Southern Man

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Party

A kitchen full of characters.

Scary Food! Photo by Joanna, our lovely hostess; well, photo cribbed from her Facebook page.

Party theme: Zombie Apocalypse. Photo by Joanna.

Another Zombie Hunter. Photo by Joanna or Jeri or Patricia, who knows.

The Mummy apparently didn't get the memo about the party theme. Photo by Joanna, maybe.

Toilet Terror! Photo cribbed from Jeri's Facebook.

Avast, surrender ye candy or prepare to be boarded!

Saucy wenches.

Storm and Captain America! But in these modern times even Storm carries a corporate ID badge on her belt.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekend Update

A few random photos from the weekend...

Teen Daughter was here for the weekend to appear as the Martha half of Mary and Martha (right). We also went shopping (left) and payed a visit to Southern Mother (center).

On Saturday evening Southern Man went on the annual fall hay-ride with the church singles.

Manly men doing manly things around a manly campfire.

One of the girls poses in the shelter.

All in all, a relaxing weekend spent with family and friends. Southern Man will take all of those he can get. Thank you, Lord, for my friends and my family; bless them and keep them, always. Amen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Star Trek Continues

Now this is just about as cool as can be. Star Trek Continues is a fan-supported effort to finish off the last two years of the original five-year mission. They've got a full episode out, and it's pretty darn good.

Episode One: Pilgrim of Eternity with Michael Forrest returning as the Greek god Apollo.

They're clearly amateurs but the attention to detail in the sets, costumes, music, and even lighting is incredible. It's a stunning re-creation of the original series right down to the cheesy engineering tools, nonsensical technobabble, and sixties-era bridge consoles. If you're a fan of classic Trek it's well worth an hour of your time to watch this. Southern Man notes that Vic Mignogna's voice and mannerism are more Captain Archer than Captain Kirk and applauds Chris Doohan's portrayal of Mr. Scott as a fine tribute to his father's work.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Climate Change and Global Warming

Southern Man notes that the "Global Warming" crowd has dropped that verbiage and instead adopted "Climate Change" as though the two terms meant the same thing, to the point that (for example) The LA Times will no longer print letters from "climate change deniers." This is, rather transparently, a straw man argument: take someone who has legitimate doubts about the science of global warming (disclaimer: Southern Man would be one of those, for good solid scientific reasons) and accuse them of something entirely different. So today there will be a brief lecture on climate change.

The first thing to note is that the climate is always changing.

Temperature variations over the last half-million years. Graph copied from Wikipedia.

The long-term picture of the history of climate change is lengthy ice ages, lasting a hundred thousand years or so, punctuated by relatively brief interglacials that last ten thousand years or so. The current interglacial is called the Holocene. It is during this relatively brief time that humans, which have been around for longer than the duration of this graph, finally created civilization. The Holocene has been very, very good to us.

And there is the reason for Southern Man's disdain for Global Warming alarmists. We are a warm-weather species. We like warm weather. Put another way: a few degrees of Global Warming and many are inconvenienced. A few degrees of Global Cooling and billions starve to death. The suffering during the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age weren't due as much to freezing as to widespread crop failures. Warm is good. Cold is bad.

The graph above is the most important player in long-term climate. We see the regular cycle of lengthy ice ages and brief interglacials and note that the Holocene, statistically, is nearing its end; indeed, the Holocene Climate Optimum was several thousand years ago. We do not know why the climate cycles in this fashion. There are some tantalizing correlations (the best candidate being the Malankovich Cycles) but no firm causation, yet. So there's an indicator that we're on the verge of long term cooling, just as everyone thought back when Southern Lad was in high school. He does note that the Nuclear Winter hypothesis has been largely discredited; we did the experiment (the USA and USSR detonated enough bombs during Cold War weapons testing to simulate a fair-sized nuclear war) and there was no discernible impact on short-term climate.

