Saturday, February 28, 2009


From the Irving Berlin/H. P. Lovecraft musical:

Found at Weird Universe.

P.S.: Channel 4 in the UK has rebooted Max Headroom to warn of impending digital doom switchover. Can't keep a good brain download quiescent, I guess. Or Max, either. Brain in a can, anyone? Howard? Matt?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Poor Old Tom Cat

He's twenty, which is about the same as 99 for you or me. He moves pretty slowly but he gets around. And, as happens with age, his digestion bothers him. Right now he poor old guy is so stopped up he is overtaken by the need to strain every few minutes, no matter where he is.

Oh, he gets fiber; he gets only canned cat food and a bit of oil, too. But he still gets stopped up. He is quite mortified by it, as tomcats often are. And he's had worse episodes.

I got out the cat-carrier, figuring in there he won't absent-mindedly stop, strain and wet all over the floor. Tommy Cat took one look at the carrier...and hopped right in. Maybe he's hoping for a trip to the cat-doctor. ...Sadly, I can't really afford the rates the 24-hour vet charges right now and my own recent health problems have left me with scant energy for the drive. Hoping to take him to the regular vet tomorrow if his problem hasn't, er, moved by then.

No Big Post This Morning

No time. About a third of the way through what may be the thrilling conclusion to "A Short Hop," but not far enough along to post it. Come back this evening!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One-Term President

It appears that Eric Holder (remember how all us bloggers fretted over him?) is bound and determined to ensure President Obama will be a one-term President: he says the administration plans to bring back the Assault Weapons Ban. Cle-ver. And as subtle as a hammer.

Update: I note Mr. Holder makes sure to mention "hand grenades and automatic weapons," things which are not "assault weapons" as previously defined. As far as I am aware, hand grenades are a just plain old no-go under Federal law -- and full-auto weapons are severely restricted; no new ones have been available for civilian ownership since '86 and Uncle Sam keeps a loving eye on the ones still in private hands. Another AWB will not solve the non-existent problem of American machine guns and hand grenades going to Mexican druglords. If they're buyin' ordinary guns (through straw purchases), I know exactly how to stop that: better border control. I'm sure our dear friends in the Mexican government will rush to help.... /Update

...Speaking of "subtle as a hammer," I note with some irked amusement the lefty blogger who fell over, read some of the Usual Blather, and decided any talk of "voting from the rooftops," the Second Amendment as a check on government overreaching, and "the soap box, ballot box, jury box and cartridge box" simply must be calls to take out the Chief Executive.*

Nope, not. Look, I don't like the guy's politics and I like his pals -- heavy-handed tools like Attorney General Holder, for example -- even less. But I wanna see 'em voted out, I wanna see 'em sent home to muse upon their errors and failure. While there will always be loonies out there, the Freepers are no more dangerous than their opposite numbers over at Democratic Underground -- possibly less so, as they're a bit more hard-headed in their grasp of the reality of jails and police pursuit.

And the reality is, 99.9999999% of Americans disapprove of shootin' politicians, especially Presidents. ...Not to mention that in our system of government, it makes very little change. Some ijit tries to take out the Prez and I get wind of it, I'll stop him by any means necessary; I don't have to approve of a man's politics to wanna preserve his life. And, lefties? --That's not an unusual sentiment.

(Okay, I still think pretty much all of Congress could be tried and convicted for conspiracy to violate the civil rights of citizens under color of law; and I admit to thinkin' that ought to be a capital offense. But they won't be, it isn't and that's what we're stuck with).

...I'll get back to the doings aboard the starship Lupine later on.
* I was also bemused by a commenter describing the NY Post "chimp" cartoon as racist -- yet somehow ignoring A) eight years of chimp cartoons lampooning President Bush and B) President Obama did not, in fact, write the stimulus bill. It's a contact sport, kiddo, get over it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'd Post About Politics

...But I'm not impressed with what I'm seeing these days; the permitted debate is more over exactly how we want our socialism served up and if we want fries with that than any real issues -- and it ignores a very real divide in public opinion.

Leading up to the presidential election, public opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to bailing out lenders, so much so it crashed the phone system serving Congressional offices. Didn't make any difference. The same thing happened with automakers begging for a bailout and the porkulous bill -- and received little coverage and made no difference.

Oh, the two parties continue to spit and spat and the GOP is back to playing, with adequate skill, a dog in the Congressional manger; but I believe the issues that divide Washington are not the issues that divide public opinion. While the blinkered faithful remain content to be led by posturing politicos and an increasingly lazy media, more and more citizens are finding their voices are not heard. It is a trend that, if it goes on long enough, could lead to another realignment in the party system. It has happened before. Could it be about to happen again? I don't know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Short Hop, Part 4

The pause that followed was....gravid. Electric. I had made my mind up to head back to the shop and even in the process of unbuckling and standing, I heard the Third Officer's inhalation, "..."

--Interrupted by Big Tom's voice over the 'comm, "Your number five monitor, EVA, on her way to S8." Saved by the intercom!

