It’s Raining at the Movies


Somewhere, there’s got to be a meteorlogically minded film fanatic (in the British Isles would be my first guess) who has probably compiled a list of every major rain scene in the movies. Well, this post is not that list. No Baby, the Rain Must Fall. No Rains of Ranchipur. Next time, Blade Runner. Back off, Back to the Future Part II.

These notes are only a few impressionistic sketches of rain and a few of its cinematic uses, to darken the deeper notes of drama or even, once in a while, to express the simple joy of splashing in puddles. That’s why Singin’ in the Rain (1952) begins this post, although the one scene everyone remembers is less remembered for its singing, but its dancing, joyously embracing the rain as a romance begins.


What Is the Purpose of a Corporation?


In a memorial service honoring Milton Friedman held at the Hoover Institution shortly after his death in 2007, Hoover Senior Fellow Edward Lazear hit the nail on the head when he said, only half in jest, “It is amazing how many people can best Milton in an argument when he is not in the room.”

His remark has added relevance today because last week the Business Roundtable (BR), a non-profit comprised of CEOs of major U.S. organizations, did battle with an empty chair with its short announcement entitled, “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation.” The statement rejects the received wisdom—boldly pronounced in Friedman’s famous 1970 New York Times Magazine article, “The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase Its Profits”—that corporate directors and officers should maximize shareholder value rather than some nebulous concept of social responsibility.


What’s Truly Important


I’m a bit depressed this morning. Normally I make an effort not to let the ugliness and destructiveness of the news get me down. But the world weighs heavily on my shoulders today: feckless actions by Macron, the usual contradictions by Trump, efforts to pass anti-Semitic/anti-Israel bills in Congress (which I will write about later). I can’t find the space to let in the joy and knowledge of blessings. And then I remember that in one hour, I will do something good.

On Monday mornings I visit with my friend, Earl. He is 88 years old. I’ve written about him before—his concerns about racism (he’s black and liberal), Donald Trump, the state of the world.


Uncommon Knowledge: Why Here, Why Now? The U.S.’s Dramatic Standard Of Living Improvements During The Last Century


Hoover Institution economists John Cogan, Lee Ohanian, Terry Anderson, and George Shultz examine the causes for and the reasons behind so many improvements being made to the quality of life in the United States over the past century. They analyze the role that free markets, property rights, innovation, regulation, taxes, and national security played in these remarkable achievements.


Mr. Tinder, or, How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the App


Last week, the most popular man on Tinder was all over the news for finally finding love. Stefan Pierre-Tomlin was named “Mr. Tinder” back in 2017, after accumulating 14,600 right-swipes in a mere two years, an all-time record according to the app. An untold number of likes later, Pierre-Tomlin says he’s found the love of his life, but, in one large, delicious dollop of irony, not on the app that earned him his moniker. Pierre-Tomlin met his girlfriend in person, through a friend—or as tabloid headlines are declaring “the old-fashioned way,” which is a fairly damning critique of modern society if non-digital meetings are indeed now considered passé.

Pierre-Tomlin’s story alone is, of course, purely anecdotal evidence, but when viewed with available statistics on apps and modern dating culture, it paints a rather nasty picture. Out of all his matches, for example, Pierre-Tomlin only found two women with whom he had relationships. Which shouldn’t really be surprising: according to one survey, only 44 percent of women and 38.4 percent of men on dating apps are looking for a serious relationship.


Donald Trump and China


View original artwork here.


A Thought About Single Parenting


I brought Darling Daughter back to college this week; the nest is, once again, empty. I don’t expect her to spend next summer at home as she did this year: she’s a sophomore now, and it’s reasonable to assume that my days of having a child in the house, other than for a brief visit, are over. And I’m okay with that.

I’ve been a single parent these past eight years, and I have some thoughts about the challenges of being a single parent. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the special challenge of being an only parent, someone raising children without the benefit of a partner, even a separated partner, who remains a continuing presence in their children’s lives. I know this is far less common than divorced or separated parents, but I know of several cases, and I’ve been thinking about them.


Dancing with the Intolerant


View original artwork here.


Donald Dances with the Ones Who Brung Him


TrumpingBush43Evidence is mounting that President Trump is sticking closer to his 2015 Second Amendment pledges. Pot-stirring accounts from the left and right point to President Trump settling back towards his campaign positions.

