Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Goldilocks, My Ass

An ass with a name -- well, a handle -- and he's probably late for a Bund meeting:

[In re "Getting Used To It Doesn't Make It Right"] "After reading your post and giving it thought I have this to say: You're a fool. You're a fool who believes that freedom has no price and no cost. You're a fool who believes that the ability to track or identify you will always be misused. You're a fool who has never suffered having their identity stolen, checks written in your name, your credit cards maxed out by someone else, or your life destroyed by massive loans in your name."

Freedom's worth is, in fact, immeasureable and all it costs is -- everything. But it is not "freedom" to be required to enter your name in a database, to be tracked by a number, to be misidentified and kept from travel, to be forced to carry papers at all times (see Hiibel and Joe Huffman's links about border finks). Ask the interned Japanese, ask all the men conscripted,* ask the women (and men!) hunted down by abusive exes via government databases, or ask any of the tens of thousands of people who have had their ID stolen thanks to carelessness on the part of petty bureaucrats. There are plenty of good ways for banks to verify their customers that do not rely on the heavy, halfwitted hand of government -- and unlike Big Brother, if I don't like the way one bank treats me, I can find another one more to my liking; to stay in business, they have to be responsive to the needs of their customers. Congress, not so much; the electorate will send back any half-baked alcoholic who can dress themselves four days in seven, or has a staff that will do it for them.

Government databases always get abused; only rarely in big ways, we can't all be dramatic anarchists, Gypsies, homosexuals and Jews headed for the death camps, brightly lit by the glaring light of hindsight, but the information is abused nevertheless. What's progressive income tax but a way to use a government database to punish the high-achieving?

And what did government do for you when your identity was stolen? Did they even say, "Sorry?" Did they give you a chance to beat the snot out of the person who did it -- or did they remand that individual to the courts, to gt a good scolding and spend some time being poorly housed and badly but regularly fed at your expense? Did they set the scamster to work to pay restitution? No? Well, hully gee, jimbo, it looks to me like the only thing government did for you was to be bigger and stankier than you, and that's small reason for admiration.


Meantime, one of my friends is all hot to start voting from the rooftops and wonders why I'm not. Well, gee, there's that whole "eating reg'lar" thing, not to mention not having to be on the run; there's those elections comin' up that promise to be a pretty interesting kicking-the-bums out; fianlly there's the fact that through the course of my life, the flame of freedom's been getting brighter -- oh, there's plenty more rats in and out of office trying to stomp it out, too; but we have think tanks and political parties and movements where all we used to ever get was the occasional small-government Republican candidate, usually mocked by his peers, and every once in a great while and usually at a lower level, a freedom-minded Democrat. The rest of 'em -- 99, 98% -- were bought and paid for before they ever got within smelling distance of a ballot and nearly everybody said that was how things ought to be.

They're not saying that any more. Why start shooting just when things are getting interesting?
* Look, if a country's not well-liked enough by those who live there that they can't maintain an armed force voluntarily, then they'd be better off getting out of the country business.

'Cos It's No Fun Being Deaf In Hell?

So -- some guy goes over the edge (or already was) in Bratislava, Slovakia and shoots the place up, killing seven and injuring 15 before doing what he should have led his act with and blowing his own brains out.

I'm lookin' at a photo accompanying one of the news stories when I realize he was wearing hearing protection. What, he embarks on course of action almost certain to result in his own violent, bloody death before the end of the day and he's worried about hearing loss?

Then again, if he had any sense of proportion, he wouldn't have shot up an innocent family.

About that family: it turns out they were Roma -- the people you might know as Romany, the folks your grandmother called "Gypsies." Another report provides a little more background. You might want to save it for the next time someone tells you Europe is soooo much safer than the 'States 'cos they're "racially homogeneous."

No word on the shooter's own background. The imaginative reader can dream up whatever fits their own preconceptions, anything from Roma-on-Roma crime to a nitwit wanting to scrub out anyone who isn't sufficiently homogenized to suit his bent notions. Me, I do not so much care about his reasons -- there's no fixing this sort of thing by understanding it -- what I see is an individual who walked up to the rather low fence at at edge of civilized behavior, said, Screw that, and jumped over. Such persons have stopped being people in any meaningful way and joined mad dogs, plague, misplaced wolf packs and trash-raiding bears as threats; they should be dealt with as rabid dogs are. They can take their motives -- and their earmuffs -- into whatever next life awaits 'em. We don't need 'em here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Getting Used To It Doesn't Make It Right

Americans used to watch in varying degrees of horror as hapless Europeans were importuned by uniformed d00ds, usually German, "Papers, pliss?"

Oh, sure, if you drove, you had to have a driver's license -- a least by the time films featuring papers-demanding jack-booted thugs were hitting the silver screen -- but that bit of pasteboard only certified that your State trusted you behind the wheel. Social Security cards were around, too -- with "NOT TO BE USED FOR IDENTIFICATION" printed right on 'em. 'Cos Americans don't go on for that sort of thing.

It ebbed away. Driver's licenses sprouted photographs and merchants started asking to see them when you wrote a check -- just to make sure, you know, and who could blame them. Banks asked when you opened an account (it is wistfully amusing to recall that W. C. Fields left savings accounts in phony names scattered across the United States and probably Europe; it is eye-opening to realize it is no longer possible) and eventually -- for your own protection! -- they wanted to know your Social Security number, too. They didn't want to see your card, mind you, it still wasn't for identification.

...Of course, you have to put it on you tax forms; after all, Uncle Sam had to keep track! And everyone got used to it. It was normal. Besides, it's not like those demanding to see your "papers" were wearing jackboots, after all.

It's 2010. Your driver's license number, if it isn't the same as your Social Security number, links right back to it in records any police officer can see. Even if you don't drive, if you can't drive, you need either the DL or an ID card that carries the same information. All manner of minor functionaries blandly demand your "Social" and you can't board a commercial airplane without showing ID, having your shoes, effects and possibly yourself X-rayed and even then, it's conditional; if your name happens to be on a secret list, you're not allowed to fly -- and there's no appealing the decision.

And it's "normal." You're used to it and it's not like they're wearing jackboots, ho-ho. Besides, it's not all that much trouble, is it?

After all, it's for your own good.

Americans were a free people. We used to watch, in varying degrees of horror, movie scenes where a hapless European was importuned by police or security guards on the street or in a train station. "Papers, please," they'd demand, and compare the poor boob's name against a list. It could never, we'd think, never happen here.


(P.S.: It doesn't say "Not to be used for identification" on your Social Security card any more. It hasn't for a long, long time).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Morning?

If it is morning; after last week, my sense of time is upside-down and backwards. I do know I have one (1) day in which to get laundry and suchlike done, so further posting will have to happen later in the day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bad Math

Doing what I blithely pass off as "research" for the story below, I noticed The Thing That Was A Newspaper offering a Sunday-edition print-only exclusive* about the 20 IMPD officers who've gotten themselves in newsworthy hot water since 2008.

Ah ha, sez I, search engines are my friend, too. In a matter of moments, I have the approximate number of sworn officers in IMPD: 1,600.

Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub assures us the ones featured in our recent spate of IMPD officers in trouble are outliers: "Less than one percent," he says.

Even assuming IMPD is either the most transparent police department in human history or they've not been able to keep a single serious peccadillo hidden from the various and sundry newsrooms, Dr. Straub's slide rule needs to go into the shop: 20 out of 1,600 is, let's see, carry the e, square root of 17.... 1.25%. See what too much TV face time and not enough mind-numbing paperwork will do ya?

(Update: Turns out I was wrong, wrong, wroooong: IMPD's got 1700 sworn officers, making the percentage of baddies a tick over 1.58. What? You thought it'd be less? --See, there's 27 of that number in serious hot water. Frank? Over to you.)

That still leaves plenty of good officers, a huge majority -- who need to speak up about the bad eggs; c'mon, guys, some of your fellows in that thin blue line aren't staying on it and the suspicion and ill-will they generate affects each and every one of you. Start snitchin'!
1. This may be one of those times when, mock them though I will, y'might wanna spend a penny to read it.

