We’ve been getting increasingly antsy the past couple of weeks…and I can now tell ya that me and Kara…not to mention Neil and Connie…are ready to be back on the road. That means we’ve got our split between traveling and sitting here in our Winter HQ just about right I think.
You probably saw on the news yesterday about the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris…looking at the footage on CNN yesterday we didn’t think there would be anything left of the inside and we were figuring better than even odds that the stone would be weakened enough by the heat that the whole structure would collapse. The bad news…is that most of the inside was destroyed…the good news is that the irreplaceable relics that were stored there, the Rose Window on the East transept, the organ, and much of both the artwork and statuary was saved as well as the two iconic square towers on the front of the church. It will still take years…probably 5 minimum…to rebuild it, especially as I’m sure that it will be built to be identical…or as identical as possible but using modern construction techniques…to the original. It will still probably cost north of $500 million to restore it though…and with the financial problems in France; and considering that under their system it’s the government responsible for the reconstruction rather than the Church…who knows how long it will take to carve out the funding.
In other news…the redacted Mueller report will be released by the AG/DoJ probably this Thursday…and I’m amazed at how the Democrats are ignoring the law and trying to make it the Republican’s fault instead of theirs.
I have no idea what the report says…and as said here before the president isn’t our favorite person…but all you see in the media is the Democrats; from Ms. Pelosi to Mr. Schumer to various representatives…are demanding the “complete and un-redacted report including all supporting evidence” be released to the Congress…because “we the people paid for the investigation and we the people deserve to see the results”.
Unfortunately…and this is what really pisses me off as it’s just a political BS move and serves the interests of justice not in the slightest…is that there are rules about what the AG can and cannot release. Way back in the olden days when President Clinton was impeached…he was investigated by what was knows as a Special Prosecutor. Under the law which specified how and when a Special Prosecutor was to be appointed…the report went to the Congress and was specifically allowed to be released in full to the public…which is what happened. The Democrats in Congress were furious about this because all of President Clinton’s dirty laundry was published by the NY Times and Washington Post. In order to prevent this from happening again…the Special Prosecutor law was allowed to expire and then a Democratically controlled House of Representatives and Senate passed…and a Democratic President signed into law…the current Special Counsel Act (not it’s actual name but I was too lazy to look up the right one).
Under the Special Counsel Act…a counsel could be appointed to investigate potential wrongdoing that a standard Department of Justice investigation may not have been able to be impartial in. However…there are significant differences between the Special Prosecutor Act and the Special Counsel Act. First off…a Special Counsel investigatory powers are significantly reduced from what a Special Prosecutor enjoyed. Second…by law…a Special Counsel does not report to Congress but instead reports to the Attorney General. The AG is required to report…at a minimum…any circumstances in which he overruled the Special Counsel’s decision to seek prosecution…but he is not required to report anything else. This is what AG Barr did a few days after the report was received…he reported that the Special Counsel did not find collusion or conspiracy between anyone in the President’s campaign and the Russian government…and that the Special Counsel did not determine one way or the other whether obstruction of justice had occurred. Thus…by law…the AG is allowed and required to determine whether obstruction of justice charges are warranted.
Further…by both the Special Counsel Act and longstanding Department of Justice policy…the AG may…at his sole discretion…release to either the Congress or the public the report of the Special Counsel…but only after he has redacted from the report anything that is classified, anything that reveals intelligence sources and methods, anything related to grand jury testimony, and any information derogatory to any person who was not charged. These redactions are required by law…which is exactly what the AG is doing. Supporting evidence to the report is not to be released.
Democrat mount pieces however…are continuing to demand the “full release of the un-redacted report and all supporting evidence”…in other words they are demanding that the Attorney General violate US statutes. Do they know that this is illegal…of course they do…but by demanding something that is specifically prohibited by law…they can appear to be looking for transparency and no matter how many times the AG or Republican side points out the illegality of their demands the media will continue to report that the AG is “stonewalling” and “white washing” the report.
All I’ve read in the mainstream media for the past two years…is how Bob Mueller was the man who would single handedly save the US from the President…now that he’s released a report that says there was no collusion or conspiracy…I’m seeing lots of attacks on him by the same media that praised him the past two years.
