Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Robert Burns ~ Auld Lang Syne

An adaptation of the Robert Burns poem that is fairly close to the original, sung by the Scottish folk singer Dougie MacLean

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne?

    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    for auld lang syne,
    we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
    for days of auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d many a weary fit,
since days of auld lang syne.

And we twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
since days of auld lang syne.


And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.



Happy New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Moving in Opposite Directions

Voter Breakdown

Political polarization has ushered in a new era in state government, where single-party control of the levers of power has produced competing Americas. One is grounded in principles of lean and limited government and on traditional values; the other is built on a belief in the essential role of government and on tenets of cultural liberalism. Dan Balz - Washington Post


Upper House
Lower House

12 States are split, 14 are firmly in the hands of Democrats and 23 firmly in the hands of Republicans, and Nebraska is the black one with a unicameral legislature.

So what do you think are the long term implications of the growing political void between us?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Day the Light Went Out

Starting January 1, the most popular light bulbs sold in the United States — 60W and 40W incandescent bulbs — will no longer be manufactured in or imported into the country.  MSN

Now I'm no luddite, but I don't think government should be meddling in the light bulb market.  Light bulbs replaced candles without government intervention, why? Because they were better.  CFL's and LEDs require government intervention in the market because quite frankly, they suck as far as ambient lighting goes.  Without the strong arm of government the vast majority of us would be sticking to the lowly incandescent bulb.

As I said, I'm no luddite and I've made the switch to LEDs where I deem LEDs to be adequate and efficient.  Notice I said "I deem" not when some faceless government hack deems them to be adequate and efficient.  I will burn candles long before I switch to CFLs... having despised florescent lighting my entire life, since long before the environmental movement and "EnergyStar" compliance ratings. 

LEDs are marginally better than CFLs, I have no doubt that they will improve over time, but they're not there yet.  I have made the switch to LEDs in my kitchen and office where they provide adequate task lighting.  I do not however want them in my living room.  For those of you of similar opinion I offer you the following resources working through a loophole in the law - Rough Service Bulbs:


Home Depot

As I said earlier, I'm no luddite... check out these interesting technological breakthroughs in lighting:

The Smartcharge lightbulb while LED, comes with its own built in rechargeable battery along with the computer sensing technology to determine if power has failed or the bulb was switched off.  During a detected power failure the bulb is capable of providing lighting for an additional four hours.

The AwoX Strimmlight is an LED bulb with an integrated Bluetooth® speaker. An easy path to an in home sound system without the bother of installing wiring... or additional speakers.

Phillips Hue allows you to control the lighting and the color of its systems bulbs all from the convenience of your home computer or from an app on your phone. The starter kit comes with 3 bulbs and a bridge for your wireless router at $199... additional bulbs, of which it can control up to fifty, come at the steep price of $58 dollars a piece.

I was originally going to post this on New Years Eve but as polling indicates that 40% of us are unaware that the bulbs are being phased out, I decided to post it early...

Let the run on lightbulbs begin!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ode to Joy

Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler
Ode to Joy popped up several times over the past week or so,  I found the below version somewhat interesting.  World's largest choir?


Friday, December 27, 2013

Is it too early to tell?

John William Waterhouse - The Crystal Ball
A poll conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.  The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from December 16-19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points. The
survey released Thursday also indicates that President Barack Obama may be dragging down Democratic congressional candidates


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day of the Wren

National Library of Ireland
St Stephen's Day - Boxing Day is a holiday long celebrated in Europe, traditionally involving giving money or gifts to the needy or those in service positions.  It's roots go as far back as Saturnalia in the Roman Empire.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

No Politics - Just Music

Monday, December 23, 2013

White Santa?

The picture above is from a 15th century Russian Icon

This one is from the Kizhi Monastery in Karelia, on the Russian border of Finland.

Was Santa White?

