What Would John Galt Do?

A whole different way of looking at "WWJD"

Monday, April 27, 2020

Oregon 2nd Congressonal District GOP primary - an analysis

Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon's gigantic 2nd Congressional District (basically, everything east of the Cascades, plus Medford) is retiring.  Eleven Republicans are running to replace him.

Since the 2nd is one of the reddest districts in the country, it's a safe bet that our next Congresscritter will be chosen in the Primary - 'coz whomever wins the Democrat primary will have about the same chance in November as a snowman in Hell.

So, if you're a Republican, and you're in this district, you'll be choosing our next Congresscritter, so you'd better choose wisely.  Whom to choose?  Have you even thought about it yet?  Here is my analysis.

We can eliminate six of them right off the bat.  All except one have raised no money, and all have $0 or less in their campaign treasury. None have any experience.  With two exceptions, none have even bothered to put an ad in the Voter's Pamphlet.  In Oregon, if you don't have an ad in the Voter's Pamphlet, you're not serious.

David Campbell
Glenn Carey
Travis Fager
Kenneth Medenbach
Mark Roberts
Jeff Smith

We can eliminate one more:  Jimmy Crumpacker.  He's a Portlander who just moved here to the east side a few weeks ago.  Claims to be an "avid outdoorsman" but has never had an Oregon hunting license until a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, Crumpacker has the coveted endorsement of Oregon Right To Life, which in my opinion is a big mistake on their part.  There are other pro-lifers in the race; indeed, ALL of the other candidates except one are pro-Life.

That leaves four viable candidates.  Let's look at them one by one, in alphabetical order:

Jason Atkinson

I deem Jason a Good Man.  He's from southern Oregon, and has legislative experience, including fourteen years in the state Senate.  Has an A+ rating from the NRA.

However, Jason is not well funded, having raised less than $200,000 with less than $30K of it left in the bank.  His pandering to the Religious Right is also a bit troubling.

I could vote for him, if there were no better candidate, and would not be displeased were he to win.

Cliff Bentz

A Good Man.  Third-generation Eastern Oregon (Ontario) rancher: he's one of us.  Has a law degree, and has solid legislative experience:  ten years in the State House, two years State Senate.  Says he supports 2A and says he's pro-life because he's a Catholic.  Doesn't otherwise make a big deal about his religion.

He was one of the 11 brave Senate Republicans to walk out of the state Senate last year, for which he could have been arrested, to deny the Democrat-controlled chamber a quorum to pass their devastating Global Warming Cap and Tax bill last year.

He is the 3rd-best funded candidate at this writing, with a quarter of a million dollars in the bank.

At this writing, he is the candidate I'm most likely to vote for.

Knute Buehler

Knute was the Republican nominee for Governor two years ago and I would have -- reluctantly -- voted for him had I not missed the voter registration deadline.  He's from Bend, a doctor, and has served a couple of terms in the State House - not enough to be a seasoned veteran thereof.

I consider him a RINO.  He is solid on fiscal issues but is unforgivably soft on gun rights, including not allowing 18-to-21-year-olds to buy "assault weapons," whatever those are.  For me, that alone is a deal-killer, but he is also soft in some other 2A areas.

His stand on abortion is fine with me -- NO government funding for abortion -- but since he is not adamantly anti-abortion, for everyone, all of the time, he's going to lose support from the rabid religious right.

He is the best-funded of all the candidates, having raised over a million dollars (a big chunk of which came from Phil Knight, which is a little scary) and has nearly half of that still in the bank.  He also has the best name recognition of any of the candidates.  My prediction is that he'll be the winner, and I'll be (reluctantly) voting for him in November.

Because as bad as he is, he'll still be orders of magnitude better than any of the 'Crats that are running.

Justin Livingston

Justin is from Bend and does have governmental experience, all of it local.  He's on the city council and has been on several local boards and commissions.  He's trying to punch a little above his weight.

He is a weak candidate, with the least amount of money of any of the candidates (save one who is in the hole), with only $3,000 and change at the last reporting deadline.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Depleting scarce resources to make a dishonest buck

This post is being written in the midst of the SARS CoV-2 aka "Coronavirus" emergency in the United States.

