Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Steam Engine Start-Up

You think you've got it bad? Consider what it takes to fire up a giant locomotive that runs on bunker oil -- the same thing many big ships burn and a close kin to road tar. Way better than coal or wood, right? No stoking, right?

Yeah, it's a stroll in the park. Except the oil won't flow until it's preheated and what preheats it is steam from the boiler, which of course won't boil without oil to burn. Getting around that -- and a few other little can't-be-dones takes about half a day!

Read. Enjoy. And consider the fellow who wrote it does the job for fun. The guys who did that every day? They were somethin' special. And that's just one of a zillion preposterously difficult jobs somebody goes and does every day -- not because they love you, not because overseers are standin' over 'em with whips, but because that's how they earn a living.

Too Little Time And Not Enough Me

....But you know if I was twins, we'd fight.

Old Grouch has a terrific photo-edit and good collection of post-Blogmeet links, including Brigid on starting big radial aircraft engines (as compared to jets). I used to liken my MGB to a small private aircraft, especially in the need to do a proper set of preflight checks[1], but the big planes are a whole 'nuther world. Like a locomotive (or a big old genset, something I do have a little experience with, including fun failure modes) that flies!


This morning, we're enjoying Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, snuck past the Customs station along the Monon by Turk (few North American Customs officers are willing to check a camel really closely and the ones from Turonistan are especially ill-tempered. Camels, not Customs officials, although y'know...). Yum! It was way more than worth last night's quick trip to BigBoxStore for a coffee grinder.


At the Greenfield Hamfest Sunday, I found William Edward Mead's Elementary Composition and Rhetoric, a high-school text from 1894. It's a gem! Not nearly as stiff-necked as might be thought: "Some slang is more picturesque and forcible than more dignified phrases; and some terms once regarded as slang are now counted among our most valued words. In serious composition, however, all phrases of doubtful propriety must be avoided, though probably no one but a pedant excludes them entirely from his conversation." [Mead, op. cit., p. 18] The book has 3- and 4-word summaries of each new thought set along the outside edges of each page and Dr. Mead often includes footnotes inviting the reader to question the word choice and phrasing of the quotes he uses as examples: "Is this the best word?" "Position of this clause?"

With this book atop my collection of swag, an older ham I know approached me as I was digging though a box of hand-wound radio coils -- "Does your starship company use those? Have a look at this book--" And he handed me McGuffey's High School and Literary Reader. I knew what it was, in a general sort of way but a glance at the table of contents -- Shakespeare, Poe, Daniel Webster, Defoe, James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Langhorne Clemens[2] -- confirmed that here was indeed The Good Stuff.
"It's wonderful," I said, "what do you want for it?"
"Oh, you can have it; it's yours."
"Oh, gosh -- thank you! Very much!"
These readers were turned out in their millions. It was a sad day when they stopped being standard texts. And this one's missing most of the cover at the spine and is right before losing the front and back covers, not an easy repair for a very amateur bookbinder. But the pages are all there and the content.... Well, you can't do much better. You just can't.


And with that, I'm more than outta time, yet again. More, later.
1. Of course, if you get an MGB up to about 65 mph and pull back gently on the steering wheel, the only exciting thing that might happen is, it would fall off in your hand. Also they don't travel as far after sudden engine failure; the upside is, you don't have to land 'em. Usually you don't...

2. You have to have read Twain's essay "The Literary Excesses Of James Fenimore Cooper" to fully grasp my amusment at seeing them between the same covers. I think the essay itself is a must for anyone doing descriptive writing. Title is from memory; I'll link to it later if I can find it online.

Monday, September 29, 2008

September Success: BlogMeet

Eleven of the gun-blogosphere attended: nine bloggers, two readers. The Broad Ripple Brew Pub graciously allowed us to sit outside (as long as we didn't move the tables to make one long one). Thusly:
The discerning eye -- or, for that matter, a blind sow -- might notice a few bicycles in the foreground (and while none of us rode to the blogmeet, some of the more tactikewt had been riding just before). But this is Broad Ripple; we don't just have ordinary bikes!

Some children have training wheels. Others, well, Mom and Dad are certainly fit enough to be trainers! It's a delightful bicycle though, like many another large family vehicle, parking can become something of an issue.

Those who think bloggers and friends are a retiring lot, think again! Thirdpower made it to the Blogmeet, all the way from behind Illinois lines! We were all happy to meet him and all the more so when he handed out the latest (Army green) edition of his famous gunblogger's patch. Another first-time attendee was longtime blog reader and comment, Rob D, a charming conversationalist in person. Turk Turon's caravan hit town just in time for bowling pin shooting yesterday and we were able to find a livery stable that'd accomodate the camels; in contrast, the Old Grouch has mastered the art of just appearing, in much the manner of a cat at dinner time. Shermlock Shomes, Brigid, James Rummel, Caleb, Tam's shootin' pal, Tam, and Your Correspondent round out the party -- and a party it was. We started at three; along about seven, most of us had wandered as far North as The Art Center and made our meandering way from one end of the sculpture "Confluence" (a flat, canoe-shaped slab of limestone near the riverbank) to the other, an arrangment of limestone menhirs comprising a boat cage over a block away (Psssst! Mister Artist? The stone raft escaped):

Let's see: Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Mal, Wash, Inara, Book...? I don't know, but if you look close, you can see some of our crew are "armed" with telephones and multitools, just in case those standing stones make a threatenin' move!

There's plenty more to relate from the weekend but, alas, not time enough this morning. Still to come: Pinshooting with a Spanish bargain, a 19th-Century Rhetoric and Composition text at a hamfest (and what came of it) and why everyone should eat breakfast at Taste at least once. Also, fine coffee, smuggled in on camelback!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who Is Will Eisner?

Why, he's the man who blazed the trail through howling wilderness that today's graphic novelists follow. Wherever they go, the find the initials "W. E." emblazoned on the trees or discreetly hacked into marble columns.

The Spirit, an antiheroish hero who's been around longer than most -- having debuted in '40, he gets a table with Supe and Batsy at the club -- is probably Will Eisner's best-known character and last night at the cinema, I learned The Spirit Movie is due out this holiday season! Way kewl (I hope). Directed by Frank Miller, which is a good sign.

...I also learned my moviegoing companions had never heard of The Spirit and were hazy on Mr. Eisner, though Tam remembers a Will-Eisner-drawn rifle manual from the 1960s. So this post is for you -- and all my other friends, too!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What I Did Today

- Shot the ever-lovin' heck outta innocent bowling pins what never did me no harm nohow and then, to cap it off, shot at (more than directly on, sigh) their severed heads and did so alongside the redoubtable Turk Turon, Tam K and Her Kewl Shooting Buddy.

- Enjoyed a delightful Mexican lunch with some of the pin-shooters (who are a swell bunch of folks, even if most of 'em do shoot better'n me!).

- Went and hung out at the Art Museum and showed Turk some etchings. (Ooooooo).

- Showed off the Fresh Market. Shared the wonder that is Moxie!

- And then saw a wonderous strange, tragic, twisted and funny Coen Brothers film with Tam, Turk, and Tam's Pal, "Burn After Reading." Not for kids but do see; if you like my sense of humor and drama, this'll do.

Thassallllfernow: sleep, a hamfest and the September BlogMeet (tomorrow, 1500 hours, Broad Ripple Brew Pub, sync watches and Get There) await 'pon the morrow!

The Left Loves Everyone Except Those People

In support of my title, I offer this comment made to my "I'm voting for Palin" post:
I can't stand you or your simple minded, right wing complying kind, thank god you live in Indiana and as such your vote dosen't mean a thing.

Die quietly you ignorant hoosier.

Now there, friends, speaks the Left. The people who lecture you about compassion; the people who tell you how everybody matters. Well, everyone except anyone who doesn't agree with them. They'll lecture you about the need to tolerate differing viewpoints -- unless you differ in ways they disdain.