Or more precisely, was Saint Nicholas white? And the answer is maybe he was, maybe he wasn't.  Born in Asia Minor in the City of Patara, a port on the Mediterranean has historically been identified as a Greek.  His parents were Epiphanius and Johanna according to some sources and Theophanes and Nonna in others.  His parents died in an epidemic and he was raised by an Uncle, also Nikolaos who was Biship of Patara.  St. Nicholas went on to become Bishop of Myra, just a little bit down the cost from his birthplace.  Maybe he's Greek, maybe he's Moor, maybe he's a bit of a mix.  The more important question is:


A Cultural Hodgepodge

The modern cultural construct of Santa Claus is a little bit of everything kludged together to form an advertising logo.  A little bit of everything from St Nicholas to Father Winter, Odin to Tomte.

 Ded Moroz - Russian Father Frost

Georg Von Rosen
A Depiction of Odin

Père Noël



Lucy Nicholson/Reuters


Stay tuned in 2014 when we will address the long unanswered question of whether or not the tooth fairy is actually a transgendered Chinese midget.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas Renaissance (literally)

Gaudete is a carol dating back to at least 1582 first published in a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs.

Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born
(Out) Of the Virgin Mary — rejoice!

The time of grace has come—
what we have wished for,
songs of joy
Let us give back faithfully.

God has become man,
(With) nature marveling,
The world has been renewed
By Christ (who is) reigning.

The closed gate of Ezekiel
Is passed through,
Whence the light is raised,
Salvation is found.

Therefore let our gathering
Now sing in brightness
Let it give praise to the Lord:
Greeting to our King.

Ríu Ríu Chíu is Spanish in origin, dating back to 1553


The Tura Lura Lura, Lo Gau Canta dates from 17th century Provence.

Back by popular demand from last year (Hey, it only needs to be popular with me) The Boar's Head Carol is an English Carol from 1521

Saturday, December 21, 2013

FLASH MOB: Random Acts of Culture

Not all flash mobs involve running off with the merchandise.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Duck Duck.... Goose!

It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me, I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.
When the reporter asked Robertson what he found sinful, he said: 

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Freedom of speech means freedom for those who you despise, and freedom to express the most despicable views.  ~ Alan Dershowitz

The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Fiasco Says More About Our Bigotry Than Phil’s ~ Brandon Ambrosino

For those that don't know, Brandon Ambrosino is a contributing writer to Time, The Atlantic, McSweeney's, VICE, Buzzfeed, Relevant, Gawker, Baltimore Magazine, and the Baltimore Sun.  He is also gay.  Brandon Ambrosino gets it.

Many come and comment here whose views I find an anathema to my beliefs and principles.  They are welcome.  We don't persecute them (although it might feel that way to them at times), and will defend their right to their opinions.

Is there a difference between persecuting someone for their belief that homosexuality is wrong or persecuting someone for their belief that homosexuality is okay? After all, Phil Robertson went on to say:

“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.” 

Freedom of thought and speech must extend to those you disagree with.  Don't get me wrong, A&E is more than welcome to terminate him if they feel he has become more detrimental than beneficial to their business enterprise... but they shouldn't.  Or more accurately, they shouldn't terminate him simply because an angry mob wants him terminated.  Like it or not Phil Johnson has a right to his beliefs and he has a right to express them, whether they hurt your feelings or not.

Whatever happened to:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~ Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Thursday, December 19, 2013

From the Whores of Congress...

Fragged by the Senate

Yesterday, the senate voted to steal 6 billion dollars from those that volunteered and proudly served our country and give 4 billion dollars to the children of illegal aliens.

Thank any of these 9 republicans:

1. Ron Johnson - Wisconsin
2. Orin Hatch - Utah
3. Saxby Chamblis - Georgia
4. John McCain - Arizona
5. Susan Collins - Maine
6. John Hoeven - North Dakota
7. Johnny Isakson - Georgia
8. Lisa Murkowski - Alaska
9. Rob Portman - Ohio

Or any of the democrats that vote like lemmings.

Honestly, these days, the only difference in my mind between republicans and democrats is the democrats have more party discipline.

"These heroes lay their lives on the line for us and they deserve us to fix this provision," 

Isakson said before voting for the budget agreement. 