"Oh! Okay. Emily? Just get Ess Eight shut off and get back to the safepoint. I'll give you a count from, um, two and a half, mark."

...At the three-minute mark, by my wristwatch. I'm a sucker for drama; I sat back down. Hull-crawling is not my strongest skill; if I'm in vacuum, I'm working around the 'Drive mast and ion engines, mother-henning riggers who think they're baby-sitting me. Even to do that much, you have to have had the classes on what's where, especially airlocks, safepoints and landmarks. The dear ol' Lupine is, after all, larger than some counties; suited up, with a radio, plenty of air and the safety lines secure, there are still plenty of ways to die on the hull, inches away from air and light and people inside, if you don't know what you're about. The graywater plant and the fat pipes that feed it is a landmark (if you'll pardon the term!) because there are safepoints all around it. The thing's one of many retrofits, installed with E&PP's typical dour pessimism. Cutting to the chase, Em couldn't have far to go.

Russ spoke up, "Load preset five-A, Navs; that'll buy us another half-minute. I'm going to need quiet on the bridge from here on out, even if your hair is on fire if it's not on task it can wait."

EVA: "Two minutes, Em. --I think she nodded, Russ. Em? Remember, big gestures."

"Two-and-half away, on vector and tracking. We will go with five-alpha; give me six, six-baker and ummm, 8 on my C, D and E; set up B for a full abort. DQ, Insystem Drive, you copy? Might get a little busy."

"DQ aye."

"Wha--? Guh, In-Sys, okay." Oh, that Jonny Zed, would you not just know he'd be on-duty for this one. Good of Russ to wake him, really.

"Em's at the valve! She's... Oh. It doesn't look like it's moving-- Okay, there it goes."


Monday, February 23, 2009

A Short Hop, Part III

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

It was at that point, if you happened to be sitting EVA, that it all began to go well and truly pear-shaped. There are voices one expects to hear on the Bridge during Stardrive work -- mostly the Pilot, followed, at a respectful distance and volume, by terse acknowledgments, updates and the occasional alarum from the workin' crew: Navs, 'Drive Control, Realspace Drive. You do not want to hear from E & PP, as things wrong in their domain are usually along the lines of sewer lines experiencing unexpected reversal* or unplanned depressurization; you never want the Power Room gang speaking up, since their next line is likely to be, "lights out!" and you don't want to hear from my lot, either, considering we'll probably be telling you the controls or the 'Drive or the electric realspace drives are on the blink. But most of all, most of all, you do not want to hear from Upstairs. City Hall: Command staff.

Most of the time, they stay out our hair and we stay out of theirs. Dr. Schmidt's up there all the time, of course, and the Chief Pilot gets invited up for dinner 'pon occasion, but it's all admin, "interfacing" with the Starship Company and schmoozing with passengers. Scary stuff. But tradition is tradition: whenever we jump, whoever's in the hot seat stands his or her watch in the Bridge proper. Just our luck, this little leap was smack in the middle of the 8-to-12 trick. Yes, sailors, that ossifer, though we abbreviate it 3/O. Let us all recite together that most irritating yet needful traditional responsibility of the Third Mate: Safety Officer. On a starship, it's almost a sinecure: there are so many Safety tasks to be done and a whole section of E&PP to do them; but the young gentlemen do tend to take it seriously.

Click! Lazy EVA was still on a speaker not a headset, so I could practically hear the brass in the rarely-flipped switch, "EVA, Lt. Luna** here. Am I hearing you have a solo crewman on the hull, with a defective radio?"

As EVA began to stammer, Pilot (and Boy-Scout-to-the-rescue) Russ Hanks spoke up, "And we're coming up on three minutes 'til jump, with a serious stability issue, sir."

EVA: "Um, yessir, Greggo's suit got downchecked at the last minute and Steve's out with a twisted ankle; it was supposed to be a quick job."

3/O: "EVA, you will see me after the jump. Russ, what are our contingencies if we miss this window?"

"Navs?" Russ asked, "It'd be another day, right?"

"Call it twenty-three hours. And a harder vector change on the other side."

EVA, unfortunately enough: "Where's Em?"

* Per C. Jay: "I opened up the washroom door and there was the most disgusting fountain I had ever seen." Ew.

** Honest, it really is his name and he has already heard all the jokes, okay? Off-duty Gerry's as nice a guy as you'll meet. For an officer.

It Makes Me Feel Good

...To know that there are 10 to 100 cargo ships out there proudly flying the flag of Outer Mongolia. And of Switzerland. It just appeals to me.

I Did Not Put Them Up To It

Honest, I didn't: Blackwater is now Xe. (Or U.S. Training Center, or a couple of other names, depending on the task. Xe is the boots-on-the-ground division. Still the same fine folk). And I never even got my "Blackwater Airships" T-shirt, either. Hey, the Pro Shop is still open!

