Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Time is Here, By Golly

A "white Christmas" was actually a fairly rare thing, once upon a time. Winter, after all, did not even begin until a few days before the Feast. All those deep snow, sleigh-ride infested, Currier and Ives Christmases date from the 1840s. when blizzards blanketed the Midwest and upstate New York. The 1930s and 1940s were a time of global warming and so, as in the movie "Holiday Inn", snow was a rarity in December. That's why Crosby could only dream about it. But it did chill off during the 50s and 60s and the snow came back, big time. Thereafter, it was declared a Constitutional Right and its absence taken as evidence of warmer winter nights. O Horrors!

It was the custom the Clan na Fhloinn to attend Midnight Mass, which in those halcyon days was held at -- wait for it --- midnight! This was preceded by the singing of carols like "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" by the Maennerchor. TOF suspects the whole thing a Plot to weary the Kinder so they would drop off in the arms of Morpheus as soon as they got home, if not well before, and not pester the folks as they assembled the toys and decorated the trees. So successful was this endeavor that for many years TOF was convinced that the toys once came fully assembled and only in later days did TOF as a new parent have to put them together. My father, of course, looked at TOF as if he had grown a second head and told him that he had done the Some Assembly is Required when TOF slept in the aforesaid Arms of Morpheus after Midnight mass.

"And a right fine job you did, too," sez TOF. "Professional quality." 
 
Oh, and that was when the tree got decorated, too.
 
That Sinter Klaas is a clever putz. He inveigles all the parents in the world to work for him for free. No wonder he can hit all the houses in the world in a single night. He's a parallel processor!  

There was one fine Christmas Eve, I forget which year, but all five brothers were there, so it was maybe early 60s. It had snowed deeply. Too deeply for the car to move. But St. Joe was only eight blocks away so we pulled on the snow boots -- you know the boots I mean, the ones with all the metal buckles up the front -- grabbed a couple snow shovels and we set forth, breasting the drifts and plowing our way forth. Outside, we encountered Sterling, a friend from school who lived in the public housing in the next block over. Bro Pat, a little guy, was over his head in the snow, so Sterling who was the biggest kid in school picked him up and put him on his shoulders and walked him like an icebreaker through the snows.

When we reached the church, there was an old lady who lived across the street from the church and she was trying to get out, but the snow covered her steps up to the door. So Sterling and Dennis and TOF the shovels to dig her out. Then we dug a path across the street to the church, only to discover that no one else had shown up and Midnight mass was canceled.There was a certain amount of astonishment at least on TOF's part that no one else in the neighborhood had made the effort. It didn't seem all that extraordinary to us.
For the night is dark and full of hope and joy.


There is a tag line in the TV show "Game of Thrones" used by one of the religions in that fantasy world: "For the night is dark, and full of terrors." Well, we called that the valley of the shadow of death, and it was. But for some of us, there is a light shining in the darkness and the sound of angels singing, and the night is dark and full of hope and joy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

In the spirit of the season


“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in Anglo-Saxon meter, by Philip Craig Chapman-Bell. Via Etymonline on Facebook, who says “An Internet classic; but I can no longer find it where I first found it (Cathy Ball’s Old English reference pages).” h/t Mark Shea

Incipit gestis Rudolphi rangifer tarandus

Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor –
Næfde þæt nieten unsciende næsðyrlas!
Glitenode and gladode godlice nosgrisele.
Ða hofberendas mid huscwordum hine gehefigodon;
Nolden þa geneatas Hrodulf næftig
To gomene hraniscum geador ætsomne.
Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:
“Neahfreond nihteage nosubeorhtende!
Min hroden hrædwæn gelæd ðu, Hrodulf!”
Ða gelufodon hira laddeor þa lyftflogan –
Wæs glædnes and gliwdream; hornede sum gegieddode
“Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor,
Brad springð þin blæd: breme eart þu!”

Rendered literally into modern English:

Here begins the deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer

Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer –
That beast didn’t have unshiny nostrils!
The goodly nose-cartilage glittered and glowed.
The hoof-bearers taunted him with proud words;
The comrades wouldn’t allow wretched Hrodulf
To join the reindeer games.
Then, on Christmas Eve bound in storms
Santa Claus remembered that, spoke formally to him:
“Dear night-sighted friend, nose-bright one!
You, Hrodulf, shall lead my adorned rapid-wagon!”
Then the sky-flyers praised their lead-deer –
There was gladness and music; one of the horned ones sang
“Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer,
Your fame spreads broadly, you are renowned!”

Deus Vult! Part IV: Off to the Races

Continuing TOF's intermittent series on the Crusades. Hooray. I think.
Dudes, let's all go to the Holy Land and kick the Turks
out of Byzantium! Wear the pilgrim's cross when you go!

In Deus Vult! Part I, we reviewed four hundred years of muslim aggression against Christendom, a region known to the muslims by the subtly suggestive name "House of War."

In Deus Vult! Part II, we encountered the Standard Model of the Crusades as an unprovoked  incursion by boorish oafs (as well as oafish boors) into the suave and sophisticated House of Submission. No one thought to ask how all those muslims got all over everywhere in the first place.

 In Deus Vult! Part III, we noted that crusading was a crowd-sourced enterprise with voluntary participation. Participants were enticed by promises of suffering, impoverishment, and probable death. Who can resist inveiglement like that? But crusading was conceptualized as an act of charity and in the mental universe of the day, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the merit. Like any vassal, they were pledged to recover their lord's lost territories. The Lord in this case was Jesus H. Christ himself, and his lands were all the Middle East. This was not then an unrealistic goal: even Egypt was still about 50% Christian, and the lands more recently lost to the Turks were eminently recoverable. In fact, the Byzantines had briefly recovered some of them, only to lose them once more in the disaster following Manzikert. The crusade was less an organized military expedition than it was a joint pilgrimage undertaken by several thousand well-armed knights  initially with the purpose of restoring their Greek brothers' lost territories; then as it built up steam, of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem as a sort of protest movement.

Problem was, there' s a whole bunch of muslims sitting on it.

Right Makes Might

Set a later time, this map shows the division within Islam
between the"highlands" (green) and the "lowlands" (yellow),
which in 1098 were exemplified by the Saljūqs and Fatimids, resp.
The House of Submission was divided into two broad zones. The Highlands -- the mountainous plateaus that run from Anatolia eastward to the Hindu Kush -- was occupied by Saljūq Turks, nominally comprising a great Sultanate but actually a potpourri of subordinate emirs of varying degrees of independence and mutual hostility. The Lowlands were the desert borders more or less reigned on lightly by the Fatimid caliphs. The Abbasid Caliphate owned a spurious independence and pretended not to notice the Saljūq hand up their skirts working the arms and voice. The Turks had a Sunni disposition while the Fatimids were in deep Shi'ite. This added piquancy to the usual rivalry between the uplands and the lowlands.¹ Syria-Palestine, which lay in between the two, suffered the usual soccer ball fate of lands-that-lie-in-between, which is why the Christian pilgrims going there found an on-going state of turmoil going on. Neither the Saljūqs nor the Fatimids were in complete control of their vassals and disorder was the order of the day. 
Notes:
1. Uplands vs. Lowlands. This goes back to the Hittites vs. the Egytians.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On This Day in History

Betts Hospital, Easton PA; birthplace of TOF
In the 241st year of the independency of the Republic, and of the Years of the the Incarnation of the Lord the one thousand nine hundred and forty-seventh, during the 9th year of the pontificate of the ven. Pius XII and the 3rd year of the presidency of Harry S Truman, while James H. Duff was the 34th Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ulysses Grant Palmer III in the first year of his ownership of the hospital founded by Dr. James Alfred Betts in the City of Easton did delivered to Rita Marie Singley Flynn, a boy and they named him Michael. And there great was the weeping in the land.