...And let me point out that in the post that got me called "simple minded, right wing complying," I admitted that in most races, I vote Libertarian; I offered my opinion that Senator McCain is guilty (along with Sen. Feingold) of conspiracy to violate the Constitutionally-protected rights of the entire U. S. citizenry; wrote in support of homosexual and polyamorous marriage (or whatever arrangements they wanna make, as long as they stay outta my yard and refrain, as I expect of my heterosexual friends, from sharing intimate details) and the right of morons to use whatever drugs they can afford (and my right to call 'em morons, which they are) -- and this, ladies and gentlemen, this counts as simple-minded wingnuttery and lockstep compliance with teh Eeeee-vill GOP; so you can just imagine how those of you who prefer wedlock be kept conventional and dope illegal must look to Our Friend On The Left.

...And the way most Right-wing people I know differ from the ones I know on the Left is, the Right-wingers don't think my wild and crazy ideas -- or even those of the moonbats -- "don't mean a thing" and they don't tell me to go off and die; meanwhile the Left is hateful and intolerant.

I don't care who y'all vote for but please vote against Mr. Obama and the mean-spirited, narrow-minded people who support him. Their approach to political discourse is shockingly unAmerican and unworthy of serious attention.

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Mr. or Ms. or ungendered Anonymous; thanks for being so brave as to sign your name and give us a link to your blog. Oh, wait, you didn't, did you? It's a trifecta: hateful, unAmerican and cowardly! Great $DEITY, your Mom must be so proud.

Meanwhile, Back At The Launch

...China's gone spacewalking. One suspects them of picking up an extra little zot of glee at doing so while Wall Street burns and never mind that of the two spacesuits, only one was Chinese made. (The other was of well-tested Russian make. Just in case? They're not saying). I'm tellin' ya, keep an eye on the Moon, the Red Chinese will claim it if nobody's watchin'.

But in our last exciting episode, the presidential candidates were each lookin', in their own way, for a quiet spot to slip into their Savior Of The Economy And/Or Nation superhero longjohns while the White House plowed pragmatically onward and Congressthings* from the far ends of both parties set up a huge fuss. Each and every one of them screeching about "free markets"and/or "capitalism" all the while.

Here is a hint, O tax-sucking, "campaign contribution"-snaffling scum-in-office: If you are talking about what you would or should do to it, the market is not free. Nor has it been for some time. The mess was created in large part by meddling, by artificially forcing down the standards for lending, home loans especially, pushed down by the Congressionally-created socialist entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yadda-yadda. We haven't got a "free market" in the 'States, have not had for a very, very long while; when it fails, that's the hand of the Federal government driving it over the cliff and when it soars, it's one of two things: either it's found a way around some FedGov chokepoint or found a way to subvert one for short-term gain. Increasingly, the latter is more popular, followed in due course by senators tsk-tsking over the greedy awfulness of it all while covering up the tracks of the money that's come their way from those mean ol' profiteers -- who would have had to resort to less-subtle scams were the Feds not involved.

Whatever kind of deal is worked out, we -- the citizenry in general, from the guy pushin' a shopping cart full of salvaged cans to the fattest of fat cats -- will lose and the U. S. Congress will win. Some of us will lose more than others but we'll all lose: prop the mess up and we get a whopping addition to the deficit which will have to paid some day (and payment in blood and privation seems with every passing day more likely than cash on the barrelhead), or the market goes smash and we endure a lasting, painful recession probably followed by a nice little war, the traditional fix of meddling governments everywhere. Senators, Representatives and their respective deliberative bodies will become more powerful, as will the Executive branch and future historians will point to it all as just another step in the transformation from Republic to Whatever. And our much-vaunted free market will continue becoming more and more controlled.

I wish I had some really good advice; I wish there was a candidate or a party I could point to and say, "These folks can sort this thing out," but any bunch who could do that have got too much power and no person or group has sufficient knowledge and understanding to fix it. Wishing any of them could it like countin' on Santa to bring you what you need: not gonna happen. The "fix" is to get the Feds the hell out of the business of business -- and they have been propping it up, cropping the ears and breeding for a puppyish disposition for so long that were they to do so, the resulting readjustment would make a mess it would take a generation to sort out.

Maybe it should happen anyway. But I don't see the real world playing out like the last few chapters of Atlas Shrugged. We're a bit short of Galts and Gulches an' Midas Mulligan's been in a Federal pen for a good long while now, accused of "redlining."

I'm gonna go shoot bowling pins. I hope nobody minds me callin' 'em by the names of Congressbeings!

Have a nice day?
* Not for nothing is "congress" in English a clinical synonym for a sexual act between two or more individuals.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good Morning, Please Excuse The Speed Lines

You know, the lines comic book -- pardon, graphic novel[1] artists draw trailing from moving objects along the direction it's come from? That's me this ack emma: too much to do and not enough time. So of course I am blogging.

There's something in the air and it's given me delightful[2] headaches for the last couple of days. Luckily one of the better treatments for this is motorscootering, which I have been able to do the last couple of days, including (fanfare!) a trip yesterday afternoon from Skunk Works HQ to North Campus, where we keep and test the starship engines. This included a nice twisty hill climb up Spring Mill from Kessler, 'cos I was not interested in racing cars on the wide part of Meridian St. (Hwy 31). (The narrow part, four lanes in about three lanes width, is nervous-making even on a motorscooter but not, generally, scary-fast).

Tomorrow, up early and Healthy Outdoor Activity, or some such thing. And I have to remember to gas up my car, prolly.

In re the economy: I'm sympathetic to all the folks chanting "Let them burn!" Only problem is, the Them on Wall Street built the fire from a lot of our money and I'm nae so sure I will enjoy the smoke of that particular pyre. I hate bailin' em out, I loathe seein' that much power accrue toi the Feds -- and I am fresh out of fixes. If the markets crash, we'll all feel it.

I am not sure what Uncle John McCain is up to in re the debate but demurring will, I think, hurt him: looks like he's chickening out. I don't believe he is -- but getting elected is a marketing game and this is way too spinnable.

And now, to the showers and away! (Superman has his phone booth, Batgirl her Secret Room in Gotham Library; me, I'm a clean superheroine!)
1. When I was a child, comic books were Suspicious Objects in the home but a nice Tintin book? That was ooh-tay. It's all a matter of marketing.

2. "Delightful?" Yeah, 'cos there are no bad words strong enough.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BlogMeet; Radioactivity; Oh G-d My Life

Remember, the September BlogMeet approacheth! (Oh yeth it doth!) You don't have to be a blogger to attend -- blog readers, family members, friends and idle gawkers are all welcome. Festivities commence this coming Sunday(unday, unday), 28 September 2008, 3:00 p.m. at Broad Ripple Brew Pub and continue until we run out of grog. Or steam. Or steamed grog. See you there!

After having installed one (very high end but disappointingly insensitive in plain-FM mode) , I have decided to give olde-timey over-the-air broadcast radio one more chance, in the form of HD Radio™. The one I put in at work was getting gawrshful signals...until the IBOC*-digital locked in, at which point it was as good as being there. And much like Dogitall, er, Digital TV, there's more "there" there, with most stations adding at least one extra program stream. Then there's the $50 mail-in rebate, good through mid-October, which takes a lot of the sting out of a $100 tuner.

...I'm looking forward to the ragged tail-end of this week and the weekend with a mixture of joy and trepidation -- things are stacked up at the Skunk Works like an accident on the freeway involving a semi-load of live hogs, a tanker of molasses and 250 Smart Cars; I've somehow been talked into shooting at bowling pins, which I have never yet done and may find my 9mm and .38SA a bit undersized for, not to mention that my predilection for carryable sidearms means a certain lack of what I'm told the kids today are calling "sight radius," as if they were still half-round. It will be a genuinely humbling experience, I suspect. And at some point in the not-too-distant, I have got to run by the bank: living in 1937 means no electronic banking. (But by jasper, the food's good and nobody freaks out over bacon and eggs).
* "In-Band, On-Channel:" the HD Radio™ signal is tucked up underneath the basic original-style FM (or AM!) signal like High School students sneaking into a drive-in under a blanket in the back seat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Four Small Engines And A Surplus Of Skill

Mere words cannot do it justice, watch for yourself. Pretty sure there's more displacement in that power plant than my motorscooter -- and considerably less weight. Not to mention more X-1 and parachutage.