The Atlantic tries stirring Trump family trouble by characterizing Ivanka as bending her father’s ear and seeking to manipulate him into supporting gun-grabbing. RedState seeks similar stirring by posing Donald Jr. as the one bending daddy’s ear to support gun rights. Both publications are operating from ignorance, but both offer some basic truth. These stories reinforce the thrust of his language in his characteristic outdoor departure press line comments.


Fun with Vectors and the Zombie Apocalypse


No, not vector in the epidemiological sense. The other, mathy kind of vector. Which, trust me, are fun. At least stick around for the zombies.

This dates back to my college days, when I took Differential Equations. Twice. I’ve always been good with math. Sure, I struggled with plenty of things along the way (percentages, trig identities, multivariable integration. Oooh, and concentrations in chemistry), but DiffEq is where I hit the wall like a coyote hits his own painted-on tunnel. Vector spaces were part of that; an abtruse concept used to justify an abstract concept used to solve some difficult equations that might, in turn, have something to do with the real world. But once I got my head wrapped around them, vector spaces turned out to be a fun and useful bit of math. Hey, it could happen.


Photographs and Memories


Scrolling through the scanned images from many years of 35mm manual camera photography, I ran across this image. It was one of my better shots from my first military assignment, in Bavaria, West Germany. But who was that young officer doing a standing backflip under the elevated barrel of a King Tiger tank? I had not spoken with him since I left Germany in the spring of 1990, and his name had faded from memory. A bit of poking around the internet answered that question and filled in a vague memory with surprising detail.

When I reported to my officer basic course at Fort Bliss, Texas, I saved my modest pay until I could buy a good basic 35 mm camera kit. I bought a Pentax K1000 camera. Knowing I would be shooting film on the go, my hands often occupied with a map, mike, or machine gun, I went with a compromise lens, an aspherical 28-200mm wide to telephoto lens. That lens stood me in good stead through about seven years of active service, until I busted some pin or ring when I tossed the camera into a back seat.


Quote of the Day: The Wilderness of Untried Things


“We Americans are the peculiar chosen people—the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. God has predestined, mankind expects, great things from our race, and great things we feel in our souls. The rest of the world must soon be in our rear. We are the pioneers of the world; the advance-guard, sent on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path in this New World that is ours.” — Herman Melville, from White Jacket

Melville was clearly optimistic about America and how it would be a light unto the world, as he used biblical metaphors to describe our country. His awe and admiration for our mission was so inspiring. Today, however, I wonder how he would feel about the disdain so many direct toward America. He died in 1891 before the popularizing of Progressivism.


Here’s Why You Should Care About the Gay Pride Shirt Case at the Kentucky Supreme Court


The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear arguments on behalf of Hands On Originals owner Blaine Adamson on Aug. 23.For Blaine Adamson, there’s no separating his beliefs from his work. His Christian faith is what guides and drives him. It’s what makes Blaine who he is at home, in his community, and in his business.

Blaines’ faith is why his promotional print shop, Hands On Originals, provides otherwise unemployed women in Uganda with a steady income by hiring them to create hand-woven baskets, which they then give away to customers to raise awareness for the struggles these women face on a daily basis.


The “Why” of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)


For the Lord will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers, since you will be heeding the Lord your God and keeping his commandments and laws that are recorded in this book of the Teaching—once you return to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (Deuteronomy, 9-14)


Trump Chastises Jewish Democrats


President Trump continues to amaze me each time he alienates another group of Americans. And this time he’s correct: Jews who are Democrats clearly are misguided and foolish regarding their attitudes toward Judaism, the Democrat party, America and Israel. Here’s Trump’s brief remark:

I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.


If Everything is Racist . . .


The cries of the Left against racism in this country are filled with sadness and frustration. They feel that this country has let them down; the land of the free and the home of the brave is drowning in hatred, division and racism. All of us must rally to answer their call to truth and equality. I’ve identified an ideal way to do just that: let’s identify every racist term that exists in our times and create unbiased alternatives.

The numbers of words and phrases that are racist are mind-boggling, as we begin to realize that racism exists in every part of society: education, law enforcement, corporations—the list is endless. But I think we can start small.


Carrie Lam Speaks (in Cantonese); President Trump Ties to Trade Deal


Carrie LamBloomberg cable television carried Hong Kong Chief Administrator Carrie Lam in a live press statement, 10 pm ET. Bloomberg repeatedly notes she is speaking in Cantonese, the native regional dialect. This is both normal and notable. The Chinese Communists have made a concerted global effort to promote their dialect to the world as the true tongue, the original lingua franca, if you will. Lam’s words follow some careful, helpful remarks by President Trump.