But there's another player and that's those pesky newly-civilized humans who contributed a thousand years of widespread deforestation and a couple of centuries of extensive use of fossil fuels, both of which have created a dramatic increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Now, while atmospheric CO2 has been higher in the past the climate pot has never been stirred quite like this and no one knows what effect that will have. And by "no one" Southern Man includes climate scientists. But let's give this one to the Global Warming folks and say that this is an indicator of increasing temperatures.

The third, and probably most minor player, is solar activity. The Maunder Minimum and other local cooling trends have been correlated with low sunspot activity but again there is no guarantee of causation. Solar scientists agree that the sun is entering a period of relative inactivity. Southern Man will call that one a weak indicator of cooling.

But the Sun will win this game in the end; solar output increases by about 10% per billion years and in a few billion years or so the Sun will be hot enough to boil away the oceans and we will have either all died or evacuated the planet well before then. On the long term, Global Warming Baking is inevitable and it'll happen long before the Sun swells into an Earth-devouring Red Giant.

But what about in the short (as in next few centuries) term? We have two strong indicators, one of cooling and one of warming, plus (if you want to include it) a weak indicator of cooling. Perhaps they will offset. Again, no one knows. And, again, Southern Man isn't much concerned about Global Warming; Southern State will actually become more humid and temperate, with less extreme summers and winters, and he won't complain about that. Global Cooling, however, is a cause for concern and something he keeps in mind as he continues to build his little retreat out at The Land.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday!

To Southern Son, who inherited his mother's good looks and musical talents.

Happy Birthday Son!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Break Day Three

And Day Three was the Drive Back Home. Which for some reason always seems to take less time than the drive up, even though we were in no hurry and made several stops to snack and geocache and generally goof around. Teen Daughter was delivered to her mother at four-ish and Southern Man was back at The Land by nine, having stopped in town to shop for Southern Son's upcoming birthday. As in, tomorrow. Southern Man got him all six Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray; hope he likes them.

Tomorrow Southern Man will drop by the Ancestral Manor and drop off the gifts, go to church, do laundry, and relax at home. Then the second half of the semester kicks off on Monday...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Break Day Two

For our one full day in Branson we kicked things off with a visit to Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Posing outside...

Riding a strange contraption...

In a diving helmet...

The World's Tallest Man...

Posing in the gift shop...

Fun House Mirror Selfie...

Southern Man spent the afternoon at a sales pitch (Southern Man is a sucker for those "discount mini vacation if you listen to our ninety minute timeshare spiel" deals) and geocaching, then for our evening entertainment went to an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. With all-you-can-eat lobster and crab legs.

We ate like kings!

And again the evening was spent as before; Teen Daughter read while Southern Man soaked in the hot tub. Good times!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Break Day One

Day One was Travel Day - pick up Teen Daughter at her mother's house and then head on in to Branson.

We stayed at the fabulous Branson Plaza...

Teen Daughter strikes a pose...

Teen Daughter strikes another pose...


...and ate dinner at the very nice restaurant on the top floor, where Teen Daughter conducted a workshop in experimental photography.

Still Life #33, by Teen Daughter.

Flowers, by Teen Daughter.

Lights, by Teen Daughter.

Teen Daughter is immersed in reading The Mortal Instruments series so she curled up in a corner to read and Southern Man relaxed in the hot tub. Tomorrow will be a busy and fun day!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Break Day Zero

Normally Southern Man posts these holiday "Day Zero" posts 'cause he gets off early enough to get a jump on vacations but alas his current schedule has him working until late evening tonight. But nonetheless Fall Break is about to begin. The plan is to drive a few hours to pick up Teen Daughter from her mother, head in to Branson, MO, for a couple of days of eating and attractions (she's already indicated that she wants to hit the Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not Museum) and sleeping and geocaching, drop her back off on Saturday, and spend Sunday catching up on laundry and chores as well as church and relaxing with friends. A brief break, but it ought to be a good one. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day

In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue...
...and then went back to Europe and held press conferences, thus establishing his everlasting fame as "discoverer" of the New World.

