Friday, February 29, 2008
Of course the whine and grunt of air brakes and diesel was heard early this ayem, and of course it was an all-hand-on-deck scramble to get the refuse in its heavy bins and cans around to the front, me in sandals and a coat hastily thrown over my bathrobe, hair damp and unbrushed.
What we found in front, like lost blimps moored along our narrow residential bywater, was not one, not two but three massive trash trucks, two headed one direction and one 'tother, with the crews out and...arguing? Over which crew gets to pick up our trash? W00t?
Now that right there is a work ethic!
...But I swan, if they'd've formed up inta' groups and began fingersnappin' an' hummin' riffs from West Side Story, I'd'a called it a day, 'cos it would be a Sure Sign Of The End.
Mucho thanx to Joe Huffman, who sent a brace of wonderfully geekworthy T-shirts; felicitations and a labcoat & goggle-wearing "yum!" to Stingray and Labrat of Atomic Nerds for the huge big bag of Actual! Home! Made! peanut butter cookies; and a delighted grin for Turk Turon, who found and sent not only a pair of "View From The Porch" (though not the Porch) calendars but a marvelous picture book about Bad Airplanes. And a smile and a hat-tip to all the other friends who've helped out, too! (Also to Target for the kewl "digital skull" T-shirts, 'cos they are).
Y'all're the bestest!
(Correction, 14 hours on: I had credited CarteachO for the T-shirts; this'll teach me to blog prior to coffee! My apologies to both fine gentlemen. >blush<)
Thursday, February 28, 2008
William F. Buckley's recent death has reminded us of those few -- those happy few, who are, unhappily, far too few -- capable of verbally flaying an opponent with nary a foul word or childish neologism, quite often using the other side's own words in a neat a bit of verbal judo. It's not a skill limited to any political leaning; Buckley and his occasional sparring partner Gore Vidal each had the touch, though not as easily against one another. (Oh heavens not!)
It's good exercise for one's mind, one's vocabulary and perhaps even one's inner self. Sure, it takes more work to take ijits down without mud-hurling, but it'll build up that pinkish-grey muscle in between the ears. And it leaves the Opposition with a full head of steam built up and not much to complain about if'n you used their right name and title and smiled all the while as you took their fool notions apart.
Usually it's a sure sign of boredom with little Sammy starts blowin' up his toys. Maybe not this time: they're huntin' H2O.
NASA is the smallest and one of the least-objectionable uses of my tax money, the hidebound and not-invented-here nature of the agency notwithstanding. If there is easily had water on the Moon, it will make establishing a base and eventual commercial development a lot simpler. I'm all for that.
Hey, maybe they could exile us crazy freedom-freaks to the Moon?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
William F. Buckley passed away last night. I agreed with him half the time or less but oh, what a delight he was to read or listen to. He treated the language like fine food -- and in his hands, it was.
Hey, la, I've my very own soapbox and a window to throw it out of, so lets.
The anarchist-leaning libbytarian is oft' accused of bein' a "dope-legalizing hippie" who would selfishly interfere with the supposed "right" of a majority of her friends and neighbors to govern the whole of the people to a faretheewell. This is argument by scare quotes ("It'll sour the milk!") and it makes me itch right between the ears where it's difficult to scratch.
One point put forth as decisive was, in re illegal drugs, "What about my children? You're not gonna stop me from protecting them!"
Aw, gee, lady, I wouldn't. Not ever. --Now tell me how some darned law and a bunch of door-kickin' DEA agents does a better job of protection than the moral and philosophical instruction you (supposedly) provide your own offspring? If they've got that inner compass, they've no need for the law -- and if they haven't, no mere law or lawman will stop them. Hinder, sure, lock 'em away, sure, but if they're scum, they will in all likelihood continue their scummy ways after time-out.
Here's the deal -- if your kids are dope-swillin' scum, I want them to be able to get plenty of it, in good quality. If they're gonna do themselves in with it, it's best for all of us, even you, if they get it over with quickly, serve as a horrible example to others, you can grieve and go on, and I can avoid having them stick a gun in my face and request financing some dark night. Everybody wins! Well, except the doper. Oopsie.
...And if it's not illegal, little Sue or Johnny stoner can, if he or she decides to seek it out, go get help to kick the habit without havin' to admit to felonious behavior.
In my extended family, there were alcoholics. One drank himself to death. Slowly. Painfully. Heart-rendingly. Another buckled down, cleaned up his act and turned his life around; a gifted musician, he's the man who introduced me to Fibonacci, opening a world of wonder to skinny lass with a rabbit-hop mind. Tell me what good Prohibition would have done either man, especially considering the latter example began his drinking when the gin was bathtub and the jazz was hot. (As for me, I don't and won't, other than the occasional hard cider or small beer with a meal. Dope is Right Out. Ew).
Your offspring's need to be handled with kid gloves is your problem, not Society's or The Gummit. The "Greater Good" does not consist of wrapping up widdle Bambi in cotton batting every night with a gentle smoochie on the forehead, it consists of making the crooks run away on time, preferably into the hoosegow or an early grave.
This leads us, somehow, to the fool idea that a majority of neighbors can tell you how much starch to use on your bra, not to mention the damfool idea that this is, somehow, Good.
The Bill of Rights was a sincere, if limited, attempt to restrain democracy; most State constitutions go even farther that way, though still, thanks to the clever, inventive, tool-user get-around-it minds of Our Duly Elected Representatives, not nearly far enough.