"Never fear," he said. "This is almost the shortest day of the year, so you won't have to endure it long."

:Horse feathers," said Mut in that Germanic way she had. "Horse feathers and donkey turds." German idioms tend toward the colorfully scatalogical. "I'm just glad he's out of there." She referred of course to the Weight of TOF, which tipped the scales at around 10 pounds.

"That's my boy," said Pere, who was not yet Pere, handing out cigars to everyone who would hold still and chasing down and tackling those who would not and stuffing Phillies Blunts in their mouths. "Pay him no mind," said Big Mom to the Mut (who, however, was not yet the Mut), "he's Irish." Since everyone was living at her house -- technically, by modern definitions, TOF's family was homeless -- what she said went. Guv had some say, too. He had been in the trenches in France and knew how to go over the top.
l. to r.: cousins Paul and Mariellen and the TOFling,
living at their grandmother's house. TOF and Mariellen were
Milchgeschwestern.

TOF, The Early Years

TOF has very little memory of his early years, although he is certain he had some. Come to think of it, having just commenced his 70th year, he has very little memory of yesterday. What was I saying?

Oh, yes. The Mut once told TOF that he might have been named Michael Hinkle because there was a guy who was sweet on her whose name was Hinkle and wanted to marry her. This would have been Seriously Weird because in High School, TOF's girl friend was named Hinkle, no relation afaik.
Sweet Sharon and TOF
What if they had both been Hinkles?
The other thing TOF remembers from the Infancy Narratives is that he was related to everyone. The neighborhood was called Shwartown and/or German Hill. The Schwar family was rather numerous and even families that were not Schwar were related to Schwars. Mut's mother, Big Mom, was a Schwar. (Which, btw, rhymes with 'swear'. The a once had an umlaut, Schwär.) Just about every family had come from the Gemeinden of Oberhausen and Niederhausen in the Grand Principality of Baden.

When Mut brought TOF to the church to be baptized, Pastor Fries said, "Flynn is Irish. Take him to St. Bernards. That's the Irish parish." Fr. Fries, like all pastors of St. Josephs before him had been born in Germany or in German-speaking regions of Switzerland, Bohemia, etc. or were German-speaking sons of immigrants. No Irish need apply.

So the Mut says, "My uncles built this church, stone by stone. They can take it down the same way. Either you baptize him, or I take him home and baptize him myself under the kitchen sink."
Schwars building the church, stone by stone.
Scaffold: Uncle Leo, who also build the House
of TOF, Uncle George assisting. In foreground,
Big Mom, not yet Big Mom, mother-to-be of Mut.
The Schwars had been stone masons since
the middle of the 1600s.


The Irresistible Object is as nothing next to a German Mother. So Fr. Fries caved. TOF was baptized in the regular fashion. But it was years before the family received regular donation envelopes.
Irony alert: The last pastor of St. Joseph before it was folded into two other parishes to create Our Lady of Mercy, was a native of Tanzania and a member of the Hiya tribe. He spoke fluent Swahili, as well as English, Spanish, and of course Hiya.
Michael Francis Paul Flynn





How can you not pinch his cheeks?
is the son of Joseph Francis Flynn
Personally won the Pacific war.
There is a story about a foxhole on the beach on Iwo
 
who is the son of Francis Thomas Flynn
One-time assistant manager of the Hotel Easton.
There is a story about when he didn't get the top job.
who was the son of Daniel Joseph Flynn
A blacksmith and volunteer firefighter
Once chopped a hole in the roof of the Presbyterian Church
who was the son of John Thomas Flynn
Left Ireland and was crushed between coal cars
in New Jersey. His brother was run over by a box car.
who was the son of Martin Flynn of Loughrea, County Galway, Ireland
Was brought over by his sons John and Patrick
but died two years later.
who was descended of the Flynns of the Sil Maelruain, dispossessed according to local lore by Cromwell of their quondam lands in the County Roscommon in the 17th century.
#####

And so it was ordained that for three days of the year, to wit: from 17 to 19 December, his brother Dennis could brag on being "the same age" as his big brother, until, lo!, the birthday rolled round again and Michael once more pulled ahead. Mwahaha.

Perceptive Reader will notice that with birthdays on the 17th and 20th of December, the Flynn boys could get mighty confused when presents re-appeared once again on the 25th. Hey, what's going on here? Another birthday? When Reader is further informed that a third brother celebrates his annual superannuation on the 27th, said Reader may make a cogent guess as to when their father's own birthday falls and what pleasant gift he oft received.

Between two (and later three) birthdays and Christmas, parental spending could be spread mighty thin. Since Dennis and I were nearly of an age and had similar interests, the usual solution was that they got us two of everything.
Note the two of everything strategy, vis a vis Superman suits.
The urchin on the left is Bro Kevin, now a City Councilman
in Denver CO. In rear is a Xmas Tree with "Rain" and on right
an HO gauge train layout with miniature village. TOF remembers
his parents as incredibly old, but somehow they do not appear so.
 However, we further note that great-uncle Dan also had a birthday on 16 Dec., as does son Dennis (as mentioned betimes), and great-aunt Kathryn had a birthday on 20 Dec. as does cousin Mark Flynn, so one expects some deep December harmonic convergence. Furthermore, TOF's two besties in highschool, Red and Sterling, had birthdays on 23 and 24 Dec., resp. When we went out to celebrate our 21st birthday at a bar to have a legal drink it was on the 23rd and the drinks were bought by Bill, who was Red's older brother. You will notice that this made Sterling one day short of legal. However, we were all carded none the less, except for Sterling, who was of the Very Large persuasion. He had always had to pay the older prices at the amusement park and the movie theaters, but for once he was glad to be taken as older. TOF had a rum-and-coke.

Well, enough of that. Happy birthday to me. Woo-hoo.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

An Archdruid Reports

On a blog called The Archdruid Report by a fellow named John Michael Greer, who styles himself Past Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America and current head of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn -- So druids have grand archdruids. Who knew? -- In any case, he has some interesting comments on the recent presidential elections here in the US of A. (There were 50 of them, you may recall.) He believed the good guys lost and lost for reasons that no one has talked about.