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519. There are no known authentic portraits of Columbus.

Christopher Columbus was an Italian sailer and navigator. He was largely self-taught, mastering Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian, and well read in astronomy, geography, and history, including the works of Claudius Ptolemy, Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly's Imago Mundi, the travels of Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville, Pliny's Natural History, and Pope Pius II's Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum. As historian Edmund Morgan put it,
Columbus was not a scholarly man. Yet he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them and came out with ideas about the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong, the kind of ideas that the self-educated person gains from independent reading and clings to in defiance of what anyone else tries to tell him.
Columbus was convinced that he could reach the Orient by sailing to the west for three reasons, all incorrect and all at odds with the scholarly concensus of the day: his low estimate for the size of the Earth (which had been known to be spherical since the time of Aristotle and accurately measured as long ago as Eratosthenes), his high estimate of the east-west extent of the European land mass (Columbus was swayed by Marinus of Tyre, who put the Eurasian landmass as spanning 225o rather than the better-accepted 180o proposed by Plolemy), and his conviction that Japan lay far to the east of China. These notions, coupled with his misuse of the Italian mile and his likely misreading of Alfraganus (which had led him to view the Earth as considerably smaller than the prevailing view) and rumors of land reported by sailers who had sailed far into the western Atlantic to take advantage of the trade winds, convinced Columbus that the voyage was possible. His proposal was rejected by many possible sponsors who believed his estimate of the length of the voyage was unrealistically short. However, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, a politically-astute couple whose marriage had united several smaller principalities into what would eventually become the modern nation of Spain, eventually agreed to finance about half of the expenses with the remainder coming from Italian investors. The rest, as they say, is history.

The New World was already populated, perhaps for as long as 20,000 years, from the northeast (Europeans traveling across the edge of a sea ice shelf during the last ice age), from the northwest (Asians crossing the Bering Strait, possibly on a land bridge), and from the southwest by Pacific Islanders. These early cultures (such as the Clovis) were overwhelmed and/or assimilated by successive waves of immigration so little or nothing remains of the first humans in the New World. Among the first modern Europeans to travel to the New World were Norsemen who established a few colonies that eventually failed. However, the four voyages of Columbus sparked an immense wave of exploration and colonization that would displace (and, by way of Old World diseases for which there was no native immunity, largely eliminate) the existing population, thus leading to some reluctance to celebrate this holiday.

Columbus was the last hero of Old Europe and ushered in the new age. As historian Samuel Morrison writes in his biography of Columbus:
At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .

Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Niña scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”

Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.
Southern Man salutes Columbus, a courageous man who risked death for what he believed in and who in no small way created the world in which we live. Happy Columbus Day!

The Niña, Pinta, and flagship Santa Maria. The largest was smaller than a modern harbor tug. And Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean in them.

Some text and both illustrations are from Wikipedia; the Morison quote was copied from Instapundit.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekend Fun

A few cell phone snaps from an evening out with The Gang for Fright Fest at the local amusement park...

Taken by a kind stranger on Jonathan's cell phone camera.
Back: Southern Man, Mark; Front: Adam, Amber, Jonathan.

Selfie by Amber.

We rode rides and ate overpriced amusement park food and paid $5 extra to go to the front of the line at the haunted house. Great fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

ObamaCare Fail

With all the stories about the government shutdown it was pretty easy to miss the rollout of the much-delayed and much-anticipated, the health insurance marketplace where everyone could get "affordable" health care.

How health care used to work.

What Democrats think will work better.

Too bad, because it is and continues to be an epic failure, with numerous reports of users unable to access the system. It's gotten to the point that they're resetting everyone's password. How this will help, Southern Man cannot tell. But they're trying it.

What you may not know is that this project, originally budgeted at $93.7 million, has cost us (so far) a whopping $634 million dollars. That's nine times over budget. To put that in perspective, that's more than Facebook spent in its first six years. It's more than Twitter has ever spent. It's more than it cost to run LinkedIn and Instagram and Spotify since their inception. And what we got was a web site with roughly the functionality of a rock.