Y'know why governments are instituted among men? It's sure as shootin' not to protect the rights of the majority. They've already got the edge! Nope, it's to keep the majority from whompin' on the Quakers, hippies, militia members, Jews and skateboarders. It's to ensure little Johnny can read Sleazyriders (only for the articles) and it keeps the Gladys Kravitzes and Mrs. Grundys among us from ruining everyone else's peaceable work and fun. Period. If you've got a government doesn't do that, it needs fixing. If it allies itself with the WCTU-thinkers of this world, you've got a problem and had better dredge out the big ballot box, and fast.
Many folks think it's too late -- like Uncle, here. Others point out that a determined minority can make a difference. Me, I don't know. You cannot impose freedom and Mothers everywhere, racked with anguish, will always cry "But what about my babies?" (I dunno, lady, I'll change 'em for you this time but I doubt any bureaucrat will consider so doing to be within his purview). Maybe only a cold and ruthless beast can ignore that. Maybe my stunning lack of compassion and humanity is actin' up again.
Freedom dies one worried Mother at a time, for the most high-sounding of ideals.
Raise your own kids. Shoot your own dog. Vote out your own loser Congressthings. Let your neighbors tend to their own knitting. It's time to grow up.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty."
Monday, February 25, 2008
Much later in the day: Chili!
I make the stuff with mild canned chilis, whatever bean suits my fancy, plenty of ground beef with a dash of chili powder and Red Gold (tm) tomatoes, usually a can of the "chili ready" and a can of crushed. Real-chili types will find it a bit plain and look askance at the beans.
Tam convinced me to try some chipotle peppers in sauce (there's one lurking about 11:00 in the photo); three was more than enough for me and I'd suggest starting with just one if you've never tried them. However, the taste is just s-m-o-o-t-h and the smokiness adds a nice depth.
It's not insightful commentary, I know, but you've got to feed yourself in addition to the Inner Person. ...Plus I like to show off my 1337 k1tchen skilz, modest li'l gem that I am. Lemme at that can-opener!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Like just about everything they touch, government schools and the (m)ass media twist the entire thing into blithe and heedless self-parody and among its worst excesses are the distortions suffered by techies. For example, alpha-geek Elijah McCoy, a Canadian who worked his way up from not much to the design and construction of many wonderful gadgets -- 57 patents for lubrication devices alone! There's even a bit of John Galt in his life, at least to modern eyes: a steam-engine fireman with his own home machine shop and many patents to his name. Alas, the admirable and inventive Mr. McCoy is fulsomely lauded with the overblown title "the father of lubrication" (what a shock to that first Fertile Crescent tinkerer who slathered olive oil on the screw of a wine press -- or his g'g'g'grampa, who first splattered mud in the path of a big rock being slid from here to there) and his true cool-geekiness is lost in the hype. He's not a god and his were not the only automatic oiler designs to be built and used nor were they the first. He was a remarkable guy -- and he was what all humans are: a tool-user. A tool-designer. He was a good one and not by chance: he worked at it. That's a man I want the young to know about!
But I want them to know the real guy. Putting any man or woman -- Tom Edison, Madame Curie, Elijah McCoy, C. J. Cherryh -- on too high a pedestal runs the risk of others looking up and thinking, "A fluke. Most [deaf guys/women/Canadians] could never do that. I never could" Bosh! Yeah, maybe you or your kids aren't going to invent a radioactive, self-oiling light bulb that flies faster than light, but there's plenty left to do and the human race is just the species to do it!
Maybe the tools you use are words. Or a guitar, a computer, a Bridgeport mill, a kitchen, a classroom. Maybe it's just your bare-nekkid mind against the universe or a sharp stick and your mother-wit against starvation, but you're a human. A tool-maker. A tool-user. Just like the guy who first tamed fire, likely so grimy you wouldn't be able to categorize his ancestry even if he was staring at you at the front door, offering Fuller brushes.
One man who'd had just about enough dithering and pussyfooting about was one of the many fathers of the early versions of the traffic light, a fellow whose manually-operated design found use because it allowed the hard-workin' traffic cop to get away from the deadly middle of the crossing and still work the signal! Garrett Morgan's stoplight signaled by color, by word, by position of the signal arms (including an "all stop" to give pedestrians a fightin' chance) and rang a bell when changing state. Try an' miss that, friends!
All history is geek history: famous generals, unknown inventors, all the scribblers and orators, the thinkers and tinkers, mothers and fathers, everything we do is driven by our handy hands and clever minds. If you're going to take a month and look at one small segment of the species, take a real look. Don't phone it in with fables and fairy tales. There are some Geeks Grande to be found if you'll go beyond the blurbs. Geeks like you.
1. I'm trying to be kind here
2. But don't go too far: "fireman" on a locomotive is no shrug and more than just shovelling coal. It's a skilled trade; keeping the fire properly shaped and burning efficiently, managing the loco's fuel supply vs. refuellings, etc. is not mindless labor. By the time bunker-oil-burning locomotives came along, the whole thing looked and behaved more like a modern nuke plant, with start-up times measured in half-days and not a single automatic anything.
3. I gotta quarter sez the Greek had their "agora hoplites," some of whom turned out to have the Right Stuff when the time came, some of whom lived in their Dad's basement with a bunch of tattered scrolls and knucklebones. Greek Geeks: more than just Archimedes!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Thanks to my employer, who decided last Fall that day-at-a-time vacations might be all right after all. Without that, I'd've never managed.
Thanks as well to the many, many fast-food and truckstop operators along the freeway, to whom I can only offer this homage from one of their own.* Without coffee, snacks, fuel and Modern Plumbing, it would not have been possible.