Wednesday Potpourri

Potpourri? I hafta tellya, no matter how I type the word, it looks wrong.

Ah, well. Excelsior! Or maybe the other direction. Tam's got her Pugsley; my bete noir, dependably haunting the headlines whenever I need a quick snark, is dear ol' Kim Jong Il (assuming the rumors are untrue and he hasn't been dead for about five years) and his Very Own Personal Nation ("Ask The Man Who Owns One"), which has tossed out the IAEA inspectors and is fixin' to reassemble the very same reactor/bomb-building complex where they were so happily knockin' over cooling towers in July. Not enough bacon in the last food shipment? Too much salt? You do have to admire his (and his minions) ability to turn muddy situations into deep doodoo. The only question is just how much longer the world's action-oriented anti-proliferation movements will lay off -- Israel, for instance. Or even his good, goood buddies in Red China, who may yet decide to dig that burr out from under their saddle if they can stop snickering at how much it bothers everone else.

As the Great Financing Mess continues, it becomes more and more clear that lax Federal lending standards, coupled with regulatory pressure on banks to extend credit to a "broad cross-section of their markets," i.e., the poor, i.e., people who were not gonna be able to repay, is what set the situation up and who was it pushed for this and railed against attempts to restrain it? The more liberal Democratic congresscritters, is who, making snippy remarks about how the banks could well afford to do this and Wall Street needed to "get over it." These would be the very same treasonous rats who are now sneering at the "failure of the free market." 'Twasn't free, oh jacks of asses, you were twisting its arm. I guess their theory is, you beat he cow and starve it while milking it three times a day and when that ceases to work, blame the cow. I continue to blame FDR for this kind of thinking -- but one of his kin really started the ball rolling downhill. (The next time I hear how Teddy Roosevelt "invented the modern Presidency," I will either burst into tears or try to punch the person who said it; he was a wonderful man but a disaster for the Republic).

...And that's all the snark and controversy I've time for this fine morning. Fortunately, the raw materials are inexhaustible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday, Tuesday, Yah, Yah, Yah

...Hand me that tambourine, willya? Or a bottle of Uncle Hiro's Ichiban Ibuprofen, whichever's handier. I would like to have some witty insight or pointy observation or at least the various changes I'd rung upon Tam's Roman-execution Burma Shave sign ("A Legion That Dares/To Disobey/Will Quickly Learn/The Price They'll Pay/S.P.Q.R" -- you know they'd've done it if they'd thunk of it). But I don't have much.

What I do have is one of my old notions made real. Those WAKE UP! rumble strips along the highway could be pulse-width modulated. To do what, you might ask, and the answer is, to do this:
Yes, the road plays the William Tell Overture as you drive over it. But you'd better get out there quickly if you'd like to hear it in your own car: the town has gotten plenty tired of havin' a road that plays the William Tell Overture every freakin' time it is driven on....
Once is a surprise; twice is a marvel. 200 times a day? Optimized for some speed above the limit?* I'll take "Repaving" for $100, Alex!
* Speed Traps Of The Future? "But officer-d00d, 'Stairway' don't play right unless you're doin' 85!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Let It Prang?

I haven't written about it -- do I look like an economist? -- but it appears Dear Old Uncle Sam will be bailin' out failing banks and home lenders, and while the two major parties are squabbling over the details, neither has breathed so much as a hint that Uncle ought not be doing this with your money. Or, more precisely, with a really fat bad check they hope to cover with what they get from your grandchildren.

Yeah, bad debt in the private sector is gonna get "fixed"by even badder public debt, which is somehow more okay, possibly 'cos the Feds have something the banks and similar institutions lack: troops.

There will be a reckoning. There will be a reckoning: water runs downhill and no amount of fervent hope will prevent it. "Do it to the g'grandkids," we breathe, as earnestly as Winston Smith cried, "Do it to Julia," and the only difference is that we hope we're buying time for them to come up with some real solution in the meantime.

Good luck with that. "Economic readjustment" can be put off but eventually it goes smash. The longer resolution is deferred, the harder it will hit. Do I want it to happen right now, with a gen-u-ine Old School Pinko running on the Democrat side and a "moderate" Republican up against him? Oh, hells no! That's a recipe for a Socialist Welfare State to happen right here, to the cheering of crowds. I'd like it to not happen 'til I'm safely off this planet, neither wrenching crash nor "People's" Revolution.

...But don't put money on being able to duck bad times forever. Home lending was already highly regulated, poked-at by do-gooders with Federal authority to "widen home ownership," which they did by coming up with ever-goofier loans to ever worse-risk home buyers. Those bad loans to people unable, unlikely and/or unwilling to pay have not magically gone away; they are still there, the crumbling sand not really stabilized by any Federal bail-outs a level or two up. People who could not afford to buy homes, bought them. (Or sort of bought them -- dodges like "interest-only loans" mean never really owning the place). This helped push prices up for everyone, at a rate faster than the growth rate of the economy.

Pop! --If you bought your house as an investment, surprise! ("Peak housing?" Heheheh). Yeah, who wants that? Not me! --But remember, no bubble lasts forever.

Hooray, the Federal government is stickin' a new and bigger piece of well-chewed gum over the leak in the dam! Short-term, it works and I am just as happy as you to not see a Depression -- or the Big Fine War they'll prolly drum up to claw out of it. But long-term? Meddling in markets, making them other than free, can only make things worse. The storm is brewing. There is no magic way out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

If You Came Here From Tam's

...Then this guy probably just got off a long shift at the home-improvement store. Got any talcum powder?

If you didn't get here from Tam's, here's where to begin. Warning: earworm ahead!

(Please be advised that The Adventures Of Roberta X, its staff and management are not responsible for anything you might see or read as a result of clicking on the above links and cannot assure you that either one is free of...bugs and thingies. Still, it's something to see).

It Would Appear I'm Even More Like I Am Now Than Ever

You are a

Social Liberal
(88% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(100% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid.com: Free Online Dating
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

I Can Remember What Day This Is

...But there is evidence to believe some day I won't. And that, for me, is reason enough to put up a posting about World Alzheimer's Day.

I've relatives who went that way. Quite a few. My Dad had partially left the planet long before he went, though, proud and taciturn man that he was, just how far gone is a secret he took with him. One of my aunts, always a liitle and very pleasently fey, now has essentially no memory of anything that happened prior to the last fifteen minutes, though she's still got plenty of memories from fifty years ago and, horribly enough, knows her memory is gone. She deals with it gracefully. Me, I'd be frantic. I'd be screamin' and climbin' the walls.

I don't know what any of us can do -- toss a couple bucks in the jar and hope it goes to somebody workin' on a treatment, that's about it. But the mind you save? There's a real good chance it could that of a dear family member. There's a chance it could be your own.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guest Column

...By accident! Conan the Objectivist and I had been bemoaning a set of particularly silly Stupid Human Tricks to one another in e-mail and in response to a flippant one-liner ("Perception is reality -- to some."), he produced this:

I suspect we live in the nexus of intersection of two worlds. In one of those worlds, reality is perception; in the other, reality is what is.

In the first world, work consists of manipulating other people's perceptions; in the second, work consists of manipulating reality. In the first world, the successful person's job is his career; in the second, the successful person's career is his job. (To amplify, in the first world, the successful person works at his career. His job is incidental, a means to an end--the goal is the career. Any productive work he actually accomplishes is a coincidental byproduct of his efforts to advance his career by creating the perception that he is performing productive work. In the second world, the successful person works at his job. His career is a means to an end--the goal is the performance of productive work.)