They Were hoping To See Blood

"Honor And Dreams Appear Ready To Clash" --headline in The Indianapolis Pointy Thing newspaper, Friday morning.

Seems they missed the point; unless I have missed something, middling-whiny conservative commentator Glenn Beck* and whinier Lefty Al Sharpton managed to stage big rallies today in just about rock-throwing distance and not start any fights that used anything but words.

Big Media in general has been chanting, "Fight! Fight!" on the sidelines and offering to pop popcorn from the git-go -- but the American people ignored 'em. 'Cos we're better than that.

A common thread among ordinary people interviewed: "I don't agree with [Rev. Al/Glenn/both] but they're Americans, they've got a right to speak out." Tell it to your dang Senator!
* I know many of my readers are more fond of Mr. Beck than am I. It isn't that I really dislike him, I just think the man's got a lot more Huey Long -- or P.T. Barnum -- to him than he has Ayn Rand. I'll take my Becks Billy and my Glenns Reynolds, if you don't mind, and if I want to be entertained, I'll read a book.

Hello And Gotta Git: Gun Show In Brief

No, no, down, boy, it means "a quick report," which is all I have time for.

Tam and I hit the Indy 1500 on Day One, arriving an hour after the doors opened to find...a long line! Inside, pretty crowded for a Friday and a fair amount of actual business going on. Plenty of ammunition available and word on the EPA lead-bullet idiocy did not appear to have (yet) caused a run on the stuff; I picked up a little .38 Super and .45ACP anyway, 'cos you never know. (Also .38 Stupor is never easy to find, at least in gunstores around here: "Unh...we had a box of that around here somewheres...," they say, unearthing a well-yellowed Winchester white box in a dust bunny) .

We saw not one but two early 20th-century Mauser .25 pistols, scaled-down replicas of their quirky .32, practically dollhouse guns. ("Everybody stay calm an' hand over the glitter or Barbie gets it!") and I held a couple of Merwin & Hulbert revolvers, which feature one of the oddest opening/closing mechanisms I have yet seen -- unlatch the whole front of the frame/barrel assembly, twist it free of machined grooves and pull it (and the cylinder) forward to dump the spent brass and reload: better get it done in five rounds, cowboy, or carry a brace of 'em!

And -- aw, would you look at the time? Laters, I gotta git.

Friday, August 27, 2010


At least in metaphor; I did give 'im the what for, but fat lotta good that'll do.

In comments to "Eye In The Sky," an anonymous (oh, really?) individual wrote:

Oh cripes, here we go. The usual libertarian crap of making life as tough as possible on law enforcement and then whining when the guys can't do their jobs cos the crooks have every benefit of the doubt and the cops have to fight crime with both arms tied behind them.

Grow up chickie. [...]

Ya know what the awful truth is? Most human beings are uneducable cretins that need a big brother watching over them to keep them honest.
If he's serious -- and I think he is -- then that nifty little Thoreau quote over there on the right is more true than ever, except he's no friend of mine.

Civilizing the uncivilizable is our job -- yours and mine -- not that of the police or Teh Gummint. Nor is there any handy one-to-one correspondence between those who initiate force and fraud and "cretins," educable or otherwise.

The awful truth is, you'd way rather live in a nice, neat North Korea or East Germany, regimented, patrolled, watched, civilized-from-above to an extreme degree, than any place where decent men and women are free.

Who was the dirty, empty-headed, commie, libertarian radical who said, "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"? Oh, I remember, it was that bomb-throwing William Blackstone, hippie-freak underminer of Decency and Order.

It matter how you play the game -- especially when "you" is the full force and weight of Government, a Leviathan that can oppress the innocent and not even notice. Hell if I'll give it any more leeway to roll me flat, even by innocent, dewey-eyed mistake.

Liberty: to some people, "I really don't see what everyone is getting so excited about -- it's just a cat." Maybe so; but it's not your cat, so hands off!

Update: Remember, we're not talking about if Enforcers Of The Law can put a tracking device on your car, only if they maybe hadn't otta be required to convince a judge to issue a warrant first.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eye In The Sky

Also, eye under your car! The good ol' Ninth Circus says it's oooooo-tay if Agents of The Gummint stick a GPS-based tracking device under your own car parked in your own driveway (or wherever), cos you didn't have any expectation of privacy there and you soooo don't when you are out driving on your presumptively-lawful occasions, oh, hells no.

Chap at the link has a few suggestions on what you can do with government property abandoned upon your own personal vehicle. Sadly, "Go stuff it, slathered with high-grade hot sauce and naptha, up the distal sphincter of the chief officer of whatever Arm of the Supposed Law had it stuck on your ride" is not on the list; he's way nicer and more clever than the likes of me.

D'ye suppose we can convince some cop-like agency (or C13\/eR HaXX0RZ) t'stick widgets on the private cars of the august Juutfruices of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Nonsense, an' post live and detailed tracking information on the Whirled Wide Web? For their own good, I mean; so peoples can tell where they are in case of a flat tire or civil unrest or anything. I mean, shuckies, what if one of them were about to buy dope and/or whores by mistake or something? Those poor, poor fellers need our love and understanding an' helpfulness. And to be tracked like bugs, prisoners or Lindsay Lohan, 24/7/365. But not in a bad way. Heck, no.

Like Tam says, George Orwell was Rebbecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Number One Chief Justice In Charge Kozinski, WTF? Officer Krupke?

What If They Threw A Brady

...And nobody showed up? Seems the Brady Bunch got snubbed by the big-star rappers who were supposed to headline their little happy-fap in Noo Yawk Ciddy.

(Psst, ex-mayor Helmke? The rats have already left the ship. How long can you tread water blood?)

Quote Of The Day

Indianapolis Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub, on all the negative publicity his department's officers have been getting over teensy-weensy oopsies like drunken vehicular homicide, firing a gun in a police car during an argument with a girlfriend, covering up a DUI hit-and-run in a police car and other endearing little quirks:
"You have to ask, 'What's going on here?' Is there another game I'm not aware of? What's the motivation?"
Yeah, gee, Frank, doesn't everyone expect a big-city police department to be a bunch of hard-drinking, hard-hitting losers?

No, pal, no we don't. I can't speak for anyone but me, but I've been pretty darned disappointed in IMPD. I know there are good folks on the force, but it's looking more and more like it might be time for a housecleaning. You may be a new broom, Doc, but you're not sweepin' 'em any cleaner.

Preferred By Lovecraft And Poe Fans?

Hey, it's no absinthe, but you've got to give the stuff points for style:Yep, it says "Curiosity Cola." Tastes pretty good, too. A bit spendy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Look, Ma, -- No Brain

So, a Lawrence, Indiana* motorcycle officer got caught on tape doing a neat, if foolish, motorcycle trick: standing up, holding his arms out. It's not especially safe. I have seen experienced riders do it with ease and elan, especially on well-known streets: it's not all that unsafe either, for someone with a lot of time in the saddle, but you can bet you'd get ticketed for it.

Okay, y'got me, says Officer Tracy Cantrell, and he's willing to take his lumps. Seems like a nice guy, too. ...However, says he with a charming grin, or at least he said in a TV-news interview, "I was stretching; it wasn't a stunt." (Paraphrase). And I was still sort of okay with that; here's a man with a lot miles on two wheels, gets a little carried away on a nice day, willing to face the music, okay. As one rider to another, I won't spoil his fun.

Kept that opinion 'til I heard another newscast, on the radio this time, in which he was quoted pointing out, "Standing up on the pegs like that, it helps me see inside of cars..." And the ol' bulldoodleometer went up into the red.

Look, one thin story plus youthful high spirits, honest remorse and no effort to duck discipline, I was okay with; two thin stories, though? No. You were stunting, sir, and now you're spinning excuses. Knock it off.

One fairy tale at a time, dammit. Your One Free Pass just expired.
* A stubborn raisin in the big bread pudding of Indianapolis-Marion County UniGov, bless the determined little burg. Used to be Fort Ben's bedroom, before the Army pulled out.

It Would Be Nice

...If I had time to actually write something; but I pretty much don't. I'm working an upside-down early-morning shift that just doesn't jibe with my own personal biorhythms, let alone the schedule of What Needs Done At Home.

