention between those seeking to exercise their rights in any degree of proximity to other humans.  Unresolvable, but not irremediable, I submit.  I think a good argument could be made that the majority of human history, philosophy and religion records efforts at just such attempts at mediation.

To some one's benefit, at least.  More rarely, to many someones.  Very occasionally, to the majority of someones.

All of these efforts at mediation between individual exercise of human rights involve some restriction on the exercise of (to be honest, most of them require the total restriction - to the point of outright denial of existence - of almost everyones) rights as a matter of necessity.  You cannot exercise your rights in an unrestricted fashion without impinging on my right to not be so impinged upon.   

And vice versa.

Discussions of rights focus on the equitable exercise of rights by humans, among humans, at variable degrees of remove from each other, to include each other's individual and mutual property.  So, pretty much unresolvable by definition, if only due to the variability of the circumstances and degree and number of involved parties.  Any mediation process must necessarily be capable of the required level of complexity that may arise. In the modern human context, government is the mediation process we have developed (and continue to modify) which uses law and regulation as the means of arriving at the necessary mediation between our competing interests (the definition of which we also continue to modify).  Please tell me that no one reading this is at all surprised that factions devoted to advancing themselves purely through manipulation of the established mediation processes arose right alongside development of those processes.

Sun Tzu didn't have to look all that far for examples of the inter-related nature of the impulses he sought to codify.  No one works to take away your rights (and couldn't if they did).  Lots of people work to restrict your opportunity to exercise your rights.  Working to assure continued opportunity to exercise your rights must necessarily include everyone else being able to do so also (or guess which group you belong to).  Efforts to deny recognition of other's possession of rights equal to your own are merely efforts to steal from them. 

Which introduces the concept of "liberty", defined in this circumstance as the measure of a given individuals opportunity to exercise his rights.

By that definition, liberty cannot be unconstrained.  Measuring liberty must always revolve around maintaining the means for the most humans being able to exercise their rights to the maximum extent that continued opportunity for exercise of the rights of others permits.  Liberty therefore becomes the measure of the limits of cooperative exercise of individual rights within a mediatable circumstance.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Future Is Here (follow the links)

Chris Byrne has a new post up Moving Towards Post Scarcity in which he keys in on probably the most important factor in further advancing human development - abundant energy.  Chris focuses on thorium nuclear reactor technology (see this excellent Brian Wang Next Big Future post from 2011 for more on thorium reactor technology) (and here for more recent molten salt reactor technology development progress) and refinement of existing electrical distribution networks into more localized structures.  This topic, and "future-ism" generally, has had my irregular attention for several years now, so I always enjoy reading another's perspective.


Monday, June 29, 2015


For those times I need some.

Natalie Dormer Fencing

The rest of the photo's are mere distraction.

Did I say mere?


A Questionable Technology Question

I wonder if it would be practically possible (as opposed to theoretically, you understand) to build a yacht (something like one of these Austal 41 catamarans) that used a modification of the Sheerwind electrical power generation system to supply principal motive and operations power?  Yes, you would definitely want a diesel back-up generator and sufficient fuel stores for ~10 days max load operations.  Maybe (who am I kidding, almost certainly) a battery storage system too.  A fresh water desalination capability along with a grey/black water reclamation system, of course.  In fact, pretty much every technology you would want in an ocean-going yacht that you can shoehorn into the available volume, just like pretty much every other ship design.  The object here is to have a "fuel" system that uses less interior hull volume than the existing traditional diesel fuel design for that same model of vessel does now.

The wind generator would require a redesigned blade system, for only one major change.  The captured wind would have to be routed down to the engineering spaces (the pontoons), presumably through some sort of funnel-type structure extending well above the uppermost deck area, and then exhausted well away from any working deck areas, antennas, small craft hoisting equipment and most emphatically not anywhere near the waterline (whatever the sea state).  Depending on how the air ducting was laid out, it ought to be quite possible to spin up a series of smaller generators from the same given volume of air with sufficient wind velocity.  From the Sheerwind site, it would appear that a boat traveling fast enough to supply about 8 knots of wind down the deck would be more than sufficient (which is a fairly normal wind state when tied up in port).  A twin ducting system branching port and starboard from a mid-ships wind collection tower could supply a series of generators placed within the system essentially twice the length of the boat if the ducting was routed forward the length of the pontoons and then up again to the uppermost decking and then aft to exhaust through a parallel array of exhaust ports facing aft (and thus two decks above the main after deck).

Performance wise, I think a boat that could cruise at ~18 knots and sprint at ~30+ knots would be more than sufficient for a non-commercial/non-military vessel.  This would allow for a 24-hour day cruise distance of roughly 400 nautical miles.  Assuming an on-board food stores capacity for 15 days fresh and 30 days re-constituted (powdered drinks, dehydrated proteins and carbs, etc) a non-stop voyage of 20 to 30 days duration without having to budget for fuel resupply would shift yachting a good deal closer to being more of a middle class aspiration, I would think.  A boat that didn't require shore-based fuel or power connections in port would be a big financial savings too.

I think I'll contact Sheerwind and Austal USA and ask them what they think.

Update #1: When considering redesign of the wind generators, do consider some recent research that appears to have some relevance to performance improvement.  Excerpt: "Because wind turbines are heavily braked in order to minimize noise, the addition of this new surface would mean that they could be run at much higher speeds producing more energy while making less noise. For an average-sized wind farm, this should mean several additional megawatts worth of electricity. An investigation into how owls fly and hunt in silence has enabled researchers to develop a prototype coating for wind turbine blades that could significantly reduce the amount of noise they make. - See more at:".

Friday, June 12, 2015

Casus Belli?

Since the PRC government now apparently owns all USA government data, to include SSN data, when can we expect a claim to be filed against the PRC to provide full funding for SSA payments?