In the first world, the purpose of speech is to cause other people to do, or think, what the speaker wishes; in the second world, the purpose of speech is to accurately convey facts and concepts and to facilitate cooperative effort. We find living in the first world politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, actors, TV personalities, most "journalists," and most business managers (which explains the state of business in this country). Residents of the second world include scientists, engineers, technicians, and--you hope--your doctor. Some poor souls attempt to live in both. I can't imagine a good outcome for them.

Words to ponder.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Plus One? Plus Win

A most excellent post (me hearties) over t' Sharp As A Marble about our road to serfdom. Tam has opined similarly in the past and as for me, shiver me timbers, here's the deal:

The next time you read one of my li'l screeds an' think, "That Roberta X, she one hard-core anarcho-capitalist absolutist," understand that the way I see it, to get anywhere at all, we've got to push back and hard. Askin' nice an' asking "Would you please?" while holdin' a teacup with one's pinkie finger out has not worked. I won't ever see a nice L. Neil Smithian Libertopia but if I work at it and stand on tiptoe, some dstant I just might be able to catch a glimpse of a hint of a glimmer of the rooftoops of a capitalist minarchy.

The next time some nice little law shows up in referenda or you local city council, some feal-good thing about not dumpin' the contents of cold ashtrays on unwatched children or some other notion about makin' an illegal action even illegaler, say NO. Vote it down, speak out against it, make 'em stop. We have so many nitpicky laws now, the police are goin' batty tryin' to keep up and are probably fillin' out forms for at least a third of their shifts when we'd all be happier to have them out keepin' the peace.

Tell the lawmakers NO, we have enough laws now. If you won't do it for yourself, think of the poor boys and girls behind the badge!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Be Ye Ready, Young Jim?

Tomorrow is a very special day. Divil take me parrot if ye slacker whelps ignore the day. Rue it ye may, but ignore it ye shall not!

...Now, will somebody help me get these smoldering slowmatches out of my hair...? Yes, that one, stuck under a bobby pi- Ow! Yow ow ow. Careful! Mind the Oldsmobile on that side!

A Million Monkeys With Typewriters Would Do Better

It was the headline on my homepage that drugged me in: "A Democracy Without Civics" and wotthehell, the authors had familiar names. They chugged along, hitting all the old familiar notes about how kids today dunno squat about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, how education in civics is fundamental to our, er, "democracy..." And then they did it: "Sadly, civic education has been in steady decline over the past generation," the writers sniffed, "as high-stakes testing and an emphasis on literacy and math dominate school reforms."

Emphasis mine.

Ummm, Justice (ret.) Sandra DayO'Conner? Mr. Lee Hamilton, former U. S. Representative? How do you intend to teach them Civics if they cannot even effing read?

I suppose I should expect no less from a pair who approvingly quote the fatheaded Dewey, one of the architects of the ruin of American education. Still, it's the sort of damnably huge hole in logic that makes me wonder how some people get through law school, let alone ascend to rarefied heights within the Federal government. Are they hauled, kicking and screaming, by main force, do you think, or do they just save up enough boxtops and send away for a sheepskin and a bar card?

They Walk Among Us

There is -- and I swear I am not making this up -- some sort of bizarre pencil-eating cult operating in secret at the the downtown or main portion of the Skunk Works. When I left to spend a week Doing Great Feats at the North Campus, the Engineering Shop had plenty of pencils, nice fat yellow #2 ones, at least one per bench and in the top drawers of the various shared desks.

Got back there Tuesday and there is one (1) pencil in the engshop, total. Well-chewed and lurking between the least-used cordless phone, electric pencil sharpener and the Old Shop Computer (which does dribble a little steam now and again and will catch your hand a nasty pinch in the gears, but we can't bear to give it up, plus it's the only one we have that is able to run the what-wire-goes-where database [last updated in 1982]), I'm pretty sure it survived the demented feasting only by being overlooked and from the signs, may well have been dropped in the process of being masticated by one of the cultists.

It's dreadful! Why do they do it? What possible benefit can accrue from the consumption of incense cedar, yellow enamel and a mixture of graphite, clay and Secret Ingredients? Do they eat the eraser and ferrule, too, or is there some midden-pile of those items in a dark corner or atop a ceiling tile just waiting to be discovered?

You can have your Bermuda Shorted Triangle, your Mysteries of the Great Pyramid or of the Great Auk; I've got my own little slice of Arkham right in the office.

I almost grabbed a handful of my own personal pencils to take in this morning, then thought better of it. I'd only be enabling them. I keep watching, quietly, for the tell-tale signs: the silver/black teeth, the slivers of wood at the corners of the lips, but they're too careful for me. Sooner or later, though, one of them will slip!

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, I will not let you down! This scourge must be brought to book!

PS: I notice I now have a few Followers. Your sacrifice and dedication has not been unnoticed; haven't quite determined what to do with this latest feature-like-offering from Bloogle/Gogger, is all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On Being Difficult

I am a difficult person. I hear "orange," first thought goes through my head is "blue." Say "day" and I respond "night."

This is not what one might call a desirable trait and when one adds to it opinions that are naturally contrary.... There are times when better I should maybe bite my tongue.

Happened today, found myself on the edge of a conversation about bicycle commuting and one of the Leftier types allowed as how on his way in he'd seen "a group of those black kids, looked like they had somebody stopped and I just changed direction and went around 'em."

I had so many reactions I was dumbstruck.
- Good move; if something looks hinky and you can avoid it, you win!
- Um, d00d? Y'mean you'd'a given 'em an all-clear if they was paler? In a rough part of town, young males with worrisome body language get an "avoid" from far enough away that I couldn't tell ya if they were Martians.
- So, um, Mr. "We're-all-siblings-under-the-skin," did you hear what you just said?
- Ever consider they might be playing the game one move deeper than you? Been known to happen.
- Why'n't you armed?

Smiled, said nothing. I'm paid to have arguments? Not!

I should do that more often.


So, big Blogmeet Sunday the 28th! Very kewl and we are hoping for a good turnout. Hamfest that morning, a small one in a neighboring county, which might be a little kewl itself, if you're me anyway.

Also, I have been kinda invited to try my hand at shooting innocent bowling pins what never hurt me nohow the Saturday before. Don't know if they will clean and dress my catch or not.

All this on my plate, I realize October is bearin' down like a preggers steamship and have a look at when the Feast Of The Hunter's Moon is happenin'; that moon always hits early in October.

Lunar calendars, they wander. It's -- wait, wait, loooong drumroll if you please, cymbals! -- 27 and 28 Sept. Fooey! Bowling pins or pipers? Bowling pins, or a really long walk on a bad knee? Bowling pins or buffalo stew, the firing of crew-served blackpowder cannons, blanket traders, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, whitecoopers, dashing voyageurs, cobblers, Colonial troops, British troops, seamstresses and tailors.... Can maybe do both?
Going to have to ponder that. Especially with the "long walk" part.

At least the Battle of Mississinewa (a bit later in history than the Feast -- War of 1812 -- but as delighful) isn't for a couple of weeks after that!

In Other News

...UK journalist visiting the US goes to gun range, writes about it. Reasoned Discourse™ breaks out. Won't you please help?

The entire blog, from Jon Kelly of the BBC, is interesting reading and not unsympathetic to American culture. It starts here. Poor lad. Do you think he'll make it all the way across with his illusions intact?

(I'm reminded of the day I discovered Fresh Market Marsh [a mainstream supermarket hereabouts] stocked that British pudding called "spotted dick,"* Of course I had to show this delicacy to Tam, who -- innocent that she is and having never heard of it -- took one look at the label and broke into helpless laughter. Twain was mistaken, it's not one language held in common; the Brits are Doing Things with it).
* Odd, you liked it when they called it "plum duff," instead.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Next Indy BlogMeet!

