Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Have Seen The New Sherlock Holmes

(The television series, that is). It's everything they claim. Possibly better.

Also? "This is a three-patch problem," may be the best bit of timewarp retconning evar.

Give it a glance!

(Hat-tip to Phlegmmie, second person I heard rave about the new version -- first was a co-worker).

Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand

Why, she has neither horns nor fangs! And she predicts...umm, pretty much the mess we've got. Have a look.

That Incident At A Rand Paul Rally

...In which a protester, wearing a blonde wig (?) tries to shove a sign into the candidate's vehicle and is then chased around the SUV, heading back towards Mr. Paul as it stops and is grabbed and pushed down to the curb hard? What happens next is what got all the attention; the press and the protester called it a headstomp but it looks like her shoulder to me. Dirty pool either way, but what you might not have noticed is what also happens:

The Lone Stepper puts his foot on her shoulder and shoves down solidly and as he does so, another Paul supporter steps up holding out his hand, and shouts, "No-no-no-nuh-n'no! C'mon--" at the stepper, who quits and moves back, shaking his finger chidingly. Interviewed soon after, the protester, still clutching her "RepubliCorp" sign, seems little worse for the wear, claiming she just wanted to share, "My message...which is just the same as anyone else." Um, no it's not; protective coloration FAIL. But look on the bright side, kiddo: you're famous, and they didn't even break your glasses. Speaking as a glasses-wearer who has been chased down and shoved around, do you know how lucky that is?

Heck, those Rand-fans, they can't even manage crowd violence; somebody starts in with late hits, somebody else intervenes, toot sweet. Try that with the SEIU and see how far you get. --We know what happens when you protest around the President of these here too-United States: he sics you on his opposition. (Here, scroll in to the 5:50 mark; they keep dinging him over a broken campaign promise 'til 8:30 in, where he sings 'em out with BS and FDR riffs, trailing off into GOP-bashing. You stay classy, sir. Um...).

I'm still no fan of any political rally, which creepify me even when they come off without a hitch. But to come in spoilin' for trouble, rush the candidate and still have crowd members intervene on your behalf? That's not pro-level thuggery you're receiving. Not even close. Chicago police wouldn't even consider it a warning.

Follow The Bouncing....Bottle?

Go here. There's music there. I dare you. Will you regret it? Not really. It's what the paper deserves. Oh, and here's a palate-cleanser for afters.

Blame Mike Flynn. I do.

(PS: The (charming) Marimba Ponies do their own take on the second number linked to above -- but I have to warn you, if you like that sort of thing, it's a rabbit-hole you'll fall into for an hour or more).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coats In The Hood?

Tam range me up from Castle Frostbite and pointed out in the Dan Coats political ad she snarked at awhile back, the YouTube freeze-frame has him sitting in a diner with a distinctive, Miami Beach-Deco/Fab Fifties palette of colors: it's SoBro's own Good Morning Mama's, brighter than any tropic flower.

I called up the vid while she spoke and was rocking it back and forth, when I realized a few cuts earlier, Mr. Coats is chatting with a fellow at a vegetable stand. But it's not just any vegetable stand, it's Locally Grown Gardens, right down the block from Mama's, and the guy is the owner, Ron. (I wouldn't read anything political into that; Ron's naturally friendly and as near as anyone could guess, his politics consist of suggesting you should eat fresh, flavorful food, ideally from his store, while listening to first-rate reggae. This is a platform nearly everyone can embrace and still be true to themselves, even Dan Coats).

Haven't gone through the ad frame-by-frame but it is pretty obvious the candidate was workin' 54th St., pretty much within bicycling range of Roseholme Cottage. Woo-hoo, Hollywood, here we come!

I Often Wonder What The Brewers Drink

Or is it Vintners? Vernors?* (Ale-8-One, maybe?)

There I was, shopping at Giant Home Improvement Store -- 'cos it's "make more bookshelves," time for some reason I'm not even real clear on, and it was my idea -- and there, close by the entrance, an alarm company's van is parked. His security system sometimes goes off with a warning as people walk by....

You may wonder, is it a polite chirp? One of those show-off alarms that runs through more and more of its repertoire the longer you linger, louder every time? Maybe the headlights and taillights flash?


It's a great big dog, who barks and leaps up at the window if you get close.

So, a tip from a guy who'd know? On car-alarms, at least, go organic!
* Now owned by one of the Big Names (and arguably the kewlest) but still darned good.

The New Math

So, I'm at BigBox Office Supply with $22.53 in notebook, paperclips, repositionable index tabs and drafting erasers to buy; I hand Fresh-Faced Young Man at the checkout $30 American, he rings it up and I suddenly remember I have a surplus of pennies. I rapidly dig out three cents, figuring the way my 47 cents change is now a half-dollar is a no-brainer.

Alas, it's not. He vaporlocks. Takes the three cents and stands there, lips moving, as he attempts to take the derivative of the curve I've just thrown him, dy and dx circling sharklike in his brain, slashing at his thoughts while on the periphery, venerable, furious Asian men wave abacuses and yell at him, cheered on by crewcut geeks with slide rules and long-haired ones with fat, button-studded calculators. His manager's at the other register and it's just registered with her that Post-Teenaged Sidekick has ground to a halt. She turns and asks, "What'd she give you?" She gives me a suspicious look, thinking I have handed him a 5-Zloty* note, 14 dinars, six $2 bills and a subway token and am demanding my change in kopecks and loonies, right now.†

"Unh, thirty dollars. An' three cents."

"How much was it? Twenty-two fifty-three?" She disfavors him with a witheringly disgusted look, but his back is to her and I'm pretty sure he's immune anyway. "Where do you start?"


"Put the three cents in the drawer. Now, take--"

He drops the pennies in their bin, fumbles out a one, drops it, grabs it and gives me a sheepish look.

"No! Take two quarters. Now, what's left?"

"Er, five?"

"And...? Two ones?"

Comprehension seems to dawn; he ends up holding $7.50, which he hands to me in one lump without the traditional chant of 'Fifty makes twenny-three, two ones is twenny-five and five is thirty; with your three cents, we're even.'

Y'know, there's a reason for doing that, two reasons in fact, and there's a reason why he can't; one is to force a kind of rolling recalc and the other is to hand over the minimum number of bills by filling to the nearest five, then the nearest ten and twenty and so on. At one time, nearly every transaction ended in that comforting ritual, unless some inconsiderate high-roller was writing a check. Any more, that nifty little card-slideola right out there for the customer's convenience allows all but the greenest of stockboys hoping to move up to get a chance helping out at the long as no one with a pocketbook fulla cash comes along and has the nerve to round up the transaction after he's already rung the total.

...Which was a rotten trick; I can't claim I wasn't a bit of a jerk there but I really did think it was trivial.
* The Poles have always had some good-lookin' paper money; they've mostly been able to avoid the candy-bar wrapper look in favor of serious, quality engraving.

† This list, thunk up at random, adds up to $33.48 in USD, or pretty close ($33.53 as of 0722EST 31OCT2010, the Jordanian dinar having gone up a tick or two) assuming the monetary value of the subway token is zero. My change would be, oh, ten loonies, 23 Russian rubles and 98 kopecks. Wrong! Inverted the loonie/greenback ratio. It would be eleven loonies, six Russian rubles, 14 kopecks. Or the loonies and simply 614 kopecks: 12 50s, a ten and four ones. Aw, math is hard.


The drive home from work takes me close to Sam's Gyros; I was hungry yesterday but didn't feel ambitious enough to make anything, so I stopped by to get what they sell as a whole gyros sandwich.

...Which is two 2/3 of a pita, each stuffed full of meat, sauce, cucumber and tomato. (The leftover thirds? They use them for table bread!) Very tasty.

It's kind of a fast food take on Mediterranean food, but very well done.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Know It's Overly Flippant, But

...Whenever I hear the term "suspicious package," this is the mental image I get:

In case you missed it, some nitwits from Yemen or Shakkin'Yabootietilkablooie or some such place sent a batch of boxes of badness, multiple batches in fact, to where it would Do Harm. This was nipped in the, er, bud and police are, as they say, "looking into it."

Michelangelo's David had no comment, though observers remarked that he "appeared concerned."*
* Just to prove that at least one brilliant Italian sculptor actually read and understood the text and had some notion what the normal reaction might be, if you could see David's face on the same level or above, he looks like a man scared right out of his gourd -- and determined to proceed nevertheless. The rest of his body language is, according to experts, expressing precisely the same thing. There he is, bare nekkid, with a sling and a handful of gravel, looking way, way up at a great burly fellow, armed and armored, out to crush him like a bug. Who wouldn't be afraid?

