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If I were Lady Gaga, I’d be afraid the Devil had already done so

God at the Grammys:

One night last summer, Lady Gaga sat in a tour bus in England, covered in stage blood from her concert that day. She told me that she had cried hysterically before a recent show because she’d had a dream that the devil was trying to take her. She then said, in earnest, that the spirit of her dead aunt was literally inside her body and that she had eaten a bovine heart to face her fear of her father’s heart surgery.

If a stranger on a train had said all of this to me, I would have moved a few seats away.

But this was one of the most famous women in the world. “It’s hard to just chalk it all up to myself,” Lady Gaga said of her success, explaining that there was “a higher power that’s been watching out for me.”

Cut to…Snoop Dogg in the living room of his home outside Los Angeles, smoking a blunt and discussing his comeback after leaving Death Row Records. “God makes everything happen,” he said. “He put me in that situation with Death Row, and he took me out of it.”

Cut to…a hotel room where Christina Aguilera is gorging on junk food and discussing her success. “All of this isn’t something that I did,” she told me. “It’s something that is totally there for a purpose.” In a separate interview, Ms. Aguilera’s mother explained that fame was her daughter’s destiny: “We thought there must be some divine intervention. Early on, I realized…God has plans for her.”

Now that is one solid collection of righteous, God-fearing folk.  Still, interesting that success may be linked to belief not only in God, but belief in God’s plans for you.

So I guess I’m a psychopath

I took the psychopathy test that Vox linked to the other day, and this is the result:

True Psychopath

You scored 14 on Emotional Detachment and 11 on Chaotic Lifestyle!

Congratulations, you are both emotionally detached, and you lead a chaotic lifestyle, which may indicate there’s something seriously wrong with you. A combined score of 30 or more on this test supports a diagnosis of psychopathy. You are likely to commit, or already have commited, a crime. Stay away from knives, guns etc. although with your brilliant and versatile mind you will probably think of a dozen other ways of hurting whoever you feel like hurting.

If your combined score is 5 or less, you are completely average compared to general population. If your combined score is 20 or more, you have a mind of a true criminal. If your combined score is 30 or more, you have a mind of a psycho.

Your Analysis (Vertical line = Average)

Detachment Distribution

You scored 14% onDetachment, higher than 75% of your peers.

Chaotism Distribution

You scored 11% on Chaotism, higher than 53% of your peers.

As gratifying as those results are, I think the test might be a wee bit flawed.  Just a little.

Oh, I forgot

I do have one more resolution, but it’s really a part of the diet/health resolution.  At the end of the year, I let my membership at the gym at work lapse because, well, it was a shitty gym.  I am feeling the lack of exercise, and I don’t like it.  I don’t have any decent weights, gym equipment or even reasonable facsimiles at the homestead here, so I needed to either find a new gym or think of something else.

Seeing as part of the budget is to not spend money, I decided to think of something else.  Which meant google.  I found a book, You Are Your Own Gym, written by ex-SpecOps trainer Mark Lauren.  It’s all about using your own body weight as resistance.  I’ve skimmed it, and it looks like a decent program – I just need to adapt his method to a more super-slow style, and I’ll be set, I think.  I’ve been doing some pushups and sit-ups just to be doing something, so I think I’ll be able to segue into this as soon as I have time to adapt his exercise schedules and play around with it a bit.

Resolutions: fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, win!

An update on progress in resolution world.

  • Dieting.  Tragic fail.  Gained ten pounds.  There are lame excuses reasons for this one.  First was the baby. I’m starting off blaming young Anneliese for things beyond her control a little early, perhaps, but best get started now while she has no defenses.  The arrival of the baby was certainly the cause of chaos, and that made eating correctly more difficult.  Second was the diet plan itself.  Ferriss’ idea is that one day a week is a cheat day, eat whatever the hell you want and basically be paleo the rest of the time.  This does not work for me.  Sure, I can cheat like all get out on Saturday, but switching back to paleo is all the harder.  There’s usually leftover cheat food that I am sorely tempted to eat – after all, I picked it on the basis that it would be food I would really enjoy, but can’t normally enjoy on a paleo system.  Also, throwing carbs and wheat into my body just as its getting used to not having them makes me feel sick and fatigued and a bit depressed.  So, I’m ditching the 4-hr body plan and going back to the more straightforward paleo that lost me much wait last year.
  • Blogging once a day.  Tragic fail.  Still want to go with this one – and now that the new baby is calming down, this may be more feasible.
  • Time consuming hobby.  Started accumulating stuff, but haven’t had time to dive in.  I still want to carve out an evening for this, but this one’s on hold.  Incomplete, abandoned.
  • Read thinky books.  Started all of the books I mentioned, but haven’t finished them.  Also started reading the Great Mortality, about the Black Death.  Fascinating.  Will have reviews soon.  Incomplete.
  • Almost done with Volume I of the great books.  I hope to pick up the pace there.  Incomplete.
  • Made progress on book catalog – all the history and military history books are catalogued.  I’ve found digital copies for some, but some of the books are rather obscure and I’m not finding digital copies easy to, uh, find.  If anyone’s interested, I’ll post the list.  Incomplete.
  • Passports: tragic fail, no progress made.
  • Made a budget, win!  Following budget, win!  I will be debt free, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, on or about Friday, Jul 8.  Still need to rein in random spending a bit, but things are proceeding nicely on this front.
  • I think I am definitely a better person than I was six weeks ago.  No closer to taking over the world.

