Thursday, July 12, 2018

Internet Censorship--Can you spare a mimeo machine, brother?

(Via SurvivalBlog)

As you may guess, I"m catching up on reading some of my blogroll. Rawles, it seems, has been on something of a roll of late. Then again, there's always a fair bit of interesting stuff on his blog.

I want to bring this piece of original content to your attention, where he writes about Internet censorship. You've read me bitching about Google, with who I have a grumble/hate relationship. Rawles goes considerably further in "The Internet Gulag: Demonetization, Demonization, and Deletion", covering a number of disturbing trends that have been going on for some time now--the demonitization of blogs and YouTube channels, the ongoing demonization of anyone who dares contradict Leftist orthodoxy and the outright deletion of content that offends the liberal and self-appointed keepers of the Intertubz.

The important information he provides is, in essence a call to be ready to respond to their overreach with a modern samizdat. I know I've brought this up, maybe here, definitely in other places, by urging people to rebuild the old FidoNet BBS system. While it's still around, it's nothing like it's old self, and it would be a great thing for it to begin rebuilding. There is also amateur packet radio, which is also still around but also not as big as it once was. These alternatives to the big, corporate-controlled avenues of communication could be vital alternatives if things go sideways.

Something more to think about as we wait for whatever it is slinking toward us.

Well this could be a little...chilling

(Via SurvivalBlog)

Not everyone donates to political candidates, but some of us do, at least from time to time. While this my by law be public record, did you ever expect that your name might show up on a web site for any nutjob with an ax to grind to see? Yes, in the holy name of "openness" we're going to let fruitcakes like Antifa, Mothers Against Whatever Michael Bloomberg Dislikes This Week or whatever gather intelligence and paint targets on people they don't approve of.

Something to consider before you write that check. Perhaps a good reason to have a legal trust that can do such things for you.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Wise words

The Woodpile Report #536 is out; has been sine July 3. As usual, Ol' Remus says it far better than I can. Please go read the opening portion of #536. You really should read it all, but the opening is incredibly important.

While the winds of change can still decide to blow in another direction, it doesn't seem like that is going to happen. We're due for Bad Times. If you aren't ready, you need to take as much advantage of the time we have left and get ready now.

Seriously.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Higher Education Racket

(Via the Drudge Report)

The headline of the Boston Globe article reads "Lawrence Bacow promises a more outward-looking Harvard". For those of you who have never been involved in higher ed, and a lot of us who have been, the the first thing that occurs to us is "Who the hell is Lawrence Bacow?"

He's the new president of Harvard. As such, he is at the top of the higher ed food chain. Harvard is one of the largest universities in the US in pretty much any category that actually matters--prestige, endowment, quality of students and so on. No, their football team never wins the Rose Bowl. Heck, they never even smell the roses. But in higher ed, while athletics may often be the tail that wags the academic dog, no academic thinks it actually matters. In reality, I agree with them. Any kid who goes to college to play a sport with the hopes of a further career as a pro athlete is a fool. Look up the stats.

Bacow isn't a fool. Sure, he's been in higher ed most of his career, but you don't get to be president of Harvard if you're a fool. He realizes that higher ed is facing challenges unlike any time in its history in the United States. The cost of attendance to any school past high school has been increasing at a rate far past inflation for years. Too many students are getting degrees that, after graduation, qualify them for work at Starbucks. Colleges and universities are seen as cesspools of far left politics. All in all, higher ed has a big image problem, and it's getting worse by the semester. The public's perception of of higher ed as a whole is only somewhat ahead of Congress and the media.

Having worked in higher ed, I can tell you a lot of this is absolutely true. While I miss my old job, there are a lot of things about it I don't miss.

  • I don't miss trying to explain to parents why their kid ought to come to college when I didn't send both of my kids to college and firmly believe that not all kids need to go to a four year school.
  • I don't miss watching the cost of attendance ratchet up at a stupefying rate as schools try to outdo each other with facilities that look more like luxury vacation get-aways rather than college campuses. My house isn't as nice as some residence halls I've seen. 
  • I don't miss watching students signing away years of their lives on the dotted lines of student loan forms. Most of them barely understand the concept of borrowing money, let alone the scale of what they're borrowing. Add to that the methodology of calculating how much they're allowed to borrow, which is too complex to go into here, and they wind up with far more than they really should be allowed to borrow. At the beginning of every semester, the new tats, smart phones, TVs, laptops and so one, paid for by that excess borrowed money, boggle the mind.
  • I don't miss watching majors such as sports medicine, art, sports management, religion, communications, religious music and so on being filled up with students attending on borrowed money. The majority of these kids will face three employment futures. They will either A) Never work in the field they're educated in; B) Work in it and face a life of being chronically under-paid and under-employed or C) Both A and B. The world only needs so many of these folks, and the bitty school I worked at graduated enough by itself for the entire eastern half of the US. But they all still have to pay back those student loans, so penury becomes a way of life.
  • That "cesspool of liberalism" thing. Great Bleeding Ghu. Scratch an academic and 97-98 times out of 100, you'll find a socialist or a communist. As a staff member, I got pretty good at biting my tongue. It was that or get fired.
As a college grad, I can tell you that my college experience has paid off for me tremendously. My degree and what I learned lifted me from my blue collar beginnings into the middle class, white collar world. Having lived in both, trust me when I tell you the middle class one is much more pleasant. Mrs. Freeholder has a less dramatic experience, but she tends to agree with the basic sentiment.