Today I risked journeying to the nearest town with a grocery store (30 miles, no known cases of SARS CoV-2 yet) because I was down to about 3-4 days' worth of food.

I have a medical need for distilled water.  I don't use a ton of it; one gallon will last me for more than a week, but it MUST be distilled.  I have a neighbor with the same need, and heard him mention that he needed some today too.

The first store I went to (there are three in that town; all are medium-sized, not supermarkets) was out.  So I went to the next one.

I walked back to the correct aisle to find plenty of gallons of spring water and purified (i.e., filtered) water, but no distilled.  A nearby stocker suggested that I inquire at the back of the store.

I arrived at the door to the stock area to find an older couple with CASES of distilled water in their cart!  We are in emergency times.  Everyone should take only what s/he needs.  NO ONE goes through that much distilled water!  They said that they needed it "for our business."  OK, I didn't ask.

They seemed surprised that I only needed one gallon (I later decided to get two because that's what I normally keep on hand).  And I was starting to wonder...  just what the Hell kind of business 1) needs such large quantities of distilled water, that 2) they aren't getting from a wholesale supplier?

Then they voluntarily spilled the beans:  "We make colloidal silver."

Colloidal Silver.  Jesus Tittyfucking Christ.  I tried not to roll my eyes.

Colloidal silver is Quack Medicine.  It doesn't cure anything.  But its promoters, in the finest tradition of the snake-oil salesmen, patent medicine peddlers, and Medicine Show quacks of the 1880s, will claim that it cures anything and everything.  You can find websites out there, lots of them, that even claim that it cures cancer.

So, of course, it also kills the Coronavirus!  And these people were preparing to make some serious money.  Shaking my head...

So in a time when there are shortages of all kinds of critically needed goods, here was a couple depleting one town's supply of a critically needed good, TO MANUFACTURE QUACK MEDICINE.

This is why we can't have nice things.

I got home to find that my neighbor's daughter, who'd been tasked with finding his distilled water (in the same town) for him, was coming up empty-handed.  I told him which store had it, and he texted her.  When she arrived, she reported that that store had started limiting people to only ONE jug of distilled water each.  So she got two.  You know the drill: she got one, hubby got one, they went through the checkout lines separately.

Meanwhile, somewhere in that town is a couple running electricity through dozens of gallons of precious, hard-to-find water, making a quack nostrum which they will sell for ridiculous amounts of money -- that doesn't cure a damn thing.

Beam me up, Scotty, there's no intelligent life on this planet.

Here is the Quackwatch article on Colloidal Silver:


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Explaining Public Key Cryptography

This post grows out of a discussion on the Gab social media network.  It is posted here to give it some permanence, as anything posted on Gab disappears under a manure pile of other posts within a few hours.

Public Key Cryptography is mathematics.  Pure mathematics, and not the simple kind.  It is difficult for most people to understand.  This is an attempt to explain it to non-technical folks.

For centuries, encryption was what we call symmetrical.  Like the Secret Decoder Rings that kids got by mail order, if you wanted to send a secret message to someone, you would write it down and then scramble the letters of the alphabet in a certain way.  That "certain way" is called the key.  Anyone who knows the key can use it to unscramble the letters.

The same key is used to encrypt, and decrypt the message, which is why it's called "symmetrical."

Those letter-substitution cyphers are pretty easy to break (i.e., figure out what the key is).  Mary, Queen of Scots, lost her head to the executioner's axe over one that's a little more complicated than the Secret Decoder Ring (which is what the Caesars used).  The Germans lost WWII over one far more complex, called "enigma," that some brilliant people at Bletchley Park in Britain managed to break.

While they were breaking the German's secret code, the same people invented a different kind of encryption.  Because it was a military secret, it ended up getting invented again at MIT in 1977 because no one knew it already existed.  In it, you need TWO keys, which are mathematically related:  a message encrypted with one of them can ONLY be decrypted by the other.