New resolutions?  Well, I still have quite a list.  If I can wrap up the resolutions from last month by the end of this month – doable, certainly, then I will consider new ones for March.

I succeeded on the most important of my goals – the budget.  I consider the tragic fail on the diet to be a partial success, in that it was an experiment and I gained useful knowledge, which I can use going forward.  Three incompletes, but given time constraints and a newborn baby, not so bad – I did make some progress.

Demonic Possession

Another link from Christian, The Problem with Possession.  Weird that he linked this, as the day before he passed me this, I was sorting and organizing books and ran across my copy of Hostage to the Devil by Malachai Martin.  Which is by far the creepiest book I have ever read.  A sample:

The main door of Puh-Chi was ajar when the police chief arrived. A small knot of men and women stood watching. They could see Father Michael standing in the middle of the floor. Over in one corner there was another figure, a young, naked man, suddenly ravished by an unnatural look of great age, a long knife in his hands. On the shelves around the inner walls of the storehouse lay rows and rows of naked corpses in various stages of mutilation and putrefaction.

“YOU!!” the naked man was screaming as the police captain elbowed his way to the door, “YOU want to know MY name!” The words “you” and “my” hit the captain like two clenched fists across the ears. He saw the priest visibly wilt and stagger backward. But, even so, it was the voice that made the captain wonder. He had known Thomas Wu. Never had he heard him speak with such a voice.

“In the name of Jesus,” Michael began weakly, “you are commanded . . .”<

“Get outta here! Get the hell outta here, you filthy old eunuch!”

“You will release Thomas Wu, evil spirit, and …”

“I’m taking him with me, pigmy,” came the voice from Thomas Wu. “I’m taking him. And no power anywhere, anywhere, you hear, can stop us. We are as strong as death. No one stronger! And he wants to come! You hear? He wants to!”

“Tell me your name …”

The priest was interrupted by a sudden roaring. No one there could say later how the fire started. An incendiary? A spark carried by the wind from burning Nanking? It was like a sudden, noisy ambush sprung by a silent signal. In a flash the fire had jumped up, a living red weed running around the sides of the storehouse, along the curved roof, and across the wooden floor by the walls.

The police captain was already inside, and he gripped Father Michael by the arm, pulling him outside.

The voice of Wu pursued them over the noise: “It’s all one. Fool! We’re all the same. Always were. Always.”

Michael and the captain were outside by then and turned around to listen.

“There’s only one of us. One . . .”

The rest of the sentence was drowned in a sudden outburst of flaming timbers.

Now, the glass rectangle of the single window was darkening over with smoke and grime. In a few minutes it would be impossible to see anything. Michael lurched over and peered in. Against the window he could see Thomas’ face plastered for an instant of fixed, grinning agony a horrible picture, a Bosch nightmare come alive.

Long, quickly lashing tongues of flame were licking at Thomas’ temples, neck, and hair. Through the hissing and crackling of the fire, Michael could hear Thomas laughing, but very dimly, almost lost to I lie ear. Between the flames he could see the shelves with their gray-white load of corpses. Some were melting. Some were burning. Eyes oozing out of sockets like broken eggs. Hair burning in little tufts. First, fingers and toes and noses and ears, then whole limbs and torsos melting and blackening. And the smell. God! That smell!

Then the fixity of Thomas’ grin broke; his face seemed to be replaced by another face with a similar grin. At the top speed of a kaleidoscope, a long succession of faces came and went, one flickering after the other. All grinning. All with “Cain’s thumbprint on the chin,” as Michael described the mark that haunted him for the rest of his life. Every pair of lips was rounded into the grinning shape of Thomas’ last word: “one!” Faces and expressions Michael never had known. Some he imagined he knew. Some he knew he imagined. Some he had seen in history books, in paintings, in churches, in newspapers, in nightmares. Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, Korean, British, Slavic. Old, young, bearded, clean-shaven.

Black, white, yellow. Male, female. Faster. Faster. All grinning with the same grin. More and more and more. Michael felt himself hurtling down an unending lane of faces, decades and centuries and millennia ticking by him, until the speed slowed finally, and the last grinning face appeared, wreathed in hate, its chin just one big thumbprint.

Now the window was completely black Michael could see nothing. “Cain . . .” he began to say weakly to himself. But a stablike realization stopped the word in his throat, just as if someone had hissed into his inner ear: “Wrong again, fool! Cain’s father. I. The cosmic Father of Lies and the cosmic Lord of Death. From the beginning of the beginning. I … I … I … I … I …”

Michael felt a sharp pain in his chest. A strong hand was around his heart stifling its movement, and an unbearable weight lay on his chest, bending him over. He heard the blood thumping in his head and then loud, roaring winds. A dazzling flash of light burst across his eyes. He slumped to the ground.