As the parent of two recent college age kids, the experience is far different. Higher ed and it's BA/BS degree is becoming the equivalent of the high school diploma of my youth. I feel a large part of that is because our education system, from elementary to college, is not teaching as much at any given level. There were too many times that I saw papers written by students--and I mean juniors and seniors--at my former employer that would have earned a big fat red F in one of my high school English classes. I will guarantee these kids got a C and pushed along toward graduation.

My kids also demonstrate something else I've noticed. Daughter graduated from a well-thought of university with a BA in business. She struggled for 4 years to find a job in her field, went back for a masters degree and still really hasn't found one that's up to her skills and abilities, though she has found something that pays well enough for her to move out of the house. (Yay!)

Son went to the local community college and got an AAS in welding, along with 8 certificates in various aspects of the trade. He had a job lined up when he graduated. He's been working there about 18 months. He moved out before his sister, and on the average week makes at least 25% more than she does. Obviously it's hot, dirty work, but he likes it. His total education cost somewhat less than one year of Daughter's.

You tell me--which kid benefited more from their education, especially in terms of bang for the buck?

I'm not the only parent noticing this sort of thing. Parents across the country are demanding that colleges and universities prove the value proposition of their product. Even Daughter's university made a big point in 2009 when she started that they realized that it was expensive to send a child to school there and their goal was to see their students graduate in 4 years, and they were serious about it. Daughter did it in 4 years and two summer sessions, the summer session caused by a change in major.

The Globe article notes that many smaller schools are "struggling to remain open." That's putting it mildly. Unless they're blessed with a large endowment (say mid-hundreds of $millions) small schools are fighting for their lives. My former employer has been one disaster away from closing for years, and remains one disaster away from closing. In the higher ed press, it's an acknowledged fact that within 10 years, at least 15% of small, rural, private liberal arts schools will be closed. I suspect it will be worse than that.

This will not be confined to small schools, rural schools, private schools or liberal arts schools. The Globe article also notes that "Public universities also saw their second straight year of declining revenue growth...." I know that in the University of North Carolina system, there are at least 2 campuses that are in danger of failing for lack of students. I imagine other large public university systems face similar circumstances. Public university and community college systems are also facing declining taxpayer support at the state level in many states. Several NC community colleges have successfully turned to their local governments and gotten 1/4 cent sales tax levies passed to help with funding issues.

Finally, there is, what from the point of view of many, is the political indoctrination aspect of higher education. From Harvard and UC-Berkeley to Evergreen State, our colleges and universities seem to have become more institutions where our young are taught what to think rather than how to think. Again, from personal experience as both a university staff member and a parent who had kids in higher ed, I can attest that, in my experience, this is true. Only the strong teachings we bestowed on our children before sending them off into these dens of vipers allowed them to emerge without being assimilated by the Academic Borg.

President Bacow may have his heart in the right place, but I have to wonder if he is compromised from the outset. He may also be simply biting off more than he can chew. Time will tell--and given the current state of things in this country, time is the one resource he may not have much of.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Unwanted guests

If you've ever made the mistake of trying to explain to people why they should be ready for emergencies, especially long duration emergencies, you've gotten what I think of as "The Line":

"Oh, I'll just come stay with you!"

To which my answer has often been "Looters are going to be shot on sight," delivered utterly deadpan. That tends to shut the conversation down rather quickly, which at that point is my intention, because I figure they're not taking it seriously anyway.

There are those who are a bit more charitable by nature, or who find themselves in a position where they can be more charitable. On SurvivalBlog, one such has written a well thought-out piece on how they plan on handling the situation.

Personally, I doubt they'll ever need to put it into action, other than sending their messages. The people they're aiming it at will be stuck in the outbound traffic, so it will all be moot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Something that isn't politics

(Via Gab)

It's simply made of awesome.

Since we told cable TV to take a hike, I've been watching all sorts of things (at the moment, I'm binge watching McHale's Navy) and one of my favorites has become YouTube. Yeah, it's an arm of Google. Can't help that, it's where all the videos are.

The video below has turned me on to a whole subculture (correct term?) of Russian craft/maker videos. These folks are doing some amazing work, and this was the gateway project for me. I get this feeling that my whole downsizing concept may be screwed. This looks like too much fun to ignore.

Data points...we've got data points

(Links from Drudge and elsewhere)

Dammit, politics again.

Democrats encourage violence against supporters of President Trump.

SCOTUS upholds the travel ban that named several majority Muslim countries, the New York Times has a major temper tantrum.

Public sector unions lose the ability to force non-member employees to pay them partial dues, American democracy ends.

SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement, Leftists lose their minds.