...I'm tryin' to picture the high-level meeting: "Hey, let's rename ourselves after Xenon, a noble gas!" 'Cos, you know, it could not possibly be a mildly-snarky reference to Xenophon, right? Guy that marched home outta Persia with ten thousand of his buddies and wrote the report, Anabasis? Not him.


Health Update

(Since I started this) --My back still hurts, now well-localized to the right side, around about kidney level. Very nagging-annoying but not a show-stopper. Seeing as how Skunk Works Main Campus is very nearly spittin' distance to a Large Modern Hospital, way closer than Roseholme, it's off to the diggings for me. Might as well -- sometimes the very best treatment is to get in there and try to be useful!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Overheard at Roseholme:

A: [head stuck in cabinet] "Any ideas about brunch?" [emerges with waffle iron]

B: "I dunno. I am not so very much about waffles."

A: "toadinthe'ole?"*

B: "Toadmeal?"

A: "Yeah! 'Toadmeal: the warty goodness of toads combined with the high fiber of oatmeal!'"

B: [snickering] "Toadmeal!"

A: "For all the toad-eaters on your staff!"

Sometimes mumbling leads to serendipitous results. Just sayin'. Also? No matter how bad the economy gets, I do not expect "toadmeal" to catch on. But you never know.
* Around here, an egg fried in a hole punched in a slice of bread. Fast, filling, cheap.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Health: Fail

Update: Doc-inna-box (different dude this time) put me back on Cipro. We'll see what that does. Swelp me, if tomorrow starts in the same manner as today, I'll go to the ER. Still hurting, intensity varies, haven't had a really bad episode since right after brunch. But I still feel crummy enough that my next stop is bed. And a heating pad.

Serious mid-back pain yesterday, which hit on the way to work, just about felled me getting out of my car (slammed face-first into my car door instead, a lucky thing really, the pavement being so very far down and so cold, not to mention abrasive), then slooooowly faded over the course of the day. Pain returned this morning worse than ever. Three times now, I have moved or breathed or thought wrong and found myself hung up hooks of pain, barely able to move and making the most interesting sorts of sounds.

Because I am stubborn, I made a fancy scrambled-egg breakfast, with mushrooms, bacon, sausage, potatoes, scallions and a topping of diced radish and "Italian" shredded cheese (mozerella, asiago and I-forget-what). And just about did myself in bending to take the bacon out of the oven where it was keeping warm.

Because I am a creature of just impossible vanity, I'm off for a very cautious shower now and thence to either doc-in-a-box or the ER. Tam has convinced me not to drive myself and by "convinced" I mean in a conversation something like, "Are you insane? You can't even sit down on the couch without making a noise like a rabbit caught in a trap and you want to drive?" Unh, "No," and "Yes," respectively? Turned out that was The Wrong Sort Of Answer.

So, see ya later. The odds favor something like kidney stones. Geesh. Let it be noted that I do not approve of this.

Og, We Hardly Knew Ye

Neaderpundit has hung up his keyboard, raw venison and all. I will miss him, both despite and because of the steady stream of anecdotes of the sort small boys whisper to one another and adults tsk-tsk at in public and grin or goggle at in private.

Don't stop writing, Og; you have a rare gift.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Short Hop, Part 2

I wandered out the shop and back down the hall to the window looking into the bridge. The sliding hatch was still ajar.

"All right, everybody, quiet down." This from Russ, who was frowning at the displays in front of him, "This isn't a big jump; your EVA is secured, E&P?"


"Set systems for jump, we're coming up on five away about..." On the small display in front of him, a square turned red; klaxons sounded throughout the ship followed by the canned announcement, "Five minutes! Five minutes! Secure now!" as Russ finished with a satisfied smile, ""

"E&PP reports sec-- awcrap. EVA, Em was on the graywater recirc line for Starboard Forward, right? I've got a whole section of solenoid valves red."

"EVA. got it in one."

"Russ, we're gonna get some sloshing on vector changes, maybe a lot if this tank valve's really open."

The pilot frowned again. "How bad?"

"The tank's twenty kay, it two-thirds full. Baffles in it, but the run to the purifier is just about a straight line down the long axis."


"We've got maintenance shutoffs --GV S7 and GV S8, for sure. S7's best."

"EVA, how close is Emily to those?"

About then the four-minute warning sounded (same klaxon, similar announcement, all general-illumination blinked twice (for the hearing-impaired and gripe all you like, it's a good idea). I flipped down one of the jump seats along the hall and buckled in. That put the bridge out of my line of sight but I could still hear:

EVA: "Em, we've got valves showing open. You're near..."
E&PP: "S7"
EVA: "S7, right? ...No? S8? Can you get there and back in...three and a half minutes?"


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Short Hop

"Emily? Emily, do you hear me? --You did say she's on comms three, right?" The EVA Supervisor turned slightly towards the Comms op, who had already keyed his mic to reply.

"Three, yep."