Strong hands plucked Michael away from the window just in time.

The storehouse was now an inferno. With a tearing crash, the roof caved in. The flames shot up triumphantly and licked the outside walls, burning and consuming ravenously.

“Get the old man away from here!” screamed the captain through the smoke and the smell. They all drew back. Michael, slung over the shoulder of one man, was babbling and sobbing incoherently. The captain could barely make his words out:
“I failed … I failed … I must go back. Please . . . Please . . . must go back . . . not later .. . please . . .”

When they got Michael to the hospital, his condition was critical. Apart from burns and smoke inhalation, he had suffered a minor heart attack. And until the following evening, he continued in a delirium.

Before the fall of Nanking, he was smuggled out by the faithful police captain and a few parishioners. They made their way northwestwards, barely escaping the tightening Japanese net.

On December 14, the Japanese High Command let loose 50,000 of their soldiers on the city with orders to kill every living person. The city became a slaughterhouse. Whole groups of men and women were used for bayonet and machine-gun practice. Others were burned alive or slowly cut to pieces. Rows of children were beheaded by samurai-swinging officers competing to see who could take off the most heads with one sweep of the sword. Women were raped by squads, then killed. Fetuses were torn alive from wombs, carved up, and fed to the dogs.

All told, over 42,000 were murdered. Death enveloped Nanking as it had the entire Yangtze delta. Animals and crops died and rotted in the fields.

That’s from the prologue.  The book was deeply disturbing to me, though at the time I read it I was a doctrinaire agnostic.  Hell, it creeps me out still just remembering it from fifteen years ago.

You can buy the book here, or read it online in html or pdf.

What Would Feynman Do?

Effing hilarious.

I can’t really excerpt, you have to read the whole thing, as the effect is cumulative.

[wik]: I was startled, when I actually opened the link in a browser, at how ugly the page is.  I read most webpages now through my rss feed reader app, Reeder.  It does a remarkable job displaying ugly websites in a clean, easy-on the eyes manner while retaining useful semantic markup.  If you’re a mac or iphone/ipad user, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

[alsø wik]: h/t to my pal Christian.

My only regret is that today is my anniversary

Twelve years ago today, I made a good decision. I wasn’t sure that it was a good decision at the time. But that was only because most of the decisions I’d made as a nominal adult had been, on the whole, tragically unwise. This one, though, was wise, and by far the best choice I’ve made.

A dozen years of marriage was incomprehensible to the younger me. It has been more than I hoped, but harder too. I have more joy in one day of my life now than I did in weeks or years before. Not necessarily more fun. But more joy.

Life is good. My wife is the biggest reason why.

[wik]: Our anniversary is on Valentine’s day by accident, not some sort of sappy design. And while I admit that not being able to forget my anniversary is a plus, it’s annoying to hear people go, “aaww” when they find out.

Would you like to look at some baby pictures?

Sure you would. And its only one, anyhow; me, Kasey and baby Anneliese:

Let me imfdb that for you…

The internet movie firearms database is hours of fun. This page I particularly enjoyed.

Death runs in my family

Be the arrow

Rather literally:

Shouldn’t have teased the wife

At 2:07 this morning, #3 daughter came into the world, delivered by me.  Granted my wife did most of the work, but I didn’t drop the baby, so we’ll call that a win.

The midwife arrived about a half hour after the baby, and pronounced everything good.  Funny, through the years I’ve had a fair bit of emergency training, but baby delivery was really the last thing I expected to have to deal with.

Oh, btw

A few notes:

  • There are much worse ways to waste time than Goblin War Machine.  The quadcycle main thing, safety hazard wheel things, extra-springy spring things and a quick shooty thing are a good combo.  My son is very frustrated that his biggest king distance is only 75 feet, while I’ve gotten 108.
  • Making fun of the wife not having a baby seems to have sped things up.  I should have thought of that sooner.

Still waitin’

Mrs. Buckethead is stubbornly refusing to give birth.  This is frustrating, because I arranged for a week off from work to commence when the baby arrives.  I bought a copy of Civ V so I’d be ready.  We’re already three days past the due date, now, and I’m getting impatient.

Still Smokin’

An update to my earlier smoking post – Smoking, it’s all good. I went into the local smoke shop to get some American Spirit smokes; explaining that for a while now, my throat has been getting raw from smoking. The smoking nut explained that it was probably the result of the new FSC cigarettes – “Fire Safe Cigarettes,” which came into being early last year loaded with an additive that supposedly helps the cigarette extinguish itself if left unattended.

It seems that lots of people have complained about the additives. And my sore throats started pretty much from when the change was made. So, the smoking nut recommended the roll your own path, because the FSC has not extended to hand-rolled papers.

This was just before Christmas, and since then I’ve been almost entirely smoking hand-rolled smokes. I’ve seen several benefits:

  • My throat feels about a thousand times better.
  • I smoke about half as many hand-rolled as regular smokes.  Not because  of the difficulty of making them or anything like that, I just smoke less.
  • I’ve learned a new skill.  A very minor skill, but hey.
  • I pay a lot less.