Maybe it’s just me…but according to the AG…Mr. Mueller is helping to redact the report for release to Congress…BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES…and I’m sure that if he thought that AG Barr was misrepresenting his report he would have said something. At this point…Democrats are demanding that he come and testify to Congress…it’s not going to surprise me at all when he basically doesn’t tell them anything more. While I don’t know him…I’m a bear after all…he appears to be a principled law enforcement officer…and it won’t surprise me a bit if he basically testifies to Congress that he followed the law and submitted his report as required by law to the AG and declines to go much beyond that.
Then there’s Representative Omar…she’s currently having a twitter spat with the President. She said…on video…in a speech to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that on 9/11 “some people did some things”…specifically blowing up the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Now I’ll grant you that conservative media selectively edited her remarks and she was really talking about the fact that after 9/11 some of the rights of Muslim citizens were potentially violated and how CAIR…according to her speech…was invented after 9/11 to fight for the constitutional rights of Muslim citizens. CAIR was actually founded back in 1994, well before 9/11…and there is at least some circumstantial evidence that CAIR has supported Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Anyway…while her point was valid…she deliberately used language…”some people did some things”…that was intended to enrage conservatives and provoke a reaction from them…so that she could claim the high ground and say she was being attacked. There is language she could have used to make her point that would have been much less inflammatory…but she chose not to use it. Naturally…the President responded via twitter by tweeting out a video that a NY daily published of her actual speech on video with 9/11 imagery along with it. Now she’s all offended…as is Ms. Pelosi…because she’s “received death threats”…and it’s solely the President’s fault and he should retract his tweet. Seems that Progressives are only interested in free speech that they like. Me…I’m in favor of free speech…as a famous patriot back during the Revolutionary War said…”I may not like what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.I think her comments were reprehensible…but as a US citizen and member of Congress she has freedom of speech. Unfortunately for her and the Democrats…the President has freedom of speech too…and all he did was advertise words she’s already said on video.
Apparently there was some discussion at the White House a month or two ago about taking the illegal aliens currently in custody…and since various courts have ordered them released…taking the illegals to so called “sanctuary cities” and then releasing them there. Me…this sounds like a good idea, since sanctuary cities refuse to enforce existing US immigration law…then releasing the illegals there for the sanctuary cities to support. Naturally…conservatives think this is a brilliant idea…and just as naturally progressive think it’s a terrible idea…but they’re also claiming that this would be illegal and is a callous politically motivated stunt.
Ok…what else is going on?
Pi…we all know what it is right…it’s a number that you get by dividing the circumference of a circle by it’s diameter…and it’s a number that has an infinite number of decimal places…it’s an irrational number which means it can’t be represented by a fraction…sort of like 6/4 can be described as being exactly equal to 1.5. Pi however…goes on forever…it starts 2.th 3.141592654 and goes on from there.
However…and this might only be interesting to me…but hey, it’s my blog so you get to read about it…there was this Indian mathematician named Srinivasa Ramanujan who came up with an idea that any decimal number can be accurately represented by the addition of a series of sub parts…and he came up with the following equation for calculating the value of Pi.
What you do is start with a value of k=0, then k=1, 2, and so on up to k=infinity…and then you figure out the value of the expression above for each value of k, add them all up, take the reciprocal of what you get and you get the value of Pi. This is how long versions of the value of Pi are actually calculated…if you go here you can see the first 100,000 digits of Pi written out. In practical terms…doing this many digits is useless. NASA uses only 15 decimal places when they do orbital calculations for interplanetary spacecraft launches…why stop at 15. Turns out that they only use 15 digits for Pi…at least according to a web site I ran across…and you determine the circumference of a circle at the limit of the observable universe then you’re not quite precise…but the imprecision is about as large as a hydrogen atom if you use 39 digits. Since NASA’s calculations are in a much, much smaller scale than the observable universe…15 is enough…although it’s actually been calculated out to about 13 trillion decimal places. For NASA’s purposes…the farthest thing they have done calculations for is the Voyager I spacecraft which is about 12.5 billion mils away. Using their standard 15 digits of pi and doing the calculation…they’re off by about 1.5 inches.
And that’s way more than you wanted to know about Pi. There’s probably a similar argument to made about the constant e which is about 2.718281828459045…e is the basis for the natural logarithm but I’m not going to try to ‘splain logarithms to ya…if you’re not a scientist or engineer you just don’t have any practical use for them.