It's less than two weeks away! (Sunday, 28 September, see sidebar for details, offer good in all 57 states). Bloggers, blog readers and the idly curious are all invited to attend!

--Turk Turon has loaded up his caravan and threatened to send his camels to bed without their jam and crackers (and no storytime, either, and you know how they do love their stories) if they don't make good time and I hear rumors that some other famous bloggers are hoping to attend as well.

You gonna be there? Maybe you better!

I Had Nuthin'

Nothing to write about this morning and considering, I'd be just as happy if that was still the case. A friend of mine was robbed of valuable things, some of them irreplaceable.

What makes it worse for me is, there's a good chance his stuff was taken as a result of trusting a gadget. A gadget that failed in a way I would not have expected.

I'm reminded of the late A. Bertram Chandler's "Commodore Grimes," a sort of starship-Captain version of Horatio Hornblower, who was given to describe fancy navigation/control devices as "being at the mercy of a single fuse." --Since Capt. Chandler commanded actual seagoing ships in real life, he was in a better position to know than many folks.

But consider items like your garage-door opener, your car's remote lock, that celphone you use as an excuse to not carry a well-stocked Just-In-Case Bag in your car. You count on 'em like they were some solid, magical talisman, don't you? I certainly have, and I should know better, since I fix related stuff for a living.

Remotes can and will fail. Celphones are no more reliable than their battery and the reach of the transceiver "cell" they are operating within.

Check the things you can check manually rather than counting on the blips and beeps that supposedly confirm they're working; they are not direct confirmation that the action really got done. Have a backup for the things you can't check.

You can never prevent lapses of memory or attention; no precaution will stop the guy with a concrete block who wants what's in your car, home or cranium. But we can improve our odds; we can slow down some of the bad guys, some of the time.

What we can't do is make bad stuff that happens to good people unhappen. If you're an entropy warrior, that's a terrible feeling. There will always be bad guys and sometimes their side wins -- all the more reason to keep pushin' 'em back.

Update: Tam points out that we all like to think ourselves cautious, but most people notice only those things that have either burned them or about which they know the risks, while missing many other things of equal or greater risk. It's true and the biggest risk of all is our fellow humans. IMO, you do what you can, take the rest on faith and keep moving; that's how it works. It's not optimum but it works more often than it doesn't.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Version I Hear In My Head

Recognize this car commercial?

VIDEO: Shots of CAR, exterior; NIGHTLIFE, indoors and out; CITY STREETS, night; CAR, interior; BUMS, homeless (etc.)

MUSIC: drama kid now, dharma drama kid now; karate kid now, dharma kid now...
MUSIC down and under

ANNCR: "This is not plain ol' luxury, no it most certainly is not. This is not regular luxury or even overstuffed luxury. This is Hyxos: This is start a business, fail a business, live-in-your-car while trying to dupe fresh investors luxury. Go-for-the-throat luxury..."

MUSIC fades up
MUSIC: ...carotid kid now, dharma dharma kid now; carotid kid now....
MUSIC down and under

ANNCR: "Hyxos. The luxy-duxy car that can find the coolest place to sleep rough in August, the hottest crystal meth any time: Hyxos. Your kind of luxury. The luxury that includes bloodstain-proof trunk interiors in the base package. Hyxos."

MUSIC fades up
MUSIC: ...a rotted kid now, a wretched rotted kid now; carotid kid now, a rotted kid now....
MUSIC down and under

ANNCR: "Hyxos. Real luxury. Your luxury. Dodging creditors without breaking a sweat luxury. Get one now -- before your house of cards all falls apart."

MUSIC fades up
MUSIC: ...before the skid row, hardly on the skids now; on the game now, ya rotted kid now....
MUSIC down and under

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Food Of The Us

The Big Digital Tomorrow project at Skunk Works North Campus having come to an end -- give or take 40 feet of 4-1/16" coax and some meter-calibration quibbles -- I came home as Dawn was heaving herself over the horizon (decently out of sight, my oh my how some folks do get hung over), climbed into bed as rapidly as I could swap jeans and T-shirt for a nightgown and promptly crashed viciously beneath quilt, blanket and crisp cotton sheets, to emerge blinking and disoriented eight hours later, give or take. (As in, "Give me my glasses and I'll take a look at the clock! --Gah, now I know how Dawn felt.")

I don't care if reality is real or merely a totally convincing copy, after this past week and the overnight of spinning plates of eggs on poles[1] that finished it, I needed some foooood. Hearty stuff. Stuff that's not all that good fer ya.

This stuff:
What we have here is sausage, diced Yukon Gold taters[2], sliced "Baby Bella" 'shrooms and scrambled eggs, with diced green onions, radishes and red bell peppers added once the burner is off. It needs just a touch more and we end up with this: Adorned and garnished by freshly-snipped dill and some grated cheese. Sprinkle with hot sauce of your choice (or none at all -- there's already a dash of Worcestershire in the eggs and some Cajun seasoning on the potatoes) and it's about as good as anyone could ask, at least if they're asking me! Plenty of it, too. My first meal in nearly 24 hours.

Of course, if you're going to eat that well, it calls for dessert. I had a Lindor "Ultimate Dark" chocolate ball, the inside filled with near-liquid dark, dark chocolate, while Tam, never one to miss a wonderment nor keep it to herself, shared a taste of her "Bacon Bar:" applewood bacon, alderwood smoked salt and extraordinary milk chocolate. Not an inexpensive treat but genuinely worth it, richly layered and complex, almost floral without being cloying. You can keep your wine and fine cigars, this stuff whups 'em all, hands-down.

All this while watching "Collateral," a gem of a film I'd rank with "Gattaca" and "Blade Runner." Some directors take over your eyes -- Micheal Mann is one of 'em.
1. At one point I had two stardrive transmitters running on the same channel using different transmission modes and the signal from one that currently produces income, er, I mean interstellar drive was havin' to boil a ginourmously big vat of heat-conducting oil before it could head up the tower. A vat, mind you, nearly sealed and which we had learned a couple of days before was not, in fact, quite large enough for the heat load it needed to bear. Had fans blowin' on it an' lighted joss sticks to Hephaestus an' kept walkin' by an' layin' hands on it, or nearly, anyway, since it was skin-searing hot. But hey, no pressure. Literally, which is a good thing: I look bad covered in boiling oil.

2. Good but an experiment and I think Idaho bakers fry up better; I'll have to try other varieties, too. Yukon Golds are totally superior mashed.

There Is No Predicting

...Just which Useless Tricks any one person will pick up. Tam had never seen Orange-Peel Pryotechnics until today -- I had a tangerine for dessert and wandered into our Data Central squeezing the peel into a lighter flame: Foom! Wooomph! Delightful little bursts of flame, though tangerines don't give you quite the weird curls of fast-dissipating black smoke oranges create.

Tam was chatting on the telephone and stopped for a moment, fascinated by an innocent citrus peel producing tiny fireballs.

Yeah, we make our own fun here at Roseholme Cottage!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm Voting For Palin

(I guess I have to vote for that fellow on the GOP ticket, too?)

The pinhead media finally did what none of my friends and relatives could accomplish: got me to declare for Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice-President of the United States of America.

And y'know how? What with all the hustle and bustle (not to mention shuck and jive and a degree of bobbing and weaving) of this week, I hadn't been in a store with a magazine rack for a long while.[1] Stopped off at a Mainstream SuperDuperMart after the half-day this morning[2] and every single magazine in the rack had some kind of hack-job headline about Governor Palin. All of 'em -- "National Inquirer," Weekly World News" "Us" and probably "Ladies Home Journal," "Cosmo" and "Redbook," too. Any Republican political newcomer they all loathe that much must be pretty darned special. Then there's the bubble-head celebrity opinionating upon which Tam has commented, universally against Sarah Palin and in favor of Barack Obama and the coatrack he's running for the Vice-Presidency. I think they hate her 'cos she's competent, while they can't even remember the purpose of socks for three days in a row.