When I first went in, almost exactly a month ago, I bought a variety pack of pouches of tobacco, a box of 200 filter cigarette tubes, and a clever tobaccy-packing thingy.  All that cost about $30.  So I bought a zippo lighter and fluid to bring it up to the cost of a carton of cowboy killers.  (Strangely, in the middle of rural Virginia, one of the five zippos they had in stock had Chief Wahoo on it.  So I had to get it.)  All that lasted until after New Years’, when I bought some more tobacco, in bigger more cost-effective tins and another box of tubes.  In the time that I normally would have smoked at least three cartons – $120 – I’ve spent $100, of which $25 was lighter and tobaccopackythingy and won’t have to be bought again; and I still have half a pound of tobacco and almost a full box of tubes left, which should last me another couple weeks at least.

So, in recurring costs, we have $75 for a month and a half, or more, of smoking v. $225 for the five cartons of regular Marlboros I’d have smoked over the same period.  So, I have cut my smoking costs by two thirds and it could go lower if I buy the tobacco in even larger quantities.

Not bad.

What ifs

A couple fun what if links:

  • Hawaiian Libertarian points to an article about how life might be different if the Fed had never existed. I think the the most important item is that the present-day dollar might not be worth 4.5 cents compared to the 1913 dollar. We could get back there, though, if we adopted the Buckethead currency plan.
  • Radley Balko aims us in the direction of a list of Eight Crazy Constitutional Scenarios. My favorites:

    5. Two House Members Could Stage a Coup

    We’ve all seen those late-night C-Span telecasts of the near-empty House chamber where one member is in the chair and the other is on the floor speaking to an empty chamber. Suppose word came during this “session” of the House that the president and vice president had been simultaneously killed. What’s to stop the House member on the floor from moving that he (or theh guy in the chair) be elected speaker of the House and the member in the chair saying, “Without objection, it is so ordered.” I’m not saying this would hold up in court, but technically the new “speaker” would then become president by virtue of presidential succession law. It’s a legal House session unless there’s another member present who suggests the absence of a quorum.

    6. Congress Could Allow the President to be Recalled

    There’s no way short of impeachment to remove a sitting president, right? Wrong. The 25th amendment creates a huge loophole. In order to provide for cases of presidential disability, the amendment allows a majority of the cabinet to declare the president disabled, subject to a congressional override if the president insists he’s fine. But the amendment also permits “such other body as Congress may by law provide” to issue a disability finding. The amendment’s sponsors no doubt intended this to mean a panel of physicians. But they didn’t say that. So what’s to stop Congress from declaring the American public as a whole that “other body” and empowering a majority of them to decide, at any time, the president is unable to discharge his duties? Voila, a backdoor recall provision! (Of course, this would just elevate the vice president to acting president, but still.)

    I think we’ll see something along these lines in our lifetime.

Weary Haitians Shrug As Ragnarök Begins Outside Port-Au-Prince

The Onion, once again, nails it.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—Preoccupied with recovery from a devastating 7.0 earthquake, seasonal floods, a widespread cholera outbreak, and chaos in the wake of disputed presidential elections, the weary Haitian people simply shrugged in resignation Tuesday at the sudden onset of Ragnarök, the end of the cosmos as foretold in Norse mythology. “At first I didn’t even notice the writhing serpents spewing poison into the sky, but once I saw Loki demolishing everything in his wake, I was like, ‘Of course,’” unemployed barber Jean-Paul Aucoin said as Tyr and the hellhound Garm battled behind him. “It’s a little odd, since Haiti has no connection to Scandinavian folklore, yet at the same time it makes perfect sense.” Aucoin then went back to loading rubble into a wheelbarrow as Sköll devoured the sun, plunging the island nation of Haiti into complete and total darkness.

Interesting, too, is the contrast with this earlier Onion piece on Haiti:

For most countries, a Category 2 hurricane, a devastating earthquake, and a massive cholera outbreak in the same year would cause its people—and its political leaders—to completely fall apart. But most countries aren’t Haiti, and most leaders aren’t President René Préval, the quiet mastermind behind the impoverished island nation’s secret rise to unprecedented prosperity.

While many observers who can’t see the big picture characterize Préval as a typical sycophantic politician who’s overwhelmed by, and incapable of responding to, growing humanitarian crises, the president is, in fact, shrewdly devising a plan to turn Haiti’s high poverty rate and woeful lack of education to its advantage and remake the country as a global economic superpower.

In a stroke of genius that will someday have the international community applauding, Préval has carefully crafted the persona of a leader who appears to kowtow to the 1 percent of the population controlling half the nation’s wealth—and who appears to be leaving millions of homeless earthquake victims to their own devices. But what he’s actually doing is setting the stage for a dramatic, albeit confidential, Haitian comeback.

Playing his usual coy self, Préval has been unwilling to speculate when all these carefully laid plans will bear fruit, but we guess it will be 2014, maybe 2015 at the very latest.

Which is the more likely? Foseti has an idea.