It's A Bad, Mean World.

I went to Target to get a couple of new pillows tonight. When I found the pillow aisle, there it was: every size, every stuffing material and the full range of support: Extra Firm, Very Firm, Firm and Medium.

I couldn't help it. For just an instant, I reverted to childhood and remarked, "No nice, soft pillowses at all? This is a bad, bad world."

Bought a couple of Mediums. I guess it beats a brick, or those wooden supports Geishas use to keep from ruining their hair. But geesh!

Halloween Plans

I know what I'll hand out this year: soda pop! Those tiny short cans are expensive, though. The big bottles are economical; you just tip a little into every trick-or-treater's bag. "There ya go, kid!" Glug, glug. "Happy Halloween!"

Heh heh heh.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tom Lehrer On Success

Some men set the bar very high; some set it low. And some men sit in the bar, penning musical satire instead of drinking:

"Lehrer has said of his musical career, 'If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while.'"


Tsk. He never said that.

New Pens!

Received an order from Jet Pens last night -- quite a haul!Though Jet specializes in Japanese pens, the pen (and cartridges) at top, with the (to American ears) Far-East sounding name is from Germany. Details, links over at Retrotechnologist.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meanwhile, Up Canada Way

...Studying what happens when you stop feeding seriously-challenged premature babies. Not reading for the faint of heart.

Look, I may not've managed a real high score on the empathy test over at Say Uncle but this is simply ghastly. --I don't have time to run it all the way back to the source this morning and Flynn definitely has an axe to grind; nevetheless, first sight makes my blood chill and boil simultaneously.

Dark Humor

Given the impossibility of saving up much for retirement and still keep Roseholme Cottage paid for, lit, heated and maybe even painted, I'm forced to admit the H. Beam Piper retirement plan could be a viable option, come the day. It's got to be a better deal than Social Security and Medicare.

Like Piper, I've no strong attachments, especially since my cats are gone. This may be a minor reason* why I am resisting even looking for another cat; another long-lived pet could be around for my own Golden Years. Of course, we'd eat the same brand of cat food.

Update: No, no no, I am in no wise about to it down facing the sea, pen a haiku, and eviscerate myself. Or anything even slightly picturesque. I was taking the long view into a dim future and not liking what I saw; so I made fun of it. As for H. Beam Piper, I admire him for picking his own time. "Tragic," everyone says. Well, sure, he had money coming, but at the time, SF paid a pittance. It might not have made enough difference; we'll never know. The tragedy is our own: we have a lot fewer Piper stories to read than we might have had.
* Major reason, I still miss them. I find myself looking forward to being in the office and spending time with the cats...and then remembering they won't be there.


Everyone has something that creeps them out, I suppose, and mine is travel.

Trying to process why, I've found two things that contribute, though I suspect they are related:

First, I do not cope all that well with the unfamiliar; it takes me days to start to be comfortable in a new place. The family vacation of my youth, based on making at least 500 miles a day by car and rarely spending a week in one place, was a sublimely disorienting and unpleasant experience. Closer to home, even large stores space me out; through the years, I'll pick one location on the Target/Wall-Mart axis for all my big-box shopping, and even then, I'm pretty dazed by the time I get to the checkout. (Sports stadiums are a nightmare, especially with a crowd in them. I do reach my target heart rate pretty quickly....) Our recent BlogMeet at Claddagh? It wasn't 'til the walk back out that I really had a good look around at the place. "Vacations" I have been able to make a short trip and stay in one place for an extended period of time, it's not been so bad; but the bulk of those were tech schools, and by choice, my routine didn't include sightseeing.

Second, driving. The freeway has never been my favorite, but it's getting worse. Maybe it was the series of minor wrecks in '06, '07, and '08, which respectively messed up my right knee and wiped out two (nearly disposable, I admit) '02 Hyundai Accents, but I have become risk-averse behind the wheel to a terrible extent. I recently had occasion to put in about 30 miles on the freeway, in the dark, at speeds in the 55 to 65 mph range, and I had to keep reminding myself to loosen my grip on the wheel: I was holding on so tightly, I was getting hand cramps. Some of that's got to be from still driving a tiny Accent, this one in worse shape than its predecessors, as opposed to, say, the used '81 XJ-6 my ex and I owned; older Accents are entirely adequate city cars but on an interstate, they feel very fragile. I've not been able to afford contact lenses since I bought this house (in hindsight, a very bad idea, given the way the economy and housing prices crashed afterward) and with eyeglasses, my peripheral vision is essentially non-existent; without a lot of conscious effort, merging traffic can come as a surprise. (It's amusing to me when the better sighted remark on how much I look around, trying to keep track when traffic is merging in from all sides -- they do it, too, but their visual field is a lot wider).

Whatever the reasons, I hope to avoid any travel that's not absolutely necessary. Maybe it broadens horizons for most people, but it narrows mine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Venerable Flackville?

I do not believe it. Popped up on Google Maps: Indianapolis has a neighborhood called "Venerable Flackville."


I have no idea how I could have lived here most of my adult life and missed it until now. You'd think there'd be a sign.

Fred Pohl Reviews Heinlein Biography

Present Dean -- or at least Senior Wrangler -- of American SF writers, Frederik Pohl, reviews Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, Volume 1.

Interesting insight, from a guy who was there.

(Also from Pohl, a bit of chicken-heart insight, in the midst of meatier musings about collaborative writing. Ooo).

For Your Viewing And Listening Pleasure

The Raymond Scott documentary is available!

Who's he? The most famous composer you never heard of, is who -- for instance, Carl Stalling borrowed tons of his riffs (by agreement) for Warner Brother cartoons. But that's not even the half of it; he was a musical innovator and all-around gadgeteer.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oooooo, Noes! Baseball, Where Are You?

Not on cable in NYC, it looks like; or, as the headline on my computer so breathlessly put it, "Series blackout looms in N.Y. -- Some...cable customers may need to buy an antenna to watch the games. Will government step in?"

Class? Deep breath, ready, steady.... NO! Because cable television isn't a frikkin' right! On the other hand, your landlord can't (usually) stand in the way of you puttin' up a TV antenna. (Receiving-type, Mr. Ambition, you just put that big transmitting thing back on the Empire State where you found it, right now). Heck, I don't think they can can even get in the way of a direct broadcast satellite receiving antenna. (They can, however, make some "reasonable accommodation" like stickin' one antenna on your building an' dolin' out RF, so don't getcher hammer out too quickly).

What's up here is a spat between NYC's CATV supplier, Cablevision, and networks and local stations there in The Big City. Cablevision wants Uncle Sam t'step in an' slap 'em around some. Never mind there's a lot of other paths for the programming to take to get to people's homes -- even this here "innernet" thing, which sends baseballs through a series of tubes. Or so I hear tell.

I don't watch the sport, myself.

That Was The Weekend That Was

And it was a busy one, even though I never got to the gun show.

The Saturday BlogMeet was a good one, with Brigid, Midwest Chick, Mr. B, Joanna, Og, Og's pal, Old Grouch, Tam and Shootin' Buddy gathering at Claddagh on 96th St.

...Now, that Irish bar's part of a chain; as such, my expectations were on the low side. I was wrong! The food is very good and the decor is neither excessively twee nor overly faux. (I had Irish stew and bread pudding, a dessert of which I am excessively fond, and tried Tam's corned beef and cabbage egg rolls, tasty).

Conversation was unusually wide-ranging (I blame Og -- see the links to Brigid, Mr. B and Midwest Chick's accounts, above) and included Old Grouch handing around an e-reader (Barnes & Noble's "Nook," which has a nice form factor and an excellent display; it tempts me more than any other I've seen, though even it still flips pages a bit slowly for me). The book I am currently digging through, David Alan Grier's When Computers Were Human was handed around, too. (I'm about 2/3 through and recommend it for anyone interested in the other side of the rise of modern computing, the "computing labs" filled with busy pencil-pushers that preceded ENIAC; it sheds a lot of light on the gap between punched-card tabulators and early electronic computers, too. My copy is from Half-Price books; follow Tam's Amazon link to find it, used, for under $20) . Og also shared one of The Wonderful Things his pet beasts were making, untouched by human hands, at a recent exhibit. (I'm being deliberately vague -- you wanna know more, you gotta get to an Indy BlogMeet!).