I usually vote Libertarian; the exceptions have been for Andy Horning -- LP running as GOP -- and the constable for our township courts, who was my neighbor at my previous house and is a clean and decent guy. In all the other races, I will vote for the LP candidate.

In my opinion, Senator John McCain stinks. On ice. Mightily. He's guilty of conspiracy to violate the First Amendment and has openly dismissed freedom of the press as both trivial and an impediment to clean government[3]. He's not real good on the Second Amendment either. I have in the past called him "slow poison" and vowed to not vote for him. (His Democrat opponent is entirely out of the question; I was going to vote for Bob Barr).

Nor do I share most of Governor Palin's social views; I don't care if my neighbors (or somebody across town or in Fiji) are homosexual, polyamorous and/or dopers, as long as they conduct themselves in such wise as to not make loud noises late into the night, refrain from having sex in public and don't toss garbage over the fence, etc.. If they understand what window shades, privacy fences and headphones -- and the concepts of minding your own business and civil behavior -- are for and use them when appropriate, I'm okay. If they want to get married in their various and assorted groupings, I don't give a hang; why should us straight people be the only ones suffering through agonizing divorces?[4]

However, it appears that Sarah Palin has actually read the Constitution of these all-too United States and would apply it narrowly; this automatically means that to whatever extent the Veep has a say about it,[5] she'd keep the Feds out of people's private lives and that's a lot more than I can say about any Democrat and most Republican office-holders.

Plus, she shoots, she cooks and she seems to be all-round competent. I believe she will apply herself to the job -- again, more than I can say about other politicos.

So, sappy media-nannies, you did it. Your repellent, screeching attacks on Sarah Palin pushed me over to the Right. I'm votin' for Sarah Palin. Choke on it.

Update: A link from comments: seems ABC did some slanted editing in their interview with the Governor!
1. Fresh Market can be criticized for being hippie/yuppie heaven but their checkout-line magazine racks are blessedly non-controversial, "Cooking" and "Epicure" and "Grilling" and the like. I guess the last could be a covert mag about extracting information from suspects but I doubt it.

2. And more to come in the wee sma' hours. Such fun!

3. I can only imagine he means "clean" in the aerodynamic sense, meaning "free from drag that would slow it down."

4. On the other hand, I can see social advantages to stationing evil-minded 15-year-old boys armed with blowtorches in rest stop washrooms. "Wide stance?" Have a hotfoot! Imaginative readers can envision other applications, I am sure.

5. Not much, but a little. That whole "casts the deciding vote in case of a tie" thing, for instance.

The Saturday Morning Post

Why not? The Big Doings up at Skunk Works North Campus went appreciably pear-shaped yesterday, one of those deals where factory techs call up the company that built a major subassembly and trade shocked comments for half an hour -- "Whattaya mean, it won't do that?" "'Blistering hot is normal for this thing?' Then why'd you upsize all the parts in the later one?" and so on and so forth. So I gotta skedaddle this ayem, and how.

But I won't leave you in the lurch!

Staghounds shares his family headless chicken story, in response to Tam's Mike-the-headless-chicken-day link. Much better than mine, though my Depression-baby parents both had a parent or sib who'd occasionally let a headless chicken run 'til it went dry when they were given the chore of fetching poultry for the pot. (Yes, city slickers, it was not so very long ago and some folks still keep their chickens fresh on the hoof. Get over it).

Staghounds also offers his own take on coverage of 11 September and asks why United 93 gets so little attention. The media has focused on victims in the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the public-safety professionals who died heroically in the course of their duties -- and all but ignores the flight that fought back.

And The Old Grouch provides an insightful look at a lefty pundit's concern over the decline of Old Media and the rise of the New. Yes, it's a bit of a headless-chicken story, too, though the decapitated capon in question is some sort of watermelon-group lawyer. Highly recommended reading!

Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it today. And tonight. And maybe Sunday. Sheeeesh. Feb '09, I have felt thy sting!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

11 September 2001

Tam asks, "Where were you?"

There are several ways to answer that question -- "Getting ready for an eye doctor appointment and watching network news" is one. "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" is another.

I'd been waiting a long time. Since 1995, when a couple of amateurs ruined a Fed building with (mostly) stuff anyone could've bought from the Farm Bureau Co-Op. Since '93, when inept fumblers made a big mess in the World Trade Center. Since I read Bruce Sterling's Islands In The Net (published in 1988, don't know when I first saw it), which introduced me to the interesting weaknesses of a high-tech culture when faced by low-tech foes, a notion Sterling introduces in the form of a fictional book-within-a-book, "The Lawrence Doctrine and Postindustrial Insurgency." And probably even before; asymmetrical war had fascinated me ever since Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

I'd had a bet with myself that the 'States -- a high-value target for every nutjob of every stripe for decades upon decades -- would lose a major city within my lifetime and sooner rather than later. But I was starting to think I was wrong. After all, the Cold War had wound down, Communism was uncooler than ever and Gulf War I had ended with the good guys victorious. Things were looking up!

...It's always brightest before the storm, hey? Free people, high-technology societies, are vulnerable by their very openness and technology. I knew that...and I was still blindsided by the bloody-minded insanity of highjacking perfectly good airliners and flying them into perfectly good buildings. I forgot a Neolithic goat-herder has no use for either -- and less use for the ideas they represent, free trade and easy global travel.

I'd like to think I wasn't stunned long; certainly my first comment to my then-hubbie was, "The bastards finally did it, didn't they?"

Another bit I'd garnered from my reading was that one purpose of terrorism is to provoke a harshly repressive response from the victim; this is of enormous PR value to the terrorist and image is what such persons are expending human lives and human achievement to obtain. Territory cannot be taken by terrorism and material is rarely directly got by such means -- but hearts and minds are another story. And in that respect, it looked for awhile as if the bastards had been wildly successful. Now, no, not so much; but at first it seemed a near thing.

If there's any lesson to be taken from the events of 11 Sept 2001 in New York City, Washington D. C. and high over Pennsylvania, it is not "stick a flag on your car and leave it there, rain or shine, until it is tattered to rags,"* but rather to understand not just the battle but the war -- and to realize that as terrible and tragic as that day was, even if we did nothing, they'd run out of ijitaheen willing to get to heaven on a pillar of jet-fuel smoke long before we ran out of targets. Destroyers fueled by superstition and rage against free societies will fail, no matter if they grew up in Riyadh or the American Midwest.

...Not to mention, the next weasel who tries to take over an airplane will go down under a human wave. When the prospect was only a thrilling trip to Cuba, passengers went along; but when cooperation means death, hijackers are doomed.

There are other means and other ways and we have not seen the end of it; we may never. But the barbarians are few and the future does not belong to them.
* I am not moved by symbols as much as many other people are and yet I would so very, very much like to run the morons flying flayed and tattered flags on their car off the road, yank them out from behind the wheel and flog them, there on the spot. Dammit, that's just plain wrong!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When Small Boys Grow Up and Get Degrees

Found in a nifty article (hoop caterpillars? Who knew!) at The Straight Dope:
The bacterium Escherichia coli, among others, moves by spinning whiplike filaments called flagella like tiny propellers. The typical flagellum is rotated up to several hundred times per second by what is basically an organic electric motor. We know it spins (rather than, say, twisting back and forth like a washing machine agitator) because researchers glued down an E. coli flagellum and the critter's body spun around like an eggbeater.

Emphasis, as they say, mine. Snickering all the while and fighting over who got to look through the microscope next, I'll bet. These were the same guys who put a light coating of SuperDuperGlue on the desktops in High School classrooms just in time for the next class to "experience the feeling." Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Speaker To The Silly

...Only not speaking so very much. Ever have one of those conversations where your best course is to find noncommittal platitudes to utter 'cos the only possible alternative is FLAME ON?

Hookay. So, yrs. trly., girl oxyacetylene torch, had bicycled herself to the market. 'cos A) I like riding, B) I kinda need the exercise and this is low-impact and C) it's like six blocks: only a total weenie or a very feeble person would drive it in good weather.