I remember back more than a decade ago, discussing this very issue with a friend of mine. I was not yet a reactionary, but looking back, this conversation was a sort of precursor. We were arguing about the source of Haiti’s perpetual fuckedupedness. I wondered what would happen if a group like Executive Solutions or Blackwater or the like were to invade and conquer Haiti, and set up an enlightened dictatorship. Could Haiti be fixed? At the time I imagined that with the right policies and a suitably ruthless administration of justice, progress could be made. I mean, look what happened with Hong Kong, or Chili.

Once my friend got over his shock at such a suggestion, he argued against it, saying that 200 years of disfunction had probably left the incapable of benefitting from even the most enlightened rule. He was arguing from cultural effects, but now I think that causation runs the other way. Haitians are likely constitutionally incapable of benefitting from even the most enlightened rule, and that has resulted in 200 years of disfunction.

I think you’d have to elect a new people to make any real changes in Haiti’s future. The similarities between the post-independence fortunes of Haiti and, say, Cote d’Ivoire are not coincidence.

Instinctive aiming

Loyal reader John Veit emails us with news of US Patent 6023874.  Why is this important?  Well, for John, it’s important because he’s the patent holder.  For us, it’s important because when the zombies come, we will want an instinctive, automatic aiming system so that we can rapidly engage and de-brain our undead assailants.  And that’s what John has come up with:

This looks like an exceedingly simple mod for a handgun. And though I haven’t tried it, it looks like the sort of thing that would work. I imagine the grip would feel weird at first, but I’m sure I could cope with that if the benefits were there.

The video mentions that this method isn’t recommended for the M1911 handgun. My personal sidearm is a Kimber custom classic, modeled closely on the 1911. Perhaps John can chime in in the comments on whether this prohibition is just for actual 1911 models, or pretty much any .45 on that model. I’d certainly like to try this system out.

Related: Isegoria a while back on the half triangle Opti-Sight technology. More information on Aimed Point Shooting here.

This is why I love blogs

What if the Singularity already happened?

Damn, you stop paying attention for one second.  One second.

While Bram is waiting for his Plasma Rifle…

… he can perhaps assuage his hunger with this nifty Zombie putter-downer recommended by Rocket Jones:

Rocket Jones’ description is apt:

“If you’ll notice, besides the space saving bullpup design, there are two magazine tubes sitting side by side under the 18.5″ long barrel. There’s a selector lever that you use to set to feed from either magazine. Can you say “seven rounds of double ought *and* seven more of slugs?” I knew you could. That’s fifteen rounds (one in the chamber) of sweet zombie brain perforating power right there.”

But really, it was almost spoiled when he pussies out on the bore:

“My only reservation is that this puppy is 12 guage. I like 12 guage, but if I’m going to be shooting enough to warrant this kind of weapon, I’d rather see it in something a tad more benign to the shoulder like 20 gauge or even .410. That would probably also add a couple more rounds to the magazine capacity too.”

Shame on you, Jones.

The World’s Most Perfect Zombie Killing Weapon?  Until we get plasma rifles, this is certainly a contender.

Linkarrhea

Sorry for that title.  But, as you’ll see, it is appropriate.

I’ve accumulated far too many open tabs in my browser.  So, I will offload them to you.  Some you’ve probably already seen, some are kinda stale.  But they all were important to me, and I cherish them.

  • Several from Zero Hedge, which is your one stop shop for economic sturm und drang.  Prepare for the Hyperinflationary Great Depression – this tickles my disaster funny bone.  I’ve been reading a lot of Vox Day over the last few months, and this article is more or less in line.  And here are two possible responses to that problem: leave, or mooch.
  • Grerp talks about the fourth turning. Parts 1, 3 and 4 are certainly worth reading.  But part 2 hit me.

    I read Strauss and Howe’s 5-page description of the built-in craziness of childhood in the 1960s and 70s nodding the whole time. Someone is finally saying it: Gen X had a shortened, unsettled, unstable childhood and it permanently affected the way we see the world. Permanently. Affected. Permanently. Latchkey kids were left unsupervised daily and many of the rest of us were allowed to do adult things far too early. Illegitimacy got a good running start, and

    “[i]n the middle 1970s, the distinction of occupying America’s most poverty-prone age bracket passed directly from the (elder) Lost to the (child) 13th without ever touching the three generations in between. By the late 1970s, the child suicide rate broke the Lost’s previous turn-of-the-century record. Through the Awakening, the homicide rate for infants and small children rose by half, and the number of reported cases of child abuse jumped four-fold.”

    Does anyone remember this? You’d think, from the coverage in the media, that teen suicide was just discovered in youth. Oh, no. Gen Xers broke the record back there, but it’s all just lost in the ether. Reading all of this I realized for perhaps the first time that other generations hadn’t had this experience. I mean, I knew that divorce and illegitimacy climbed and climbed through the 60s, 70s and 80s and that families fragmented and got poorer in general. What I never considered was that for the first time in history, that fragmentation was largely an optional choice that the generations before us could and did make.

    Families have always broken up. Death was an ever present companion in human society, and it was not at all uncommon for one or the other parent to die and then remarry to keep the family solvent and functional. These arrangements sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, people being people. There have always been kids who were raised by their grandparents or aunts and uncles. Because their parents died. As in, keeled over, went 10 toes up. But with the advent of modern medicine and especially drugs like penicillin, the incidence of parental death was drastically reduced. Boomer kids feared polio, not smallpox or typhoid or tuberculosis. The kids in Gen X experienced family breakdown, then, because their parents flaked, because they put themselves first, because the kids in our generation weren’t “worth the parental sacrifice of prolonging an unhappy marriage.”