Which why it is nice that Tam's back from vacation -- she helps look after the cats and kitchen, a huge time-saver.


It would also be nice to sit down all the principals in IMPD's Canine Officer David Brisard blood draw mess and get to the bottom of who did what, how; there's reason to think the test results could have been admissible. It'd be nice to think nobody involved in a fatal accident with a 0.19 BAC could get away with it, even if he did have a shiny, shiny badge. 'Course, it would be nice to think the Prosecutor's office still had a felony case even without it, too, but I am not so sure Mr. Brizzi sees it that way.


It would be nice to take time to write more fiction, too. I usually have that for lunch (I used to read at lunch; one day it just hit me I could just as easily spend the time on output as input), which for some reason I have not been taking this week: it's that topsy-turvy schedule, again. I have a little vignette all mapped out, or mostly. Need to turn the thoughts into words!


Speaking of time, it's time I was gittin'. More later, maybe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A kind reader recently sent me a copy of Cherie Priest's steampunk novel Boneshaker. Very much a penny dreadful, the book achieves a realistic but somewhat dreamlike setting, in which the U. S. Civil War[1] has stretched on and on and the farthest-flung territories of the Union have yet to achieve statehood, which technology has marched on, though down paths different to the ones they actually took: "It is 1880. The American Civil War has raged for nearly two decades, driving technology in strange and terrible directions."[2]

The setting is considerably larger than the book, so it was no surprise to discover it is part of Ms. Priest's Clockwork Century, a trilogy with a side dish (free reading!) so far, and probably more to come.

I enjoyed it. She manages deft twists on a number of 19th-Century literary stereotypes, a plot convoluted enough for an entire season of television (h'mm, fainter praise that I'd intended) and a satisfying resolution.

Some of my other friendly readers expressed a little disappointment at the book -- no, I'm mischaracterizing the reaction: they wanted it to be bigger than it is. That's understandable; if you just wrapped up Stephenson's Baroque Cycle or suchlike, this book is liable to sweep you up...and set you back down gently. Character development is understated (with excellent reason in one case) and the reader spends a lot of time meeting the setting and a colorful supporting cast. It's a fascinating setting and a well-drawn cast, however, and as the first in a shared-background series with considerable character overlap, I thought it held up well. The horror could probably be more horrible (what, zombies per se aren't bad enough?) -- what keeps it from being so is not authorial squeamishness but characters more than equal to the situations in which they are put. I like that; I enjoy competent people in fiction.

It's good work, in some ways like early Terry Pratchett: there's a lot more we haven't yet seen. I'm looking forward to it. Clementine, the second book set in the Clockwork Century, is between printings (Amazon says "soon"). Dreadnought, book three, will be out at the end of September.

As ever, if you're interested, please follow the link at Tam's to Amazon to order: at no extra cost to you, the crazy lady who lives in my attic benefits!
1. I am amused at how rarely which civil war is specified, particularly in factual writing before the reader's been given sufficient context to be certain; caught unawares, I will spend a few moments trying to remember if Phillip Sheridan was on Oliver Cromwell's side or not, and why either one of them would have been in South America.

2. Introduction to Tanglefoot, at http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/fall-2008/fiction-tanglefoot-a-story-of-the-clockwork-century-by-cherie-priest/

Monday, August 23, 2010

To-Do List

Blogging, like anything else, grows a "to-do" list and mine has some interesting entries; this covers all three blogs and you'll have to work out what goes where from topic and context:

"The Adler Mystery:" I have a very nice portable typewrite, post-WW II, made by Adler. I have found almost nothing about the manufacturer online but the little I have found makes me at least 80% sure this was not some mail-order store's house name.

Book report 1: I was given a charming little steampunk penny dreadful, an enjoyable read from a new author, worth a couple of paragraphs at least.

Book report 2: Picked up a couple of Winston SF hardbacks, the ones with the charming Alex Schomburg endpapers: one by Raymond F. Jones and the other a first edition of Lester del Rey's Mission To The Moon, part of a series that used the Collier's articles (mostly by Werner von Braun and Will Ley, with illustrations by Chesley Bonestell). Sure, they're juveniles, but they're pretty good juveniles.

RME 45: a find at one of the online auctions, a very nice communications receiver built not long after the end of WW II by Radio Manufacturing Engineers of Peoria, Illinois. RME was one of the top manufacturers of such receivers, in the same class as National, Hammarlund and the best Hallicrafters. This one's in nice shape and worth a photo essay.

State Fair: I've got another dozen photos left, including one of Tam feeding baby goats.

Speaking of State Fairs and the food and food-like items offered there, I have a small bet with myself that we're only a few years way from fried escargot. Breaded, with ketchup! Ew.

There's more, but that's a start.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Star Travel Souvenirs

I don't think I have yet mentioned the little "Easter egg" I posted at I Work On A Starship awhile back. One of those things, y'know, turns up in a disused suitcase and y'really otta turn it in to Proper Authorities, but....

Red Jacket Press

"Yesterday's books for today's reader," it says right there on their webpage; also there, Wilmar H. Shiras's Children Of The Atom. The book -- more a collection of closely related novellas -- opens with In Hiding, a deeply moving story about a child who is more than he seems and probably the most anthologized work by Ms. Shiras. Interested? You can order the book via the Amazon link at Tam's -- it costs you just the same but helps her out.

The book is uncommon at used-book stores despite at least four editions (Gnome Press, a delightfully illustrated version from Pennyfarthing Press,[1] Nelson Doubleday and now Red Jacket Press), possibly because, like Terry Pratchett's books, those who have a copy, keep it. If you happen to own the Pennyfarthing Press edition, you'll find a few drawings include what could well be a young Roberta X: a little girl in big, round eyeglasses, hair pulled back, sitting tailor-fashion with a book in her lap, looking out at the world with a skeptical expression.[2]

I stumbled onto the publisher by way of Frederik Pohl's blog, q.v..
1. Late -- gone, in fact -- of San Francisco and not to be confused with comic-book publisher Penny-Farthing Press

2. Though the text describes her as "plump," the artist didn't see her that way. The character is every bit as notional as I was at that age, though altogether more talented and accomplished.

Even More On The DUI Inadmissibly Drunk Mess

It would appear the scene where Officer Bisard killed one man and critically injured two others was very quickly crawling with high-ranking police officials, including Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ron Hicks and Homeland Security[1] Commander John Conley. They are, we're informed, less high-ranking now, knocked down one entire step to Lieutenant.

Yeah, that'll bring the dead guy back and make the injured ones whole, won't it?

The amount of tap-dancing around the truth, kiester-covering, fan-dances and just plain sleight-of-mind that has surrounded this mess, predictable though it is, still amazes me.

Let's stop a minute and talk about drunks and drink; like crime and guns, the presence of the second in no way implies the first. The number of individuals who enjoy a drink before or after dinner, or who have a few beers on a hot afternoon -- or a chilly one[2] -- vastly outmatches the folks who can't face the day (or the night or the sunlight or...) without a drink or twelve. Alas, the vast majority of alcoholics I have known were functional alcoholics, in one case very high-achieving, and in a simpler time, if they could be kept away from the few examples of heavy machinery, most of them were not a danger to anyone but themselves. These days, "heavy machinery" is as common as, well, cars and the guy or gal with alcohol-slowed reflexes might as well be sweeping muzzle across all around them, finger on the trigger.

We need to treat drinking the same way we treat shooting. We need, not only to practice bottle safety ourselves but to call others on it, the same way you'd take a friend to task for careless gun-handling. Yes, "it isn't loaded," and neither is your pal; at least he doesn't look it and don't most people have three beers for breakfast? Like bad habits with firearms, alcoholism can sneak up on you, even if you're not the one doin' it, "Oh, that's just Uncle Fred, don't worry, he's been doing that for years," and he hasn't shot a hole in the basement ceiling or plowed his car into a tree yet; he hasn't toasted his liver or put an ND into the guy at the next lane...as far as you know.

