Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Key: All's Well That Ends Well

Or, Tam Visits A Locksmith. She's right, the new keys are better than the ones they replaced.

I Believe This Man Is High

Really, it's the only explanation: high. From "taxpayer-owned airways" (nope -- gummint-regulated and using largely privately-owned infrastructure at both ends, at least here in the States*) to "...for years wildly conservative voices at places like CBS, NBC, and ABC Sunday talk shows consistently overwhelm progressive voices." Riiight. This would be at the networks whose newsies compete to tongue-shine the current President's shoes, just as they did throughout his campaign. Okay then.

High. At least he's not trying to drive anything other than public opinion.
* Also, I'm pretty sure an "airway" is a preferred route on a pilot's map or the thing the paramedic uses so you can breathe despite having a constricted windpipe. "Airwaves," maybe, except they work in a vacuum, too. Like, oh, I dunno the one inside some writer's heads.

This...Is London

D. W. Drang links to yet another tale of adults-treated-as-toddlers, sharp-object phobia from the UK. This is gettin' ridiculous; I expect every day to read that ordinary Britons have taken to wrapping up their nanny-bureaucrats in cotton wool, excelsior and bubblewrap and mailing them off to disused oil platforms and Maunsell Sea Forts for everyone's own good. But I dream.

(Blogheadline stolen from this guy, who could put you right there using nothing but a microphone, his mind and his voice and who showed the world the tough, commonsense side of those important islands, long, long ago).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


No, not a Garand; I was opening the back door, hand on my key, when my purse slid down my arm.

That would be the key that cracked last week, the one I soldered up 'til I could get to a locksmith. Now with the key part stuck in the lock and the grip part still in my fingers.

This is why I wear a Leatherman tool; had the working part of the key backed out in a trice, the hard part being getting it lined up where it is free to slide out.

Tam pointed out Big Box Hardware/Materials was open and off we went.... Hey! they even had blanks that looked to be the right profile! Win!

Took forever to get a $D00D over and when he did arrive, he was like life in a state of nature: nasty, brutish and short. Took one look at the key and said, "Whoa. Can't do, we can't match that."

His boss, tall, older (by weeks) and with a nice collection of prison tattoos and an equally-winning demeanor shook his head. "Can't help yuh."

Tam was fuming, holding onto a blank that matched her house key. Shorty chimed up, "If the boss says we can't, we can't."

They traipsed off, perhaps to offer the same level of service to other soon-to-be-disgruntled customers, while Tam and I held a confab at the key counter. Eventually bossman showed up, just as happy as during his earlier visit, and Tam held up a blank. "Look, this matches." She'd had me get my broken key out and lay it on the counter, "And it matches hers, too. I really think this will work."

He gazed upon the keys in vague distaste tinged with loathing and favored us with the same. "I'll do it but you can't bring it back if it don't work." (We're talking a $3.00 key copy here...).

We both replied that was fine and good, we'd be happy just to try, la dah dee, smile, smile and he took the key and loaded it in the machine, ran it while helping another customer, gave it a lick-and-promise deburr and slapped it into my hand, assuring us, "Won't work."

We checked out at the self-service and on the way to my car, Tam remarked on how very pleasant the young men were not. I agreed. (Geez, do I hafta start wearin' somethin' low-cut to get decent service? Or wazzit the "Father knows best" thing with those two?)

Went home and tried the key. It's not great -- I even filed on it a little, with Tam wondering how wise that was (probably not very but hey, I'd rather fail trying, it's a geek thing) and it worked marginally better. It's still not great.

But it does work, and will do until we can run by a real locksmith.

Lowe's? Big Box Hardware And Attitude? Not my first choice for lock work, now more than ever. Come to think of it, rarely my first choice for anything; they're close and they sell water cheap.

Faux Toes

Would I lie? First, a small sampling of badging; as you can see, bloggers are a creative and variegated lot. Or is that "vegetative?" No, I think not.

It was a splendid day in Broad Ripple, mostly sunny but coolish, air as crisp as fresh apples. That being the case, we encamped upon the terrace. Or patio, or veranda (no, that'd have to be elevated) -- loggia? H'm, 'spect not, implies a formal colonnade not fronting a building.... Fine: outdoors. However you'd say that in Belgian (actually, you'd have to say it twice, so that'd be two words I haven't got instead of just the one).

There is a very nice outdoors area at Brugge, which looks toward a deck that overlooks the Monon Trail and past it to Broad Ripple Village proper, vide:I sort of blinked (flinched? Reminds self: cameras have no recoil) and must therefore apologize to Wayne and Mrs. Shomes, who are mostly out of frame to the right. We are, at the time of the photo, after first drinks and just before food, which I should also have photographed but was, in fact, too busy inhaling; which is to say the food there is goooood. We will be back!

See you at the next Indy BlogMeet? It's already pick-an-October-Sunday time, so let me know what'll work for you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

BlogMeet Photos?

...Later. I spent too much time on laundry and fooling with the Sistema. Old grip screw bushing out, best of my removed old ones in, this time with Loctite (purple). We'll see how it does. If the grip slips, I'm gonna put a shim under it.

No More William Safire?

Aw, darn it. Another one lost. Safire On Language was always worth reading. Still is; he has shuffled off his mortal coil but he left us stacks and stacks of very well-arranged words, which you should read.

(Another fellow whose work you should read -- and you can still send him a fan letter, too -- is James J. Kilpatrick, whose column The Writer's Art was perhaps the best single reason to read a newspaper; and if there was Safire column in the same edition, oooo, two reasons!)

Sights For My Sistema

After giving a lot of thought -- and a lot of shooting time -- I decided to have big sights (nice Trijicons!) put on my Sistema Colt. It returned Saturday (what a coincidence!) and I took it to the range Sunday afternoon prior to the BlogMeet. What an improvement! The old Argentine 1911A1 is very nearly a tackdriver even in my hands, and that's sayin' something. Looks nice, too.

The gunsmiths also fitted the safety to the sear (remember the drop-in Cylinder and Slide kit I installed?) so it's got a nice detent now, did a relief cut on the sear and generally touched it up. They even staked the grip bushings. (One worked loose at the range, probably a bit short on thread engagement -- I had to retap the frame earlier and it may be there wasn't enough metal there for the staking to hold. I can't blame the 'smith for that!* Maybe it's time to think oversize). Trigger pull is now even better than before, smooth and consistent.

I'm told my gun received a few admiring looks. It's very much what I wanted it to be, a traditional "old school" 1911A1 with modern lockwork and good sights, improved enough to function well but not all glammed up. I'm happy with it.

This gun is simply nice to shoot, and I say that as someone who was never all that fond of calibers that start with .4; at the range, I was going back and forth between it and my Ruger Mk. II .22 and it really is amazing.

I still need to buy more good magazines -- I've got two modern, padded-base ones, a couple of good old mags and a stack of generic gun-show beaters, good enough for the range but not dependable enough to carry. Can you ever really have enough magazines?

PS: BlogMeet photos this evening; these were already uploaded.

PPS: I'm kinda proud of gettin' the front sight in focus in the shooter's view photo. Only took two tries!
* Normal test-firing wouldn't have found it, and didn't -- I was four or five magazines in before it worked loose to any noticeable degree, just the least slippage as I shot. Yeah, I'm picky.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BlogMeet The Second

...It was a success. The food at Brugge was a hit! I even went so far as to try a beer. (...Okay but I prefer hard cider. I think I'm still a bit squiffy).