Sunday, I'd hoped to scooter down to the gun show. Instead, I got my motorscooter running, made a short expedition to the supermarket and found rising wind and threatening clouds made any longer expedition highly questionable. A spattering of rain and peals of thunder ended the question; I found other things to do 'til BlogMeet time.

I left the house just in time for pouring rain, almost too heavy to drive in for a short while, and dashed through raindrops to join Shermlock and Mrs. Shomes and Old Grouch at the Broad Ripple Brewpub. Tam showed up shortly after and tried their latest seasonal offering, "Big Boy Ale," a "strong ale...with dry hopping (says so on the menu)." It is very tasty; they say it drinks like an Imperial IPA and current menus list the ABV at 8.4%! I only had a sip; my dinner was calling: "Oktoberfest," apples, red cabbage and onions all cooked up, topped with mashed potatoes and grilled slices of sausage. Yum! Tam pronounced her Rubenburger delicious and Mrs. Shomes enjoyed the fine sirloin & mushroom rotini. Lots of good conversation, on a gray and drizzly afternoon.

And there you have it, a split BlogMeet.

Let's start talking about a time and place for November, now.

Election Note

As a general guide to the mid-term elections, one might usefully look to the venerable Indianapolis Star: any candidate they have endorsed (for example, their statewide picks) should be removed from your consideration, and choice made among the remaining one or two standing for each office.

And people say that newspapers are out of touch!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Busy Morning

...And I gotta scoot. Maybe literally: I got my motor scooter started this week and if the weather holds, I may use it to visit the gun show and, later, the Sunday BlogMeet, 3:00 pm at Broad Ripple Brew Pub

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Promises, Promises

Haggis could vanish due to climate change!

Pitchforks! Torches!

Get'em while they're hot, 'cos feminist SF fandom is fixin' to burn Elizabeth Moon to the waterline!

...For intolerance. Or deviation from the approved narrative, more like. Michael Z. Williamson comments and provides links. The famous Instapundit noticed, too. Irony meters are overloading.... Well, they would if there was any sensitivity to irony left over there.

Superquick read: while expressing her understanding that a significant number of Muslims were not happy about the WTC attack and are, in fact, okay-fine folk, she said she still wasn't comfy with the (so-called, it's two blocks away) "World Trade Center Mosque" and some attitudes held by some people. She wasn't teaching a history or sociology class; she didn't appear to me to be wanting to hand down Universal Truth to which all must bow, she merely had an opinion to share. --Oh, yeah, she also pointed out that Islam isn't lookin' any too slam-bang in re women's rights, either. (Which it ain't; if you're a girl, bein' born under almost any other faith -- or none at all -- gives you a much better chance at havin' unhacked genitals, an actual career, your own money, the ability to pick what slobbering idiot you'll wed and not havin' to be beholden to any man for any of it. Mind you, this is in the usual human dice-roll, in which a quarter the faces are still marked "dead by 40." But it's the only game in town and besides, you get to shade the odds about as soon as you learn to talk -- especially if you're not XX in the Caliphate).

Of course a storm of outrage descended, nearly all of it from the daughters (and sons) of privilege here in the First World. In expressing her opinions of a religion, and of the actions of some adherents thereto, Moon is, they tell us, a racist. A vile and terrible person, who must not be allowed to speak at public events; specifically, WisCon, which is some sort of sci-fi feminist convention to which she had been invited as the Guest of Honor. (She's since been disinvited.)

(Yeah, I don't know who Johanna Russ and Ursula K. LeGuin are allowed to chat with there either, now that Marion Zimmer Bradley is gone. But I guess the crowd's votin' Ms. Moon off that island. Srsly, I can think of a handful of other more-or-less explicitly feminist SF writers, all of whom strike me as less mush-headed than most of the anti-Moon crowd. The Moon-loathers, by some amazing coincidence or perhaps a conspiracy by the privileged,* aren't writing stuff they get paid for).

All of which points to, among other things, the dangers of unrestricted democracy. This particular case isn't much of a tempest, especially considering that "SF Fandom" and "people who like to read SF" are only slightly overlapping sets -- I'm not all that certain, anymore, that the first one is entirely contained within the second. I can assure you the second set's a lot bigger, though neither one is especially huge. I rather doubt it is Elizabeth Moon's only chance at the GoH mantle at a 'Con, either. So this is acrimonious, feisty, even icky, but not Big Evil.

However, played out on a larger scale, people's willingness to pillory those who express notions they dislike is exactly why there's a Bill of Rights here in these overly-United States. The First Amendment especially, but about the time they start checkin' to make sure you are not reading or writing down Wrongthink, the ol' Fourth and Second Amendments start lookin' like real good rules, too.

Meanwhile, in that corner of fandom, the hue and cry continues. A lot of it is of the "my ancestors got whupped on all the time and that makes me more equal than anyone else" sort, in which the writer expresses deep, visceral outrage between applying layers of Cheeze Whiz to vegan saltines, sitting at a computer in Mom and Dad's basement. Oh, and capitalism is the root of all this evil -- I learned that all over again, just today.

But even it is not as evil, they screech, as disagreeing. And I think that is insane. I've read and enjoyed (some of) the works of Russ, Moon, LeGuin and Bradley. I'll bet they're not in unitary agreement and I'm damn sure they wouldn't agree with many of my outlandish notions -- and so what? They've all got way better pulpits than I do, too, in large part because they write more entertainingly. Should I hate them for this? Should I try to shut them up?

Oh, hells no.

Go over to Tam's blog; use her Amazon link to buy some Elizabeth Moon books. She's a good writer. I don't know who she votes for, I'm not even sure who she loves and/or hates. And I don't care. Woman can write.

If you only read people who share your opinions, if you only hear from the folks who think just like you, you will be living in a narrow, colorless and ultimately stupid world, no matter what your ideology.

Why put on blinders?
PS1: As for building a special WTC memorial like they're doin' with those two big holes in the ground? Ask yourself who picnics at Little Big Horn. Still wanna do it? Me, I wanna rebuild the towers, higher, and fill 'em up with offices where people make money. Whining is for losers.

PS2: What a group -- any group -- chooses to peaceably do to, with or on property they own is nobody else's business. True in Waco, true in Manhattan. Holds true in Wisconsin, too; it's not the disinviting that bugs me, it's the way folks want her to shush -- and were sooo miffed when she deleted 500-odd comments. Get your own blogs, kids, they're cheap-to-free.

PS3: While I won't wear blinders, I do tend to avoid close, extended contact with religion, SF fandom and organized feminism: all require a degree of True Believingness I haven't got and all of them get in the way of dealing with people one at a time. If I liked herds, I'd run cattle or sheep.
* Judy-Lynn del Rey, perhaps, or Farnsworth Wright. Maybe Avram Davidson or Marion Zimmer Bradley, or...well, it's a long list, and it turns out "pale, male and hale" is hardly a majority. Don't play the dozens of you don't know the history.

Jumped So High, You Can't Even See The Shark

They're not the Doublemint Twins* but they might as well be; and they'll be a-racin' in NASCAR.

Okay, I get that there's a certain light in which NASCAR has come to mean deliberate, big fun, in-your-face shark jumping, an enjoyable way to spend the day while puttin' a thumb in the eye of effete snobs everywhere...but this seems a bit much even so.

They better know how to shred fenders without pilin' up a passel of cars, that's for sure.
* Originally Hoosiers. In your face, other states!


Um. Got nuthin', or not much. Tam and SB took off for brekky and the Indy 1500 Gun Show at, like, quarter til oh-dark-hundred. As I was at that time possessed of C) no cash and B) a hammerin', one-sided headache, complete with stabbing pains in my left ear* and A) an overabundance of "sleepy," I did no such thing.

Here I am, an hour left to get to the bank. Prolly shower and off to Cladddlhoeaught (cough, cough, cough) (It's a beautiful language and some of my ancestors spoke a closely-related one, but it does things to my throat) or whatever they call it, after.
* Before offering sympathy and/or medical advice, stop. I get these things. They are, according to the very best medical help I could buy, multiple specialists, lotta tests and fancy imaging, not a symptom of anything. There is no drug that will end them. Ibuprofen will take the edge off, though sometimes it requires an hour or so; stronger drugs can do more but at the cost of seriously horrible side effects and/or addiction, so they're out. I complain about my headaches because there is no fixing them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear AT&T.....

Let me put this as sweetly as I can.

If you quarter-witted marketing whizzes* don't stop trying to shove your damnable cable-TV-like service down my throat, I'm gonna cancel every last blasted service I get from you.