Officer Brisard's family, friends, co-workers, what did they know? Did they say, "Dave's got a stressful job," did they see him always drinking but rarely if ever appearing drunk? We don't know; I do know that everyone I have known who was tripped up by a drinking problem -- including an insanely lucky wrong-way freeway driver -- was known to those around them as a serious drinker, but never really called on it.

And that's not a good way to deal with it. The folks I've known who were drunks? One fired; one in serious trouble with the law and fired; one dead, killed by pickling his own liver against medical advice. One stopped drinking before he screwed up his life (y'know what sucks? Havin' some poor slob of a friend sit ya down and do the whole embarrassing AA making-amends thing, pretty much strippin' parts of his soul bare nekkid right there at your kitchen table and the only even slightly useful thing you can do about it is sit there and listen) and one, one, decided drinking all day was a bad plan, cut way back and is now a highly successful senior executive something-or-another; way back when, I'd often seen him unsteady enough I wanted to stop him driving but I didn't want to make a scene: I let that guy drive off, unofficially tipsy as, well, Officer Brisard, and hey, he and everyone else along his route got lucky.

Maybe we'd better put a little less trust in luck. Maybe it would be better to speak up before things go badly wrong.
1. A term that continues to give me cold chills. For those who still don't get it, one of the prime goals of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction in the targeted entity, which will, by its negative impact on the public, greatly amplify the initial act. Mission accomplished, ya miserable bastids. What was he doing there, anyway, investigating the dire security threat motorcyclists pose to the Homeland?

2. Yuck. YMMV.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

NSFW But Easy To Dance To

The Innnerweb delivers music that would have made the old-time Top 40...except the lyrics are seriously not radioable. And I misdoubt the song is bowlderizable without becoming self-parody. All that said (and assuming you are someplace where language ain't gonna getcha in trouble), it's a catchy tune!

Thanks to Unwanted Blog for finding this. He's fixed the problem of food stamp abuse, too.

Welcome To The Weekend

It's drizzling. Oh, joy.

Finally had a good look at my minor injuries and that abrasion behind my ear is a bit odd, a perfect impression of my eyeglasses earpiece. Naturally, I haven't got another pair with my current prescription.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bad Blood Draw: Plausibly Deniable

Here's the thing: the facility where Officer 0.19 was taken? Nowhere near the accident scene. But it is very handy to downtown.

It's a first-rate place, too; they can do a bit more than a Doc-in-a-box (it's where my nose got sewn up after my run-in with inadvertently nostril-ripping hardware at work, for instance) and they do a lot of blood and urine tests for alcohol and drugs. It's where my employer sends the lucky winners of the Random Screening Contest, for instance -- and if IMPD does random screening, it's probably where they go, too. And if one of our drivin' folk is involved in a wreck, it's where we send them for dope and booze checking, just in case.

So, you're Capt. or Lt. J. Average Internal Affairs, and a fellow officer is involved in a terrible auto accident. This happens; people sometimes fail at getting out of the way and are struck despite the police, fire or ambulance driver's best efforts to avoid them. If your head is in that line of thought, you take your fellow officer off to the Place Policemen Always Go. Oops.

True or not, it's impossible to disprove. I still have my doubts about the innocence of the choice. But it could happen.

Mr. Prosecutor Brizzi had better wear his very luckiest lawyering shoes when this mess goes to court.


Worked eight hours at the Skunk Works North Campus. Never saw another person the entire time I was there. Spooky. Filled and hauled 14 bags of wet and sometimes moldy cardboard upstairs and out to a dumpster with a stuck door and annoyingly high sides walls. Carried up those same stairs several hundred pounds of expensive I-can't-tell-you that had to be rapidly evaluated and, if needed, laid out to dry under controlled conditions. Vacuumed several gallons of water off floors and shelving. Wore work gloves over nitrile gloves and rotated through four pairs of 'em because they didn't grip well when wet.

I have a small abrasion on my scalp where a widget, I swear, leaned over and scratched at me. I said nice things when that happened, at great length and high volume. Earlier, I whacked an ear good and hard on a wall or duct that wasn't where I thought it was. Hours later, finally sitting down at a keyboard, I went to take off my glasses and something felt very gritty. H'mm, reddish stuff all over the end of that earpiece...? Yep. Dried blood. I've got a tiny little goose egg and a crushing type abrasion next to it, hidden behind my ear, right where the temple of my glasses goes.


On the other hand, nobody shot at me, not even once. That makes it a good day.

Blood Alcohol. Very Bloody Alcohol

[Bumped to top, originally posted 7:30 last night]

Pop quiz, class:

Q. When is a blood-alcohol test not a blood-alcohol test?

A. When you don't follow the rules!

Indiana's law is very clear: if you want a BAC test that'll stand up in court, it's got to be done in a particular grade of medical establishment by an individual meeting a minimum level of verified competency with an airtight chain of custody, 'cos it is, after all, a very serious matter. It takes, in fact, more than even a facility that can cope with normal workplace oopsies and wee-in-a-cup tests; it takes, pretty much, an Actual Nurse (or better) in an Actual Hospital.

This is the sort of basic knowledge one might reasonably expect any police officer of more than 8 hours real-world LEO experience to know; after all, when the police pull you over on suspicion of DUI, if you really were driving drunk, it's their job to gather the evidence that will enable the courts to keep your drunk self off the road.

So -- and here's our second question, a two-parter -- Q: Where did the IMPD go to get a blood draw from Officer David Bisard, the IMPD officer who struck and killed one motorcyclist and critically injured two others, and who did the blood draw?

A: An occupational health center, and a non-nurse medical tech. Neither of them meeting the minimum qualification the law requires.

The prosecutor's had to drop those charges. He thinks he's still got a case but given Carl "frat boy" Brizzi's choice of friends and donors, the man's judgment does not fill me with confidence. Perhaps he's a better lawyer than he is a human being.

I certainly hope so. Gee, some days I do pine for olden times, when the Romans would toss guys like Officer Bisard to wild animals. That's not how we do things. American justice reaches far to give the accused benefit of the doubt -- but one might almost wonder if there was a thumb on the scales in this instance. IMPD's Chief Paul Ciesielski and Public Safety Director Frank Straub say they'll be asking the FBI to talk to everyone around this case who's got thumbs; maybe they even will.

Linguistic Patrol: What Time Is It?

It appear some of us did not study our Latin, or possibly just dozed off during the duller parts of How To Tell Time class.

Ante Meridian (or Meridiem). Post Meridiem (or -- well, you get it).
a.m., p.m.
These handy little Roman holdovers (though we use them differently*) mark whether a time in twelve-hour notation happened before or after noon.

When a squeaky-clean, nicely-dressed, well-spoken individual inside my TV set smiles out at me and tells me an event is to happen at "Nine a.m. this morning," or "Seven p.m. this evening," it just grates. Hey, here's a thought; since Latin and logic are toooo harrrrd, whyn't'cha just drop the a.m./p.m. stuff, and leave it at "this morning," "last night" and so on when referring to time of day?

That is all.
* Julius Caesar thought "3 a.m." meant three hours before noon. While there were twelve hours in his day, they always filled dawn to dusk, stretching and shrinking to fit as the seasons wheeled by. His nights were divided not into more hours but four watches. Small wonder, then, that he sat in the Senate, yelling "Kill me! Kill me now!" even as they voted him godhood. Or that he never wore a wristwatch.

P.S.: I have had to edit this about six times for repeated words, typos and just plain "not the word I intended to type" errors. Log-in-eye syndrome, once again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ray Bradbury Has Fans

NSFW (language): A music video, not a love song so much as a lust song, to Ray Bradbury. I've always liked his work, but, um. Golly gee. I'm blushing.

Where The Newspaper Used To Be

Today, an article about the 3 August in which a late-night barbecue in a rough neighborhood was shot up by a "masked mystery gunman," killing two attendees and injuring six more breathlessly informs us poor rubes that the masked man was, in fact, two men, that the weapons were a "Glock and a semiautomatic"* and that -- aha! -- the shooting was in response to an argument a friend of the shooters had been involved in at the barbecue earlier that night; said friend and the shooters crossed paths at a memorial for a homicide victim. The argument itself was over the murder of yet anther person. "Don't worry about it," one of the shooters is said to have told the friend, "Just read about it in the paper."