He writes:
The point I think the Left tends to miss is that not everyone in flyover country is like that. A few years back, in fact, a bunch of Klansmen came to the town where I live [an old mill town in Appalachia] to hold a recruitment rally, and the churches in town—white as well as black—held a counter-rally, stood on the other side of the street, and drowned the Klansmen out, singing hymns at the top of their lungs until the guys in the white robes got back in their cars and drove away.  Surprising? Not at all; in a great deal of middle America, that’s par for the course these days.

To understand why a town that ran off the Klan was a forest of Trump signs in the recent election, it’s necessary to get past the stereotypes and ask a simple question: why did people vote for Trump?
The Archdruid goes on to give four reasons, based on things he's heard people say in his presence. 
1. The Risk of War. This was the most common point at issue, especially among women—nearly all the women I know who voted for Trump, in fact, cited it as either the decisive reason for their vote or one of the top two or three. They listened to Hillary Clinton talk about imposing a no-fly zone over Syria in the face of a heavily armed and determined Russian military presence, and looked at the reckless enthusiasm for overthrowing governments she’d displayed during her time as Secretary of State. They compared this to Donald Trump’s advocacy of a less confrontational relationship with Russia, and they decided that Trump was less likely to get the United States into a shooting war.

War isn’t an abstraction here in flyover country. Joining the military is very nearly the only option young people here have if they want a decent income, job training, and the prospect of a college education, and so most families have at least one relative or close friend on active duty.  People here respect the military, but the last two decades of wars of choice in the Middle East have done a remarkably good job of curing middle America of any fondness for military adventurism it might have had.  While affluent feminists swooned over the prospect of a woman taking on another traditionally masculine role, and didn’t seem to care in the least that the role in question was “warmonger,” a great many people in flyover country weighed the other issues against the prospect of having a family member come home in a body bag. Since the Clinton campaign did precisely nothing to reassure them on this point, they voted for Trump.
2. The Obamacare Disaster. This was nearly as influential as Clinton’s reckless militarism. Most of the people I know who voted for Trump make too much money to qualify for a significant federal subsidy, and too little to be able to cover the endlessly rising cost of insurance under the absurdly misnamed “Affordable Care Act.” They recalled, rather too clearly for the electoral prospects of the Democrats, how Obama assured them that the price of health insurance would go down, that they would be able to keep their existing plans and doctors, and so on through all the other broken promises that surrounded Obamacare before it took effect.

It was bad enough that so few of those promises were kept. The real deal-breaker, though, was the last round of double- or triple-digit annual increase in premiums announced this November, on top of increases nearly as drastic a year previously. Even among those who could still afford the new premiums, the writing was on the wall: sooner or later, unless something changed, a lot of people were going to have to choose between losing their health care and being driven into destitution—and then there were the pundits who insisted that everything would be fine, if only the penalties for not getting insurance were raised to equal the cost of insurance! Faced with that, it’s not surprising that a great many people went out and voted for the one candidate who said he’d get rid of Obamacare.
3. Bringing Back Jobs. This is the most difficult one for a lot of people on the Left to grasp, but that’s a measure of the gap between the bicoastal enclaves where the Left’s policies are formed and the hard realities of flyover country. Globalization and open borders sound great when you don’t have to grapple with the economic consequences of shipping tens of millions of manufacturing jobs overseas, on the one hand, and federal policies that flood the labor market with illegal immigrants to drive down wages, on the other. Those two policies, backed by both parties and surrounded by a smokescreen of empty rhetoric about new jobs that somehow never managed to show up, brought about the economic collapse of rural and small town America, driving a vast number of Americans into destitution and misery.

Clinton’s campaign did a really inspired job of rehashing every detail of the empty rhetoric just mentioned, and so gave people out here in flyover country no reason to expect anything but more of the same downward pressure on their incomes, their access to jobs, and the survival of their communities. Trump, by contrast, promised to scrap or renegotiate the trade agreements that played so large a role in encouraging offshoring of jobs, and also promised to put an end to the tacit Federal encouragement of mass illegal immigration that’s driven down wages. That was enough to get a good many voters whose economic survival was on the line to cast their votes for Trump.
4. Punishing the Democratic Party. This one is a bit of an outlier, because the people I know who cast votes for Trump for this reason mostly represented a different demographic from the norm out here: young, politically liberal, and incensed by the way that the Democratic National Committee rigged the nomination process to favor Clinton and shut out Bernie Sanders. They believed that if the campaign for the Democratic nomination had been conducted fairly, Sanders would have been the nominee, and they also believe that Sanders would have stomped Trump in the general election.  For what it’s worth, I think they’re right on both counts.

These voters pointed out to me, often with some heat, that the policies Hillary Clinton supported in her time as senator and secretary of state were all but indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush—you know, the policies Democrats denounced so forcefully a little more than eight years ago.  They argued that voting for Clinton in the general election when she’d been rammed down the throats of the Democratic rank and file by the party’s oligarchy would have signaled the final collapse of the party’s progressive wing into irrelevance. They were willing to accept four years of a Republican in the White House to make it brutally clear to the party hierarchy that the shenanigans that handed the nomination to Clinton were more than they were willing to tolerate.
Item #4 may be why the results were more due to lower Democratic turnout than it was for higher Republican turnout -- although Mrs. Clinton's utter lack of charisma may also have been a factor in that. 

A close attention to #3 as well may reveal that opposition to illegal immigration was less a matter of xenophobia or racism than an objection to corporations importing cheap labor to drive down wages. Bipartisan support for trade deals may also explain why Trump spent most of his time attacking and demolishing the conservative wing of the Republican party with apparently no ill effect on his support. They disliked the Republican establishment nearly as much as they did the Democratic establishment.

#1 and #2 were scarcely mentioned at all by the punditry. Hunh. But you might notice that the reasons the Archdruid heard bruited about amounted to the Old Democratic Platform and as the industrial belt had become the rust belt, the core of the Party has become disaffected. The Father of TOF told him once that he had voted for the first time for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and if they were to disinter him and reanimate his corpse, he would vote for him again. But in recent years he had voted for the likes of Reagan and Romney because they actually sounded to him more like the old Democrats than modern Democrats did.

The Archdruid continued:
Those were the reasons I heard people mention when they talked in my hearing about why they were voting for Donald Trump. They didn’t talk about the issues that the media considered important—the email server business, the on-again-off-again FBI investigation, and so on. Again, this isn’t a scientific survey, but I found it interesting that not one Trump voter I knew mentioned those.

