Traffic signals can operate as a dumb clock. So many seconds of green in this direction, then a yellow clearance interval, then red for that direction while some number of seconds times down for green in the other direction. The engineer sets the times, and then turns it loose.

Old traffic signals in the 1950s operated that way. An electric motor turned a shaft, and on that shaft was a series of cams. Each cam was identified with a signal display. The cam was made with break-off “ears,” so that, as the shaft turned, the cam only made contact with the lead for that display for a portion of the rotation of the shaft.... [Read More]


Beaver swamp works

TOTD:  God’s good creation is awesome. 

The swamp behind our house is a really interesting place, but it is difficult to access. There are large parts that are impenetrable thickets, where the land had been pasture or bean fields when acquired by the Conservancy. The Conservancy is letting them grow up, but right now there is only about nine or ten years of growth because the first two or three years of Conservancy ownership included a lease back to the farmer that sold the land. A thicket with ten years’ growth is really difficult to traverse.

Continue reading “Beaver swamp works”


TOTD 2018-10-04: A Hill to Fight On

My friend has always been a snarky libertarianish conservative, very cynical about political causes.  However, when he talks about Kavanaugh, he is furious.  He voted already,and has been much more active in political discussions – even trying to get a job with a campaign.

The formerly squishy, comity-at-all-costs Senator Graham has been a font of righteous indignation.  In addition to his unloading both barrels on the Dem on the committee and calling out their blatant partisan exploitation, he has been getting really snarky off-the-cuff.  In response to a protestor whining about the need to give Kavanaugh  a polygraph, he dropped a Monty Python reference: “Why don’t we dunk him in water and see if he floats?”... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-09-28 Everyday Carry

What items do you normally carry around with you?

For me, aside from keys, wallet, cellphone, ID badge that anyone would need to wear at work, I typically carry a small flashlight and a Schrade pocket knife.   I also have a all kinds of supplies in my backpack, such a multi tools, nail clippers, a flash drive, a small wrench, a much larger flashlight, an umbrella, multiple chargers, flat palm hairbrush, generic tylenol, etc.... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-09-21: Lawyers vs. Regulators

I’ve often wondered about the control of public menaces and hidden hazards (such as an undisclosed vat of toxic chemicals in the workplace, or a lack of purity in medicine) if we got rid of government regulatory bodies.  I’m not sure how a person would deal with a major public menace without filing a bankruptcy-inducing lawsuit.  It gets worse if the hazard is not immediately obvious.  Now you have to bring in an expert to make your case and get the data.  Better sell off your organs now before the chemicals damage them too much to be of value.

The government has tons of useless regulations, and some that are actively harmful.  (I’d bet losing 5% completely at random would not cause severe harm) However, I do not see why state governments doing regulation, with the feds stepping up for interstate cases, is worse that having to sue any time someone is not working safely, or polluting, or distributing contaminated medication.  In fact, the standard gives the employer some peace of mind – there is actually an achievable standard to meet as opposed to whatever a jury will think


TOTD 2018-09-14: Crime & (Physical) Punishment

Why do we almost exclusively use prison and fines for punishment?  Why do we not use physical methods, as they were certainly not considered unusual in the Founding era?

We can lock up a rapist for decades, putting him up at taxpayer expense, or we could physically prevent the scumbag from ever raping someone again.  (Let the victim have the first swing)... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-08-31: A Reckoning Cannot Be Delayed Indefinitely

When you proclaim your allegiance to a set of principles, you are expected to follow them.  When you carry a banner for an organization, you are expected to support its goals and those of its members.

When this is out of alignment, there is a reckoning coming.  No matter how much you put it off, there is going to be a moment when either the group changes to fit the leadership, or the group tosses out the leadership.  We have seen this in numerous settings, most recently the conservative movement and the Catholic Church.  A similar disconnect between the leaders and the bulk of the organization.... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-08-24: The Legal System is for the Protection of the Accused

There are always ways of enforcing norms and mores.  These show up in all human societies.   Even in a criminal gang, pirate crew, or savage tribe, there are rules, and breaking them will get you punished.   The social contract in the US gives the state most of the power as a grant from the sovereign people.  Other countries have differing rules, but the fundamental principle behind the rules is ensure justice and fairness, or at least the appearance of such.

This is especially applicable when someone is accused of a crime.  Because mobs demand blood and the state is not entirely trustworthy, we weight the system in favor of the accused.  Even if someone kills some poor guy in front of a police station on camera with dozens of witnesses, we give him his day in court.  However, this only works if the government is willing to punish wrongdoing.... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-08-22: Not My Problem, Grasshopper…

Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” – Bob Carter

When you consider American conservatism, self-reliance always comes to the forefront. The classic conservative American ideal is the self-made man, the person does not need to rely on others. Now, this is not exactly accurate – we are not islands isolated from each, we are social creatures – but the principle is there. We do not celebrate, barbecue, and launch fireworks for Dependence Day.... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-08-03: Who is Welcome Here?

I know that we have many flavors of conservative here.   Do we have any rules on who we exclude?  This is not for the sock and the scientist, this is for all of us, the people who form the Ratburger community.  It is we who decide whom to include and whom to exclude.

Now, Ratburger is a right-wing, conservative site.  I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that remains the case, to avoid invoking Conquest’s Second Law.... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-07-27: The Limits of Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is a powerful and vital right.  More than any other right, it dethrones the State, placing it subordinate to the conscience of the individual and the Supreme Being he chooses to acknowledge.   This is why the Left cannot stand it – they cannot bear the competition.  Only the Party and the State  can define meaning – in essence, they want to establish Leftism as State religion, and block the free exercise of any other faith.  Social Justice is indeed a jealous god, wrathful and merciless.

That said, there are limits to religious freedom.  You cannot claim that heinous crimes are justified by your religion and expect to get away with it – no sacrificing children to Moloch (unless they are aborted fetuses).  You need some degree of common sense restrictions – you cannot form the Church of Rockso and claim tax exemption along with having cocaine consumption as a sacrament.  This is all common knowledge.... [Read More]


TOTD 2018-06-22: Cultural Sadomasochism

I’ve always been infuriated by people whining about the US and how oppressive it is.  There’s this constant moaning about how victimized they are and oh the humanity think of the children it’s like Donald Trump is raping us all.   This is coming from people who are in secure, well-paying jobs or people going to school on other people’s money.  It’s like bragging about how victimized you are. Continue reading “TOTD 2018-06-22: Cultural Sadomasochism”