It was smartalec name badge day! (Photos at Brigid's. I have some, too but I am to darn sleepy to upload and edit tonight).

We had a good spot on Brugge's terrace next to the Monon and the staff could not have been more friendly and helpful. Move tables around? Sure! More people joining our group? Great! They even rang up a bill in the amount of $0.00 for Shootin' Buddy, so he wouldn't feel left out despite not ordering anything.

In attendance: Mycroft HOLMES IV, Wayne, Shermlock Sholmes and bride, Joanna, Old Grouch, Brigid, Rob K., Mad Saint Jack, Tam, Shootin' Buddy and Yr. Crspndt.

Much good conversation all 'round, plus excellent food. Joanna's first person reports from the 9/12 TEA party in Our Nation's Capitol were particularly interesting, though, alas, punctuated by, "...But we had to spend our [food/souvenirs/emergency/breathing air] budget on cab fare."

The October BlogMeet is coming up! Your suggestions for the date in Comments, please. And perhaps a theme? ...Zombies...?

A Visitor

Earlier the same night of Roseholme's Mysterious Doorbell Ring, I had another visitor, this one at the back door. Named Katy. Very pretty, if you like that leafy, elfin look and bright, bright green:When I say "leafy," it's no hyperbole; the wing covers are veined and shaped just like leaves. That color's about to go unseasonable, so it's probably egg-laying time.My attempt at a side view didn't come out as well but you get the idea. Some critter! Who knows, maybe next Spring we'll have more of 'em (judging from the sounds, we do have plenty). I wouldn't mind that, they're middlin' harmless and they do sing nicely of an evening.

And remember, not caryatid, katydid! (sound at second link). Really not caryatid.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


All done, knock wood. I replaced about 10' 7" of 1/2" galvanized pipe and a 90° elbow likewise, a ball valve and a nifty little copper triple-elbow with the same length of copper, plus a little to make up the vertical run and used the scariest, kewlest 90°s and couplings I've ever seen: SharkBites.

A hired plumber used them in the last repair to our...interesting plumbing, mostly because he was in a hurry and wanted to slambang it together with copper, this being a bit quicker than PEX for an old plumber because the support requirements are simpler. I was at work while he assembled it but I admired the end result and he pointed out there was a dealer a middlin' short drive away and that it was something a homeowner could do.[1]

It's not the cheapest way. Most half-inch fittings in this line have an MSRP a bit North of $8.00.

However, the connections will work with anything of the proper outside diameter -- PEX, copper, whatever. They double-click right together and there's the scary part: they're too darned easy! You can give 'em a forcible yank[2] to check but assembly still seems too gentle to be real. (There are special tools to release them, which of course I bought).

Started 1400, +/-, and finished the job around 1600, about the time Tam arrived home from her visit to the Auld Sod. I've had pressure on the system since 1630. We've subjected it to rapid shut-offs and so far it's all holding.

I still go and check every so often. I'm used to having to solder water pipe or wrench it together, either one with a lot of effort and redoing as needed. There's some Calvinist core in my mind that has trouble trusting anything that easy.

My out of pocket was a bit over $120.00, $40.00 of that for a very high-zoot Rigid brand tubing cutter. (I can't help it; one from the five and dime would probably do as well but the blamed thing is just so nicely made). I bought twice as much water line as I needed, one 20' stick. Actual project took about two hours, including draping a tarp over some of the shelves and removing the old iron pipe. One reason I keep checking is there are two 90°s and a straight coupling over one corner of the area where I have my ham radio setup; it's not really tarp-able and so I fret.

Time will tell. Wish me luck.
1. One advantage to having a basement fulla tools and such, the pros see it and some of them seem to assume I know which way is up.

2. There is no way I can phrase this without someone essaying a double-entendre. Consider your ace trumped already.

G20 Violence?

Called it. Shermlock has links. Rioting in Pittsburgh was entirely predictable. I did see a little coverage of this; NBC even reported that ordinary folks took my advice (well, somebody's) and found places to be other than downtown where the G20 and idiotarchists bloomed. (Gah! The nerve of those wankers calling themselves "anarchists," makes an ol' Anarcho-Capitalist like me so mad I wanna ring up the sanctioning body of anarchism, get the big boss on the line and...oh, right. Not got. Oops. They're still nasty little window-breaking wankers and in another time, many would have been wearing brown shirts instead of black).

Meanwhile, who remembers the phrase "cheese-eating surrender monkeys?" Might wanna reconsider: Nicolas Sarkozy reminds us in the real world, there might be actually, you know, bad guys with nukes, who don't wanna play nice with President Obama's call to beat fission and fusion weapons into expensive, glowing plowshares. I wonder if our President, ever-sensitive to "World Opinion," was listening? And you'll notice how this has made all the headlines and news programs.
What, not? Oh, shock.
(Found at The Unwanted Blog, which you should be reading if you aren't already).


Ten minutes ago, I didn't even know what sand animation was. Thanks to Radley Balko, not only do I know now, I've also just had glimpse into the Ukrainian experience of WW II. History, meet Art; meet Kseniya Simonova.

Astounding. Moving. And from, of all things, "Ukraine's Got Talent." Sure does!

(Also, +1 on the haircut).

Can't Sleep

About 40 minutes ago, call it 11:20, I was getting ready for bed. I'd stayed up to watch Robot Chicken, then shut off unnecessary lights and headed to my bedroom, where the smallest cat was snoozing on the bed. I sat down and prepared to trade house shoes and jeans and so on for a nightgown when the doorbell rang.


I grabbed a sidearm and raced to the door, peeking obliquely through the high window. No one in sight. I hollered, "If it's not an emergency, go away!" Nothing. I'd flipped on the dining room lights on my way through, so I turned them off and toured the windows. Nothing.

Thought about it and called the police non-emergency number. Told them what happened, thinking, well, don't I sound like a stereotypical old maid. Asked if they had any reports from my neighborhood. Nothing, but they said they'd send a car down the street. Police Dispatch called back five minutes later asking my exact house number, I told 'em (again) and then kept my eyes open; sure enough, an IMPD car came around the corner and went down the street, spotlighting yards and porches as he went.

So, here I am, armed to the teeth and wired on my own adrenaline. Anyone think I'm goin' to sleep soon? Noooooooo.

Rats. I need to -- well, I should -- go to the bank tomorrow morning. And I've picked up all the parts to try some plumbing, which I would as soon do during the day, after a good rest.

At my old place, I had several visits from very drunk people, most of whom were simply confused. (One was angry as can be, sure she was at her boyfriend's house. That was when my ex and I were still together and we had to call the police). Don't know if that's what this was or what.

P.S.: This is why I don't like living alone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The Paternoster. Wave of the future from the 19th Century. ...Saw one in a film once (set, in part, at a big U. S. Army or Allied command center in postwar Germany, I think it was supposed to be the I. G. Farben building). What izzit? This:

Yes, it's a continuous loop. But what happens if you go over the top? Funny you should ask.

H'mm, didn't expect that.

They're not idiot-proof and are therefore falling by the wayside as idiots get entangled and then sue. There aren't any here in the States, or at least none anyone is willing to admit to. This may indicate we have, at least, a superior grade of idiot.

Aw, Rats: Missing Celphone

Soooo... Put the ol' cel in the purse this ayem and ignored it 'til I was in the car heading homewards at the end of my workday; reached into the phone pocket and... Empty. De nada.