I'm told one of the biggest threats to stability in much of the Middle East is an "honor culture" with very long-lived feuds, in which no slight can be allowed to go unavenged. A culture, I'm told, very foreign to modern Americans.

I'm not so sure it's all that foreign any more, here on the home front. There's been a lot of attention given to the barbarians outside the gates but it seems to me our country has been busily breeding its own home version. It's not a good sign.
* I was gonna ask if the same reporter would describe vehicles involved in a road-rage incident as "A Ram and a pickup truck," but he probably would, and think nothing of it. Elsewhere in the article, we are informed the other semiauto was "an assault-style weapon," which could be anything from a tarted-up .22LR to a Russian shotgun. Their victims shot back, leaving "One spent 12-gauge shotgun shell...front porch, one 1.12 shotgun shell and one spent 9mm...backyard." 1.12 gauge? It seems a bit large. Newspapers and guns: don't know, don't care, won't learn.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Content At I Work On A Starship


It was nearly pitch-dark and an unfamiliar alarm was sounding. I slapped at the lightswitch next to my bunk and nearly popped my shoulder, hitting nothing but air. Speaking of air, I couldn't hear the ventilation running! That was enough to penetrate my awareness; I sat up, blinking, slowly remembering I wasn't on Lupine and I had places to be. The "alarm" was my rent-a-phone, beeping and buzzing on the molded-in headboard. I grabbed it, dropped it, picked up, pried it open and mumbled, "IzzEcks..."

It kept on ringing. I said a word I shouldn't and poked at the green button.

Click on the text for the latest chapter!

Knee-Jerk Or Plain Jerk?

Local "useful idiot" and more-or-less newspaper columnist Dan Carpenter, practicing hypocrisy while decrying it. His target du jour of the day is our local Fraternal Order of Police, a fairly ordinary policeman's union and at least a little less whiny than most public employee's unions,* but Dan just can't stand 'em -- among other peeves, he fumes they won't stay bought and even worse, they have the temerity to do what unions supposedly collect dues for, stand up to management on behalf of their membership on matters of working conditions and discipline. Tsk, clucks Dan, and we're so dweadful mean to the pure & innocent teacher's unions whilst lettin' the jack-booted thugs do whatever they want--

Of course, crime is trending down, while schools are graduating "citizens" who don't know who Adolph Hitler or Thomas Jefferson were (but suspect they might have been contemporaries) and can't find Idaho on a map, much less Iraq. I don't know about you, but real-world results tend to influence my opinions.

What bugs Dan is, the officer who fatally stuck motorcyclists the other day while possibly drunk has an attorney who is doing his job, defending his client; Dan would not deny this to the worst of thugs but hey, po-leece are diff'rent. Look, if I were High and Low Justice, I'd'a thrown the guy into a pit of wolves or maybe bears; but that's not how it works in the U.S.A. and that's a good thing.

Oh, I forgot; Our Correspondent also "...kinda wish[es] FOP would apply its muscle and zeal to, say, gun control...." When the group that represents Actual In-The-Street Officers does not endorse victim disarmament, you'd think that would be a message to clever fellows like Dan, a telegram that police in general are not so much bothered by law-abiding gun-owners. You'd be wrong; he can't hear anything over the noise inside his own head. The battle lines are drawn and whatever you even slightly approve of, he loathes. --And he loathes knee-jerk reactionaries most of all. Mirror, sir?
* You will not find me talking about labor organizations very often. While they can be -- and often are -- a source of high prices and outsourced jobs (our local GM stamping plant, for instance), in my direct experience one only finds unions at employers that have at some time in the past treated workers poorly. The legacy of mutual mistrust is often impossible to undo, even with the best of goodwill and it's a mess with plenty of stink and blame left over for whoever puts an oar in. Workin' cops were, for years, not paid especially well while being fed a lot of guff about honor and public respect an' the thin blue line; none of it untrue but it's thin gruel at dinner time and even thinner to feed widows and orphans, so it's no surprise a lot of them ended up with unions. Good or bad, we're kinda stuck with it now, unless you know something about watching the watchmen that I have overlooked.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obligatory Knife Post

I have been reading them; even wrote about what I carry in comments to one. But I haven't done so here.

A knife is a tool in my daily work, though it takes a sharp one to skin wire properly and I am likely to go get a fresh single-edge razor for a big job.
That said, I try to keep my Kershaw assisted-open knife sharp and clean for wire-stripping; I carry it in my right front pocket and it's my "go-to" knife for most tasks.

Backup to it is a flat, springless, Japanese carpenter's knife that hides in my right rear pocket. Either one can be opened and closed with one hand, a functionality I would not care to do without.

For rougher work and plier/screwdriver tasks, I carry a Leatherman Wave in a belt pouch. With straight and serrated blades, scissors, five different screwdrivers, a saw, a file and a diamond "stone," not only is it handy for little jobs, I can use it to sharpen most blades I carry.

...But not the fine combination knife and steel rule I keep in my tiny "toolbox," a hard-sided eyeglass case that also holds a very small Leatherman tool, an led flashlight, a "coin" screwdriver, two folding screwdriver/plier tools, a flat multi-wrench/prybar and an eyeglass screwdriver. (The little knife takes a keen edge with a superfine diamond stone and is rarely used. That way, if I need a very sharp knife, I'll have one).

Rounding out the edged and other tools, a Starrett 4" pocket driver lives with the fountain pens in my purse ("green tweaker" drivers are sooo everyday!); my home and car key ring carries a small single-blade folder and my work key ring includes tiny folding scissors, useful for assembling some kinds of coaxial connectors.

Counting each bladed multitool as one "knife," that's a total of six sharp things I'm carrying any time I leave the house. It may be excessive but I find it handy -- and darn it, I still manage to break my fingernails! It seems like a lot of them are banned in one state or another; and people wonder why I'm not fond of travel.

I Have Not Been Especially Political Recently

In part, because Real Life was happening and in part because a lot of what's made headlines has been tempests in teapots; still, now that the President of the Yew-Natted States has come down squarely and forthrightly on both sides of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, I might as well speak up, too:


Why should I give a darn what the religion of goat-herding and blowing yourself and others up is doing, two blocks away from where we should be -- but aren't -- rebuilding the World Trade Center even taller than before? Manhattan is already lousy with mosques. Some folks more or less on my side are upset 'cos Islam views mosques as "victory monuments." ...Not being a Muslim, I don't and in any case, the WTC attack was a "victory" like Pearl Harbor: it woke up a sleeping giant.

Some bloggers and commenters (and others, but do they count?) have suggested that the block needs a pork butcher, a gay bar, a strip club and/or a kosher deli and indeed, why not? But this is Manhattan; you can probably already get everything from smoky links to a nice half-done* within a block, or at least three. Plus, think what a handy place it'll be for picketing!

Freedom of religion means -- as Westboro Baptist has so often demonstrated -- putting up with all manner of nonviolent obnoxiousness and getting nonviolently offended in return. If they wanna build a mosque and play by American rules, so what? --And if they won't play by the rules, NYPD is always in need of live-fire practice; they're still battin' less than .500 and that's counting friendly fire. Heck, I'd even load mags for 'em.

The President says "tolerance;" I say "enough rope to hang themselves with." For the well-behaved, it comes to the same thing. For those who would abuse it, well, it's a short drop to a sudden stop, innit?
* So, you can't buy a crunchy half-done kosher dill pickle online. Dammit. Internets broken.

Monday, August 16, 2010


With no disrespect meant-- Say you're a female who is in a religious order, and you spend all day, every day pondering the nature of the Deity. Can you, in good conscience, list your profession on a 1040 tax form as "Nun of the Above?"

Infernal Device!

...It is under that name, I am told, that the hoplophobic state of Massachusetts bans at least some slingshots.

I don't know if they forbid the kind I own; Wrist Rockets are supposedly Right Out and given that, this little item would give 'em conniptions:It's called a Big Shot and hams speak highly of it. Thanks to the James Family Outpost (Iowa), have a look at the thing as listed in catalogs. Below, here it is with one of my size 9's for scale. The projectile is a hackey-sack-ish weight, hauling a few hundred feet of string. Just as Og describes in comments to the previous post, very handy for setting ropes, pulling down deadwood, and other tasks. Jim the tree guy took down dead limbs as high as 75'!