    Wow. Thanks. The adults around us preferred to deal with the divorce epidemic by producing after-school specials and writing stuff like It’s Not the End of the World rather than pressure Silent and Boomer parents to stick it out for the kids.

    … Gen X is made up of kids who were told by word and action that the happiness and well-being of the adults in their lives was more important than their happiness or well-being.  And many of us are tired of the unhappy housewife meme.  We are tired of being told to be grateful for the freedom, to be glad we didn’t grow up in the oppressive climate of the 1950s.  Plenty of Gen Xers (and Gen Ys) would have traded the “liberation” given them for Mom and Dad living in the same house and dinner being on the table regularly at 6 PM.  We can’t appreciate rebellion against security and authority because security and authority were scarce resources in our childhood.

    I’ll continue this series with other thoughts gleaned from The Fourth Turning, but just for the above, the explanation for Gen X’s anger, apathy and cynicism, I am grateful to the authors.  We don’t feel the way the Boomers feel because we didn’t grow up the way the Boomers did.  Even those of us growing up in stable homes could feel society splintering all around us, and we wondered if and when our parents would decide to chuck it and go find themselves.

    Growing up in the 70s, for me and most of my friends, that’s what it was.

  • Government policies may have had something to do with the recent unpleasantness. I try not to be overly conspiratorial. If you look at it one way, an incompetent or clueless government merely enabled certain elements in the financial sector to run hog wild and break shit. But if you look at it another way, those elements probably had a large effect on how those regulations were written and enforced in the first place. Which means they got the laws they wanted, and then ran hog wild.
  • Alt Right on Monarchism, and on Monarchism.
  • A few good Whiskeys.  I’ve added him to my feed.
  • Taleb excerpt – AntiFragility.
  • Naught for Your Comfort.  I had never read Ballad of the White Horse before.
  • The Disadvantages of an Elite Education.  Interesting.
  • Karl Rove is by no means my hero.  Scott at powerline sums it up: “Rove explains the vicious strategy at the heart of Obamacare: pass terrible legislation, and then collect a toll by exempting your friends–those who pay you lots of money–from that legislation, while your enemies have to live with it. We have had various forms of corruption over the years, but I don’t believe we have had, within memory, anything quite this disgusting. The worst malefactor here, besides President Obama himself, is AARP.”  It is disgusting.  And not at all surprising that the cold, deathlike hand of the AARP is involved.  Reference the link on boomers and the fourth turning, above.

I started this post yesterday, but was sidetracked by a sudden shopping emergency.  So much for that resolution.  But the key is to jump right back on the wagon, right?  So I will do, for my conscience and your edification, two (2!) posts in penance.

Plasma Focus Fusion

Instapundit linked this item – Compact Fusion Experiment Demonstrates Confinement of 100 keV (Billion-Degree) Ions in Dense Plasma which is indeed cool news:

In a breakthrough in the effort to achieve controlled fusion energy, a research team at Lawrenceville PlasmaPhysics, Inc. (LPP) in Middlesex, NJ, announced that they have demonstrated the confinement of ions with energies in excess of 100 keV (the equivalent of a temperature of over 1 billion degrees C) in a dense plasma. They achieved this using a compact fusion device called a dense plasma focus (DPF), which fits into a small room and confines the plasma with powerful magnetic fields produced by the currents in the plasma itself. Reaching energies over 100 keV is important in achieving a long-sought goal of fusion research—to burn hydrogen-boron fuel. Hydrogen-boron, (also known by its technical abbreviation, pB11) is considered the ideal fusion fuel, since it produces energy in the form of charged particles that can be directly converted to electricity. This could dramatically cut the cost of electricity generation and eliminate all production of radioactive waste.

The dense plasma focus has been studied for over 40 years. However, LPP has been able to make great strides since its ―Focus-Fusion-1 experimental device started producing data in October, 2009, due to its unique, patented design. Most importantly, its electrodes, which produce the self-pinching action that concentrates the plasma and current, are much smaller than those of other DPF devices with similar peak currents. The electrode assembly is only 4 inches across and less than 6 inches in length.

The fusion energy yields achieved in these experiments are still far less than the energy used to run the machines. However, LPP hopes to make rapid progress in the coming year when the machine will be running with hydrogen–boron fuel for the first time.

They’ve made more progress in fusion in the last couple years than billion dollar efforts achieved in decades.  What may not be apparent at first sight, though, is that the lead researcher behind all this progress – Eric Lerner of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics – is the author of The Big Bang Never Happened, and his proposed ideas regarding plasma cosmology – quasars and the like.

Robert Bussard of Bussard Ramjet fame had another line of investigation that was similar in some respects – the Polywell – but funding ran out and then he died from multiple myeloma.  Research does continue though.