These keys amount to two incomprehensibly large numbers, a thousand digits or more, that are generated by a process too complex to describe here, and then multiplied by each other.  Knowing one of the numbers doesn't help you in figuring out what the other one is.

You keep one of those numbers a deep, dark secret.  You don't even tell your own mother.  You tell the other number to the whole world.  The first is your private key; the second is your public key.

Your friend wants to send you a secret message.  He writes it down, and then converts it, letter by letter, using your public key, and sends you the result.

The only key in the whole wide world that can decrypt that message is your private key.  If you write back to your friend, you encrypt it with his public key; only his private key can decrypt it.

There is more to this - a LOT more - but we'll keep it simple here.

Obviously, all of this only works if your private key remains a secret known only to you.  If anyone ever finds it, it's Game Over.  All of the secret messages you have ever received become known to whomever has managed to steal, break, crack, or otherwise discover your private key.

So in the Real World, we keep our private key(s) on our personal computers, where "hackers" are known to break in and steal stuff such as your social security number.  How do you keep them from stealing your private key?

You encrypt it.  With an old-fashioned symmetric key (i.e., an ordinary password or "passphrase," which is a password that can have spaces in it).  When you do that, it's important that you pick what we call a "strong password" that is difficult to break -- because if a "hacker" steals your encrypted private key (which, for any sufficiently skilled "hacker," is fairly easy to do) and figures out the password you used to protect it, it's still Game Over for you.

This is most of what you need to know to use the Public Key Infrastructure.  To recap:

  1.  Generate your own personal keypair on your computer, using software that does that for you.
  2.  Keep your private key a secret by encrypting it with a password.  NEVER store the actual private key on your hard drive; only the encrypted version.
  3.  Tell your public key to the whole world so that anyone who wants to, can send you a secret message.
The new encrypted Gab Chat uses PKI.  It generates your unique keypair for you, and only asks you to decide what the password will be that protects your private key.  It caches your private key for you somewhere on your hard drive (which opens a security hole; someone could steal it) and uses that to decrypt messages coming in to you.  It keeps your encrypted private key on the Gab servers in case you lose the one that is cached on your system, in which case you will need to know what the password is.

Note that this provides "medium" security; there are still ways that "hackers" can get your private key.  So don't use Gab Chat to send any military secrets, corporate secrets, etc.  Your love letters from your illicit lover should be safe; nobody except your spouse's lawyer will want to read those.  Still, it is far, far superior to other chat systems where every message you've ever sent or received is wide open for anyone, anywhere, to read and use for blackmail.

Version number of this post, in case I revise it later:

1.1  Corrected historical detail of Mary, Queen of Scots, and minor wording changes

Friday, January 03, 2020

Shiprock, again

In the northwest corner of what is now New Mexico stands a remarkable monolith that the White Men call "Shiprock." It is sacred to the Dineh (Navajo) people, and is on their land.

It is an old lava plug, with what geologists variously call "dikes" or "sills" radiating outward from it, that formed about 27 million years ago when molten rock from deep underground forced its way upward through cracks in the ground, and then cooled.  Later, the surrounding rock into which the lava intruded was worn away by erosion, leaving the much harder lava standing.

In the Dineh mythology, the rock is a gigantic bird upon whose back their ancestors lived until one terrible day when a lightning storm trapped all of the women and children on top of it, while the men were away cultivating crops.  It is sacred because the ghosts of those people are still there.

So there are certain things that one does not do there (climbing on it, for instance).  But no Navajo that I've ever spoken with believes that the rock is literally a bird:  They are able to honor and  preserve their rich cultural, religious traditions about it while understanding that their myths are not literal history, but tell them something about who they are.

The White Man also has his traditions steeped in ancient religious myths, although we didn't invent them:  we adopted those of the ancient Hebrew peoples, and then extended them via a "Savior" (who is today depicted, more often than not, as a white European instead of the swarthy Jew named in the ancient stories).

It is one thing to revere and honor the ancient traditions of one's culture.  It is quite another to get so caught up in the old myths that one begins to insist that they must be taken as literal Truth with a capital "T."

