Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Shop Project - Phase 1 Complete.

For those of you who have been following the shop project, Phase 1 has been complete for a couple of months, and we're just about ready to move on to Phase 2.

So, I put together a little video (7 minutes) that will give you a walk-around inside the building.

I'm suing the new camera, learning all the ins-and-outs of video, along with editing and such.  I probably learned as much in the last two hours as I care to learn for a while.  Scripting is good and "winging" it is bad.  But, here goes.

For a first attempt, I'm satisfied with it.  I have a lot to learn.

The Social Media Drives School Shootings

Interesting article.   Over at National Review.  It links mass shooting events (particularly school shootings) to social media.  He talks about thresholds, which is a part of the Broken Windows theory of policing.
But Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them. In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if every one around him was grabbing cameras from the electronics store.
So, thresholds get lowered with each repetitive event, like throwing rocks in a riot.   Then, the argument might be that Columbine lowered the threshold.
Then came Columbine. The sociologist Ralph Larkin argues that Harris and Klebold laid down the “cultural script” for the next generation of shooters. They had a Web site. They made home movies starring themselves as hit men. They wrote lengthy manifestos. They recorded their “basement tapes.” Their motivations were spelled out with grandiose specificity: Harris said he wanted to “kick-start a revolution.” Larkin looked at the twelve major school shootings in the United States in the eight years after Columbine, and he found that in eight of those subsequent cases the shooters made explicit reference to Harris and Klebold. Of the eleven school shootings outside the United States between 1999 and 2007, Larkin says six were plainly versions of Columbine; of the eleven cases of thwarted shootings in the same period, Larkin says all were Columbine-inspired.
What has changed since Columbine?  That horrific event occurred in 1999, about the time that social media started the whole Facebook/Twitter/Instagram revolution.    High-scollers and college-age kids are much more conversant in social media than my generation ever was.  Communication is instant, and it is easy to find sites or forums that share interests.  The Columbine shooting has become nearly a template for mayhem, and the threshold had been lowered.
In other contexts, he’s elaborated further. The preparations for massacres are often extremely detailed. Shooters (and wannabe shooters) will often film videos, mimic the dress and poses of the Columbine killers, and otherwise copy the shooters who came before. Gladwell is hardly an NRA conservative — and he believes gun control “has its place” — but he also shares this grim warning: “Let’s not kid ourselves that if we passed the strictest gun control in the world that we would end this particular kind of behavior.”
It's easy to scream for gun control, but in my view, it's misplaced.  The events that we're seeing on a more frequent basis are not about guns, they are about how we communicate.  Communication has changed drastically over the past 20 years, and we're just now starting to grasp the implications.

Sunday Morning

It's supposed to be 92F under partly cloudy skies today.  That's not the record for this date, but it's close.  It's going to be hot today.  A good time to be inside with air conditioning, or alternately, in the shade.

The dog is adjusting to the heat, although as an old man, he doesn't want to spend as much time outside.  He is as happy in his climate-controlled house as we are.

The kids will be over in a little while for lunch.  I'd best get cracking.  Y'all have a nice Sunday.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Show Texas

Belle and Zach and I are going to be in the Panhandle of Texas the last week of May.  The Southern Territorials and US National championship of Cowboy Fast Draw will be held in Amarillo, TX  May 30-June 3rd.

I have heard about this musical at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and I've heard that it's worth the time.

The link is here, and we're going.  I"ve already bought tickets for Friday, June 1st.

This looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.


Rodeo is an old cowboy tradition, playing those games that a working cowboy has to master.    Our church is a cowboy church.  We have an arena, and we hold rodeos during the season.  Every 3rd Friday night we rodeo, and if you're just there to watch and enjoy some good, clean fun, it's free.

Pretty girls getting ready for the grand entrance.  Country girls, horses, patriotism and prayer.

They do it all at the church.  Here's a shot of a competitor taking a turn around the barrels.

And, of course, the bulls.  If you're in town, the Cross Branded Cowboy Church has rodeo every 3rd Friday night during the season. We'e at 6906 LA Highway 28 East, Pineville, LA.

The Santa Fe Incident

I'm sure that you've all read, by now, that a school in Santa Fe, TX, suffered a deadly incident yesterday.  Sadly, it's all too familiar. and details are starting to come out.  My prayers ad thoughts, f course, are for the families of the slain, and I hope for a speedy recovery for the wounded.