Have you seen the pictures of Julian Assange after he was expelled from the Embassy of Ecuador in London and arrested by British police? Looks like some crazy bearded freak to me. He’s under indictment by the US for computer hacking…I’ve not researched the law in detail but at least by some definitions he qualifies as a “journalist” and hence might have some protection against being prosecuted for publishing classified material he was provided. Just like the NY Times and WAPost weren’t prosecuted for the Pentagon Papers back during the Vietnam War and the materials that Mr. Snowden leaked…he might have a case against prosecution. That’s not to say what he did was right…I haven’t come to any full conclusion on that question yet…it’s not a black and white issue and there are a lot of nuances to be considered. Fortunately…I’m not likely to be on the jury for any trial he’s subjected to…so I’m not wasting any brain power on it. From a strict “defense of the US” standpoint then publishing classified stuff should be illegal…but when you get right down to it is Wikileaks any different from NYT or WAPost…dunno as that’s a way too hard question for me to answer.
Saw an article today about the priciest toll roads in the US…the winner is the Pennsylvania Turnpike which costs $45.75 for transiting its entire 193.76 mile length. Second is the toll road up to Pikes Peak in CO…$40 per car for its 19 mile length. We’ve been up it…in fact there’s a race up it every year called the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb…the course has 156 turns over 12.42 miles climbing 4,720 feet…the current Unlimited Record which was set by an electrically powered Volkswagen I.D.R…which looks eerily similar to the VW Van that hippies drove back in the 60s…in 2018 is 7 minutes and 57 seconds…for an average of 93.73 miles an hour. Having driven up that road…with it’s 170 degree switchbacks and if you went off the corner it’s a long, long way down…that’s pretty darned quick.
Again…something that might only interest me.
All of the Democratic candidates…well at least a majority of them…have released their tax returns this week…seems that Ms. Harris, Mr. Sanders, Mr. O’Rourke, and Ms. Warren…well they’re all part of the 1% that they decry so much. However…all of the “tax the rich” schemes they’ve endorsed only tax people that make more than they do…funny how that worked out.
Interesting things found on the net.
Andre the Giant was a mainstay of professional wrestling (or wrasslin’ as we would say in the south) back in the 60s to early 80s. Andre was a Frenchman who stood at 7’4” tall and w weighed 520 pounds. Neil remembers seeing him on Saturday Night Wrasslin’ back in the day…and the guy was huge. Essentially he would pick up his opponent and just bear hug him until he passed out and then toss him onto the mat and pin him. To show you just how big he was…here’s a photo of him holding a standard 12 ounce beer can.
This is a Golden Pheasant or Chinese Pheasant…it’s one of the few remaining members of the genus Phasianidae…this is a male and they average 35-41 inches in length. Quite striking…ain’t it.
This how skinny girls fake up their online dating site profile.
People often confuse the position of the knee and ankle in most animals. Conscious of this…here’s an illustration by the Japanese illustrator Satoshi Kawasaki showing what a human would look like if their knee and ankle were in the same relative position as a human, then dog, then horse, then flamingo. Really gives you a different perspective on the anatomy of animals, doesn’t it.
Ever wondered how the population of the world is distributed…amazing enough it’s really concentrated in SE Asia as shown in the following graphic. Of the current 7.7 billion world population…over half live inside the circle.
An interesting item I ran across…one of the earliest slave owners in America was a fella named Andrew Johnson who lived in the colony of Virginia from 1600 until 1670. He was a successful…and very rich for the time…tobacco farmer. You’ve probably never heard of him…I certainly had not. The really interesting thing about Mr. Johnson is not that he was successful, not that he was rich, not that he was a tobacco farmer, and not that he was a slave owner. The most interesting thing about him is that…believe it or not…he was black. I only offer this as an example of how we in 2019 look at the past with our 2019 societal norms and customs. While we in 2019 find slavery abhorrent…back in the 1600’s it was a perfectly acceptable thing…and even black men owned slaves. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to judge past centuries by today’s standards of what is acceptable.
And finally…we’ve all seen and heard the Beef Council commercial…naturally it’s a suggestion that “beef…it’s what’s for dinner”…and it uses the famous Hoe-Down tune from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo Suite (pronounced Ro-day-oh). You may not really know that it’s Rodeo or that Mr. Copeland…arguably the most capable of America’s classical composers…wrote it…but if you click here or here I can almost guarantee that you’ll recognize the music. Anyway…what’s for dinner. Why it’s ET…easily recognizable by anybody who’s seen the 1982 film ET the extra terrestrial.