Not so good; it's one of my alarm clocks and it's the only place where I have Tam's cel number, in addition to all the usual celphonic usages. I've only been home>work>home, so it's got some chance of bein' findable.

Really don't want to have to replace it, they nearly always make me get a New Plan.

Also, Tam, if you read this, call home!

Another Day, Part 15

You'll find it on its own blog. Sample:

Dr. Schmid was hazily averring his enthusiasm for our modern age. "This is an historic opportunity; we are sharing technology, ideas are cross-pollinating, amazing new vistas opening. Bobbi, how have the 'Drive finals been performing?"

His sudden veer to specifics took me by surprise. "Well enough," I hazarded. "I'm sorry it took so long to find the bad connections that were messin' up PA 2. It's been solid ever since, output's starting to fade on 3 a little."

"You've never really liked those Tweed finals, have you?"

The Chief gave me a narrow and hooded look. I'm not especially diplomatic but if there was ever a time to try! "Well... The old tetrode RCAs would run better, with more wrong with them, than any I ever worked with. After they stopped making the tubes for them, though.... The Tweeds are better than I expected, the tube and cavities are good GEC stuff anyway. They've always got us through."

"What would you say to something like the RF sources for the newer ion drives: solid state?"

The Chief blinked, slowly, which is like most men leaping to their feet. I coughed back a giggle, 'cos nobody, nobody is pushin' the kind of power we need through any flavor of transistor at the frequencies the Stardrive needs to make the CLASSIFIED run. We were lucky to do it with external-anode power grid tubes; even the phantasmajector tubes are a little iffy up there.

Dr. Schmid's bland affability is difficult to read most of the time and today his Swiss-Buddha expression was more impenetrable than ever. "There's a company on Frothup that's been supplying silicon-carbide power amps to the Far Edge for at least the past fifteen years. I'm told they even had some kind of connection to Tweed before '89. The Edgers have finally admitted they have this technology and the Lupine is going to be the first Earth-based ship, the first one we know about, anyway, to make the change. I've been arranging details with Irrational; neither of you should count on any time off this planetfall."


Second September BlogMeet!

Now, with marginally better artwork! This coming Sunday, right at the intersection of Westfield, Westfield, Westfield and Winthrop. Map. Food's amazin' good and the beer's first-rate, too. Website. Tam. Be there! ...I did manage to (blindly) pick about the two worst weekends of the month for BlogMeets, this Sunday especially so -- I will be aimin' to arrive at 2:30pm, so Joanna will have somebody else there in time to grab a bite!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


AP haz it. Not. Tam linked to this story; I was struck by the accompanying illustration. What's it supposed to show, the breeding-grounds of feds?

Item: For the record, Census workers are just workin' stiffs. They might be annoying but (for those unclear on the concept) it's wrong to initiate force against them. They are not the problem and the ones who are, you can still vote out. (Reporter goes on to smear everyone who was ever critical of FedGov...everyone on the Right, that is; and this for what may yet turn out to be a suicide. "Paranoia runs deep," as the singer sang). But moving on:

Item: Graphics used to illustrate a news story are supposed to be about the story, not where you filed it from. Again: not where you filed it from. Kthxbye.

...Y'know, wire services used to be just about it. Snappy writing, timely stories, middlin' careful with facks.... Okay, occasionally the printer (or the d000d wot teletyped it in) would miss a shift back to LTRS from FIGS and you'd be cold-readin' three paragraphs of printer's pi but still, they were an institution. Nowadaze, um. There's not real sugar in the Real Thing, either; maybe that's where it all went wrong.

It's Good To Be Me

Sometimes, anyway.

Just fixed my favorite pair of glasses with Tix[1] solder and flux. Very kewl! They started to come apart at the transition between the rigid and flexible parts of the earpiece, which was welded or soldered. I'd been using my back-up glasses (perfectly round wire-rims) for the last few days, until I remembered I'd found the hard solder.

I also just did a temporary plumbing fix with self-amalgamating tape. I sure hope it holds or it'll be not so good to be me. Another bit of galvanized pipe, a 90-degree bend as usual, has started to pinhole -- I need to remove all the old iron pipe and finish the previous owner's partial conversion to copper. Too bad he didn't believe in dielectric unions![2] Worse luck, it's the hot water run that serves the kitchen and there's no shutoff other than right at the water heater.
1. Tix, "The Hardest Soft Solder on Earth," so on Mars there maybe is better, then? If that doesn't suit you, these guys have about every other kind, too.
2. This kind of union, you want. Or you have issues; you cannot have iron and copper together in water (unless it's distilled): there is a voltage. Then there is galvanic corrosion. After that, there are plumbers. Swift on their heels, bills. Big, fat, happy bills.

Code Hypocrisy Visits G-20

The big G-20 summit is gearing up for Thursday and Friday of this week in Pittsburgh and that means usual "peace and justice" groups are getting set to smash windows and push over/burn cars and otherwise commit acts of violence; random citizens might be their first victims but irony is a close second.

...But don't you worry, CodePink is there, too, having won a lawsuit that lets 'em set up an attention-whoring "Tent City" display in a downtown State Park, showing how the big, prosperous nations -- you know, the ones where mothers are least likely to die in childbirth and women aren't forced to cover themselves from head to toe or marry at age six -- hurt women. Curious as to what this excercise in cognitive dissonance might be, I went to their site to look (I can always dip the computer in pure grain alcohol and distilled water* later, right?). Nothing on it but at their "Action Center," the Impeach Bush And Cheney flag is still flyin' high!

Funny, I though we had a new Commander-in-Chief now and the war-for-oil (the one in which we did not, in fact, get any oil), along with the Taliban rooting-out were his wars now. Seeing as how President Obama has not ended these wars yet and doesn't look to be in any hurry to do so, why isn't Code Pink agitating to impeach him?

Oh, right. Wong party. If the Democrats do it, it's okay. --Are there any actual antiwar groups out there any more, ones that aren't one party's toady or shills for worst elements of the the Religion Of Peace, Beheadings and Suicide Bombers? ...Thought not. Right up there with the rock-hurling pacifists.

Meanwhile, back in Pittsburgh, the city has hired/borrowed 4,000 extra LEOs, which roughly quintuples the size of the their police force. Um, not that they think there might be any trouble or anything.

If you're not in Pittsburgh, stock up on popcorn; if you are in Pittsburgh, it might be a good time to get outta town 'til the ijits are all tuckered out. Oh, and don't leave your car downtown.
* General Ripper always has a good stock of both.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September BlogMeet The Second

Yep, this coming Sunday, right at the intersection of Westfield, Westfield, Westfield and Winthrop. Map. Food's amazin' good and the beer's first-rate, too. Website. Tam. Be there!

Not Nearly Left Enough? were thinking President Obama was pretty far to the left, a "progressive" who believes government is the answer to every social ill, a man whose political ideas go too far?

Wan'cha t'meet somebody. Wan'cha t'meet a fellow who voted for him, a leftie who wrote, scant months ago,
"Election seasons test and measure our relationship with our country. A divided and inconclusive result tells us that the body politic is not prepared for progress. A clear and decisive result suggests that we are prepared to dream anew that patriot's dream, and to go about the work of perfecting it. Such is the result from the long election night that followed the longest campaign in American history."
Pretty high-flown conclusion for a President who barely cleared the popular vote, ey? (In fairness, most Presidents take off like Gooney birds and would barely get over the fence were it not for the boost provided by the Electoral College and winner-take-all). Yessiree, he was pumped on His Guy.