Here's a "before" look at the fallen limb.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Have Been Chided

Not in a bad way, but with an eye to avoid future trouble. The chiders have a point when they ask, "So, you can't afford to take the tree out now, but you will once it has destroyed someone's home?"

A point, yes; but it is already too late: I bicycled to the market for some last-minute brunch items and on my return, I met a very morose-looking opossum in our stub of a driveway, ambling away from the tree, where Tree Guy was buzzing busily. Poor thing looked depressed even for a possum, which is saying a lot. I believe it has found itself evicted.

In terms of removing the tree vs. trimming it, I'm making a bet with the tree and one I might lose: I'm betting that a few hundred invested now will get it through another winter and after that -- we'll see. I'd rather prune it back a little at a time than take on a huge tree all at once. Our tree expert works alone; if we had him take this tree out, it'd be his full time job for the next month! (And that's not gonna happen; aside from me not bein' able to pay for 160+ hours of tree work, his dance card is already crowded. He was slow getting around to this one 'cos of a couple of tree-on-house, tree-on-power-drop disasters).

Can We Hide It From Tam?

Breda linked to it, so it is only a matter of time before Tam discovers frozen-beer-on-a-stick. We're all doomed!

Tree Update

Jim the Tree Guy's spouse rung us up Pretty Darned Early and the man himself arrived in person not too long after. He is presently rigging the fallen limb and pointed out that had he walked out along it, say, a few days before, we might now be unearthing a a Tree Guy-sized icky spot from underneath. Fair enough; maybe Nature went out of her way to spare him. Me, I'm not gonna look a lucky horse in the mouth.

Photos to phollow.

More State Fair Photos

While I wait for Tree Guy, lookit!

A wide shot from the Ferris Wheel, looking NNE:I have been known to claim that you can live (almost) like the 1937 well-to-do on a less-than-average 21st-Century paycheck; that Old Time Summer Kitchen lacks only an automatic clothes dryer, a dishwasher (assuming that's a washing machine at the far right) and air-conditioning to have everything a person could want in her kitchen, and has a few things mine lacks, like a proper Hoosier baking cabinet (no room in my galley kitchen!) and a wall-mounted coffee grinder. ...Hotter'n the hammers of Hades, baking in even a summer kitchen in August, though. Speaking of appliances, there's a nice gasoline-engine Maytag washer in this set-up. Oh, laugh --but does yours have a throttle and clutch? The little engines on these appear to be a foundation of Maytag's runs-forever reputation.A first glimpse of the miniature donkeys (and baby!) Tam is so taken with. They are cute!Mascots! Fellow in the foreground is sure he's seen them before, somewhere:
And I'll close with another Ferris wheel photo, this one looking due East. See the big tan-brick Coliseum just right of center? There'll be an architectural detail from it in the next batch.

A Tree Falls -- Again

I thought it was thunder. I thought the barbarians were on our roof. I didn't know what to think! I had dinner on the stove, so I turned the fire down and went to see if maybe Tam had an especially loud computer game running.

Nope. It was outdoors. We grabbed flashlights and headed out.

Between our house and that of our neighbor to the North, a limb -- a huge one -- from the hackberry in our back yard has been growing for years. It was kind of drooping today but I didn't think much about it.

That was A Clue. It had a weak spot and it went spitting and cracking and slamming onto our roof, failing fairly gradually but inexorably. Our neighbor was asleep but the noise woke her after the bulk of the limb was down and she called, worried; I met her on the lawn with flashlights and we took a look at the damage.

This limb is still slightly attached to the tree but the bulk of it, after nearly a half hour of ever-quieter complaint, has sagged to the ground and the fence. By some miracle, it appears neither house's air-conditioner condensing unit has taken a hit bad enough to stop it, though they're both in that area.

Our tree guy? He's run a couple ropes, put down a tarp, but has not been much in evidence. He hasn't been here when Tam or I have been here and that takes some serious dodging. He's some weeks overdue for agreed-on work in that tree -- and this is one of the branches he was supposed to work on. I am not especially happy. Okay, I'm happy now; he has been chasing emergency calls. He also pointed out that if the limb was weak enough to break on its own last night, it very likely would have broken under his weight earlier. Yeah, he's insured and so am I but 'tis better to avoid trouble than call 911.

And considering my bedroom is on the corner of the house closest to the hackberry, I'll be bunking down elsewhere tonight.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Helping Hand

Freedom writer and meme-generator Claire Wolfe, elusive though she is,* finds herself on the road and in need of good thoughts and perhaps even good deeds. If you happen to find yourself along her general route, y'might be in a position to help out.
* And with good reason. It is amazing to me how many folk fail to grasp that "anarchist leader" is an oxymoron. Lead yourself!

Smokable Guns!

Displayed in competition at the Family Arts building, Indiana State Fair, 2010, not one but two examples:Yes, they're tobacco pipes. Light one of these up at the next anti-Brady demonstration, for dual outrage....

I Have Reached My Target Heart Rate

It's a quiet morning at Roseholme Cottage. I slept in and so did Tam; I got up when I heard her feeding the cats. I threw on a robe and wandered into the kitchen, where I filled the electric teakettle -- to make coffee, confusingly enough. (We use a Chemex:[1] it's Tam and Roberta X approved!)

Went back to the computer room/cat bedroom and was booting up my computer when I suddenly heard a horrible noise from the general direction of the kitchen! Catastrophic teakettle failure? It was a boiling, arcing sound, with a nasty undertone. I leapt up and ran down the hall, though the catlock door, took a right turn through the dining room to the kitchen where--

Where Tam gave me a quizzical look, as the seldom-used coffee grinder shut down. "I assume you wanted coffee," she said. "We're out of the good stuff but there were some beans left." And she pointed to a bag of good old Eight O'Clock.[2] "What brought you out here in such a hurry?" She had the grace not to snicker too loudly at my stammered explanation.
1. FTC? KMA. They ain't never gave me nuthin' nohow. But their product sure makes good coffee!
2. FTC? KMA.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Good Thing About Illinois

Chief AJ lives there!

He has got the inside track on shooting a slingshot and his design is The Ritz. I picked up some ammo for mine today and within 3 shots, I was puttin' 'em on target. The slingshot will bury a lead ball in a styrofoam archery target at 6-7 yards, too!

I got a few lead muzzle-loader balls, some glass slingshot ammo and a few paintballs. ...Might be time to repaint the fence....

Some State Fair Photos

The ringmaker with leg vise, mandrel, hammer and a box'o'nails:
Tiny tractor, with about 100 psi of steam up. It's even smaller than it looks, the steering wheel not quite a foot across:
Huge tractor -- internal combustion, transverse-mounted engine (there's nae sae much new under the sun!). Rear wheels are about six feet high!:
Better idea of scale:Notice the belts? They were doin' Actual Work; while my ring was being hammered round, a medium-sized traction engine was running a small sawmill, the fully-exposed blade over 3' in diameter and a powered "carriage" to run the tree being turned into planks through the blade! Not quite as dangerous as it sounds: take three men to run it, a "engineer" to shift gears and two to load the timber, and the operating positions keep you well away from the most dangerous parts. An inattentive fellow could still get himself luridly injured, so it's a good thing the crew was experienced.

Below, less than half of the field'o'tractors. Tam and I were quite taken with "Junior," at the center:
People talk about the need for public transportation in Indy. If they'd relegate the buses to long-haul and run these in a series of criss-crossing straight-line routes downtown, they'd be handy as can be. ...I suppose it's not slick enough for the complainers. Okay, it's no monorail, but by golly, it's distinctive. Cable cars, the El, a subway? Pfui! Our system would run...like a Deere! I don't know how they do it at your state fair but at ours, we've got the trolleys that share space with pedestrians. They run two slightly differing clockwise routes through the fairgrounds, sometimes inches away from people and booths, and without accidents. I'm pretty sure most of the guys driving them are farmers, possibly retired. Seventy-five cents gets you a seat and if you're silly enough to ride all the way around a few times, that's your lookout.