The Data Viking, Tam and I had a delighful dinner this evening at a local brewpub, where my newfound enjoyment of hard cider provided a bit of comic relief (it was a Very Full Glass, doggone it!) and my dining companions enjoyed Scotch Eggs for the first time. (Yum!) True friends are hard to find -- and all too often, taken for granted.
* I first read this at Sunni Maravillosa's blog. Some will find much to criticize in it -- hey, he's just one guy.
Y'know what? Mine's worth about $200, what I paid for a Star BKM in like-new shape. Plus 20 times that in training and range time. And another 20x in ammunition. So far.
The gun is just a tool -- and you do need good tools -- but the true weapon is you. A decent tool in skilled hands beats the finest tool in untrained, clumsy hands.
What's your life worth? Train much with that UtraBlaster 4500?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
D00d! You're driving on icy-slick roads in snow, d00d! HANG UP AND DRIVE!!! Now!
A. Fishtailing is Sir Isaac's way of telling you that you are pushing the envelope. It's a warning, not a flirtation.
B. Sliding is Nature's way of telling you there are no exceptions to Newton's Laws at our level of perception.
C. It's four-wheel drive. Your grip, traction, steering and braking work just the same as any other son of a pickup truck. Truly. Really.
F'the love a' mud, folks, it takes longer in weather like this. Unclench. Slow down. Get there. Please?
Gun-people are so used to being mistaken for a fireplug by the dogmatic that the GOP's vague hints that they look okay with a bag over our heads sounds like True Love to our battered ears. We forget how, time and again, Republican politicos depart in the morning mumbling about putting a check in our mouths (never happens) and do something icky in the mailbox on the way out. Nope, we sigh happily and reminisce over how sweet Uncle Ronnie talked and how badly the Democrats beat on us. "It could be ever so much worse," our best soft-soap purveyors murmer.
Yes it could -- but it could be better, too. "What you reward, you get more of." The GOP appears poised to pick a Center-Left sort of Republican candidate, a Great Compromiser who by his own words and deeds considers the First Amendment mere impedimentia from a dead past. You care to bet he won't treat the Second the same way if it suits his needs? Do you want the party that brought you Barry Goldwater to keep dredging up milksops -- yes, heroic, strong but neverthestill milksops -- like McCain? Go on rewarding it and they will. Give the Bill Of Rights a big ol' wet kiss for me, willya?
Me, I like all ten Amendments. Even when they mean creeps and freaks get to speak as they wish, they're good things (how better can you know the nasties than when they point themslves out, hey?) Even when the Bill of Rights means occasionally the guilty get away with stuff, I favor 'em -- an opinion at least a few of the Founders shared, pointing out that since justice cannot be perfect, the alternative was for the innocent to be punished.
The choice between Democrats and Republicans is the choice between the noose and slow poison and the "hold your nose and pick McCain" school of thought takes comfort in at least having time to dash off a few more Letters To The Editor before the end. Buncombe! Look here:
1. Did gun owners emerge from the Clinton years stronger or weaker? Local gun shop called ol' Bill "their best battle rifle salesman ever."
2. There are more than two options. Yah, yah, the Libbytarians will never win, the Constitution Party is so stopped up they've gone cross-eyed and the Greens are way, way, way out there in Left field, chasing fly balls that don't exist. Well, none of them will ever get any more sensible as long as you continue to accept a Limberger ballot from the Left and Right halves of The Party Of Treason. TPOT is after your Constitution and your future; they want your freedom, "your life and your love of it." Why keep trading those essentials away, fast or slow, when you can turn things around instead?
Adult or two-year-old, freedom starts with a single word: "No." Tell "both parties" (of the six or seven or more) No! "Hold your nose and vote" is just a way to asphyxiate.
As for "I love my country more than I hate John McCain?" Yeah, I do love my country -- but like Mencken's "decent man," I'm ashamed of my government, and that's where that man's applying for a job. The country will continue just fine if a meteor wipes out all the candidiates from both sides of the Party Of Treason tomorrow. Probably better than fine.
At the primaries, I'll vote R but not for J--- McC---. Come the main event, I'll be voting Klingon -- and so should you. Anything but R or D. Please.
Remember, "Whatever you reward, you get more of." Don't reward them for handing you a guy who hates your freedom.
1. Or far worse -- I point to the Brady Conspiracy's Paul Helmke as Exhibit A. Guess which Party tucks him in at night with its agile trunk.
2. It's like this:
"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube …" [Rand, Ayn: Galt's Speech, For the New Intellectual, 216; pb 173].3. Or was it "Pick your...and hold...?" Oh, dear.
4. "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." Some other scuffler can find chapter and verse. You can't read too much Mencken.
You'll be pleased to know that a few clangs of a wooden spoon against a pot lid scared the Fenris wolf away and it did not eat the moon. Again. Whew! (Tam an' her silly sky-snake yarns. Hmpf. I think Loki's been whisperin' smack t'her).
1. Decoding this'n's left as an exercise for the reader. You'll know him when you see him.
2. Or his son Hati. Accounts vary.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Hard on the heels of my wimmen's-mag-cover reference to The Sharpshooter comes Tam's trenchant analysis of the current issue of Cosmo.
Ew. Ready, gals? R-r-r-rip! That's so not coffee-table material!
* Like I have to explain this? Ask yer Mother.
What can ya do? She's got me outgunned. "Please be careful!"
...Walks appear swept an' I'm not seein' any sprawled forms upon them, so it's about time I ladled out the oatmeal.
The remaining unloading, the talk now is to hire it done. I'm happy with that.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
That's almost enough to identify the guy right there, so I'll just call him The Sharpshooter an' leave it at that.