Seriously, I've seen your 'verse. I don't like it.

You're already the providers of my landline, cell phone and high-speed DSL, which by my count is at least one and possibly three services too many. Even if I liked the silly-ijit-box channels you want to sell me in a degree of rez and compression that hurts my eyes, I would be disinclined to hand any company a total monopoly over my media access, and especially not to AT&T, the "we spy on customers for the Feds" outfit.

There's no tellin' how many forests you have hewn down, how much oil, carbon black and aniline you've slathered onto thick, high-zoot chrome-coat paper in a futile attempt to sell me on a service I don't want, couldn't afford and would not, in any case, care to lease from you.

Y'all leave me alone and cease stoppin' up my mailbox with that crap. When I call in to pay my bill or ask howcome my cell phone service is so blamed spotty, I do not want a sales pitch for the dubious and tawdry wonders of your flavor of cable TV.

It's souring me on your company. And I was already lightin' up litmus strips that way.

Look, I need you for tip & ring POTS, 'cos I like old phones and you are the primo guys for that DC & dialtone jazz; after all, you invented it, or maybe snatched it out from under Elisha Gray. The other services, they sell on streetcorners, often nicer than the versions you offer.

So back off. I'll toss ya out and make my own dialtone if you keep pushing.

No amount of marketing can sell a service the customer does not want and even finds loathsome. But it'll lose you customers, toot de sweet.

* As in "whizzing" or "to have a whiz." And I don't mean speedy motion.

FFA Rituals Resume

Indy's annual agricultural human sacrifice is underway; already, one FFA member has been hit by a car and another's gone missing.

They're pretty good young folks but I'm startin' to wonder if anyone's keepin' an eye on them.

Here's hoping they can avoid a repeat of last year.

Did They Say That?

Congressional candidate Dan Coats is running a commercial about his Democratic opponent, incumbent, Brad Ellsworth.

Now Brad is, at best, a freshman wheelhorse, a pretty face who has voted along party lines since he got in. I don't much like him.

Mr. Coats, on the other hand, is a kind of carpetbagger, who heard the GOP was having trouble coming up with a candidate and hustled back to the state he left for warmer/better-paying climes years ago. I'm not so fond of him, either.

Still, I did not think he'd sign off on so flagrant a monument to stupid as his latest the-other-guy-is-bad ad, in which we learn the wicked, wicked Ellsworth, "...voted to force seniors out of Medicare and into government-run health care!"

Er, Dan? Dan? Medicare? So what's it, then, if not gummint-run health care?

More frikkin' New-Dealism, which seems to be written in stone, etched so deeply nobody in the the two parties dares to question it even as they look askance at programs with the exact same kind of intent and wider scope. At least they won't 'til it all goes smash and finishes taking the economy down with it, at which point they'll blame each other a little and us voters a lot.

I'm sure glad there's a Libertarian in that race.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October BlogMeet?

(Bumped to top)

How does next Sunday Saturday afternoon work? The 23rd. Gunshow that weekend, if anyone's looking for a double excuse to visit Indy.

Location, I'm open to suggestions.

--Latest News: Claddagh on 96th has been suggested for Saturday. Other folks are saying they can make it Sun and not Sat. We could try for a qurom both days, Saturday at the Irish jernt, Sunday at Broad Ripple Brew Pub. Any takers?

--Even More Latester News: 3:00 pm both days, okay? I may only make one, I have some family stuff to do.


The anniversary was a few days ago: on 15 October 1910, airship America set off from Atlantic City, bound for Europe.

Owner Walter Wellman had already made three attempts to fly America to the the North Pole, none successful. The Atlantic crossing probably looked like a more attainable goal. Alas, it was not to be; the airship began losing altitude and by the third day, it was clear they'd have to abandon ship.

Calling for help on their radio -- a double first: the first two-way radio on an aerial vehicle and the the first distress call from the air! -- they were picked up by a passing surface vessel and returned to the U.S., receiving a hero's welcome.

It was nine years before the Atlantic Ocean was successfully crossed by air -- thanks in part to the lessons learned by America.

...Some lessons are never learned. The Wikipedia article tells us, "A spark gap radio set was added to the underhanging life boat and operator Jack Irwin used it during the flight, callsign "W", and with the frame of the airship as the antenna. Given the hydrogen used for lifting the craft this was a very dangerous system." Probably not. The airship had only a partial frame, at the bottom of the gasbag; the spark gap was down at the radio set, at the same level as the internal combustion engines that propelled the vehicle and almost certainly of the enclosed-gap type. Released hydrogen does not sink; it's still lighter than air and floats up, up and away. This is a bit of reading history backwards, in this case while looking through a porthole from the Hindenburg. (Quck, now, pop quiz: what proportion of those aboard died in that famous wreck? 95%, 37% or 64%?) . There are a lot of likelier ways to die in an airship; hydrogen fires are well down on the list.

The Wellman Expedition failed without loss of life, not even the airship's cat(!). And its failure was a learning experience.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gun Rules

I don't have time to dig up all the links, but gun-safety rules -- how many of 'em and what they otta say -- is a hot topic, again.

Here's the thing: those rules -- whatever set you like -- are just a tool. What's the tool supposed to do? They're supposed to keep you from perforating things that hadn't otta be perfed -- walls, floors, friends, family, that guy over there and his dog. And they're supposed to keep you from scaring those around you, too.

Take Cooper's Rule One: "All guns are loaded all the time." LOLwhut? I know some of mine aren't, a lot of the time.... But I do not know about yours; so if you'll please bear in mind that as far as I know, I am looking up the very nostril of Death Incarnate when you sweep me with the muzzle of that unloaded gun, and therefore refrain from so doing unto me, we'll get along fine; I neither know nor care if it's Jeff Cooper or Emily Post who makes you mindful of why it's considered rude.

Do your rules encourage mindfulness? Do they keep you and those around you safe? Then good on yer. If not, well, me and ROs, we've got some questions. Kind of questions. Like, "Would you like to leave now?"

Don't be that guy. Be the safe guy. I don't care what creed you use to accomplish it.

Update: I was not sufficiently clear. My message to shooters is not the cheap and easy, "Be safe!" It's something a lot more harsh: Conduct yourself in such wise that those around you will judge you a safe shooter. And you don't get to quibble. Giving J. Random Guy a peek up the muzzle, breaking 180 on the line, standing way off the firing line and muzzling your wheelchair-bound girlfriend in the back of the head while stuffing a fresh mag in your Makarov and dropping the slide: these are all behaviors I have seen and either spoken up about or departed in haste because of.

The Internet is just some people talking. In the ultimate analysis, anything shared therein about technique or philosophy is just so much hot air that you paid pennies to read. It's what you go out there and do in the physical world that counts. Pick any blamed set of rules you like -- make them up -- tell yourself whatever you need to; but understand that if you are not safe, I will call you on it. Tam will call you on it. Or we will leave, rapidly. A good RO -- and they're not omniscient or all-powerful, so they are gonna miss stuff -- will call you on it.

Tam put it best: Assume you're an idiot. You don't get to decide if you are the safe guy or the horrible example; your behavior will tell those around you which you are. Not your words. Not your cuddly-wuddly wuvability or your big strong silent machismo. You can't chop-logic your way out of crappy weapon-handling, you can't get big, teary anime eyes and be excused, there's no staring it down, you can't appeal to Saint Cooper or the graybeards at the NRA: if you go to the range and do unsafe stuff, you are the guy not to be like. No matter your creed or how many classes you have taken, you don't get a badge or a ribbon or a diploma that allows you to endanger persons or property. You don't ever, ever get a pass on safe behavior; every time you go shoot around people (or in range of ruining their day), you are in the scales of judgment. You were an idiot yesterday and got sent home? You don't have to be one today. Conversely, yesterday's Miss Safety may trip over a brain fade and screw up. See ya! Do better next time!

When you mess up with firearms, people can die. This is not student council elections.

(And another thing -- I'm a faithful member of the Four Rules Church, myself; they're so close to the gun safety my Dad taught me at the ago of 12 it's amazing, considering he was a hunter who never owned more than the same .22 and shotgun all his life and never heard of Col. Cooper, as far as I know. It's comforting to me to hear his, "Always assume it's loaded. Always check to make sure. Don't point it at anything but the ground or a target. You don't touch the trigger until you are lined up and ready. Think about what's behind what you are aiming at, think about where the bullet will go and be sure you understand it," echoed more succinctly. Dad taught me those things in his on-edge, exasperated, you-must-learn-this way, rules he worked out for himself or was taught by his father, brothers and friends and I know they worked. And he taught them not by rote, but first Socratically, as leading questions, and then by example, with the rifle in my hands and his hands hovering ready to make sure I didn't break the rules. Yeah, I use Col. Cooper's rules to guide my shooting and to judge yours. I grew up with them; I know they are a tool and I know that tool does the job).