But what's our man sayin' now?

He's not happy. The president does a media blitz and the guy writes of "tepid argument" and "pulled punches." He tells us, "Indeed, as Obama describes his notion of a public option, it is so constrained, under-funded and uninspired in approach as to be dysfunctional." The piece is titled, "What Obama Should've Said on the Talk Shows."

And this is the side that tells me I don't think an African-American is up to the job? One of us is taking President Obama seriously. It isn't John Nichols.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Flicks

Or a flick. Most of a flick --One of the cable channels was, for a wonder, showing Buster Keaton's* Steamboat Bill, Jr., one of the last films over which he had creative control. I tuned in just in time for the last two-thirds, which is better than ot at all.

The film wasn't a big success -- it didn't even get good reviews. Yet you've seen part of it: this film has the iconic, full-on version of the front of a house falling on Keaton; he escapes what seems certain squashing by just "happening" to stand in the part of an open attic window. It's a bit of a shock to discover this bit is nearly lost in a long, stunt-filled (and hilarious, IMO) windstorm sequence. You might ask, "how'd he do that?" and the answer is, the hard way: that's a pretty heavily-built (two tons, by some accounts) wall falling around him in one piece and he's standing in the (only!) right spot. It was (probably) hinged but there's no sign of a cable and it was shot at normal speed, which means if he misses his mark, no more Buster. It is not just that gag: the entire sequence works that way, with very few cuts to set up the stunts.

Keaton did (nearly) all his own stunts throughout his career; his last film appearance was in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum in which we last see him bouncing off trees like a pinball, very much the unbreakable Buster Keaton, in a Latinate version of his signature porkpie hat. He was terminally ill at the time.

...But the very much younger Buster of Steamboat Bill, Jr. is more than a clown; seeing him climb a steamboat in a vertical dead run, deck to deck to the wheelhouse and use nary a ladderway, or swing through the windstorm sets clutching onto a crane-swung tree, or any one of a zillion dangerous, physical, funny stunts makes it transparently clear that this funnyman is more of a man than any present-day film hero. --Except for Jackie Chan, who looks to Keaton as a godfather of his art.

Another Keaton gift -- and related! -- is the ability to "sell" an action. At one point in the film, he is hand-miming a jailbreak: an upraised thumb stands in for a prison bar, the other hand a file. Sure enough, the thumb vanishes as it is sawn through, quick as wink. It's a simple trick, a child's trick -- but so well-executed that, just for a moment, you're wondering how he did it. On a far larger scale, to see him appear to stop or start a train car by pushing or pulling it is to have one's disbelief not merely suspended but grabbed unawares and reeled in hook, line and sinker.

Keaton was a gem but, sadly, had a chaotic personal life and a weakness for alcohol; after 1928, he was pretty well locked into the studio system and often miscast. I enjoy his silents when I can find them and one of these days, I'll have a chance to see his very last silent The Railrodder and companion documentary, Buster Keaton Rides Again.

...As happens, you can see the first of those films right here!

LikeTelevision Embed Movies and TV Shows

That livin' the future stuff, sometimes it's pretty good.
* Wikipedia bio


Find out Which Movie Hero Are You at!

How about that? A nod to B. S. Philosopher.

BlogMeet Report!

...Also a quick BlogShoot Excuse Report: after a morning spent faffing about (my Sistema Colt is headed out to get big sights, among other things), I made it to the range around 2:15, with barely enough time to say Hi and do a quick function check of my Star PD .45, for which I have had a couple "new" 7-round magazines for awhile that have never been to the range. With my primary .45 at the 'smith, it's time for the back-up. If you are serious about self-defense, y'don't just dig the thing out of your sock drawer, brush off the lint and assume it will work.

The extended mags are fine. The gun, it turns out, runs better with a few drops of lubricant. At least I did remember it'd been a long time since it was last out and grabbed a bottle of light oil, or I'd've been slicing open one of the just-in-case packets of cleaner/lubricant.

There was a wide array of shooters present, from young couples to grandfatherly-looking guys; as I was packing up (why is it the range always goes cold one gun short of having everything packed? Gotta be related to the fall of toast and how motorcycles can make it rain), more people were showing up. Always good to see Eagle Creek busy.

BlogMeet: I managed to show up a mere five minutes late and festivities had already begun! In attendance, Shermlock Shomes and Shermlock, Jr., Old Grouch, Nathan, the Kerry family: père, fils and spouse, and first-time attendees (and co-winners of the coveted Cup of Turonistan for the blogger who traveled the longest distance to attend), B and Midwest Chick! A fine time was had by all. Very interesting discussions of politics, gear and Things That Go Wrong On Two Wheels.

...And now I've gotta git -- times wastin' and I napped when I should have been doing laundry yesterday.

In a mere six days: September BlogMeet the Second! It'll be at Brugge.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Update On British Boy Scout Knives/Blogmeet Prelim

Penknives (blades less than 3") are okay for British Scouts. Don't snicker, it's something. Better than a sharp stick. (Also legaller per UK values for "legal") If you know a Scout over there, make sure he's got one and has learned the rules, hey? If not, fix it.

--Blogmeet/range report later; I had two hard ciders (and a bisonburger, Mom) and I wanna nap. Very nice time, new bloggers, old friends (and my Star PD .45 still runs. Had to reset the sights, though). Another BlogMeet in one week!

The Thing About Truck Guns...

..Is you probably don't have a safe in your truck. Or maybe you do, for all the good it will do you -- a local FBI Agent/SWAT team member had several weapons and body armor stolen from his truck, despite being "properly secured in a chained box."

Stolen: "...a submachinegun, an LAR15 rifle and a .45-caliber handgun, along with a duffle bag containing the SWAT-team uniform and two sets of body armor." (And the Indianapolis Star "reporter" (scorn quotes) leads by snarkily asserting, "The FBI now knows how victims feel," presuming that A) such a thing has never, ever happened before and B) no member of the Feebs could possibly have any empathy with victims prior to this. (What, they're all cold as Lon Horiuchi at the moment he pulled the trigger? I don't think even he is).

Elsewhere, we learn the guns were an "H & K MP5/10A3 10 mm gun, a Rock River Arms LAR15 rifle, and a Springfield 1911A1 .45 caliber handgun." Yep, that'd be FBI -- Tam tells me the 10mm version of the MP5 is pretty much an FBI exclusive. (Compare and contrast with the FBI press release. Er, mostly "compare." Not much contrast).

Gun-geekery and scorn aside, my point here is, "chained box?" Pardon me, "chained lockbox in the trunk?" Big deal. If the box is nice and solid, baddies pop it free and open at leisure; if the box is weaker, they open it in situ. Big pair of bolt cutters or a sledge makes short work of most things an honest man considers "secure" and that goes triple when it is out sitting in your car. Your trunk might as well not be locked at all -- a criminally-inclined 15-year-old with a big screwdriver can open most car trunks quicker than I can describe it.

Garages are better but I'd rather have my weapons a lot closer to hand. YMMV; still, stuff in your car is not secured, period.* A car -- well, most of them -- is not a safe. Kick in the door of a house, could be an armed householder on the other side; your sedan sittin' out back, not so much. Does it have an alarm? Will you hear it? Do the laws in your state let you do anything besides shout "stop, thief" and dial 911?