He's self-employed and I try to catch up with him every other week or so, for coffee and a chat. Most recently, he somewhat abashedly proffered a recent issue of Dillon's Blue Press. "I don't think you get this? Don't mind the models," he explained, at which I grinned and asked him if he ever notices Cosmo at the grocery. "There's a really good article in this one, have a look."
It certainly is good -- it's Marko's essay, Give Them Nothing. "Oh-ho," I chortled, "I know this one. Marko's a friend of my new roommate. We have links to each other on our blogs."
"You do? He is? There are? Well, how about that!"
How about that. It's a smallish sort of world -- when your friends are first-rate folks!
An hour after Tam went slideabout, I put my right thumb into the muffin fan on a compresser/dehydrator. Hardly a wrenched back but not a lotta help, either.
Overtime on the moving van's like $40 a day extra, unloading help starts at $230 for two guys/three hours. I can do math. ...An' I needed exercise anyway. Where're those work gloves? Where's my knee brace?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Now It Can Be Told: What, you guys think I'd stay here, dustin' an' hummin' a happy tune while my bestest Intarw3b pal herds a whackin' huge van though the Cumberland Gap, with a trailer, in a horrible driving rain, as darkness falls? Not! (I rented a compact car to drive down, then picked it to find I had been given a "free upgrade" to a Tralblazer SUV. Very thirsty but it does go just like the wind).
In fact, it developed that of the two of us, I happened to have driven the most large, mean, nasty vehicles and to have had experience driving with a trailer (a few times. As a teen-ager. On vacation. With my Dad riding shotgun and providing constant guidance. But, ummm, kinda I didn't mention the details?). So at 1530 Sunday when Gunsmith Bob led our convey to where he'd attach the trailer and we'd all load the Zed Drei aboard, I was at the helm...and I stayed at the controls until we pulled up in front of Roseholme Cottage, an infinite amount of time later. I'm not as physically stressed and torn up as I thought I'd be, which speaks well for having had some really crummy stuff happen to one: after awhile, you just react to mere physical terror by shrugging, "meh." Tam navigated with skill and tact -- I can get lost driving around the block if I haven't done it a couple times -- and kept me from spacing out when we hit the long, straight dark stretches. Also the curving, rain-slick ones. I am pretty sure I hit my target heart rate. I'm pretty sure she did, too.
At present, the Collectification d'Tamae is safely esconced in my vault,* VFTP Command Central is crated behind where I'm typing, ready to be unshipped and re-AMORCed, our two pairs of cats are sort of hating each other through closed doors and Tam is coping.
The cats are the most worrisome. Mittens (T) just wants to be loved. The Slinker (R) is as hazy on the details as ever but wants more doors open. Tommy (R) is acting like a grumpy old man with strangers in the house ("Dagnabbit, there's been some wimmin messin' with mah stuff!") and Random Numbers (T) has gone Siamesically scary. She hides and sings a long low lament of blood and death and diresome revenge, of unravelling things -- whatever -- with razor'd claw and needle-sharp fang and loss and horror and having been caged. We're hoping the feline death-ninja trance will wear off. We're really hoping.
* Fine. Picky: "gun safe." Cost like a car and I believe it might sleep four. Had have it moved in by muscular and cheerful lunatics who said things like, "You might not wanna watch this part," and, "You realize this thing will never come back out, okay? " Geesh!
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I will leave you with this link about the sad plight of an endangered species. Won't you help?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
A gun-free zone killed five and wounded 16 in a tragic shooting at a community college 65 miles West of Chicago, the most recent of several such shootings in disarmed-victim areas...
Oddly (as if!), that's not how AP puts it, though at least they blame the shooter and not the weapons.
L. Neil Smith has pointed out how interesting it is that any time there's an election season and/or gun restrictions on the table in Congress, we get a few well-covered mass shootings to help it along. No black helicopters required (though personally sometimes I wonder if perhaps "troubled loners" might do well to wear aluminum-foil beanies), just a slight shift in focus on the part of Authorized Journalists and taa-daa, gut-wrenching emotional arguments for more gun bans...if you don't realize the bad guys will always be able to get guns. If you don't understand that an armed and aware portion of the citizenry ready and legally able to shoot back would nip most of these events in the bud.
Does anyone think this will serve as a wake-up call to Illinois politicians to let law-abiding citizens exercise their inherent right to self-defense?
You're probably right.
All I could think was, there speaks a Democratic voter. At least until it struck me that big-government Republicans enjoy pulling the same sleight-of-mind on themselves, too.
"Just as long as I don't have to look into the eyes of the people whose pockets are picked to fund my Gummint Cheese, I'm good." Yeah, you bet, and they probably had too much money anyway. Sheesh!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tam first visited in late Fall, after many e-mails and phone conversations. Now, she was one of the first other gun-gals I ever encountered on the 'net, way back when I stumbled into The High Road and other gunboards, but I never ever
Fast forward several years; my hubby had bailed unpleasantly,* I bought a motorscooter and then a house, I'd been readin' View From The Porch for a goodly while and one day I made a comment. And then another comment and another and e-mail and chattin' on the phone about Guns 'n' boys 'n' books an' found myself with my own blog, and hey-la! A houseguest. Tam mentions "knowing in five minutes you were going to be best friends," and that's how it worked.
The day I mentioned that property taxes were eatin' me alive an' it was a cryin' pity there weren't any keen gunnie-gals like her in town to rent my spare room to, the conversation went sort of like this:
And with that, it was settled. --It was one of those conversations. If you've never had one, I despair of explaining.