Wronging Ancient Wrongs, Wrongly

Let's say twenty years ago, you testified before Congress. Under oath. Heck, let's even say the most well-known part of your testimony was capable of being interpreted either as harassment or crudely self-deprecating ethnic humor and you took it as the first; a subjective assessment, the truth of which only you can know.

...And let's say the fellow you testified against got the job anyway, with your own testimony generally held to be politically motivated at worst, overly thin-skinned at best.

All of that happened nearly twenty years ago. You've moved on, you have a high-prestige job with decent pay and benefits and then, out of the blue, the wife of the man you've testified against calls up early one weekend morning and leaves voicemail asking you to think about apologizing and explaining.

Do you:
A. Shrug and ignore it.
B. Call her up and give her the what-for.
C. Forward the message to your employer's Security service, who forward it to the FBI.

If your name is Anita Hill, "C," and without a blink.

We'll never know the facts; the accusations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that don't involve jokes about a hair on a soft-drink can strike me as unlikely and by all accounts, he has conducted himself with utter probity since being confirmed.

So, what we're left with is a concerned spouse and a reaction that appears disproportionate, conveniently as we head into elections in which there's a good chance Ms. Hill's party may lose their House majority to Mrs. Thomas's party. And we're left with it all over television and computer screens.

Online, we say "Stop feeding the trolls." It's good advice, Mrs. Thomas. No matter how appalling the troll.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Emmanuel Goldstein Redux

I don't get it. The main thing I like about her is the way she makes Establishment Dems see red; past that, IMO she's still too easily spun, unguarded, unsubtle. But after telling us she's an inconsequential ninny, the oldstream media, WaPo in this case, sure do puff her up:See the highlighted choice, there after "Senate," "House," "Fundraising," "Spending" and "Battleground Races?" Yep, "Palin Tracker." Click on it and there you are, a nifty interactive map of who she's endorsed and how they've done; 35 time out of 46 so far, her picks have won their primaries, an enviable batting average.

It's going to be an interesting election.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Proud Of Myself

(For political-type content, see previous three posts).

Finished up a project for which I had been preparing pieces for months: a shelf over the window seat! It will hold some of my typewriter collection. Further details and more photos at Retrotechnologist.Tools used are on the seat: level, pencil, awl, hand drill, Yankee driver. Just about the most time-consuming part was setting up the guide for cutting the board squarely to length.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Multiple Choice Compulsion

Found at Technorati:Why solicit opinion when you can drive it?

That third option, by the way, is not a chance to express your thoughts; the choice is exactly as presented. But that, the most neutral available, was leading 55 to 45 percent.

Next quiz question, and this one counts towards your final score: Who was Emmanuel Goldstein?

Cuppa' Tea, Mr. Warhol?

At first I was going to play it up: I just found out that Maureen "Moe" Tucker, drummer for that aging-hipster icon band Velvet Underground showed up in the crowd at a Tea Party rally in Georgia. And indeed, 'tis a shock to the Lefties.

But once you know the backstory --- she'd relocated to a small-to-medium Georgia town years before, in order to raise her kids -- it's unremarkable. 60ish small-town Mom shows up at Tea Party event, expresses support? Yeah, her and a million more just like her!

It is good to be reminded that not every famous musician has a train-wreck private life and gets her opinions off the same rack as Streisand; but to be stunned by it is to live in a cartoon version of the real world.

Clueless In Montgomery

Radley Balko linked it: Innocent citizen in Montgomery, AL gets a rude visitation when highly-trained professionals execute a warrant for 812 South Union a no-knock entrance through her door at 810 North Union. Left a mess, too, and so far, not so much as an "Ooops, sorry" from the department, either. They've given themselves until 5 November to complete their internal investigation; no ETA on home repairs on North Union Street. And don't we all feel that much more or less safer?

But wait, there's more! Highly-trained professionals at a Montgomery network affiliated TV station quote the wronged home owner (cut'n'pasted): "It was three tall men with masks on and big oozie guns pointing at me like, "Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"

Not to get too meta -- I'll even overlook the improper use of nested quotes -- but just how much editorial oversight does it take to not guess she might have been referring to Uzi-type guns? Too late now; I'm stuck with the mental image of LEO's wielding dripping-melty short-stocked AR-15s while they open doors and bark commands. (The Dali special edition, perhaps?)

Thank heavens the innocent victim showed good sense in getting her family through a no-knock raid without anyone, or even any pets, being shot; otherwise, I'd have to wonder seriously if there's too much lead in the municipal water supply down there.

The Do-It-Yourselfer

It speaks for itself.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shooty Goodness In The Park

Tam had a class in another of the big bays there. Spurred on by her good example, I packed my range bag and headed out to Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range.

As I so often do, I mused on how horrified and incensed the Helmkes and japetes, the Hennigans and Sugramanns must be that there is a pistol (pistol-caliber rifle) range as part of the Indianpolis city park system. It's there for, among other groups, the children (and it's not too uncommon to see kids learning gun safety and other shooting fundamentals there). (BTW, a Wisconsin judge is currently driving Josh quite batty. Awww. Poor little panda!)

Today, not so many kids at Eagle Creek Range, though I did see three fairly new shooters (husband, wife and young-adult son?), with a little Walther .22 and what looked like a Taurus .357 revolver. (Outfitted in pink stocks; yeah, 'cos that makes it suitable for Mrs. Mom to learn on, especially stuffed full of .357, as it was). The Range Officers spent a lot of time making sure they understood not just the rules but the basics of good grip and holding aim. I'm hoping they pointed out that revolver runs just fine on .38 Special, too.

Me, I was ambitious: brought my Ruger Mk II with Pac-Lite upper (ooo!), the Star SI (.32ACP) recently repaired at Coal Creek Armory, and my 1911-type semi-automatics:[1] the Sistema Colt in .45 and the old-school .38 Super.

Started with the .22: it's cheap, it's fun and if I'm doing something wrong, I can figure it out and correct it before wasting ammunition. Warmed up (and having learned magazines #1 and 2 need to be cleaned, oh do they need it bad), I moved on to the little .32.

My smallest Star had been not a jammomatic but a stallomatic: put gun on target, press trigger, half the time nothing happens. No-thing. Hammer, she no fall. This is, in a word, bad. It wasn't anything obvious, either. So I set it to one side until I could afford to have it looked at.

It's been looked at. It's been fixed! 32 is one of those calibers that is fun to shoot from a good pistol -- when you can find a good pistol; aside from the Colt Pocket Hammerless (prices go up every time I look), sub-micro plastic pocket jobs or beat-up pot-metal cheapies are the usual thing. Now, I'm not saying Star was ever anything ne plus ultra;[2] they built to a price and they darned well knew it. But they built well for the price; the little SI is comfortable in my hand, it's got sights big enough to see -- and a barrel long enough to the give the little .32 pill a fighting chance of going where you've pointed.[3] Which it does; it's a treat, a tiny 1911 that barely moves in your hands.

The .45 and .38SA were just what they otta be: predictable. Fun, too, because they just run. With the nice Trijicon 3-dot sights, you just line 'er up and blammo! After its most recent trip to the 'smith, the terrifyingly-shiny reblued Super-duper is more accurate than I am; it and the Sistema are twin offspring of different mothers.

Through all this (and one target change -- they had small silhouettes and I kept shooting out the middle square) , I was going back and forth between the "big guns" and the .22. Mags 4, 5 and 6 are still happy, #3 is MIA, One of the ROs asked me if I'd ever shot a 'scoped handgun.
"Nossir," sez I, "but I bet it'd be fun!"

He chuckled and nodded.

Shot some more and he showed up at my left with a case...with a Mk III in the case, and a 'scope he was attaching to the rail. "It holds zero well enough," he said, and proceeded to have me look through the scope. "See that can on the berm?"

I wasn't sure. He had me find it on the 'scope. 50 yards away, five times as far as the default target distance where I'd been punching paper. "Okay, got it."

"There you go, then."

He didn't have to say it twice; I was loadin' up that magazine as quick as I could. Shooting at that distance is a whole different world; you realize just how much you're moving around. It's a quick learning curve, with a lot of feedback when the can hops around, and within several rounds, I was able to get it to do just that. Woo-hoo, fifty yards!