I heard it as I walked by the open door to the bridge, headed back to the Engineering Shop from the washroom (transitions don't bother me much but the regular plumbing shuts down at the five-minute mark and I'd rather avoid the zero-G version). Coming in to our next stop, the ship needed to make a short "hop" to end up near the right place at a vector our conventional drives could alter to drop us into planetary orbit. So the bridge was fully crewed -- looked like Russ was the pilot for this one, a guy who had the demeanor and appearance of a English Lit. prof or a minor poet; a calm and quiet fellow, hardly the image of a dashing star pilot. From the tone of the EVA Super, he was going to need that calm, too. The only "Emily" I could think of who was likely to be outside was an Environment and Physical Plant Tech -- and just now was not a good time to be on the hull.

By the time I got back to the Eng. Shop, the guys had punched around on the outside camera array and pointed one at her; she was grinning and waving, then pointed at her mouth -- no, the mic. Comms monitor was up, too: "Emily, can. you. hear. me? Engineering to Bridge, please!"

Big Tom leaned towards the 'comms panel, punched the key with "EVA" glowing on the display above it and said, "Yes, she can, but her mic's dead. Looks like she's secured, ask her."

"Emily, have you strapped down? We're about five away from the jump."

On the monitor, she nodded and pointed to the wide straps crossing her pressure suit. She must have realized the nearest airlock was too far away when the ten-minute warning went out, and headed for one of the safepoints, an oversized chair-like widget with suitably scaled-up restraints. It's not that much more rougher out on the hull than inside during a hop but it can be enough worse that you don't want to rely on a simple tether. --Also enough worse there's a count from an hour prior; there's always somebody who gets caught nevertheless, but rarely outside the ship.

Tom punched the router controls and then keyed the 'comms again, "Vid on your number six monitor, EVA." He rolled his eyes at the rest of us -- EVA Super can call up the hull cameras directly but many of them don't bother hunting through for unplanned locations.

EVA: "I see you, Em," receiving another wave and a worried but cheerful grin in return.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Z Machine

...Why make it up when all you have to do is report reality?

Want the hottest thing on Earth? Use a Z Machine! (Warning, some side effects may occur -- like small-scale nuclear fusion). Oh, yeah!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Couldn't You Spend The Time Destructively?

Dept. of Well Why Not? As my .mil (and ex-military) readers already know, the Pentagon has their (its?) own TV channel -- complete with programs like"The Grill Sergeants," which is pretty much just what you think.

"...[A]vailable to all stateside cable and satellite providers..." it says right there on the About page, but bedarned if I've ever found 'em on my DSS receiver. Funny, that. But there it is on the Innerweb.

Who What Hunh?

What craven new world is this? No, srsly -- watching a compilation of the Sunday interview shows ("Newsertainment" at its...most time-filling) and related excreta, I watched as nominally-Republican Lindsey (ptoo) Graham (RHINO*, Carolingua-de-Sur) chortled over the prospect of nationalizing banks while a senior Obama advisor recoiled from the idea and no less than Charles ("the American people don't care if we add a little pork") Schumer (D, Far-Left Gerrymanderstan) said Uncle Sam is clueless about lending.

But Maxine Waters (Communist, Mars) halted the madness, admitting ruefully, "...I don’t think that we are ready to move to the point of a formalized nationalized banking program yet." Yet. And as long as it's only de facto nationalization and not de jure, us rubes in flyover country will never notice, riiiiight. (We've been as good as there for decades already).

Or, as Tam put it: "Great, just what we need, a run on the banks." I'd put on my tinfoil hat and call it a plot but it's nowhere near clever enough.
* "Republican? Ha! In Name Only." If you wondered about the H.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Darnedest Article

Most "authorized journalists" walk through their careers viewing and reporting through the lens of their own predetermined conclusions. Every once in awhile, though, one of 'em gets slammed with reality hard enough to see what's actually in front of them -- take this self-confessed Marxist, reporting on and from Iraq and criticizing one of his doveish peers:

I'm phobically allergic to the conservative Republican types the military is rife with, but I've only been in country four months and already I hate liberals.

At first I though he was being smarmily sarcastic but 'twould appear otherwise; he is careful to tell us "The U.S. is an empire" and "I don't think we should be here [Iraq]." ...And then proceeds to relate,

One thing I learned quickly is that the military's officer corps is filled with the best of America's minds--kids that aced their college entrance exams, were the captains of their ball teams, and had to be nominated by senators to go to the schools they did. These are the guys (along with their much more experienced superiors) that are deciding strategy--and they're fucking smart.

I did not think there were any real journalists remaining, the old-school kind, clear-eyed despite professing political views I despise. It seems I was wrong -- or at least that some time spent in a war zone with Marines can still open some eyes.

Online Carry Permit Application

Why wasn't I told sooner? Indiana has an online application form for the LTCH ("Carry Permit"). So far, only for Boone, Clinton, Howard, Marion, Miami and Wells counties, but pretty kewl! Supposedly expedites the process too, per IMPD. The change of address/request for duplicate form is online, too.

So what's your excuse now?

Sunday, February 15, 2009


[Update: Pleeeeze, if you were there and I missed linking to your blog, comment or e-mail and I will add you!]