What’s more, hatred toward women, people of color, sexual minorities, and the like weren’t among the reasons that people cited for voting for Trump, either. 
The media seemed unable to grasp this and continued to interpret matters in terms of their favored paradigms, as in the bed of Procrustes. But the same set of facts can mean very different things when viewed from the perspective of different theories.
Example: The media recently reported as if it were a contradiction (or "controversy," as they are wont to put it) the statement of Trump that he saw no evidence that the Russians had interfered in the US election and the CIA's conclusion that Russia had released the DNC and Clinton Campaign emails in order to encourage the election of Trump.* But if the vast majority of Trump supporters really didn't care about the emails, but were more concerned about Mrs. Clinton's bellicose posturing over Syria, triple-digit increases in health care costs, job loss, or (among disaffected Democrats) the suppression of the Bern, then both could be correct because Mr. Trump and the CIA were actually speaking to two different issues: Yes, the Russians were messing around; no, it didn't affect the election.  
Basically, most voters other than the extremes didn't care about the issues that the elites thought were central -- boutique concerns, let us call them -- but more about bread and butter issues.
__________________________________
(*) CIA. Just this morning, TOF heard to his astonishment, the mainstream media rush to the defense of the CIA after Trump had badmouthed them for being wrong about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq (so why believe them over Russian hacking?) Who are you? he asked the screen, and what have you done with the real NBC? A day or two before he had heard the media defend big corporations against Trumpean tweets accusing them of overcharging the government or putting profits over jobs. (This could affect your 401(k) plans. Yes, yours!) No one warned us of this possibility when investigative reporters accused corporations of overcharging, nor worried overmuch when the Usual Suspects accused the CIA of masterminding All the Evils in the World. Have we fallen into Bizarro World?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Magic of Donald Trump

He has succeeded in getting NBC and the Democratic Party to leap to defend the honor of big corporations, job loss, and overcharging on government contracts.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Does This Sound a Tad Ominous?

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
-- Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis,
in a speech to his Marines when they arrived in Iraq in 2003

Trump to meet with Mattis on Saturday
-- headline, Politico, 11/18/16

This looks almost too easy...

h/t The Peoples Cube satirical website

Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's Never as Bad as Some People Think


Never believe your own propaganda. The opponent may not
be what you imagine her to be.
Never blame on malevolence what can be adequately explained by "the arrogance of complacent incompetence." One of the problems with having the media in the tank for you is that you never get the hardball questions and you come to accept the rosy picture of adulation and worshipful inevitability they present. Brandon Watson at the philosophy blog, Siris, tells us:
Let us be quite clear from the beginning: The Democratic Party deliberately nominated a candidate who was undergoing federal investigation for matters under national security law, and who was associated with a charity, the Clinton Foundation, that was also under federal investigation. The Clinton campaign actively worked to make sure that Donald Trump would get the Republican nomination and be on the ballot. Clinton then ran a campaign heavily governed by an algorithm. In the meantime, both the campaign and the party failed to make any serious attempt to re-integrate Sanders supporters, despite their vehement complaints about her tactics during the primary campaign. The campaign repeatedly assumed that it could turn out blacks and Latinos in the neighborhood of Obama's turnout while doing almost nothing specific to help local groups make it happen; and she passed over several Latinos to pick as her running mate the weak and barely helpful Tim Kaine. They did next to nothing shoring up the Democratic Party in Wisconsin despite the fact that it was known that the state party there was in disarray, and despite warnings that the entire Rust Belt was in imminent danger of being captured. One could make the list much, much longer. If one wishes to find something to blame for the rise of Donald Trump, one need not look beyond a campaign whose chief characteristic was the arrogance of complacent incompetence.
Both the winners and the losers in the recent presidential election have been talking as if there had been some enormous swing in the country; but the electorate was, by and large, the same electorate that had elected Barack Obama in two previous elections. They were not suddenly spirited away by the Flying Saucers and replaced by pod people.
Photograph circulated by Hilary Clinton staffers in early 2008.
Generally speaking, half the electorate prefers blueberries and half, strawberries; that is, half blue, half red, and has done so for a long time. In various elections, more of one faction turn out at the polls or more of the other; but it's been a coin toss for several election cycles now. No one is entitled to crow, "I won, you lost; deal with it," as B. Obama was said to have said.
Never believe your own propaganda. The opponent may not
be what you imagine him to be.
In the most recent election, 107,000 people in three states decided the election. Trump won the popular votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania by that combined amount, securing a collective 46 electoral votes. Had Clinton shifted this relative handful of voters, she would have sealed the presidency with 274 total electoral votes.

The Glass Ceiling

Everyone was expecting an historic breakthrough in elective the Nation's First Woman President. Because of this, many folks were looking past the election itself to the big party afterward. This is always a mistake. When you are driving down a highway, it is best to keep your eye on the road ahead and not think of all the fun you'll have when you get home.

But in the general caterwauling that ensued afterwards
or celebration

what was overlooked was that the glass ceiling had indeed been shattered. Never again will a serious woman candidate for president be overlooked or marginalized solely on the basis of her sex. Mrs. Clinton accomplished that, even if she did not win, and we ought to tip our hat to her for that.

The Electoral College

Naturally, in any election this close, the loser always calls for elimination of the Electoral College. It is, we are assured, an anachronism. But some years back, when it appeared as if George W. Bush would win the popular vote total but Al Gore would secure an electoral majority, Mr. Gore took to the waves to declare that the rules were set and we had to abide by them. In the end, so razor-thin was the election that it turned out that Gore had more popular votes and Bush more electoral votes. But Mr. Gore stuck to his principles and graciously conceded.

Ho, ho! TOF jests. Gore did a 180 so fast he could dispense with chiropractors for the next 25 years. Instead, he contested the election, fantasized about "butterfly" ballots, and brought suit demanding selective recounts in those FL counties where Democratic votes might yet be discovered behind potted plants or under the bed. Alas, with each recount, Bush's margin in the Sunshine State grew.

Abolishing the Electoral College is effectively a desire to be ruled by California.

In the popular vote, Mrs. Clinton received a nationwide margin of 1,341,642 votes, but in California, her margin was 3,168,486 votes. This means that in the rest of the country outside California, Trump had a majority of 1,826,844 popular votes. Similar, though not identical figures are here.

2016 Election map, adjusted for electoral vote
The increasing use of vote-by-mail, early voting, late voting, absentee voting, and so on, means a lot more paper ballots and so a lot less automatic tabulation.
As of November 11, according to the state’s updated “Estimated Unprocessed Ballots” report, more than one million ballots were as yet uncounted in Los Angeles County. Two days later, San Diego County reported that it has more than 600,000 ballots to count. 
The opportunities to discover previously unknown buckets of ballots are obvious. And a national popular vote would increase the incentives to do so. Presently, once a state is won, there is no benefit to be had from discovering new ballots under your hat or in the trunk of your car.

So the Electoral College is a way to force candidates to pay at least some attention to wider regions of the country rather than to concentrate only on areas of high population density.

Besides, how can you add up all the popular votes? Each state has its own rules for collecting and counting votes. Take felons. In Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while incarcerated. In Florida, Iowa and Virginia, felons and ex-felons permanently lose their right to vote. Virginia and Florida have supplementary programs which facilitate gubernatorial pardons. In other states, ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon completion of their sentence, or they must wait for a certain period of time after the completion of their sentence before rights can be restored, and in some states, an ex-felon must apply to have voting rights restored. There are also differences based on 1st time vs. repeat offenders, nature of offense, etc. In Maryland, voting rights are restored automatically at completion of sentence, unless the conviction was for buying or selling votes, in which case voting rights can only be restored through executive pardon.