...Now I'm gonna have to add one of those to my wish list.
1. Went out of my way to say that, 'cos the very term appears to freak out high-profile hoplophobes. So, a revolver chambered for .45ACP would be so much less deadly than my Argentine-immigrant 1911?

2. Though their engraved guns were very nicely done; and their big military pistols appear to have been as good as any contemporary .mil sidearm on the Continent. Their metallurgy was no worse than than Astra's and fit and finish, 'til the last hungry years, was excellent.

3. The better-informed will point out that, past a certain irreducible minimum and at typical handgun distances, the actual improvement with a longer barrel comes from the longer sight radius. I'm still taken with the mental image of a projectile clearing a short barrel like a sleeper chased too early out of bed, mumbling, "Just a little bit longer, pleeeze?"

Does A Gunnie Not Bleed?

"Hath not a gunnie hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer...?"

Ooops, wrong minority.

From the "Get thee in the back of the bus" department: ", state, and federal rules may not prohibit the opening of a gun shop across the street from an elementary school," Longfellow Elementary Principal Peter Gull wrote, "but it's been difficult to explain that to parents who worry for the safety of their children and the element that this business may bring to the neighborhood."

Yassa, boss, ain't no bad element here but us chickens. I'll just step back down to th'gutter where I belongs, boss.

Like hell I will. No law-abiding citizen -- no law-abiding individual! -- has to shuck and jive for any other.

Seems a gun store may be opening cattycorner from a an elementary school. You and I might say, "so what?"

In contrast, here's the bedwetter mindset, as revealed by mentalist Gull: "We are sensing almost overwhelming fear, confusion, and outrage from community members living near our school."

He is, mind you, sensing this. Darn those radioactive spiders! (Here's a local TV report the Principal tried to spin anti in a letter to the Mayor. It's more like 60/40).

Oh, and Principal Gull? Around here, the main "element" you find brought to the neighborhood by a gun store are cops, usually shopping or "shooting" only the breeze. My, how dreadful that would be for you and the innocent children. Especially when they see it's just ordinary people shopping there.

Found via Alphecca. Who you should read.

What If...

...Alien abduction is actually part of identity theft on a Galactic scale? I can just picture it: we make our very first official contact with extraterrestrial life -- and it's a collection agency!

Didn't Make It: Teen Jumper

The 16 year old who jumped down three floors at the Danville courthouse, handcuffed, has died. It looks like suicide. And no Darwin award for that, either.

Call me soft-hearted but this appears to have been the last act of a life gone terribly wrong; he was appearing before the court, charged with beating his father; police in Avon said he'd attempted to escape and had spoken of suicide.

I doubt there is any government (or NGO) fix for this kind of thing; dour statistics tell us the troubled, troublesome and trouble-making will always be with us. But perhaps it's possible to push back a little, one on one.

It's worth a try.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just Say No

The Libertarian Party missed a chance in not drumming up a candidate for Marion County Prosecutor.

Carl "Wrong Circle Of Friends" Brizzi isn't running, and good riddance to bad rubbish,* says I. The GOP found Mark Massa to run and he looked like a pretty good choice -- until I saw his sleazy attack ad on the TV this morning. (Quick read: the Dem running against him once defended a guy charged with icky sex crimes, which Mark's ad says is evidence he shouldn't be Prosecutor; it seems Mark doesn't understand that once you've arrested them, even sickos are entitled to a fair trial. IMO, a public hanging should follow, just as soon as they're found guilty; but everyone gets his day in court. 'Cos it could be your turn next and the police try to get this sort of thing right but they're only human).

Well, okay, there's always the Dem, right? And even when I loathe their principles, they're usually earnest and hardworking little nitwits, especially newbies like Terry Curry... Yeah. Except he's a gun-grabber. Thinks We The People have too many firearms ("even semiautomatics," quoth he, Oh. The. Horror.) and he says it's wayyy too easy for us to get more.

Y'know, it's a pity the recently-resigned BMV director didn't get nicked working a public loo in time to get his name on the ballot, 'cos right now I'd vote for a man who hangs out at the bus station before I'd vote for Terry or Mike. At least his creepiness was only small-scale.

We could pick a better Prosecutor by opening the phonebook at random and leafing forward from that point 'til an attorney's listing showed up.

Mike, repudiate that ad, fast and in public! Terry, learn the truth and say it loud: a firearm in the hands of any law-abiding citizen isn't a crime.

Or forget my vote. I'll sit that race out. And press for removal of whichever of you wins, on grounds of ignorance: clearly, neither one of you understands the State or Federal Constitution and you're therefore unqualified for the office of Prosecutor. Maybe you two should shine shoes in the City-County Building and see if maybe you could pick up a little lawyer-talk that way!
* Mind you, I suspect him of being kind to children and animals and I should not be in the least surprised to learn he loves his spouse, supposing he's got one. But his taste in friends was lousy.

Morning Report

Tam, in re the CVS drugstore chain being heavily fined for not quite following gummint reporting guidelines when snitching on pseudo-ephedrine purchasers: "They've already made buying cold medicine as annoying as buying a Glock!"

...The difference being, in my mind, that at the pharmacist's you can't buy a 1911 instead. (Relax, Glockfans, Tam didn't mean it like that).

In related news, drugstore prices going up! Gee, wonder why that is?
And Indianapolis public schools have sent home an ultimatum -- well, paperwork -- requiring parents prove their kids have had all their shots. Otherwise, if they bite someone, they'll have to be put down! Er, wait, no, it's just they won't be allowed to attend school -- and after five or six days of that "unexcused absence," they'll be suspended. It's a nice out for the kid who wanted to skip school; one does wonder where this leaves families with religious objections to vaccination.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of preventing the schools from being any more of a disease vector than they already are (and what about all those bad memes?), but if they want 'em shot, it might be cheaper and less trouble to just line 'em all up and shoot 'em. Fulla vaccines, I mean. We could pass the hat; even I would toss in a few measly bucks. Er....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tam's New Car?

Mott's RacingTanks! Scroll down to the Christie-Cunningham LeMans Sportank for Tam's dreamtank -- and back up one plate to see a T-series MG tearin' up the greens for me.

(Interestingly -- and as noted in the text, though I'd already seen it on a Wiki-wander -- his very oldest example has a real-life counterpart: the skeleton tank. And just in time for Halloween, too.)

Just Missed His Darwin Award

"E" for effort?

A Danville, IN teenager arrested for battery made a break for freedom en route to his first appearance before a judge, over a railing to thud onto the terrazzo three floors down. While handcuffed. And in leg irons.

Now he's in critical condition at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis -- and still faces arraignment.

Not quite a Darwin Award. Obviously working on it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I'm enjoying Evil, Inc.: superheroing (and supervilliany!) meets corporate employment. Madcap hijinks actually do ensue.

Artwork starts good, gets better. The young leads are generally cheesecake & beefcake...and all the characters (even the ones who aren't pinups) are well-realized.

The Pernicious, Poisoned Pen

The pen -- well, keyboard -- of a gun-banner is a funny thing; and I don't mean amusing. In a posting proclaiming her dewy-eyed innocence of of ever, ever wanting any gun ban (except for the ones she approves of, like the AWB) and accusing gunnies like me of plaid-flannel thuggery or something, paid anti-gunner "japete" proffers this bit of twisted viciousness:

"As a result [of the AWB expiring], criminals and others have more and more of these type of dangerous weapons [formerly-banned so-called "assault weapons"*] and have been using them on our streets- mostly to kill police officers. Cops are outgunned on the streets so they have found it necessary to buy more powerful weapons to protect themselves and the public."

(You can follow links from Sebastian's. I won't give her one)

Let's take a closer look. Did she really say what I think she said?

Yes, she said that non-criminals ("and others," meaning you and me) have been using our "assault weapons" on the streets, to kill police officers. Which I ain't never and seeing as you're alive and out of jail, you either. But it's too late in her mind -- we have that "touch of the tarbrush, er, Hoppe's #9 brush," and she is quite sure it only takes one drop to soil us forever. She's a bigot.

And she appears to be drawing a distinction between those private individuals who own guns and "the public," leaving me wondering just when "the People" are not "the People." Is it simply owning guns, or is it the refusal to ride in the back of the bus with 'em that does it? Or did we try'n use the wrong lunch counter again? She's a bigot.