Our Judeo-Christian cultural roots are deep, and rich.  But to insist that there actually was a literal Garden of Eden, in which the first two members of H. sapiens disobeyed an invisible, omnipotent Being after being convinced by a talking snake to seek knowledge -- is just insane.

Apparently my race is not as wise as the Dineh, because we have white people who insist on exactly that.  And it is their fervent desire to force everyone, in the entire world, to not only believe in the absurdity of taking important cultural myth literally, but to obey their peculiar rules of social conduct in which lying, cheating, stealing, business fraud, spousal & family abuse and more are perfectly acceptable, but feeling sexual desire will send you into a literal Lake of Fire for all of eternity.

These are sick, twisted, demented people.  And there is a major push right now to get them installed into positions of Government, where they intend to pass laws for the rest of us that conform to their shame-based ideology.  They must be prevented from gaining such power; to do so would end Capitalism as we know it and make America into another Iran.

John Galt spoke out against all this in his radio address.  Here it is, for easy reference:

"Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not. 

“It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him—it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man. 

“The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin."

Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged (p. 1025). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Atheists vs. atheists: the problem with fundamentalism

I’ll have nothing to do with the organized miscreants who call themselves “Atheists” with a capital “A” (as if they speak for all atheists, and are the Official Arbiters thereof). Their hubris is unbearable.  Visit their websites, peek in at their online discussions, and you'll quickly learn that, by and large, all they've done is substitute one religion for another:  they preach from The Gospel According to Marx.
This, of course, is antithetical to the atheism of Ayn Rand and those of us who consider ourselves Objectivists.  We eschew anything and everything pertaining to Marx.  More about this later.
Yes, there is a problem - a big problem, at the moment - in America with fundamentalists who believe that 1) the Bible was written by God Himself and everything in it must be taken literally; 2) the American system of government was founded on Christian principles; 3) demand that our cultural myths be taught in science classes as if they were facts; and 4) demand that their peculiarly strict and impossible-to-practice sexual mores be the only choice available to a supposedly free people. They are dangerous in that they want the same thing the radical environmentalists want: a return to pre-Enlightenment, pre-Industrial Age conditions in which no one was free to think any thoughts unapproved by the Ruling Class, poverty was the natural state of man, and Divine Revelation (aka ignorance and superstition) trumped human reason.
But the capital-A organized Atheists, who are fundamentalists in their own way, are just as opposed to Reason as the fundamentalist Christians are. Instead of fighting for things that really matter, they waste their time “hacking at the branches of Evil” (Thoreau).
Our cultural myths are important: they tell us something about who we are, and a society needs to remember and celebrate them. In our culture, that means, among others, the Christian myths of the Nativity and the Resurrection; just as the myth of St. Patrick is important to Irish culture, and the myths of the sacred mountain known (to the White Men) as Shiprock is important to the Navajo Nation.
Most Navajos know that Shiprock is a volcanic dike formed 20-some million years ago; few, if any, literally believe the tribal myths of its origin. And I suspect that most Irish folk are aware that there never have been snakes in Ireland. Still, the Navajos practice some kind of sacred ritual at Shiprock, and the Irish still celebrate St. Patrick's Day. As they should.
Unfortunately, that does not extend to America, where far too many people believe that the beautiful, inspiring, mobilizing myths in the Bible -- all of which contain elements that are physically impossible -- actually happened.  Worse, they'll get in your face and tell you that if you don't believe the literal texts, you'll burn in Hell for eternity.  

That’s a problem, but so is having hissy fits over cultural matters - such as a cross on a hillside - that harm no one while ignoring the far graver threats to Western civilization posed by the fundamentalist Christian Right.  To my knowledge, there has never been an Atheist protest at a Native American rain dance, and no one protesting at a St. Patrick's Day parade that there never were snakes in Ireland (but I probably shouldn't give them any ideas).

The threat that Christian theocrats pose to American values lies in the fact that Christianity is a Collectivist system, and therefore anti-American.  Of course, the large-A Atheists will never protest that, because they, mostly Marxian in their worldview, are even more Collectivist than the Christians.