More photos later, including a few I'll reserve for Retrotechnologist!

Meanwhile, "Democracy" Means A Majority Of Your Neighbors Can Rob You.

Right? Ask around any editorial page! The Unwanted Blog shares excerpts and provides analysis!

Remember, the gloriously pure democracy of Athens was viewed for centuries after as a cautionary example.

When Did They Secede?

Nobody told me? Actual headline at NRA-ILA: "Utah's Right-to-Carry permit popular in Idaho and the U.S."

They were led on by their source, Idahoreporter.com, which unabashedly originated the headline. And I checked: it turns out the Union still stands. Tsk. Well, saved me havin' to move.

Isolation-Tank Level Out Of Touch

In a snitfit that makes the GOP look better than ever to me (and manages to snub GOP headman Steele in favor of a white d00d -- racist much?), Lefty whiner Ken Bode says Dear Reader otta Take On The No Men!

In the course of his screed, he lists all the wonderful, wonderful(?) things the Republicans would have stopped:
- The "Recovery Act"
- The Automaker Bailout
- Obamacare
- Sonia Sotomayor
- Elena Kagan
- When jobless benefits ran out, they actually would have run out (instead of writing what amount to bad checks).

And Mr. Bode thinks it'll be a winning ploy for the Dems to run on this record of bread and circuses, while pointing out the Other Party was against 'em? You do that, then.

That man is livin' in Indiana; but I don't think he is living in Indiana.

I'm Cooking

...Gashouse eggs, a/k/a "toad in the hole." Back soon!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

State Fair!

I have scads of photos -- but I'll have to post them later. Giant tractors and baby donkeys! Baby tractors! (Kind of). And I have wildflower honey and a ring made out of a cut steel nail, the latter free for the asking.

Saw a wonderful array of old tools and prime movers, including one "modern" solution to the lack of a line shaft: a modified riding lawnmower!

I had a cake of beeswax. Dunno where it has got to, which could be bad. I sure couldn't find it in the car or my purse. Last memory? In my hand as I was getting ready to unlock the car. Did I leave it on the roof? If so, it didn't stick. A pity -- I have a big block of the stuff but I wanted a fresher, softer one.

Oh, and Red Gold tomato juice? Still the best! They serve it up ice-cold, with celery salt, Tabasco and/or Worcestershire to put in it if you'd like.

Headline Fail

And on so many levels:Not, thank merciful Heavens, what a hasty glance appeared to imply.

Image links to the story -- looks like Napoleon's ghost can finally join Clouseau.

The Problem With Illinois

I hate to sound like an old-time John Bircher holding up a map of the Caribbean with Cuba marked in lurid Red, but livin' next door to the erstwhile Land'O'Lincoln, y'can't help but notice: even their Republicans lean anti-gun and as for the Democrats....whew!

Meanwhile, the Governor of that rights-free hellhole reg'lar Midwestern-type state wants to ban everything but muzzleloaders, lever-actions and and wheelguns.

Now, you can go the border between Indiana and Illinois and drive back and forth all day long without noticing any particular huge change in landscape (hey, look, a river!) either side; nor do you suddenly become overwhelmed by the urge to kill, kill, kill on the IL side of the line -- at least, the vast majority of folks do not, unless they were that way on the IN side already. I'm told much the same condition obtains at the Missouri-IL border and up Iowa way, too. And yet-- Somehow, in Illinois, guns are de Debbil in a way they are not in other states until you reach New Jersey, Mass. and New York to the East, or California to the the West.

It can happen here.

Now there's a chance things may turn; certainly downstate IL has no shortage of fine, right-minded folks and McDonald, et al. fought the Good Fight and won. But I misdoubt it will be fast or easy; too much BS has gone over the dam.
Thanks to Alphecca and Joe Huffman for the original links!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Firearms: The Unversal Measurement (Plus, A Find)

In a BBC article about the QWERTY keyboard* (and surprisingly accurate it is, too; good ol' Auntie), we encounter this paragraph:
In the USA in the post civil war era, standardisation became all. [...] A .22 bullet had to fit any .22 rifle in the world. A typist had to fit any typewriter.
[Emphasis mine] Yes, the UK, that place where aunties of every stripe have been trying to denormalize firearms for a loooong time. How's that workin', then?

Wonderfully enough -- how's this for "meta?" -- the article's inspired by brilliant comedian Stephen Fry's BBC Radio 4 series, Fry's English Delight; I went looking for more information -- c'mon, we're talking Stephen Fry here -- and the very first episode I found is all about the foolishness of trying to control language.

This sort of thing is not to everyone's taste; but if you like reading Henry Louis Mencken, if you liked James J. Kilpatrick's Court of Peeves, Crochets and Irks and The Writer's Art column and books, or if you enjoy This American Life,† you might want give it a listen.

PS: Eggcorns! Egad.
* Slave to habit, I had originally typed "QUERTY." What? U always follows Q!
† "...[A] documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries. A public radio show for people who don't necessarily care for public radio." And for two seasons, the best thing Showtime ever made you pay to watch.

Are We Sure They're Still Alive?

Indiana Law Blog had me hooked with the subheading: "The jury, in its 10th day of deliberations, has sent no notes and asked no questions in more than a week"
Ah, Mr. Capone, Mr. Capone. Such a kidder!

(Were you holding your breath? Stop that; they finally asked another question, and it was, I have on good authority, not if "He's dreamy," and "Not guilty by reason of my fear of bodily harm," were acceptable verdicts. So, they have probably not been written up with a Chicago typewriter. Not yet).

Googling Google

Holy cow, there's an old data mine in the middle of the Google complex! Old, rusty trucks, bare, chewed-up dirt an' all.

I was looking for this,* but it's not on the Google Maps photo, or not very full of camera cars if it is. Old picture, just as they do down Oak Ridge way? Maybe.

(PS: Sure is California!)
* Via Say Uncle by means of Tam.

Dinkin' With The 14th?


A. McDonald was won on 14th-Amendment grounds. Subsequent court cases will rely on the Second Amendment being incorporated against the States via the 14th -- unless Senator Moron (both parties, all states) opens up the Pandora's box and they start "improving" it. Camel's nose, anyone?

B. In re citizenship: Early on, courts and congresscritters held the "and" in the part that follows the bit about bein' born or naturalized here could not be construed to mean "or;" it worked just like a real AND does, and what it links up is "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." Please remember the context: in order to be "subject to the jurisdiction," one had to "show allegiance," which lawbreakers are not. If Ma and Pa are here illegally when you are whelped, does that invalidate your shot at citizenship? I dunno; it bugs me in that there's a whiff of "corruption of the blood"* to it but I could see a court ruling that way. This has always existed; automatic "birthright citizenship" is an act of beneficence, implied in dicta but never explicitly ruled on.

C. Will someone please sit Mike Keefe of USA Today down and 'splain to him what "nuanced" means? 'Cos there's "simplifed" and then there's "stupefied," and then there's the whole other level he broke through the basement floor to find. (I hope that link holds, but look fast; here's the slideshow it's from).
* Prohibited in a specific manner in the U. S. Constition; totally barred in any connection by the Indiana Constitution. Other terms and conditions may apply in different States of the Union. Dealer prep and destination charges not included.

One For The Road, Officer?

(Update at Tam's).

There was a tragic mid-day traffic accident last week -- a police officer responding to a call hit two motorcycles, killing one rider and seriously hurt two others. Video of the vehicles alone looked gruesome -- motorcycle wheels tied in knots, the rest of the bike so twisted it was hard to tell what was what; even the police car was badly torn up.

Speculation was wide-ranging -- was the officer distracted by his computer? Did he have his lights and siren on (yes) and were the motorcyclists able to hear his approach? Was there another car involved? Children in the road?

None of the above. Word from the prosecutor's office has it the officer's blood alcohol level, routinely checked any time there's an accident, measured 0.19. On duty. And Indiana's like the other states: you're legally drunk at 0.08.

This is one officer out of a very large police force. Still, it's not lookin' too good for IMPD; you put on that uniform, you're a symbol. It might not be fair but that's how it works -- and most LEOs live up to it.