As the courts have pointed out, policemen are not actually required to protect "the public" as individuals (that would take one-to-one correspondence of officers and publicans, no, um, non-police citizens, wouldn't it?); the police protect society in general. Your individual protection is your job and while a firearm can be a part of that, mostly it's paying attention to where you go and who's around you -- me, I try to avoid self-panicking noseyparkers; YMMV.

Plus she rings in the escalation-of-firepower canard; I guess no 1930s criminal ever used a BAR, especially not one he acquired by stealing it from the police. Unpossible; and never you mind that the .38 many an LEO carried a revolver full of (and plenty more on his person) back in the halcyon days when japete spent all her free time watching Andy Griffith has terminal ballistics clustered right up there with the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45ACP sidearms many of 'em carry now. Or that a shotgun and/or an Army-type rifle was the trunk gun of most motor-patrol officers from the git-go. That's all outside the acceptable narrative and therefore, unhappened.

...But don't you worry. "japete" tells us over and over she doesn't want to ban any guns, and, why, neither do her pals at the House of Brady, or the VPC, or even Senator "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in" Feinstein. Not in a million, zillion years has it ever crossed their minds, except for every seven seconds. --In the meantime, she'd just like to poison the discourse a little. She thinks you're a big ol' stinky meanie if you call her on it.

They lie. They smear. They're bigoted. And they keep sayin' "Trust us."

Suuuuuure we should.
* Like my SKS or AR-15, even with the .22LR conversion in the latter. 'Cos it is filled with eeeevil.

The Reward Of Virtue

Or is it industriousness? Whichever. I joined Tam & Co at Cafe Patachou for a perfectly lovely breakfast (waffles, fresh fruit, good coffee with real cream) shortly after posting my triumphant "Heh!" 'Pon my return home, I was asleep within minutes, enjoying the sound sleep of the just--

Woke up six hours later with a huge cramp starting to form in my left calf. There's a good response and a bad response to this, depending on which way you move your knee and ankle and in my muzzy, half-awake state, I chose wrongly. Let out a hair-curdling scream, too. 18 hours later, there's still an ache and a trace of a knot.

It should be a lesson to me; probably "Take your vitamins."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Arrived at the Skunk Works North Campus about 7:00 p.m., picked up info I needed, took the nice long drive to the Main Campus, where my hapless minions professional peers already had a new computer set up with the new software.

Had it talking to the far end in a half-hour.

Learned to use a new software package and assembled a whole new page'o'data; figured out how to run the thing that feeds data to it, loaded it up and....

And fizzle, is what. No live data nohow.

Went back to square one, worked up a much smaller page, tried and tried and tried and finally got it to go. Edited that up to the full page of stuff, checked it, fine-tuned (does it assert high ot low? You guess and find out), shut down, relocated the computer and removed all the test stuff...a mere ten and a half hours after I first set foot on company property. Yeah. Ten. Point five.

Better believe I am reclaiming at least one vacation day from this.

Still: I won! The highly-necessary remote control is back in business. That's pretty sweet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Work On A Starship: Now Easier To Read

Over at I Work On A Starship, I have added a collection of links to complete story arcs and the "slice of life" vignettes that can be read on their own. It's not all of them but it's a start.

Sun Morning, Goodshine

And I hope it shines good on you, 'cos on me, it has been, in metaphor, rainin'. Theoretically, I'm on vacation this week; as a practical matter, Something Pretty Important blew a gasket Saturday morning and (thanks to prior plans), I spent Saturday evening and allllll of the night just past on it. It's oh-five-hundred and I am goin' to bed.

What frustrates me is, what blew up was an old computer (MS-DOS!) running old software. They make a shiny happy-with-XP version of the program that I already tried once to buy. Or was it twice?

Update: the new software's free. My time to configure for our stuff (192 channels of fun and delight), not so much: I'll be trading in some vacation time for straight time; but I can save the vacation day(s) for later.

As a general rule, about 2 of my vacations out of three, a major system at the Skunk Works breaks or goes loony. The best one was the time my boss and I were both out of town for a week and somehow the big genset came on line at the North Campus (lighting up a tiny little warning light no one bothered to investigate at the main building), ran for three days 'til it was out of fuel and shut down, taking the entire facility dark. Madcap hijinks, as they say, ensued.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wordless Commentary

ErnestThing reminds us that war is, indeed, hell.

Monster Hunter Vendetta

Larry Correia (make that New York Times Bestselling Author, Larry F. Correia) may be the best writer of action sequences I've ever encountered; but that's only where he starts. Not everyone can do it and of the authors who can, not all of them can make the action advance the plot on multiple levels. You won't find a lot of fight scenes in Asimov or Clarke; Heinlein did them well but they didn't dominate. F. Paul Wilson -- possibly the closest genre match to Correia -- does 'em but it's usually Repairman Jack solo. And some (by no means all) of the .mil SF writers can come close. Still, about the only other writer I've found who would happily take a cast of characters, throw them into a huge fight and manage to push the narrative forward in leaps and bounds would be pulp writer Lester Dent. And Dent rarely bothered with a second pass through the typewriter.

Me, I am generally not so fond of the melee-in-fiction. At least I thought I wasn't; turns out what bugged me is they're often tossed in 'cos Captain Hero needs to trounce somebody and the kids love blood, period. Barrels of gore later, the dead are buried (or pushed over the edge of the world, or sold for scrap or whatever) and the story picks up, almost with a "before I was so rudely interrupted..." feel.

Well, forget that. Correia grabs the reader fast, hangs your disbelief up out of the way and writes in such a way that you never miss it. By page two of Monster Hunter Vendetta, the team is hunting chupacabra about like my Dad hunted ducks. By the time you're nine pages in, Owen Z. Pitt and his peers are fighting for their lives and it's all meat: every line of it furthers the story. These are characters with depth, people you know, like and want to see prevail. (I'm reminded, a little, of Terry Pratchett's gift for making unusual persons and personalities engage the reader).

My only complaint is that 612 pages spent alongside MHI (and allies) is over too soon. It's like a roller-coaster: once that train leaves the station, it just doesn't stop. And it is one helluva trip!

Buy this book. Read it with your favorite shotgun by your side, just in case. --And learn the terrifying truth about trolls. (Use Tam's Amazon link and help two struggling artists at the same time!)

Please write more soon, Larry.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Freedom Of Religion, Kewl Stuff

This isn't really an argument from utility, but you've gotta like the spin-offs.

Many people know we owe a kind-hearted Shaker for the circular saw; from the room where she ran a spinning wheel, she could see men using a pitsaw -- hard, tedious work and a face-full of sawdust for the low man on the saw. She looked back at her spinning wheel and something clicked. This is far from the only invention credited to a Shaker; they even dreamed up the common clothespin.

They're not the only ones. There was a bunch of jazz-playing, baseball-playing (and 'stonishing good at both) religious folks living in communes up in Michigan -- there's a few still there -- without whom you might not have canned grape juice, freeze-dried foods or mechanical pinsetters for bowling, not to mention those nice white fillings in your teeth. And you've probably never heard of them...unless you're old enough to have gone to their amusement park! They're the House of David, bearded, long-haired, vegetarian, celibate and by every account, a pretty fine bunch of folks.

See, what my neighbor believes about the Infinite does not usually impact me, if he's peaceable about it; but the things he does in this life -- what he dreams, what he builds, how he treats others, those things do affect me; if he comes up with an improved bearing metal, if he plays baseball well enough to give the Kansas City Monarchs* a good game or is a talented artist who writes stirring op-eds encouraging decent and upstanding behavior, that does matter. If his faith leads him in those directions, all the better.

This isn't meant as a utilitarian argument; the best possible defense of freedom of conscience in matters of religion is that it's not only repugnant to attempt to police the contents of people's minds, it is ultimately impossible. It is a nice side-effect that, if you leave people's beliefs be, there's often a free prize inside.
* Which is how I stumbled across House of David. Following links from the Satchel Paige bio, I realized the Monarchs had an enviable record; looked them up and found mention of their barnstorming with the House of David playing integrated baseball back before the Major Leagues wised up. That seemed worth following up, but who'd'a thunk.

Debbie, Meet Jim. Play Nice, Now

Somehow I missed this mash-up. You shouldn't.

PS: In the related content, Debbie Harry performing in 2005. Okay, she's not young, but she's in good voice and looks fit; I'm thinkin', gee, she must be pushin' 50.... Um, no. That's what 60 looks like. Sets the bar a bit high.