And so we have two opposing factions who hate each other, but both want the same thing:  to rule over others and decide for them what they're allowed to know, what they're allowed to do with their lives, and what they're allowed to think.

"For centuries, the battle of morality was fought ... between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth.  And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it."
          --Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

PREPARE TO MEET THY DOOM! (this time it's real)

Being breathlessly reported in today's news:

Extreme CO2 Levels Could Trigger Clouds' Tipping Point and 8º C of Global Warming

Go ahead and take time to read the article. It's not a long read.

This particular "study" is being ballyhooed all over the media right now. Its purpose, of course, is to frighten us -- stampede us, really -- into some sort of unspecified "action" to "do something" about rising CO₂ in the atmosphere. Since the only way to stop CO₂ emissions is to completely undo the Industrial Revolution and return to a stone-age existence of "grunting sub-animals" (Ayn Rand), the "solution" that is universally accepted is: worldwide Central Economic Planning. In other words, the entire world under Marxist rule.

Now let's examine what we can of the "study" itself, which is behind a paywall. There are a few things we know:
  1. It is entirely based on computer simulations. No field or lab work involving the study of actual clouds in the Real World is evident from either the abstract or "news" reports.
  2. It assumes a "feedback loop" that has long been assumed to exist, but has never been found to exist in nature.
In short, yet another bogus "study" consisting of massive number-crunching based on assumptions. No connection to the Real World.

Preaching Doom and The End Of The World As We Know It has been a very popular -- and lucrative -- enterprise for thousands of years. The Bible is full of that stuff, and newspapers have been pushing Impending Doom ever since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Just as Al Gore has been telling us for more than thirty years that "We only have ten years left to save the planet," here is a brief compilation of "Climate Tipping Point" stories that I was able to find with a simple DuckDuckGo search:

2018: A Tipping Point for Climate Change
-- Forbes, Dec 2018

Greenland's Coastal Ice Passed a Climate Tipping Point 20 Years Ago, Study Says
-- Inside Climate News, May 2017

Have We Passed the Climate Change Tipping Point?
-- Forbes, March 2017

18 Signs That Show We've Reached the Tipping Point
- EcoWatch, Dec. 2016

Earth warming to climate tipping point, warns study
-- BBC, Nov. 2016

Climate change tipping point crossed: What is to be done?
-- Liberation, Oct. 2016

Global warming milestone as scientists warn Earth has passed carbon tipping point 'for good'
-- Daily Mail, Sep. 2016

2015 a 'tipping point' for climate change: experts
-- Phys.org, Jan. 2016

The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here
-- Rolling Stone, Aug. 2015

6 climate tipping points: How worried should we be?
-- EDF (Environmental Defense Fund), May 2015

Report warns of climate change ‘tipping points’ within our lifetime
-- UC Berkeley News, Dec. 2013

Climate 'tipping point' warning
-- Politico, Dec. 2013

An unrecognizable Arctic: Climate Tipping Points
-- NASA, July 2013

The Climate Change Tipping Point
-- New York Times, July 2012

Is Earth Nearing an Environmental "Tipping Point"?
-- Scientific American, June 2012

Point of no return for climate is 2017: IEA
-- A Change In The Wind dot com, Nov. 2011

Climate Change at a Tipping Point
-- Western City, May 2007

Warming hits 'tipping point'
-- The Guardian, Aug. 2005

I see no point in going back farther, but Mark Morano over at Climate Depot did, and found prophecies of Climate Doomsday going all the way back to 1982:

And Tony Heller recently noted on his Real Climate Science blog:
Climate experts said 350 PPM CO2 is the tipping point, beyond which we were doomed. That was passed in 1988.
Then they said 400 PPM was the tipping point, beyond which we were doomed. We passed that a couple of years ago.
Now they say 450 PPM is the tipping point, beyond which we are doomed.

Doomsday prophecies have always been a lucrative business. Just look at all the generators that were sold in 1999, all the water filters that Alex Jones has sold, and all the churches full of congregants.

So be sure you get those overdue library books and video rentals returned.  The end is near!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Forgive me...