And so here we are. Wagons, away!
* A bit impaired in the Fidelity and Honesty departments. Not that I'm like, bitter.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
While out in the snow, I wore my best and most rugged footwear, fine Milwaukee motorcycle boots. A part of my mind keeps insisting that in a rational and sane universe, "motorcycle boots" really, really ought to have two tiny wheels and a little engine on each boot.
Since I Was There, I can assure readers that it all starts with the respected prognosticators at the National Weather Service, who predicted three to five inches of snow and sounded middlin' sure of it -- those "X% chance" predictions generally refer not to the probability of the event but the amount of surface of the forecast area that will experience it.
I dunno, I keep picturin' a would-be TV weatherguy with bad skin and superthick glasses snickering in some dank sub-basement at NWS, muttering, "...Turn me down, will they? I guess I'm showin' 'em now!" as he cranks out another over-the-top forecast and sneaks it into the official data.
...Oh, say it isn't so.
There's about half an inch of crunchy, squeaky sub-zero snow out there and I've much to do, so further idle speculation must wait.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Days like this, I wonder if perhaps Robert Heinlein's daughter Podkayne was right. This can't be our native planet.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
"Okay, I almost never meme, and tag folks even less frequently, but I think this is a good one, so if the following folks feel like giving it a whirl, I'd love to read their responses:
"It would be very interesting to see if there's any overlap on the memes of the wonder-twins Tam & Roberta..."
Ghu'll get you for that, y'know. We're identical cousins. Who don't happen to look that much alike, really. Okay, kinda. But not.
Here goes nuthin':
Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Anything by Steven King. He's mainstream, I don't read mainstream. Come to think of it, I hardly even read any horror outside the Cthulhu Mythos and the local newspaper, unless Steampunk counts.
If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
Doc Savage (fine. Snicker. But he's a big tall hunk with a brain and I wanna sit on his lap).
Friday Jones ('cos she's kewl)
Lucille Gallegeos Kropotkin ('cos she's even kewler)
An' the event would be a week-long dinner party -- drinks, dancing, movies an' plenty of nice chats. Also I'd be puttin' the moves on Doc if I could pry Friday off him. (Lucille's married to her own Bear, Ed I believe).
You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
Any of the modern or "K-Mart" school of meaningful slice-of-life novelists. Gads, what bilge.
Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?
Moby Dick, but in fact I've read bits of it, so what she said: "Um, most of the "must-read" list of literary classics... "
As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?
Nope. I read 'em. I know if I haven't.
You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP.
Heinlein's Starship Troopers. It's well-written, encourages thought on a number of fundamental topics, and the movie sucked.
A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
I'm with Phlegmmy here: French. There's a lot of well-regarded work in the language and not every translation holds up. Proust, maybe; me, I wanna read Verne in his own words! Russian or Hindi second.
A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. 'Cos I already do.
I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
What she says! "Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. This is some of my favorite reading of all time, and destined to be a favorite, always." Yep. Bingo.
That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.
Three-story, at least, and at least 40' square. Balconies on each level and each level has a balcony of its own.
Skylights above, with roof garden, observatory and radio hut. Parquet floors, walls are all covered in nothing but bookshelves, with ladders on rails. The shelves form a series alcoves along each wall at every level. Fiction is sorted into categories and alphabetized. It includes everything in my present library or replacements that are in good shape, plus a whole lot more. Factual works are sorted by the Dewey Decimal System and include "ringers" like Snouters and Philip Jose Farmer's biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage.
Full kitchen facilities just outside the stacks, ditto sleeping area. Fittings everywhere are all wood, brass, tapestry cloth and leather, very Victorian. A huge central desk/reading table with modern computer, coffee and tea area, etc., but done unobtrusively. I'd copy Phlegmmy's chaise lounge and add overstuffed chairs, etc. in the various alcoves.
[Edit: also necessary rooms, a pair for causual visitors with well-marked entrances, one each side of the main door, plus hidden doors to private khazis on each level, for me and my good friends. Yeah, guess I'm an elitist snob. Tough, it's my library].
There would be a few cats and a system of catladders and walks for them -- (but litterboxes would be Beyond The Stacks). There might be a fire-proof woodstove about a third of the way in, between the desk and the door, with a lounge area around it. It would be the old fancy cylindrical kind, with mica windows, standing on a section of brick or flagstone floor. Probably a nice steam elevator (which I have just realized also goes to a shooting range in the basement), exposed, centered on the wall opposite the main entrance and inboard of the balconies. Fine old-time, glass-fronted gun cabinets flank the elevator.
And a big ol' hand-painted sign above them:
I'd live there.
(If any of my blogging readers care to give this a whirl, go for it! --Wouldn't mind a link, either. But I shan't tag anyone; you're on your own).
1. He was a commie but his filing system works and I'm used to it.
2. Also here.
As Kim duToit hath writ, buy your EBR now, or ASAP with your tax rebate; 'cos while you're bein' handed your own money they took, the incongrous legisleeches -- sorry! "Statesmen in Congress" -- under our next Glorious Leader are liable t'be bribin' the pusillanimous with your freedom to keep'n'bear same.
Me, I'm torn -- a lot more rounds for the SKS, or an AK-type semi-auto? Or ought I consider an "intermediate sniper rifle" of the sort the VPC has in their crosshairs or a nice Mini-30? (Or do I repeat myself and if so, since when the dickens was a nice little deer rifle an "intermediate sniper rifle," and who are those "intermediate snipers," anyway? The clumsy ones who couldn't handle big rifles? The ones who aren't small enough and sneaky enough to wriggle up close with a .25? Junior High School kids? Bad shots who can't off a bad'un with a .17 HMR but wince at a .410? A drink and two dances?*) --Whatever I get, I'll buy some SKissable ammo, natch.