So the popular votes in these states cannot be added into a "national total" because they are not based on the same definition of "eligible voter." There are a number of other items like residency requirements, citizenship, and so on, some of which may vary also from state to state or may not be verified in some states.

In addition to defining an "eligible voter," there are also operational definitions regarding a "valid ballot." Does anyone remember the hanging chads? Counting paper ballots differs from machine tabulations, from computerized balloting, from punch-card readers, and so on. Each method has its own characteristic error rates, or "capability" and makes it problematical to compare or add the returns from different states.
"You don't like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don't break it. Don't break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That's not being faithful to what this country's about."
-- Barack H. Obama

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Enemy Has Capitulated!


General Order General Headquarters, A. E. F.

No. 203 France, November 12, 1918

The enemy has capitulated. It is fitting that I address myself in thanks directly to the officers and soldiers of the American Expeditionary Forces, who by their heroic efforts have made possible this glorious result.

Our Armies, hurriedly raised and hastily trained, met a veteran enemy, and by courage, discipline and skill always defeated him. Without complaint you have endured incessant toil, privation and danger. You have seen many of your comrades make the Supreme Sacrifice that freedom may live.

I thank you for your patience and courage with which you have endured. I congratulate you upon the splendid fruits of victory, which your heroism and the blood of our gallant dead are now presenting to our nation. Your deeds will live forever on the most glorious pages of America's history.

Those things you have done. There remains now a harder task which will test your soldierly qualities to the utmost. Success in this and little note will be taken and few praises sung; fail, and the light of your glorious achievements of the past will be sadly dimmed.

But you will not fail. Every natural tendency may urge towards relaxation in discipline, in conduct, in appearance, in everything that marks the soldier. Yet you will remember that each officer and EACH SOLDIER IS THE REPRESENTATIVE IN EUROPE OF HIS PEOPLE and that his brilliant deeds of yesterday permit no action of today to pass unnoticed by friend or foe.

You will meet this test as gallantly as you met the test of the battlefield. Sustained by your high ideals and inspired by the heroic part you have played, you will carry back to your people the proud consciousness of a new Americanism born of sacrifice.

Whether you stand on hostile territory or the friendly soil of France, you will bear yourself IN DISCIPLINE, APPEARANCE AND RESPECT FOR ALL CIVIL RIGHTS THAT YOU WILL CONFIRM FOR ALL TIME THE PRIDE AND LOVE WHICH EVERY AMERICAN FEELS FOR YOUR UNIFORM AND FOR YOU.

John J. Pershing,
General, Commander-in-Chief.

The Election Explained


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Years ago, Pauline Kael, a TV critic, expressed amazement that R. Nixon had won the election by famously saying, "But no one I know voted for him!" A similar cri du coeur from the bubble was heard a few days ago from the punditry. The polls had all been solidly for Mrs. Clinton. How could this outcome have been possible? Everybody they talked to....

The dirty little secret of polling, as Zogby once called it, is non-response. The polls did not, indeed could not, take into account the preferences of people who refused to answer the questions. Nor could they account for those who lied. 

Perceptive Reader will note that the states in blue represent where the Pundits live or play. New York/DC, Chicago, and LA/SF plus their playgrounds in Maui, Taos and Vail. (MN is the stronghold of the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party.) So being immersed, so to speak, in the water of their own milieu, they became through confirmation bias oddly unable to perceive the amphibians around them.

The county-by-county results: 


which curiously resembles this map:
IOW, the most highly populated areas voted blue -- and these were about half the country.

The Economist writes: "American politics appear to be realigning along a cleavage between inward-looking countryfolk and urban globalists." (That is, between the farmers who sell their grain to Russia and the city dwellers who seldom venture far from their apartments?) They call Trump "a uniquely divisive candidate" as if Clinton were not also divisive. But they make a curious remark that reminds us that "only Nixon could go to China." They say that Trump, being himself an urban sophisticate who has aimed his appeal at country and small town people, "he is both perhaps the least likely politician in the country to build bridges across that gap and also the only one who has the capacity to do so."


The reason was not some imaginary swing toward Trump. The people in these states, by and large, are the same people who were living there four years ago when they elected Obama. They did not change suddenly from Enlightened to Deplorable. It was more like a swing away from Clinton. Both candidates were very unpopular, and the turnout this year was the lowest in twenty years. Only 57% of registered voters cast a ballot and in 14 states more did so for "down ballot" races than for president. But while Trump received only 1% more white votes than Romney, Clinton scored significantly less well than Obama among blacks and Hispanics. She swept Philadelphia like a tsunami, but not by as wide a margin as Obama had in the previous two elections. Trump did better among Hispanics than Romney had when all the theory in the world said he should have done zilch. This has already led to dark e-mutterings about the election being "stolen." (This, from people who had grumbled when Trump yanked their chain by being coy about accepting the results of the election.) And the riots and damage to property of innocent bystanders are being wrought by people who were predicting that very behavior from the Deplorables once Hillary had won her famous victory.

NYTimes exit polling.

Even among women, who were supposed to vote the strong, independent woman who is her Own Person set to Make History by Breaking the Ultimate Glass Ceiling, only 54% of women voting did so. And 42% voted for the Vile Lecher Trump. This is similar to the breakdown in previous elections: 55%-44% (Obama-Romney) 56%-43% (Obama-McCain). That is, Hillary received a smaller share of the women's vote than her predecessor.(Though, knowing how little a few percentage points mean in polling, this is probably a permanent blue-red split, independent of the candidates; and it might could be that women make voting decisions the same as men: based on issues and interests.

Were TOF Emperor of the World, he would issue a decree that no one can babble about mandates or political revolutions when all that has happened is that a few thousand votes have gone one way rather than the other. In a democracy, that's supposed to happen now and then. Governing is not an entitlement. Neither are the interests of a constituency necessarily best served by this policy rather than that policy. The margins in this election (as in others recently) was razor-thin and had a few more people come out to the polls here or there, it could easily have gone another way. Ninety million people did not vote this year, more than enough to swing the election either way.

So before we crow about "winning" this state or "losing" that, stop and ask, "By how much?" The last time I looked at New Hampshire on Election Night, the margin was 19 votes. Margins were correspondingly narrow (relative to population) in Minn., Wisc. Penna., and other states. Sure, in the end each wound up as Blue or Red. That's the purpose of the Electoral College system. But when Obama said eight years ago that because "We Won," he could freeze the Republicans out of the process of reforming the health care system [and thereby come up with the kludge that was implemented piecemeal so that its impact was not felt until just recently and thus cost Clinton the election] he was trying to pretend that his narrow margin of victory meant he had a Mandate. It did not. It meant the American people had hired him to manage the executive branch for the next four years, with an option for renewal.