Note to every Republican in office - you should say this every time you're in front of a microphone:

"The President has already granted businesses a one-year extention on implementing the Affordable Care Act. All we want is the same one-year extension for individuals. What is it about this that you don't like?"

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A Matter Of Record

From the Congressional Record, 3/16/2006...

Apparently he was against it before he was for it.

Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government. Henry David Thoreau's essay of the same title is required reading. It's readily available; Southern Man's e-copy was free at the Kindle Store. And we are - happily - seeing more and more civil disobedience as citizens push back against a tyrannical government who confuses a cessation of non-essential services to barry-cading open-air parks and monuments and even shutting down privately-funded facilities that just happen to lease their lots from the Feds. And the shutdown continues: the House passes spending bills, often unanimously, and the Senate turns them down on party-line votes. The president has openly said that he refueses to negotiate and (much to the chagrin of unions everywhere) likens his opponents to workers walking off the job.

Pushback is sweet. Obama's approval ratings continue to sink like a stone. It is rumored (Southern Man can't find a reference) that some local Republican groups are running video of Obama's 2008 statements on the debt ceiling without commentary, which must confuse the hell out of his base. Honor Flight veterans continue to openly defy the authorities and cross the barrycades and police lines. Some are, like Thoreau, willing to submit to arrest in classic examples of lawful civil disobedience. The Claude Moore Colonial Farm is re-opening. State governments are pushing to re-open national parks (one example here) and there are suggestions that the National Parks should be administered by their states. Indeed, the real casualty of the shutdown may be that the reputation of the National Park Service is permanantly tarnished, which has even gone to the trouble of removing handles from water fountains on hiking trails. If Southern Man were in charge he'd fire every top-level official in the NPS (remember, park rangers are saying that they have orders from on high to make life as difficult as possible on potential visitors) as well as every ranger or park policeman that prevented citizens from accessing parks or memorials (the Neuremberg Defence didn't work in 1945, and it damn well doesn't work today).

The Democrats ran the House during fifteen of the last seventeen shutdowns and apparently have no idea how to cope with it when they're on the other side of the table. One can only hope that the Republicans remember Napoleon's adage: don't interrupt your enemy when he's busy making mistakes. If they continue to make them it might even make the news!

Monday, October 07, 2013

More Shutdown Theatre

Apparently if the Federal Government is your landlord they can ignore the terms of the lease: Couple evicted from home that they own because it sits on Federal land. Ditto for an inn which has been operating on Federal Land (and paying rent) since 1919. There was an attempt to shut down Mount Vernon, which is privately owned; all they managed was a privately-owned parking lot. But "Federal Land" doesn't even begin to cover it: in Florida, the Feds attempted to shut down the ocean itself, citing the shutdown.

As one angry Park ranger put it: "We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It's disgusting."

Everyone who can ought to make it a point to visit an open-air national memorial this week. Hope and change!

Thursday, October 03, 2013


The National Mall in Washington, D.C., normally open 24/7/365, remains closed as President Obama orders more security to protect the Washington Monument from WWII veterans than were used to secure our embassy at Bangazi even though in previous shutdowns such memorials remained open. In addition, President Obama has ordered the shutdown of hundreds of privately-funded parks.

"Honey, how did work go today?"
"I protected the Lincoln Memorial from WWII Veterans."

Reports say that one of the vets carried a sign reading "Normandy was closed when we got there, too."

The veterans entered the Mall anyway. Some reports say that the Mall Police simply turned their backs and ignored them. Lots more pics and comments here.

God bless our veterans!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Shutdown Trophy

As part of the government shutdown the Park Service put up barricades in the Washington DC mall - an open-air park that is normally accessible 24/7/365. A bunch of WWII veterans on an "Honor Flight" to DC responded appropriately.

Heroes then, heroes now.

Lord, may your eternal blessings be those who risked their lives for our freedom. Amen.