Hey feds? I'm gonna spend
(In a BoR-related vein, I have long felt that the most succinct statement of the practical application of freedom of religion as a social act rather than a political commandment is Mencken's, "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." Sure, it's funny, but there's more there than immediately meets the eye).
* Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. Really, one might as well have dinner and a smoke while you're at it.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Brother John's a Quid. (War On Guns agrees!)
--And 'm just gonna ask this once, okay? Stop spreading the rumour that he's actually been dead for two years and has stalled taking his final breath in committee. That's just mean.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Given the choices left, who can blame them?
'08: the Year of None Of The Above. >Sigh< If only!
Until then, Dr. Paul is the next best thing. And his platform is better than NOTAs, really.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
All thanks to Geek With A .45, who had an itch this might be the case and found someone who had preemptively scratched it!
* Yeah, that's kind of mean but if you spent as much time as I do with people who style themselves "engineers" yet have to be dragged kicking and screaming to punch in the numbers and turn the crank...! Thankfully, neither Boss's Boss nor the XO himself suffer this peculiar aversion.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Used up the last of the Sugar In The Raw yesterday and promptly spaced the purchase of more at gettin'-home time last evening.
So, oh, horrors, I am havin' to sip my fresh Silex-brewed coffee* with high-test sweet chocolate from the organo-mart dissolved in it an' will be enjoyin' mushrooms with scrambled eggs and bacon mixed in instead of oatmeal.
Sometimes it's okay to run out of a staple!
* The Chemex is taking the week off -- ran out of filters and they're hard to come by. A vacuumatic is almost as good. (Edit: managed to pick up a box of filters -- and a bite of King cake! -- on the way to work. Yayy!)
Monday, February 04, 2008
Or, Yes, Robinga, There Are Property Rights
And so on and so forth.
Several commenters have framed the question of one's right to keep'n'bear arms on private property as a conflict of rights; some have suggested that because property rights are so routinely violated by legislative fiat, one more ("in the aid of a good cause!") won't matter.
I luvs ya all (here's a big ol' snogg t'prove it: mmmmmwah!) but, well, BZZT! Wrong.
I'm in favor of "keep it in your car" laws and other laws that, in the words of the Bradys, "force employers to allow workers to carry concealed weapons into the workplace" because most employers don't have any way to keep folks from carrying -- nor do they go to any other effort besides saying, "Now, now, pretty please don't," which as we all know, works ever so well on the crazies and the ill-intentioned. Workplace rules against carrying work just like laws against carrying: they disarm only those who are minded to play by the rules. Striking them down levels the playing field and strengthens property rights. I explain below.
L. Neil Smith titled one of his essays "Why Did It Have To Be -- Guns," and just to make comprehension easier for everyone, I'm going to make my starting examples about something other than firearms. We're gonna talk about underwear and scary studded biker belts. Okay?
It all stems from property rights: the basic property right has nothing to do with land, with bricks and mortar; the basic right is property in your own person. Yer bod'. The coverings upon it, the coverings over them, and the various and sundry vade mecumbrances you stuff into the pockets and interstices thereof, suspend from it, etc. etc. Stemming directly from this property right is your right to privacy in your person. You will find some allusion to it in the U. S. Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment in particular. Can we all agree that while the Fourth restricts its limitations to the government, the right to privacy in one's person and immediate effects is indeed inherent and universal?
If you disagree, consider this: I enter your business, go to work for you or enter your home under circumstances in which I will not be visible to anyone unclad. Do you have the right to dictate to me what sort of underwear I may wear? How do you propose to enforce your will? Is it any of your dam' business if I'm swathed in fine lace, sweating into a cotton knit, or tingling to oiled leather?
Now, if we were to become intimate and you've got some freaky hangup against cammo-patterned boxers and that's what I've got on, you'd be on pretty solid ground suggesting I had better leave. Conditions of our interaction will have changed.
Okay, rewind, strike out "underwear," substitute "concealed sidarm." It isn't any different.
The interface between your property rights and mine is right where your floor meets the soles of my shoes. I didn't lose or gain any rights when I stepped onto your floor and you didn't gain or lose any.
Okay, next. Say I like wicked-lookin' biker belts, the big wide black ones with studs 'n' eyelets and yadda yadda (and in fact, I do). And I'm invited into your house with one on and you don't like it. Oopsie. Well, I can go stash it in my car, or if that's not enough, seeya later! Likewise, an employer has some right to dictate what employees may wear, for safety, for the sake of providing some appearance the employer deems needful or fitting, that's pretty basic. Yes, they can tell me not to wear open-toed shoes, or T-shirts with political slogans or mean biker belts, even the superkewl one made of old drive chain. (Shucks!) May a business exercise a similar power over its customers? Well, fine, chum, but you don't make money by chasing customers away.
And if you sub in "openly-carried sidearm," it works just the same.
My car? Even parked on your lot, the inside of it belongs to me -- especially if I keep it locked. That's just practical good sense. (We'd like to think everyone around us respects the property of others, wouldn't we? Yes, and in Happy Unicorn Rainbowland, maybe they do. Not on this planet. Lock yer doors). My car, my house, my purse: mine. And mine to keep secure. What's in 'em is none of your beeswax.
Okay, there's the general case. Brass-tackage follows.
For corporations, my opinion is the bar's higher and they should be held to the standards of the Bill of Rights. YMMV.