Political Ads

It seems as if most of the candidates are running ads callin' for change -- the GOP wants it and the Dems, why, most of their lot thinks we haven't been hopey-changed hard enough.

The message I keep hearing between the lines is like a cross between Satchel Paige and the optimistic kid with a room full of horse manure, "When you're at the bottom of a hole, dig faster: something might be gaining on you!"

Yeah, or there might be a pony down there. But I doubt it.

If you want change, vote for real change. At least vote for the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State and help keep 'em on the ballot.


The old joke about "emo grass, the lawn that cuts itself?" Just you wait, scoffers; I would not be at all surprised to lean some grass-seed company was working on it and when it hits the market, you'll have given them the perfect name for the stuff: Emotional Fescue! I just hope Mick and the lads have trademarked it already.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I Work On A Starship: Chapter Five At Last!

He yelled, I stopped. Sure, somebody barks out an order like that, my first impulse is to get my back up — and so's yours, probably. Nevertheless, I stopped and kept my mouth shut. Most of my working life and leisure time is spent in surroundings filled with ways to be killed or injured and when someone says "Stay put!" you stay put and survive to find out why later.

Read the rest in Chapter Five of "Frothup: Dropping In" at I Work On A Starship.

Possbly Made Of Win

Nathan Fillion + Steampunk! ...I didn't know Captain Tightpants was even back on TV, but he is, on one of the $GENERIC POLICE DRAMAS that I routinely ignore.

Next Monday, maybe not so routine.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Now: Cyborg Face-Ripping Primates!

'Cos the smaller ones can't tear you up the way adult chimps can. That is, they couldn't until now:

Okay, I see the value of this for humans with serious injuries. It could be a huge step forward for people who have lost limbs or suffered spinal damage.

It still creeps me out. ...Though, in light of the my previous post, we could station these little guys and their robot arms in selected Gents washrooms, as an inducement to restrained behavior....

Cruise Control Failure

Andrew J. Miller, Indiana's BMV director was arrested in a public men's room yesterday. Yes, it was for what you might think.

Ever since License Branches were taken out from under the patronage system, they've been getting better and better -- and BMV directors have been getting into trouble. One of his predecessors had at least one drunken-driving incident and, if I recall correctly, served as BMV chief while not having a valid driver's license himself. It is as if there's an inverse relationship between user-friendliness of the BMV's storefronts and the luridness of the BMV director's private life.

In this incident, I am reminded of the failure of sociology to produce hard numbers; if they could prove letting gay men marry one another would reduce the amount of public-loo sex, I suspect such measures would have a greater success in legislatures and on ballots. There's no knowing if this is so; men in general seem to have more of a yen for quick and risky sex and when both partners are wired up for that, well....

--OTOH, and I know there'll be plenty of folks gay and straight claiming I am totally off-base with this and the participants rilly, rilly like it, but dang, how freakin' miserable must it be to be conducting one's dating life semi-anonymously in public lavatories?

There's been a lot of talk in the media about "National Coming Out Day" on the 11th of October. Look here, Andrew, a closet's awkward enough but a bathroom stall is no place to be skulking around.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

But Does The Stupid Burn Enough?

Wow. CNN talking head Rick Sanchez's mental misfirings go critical and I missed it? --Maybe you did, too; the quick read is, Rick went on a radio chat show, lambasted Comedy Central's Jon Stewart (who has made much of Sanchezisms like his on-air wondering aloud at a volcano in Iceland, 'cos he thought it was much too cold there to have one; which should explain the caliber of mind with which we are dealing....) and moved from there to attempt to compare oppressed-minority cred with Stewart and to speak of the "Jewish-controlled media." (Suddenly, it's 1933?)

As it turns out, this is not the key to long-term employment at CNN -- nor does it result in less mockery from Stewart. (Video clip at the link. Enjoy!)

Meanwhile, even Sanchez thinks Sanchez was over the line.

Me, I think the whole "oppressed minority" trading card was worn out the first time any two people got into a group-identification misery-measuring contest. Pretty much everybody's ancestors were oppressed minorities once, and so what? What matters is what you do -- and what matters is not dragging an anchor-chain of inverted snobbery with you, 'cos that weight is gonna do nothing but drag you down.

(Compare Mr. Sanchez's notions to Desi Arnaz, who wrote, "'I know of no other country in the world' in which 'a sixteen-year-old kid, broke and unable to speak the language' could achieve the successes he had." Pity about all that oppression keeping him down...).

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I Work On A Starship Post

This is out of sequence, just a little glimpse into the not-so-smooth workings of one of the biggest known vessels outracing light for fun and profit:

"Engineering to Jump Control. Engineering to Jump Control."

Lupine had completed the long run-up to a significant percentage of the speed of light and was leaping out of Frothup's star system, at long last; it'd been fun but I wasn't gonna miss the place.

Continued at I Work On A Starship: All Part Of The Service.

Is This A Daguerre I See Before Me?

Pointing a camera at a monument, you or I might take a snapshot; Turk Turon gets an existential dilemma instead.

Public photography? Some folks think it's a menace!

The Laws Of Augustine

No, not the religious philosopher, the aerospace engineer:

"26. If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance."

"31. The optimum committee has no members."

He was considering the operation of a modern air force; me, I see Congress. While I am all for ineffectiveness in government -- when they are taking you to the camps, you don't want the trains to run on time -- it often seems as if they've set themselves up to produce only bad results.

Monday, October 04, 2010


H. L. Mencken described them as "...a sort of advance auction of stolen goods." He was right; but we do get a chance to throw out one batch of crooks and replace them with another group, many of whom will not yet possess much skill at graft, cronyism and general malfeasance, hooray!

The Indianapolis/Marion County election offers up some fiiiine choices (Excel spreadsheet) along with nifty statewide ballot questions, like, ought a list of four Superior Court Justices be retained in office (oh hells no), and should our real-estate taxes have a Constitutional upper limit (oh hells yes).

I note with sadness Indiana's Libertarian party isn't in the Marion County Sheriff's race (clearly, they should run Tam) and with pleasure that Rebecca Sink-Burris is the Libertarian alternative in the Brad Ellsworth/Dan Coats Senatorial slimefest. Ms. Sink-Burris gets my vote; and if you are dithering between her and Dan "Carpetbagger" Coats, she's just as committed to rollin' back Obamacare, the difference being, Dan's "flexible." A-hem.

In the junior body, Andre Carson is being challenged by Dr. Marvin Scott (still my fave, and not just on the issues: he's willing to get out there and work the crowd! Also, the GOP is puzzled by him) and the LP's Dav Wilson. I'd vote for anyone who wasn't the Hon. the Mr. Carson -- given the chance to vote for a guy who shook my hand at a gun show, I am delighted to vote for Dr. Scott.

Indiana's Secretary of State, Todd Rokita, is term-limited out, sparing me a voting-booth dilemma: he's been a real champion against gerrymandering and for things like the "Who Are Your Elected Officials" website, but ballot status in Indiana is determined by votes for the Secretary of State, which means I always vote Libertarian for this office. Mike Wherry's the man, and I'll note his positions are very much in line with Mr. Rokita's actions.

Our State Senator sits this one out, but our State Representative, Cindy Noe, is up against...the LP's Joe Hauptmann. Guess the usual Other Guys decided to sit that one out! Ms. Noe has done a pretty fair job; she even sends out periodic surveys on the issues. On the other hand, she is an incumbent....

That's all I have time for this morning. The links in this post, especially the candidate list and the website that shows who's in office now, should be tools enough for interested voter. Me, come the day, I'll have a list in my pocket.

'Tis said, "If voting could change anything, it would be illegal," but it does change things, just never very much or very quickly; still, it's your best, easiest chance to put a thumb in the eye of the powers that be, and it costs nothing. So why not go screw up their nice, safe predictions a little?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Fix It Again, Tony

I've been driving small cars most of my life, from the junkyard-special '60s Ford Falcon my Dad thought would be a great first car* through two MGBs, a Suzuki Samurai (love! Yeah, I know, I'm weird; but that little beast was willin' to try anything I asked of it) and my current string of three Hyundai Accents (cheap, dependable ...easily totalled).

So perhaps you will understand when I admit that the Fiat 500 -- coming to the 'States in December -- has done stole my heart. Sure, it looks like a steam-iron with ambition...but it's a kewl steam-iron!

Undoubtedly priced right outta my league. (You can't buy a new car for what I paid for my last three put together). But it sure is kawaii. When it comes to lovable, they've got it fixed.
* It kind of was, though I have not seen a "three on the tree" manual transmission since.