Parked the Large Bike With Large Baskets in the rack at the market next to a couple of newer, fancier bikes, locked it, went in, purchased a wide variety of staggeringly delightful things to eat and drink* and reemerged. While I was packing the bike, a nice young couple walked up bearing bags and Styrofoam containers from one of the nearby eateries -- nearby, but not in that parking lot.
She, to her fella: "Oh, cool, she's got baskets!" To me: "Those work out so much better for things like this" (gestures with bag o' food) "than our backpacks."
I agree and point out the weight's carried lower in a basket than on one's back, which puzzles her but she smiles and replies, "Don't you just feel so greeeen on a bike?"
Me: (with a dire sense of this-is-where-it-goes-all-pear-shaped) "Unh, yes. And healthy," (the last word delivered with an idiot grin.
She, mounting her bike: "Oh, there is that, too, I guess. But it's so good for the planet!"
Me: (Shiny, happy, must-not-lecture smile).
He: "Stickin' it to the Man!"
Me: (Rides away, rapidly, trying not to snicker).

No, son, you are not. And Miss lady? If you have a car, too, you are less green when you add a bike -- or did you think your bicycle was grown in a garden instead of hammered together in a Chinese factory the mere sight of which would curdle your hair? --The Man made a fine profit on your bikes, over and above what you paid for your car, while your gasoline usage for a trip to one of Broad Ripple's many dining establishments is not a drop in the ocean. The Man has done stuck you -- and he's struck your brains clean out, as near as I can tell.

Of course, if I'd've told the poor dears that, they'd've been all miffed and sniffy an' called me a mean ol' buzzkiller. It's not actually about "sticking it to the Man" or being "green," it's about their precious feelings. $DEITY help us, these are the folks I'll have to depend on when I am old and feeble. If you are what you eat, let's hope they never become Soylent Green and pass the infection on.

Update: Look here: "The Man" is what makes your nice life of shiny bicycles and take-out food in disposable, planet-killing containers possible. Sticking it to the Man is peeing in your own punchbowl.
* Including, of all things, Moxie, pretty much the oldest carbonated (I've been rightly taken to task here: add non-alcoholic and see next para.) beverage still being produced and most wondrous strange and tasty.

Update: ...Yes, it is true, beer is totally not on my horizon -- it just doesn't even occur to me, despite a roomie who keeps the fridge door pretty much full of longneck bottles of fine India Pale Ales. This why we get along: Tam's beer is safe around me.

Most amusing of all? Moxie has a bitter, almost hoppy finish.

Quick! Post New Content!

Heard from one of the anchors on a network TV morning show, after an "expert" with a degree in something -- not physics! -- warned how the Large Hardon Hadron* Collider will Sour The Milk (and Life As We Know It) or some such lunacy: "Man, I'll be Googling him after the show."
Um, sir? Sir?
Fail. Epic Fail.
You just admitted your "service" is irrelevant. You're supposed to pretend you still matter.

I'd like to post more. And there will be plenty coming. But right now, I am up to my neck in making sure that come February of '09, your Grandma prolly won't be able to watch her soap operas. Ain't I sump'in?
* A typo but when you consider the hating letch the usual anti-real-science suspects have for it, it might as well be....

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ha! Y'Can Lean Too Far Left On Network TV

I'm stunned. Seems one of the MSNBC running dogs went so partisan, he got himself and his buddy knocked off the "Anchor" desk!

Or, as the 30 Rock newsroom so sedately puts it:
MSNBC said Sunday it is replacing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as
co-anchors of political night coverage with David Gregory, and will use the two
newsmen as commentators.

If you had asked me before today if it was possible for on-air talent to go so far Left as to irk a news network, I would have laughed. Last one I even heard rumors of was when CBS axed a reporter for referring to the late Richard Nixon as "...a rat under the floorboards of the White House," hyperbole so obnoxious that -- back then -- not even CBS could ignore it. And that one was related to me as a "see how much worse it's become?" tale, years after the fact. (Googling the phrase turned up zilch. Did it happen or not?)

I guess every worm turns, even if only a little. Admitting an on-air voice is biased and sticking him in a slot where that's expected is a start.

LP Gathering In Broad Ripple!

My readers run maybe 50/50 small-l libertarian and conservat8ive and however y'all vote is between you and Diebold (and whoever they're tellin'). Nevertheless, my experience has been that the LPIN folks are decent sorts and engaging conversationalists, and serious about limited government.

So, when I tell ya they're havin' a get-together next weekend at a top pizza jernt (one of the best), give it some thought. They've run some good candidates in this state, people who actually had the chops and fought the good fight.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pocket Meme

Seen elsewhere, now my turn: ...This is between teaching Tam a little Morse Code and a trip to the garage for the backup cat water fountain and right after making notes for work. So we have a tiny Rhodia gridpad (3.3 x 4.7"), Star BKM, house keys, French-made SA military radiotelegraph key, Swiss+Tech pocketool, Japanese carpenter's knife, Mini Maglight (with LED conversion, note the endcap switch) and my everyday Kershaw knife. (Ain't innernational trade wunnerful?)

Let's see, it says I should find a story in the pile and I kind of did that, asks after the smallest item which is obvious, wants to know what's the most embarrassing item and that turns out to be my house keys since Miss Observant here had to see the photo to suss out something was m-i-s-s-i-n-g and asks if there's anything illegal in it. Not as far as I know, though an LEO who was sufficiently motivated could probably look official askance at my assisted-opening Kershaw: Indiana's got a doofy switchblade law. That knife isn't one but legitimate doubt could exist.

Just you wait 'til I do one for my purse!

What's in your pockets?

PS: Hadn't noticed the skull bead is gone from the pink lanyard on my keys. Oh, foo. Wonder if the little dude is in my purse in two parts? Update: No. Double foo!

Thanks to Ride Fast And Shoot Straight (linked above) for the meme!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

(A hat-tip and eyebrow-waggle to the Atomic Nerds for this'n)

In case you were wondering.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho (Looks good)
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda (Want!)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar "Tobacco Shall Never Touch My Lips" Never Again, anyway.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal Never again
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab (Probably, but I'm no fan of crab) Update: makes fair sushi, it does.
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee Yes! Yes! YES!
100. Snake

...Yeah, not much crossed out. Ever been hungry not by choice? I have. Didn't much like it. I'd probably even eat the stinky French Cheese, even give Muckety Dee's a try.

Surprised that okra, flagolets verts (delicious!) and Manhattan clam chowder didn't make the list; seems to be focused more on challenges than epicurean delights.


...And other TLAs of utility and note--

Checking other links on a trackback from utility notebook maker Field Notes, I encountered mention of "paper-based GSD software."

Sounded like fancy yupster talk.

It's not. Most of us make lists, if only notionally or mentally; many people make Actual Formal Numbered Lists and notes and project logs. I often end up with a distressingly large heap of scribbled-on scraps, packing lists and the backs of used envelopes, which is then stuffed in a file folder, duly filed and every effort is made to ignore it. But there are better ways, ones that don't involve much in the way of hardware, nothing more than a notebook, a pencil[1] and a system to help you Get Stuff Done.[2]

Here's a useful system, presented as an annotated photograph and described in more detail.

Of course, there are other methods; at times, I'm more like this blogger's Type 2!
1. Or other writing implement. I do not directly mention the fountain pen -- but face it, you know what real grown-ups use and you're wanting one now, aren't you? Yes, I thought so. It's entirely natural.

2. The mil-spec among us may know a different version of this but the TLA's the same and so's the thought. Oh, dip me in that khaki paint!

Friday, September 05, 2008

To Heck With It

I'm going to bed.

"You've Got To Be Awfully Not Careful"

At least that's what one of the lads said at work yesterday. It appeared to mean something to the fellow that said it.

...And it may be the rule for my updated-now-with-pictures "Another Day At The Artifice" posting. Have a look but try to overlook my, er, "interetesting" layout.