Hey Isakson, you've earned it.

Don't Come Around Here No More

Frankly, the republican party is not the party of "no" they're the party of "can't" and I'm done with the Republican'ts... they're dead to me.

On a more personal and local note for Colorado's 5th...          Hey Dougie...this one's for you


Who's running against you in the 2014 primary?  I need to put a name on the check.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

KLAYMAN et al., v. OBAMA et al.

US District Court for the District of Columbia

Has ruled that the mass collection of telephone metadata by the NSA is unconstitutional.

Dispenses with Smith v. Maryland

Smith v. Maryland is the case cited by the government in proclaiming that the collection of telephone metadata is not constitutionally protected, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy for numbers called and calls received, and  the data is in effect the business records of the phone company.

In Smith v. Maryland the police installed a pen register on the line of a person suspected of burglarizing and then harassing the victim of the burglary with threatening phone calls.  The police had an "individualized suspicion" and collected only the numbers called by the suspect without a warrant.  In that case the court ruled that a warrant was not necessary.

However, in Smith v. Maryland the police only collected the numbers called by the suspect, not every single phone call made in the State of Maryland, and therein lies the difference, at least in the Judge Leon's opinion.

The pen register in Smith was active only for a short span of time, March 6 - March 19 1976, provided no historical context, only a record of contacts while the device was installed.  That short-term, forward looking, and highly limited data collection was what the Supreme Court ruled on in Smith v. Maryland.

The notion that the government could collect similar data on hundreds of millions of people, keep that data for five years, and update that data daily would have been the stuff of science fiction.


How Telephone Metadata Collections and Queries Work.

"The Government, however, describes the advantages of bulk collection in such a way as to convince me that plaintiff's metadata - indeed everyone's metadata - is analyzed, manually or automatically, whenever the Government runs a query"
Starting with a phone number, call it (123) 456-7890 the database is queried generating a list of numbers for the past five years that ever called or were called by that number, that is "Hop 1"For the sake of simplicity lets say that Hop 1 generates a list of 100 phone numbers.

Hop 2 is a query against the list generated by Hop 1.  100 phone numbers for the past five years.  If each phone queried also dialed and received calls from 100 numbers in the past five years, we now have the list for Hop 2... a list of 10,000 phone numbers.

Hop 3 is a query against the list generated by Hop 2.  If each phone on the Hop 2 list also made and received calls from 100 numbers the list for Hop 3 now contains 1,000,000 phone numbers.

A Good Analogy


The difference between querying a phone number belonging to a domestic Verizon subscribers (for which metadata has been collected) and querying a foreign number (for which metadata has not been collected) might be analogized as follows.  A query that begins with a domestic phone number is like entering a library and looking to find all the sources that are cited in Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson.  You find that specific book, open it, and there they are.  "Hop 1" is complete.  Then you want to find all the sources cited within each of those sources ("Hop 2"), and so on.  At the end of a very long day you have looked only at books, articles, etc. that were linked to Battle Cry of Freedom.

Querying a foreign phone number is like entering a library and trying to find every book that cites Battle Cry of Freedom as a source.  It might be referenced in a thousand books. It might be in just ten.  It could be in zero.  The only way to know is to check every book.  At the end of a very long month, you are left with the "Hop 1" results (those books that cite Battle Cry of Freedom), but to get there you had to open every book in the library.

It is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party's constitutional rights.


Judge Richard Leon said it better than I could:

The public interest lies in enjoining unconstitutional searches.  That interest looms large in this case, given the significant privacy interests at stake and the unprecedented scope of the NSA's collection and querying efforts, which likely violate the Fourth Amendment.  Thus, the public interest weighs heavily in favor of granting an injunction.

The Government, in its understandable zeal to protect our homeland, has crafted a counterterrorism program with respect to telephone metadata that strikes the balance based in large part on a thirty-four year old Supreme Court precedent, the relevance of which has been eclipsed by technological advances and a cell phone-centric lifestyle heretofore inconceivable.

For the entire 68 page opinon:  

 US District Court for DC No. 13-0951