Sunday's BlogMeet was an unqualified success, with over a dozen bloggers and blog readers in attendance (Tam: "There were a lot of people!")

Caleb was able to put in an all-too-brief attendance; the crowd included Old Grouch, Shermlock (bonus: the much-missed Joanna shows up in comments at 21/2 Baker St.), Mrs. Shermlock and Hagbard Celine, a/k/a Shermlock the younger (but not that young!), Turk Turon from far-off Turonistan[1], Kerry, Wayne, Mike and...and, well, I should have taken notes; I have a good memory for faces but no ability at all with names.[2] I had a delightful conversation with a young couple late of Terre Haute, who I hope will excuse inadvertent anonymity.

The coveted "Cup of Turonistan," awarded to the attendee traveling the farthest, went this time to Ted, a visitor from Atlanta![3]

La Piedad's excellent food (and excellent service) was enjoyed by all and afterward, most of us wandered down to the Broad Ripple Brew Pub for afters. Naturally, we solved all the problems of the world and just as naturally, none of us took notes. So you'll have to keep on muddlin' through, alas.

Our next will be in March, Deus volente -- and I hope to see you there! ....Might wanna wear a nametag....
1. Sometimes referred to as "the missing 'stan" or even "the lost 'stan." Turonistanis beg to differ, as they know exactly where they are and point out it is not their fault if the rest of us can't find their country on the map even with an index
2. Which explains why I have to have my own name in large print at the top of my blog, lest I forget!
3. Or was it Atlantis? Surely not. Also, see earlier comments about me and names.

The Sound Was My Head Exploding

...Standing in front of the TV in my bedroom, lacing a belt through the loops of my jeans, I'm looking at pundits positively chortling with glee -- chortling! -- over this "new and different time" in which the President gets to decide "if CitiBank should be allowed to go under, if GM should be allowed to go under..." And they are very warm'n'fuzzy about this, if a bit concerned about the horrors that may come to pass if the helping hand of AmSoc doesn't grease the skids.

Words fail me. I tried an only slightly minced oath and it wasn't enough. Even an unminced one isn't enough. Failing businesses must be allowed to auger in. Why is it even a question of "allow?" Yes, it hurts it hurts, I know this, I rode medium-market radio almost all the way down (thanks to multiple-station ownership and modern automation, it has since come back, a little, but it's much, much smaller).

Whatever you reward, you get more of. Reward banks that make bad loans, carmakers with the wit, decision-making process and response time of diplodocids? Guess what you'll get!

I have seen the future and short-term, it is made of Fail. Long-term? Jury's still out -- and we're all on it.

Next Thing To Being There?

...Is paying for it. From 1898 to 1902 and 1914 to 2006. Remember the Maine!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

De-Nerfing Childhood

Yep, someone other than us finally noticed -- Boing-Bong links to a (free online!) book that "...argues that childhood is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion and its intrusion into every aspect of children’s lives." Gee, ya think?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Take The Soda Challenge!

85% of readers preferred this* soft drink to this one. Just sayin'. YMMV but with all due respect, I do not want to know. Oh so very not. Oh, Great Ghu not.

PS: It cures what? No it doesn't.
* Geesh, I love the Innernet. What's the opposite of a ne plus ultra secret formula? Yeah, that: somebody (in this instance, as is so often the case, Cory Doctorow, who I believe is actually 17 or 18 guys) had to go and open-source a cola.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Posting Something About Satellites That Crash

But I dunno what. I really wanted to figure out how come Cheyenne Mountain* didn't see this one coming a little in advance -- it's their job, after all. Then it turned out maybe they did. Earth orbit's not Main Street but the sky's gettin' a tad crowded. (Note linked data is NORAD-sourced but via Celestrak, a very useful service). Even so, whattaya gonna do? The Russian bird is a dead duck and the Irid-Chapter 11-ium can't dodge much even if it's got the Stoff to do so. (Not a lotta thrust there, and only so much propellent -- the oil truck, it does not stop by in orbit. Also, Iridium went Tango Uniform once already and the new owners, not so much with the ready cash). So, cross fingers and whups.

14 Feb: Update from Reuters with some, er, interesting non-comments. Oh, to have been a fly on some select walls for this one!

--You'd'a thunk one of the starship companies would have sent up a squirt-booster to salvage the Russian scrap, but hey, remember, it's a sooper-sekrit program and that sort of thing tends to tip the hand.
* A commenter -- and Wikipedia -- points out that the US/Canada sat-tracking guys and gals, best in the world, mostly do their thing from other locations these days, one at an Air Force base near Colorado Springs but not under a mountain. Which is sad but it's been awhile since even a mountain was good enough shelter if somebody really wanted to smash what was under it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Machines That Walk

Okay, I'm hooked:

It's based on a Hoekens linkage, a perfectly marvelous gadget that makes sense after you've seen it. Especially after you have seen it walk away!

Thanks (indirectly) to The Supersonic Reflectoscope.