(Timmeee calls me on my spelling. Ooops! -- "Interesting" and "retested" tangled there. I lost).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why I Like Spiders

As has been elsewhere related, Ms. Tam is not so very fond of spiders. Me, I generally like arachnids in their place, especially non-poisonous ones; they do useful work.
As seen here! (Click to giganticize -- or not, if you're squeamish), Tiny, hard-workin' spider, and one of the fat, loud crickets that have decided to re-infest our basement. (I went on several Search & Destroy missions early on and a generation of 'em learned better or died trying).

I'll take the little spider over the loud crickets. Once her* work is done, she's easy to find and relocate, unlike the crickets, who sneak around like ninjas with boomboxes. (The Basement, 0hSoVeryDarkHundred: Okay. Her bedroom is right above us. You three climb up the pillar and across the floor joist. At my signal -- wait for it, wait for it -- start playing at full volume! The Bedroom, seconds later: "Aarrrgh! Air Raid, Tornad-- crickets. B-stards").
* I'm stereotyping. So it goes. What sex you think a spider is tends to reveal if you think of them as textile workers or steeplejacks.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Muck-Jumpy Man* Among Nations

North Korea's puttin' a bombworthy nuke plant back together again, for the, what? Fifth time? Seventh?

The crazed weenie that owns that country is like the very worst sort of bum: the unwashed, reeking gent who parks himself on your front stoop, threatening to relieve himself in the mailbox unless you give him a dollar to go away.

The problem, of course, is that he always comes back. Just like North Korea. Sure is a pity we can't just turn a fire hose on 'im.
* From an apocryphal Great Depression tale about a bindlestiff who shows up at a farm on a sweltering August day and offers a quarter if they'll let him take a dip in the cesspit, since he's just a dirty bum and it's so hot. After he's got himself good and soaked, he plops down on the porch to dry off and the farmer's wife tells him to go, he's had his dip. His reply? "That'll cost you five dollars!" Kim Jong-Il wants a little more but it's the same scam.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another Day At The Artifice

Scootered into work earlier than usual this morning, thinking about how good it was that Gustav had weakened as it hit land, and that, perhaps, the very successful evacuation of New Orleans showed that possibly, just possibly we might not be the dumbest primates on the planet.

Little did I know I'd be crossin' paths with some refugees before the morning was over. See, i was in early for a spot of hands-on learning with a select group of my peers (including the Fer-de-Lance, who brung a camera; hoping to get I now have copies of his pix): a techhie-tour of the new Lucas Oil Stadium (design by Albert Speer & Assoc? I dunno, the thing is inhumanly vast). We do that in the Big Giant Media Biz, 'cos the place is too big to just go in and start guessin'. In fact, it's so big, we "wired" most of it with fiber-optic cable: glass is a lot less lossy than copper.

It took three hours. And a lot of walkin'. (Tip: the press boxes are way better than suites if you came to watch the game and want air-conditioning. Good luck gettin' in).

Learning where our connection points are down on the field, we saw what, from a distance, looked like a joke come to life: a garden tractor cruising the artificial turf in a regular pattern, for all the world as if it was being mowed! Nope, they were, for want of a better word, combing the field, with a device that looks like a section of chain-link fence pulled by the tractor. Modern artificial turf feels exactly like your lawn, if you have a very nice lawn. Still -- lawnmower. Fake turf. TILT!

We went through the locker rooms and saw the maze of secure tunnels for players, coaches and others that make the media access points nearby a kind of ironic gesture. At this point, us special folk (oh, you betcha) get to walk right through the locker rooms: Home, my what nice and very rugged lockers,* the hall, the Visitor-- Eeek! It's fulla uniforms and stuff, and guys puttin' up towels and-- The six of us ducked back out and looked: at the door, a fleur-de-lis and the words, "NEW ORLEANS SAINTS."
See, their place wasn't exactly gonna be the very best place to practice for awhile, and Indy had this brand-new stadium, soooo.... Which we knew but nobody had put it together. Alas for me, no burly players fresh from the shower or nothin'. Damme.
The maze of entry and exit points is interesting and layered; I'm told on game days, every person entering gets patted down. Isn't that special?

The inside seems even more vast than the outside, a Circus of which Rome could have only dreamed. Fascinating and a bit depressing.
You can't quite see my house from the outside balconies but that's mostly 'cos there's buildings in the way. (We're one floor up, on the roof).Rest of my day was anticlimactic, the usual sort of things, hot sunny day -- until go-home time, when it poured rain, bucketsful. I rolled my scooter over to a garage on out lot and waited. And waited. And... Finally, it slowed up and I squished home, mindful of my speed and wary of get-home-itis, arriving to discover Tam was doing up salmon and asparagus!

A roller-coaster sort of day.
* Looks like wood paneling but they're steel underneath. Healthy, excitable lads, those footballers or whatever one calls 'em..

Monday, September 01, 2008


I'm a meganekko? Nobody told me!

I am so gonna have to save up for some larger round-framed wire rim glasses.

Choose Wisely, Young Skywalker

At least when you're picking your e-mail addy, 'cos you'll get a helluva lot more UCE-spam[1] as Aardvark@[domain]than as Zebra@[domain][2] -- and hugely less if your name starts with a number. (Why the numbers? It's a droid thing, you wouldn't understand).

Interesting research, forwarded to me as such things often and usefully are by the Fer-de-Lance, amateur and inadvertent rat-rancher, audiophile and cow-orker. Er, co-worker.
1. I been on th'Net a looooong time, when "Pine Is Not Elm" made sense to a lot of folks at e-mail time, Usenet was where the kewl kids hung out and "spam" was massively crossposted and usually crudely commercal crap in the newsgroups. That other stuff is "Unwanted Commercial E-mail," but who'd chomp on that when it could be spam instead? Nobody. Face it, we feed our language on table scraps.

2. It rhymes with "Debra." Yes it does too.

September BlogMeet

Let's make it the 28th! --I'm hoping not to be up to my neck in Enabling Our Wonderful Digital Future on the 21st but right now? I would not bet money that I'm not gonna be in there trying to make it play.

So said, so postered:

If anyone wants to grab and post this one or the small-size-optimized version in the sidebar, please do! (Or the antiqued samizdatized version -- I couldn't resist).

Two Great Tastes That -- Um, Maybe Not!

I think very highly of the men and women who work in law enforcement; I respect their Agencies and Departments.

And I'm a gunnie. A sometime recoil-junkie, who upon hearing full-auto fire at the range has been known to remark, "That's the happiest sound I know!"

Still, this is plain nuts. (Go have a peek, then come back). APCs for SWAT teams, okay; they're gonna be takin' fire and it make sense to expose them no more than is needful. APC packin' a Ma Deuce, the combo then named The Peacemaker? Sheriff, were we expectin' a coup? "Peacemaker?" Perhaps in the Roman sense -- Tacitus, quoting a captured Celt anent Roman troops: "They make a wasteland and call it peace." And troops seems to be the right term; let us hope they are as well-drilled and self-disciplined as the soldiers they appear to be.

It's more than a bit over the top. I'm sure somebody's gonna take me to task for bein' critical here but what works in a war zone might not be such a good idea for law enforcement in Anytown, U.S.A. When LEOs went to outshoot their suspects, we got helicopter firebombings, Waco and Ruby Ridge; when peace officers set out to outthink them instead, not such a tricky thing to do, we got the Indianapolis Baptist Temple standoff, a tense and touchy situation you probably didn't even hear about, resolved by a U. S. Marshall who figured the Feds could outwait anybody, without having to resort to any goofy PsyOps tricks or anything other than good old cop iron-assed stubbornness. It worked, too.

Smart works better than strong a lot of the time-- but strong's more temptingly faster. The Sheriff who bought this beast implies it is a weapon to terrible to use. Gee, I've never heard that before.

Found via Radly Balko. Check out the comments at his site!