TOF's Fearless Predictions. 

None of the hysterical imaginings giving people the vapors and driving them to clutch their pearls is going to materialize. It's always a mistake, Heinlein once said, to believe your own propaganda. That's even more foolish than believing your opponent's propaganda. The author of The Art of the Deal knows that you always start your negotiations from your most extreme position and then bargain toward something both sides can live with. There won't be any mass deportations, for example. The American people don't like illegal immigration, but it's the illegal part they don't like. When the process is unregulated bad stuff can happen. Obamacare won't be completely repealed, but those parts of the kludge that were necessary and useful will be kept. (Portability, for example; coverage of college-age children.) Other aspects will need closer inspection. (Coverage of pre-existing conditions is popular, but this is precisely what's driving the prices up, because young, healthy people are smart enough to pay the fine and only buy the policy when they do fall sick. Read Shaw's "The Vice of Gambling and the Virtue of Insurance" for insight on why insurance pools work.) Don't expect the Wall of Trump along the border; but expect that the existing walls will be improved and maintained. Maybe even enforcement of existing laws against employers. But a better and more open process for immigration is possible. Don't expect prohibitive tariffs on US companies importing goods they have manufactured in China or Bangladesh. Bringing manufacturing home is a good idea, but it will make products a great deal more expensive for Americans and almost impossible to sell overseas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TOF and the Ballot

Today was Election Day, when we celebrate puny particles with negative charges whizzing around in a cloud of quantum uncertainty about a nucleus of massive, positive particles bulked up with neutral particles of no charge, or bureaucrats. Unless they are waves.

No, wait. Elections, not Electrons. Sorry.

Heeding the old Chicago adage to Vote Early and Often, the sundry strongholds of Clan na Fhloinn struggled into action as Rosy-fingered Dawn diddled us this morning with the most remarkable choice since the Crook vs. the Naïf, back in 1972.
The American People want to know if their President is a Crook, the Crook once declared, and assured us the he was not with all the sincerity that a later president would assure us that he did not have sexual relations with that young woman. At least that later president had had the perspicacity not to discuss the matter on tape.
Speaking of which, this video refers to an earlier campaign that we would now like to think was more genteel.

Early this morning, Daughter of TOF (DOTOF) texted the Incomparable Marge saying that she might need a ride to work because the line at the polling place was longer than a TOFian reminiscence. Apparently Granddaughter of TOF (SAMBBITU) was still nursing a hurt over the Bern and his endorsement of the Wall Street toady vis a vis the Wall Street toad and intended to sit this one out. Who knows. She still has to EOB today to change her mind. There ought to be a ballot choice labeled "I abstain" to distinguish such voters from those who simply forgot or didn't care.

In any case, DOTOF got through the line faster than the Incomparable Marge got out the door, so that at least we were spared. But when we got to the South Side Neighborhood Center, the throbbing heart of democracy on the cliffs above the Lehigh, we found the parking lot parked up. (It was nice to see something knew what it was supposed to do.) And the streets around the Center, too.

The path from the parking lot was lined with campaign sign, which someone had taken the trouble to arrange with Democrats to the left and Republicans to the Right. TOF wondered if these signs have ever changed anyone's mind as he or she walked to the polling place. 

The path to the door in the rear of the Center, where the voting traditionally takes place, was newly paved and widened; and a good thing, too, since the line was out the door and along the path. Nor did it get any shorter. As people did their business and departed, others came to take their place.

A front loader rolled past and dumped a load of dirt onto a pile. TOF believed this to be a post-modern commentary on the entire election, perhaps an "installation" of "performance" "art."

There was a millennial fellow ahead of TOF who wore, backward in the approved style, a baseball hat admonishing America to get great again. Behind TOF, was a burly fellow with a gray-white Santa Claus beard wore a similar hat celebrating the 82nd Airborne. His jacket, from which both sleeves had been ripped, exposed a tattoo of the shoulder patch of the 82nd permanently etched just where it should have been. By this, TOF understood he took some pride in his service.

There were others in line or emerging from the building. A white guy in a mechanic's uniform and the logo of a trucking company; a black guy in similar garb. An Indian couple elegantly dressed in kurta and pyjama with a look of pride and satisfaction on their faces. An elderly black woman walking with the aid of a cane -- tottering, really -- was escorted past everyone else. When they reached the millennial in the Trump cap, he stepped back and graciously let her pass.

Inside the Center, the line snaked past the Books and zig-zagged to the booths. The procedure hereabouts is that you print your name on a slip of paper in the indicated boxes and present it to the first person. She records you in a registration book and writes a voter number on the slip. TOF was the 353rd voter in the ward to have entered today. The Judge of the Election mentioned to the waiting voters that the number so far entered exceeded the grand total of all voters who had showed up for the primaries earlier in the year. TOF suspects it exceeded the total in previous general elections, since the clerks of the Election commented that never had they seen so many voters, ever.

At the next book, the clerk checked the name against the voter registration list and TOF countersigned by his name. He noted that his aged father had already voted. One woman kept trying to show her driver's license but the clerk insisted she did not need to see it. But I have to show this to do just about anything else. Another woman was voting for the first time and was receiving instruction on how to use the 'touch screen' equipment. A third woman could not be found in the Register and had to pass over to another table. She, TOF overheard, was in the wrong place. Her ward, which had previously voted at the old junior high was now shifted to the elementary school. This had happened since the previous general election, two years ago. They made sure she knew where the elementary school was and she left.
This explains why the Incomparable Marge was assigned a lower number than TOF. Such names had been whited out in the numerical list, and they must leave no blanks. 
In addition to the clerk who was resetting the machines after each voter, there was a Pennsylvania Constable standing by and assisting. Neither city police, county deputies, nor state troopers, the Constables are a group perhaps unique to the Commonwealth: elected peace officers. Constables are charged by Pennsylvania statute with maintaining order at election polls and ensuring that no qualified elector is obstructed from voting.  Constables are the only peace officers permitted at the polls on Election Day.  In fact this duty is mandated upon constables; failure to protect the polls, or provide for their protection through appointed deputies, is punishable with a fine.  





As each voter left the booth, he or she was thanked by the Judge of the Election, by the Constable, or other official. There were stickers one could take and wear proclaiming I VOTED. (Back in colonial days, the county clerk would announce in a loud voice, "(NAME) HAS VOTED!" Voting was a communal activity hard to capture in vote-by-mail.)


All told, the degree of amiable and neighborly behavior was a marked contrast to the ugly behavior of those at the heads of the two main tickets. The American people, TOF is convinced, are better than their leaders.

In addition to the Harpy and the Narcissist, the ballot featured a few other candidates: the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties and Write-In. Colorado, by contrast, has 22 different candidates. The Libertarian, Gary Johnson, is delightfully clueless. When asked to name his favorite foreign leader, he drew a blank. But asking a libertarian to name his favorite foreign leader is like asking a vegan to name his favorite cut of steak. He also apparently failed to recognize Aleppo, perhaps because he regarded foreign entanglements as none of our business. Still, one ought at least recognize what's going down in the world.