Are you seeing a pattern here? For every setback suffered, the Left goes into paroxysms of hate and threatens to take action. Look back to Inauguration Day, and they've steadily been getting worse in terms of threats of violence and threats of violence, especially from elected officials.

"We shall protest in DC, we shall demonstrate on the streets and the boulevards, we shall fling poo with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our safe spaces, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the park benches, we shall fight on the concert stages, we shall fight in the parks and in the streets, we shall fight in the restaurants; we shall never surrender..."

Yeah, if we could on snark at them until they gave up and went back to their parents' basements. Unfortunately, that doesn't look like it's going to happen. This time, they want a real fight, and this time, our side seems more than willing to oblige them.

Watch for the data points. They're pointing to something that can't be defined with certainty just yet. But don't wait too long to do what you need to do to be ready for the worst.  I'm not a big believer in polls, but I don't disbelieve in them either. A lot of our fellows are worried. Scared comes after that, and scared people can do stupid things. Stupid things can cause all sorts of unexpected problems.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Home invasions get worse

I'm sure some of you are thinking "Someone or a group of people has just busted through the door--how is this going to get worse?" Well, how about when the invaders torture you for information on where you've stashed your goodies, and when you don't have information that mollifies them, they torture your kid.

Up next on the ladder of escalation: family murdered when they don't have enough goodies to satisfy the invaders.

Items for you to consider: Firearms and training (obviously), driveway alarms, burglar alarms with panic buttons/central monitoring/voice response, hardened doors and door frames, shatter-resistant film for easily accessible windows, external and internal camera systems with smart phone apps and recording capabilities and safe rooms. You can do an Internet search on any of these terms and get yourself started.

Don't think that you live in a safe neighborhood or that living in the country is going to protect you from this sort of thing. It won't. If it isn't crooks, it might be political opponents, or some random idiot from the Intertubz.

We used to discuss why you would want to be armed at home. Now the discussion is rapidly becoming where and how many guns and magazines to stage around your home.

Monday, June 25, 2018

SPLC, thy name is LOSE

It seems the Southern Poverty Law Center (which is none of those things) has lost a court case to a former Islamic radical that it slandered--to the tune of $3.375 million.

That ought to put at least a little ding in their operations. I just hope it encourages others to sue them as well.

"They're coming for you next."

(Via Breitbart)

Once again, even though I'm trying not to do a lot of politics on the blog, I have to go there. The weekend's events involving Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Maxine Waters and a cast of Leftist Loons has brought us to the intersection of a number of things that are of concern to me and I believe of those of you who stop by here from time to time.

I've referenced talk about a brewing civil war in our country more than once, and I remain amazed that we didn't have a big outbreak of rioting last summer in light of the election of Donald Trump and the overwrought theatrics of the Resistance crowd and the more dangerous actions of the so-called Antifa. Given the events of this weekend, I have to wonder if we'll manage to skate through this summer without major problems. We'll just have to wait and see.

But this weekend's worth of calls that seek to cast supporters of Donald Trump as "the other" ought to scare the crap out of anyone with enough intelligence to come inside out of the rain. This is the same thing that was done in, dare I say it, Nazi Germany against the Jews. A group needs to be made the focus of all the anger and the hate--they need to be made "the other". The Left has tried it with little success against gun owners over the last several decades. Since that hasn't worked, but more importantly, since their utter rage has left them not in control of their limited faculties, they are now trying it with a larger and more diverse group, supporters of Donald Trump. The popular name for this is "Trump Derangement Syndrome", but I think that cute name really misses the true danger of the situation.

If they keep this up, or Lord help us, if they ratchet up not only the screaming but start taking actual physical actions against Trump supporters, THIS WILL NOT END WELL. It can't, not this time. Face it, a lot of Trump supporters happen to be Second Amendment advocates, and I'd wager a lot of them have concealed carry permits and go armed. Put some of them into situations where they are in fear for their lives or the lives of those under their care, and there will probably be gunfire. Somewhere in that vicinity, the feces will impact the air impeller and It Will Be On. The 24 Hour News Machine will blow any incident totally out of proportion within 30 minutes and as one of my favorite movie lines goes, "This business will get out of control. This business will get out of control  and we'll be lucky to live through it."

I believe the diversity of Trump supporters also brings an element of danger to this that is underappreciated. While there are certain large groups that are mostly behind Trump, you can find his supporters spread across every demographic you'd care to name. There are Trump supporters in double digits in every minority, age group, labor skill and locality. While it may only be in the teens or it may be 90%+, they're out there. The same goes for those who oppose Trump. With this sort of divide, neither side can safely assume that they can act with impunity anywhere, but both sides will be foolish enough to do so. This will cause further problems.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has a long but good video on this subject. As someone who is generally apolitical, I find his take on the subject highly interesting. I have to wonder if the fence sitters are beginning to decide that they are going to have to join one side or the other. This is a behavior often seen before large social dislocations begin in earnest, and would be another sign of Bad Things to come.

No one can say for certain what is coming. I think the signs aren't promising, but they haven't been promising before and things have quieted down and worked out more or less OK. I'm really going to be watching this carefully and staying alert for signs of airborne feces. I suggest that you do the same.