Right of contract? Sure. You already can sign away a lot of your rights, ask any bail bondsman. On the other hand, my relationship with my employer's governed by a contract and it says not Word One about weapons; and yet I still respect their fears and refrain. In a practical sense, I'd likely lose anyway were I to press the issue and get caught, the courts bein' far from immune to animism with respect to handguns. On a higher plane, since they do supposedly have some silly rule I'm happy to let 'em suffer any negative consequences that may come of it. I'm usually well out of the likeliest lines of fire. That contract also includes some boilerplate about "...subject to the laws of the nation and state...."
The previous two paragraphs together start to point to the "drug-sniffing dogs that find guns" question. It seems to me that if Artifical or Real Person "N" goes a-sniffin' fer them horriawful, illegal drugs to be found in the private cars parked in the lot, he or she or it is once again acting as an agent of the State and ought to be bound by the Bill of Rights and whatever similar provisions are to be found in the state constitution and applicable statute an' case law, with an eye to things like "probable cause." Oooo, remember when that wasn't snickered at? In the real and present world, keepin' an ear to the ground would not be remiss.
Tam's hippie with a candleshop, same as my generic examples: let him be guided by what he sees. And let Tam and the other customers be guided by their good sense. Flashin' a gun you don't intend to shoot is as declasse' as flashin' your undies at someone you're not plannin' to sleep with.
This stuff is not that hard. There's no "conflict of rights" here. It's turtles all the way down.
1. "Vade mecum" + "encumbrance." I'm so clever I could just erp.
2. Un-freaking-likely, Pilgrim.
3. This is in reference to a story Turk Turon delights in, about a lecturer on cosmology being confronted by a sweet little old flat-Earther lady who tells him, "You're wrong about the world being a ball. It's flat and it stands on the backs of four elephants and they stand on the back of a giant turtle." "Oh," he asks, "And what does the turtle stand on?" She replies, "I see what you're trying to do, young man, but it won't work. It's turtles alllll the way down."
Laws that bar businesses from restricting your right to carry or even possess on their property effective means of self-defense, either in whole or in part.
I'm in favor of 'em, at least in most situations. "What," you gasp, "you favor empowering the State to push around businesses?"
Yep. 'Cos most businesses are already creatures of the State. They're corporations. Artificial persons. Entities that would neither have legal rights nor even exist were it not for the State and as such, they should be bound by the Bill of Rights, same as the State. They already cannot tell you what political party you may belong to or what books you may read. Oh, true, there are books and magazines you might get in trouble for reading openly at work, that it would be plain rude to be readin' at work; but your own books, in your own bag or locker, are none of their business. They cannot tell you what church you may attend or what philosophical beliefs you may hold. How, then, is it any of their concern that you've got a Kel-tec inside your waistband under your coat or a .45 in your purse? (Uness it's not secure; that's a safety issue).
If businesses have a right to tell their patrons and employees what they may carry concealed, then you'd better go whole hog, kiddo: they have a right to dictate the color and style of your underwear, the minute you set foot on their property. If you're okay bein' told what you may or may not have with you to defend your life and property by the folks at Mall-Wart or Smalltime Hot Dog Emporium, then they have a right to scope out all the contents of the car you parked in their lot and kick you out or worse if they don't like what they find. Are you okay with that? Are firearms in the hands of honest, decent men and women any different, special or magical in some way a toothbrush or a penknife is not?
Either you believe guns are self-aware talismans of horror and death just waiting to leap up and murder innocent bystanders (and if so, you'd best hie thee hence to the Bradys), or you understand the reality: that lump of metal, plastic and cordite is just exactly as much or as little a threat as the person who's in control of it.
That doesn't change when you go shopping at the home-improvement store. That doesn't change when you go to work. Neither your employer nor the merchants you buy from is in loco parentis, though a good many of them seem to be loco in a way that makes them think they're your parents.
...Now, I have to go to work in the real world and where I work, they are gun-shy. At present, the only solution to that is to refrain from keepin' and bearin' at work and apply my efforts to changing the law.
1. Pretty consistently spelled that way and not capitalized so as to underscore that it is the entire messy mixed bag of folks who wanna mind their own business and not be futzed with by an ever-more-restrictive government to which I refer, not one political party or some narrow slice of the spectrum.
2. Unless you happen to work in some industry in which you'll be showin' off said underthings to view. Yes, boys, even strip clubs have employee dress codes.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
The attic had kneewalls framed in and a fair amount of insulation when I bought the place, so we weren't starting from scratch; but it was something I'd never tried before.
It will take some more effort -- not to mention wainscoting and wallboard,
Saturday, February 02, 2008
How can that even be possible? Why, according to the Bradys, Illinois ranked ninth of the 50 states for laws to prevent gun violence. (Indiana's ranking is 32).
You don't suppose this might imply such laws don't stop wicked, violent people from doing terrible things? Oh, hully gee!
Since no mere ordinary
I really want Indiana to recognize the Illinois FOID as a carry permit. The requrements are at least as stringent as the ones to obtain an Indiana License To Carry Handgun and it would make the firearms-fearing ninnies on that side of the line wet themselves.
The reason why our score is worse is simple: they didn't do their homework. They've somehow missed Indiana's "Stand Your Ground" law and the well-supported 19th Century legal precedent that actually made the law redundant.
Hey, Bradys: We can shoot bad guys who threaten us in Indiana, no matter where they try it. At home. In public. Even at work -- though I admit, state law does not require employers to allow their workers who are qualified to carry firearms. Not yet, anyway. (One can hope we'll at least get a "keep it in your car" law through and until then, I'll be a good little girl, boss. Umm, as long as there's no problem with my pocketknife and all the heavy, sharp and/or pointy tools I use to do my job).