Of the Green candidate, neither her hide nor her hair has been seen on the news. Perhaps there is fear that she might become the Ralph Nader of 2016 and pull votes away from the Media Fave.

There seems to be a significant chance that Utah's electoral votes may go to an Independent Candidate. Evan McMullen has been consistently outpolling Clinton and runs neck-and-neck with Trump.

Meanwhile, back in the Commonwealth.
In the 2012 election, the three Pennsylvanias are relatively clear. The Democrats own Philadelphia (the deep blue county in the lower right) and the Main Line. They also have a stronghold in Pittsburgh (the lighter blue on the left, center). The difference is that Philadelphia and the Main Line are socially liberal while Pittsburgh is old style blue-collar union people who are more interested in economic issues than in, say, social engineering. More often than not, they "cling to their guns and bibles," as Obama put it. The other blue outposts are former manufacturing centers like Erie, W/B-Scranton and the Lehigh Valley (who are more attuned with Pittsburgh) and University (Centre County, in the center) and Government (Dauphin County: Harrisburg, the State Capitol). These are more aligned with Philadelphia. Lately, the lighter blue areas have been experiencing a red shift.

Philadelphia is the key. It is a significant percentage of the total voting population and went for Obama 85-14%. Obama's vote in Philadelphia was 10% of all votes cast in PA that year; so the question is whether Ms Clinton can pull off the same kind of margin this year. The most recent string of polls show her leading, but by very small margins within the bounds of sampling error (assuming no effect from non-response and other non-random factors).

I see the media have already started declaring winners in a few states. Good thing we have them or we'd have to wait for someone to actually count the ballots. Good thing they would never shade their projections.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

T. Rex Nurtured Their Young

Found on Facebook:
h/t Gary Armitage


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Much is thereby explained

There have been sightings in various parts of the country of Creepy Clowns with fixed and painted smiles painted on their faces.

There is also an election underway.

Coincidence? I think not.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gandersauce

One of the problems with Trump Derangement Syndrome is the difficulty of consistency.

A1. Recently, a website calling itself The Daily Kos announced that Trump had revealed his antisemitism in a speech in which he criticized his enemies as being entangled with "globalization and international bankers." These terms, we are assured, are markers for Jews.
Donald Trump lashed out at global elites who undermine American sovereignty through “international banks” — and many observers couldn’t help but notice the underlying anti-Semitic message.

A2. But where then is the Daily Kos' denunciation of the Occupy movement of a few years ago, which likewise denounced "international banks" and "globalization"?

B1. During the primaries, the morning news show ran a clip in which Trump asked his rally to make a pledge, raising his right hand in the right angle pose used in taking the Court Oath. A commenter pointed out that it was similar to the Nazi salute. No one replied that the comment was stupid and no clip was run showing people taking an oath in court.

B2. Immediately after the aforesaid clip, on the same news show, a story ran on a Bernie Sanders' speech. At the conclusion, he swept his right arm out, straight-arm, in a dramatic and rhetorical gesture. No one pointed out that this resembled far more closely the Nazi salute.

C1. On news show after news show, a parade of women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump some years ago has been heralded as proving him unfit to be president.

C2. On news show after news show, a parade of women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton some years previously was dismissed as the ravings of trailer trash and had in any case no relevance to Clinton's fitness to be president.

A certain respect for consistency would demand that the same judgement be reached in both cases or at least cogent arguments be advanced as to why the cases are different. W.F.Buckley once commented that one man pushed an old lady in front of a bus and a second man pushed her out of the way of the bus. But what's the difference? They both push old ladies around!

The reason for the inconsistency might simply be cold, calculated propaganda or deliberate hypocrisy. But it might also be short attention span or profound cultural blindness. Many, especially among the young, for example, may not remember the "bimbo eruptions" (as the violated women were called during the run-up to the 1992 election) or remember the role that Hilary played in slut-shaming them.  Many today were not then born or were too young to be paying attention to grown-up stuff.

The Ladder of Inference guarantees that the self-same events will be seen in entirely different lights by devotees of different ideologies because prior beliefs always color observations, in politics no less than in science. (Duhem gave the example of two physicists who interpret the results of an experiment as resp. proving or disproving the same hypothesis because they followed different concepts of what pressure is.) 
BTW, a second error is often made. To point out that attacks on X are overwrought, hysterical, and apparently hypocritical does not assert that X is in fact worthy of support. So don't suppose that this is the case. It only means that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
All of this applies in similar measure to the Other Side. Those making excuses for Trump today who brooked no excuse for Clinton in 1992 are hypocrites as big as those who made excuses for Clinton in 1992 but will brook no excuses for Trump today. The major difference is that in 1992, no Democrat broke ranks because of Clinton's sexual assaults while today the Regular Republicans have been reacting with disgust and disavowal.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Laminated Moose Zombies

Woo, as they say, hoo. Received from Trevor at ANALOG:
"Yeah, I’m into “Laminated Moose Zombies,” and I think it’s conceptually fleshed-out (pun intended) and plausible enough to work in ANALOG, so I’m going to take it."

Son of TOF, a rabid fan
This is the story that TOF co-wrote with Dennis Flynn, a rising young writer who lives up in Alaska, who also happens to be Son of TOF.

Opening paragraph (which may have been posted previously)
Anchorage during Breakup is a halfway pleasant place. The weather warms nicely into the low to mid forties, the forget-me-nots prepare to blossom, and the zombies start to melt out of the ice.
That’s when Sergei and I swing into action, patrolling the roads along Muldoon between Tudor and JBER and keeping an eye peeled for the undead. It’s not hard work. They aren’t even the “walking” dead, let alone the zippy ones they tried to sell us in those movies a generation ago. They’re more like the “crawling dead,” or “slithering dead.” Technically, they aren’t even “dead,” since the fungus that moves them is very much alive. But try telling that to drivers when they see roadkill inching its way down Boniface or when some poor herbie working night shift in a mortuary finds a corpse swinging its arms or kicking its feet. Morticians have to wear brown pants these days.

Monday, October 10, 2016

As a Matter of Fact

A reader recently asked whether a collection of TOF's non-fiction was planned. The answer is no, but TOF thought that a list of non-fiction might be called for. Herewith:

1. "Universal Range Spaces and Function Space Topologies" (1971) Studia Universitates Babes-Bolyai (Seria Math.-Mech.)
TOF does not dare attempt to explain what it is about, except loosely as follows. A function assigns to each element of a domain space Y a unique element in a range space Z: Z = f(Y) = Y² is an example. A topology defines a "closeness" between two elements in a space. A function space: Z^Y treats all the functions f:Y→Z as elements in a space, with a topology defining closeness among them. TOF proved a couple of theorems about topologies on Z^Y.
In aid of this paper I have migrated two posts from The Auld Blogge onto The TOF Spot for the amusement of the easily amused.