The goblin, who won't be named here is in police custody, alive and incarcerated.  I'm sure that we'll learn more about his motives in the weeks and months ahead.    As horrific as such things are, we tend to live in an immediate news-cycle.   The less we dwell on this misfit, the better we'll be.  But, there are several indicators that it was a planned event, with preparation.  Authorities have found improvised devices, such as grenades made from discarded CO2 cylinders and Molotov cocktails.  This shows some degree of planning and establishes intent, which will be important during his trial.

When I want generic, generally incorrect news, I go to USAToday.   They, and outher sources are reporting that the goblin used a shotgun and a revolver.  This particular paragraph made me snort.
High-powered rifles such as the AR-15 can be fired more than twice as fast as most handguns. The standard magazine for an AR-15 holds 30 rounds, allowing a shooter to continue firing uninterrupted for longer, making the weapon more lethal than other firearms, though clearly the use of any gun can be deadly, especially a shotgun at close range.
We note, for the record, that the goblin used a shotgun and a revolver.  Why USAToday included the discussion of the AR is a mystery.  It's almost as if they can't help themselves.  This paragraph is gratuitous column-fill and has no place in the article  And, we all know that the AR is not a "high-powered" rifle.  At best, it's an intermediate

But, rather than simply give us the news, USAToday decided to change the subject.  They are nearly as despicable as the goblin.

Friday, May 18, 2018

New Camera

I took the camera to work today to play with it.  When you're carrying a little black camera in your hand, people tend to not notice it.  Most of these photos were in stealth mode.  They had no idea tht I was taking pictures, even as we were talking.

That's my buddy Steve.  He doesn't like his picture to be taken.   Once he told me that, it was Game On.

Another picture of Steve, with a photo of Mr. Metoyer.   These two are custodians where I work, and we generally have bullshit sessions every morning.

Here's the guy we call The Pastor, because he's .... well... a pastor.  Nice guy and one who I counsel with quite a bit.  His cell phone is a continual companion.

Derelict building across the street.  This place used to be a Studebaker dealership.

The bell tower of St. Francis Xavier cathedral, right behind where I work.  And, yeah, they play the bells frequently.

That's enough for now.  It's Friday night, and it's time for a drink.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Camera

I found the new camera when I came in today.  Thanks, USPS and Camera Camera and Amazon.  I unboxed it, put the battery on to charge and waited an hour while I ran an errand.

The first thing that surprised me was the tiny size of this thing.  It's tiny, smaller and lighter than my smartphone.

While small in size, it seems to be big on   It will probably never take the place of my DSLR for some things, but it was bought to complement by DSLR, ot replace it.  It will certainly fit in a pocket and it takes good photos.

Zach and I took it out to the shop to see how it would do with low-light.  When we're taking pictures with the DSLR in the shop, with no flash (flash is verboten in CFDA), the   Here's one I took of Zach with the flash.

It's a big file, so you can click on it to embiggen it, but the skin tones are correct and the color of the wall is very, very close.

Here's one Zach took of me, behind the scorer's table, with the flash OFF.  Not bad at all for a tiny point-and-shoot.

I cropped it to get out some extraneous stuff, but the camera did very well, much better than my DSLR does in that situation.  I look a little pale,, and the wall color isn't exactly right.

What impressed me was the quality of the video.  One of the first things I took with it was a short, outdoor video, under our patio.  A friend, Susan had come over, and I took some video of her and Belle talking.

That's raw video, unedited, but I think it did okay.  I'll have to play with this little camera a bit more, but I think I'm going to like it just fine.

For the record, I bought this kit from Camera Camera through Amaon.  It came with a case, a spare battery, a selfie stick an SD card and some other gee-gaws.

After things calmed down around the house, I took the little camera out to the shop, put it on a tripod, and gave it a whirl.  This is probably where the video projects will be shot, and I learned a lot particularly that I'll need to turn off the A/C units while I'm filming.    But, for a first go-round, this isn't half bad.

I have a lot to learn about video work.

Aliens Among Us?

Well, why the hell not?
“Thus the possibility that cryopreserved Squid and/or Octopus eggs, arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago should not be discounted as that would be a parsimonious cosmic explanation for the Octopus’ sudden emergence on Earth circa 270 million years ago.”
I've seen a few octopii, and those are some alien looking critters.

