Friday, April 11, 2014


I've long enjoyed Thomas Sowell's occasional "random thoughts on the passing scene," and have wondered what collection of conditions spurs him to produce one. Anyway, as I'm too harried to produce a respectable essay at the moment, have a few disconnected squibs on recent news.

If you haven't heard about the Heartbleed Bug, it's time to get acquainted with it. This one, a flaw in the OpenSSL implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer, affects many popular websites and could endanger quite a lot of Internet users. Fortunately, benevolent analysts discovered it before it could be exploited...but that doesn't mean it isn't being exploited right now.

The degree of specialization in my field continues to astound me. I remember being able to swap shop talk with just about any other bit twiddler as recently as twenty years ago. However, just yesterday I met a fellow whose specialty was so far from my experience that I'd never even heard its name. But I'm not sure: is "chipped bit reglommenation" really a recognized subsector of software engineering, or is my hearing going at long last?

The Dishonorable Nancy Pelosi has decided to play the race card on "immigration reform." This, though contemptible, should come as no surprise, as it's all this failed Administration has left in its hand. The Democrats will play the race card to counter every attack on every failed Democrat policy, from here to November. However, that card is no longer "wild." The Democrats will discover that to their sorrow come November...but hopefully, not before then

It's well known that pollsters are paid by their employers, not to determine the actual state of public sentiment, but to deliver a desired and well specified result. Imagine asking a passer-by for the time, having him consult your watch to tell you...and getting an answer wholly disconnected from reality.

Though USA Today reports on the continuing unpopularity of ObamaCare, those unhappy with that result have relied on a dishonest tactic: changing the questions while insisting that the answers remain pertinent. But you have to read the raw questions and the statistics on the answers they garnered to learn what duplicity was attempted.

The evidence is now both damning and irrefutable: The IRS most certainly did target conservative groups that applied for 501(c)(4) status, and the Dishonorable Elijah Cummings was in it up to his eyelashes. Which raises the questions:

  1. Will Cummings suffer the statutory penalty? Indeed, will he even be indicted?
  2. Who does the Administration have in mind for its "fall guy?"

The answers are, in all probability, 1) No, and 2) Lois Lerner. Moreover, the Republicans in the House will accept both outcomes rather than allow the scandal to reach any more highly placed person. Why? Compensation, of course. What sort? We shall see.

On the subject of "fall guys" and compensation for "taking the fall," it can be difficult to keep one's eye on the designee for such duty. Imagine that Lerner goes to prison for feloniously disclosing confidential taxpayer information. Time passes, and Lerner is freed. Where is she likely to receive her payment for "being a stand-up guy" before Issa's Oversight Committee? Almost certainly not in public service; that would be too conspicuous. More likely she'll get that OFA office job she dreams about. That's one of the most important services such an organization can render to the Left -- and it renders it more often than we notice.

Apropos of which, where do you expect Kathleen Sebelius to pop up next?

Conservative and libertarian-oriented fiction site Liberty Island has begun to accumulate material. Some of it is pretty good, the rest...well, tastes vary and all that. But a word of advice to conservatives and libertarians who aspire to express their convictions through fiction: Keep the preaching down. Nothing destroys the entertainment value of a story more surely than open polemics. In other words -- and I can hear a million writers cringing in anticipation of what inevitably follows:

Show, Don't Tell!

The late, great Cyril Northcote Parkinson once wrote that "Delay is the deadliest form of denial." He had a powerful point: a "slow-rolled" offer of compliance with your request leaves you with the impression you're about to be served as you requested, yet leaves you un-served while it simultaneously discourages you from going another route. A pointed example:

If we suppose that a drowning man calls for help, evoking the reply 'in due course,' a judicious pause of five minutes may constitute, for all practical purposes, a negative response. [From The Law of Delay.]

We've seen at least two blatant examples of this in recent weeks:

  1. The IRS claiming that it could take "months if not years" to produce a batch of requested emails pertinent to the targeting scandals of 2010 to the present;
  2. Eric Holder declining to provide any information whatsoever to Congress, each and every demand being me with "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation."

The slow-roller's greatest asset is his opponent's reluctance to appear unduly demanding. There's a moral in that, somewhere.

The bread quotations are accumulating nicely, and thanks to all Gentle Readers who've assisted me in this. They appear to bear out an old equivalence: one ounce of gold will purchase two hundred loaves of good bread.

Yes, a loaf of first-echelon commercially available bread -- i.e., quality comparable to fresh bakery bread or its commercial equivalent today -- really did cost about $ 1912. If that doesn't frighten you about the state of our currency, see your primary care provider without delay -- and should he slap you on the back and tell you you're "as sound as a dollar," straighten your affairs at once.

That's all for today, Gentle Reader. I have several lingering fiction projects screaming at me from the Slough of Despond -- theirs and mine. A couple of them look as if they're ready to become unruly. Tune in again tomorrow!


daniel_day said...

Your penultimate sentence left me wondering what "lingerie fiction" was, until I took a second look.

Francis W. Porretto said...

"Lingerie fiction!" The mind reels! What unexplored vistas! What opportunities for innovation! I must get started right away, before someone else stakes a claim to all that, shall we say, virgin territory. Perhaps... hmmm... perhaps not.

A Reader said...

Reglommenation? Sounds like something out of the Jargon File.