Resolutions

I’m thinking I’m going to something slightly different. I’m going to do resolutions this year on a month by month basis, and report on my progress before issuing the next set of resolutions. Obviously, some of these will be repeating month to month, but I want to be a little more granular – and keep more records of my progress.

So, here are January resolutions:

  • Follow the 4-hour body diet plan for the month.  This diet is in large part identical to the paleo diet that I followed from July through Thanksgiving.  I lost just shy of 40 pounds.  I want to lose another 20 pounds.  The main difference with the new plan is that it actually encourages cheating, one day a week.  I’ll throw a post up later with some more information on the diet, and other stuff from the book.
  • Post on Perfidy at least once a day.  And I don’t mean average at least one post a day, I mean post at least once every day.  Hopefully more, and get this habit locked in.
  • Start a new, time-consuming hobby.  I’ve always teased my wife that I need a hobby that sucks time as much as her band, just to even things out.  I’ve decided to start studying physics.  I was a physics major, once, and I’d like to sharpen my math and science skills.  The early part will be just catch up – elementary physics refresher courses from a variety of sources, and math as well.  There’ll be a post forthcoming on this, too.
  • Read one thinky book a week.  SF doesn’t count.  For January, I will read the 10,000 Year Explosion, The Mystery of Capital, The Long Summer (How Climate Changed Civilization) by Brian Fagan, and Keegan’s First World War.  (Having unpacked my books for the first time in four years, I’ve found lots of books that I want to read that I never got around to.)
  • Read Volume I of the Harvard Great Books.  This one will be easy, I’m already half done.  There’s fifty volumes, so that’s over four years at that pace.  But, I hope to increase the pace.
  • Catalog my books, and start getting digital copies of them.
  • Get passports for the family.
  • Get a budget in place, and automate as much as my bill paying and finances as I can manage, to reduce craziness.  The last few years have been difficult, what with layoffs, uncertainty, etc.  But now that I’ve relocated, cut my housing expenses in half, and have a small measure of job security, it’s time to get off the paycheck to paycheck life I was kinda forced into by the necessity of juggling payments and such.
  • Become a better person and take over the world.

And I think that’s enough for one month.

Stuff!

Gary Taubes, author of the life-changing (for me, at any rate) book Good Calories, Bad Calories now has a blog, and  a new book coming out this month – Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. That would make a nice late Christmas present.

Coming out two weeks before that, in fact, this next Tuesday, is Tim Ferriss‘ new one, The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. I enjoyed his first book, the 4-hour Workweek, which, while not exactly containing world-shattering new information is useful in providing in one place information and a perspective that would have taken vast effort to compile. It hasn’t changed my life – but I hope it will in the new year. At least a little, anyway. I think the new one will be a useful companion piece to the information I’ve already assembled for the whole diet/exercise program I’m now following.

I’ll post a review once I get it.

My Dad

Just got one of these:

Color me jealous.

Smoking, it’s all good.

The Hawaiian Libertarian drops a big post on the whole smoking is bad for you thing.

I don’t know what would piss off Mrs. Buckethead more – me continuing to smoke, or continuing to smoke and justifying on the basis that the government is lying.

There’s a few links in the article – ones that Aretae didn’t include in his posts on the subject a while back.

I think I will switch to American Spirits or the like, though. I’ve been smoking cowboy killers for too long. I don’t really want to go to the trouble of roll your own, and smoking organic would fit in (a bit, kind of) with my general trend toward healthier stuff.

[wik]: The other posts in the red pill series over at HL are all worth reading, if you haven’t already. And you should have. Slacker.

Scientists Baffled

If you pay attention to science news, you may have noticed this sort of headline: “Scientists Shocked” or “Scientists Baffled.” The teaser headline leads you to a heroic story of hero scientists heroically unjamming the gears of science.

What you may not have noticed is the pattern. Six or seven times out of ten, the scientist is an astronomer or cosmologist. And if you read even more closely, you’ll find that the same sort of shocking results crop up at regular intervals. For example, every time a probe gets near a comet, we see a rash of reports of baffled scientists running around with their heads cut off, shocked at the results reported back by our robotic emissaries. Often, in the second paragraph, or perhaps the last, you’ll see a comment along the lines of “It’s back to the drawing board.”

But two years later when the next probe arrives, the same confusion reigns.

Clearly, someone did not go back to the drawing board, and paradigms were not altered.

Aside from comets, one of the most common sources of bafflement is electromagnetism in space. Keep this in the back of you mind next time you scan the science news. Remember that hot gas is plasma. Plasma is electromagnetic. The easiest way on earth to generate high energy radiation – gamma, x-ray – is with plasma devices, entirely without the need for rapidly spinning gravitational sources. Finally, there’s no such thing as magnetic field line reconnection – field lines are as real (though fully as useful) as lines of longitude or latitude. They can’t reconnect.

Now read an article like this one. It’s typical.

Here’s a fun one about ball lightning, with a space connection.

In other science news, climate models are awesome. Borepatch weighed in on that one, too. And sunspots may have had something to do with the little ice age.

I went to school with this guy

When my mom and I moved to Medina, we lived in a duplex on Howard St. Behind our house, facing Jackson St., lived Steve Cepec. His family was a disaster. I don’t think I ever saw his dad sober, or not shouting at something. His mother was passive, aggressive, and mean.