Double Standards

A California teacher who had sex with a student will avoid jail time, will not be required to register as a sex offender, and will be able to re-apply to teach.  Yeah, seriously.
Samantha Ciotta pleaded guilty to having sex with a student at Beaumont High School in Beaumont, Calif., where she was a teacher. However, the plea deal offered by the California prosecutors allows her to avoid jail time and Ciotta won't have to register as a sex offender. Putting a cherry on top of the double standard, in a few years, she may be able to re-apply to teach again.
One would wonder what kind of sentence a male teacher would get for the same offense.  If it weren't for double standards, California wouldn't have any standards at all.

Trilling Feminism

Presented without comment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I bought my first camera, I guess, at about age 19.  I was in basic training at Fort Knox and bought an Instamatic to take photos.  As I recall, it was inn my foot locker and got dissolved by a bottle of spilled bug dope.  Whatever was in that bug dope ate that camera until all that was left was the metal shutter assembly and a thin film of black plastic goo on the bottom of that drawer.  The Drill Sergeant was impressed.

Fast-forward to the mid '9-s when I bought a Canon SLR, the 35mm film camera.  I loved that camera and still have it, although I have upgraded to the digital version.    I still use that camera, but it's big and bulky.  It takes great photos, but it is big and bulky.  I've taken a few really great photos with this camera, and I don't consider myself a photographer; just a picture-snapper.

That said, I got this particular camera during Christmas 2010,  Canon, and everyone else has made remarkable strides in digital photography since that time.  The old DSLR still has a place in the camera bag, but nowadays I snap more pictures with my smartphone than anything else.  It's the camera I have with me, it's lightweight, it's convenient, and it's with me.  Like anyone else's smartphone, it takes photos and video, sometimes rivaling what is possible with the big bulky DSLR.

Recently, I started looking for a dedicated camera to complement my photo assets.  The companies have made remarkable strides in the technology, and I have a sooper-seekrit project coming up next year.  I wanted a camera to document the project, and one that would take credible video without sacrificing a month's salary.  So, like most modern researchers, I went immediately to YouTube and started looking at reviews.    I knew that I wanted good photos, 1080p video and reasonable sound quality while not stretching the bank account.

I settled on this one.  The Canon Powershot ELPH 360 HS.  It is supposed to be in later this week, and I"ll charge the battery and start playing with it.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the Image Stabilization works, how good the audio quality is, and how best to transfer short video clips.  It'll give me about 10 months to learn the camera before the project kicks off.

Rocket Man Blusters

Little Kim, the murderous "Rocket Man" of the hermit kingdom is threatening to pull out of talks with the US, for reasons that only he can fathom.  He's a paranoid little dictator, but evidently, the joint US/South Korean military exercises are the reason du jour.
North Korea has complained often about U.S. military exercises that partner with Japan or South Korea, characterizing them as rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea.
If I were Trump, I'd send Kim a firm message.  Either he show up at the summit, as agreed, or the US will indeed hold joint exercises with South Korea.... in North Korea.

The best thing that the North Korean people could do is to rise up and hang this little sonofabitch from a short rope in a public square.


The shop project continues.  We're using the interior of the building, but the little patch of land between the road and the building was soft.  After a rain, it was yard to get to the building without rutting the yard.  A driveway was necessary, and gravel seemed like the appropriate solution.

Locally, the guys in the trade call this stuff 610.  It's crushed limestone with limestone dust.  After it is spread and has a chance to settle, maybe get a rain on it, it packs very firmly.  And, a $575 for a 15 ton load, it's reasonable.  I contracted for two loads.  The guy delivered one last week, and one yesterday.  I asked for a "gate spread", where he opens the gate of the dump truck just a bit,  raises the bed and drives as it pours out.  There is less manual labor like that.  And, when you're spreading 30 tons of rock, less manual labor is good.

It is 80 feet from the road to the door, and the building is 40 feet wide.  That's pretty good coverage for a gate spread, and I have to move some gravel, but not much.  I can park vehicles three-across now with no danger of miring the vehicles in mud.  Of course, when it's dry, they can park anywhere, but when it's wet, I don't have to worry about bogged vehicles.

A little bit at a time, this project is coming along nicely.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Nikki Haley, our ambassador to the United Nations, strafes the Security Council with reason, then carpet-bombs them with facts. 