Another Litter Of Capitalists?

Reason does this'n justice. Me, I'm just aghast. Turns out the whole problem (???) with capitalism is that it won't do as it's told.

Also, apparently Congress keeps trying to put capitalim in a bag. I grew up in the country -- that's what people (usually city types) did with unwanted puppies and kittens before they slung 'em off the nearby bridge. Well, it's good to know where horrid, awful moneygrubbers like the eeeebil capitalists I work for rate. But it doesn't increase my confidence any.

Congress. Rope. Tree. Some assembly required -- but I dream. Two years 'til the next chance to have at 'em, no? Vote the bastards out, hard. All of 'em who are facin' a vote. They did this and they need to go.

Sure It's Bad Here

(Just pulled the wrong cord and blew my first draft to perdition -- bedarned if I know how but there are dangerous "shortcut keys" on this keyboard).

Sure, things have taken a turn for the worse here, for all that President Obama isn't nearly Left enough to suit many of the ijits people who voted for him -- but it could be worse! (Others seem find occasion for humor -- warning, not for the easily-offended).

Down Venezuela way, they've had to abjure folk not to eat (or otherwise destroy) their paper ballots. Seems Pugsley is tryin' to push through a Constitutional change so's he can be El Supremo For Life* and it needs a referendum so it will look all proper an' legal -- and when you mess up your ballot, you're not goin' along with the progressive program. For that there are, of course, serious penalties. For their own good. Feh.
* Hint: when your country's Chief Executive, Prime Minister, Premier, Head Honcho or whatever Panjandrum makes noises about this, it's time to remove him, by any means whatsover. I would suggest hanging, drawing and quartering, but simple defenestration or a high-velocity vote from a rooftop will do. Um, bear in mind that the jerk's bodyguard will outlive him and are usually annoyed at losing their meal ticket; the personal cost is high. But seriously -- remember Lord Acton's maxim and do the right thing. It's for damn sure the would be El Supremo won't. An outstanding characteristic of the U.S. is that our Presidents, when they are voted out, are happy to pack up and get when their term is over. There are usually half-witted rumors but in the end, dude walks away lookin' much relieved. Heck, we've even hounded 'em out and they still went without a fuss when it came Moving Day.

Okay, It's Later

In no little haste-- After having been chivvied into the shower (a Very Good Thing, let me point out) at just about the time I was awake enough to write, here's an update: I slept nine and a half hours last night (rather than the usual six or less) and I could have slept more.

Fatigued and irritable and without much free time, that's the thirty-second read. More, as in actual content, later.

(Unrelated PS: looks like you'd better buy a toilet float while you still can -- better yet, buy two and mail the the extra one to Des Moines PD, as they need them for familiarization drills).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Come Back Later

...Right now I'm back doin' the doctors-and-prescriptions fandango. Sigh. So, of course there's a big-deal health screening (for bucks off our medical insurance payments) at the Skunk Works next week. I've been wearin' my spinach and eatin' all my galoshes for a month now, not to mention plenty of oatmeal (good thing I like the stuff). It's a few dollars off per health-nazi bullet-point: Body Mass Index, cholesterol, blood pressure, non-smoker, non-heroine heroin addict, blood sugar, never been adjudged a danger to oneself or others --the usual things. Now this. Gack.

Update 1: Yes, it is funny my fingers typed "heroine" instead of "heroin." Y'ask me, too many folks are addicted to non-heroines. And antiheros.

Update 2: Doc-in-a-box night before last and done too late to get 'scrip filled after; affordable pharmacy last night, so I'm one tab in on two weeks worth of killsyerillincycline. Actually feelin' better but that's just what Terry Pratchett's Discworld witches call "headology." To quote Esme Weatherwax, "I aten't dead," okay?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Underneath Rocks

A raw look into the mind of an Obama fan. This is what passes for thinking over on the Left. Yeah, I'd like to believe anyone of normal intelligence would sing out, "We wuz robbed!" when the pig in a poke they bought turned out to be a cat in a bag but as near as I can follow, John V. wants to go on pretending it's a pig. Good luck with that!

The more I see, the more convinced I am that the Democrats have finally found their Nixon.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February BlogMeet!

Location map here. Image cheerfully nicked from Shermlock Shomes of 21/2 Baker Street.

Oh, The TeeVee

Tam and I were having dinner (Bazebeaux pizza, yum) and looking at the toob when an ad came on for a skin product that nearly did us in, giggling. With all due respect to the rod wax people, who make wonderful products, the third time we heard the phrase "Vaseline men," we looked at each other and started to snicker.*

But that's not nothin' -- now it turns out one of the online viddy sources wants to eat our brains! I knew that guy was an alien!
* This is even better if you have heard tell of the way the occasional loony or bored prison inmate will get nekkid and slather up with petroleum jelly or similar in order to frustrate would-be captors. I know of a least one howler along those lines, but it's not my story to tell. "Slippery characters," indeed.