Meanwhile, we've got a criminal around here with his very own MP5 and some nice, FBI-marked body armor. Geez, I hope he's not ambitious.
* I am reminded of what I call "the DuToit Maneuver," after an incident in which an innocent moment's forgetfulness -- leaving a garage-door opener in a car parked outdoors -- resulted in a very scary incident. It was a wake-call for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

End Of The Trail

So, we rode bikes.

Oh, man, did we ride bikes! All the way to here:This is the actual, literal (present) End Of The (Monon) Trail. 161st Street in Westfield, ten miles from Broad Ripple. And it's not done yet, as you can see. That's my wicker-basket special on the (checks hands for L and R markings) left, Shootin' Buddy's speedy yellow Cannondale in the center and Tam's Brand New Trek on the right. (Yes, she got the stronger frame).

Having gone all that way (and passed up a late lunch at Bub's 'cos the joint was, like, hoppin; I sob), we of course rode all the way back, for a round-trip total in excess of 20 miles (!).

I'd never been all the way to the end, so there were a few new sights -- like this gate, beyond which mystery and adventure must surely await!Is there an abandoned mansion back there? A hidden harbor, where an explorer's sailboat or a steam-engine houseboat bobs at anchor? A dirigble crewed by airship pirates? We're not to know, this trip, and maybe never; grown-ups are but rarely admitted to that territory.

Speaking of territory, here's the Gate To Japan:Sensibly enough, it's on the West side of the trail. I didn't ride through -- I don't speak the lingo and what if it's a one-way Gate?

On the way back South, we visited the Carmel-Clay Historical Society, a very pleasant local museum with many items of interest, arranged in related groupings and well-organized. (I need to fix their telegraph system -- anyone out there have a Key-[and sounder]-on-Board [also here] to spare?) It's in an old train station, so there are a lot of railroad items from the Monon line. There's also a very striking schoolroom recreation of the early part of the previous century.

On down the trail one finds Shapiro's Deli -- I convinced Tam and Shootin' Buddy that a slab of chocolate cake was essential to my health and well-being, but settled for a brownie. Ahhh! It's a wonderful place. I dream of their pastrami, or corned beef and cabbage, or-- Mustn't drool.

We also found an interesting sign:

Does that say "Attention Dogs?"

Why, yes. Yes it does. Vide:

Um, okay. (Do dogs read? Can they? Is this.... Oh, never mind. Good dog!)

All in all, a very fine day. When we returned to Broad Ripple, Tam and SB peeled off for a bite at the Brew Pub, while I, still sugar-buzzin' from the brownie, proceeded back to Roseholme. And a wee bit of a nap. Just a little one!

The End Is Near?

...Maybe, at least if you think the Georgia Guidestones are any indication. Marginally less cryptic than, say, Stonehenge or The Rude Man and at least as apocalyptic as the 2012 fantasy, but way less well known.

The way I figure, all noids must be paired, so it's time to give this'n a bump. Enjoy!

PS: History is not only strange, it is stranger than you think. So, umm, I dunno.

They Say You Should Post Something Every Day

....They're not the boss of me! I'm gonna go ride my bike.

Back later.

Friday, September 18, 2009

BlogMeet Is Go!

September BlogMeet
The First Of Two!

(Next one the following Sunday [27] at Brugge, on the deck if at all possible)
This coming Sunday, 20 September 2009
3:00 p.m. normal standard time
Broad Ripple Brew Pub

See map and address in left dyslexic much? Too me! RIGHT column>>>>>>>>>>>

Eagle Creek Pistol Range says: "We will be open Sunday, September 20 from 10am-4pm." Tam and/or I will be headin' out that way.

Instant Paperbacks

Or should it be "Google Takes Over The World, Latest Chapter?" Depends on how you look at it.

I almost put this on "Retrotechnologist," given that I am no fan of bookless books: Google's given a point-of-purchase printer access to its vast collection of book that are out of copyright; On Demand Books has a machine that'll crank out your book, bound and ready, in about five minutes. For those of us who like our books to be, well, books, this could be a real boon.

Google's also angling to get permission to reprint copyrighted works that are no longer in print; this may be a done deal (according to the link in this paragraph) or it may not (according to the first link). If so, the author gets a little check (or a big one, if the book suddenly becomes popular) and Google takes a cut.


As it stands, the instant-paperback machine sells for $100K (with E-Z Pay leasing available! Operators are standing by...), so you won't be having one at home or find them in the corner coffeeshop any time soon.

Flip side, you won't have Google coming to your door and taking your book back, either. And the flip side of that is, writers may continue to get nickle-and-dimed by publishers and shady reprinting joints. The more things change, the more they're same as ever.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five Lynks

1. Once again, Ohio can't find a vein to kill a condemned man. I'm not keen on giving the State the power to kill but if they've gotta, maybe they should go back to public hangings. Better yet, how about arming more prospective victims?

2. Heath care in the USA: considerably better than claimed by those clamoring for reform.

3. New York Times "covers" the Acorn investigation -- sort of.

4. Steampunk Airship. WANT.

5. Still not happy? Don't be a sucker -- have one! (I should get money for this but it is way kewl. You should click on this ad at Tam's when it shows up)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lenny Bruce On Racist Speech

One Man's Idea:

Maybe it's a stupid idea but the present tiptoeing, tattletale-ing and especially the trumped-up outrage over imagined slurs sucks on ice. It is an attempt to stifle dissent and it is just as odious as any other such atempt.

Lookit, I happen to think the current President is a handsome guy; he looks a lot like Richard Nixon during his term as Vice President, minus the famous nose and in better suits -- I just think his ideas stink and the ideas of his loudest partisans* (a group assorted in hue and ancestry in a very American manner) stink way worse. Bad ideas are something any of us can have; they are no respecter of persons, of IQ or education and certainly not of race. So get over it; you're just looking like idiots when you shirek "RAAAAACIST" over every single dissenting statement.

Last time I checked, the loud Left had accused the previous worker in the Oval Office of being mentally subnormal; did that mean they loath the retarded? (Look, I think the man was inept at the PR-ish things politicians are supposed to be ept at, and I'm no fan of the USA PATRIOT Act and related police-statia, but geez, ya rip him a new one seven ways and then tell me I gotta shuddup and play along with the new boss? Like you did, hey?)

Criticizing ideas one disagrees with is not inherently racist. What's so awful about not agreeing? This country was founded by disagreeable people, who tried to leave us enough elbow room to not agree...and still get along.
*Even when President Obama's Press Secretary points out some folks with firearms near a health care rally were playing by the rules and the White House is okay with it, that's not enough for the self-anointed protectors Of The Realm; they don't trust Mr. Gibbs or even the Secret Service, I guess?

Alongside This: Free Book!

Click to download.

Art, Life, Whatever

William Gibson fans -- Tam, for instance -- take heart: a couple of SF* architects who don't appear to read much SF† have proposed turning the soon-to-be-redundant Bay Bridge into a series of parks and apartments.

Yeah. Bridge City. Only done up shiny-suburbia style. Wonder if there'll be spandex jackets?
* San Francisco
† Science Fiction

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Alongside Surprise

So, I stopped in at Half Price Books on my lunch hour today and in the hardbacks, found this, priced to move at $5.00:

You know it, of course, or if you don't, you should: J. Neil Schulman's first novel, a very nice bit of anarcho-capitalist agitprop that stands well beside Atlas Shrugged, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Kings of the High Frontier (I should read more Koman), The Probability Broach and L. Neil Smith's subsequent books. It's not always that easy to find in bookstores. I had heard of it but not read it until I met Tam; she loaned me her copy and I decided I was going to get one all my own.