Some don't.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Musical Bookmark

Anita O'Day -- Trav'lin' Light. Or an atomic-age version of Honeysuckle Rose: Another singer I kinda like when I hear but rarely catch the name.

Pork Kills

Government pork, that is, and slowly: former Senator for Alaska Ted Stevens has died in a plane crash near Dillingham, AK. I would not wish an early death, much less such a terrible one, on a man for feeding his state so well from the public trough but I must admit, if ever there was an apt illustration of President Ronald Reagan's comment "...government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem...," Ted Stevens was it. He was, alas, a bridge to nowhere in the series of tubes.

He's earmarking in another assembly, now. Stock up on mother-of-pearl and sulfur, demand's goin' to go up, up, up on either or both.

I Should Post Something

Yes, I should. I'm on vacation (except for the half day I worked yesterday, a Mandatory Meeting. "Faster-That-Light Travel and Cultural Drift." 'Cos you get kinda unstuck in time: go away, come back, six months for you, seven for all the folks t'home, no problemo until you have done it, like, twenty or thirty times and when you get back, everybody has sparkly telephones that also do dishes and wind the cat or something) . (Or maybe that's BS and the meeting was a little more prosaic; but not, mind you, all that prosaic).

Hey, I received my Official Chief AJ (Target-Model) Quick Point Red Slingshot yesterday and it is waykewl! Aim is just about as "instinctive" as claimed when you hold it properly. Yeah, yeah, this whole business of throwing rocks, arrows, bullets or whatever is learned behavior, but do enough of any one of them and there are some basics that sink right in. If you shoot, you can shoot this thing and be hittin' plenty near what you are aimin' at, too. However, don't use Superballs, no matter how many you have or how brightly-colored; those thing just zing right back at you and end up -- h'mm, where did that one go? Er, at least that's what I heard from somebody. The preferred target projectile is lead shot in about the .375" or bigger (.45?) range -- time for a Gander Mountain road trip! I need to get either a heavy-duty BB trap or maybe an archery gel-block target, too.

Woodworking projects are at the top of my vacation list; I'd try house-painting but the weather is really unfavorable: too hot and too rainy.

The Tree Guy is supposed to be back soon. I sure hope so (as in, I'll call him this morning). He's left a rope in the hackberry tree, which has a dead limb drooping ever closer to the power drop to the house.

The State Fair is this week and I am going. Other people can go or not but I wanna. I missed it last year and the year before and I am darned well not gonna again. It is filled with delights and wonders! They have heffalump ears and (even better!) funnel cake, and a real Ferris wheel, too. Not to mention old engines, steam engines, tractors from the dawn of tractorhood to the latest-greatest, plus Barto's greasy spoon serves up real Hoosier breakfasts if you manage to get their early. Then there's the covered bridge the Boy Scouts built and all the various and sundry critters, from pigs, baby goats and horses about ten feet tall to a tiger or two from the Tiger Refuge. Not to mention the Red Gold booth in the Horticulture Building (best canned tomato products in the world), and all the apiarists offering a zillion different kinds of honey (some of it sealed in handy drinking-straw containers, a quick tube of delicious energy), honey related items, and thick, sweet-smelling cakes of ever-useful beeswax. And.... Aw, heck. It's a State Fair; you either know or you've missed one of life's delights.

Snark later, if I feel like it. Gonna go write something about hammers now.

Central Planning, The Home Edition

Staghounds, in a comment at Tam's, pointed to his handy "pantry proof" of the flawed nature of a planned economy. Have a look. It's a classic!

(Why am I reminded of the "kitchen debate?)

Monday, August 09, 2010

It's a Free Country, Aint It?

But please, use sunblock.

Over Ohio way, there's a little church with a big project: protesting at a strip club, for the moral betterment of us all.

Thing is, the strippers are protesting right back. Yep, out there in front of the church in, well, attire suited to hot weather, waving signs and grillin' burgers. ("I said, 'Don't look, Ethel," but it was already too late.")

All the local lawmen (and prosecutor) will say to reporters is, "We're aware of the situation." --And possibly poppin' popcorn; looks like a great big happy First Amendment time for all.

Live and let live -- annoy, and get annoyed back.

(Via Confessions Of A Street Pharmacist)

Speaking Of Sad Colors

Barney the Dinosaur? He's pathological! A "pathological color" for digital television, that is. Or very close; SMPTE* RP 198-1998 defines a test signal that's a kind of sick purple. In digital, it has lousy DC balance, one high bit followed by 19 low bits, followed by the picture breaking up if there's a full screen of it and anything is the least bit awry. By utter chance, the infamous I-love-you thunder lizard is so near that shade that Mr. deMille had better never cut to a close-up for more than a second or two.

There's another pathological hue, a nasty greenish shade, that puts a strain on the signal in another way (I could explain and you could follow, but will you ever lay awake at night trying to work through how twenty low bits followed by twenty high bits, over and over, would produce so much low-frequency energy that it would sneak under the loop filter of a clock-recovery PLL and unlock it? No; either you found that weakness kind of amusing or it left you in cold-hunh land). Sadly, it's not the same shade as Barney's tummy. However, in some (not all -- maybe they were off-model?) images, the character's tummy is awfully close to the color of the "colorburst" reference signal, buried in old-fashioned analog TV signals.

Why is Barney so TV-hued? I dunno. Perhaps it's protective coloration. The picture breaks up and when it clears, the creature is already upon you. Hugging. Ew.
* Their logo now symbolizes either film-through-digital technologies, or the world shredding film. Oh, Art, Thou mumblest.

The Pale-Green Panda Is The Saddest Of All

The headline is the story: "Climate talks stumble from Page 1!" Yep. The Third World wants more handouts; Hugo and the Arabs (remember their chart-topping hit from 1972?) are frettin' over not having a seller's market for their crude and China doesn't want anyone lookin' over their shoulder while they cook the books. And me, I'll unbend so far as to point you at an AP story bemoaning the horriawfulness of it all.

No "marvels of science" tag for this one -- 'cos I'm not seein' any yet. Politics, meet Darwin: root, hog -- or die.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I missed Hiroshima Day. And I didn't get you anything, either. Hey, for both the whiners and the cheerers: it's done. You can't unring a bell.

Especially if it was melted.

Lotta people died; lotta more people would've died in conventional war -- and the majority of them would have been Japanese, too.

My Brunch

Didn't have all that much in the fridge, so I improvised.

Country sausage patty on toasted rye bread, topped with skillet-roasted diced poblano pepper, thin-sliced radish and Swiss cheese: O.M.G! It didn't need anything else, just juice (cranberry, my fave, with V8 a close second) and good coffee* to wash it down.

Now, if only the Ibuprofen will kick in, I can maybe get something done.
* It's a sad commentary on the the various vendobots at work and the swill served up at all but the very best eateries that I feel compelled to specify good coffee.

Things Are Never So Bad

Never so bad that a government program to "fix" them won't make it worse: [President]* Obama's "August Surprise" has yet to be revealed, but some speculation leans strongly to another massive government bailout, likely an attempted vote-buying "Main Street bailout" in the form of forgiving or hugely reducing the amount owed on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans (issuers of the bad loans that stated the whole housing boom rolling).

Can his Administration be that foolish? Will they? I dunno -- but I'm startin' to wish we'd put in a little vegetable garden at Roseholme this year. That's the sort of thing that jump-starts inflation, not the economy; and the current Congress and the present Administration already have a history of pulling the pin on things they haven't any clue about.

Aw, rats. I just realized we haven't got a wheelbarrow, either.
* I continue to object to invoking Presidents and other politicians by naked patronymic. Sure, I believe 95% of them -- at least -- are snakes-in-the-grass who should be kept away from the good silver and the keys to the liquor cabinet and, ideally, never be invited in. It still looks bad to bark out their names. Please, not where Canadians and Europeans can see -- the poor innocents still have a few illusions left about gravitas and dignitas and if we can keep them from seeing any real close photos (Representative Frank, Madame Speaker Pelosi, I'm lookin' at you) and use proper titles, we might be able to avoid shatterin' 'em.