Last spring, my mom called me and said, “One of your classmates is accused of murder.”

“Is it Cepec?” I asked.

It was.

Steven Aaron Cepec is up for murder charges that could bring him the death penalty. He apparently killed his 73-year-old neighbor over a debt, and was caught fleeing the scene. He attempted to commit suicide in jail by swallowing screws. That failure cost the county a quarter million in medical bills.

He was on parole at the time of the murder. He’d served some years for burglary. And I knew when we graduated that he would come to a bad end. I’m kind of surprised that it took this long.

I always sort of liked Steve. Didn’t trust him – my mom caught him stealing from our garage once. He tried to be a bully, but didn’t seem to have the heart or the courage to do it right. Once, he hit me in the arm at recess. I wasn’t a tough guy, and maybe it wasn’t his best effort, but I was stunned that it didn’t hurt all that much. I laughed. Steve never hit me again.

Steve was a good guy to have around when the neighborhood started the annual buckeye wars. Buckeyes falling from the trees make good weapons – we never were able to determine whether the small, hard smooth naked buckeyes or the spiky but soft buckeyes still in the husk hurt more. Steve had a good arm and a good eye.

In sixth grade, I sat next to some weird fruit-bearing plant that Mrs. Buckloh had in her room. Its small red berries were bitter and foul smelling. One day, Steve asked me to give him some. I looked at him, silently asking, “What happens to me if I give them to you?” He pointed at the seat behind him, occupied by the sleeping bulk of Richard Martin.

Richard was the living embodiment of every stereotype of West Virginia you’ve ever heard of, plus a few you haven’t. It seemed the only word he knew was, “Quee-it.” His lawn was mostly dirt because his dad would pay him $10 every time he mowed it, no matter how often he did, or how little the lawn needed it. When we asked him if he was a homo sapiens, he always replied, “No I never!”

Richard was sleeping in his desk, head slack back, mouth open, a thin weezy sort of snore drifting out. I gave Cepec a handful of berries. Cepec aimed, while teacher droned on in the background. The first berry bounced off Richard’s forehead. He stirred, slightly.

The second berry bounced off his chin. Bracketed! The third berry hit the corner of his mouth and rolled off the side. But the fourth berry, nothing but net. I think it went straight down his throat. Richard coughed, explosively. The berry hit some girl in the face. Richard fell off his desk, arms flailing as he screamed, “Cepec, Quee-it!”

It was one of the better days in sixth grade.

At the time, my mom was one of four college graduate women working at the bakery at the local grocery store. Mom told me once that Steve came in one day, back to the bakery in the back. He said hi, grabbed a quarter donut from the sample plate. Mom said he paused, and said – matter of factly, maybe a bit sadly, “Your boy’s really smart. Isn’t he.”

Mom said thank you, and he left.

Shortly after that, mom got a better paying gig working for the state gov, and we got a house in a different neighborhood. I didn’t see as much of Steve.

I think Steve was not destined by fate to be a murderer. Some people clearly are. He was weak of will, but so am I a lot of the time. He wasn’t terribly bright, but then so are a lot of people. His parents were fucked up, but so are many others. Had he been raised better, he might have done alright.

But that didn’t happen. And Frank Munz is dead.

QotD

From Zero Hedge:

Like most economists, the Fed and its chairman mistake their manipulation of money for control of the economy. You and I are the economy and it is quite apparent that the Fed has very little “control” over us. If they could control us, then their policies would have worked and they wouldn’t keep experimenting on us with radical policies like quantitative easing and ZIRP.

Money, lest we forget, it just a medium of exchange. It does other things as well (store of value, indicator of the relative cost of things), but its primary function and the reason money was invented is to allow us to easily facilitate exchanges of goods and services. The economy is what we do everyday when we work, buy, sell, and save. Money is just a tool we use. When the Fed manipulates our money what is does is upset our ability to plan about the future. We have one set of perceptions about what money is and then the Fed distorts those perceptions and we end up making bad choices and bad plans. It results in the boom-bust business cycles we have and price inflation or price deflation.

Rocket Jones gives it a name

My home town

Actually, things aren’t so bad. Except for some soreness in the back from giving the Dad a hand with moving, things are verging on decent.

As Foseti mentioned, we had a little reactionary gabfest on Friday. Along with his observations, I’d add that reactionaries seem to be rather tall. It’s unusual that I meet people taller than me, and Foseti is just fricken’ huge. Wiry, though. Odd that sometimes when you meet for the first time a person you’ve never seen, they are almost exactly the way you pictured them. Except for the extra 6-8 inches, Foseti is just how I thought he’d look.

It is refreshing to talk to someone who not only doesn’t freak out when I say what I think (my friend Christian is very kind, and doesn’t freak out) but actually agrees, or even is more hardcore on the point than I am. The reactionary is decidedly outside the mainstream. And the monkeybrains part of your being just shrieks inside you when you are disagreeing with everyone. Seeing that there is someone who actually exists – not just words on the screen – and agrees with you is very calming.