Update: If you'd like to read this book, do me a favor: when you go back to View From The Porch, click on Tam's link to Amazon and buy it. You'll be glad you did!

Good intentions and all, I still had not. So for a fiver, this one was a no-brainer. I didn't even look inside.

Neither had Half Price Books. Or maybe they didn't care. Showing off my find to Tam this evening, I flipped it open. Oh, dear, previous owner has put his name in it and real big.

Hey, just a derned minnit: Funny, it's a bit scribbly but that looks like....It is! Yep. Signed. Numbered. First edition from that printer. One of five hundred and twenty-six. For just about pocket change. Worth what a buyer would pay for it and a seller would accept, right?

Like A Lamb To The Slaughter

Actually, it wasn't so much like a lamb as it was an actual lamb: Marcus the lamb, hand-raised by students at an elementary school in the United Kingdom as part of a hands-on educational farm (which includes other critters as well).

After raising Marcus, the students voted (13-1!) to sell him (as, yes, food) and use the proceeds to buy pigs. Off went the lamb and the deed is already done.

This being 2009 and the zanies bein' zanier than ever, there has been a great hue and cry over the harm done to a baby sheep (and the supposed psychic trauma suffered by baby Britons); while the school is standing behind the kids decision, hog-raising plans have been put on hold. (Thereby denying the youngsters a chance to learn firsthand where bacon comes from. Tsk). Having been around sheep, I kinda think one less is cause for celebration but I recognize my own prejudice. What it actually is, is meat on the table, no more, no less.

It's one thing to not eat meat for philosophical or dietary reasons. It's something entirely different to insist that all around you conform to your prejudices. And it's a whole order of magnitude stupider to not understand the difference.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Malevolent Scum

My home lender, that is. We'll just call them "Blank of America."

Last month, they sent me a bill in which they explained, "Oops, we misfigured your property tax escrow amount. Either send us $2,000.00+ American now and pay a little higher house payment OR send nothing now and pay a much higher house payment."

Indiana real-estate taxes are insane right now; the state fiddled with the way they are figured and it is messed up six ways from Sunday. So, okay, Blank of A can't maybe hire the really smart tax accountants for small fry like me and my piddlin' home loan. I moaned and complained and cut back on things and produced the exact amount the miserable weasels demanded with 24 entire hours to spend. They got it, too, I can go look it up on their website.

...That would be their website that still DEMANDS I pay them the "much higher house payment." The one I was avoiding by pullin' 2K cash outta not thin air but my housepainting, plumbing, out of pocket medical, car maintenance and general hobby, movies, restaurant dinners, books and fun budget -- if you don't have a house, the rest of that won't do any good anyhow.

So here I am as of now, $2 thousand bux short and per my lenders friggin' website -- where you can get a salesweasel 24/7 but actual bank-type help only during very limited hours -- I still gotta come up with an ungodly sum by the middle of the week. Do not have, not and pay the gas bill, too.

So I will be calling them at the crack o' noon or whenever exactly it is they roll their dewey pink rumps outta the silk sheets with their hired bed-companion, since nobody would sleep with 'em fer love, and I will be askin' just what the Sam-dammit-Hill they are after doing?

Update: Called, had to make four tries to get A Real Human Person, spent a very, very long time on hold, then got them to admit that indeed, I did only owe the lower amount, whoopsie! Got it paid. On time.

It used to be that smalltime borrowers like me were pretty safe once we'd got our loan; you can't get blood from a turnip and we were quite simply too small to be be worth messing with. This is no longer the case. Lenders, feeling the pinch of inevitable effects of their own irrational exuberance, formerly bouyed on the back of insane Federal lending policies, are now skinning every flint and charging the suckers for the free candy in the lobby.

I am gonna move this loan to a local bank somehow, or at least a bank with an actual office here in town where I can walk in and dare 'em to look me in the eye when they pull such tricks. They probably still will and smile all the while, but better some middle-manager I can see and who probably signed off on the skullduggery than a faceless (and innocent) Mumbai phone-bank worker who has no power, wasn't responsible for it, has no discretion in his or her responses and is paid to be unhelpful; I'd at least like to be shortchanged in person. Oooyeah.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In My Dusty, Echoing Brain

For two years now, Tam has called the big, black-and-yellow spiders that spin large and stereotypical webs, finished off with a heavy-threaded scrawl that looks like a vertical cursive signature "Writing Spiders;" for two years now, I have been hearing it as "Riding Spiders." Look, they're pretty big but they're not quite large enough for saddles.

Watching TV the other day, with commercial breaks in which calcium supplement ads are followed by B0neva ads, followed in turn by Ci@lis and V!agra ads, it struck me: gettin' old is allll about "bone loss." In one sense or another.

I guess that explains those ads where the Happy Couple are in side-by-side bathtubs, then?

Alternate History: The Hapsburgs vs. the McCoys. Oh, you'd read it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009



Sometimes it really is uphill both ways. Also, I'm not gonna be able to gripe about my DSL.

Talking Sense About Healthcare?

In the Press? Can't be! That Sheldon Richman, he must be an impostor, or even, oh horrors, a blogger; snuck into the good offices of the venerable Christian Science Monitor like Archy the cockroach and typed his stuff on the sly, leaving it for the hapless editors to stumble over before they have even had the day's first coffee or third whisky, I'll bet.

The money quote:
The genuine alternative to the status quo is what we do not have now: the free market – that is, the elimination of all medical-business privileges, including rigged tax laws, licensing, anticompetitive insurance regulation, and patents. We know from experience that when free markets are allowed to work, competition lowers prices, raises quality, and universalizes access. Independent mutual-aid associations would also have a large role in a free society, as they did in the past.
Who'd'a thunk?

RTWT. He'll play you a tune.

How Do They Ship Diamonds?

Commenter Matt opines yesterday's posting about the Danger Rangers at NEST was strangely coincidental with a posting elsewhere about nuke-shipping trucks.

There's a lot of pants-wetting about these ordinary-looking trucks; there was at least as much back when DOE had dumbbell-shaped containers on a fancy flatbed -- anyway, faked-up versions were a popular prop for the freeze-in-the-dark set. Never mind that the containers are tested six ways from Sunday; it's more important to panic so your kids in a mud hut and freeze in the dark. Yeah, that's the ticket.

So, you might ask, what about the nicely-anonymous truckage (OMG, it could be right next to you!) and what's that got to do with diamonds?

The gemstone biz rarely does the courier padlocked to a briefcase (or strongbox) trick; they mail stones, small quantities in plain envelopes, P.O. Box or bland business name to similar destination. Often insured but it is Just Plain Mail -- as far as anyone but sender and recipient know. Turns out this is the best way to keep it from gettin' stolen.

Thus, too, with the hot stuff. Oh, there are circumstances where this varies but in general, a DOE-tested container in an unmarked truck is the safest way to go.

...Of course, if you're a bedwetter (or have a deep and abiding love of fly ash), shutting it all down is safer still; once the last guy has left and the bad-nasty stuff is locked away, nothing could go wrong. Suuuuure.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

There's An Atom-Bomb Squad?

You bet there is, only they go by NEST -- and no, they do not fight SMERSH. My online subscription to Physics Today often yields unexpected gems and this month, one of them was a review of Defusing Armageddon, a history of the organization, or at least the parts they didn't classify. (I can't link to the PT review, subscriber-only -- you wannit, sign up).