I note that Iran is threatening to list the names of people they bribed to get the nuclear deal, along with the amounts paid.    I think that they should name names.

Exit question:  Can we put the entire upper echelon of the Obama administration in jail?

Asking The Easy Questions

It seems that CNN is entirely unable to ask the easy questions.  When I see a report like this:
Dozens of funerals were expected to take place after 60 Palestinians were killed in demonstrations, according to figures provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Among the dead were eight children, including eight-month-old Laila Anwar Ghandour. The health ministry said the baby was asphyxiated by tear gas.
When I see a report like that, the first question that springs to mind is, "What kind of sub-human animal brings a toddler to a violent protest?"   The answer, of course, is that Hamas is well known for their use of human shields.  Eight children dead?  Who thought that bringing children was a good idea?

I have no sympathy for anyone who puts innocent children in danger.  Of course, this is CNN, so the report may not be accurate, nor might even not be based in reality.

Oh, and this can't be Trump's fault.  I've seen his schedule, he wasn't even there.

The Tax Cut and the Economy

So, Politico says that the tax cut is NOT the reason that the economy is booming.  You can go to the link and read the whole thing, but they list a lot of reasons, many of them good reasons, why the tax cut has noting to do with the economy coming back to life.

And, in large part, the author is correct.  The tax cuts haven't had a chance to kick-in yet, to power the economy.  So, we'll give Politico credit for that.  The tax cuts took effect in January, and haven't had a chance to make a measurable difference in the economy.    So, what changed?

Simple.  Corporate confidence.  In January, 2017, the business climate changed.  We went from the oppressive, regulatory Obama administration to the business-friendly Trump administration. Business, both large and small felt confident in the business climate, were able to expand and hire more people, which in effect helped the economy by putting more disposable dollars in the hands of consumers.

The tax cuts will probably start to take effect in the next quarter.  Just in time for the mid-term elections.  We must understand, though, that consumer confidence is very regional.  Business confidence is also regional.  We might see a whole tot more consumer confidence in places like Texas than we might see in deep-blue California.

Wait until the tax cuts start showing an effect.  We're going to Make America Great Again.

UPDATE** Johnathan corrected a mistake above.  The year that Trump took over.  A common typo, and it's been corrected.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Vodka and Tonic

As many of my regular readers know, my usual preferred drink is bourbon and Diet Coke.  It serves me well over many of the months of the year, but occasionally I like something different.  Years ago, as a young Army officer, I learned to drink vodka and tonic.  Refreshing after a long, hot day, it helped settle the dist in my throat.

Yesterday, shopping for groceries, I was on the soft-drink aisle and noticed bottles of tonic water over near the ginger ale.  I bought some on impulse and late yesterday afternoon, when the cocktail hour approached, I pouted a vodka and tonic into my favorite whiskey glass.  Just some cheap-ass old Smirnoff vodka that we had in the liquor rack.  This stuff is even in a plastic bottle.

After the first sip, I remembered why I like it so much.  It doesn't weigh you down, doesn't make you sluggish.  It's crisp and clean.  I suppose it might be better with better vodka, but I doubt I'll ever find out, because I don't buy better vodka.  I did see a bottle of Absout in the server, but the Smirnoff suits me just fine.

When the cocktail hour rolls around today, I may pour myself another.

Total NewSpeak

Just about the time I think that we're getting somewhere, the the academics show me that in many regards, we're living in a fantasy land.  To wit, from PJMedia:
The City University of New York (CUNY)-Guttman recently published a new guide for students that adds “zim,” “ver,” and “emself” to the list of acceptable “gender-inclusive” pronouns that can be used.
The “Gender Identity and Pronouns” guide tells students that the “dichotomy of ‘he and she’ in English does not leave room for other gender identities,” and to fix this, the guide offers a list of alternatives students may use instead. 
Academics (and I assume that CUBY has several) should know that  we have two genders, male and female.  If t hey are confused about the distinction, they should stand naked in front of a mirror and examine their genitalia.  if you have boy parts, you are male.  If you have female parts, you are female.  It is really that simple.

People can identify however they would like to identify, but they shouldn't he offended when I refuse to participate in their particular fantasy.  It is un-scientific, it is unreasonable, and largely, it's laughable.