It seems that both sides in Hong Kong are climbing down a bit, de-escalating. Lam announced her intent to hire international policing experts to beef up the current monitoring group for the Hong Kong police. She talked about building a platform for dialogue. A bit of oil on the troubled waters.


ACF #29: Scarface part 2


Today, @johnpresnall and I are wrapping up a discussion on tragedy — that is Scarface — with some political notes and also a view of the cycle of regimes presented by Socrates near the end of Plato’s Republic. Yeah, we’re working overtime to make the most despised or at least underrated of the masters, Brian De Palma, reveal his inner greatness. In the mean time, we’ll go to the shocking lengths of praising Oliver Stone and making a bit of fun of Sidney Lumet…


QOTD: Doing Something Is Doing Nothing


Perhaps before Congress ‘does something,’ we ought to let states and localities experiment with giving community leaders the ability to act—while also protecting due process and other constitutional rights. At the least those who insist the solutions are primarily federal ought to answer the most obvious question: Can you show us exactly how your measure would have prevented earlier shootings if it had been in place?

Some will take this as a counsel of despair. That, too, is an unfortunate consequence of today’s narrative. Because acknowledging the limits of the federal government’s ability to stop mass shootings isn’t the end of the debate. It’s the start of an honest one.


Accept and Advocate or Else.


Drag Queen Storytime is scheduled this month at three of the local libraries where I live. I’m told in the comments on Facebook that if I disagree with it that I’m bigoted, narrow-minded, and hateful.

In 2010 I was invited to a forum to discuss the impending repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. A panel came to visit the Marine Corps base where my husband was stationed and military wives were invited to take part in the discussion. Many were vocally opposed to the repeal. We knew that it would open the door to much more than simply securing the rights of a specific group of individuals to serve openly in the military. I vividly remember one woman relaying that she was both apprehensive and concerned about the repeal of DADT because of the impact it would potentially have on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). She decidedly explained to the panel and to her fellow military wives that if DADT were to be repealed that DOMA would soon suffer the same fate, and so a snowball effect would sweep the nation.


“Hate” Is a Crutch


I am confident that people who know me in real life will tell you that, while I exhibit at least the usual complement of flaws, odd quirks, and irritating peccadilloes, being hateful is not numbered among them. That’s probably because I’ve been fortunate, and can’t think of anyone who has seriously wronged me or wronged someone I love. Hate simply isn’t an emotion I experience, and the word is not one I use.

I would like to believe that this is true of most people — that they don’t really feel hate much, if at all — and that the word is too casually used.


Silence Is Consent


We know that President Trump relies heavily on the feedback he gets from MAGA rally crowds. If Second Amendment voters are keeping silent on gun control and just cheering at Trump’s rallies, he reasonably believes he has them on his side. So it is a great shame on every gun owner who showed up at the New Hampshire Trump reelection rally unprepared, with several friends, to start chanting “Keep Your Word!” That sound of silence was reasonably taken by President Trump as confirmation that he could talk his 2016 voters into any position he takes in 2019.


The Boycott Wars


View original artwork here.


Does the Constitution Need Reformation or Restoration?


reform or restore constitutionThere is a long-simmering fight on the right between those who urge a convention of the states, under Article V of the Constitution of the United States, and those who urge active resistance at every level of government to nullify unconstitutional actions by every branch of government. The former argue for reformation of the Constitution, while the latter argue for restoration of the Constitution as currently written. Both have merits, both are sincere, and both do not say enough. What follows is a brief outline of some contentions and a suggested common flaw with a common, but very hard, solution.



How to Build a Computer 35: Anisotropic Etching


Last time we talked about how to make tiny little holes in silicon using harsh acids. Wet etching is fine and all, but sometimes you just can’t make a feature small enough. You’re limited by the aspect ratio. That is, how wide it is versus how tall it is. A post hole has a high aspect ratio because it’s much deeper than it is wide. A strip mine is a pretty low aspect ratio hole. The difficulty with making high aspect ratio holes in your silicon is that your etchant is going to etch down, yes, but it’s also going to etch towards the sides.

Before we get into dry etching there’s one more trick for making an anisotropic (uh, it etches downward quicker than it goes sideways. Literally the word means not-the-same-in-all-directions.) wet etch. What happens if you do your etching with a strong base instead of a strong acid? As it turns out, and for no reason, I’ve managed to determine, a strong base will etch one crystal face preferentially.