Anyway, the Bradys are wrong, not only overall but in detail. Ooooo, what a surprise! Hoplophobic PSH as usual.
In related news, crime rates continue to be lower in "must-issue" states than in "may-issue" and "no-issue" ones. Who knew?
1. Hoplophobia, "a morbid fear of individual sidearms," something Freud said was a sign of sexual insecurity.
2. Let's just say it stands for "pants-soiling hysteria." Your version may vary.
At least I've read. The Book Is My Friend and has been at least since third grade when I discovered A) illustrated encyclopedias and B) Science Fiction. And I have been a no-good bum of a bookworm ever since. ("Put down that book, Bobbi, and go do something." Man, were they ever befuddled when "doing something" involved stringin' antenna wires above the back yard an' popping the occasional circuit breaker, or crawling through muddy, dusty caves or spidering up sheer mountain sides in Wyoming. Hey, you read about this stuff enough, after you get a little bigger, you want to go do it, or as much of it as you can manage).
So what've I read?
- Going Postal, Terry Pratchett -- already mentioned. I need more Discworld books, a shortage I hope to rectify today.
- Engaging The Enemy, Elizabeth Moon -- The third of four books following starship captain Kylara Vatta, in a very well worked out setting. I've read the previous two and enjoyed them, this is equally as good. Not world-shattering SF in any sense of the term; it's a well-written, good adventure story that happens to take place in an imaginary future. It's hard SF with three-dimensional characters, something that was in short supply for a long time.
- Three Days To Never, Tim Powers -- Either you get Powers or you don't. I do. Previous books have featured such characters and notions as the ghost of Thomas Alava Edison, a child star who died of fright a very long time ago but stubbornly refuses to admit it, the ghost-trapping properties of palindromes and a loudspeaker that depends on the electrically-variable slipperiness of wet chalk to work. (The latter is an entirely real effect, by the way). This one's a realistic treatment certain aspects of time travel and includes Mossad operatives, a loving father (and one who's not), outright mysticism, emergency tracheotomy, remote viewing, nice ways to conceal guns and probablistically-created clones. It's also an edge-of-the-seat chase tale, with enough suspense for five movies -- and a few good shoot-outs. I don't know if this stuff is for everyone, Powers' imagination puts us in a very strange but familiar world, but I enjoyed it.
- Once A Hero and Rules Of Engagement, Elizabeth Moon -- The first two of four books following the career of Regular Space Service officer Esmay Suiza, a Horatio Hornblower-type heroine from a rather isolated and somewhat backward planet. Esmay's an engaging character; the society of her homeworld (think simplified version of South America, along about 1950) and the wider civilization (a bad-as-17th-Century-Britain late-feudal monarchy, more-or-less, in which the First Families of settled planets are well and truly entitled) I find both plausible and ethically repellent. Still, if you liked Hornblower, you'll like these books, and I do. I just wouldn't want to live there. The first book has rather more depth of characterization than most SF.
- The Mitzvah, Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith -- I like L. Neil and I like what Zelman's got to say. It is not all that strong on plot; the story is fairly straight-line and the (very good) points to be made that underpin it kind of poke through like the springs of a well-worn couch. Considering the vivid imagery and characters and that it is their first book togther, it's not bad, merely a little rough around the edges.
- Hope, Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith -- This book is a great deal better than their previous work in terms of the mechanics and how plot and message work together. One of the most readable and polished "If libbytarians ran the world" novels I have yet read. If El Neal had been elected President, he'd've sounded and acted a great deal like Alexander Hope. Although the Usual Villians get skewered and Our Guys are both noble and talented, there was some effort made to avoid caricature in portraying either side. Could it happen? I doubt it, and more's the pity. Read it anyway; if you don't have aspirations, you'll remain breathlessly hopeless and the authoritarians will win easily. Don't miss the cameo apperance of Lucille Gallegos Kropotkin!
Just started Micheal Z. Williamson's The Weapon, which is the first of his I've read. Ninety pages in, I'm hangin' on for dear life, as he moves more quickly than any writer I have read. Very reminiscent of Robert A. Heinlein and not by chance. I'm liking it so far.
1. If you don't know the NATO "phonetic" numbers that go, "nada-zero, una-one, bisso-two..." and so on, consider looking them up. The notion is that most folks can understand them if they speak one of the major languages (other than Mandarin, that is, the PRC not exactly being a NATO member). If you've got numbers in common, you have the tools to negotiate prices. And if you've got that, what more do you need? :)
2. Yellowstone's nifty but I'd just as soon spend my time in far less crowded Grand Teton National Park. Less boiling mud to look at but a lot more to do. Either way, if the Yellowstone caldera decides to blow, you probably won't have much time for screaming.
3. Despite having a tiny bit more stardrive work to accomplish as soon as I'm done here.
Friday, February 01, 2008
This has taken a long time to acheive and were this not a wholly fictional account, a person might be makin' snarky comments about what happens aboard even one of the very finest starships in the entire U. S. merchant fleet when officers decide preventive maintenance is a silly and uncecessary indulgence.
Still very short on time and I need to look sharp so the XO won't feel all icky and soiled when he chews me out for fiddling around, playing and/or wasted time. Er, that is, I would if this weren't fiction.
But hey, the stardrive's running. We might even be at Rigel IV in time for the Oh Please Not That Festival! It's festive indeed -- rather like presidential elections. Almost exactly like them, in fact.