Never Try To Teach A Pig To Sing

...It frustrates you and annoys the pig. But sometimes annoying a pig is fun.

Update from Tam: he's closed comments. Reasoned Discourse has broken out! Also from Tam: "He says people are buying guns in Indiana and shooting people in Chicago? Why do they drive to IL to shoot people?" Tam and me in unison: "In Indiana, they can shoot back!"

PS: about that smoking-ban thing? That sucks, too. And I say that as an ex-smoker.

PPS: He says I shouldn't carry because Bad Men will just take my gun away and do Bad Things. I invited him to come over and try, using a gun-shaped-object, but alas, I was too late and comments were already closed. Hey, Mike Licht, the offer's still open: come take a safe but gun-shaped object from me using your bare hands and I will give you $50 American. I'll say "bang" every time I have a shot after you open the attack and we'll see how long it takes. But you have to sign a release not to sue me if I get enthusiastic and pistol-whip you, 'kay? Step up or shaddup.

PPPS: Also, afterward, we can go the the range and you can criticize my marksmanship.

Who's Your Daddy?

Mr. Clinton, Ms. Clinton and Mr. President Obama, with their take on an interesting little dance-craze that's sweeping the nation!

Go forth unto the link (at Unwanted Blog) and see! Thrillin'. Or not.

And This Is Your Brain On Bass

See, this is why you should turn that stuff down! --And get offa my lawn! Or something.

Ah, what the dickens, turn it up. Might be interesting.

LiveLeak via BoingBoing Gadgets.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Gummit Works?

Credit where credit's due: Indiana's BMV continues to surprise me; not only have they sped up processing at the License Branch locations, they offer many services online. I had procrastinated long enough that renewing my plates by mail wasn't an option and I assumed online renewal was likewise out.

Not so -- for a small additional fee, they'll expedite the process and get new plates to you, the hapless taxpayer, within three business days.

If (and it's a very big if) we're gonna have to shell out to get ID tags stuck on our own vehicles, at least the process is otherwise painless. The BMV didn't wish themselves into existence and they're not competing for customers against the Brand X BMV down the street -- so props to 'em for not makin' dealing with them any worse than it has to be. They were not always so user-friendly; the BMV of my teen years was like takin' a trip to the gulag, except not as nice and there weren't any meals, which was a pity since it usually took long enough you'd've wanted to bring lunch.

...Hard-core anarchowhatever types will snarl at me over this but there are better ways to cope than to kick and scream over every little thing -- and far better places to direct one's energy than against low-level bureaucrats who are doin' their level best.

When I was very young indeed and working part-time as studio help for a small cable TV company, we had a fellow from the Social Security Adminsitration, as stereotypical an accounting-type as could be, who did an hour program, live, one evening every week in which he would explain in great detail how to get through this or that arcane procedure at Social Security -- what forms you'd need, what documentation to bring, and so on. It was dry as dust and looked like it was a lot of work; I asked him one day if he got paid extra for it and he looked surprised. "No," he said, "I just wanted to try to make it easier for people to figure this stuff out."

Social Security is a crummy Ponzi scheme, a socialist institution of which I have a very low opinion -- but that guy is nevertheless one of my heroes. Given a preposterous job in which the ill-prepared run headlong into the inflexible, he neither quit nor became a cynic; he rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He was just a little nebbishy guy at a little office in a little town -- and he didn't let that stop him. I've got a lot more respect for a fellow who steps up than for the folks who sit back and sneer, even when I'm not impressed with his particular cause.

The future belongs to those who show up. See that you do.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Melt, Baby, Melt

Supposed to get up to 40 dee-grees today and I, for one, can't hardly wait. I'm not sure I will even know what to do, after our foot-plus of snow followed by colder'n dammit, but I shall certainly give it the old school try.

50 (Fifty!) tomorrow, plenty warm even in American degrees. I'm hoping to spend the morning at the Indiana Historical Radio Society's Winter meet and kinda-sorta have to hie myself to DMV for plates after. If there's enough of a melt and not too much wind, it will be a very great temptation to check tire pressure and oil levels of my scooter, layer up my riding gear and trundle up there on two wheels. Wise? Prolly not, though I'm more concerned about exposing my Chetak to road salt.

Forecast shows a prolonged warming trend. Could be that Winter will be ending, by and by -- I'm always skeptical until it happens.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Got Nothing

Yeah, blank. I'd found a real bedwetting "what about the poor and elderly?" hum-dinger in favor of the DTV transition delay but it's moot now -- Congress passed it, the President's going to sign it and there it is. As for the poor and elderly, you've got four months to save up for that 54" plasma HDTV so you'd better start skippin' lunch now. Er, those of you who hadn't had to give up on lunches already, anyway.

Help me out here -- I don't remember my Dad talkin' about getting his starter TV for free, and he worked for RCA. So how come...?

Sure wish there was something good to watch on the radio. At least there's always a good book!

Scootering In Japan

Classic scooters, they're not. More like undersea creatures! Have a look at up close & personal video of Scootering In Japan.