Some fascinating stuff is covered in the book, like an extortion attempt against GE in '79 (and 103 others through 1993! -- some kids took the comic books too much to heart) and the effort to recover the power plant from a de-orbited Soviet satellite that, well, crashed in Canada.

I poke fun at a lot of government goofiness but the men and women who go hands-on with this kinda stuff? All kinds of brave. There aren't any do-overs.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Spent all day pickin' on Crown subjects, most of whom don't deserve it, so here's something eccentric and interesting from those misty isles: The Badgerman of Mid Wales!

Totally trumps my crazy catlady street cred. Totally.

No Knives For British Scouts

Well, possibly if there is a "specific need," Scout knives might be okay in the UK, but:
A Scouts spokesman said, "Scouting helps to prepare young people with valuable life skills, while keeping them safe by not carrying knives."
Um, yeah, right. Scout knife, weapon, unsafe.* Geesh, I didn't even fear my baby brother when he became a knife-totin' Scout. Commonsense is not dead Across The Water:
Sheila Burgin, from 4th Sevenoaks Scout Group in Kent, said: "Scouts by law are allowed to have Swiss army knives. I think this is going too far – you just don’t know when a Scout will need a knife."
But does anyone hear her?

...Help me out here; what I remember U. S. Boy Scouts carrying were mostly "stockman" or "whittler" knives, a little bit bigger than the common penknife all men and most women once carried. Were they carryin' something all that different in the UK? C'mon, Swiss Army knives? Biggest blade is what, 2.5" and usually in some stainless steel formulation that stays shiny but won't hold much of an edge?

I don't get it. Neither does Unwanted Blog, which is where I found it.
* By modern UK standards, I am Death Incarnate at work and something far, far worse on my own time, with two or three knives on my person just as a start. Booga-booga!

September BlogMeet?

('Cos gloBteeM just sounds funny).

Choice of Days! 20 or 27 September? Vote in comments -- location suggestions welcome.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Interesting Times

(BTW, I am still getting over the flu-like whatevers, sleeping long and, I am told, loud even with the door shut; woke up late and made a big heap of Swedish pancakes).

I was going to blog about the Usual Stuff, maybe the synthetic it's-a-lynchin' outrage among the Left over Van Jones being tripped up by his own resume and video record and resigning over it. Hint: it's 2009 and this gentleman, with his fine Ivy League degree, is not swingin' from the limb of a lonely ol' oak and even among the people who don't much like him, an overwhelming majority would be revolted by any suggestion he ought to be; like many another politico all across the spectrum, he fell over his own past and now has to go find something else to do (geez, if only the linked example would). Look, the rules are simple and they are are colorblind: if you wanna be in the public eye, your backstory's got to be free of any really egregious ickiness. (Riddle me this: why, when the Left made various attacks on the character and fitness-for-office of Condeleezza Rice, were they not a lynch mob?)

...But you knew all that already. Then there's Pat Buchanan's latest apologia for his ol' pal 'Dolphie Schickelgruber, who was just misunderstood, a poor boy gone sadly wrong. This is Mr. B's little way of reminding us he's got some...notions... and how a free press lets the rest of us get a good enough look at 'em to make up our own minds. Hooray for the freedom of expression that will keep me from ever votin' for this ijit! (I believe Garet Garrett, who was not in favor of the U.S. wadin' into WW II, would'a slapped him). But that's old news, too, so old even the jokes about it are stale.

Casting my nets wider, I found this:
Many China experts, expatriates and business leaders say, with some irony, that the central government played the key role in this capitalist revolution. Without the give and take of democracy, an authoritarian government can move faster and more decisively.“The communist government says, ‘This is what we’re going to do. Do it,’ ” notes Hoe Wai Cheong, managing director for Kansas City-based Black & Veatch’s Asian energy office in Beijing.
Gee, when was the last time the "efficiency" of authoritarian governments was bein' praised so? Give ya a hint:
Consider: It took Washington more than six weeks to pass and enact the $787 billion economic stimulus package. China’s economic stimulus package — $585 billion going to infrastructure, earthquake relief, energy and water projects — was approved in seven days.
Hi-ho, impressive! Also, the trains run on time and the Sinobahn highway system is.... No; sorry, my enthusiasm ran away with me.

Any time the economy gets shaky, there's some feckwit out there (usually in herds, droves, even lemming-runs*), pointin' at some some or another tin-pot, centrally-managed "economic miracle," mistaking speed for effectiveness while missing the bigger point (can central planning function on an individual scale? Do "stimulus packages" actually make a difference, or are they spitting into an avalanche?) and completely ignoring that one teeensy little thing y'have to give up to make those "efficient" authoritarian gummints work: freedom. Oh, they'll notice it some if it's inescapable; but hey, as long as the starvin' folk are way off in the outback and the repression's smooth, it hardly ever makes it into the puff-pieces on "China's Economic Miracle." (38+ million Google hits for "China economic growth," 1.79 mill for "repression in China" and hey, everything's cheaper at MalWart!)

Remember them when the tanks roll. If they do -- maybe all that "freedom" stuff was just a fad, destined to go the way of the Dodo and the Great Auk and nothing worth even a heated argument about.

Maybe we'd better make up our minds one way or another pretty darned soon. Waitin' 'til Uncle China decides is a sucker's bet.
* Um, you do know the truth about lemmings, right? Ah, but the little vermin will turn cannibal under pressure and that's an even better metaphor!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Remember The Hijacked Russian Cargo Ship?

Sure you do. Story seemed a bit "off" at the time, no? Yes -- it might've have some extra cargo, sez The Times. Gee, who'd've thunk?

The more I see of the Middle East, the more I respect rabid weasels.

Update: Supersonic Reflectoscope bids us look here. Srsly, replace [Iranian government] with [rabid weasels], huge improvement. Um, even more so than most governments. But there is a lesson here: if you've got the bux, you can get the firepower. No matter who or what says "no."

Um, "Oops?"

What does it say about one's guilty conscience when, after a steaming cup of fresh coffee has been waved under one's nose in an attempt at awakening, accompanied by a melodious, "Smell this," one's first, half-asleep response is to recoil and respond, "Aaaagh! Where'd I leave it?" as if it were some weeks-forgotten mug.

I haven't abandoned a cup of coffee in years. Really!

Blamin' the aftermath of the cold or flu or whatever it was -- I still can't smell anything.

Tellya one thing, it sure woke me up.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Gooood Morning!

Having now posted something, I am off to the kitchen, where I shall make a big pot of coffee and a skillet of sausage, bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, onions and eggs, topped with cheese and grated carrots and radish and nice sprinkling of hot sauce. 'Cos I'm kewl like that.

...Maybe a tall, chilled glass of cranberry-pomegranate-apple juice on the side, too...

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Right Stuff?

A Guy Who Should Know Dep't:
Ever since Tom Wolfe's book was published, the question I'm asked most often and which always annoys me is whether I think I've got "the right stuff." I know that golden trout* have the the right stuff, and I've seen a few gals here and there that I'd bet had it in spades, but those words seem meaningless when used to describe a pilot's attributes. The question annoys me because it implies that a guy who has "the right stuff" was born that way. I was born with unusually good eyes and coordination. I was mechanically oriented, understood machines easily. My nature was to stay cool in tight spots. Is hat "the right stuff?" All I know is I worked my tail off to learn how to fly, and worked hard at it all the way. And in the end, the one big reason why I was better than average as a pilot was because I flew more than anybody else. If there is such a thing as "the right stuff" in piloting, then it is experience.