2. "Things Your Mother Never Told You About X-bar and R Charts" (1982?) Transactions of the ASQC Annual Quality Congress.
This was a paper delivered at the annual conference of the American Society for Quality Control, but TOF would have to hunt up the year. An X-bar and R chart is a statistical device for discovering whether a change in a process can be assigned to a particular cause. This paper addressed some common misconceptions about the charts.
A X-bar and R chart compares variation from sample to sample
against the average variation within a sample to determine whether
the long-term variation exceeds the short-term variation. In the
example above, it does; and the process is said to be
"not in statistical control."
3. "What Do Control Charts Really Mean?" (1983). ASQC Qual. Cong. Trans.  pp 448-453
Another ASQC paper, this one ITRC on non-standard control charts, using medians instead of means, extreme values, and so on. 
4. "The Road to Hell" (1984) w/John Bolcar. ASQC Qual. Cong. Trans.  pp 192-196
This was a set of case studies in the interpretation and use of quality control charts, showing that the matter was not always cookbook straighforward. TOF has this reference at second hand since it was cited in one of Juran's Quality Handbooks. Woo-hoo. John was one of my quality engineers.

5. "Garbage Out: The Fine Art of Putting Garbage In" (1986). ASQC Qual. Cong. Trans. p. 149 et seq.
Before you can analyze data you must first collect it, which is easier said than done. This paper, also delivered at an ASQC conference, addressed a number of ways in which you can screw up your sampling. The conceit of the paper was the pretense that you're trying to produce garbage out and these are helpful tips for doing so.
Items #2-5 exist in hard only, if they exist at all, in a file cabinet unlockable by Heisenberg's key. That is, a key whose precise location cannot be pinned down.

6. "An Introduction to Psychohistory" (two parts) Analog (Apr and May 1988)
This was a 2-part article about whether a science of history was possible. Part I was the mathematics of history; Part II was the biology of history. It was reprinted in German in 1991 as an appendix to Heyne Verglag edition of Asimov's Foundation series.
7. "An Astounding 60 Years" Analog (Jan 1990)
TOF was asked by Stan Schmidt, then the editor of Analog to write this article, which is an overview of the first 60 years of the magazine. It's name was Astounding for the first 30 years before John W. Campbell changed it to Analog. Opening paragraph:
It was on or about March 10, 1944, when Counter Intelligence Corps agent Arthur E. Riley knocked on the doors of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION editor, John Woods Campbell, Jr., and demanded to know what the hell was going on.  The March 1944 issue of ASTOUNDING had just hit the stands with the story, “Deadline,” by Cleve Cartmill.  Although set on an ostensibly alien planet, involving an ostensibly alien war, the story had contained some rather disquieting lines. 
8. "FAT-Eating Logic Bombs and the Vampire Worm," w/ Edward Rietman (Analog, Feb 1993)
Dr. Reitman wrote the original article and TOF was asked to help with the wordsmithing. The whole idea of worms and viruses and the like was pretty new at the time.The opening paragraph:
The Worm from Hell
Shortly after 6:30 PM on 2 November 1988 dæmons struck the Net.  Computers across the country went catatonic.  Berkeley’s Experimental Computing Facility and the Rand Corporation at Santa Monica were among the first to crash.  An hour later, the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab froze, then Lawrence Livermore and the University of Maryland.  Other nodes toppled like dominoes: Stanford, Princeton, Los Alamos, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Army Ballistic Research Lab.  By the early morning hours, InterNet was virtually paralyzed.  Only AT&T and Bell Labs were immune. 
The article also made some predictions:
The processor of the future will be filled with the electronic analogs of platelets, antibodies and other such useful critters.  Autonomous programs will run in the background “automatically updating software, diagnosing hardware problems, seeking out information stored in vast data banks or doing routine garbage collection” (Markoff, 1991).  
9. "Pson of Psychohistory" Analog (June 1994)
A very short note in which TOF tried to prognosticate, with variable success. Economic cycles were approximately correct, but individual politicians did not fulfill their assigned roles.
10. "De Revolutione Scientiarum in 'Media Tempestas'" Analog (Jul 2007)
Written in the form of a medieval Question, this article explored the potential for a scientific revolution in the 14th century. It was a companion piece to "Quaestiones super caelo et mundo" which won the Anlab award that year and for which I gave an acceptance speech in Latin, found here.
11. "The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown and Down and Dirty Mud-Wrassle" Analog (Jan/Feb 2013)
This was a summary of the historical transition from the geostationary to the geomobile models of the World, but we had to jettison the diagrams and figures. A more extended, detailed version (with the diagrams and figures) appeared later on this blog. Opening paragraph:
HISTORY MUST BE CURVED, for there is a horizon in the affairs of mankind.  Beyond this horizon, events pass out of historical consciousness and into myth.  Accounts are shortened, complexities sloughed off, analogous figures fused, traditions “abraded into anecdotes.”  Real people become culture heroes: archetypical beings performing iconic deeds.  (Vansina 1985)
12. "Spanking Bad Data Won't Make Them Behave" Analog (Jul/Aug 2014)
This article was a description of various problems with data. There was to have been a Part II, applying the lessons to Global Warming data, but TOF never got around to writing it. Opening paragraph:
Facts are elusive critters.  Far from being self-demonstrating, they are meaningless without context.  “Theory determines what can be observed,” Einstein once remarked to Heisenberg.  We cannot accumulate answers without first asking a question.  Pierre Duhem put it this way:
“Take two physicists who do not define pressure in the same manner because they do not admit the same theories of mechanics.  One for example accepts the ideas of Lagrange; the other adopts the ideas of Laplace and Poisson.  Submit to these two physicists a law whose statement brings into play the notion of pressure.  They will hear the statement in two different ways.  To compare it with reality, they will make different calculations so that one will find this law verified by facts which, for the other, will contradict it.”  [Emph. added]
– “Some Reflections on the Subject of Experimental Physics” (1894)
So much for the notion that facts alone can settle questions. 
13. "The Autumn of Modern Science" Analog (Apr 2016)
This was a compressed history of the end of the Modern way of doing science, foreshadowed in a few blog posts here and as part of an extended series on the end of modern civilization.  It appeared as a guest editorial in Analog. Opening paragraph:
Thoroughly modern milieu
During the sixteenth century, progress, which had meant a spatial motion, began to mean “improvement.” By 1580, modern had become an adjective and acquired the connotation “new.” This terminological ferment signaled the emergence of new ways of thinking: the Modern Ages.
14. "A Dialogue Concerning the Inner World System" Analog (Oct 2016)
This was a shorter, revised version of a blog post here regarding genetic engineering, written in imitation of Galileo's Dialogo. It appeared as a guest editorial in the magazine. Opening paragraph:
Scene: The Rialto of Venice, Salviati espies Simplicio approaching and greets him.
Salviati: What news on the Rialto, good Simpicio?
Simplicio: Well-a-day, my friend. Work progresses on our engineerings genetical. Soon we shall be "the sort of people we should be."