HOPE Copyright Infringement

Update: Fairey arrested on outstanding warrants in MA. Nobody's saying just what the warrants were for -- possibly spray-painting outside the lines?

Now that the din has subsided, the Associated Press, everyone's favorite dog in the copyright manger, has suddenly realized the source image for Shepard Fairey's ubiquitous (and IMHO, scary as hell) "HOPE" poster was one they own and is seeking credit and back royalties.

Unh, "Oops?" Plenty of oops all 'round, I think -- AP's had rather a lot of time to dope this out (you'd'a thunk they'd've spoken up sooner), not that their tardiness excuses Mr. Artist Man not doing his de-darned homework. Or is it a case of "Fair Use?" I don't know, that seems a stretch.

On a side note, the even scarier "CHANGE" poster (scroll down) turns out to be based on an image supplied by the Obama campaign to Fairey, one to which they had clear rights. Somebody has an inkling of copyright law! Shep, ol buddy ol' pal, looks like you're on your own -- here's HOPing for ya!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

You Need This

Unorganized Militia Propaganda Corps patches, sticker and pins! Way kewl!

Rose-Hulman's Rifle Team Needs Your Support!

I'm posting this as received:

As you have heard, Rose-Hulman is cutting our rifle program citing budget issues. We have petitioned the administration and today have gained approval to continue through the 09-10 season with zero funding from our school and using our own money, but will be pushed to a club level team after that season concludes. We will be starting a fundraising campaign and further pressing the institution to let us continue at the NCAA level under own power until the budget opens back up. Please pass this along to any and all networks you desire. If you wish show your support, here are the people to contact:

President Gerald Jakubowski
VP Student Affairs Pete Gustafson

If you do contact these gentlemen, please thank them for allowing us to continue for one more season and pose the question of what it would take to continue for more.

I have already received some offers of donations. If you are able and willing to make such a contribution, please send checks made out to the team to my snail mail directly and I will file them accordingly with the school.

I am convinced that this is not the end of our program, simply a new chapter in its excellent existence.

Truly Yours In Shooting,

Jason LaBella
BS Mechanical Engineering, 2004
Head Rifle Coach
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
CM 41
5500 Wabash Avenue
Terre Haute, IN 47803

If you send e-mail, be positive and supportive, y'hear? We need more geeks with guns and Rose-Hulman is a major source of the best sort of alpha geekery.

One Bright Spot!

HuffPo bemoans the Obama Administration's rejection of "Progressive" economists. Per the Huffies, the appointees are the wrong sort of Democrats.

Well, that didn't take long, did it?

Engineering FAIL

Note to self: do not hire MEs who cannot successfully hang a car from a bridge. This is not going to look good on your resumes, guys.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I'm Late! I'm Late!

...Or will be, if I don't type fast. Woke up in plenty of time but took an extra ten to snuggle with the smallest cat, now 18 and still only half-grown; she settled on the quilt and purred solidly the netire time. Then stumbled around making breakfast (Cream'O'Wheat instead of the usual oatmeal and a sliced orange, just 'cos) and wandered over to SnarkyBytes, where Alan has vids of a Fordson screwmaran snowtractor. (Which is a spellcheck trifecta, btw). Go see it!

Me, I am for the shower. It's snowing again, a nice slippery coating over the patches of ice left from our earlier snowfall and if I don't get a move on, I'll have to remember how to drive on that stuff.

Monday, February 02, 2009

February BlogMeet

Tam wants to visit Broad Ripple's La Piedad on 15 Feb for our next BlogMeet -- what say you? (Sounds good to me!). Just up the street from the Brewpub, so if the gents want to adjourn for cigars & brandy after, 'twould be but a stroll.

Why Izzit

...Why is it people in movies, dictating a telegram, say "stop" at the end of sentences? Did real people really say it? Here's the inside dope from 1928.

High-end Screwdrivers

WANT. That is all.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Bacon Pie!

From a reader: Bacon Pie. Me, I'd add eggs and potatoes -- but YMMV, de gustibus an' all that. As long as it's got bacon!

I'm A Spy?

Your International Spy Name is Domino Steel

Your Code Name: Fingercuffs

You Reside in: Las Vegas

Why You're a Good Spy: You're a good lover

Linguistic Patrol: Where Great Britain Used To Be

...One major city has been waging covert war against the apostrophe for fifty-odd years -- and have now brought the battle into the open!

They're claiming this is for reasons of modern efficiency but y'know what? It's no coincidence that the poor little apostrophe is the pointiest character on a modern keyboard. Think about it -- Asterisk? * The points all point in! The exclamation point has that dot, like the blunt end of a fencing foil. The caret or French quote? <> Too obtuse! And commas are bent. Nope, it's the apostrophe you dassn't run with an' prolly -- if you live in the UK -- shouldn't have at all. Why, you might hurt someone. They'll eventually have to hold spellin' bees in Belgium or Switzerland, mark my words.
* What to risk? H'm, that explains why it's all clenched-up like.