Yeager, Charles E.; Yeager, p. 319

I don't think it hurts to have considerable drive and the wisdom to learn from experience, either, but I note that General Yeager's life offers example after example that the guy with the most experience wins and the guy who doesn't give up is the one who lives to fly another day. Pretty sure there's a lesson or two there for all of us.
* I left off this footnote! These trout are found in the High Sierras and, possibly, Arizona. The story of how some ended up in AZ can be found in his book and yes, it's one of the sort that keeps Scully and Mulder busy.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


They're always setting phasers on "stun," but nowhere in TV and film SF have I encountered any of 'em setting stunners on "phase." Not even in print. This is an asymmetry that really should be rectified.

"Five-Pound Exploding Pants Of Doom:" you've experienced it too, don't claim you haven't, that mad scramble for the smallest room and immediate, um, activity, done in a flash. Unnerving. (I blame green peppercorns).

They found a pair of man's dress slacks in the Skunk Works parking lot at high noon the other day, 48" waist and 42" leg! This disturbs me in several ways:

- It's raining pants?


- There's a pantsless giant happily roaming downtown Indy, having thunk while walking along the sidewalk, "Duh, It's Just Too Hot For Pants," stepped out of 'em and tossed them over our (very high) fence;


- Somewhere around here not too far away, there is some person or entity big enough and mean enough to have depantsed a giant and made it stick.

Either way, I'm takin' the good cricket bat to work today, the one we borrowed tire weights from all over the neighborhood to fix up.* I'd carry a .45 (a little small for giant, one has one's limits) but they won't let us. Great, either Charles Fort was right and/or giants and tougher/larger are at prowl, some of them in a condition to answer that eternal question, "Boxers or briefs-- awgawdnooo, you're a commando?" and I'm reduced to hiding behind sports equipment. Aw, the humanity.
* Not really.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The New Right: Freedom Of The Press, Ew

So, WorldNetDaily, that delightfully kooky rag, has roused the ire of the stuffy Right; Jon Henke finds them "just hideously embarrassing for the Right" and wants them boycotted, comparing them and himself to the John Birch Society and William F. Buckley.

(Clarification: I should have been more clear; he's not calling for a reader boycott, but a boycott by "Republican and Libertarian organizations," some of whom have made use of WND's mailing list. I can only speculate that he thinks the GOP and LP are well shut of the votes and support they would get from the publication's readership. I guess with all the free, positive coverage they both get in the MSM, it's no real loss?)

Oh, grow a thick hide, sweetie; people are gonna utter a whole lot of things that sound just crazy or even treasonous, like Teddy Kennedy wantin' to sell us out to the USSR or anything Paul Helmke ever whined, and in addition to the "obviously wrong" people (who don't look that way to their own partisans) on the Other Side, your own side has no shortage of far-out opinions.

This is what the inherent right to self-expression (as protected by the First Amendment) gets you. It isn't respectable, it's not especially nice and it isn't even pretty. It's people speakin' their own minds.

That same freedom extends to your boycott but listen up: WND wouldn't be singin' their present tune for long if there wasn't a readship for it. Ah, you say, but that's your point? Really?

You've got two choices: you can either assume WND's readers are poor, innocent sheep, led to the slaughter by the shrill piping of WND's shills and who You Must Save, in which case go sit down over there next to Paul Helmke and Vladimir Lenin, who espouse the exact same idea; or they are free adults who made up their own damn minds and may change 'em again tomorrow.

But if you are out to "protect" adults from exposure to wrongthink, you are not on my side and I am not on yours.

That whole Respectable Republican thing, where they turn off the lights to change into their jammies and never, ever admit they might excrete and adopted, as near as I can tell, so their supposed cultural betters on the Left won't sneer down at 'em, is annoying to me. I think it is complete and utter bullshit. Look, it's nice to stick your pinky out when drinking tea but I will take one competent, unpolished individual with a functioning brain and an independent will for every ten nicely-civilized "New Right" types you can muster. Nobody cares who's in your damn bridge club.*

I think the Birthers are wrong and some of them are a little crazy, too. So what? They're free wrong and eccentric folks. Free. Try that word on for size. They're not you and they're not hurting you.

Politically, I'm offsides. I always have been. I am aimin' to stay that way and this effete inability to accept one's own warts is one of the biggest reasons why.

Link found at Sebastian's, who does not agree. I love 'im anyway.
* Someone's gonna mention my whole neo-Victorian schtick as counter to this and I suppose it is; but there is a difference to being marginally polite to people you think are ijits -- I wrote Jon Henke a nice note explaining why I think his boycott is a bad idea and asking him to reconsider -- and being so blame worried someone will think ill of you because your mad uncle is wearing a lampsade and singing "The Ballad Of Rangy Lil" in public that you cut the poor, drunken sonovagun cold. There was a fellow asked to ban himself from my blog for being a jerk to one of my friends, even though, politically, I agree more often with the rude dude than my friend. I have a code; perhaps it's incoherent and immoral but I'll stand by my friends. Doesn't mean I won't brook disagreement.

So, You Like Tolkein?

Possible inspirations for The Two Towers.

Double Standard

TV morning news/chat show host, interviewing a Federal functionary* about H1N1 (swine) flu and air travel:

Bubblehead: "...So, you're saying people with these symptoms shouldn't fly. What about the airlines? Shouldn't they stop those people from flying?"

Public Servant: (slightly huffy) "Oh, no, no, no. We wouldn't want to get into telling airlines who can and cannot fly..."

Meanwhile, over at TSA, they've got a little list, don'cha know. A list of who can and cannot fly, based not on observable symptoms but some vaguely secret criteria. They won't tell you how you might end up on it -- though having the same name as a suspected terrorist helps -- and they won't even tell you if you can be removed from the list.

How about that. H1N1 vector assistance, check. Baby-in-arms named Edward Abbey? Maybe not so much check. Even though the real guy is dead.
* Originally misspelled. Spellcheck options, "functionary" and "fornication." Ooookay.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Speaking Of Paranoia

Or is it hypochondria? I spent Sunday and Monday wondering if, perhaps, I was fattening up a cold, hoping not, but by last evening, 'twas obvious.

Fever, chills, sinus congestion/drainage, cough, body aches, fatigue, headache of different form than the usual, hey wow! Dearie me, it fits H1N1, quick, panic!

...And the symptoms are typical of pretty much every other flavor of flu as well, plus good many colds. Haven't decided if I wanna go get nasal-swabbed yet, 'cos, well, what I'm reading is they haven't anything that works much better than hot tea with honey in it and plenty of rest, pretty much the standard home remedy for lo these last hundred years.

(Speaking of a hundred years and terrible wars, have you seen this? Blame it on Napoleon, it commemorates him gettin' shellacked).

Not Your Father's Poland

Poland remembers the opening innings of World War Two as few other nations can -- the mass murder of 20,000 officers at Katyn at the hand's of Stalin's soldiers, for instance.*

Russia's remembering things a little differently, as "good ol' Uncle Joe" gets a fresh coat of paint in time for the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War.

Thing is, the historical record and the physical evidence favors Poland. And they're not shy about reminding the Russians.

Good for 'em. And shame on the Russians, who, by ignoring their past, are setting themselves up to repeat it.
* The Nazi government, having stumbled on the mass graves, proceeded to use it in war propaganda as evidence of what inhuman brutes the Communists were, while their own death camps were in full operation. Words fail me.