This is another "boilerplate" post that I'm writing because I'm going to need it over and over as I argue with certain people online.  Tired of people who post multiple links to anti-science sites who then complain that I didn't even look at them, this is my response.


Well, forgive me. But after fifty years of dealing with the environmental movement's lies and FUD, my experience with these Marxists has taught me that the only safe default position is one of extreme skepticism.

The Global Warming hoax began about thirty years ago when a Senator who tried to major in science but had to change his major to religion because he was flunking science, got himself a chairmanship on the Senate science committee and proceeded to hold a hearing on the historical hottest day of the year after his colleague tampered with the air conditioning to disable it. His star witness was a NASA crank with a hypothesis that had already been falsified fifty years earlier that had never been submitted to a scientific journal before his "publication by press release" -- an infallible symptom of junk science.

This was after twenty years of lies and junk science in the environmental community, whose actual goal is political -- America under Marxist rule -- and having nothing to do with science.  Ever since the first Earth Day (also known as Comrade Lenin's 100th birthday), in which I participated as a member of the Movement, environmentalists have done nothing but lie.

They lied about nuclear power, claiming that the cooling water can be made radioactive.  They lied about DDT causing raptor's eggshells to break in the nest, causing about a million deaths in Africa every year, most of them children and all of them black.  They lied about refrigerants affecting the ozone layer, causing commercial refrigeration units to use more power, and raising the prices of home units.  They lied about Alar, and destroyed a few small farmers in Washington in the process.  They lied about Spotted Owls in the Pacific Northwest, wiping out entire towns as working families found their lifetime investment in their homes suddenly worthless.  They started the lie about mass extinction, which is still with us today.  And then they began the Biggest Lie of them all:  Global Warming.

Now, after thirty years of the Global Warming fraud, every prediction made by the Carbon Dioxide / Global Warming hypothesis has failed, and yet the extremely well-funded CAGW lobby continues cranking out "study" after "study" that in each case, takes weeks to months to refute, by which time the alarmists have segued to another Apocalypse Scare Story du jour.

We've been through debunked "hockey sticks," proof of data-tampering by NASA, a scandalously fraudulent "study" claiming a "97% consensus," false claims of sea level rise, false claims of "ocean acidification" which is impossible, false claims of corals dying, false claims of declining polar bear populations that are actually increasing, false claims of "the hottest year evah" when there are people still alive who can remember the 1930s when Earth was hotter than it is today, and on and on and on ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

And now that public interest in the Global Warming hoax is fading, the environmentalist extremist Left is pivoting back to a relentless barrage of Junk Science and disinformation on other supposedly environmental disasters that are going to kill us all if we don't immediately adopt a Marxist economic system: fracking, so-called "endocrine disruptors," cell phone cancers, glyphosate, pesticides, GMOs, acid rain (rain is always acidic), sea levels which have been rising at the same rate for hundreds of years, the myth of "fragile ecosystems," modern farming methods without which billions would starve, and the myth that we're running out of landfill space.

Note, if you will, that every one of these is a product or technology that has vastly improved the quality of life for mankind.  Note also that every one of them is a cause célèbre of the political Far Left.  Neither is a coincidence.

So forgive me if I'm showing extreme skepticism for yet another "study" by the extremely-well-financed "scientists" being paid to promote the Climate Change or other Apocalyptic narrative while the few skeptics working in the field have to scrape and scratch just to put up a blog, let alone do real research.  And forgive me if I don't immediately drop everything in my life and read the half-dozen links you posted, two of which I've already seen (because I used to believe in that stuff myself), two more are from known far-Left journalist sites who have no knowledge of actual science or how it works, and the remainder from known cranks and quacks.  Junk Science is very well funded these days -- because there is no end of money for people who crank this stuff out day and night -- and it takes time to read through and debunk it all.  And I have other things to do.

So forgive me if your whining plea that I'm "not interested in ideas that contradict my own" is falling on deaf ears.  First of all, I've probably already heard it because I used to believe in that rot myself.  It's just that after fifty years of dealing with these people, I already know that I'm going to be dealing with a pack of lies before I even click on one of your links.